Post #243 – Memoir Writing Interview – Matilda Butler
Interview with Author and Book Marketer Sharon C. Jenkins
When you get to meet authors and to interact with them, you know its going to be interesting and probably educational. And you know it is also special when opportunities to work together keep coming around. And one of these special relationships I have is with Sharon Jenkins, an author and superb book marketer.
I was honored when Sharon invited me to submit a chapter for her book Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?: A Collection of Inspirational Stories Celebrating R.E.A.L. Authorpreneurs That was a terrific experience and gave me a chance to share what I’ve learned about developing and marketing books.
Sharon and I have been talking lately about her new book and I invited her to a conversation that I think will interest you.
Matilda Butler: Sharon, thanks for joining me. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you and learning about your thoughts on writing as well as marketing.
Sharon C. Jenkins. I appreciate the chance to talk with you, Matilda. I’m especially delighted to discuss the experiences I had with my book Beyond the Closet Door, Christ’s Rescue from Abuse.
Unfortunately, abuse is all too common. I hope the steps I’ve taken and written about will help others. That certainly is the reason for this book.
Matilda Butler: Q. 1: I’m glad you mentioned your book title. Let’s start our conversation there. Your title is extremely powerful. How did you decide on it?
Sharon C. Jenkins. Beyond the Closet Door, Christ’s Rescue From Abuse is my personal story, so when I was deciding on the title I made it as personal as it could be because abuse is personal.
I thought about what I was seeking all those years as a child and later as an adult and I concluded that I was seeking a “rescuer.” Someone or something that would give me a Calgon moment away from the pain of my past. I was intent on not only eliminating my pain but crushing it so that I could live the life I dreamed about.
Matilda Butler: Q. 2: Sharon, I love your expression a “Calgon moment.” You’ve reminded me of those late 1970s commercials for Calgon bath products. Ah, yes. “Calgon Take Me Away.” And by evoking that image, you’ve created an intriguing bridge between a product that can take you away from pain and the difficult personal work to find a bigger answer, a spiritual answer.
What inspired you to begin writing your story?
Sharon C. Jenkins. I have this natural inclination to help others. I sincerely believe that our life stories are living testimonies that leave a pathway for others to discover and create a more strategic way to fulfill their God given purpose. They act as a textbook of sorts for living a more prosperous life. Your life experience, whether good or bad, can be the barometer for someone else developing a more strategic life plan. It can help them set better boundaries or provide information or experiences that may be vital to their success in life.
Matilda Butler: Q. 3: Sharon, can you tell us a little about your book? I am especially interested in this mix of memoir, self-help, and inspirational elements.
Sharon C. Jenkins. Beyond the Closet Door, Christ’s Rescue From Abuse celebrates the demonstrated power of Christ to heal adult child abuse victims. All victims of abuse deal with emotional issues in the aftermath of their oppression, whether it is physical, sexual, verbal or mental. This book furnishes the breath of life for the hope found within the resurrected soul touched by Calvary’s cost and empowers them to find God’s divine purpose for their lives.
Beyond the Closet Door, assists the emotionally abused individual in finding the way to do the “work” necessary to embrace all that he or she has inherited through Christ and the cross. For the emotionally abused child this work is wrapped in developing the courage to seek God for His promised healing.
My book helps to expose the healing light of God’s love. It encompasses like experiences of many biblical characters and popular present day healed travelers on a similar journey. It also addresses the need for the body of Christ to step up to the plate in the power invested in them from the cross to embrace the seemingly unlovable victim of abuse.
I like to describe it as part-memoir and part-self-help.
Matilda Butler: Q. 4: Reflecting on your experiences, what do you think are some of the writing challenges that you faced and that other women who have been abused will probably also face?
Sharon C. Jenkins. The number one challenge was reliving the experience repeatedly through the writing and the editing process. The number two challenge was being totally transparent. My salvation was the fact that my genuine intent was to help others move beyond their pain into their purpose.
Matilda Butler: Q. 5: I’m wondering, Sharon, what obstacles you faced in writing and publishing your book, and how did you overcome them?
Sharon C. Jenkins. You’re right Matilda. All writers face obstacles. I’m certainly no exception. The biggest one came when I was told that no one would want to read my story because I wasn’t famous like Oprah. It literally broke my heart. I threw my manuscript in the trash for six months after that debilitating experience. Fortunately, I kept the trash around.
That’s when I decided to add the self-help portion to the book.
My other obstacles were locating the money to produce a professional product and battling the plethora of snake salesman out there who wanted to help me self-publish my book with their cookie cutter approaches. The positive outcome of all of this is that I started my own writing company to help authors who wanted a more caring, compassionate, and author-centered approach to writing and publishing.
Matilda Butler: Q. 6: Sharon, you are a marvelous marketer and help other authors with their marketing. Do you have one memoir marketing tip that you would share with our WomensMemoirs community?
Sharon C. Jenkins. I absolutely do have a tip. Don’t be afraid to tell your story to the masses. My first face-to-face encounter with the public outside of my neighborhood was in Dallas, Texas.
I was scheduled for a book signing at a coffee shop. I didn’t know who would be in the audience so there was little preparation I could do for this event. Once I got there, they called me up to the stage and I read excerpts from my book. I didn’t just read them, I read in my “spoken word” voice and actually took the audience into the closet with me. If I hadn’t had the courage to do that I would have missed an opportunity to genuinely relate to my audience.
Where did I find the courage to do that? Years ago, I took acting classes on a dare to prepare myself to be a better speaker.
So my advice is: Do what you need to do to prepare yourself to reach the marketing heights that you aspire to reach. In the words of Joyce Meyers, “Do it afraid.” Now if you suddenly put a microphone in my hand, I can hold an audience’s attention for up to an hour. Be like the Energizer Bunny, keep going, going, going, until you get there!
