Sammie Ward is an author and a publisher.
Her short stories have appeared in magazines and e-zines that include Black Romance, Jive and True Confessions as well as Timbooktu and Nubian Chronicles.
In September 2004, she formed Lady Leo Publishing and subsequently published In The Name of Love; Love To Behold; Seven Days, and It’s In The Rhythm.
In June 2005, her debut novel, In The Name of Love was voted “Best New Drama & Fiction of the Year” by the Disilgold Literary National Association (DLNA) and in 2006, she earned a YOUnity Guild Award for New Romance Author of the Year.
What motivated you to start writing?
I consider myself a romantic person. Who doesn't want romance in their life or enjoy a good romantic novel or movie? It's a wonderful genre to write about. I love it. I grew up reading. I must have read every Silhouette/Harlequin romance novel I could get my hands on. I loved those books. I always thought I could also write one such book, but never considered it seriously until years later. I was out of work. To keep myself busy while looking for a job, I began to write.
I'm published as a fiction and nonfiction writer. In fiction, I write romance, but my novel, Seven Days is a romantic suspense. In nonfiction, I've published numerous health articles in various magazines.
I consider myself a cross-over writer. I write stories and articles that affect everyone from all ethnic groups and backgrounds. Whether it's a love story or a health article, anyone can relate to it.
Who would you say has influenced you the most?
Rochelle Alers, I love her books. Francis Ray: Beautiful person, awesome romance author. Both women write with such passion that it draws you into their books and they have a great eye for detail. Of course I can't forget my family who has stood behind me, pushing me.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
To write a good, moving stories readers will enjoy. That's what authors do; we're storytellers. We want everyone to enjoy those stories. When a reader puts the book down, we want them to be affected by our words, to be moved by our words.
How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
I find myself adding or relating to some of my life experiences in my novels or short stories. Of course the name is changed to protect the innocent, and its given a different twist.
What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?
Finances. I publish my novels through my own company, Lady Leo Publishing, therefore money is sometimes a challenge. When you're your own company, you are the writer, publicist, editor. You are the face, therefore you're responsible for getting your works out to the public.
How do you deal with these challenges?
I learn to juggle the two. I put myself on a schedule, dividing time between taking care of the business, and writing.
I have written five books so far. Four of them are novels and one is a novella: In The Name of Love (Lady Leo Publishing, 2005); Love To Behold (Lady Leo Publishing, 2005); Seven Days (Lady Leo Publishing, 2005); It's in the Rhythm (Lady Leo Publishing, 2006) and Lace & Honor which is due in October 2007.
Do you write everyday?
Yes. I try to spend between four or five hours a day or whenever the urge hits me.
What is Lace & Honor about and how long did it take you to write it?
My latest book, Lace & Honor tells the story of Sergeant Kayla Perry, Specialist Marissa Poe, and Elizabeth Shupe. Female soldiers and friends assigned to Delta Company 32nd Combat Support Hospital (32nd CSH).
The three women deal with relationships, life, love, ups and downs associated with the army while on the verge of deployment.
It took me about a year to write the novel and it's also going to be published through my company, Lady Leo Publishing.
Which aspects of the work that you put into Lace & Honor did you find most difficult?
Writing about the trials and tribulation of each of the women as it related to the military. A former female soldier myself I know firsthand what it means to juggle being a soldier, girlfriend, mother, and wife. It's not easy.
Which did you enjoy most?
Putting the female soldiers out there. To show that female soldiers go through a lot. But at the end of the day, they love being able to represent our contry and do it with pride and dignity, regardless of what's going on in their lives.
What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?
The story is told from a more intimate point of view. With real life problems, real life ups and downs that female soldiers go through.
It's similar to my other books because I wanted to show that no matter what you're going through in life, at the end of the day you can rise above it.
What will your next book be about?
My next book is Stroke of Midnight. It's a sequel to Seven Days. It's part of a series, featuring former CID Agent, Victor Sexton. It will be release in 2008.
What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
My novella, Love To Behold was recently picked up by Lavender Isis Press and will be reprinted in May 2007. In June 2006, I was recognized as one of the Literary Divas, in Heather Covington best-selling, Literary Divas: The top 100+ African American Women in Literary Fiction. Also, I was named Best New Romance Writer of 2006 by the DLNA (Disilgold Literary National Association).
How did you get there?
The novella, Love To Behold was rejected by the publishing company that requested me to write it. I published it through my own company, Lady Leo Publishing, and it sold very well. To have the book picked up by another publisher is awesome, making all of the hard work pay off. Being recognized as a Literary Diva and being on the same pages as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Terry McMillan is just mind blowing. I was speechless when I found out I was included in the book. I formed my own publishing company because no one accepted my work and now to be recognized for my effort is very satisfying.
This article was first published on OhmyNews International.