We had the good fortune of connecting with N.D. Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi N.D., can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
I often include inspirational quotes at the beginning of my author newsletters. In a recent newsletter, I added the following quote by Satya Nani: “A little progress every day adds up to big results.” This quote resonates with me on a fundamental level. In only ten words, Nani aptly summarizes how I’ve managed to achieve many goals—regardless of the size.
I’m a very detailed-oriented person. However, for details to make sense, I need also to comprehend the big picture—the overarching goal or purpose. Armed with such an understanding, I can then outline the steps required to reach my goal. What can happen all too easily, when a person focuses on the big picture, they may lose sight of the necessary steps to obtaining the goal. They can become overwhelmed by the big goal by failing to recognize the incremental steps they have taken to achieve the goal, or the goal feels so far out of reach they have little idea where to begin.
As a former high school teacher, I created chunked lesson plans for my students. Chunking enables students to progress through a lesson at a bite-sized, manageable pace, all the while steadily working toward mastering a learning goal. This approach is how I’ve obtained three degrees, my most recent being a doctorate in community college leadership while being a wife and working mother. I kept the big picture in mind, but I took each semester, each course, and every assignment as they came. Bite-sized, manageable pieces, when put together, adds up to big results, as Nani noted.
This approach to life is the same one I take as an author. I’ve written about sixteen books, many of which were penned during my doctoral program. When I write a novel, I don’t think about word counts or book length. Again, to focus on the end—in the case of a novel, writing seventy thousand or more words or a three hundred-page book can be overwhelming. Instead, I think of a book in terms of not only chapters but sections within each chapter. Thus, I write from one section to the next. Using this strategy makes it easier for me to create achievable daily writing goals. In this way, I increase the chance of success, reinforcing this kind of behavior and creating a positive habit of mind.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I founded Kuumba Publishing, as a sole proprietorship in 2016, changing the business to a limited liability company in April of 2021. Kuumba is a Swahili word that means creativity. Kuumba is also the Sixth Principle of Kwanzaa, an African American cultural holiday created by Maulana Karenga in 1966. The principle of Kuumba encourages people “to do always as much as [they] can in the way that [they] can in order to leave [their] community more beautiful and beneficial than when [they] inherited it. (Karenga, 1988).” Thus, I created Kuumba Publishing as a forum for creativity in its various expressions, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent.
When I began KP, I used it as a forum for publishing my books and as a vehicle for controlling my writing career. I possessed an author’s mindset, wanting to write and share stories that most mattered to me, more so than a traditional businesswoman’s outlook. There is a world of difference between these two perspectives. A person with an author’s mentality wants to crawl into their writing cave, peeking out to eat, shower, and watch a Netflix show, reminding their loved ones they still exist, then slink away again until they’ve purged their masterpiece from their heart and soul. A person with a business mindset does not live in the weeds of page and word counts, unless there is a contract involved, but in a laboratory of cogs, wheels, and vision, masterminding the creation and growth of an enduring branded machine.
My greatest lesson since forming KP is that these two perspectives do not blend naturally. Sometimes, not even well. Indeed, I have struggled to manage both while staying true to writing and authoring stories of personal and cultural value as an African American woman. For me, that means creating three-dimensional Black heroes and heroines with goals and desires, family and friends, and flaws and hope, wrapped in an enjoyable, engaging reading experience. But stories written are not the same as books sold or brand recognized beyond a circle of faithful supporters.
Now, with a cadre of novels and original character concept art designs to draw on, I have a marketable catalog. My body of work tells a story of hard work, perseverance, creativity, and consistency—the KP brand—a merger of the passionate author and an evolving businesswoman.
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 live in B-more (Baltimore City). If a friend visited the city, I would take them to several of my favorite places. First, let’s begin with food. One of the highlights of visiting a new city is taking in the local eateries. I love seafood and restaurants that serve breakfast all day. Miss. Shirley’s Cafe fits both categories. I usually order their chocolate chip mini waffles with cranberry maple turkey sausage and orange juice. Just a few stores away is Namaste Baltimore–one of my favorite Indian restaurants. Since the pandemic, I’ve missed their lunch food bar. They have the best variety of dishes, and their customer service is topnotch.
I’m partial to museums, especially African American museums. In Baltimore, we have two beautiful museums that focus on the African American experience. The first is the National Great Blacks and Wax Museum. Beyond the life-size wax figures of historical and contemporary African American personalities, this museum is special and worth sharing with a visiting friend because my husband and I were married there. As part of the reception, our guests received a museum tour, including their famous slave ship.
We would also visit The Reginald F. Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. This museum is an excellent resource for information about the experience of African American Marylanders. They host many annual events, one of my favorites being their Kwanzaa celebration. This event provides an opportunity to learn about and celebrate Kwanzaa’s principles and showcase and support local Black businesses.
Taking a stroll around the Inner Harbor is a must for any Baltimore tourist. There are plenty of local fares to enjoy in downtown Baltimore, from Phillips Seafood to Hard Rock Cafe. There are also Baltimore’s National Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and Maryland Science Center. The IMAX Theater in the science center is terrific, even if the popcorn is a dash too salty. These are all places we’ve experienced as a family, and ones I would share with my visiting friend.
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?
I give the biggest, most appreciative shoutout to my family—my husband, children, mother, brother, and in-laws. I consider myself fortunate to have so many loving and supportive yet unique and talented individuals as family and friends. They as much inspire me—their knowledge, skills, and passion—as their love and support humble me.
Photography by Tre’ Lynn