Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Beneath the Covers,Past
A Romance Column
By Carol Ann Culbert Johnson

Introducing Rhonda McKnight

Carol: Give us a short bio about yourself.

Rhonda: I’m a romance and woman's fiction novelist, free-lance fiction editor and the founder of the Write it Right workshop. I live in Suburban Atlanta, Georgia with my two sons and a frisky dog named Tails.

Carol: Explain your writing journey.

Rhonda: I’ve been writing since I was six, but became serious about publication in 2003. I’m a completely self-taught writer. I own about 40 craft books and have probably checked out another 20 from the library. I joined a local critique group with serious writers, attended some writer’s conferences and wrote until I finished a manuscript in 2007. I sold it the same year to Kensington Publishers and it was released in 2009.


Carol: What is the name of your current book and give a synopsis of it.

Rhonda: Breaking All The Rules. From the back cover: Deniece Malcolm is shocked and heartbroken when she finds out her baby sister, Janette, is marrying Terrance Wright, because she was the one who was supposed to marry him! Everybody knows there’s a rule about dating exes. Janette is pregnant and not only is this wedding happening, but Deniece has to arrange the festivities.

Deniece’s feelings and pride are hurt, but surprisingly, Terrance’s younger, sexier, cousin, Ethan Wright, is there to provide a listening ear and a strong bicep to cry on. Ethan’s interested in Deniece, but she has a rule about dating younger men. Despite her resistance, things heat up between them and Deniece begins to wonder if it’s time to break a few rules of her own.


Carol: Who is your publisher?

Rhonda: Urban Books/Kensington Publishing but I’m also doing independent (indie) projects, Breaking All the Rules is one of them.


Carol: Do you have an agent? If so, why and why not?

Rhonda: I do have an agent and she’s an attorney. I needed someone to explain the legalese and negotiate my interests. She also talks me off the ledge when I want to jump off of a tall bookstore. ?


Carol: Did you self-publish or go the traditional route?

Rhonda: Breaking All the Rules is my second indie project. All of my novels (there are 3) were with traditionally published with Kensington and my first indie project was only indie for a short time. I sold it to my publisher for re-release in March 2013. I published Breaking in October 2013 and then released Give A Little Love (a holiday novella) in December 2013. I’m loving being self-published, but I am still contracted to deliver a novel to my publisher and plan to continue that relationship as well. In my opinion, being a hybrid author is the best of both worlds.


Carol: How do you feel about writing?

Rhonda: I love it most days. I really love it when I type The End.


Carol: Is writing a hobby or a full-time job?

Rhonda: Writing is a full-time job, but I still have a full-time day job, so I guess I’m working two full-time jobs for now. I’m always writing, even if it’s just in my head. I’m always marketing, promoting and networking. I work all the time.


Carol: What is your genre of writing? Explain.

Rhonda: I write women’s fiction and romance. If I had to classify my work I would say my novels are Christian Fiction and my novellas (romances) are inspirational.


Carol: What are your other published books?

Rhonda: My novels are Secrets and Lies (2009), An Inconvenient Friend (2010), What Kind of Fool (2012), A Woman’s Revenge (2013) and then my novellas – Breaking All the Rules and Give A Little Love (both 2013).


Carol: What is the message in your books?


Rhonda: My stories have themes of faith, forgiveness and hope. It’s relationship fiction – couples working through complex issues or new lovers finding their way to each other.


Carol: What are your views on a traditional publisher?

Rhonda: I love having one. Beginning my career with a publisher who was able to place me in every major bookstore, supermarket and Walmart was amazing. I appreciate every aspect of my relationship with my publisher from editorial feedback to my royalty statements.


Carol: Are you a reader? If so, what are your favorite authors?

Rhonda: Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I have lots of favorites, but if I had to narrow it down, I love Sherri Lewis, Victoria Christopher Murray, Tia McCollors, Tiffany L. Warren, Vanessa Miller, Michelle Stimpson and newbie, Michelle Lindo-Rice. I also enjoy a good mystery so Pamela Samuels Young, Walter Mosley, James Patterson and Sandra Brown are my favorites for that genre. The late BeBe Moore Campbell will forever be my favorite author of all time. I can’t imagine anyone taking her place.


