LaToya C. Martin hails from San Antonio but currently resides in the Houston area, where she raises a precocious daughter and teaches students with hearing loss, all the while remaining an active member of her church and community. Her first novel, Pain’s Purpose, was released in 2017 and her children’s book, Tea Time With Jesus, followed shortly after in 2018.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thanks for the opportunity to share my books with you and your audience! My love for writing began as a child. I can’t pinpoint the exact age that I started writing but my fondest childhood writing memory happened around 4th grade when my story won first place out of all of the school wide submissions. I think that sort of fueled the flame for me and I started writing all the time. The thing that I love about writing is the outlet it provides to creatively express myself through storytelling. The most frustrating aspect of writing is editing and revising the manuscript. It’s time consuming!
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I’ve published two books- a novel, Pain’s Purpose and a children’s book, Tea Time With Jesus. Pain’s Purpose tells the story of a woman who courageously leaves an abusive marriage and in doing so discovers God and regains her self identity. It’s all about ordinary people dealing with the effects of broken families and past mistakes. Yet, a message of hope and reconciliation is interwoven into each chapter. Redemption is always possible! Tea Time With Jesus was inspired by my daughter pretending to have a tea party with Jesus. The heart of a child is so pure and it was beautiful to see a relationship with Jesus through the eyes of a child. I wanted to capture that moment and share it with other children to encourage them to talk to Jesus in their own unique way! Readers can purchase both books on Amazon!
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Pain’s Purpose and devotional for single mothers.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Just the fact that my books are published and people are reading them brings me so much joy! To be honest, I’m not sure where I’ll be in five years with my writing. I’m a teacher so writing is not a full time career for me. I do have some ideas for some future projects so hopefully I can publish a few books over the next couple of years. I’m also interested in copyediting and recently completed a course so that’s another aspect of the writing industry that I want to explore.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Of course! I tried the traditional publishing route initially and received my fair share of rejection letters. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a painful experience that brings about a ton of self doubt but I had to believe in my work more than the opinions of others and push through it.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I don’t but I should! Teaching is not a profession where you only work during “business hours”. I always have work to bring home and I’m a single parent so my biggest challenge is finding time to write. It takes me a while to finish a novel and that’s one thing that I definitely need to work on. I’m also guilty of procrastinating so that doesn’t help! My readers have been waiting and asking for the sequel to Pain’s Purpose for a while now so I want to make sure that I finish it this year. I didn’t outline my novel. I just went with the flow!
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I don’t think so. There are examples of famous authors who became successful later in life so it’s possible. Writing is different than other industries that focus on the superficial. I believe readers care more about the quality of the author’s work.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I am but don’t read as much as I used to. One book that comes to mind is Letters of a Slave Girl. I was probably around nine or ten when I read it and it stuck with me. I have a few favorite authors- Norma Jarrett, Michelle Stimpson and Francine Rivers! I’m currently reading An Unlikely Proposal by my childhood best friend, Toni Shiloh.
9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?
Initially, the pandemic afforded me extra time to write since school was closed while administrators tried to figure out the next course of action so that was one of the benefits of the quarantine. Once school started back virtually and my daughter was also going to school virtually my time was limited. Teaching virtually was uncharted territory for all of us teachers in the beginning and having a child attending school at home was quite the experience so unfortunately writing was placed on the back burner again. You could say that it stifled my creativity because I focused my creativity on educating my students during a pandemic.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
Both of my books are self published but I’m not opposed to traditional publishing. I just think it’s hard to get your foot in the door with traditional publishing without an agent or connections. If writing was my primary career then I would put more effort into being published by a traditional company. Self publishing works best for my schedule but I do hope to be a hybrid author one day!
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I write to encourage. Although the characters in my novel are fictional, they deal with real life situations that people can relate to. I want readers to enjoy and be entertained while reading but my greatest prayer is that they feel hope and the love of God as they read. I believe that our gifts and talents come from God and are a vital component of our purpose. Writing makes me feel that I’m using my talent to bring glory to God and walking in purpose.