Author Archives: Shirley Harris-Slaughter

About Shirley Harris-Slaughter

I love old buildings and history. That's why I ended up writing about the history that surrounded me all of my life - "Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community." Plus our church had closed and the school is torn down, so I felt it was imperative that we preserve the history or it would be lost forever.

@4WillsPub “Been There, Going Again” Blog Tour @StephenGeez

4 Wills “Been There, Going Again” Blog Tour, Stephen Geez

Day 1

Greetings, all! Welcome to the first stop on my 4WillsPublishing Blog Tour celebrating the re-issue of my memoir-shorts, Been There, Noted That: Essays in Tribute to Life. It has updated cover, new graphics, new book trailer, and now a first-ever jacketed hardcover edition. The book’s ruminations range from light and humorous to heartbreakingly poignant, but all spring from my own experiences. Thanks for visiting, trying this sample, and commenting!

 

How Old, Indeed

Essay by Stephen Geez

 

“I sure wish I had put some trees in my yard,” my neighbor said, watching me trim branches on the row of flowering crabapples that liked to reach over the sidestreet walkway and tickle the noggins of passersby.

Only a year into grad school and working full-time, I had just commenced one of those long-term projects called a “mortgage.”  Yes, I had bought my own place, a nice corner-lot colonial in a well-seasoned, thirty-year-old neighborhood. My house’s original owners had planted enthusiastically, blessing me with gloriously mature flora: springtime bloomers such as apple, cherry, and crabs; robust blossom-gobbed shrubbery the likes of lilac, snowball, and forsythia; plus a towering trio of magnificent hot-summer shaders—a red maple that ended every sentence with “eh?”; the mischievous elm that liked to flirt with my grapevine; and a humongous cottonwood that could target any area swimming pool with a fusillade of silky white puffs, then laugh about it for days. My neighbor’s yard, a mower-cropped crew-cut of featureless green, looked forlorn in comparison.

“Today’s as good a day as any to plant a few,” I pointed out.

He chuckled as if I’d made a joke, then shook his head and said, “Naw, it takes a good ten years or more till they’re big enough to sit under.”

I thought of him some years later when I saw an elderly woman interviewed on the news. Posing proudly in her cap and gown, she beamed over realizing her dream of going to college, four years of determined effort culminating in a bachelor’s degree. When the interviewer asked about encouragement from friends and family, the elder-grad surprised me by admitting, “They all thought I was nuts.”  She said that when she enrolled, her grandson quickly pointed out she’d be 74 by the time she graduated. Her response still resonates with me today:

“And how old will I be in four years if I don’t go to college?”

How old, indeed.

The very nature of a human lifespan presents life-plan challenges. Nearly all of us have reliable data on when our individual clocks started ticking—it’s right on the birth certificate—but except in rare instances, we have only a vague notion of now much time we’ll get to live and love, to laugh and learn. That’s why we try to cram so many accomplishments into our younger days. I mean, the sooner you achieve a goal, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the benefits.

However, this perspective is rather outcome-oriented. At the lower level in a hierarchy of ambition, we choose quick-and-simple aims, the kind where we expect lesser efforts to produce quicker results. At the middle level, we pursue the kinds of substantial rewards that require long-term, sustained effort—which in turn imbues success with greater meaning. At the highest level, we work toward goals where the benefits extend beyond our time, service to future generations, a paying forward for what our forebears accomplished for us. Imagine the old-timer who patiently plants a thousand seed-lings, knowing he’ll never live to see the forest, a form of altruism too few of us ever learn to embrace. Failing to see our world and the people who share it as bigger than one individual—as a continuum enduring beyond a single lifetime—is how it comes to seem acceptable to ignore the long-term consequences of pollution and climate change, of rapid natural-resource depletion, of amassing a massive collective debt for future generations to pay down.

Maybe we don’t always need a “result.”  The old lady didn’t say her goal was a degree, but rather “to go to college.”  If she ran out of time after a year or two or three, wouldn’t the experience, the knowledge, the mere accomplishment found in effort be worth it?  If you plant a tree, won’t watching it grow, if only for a while, offer a measure of satisfaction?  Don’t the best destinations beckon us with the promise of a meaningful journey?

