Most writers know that finishing a manuscript can be a grueling process lasting months or even years. For School of the Art Institute of Chicago security guard, Joselyn Crout, it took just 29 days to complete her first novel, A Deceitful Love. The book started out as a New Year’s resolution and has already been published by Mz. Lady Presents. A Deceitful Love is currently available as an E-Book, and a print edition will soon follow.
The novel follows Mulan as she deals with her drug-addicted mother and the emotional void left by her lack of a father. Soon, she meets “Mr. Sexy-man himself,” Santiago Fairbanks. At first he seems like the perfect man. However, soon darker aspects of his personality are revealed, causing Mulan to question what she’s willing to do for love. Together they navigate the perils and trials of forgiveness, pain and all the other facets of a deceitful love.
For Crout, being a published author has been a lifelong dream. “I’ve been writing since I was twelve, and I’ve always been into urban fiction, [a literary genre defined as much by characters’ socio-economic realities and culture as by its setting], but I never really thought I would write my own book. I remember reading books and getting to the end; they’ll have this note that says, ‘All aspiring authors please email your synopsis and your first three chapters here,’ and I did it one day.”
Urban fiction encompasses a wide variety of smaller sub-genres such as romances and dramas. Publishing companies like Ms. Shan Presents often specialize within the genre, encouraging aspiring writers to send in sections of their manuscripts for consideration. Ms. Shan Presents is considerably more intimate and welcoming than larger publishing houses. The publisher emphasizes fostering a dialogue between editors, writers, and cover designers. It is one member of a tight knit subset of the publishing world where most of its writers are familiar with one another’s work. Crout cites Ms. Shan, the namesake and head writer of Ms. Shan Presents, as one of her main inspirations as a writer.
Ms. Shan Presents refers to its writers as “Authoresses,” since all their writers are female. The authoresses are also encouraged to pick a pen name, and Crout’s pen name is J’Diorr. She works closely with Authoress Mz. Lady P who has written 10 books for Ms. Shan Presents within a year. She is well known among the urban fiction circuit for books like Thug Passion and Living for Love, Dying for Loyalty. In addition to writing full time, Mz. Lady P also started her own publishing company. Crout was Ms. Lady P’s first signed author.
Oftentimes the most challenging part of writing is finding the time to do it. In Crout’s case she was able to find time to write while still working long hours as a security guard. “The hardest part of writing a book is actually finishing it. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m forcing myself to write something because then it’s going to be shit. So I usually just stop and play with my daughter or call my mom or my publisher, then I’m good to go,” she said.
In addition to Crout, Mz. Lady P also represents a writer known as ShaToka, who recently released her first book Cliche to a Dark Path. “She’s my pen-sister, that’s what we call each other. I’m definitely tight with the people who work with Mz. Lady P as well as Ms. Shan,” Crout said. The writers, publishers, and cover designers for Ms. Shan Presents are exceedingly supportive of one another. Their sense of community combats the idea that writing is an isolating practice. These writers and artists are clearly dedicated to producing exciting work, without sacrificing writers’ health or social lives. “It’s harder for me to find time to read other work, but if my publisher hears that, she’ll be like, ‘What did I tell you? You always have to find time for yourself, don’t sit in front of the computer screen all day long.’ Sometimes she’ll call and check up on me because she knows I’ll sit there all day and write if I could. She’s a very good friend.”
Crout’s passion for writing is evident, her excitement about the publishing process and future projects infectious. She is already planning her next book, Married to an Opp. Genius.com’s Chicago Slang Dictionary defines an “opp” as “ any enemy, rival, hater or person you don’t like,” as in, anyone in opposition.
“It’s what people call the police nowadays, I don’t know why. I guess it’s just because they’re the opposite of whatever wrong thing they’re doing. It’s going to be good,” said Crout.
For, A Deceitful Love, Crout was stuck on a title for a while, but she collaborated with Ms. Shan and Mz. Lady P to find the perfect fit. She wants people to know that despite what the title may suggest, A Deceitful Love is more than a love story. “Love stories sell, but you have to have something more than that,” Crout says, “You want it to be shocking. You want to bring all these emotions out in the reader while they’re reading it.” She also plans on exploring other facets of urban fiction like dramas and action-based stories.
A Deceitful Love has been met thus far with excitement. “I’ve gained almost 2,000 friends on Facebook now that I’m a published author. Sometimes people message me to tell me that they’re excited for my book,” Crout said.
One reviewer on Amazon referred to A Deceitful Love as, “a modern day West Side-Chicago story.”
Her fans’ excitement is matched by her own. Her publishing debut is a fulfillment of one of Crout’s lifelong dreams. “Writing’s definitely something I love. I’ve been doing it since I was twelve.”
Not many people can say they have achieved their elementary school dreams, but for Crout that is just the beginning. “This time next year, hopefully I’ll be dropping my tenth book, as well.” If her recent success is any indication, it seems unlikely she will encounter any “opps” to her ambitions.
Book cover image courtesy of Mz. Lady Presents