Happy New Year

If you reading this email, you’re one of the lucky ones. Millions didn’t make it to this space of time, on the brink of ushering in a new year. But you and I did! What a blessing!

I don’t know about you, but 2021 hasn’t disappointed me. Like everyone else, I endured some rough patches. But overall, because of my, “God will never leave nor forsake me” attitude, I choose to focus on all the good things.

Some of those good things include:

1. Leaving a company that I no longer wanted to be at after 23 years.

2. Acquiring a new job in an industry I lm excited to be apart of— librarianship!

3. Completing second master’s degree (which aided in #2)

4. Being apart of growing podcast, Conversations Between Widows.

5. Being published in two successful books: Chicken Soup For the Soul: I’m Speaking Now and A Widow’s Resilience

I really want to add, too, that I have opened myself up to a new love since losing my husband four years ago, but I wasn’t sure if y’all wanted to hear about that piece 🤔

I’m expecting even greater things to come in 2022. Not just for myself, but for you too!

Happy New Year! Be safe!

Class of 2021

I can’t remember exactly how I felt when I registered for my Oral History course in August 2021. I knew it was my last class of the program but the feeling of graduation or completion didn’t hit me until I received the email to participate in commencement. It was then that excitement revved up within me like Indy 500 race car driver approaching the finish line.

And then this…

Walking across the stage, earning a second masters degree. This time from Wayne State University in Information Science.

I’m glad my BIG day came at the close of 2021 because next year, 2022, is all about my high school senior!

You know teen boys are hard to photograph with a smile 😂 but he’s happy for his mom

Learning From the Pros

I’m not sure when I learned of Brown Girls Books but I remember being excited about this venture created by two bestselling Black authors, my Soror, Victoria Christopher Murray, and her best friend and writing partner, ReShonda Billingsley Tate. At the time, I remember being determined to reach their level of literary success. Then I continued along my journey of writing my second novel at the time.

Last week I attended the second of their four popup writing workshops scheduled this month. The first was a beginning writer’s workshop called, Facing the Blank Page. With 20 years of writing experience that includes two published books, two stories published in anthologies, and most recently, my first story published in Chicken Soup For The Soul, I’m pretty confident that I know how to tell a story. However, the second workshop called Is Your Story Plot Driven or Character Driven and what you need to know for both, piqued my interest. For the record, I’ve always considered my fiction stories to be plot driven. At the conclusion of the workshop, I knew I was right. But it was good to hear authors deeply meshed in the industry to explain the difference between the two. Victoria made it clear that while your book needs to be a bit of both, it’s important for the author to know what’s driving their story forward. Got it!

I enjoyed everything about the workshop and I’m looking forward to the next two that I registered for this month, Tools every author can use and How to become a Bestseller. But the part that really excited me during last week’s workshop was the confirmation that I’m doing many things that these bestselling authors are doing in their writing including the two things below:

1. Using actual pictures for your character profiles for better descriptions! I started doing that with my second novel, Reconciliation to Hell, and doing the same for my current WIP.

2. Including subplots within the main plot. I credit that to being an avid reader. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to write a novel. Well, I kinda did BUT I did knowing full well what makes a good story and that’s multi-dimensional characters. Characters need to feel like real people. And when you think of a real person dealing with marital problems, aren’t they still dealing with issues at work or with other people at the same time, right. That makes for an interesting story and characters.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Next week I’ll post about the next workshop I attend.

Yours Naturally,

L.A.

Journaling Rocks!

My poodi (grandbaby) is sound asleep. I should be too, after the day of running behind her, cleaning up behind her, AND baking a decorating, not one, but two cakes!

I was exhausted after the full day and shoujd have been sleep with the baby. However, when you’ve been thinking about the memoir you’re writing all day in the back of your head, you use the quiet time to write. Or research, in my case.

