LaShanda, describe yourself for our visitors.
I wish I had something miraculous or wonderful or inspirational to say about myself, but I honestly don’t. I’m just LaShanda, a girl from a small town in Texas trying the best I can to make Jesus proud of me. I have faith in Him, and I know that He has brought me through so much. I pray that I continue to lead others to Him along the way.
How do you find time to connect with God?
There are times when I have to fight for it. But I make it a point to spend a little time with Him every day through prayer and bible study, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I also spend a lot of time at church, and fellowshipping with my church family. I am a member of my church’s praise team, and I also praise dance. Those ministries give me strength and allow me to grow in several ways. Meditation also helps me. Stealing time to be alone with Him to focus on Him and the direction that He is leading me in builds me as well.
Do you have a favorite bible verse and or quote you wish to share?
Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
I focus on the scripture a lot. I know that I am a different kind of person. I don’t fit the norm that people are used to. I’m a bit quirky, and silly, quite friendly, and very talkative, lol. I can be shy, and I can be quite bold. At times that may rub people the wrong way. It has taken me a while to get to this point, but I love myself and the woman that God is molding me into. I know that I can’t be everyone’s super hero, and I honestly don’t want to be. But, if God is for me, and I KNOW that He is, who can really be against me? I know that He has my back, and with that I am quite satisfied.
Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?
My favorite book is the bible. What other written text could compare to the awesome and magnificent word of God?
My favorite authors are Joyce Meyer and Reshonda Tate Billingsley.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Casting Down Imaginations was published last year, and Sweeter Than The Honey was released earlier this year. I plan on writing several more books in the future.
Tell us about your current book, Sweeter Than The Honey.
Sweeter Than The Honey tells the story of a high school senior who struggles with her sexuality and her faith. She was raised in a Christian home, but has been doubting religion ever since she saw her father, a man active in ministry, behaving inappropriately with another woman. She also can’t stand the way her mother uses religion to justify not leaving him. On top of all this, she was raped, and was too afraid to tell anyone other than her best friend, Eric, whom she is also secretly in love with.
Then she meets Summer Freeman, the new girl at school. The two initially bump heads, but quickly become friends. Summer introduces her to new things, such as fashion, luxury, and alternative viewpoints concerning sexuality. Kamilah finds herself attracted to everything about Summer, including her body, and finds it appealing to be with Summer because of her past bad experiences with men. Her Christian upbringing soon convicts her though, and she has to decide if she will follow her heart, or her faith.
What influenced you to write this book?
Sweeter Than The Honey came to me in a dream. I dreamed about this little girl who was so lost and so confused, and when I woke up I prayed for her to be free. I knew that she was more than a dream. She was several young women who are out there today struggling with their sexuality. I knew that I had to tell this story openly and honestly, but in the beginning I was afraid to. I knew homosexuality was something considered taboo in the Christian community, especially with African Americans. We knew that it existed, but it was something that wasn’t talked about. I feared the book would not be received well, so I delayed writing it. But you know how God is.
I started meeting people who dabbled in the lifestyle, and God began to reveal things to me concerning the topic. The moment when I KNEW that I HAD to write the book happened during a church service I was in. There were a lot of praises going up to God, and the atmosphere was so ripe for genuine worship. Then someone began to rebuke specific sins, and used the “F” word. (You know, the horrible one that some refer to homosexuals as.) I was so heartbroken. All I could think about was that girl in my dream. What if she had been in church that day with me? What if she had been sitting in the back enjoying the service and was about to give her life to Christ, and then that hateful word came across the pulpit? Would she have accepted Christ when the person who was supposed to represent Him exhibited hate? Where was the loving kindness? I honestly wanted to cry. I think I may have. But right there I surrendered to the assignment of writing Sweeter Than The Honey. I had to.
Did you have a favorite character(s)? Who and why?
My favorite character that I have ever written is Anaya Patterson, one of the main characters in my first novel, Casting Down Imaginations. She was such a wild girl, but so dear to my heart. All she wanted was love, and like a lot of young women, she searched for it in all the wrong places. Her story is really great. You’ll have to pick it up.
I honestly don’t have a favorite character in Sweeter Than The Honey, but the one who touches me the most is Mrs. Wright, Kamilah’s mother. I feel so bad for her, even though I know a lot of readers see her as an enemy. I don’t see her that way. I see her as a victim. She is very religious, and she lets what she thinks cloud the love that she has for her daughter. She’s also over extended. Her husband cheats on her repeatedly, but she continues to allow him to come and go as he pleases, and keeping her pregnant along the way. She doesn’t know how to let go of rules so that she can learn what it truly means to love. That is very sad to me, but unfortunately, I’ve seen it before.
What’s next for you?
Oh, there’s so much! I’m currently working on a new novel that will be released next year. I would love to tell you what it’s about, but I love to keep readers in suspense. It’s something different from what I have written before. I’m really excited about it.
Where can visitors find you online?
I can be found online at my personal website, www.LaShandaMichelle.com. I am also on Facebook. I think I may be addicted to it. I’m also on YouTube and MySpace.