Elissa Gabrielle Expands Peace In The Storm Publishing With Three New Imprints
For years, author and publisher Elissa Gabrielle has been working to amplify the voices of Black authors and creatives. First, with her media company Real Life Real Faith Media and indie publishing house, Peace in the Storm Publishing and now with three new imprints that launched on July 1.
The three imprints are After the Storm Publishing, LLC, a faith-based division which will be headed by publisher Sharel E. Gordon-Love; Jessica A. Robinson Presents, a contemporary drama division headed by the singer, songwriter and author and Imani Faith Publishing, an imprint headed by Cheryl Lacey Donovan that will boast inspirational titles featuring “life-changing testimonies of triumph over adversity.”
“In the next year, I hope to have another 50 authors under my belt with Peace in the Storm and the three imprints that we have,” says Gabrielle.
It is the latest step in a decades-long writing and publishing career that began when Gabrielle wrote her first screenplay at 19. A short while later, she released two poetry books and in 2005, she self-published her first book, Good to the Last Drop, an urban erotica novel about a couple of newlyweds whose bond is tested by temptation and betrayal.
“It was unique not only because it had heavy erotica, but because of the the way I wrote the book. I wrote it in first person with alternating characters leading each chapter,” she says.
As for critics who are not a fan of erotic fiction, Gabrielle says “everything ain’t for everybody.” Instead, Gabrielle focused on delivering the escapism, entertainment and message that her audience wanted.
“I don’t really feed into the negative energy and negative connotations of erotica because I know when it comes to it — and that’s not all of who I am, it’s just one part — I write it well, my readers receive it well and if it’s not for someone, they have the option of not reading it. It’s just that simple,” she says.
In fact, reservations about her subject matter and writing style were exactly what inspired her to delve into self-publishing. When she originally sought to go the traditional publishing route, she was met with too many roadblocks. Publishers told her that a strong, erotic scene would automatically make this a romance novel. They were also put off by Gabrielle’s occasional use of poetry and spoken word within the story.
“There were just so many limitations and so many rejections and I said, ‘No, people are multi-faceted. We can enjoy poetry and a storyline at the same time. We can praise the Lord in a book and we can sin in the next chapter because that’s what life is all about,’” she says.
Instead, she “remembered the power of storytellers” and decided to self-publish her book. She followed that up with the sequel, Point of No Return and eventually wanted to “expand [her] reach as an independent to include other people.”
“That’s really how Peace in the Storm as we know it started — with me wanting to help others to do what I had done,” says Gabrielle.
Named after a song written by Gabrielle’s jazz musician father, Joe Thomas, Peace in the Storm began with a Christian fiction anthology titled The Triumph of My Soul. The anthology was eventually nominated for an African American Literary Award and featured five authors that are still with Peace in the Storm Publishing to this day.
Gabrielle followed that up with The Soul of a Man, a collection of works by 14 African-American men that portrayed the Black male experience in a positive light. It won the 2009 African American Literary Award for Outstanding Anthology.
“That year, was my breakout year because we swept. We were nominated for five awards across different categories, including Independent Publisher of the Year and we won all five,” says Gabrielle.
But winning awards is not her ultimate goal for Peace in the Storm. She wants to elevate the voices of authors she loves is one of her major goals, Gabrielle is also launching a third project, The Imprint, re-releasing works by Lost and Turned Out author Zach Tate.
“Zach Tate is, in my opinion, one of the greatest storytellers of this generation. He released books many years ago and he sort of fueled the fire for the street lit crew that’s out today. He surpasses that on many levels and he’s a great crime fiction novelist,” says Gabrielle.
The Imprint will also release Tate’s other past novels, No Way Out, Gambling With Hearts and The Legend of the Hustle as well as any future novels the author writes. From there, Gabrielle hopes to take Zach’s works, as well as other cinematic titles from her company, and “get them into higher platforms like television and film” with her other company Elissa Gabrielle Entertainment.
“For me, I know God has blessed me with being the vessel through which dreams are coming true, so that’s number one for me, that I provide a home for an author who is looking to fulfill their dream or get to their goal of becoming a storyteller and having a book in their hands,” says Gabrielle.
“That’s the greatest joy for me with Peace in the Storm publishing: to be able to go from manuscript to masterpiece,” she says.