By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
GLOUCESTER COUNTY – Inspirations for a book can virtually come from anywhere when one has a constantly creative mind and for La Onque Chavette that opportunity came at work from material that might have ended up on a PowerPoint presentation.
The result is the riveting, dramatic “We Made Plans,” an example of Chavette seizing an opportunity in creating a chance to follow her dreams as a published author. “We Made Plans” came out in November 2019 and can now be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and the black-owned Mahogany Books in Maryland.
“My position as a paralegal allowed me the added opportunity to train others in active shooter response,” Chavette told Front Runner New Jersey recently. “In my efforts to help some of the attendees grasp the concept of ‘the fight’ in ‘Run, Hide, Fight,’ I presented options, scenarios and the ‘WHY.’ Why anyone would want to fight for his/her life and how to do that.
“I remember explaining how my family would miss me because I’m the one who makes Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas breakfast every year which got some laughs but made people think about that ‘WHY.’ I went home that day and began writing my book, ‘We Made Plans.'”
Chavette said she wanted to present the concept more creatively than just another presentation on PowerPoint.
“So, I wrote a didactic story about good friends enjoying life, going through doing everyday things,” Chavette said, getting into the plot behind her thriller. “I lull the reader in with intricate details of their lives and then at some point in the book, they experience this unexpected, devastating, trajectory altering event. Then, the aftermath is explored.”
Love for Writing
Chavette, 50, moved to South Jersey in 1994, living in Willingboro after growing up in East Orange and graduating from Rutgers University. She move to Gloucester County in 2006. While she has had more than 20 years as a trained paralegal in the private and public law setting, she also has had a long love affair with writing.
“I’ve written several short stories and started a couple of books but never finished to the extent for publishing,” Chavette said. “I witnessed a college friend’s mom write and publish a book at an advanced age and I was inspired by that. I was encouraged to know that it’s possible to become an author at any age, from the very young to the 70’s, 80’s.”
The author said the response to “We Made Plans” has “been great.”
“There are a couple of chapters that many said read as if they were watching a movie,” Chavette said. “Others were really engrossed in the character’s lives and inquired about a sequel. I’m always nervous about people’s initial reaction to the book, but usually pleased with the response and amazed at the emotions the book elicits.”
Chavette is a part of growing community of African American authors who have successfully navigated the self-publishing route. She said that is only the first step for Black writers.
Challenges for Black Authors
“Moving beyond the self-publishing realm [is one challenge],” Chavette said. “I think it’s great that we have self-publishing as a way to tell our stories and share with the public. My publishing coach, John Mack, was great. However, some of the larger publishing houses don’t even allow unsolicited manuscripts to be forwarded. That is a challenge for new or unknown authors.
“Another challenge for Black authors is sales. It’s hoped that extensive marketing and one’s grind would contribute to significant sales. However, most of us must keep our days jobs and write part time, amongst all the other things on our plate. I think many of us would enjoy the opportunity to be able to just write, research, and be in that creative space/quiet place without worrying about the other job required to pay the bills. I regularly purchase from other author’s because I know the struggle and I understand that every purchase counts,” she continued.
Chavette has branched out into podcasting as well. She recently completed her first season of the podcast “Sounding the Alarm: Be Safe. Be Vigilant. Be Prepared.”
“The podcast incorporates passages from my book, ‘We Made Plans,’ with relevant subject matter experts to speak to how to handle before/during and after such an event,” Chavette said. “You can tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, Sound Cloud, BlogTalk Radio and a full directory is available on my producer’s website at www.Eliteconversations.com.”
Chavette touched on other subjects in her interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com.
FRNJ: Who have been your biggest inspirations?
La Onque Chavette: As I stated, my college friend’s mother, Hyacinth I. Swaby-Holder, published her book, “My Papa Used to Say,” and that was inspirational. The first book I read through in one day as a youth, was “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume. That sparked my love of reading. In college, through the diverse courses available in Africana Studies, I was exposed to so many African American authors. I was in awe. W.E.B Dubois, Zora Neal Hurston, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, to name a few. “Man Child in the Promised Land” was a mandatory reading for my son and one of my nephews when they were growing up.
Essence Magazine had a tremendous influence on me. I wanted to write for them but an opportunity to do a legal related internship presented itself first and I took that. Recently, Jason Nelson, Colson Whitehead, Stuart Woods and John Grisham have captured my attention. My inspiration and motivation to actually publish my work was due to a good friend from high school who self-published her book “Discovering your Divine Natural Abilities” by Jeanetta Thomas. She connected me to her publisher, John Mack, and the rest was history.
FRNJ: Anything else you would like to add?
La Onque Chavette: Please buy, read and review our books. That’s what we need. My book “We Made Plans” is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart. It is also available through Wholesale Distribution for Libraries, local bookstores, cafes, etc. as well as Ingram Sparks.
Chavette Instagram address is @Laonque_chavette_author
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