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A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, Toi Thomas was born in Texas, but considers Virginia to be home. She enjoys reading, cooking, baking, painting, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with her family. Currently working as a special education teacher’s assistant while blogging and writing fulltime, Toi finds comfort and peace of mind in chocolate, green tea, and naps. For some reason, Toi admits has escaped her, she married a frat boy who has continued to be her best friend and love of her life. She and her husband are now embarking on the adventure that is book promotion with the release of her first novel, Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel, as well as other published works.
Toinette “Toi” Thomas was born and raised in Texas where she learned to appreciate the grandeur of things in life. She was raised by her loving mother Navonia and her stepfather Dennis, along with her older sister Tori. Early in her life, Toi could understand and appreciate things that other kids her age couldn’t. She understood that her family wasn’t perfect, but that it was perfect for her.
Toi’s mother always encouraged her to be the best she could be even at things she didn’t like; which is why she was the best cheerleader her team had in the third grade. Toi always had a special bond with her father, which made it hard for others to image that she wasn’t his natural born child. It was her father who helped her appreciate the growing technology of the time and introduced her to her love of science fiction. Toi always looked up to her sister, even though as children they seldom got along. Her sister helped Toi figure out who she was on the inside and helped her create her own sense of style.
Growing up, Toi was a bit of a tomboy, but was not without poise and grace. She loved to play outside, to build and break things, to dance and write, and to read. Some of her favorite books as a youngster were Horton Hears a Who, The Little Engine that Could, and anything Curios George. Toi also studied dance as a child and began her love of cooking at the age of five. By the time she was in third grade, Toi could prepare a full hot breakfast on her own. It was also during these early years that her love of movies and music developed. She would scan the radio for hours trying to get a glimpse at all the different types of expression that traveled the airwaves. Her favorite movies growing up were The Wizard of Oz, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and anything with Shirley Temple.
When Toi’s family moved to Virginia, she was just eleven years old; soon, she would be a pre-teen and then a teenager. The next few years were a great time of change for Toi. Life was much different in Virginia and adjusting to the changes allowed Toi to develop herself more creatively. By the time Toi entered high school, everyone knew how smart and mature she was. While her sister was a very public person, Toi kept to herself, but managed to make her mark in other ways. Toi would often make acquaintances by helping students with their homework or by writing poems for students who wanted to impress someone. Toi was active in a few social clubs, but maintained a low-key persona. During her high school career, Toi developed a special relationship with two girls who would become her closest friends at the time, and who remain a part of her life now.
Toi always seemed to be very mature for her age and sometimes a little too serious for her peers, but when she wanted to, Toi could really be a lot of fun. She was known for her dancing skills whenever she would let loose at a party and as always, she was a great conversationalist, especially if the topic was movies, music, or TV. During high school, Toi’s literary interest began to expand. She started reading many classic stories such as the original stories and plays of Peter Pan, novels such as To Kill a Mocking Bird, many works of Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. Also during her brief high school career, Toi ventured out and explored other interest as she worked towards an early graduation. She became involved in math and science related after school activities and took technology-based electives. She also began to feed an interest in foreign languages, taking Spanish courses and being involved in multicultural activities.
When it was time for Toi to go off to college, she and her mother managed to find an in-state school that was far enough away from home, for her to have the true college experience. She attended what is now called The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Though it took a long time for Toi to adjust to the cultural changes of the area, she finally grew to appreciate and even enjoy her time spent there. During this time, Toi’s love for reading took a back seat to the required reading of her many classes, though she managed to dabble in the reading of comic books when she could. Majoring in computers, minoring in Spanish, and being involved in several student activities, Toi hardly had time to image what her life would like after graduation.
It was also during this time at Uva-Wise that Toi met her future husband, Eric Thomas. As if the fact that they both had the same last name wasn’t enough to bring the two together, their mutual love of food, music, comic books, and movies was. Though Toi and her husband shared many common interest, they were very much opposites, an attribute that made their union all the more special. After seven years of marriage, the adoption of a turtle named Betty, and a handful of career changes, Toi now works as a special education teacher’s assistant in Virginia Beach. While Toi finds her job to be very rewarding, she never seems to let up on the other things she finds of interest in her life. Toi constantly bakes goodies and treats for friends and family, and makes an extra effort to assist with computer issues whenever she can. While Toi’s love of movies will never fade, she also makes time to read a good book from time to time.
