Tuesday, May 22, 2012

M-PACT Writers: A Growing National Network

Official Logo
It's been just over a year now that a new national writer's fellowship was born. The seed for this vision was planted in Atlanta, Georgia on March 10, 2011, when nine aspiring and published writers became the organization's elite founding members. However, since that time, M-PACT's roots have spread to include other capable scribes from many other cities across the United States.

M-PACT Writers (acronym for Motivated Pens And Creative Thoughts) is an accountability group for serious writers of color who choose to use their pens to create positive materials, including fictional novels, nonfiction books, poetry collections, song lyrics, and scripts. The primary mission and vision of this growing fellowship is to make a marked difference in the world of creative writing and to positively influence those who are entertained by the works that we create. Since the group was founded, several of the members who were aspiring to become writers have become published and produced writers whose books and songs have been fondly embraced by those who have read and heard them.

Only bigger and better things are expected from the men and women of this network. One of the most anticipated projects that will be realized by way of this group is its first collaborated endeavor. The idea to develop this collection of inspirational stories settled in my mind in August of 2011. A few day before, I'd had a lengthy conversation with Amealia Miller, one of M-PACT's founding members, and she expressed some concern on how she and other yet unpublished writers could get their start. It was then that I mentioned to her that I'd previously (back in 2006) created a project titled The Midnight Clear, an anthology that became the catalyst for many novice writers who have since gone on to become national bestselling authors. No concrete decision for another anthology was made at that time, but as I mulled (and prayed) over the idea and recalled Amealia's excitement upon hearing the suggestion, I decided to present the idea to the group and see if others would be as receptive to the idea as she. As the national president of M-PACT Writers, I can't help but feel a certain amount of personal obligation to do whatever I can to help each of those connected with the group soar to their highest height. Eventually, I put the challenge on the table for the group members to consider. When all was said and done, nine of them took it on. Although these nine are not the same nine individuals who are the founding members of M-PACT Writers, I found it a bit facinating and prophetic how the numbers matched.

Love Said Not So is still in the production stages, but is set to officially release on June 30, 2012 during a special book release celebration in Atlanta, Georgia. The book, published through KNB Publications, will also be available online at Amazon.com. It is comprised of stories from the hearts of its gifted contributors (listed alphabetically by last name): Sonnie Beverly, Norlita Brown, Bridgette Davis, Michelle Fuqua, Jonquille, Pauline Mansfield, Amealia Miller, Terri Whitmire, and A'ndrea Wilson. As the book's editor, I've had the pleasure of reading it in advance of its release, and when I was asked to provide a foreword, I counted it a joy to do so. For some of the participating authors, the story they contributed to Love Said Not So is their debut fiction project, but I am convinced that the readers of these dramatic, moving, and thought-provoking tales won't easily be able to determine which of the authors are complete newbies. It is likely that Love Said Not So is only the first of many M-PACT projects. The focus of this progressive group is to not only hold its members accountable to reaching all of their literary goals, but also to be proactive in helping them to reach them.

While M-PACT Writers is yet young, our foundation is solid and sturdy, and we are growing at a healthy rate. Before the organization was formed, it was determined that it would be one that is held to the highest possible moral and professional standard. Membership is only $25 per year, and although that's highly affordable, I'm the first to admit that this group is not for every writer. If scribes are not serious about reaching their goals . . . if they don't value the craft of writing . . . if they cannot respect M-PACT's guidelines, it's leadership, and the fellow members of the organization, then this is NOT the group for them. However, those that are willing and who are interested can feel free to click HERE and check us out. The Membership Application can be downloaded directly from the website and annual dues can be paid conveniently and securely online.

Do you have what it takes to be an M-PACT Writer? If you have a Motivated Pen And Creative Thoughts, perhaps you do...

