About her most recent book
Monet Bryant is a plus-size, African-American woman who never thought it possible to fall in love—especially with a white man. When her boss introduced her to her new partner, Mykel Lucas, their meeting was kismet. Monet and Mykel tried to hide their relationship due to the narrow-minded beliefs of their family and friends. Their plan was successful until Monet found out she was pregnant.
They reluctantly broke the news to their families, and were met with pleas to terminate the pregnancy, and threats of disownment. Mykel and Monet vowed to make it work, but secretly Mykel remained conflicted. When the big day came, Mykel’s joy of witnessing the birth of his child was overshadowed by the fear of his family making good on their ultimatum. After kissing Monet and their son goodnight, Mykel walked out of the delivery room—and their lives.
Four years later, Mykel resurfaces to reclaim the family he abandoned, only to find that a black man has taken his place. James Nesbitt is the only father Monet’s son has ever known; however, he is not the man she thinks he is. James’ true identity may bring their perfect world crashing down.
As the betrayal and deceit begin to fester, Monet must make one of the most crucial decisions of her life. If no one is who they profess to be, how can she protect the innocence of her child? They say "Love Is Blind." Will the truth restore Monet’s sight?
When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
Actually, I started out as a screenwriter. I have over ten completed manuscripts in my library. My eBook series, "Me & Mrs. Jones," is an adaptation of my screenplay once optioned with Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit Films. I've been writing in different capacities for years, but took a hiatus due to personal issues. When I resurfaced, I decided to take my career to the next level.
It was my love of two novels in particular that made me want to pursue a career as an author. "Waiting To Exhale" helped shape my voice, and "The Coldest Winter Ever" incited my purpose. Today, I still want to be like Terry McMillan and Sister Souljah and tell stories that are stimulating and relatable. I hope my readers come away enlightened, entertained and most importantly, effected. May my words incite a writer's creative juices and remain with readers long after the ending.
How did you decide on the idea for your 1st book? 2nd book? 3rd book, etc?
My books are centered on plus-size characters. The themes of my books vary. In "Love & Happiness," Roxanne Linden is a plus-size vixen, who expertly manages her marketing firm while her attempts at controlling her personal life are faltering. "Me & Mrs. Jones" uncovers a five-way love affair. It's a three-part series based around two full-figured married women—Brenda Jones and Kim Baker.
I've always been a lover of intertwining storylines, and added my screenwriting prowess to my novel writing. As a fan of movies like "Crash," "Pulp Fiction," "No Good Deed" and the like, I create visual storylines from reality-based relationship issues.
How long did it take you to complete your first book? What was the process like?
My first book took a little under a year to write. I'm somewhat of a free spirit, and it is mirrored in my writing. I wouldn't begin to know how to write by an outline; that's not the way stories come to me. When I sit down to write, it's like an out-of-body experience. My body is the vessel my characters use to tell their stories. They talk, and I type. I have no say so in the matter.
What’s so rewarding about writing books and being an author?
My reward is writing my truths, speaking my heart, and spreading my body positivity message. There is a wave of plus-size personalities coming to the forefront in fashion, entertainment, and television. The emergence of these individuals is no coincidence. Full-figured women are tired of hiding behind their weight, and are making an affirmation that their size does not define them. Like it or not, plus-size is the new black
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up?
There was a point in my life when writing was all I did. I ate, slept, and drank it, and I was beginning to garner a buzz and make a name for myself. Then all of a sudden, I just stopped. Someone stole my joy, and I let go of my passion. A few years ago, I lost my seven-year-old niece, who was like a daughter to me. Her death inspired me to live life to the fullest, and do what I love. In writing her obituary and eulogy, my love for storytelling was rekindled. I've been on a mission ever since. This time I refuse to quit.
There’s more to being an author than writing a book. How do you manage to handle the business side of things?
It's not easy, and some things suffer. My deadlines are strict and sometimes coincide with each other, so I can't spend as much quality time with my family as I would like. My life coach sessions with Dawniel Patterson-Winningham taught me about time management. I follow her teachings to the letter. I take notes in my notepad and schedule everything on my calendar. Even if it's a date or a catch-up session with my sons, I write it down. With so much going on in my life, it's easy to forget things. If it's on my calendar, it will definitely get done. Time management is key. I also follow the mantra that business is not personal. I know how to separate the friendship/relationship aspect from the business aspect, and those who work with me respect me for it. I am a work in progress, and I look forward to learning and growing every day.
Do you have an editor or do you edit your own books?