And can’t the results of our best efforts prove different than we expect, maybe even better, with dividends paying in more ways than we ever imagined?  Think about the never-too-late lesson younger generations learn from the example set by that elderly college coed. Think about the circle-of-life wonder a child discovers when an old-timer nurtures seedlings that will mature long after he’s gone.

And even if nobody ever finds out what you have done, at least you can embrace the joy in knowing you’ve made yourself a better person, and you’ve left the world better for the time you got to live and love, to laugh and learn.

It’s been a long time since I lived among those springtime bloomers, blossom-gobbed shrubs, and towering trio of magnificent hot-summer shaders; but I hope my former neighbor is still right there across the street, and that he did get around to planting those trees. I like to imagine him spending some golden-years time relaxing in the shade. But if he’s gone now, I expect his son inherited the house, and I hope that on a hot summer day he can sit in that shade with his own children and share memories about helping his dad plant those trees.

How old do you have to be to understand that such a simple result is worth all that effort?

How old, indeed.

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Author Bio: Writer, editor, publisher, TV producer, music composer, entrepreneur and more, Stephen Geez has long honed a keen eye for the foibles of human nature. His writing since taking undergrad and grad degrees at Michigan includes novels and short stories in various genres from literary to mystical adventure, non-fiction covering academic to how-to, commercial arts spanning corporate training to consumer advertising, and web-based content including the collections at StephenGeez.com and GeezWriter.com. Easing gingerly into his second half-century, he can’t hop, skip, or jump like the old days, but he never stops noticing and taking notes.

 

Trailer URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw_mo5wtTMI

 

Amazon URL: https://www.amazon.com/Been-There-Noted-That-Observations/dp/1947867148/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1521337201&sr=8-1&keywords=been+there%2C+noted+that

 

Barnes & Noble URL: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/been-there-noted-that-stephen-geez/1113808078?ean=9781947867147

 

Prizes up for grabs…   (Visit the 4WillsPublishing website for more details!)

*For each day: 1 hardcover edition of Been There, Note That.
*During the entire tour:
$25 Amazon card.

“This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.”


Thank you so much for stopping by and please be sure to click here for the rest of Stephen’s tour stops.

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Let’s Play Follow The Leader – @rijanjks #RRBC #RWISA

Watch Nonnie Write!

Thank you all for dropping by today.  I hope it was the title of this post that enticed you to do so.

Many of you may be aware that early last year I took my debut novel, “DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND” down from Amazon.  (I’ve recently discovered that in my haste to do so, I only removed the e-book format and it is still there in paperback format, but hopefully, no one’s buying it).  I did this, because although it received many positive reviews, I just happened to open a paperback copy one day to find some very glaring “hiccups.”  I was so blown away (that they were glaring…at least to me) that I rushed to Amazon and yanked it down with such force, I think I hurt my arm. (I’m sorry, poor arm).

Anyway, with running the hugely busy and successful communities known as RRBC & RWISA, I…

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WELCOME #RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR MICHAEL LYNES @woodheat

Please welcome Michael Lynes, Spotlight Author!

Hello Followers: TODAY begins the month of November showcasing another SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR. It’s also a holiday month giving thanks for all our blessings here in the United States. So let’s celebrate while Michael is sharing with us “The Publishing Process”.

CONGRATULATIONS, MICHAEL, ON YOUR AUTHOR BLOG TOUR!!


The publishing process

There is a Reaper is our first published work.

Both Margaret and I have been actively writing for many years, Margaret’s efforts mainly consist of revelatory and philosophical essays. She has also written about alternative medical practices, using energy flows and ‘chi’ as well as holistic healing techniques and meditation.

My essays have mostly been technical, including many white-papers and internally published papers for research and more academic audiences. I have always had a consuming interest in story craft, being both a voracious reader as well as a provider of critical writing advice to others. I possess a good command of the mechanics of writing, able to use the written word to convey my ideas and concepts succinctly and clearly.

These skills were important, and both our experiences stood us in good stead thru the process of writing Christopher’s story, but they were hardly equal to the scale of the effort.

There is a Reaper was more than 135,000 words in manuscript…over 500 pages. It is a substantial work, especially for a first time author. Once written, we were faced with the daunting challenge of actually forming the text into an actual book, a container that would honor the content within and give pleasure to the potential reader.

Barry Sheinkoph of BookShapers was our godsend.

Margaret had met Barry and his wife Eugenia years before. I had met them also, once or twice, and frankly though Margaret had told me that Barry was in the publishing business I initially did not even think of bringing the project to him.

When I had ‘finished’ with my MS, (so I thought), I started to cast around and do some online research to find out how to get a book published. I spent a lot of time on many different ‘author’ sites, reading blog posts on the correct way(s) to get a work published; each new set of sure-fire rules promptly contradicting the last. After wading thru this morass for a few nights it became clear that there were three main options:

The first general approach was to contact a series of publishers, in essence ‘pitching’ the MS to them in the hope that they would be willing to publish the work of an unknown author based on the strength of the story alone.

The second was to submit the work to various book agents and agencies, looking to acquire their support. The idea was to find an agent or agency that would become an advocate for me and for There is a Reaper – connecting us with editors, a publisher and possibly even assisting with the marketing of our work.

The third avenue, and to my mind the least desirable, was self-publishing. In essence this would mean contracting with a printer and having your work put into book form on your own dime. There were many ‘vanity’ print houses that would take your MS and basically have it printed and bound for a fee. This seemed to me then to be one step above having a few copies run off at Staples. I was sure that this was not the correct way to go.

So I began the process to try and get a publisher interested in the work. Together, Margaret and I wrote a ‘pitch’ letter describing ‘There is a Reaper’ in brief. Along with this we selected a couple of example chapters from the finished MS; some publishers wanted to see the work, others only wanted a short synopsis to begin. I searched for publishers who I thought would be right for the special type of memoir we had created. With high hopes we sent out emails, and submitted letters and copies of excerpts of the MS.

The response was, to say the least, underwhelming….

Undaunted – we pivoted to our second potential venue, securing an Agent to represent us. I spent a few more hours/days working up and researching a list of potential literary agents. Each agent or agency had different specialties, and sub-specialties. Some were interested in mysteries, some in dramas, still others in fiction etc. I sifted thru the list, looking for agents who would consider non-fiction memoirs, an encouragingly long list. Again I went to each agency website, they all had different requirements on how to submit, one wanted PDF’s another excerpts directly in the body of an email (making the except look horrendous by the way), still another wanted physical media (!) – needless to say we skipped that one.

All of them had variations of the evaluation process. Some said they would look at the work and get back with in a few days. Others said that they needed a month or more, still others gave no fixed time with the stern admonition to “under no circumstances contact us directly to enquire about the status of your evaluation” – lest we incur instant disqualification. So we submitted, first to five agents, then ten and I think in the end almost 30 different agencies. With each submission we had high hopes, and with each new response we received these hopes dimmed. All of the replies were uniformly polite, and almost all praised the quality of our writing and the significance of the work as a whole, BUT….none of them were willing to take any risk with an unknown author and a large work. We were stumped.

After receiving several weeks’ worth of rejection letters I thought that perhaps I was just not engaging the ‘right’ sort of agency. After all I was basically picking these targets at random, doing internet searches and ‘cold’ submissions. One evening it came to my mind that one of Margaret’s friends, Barry something-or-other, had some connections to the publishing world. We talked about it, “Oh…you mean Barry Sheinkoph… Eugenia’s husband…”, she replied, “Barry teaches creative writing and I think he does some publishing work. You should contact him and see if he knows a good literary agent or agency that we can send your book to…”

So I asked her for his contact info and drafted a short email. I described There is a Reaper in brief and told him we had been looking for an agent to take us on. I ended my note with a request. Did he know of any literary agents who might be willing to help?

I really did not expect too much. After all of the rejection letters I figured that Barry’s reply might be just another reject…Polite, encouraging and yadda-yadda-yadda.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Barry turned our whole process upside down. He asked me one key question – “Why?…Why do think you need an agent? What you need is an editor…”

So…Barry became our editor and the published book, There is a Reaper, which will be released to the world in just a few short weeks, is in large part due to his skill and dedication in working with us on its creation.

