I grew up in a deeply religious household and segregated from other children. Writing gave me a way to create a world I might want to live in. My first story was written when I was 12 years old. A Wild & Crazy Summer was about a 12-year-old girl going to summer camp, something I never got to do as a kid.

Contemporary romance with a high level of romance, sensuality, and a heavy dose of family drama. I also dabble in women’s fiction.

I like contemporary stories because I can make them relevant to the current era we live in.

Since I work a full-time day job, I’ll give you a typical weekend day. I get up in the morning and relax with my hubby over coffee, maybe watch the Food Network or HGTV. Around 10am, I’ll head to my office and write while I listen to slow jams. I have two computer screens. One screen is for research, the other is for writing. I’ll stop periodically to grab lunch or take an eye break. I’m pretty much done around 5pm. My goal is to usually write 25 pages. A great day is I’m really feeling the book and I write about 30-35 pages.

When I want to relax, I’ll usually head to Hand & Stone for a massage or facial. Or if I’m at home, cuddle with the hubby on the couch with a glass of Moscato and listen to some slow r & b jams. Or if I’m lucky, me and the hubby escape on a romantic getaway to a Caribbean island. We love staying at Sandals and usually I come back revived and with lots of material. Wink. Wink.

Reading. Cooking. Going to Broadway shows. Dining out. But most of all, traveling.

Oh yes. First off, I write a lot faster. My 1st book took me nearly a year to complete. Now, I can usually finish a book in six weeks to 2 months. Second, I’ve grown as a writer. I think my characters and plots are more vibrant, exciting, and relevant. For instance, in Red Carpet Redemption, I used current topics like sperm donation, in-vitro fertilization and bone marrow transplants.

I love all my books! It’s so hard to choose. Okay, I’m not going to think too hard on this. My 1st book One Magic Moment holds a special place in my heart because it was my first and the heroine Nia is the most like me.

My all-time favorite series was my Kimani Romance, Orphan Series. Playing for Keeps, This Time for Real, If You so Desire and Two Tango. Why? Because these 4 orphans: Quentin, Malik, Sage & Dante were a family even though they weren’t blood relations. Harlequin’s sells all 4 in a box set now called Summer of Love Quartet.

A strong mention to my most recent Harlequin Desire: Stewart Heirs series with siblings Ayden, Fallon, Dane, and Morgan. I think the story got better as each book went along.

Longevity. I’m proud to say I’ve been a published author for 17 years and that my readers still enjoy and appreciate the romances I craft. I have 37 published books with more to follow.

I used to think it was when I could quit my day job and write full-time. That’s still a dream of mine, but I’m a bit more realistic now. My new goal: continued high sales that helps me earn royalties consistently every month and eventually hitting a best seller list. Which of course, would allow me to write full time.

The best part of being an author are my readers. They look up to me, not just as a mentor which is humbling, but they also see me as a celebrity which is a total ego stroke. They can be very loyal, attending conferences or coming to book signings to meet you. I have one reader who was the first person to every write me and she has followed me for 1 years. Thank you Louise Brown.

A hot button topic. I feel authors of color have been overlooked for many years by publishers, membership organizations and the industry. Our books have been considered less than rather than equal to our white counterparts. For instance, although many of authors have been members of RWA, the organization didn’t live up to its potential because of exclusionary past practices and biased award judging as evidenced by the lack of authors of colors winning a RITA award during it’s history.

Because of the BLM movement, suddenly publishers are willing to consider manuscripts from authors of color whether agented or unagented and RWA is seeking to revamp its image by transparency. I can only hope all this effort continues, a year from now and this movement isn’t a blip on the radar for authors of color.

I wish I’d understood the publishing industry better and the roles of editor, agent and publishers. I wish I’d known that it was up to the author to market/promote their own book. I was clueless which I was first published in 2004. I wish I would have tried self-publishing a bit earlier. It took about a year and half to really catch on and I enjoyed some good years, but have seen a decline. I’m thankful that I’m a hybrid author and have retained my traditional publishing which suits my lifestyle as a part-time author with a full-time job while occasionally self-publishing.

I’m only good on about 2 social media platforms since I work full-time: Facebook and Twitter, so I work those angles. I also exceptionally good at responding to emails and anyone who writes me typically will have a response within 24 hours. My mailing list is also important, I send out a newsletter ever so often, depending on my release dates. Readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website: http://www.yahrahstjohn.com . Thank you to my readers for all your support for nearly two decades, I couldn’t continue creating beautiful romances year-after-year without you.

Read, read, read, the genre you want to write. Purchase books about the craft of writing: plotting and structure, pacing, character development. Research the business of publishing and understand the variations: traditional, self-pub, hybrid. I’m a hybrid because I self-pub and have a traditional publisher. Stay current on promotions. 17 years ago, I was surprised that I didn’t just have to write the book, I had to promote myself too. Write every day if you can, I find when I’m able to do so, I’m more focused and in touch with my characters and the plot.