After vetoing several editors sent to me by referral, I set my sights on Sweet Georgia Press, LLC--and my experience has been nothing short of amazing. My final edits included remarks and suggestions that enhanced my manuscript as a whole. My personal writing style and signature nuances were embraced by J'son M. Lee, and he was able to edit in a manner that still allowed "my" voice to shine through. The edit was done in a timely manner and once complete, Mr. Lee continued to make himself available to answer questions and assist in any way I needed. I have since adopted Sweet Georgia Press as the editing firm for my company, Big Body Publishing. I am not only a repeat client of Sweet Georgia Press, but I highly recommend their editing services to anyone I come in contact with. When it comes to editing, if you are looking for quality, professionalism and dependability at a price you can afford, Sweet Georgia Press is the way to go.
Who does the cover art for your book(s)?
I've gone through numerous graphic designers, and finally found someone whose covers mirror my written vision. My covers have been designed (and some redesigned) by Aija M. Butler of AMB Branding and Design.
Do you ever encounter writer’s block? How do you get past it?
I don't really experience writer's block, but I know two ways to overcome it--write anything and read everything.
How often do you write?
I have an overactive imagination, so I write every day.
Tell us about your last book signing.
My book signing experience is limited, but I am planning a major event for 2016. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with the Literary Ladies Book Club of Rahway, NJ, and this personal meet and greet was phenomenal. We discussed my book, characters, writing process, and much more. It also led to a very promising speaking engagement opportunity where I will be moderating a panel at one of their future events..
Beside social media, what other methods are you using to get the word out about your book(s)?
Social media is a great route for book promotion. In addition to my social media outlets, I utilize monthly newsletters, talk radio and print interviews, blog features, and magazine and other print promotions.
As a Woman of Color, what inspires you the most?
Everything I believe in is structured around my core value, which is putting the confidence back into my plus-size sisters. My radio show, The My Big Girl Panties Show, tackles issues that plague the plus-size population. My blog (www.BigBodysBlog.com), features posts intended to encourage and inspire. My novels not only have full-figured women on the covers, but are also centered on plus-size characters. I'm here to raise awareness, and encourage acceptance. I'm here to say it's okay to love yourself just the way you are—big or small. Contrary to what it may seem like, I am not practicing reverse discrimination. My message is for everyone, but with an emphasis on inspiring full-figured women. Bottom line, whoever you are, love the skin you're in.
Who is your biggest influence?
I'm going to give an obvious answer, for a self-gratifying reason. One of my biggest influences is Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey came from modest beginnings, and an abusive past. She was the plus-size talk show host who struggled publicly with her love life as well as her weight. She was typecast, misjudged, and mocked. Today, she is the Queen of all media, a self-made billionaire, and one of the most influential people in the world. Being a full-figured, African American woman is the cherry on top. Oprah Winfrey is proof that size doesn't matter; as long as you believe it, you can achieve it!
Have you ever done something in the past you regret? How did you get through it?
I don't live with many regrets. Each experience is a learning experience, and my setbacks are setups for something better. I try to live in my truth. Being brutally honest with yourself, and mastering the art of forgiveness is the key to getting through this obstacle course we call life.
How do you get through the tough times in life when life throws what it throws at you?
Comedy is my therapy. I come from a comedic family. When we get together, we crack jokes, relay funny stories, and do impersonations. I am quick-witted and will tell a joke, or give a sarcastic response at the drop of a dime. For me, there are only two options in life. You can cry and wallow in self-pity, or you can laugh and make the most of a bad situation. I choose to laugh. I keep a positive attitude, and the comedy comes naturally.
What is one goal you want to accomplish for yourself in 2013?
After waking from a coma in 2014, brought on by a life-threatening illness, I recovered with the loss of one of my most vital faculties. I did not let that loss set me back, nor did I use it as an excuse to be unsuccessful. My passion is turning my dealing process into a healing process. I want to help others acknowledge their reality, and take responsibility for their future life course.
What do you have planned next?
In March, I will be included in an erotica anthology under Zane's Strebor/Simon & Schuster imprint In addition, I will be releasing an eBook, nonfiction title, and full length novel under my Big Body Publishing imprint. My talk radio shows, The Q-Spot with Big Body and The My Big Girl Panties show have a very entertaining and inspiring lineup. I am also looking to launch my YouTube channel, Big Body Media.
How can readers and others in the literary community reach you?
My website is www.MichelleCuttino.com. Twitter @MichelleCuttino. Facebook is www.Facebook.com/MichelleCuttino. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Pinterest and Instagram @BigBodyPub. My business website is www.BigBodyPublishing.com