I: Please give our readers a brief description of each of your books and the inspiration behind them.
JS: Bruised Hearts is about overcoming heartache and disappointment. After tragedies explode in your life, the aftermath is ashes that consist of scars and a bruised heart that can last a lifetime if not properly dealt with. You can present a façade to those around you, but emotional bruises will only go away through internal healing. I was inspired to write Bruised Hearts after seeing people I love suffer and then attempt to move beyond the pain.
Sabotage will teach you how to deal with or completely avoid a commitment phobic partner so you can experience a successful and loving relationship. I was inspired to write Sabotage after witnessing my daughter’s experiences in the dating world.
A Life of Turmoil shows you a life of abuse through the eyes of a victim who desperately wanted her mother’s love and attention, but fell short. A Life of Turmoil is special to me because even though it’s fiction, it’s loosely based on a true story.
I: You're a life coach, correct?
JS: Yes, I am a life coach.
I: For those who may not be aware, please tell us exactly what a life coach is and does?
JS: A life coach addresses areas of someone’s life where they seek change, growth, and/or encouragement. These areas include in business, spousal relationships, familial relationships, spirituality, emotional balance, and mental health. It is the life coach’s job to help people examine what’s currently taking place in their life and why. As a life coach, my goal is to help others discover what obstacles or challenges are hindering them, and inform them of beneficial courses of action that will improve their lives.
I: Do you believe your firsthand experiences have helped or hindered your professional career as an author and a life coach?
JS: My firsthand experiences have significantly helped my career as an author and a life coach. When I’m helping clients, my experience isn’t purely theoretically. I can relate to and empathize with many clients because of my real-life knowledge, and they can feel the difference.
I: Along with writing self-help books and novellas, you also write children’s books. Do you have a favorite genre?
JS: Yes, I do. My favorite genre is self-help.
I: Why do you write under a pen name?
JS: I write under pen names because I write in different genres and it’s a way to separate each book type.
I: What would you say are the pros and cons of using a pen name?
JS: If you write in different genres, you can associate a different pen name with each type of book to maintain a consistent “author brand”. A pen name is also beneficial if your name is hard to pronounce, to avoid gender discrimination if you’re a woman, or if you feel your name doesn’t fit the genre you write in. The cons to having pen names are keeping track of sales and issues with reprinting and subsidiary rights if you don’t have a thorough understanding of the process. It can also create more work if you choose to maintain social media accounts for each name.
I: Let’s talk specifically about your book Bruised Hearts. For many people, forgiving others after being hurt can be extremely difficult. Can you give five reasons why you believe forgiving others after being hurt is beneficial for an individual’s healing process.
JS: Of course. Forgiveness is beneficial for your overall state of wellness. Harboring hate and anger can lead to headaches, organ failure, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, premature aging, and many other health issues. Letting go will allow you to have a clear and sound mind, an energized and healthy body, a loving heart, and a free spirit.
I: Now, let’s talk about your book Sabotage. In this book, you mention how most people only share the positive side of themselves on a first date. With internet dating becoming so common and people only sharing their best attributes online, do you believe the internet and social media play a role in sabotaging relationships?
JS: Yes, because online dating forces you to give so much of yourself away by telling the reader who you are, what you like, and what you expect before you meet anyone in person. What people share has a great chance of being untrue, so when you do meet with someone, they may not possess the same qualities they portrayed themselves as having online. Internet dating can be deceptive and misleading.
I: In your book A Life of Turmoil, Ana’s mother mentioned that the way she treated Ana would make her a strong person one day. Unfortunately for Ana, her relationship with her mother was extremely toxic. What are some obvious signs that an individual isn’t receiving tough love but is in fact in a toxic relationship?