I’m reading through the journal I began the very night that I lost my husband. I remember having the weirdest dream in those early months following his death and I’m sure I wrote it down. As I’m looking for that entry, and reading over my thoughts and experiences during that time, I can’t help but be grateful for the journey God has me on. The entry that I just read which prompted me to make write this post was a passage about my expectation of the good things to come my way following this devastating time in my life. I PROMISE you, I wrote on 2/23/2018 that I was expecting a new job, new confidence, new boldness, new success in my near future. And here I am as of October 29, 2021, about to start a new job, in my new career as a librarian at Royal Oak Public Library. I officially started on 10/4/21. I have some training on 11/3/21. Tears literally filled my eyes writing this, just recognizing how good God is! If you don’t know, NOW you know! #GodisFaithful #’HeWillNeverleavenorforsakeyou #KeeptheFaith

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Why I Write?

During the Christmas holiday season, I couldn’t browse my FB feed without seeing friends rave about the show, Bridgerton, which was streaming on Netflix. Most popular comments were regarding the beauty of seeing people of color in positions of power during this period in England and oh the costumes! I’d planned to watch it but I get in moods sometimes of being tired of streaming TV series! So time consuming. Give me a 2hr movie so I can just be done.

Anyway, one Sunday I gave in to the pressure. Over the two to three days it took me to finish up, I found myself only minimally excited about what I’d seen. Definitely not planning to put the series on repeat, not even for the handsome Duke of Hastings. I try to stay positive on social media so I was comfortable keeping my thoughts to myself.

But then I came across this article someone posted in a black writer’s FB group I’m in. Her words inspired and gave me the courage to express my true thoughts on my FB page:

“I love the fact that this writer put into words the thoughts that floated around my head while trying to support Shonda Rhimes, who I have since learned didn’t create the show but is one of its producers. But the truth is I’m sick and tired of having to seeing the black girl in the show get pregnant when she’s having sex just like her white counterparts (remember that scenario from the Netflix series All American) and seeing the glorification of a black man loving a white woman (so played out). I need more stories of healthy black love and black girl excellence.

This why I write! To change the narratives of stories told about black and brown people.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

New Year, New Book–Pre-Order Info Added

Happy New Year!

On the drive to work this morning, I heard a radio host jokingly say that is December 50, 2020. He declared are us stuck in 2020 until our current president is out of office.

Hmmm. NOT SO! The current man in the oval office is not stopping the flow of my life. We are, in fact, in a new years. 2021. And, I’m super excited about it! On December 31, 2020, I announced on Facebook the upcoming release on a second anthology project that I have co-authored.

“A Resilient Widow” is a collection of stories told by women who have suffered the loss of their spouse and how they have overcome this most difficult time in life, but have learned to living resiliently and with purpose. The goal of this book is provide encouragement and hope to widows just beginning or are struggling through their own widow journey.

Pre-order information will be available later this month. The book set for release in February 2021.

Update: Pre-Order Now

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

http://www.lajefferson.com

The Photograph

I finally made my way to see the movie The Photograph, weIl after its 2/14 opening. There’s a story that I need to insert here to add some credence to how I feel about this movie. I had every intention of seeing this movie on Valentine’s Day weekend. Not with a boo or anything. I don’t have one of those. However, I had been kind of “seeing” someone for a few months. And he chose the Thursday before this movie was released to tell me we needed to see less of each other. Ain’t that some shit? SMH

I was devastated and in my feelings for entire weekend. Obviously, that was not the movie to see. I was not about to sitting up in the theater crying about what I no longer had. But I was not lost on all of the negative reviews I came across opening weekend and weeks later.

“Love Jones fail.”

“Issa Rae doesn’t do sexy well.”

“The chemistry was missing .”

“I fell asleep.”

Etc, etc, etc…

Nevertheless , I was determined to see this movie for myself. Make my own decision . Today was the day.

First of all, I only saw two similarities to Love Jones. The first being Christina being a photographer. The second being these scene with Mike’s (I think that’s Mae’s love interest name) brother and his wife that was kind of love jonsie. That’s about all the Loves Jones I got out of the movie. Oh yeah, and Mike was had a job opportunity out of town. But that was it!

