We had the good fortune of connecting with JC Gardner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JC, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Hi there. Thank you for this opportunity. Please note I work during the day job and after hours, I do “passion work.” Passion work is my own business as a writing coach, ghost writer, author and speaker. As a coach, I help aspiring authors bring their projects to life through the power of the pen by helping them write their own books. As a ghost writer, I write books for people who otherwise struggle with writing yet have a powerful story to tell. But me becoming a writing coach and speaker is a journey within itself. I knew my destiny from the age of 12 that I was to be an author but a devastating blow to my creativity occurred in 7th grade, and it stifled my writing career for decades…until I had a God-formation aka transformation.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love this question!! Writing has always come easy for me but what a lot of people may not know is that I don’t choose the stories…they choose me! Characters arrive in my psyche from nowhere and I can see them, touch them and feel them. They tell me all their hopes and dreams, their history and their future. They nag me until I put them on paper and make them real. It really is a skill and some may find it a bit kooky to say “I see invisible people,” LOL, but I do! So while I enjoy writing, as I mentioned earlier, I suffered some roadblocks: Here’s my story.
During a hot summer while visiting my grandmother in the Bronx, New York, I had an amazing revelation. At the tender age of twelve, I discovered my destiny. My best friend and I, after exhausting all games imaginable, decided we should write stories. Thirty minutes later, my pages were filled, while hers were empty.
Writing was always easy for me, especially fiction, since I had all kinds of imaginary characters that resided with me on a regular basis. As an only child for ten years, those “people” who only I could see became my entourage. They eagerly shared their hopes, dreams, triumphs and disappointments, and I gladly wrote it all down. Before you knew it, I had a collection, including short stories and poems. More importantly, I knew I wanted to be an author, an entertainer though the written word.
Later in the fall in seventh grade, the English teacher assigned a creative writing project. At the time, I was shy and introverted, but my writing allowed me to be free. What I could not say verbally, I could express through the power of the pen.
I was so excited to show her my book of poems. Yes, she would be blown away by my assignment and more importantly, she would know my name.
The day the assignment was returned, I received mine last. She threw it on my desk and announced to the class of over thirty kids that she was not grading it. I tried to protest, but she shut that down with her venomous tone. She went on to say it was plagiarized, that I should shut-up, and I was getting a zero! I was embarrassed and humiliated; so when my classmates asked to see the poems, I was hesitant but still looking for validation. After a quick review, they responded, “Oh you must have remembered these from somewhere.”
In other words: I was not talented enough to write them. I was so inept, I had to steal them and pretend it was my work.
When my mother came to the school to find out why this happened, the teacher had no explanation. Can you imagine? She only uttered one sentence: I don’t have to put up with this. And she left the office.
My grade was changed but the damage was done. From that point on, I didn’t want to share my work with anyone for fear of being rejected again. That woman’s words affected my whole being. I walked around in her truth. I embraced her rejection, and I buried my God-given talent deep within my soul.
Years passed. Thirty years, no exaggeration. I was like the Israelites in the desert, marching in the same place going nowhere fast. I suffered from P.O.S.D.: Pillar of Salt Disorder. In the bible, Lot’s wife was told not to look back on the burning destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but she had to look back one more time and there she stayed, frozen in time, facing the past. I, too, was frozen in time. Every day for me, it was the 1970’s, English class, a virtual prisoner of someone else’s mind. Everything related to my writing hinged on those hateful words from my youth. Moving forward was like walking in quicksand.
But God! What God has placed on your heart, no one can take away. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop writing. You see, it’s part of my divine makeup, the way I was knitted in the womb – something so innate, that it was impossible to suppress my gift. I still continued to craft plays, songs and novels…and kept them sheltered in a plastic bag.
Sadly, we become comfortable in our mess. It’s what we’re familiar with. To actually change our trajectory takes courage and a conscious decision to walk on water. To even attempt to emerge victorious, we need a pivotal moment in time that shocks the system and allows you to hit the “re-set” button.
For me, it was an unexpected phone call from someone I had not spoken to for a year. We were having a great conversation about her photography business, but then she dropped a bomb: She published a book.
Once those words touched my ears, I had an internal, mini nervous breakdown and promptly hung up after a curt goodbye. I hollered at God. I needed Him to explain to me how He allowed her to become an author when it was my lifelong dream. It was MY destiny, not hers. I blamed God for delaying my dreams and in the midst of wailing, my own burning bush spoke to me and said, “DID I SAY YOU COULD NOT WRITE? WHO HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO?”
Talk about a “come to Jesus” moment. Who was I listening to? Oh yeah, that’s right. That “teacher” who probably couldn’t have written a poem to save her life and because she couldn’t do it, how could a twelve-year-old do it? But more importantly, what voice was in my head all these years? Hers or God’s? It was an a-ha moment of mammoth proportion and changed my life.
Today, I am an award-winning, best-selling author, a writing coach, ghost writer and international speaker. And because God set me free, it is my duty, my mandate and purpose, to help others share their story and bless someone else.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m currently in the Baltimore area, so the Inner Harbor is a nice place to visit, as we are known for Crabs and thee best crab cakes, so we would hit-up all of the famous crab houses. The Harbor has lots of shops, walking and a water taxi to Fells Point, a landmark. Bertha’s Mussels is da bomb in Fells Point. We’d visit the Reginal F. Lewis Museum; the Harriet Tubman Museum; The Blacks and Wax Museum. If they like sports, I’d suffer through an Orioles game. Camden Yards is beautiful, but I’d RUN to a Raven’s Game (NFL). There is theater at the Hippodrome, Center Stage and the Lyric Opera House…but COVID has affected how much entertaining we could really do. And we’d have to take the short drive to D.C. to the African American History Museum, and if there’s time, Ocean City! And let me not forget world famous Lexington Market, which is getting a makeover.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh, there are so many people who deserve a mention: Gotta give God praise for putting my feet back on the path, where they belonged. Moving on to C. Natasha Richburg Productions; Corretta Doctor at the A-list and founder of Communique magazine; the EESquad membership founded by Dr. Cheryl Wood; Church Girl CEO founded by Deborah Franklin. My BFF for over 4 decades, Darlene Lee (Holla 225th Street in Queens, NY.) My husband of 34 years and my two grown children, Alexis and Christian. And last but not least, my book club committee: Jacklyn, Rochelle, Barbara, Shelia, Gail and Gladys…and all of my readership.
JC Gardner photos by Lisa Fleet; Sinful Liaison cover by Perfect Publishing; Heated Cover by Darrin Cook, Mogul Media.