State to State Challenge; JM Benjamin

photo (3)JM Benjamin is changing the literary industry. He’s been around for years placing his legacy in the hands of many. This month, PEN’Ashe Magazine got the chance to sit down with JM in an exclusive interview about his new signing, new book and new journey.

“The passion behind my work is simple. I was given an opportunity and second chance to make it out and get it right through writing and for the past eight years, since my release from federal prison, I’ve been doing just that. I owe it to myself and my loved ones to stay focused and not return back to prison. Writing is a major contributor to that.” JM begans.

JM became a published author after submitting to a publishing company while he was still incarcerated and was blessed to land a two book deal. “That was in 2005, with my freshman novel “Down In The Dirty” He says.

JM is a man on the go. He stays on his grind and every time I look up, he’s doing something new. JM speaks about some of the new projects he’s been working on. “It’s been pretty much an uphill and productive journey. As of March 14th, my 11th novel, titled “Squeeze”, will be released under Ashley and Jaquavis’ publishing company O.W.L (Official Writer’s League). I signed a four book deal with Carl Weber to have the Ride Or Die Chick series 1-3, revised and re-released plus writing a part 4, which I am humbly excited because Wal-Mart has just agreed to house them and it will be my first time ever having my books available in their stores. In addition, my novel “My Manz And ‘Em has been adapted into a screenplay by Sundance Film Festival Winner, Director Alrick Brown. We’re expecting to start production sometime this summer with some great known name talents. Aside from that I have been traveling the country, doing motivational speaking and mentoring. So, basically, it’s been non-stop action” He laughs as he talks about his schedule the past few months.

As JM said, he recently signed with a HOT publishing company. I was excited to see the announcement a few months ago. JM talks about the new deal. “I recently signed with O.W.L. and Urban Books for two different reasons. With O.W.L, I saw an opportunity to work with some talented and quality people who I believed could do an equal if not better job than myself with my work, while I focused on what I really loved, writing. The deal with Urban Books, again, I felt the move to be beneficial, with Carl Weber being a part of a company that has the number one distribution in literary and him being who he is in the business. Basically, I just wanted to focus on writing and grindin’ versus all of the business stuff required to get a book up and runnin’. I still have A New Quality Publishing, which I will be re-opening up for submissions, but I wanted to brand J.M. Benjamin more and stronger first.”

JM’s latest novel, “Squeeze”, was actually written while he was vacationing in Las Vegas. He laughs, “I was out there for about a month and a half. After observing the flow of the city, I decided to create a Vegas tale. The story is about a social club of plus size, gay, corporate by day/gangster by night females who put the squeeze on powerful men through blackmail and extortion.” WOW. I am hoping PEN’Ashe Magazine can do a review on this book in the future.

One thing I don’t hear many authors saying when they are promoting is that they are touring. JM did something a little different this time. “Touring is very effective for me, sales wise as well as for my brand. Aside from that, I love connecting with my supporters and making and meeting new ones. They motivate me to keep writing and to keep grindin’. I am currently attempting to tour all 50 States with Squeeze. So far through social sites, I have managed to connect with J.M. supporters in nearly thirty to aid me in this quest. For some reason people love me.”

With JM being a multi-published author, I asked him what he wanted his readers to take away from his books. He says, “I want the readers to be entertained and experience the story as if they are one of the females doing the extorting and blackmailing or one of the victims. This is a three part series, so I want the readers to become so engulfed in the story that they anticipate the next two parts.”

With more laughter, JM talks about the future. “You can expect a whole lot from me in 2014! Trying to finish up two non-fiction motivational books, get this film up and runnin’, rip this tour and give back to a community I took so much from, just to name a few things.”

And last but certainly not least, JM has been in this industry for a very long time and has released numerous books. I asked him what advice he would have for authors. “For new authors, humble yourself. Never be too proud to ask or accept advice who’s traveled down the road you intend to. If given advice, still do your own homework and research. Perfect your craft, be proud of it and never let anything or anyone discourage you or stand in the way of your literary goal. It’s enough bookshelf space for all of us.”

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