2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006: Named one
of the 101 best Web sites for writers by Writers Digest Magazine.
J. Toy Snipes is an actor, illustrator and comedian living in the Los Angeles (California) area. He is also the author of the nonfiction books It Might Be Time to File Those Divorce Papers When....: 100 Ways to Tell If Your Marriage Is In Trouble, The Ultimate Job Search Preparation Handbook and Mama's Baby. . .Daddy's Maybe? A handbook for the alleged father. His fiction books include his first novel, Changing of the Guards, as well as In My Corner and a third novel-in-progress, Beneath the Bridge. He holds both a Bachelorís and Masters Degree in Public Administration with emphasis in Personnel Management from the California State University at Long Beach. He also works as a Job Developer at the Los Angeles County Office of Education and he is the single father of a 13-year-old son.
Question: What made you decide to write a book?
Snipes: I feel I had a story to tell and information to share with others.
Q: What about getting it published?
Snipes: Again, I wanted to share my words and stories with others aside from wanting to become a professional.
Q: Was it a challenge to write while caring for your son? If so, what did you do to keep the peace?
Snipes: Yes, it is quite a challenge to write while parenting. Being a single parent demands much of my time. My son comes first. So I find myself setting aside time after he has gone to bed.
Q: Did your son understand what you were doing as you worked?
Snipes: Yes, he's quite aware and at times allows me to write during his waking hours (if the Simpsons are on). Because he loves to laugh, he also encourages me to write humor books.
Q: Because of your busy life both as a professional and a parent, what writing schedule worked best for you?
Snipes: Again, late at night when my son is asleep and everything is super quiet.
Usually, 9:30 - 12 midnight unless I'm on a roll, then its until 1 or 2 am.
Q: Was there anything you had to sacrifice in order to get your writing done?
Snipes: Yes, I sacrificed many nights of adequate sleep as well as a regular social life, i.e., dates, movies, dinners, etc.
Q: Is it harder to write fiction than nonfiction while you are also being a parent?
Snipes: I find it's harder to write nonfiction than fiction because in writing nonfiction, there's usually a fair amount of research and time if its going to be an effective and informative piece. Research takes time away from my son and I prefer to spend as much time as I can with him.
Q: Did you at any time ask for help so you could get some writing done? If so, do you regret it? If not, do you wish you had?
Snipes: No, I never wanted to trade time with my son for writing. If I had been under a strict deadline, maybe it would be different. However, in the past I have had several book signings scheduled where I had to send my son to a sitter.
Q: Did you use writing projects to get your son involved in writing? How was this a benefit to him?
Snipes: As far as my son's involvement in my writing projects, I allow him to read only what is appropriate for his age. I'm also working on a humor book, 100 stupid things that stupid people do. So far, I have drawn many illustrations and my son just thinks they are hilarious which encourages me to also want to write for him and his age group. Since my novel Changing of the Guards is an adult read, I wanted to turn out something that would be more appropriate for him. This is the reason I decided to write Beneath the Bridge -- No sex, profanity, violence. I'm hoping through him seeing and reading his dad's work, he will learn to utilize his creativity.
Q: What surprised you the most as a parent while you were writing your books?
Snipes: That I could manage the time to turn out hundreds of pages of work while managing household chores, cooking, and helping my son with homework, projects, as well as entertaining him.
Q: Were you confident about your ability to write books while juggling parenthood and work?
Snipes: Yes, I am very confident about my ability to write and juggle. Its just a matter of being disciplined, organized and dedicated - which I am!
Q: How did you manage to juggle promoting your books with parenting?
Snipes: Sometimes I would take my son with me to book signings and book store visitations. By doing this, I include my son in the business aspect of writing, publishing and promoting. Also, he has his chores (with allowance of course) which reduces parenting stress.
Q: What did you learn about yourself as a parent while you were writing your books?
Snipes: I learned that I am pretty versatile and found that many hours of writing, rewriting and editing have enabled me to be more patient as a parent.
Q: Whatís the best writing advice youíve been given?
Snipes: Keep writing and don't become discouraged. I once asked a writer who had four young children to care for while attempting to write that All-American novel when did she find the time. She told me even though much of the time she was stressed out at the end of the day, she looked at her writing as child number five. Meaning that if she did have a fifth child, she would find the time to tend to it. So why not discipline yourself to care just as much about your writing as your children.
Q: Whatís the best advice you have for other writing parents?
Snipes: Even though you might be exhausted at the end of the day. Set aside at least an hour several times each week to write. Don't neglect your children during your writing projects and create writing projects that cater to or encourage your children to read or write.
Dana Mitchells is the Internet pen name of the writer Dawn Colclasure. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Take My Hand and she also writes book reviews. She is a former weekly writer for the former e-zine, Griper. Her online work can also be found on Ten Thousand Monkeys, E-Fido, and Absolute Write. She is currently rewriting one of her novels to prepare for submission to a literary agent. She lives with her husband, Jason Wilson, and daughter in California.