My life as an author...
I’ve written non-fiction books for young adults, fiction books for young adults as well as fiction books for adults. I live my life and then I write about it. Most of my books have an element of my true life story. I figure if God didn’t want me to tell the world what I’ve gone through, why would he have allowed me to go through so much?
So, I’m going to tell you a story about all of my books–how I came to write them and what they still mean to me to this day. The Blueprint for my Girls–the one with the black cover, is the first book that I ever wrote. I was sharing my life as a teen and a young adult. I wanted to tell people what I had gone through and what the big lessons were for me. The greatest lesson: You always have to keep going.
When I first wanted to have The Blueprint for My Girls published, I couldn’t get one agent to take on the project. They all told me that there wasn’t a market for non-fiction books for teen girls. Yeah, they said that. But here it is, all these years later, and guess what? There are all sorts of non-fiction books for teen girls. When you are an artist, you are often WAY ahead of your time. When the agents told me no, I founded Rolling Hills Press. It is my own publishing company which launched my career as an author. I am so thankful to all of the people who supported my book with its black cover. Six months after I published The Blueprint for My Girls, I was contacted by Simon & Schuster to publish with and market it worldwide for me. I jumped at the opportunity. The blue book is the Simon & Schuster version of The Blueprint for My Girls. The pink book is the second book in the Blueprint for My Girls series.
A great thing happened while I was busy marketing the Blueprint books. My Blueprint books starting appearing in publications like Essence, Teen People and Ebony. And, another publisher contacted me and asked me to write a workbook for teens. I thought it was the most wonderful thing ever. And so, I wrote my first Blueprint workbook.
Another funny thing happened while I was out marketing the Blueprint books. Inside the books, I wrote about my experiences running my hip hop magazine, Mad Rhythms. And so, when I was out doing book talks and booksignings, the audience would often ask me, “What was it like to be a hip hop journalist?” And, you know me, I was compelled to tell it like it was… And so…
The Tisha Ariel Nikkole series was born. Inspired by my real life as the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Mad Rhythms. The series is now 4 books strong and an Amazon Best Seller.
In between promoting the Blueprint books, doing Blueprint workshops and traveling up and down the East Coast promoting Exclusive and Privacy, I was inspired to write a book about a teen girl who gets jumped by three girls that she doesn’t know. That book, Retaliation, was named a Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers by the American Library Association. It was the highest honor that I’ve ever received as an author. It absolutely changed my life. I wrote a follow up to the book, Accused, which also received an award from a separate group of librarians. With the Retaliation series, I’ve spoken at Boys & Girls Clubs, Juvenile Detention Facilities, Middle Schools and High Schools talking about teen violence prevention. The Retaliation book brought me closer to my readers in a way that I’ll always cherish.
Thanks to the outpouring of love and support for Retaliation and Accused, I did something I’ve never done before. I wrote a prequel. Yep! Loyal is the prequel to Retaliation. The goal was to get ‘reluctant readers’ to try the Retaliation series by reading a much shorter book. This book showcases the love between a brother and sister and is very much inspired by the relationship my brother and I had as teens.
Rolling Hills Press initially released it only as an e-book, but we’re thinking about releasing a printed version as well. I haven’t decided if I should continue the Retaliation series beyond these three books but I’ve had so much fun writing them so far. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve cried some. But, overall, it’s been quite a ride.
One last thing…
In my life as an author, I’ve had so many people give me good bits of advice and make suggestions to me. I was in Missouri many years ago at a public affairs conference. I was a guest speaker talking about the relevance of hip hop culture. When my session was over, a woman came up to me and said, “You have such a great voice. I could just listen to you all day.” Believe it or not, I never forgot that comment. That comment gave me the courage to do something in 2016 that I had never imagined doing. I recorded my first audio book. Yep! I did it. I read my book, Exclusive, for all the listeners. I had so much fun doing it. I laughed at parts. I got nervous when it came time to read the sexy parts. It was a great experience. I plan to read the whole series, so stay tuned.