Thru judicious cutting, Barry helped us focus our prose and crystalize our vision. The MS we started with was a gem in the rough, and his was the master touch that brought its clear and sparkling facets to view. I am very proud of the writing that both Margaret and I did, but I am grateful and not at all ashamed to say that without him, publishing Christopher’s story might never have been more than a dream.

Thank you Barry…


Author Bio:

Mr Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline woodstove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

 

His last book, There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Bookk Awards), and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

 

Mr Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

 

Mr Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty years and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.

 

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Follow Michael online:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/woodheat

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MLynesAuthor/

Website – https://mikelynes.wixsite.com/mlynesauthor

 

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Michael’s Books:

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED

 

THERE IS A REAPER


Thank you so much for your support today of Michael. Please go to the RRBC Website for the rest of his tour. I know he will appreciate it.

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Presenting #RRBC “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR @JennyHinsman1 Jennifer Hinsman!

Hello Rave Reviews Book Club Members and Bloggers!

Today I am pleased to present to you #RRBC “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR” Jennifer Hinsman on her exciting month-long tour! And she’s from my hometown of Michigan.

I remember when we all had to get passports after 9/11. I still haven’t had an occasion to use mine and I’m pretty sure it probably needs to be updated.  Let’s see what Jennifer has to say about it…


 

Passport 

 

My passport expired about nine years ago.  I originally got my passport for a trip to Europe and used it in several countries.  It was an easy process, quick too!  I can remember traveling to Mexico and Canada in college and I didn’t even need a passport to travel to those countries from the United States.  Wow, have times changed.  I would need a passport now to travel to both these neighboring countries, or at least a special license to get into Canada.

I’m hoping to travel to Costa Rica the summer of 2018 with my son on a school trip.  It looks like it will be a fabulous learning experience for both of us.  I’ve really encouraged my kids to travel whenever it’s possible because it’s an educational experience like no other.  I can remember thinking, when I traveled outside the U.S.,  it was a life changing experience to be able to immerse myself in another culture.  I learned things that I never would have learned in school, and for that, I’m eternally thankful.  The human aspect is what really got to me.  What I mean is that we are all basically the same, we have families, we love, we laugh, we cry, we work and so on.  Obviously there were many differences as well, language, traditions and such, were much different.  I was still able to connect and communicate with people in these foreign countries though, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Anyway, I was looking into getting passports for my son and myself for the Costa Rican trip and it looks like it will take two to three months.  We have plenty of time, but it’s crazy to see how much things have changed over the years.  There was no Homeland Security, social media or the kinds of technology we have now back in the day.  The ‘new normal’ has this process more secure, more difficult and with more safeguards to protect ‘us’ and ‘them’, I guess.  I understand, but at the same time it makes me sad that we can’t just all be kind and cooperative with our fellow human beings.  All of us share this planet, who cares if my ideologies are different than yours?  My philosophy is, to each his/her own.  If you’re not hurting other living things like animals, the environment, other humans, etc… believe whatever religion or way of life that you’d like.  We could all learn a lot from one another.

I’m looking forward to more travel and life changing experiences!

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Author Bio:

 

 

 

Jenny graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in business. She currently resides in Michigan with her husband, two sons, a furry son (pet dog) and a furry daughter (pet cat). Jenny is an avid reader and loves to escape with a great book. She is a huge animal lover and supports rescue organizations that help save all kinds of four-legged family members and more. All of her family pets have been rescues.

 

Twitter – @JennyHinsman1

Facebook – @SoulsANovel

Website – hinsmanj.wordpress.com

Amazon – amazon.com/author/jennyhinsman

 

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Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Please stop by Jennifer’s other stops during this entire month of her October SPOTLIGHT TOUR by visiting the RRBC site.

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#RRBC DAY 30 @RRBC_RWISA @nonniejules – “RWISA”

Hi!  Welcome to RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA  {pronounced RISA or rice-uh, with a silent ‘W’}, a division of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! (#RRBC)

 

RWISA, the latest brain-child of Author, Nonnie Jules, was founded for the sole purpose of introducing the literary world to some of the top INDIE Authors!  These writers are consummate Professionals, dedicated, committed and driven to continually excel at producing the best written works possible.  Are they perfect?  No, but none of us are.  What separates them from the rest, is their ultimate goal of giving readers what they are paying for…great, polished reads and writing!

