Friday, March 14, 2014

I Ain't Me No More

I Ain't Me No More

BY E. N. JOY

I Ain't Me No More

Helen wasn't just born the devious vixen of New Day Temple of Faith. There had to be something rooted deep within her to make her inflict and feed off of other people's pain.

Perhaps it was her own pain that she had suppressed for so many years-an unimaginable pain-that created an internal prison of which her mind was the only captive. But once the demons within her break free, those around her better beware, as Helen surely becomes the epitome of the saying, "Hurt people, hurt people."

In I Ain't Me No More, Helen has no shame displaying that she hasn't been saved all her life. Will the divas of New Day Temple of Faith think Helen's worth saving? But more importantly, can God save Helen from not only her evil past; can He save her from herself?

First Chapter Excerpt

Man, I hate the cleaning guy! Why does he have to do his job so well? Can’t he ever leave just one spot, smear or smudge on this dang stripper pole? Something so that I don’t have to see myself so painfully visible like this? What makes him think I want to be able to see myself twirling around this pole like some skilled monkey—caught up in the powerful grip of the almighty dollar; a grip known to have choked the life out of many while leaving others gasping for their last breath?

“That’s for you,” Damon spoke out over R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling.” With his chestnut brown, bald head and facial hair that is edged up nice and clean, Damon licks his thumb and uses it to flick a twenty dollar bill off the stack of money he’s palming.

I swivel my body down to the ground the way the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream at the DQ makes its way from the machine to the cone. “Baby, you know it takes gas to keep a Cadillac like myself going,” I say to Damon. “As long as you keep filling up the tank, I’ma go-go all night.” I swivel my body back up to a standing position while adding, “In any direction you want me to go.”

Damon’s lips part into that sexy signature smile of his.

“Whatever you want,” Damon said. “It’s your Caddy. I’ll drive, ride, heck, I’ll even be a backseat passenger. Just know that I got you, Ma.” Damon begins to flick off bills like he’s the dealer in a game of spades.

I’m very much content with the hand I’m being dealt. So much so that I want to drop to my knees and begin scooping like a kid standing under a piƱata that has just been busted open. But I don’t want to appear too desperate. Resolving to strip in the first place was out of desperation. At the time of making the decision I felt trapped, like Jonah in the belly of the big fish. I was always trying to make ends meet, but neither of my ends were the least bit interested in getting to know one another. Bills were due. I weighed some options on my immoral scale of desperation and stripping was a less load to travel with in my mental carry-on. I mean, at least I’m not selling my whole self --just bartering off a piece of me.

“Go on, Go-Go Girl. You know you wanna bend that thang over and pick up that loot.”

Once again, Damon licks his thumb and lightens his pile of money as he flicks a couple more bills onto the stage at my feet. “Come on, just show me a li’l sumpin’-sumpin’,” Damon urges. His eyes peruse my body from head to toe, wetting his thumb in preparation to keep making it rain.

And this was rain, might I add. Ones being flicked off; that’s a chance of rain. Fives being flicked off; that’s a little drizzle. Tens being flicked off; that’s a scattered shower. Twenties; that’s rain. Benjamins; an all-out thunderstorm!

“Come on, Damon, you know the rules. You don’t want me to break the rules and get put on punishment do you?” I ask, making a puppy dog face.

“Forget the rules,” Damon barks like the big dawg he is. “And if all that is worthy of just a peek,” he says, referring to all the money he’s laid at my feet, “I can only imagine what this will get me.”

I freeze on the stage, which means the bill Damon is now displaying must be triggering some type of ice storm. Until this very moment, I never even knew that such a bill exists.

“What’s the matter, Go-Go Girl? You ain’t never seen a five hundred dollar bill before?” He chuckles. “So what do you say you make tonight a first for a lot of things?”

All of a sudden I’m starting to think about church, kicking myself for not having paid my respects (or tithes) to the house of the Lord in a couple of months. At the same time I’m trying my hardest to recall one of those messages that have to do with temptation-a scripture or something- because to tell the truth and shame the devil, I am beyond tempted to take Damon up on his offer.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” That isn’t exactly the scripture I’m grappling for, but it still seems fitting.

My name; Helen Lannden. How much is it worth today? Twenty-five year old Helen Lannden. How much will my name be worth tomorrow, especially if I trick for this money today?

( Continues... )


Copyright © 2013 by E. N. Joy. All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, E. N. Joy. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.

Intimate Conversation with E. N. Joy

BLESSED selling Author E. N. Joy is the writer behind the five book series, “New Day Divas,” the “Still Divas” three book series and the “Always Divas” three book series, which have been coined the “Soap Opera In Print.”

The “New Day Divas” series includes the titles: She Who Finds A Husband, Been There Prayed That, Love Honor or Stray, Trying to Stay Saved and I Can Do Better All By Myself.
The “Still Divas” series includes the titles: And You Call Yourself a Christian, The Perfect Christian and The Sunday Only Christian. The “Always Divas” series includes the titles I Ain’t Me No More, More Than I Can Bear and You Get What You Pray For.

Joy writes children’s and young adult titles under the name N. Joy. Her children’s story, The Secret Olivia Told Me, received the American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor. Book club rights were acquired by Scholastic Books and the book has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops Joy performs in schools nationwide.

