Interview with Joylynn Jossel

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have been writing since the days of elementary school journals and rainy day writings. I started out just writing poems, then graduate to short stories. My first self-published book, Please Tell Me If the Grass Is Greener, was a mixture of poetry and short stories. Well, actually it’s poetic short stories; short stories told in a rhythmic flow. Kind of like a Dr. Seuss book for Grown-ups-LOL. I love La La Land. Growing up, my escape from reality was the La La Land I invented with pen and paper. So, I guess that is truly what drove me to pick up the pen for the first time and begin to take a genuine interest in writing. It was an escape. Some people use drugs, some people use alcohol, some people use sex to escape while other people might use guns. I used a pen and the wonderful English vocabulary. I'd always been a reader, as that was another escape of mine. Ramona the Pest, Nancy Drew and those Little House on the Prairie books were my favorites. But then one day I got my hands on one of my auntie's grown up books, which was Little Girl Lost by Donald Goines. It was the first book I'd ever read with main characters that looked like me. With characters that walked, talked and thought like me. I just remember sneaking the book out at night time and reading it while laying in bed. I was so deeply enthralled that I felt like I became that little girl who was lost. I just remember closing that book upon the final chapter and saying to myself, "One day I'm going to write a book that does that to people." I think I've accomplished that.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of your family.
Hands down-THE READERS. What I need people to understand is yes, as an author, a part of me wants to write stories that I myself want to read. But the moment an author begins to make it all about themselves and not the reader is when the author needs to rethink their purpose for doing what they do. Ultimately, when a product is created, it is created to please and satisfy the consumer. Well, if you are a writer, your product is your collection of written words and the reader is your consumer. Readers are my literary heartbeat. When they send me their testimonies and words of encouragement, it keeps my creative blood flowing to the brain. My readers inspire me to challenge myself. Not all readers reach out to me with praises; some with constructive criticism and then there are those who maybe could have been just a tad more diplomatic in their lashing. When ever I felt as though a certain book might not have reached anyone or that my reach as an author all together just never seemed to stretch far enough, one of my readers would reach out to me and confirm that my writing is not in vain. I don't write for myself and I'm absolutely not one of those authors who you will hear say, "If I could just sell one book and reach one person, then I'm happy; I've done my job." No ma'am and no sir. I do not put all that I put into my work-sacrifice all that I do-just to sell one book or reach one person. Did Jesus set out to reach just one person? Did Jesus go through all that He did and die on that cross just to save one person? I think you get my point...
What does “growth” mean to you?
For me personally, growth is when my best book was my last (latest) book. If you ask an author what was the best book they have written, if they don't call off the last book of theirs that was published, then, Houston, we have a problem. As a writer, you are always learning, progressing, growing and developing more within the craft. If the best book you ever wrote is three books back down the line, then you might want to consider sharpening your tools. It's okay for your favorite book to be somewhere back down the line, but your best book should always be the one that just came off the press.
How did you get your first publishing deal?
I started off in the literary industry self-publishing my first book, Please Tell Me If The Grass Is Greener. I also self-published my second book as well, which is a book of poetry titled World On My Shoulders. Eventually I grew out of my fear of thinking I was too short winded to write a full-length novel and I wrote and self-published my first novel, The Root of All Evil, under the name Joylynn M. Jossel. I wrote that manuscript with the intentions of eventually selling it to a major publishing house. So, while it was in manuscript form I sent it off (un-agented) to a major publisher for publication consideration. But in the meantime, I eventually sent the manuscript off to a printer as well. I received a rejection letter from the publisher before the books even came off the press. But that didn’t stop me. I simply sold copies from my trunk in hopes of creating a buzz. Well, the buzz was created. I got an agent and the agent submitted the manuscript to a major publishing house that did end up giving me a three book deal. Ironically, the same publishing house who sent me my very first rejection letter was the same major publisher who ended up giving me my very first book deal. After having sold 12,500 copies of the self-published edition in a one year, The Root of All Evil was re-released under my first publishing contract. But while it was going through the editing process, I wrote a street lit book titled Dollar Bill for Triple Crown Publications under the name JOY. It turned out to be an Essence Magazine bestseller, appeared in Newsweek and was translated to Japanese.
Do you think book sales are the only indicator of your success as a writer?
Book sales are not the only indicator of my success as a writer. Once upon a time I used to desire to be a New York Times bestselling author. That motivated me to no end. But then I watched Spike Lee do an interview in which he stated that you can not allow an award or organization to validate who you are in your craft. Talk about a revelation! I heard his words. I got it. Plain and simple I got it. It was at that moment I knew that my success was not based on sells, awards, titles or anything else. Success is personal. Success is your own criteria and goals that you set for yourself. Have I reached the level of success I desire for myself? Absolutely not. I don't even feel close. Can I take out a pad and pencil and write down what those indicators are. Absolutely not. Call me crazy but success for me is going to be that feeling I get when I know "It is finished." When I know that I have not done just the best that I can do, but that I have done ALL that I can do and feel it in the depths of my soul that God is pleased and that I am pleased with myself. I always say that the greatest "Ah Ha" moment a person can have is when their life begins to make sense. Well none of this makes sense to me yet. I went from writing secular works where the royalty checks kept my head above water and the lights on, to writing Christian fiction to where-let's keep it all the way one hunid- it's a challenge to get Christian folks to even buy Christian fiction. It's been such a challenge that on some days I entertain the thought of going back to writing my trashy novels that would allow me to at least buy a named brand hand bag every now and then. Obedience is better than sacrifice though. So I continue to trust God, which means, I continue to write what He instructs me to. Even though those royalty checks aren't what I'd like them to be, somehow the lights are still on!
What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you?
That I live breathe, eat and sleep (well, not much sleep) this literary thing. It’s real. It’s not a hobby. It’s not something I do on the side. It’s my life. I take it serious. It’s my craft, my career, my first love and now it’s my ministry. With that being said, readers need to know that when I put something out for them, I’m truly giving them my all. And if I fall short of their expectations, I’ll do everything I can to try to do a better job next time in order to earn and keep their readership.
Published 2013-09-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Wet
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 75,630. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Women's Erotica, Fiction » African American fiction » Erotica
Joylynn M. Jossel, author of The Root of All Evil and its sequel, When Souls Mate, brings yet another page turning, spicy thriller. Brace yourself, because in this emotional roller-coaster of a ride, when it rains, it pours. So try to stay dry, but the forecast shows that chances are...you'll get WET!
The Ghostwriter
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 35,580. Language: English. Published: March 21, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Contemporary
Although Rhain Garrett's daily nine to five pays for her necessities in life, her nightly devotion and knack for the written word is her passion. What seems like an uneventful life for Rhain all changes after a chance meeting with a man named Fred.
Thicker Than Water
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,840. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance
Tye and Wade are identical twin brothers that couldn't be closer than if they had been born joined at the hip. Inseparable as boys, teenagers and now men, no one ever thought that anything could come between them. And they were right. Not anything could come between them. It was anyone they should have been more careful of.
World On My Shoulders
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,840. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
Through the gift of written word you are invited into a sundry universe. World On My Shoulders is the beginning pages to a clandestine diary. Shared with you are many pieces of this best selling author's zealous soul. This vast selection of poetry is diverse in every sense of the word.
Please Tell Me If The Grass Is Greener
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 20,010. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » Anthologies
These 7 short stories are peerless of its kind. "Even Snowflakes Have Flaws" takes on the essence of a young woman and her struggle to grasp the perfection society is fixated on. James Sr. forces you to be an accomplice of his brutal thoughts as he fights to cope with failed drea