The members of this community have penned works that have garnered high marks and praise for creativity, and their dedication to the excellence of the craft of writing.  But, it doesn’t stop there!  Their desire to be the BEST in their writing, is evident in the little things, as well, such as their websites and blogs, their well-written book blurbs and even their Author bios on Amazon.  These writers care about perfection in their writing and it shows across the board!

RWISA is home to some of the most talented INDIE authors around the world!  We invite you to take a look around, visiting each author’s page, as well as their showcases.  If you are an author, and think that you have what it takes to have your name placed on the roster of our ELITE members, we invite you to submit a request for membership.

You can’t belong to RWISA simply because you want to.  This community of ELITE writers is not open to the general public.  Although submitting a REQUEST  for possible membership is required, actual membership into the society is by invitation only!  Once it has been determined that your written work, your attention to detail, and your commitment to continually improve and excel as an Author is genuine, it will be an honor to add your name to our roster of other ELITE writers.

On the other side of that coin, if you are a member of RRBC (because we do have lots of great talent there) and your name is not listed here yet, that could simply mean that you are on a list of authors waiting to be vetted, but feel free to submit a request for membership, just to be safe.

For more information, please visit our FAQ page and any of the other informative pages on the site.

**If you are a publisher, news or magazine entity, etc., and are interested in the work of some of the talent showcased here, please feel free to connect with them via the contact info on their Author page.**

 

Thanks for visiting, and if you truly treasure and appreciate great writing, please tell your friends about us!

APPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP WITH US!

 

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#RRBC DAY 29 CONGRATULATIONS @nonniejules & @AskTheGoodMommy – “DOES MY LIFE MATTER”

Because of the division that’s going on in our world right now, the hate that’s being stirred up and spewed by these White Supremacist groups, we felt it appropriate and extremely necessary that we share a piece from our President, Nonnie Jules, that needs to be wide-spread.

 

 

 

“DOES MY LIFE MATTER?”

 

I am a black woman, and because of the shade of my skin and coarseness of my hair, because of the fullness of my hips, my lips and the bold colors I wear…some don’t find me as attractive as my fairer counterparts.  You see, I’m no longer your house-maid or here for your sexual pleasure; no longer Mamie to your children, I’m now someone’s Mother…a treasure.  But, does my life matter?

 

I am a black man, and because of my dark skin and the boldness of my stance, because of the kinky in my hair, the anger in my stare, and the wear and tear shown on my hands…some still don’t see me as a man.  You see, I’m no longer your field property or your whipping post.  I’ve freedom papers and own land now, maybe, more than most.  You build cages to hold me, guilty or not; where you should build institutions of higher learning, you lock me away for little things, then leave me there to rot.  Do you forever see my bed as a cot?  But, does my life matter?

 

I am a white woman, and because of my milk dove skin and cute, pinched nose, thin ruby red lips and fair skin that glows…with my pearly whites and prominent chin…some still look at me and despise the skin I’m in.  I was never privy to the pain that was caused.  I was born into that hatred…those God-awful laws.  So, does my life still matter?

 

I am a white man, born into privilege and wealth, easy life, perfect health, yet…I’m still persecuted and referred to as “the man.”  I, too, hate the ways of the Ku Klux Klan.  My neighbors are black, white, green and red…still, I haven’t fled.  To be where everyone looks more like me, is not where I want to be.  I, too, would like to one day be FREE. Yes, FREE!  It also applies to me! FREE of the labels that bind because of the color of my skin; I’ve never owned any human or degraded any man. But, does my life still matter?

 

I am a brown-skinned woman and because of my accented words, you think I should be silent…quiet and not heard.  I can do more, than clean your windows and floors.  Just ask me what I’m capable of, you’d be surprised, I’m sure.  I may have come here via the back of a truck, or even the legal route, if I was blessed with such luck.  Maybe I was born here, and my parents, too.  In your eyes, would that still make me less American than you?  Does my life matter?

