Tranisha Hollman, Author of Loving Leah, Talks Writing

My guest today is Tranisha Hollman. Tranisha fell in love  with reading books when she was introduced to Beverly Cleary's unforgettable character Ramona Quimby. Later, Tranisha discovered her own passion for writing. Loving Leah is her first novel in a three book series. Tranisha lives in Florida with her husband and three beautiful children. Welcome to Piedmont Island, Tranisha. Let's talk writing!

Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

Tranisha - When I finished writing Loving Leah, I handed it over to my mother to read. She has always been an avid reader and has read so many different books. I wanted her to be the first to read it because I knew she would be brutally honest. So with trembling hands, I gave her my baby and waited...and waited…and waited…. After the second day and no word from my mother I knew there was a problem. Like me, I know that if my mother is really into a book, she will read it in one day. I was put off with statements like, “I will get to it,” or “I’ve been so busy.”

An agonizing two weeks later my mother sat next to me on the couch with my book in her hands and she simply stared at me for a minute. She admitted that she had stalled reading Loving Leah because she knew that if it wasn’t good she was going to have to tell me that and possibly dash my dreams. The next words she said are engraved in my heart; she turned to me and said, “I feel like I am in the presence of a real author.” She went on to say how much she loved it and she even described the parts that were her favorite, but it was that very first statement that let me know I was meant to write.

Anne – You're so fortunate to have such a supportive mother. Of the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Tranisha - Granny holds a special place in my heart. She’s loves her family hard and she stands strong as the family matriarch. She reminds me of my own grandmother Bethel French who passed away in 2001. Like Granny, my grandmother could cook anything and she cooked when times were good and when times were hard. I remember one night she had argued with my grandfather and we all went to sleep with a heavy heart. Well, at 4:00 am in the morning, she woke us up and told us to come to the kitchen, My grandfather and I grumbled all the way to the dining table and I will never forget the sight that greeted me. I was instantly awake as I looked at the spread before us. She had cooked cheese grits, bacon, sausage, pancakes, scrambled eggs, biscuits and ham. We sat down to eat and after a while the troubles of yesterday faded as we laughed, talked and ate some more.

Anne- You're blessed to be surrounded by so many strong, feisty women! Tell us the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

Tranisha - My publisher, Tate Publishing, advised me that Loving Leah would be released online in 03/2012 but they also advised that sometimes the online websites release the books early. On February 21, 2012, I checked Amazon around 11:00pm and saw nothing. At 12:01am I decided to look one last time before going to bed. I jumped and shouted when I saw my cover on the screen. That moment was so exciting and just magical for me. I thanked God for the blessing and then I called everyone I knew to share the news. I am still new to all of this and so everything that happens is just amazing to me and that moment was truly a defining moment for me.

Anne - How many rejections have you received? Was one more memorable than others?

Tranisha - I have received a few rejections but the first one was the most memorable one. In 2007 I sent my manuscript to Tate Publishing and waited for a response. I ran to the mailbox every day and about six weeks later I received my answer. They thanked me for the submission but it was a “no” on getting published with them. In 2010, they contacted me again. They had expanded as a company and looked over previous submissions and asked if I had published my book yet. I sent them my most updated version and then the journey began.

Anne – That's one of the best rejection stories I've heard! Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers? 

Tranisha - No matter what, never give up. Before I published with Tate, I went through so much. Times were hard and doors were slammed in my face. I had to dig deeper than I ever have before and I prayed and continued to hope and dream. Also, laugh as much as you can. Laughter is such a huge stress reliever (any Tyler Perry movie or play will have you in stiches). So that’s it, never give up; pray; hope; dream and laugh as much as you can.

Anne – Sage advice! Would you share an excerpt of Loving Leah with us?

Tranisha – Of course!

The sound of the rain against the window startled me awake. Sitting up in the bed, I turned on the light from the nightstand. It was 4:45 a.m. Putting on my robe and slippers, I went downstairs. Not able to resist, I opened the door to the guestroom. Looking inside, I didn’t see Bryce in the bed. In fact, it looked as if the bed hadn’t been touched at all. I walked into the room and checked the bathroom. He wasn’t in there either.

Bryce, are you in here?” Silence greeted me. Looking out of the front door window, I could see that his car was here. Pressing my face against the window, I looked more closely at the car. It was pouring down rain, and I could barely make anything out, but it looked as if Bryce was in the car. What was he doing outside in the rain just sitting in his car? I raced upstairs to put my sneakers on. There was no sense in me slipping and falling while I was outside. I ran back downstairs. When I looked out the window again, I saw that he was still sitting there in the car. Not wanting him to see me yet, I silently crept outside through the glass sliding doors on the side of the house. Feeling the rain and the wind blowing, I quickly walked around the side of the house until I found myself right behind Bryce’s car. I walked to the driver’s side, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. I became oblivious to the rain. The nervous feeling increased as I stood there looking at Bryce through the window. He was talking on his cell phone, and he was so engrossed in his conversation that he didn’t even see me. I could tell by his gesturing and smiling that it wasn’t an argument.

Something just wasn’t right about this. He laughed out loud, a deep sensuous laugh, and that was all I could take. I yanked open the door, letting the rain and the wind in the car.

Anne – Quick. Your five favorites – author, actor, movie, song, quote.

Tranisha – Author: Nora Roberts, actor: Denzel Washington, movie: Goonies and Think Like A Man, song: Stuttering, quote: Still I Rise.

Anne - Where can readers find you online?

Tranisha – At my website, send an email: I am also on LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest.

Anne – Thanks so much, Tranisha. I wish you every success with Loving Leah.

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