Matilda Butler: Q. 7: “The Energizer Bunny.” I love that visual. My sister and I always compared our mother to the Energizer Bunny. She lived to the age of 95 partly because she just kept going (plus a few replacement batteries along the way).
Sharon, I have one final request. Would you please choose a short excerpt from your book to share, and tell us why you chose this particular one?
Sharon C. Jenkins. I selected the chapter on fear because of it seems to be the root of the problem for a lot of abuse victims.
CHAPTER ONE: False Evidence Appearing Real (F.E.A.R)
Fall is fast approaching, and I am put in remembrance of past Halloweens. I was always a nervous child and the scary movies and the childhood pranks of my siblings made this the most horrible time of year for me. I enjoyed collecting candy from my neighbors but I did not enjoy being frightened out of my mind with every ghost story and horror movie that hit the television screen. I was raised in a time and season where the TV was our babysitter. After my three brothers were born, I became the babysitter while the television baby-sat me.
I remember watching one horrible movie about a monster that ate people. It lived in a cave on an island that housed a lighthouse by the ocean. When the sea was in an uproar and the moon was full, the monster came out to collect his dinner. People would find parts of human bodies on the island the next day after his rampage. I watched the movie because the other kids did. I wanted to pretend to be a big girl so that I wouldn’t be called a “scaredy” cat. I already had a reputation of being a nervous child with a weak bladder; I didn’t want to add to the list. I dreamed for months about this monster after viewing the movie. I had the nerve to try to exorcise my fear by watching it again when it came on as a re-run. Even then I was trying to fix the fear that had become a consuming fire in my life.
Out of curiosity, as an adult I began to trace the origin of my “scaredy” cat nature, and to my surprise I traced it back to my fear of the dark. All children are challenged in this area at sometime in their lives. The remedy is usually an affirming adult that chases away the “bogeyman” with a good dose of love and reassurance of the child’s security.
That security was never available to me as a child and my caregivers were incapable of showing me a love that they too had never received.
My fear originated in an act of punishment for misbehaving. My mother believed in non-violence and had researched alternative methods to spanking. She read an article by a prominent psychologist that recommended placing children in a closet for a period of repentance. The child psychologist was actually suggesting that children be placed in a “time-out”. My mother decided that the nature of my “behavior” required a more severe punishment. I was her first child; I didn’t come with instruction manuals so I was her guinea pig. Nonetheless, the seed of fear was planted for the enemy to use at his will to disrupt my life.
Webster defines fear as “an anxiety caused by real or possible danger, pain, etc.” Past experiences in my life have dictated that fear be defined as the false premonition of a devastating outcome that has yet to happen. I was a fearful and nervous child. Life shaped me that way. Fear had gripped me so, that I couldn’t focus in school, alone at home, or when I felt I was in the midst of approaching danger. I would often zone out and go to an imaginary place. My only escape was in my “perfect mythical world” or in the pages of a book when I was able to read. Bad things happened in the dark and they happened to me. This set the stage for many sleepless nights.
I remember sleeping on the floor one night and a mouse running over my face. I was too terrified to scream. I stayed up for hours for fear that it would return. My five-year-old mind pondered on its ability to do serious damage to me (like pluck out an eye or something) and when would it be gone? How would I fight it off if it returned? I analyzed the situation to pieces, searching for a place of security, a place where fear did not live.
This unchecked fear would later be transferred in my life from the four-footed minuscule mouse to that of a much larger two-legged human version. From childhood throughout adulthood, darkness held no refuge for me, just immobilizing fear.
God’s Truth on the Matter
Fear only meets its match when it comes face to face with the truth. God, the epitome of all truth, holds the key that unlocks the stronghold of fear that keeps the abused child captive. He reminds us that He is not the author of fear. God’s antidote for fear is a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. He empowers us to be victorious over the things that attempt to hold us captive by equipping us to put on these weapons of warfare. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on 2nd Timothy 1:7 states:
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of courage and resolution, to meet difficulties and dangers; the spirit of love to him, which will carry us through opposition. And the spirit of a sound mind, quietness of mind. The Holy Spirit is not the author of a timid or cowardly disposition, or of slavish fears. We are likely to bear afflictions well, when we have strength and power from God to enable us to bear them.”
Matilda Butler Sharon. Special thanks for joining me and discussing your memoir-self help book Beyond the Closet Door, Christ’s Rescue from Abuse.
Sharon C. Jenkins. As always, it’s great talking with you, Matilda. I look forward to more opportunities to share our experience and expertise on writing and book marketing.
More about Sharon C. Jenkins
Sharon C. Jenkins is the inspirational principal at The Master Communicator’s Writing Services, Your Literary Midwife.
In addition, she is a Senior Publishing Consultant with Ellechor Media, editor, blogger, author, ghostwriter, book coach, motivational speaker and publisher.
The Master Communicator’s Writing services provide business communication services to small businesses and authors. Her team has over four years of experience in helping her clients achieve writing excellence and collectively over 20 years of expertise in the industry.
Sharon, an award-winning and best-selling author, has helped hundreds of authors get their message to the masses through workshops, webinars, her radio show and coaching. She has participated in numerous compilations, been a co-author and published several books.
Her solo projects include:
Authorpreneurship: The Business Start-Up Manual for Authors, which is the culmination of everything she has learned from her literary journey and that of other authors.
Will the R.E.A.L. Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?: A Collection of Inspirational Stories Celebrating R.E.A.L. Authorpreneurs is a compilation chocked full of success stories from modern day authorpreneurs and the Periscope Your Book E-series are her latest writing projects.
She recently published an eBook series titled Using Periscope to Master Authorpreneurship (Periscope Your Book–Book 2) with Rochelle Carter.
You can reach SHARON at: