Sheila, describe yourself for our visitors.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, Jeremiah 29:11. I hope this scripture alone gives you some insight as to who I am and the purpose for my life.
I am actually a “people” person though I do enjoy my solitude as well. Writing and speaking are definitely gifts that I know have been given to me by God. I love doing both of them. I am the proud, single parent of two adult sons and I have three grandsons. My mother is my staunchest supporter and I love her dearly. I come from a strong family structure and am extremely close to my three older siblings. Some of the things I like to do outside of writing are watching romance movies, TV documentaries, Discovery Health and HGTV. Spending time with my grandchildren is a joy too and attending my 16 year old grandson’s basketball games is a given. I attend church faithfully and I like a variety of music from gospel to rap.
How do you find time to connect with God?
I connect with God every day, all day, because the Holy Spirit abides in me. I connect with God through my writing, my daily interaction with family and friends, my thoughts and in the birds. Yes, I said birds. I love to listen to the birds singing early in the morning, especially on a fall day. I believe God sends them just for me because he knows how much I love them. In the early morning hours, God sends the birds to awaken me. I love watching blackbirds as they fill up my back yard. I think it’s totally awesome.
My youngest son has always said that he believes animals are heavenly beings. I agree with him. I am a pet lover and own two Siamese cats. I’ve always had a dog and/or a cat(s) because they exhibit God’s love like no other creature. They show unconditional love and through them I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for me. I also attend church regularly and I like to listen to Pastors Joel Osteen, Charles Stanley and Creflo Dollar. I subscribe to a daily message from Joel Osteen too. And of course, there’s the Word of God, the Bible that I read.
Tell us about your current book?
Into Each Life is my third book. I have written two other books which I self-published. However, Into Each Life is the first novel I’ve written since being picked up by Urban Christian. As many of us already know, the bond of friendship can be invincible, unbreakable and eternal.
In my novel, Into Each Life, such is the friendship between Prodigal Runsome and Teary Fullalove. Best friends since the age of seven, their lives are divinely intertwined. From childhood all the way through to adulthood, they remain loyal and united to one another. This loyalty, however, can bring along with it some tough times. Especially when Prodigal’s secret love for Teary is anxiously looking for a way to reveal itself. Teary, on the other hand, is leading her own life, oblivious to her best friend’s true feelings for her. Prodigal soon decides to place his feelings for Teary on hold, and turns his love toward a beautiful young lady named, Faith.
When Teary steps outside the realm of her Christian upbringing and pursues a relationship with someone who ultimately betrays her, Prodigal is the shoulder she leans on. As it goes, Prodigal’s life isn’t exactly a sweet bed of roses either. He has his own set of obstacles to face. The strength of Prodigal and Teary’s faith and trust in God and each other is tried over and over again. Yet, through it all, and in spite of it all, Prodigal and Teary can’t break the bond of togetherness that was formed when they were children, thus facing the trials, triumphs and temptations that comes Into Each Life, together.
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
I have a “bank” of titles that I have thought of for books. From those titles I gain ideas, concepts, plots, characters, etc. It’s somewhat weird to me because I have never thought of a story line first. It has always been the title of the novel followed by the story line. Also from the title my characters evolve. Even when I compose my inspirational speaking messages, I find myself thinking about what the title or topic will be and go from there.
I want readers to be able to pick up any one of my novels, at any time, read it and come away with a lesson in life, love, relationships and living. I want them to know that the journey is real and my characters, much like everyday people and events, are traveling that journey as well.
Describe your journey to publication.
Most of my past life, I wrestled with the fact that I have polio. I fought many an emotional battle before I came to accept me for me. I believe my life long emotions, experiences and thoughts play heavily in the way my books are written. I began writing seriously when I was an adolescent. My teachers had a hard time believing that I wrote some of the essays and papers myself that were assigned to me. To this day, I often wish that I had kept those papers. I began my writing as a means of escape into a fantasy world of my very own where I could make my life the way I wanted it to be and not the way it was playing itself out.
You know, during the time I was growing up, not only was I physically challenged, but there was rampant segregation and prejudice. I was the only physically challenged person in my elementary, junior high and high school so I stood out like a sore thumb. Polio has a deforming effect on parts of your body and the part that was affected most for me were my legs. I limped and wore leg braces. I sought to be like everyone else so I fantasized and dreamed a lot. My mom called it daydreaming and I would venture off into my own private world without a moment’s notice. I was still a teenager when I realized how writing provided me with my own world, my own way of doing things and being who I wanted to be when I wanted to without my parents telling me to “stop daydreaming.”
I decided to write my first novel after the tragic murder of my fiance’, Roderick Elmore. I was so deeply devastated and distraught that I had to find a means of escape. That way of escape came through my writing. It proved to be a healing balm for me and a turning point in my life. I sought to have it published through traditional publishers but received rejection after rejection.
Determined to share my story with others, I started to learn as much as I could about self-publishing. I became somewhat of an expert in the self-publishing field and have since provided a way for many other writers to publish their works. Also my spiritual upbringing and total reliance on God has been the reason that my writing has taken on the form it has and I hope this will always be evident in my writing.
List your recent book releases.
Into Each Life, Release date December 26, 2006, Urban Christian
Sinsatiable, Release date August 2007, Urban Christian
A Christian’s Perspective-Journey Through Grief (nonfiction) available on Amazon.com, Brentwood Christian Press
What’s next for you?
I plan on promoting and pushing my upcoming novel, Into Each Life, as much as I can. My second novel under Urban Christian is slated to be released August 2007. The title of it is, Sinsatiable. I plan on eagerly promoting it as well. I will continue to work on my third novel, which I’ve almost completed, take on more speaking engagements and do book signings.
Last, but not least, it is the desire of my heart to have my books listed on the New York Times Bestselling list, Essence Bestselling list and I’d definitely like to win some of the AA Image/Literary Awards. I am also working on getting my non-fiction series of books up and going.
The non-fiction series is entitled “A Christian’s Perspective” and addresses various issues in life from a Christian’s viewpoints. I also plan to continue doing inspirational speaking and writing articles for online faith-based sites.
Where can visitors find you online?
I can be found several places online.
www.blogginginblack.com (for which I am a columnist);