More than a love story, I saw the story being more about the complexities of being a woman. Specifically, the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Christine wants love. She’s a woman of immense passion. But, she wants also wants a meaningful career. She wants her life to be more than bringing pleasure to her man. Can she have both becomes the question? She takes the risks that most women don’t take. Leaving the love of the man in pursuit of her greater passion—her work. Then she has this daughter to take care of. She shows her daughter love in the only way she knows how—providing for her while giving the best of herself to her work. The daughter grows up questioning the love of the mother.

As a mother of a daughter, we see so clearly the things that our daughters will encounter in their lives. They will love. They will be be loved. They will experience pain. We long to spare them of the pain. But we can’t. So we raise them to be strong, to be able to overcome all things. Somewhere in this process, the love of the mother is questioned by the daughter. The daughter will never understand until she, herself, walks in her mother’s shoes.

I didn’t really see anything special between Christina & Issac. I saw that she loved her work more than she loved Issac.

In Christina’s letter to Mae, she says she wishes she was as good at love as she was at her work. Those words penetrated my soulful because my experience is the opposite. My strength is in loving people. My family, my kids, the man in my life. So much so that I put my work—my writing—second, sometimes third or fourth. Christina’s story made me want to do something something different.

I want to know how much better my work will be if I push my work up on my list of priorities. I wonder…

The Photograph was a love story. A story of a woman loving herself. Loving her work. Loving a man. Loving her daughter. But not knowing how to love them equally, at the same time.

It wasn’t Love Jones. It wasn’t The Notebook. It was the Photograph.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Remembering #myKevin: Day 1 Friday, December 15, 2017

The anniversary of my husband Kevin’s death, 12/18/17, feels more like a weekend event rather than one day. Because we had such an eventful weekend leading up to his death, my memory of his passing begins on the Friday before that fateful day…

In December 2017 the 15th fell on a Friday. Kevin and I are had plans to celebrate his sister’s surprise 50th birthday which was the day. I remember being at work that day and talking to my friend about possibly not going to the party. The terminal illnesses Kevin was dealing with, interstitial lung disease, caused him to be increasingly angry, resentful, and quite frankly, not pleasant to be around. For me, as his caregiver, at least. I was beginning to tire of the Kevin that Kevin became in the presence of his family. Positive, glass half-full, God is good all the time Kevin. Because with me, in the privacy of our home, I witnessed the total opposite. Full disclosure, he was often a jerk. But the expectation was for me to be with him. Not because he enjoying my company but because I was his wife, his support.

However, this day I was considering letting him go on his own and use the time with him away to enjoy some peace at home. I had a conversation with my coworker about it and she understood but she encourage me to go. And by the end of my workday I decided to do just that. Putting Kevin’s needs before my own.

I didn’t tell Kevin that I had thought about not going to the party. That would have just soured whatever mood he was in when I got home. Plus I had decided that we were going to have a good night. I was not going to press him about us being on time to the party to be apart of the surprise. He hated when I rushed him for anything. I told myself, “This is his sister’s party, and we will get there when he wants us to.” Once I relieved myself of that pressure, I was able to relax to tend to his his needs.

While Kevin prepared himself for the party, I prepared Kevin for the party. I put 8 full sized metal oxygen tanks & all five of the liquid oxygen tanks in the back seat of Kevin’s truck. We would need enough oxygen for the 35 minute ride to and from party and for the time we were at the party and anything that came up along the way. The time we had been dealing with life with supplemental oxygen we tried our best to prepared for anything.

Thankfully we made big to the party in time to yell “surprise” along with everyone else. Though kevin was physically struggling breath, I could tell he was happy. Kevin loved being around his family and his family loved to be around him. There was a lot of love between them.

If there was a prayer to be a given during a family gathering, Kevin was always the one to do it. But at this event, after taking family pictures, Kevin’s mom or sister requested prayer for Kevin. We formed a circle around him as the minister present prayed for him. When the prayer was finished Kevin had his own words to share.

“I don’t want y’all to worry about me. My God’s got me and I’m gonna be alright!”

