An Interview with R. J. Berry: Author & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Hi R. Jay, it is such a pleasure to interview you. I know how busy you are so thank you for your time. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
R. J.: Thank you Sylvia. My name is R. J. Berry and I am a retired educator from the Dallas Independent School District. I worked for the district for 30 years and upon my retirement in 2009, I was the Executive Director of Academic Services. My formal education includes a high school diploma from Ursuline Academy, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Texas Woman’s University, and a Master’s Degree in Management and Psychology from Amberton University. I am a very active member of the Greater Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Fabian K. Jacko where I serve as secretary of the Deaconess and a member of the Contemporary Gospel Choir. I am also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I have been happily married to my husband, Bernard, for 33 years and we have one son, Stephen.
My first novel entitled, The First Sunday, was released in October 2011 and is book 1 in the Sunday Rose trilogy series. The book is based on true events about my grandmother, Mrs. Georgia Biggins. The First Sunday depicts the self-imposed life struggles that my grandmother encountered from her early years and throughout her life.
Sylvia: Congratulations on the longevity of your marriage. That is wonderful. My husband and I recently celebrated twenty two years of marriage and I look forward to many more years. What inspired you to write your first book?
R. Jay: My grandmother inspired my writing by the stories she always told me about her childhood and family. I knew her stories were interesting and after her death and my retirement, I heard another of her stories from my mother and I knew it was the right time to put her story to words.
Sylvia: That’s wonderful as you can share it with your son and if he has children, pass it down through the family. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
R. Jay: I have always been told that no matter what I did in my life I had to put the Lord first. The message that I want the reader’s to grasp after reading my book is that through life’s ups and downs and twists and turns in the road, the Lord is a prayer away.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
R. Jay: The advice I would give other writers is if you want to begin the writing process, do not put it off until you have the time. Once you begin writing it will come easily to you. The writing process will relax not just your mind but your soul as well.
Sylvia: I love that advice. You are right… I remember co-authoring my first book. While writing my chapter, I broke down several times and felt so relieved after I was done. It was like releasing years of pain from deep within.
What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
R. Jay: Since my books’ release in October 2011, I have had three book signings (one for my close family members, one for my church family, and one held in conjunction with the grand opening of my hair salon). I have another book signing tea scheduled for May 2012 in the home of a close friend. I have had an article published in a local Dallas newspaper and have included a television trailer on my facebook page. This same trailer will also be shown on television in a few weeks. Knowing that not everyone reads newspapers or has a facebook account, I have also sent information about the book to a local radio station to air in a week. Now I am reaching out to fellow authors for their support and suggestions. Out of all of the techniques I have mentioned, the one that was the most successful was the one held in my hair salon because there was not just the customers who came but people in the neighborhood. It was very productive.
Sylvia: Congratulations on the launch of your new business. That’s great! I read an article in Forbes that said “Women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years. Even more awesome is the fact that women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018. That is amazing news! Why should we buy your book?
R. Jay: People should buy my book because most everyone can relate to spending time with their grandparents or great grandparents and listening to the stories they had about their lives. This book tells such stories and transports the reader back in time in mind and body. I am most proud of the fact that once the reader begins reading my grandmother’s story, they will lose tract of time and want to find out how the story unfolds.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
R. Jay: I am most comfortable when I am writing on my laptop in the early morning hours in my den or at the hair salon when I am under the dryer. I have found these quiet times most productive.
Sylvia: Me as well! What projects are you currently working on?
R. Jay: I am in the process of preparing to send the second book in the Sunday Rose series to the publisher for publication. While I have written book three in the series, I am still tweaking it as well. In addition, I am currently writing two additional books not in the Sunday Rose series that I cannot wait to publish.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
R. Jay: My POWER WORD is Tenacity. I have always been a person who had determination to succeed in school and work or in whatever I chose to do. Because I have a dogged drive to complete things I start, this word not only describes me but helps me to understand that nothing comes easy in life without hard work.
Sylvia: That is a powerful word. One of my favorite quotes describes ‘tenacity’ well by Chin-Ning Chu says, “To succeed in life in today’s world, you must have the will and tenacity to finish the job.” Where do you see yourself in five years?
R. Jay: In five years, I can see myself as a successful author with five books published. My wish is that all five books will touch someone’s lives and they can identify with one or more of the characters.
Sylvia: it’s been a pleasure to learn more about you. Please give us additional contact information.
R. Jay: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you! I can be reached:
- Website: http://rjayberry.libroville.com/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/renita.berry
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rberry1954
- Publisher: www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore
- Purchase: www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com