Christian novelist/playwright Mikasenoja hails from TX, where she resides with her husband and four children. Her pen name, pronounced: My-ka-sen-no-jay, is how many in the writng community know her. But, as Kimberly Yancy, she is known also as history teacher, pastor’s wife, psalmist, and motivational speaker. Mikasenoja will be presenting the workshop “Writing Christian Fiction: Ministry vs. Entertainment” at this year’s BWRC.
Mikasenoja, just reading your bio makes me tired! You wear so many hats, it’s hard to know where to begin. So let’s start at the beginning. Where were you born and raised? Did you attend college or formally study the craft of writing? If so, where?
I was born in Austin, Texas on Christmas Day. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Government and African-American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. My first foray into playwriting was for youth events at the church I attended. My first play was called, “I’ve Got to Tell Somebody”.
What would you like attendees to know about you, your background, strengths, or interests, that is not included in your bio?
I love politics and the rule of law. I am a psalmist and dancer who loves holy hip hop, especially the gospel singer Yunek out of Houston, TX. I possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral. I enjoy project management, networking, and building people up.
When did you realize that you had a passion for writing, publishing, etc.?
When I was nine years old I would create scenes in my head and act them out on my stage in my bedroom. My parents had a Murphy bed and when you removed the mattress, the frame became a stage. I had a mic and a chair to go with it. I wrote extensively in my diary and traveled many places through my writings.
How did you get started writing/publishing/etc.?
I begin to write as therapy to help others deal with some of their issues. Both my parents were awesome communicators and organizers so a pad and pencils were always accessible in our household. My mother would have me to recite poetry at church events and my dad would encourage me to watch and learn from the public speakers we saw on television. My father taught me early on that there was power in the pen and it would become a valuable tool for African-Americans.
How long have you been writing, publishing, etc.?
How did you master the topic you’ll be presenting at BWRC?
I mastered my topic by experience and reading other so-called ‘Christian’ fiction. I am very concerned about the exploitation of the church in our novels as America is now faced with its first un-churched generation. I hope to be a voice in the wind, creating a standard for faith-based writing in addition to setting an appropriate standard for our genre. It is important that Christian believers show balance, redemption and conversion when we tell our stories. We want our stories to lead people to Christ; not have them walk away with scabs and wounds from church hurts. Our goal as faith-based writers should be helping our readers learn how to apply the Word of God to their own unique circumstances.
If you were to describe your upcoming session/presentation in one word, what would it be?
Who is your session particularly suited for, i.e., what skill level, interests, experience should they have to benefit most from your session?
Persons who are interested in writing from a Biblical perspective should attend this course.
Have you presented this or other workshops at any other writers’ conferences?
I have presented this session at the Houston Chapter of the Gospel Workshop of America as well as to local writer conferences.
What advice would you give to someone who has never attended a writers’ conference?
Writers’ conferences serve a two-fold purpose. First, these confrerences provide an entrée into the vast field of writing. Second, and equally important, is that you will find a family of mentors and encouragers to help you get to the next level of writing and publishing. Attending a writers’ conference should be on every writers/authors to-do list.
What are some of the projects you have in the works? Are there any in particular you’d like us to look out for in the near future?
My book, “Confessions of a Preacher’s Wife,” will be released under the Urban Christian imprint in May 2008 and my gospel play will be performed at the Black Writers Conference on June 20th.
What one piece of advice would you give all aspiring authors?
I encourage all authors to use the power of prayer to help with self-discipline to learn the craft the writing and time management.
What is something you wish someone would have told you about being an author/publisher/playwright/poet/producer/etc.?
I wish someone had told me about the time toll it can take away from your family. You really have to learn to come “out of your world” of writing to make sure you are spending quality time with your family. Balance is very important in the life of a writer. We can easily get caught up in the world of our characters.
Who is one author that you look up to and why?
I discovered Judy Blume when I was a young teenager. Her books inspired my passion for reading. As an adult I enjoy Frank Peretti, Toni Morrison, Lolita Tademy, Carl Weber, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray and Jacqueline Thomas because they have vivid imagery and a keeping it real edge to their stories.
Mikasenoja, thank you for sharing with us. Look forward to meeting you in Tampa!
You can learn more about Mikasenoja via her website, www.mikasenoja.com, or by visiting her blog at www.blogtalkradio.com/mikasenoja. Tickets for the stage presentation of Confessions of a Preacher’s Wife on June 20th in conjunction with the the BWRC conference are on sale now.