At a young age, author TL James was fascinated with alternate realities and history. Authors such as Ray Bradbury and George Orwell were some of her favorite escapes. However, she never thought she would develop a story as renowned as their work.
TL James graduated with an MBA from LeTourneau University. As a student, she developed a knack for reaching and getting down into the weeds to find the delicate details that were very important to her. She also cultivated an interest in biblical studies and research. Little did James know, her love for alternate history, passion for research and interest in biblical studies would become an integral thread in her writing style, thus building her literary formula.
After many sleepless nights, James began penning her first speculative fictional book, with her newly born son tucked comfortably at her side. She developed the family drama storyline that showcases her love of research and biblical studies. TL drew from other literary classics, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare and mythology, giving birth to the MPire Series.
Finding the right publishing house to showcase her work was very difficult. Since her novels spanned across multiple genres, most publishers didn’t know how to categorize or promote it. There were many gaps in the publishing industry. Finding the right combination of vendors and juggling timelines and hidden agendas to market her book was extremely difficult and financially wasteful.
After much frustration, TL James established PHE Ink – Writing Solutions Firm in March 2009. She found other authors who were looking for direction and support. James developed a new love - working with aspiring writers, one-on-one, to develop their literary voice.
TL James currently resides in Houston, Texas with her son and immediate family.
Her books include:
The MPire: Resurrection – Tentative 2013
Deadly Sins: A Political Anthology - 2013
Suspect: A Confessional Anthology - 2012
The MPire: Trinity - 2011
Coffee Confessional Anthology - Death by Espresso - 2010
The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys - 2010
The MPire: Death Cometh - 2008
The MPire: In Search of the Lost - 2007
About “The MPire Trinity”
Mallory Haulm has finally carved his place in the family, but his arched nemesis and eldest brother wants him out. With each plot Marc devises, Mallory manages to dodge. However, with family members turning their back and betraying Mallory’s trust, Marc’s last plot might be successful.
The Son of God
Matthew won’t let anything get in the way of him being with his greatest love – not even is identity as “The Second Coming.” He will stop at nothing to success, but would it goes as far as starting a little fight called Armageddon?
And The Holy Hell Raiser
Silas Xavier Luxapher is a new comer to the scene but not new to the game. He doesn’t take “NO” for an answer, HE TAKES IT ALL!
UBAWA: When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
TL: I’m still deciding. *laugh* Being an author is a calling, a passion and a way of life. I think I answered the call when I released my second title – The MPire: Death Cometh in 2008. I figured, anyone can be a one-title writer, but to be an author takes dedication. Although everyone around me saw that dedication, I didn’t until 2008.
UBAWA: How did you decide on the idea for your 1st book? 2nd book? 3rd book, etc?
TL: The idea of the base-line story came to be after I was laid-off with my two-month old son. Day in and day out, I was watching meaningless television. One day, I unplugged from the television and dared myself to write something better – thus The MPire was created. When I was writing The MPire, it was one story. It was only later when I started learning about the publishing business; I found it not economical to print a 2,000 letter size page book. Thus I broke The MPire into three novels: In Search of the Lost, Death Cometh and Trinity.
UBAWA: How long did it take you to complete your first book? What was the process like?
TL: It took me over a year to complete The MPire. However, when I had to break up the stories, it took be about 2-3 months to rewrite the beginning and ending (of cliff hanger) of each title.
The process I followed was crazy. I wrote my book in Excel. I created my baseline or timeline and stuck with it. When ideas started flowing, they were NEVER in order. That was okay, because I could place them in random cells. I researched and inserted factual and historical information to be the credibility in my alternative reality fiction. Once I was satisfied with my skeleton, I rearranged/organized the cells and started layering my dialogue and narrative.
UBAWA: What’s so rewarding about writing books and being an author?
TL: The most rewarding part about writing books is being able to escape into my own chaotic and romantic world. I control (to a bit) every aspect of it and if I don’t like something or change my mind about something, it’s only a pen stroke away.
The most rewarding parts about being an author is meeting people who thought my world was a great place to escape to. It is STILL shocking to me that the people I meet think that I am so accomplished or a positive role model. I still get excited when people ask me to autograph my book.
UBAWA: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up?
TL: Yes. 2011, my patience was tested. After a business partnership blew up in my face, I kept getting hit with other failures. At one point, I completely shut down. I stopped writing and interviewing. I just wanted everything to go away.
Then, I received an email from a reader who wrote a 1000-word email, pouring out her heart about what she loved and mostly what she hated about my first book. She asked me a ton of questions. I think I shocked her that I responded to the email so quickly with answers and condolences. We emailed each other back and forth several times before she asked me to visit her book club. That was the best book club meeting ever. It restored my faith and renewed my spirit. Although they didn’t like my first book, they still ordered and read the other two.
Because of them, I wrote The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys- A separate story line just for the fans. THEY LOVED IT! Now, they have become my focus group.
UBAWA: There’s more to being an author than writing a book. How do you manage to handle the business side of things?
TL: After the second book, I had to put on my business hat. The training that I got from my MBA and my full-time gig, I finally got to use for my personal career. I create a mission statement, quarterly marketing, and sales goals for my books. I handle clients and readers the same way I would if I was working my full-time. If I promised it, you got it. If I committed to it, it was done. If I bought it, I paid for it at its price. And in return, if I paid for it, I BETTER GET IT! I respect people’s time and talents, and in return, I expect my talents and time to be respected.