He’d moved everyone in the room, in kid me, to tears. In that moment I couldn’t have been happy that I decided to attend the party with him. To witness the heart of a dying man who thought so much of his family to have comforting for them when he was one in greater need of comforting.

When we got home, I was in such a good mood. Kevin was too. The night had been a good one.

It is Finished…Summer Class, that is #lifeafter

Thursday, August 1, 2019 marked the culmination of my first year as a graduate student of the Masters of Library Science program at Wayne State University!  Only a special kind of person–or maybe a glutton for punishment–undertakes a graduate program while displaced from their permanent residence due to a house fire, adjusting to life after the passing of their spouse, taking responsibility over a rental home that deceased husband managed, and a host of other things that you’ve probably already read about on my blog. But, I did it! And quite successfully, too, I might add. 4.0 GPA first semester, 3.5 the second, and a 3.0 this current semester.

Although I did well, I put myself through a lot stress at a time in my life when I should have been relaxing as much as possible. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something, I advised myself.

Now, I don’t regret, at all, the decision to begin this program. I’d been contemplating it for a few years before finally applying. However, it might have been a good idea to start with one class instead of two. It took those first two semesters of talking myself out of quitting a time or two before I came to my senses and only registered for one class this last semester.

Forty-three year old LaCharmine cannot do graduate school the way twenty-five year LaCharmine did it.

Prior to the end of this semester, I told myself it was time for a break.

“Not even one class, LaCharmine,” I said to myself sternly. (I need that kind of talking to sometimes).

I need my evenings and weekends as free as they can be (given my church & sorority commitments).

I need time for writing.

I need time for reading.

I need time for getting my house how I want it.

I need time for dating. (Yes, I said it. Dating!!!)

Hmm…will I listen to myself and take a break from school? How will my first date go after 10 years out of the game? Will I accomplish the goal of completing novel #3 by end of 2019? Follow my blog for more #lifeafter posts.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

selfie

 

 

L.A. The Future Librarian

As you read in my previous post (I hope you’re a subscriber!), part of the reason for my hiatus from blogging is that I started a graduate program in library science in the fall of last year. Since I published my first book in 2007, I have considered many career opportunities/fields. Accounting, education, communication, and librarianship. Over this time, I would get so frustrated with the internal debate of what course I should take. My biggest fear was that in considering these other career options that I was somehow doubting my ability to gain success with my writing.

The truth is that doubt is a creative persons silent partner.

However, the reality of being a writer, even an eventual successful one, is that the bills have to be paid in the meantime. And there’s life to live and enjoy until I write the book or meet the person who catapults me to the success I long for. Timing is everything.

I have no doubt that I will enjoy working in a library. I love libraries, specifically public libraries. I don’t frequent them nearly enough–well, I didn’t until I started school. But, for me, walking through the doors of my local library is like a kid walking into a candy store.  Pure delightful.

librarypic

I imagine drawing inspiration for my own writing being surrounded by the writing of our literary greats. I am anxiously anticipating planning readings and book signing events for local and national authors. I look forward to planning activities that the community will benefit from. I look forward to servicing patrons who recognize the continued relevance of library services.

To date, I have completed one full semester of classes toward my degree with one or two more to go. I made the mistake of taking two classes the first two semesters, under estimating how demanding these courses were going to be. Like most people probably think, It’s library school. How hard can it be?

Let me tell you. It’s not so much hard but time consuming and demanding like any other graduate program. Also, although the program states that a prospective student does not have to prior library experience to enroll in the program, it’s kind of taught as though you do. Or you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time in one during the program.

After having to talk myself off the ledge of quitting a few times when things got tough, I finally got smart and told myself, “Uhh, who told you that you have to take two classes at a time? This program is not a race.” And I must say this spring/summer semester has been much more manageable with one class. It’s a keeper going forward. I actually have a little wiggle room to fit in some committed time to work on my current novel, which ranks above the. I still have my December 2019 goal to have that work completed.

Needless to say I’m excited about what the future holds. My future as a librarian and my life as a national bestselling author!

What are you excited about for your future? I’d love to hear.librarypic