A New Jersey indie author and mental health specialist weaves together her passion and purpose with her upcoming novel April Showers.
Janay Harden, a clinical social worker and owner of Restoring Your Destiny Counseling and Consulting is set to release her fifth novel as an independent author. With Hey, Brown Girl (2021, recipient of the 2022 Book Cover of the Year Award in the International Author Boss Awards), Forty-two Minutes (2021), Someone More Like Myself (2022), Locked In (2023), she adds April Showers (releasing November 7, 2023) to her quickly growing body of work.
Harden is committed to writing stories that focus on everyday life through a mental health lens.
As a mental health specialist, she explores trauma-focused fiction by writing stories that demonstrates how generational traumas can invade every aspect of life, with a focus on the healing journey.
Her upcoming novel April Showers is a modern Harlem Renaissance love story that starts and ends on a brownstone stoop.
“Our main character April is a 17-year-old plant lover, struggling with anxiety and trauma relating to her humiliating high school experience. She showers her plant babies with affirmations and attention, and through caring for her plants, she learns to trust herself. In the end, she blooms in the wake of all her fears and anxieties,” explains Harden.
Exploring themes of community, self-love, self-actualization, and friendships, “this book weaves a layered tale of falling in love for the first time and learning how resilient she has to be to rebuild her self-esteem and self-worth,” she says.
When asked about her writing process, Harden describes herself as a proficient plotter and organized outliner with an impressive daily word count record.
“I am a plotter! I never, ever sit down not knowing ahead of time what I’m writing. Before I even start writing, I carefully go through each chapter and outline the storyline, characters, and plug in the heart of the story,” she says.
While she always leaves room for changes and impromptu ideas, the book is already outlined before she begins to write. “An outline is a must for me. The story flows better, and it saves me time editing and making corrections in the future. The meat and potatoes of the story are already there.”
Harden says that writing the first draft as “clean” as possible saves her time and energy so there’s no need for heavy edits and big structural changes.
Because of her attention to detail prior to writing, and her willingness to write anywhere and everywhere, Harden can complete a solid manuscript in sixty days or less.
“I start with my end goal. For example, if I want to write an 80,000-word book and I want it finished in two months, I usually write six days per week, about 2,000-3,000 words per day.”
This is doable for her because as stated earlier, she’s already flushed out the heart of the story, chapter by chapter.
The most difficult part for Harden is editing. For many authors, the editing process is more difficult than writing the book, but Harden approaches the process understanding that although her manuscript is “deliciously ripped to shreds,” once she implements the suggested changes, the second draft turns out to be much stronger than the first draft.
Another difficult aspect of her writing journey is marketing.
“Marketing is hard. Point Blank Period. I always have to process how I feel about social media and marketing my books because it’s a necessary evil song and dance of being proud of your work and wanting to share it and beating people over the head saying ‘BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!’”
On advice to new indie authors, Harden suggests they keep writing. “There are a lot of tasks and things to think about in the beginning, but when it all boils down, you have to just keep writing. You can’t edit or market a story that’s not written or partially finished. Write the book!”
There’s so much more in store for Harden as she is sitting on a few more books that are in the final stages with 2024 and ‘25 publication dates. In her last words to our readers, Harden leaves us with a simple but mighty message…
“One day or day one, you decide.”
Rae Scott is the author of the International and Best Book Award Winning Finalist, Through Blood and Becoming and the content creator behind @poetraebooks voted 2023 Book Content Creator of the Year in the All Ways Black Awards.
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