UBAWA: Do you have an editor or do you edit your own books?
TL: I do both. Before, I send my book to my editors, I try to make it as clean and professional as possible. I refuse to write down words and turn it in or worst, publish it without proofing. I print out my novel and edit it by hand. Or, I have Adobe “read” my novel to me, so I can catch my errors. When that is completed, I send it off.
I have an organizational editor to ensure that my structure is intact and my characters have stayed true to themselves. I have a line editor to ensure that my “I”s are dotted and my “T”s are crossed, and that I don’t use too many comas or … *Laugh*
Later, once my book has been on the shelf for a while, I pick up my book and re-read it.
UBAWA: Who does the cover art for your book(s)?
TL: I currently do. When I am writing, I know what my cover should look like. It is easier for me to learn a program and create my cover than to attempt to explain my idea to someone.
UBAWA: Do you ever encounter writer’s block? How do you get past it?
TL: My writer’s block usually happens because I want my characters to do or say something and they strongly disagree. How I handle it? Well, I pour me a tall cold glass of moscato or mix me a vodka drink and listen to my characters. There is some dialogue between my characters and I and sometimes it gets heated. But we eventually come to a resolve.
Otherwise, I kill them off or make bad things happen to them until they comply. *WIDE EYE*
UBAWA: How often do you write?
TL: At least once a day – I can be an article or blog, or random thoughts that I can’t get out of my mind.
UBAWA: Tell us about your last book signing.
TL: The last book signing I participated in was the “Fall into Books” Conference in St. Louis. I had a blast. I met a lot of readers. It is freaky when you walk into a room and introduce yourself and they respond back, “OH I KNOW YOU!”
UBAWA: Beside social media, what other methods are you using to get the word out about your book(s)?
TL: I sponsor book club and reviewers events with ads and promotional items. I donate to book clubs/reviewers when they have anniversaries and/or contests. I use/sponsor blog talk shows, blog e-blasts and other literary outlets. I use Goodreads.com equally as much as I use Facebook.
I stopped trying to have book signings at bookstores because I saw it as a defeated cause. Instead I host literary events such as “Intimate Happy Hour with, Get Lit Parties, Book launch parties, Coffee and Words, etc.” I also attend literary festivals.
UBAWA: As a Woman of Color, what inspires you the most?
TL: Other women of color who break the social/racial stereotypes and reputation. I want to have a presence in the literary world like Zora Neale Hurston or Octavia E. Butler. My business partner, Jean Holloway, is one of those women who I pull inspiration from. Not everyone can be a ‘Real Housewife of” but someone needs to write their script.
UBAWA: Who is your biggest influence?
TL: My biggest influence is my mother and grandmother. My mother’s life gave me the hope that I can do better. My grandmother taught me to try it. She would say, “The worst thing that can happen is that it works!”
UBAWA: Have you ever done something in the past you regret? How did you get through it?
TL: I hired publicist to get me started on my image. We really worked well together. So after two years, she asked me to create an imprint for her so she can produce titles that would not fit in my business model. I complied. Quickly after, she completely went bad and breached the contract.
She printed books without my consent. She lied about sales from the one title we were working on. She even released the title in e-book form before it was approved. Furthermore, she stopped working on my stuff (I was still a client) but I was still paying for it. She never edited the title that I paid for and she was missing deadlines. She never offered a fix nor did she pay me my money back. To make matters worse, she stopped responding to my emails and phone calls and even had her husband to threaten me.
I retaliated and made the breach public. I would leave threatening calls and emails. At one point, I sat in front of her house to handle the situation physically. (Mind you I paid ole girl over $6000 in one year). I actually saw myself get out of the car to walk up to her front door. I was about to activate my inmate number. (We all have them but not all activate them). Luckily a voice said, “Prison orange is not your color! And if you kill her… it would be premeditated and that is capital murder in Texas. THAT’S A NEEDLE! AND you don’t like given blood, let alone…”
So, I figured success was my best revenge. That day I also learned that people who may have your back, have their own intentions. Once you learn those intentions, respect them don’t neglect them. Prison orange is NOT your color.
UBAWA: How do you get through the tough times in life when life throws what it throws at you?
TL: I dress up and get my baby boy dressed (he’s nine) in his president’s suit. Then, we have a business dinner meeting at an expensive restaurant with crab legs and steak. Without being too difficult, I tell him what’s going on. He often replies with something a nine-year old would say. “Dude, tell them NO!” or “You don’t need them.” Or “Don’t worry and take your time mom. I will take over your business in 10 yrs.” That’s puts the fear of God in me. My son firing me is NOT a GOOD LOOK!
UBAWA: What is one goal you want to accomplish for yourself in 2013?
TL: I want to expand my brand (TL James and PHE Ink) beyond the literary community.
UBAWA: What do you have planned next?
TL: Personal literary goal – convert my first title into an audio book.
UBAWA: How can readers and others in the literary community reach you?
TL: Readers and others in the literary community can reach me by my website (www.authortljames.com and www.pheinkpub.com). There, you can find my Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Twitter, Pinterest, and email. I LOVE EMAIL!!!!!! I answer my own email. (email@example.com)
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