Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Believe I'll Run On...And Walk On...And Write On

I'm not one of those fortunate people who can eat all they want and never have to exercise or worry about weight gain. Those people, quite frankly, make me sick. I'm kidding (but not really). I'm also not one of those "either/or" people who can get by with either eating right or exercising. As a health advocate, I have done extensive reading and research to self-educate myself on which foods will render a healthy dose of good nourishment without packing on the pounds. And in the six years that I spent as a certified group fitness instructor, teaching aerobics classes at various local gyms across metropolitan Atlanta, I was well-versed in what to do in order to build a healthy heart and fit body. But what I have found is that if I eat right and don't exercise regularly...or exercise and don't eat properly, I fail in my efforts to keep fit. If I want to maintain a healthy weight, I have to do both. I know that to be true because in the last four months, I've maintained a relatively healthy diet, but due to my heavy workload, I didn't make the time to exercise like I should have. As a result, I've gained six pounds. Ughhhh...those evil little scale crushers!
Monday morning, for the first time since the end of August, I got out of bed, and after spending time in prayer and meditiation, I hit the gym. The one hour session that had become second nature for me months ago was tedious to get through today. I had to pep talk my way through those miles that I walked the threadmill on an uphill incline. And when I erased the incline so that I could throw in a few high speed sprints on level grounding, I found myself switching from pep talking to downright praying. By the time I made it to the weight bench and began churning out chest presses, bicep curls, and tricep dips, I was ready to start speaking in tongues. And those crunches... Man! What a difference (and not in a good way) that four-month hiatus from the gym made. I have truly learned my lesson. Getting back on the exercise wagon wasn't easy, but I've done it. The hardest part - that first day - is behind me, and I'm back on track now, and the strides of day one already have me pumped up to take on day two.
The point I'm trying to make (I took the long route to make this point because the long route burns more calories) is that if you want to do anything well, and if you desire for it to become less of a chore, you've got to do it regularly. A few more daily visits to the gym, and my workouts will become second nature once again. That's just the way it is. The more you do a thing, the more natural it becomes. It may not be easy, and it may call for a little schedule shifting and a little sacrifice, but once you get accustomed to doing it routinely, it becomes a normal part of your daily schedule. And that includes PROCRASTINATING. That's right. The more you put things off, the easier it becomes to put things off. Like my exercising. Notice I said because of my workload, I didn't make the time to exercise. It wasn't that I couldn't exercise, I just didn't make it a priority.
Anyone who has taken any of my Writer's Cocoon Workshops have heard me say it. Writer's write. Anybody can talk about writing a book, but only a writer actually writes one. Talk is cheap....and useless without following it up with action. I'm a firm believer that anything you want to accomplish, you'll do what you have to do to accomplish it. You may have a full day of activities on your schedule. Work....family....laundry....cooking....cleaning....eating....most of us share those duties. They are not viable excuses. If you want to get that book written, you have to make the time to do it. Plain and simple. Donate thirty of those minutes that you spend sitting in front of the television. Sacrifice fifteen minutes of sleep time. Better yet, give your writing at least one of those four hours you spend on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter telling everybody in cyberspace your business. Use that time to hit the literary gym. Exercise your creative writing skills. Put that energy into lifting a pen and pad or burning calories by allowing your fingers to dance across a computer keyboard as you type out that manuscript. Lose the fat of procrastination and build the muscle of achievement! It will be a challenge at first, but mark my words...the more you do it, the easier it will be come.
There is an old church song that says, "I believe I'll run on and see what the end is gonna be..." The only way we will ever see our literary goals achieved is by daring to get in the uncomfortable position of taking the first step. Once we've done that, the hardest part is over. The finish line is within reach....
Run on...walk on...write on!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