JS: When someone is in a toxic relationship, they’re more likely to be fearful, withdrawn, and apologetic than if they’re receiving tough love. In a tough love relationship, the child can still feel that their parent loves them, and when they become an adult, they can see how their parent’s actions benefited them in the long run. In a toxic relationship, as in the case with Ana Franken, the child can feel the hate that their parent has for them, and when they become an adult, they realize even more that they were treated unfairly and abusively. As an adult, they can find no benefits to the way they were parented.
I: What message(s) do you hope your readers will take away from your books?
JS: I hope readers will receive encouragement, empowerment, and motivation.
I: As a seasoned author, what advice would you give to aspiring authors who read this interview?
JS: Don’t let the haters discourage you from writing what you love. There are plenty of people who’ll be interested in what you write. Follow your heart, write what feels good to you, and listen to your inner voice when writing. Never be afraid to dive deep into self-expression. Also, have a great editor on your team because regarding literature, more important than what you write is how you write.
I: How can readers stay connected with you (social media pages, website, etc.)?
JS: Readers can connect with me via my websites: https://www.johannasparrow.com, https://www.johannatellsit.com
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JohannaSparrow
The author's books are available in ebook and paperback and can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iTunes and everywhere books are sold.
About the author
Antoinette M. Watkins writes under the pen name Johanna Sparrow. She’s been writing for over 20 years and has published a variety of works that include children's books, novellas, and self-help books on the topics of relationships, personal growth, and conflict resolution.
Sparrow used knowledge and experience to create a system called, Heart Bruised Conscious Connection Renewal codes (HBCCR)©. She’s used this system to improve relationships since 1995. It’s also known as Breakthrough: Understanding Life Lessons, which is something we all have the power to do. With thirty-one written and published books under her belt, Sparrow plans to write many more on an array of issues. In 2015, Johanna Sparrow rolled out her powerful and inspiring HBCCR© system. It was created to help everyone find common ground within daily connections. Over many years, Sparrow has researched and studied the spiritual connection that every human has with each other. Her research’s conclusion was that understanding your connection to nature and each human being is an essential step to understanding that love is the substance that permeates everything in the universe. Love can guide us to become the greatest version of ourselves.
When she’s not writing, Johanna Sparrow is a life coach that enjoys helping people via phone and face-to-face coaching sessions. It doesn’t matter what you’re struggling with, Sparrow knows how to tap into your emotions and help you understand that a promising future lies ahead. You’ll walk away from her coaching sessions with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding about your situation.
Sparrow has a weekly online radio show called, Common Sense Talk with Johanna Sparrow. On that show, she shares her perspective on relationships and conflict-resolution topics. It airs every Thursday at 12 p.m. EST/11 a.m. CST on AMFM247.com.
In 2014, Johanna Sparrow released her first self-help book, which dealt with relational aggression in the forms of bullying, gossip, and lies. It’s entitled, Don't Tell the Milkman if You Don't Want Him to Tell the World. During the same year, Sparrow released two more self-help books that detailed conflicts that affect people’s sex lives and commitment phobias. The titles of those books are, The Elephant in the Bed and Sabotage. Johanna Sparrow’s self-help books focus on relationships from a male–female perspective. Since 2014, she’s released a memoir, three novellas, and twenty-four self-help books.
Antoinette M. Watkins was born November 22, 1969. She was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and now resides in San Antonio, Texas. She majored in psychology and speech at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in 1996. After three years, she walked away because of her love of writing and illustrating. Watkins worked as a freelance writer and illustrator until she released her first children’s book through Xlibris in 2004. That book was entitled, Silly Shoe vol. 2, and was written under the pen name, A.M.A. Watkins. She released a second book the same year entitled, Olive Turnip Vol. 4.
Watkins began writing and illustrating for other writers and didn’t release her next children’s book until 2014 entitled, Tank the Shy Turtle. That was written under the pen name, Cookie Adams. The same year, she released Big Mouth Betty and Wormy Wiggly Mr. Ziggly under the pen name Cookie Crumbles. Currently, as an independent author, Antoinette Watkins enjoys telling stories her way.