Carol: Do you write short stories or poems, or both?

Rhonda: Neither. Never have. My dad wrote poetry and my brother, Kenneth McKnight, is a wonderful poet.


Carol: What success has publication of your books/novels done for you?

Rhonda: Largely, I think it has inspired my children to believe they can achieve their dreams. It’s also given me an opportunity to share the messages of faith and forgiveness with thousands of readers. I love that.


Carol: Have you done a books signing? If so, was it a success or failure?

Rhonda: I do very few book signings. The few I’ve done have been heavily marketed and strategically planned. They’ve done extremely well.


Carol: What are your tools for marketing your books? Explain.

Rhonda: These days I rely heavily on social media (i.e. GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter), interviews with bloggers and online magazine publishers. I also mail postcards to readers and handout marketing material wherever I go.


Carol: Do you belong to a book club?

Rhonda: I recently started an online book club on Facebook. I’m excited about it. Prior to this, I’ve never belonged to a book club.


Carol: Do you read on an electrical device, or do you prefer the feel of books?

Rhonda: I never thought I’d ever say this, but I love e-books. I love reading on my Kindle and the Kindle app on my phone.


Carol: What is your opinion on the e-book craze?

Rhonda: It’s fantastic. The lower price point makes books more affordable, so it’s great for newbie authors like me. I’m gaining new readers every day through my indie projects.


Carol: Do you use your computer to write, or longhand?

Rhonda: Computer. I don’t write anything longhand except a check.


Carol: Who is your support system for your writing?

Rhonda: Other writers. I have a network of writers I connected with more than ten years ago in a critique group. They are the same people I email and text good news and “grumble, moan and whine to” today. They’re also the people who help me promote my work and I help them.


Carol: Do you have an editor?

Rhonda: I have a team of writers who give me developmental feedback, so they are my editors. I work with a copyeditor for my indie projects. Felicia Murrell of the Bee Company. She’s excellent.


Carol: Have you attended any writing classes, conferences, etc.?

Rhonda: Several and I highly recommend them to aspiring writers and new authors.


Carol: What motivates you to write?

Rhonda: I’m motivated by many things, but I think mostly it’s the fact that I know God gifted me to write. Writing is a part of my purpose and my books are my legacy.


Carol: If you could meet your favorite author/writer in the world, who would she/he be and why?

Rhonda: My favorite writer is deceased. The late BeBe Moore Campbell. I will say I’d love a lunch with Walter Mosley or James Patterson.


Carol: Where do you wish to take your writing in the next three to five years?

Rhonda: I’d like to be at least a 1/2 of the way through my goal of publishing 50 projects. I should be able to get that done in the next five years. I’m 6 in. 19 to go. ?


Carol: Complete this sentence, “God is my motivation………

Rhonda:” I’m a deeply spiritual person, so God is my motivation for pretty much everything I do in life, raising my kids, making a home for my family, my writing… I trust HIM completely.


Carol: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Rhonda: Attend writer’s conferences. American Christian Fiction Writers is pricey, but very good. Black Writers Reunion Conference has a great reputation as well. Build a network of other writers. You’ll learn a great deal at a conference and your network will encourage you to stay the course. I know mine did. Pick a project and make yourself finish it. Get to “The End”. The End feels so good. Lastly, believe in yourself. Everyone won’t support your writing. Most people won’t, so be okay with ‘you’ being the only person who does.


Carol: Do you have a website/email address where your fans can reach you?

Rhonda: My website is I maybe be reached email there at and on Facebook at and I love chatting with readers.


Carol: What do you want to accomplish with your writing in 2014?

Rhonda: 2014 is the year to write, write, and write. I actually plan to write 2 novels and 3 novellas. Ambitious, but I believe I can do it.


Carol: If you had three wishes, what would they be and why?

Rhonda: Three wishes. I’d wish for fortune because I’d love to own my own publishing house and put more great books into reader’s hands. I’d wish for our culture to have more of a sense of community; that people would simply love more and want less. My third wish is intensely personal. I wish my sons would accomplish all that God created them to do. Can I have a fourth wish? I want to be a size 12. Thank you for having me!

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