Vanessa Howard, affectionately known as Dr. V, is a #1 Amazon Bestseller author and an award-winning educator. She started her writing career creating stories for children in her classroom. Her high interest reading materials were instrumental in helping students develop a love for reading.
Dr. V’s memoir, “From the Projects to a Ph.D.: A View from the Other Side of America,” was written to inspire and uplift the human spirit. In the book, she provides an awareness of cultural biases and shares strategies to effectively communicate across cultures.
Her other projects include Christian, contemporary, women’s fiction, and non-fiction books that focus on relationships and women’s issues. Currently, she teaches on the university level and is a nationwide literacy trainer. In her spare time, she likes to sew and spend time with her family.
Author’s Website: www.drvanessahoward.com
Consultant Website: www.howarducity.com
Social Media Pages: https://sociatap.com/Drvhoward
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?
I want to thank you for the opportunity that you have been providing Indie authors. I always wanted to be a writer. My journey began with simply journaling when I was an adolescent. Life issues sidetracked me from fulfilling my dreams of penning a book. When I became a teacher, my elementary students found reading to be challenging and they made inappropriate behavior choices to avoid reading. This prompted me to begin writing high-interest stories for my students. My students developed a love for reading and writing that translated into them scoring above average on the Missouri Statewide Assessment. This created great interest from teachers across the state. Then, I created critical thinking activities to assist students in understanding the testing language. My books were used throughout the region and successfully helped other teachers inspire good reading habits for their students.
Writing gives me an opportunity to inspire others to live their best life. Most of my writing weaves non-fiction variables within my story lines to help my readers understand humanity in a relatable context.
The writing process is very time consuming, especially when you are working full-time. After finishing your first draft, it feels like you have delivered your precious baby in the world. There is a sense of fulfillment and completion until you receive feedback from your editor. My first edits were a crying moment. It almost made me want to give up writing. I had to do a lot of self-talk to assist me in pushing forward and making the necessary corrections. Feedback is always a learning opportunity for growth.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
My debut memoir entitled, “From the Projects to a Ph.D.,” became a #1 Amazon Best Seller for eight days. In this book, I shared the challenges and obstacles of growing up in the lower socio-economic status. This book inspires my readers to believe in the human spirit and celebrate diversities.
My sophomore book was a fictional story about NBA star Dallas Avery and his May/December romance with Alicia Mitchell. A chance meeting with Yuma, a tribal chief’s son, creates an opportunity for Dallas to make a difference for those whose voices have been silenced. When an altercation with the police develops after Dallas assist a homeless woman, Yuma’s tribe is forced to shift gears and protect the couple. Get this story, you will find life, literacy, and legacy with Dr. V.
Most of my books are inspirational intended to motivate readers into overcoming obstacles. I weave a non-fiction element within my books to highlight the human experience. My books can be found on all platforms that sell books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, Apple Books, Walmart, Targets, etc.
If you would like to learn more about me, visit my website, www.howarducity.com
3) What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I am collaborating with my granddaughter on a series of books entitled, “The Adventures of Nala.” She struggled in the classroom using the writing process, so I provided support and tutoring at home. One day, as we edited one of her stories, we both spontaneously laughed. We shared the stories with our family and decided to have her best stories published.
I have an inspirational story being released March 2022 entitled, “Redeemed: With God’s Help We Can Overcome.” This book is in a standalone series “Grateful Hearts,” written by national bestselling authors to encourage readers in a tangible way and provide experiences with scriptures as never before. My story explores Miriam, Moses’ sister and I shared her life challenges and obstacles as they related to my life. You thought you knew Miriam before, but I will re-introduce you to this very complex woman. We will explore her flaws and understand that through God’s redemptive power we can overcome any obstacles.
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?
My most significant achievement as a writer has been to share some historical information about St. Louis, MO. My story “From the Projects to A Ph.D.,” shared my experiences of growing up at a time when the government used chemical warfare in low-income housing. This book was also the catalyst for me hosting a Social Justice Conference in St. Louis, Missouri April 2022.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Rejection is an unfortunate but necessary part of writing. Everyone experiences rejection at some point in their life. When I’ve faced rejection, I try to figure out what I need to do to make it better or reflect on the writing decisions that I’ve made. Rejection motivates me to do better.
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 scheduled daily times for writing, even it’s only fifteen minutes daily. Initially, it was difficult for my family to understand my writing mode of ‘do not disturb,’ but once they saw the finished product, everyone understood and honored my request. Setting daily goals assist me in maintaining a habit of writing. Some stories come to me organically and others I have to complete an outline for the novels. It generally takes me between three to six months to complete a novel.
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 encourage everyone to write and share your experiences because someone needs to hear it. You are never too old or too young to begin crafting your story. Commercial success can be achieved with planning and effort. I believe that the best is yet to come with Dr. V. I am recharging and reinventing myself daily.
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?
My parents instilled a love of reading in me from an early age. We took weekly trips to the library on Saturdays. Books were my safe haven and took me to places that my parents couldn’t afford. The book that had the most impact on my life was, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. Childhood trauma caused me to become silent in my life. This book empowered me to push past my fears to become my best self.
The book that I am currently reading is “Blind Spot,” by Mahzarin Banaji.” The author shared his knowledge of how our brain works and, in the process, helps us understand how to be fairer with others.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
The pandemic provided the perfect storm for me to hone in on my writing skills. I joined the NK Tribe Called Success 30-Day Writing Challenge. NK Tribe is comprised of award winning and national best selling authors. We met weekly and I was assigned a daily accountability coach. The quarantine served to heighten my creativity and motivation for writing.
Writing saved my sanity during the isolation periods of the pandemic. It gave me a focus and purpose for living a full life.
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?
I am an inspiring hybrid author. Currently, my books are self-published and I am working to publish two or three books yearly. I am a member of the Independent Publishers Group. This is a place where underrepresented authors can have a platform. My goal is to be a hybrid author whose platform makes children and adults motivated to read.
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 try to write things that are near and dear to my heart. Writing helped me to deal with the emotional and psychological consequences of my traumatic childhood. There were issues that resurfaced when I started writing. Writing has been very therapeutic for me and it gave me time to be reflective of my life choices and change my view of the world.
I write books that include Christian, contemporary, women’s fiction,, and nonfiction books that focus on relationships and women’s issues. My motto is, “Discover Life, Literacy, and Legacy with Dr. V.” My books will always share these elements to provide my readers understanding of the resiliency of the human spirit. My readers will be entertained and informed at the same time.