Life is so beautiful. It's not always easy. It's not always what we expect. There are times when we struggle, times when we are sick, times that we are mistreated, times when life throws us curve balls, times when we grieve devastating losses, and even times when we think it can't get any worse. But regardless of its challenges and pitfalls, life is still beautiful, and I'd prefer it over the alternative anyday.
On December 17th, I celebrated my 43rd birthday....to God be the glory! Yes, I know that each year that passes is a reminder of the aging process, and maybe I'm crazy....but with each passing year, I feel younger and more zestful than ever. It's not because I'm rolling in dough or living in the lap of luxury. I'm far from it. In fact, financially, the year 2009 has been the most difficult that I've ever endured as an adult. But on Thursday, my 43rd birthday, I still felt like celebrating all day long.
In fact, the festivities began the night before. One of my best girlfriends treated me to an Atlanta Hawks game. It had been several years since I'd gone to one, and I'm not really a sports fan, but I had a blast just hanging out with my sisterfriend and cheering for the home team. Final score...Atlanta Hawks 110, Memphis Grizzlies 97. On Thursday morning, I got up thanking God for another inhale and exhale; another chance to celebrate life and for the mudslide of blessings that He has given me over the past 43 years. After my morning devotion and getting dressed, I stood by the staircase of my home and called for my older daughter, who is home from college for Christmas break, and asked her to take photos of me so that I could capture year 43 the same why I had done 40, 41, and 42. I don't know...but ever since turning 40, life has had new meaning; a new spice has added that has given it new flavor. I placed the first photo I took as the first one in this post and the last one as the last photo on this post. After my amateur photo shoot, my daughter and I jumped in the car and drove to Radio Shack where I blessed myself with an upgrade from the Sony Ericsson that I'd had for the past two or three years. While so many have now moved up to the iPhone, I'm just reaching BlackBerry status. I chose the BlackBerry Curve 8900 and have spent hours both hating and enjoying the process of learning how to use it (I think I've finally gotten the hang of it though).
When my younger daughter arrived home from high school, we were making plans for my birthday dinner. It's an annual event for me. Every birthday, my one wish is that my family and I all go out and eat together. But like I said...sometimes life throws curve balls. En route from work, my husband got stuck in a major traffic jam behind a five-car accident that had all lanes of the highway closed. Time ticked away as he sat frustrated on the interstate. Finally he called and said for the girls and me to go out, promising that we'd do something as a family later. Our plans were forced to change, but the dinner was still a treat. I thoroughly enjoyed what had become a girls' night out as my daughters and I dined at Chilli's, one of my favorite eaterys. After feasting on a basket of chips and salsa, I chose shrimp and fries as my celebratory meal. Simple but delicious. The waiter gave me a free dessert (chocolate cake and ice cream) to mark the occasion (thank goodness I didn't have to endure the embarrassment of a stream of servers standing over me clapping and singing off-key). I broke every one of my eating rules when I ate that dessert, but oh well... :-)
December 17th was a day filled with cards, gifts, food, photos.....and writing. Oh come on...you knew I had to get some writing done, right? What's a birthday without writing (LOL). I received tons of thoughtful well-wishes on my Facebook, MySpace, and Tagged networks......some from people I know and others I don't, but I was grateful for each and every one. I am extremely appreciative for all the gifts, both virtual and actual that I received, but as with most people, I have a personal favorite among them. What was my favorite gift to mark my 43rd birthday? A serenade. I received a special rendition of "Happy Birthday" by way of a phone call from my all-time favorite gospel singer....a six-time Grammy nominated, 3-time Stellar Award winning legend. If you really know me, you know who that is. If you don't know who it is, I'll just leave you guessing (smile).

Happy Birthday to me.....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Introducing SECRETS AND LIES by Rhonda McKnight

About the Book:

Faith Morgan is struggling with her faith. Years of neglect leave her doubting that God will ever fix her marriage. When a coworker accuses her husband, Jonah, of the unthinkable, Faith begins to wonder if she really knows him at all, and if it’s truly in God’s will for them to stay married.
Pediatric cardiologist Jonah Morgan is obsessed with one thing: his work. A childhood incident cemented his desire to heal children at any cost, even his family, but now he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Will he continue to allow the past to haunt him, or find healing and peace in a God he shut out long ago?

About the Author:
Rhonda McKnight owns Legacy Editing, a free-lance editing service for fiction writers and Urban Christian Fiction Today, a popular Internet site that highlights African-American Christian fiction. She’s also the vice president of the Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta. Originally from a small coastal town in New Jersey, she’s called Atlanta, Georgia home for almost twelve years.
Rhonda, tell us how you came up with the idea for this story? I woke up one morning and these people were talking in my head, or rather arguing. (LOL). I thought this could be interesting, turned on the creativity, and came up with the “issues” in their marriage. I also did a lot of research about heart disease. Jonah is a pediatric cardiologist and that’s central to the story. I knew absolutely nothing about heart disease before I wrote this novel.
Who is your ideal reader? I think most people will think my ideal reader is women who are married. While I think the book will definitely appeal to married women, I’d love for single women who are thinking about marriage or waiting on Mr. Right to read the book. There is a valuable lesson for single women in the story. Faith chose to overlook a very important issue prior to her marriage to Jonah. This issue becomes a huge source of pain for her. Ten years later her ideal black man has her pulling her hair out.
Name something about the book that will appeal to readers? I think readers will find it appealing, because more than half of it is written from Jonah’s point of view. My informal research amongst readers has taught me that women readers love stories that are written from a man’s perspective. Like most men, Jonah is complex. He’s a love to hate kind of guy. People will love him because he’s dedicated his life to physically healing children, but he’s emotionally and spiritually sick himself. What a burden for Faith. Faith’s pain will have some folks shaking their heads at Jonah.
When’s your next book being released? My second novel, An Inconvenient Friend comes out August 1, 2010. I have a nasty little character in Secrets and Lies who gets her own story, and what a story it is. She’s up to no good. Can she be redeemed?How can readers find out more about you? Readers may contact me at my website at http://www.rhondamcknight.net/. I love for people to sign my guestbook and share their thoughts about the story. I’m also a complete Facebook addict. You’ll definitely find me there more than you should at www.facebook.com/rhondamcknight.

Click HERE to order Secrets And Lies now!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful, In Spite Of...

The year 2009 has been a challenging one. Not for a modest few, but for many. Rare to find are those who have not been affected in some direct way by the recession that has plagued our country. The U.S.'s economic problems didn't just start this year, but they certainly worsened. Decrease in healthcare benefits, mounting job losses, shifting gas prices, record company closures, increased theft reports...all of it is largely due to the economy, and all of it has touched each of us in one way or the other.
In times like these, when we cannot necessarily cite a long list of materialistic things for which to be grateful, we sometimes find ourselves waddling in self-pity. Then instead of counting the blessings that we do have, we gripe about those things that we don't have. But as I now sit in my home office, taking a break from an editing assignment as this great holiday winds down, I am full of thanksgiving. This year has been trying for me, and the challenges have been great. But the same God that had been good in the time of plenty has remained good in the lean time. Yes, there were days when finances fell short and days when there was more month than money. But on this Thanksgiving Day, I have been determined to be thankful in spite of.
All that I want may not be visible before my eyes, but I have been provided with all that I need. No, my bank account does not qualify me to rank among the wealthiest authors in the industry, but as Proverbs 10:22 says, The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. Therefore I am richer than so many whose bank accounts are running over. I have an abundance of faith - For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:28); an understanding of God's Word - With all thy getting, get an understanding (Prov. 4:7), and a respected name in the literary industry where I've been placed to serve in ministry - A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches (Prov. 22:1). Those things that money cannot buy are perhaps the things for which we should be most grateful. They are certainly the things that I am most thankful for this year.
I had a conversation with a long time friend and supporter on last week who had just suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side and unable to walk on his own accord. When he revealed his current situation to me, my heart immediately saddened, and I prayed inwardly for something to say to him that would give him hope. But it only took a few seconds for me to realize that my hospitalized friend didn't need my sympathy, and he had enough hope to spare. Before I could form a word, he continued to tell me how grateful he was. "It could have been worse," he said, and then he went on to give God thanks and praise for what was versus what could have been. Instead of me building his faith, he built mine. When I ended the call with him, I began to thank God too. I thanked Him for sparing my friend's life and for giving him back the full use of his extremities (I claimed that one by faith).
When we learn to thank God in spite of, I believe that it is then that we are blessed to see the overflow that He has stored up for us. If we can't be grateful for what we have, how can God trust us with the abundance that He has on standby? So for the few hours that are left in this Thanksgiving Day, I will continue to give God the praise; not only for what I have today, but for those things that I know that He will bless me with on tomorrow...and the next day...and the next day....and the next day...
What things are you thankful for? In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The "I Shall Not Die Blog"

Hello to all of my Blessed2Write Blog followers. Thank you for your ongoing support and most recently, for all of the feedback that you have given regarding my pending I Shall Not Die project. I would like to ask each of you to consider becoming "followers" of the new I Shall Not Die Blog.
This online journal was created as another means to keep me on task with completing this challenging project. Following it will keep you abreast of the progression of the forthcoming book and the accompanying motivational ministry. I know that sharing the journey with you and reading your feedback will be a great encouragement to me. There is also now an I Shall Not Die official website. While there, please consider pre-ordering the book and becoming a vision partner for this God-ordered project.
Thanks and God bless. I look forward to sharing this experience with you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My First Nonfiction - Stay Tuned...

Today is Monday, October 5, 2009, and I'm going to try as much as possible to abbreviate this blog entry. There is so much to be said. This date marks the fourteen-year anniversary of the death of my beloved first husband. I've rarely put anything in writing about the life and legacy of Jimmy Lee Holmes. He was an outgoing, fun-loving, God-fearing man who was loved and respected by most. In addition to being a devoted husband, father, and friend, he was a highly gifted singer and preacher and served in the capacity of choir director, youth pastor, and ultimately as senior pastor. Until now, nearly all of my written referencing of him has been in the brief accolades that I've dedicated to him on the acknowledgements pages of each of my fictional novels. For most, this is the first time a visual image of him has been seen (see photo). So why, after so many years, have I now decided to write about him? The truth of the matter is that it wasn't necessarily my decision to make. God has said that now is the time, and I am finally adhering to His will.
On this day, I am actively embarking upon the challenge of writing my first nonfiction. Doing this wasn't an overnight decision. It's been a very long time coming. Even before Jimmy's death back in 1995, I had begun writing somewhat of a documentary that was based upon his life. I never had any intention to publish those notations, I was just recording them (with his input) as a way to have a written legacy for our daughters to read and keep close at heart. Something that would insure that no matter how many years passed, they would never forget their doting daddy. Unfortunately, Jimmy passed away before we could finish the project, and my zeal to write it died right along with him. In 1999 (I'd remarried by this time), my current husband bought me a new computer, and I sat down and began writing again. I remember opening a new document and the first words I typed were "I Shall Not Die" which was the title of the last sermon that Jimmy preached. Those words began a painful purging process that ended 125 pages later. I'm sure that I cried more during the weeks that it took me to write out those thoughts than in all the years of my life combined. Once again, those where private writings that I never intended to publish, and when I placed the period on the last sentence of those pages, I thought that all had been said and done.
Little did I know that God wasn't through. A private journal couldn't bless anyone but me, and God wanted to use Jimmy's life to touch the masses. It was a year later, the year that would mark the fifth anniversary of Jimmy's death, that the Lord began nudging me to pick up a pen and begin the process again. By that time, I'd begun writing Christian fiction manuscripts which were beginning to form a small pile behind my bed. There were still no publishing endeavors. I was writing for the therapeutic value only; I found that writing fiction stories was relaxing and liberating. Writing them brought me joy, unlike the experience of writing the "I Shall Not Die" memoirs. When I continued to feel the divine nudging to write a fiction piece based on Jimmy's life, I procrastinated. In this case, that's a nice way of saying that I refused. To a degree, I tuned out God's voice. I told Him that I would begin to write it before the end of that year, but I can't honestly say that I ever had any intention of following through with it. Thank God for His longsuffering and forgiveness.
From that point on, the call to write an "I Shall Not Die" project for publishing purposes never ceased. After reneging to obey within the fifth year, I began saying that I'd wait until the tenth year. By then, I reasoned, I'd be in a better position both mentally and spiritually to write Jimmy's and my full story; to go back and reopen the painful wounds of losing someone so dear so that I could expand upon the 125 pages that had been written in 1999. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the ten year anniversary (2005) rolled in and out without me even so much as writing one word of the book that had been ordered by God years earlier. I have been abundantly blessed that even in my procrastination/disobedience, God has shown much favor to the Christian fiction novels that I have written and began publishing in 2002. But now I can't help but wonder where my career might be today had I been obedient from the start. Hmmmm....
At any rate, let's fast forward to the year 2009. This year, God made it clear that my five-year increments of procrastination were over. The well of His grace was running dry. October 5, 2010 will mark fifteen years since Jimmy's death, and the Lord said that October 2009 was the time to start writing, and October 2010 was the month of release. His unmistakable order began manifesting itself early in the year. I didn't realize at the time that it was His doing, but God allowed me to be hurt by people that I'd done nothing but helped. It was His way of revealing to me who my true friends and supporters were because only those who were true to the core needed to be in my circle once this journey began taking wings. Seeds of what was inevitably to come began being planted in me this year by people who had no prior knowledge of my past life with Jimmy or the charge to write this book that was initially given in the year 2000. The insight they had could have only come from God. The most prominent eye-opener for me was made during my April 2009 visit to Hamden, Connecticut where I had gone to meet with Genesis Book Club to celebrate the release of The Lyons Den. The day after the book release event, I visited Love Center Deliverance Ministries, and the co-pastor, Dr. Kim Carmichael was speaking. As she began praying for and prophesying to the people, she suddenly turned to me and told me that eyes had not yet seen nor had ears heard what the Lord was going to do in my writing ministry. At the closing of her prophesy, she said, "There's a book inside of you that you haven't written yet. God says that you know what that book is, and He says when you write it, you're going to see Him bless you on an international level. You will become a household name." My tears overflowed because I immediately knew that the book she was referencing was I Shall Not Die. In emotional contrast, I had to laugh recently when I went back home to speak at my father's church, and as he held a copy of one of my other novels in his hand, he turned to me and asked, "When am I going to see a picture of you on the front of one of your books? I keep seeing a picture of you on the front cover." I knew immediately that the book he was "seeing" was I Shall Not Die.
So the time is indeed now. As soon as I gave up the losing battle and told God yes, doors began to open (for speaking engagements) that will serve as preludes to the platform of my newly expanded empowerment ministry. Additionally, when I moved out of the way and allowed God to have His way, I found out that this process wasn't going to be the painful punishment that I'd been needlessly running away from. If I had just allowed God to finish speaking to me all those years ago instead of basically tuning Him out, I would have known that the manner in which He was directing me to write this ministerial tool would not bring on the intense pain that my fallible mind had concluded that it would. Writing it will not bring grief to me, neither will reading it bring grief to others. Instead, it will offer hope and equip God's people for such a time as this. I Shall Not Die is going to allow me to encourage people to live, and now, for the first time in fourteen years, the zeal to write it has returned.
My first nonfiction entitled, I Shall Not Die: Living A Psalm 118:17 Existence will make its debut in October of 2010. I have never been so excited about the writing of or the pending release of a book as I am this one. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cruisin' For Christ III: From Glory to Glory

September 5-12, 2009 marked the dates of the third launching of Cruisin' For Christ, and my, what a magnificent experience it was! Not only did this year's mission bring our largest attendance ever, but it was also the most extraordinary mission to date. Registered guests from all over the United States, and even some from as far as Canada, boarded the Carnival Glory in Orlando, Florida, and were blessed by the full week of events that our agenda entailed. Each year, the planning and organizing of Cruisin' For Christ is a difficult task, but this year, the challenge was greater than ever before. Over the years, scripture lessons have taught me that "the greater the battle, the greater the blessing," and it held true to this year's cruise. I knew that there was a great reward awaiting all of us once we crossed the threshold and boarded the ship. And indeed there was! From the initial gathering on the evening of our first day at sea, God's presence was there in the midst, and it all just got better with each passing day.
This year, we visited ports in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, as well as Belize City, Belize and Nassau, Bahamas. There was fellowship on the ship and fun in the sun that registrants won't soon forget. As always, Cruisin' For Christ highlighted some respected names in the gospel industry. Featured guests this year included Stellar Award winner, Jonathan Nelson (of Jonathan Nelson & Purpose) and Stellar and Dove Award winner, Melvin Williams (of the legendary group, The Williams Brothers). Other featured artists were the beautiful LaShell Griffin (Oprah's Pop Star Challenge winner), Stellar Award nominated artist, Marcus Cole (formerly of Commissioned),the incomparable K&K Mime (founders of gospel mime), and multi-talented funny man, Roderick Allison aka ("Rod of God"). Cruisin' For Christ III also spotlighted the varied ministries of acclaimed saxophonist, Antonio Allen, actor, Brian Hurst (of Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes To Jail"), and comedians, DL Henry and Hen Sapp (brother of Marvin Sapp). Co-Hosts for this year's mission were comedian, James Ford (aka "The Storyteller") and Atlanta's popular Praise 102.5 radio host, Rhodell Lewis (aka "Rhodell in the ATL). Aside from myself, other featured authors were Kim Brooks, Maurice Gray, Jackie Moore, Adrian Bellamy, and Coylette James.
Not only were cruise goers blessed to enjoy some show-stopping, boat-rocking, high-praising concerts, but Cruisin' For Christ offered a wealth of valuable information by way of educational workshops that highlighted an array of important topics from worship mentorship to HIV/AIDS awareness to how to manage stress in kingdom careers. The spiritual and women's empowerment seminars were highly applauded, and attendees raved about the sessions set aside specifically for single Christians and married couples. In addition, there were enlightening panel discussions where topics of ministering through Christian writing (fiction and nonfiction), Christian music (gospel and inspirational), and Christian entertainment (acting, comedy, and mime) were expounded upon through lively moderated Q&A sessions between our featured guests and our onboard registrants.
Our time of worship during Sunday morning service was spiritually rejuvenating, and the night that was set aside to honor the founder - that would be me :-) - was beyond special as several of the artists performed and the attendees packed out the space, dressed in their best formal wear. Though organized and structured, the agenda for Cruisin' For Christ III was also a boatload (pun intended) of fun. Edward Watson (aka DJ E. Double U) of the renowned Go Ye DJs was a mix master extraordinaire as he played the hot music mixes that kept us clapping, singing, and dancing during CFC's onboard signature Praise Party and the Old School Jam. And the sightseeing was a beautiful experience during our times on each island that we visited throughout the week. Oh, what a time!
When God gave me the vision for Cruisin' For Christ back in 2006, I never saw it becoming the celebrated ministry that it has grown to be. But as phenomenal as these past three missions have been, I know that the best is yet to come. Each time we embark on another CFC venture, the Lord lifts us to a higher wave (pun intended again) of ministry and a deeper level of fellowship. Even through the challenges and trials that come with handling a mammoth undertaking such as this one, God is faithful. He and He alone gets the glory for giving us yet another highly successful conference. But I know that it would not have been what it was without all of the gifted artists and the registrants who traveled along. So a big CFC "Thank you" goes to each of them.
Wish you had been there? Don't waddle in regret, just join us the next time. We're doing it again, and once more, we will be joined by some of gospel music's finest; along with bestselling authors, celebrated comedians, gifted musicians, and other Christian industry professionals. Our fourth launching will take place in 2011 which gives all who are interested plenty of time to make preparations. Check our website often as the dates for Cruisin' For Christ IV and an affordable payment installment schedule will soon be posted. You may also refer to the website to see more photos of the 2009 mission (special thanks to APV Images, our official onboard photographer) and to read the feedback that has been posted from many of this year's attendees.
Mark my words...we're taking it to heaven in 2011....Don't miss the boat!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thrill Is NOT Gone

