I’m Speaking Now

When you have a goal, it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind. Several years ago, I jumped on the dream board bandwagon. I put all the things that I wanted on the board from declaring myself a bestselling author to purchasing a home.

I’m blocking the board, showing off a hairstyle (lol) BUT this was vision board, which I kept hanging in my cubicle for like 4-5 yrs.

I also put on there to become a contributor for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’d never purchased one of these books, until recently, but I’d always been aware of them and somehow or another one or two of their books found a home on my bookshelf. Currently, I have the Chicken Soup for the Forgiveness Soul and Chicken Soup for the Couples Soul. I can’t remember when I decided that my personal stories could find a home within their books, but I started keeping an eye on their website for topics I could write about. In fact, now that I think about, I have to credit Dr. Mary Edwards for sharing the publishing opportunity with me. I met her when she was a vendor at my workplace, selling her books. After she shared the story of how her first book, Born Grown, came to be, we were instant friends. That day she also told me about her writing experience with Chicken Soup For the Soul. She’d been published multiple times and asked to be a judge for the stories at one time. She added me to her mailing list and would periodically send the list of topics the publication was looking for. I was so interested that I started going directly to Chicken Soup’s site to check for myself.

The first story I submitted was for a book called Home Sweet Home. My story wasn’t selected but I didn’t give up. Sometimes I would go several months without checking the site, but I was always reminded of what my goal was when I looked at the dream board hanging in front of me in my cubicle. Though I submitted quite a few times, there were only a few in which I knew I put my heart and soul into the story I penned. “Sisterhood”, the story that was selected for the I’m Speaking Now book was one of those stories. I wrote about two very significant events in my life: becoming a member of my beloved sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and losing my husband, Kevin. Both events were life-changing and that came across in my writing.

I just love how God shows up in my life. I stand on the promises of His word. In the Bible, scripture says that God WILL give you the desires of your heart. Scripture says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. Scripture says faith without works is dead.

I’m here to testify what God has done for me. He has given me the desires of my heart. I didn’t sit back and just wait for it to happen. I continued to write and read the books to learn what kind of stories they published. I also prayed for this to happen and had faith that it would happen.

It may not have come when I wanted it–the first time I submitted, but it has come right on time. It is no coincidence that my first story is published in this particular book. The editors of Chicken Soup knew that this was the time to share the stories of the Black woman. And they wanted new voices for this book. One of the emails I received from them stated that they selected quite a few new contributors. This is only the 2nd time in the book’s history that they’ve dedicated a book for African American stories. Every book in this story is written by a black woman, sharing a story pertinent to her life as a Black woman. This is book is going to be a bestseller. And my story is in it!

DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Why I Write: The Page

The Page

Keeper of my secrets

Stories from the depths of my soul

Sometimes true;

Sometimes from the scenes of my imagination;

My dreams

My nightmares

My deepest fears

The crisp white on a notebook page

Or the grainy white of the computer screen,

Never turn me away

Never ignore my pleas

Not afraid of my tears

Not expecting me to be strong

Rather wanting all that I have to give,

to share, to dare

To say.

I can be who I am

I can be who I want to be

I can be who I’m afraid to be

In the open world

There is no judgement on that page;

On that screen

I…AM…FREE

Finally…Myrtle Beach

Finally, though, when my best friend of 40 years suggested a girls getaway, the time finally came. I needed the rest now just as much as I needed it two years ago.

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Why I Write? Positively Impacting Other

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Letters to Santa Claus. Love letters to boyfriends. Entries to my diaries in my adolescent and teen years. Entries in my journals throughout my adults years.

I went FB Live on Saturday after I moved myself to tears writing a story I plan to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I wrote about my experience of having a stroke, at 44 years old, with no preexisting risk factors. I wrote about the natural inclination to ask God, “Why me? Haven’t I been through enough?”

I ended on the note of gratefulness that the stroke was just one more thing that God has brought me through. His Word doesn’t say bad things won’t happen to bad people. In fact, it says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Following that text says, “but, Fear not, I will be with you.” How comforting is that?

By the time I finished the piece, I knew that, whenever it is published, it will be a blessing to whoever reads it.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Why I Write: The Makings of a Story

Where do the ideas for your books? This is a common question asked of authors by readers and aspiring writers. The answers vary. For myself, the subjects that I’ve addressed in my novels have been retrieved for the pages of my life. The stories aren’t biographical by any means, but they’ve been sparked by things I experienced.