Currently, Joy is the executive editor for Urban Christian, an imprint of Urban Books in which the titles are distributed by Kensington Publishing Corporation. In addition, Joy is the artistic developer for a young girl group named DJHK Gurls. Joy pens original songs for the group that deal with messages that affect today’s youth, such as bullying. You can visit Joy at www.enjoywrites.com.

BPM: 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.

BPM: Does your faith or education inspire your writing? 
I went to school for legal assisting and was a paralegal for thirteen years. Not many of my books deal with the legal system, but as far as my faith, my being a Christian, it inspires every word I write. Because I am a Christian who writes Christian fiction for a Christian fiction imprint (Urban Christian), my books absolutely must have Christ in them.

My walk with Christ has not been easy. I did not dedicate my life to Christ one Sunday morning and then all my problems went away. It just so happens that I was my biggest problem, and since I wasn't going anywhere, I had to begin to deal with myself. This goes for most of my characters I write about as well. Some of them just can't seem to get out of their own way, let go of their issues and past and let God. And just like in real life, some of the characters get it after getting it wrong so many times. Then there are those who just never seem to get it. The latter characters, like some real folks, end up going through life thinking it's a battle of them against the world, never realizing that they are their own worse enemy...and sometimes their only enemy.

BPM: 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.

BPM: Introduce us to your latest book and the main characters. What makes each one special? Do you have any favorites? 
I Ain't Me No More is book one of my three book "Always Divas" series. The main character, Helen, is not only the newest member of the New Day Temple of Faith Singles Ministry, but she quickly becomes the vixen with all her evil ways and tactics. Helen is not one of those church folk the members love to hate. They just out right hate her!
But is there something more to Helen than the hard, nasty exterior she puts up? Lord knows she hasn't been saved all her life, but was she born evil? Why else would someone set out to intentionally inject turmoil into the lives around her? Well, the women at New Day don't know and most don't care. They believe the antidote to this snake's venom is to throw her out the church on her behind. But when Helen decides to let these New Day divas in on her past skeletons, will that change their minds?

With the compassion and wisdom of church mother, Mother Doreen, indeed one of my favorite New Day characters, the women just might find that Helen is worth saving. Question is, though; Does Helen want to be saved? Helen is special because she is flawed to the point where you want to close your eyes and say a prayer for her your own self. That's just how realistic this character and her life situations are. Either you know Helen or, which might be even scarier, you are Helen. More power to you if you were Helen but overcame your own self and ways and aren't you any more (the old you ;-).
While readers are raising eyebrows and shedding tears for some of Helen's choices in life, they are at the same time yearning for her to just get it.

Readers will ultimately want Helen to win at this challenge called life. Mother Doreen is a character from my book, The Perfect Christian, who I allow to make a cameo in Helen's story. Mother Doreen is just that, the elder-the church mother-who always seems to say the perfect thing or do the perfect thing to get and keep things in order. Of course once you read The Perfect Christian you realize that with Mother Doreen, in her older years you see all her glory, but go back a few chapters in her life and my God does she have a story!

BPM: What drew you to tackle the questions or topics in I Ain't Me No More? 
When I started this book five years ago, at the time, I was so displeased with who I was. The problem was, I didn't want to admit who I was, which was an angry, hurt and bitter person who had internalized and held onto those things, circumstances and situations that had made me that way. Doing so gave me an excuse to be mad. If I held onto what so and so did to me umpteen years ago, it justified the way I could treat so and so today. You can't quit it if you can't admit it.

So I had to take a for real-for real look at myself in the mirror, tell that reflection staring back at me just what I thought about her, and once I turned away from that mirror, make a conscious decision to leave her behind. I declared that I would do everything in my power to not be that person anymore...because she was disgusting and I hated her. If you go through life hating who you are, displaying love to others (heck, even like for that matter) is next to impossible. I had dealt with so much hurt and pain in my life that it ultimately became my normal. So if you wanted to fit into my normal world, you had to bring the hurt, bring the pain. When I got into church and got saved, I thought I was fixed. I was still broken though. It takes more work than just showing up at church every week and running down to the altar for someone to touch and agree with you or lay hands on you to get fixed.

The main character in I Ain't Me No More, Helen, is mad, bitter and angry at the hand she was dealt in life. Her problem; does she want to be fixed or is she so comfortable with pain that she wouldn't know how to live without it? Plain and simple: Helen is not that likeable. As a matter of fact, the last book I wrote, The Sunday Only Christian, the main character in that one wasn't so likeable either. So as God kept giving me these unlikable people as main characters, I got scared. As an author there was a fear that if readers didn't like my main character, then they wouldn't like my book. So during prayer I expressed to God my concerns. His reply: "This book is not for people to like the main character. This book is for people like the main character."

BPM: 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!

BPM: Share with us your latest news. 
I'm most excited about my October 2013 release, I Ain't Me No More, which is book one of the "Always Divas" series. I'm already putting the finishing touches on book two of the series, which is titled More Than I Can Bear, and that releases May 2014.

Connect with the author online: 
Website: www.enjoywrites.com
Instagram: blessedselling_author_enjoy
Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/enjoywrites 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorENJOY