JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
LaDonna M. Smith, author of I Married Satan
(Fire and Words Publishing)
They had the marriage license, the ceremony and her name changed… But no marriage!
For 4 ½ years, author LaDonna M. Smith thought that she was married to the man of her dreams… But the marriage turned out to be a 4 ½ year nightmare, which God made disappear in moments.
On August 14, 2003, LaDonna got married to a man she was prepared to spend the rest of her life. However, after months of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse – she found the strength to leave him. But she would soon return to endure even more hardships.
Finally, a year later she left for good and 3 ½ years later she filed for a divorce. Only to find out that her spouse had filed for an annulment – a month later. How can he file for an annulment after so many years of marriage? Because – before, during, and after their marriage – he was still legally married to his first wife.
The book I Married Satan takes you inside the life of a woman who suffered, endured and eventually triumphed through an abusive marriage. She swallowed the pain and forgave her ex ____________ (you fill in the blank).
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write I Married Satan?
LaDonna M. Smith: My own personal experience allowed me to write this book. I had actually began the book while launching G.R.A.Y. Magazine, co-founding another magazine and working on an article. I started typing my experience with my “marriage”. Before I knew it, I had the mind-set to get revenge on my ex for what he had done for me. I was going to tell the entire story and get him in trouble with the law.
As I wrote, my mind and heart transitioned from wanting revenge to becoming healed and delivered from him and the circumstances. I completed it because I kept meeting people (notice I didn’t just saw women) who had similar stories. We were both relieved to discover that we were not alone in going through these situations. We had survived, and were now helping others.
To be “The voice of so many whose voices have been silenced” soon became my motto and goal for the book.
JP: What sets I Married Satan apart from other books in the same genre?
LDMS: My book gives you the perspective of domestic violence and abuse from the inside out, meaning through my eyes. The preface tells you how I ended up getting into a marriage packed with domestic violence.
I am totally transparent in this book. I didn’t try to appease to the Christian or non-Christian market –I just told my story. I get “wows” and “for reals” all the time when I start explaining the premise behind the book.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to I Married Satan getting out to the public?
LDMS: Research, and look for “out of the box” techniques. Research what others have done and don’t reinvent the wheel just customize it for you. I take time and look at what other authors have done and I spend a lot of time on “google”. I also “google” words like “book marketing” or “how to sell my novel” and see what type of websites come up and I join and participate with them.
As far as looking for “out of the box” techniques I look for those things which make me unique and make my book stand out and memorable. You have to create a marketing plan (prior preparation, prevents, poor performance) For example, any publicity is good publicity. You have heard the old saying “curiosity killed the cat”.
I created a marketing campaign which said, “Beware of the New Book I Married Satan is the Author Exaggerating?” Now, I know that the book isn’t an exaggeration. That caption got people’s attention, and they read the info. At the least they heard about the book, and/or it sparked a conversation piece.
Be prepared for rejections. Not everyone is going to be excited about your product. Conversely, the worse thing to do is to be afraid to ask. My mind-set is to get as many people aware of the book as possible. That means that I can’t be afraid to walk up to a person and hand them a flyer.
I search for media contacts on the email and through radioguestlist.com. Another technique is that I remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Whether they are big time media or a show just beginning, no matter if they have one or a million supporters, that’s one or million more that I may not have had access to.
I try to do something EVERYDAY for my book. Being someone with a very limited marketing budget, I had to be creative. Design and photocopy my own flyers, heavily use viral (email, websites, online) marketing and word of mouth.
Lastly, I learned is that seeing is believing. People tend to be last-minute and non-believing. You can’t give up when you get discouraged. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people and beware of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.
There are some people whom I have had to let go of and get out of my immediate surrounding because they didn’t care to help they had their hands out or wanted to get close to me because they saw that things were starting to “jump off”. Those types of people will distract you and pull you down.
Stay focused and like a college professor once told me “time is money” and “make it happen”.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish I Married Satan?
LDMS: I really do not have a process. I tried to do the brainstorming technique where I write down a list of things that I want to put in the book and develop them from there. That doesn’t always work for me. Then I actually see the words in my mind and formulate them, and then I write them down on paper as soon as I can so I won’t forget. (It’s some good stuff.)
When a title comes to my mind, I talk it out to make sure that it is appealing to the public and “catchy”, meaning it’s going to make someone pick up the book and say “hmmmm”. Then I research it (google is my favorite) to see if anyone else has the same or similar title. Once nothing comes up, I create a folder on my flashdrive. Wherever I go, I can put the info, images or typed text into that folder and keep everything organized. Then I just write as I am inspired. For instance right now I have about five to six different books that I am working on because I don’t force it.
With I Married Satan, I researched MD and federal laws and talked with a lawyer friend of mine the legal questions I had and asked for unofficial legal advice. When my creative juices aren’t flowing I stop working on that project and leave it alone. A lot of times I actually handwrite my text before I type. I pretty much researched the book publishing process when I opened my company Fire and Words Publishing.
The biggest thing is finding new and “out of the box” ways to market and promote the books. Every day, I try to do something for my books, even if it is only researching and developing better and more effective ways to market and promote. I believe in not reinventing the wheel but customizing it for me. I look at what other authors are doing to promote and market, combine it with my imagination and execute the ideas. If they work, I stick with them. If they don’t prove effective…well let’s not think about that…lol.
The first draft took about a month to write. Then I lost the entire file and had to start over. I started writing it again and with all of the revisions with additional information that I remembered or was reminded of when my mother and I talked about my “marriage”.
I was offered a 7 year publishing deal, but that didn’t pan out. I’m actually glad it didn’t because after doing much more research on the company, I found out that they don’t have the best reputation. Besides, who would want to be locked into a seven-year contract with a company? I went back to the drawing board to research my options and the best way to spearhead the writing and publishing process. I would have to say the total process took about 2 years.
JP: What’s next for LaDonna M. Smith?
LDMS: God has allowed me to have so many different types of experiences and to see so much that I have several other books being worked on. Without realizing it, I have become a cross-genre author.
Hannah’s Song: A Musical Approach to Potty Training is a children’s book which has the most annoying yet affective potty training song to go with it. It is copywritten and awaiting illustrations. I have also finished a children’s book for kids sleeping in the own bed. My works in progress are a motivational book, a ministry book, another book dealing with relationships and life and more.
Success with my own publishing company, whereas I have helped other authors transition through the process. Without sounding selfish, I hope to have several other books completed and released and at least one movie. These are the minimal milestones I would like to have accomplished in much less than 20 years.
The characters discuss domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, feelings of being unwanted and being lonely, and the cycle of family and generational curses. The discussion also includes endurance and survival, until inner strength is discovered and USED by the power of God!
Like the bible says “this too shall pass”. I want people to know that you do not have to stay in a bad relationship. There is hope, there is a way out and most importantly God never leaves you during all of this. Reach out to Him for His guidance and direction and He will direct your path.
There are 12 steps which help “jump start” a person’s motivation to begin to prepare themselves mentally for the process, found in the book. Bottom line, know that just because you may have had a rough life up to the point you are at in it. There is still time to change and redirect it. It’s not too late. No matter who counted you out or what obstacles you have been thrown, keep it moving. Your dreams and visions can still come into fruition.