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Wellness Wednesday—

I was trying to craft some words for this post to go along with this picture, but I concluded that the words say it all.

I have three of these notes taped around my cubicle at work. Whichever direction I look in, these words are in my line of vision. They remind me to use my down time, specifically at work, wisely. Instead of chatting it up with coworkers or watching a series on Netflix when work is low, I should be preparing what I’m going to write in the evening on my manuscript or planning my social media marketing plan to promote my blog and my books, working on my online graduate course, reading a book, or updating my resume.

If you’re laid off due to CVOID-19, or at home with nothing to do because everything is closed, I encourage you to take heed to this words.

When you see these words, what comes to mind that should you be doing with your time? Tell me in the comments below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Weekends in Quarantine

Am I the only one who hesitates when asking friends old-fashioned questions, like: What are plans today? Have you made it to the gym? What are you doing this weekend? The answers sure have changed.

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It IS National Reading Month

Let me tell you ..I am getting my “read” ON! And I’m loving it!

Books, books, and more books!

In recent years, I’d begun to feel like a fraud. Whenever I’d fill out some profile about myself, the first things I’d list about what I like to do are reading and writing.

Sure you do…when was the last time you read a book??? My inner critic would whisper in my ear.

As much I hated to admit it, I haven’t been the avid reader over recent years that I’ve continued to claim to be. But who would put that in a profile: former avid reader. So I decided to change that. Stop making excuses–working out, sorority meetings, graduate program, men, social events, etc– for not doing something that I vividly remember adding joy to my life. We make time for the things that are important to us. While I haven’t behaved like it, reading is very important to me, both as a form of entertainment and as a study of the craft of writing.

I began with the grandiose decision to fast television for the lent season. I’ve known for quite some time that this activity wastes a lot of precious, valuable time that could be spent much more productively. And then March 1st rolled around, kicking off National Reading Month.

With a little help from Audible.com and the endless time I spend alone in my bedroom during evening and weekends, I’ve been making great strides with reading for pleasure.

I picked this book up at Sam’s Club during the holiday season. I read a couple of chapters and then placed in on my book case. It was the first book I reached for to kick off this season of reading. I love how the themes in this books I select mature and grow as I do. This one is a books about two friends navigating dating as they adjust to empty-nesting.

Jasmine Guillory has become a new favorite author of mine after my girlfriend suggested one of her books, The Wedding Date, to me back in the summer. This month I listened to the other two books in the series.

A few days ago, I ordered another book that arrived yesterday. This book is multi-purposed to give me a similarly aged black woman’s experience with learning to live again after the death of her spouse and a learning tool for writing a memoir (yes, I’ve got my own story to tell).

I’m really enjoying getting back to my old self. It’s so important to make time for what you like. Spending so much time engaging meaningless activities is just so…meaningless. I’m so done with that!

With a little over two weeks left in the month and March, there’s still time to get some reading in. With so much going on with this Coronavirus, a good book might be just the thing to take your mind off of it for a few hours out of the day.

Excuse me as shamelessly plug my two books, Unfinished Business & Reconciliation to Hell as recommendations just in case you need somewhere to start. 🙂

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Honoring My Veteran

Though my dad and I are currently estranged, his choice, I might add, I still take the time to honor him for his service to our country. My dad served in the United States Army and fought in the Vietnam War. I hadn’t been born yet, but it would be many years after my birth that I would begin to touch the surface of what he truly sacrificed for this country.

My dad never talked much of his time in the war. I can count on one hand how many times he mentioned something about it in my 44 years of life. But from what he shared about what he endured during the war coupled with his abandonment issues from his youth, I know my dad returned from the war physically whole but with emotional issues that only issues that God deliver him from.

My understanding of this is the only thing that allows me to focus less on my own pain from his deliberate absence from my life and to pray for his pain. I know my dad is only one of thousands of Veterans who return from war forever damaged. I’m sorry for the other children suffering in relationships with their mothers or fathers who suffered emotional damage from war. Our Veterans deserve so much more than the freebies they get on this day.

Today I texted my dad “Happy Veteran’s Day”, pushing away any expectation of a reply. It could go either way. Instead I reflected on fond memories of these pictures of better times with my dad. It was November 2015. My late husband, son, and I had gone to meet my dad at one his favorite steak joints. He way happy. I was happy. My husband and son were happy. It was a good day.

I was sharing these photos with a coworker when I received a text.

“Thank you”. My heart kinda leaped.

Happy Veteran’s Day,

Naturally Yours,

L.A.