Sunday, October 12, 2008

He Saw the Writer in Me

In a few days (on October 15th) my father will turn 70 years old. On yesterday, my three sisters and I (my brother, who lives in California, couldn't make the trip) surprised our dad by traveling to Macon, Georgia and showing up on his front porch, bringing with us gifts and nine of his twelve grandchildren. It was a wonderful surprise to him and we spent much of the day with him, treating him to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants (Ryan's) and sharing family time at my parents' home. (Photo at left was taken at Ryan's)

Most people who know me well, are aware that my dad is a preacher, and has been most of his life. As a child, I remember growing up thinking that my mom and dad were the strictest parents in the universe. My siblings and I were never allowed to go to many of the places or do many of the same things as our schoolmates. Back then, it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. Today, age has matured me well, and I realize how blessed I truly was, and still am, that my parents loved me enough to set boundaries and enforce them. Just one look at some of those that I envied back in the day (those that are still alive, that is) is enough to make me thankful for my Christian upbringing.

Often times, I am questioned as to why I choose to write books wherein the main male characters are imperfect, yet positive role models. That is largely due, in part, because of my father. My dad was always the true patriarch in our family. Still is. He may not always get it right, but everything that he does for his family is done in love and with good intentions. Like the lead males in my books, Daddy loves God, his family, and his associates. I am more than thankful that the Lord has allowed him to see seventy years. Not only just to reach this milestone, but to reach it in sound mind and in exceptionally good health. My entire life, my father has never been hospitalized for any ailment and I think that is a major testimony. He's never dyed his hair, but he has so few grey strands in his head that they can probably be counted on both hands. And if I must say so myself, at 70, he looks better than many men twenty years his junior.

One of my fondest memories as a child and as a teenager is how Daddy constantly told me that there was a writer inside of me. Back then, my writing was limited to poetry and plays. For almost every special church or family function, I was called upon to write and read a poetic piece; and I wrote skits just for fun, and often shared them with one of my younger sisters with whom I shared a bedroom. Every time my father would read one of my creations, he would remind me that my talent was a God-given gift and would encourage me to expand on it and allow it to fully flourish. Back then, I had no idea of where my gift would lead me, but I think Daddy knew all the while. He was happy, but didn't seem all that surprised back in 2002, when I first shared the news with him and my mom that I was self-publishing my first book.

So, twelve books and many literary awards and recognitions later, in tribute to him and the part that he played in helping me to realize my destiny, I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to Bishop Harold Norman. I love you, Daddy; and I pray that I continue to make you proud.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ministering through Christian Writing

This past weekend, I had the fortune (once again) of being a featured author at the 5th Annual Pen to Paper Symposium in Dayton, OH. This literary function is the brainchild of author and publisher, Valerie Coleman (of Pen Of the WritER) and I've been blessed to be a part of it each year since it's inception, with the exception of last year when a schedule conflict prevented my participation. Valerie is never going to let me live down that one absentee, so I'll be apologizing from now until when Christ makes His return. (So, once again....sorry, Val!)

As in previous years, Pen to Paper was a delightful experience. Valerie (along with her husband, Craig, and their team of assistants) always manages to pull together an organized conference that is well attended and with workshops that are capably anchored. The facilitators this year (among others) included myself (I not only facilitated a writing workshop, but was honored to be keynote speaker for an empowerment session as well), Pam Perry (who I was so very delighted to finally meet after years of only knowing her through web interaction), Avalon Betts-Gaston (an amazing legal mind, to say the least), and Christopher McNeal (lead vocalist of the gospel group, CHRISTOPHER) who facilitated a very insightful music artist workshop.

Okay....let's take a moment and just talk about CHRISTOPHER (whose members names are Christopher McNeal, Christopher Reid, and Christopher Surratt.....seriously, all their names are Christopher!) This trio is a blend of harmony and energy that is almost beyond description! They've been around for about 16 years, but I only heard of them last year. I'd purchased their newest CD in 2007 from a member of their management team, so I knew that they could sing. But seeing them perform live as they headlined the Friday night concert, was an entirely different experience. Oh, my! These fellas know how to fire up a mic and rock a stage. And their personalities are as endearing as their voices. After the concert, I lingered around until the "fan line" died down and met them personally. I was also able to talk to their management and get them booked for Cruisin' For Christ III. I know the onboard guests are going to love these guys. (You may see a live performance by clicking HERE).

As an author, I travel quite a bit to promote the works that God has chosen me to pen. In doing so, I attend many, many conferences. Those who know me well, know that I don't promote a conference unless it is planned and carried out with professionalism. The Pen to Paper Literary Symposium is one that I would highly recommend for any writer, poet or artist who has a desire to learn more about the craft and the industry as a whole.

Hats off to Valerie Coleman and Pen Of the WritER (POWER) for another job well done!