 

I am a brown-skinned man and though maybe a bit stocky, I’m no less in appearance, than your brawn and cocky.  I’m not a rapist, a thief or thug…but a man like you, with kids to hug.  I’m not ashamed to tend your lawns and trees, but Executive, also a title I wear with ease; whatever it takes…my family to feed. Don’t dismiss, or overlook my face; I may not have been born here, but I’m here to stay.  And, with that said, does my life still matter?

 

With all that’s going on, there’s much racial unrest.  It’s time to put differences aside and put real LOVE to the test.  We can’t keep fighting each other, when there are real wars going on.  We must come together in love, heal and stand strong.  There are real enemies among us, and their names we know not.  We must stand on the front lines, together and talk.

The differences between us are fewer than those in our heads; and in the end, until we draw our last breath,  we all still bleed red.  Yes, that small matter is what makes us brothers, and binds us tighter than any other.

That stream of red flowing thru our veins, is what should force us to…
release all blame,
stop the pain,
forge ahead,
no more blood we’ll shed.


Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

Nonnie Jules RWISA Author Page

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#RRBC DAY 28 @RRBC_RWISA MEET @boom_lyn Linda Mims – “YOU TAKE THE BLUE PILL”

AUGUST IS WATCH “RWISA” WRITE MONTH SHOWCASE TOUR

TODAY I AM HOSTING LINDA MIMS!!

Welcome, readers!  Today is the 28th day of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour!  This is a 31-day showcase profiling a new RWISA member on 55-60 blogs across the globe.  We hope that you will visit each member’s Author Page and their Author Story and share your comments and LIKE their pages.  You may find their books within the RWISA catalog.

 

You Take the Blue Pill, the Story Ends. You Take the Red Pill …

By Linda Mims

 

I was sixteen when I first suspected that I might be the one. I’d seen people in my family striving for excellence all my life. My parents’ friends were creative types who often took time to quiz me about my goals and what I was doing to achieve them. I had been persistently pleading with a leader at my church who had the power to make one of my goals a reality.

 

This woman headed the Womens’ Ministry. Everything from church announcements to annual celebrations fell under her domain. I wanted to be the youth announcer on the weekly, hour-long radio broadcast that emanated from our church, but she was speaking a language that I didn’t understand.

 

“Take some speech lessons and come back to me.”

 

Where in the world was I going to get speech lessons and how would I pay for them? My family knew some people, and the house did overflow from Friday to Sunday with weekend guests, but that didn’t mean we had money. A party costs maybe $25 back then—especially if everybody brought food and drinks.

 

Bottom line, we didn’t have money for speech lessons. Still, I wasn’t going to give up. I was a spiritual youngster, even before I knew what spiritual meant. I told the Lord what I wanted and then forgot about it. While I was waiting, strange, but wonderful things were happening to me. I was voted vice president of my choir and I was chosen to deliver the Youth Day Address. Go figure!

 

One Friday evening, my mother received a phone call. The church maven and her assistant had gone on strike. I was too young to understand everything a strike entailed. I just knew that I was being asked to fill in as the main radio announcer for the broadcast; the very thing I’d wanted in the first place.  That broadcast went out to hundreds, maybe thousands in the Chicago listening area.

 

When she returned from her strike, Ms. Maven kept me on as a junior announcer and she became one of my most revered mentors. That was the year I discovered that I was tight with God. I could get a prayer through! Was I the one?

 

I’m every woman. It’s all in me

 

While in college a few years later, I watched a bold, beautiful young woman, with a voice as big as a brass saxophone, sing on a makeshift stage. It was an impromptu concert behind one of the lecture halls on my university campus. The day was balmy and the sun was bright. We shaded our eyes as we stared straight into the golden orb that bathed her in its light.

 

She looked like a woman and a child at the same time. She wore very few clothes. Just a band around her breasts, a pair of short shorts, ankle boots, and a tall feather stuck in the crown of one of the biggest afros I’d ever seen.

 

We were fascinated, and her voice held us captivated. After the performance, members of the group handed out bills that said their name was Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan. They would be performing at a local club that night.

 

We showed up to the club, but a multi-ethnic crowd had filled the place to capacity. You don’t need to ask for racial diversity once everybody realizes you have something we all desire. Anyway, we couldn’t get in. That day would be the first and only time I’d hear Chaka Khan sing for free. At the time, I wondered if she was also the one!