View brief video advertisement (designed by Norlita Brown) of the forthcoming anthology, 
Love Said Not So

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherhood: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Mother's Day 2012
Since giving birth for the first time on December 3, 1989, I've known how much of a blessing the assignnment of "motherhood" is, but as the sweethearts who were once my little girls have grown into womanhood, I realize more and more that being a mother is, to me, the greatest calling to which God could have ever charged me. To do it properly is not easy. The physical process of birthing children is challenging enough; especially for those of us who did it naturally without pain medication of any kind. But motherhood doesn't stop there; that's only the beginning. Mothering isn't just a job. It's a lifetime career...and it's quite possibly the toughest commitment a woman could ever make. However, what I have learned is that when it's done God's way, it is also the most rewarding.

When they were toddlers, preteens, and even teenagers bordering on adulthood, I had many people to tell me that I was too strict of a mother. I didn't allow them to go just anywhere, do just anything, or talk or behave any old kind of way. My daughters are my heart. Always have been, always will be. They are two people for which I would kill or be killed, and I have no qualms about saying that. I have given them my last. I have sacrificed my own needs so that theirs could be met. But none of that makes me anybody special. That just makes me a mother. Sacrificing and protecting our young should be what every mother does. It should be our natural instinct. We give, give, and give some more. This should be expected from us. Because we're mothers.

But what do we expect from our children...or do we expect anything at all? We are all born into this world as ignorant creatures. We know nothing until we are taught by way of example and education. Structure and discipline are a part of good mothering. When done the right way, they help our children learn right from wrong and help to keep them on the right path. I was a tough mama. I admit it, and I'm not regretful of it. I've loved my daughters every single day of their lives, but when they were children growing up in my home and under my roof, there were rules by which to live. Respect from them was earned and demanded; not only respect for me and for others, but also for themselves. A girl who respects herself will grow into a woman who  knows her worth. They got lots of hugs and kisses, but when needed, punishments were also given (and yes, that included spankings). Mama didn't play. Truth be told, she still doesn't, so don't let the short stature fool ya! On the dates that they were born (both are December babies just like me), I gave them back to God. I promised Him that I would raise them according to His will, and in return, I asked Him to make them instruments for His glory. I didn't know what their futures held, but I knew that I was placing them in the best of hands when I gave them back to Christ.

Two days before Mother's Day 2012, my firstborn graduated from The University of Georgia, having earned dual degrees (yes, two majors) in her four-year stint. She earned a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) and was named a "Grady Ambassador" by UGA's Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Months before graduating, she had already been selected by the Teach for America Corps and had a job awaiting her, to educate and mold young minds in the elementary school system of Jacksonville, Florida.

Meanwhile, my baby girl has just successfully completed her freshman year and is now eagerly looking forward to return to Georgia Gwinnett College in the fall for her sophomore experience toward her degree in Business. She's bright, she's bold, she's beautiful (and she knows it...LOL!). No less than greatness is expected from her as she continues her journey through college, and I look forward to the day when I will see her take the same walk of excellence and achievement that her older sister just experienced.

The slogan, "the gift that keeps on giving" is a popular one. It's been used and reused for decades as a marketing tool to promote various products. However, I think it's perfectly fitting to use it to describe motherhood. The returns on good mothering never stop coming back to the giver. Even after our children reach adulthood, they will continue to give us returns on the greatest investment we've ever made. I'm a witness to that fact.

All Mother's Days are special to me, but this Mother's Day weekend felt more like extraordinary. My firstborn graduated college. My baby girl presented me with a touching card, a beautiful potted flower, and balloons. My firstborn cooked and served me breakfast in bed, and after the three of us attended Sunday worship together, she turned around and cooked and served me dinner in bed (both meals were delish). Even my baby girl's beau surprised me with roses as I still sat in bed after eating the dinner my firstborn had prepared for me. Today, I felt like a queen, and it's all because the gifts that God gave to me, that I turned around and gave back to Him, are continuing to give to me. That's a mouthful, I know. But if you didn't catch it the first time, read it again...it makes all the sense in the world.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a mother. Please continue to hold my daughters in your protective, loving hands. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.