Griggs, Vanessa Davis

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Griggs, Vanessa Davis

PERSONAL: Daughter of James and Josephine Davis; married; children: Jeffery Marques, Jeremy Dewayne, Johnathan LeDavis. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, music, cooking, gardening, dancing, being a "handywoman" around the house.

ADDRESSES: Home—Irondale, AL. Office—Free to Soar, P.O. Box 101328, Dept.-VG, Birmingham, AL 35210-6328. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Worked for BellSouth Telecommunications, c. 1978–96; freelance author and motivational speaker, 1996—; founder, Free to Soar (publishing company), Birmingham, AL.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best All-Time Favorite Multi-Cultural Self-published Author, Shades of Romance magazine, 2002; Book of the Year, Sistah Circle Book Club, and Reader's Choice Award, Shades of Romance, both 2002, both for Promises beyond Jordan; Road to Romance Reviewer's Choice Award, for Wings of Grace.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Destiny Unlimited, Free to Soar (Birmingham, AL), 1999.

The Rose of Jericho, Free to Soar (Birmingham, AL), 2000.

Promises beyond Jordan, BET/New Spirit (Washington, DC), 2004.

Wings of Grace (sequel to Promises beyond Jordan), BET/New Spirit (Washington, DC), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Putting her love for writing and her spiritual convictions to the test, Vanessa Davis Griggs quit her job at BellSouth Telecommunications in 1996 to embark on a career as a motivational speaker and author. Founding her own company, Free to Soar, she began writing and self-publishing novels that combine her Christian beliefs with tales of love and personal conviction. After releasing two works of fiction, Destiny Unlimited and The Rose of Jericho, Griggs found her greatest success with her third tale, Promises beyond Jordan. Winning several romance magazine and book club awards, the novel was then picked up by the publisher BET/New Spirit, which released it in 2004.

Promises beyond Jordan is the story of a minister in Atlanta, Georgia, named George Landris. Engaged to an intelligent and upstanding woman named Theresa Jordan, who has found particular favor from his church's congregation, Landris finds that his world changes dramatically after he learns that an old flame, successful author Johnnie Mae Taylor, has been in a car accident. The crash has also landed Johnnie's husband and daughter in the hospital, and Landris resolves to go see them just days before his planned wedding. At first, Theresa is tolerant of the visit, but after several days go by she becomes suspicious that there are still serious feelings between her fiancée and Johnnie. Landris's congregation also is disapproving of his behavior. When jealousy reveals Theresa's true colors, Landris comes to realize he can avoid a grave mistake by not marrying Theresa and following his heart. Romance in Color reviewer Tricia-Ann Blades described Promises beyond Jordan as "a riveting, emotionally charged novel with spiritual depth." Although Judine Slaughter, writing for Reviewer's Bookwatch, was initially surprised by the seemingly secular focus of the Christian-oriented romance, the book reflects the fact that "the church is filled with humans, not angels." "Vanessa tells it like it is as far as church folk," Slaughter added. "And she wraps up the story with a realistically happy ending."

A sequel to Promises beyond Jordan, Wings of Grace features Johnnie Mae, who is now planning her marriage to Landris while on a book tour. She now becomes unexpectedly involved in a mystery. Sarah Fleming, an aging woman who had been committed to a mental institution (now nursing home), swears that a baby she gave birth to that reportedly died after childbirth, is actually still alive. She asks Johnnie Mae for help, starting a search to reunite a family and rectify an injustice. "Mystery and intrigue surrounds the rich characters of this novel," declared Blades in another Romance in Color review. Pam Kingsbury asserted in a Southern Scribe online review that "Griggs has created a memorable ensemble of characters with strong wills and even stronger faith."

Finding her career as a public speaker and author a rewarding one, Griggs plans to continue writing novels featuring African Americans who possess a strong faith in God's love. "Knowing that my writing has been, at times, more than just entertainment [is my greatest accomplishment]," she told a Romance in Color interviewer. "That it has touched lives in a positive way or made someone else's existence better just by the words I took time and prayer to weave together. I've won some awards, and I do appreciate them and look forward to many others. But having a reader contact me to let me know how much they enjoyed what I've shared … my purpose … my calling—that's the greatest reward for me."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2005, Lillian Lewis, review of Wings of Grace, p. 816.

Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Promises beyond Jordan, p. 86.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, October, 2004, Judine Slaughter, review of Promises beyond Jordan.

Tennessee Tribune (Nashville, TN), September 1, 1999, "Important New Book on an Unlimited Destiny Set for a 9/9/99 Publication Date," review of Destiny Unlimited, p. B4.

ONLINE

Book-Remarks.com, http://www.book-remarks.com/ (January, 2002), interview with Griggs.

RomanceinColor.com, http://romanceincolor.com/ (April 21, 2005), Tricia-Ann Blades, reviews of Wings of Grace and Promises beyond Jordan, and "Rising Star—Vanessa D. Griggs," interview with the author.

RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 11, 2005), Melissa Parcel, review of Wings of Grace.

Sistah Circle Web site, http://www.thesistahcircle.com/ (April 21, 2005), Lisa Cross, interview with Griggs.

SouthernScribe.com, http://www.southernscribe.com/ (June 3, 2002), Pam Kingsbury, review of Promises beyond Jordan; (April 21, 2005) Pam Kingsbury, "Writings on the Wings of Grace" (interview).

Vanessa Davis Griggs's Home Page, http://www.vanessadavisgriggs.com (May 11, 2005).