It was in the fall of 2009 that Toi got the inspiration to write her first book. She was having a reoccurring dream about a gray man who wanted to be an angel. She began to write down bits and pieces of her dreams, whenever she could remember them. Soon Toi had pages and pages of notes that she decided to turn into a story. Her first novel is just one part of the whole story she plans to someday share with the world as, The Eternal Curse Series.
Toi is also working on other stories outside of the EC series and has been actively blogging, interviewing, and reviewing for four years and sees no point in stopping any time soon. Sponsored by TheAuthorShow.com, Toi was named one of their, 2013, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading. In the Summer and Fall of 2014, Toi will have more stories to release and share with the public.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Hampton Roads? I was born in Texas and raised in Virginia. Virginia is my home and I am proud to be just one of the many talented people to come from this state. More specifically, I count myself honored to be among the rising talents from the Hampton Roads or Tidewater area of Virginia. The music industry is no stranger to talent from this area, but the literary world may be in for a treat. There are so many wonderfully creative writers from this area doing some amazing things and I, for one, plan to ride along on that train, straight to success.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? There is no one specific thing that led to my choice of becoming a writer. I found that writing can be very therapeutic and when I needed it, more than I even realized, my first novel came to me and brought peace to my life. I’ve always written a bit as a hobby after falling in love with reading as a child. J.M. Barrie made me want to be a Lost Boy and write about all my adventures. When working as a teacher’s assistant alongside a highly acclaimed teacher and all around nice person, I was inspired by that teacher to write once I realized that she had published a book of her own. All in all, I can say that writing is something that I just have to do to be me, but the pursuit of publication has always been supported by my wonderful family, especially my mother. I write because I have so many stories to share.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I never had the intention of publishing a book when I started picking of the habit of writing regularly. After I’d written a first draft of, what is now, my first novel, several people told me it was worth publishing and to be honest, I felt like I needed to publish it. That was about five years ago and it’s been a crazy ride ever since.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? My upbringing didn’t really have anything to do with my desire to write professionally, other than me developing a joy for reading at an early age. Most of the people in my family are good storytellers. It’s just something we’ve always been able to do, but I don’t believe anyone in my family has ever sat down to write out any of their great stories before me. I personally am hoping to start a new tradition. My oldest niece is already on board.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Each story is different in its development. Although I am a true outliner to the bone, I don’t always know what I want to call my stories before they are complete. My first book was simply titled, Giovanni’s Angel, until the last minute when I decided that I needed to continue the story. That’s when I tacked on, Eternal Curse, as the main title and subsequent title for the series I’m planning.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I actually write in multiple genres, which I know can be a bit of marketing issue, but I can’t help myself. For the most part, my stories have a since of fantasy or paranormal to them, but I am currently working on a simple romance. Also, I consider myself a fiction author, although, I have written non-fiction works.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? As cliché as it sounds, my first novel, Eternal Curse, came to me in a dream. It was a reoccurring dream that I kept losing bits and pieces of each day I woke up because I couldn’t remember what I had dreamed. When I started to focus and take notes about the dream, it all started to make sense, and then the dreams stopped after having completed an amazing story. The story I wrote is based on that series of dreams, but I did change things to make for a good story others would want to read.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? When I complete a first draft I feel a sense of euphoria. In that moment, my story is perfect. I’m not bogged down with cutting things out, adding details, and editing for grammar and so on. I’ve taken an idea and developed something new and unique to me. If could just be satisfied to write first drafts for the rest of myself, I’d be happier than most.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Editing is an issue for me. I am a creative person, not a technical one, when it comes to writing. Ask me to assemble a computer and I’m all over it, but sentence structure is a pain. Believe it or not, I got an A in English composition, but I did have a tutor and worked very hard. I’ve had difficulty finding the right resources for my editing needs. Other than trial and error, I’m not sure how to overcome this obstacle. I thought that by reviewing a person’s work history and samples and also their references was enough, but sometimes things still come up short.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The first time I got a message from a fan I almost cried. I couldn’t believe that someone had found my book on their own, read it, liked it, and then found me on Facebook to send me a message saying, thanks. It’s one thing to receive positive reviews, but I’d never heard of anything like this. Someone thanked me for writing a good story. That’s only happened once, but it was more than I could have asked for.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I’d say the only real negative experiences in my publishing journey are my continued lack of sales. It’s frustrating to know that you have something worth selling and that I’ve promoting in every way possible, but still the sales just aren’t there. I guess I need to work harder on building up a greater buzz before my books release and figure out how to tap in to my local audience better.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Know your stuff! Before someone should start down the road of authorship they should know what they are getting into and should consider these three things.