 

In 1978, Chaka Khan recorded her first solo album, Chaka. One song from that album would define the rest of my life. In it, she sang my truth! I’d always felt that I could do anything, but it wasn’t until Ms. Khan sang the words, that I knew how to describe what I’d always known.

 

“I’m every woman. It’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I do it naturally. I ain’t bragging, but I’m the one. Just ask me and it shall be done.”

 

I had a theme song!

 

You may not know the purpose, but know that there is a purpose

 

In The Matrix, one of my favorite movies of all time, there’s the scene where Morpheus gives Neo a choice between the red pill or the blue pill. Neo has been searching for information about the matrix. Morpheus has to convince Neo that he isn’t looking for the matrix, but what he’s really looking for is more. Morpheus believes that once Neo has answers to his questions, he will come to accept what Morpheus already knows. Neo is the one.

 

Being the one is about knowing that you want more. You want to change things. You may not know what your ultimate purpose is, but you know that there is a purpose. You’re so absolutely self-motivated and focused, that God himself delights in your purpose. I told you I’ve always been spiritual, so, I’ll say that I believe when God and the universe delight in your purpose, there’s no stopping you.

 

The Matrix is fiction, so let’s take a look at real-life people who wanted more. One such person was the late author, Janet Dailey. A prolific writer, Dailey thought she could write better than most of the romance writers she was reading. She knew she was the one. When people referred to her as “just a secretary” who writes romance novels, Dailey said the following, and I quote:

 

 “One of the things that to me is the biggest compliment any writer can get is hearing from the ones who say, ‘I used to think reading was boring until I picked up one of your books.’ ” 

 

Between 1974 and 2007, Janet Dailey sold over 300 million copies of more than 100 titles. Not bad for “just a secretary”.

 

Then, there was Steve Jobs. Steve dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after six months, but he stayed there and audited creative classes over the next 18 months. A course in calligraphy developed his love of typography. Apple and Macintosh computers would be the first to offer creative fonts, including calligraphy, for the consumer’s use.

 

Steve Jobs partnered with his friend, Steve Wozniak, to start Apple Computer, in the Jobs’ family garage. Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe”.

 

I guess he knew that he was the one!

 

Being the one comes with certain responsibilities

 

Many of you have already realized that you are the one; you just haven’t taken the red pill yet. When you’re ready, there are some responsibilities:

 

  1. Toot your own horn
  2. Don’t give up
  3. Throw away false humility

First, toot your own horn! You can’t be afraid of appearing to be too much of a showoff. Waiting patiently for others to give you the rewards you so richly deserve, may yield nothing but hurt and disappointment. Individuals will slink away with your destiny in their greedy little hands without so much as a backwards glance for you.

 

A few times, I spoke too quietly in meetings or waited until it was too late to claim my own ideas that I’d shared with others in private. I watched, stunned, as another, bolder individual stole my idea, shouted it out, and received my praise. I had to wise up quickly and realize that there are differences in the way that leaders and achievers talk and present. First, leaders declare that they have something to say. Then, when everyone is focused, they speak. They make sure their ideas are credited.

 

Don’t give up, opportunity does knock more than once.

 

I’ve learned that opportunity knocks more than once. Heck, when you’re the one, you create opportunities. When one door closes, another door really does open. If you weren’t ready the first time, the truth is, you can keep reinventing yourself until your moment comes or until you’re tired of trying.

 

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” —Steve Jobs

 

Throw away that false humility! It’s okay to hang back while you formulate your plan. Go ahead! Get the lay of the land. If you are confident in the knowledge that you can do anything, take as much time as you need. Just don’t overdo humble. That’s almost as bad as having too much pride.

 

It’s permissible to show pride in yourself and your accomplishments. The 21st Century is begging for your stories, calling for your experiences, and expecting you to step up and lead, in every way imaginable. Women like Oprah Winfrey—women like Taylor Swift—they are leading change with their out-of-the-box ideas and sweeping changes to the status quo.

 

Men like Barack Obama are stepping out of obscurity and into the Senate and the office of the President of the United States. Have the audacity to dream! Wear your mantle of distinction with pride. Step-up, speak-out! You are the one!


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Linda Mims RWISA Author Page

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