1. Know their reason for writing. Hopefully making a ton of many isn’t it, but to each his own.
2. Know their options. The publishing industry is ever changing and potential authors need to do their research to decide what’s going to work best for them. This isn’t a one-size-fits all kind of industry.
3. Know their goals. Pursing any endeavor without clear-cut goals it futile and being an author is no different. Plus, everyone’s story, life, and experiences are different, so everyone needs to have goals tailor made for them.
This is all about “knowing your stuff”.
Who is your favorite author and why? I don’t think I really have just one true favorite, but right now, I’m really enjoying the work of Stacey Rourke.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Who have you been compared to? In my younger days, I was often told that I look liked several black entertainers, from Nia Long to Janet Jackson, but I know for a fact that I look like my mother.
When it comes to personality, how well you know me make a difference. I’m an introvert so am not always understood by the crowd. I don’t mind that at one point I was referred to as black Daria; I like Daria (1990s MTV cartoon character).
In terms of writing, after using the site, I write like.com, I found that my writing style might resemble that of either Dan Brown or James Fenimore Cooper, but I think there’s a flaw here.
What are you currently working on? While I’m constantly trying to promote my shorts (40 Days and Nights of Eternal Curse, The Legend of the Boy, and Unexplained), my first novel Eternal Curse, and my blog, I realize that I can’t stop there. I’m currently working to release my second novel, a contemporary romance completely independent of my Eternal Curse Series, entitled It’s Like the Full Moon. I’m also working on the sequel to Eternal Curse and another fantasy novel independent of that series. I’m really hoping to have something else released by the end of 2014 or at least at the beginning of 2015.
Is there a particular cause or issue that’s relevant to your work or that you’d like to share? I’ve never written something with the intention to do anything but entertain, but writing, like all art forms has so many layers. Without realizing it, I’d written a story of loss, love, and triumph in the, so common to us all, struggle to survive cancer, when I wrote about my character Abraham from Eternal Curse. I have written and will continue to write about cancer in other stories as well, but the release this book just happen to occur only weeks before I lost a loved one, to their battle with cancer. For that reason, I choose to use this book as a platform to raise awareness about cancer and treatments whenever I can. For more information about this, please visit my site.
Giovanni has been waiting his whole life to meet someone like Mira, someone from the outside world who might be able to help him. He wonders if there really is help for him as he continues to hold tightly onto dark secrets and even darker memories. Giovanni wants to be hopeful and he wants to accept Mira's help, but first he has to look himself in the mirror and face what he truly is--and that is a reality no one is quite ready to accept.
Searching for new purpose and meaning in her life, Mira meets Giovanni online and an exciting (and in some ways scary) friendship is developed. Mira decides one day to meet Giovanni in person, at his secluded country home, in order to aid him on his journey of selfdiscovery. What these two are able to discover will not only test their strength and will, but it will stretch the limits of their minds and catapult them into a world where earth, Heaven, and Hell collide.
Giovanni's Angel is the story of a man who may just be the answer to a spiritual war swiftly heading his way--but for now, he just wants to be a man.
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Author Toi Thomas’ Published Books
Eternal Curse: Giovann's Angel
40 Days and Nights of Eternal Curse
Eternal Curse: Battleground
Battleground Survival 101
Legend of the Boy, In the Window, & Other Short Stories