Very shortly after the death of Michael Jackson was announced and confirmed on Thursday (June 25, 2009), I became very aware of one significant thing. And that is that I am one of only about eight people in the entire world who was never a fan of this music giant.

Don't get me wrong. I've never denied his worth, his genius, his status, or his talent. I've always been awed by the way Michael could move; especially as he matured in years. Even as a man in his forties, he seemed to have the energy level of entertainers half his age. So my lack of "fanhood" (if there is such a word) had nothing to do with Michael's gift. It probably had more to do with my upbringing than anything else.

As the daughter of two preachers who was raised in a home where only gospel music was allowed (unless you count the jingles that were heard on television commercials), I was never introduced to Michael in his early career. I never had a Jackson Five album or a Michael Jackson poster like most girls in my generation probably did. Even as I grew into adulthood and moved out on my own, I was never drawn to his music. To me, he was just another young, gifted, African American artist who had been blessed to make it big in the music industry.

Shame on me? No...not as far as I'm concerned. I was never drawn to what was labeled as "pop music." When I began venturing out and listening to secular music, I was far more drawn to jazz and to those men of music who were known for being romantic balladeers in the R&B arena. Everybody has the right to choose their favorite music and favorite artists, right? Last I checked, we still lived in America where we have the freedom to choose. To this day, the only album of Michael's that I own is "Thriller," and I forgot I owned that one until my husband reminded me just today. But with all of that being said, it still doesn't mean that I don't respect the larger-than-life image that Michael earned in his years as an artist. I do. I think he was one of the greatest entertainers to ever walk out on a stage. No one could light up a stage like he could. Let's face it: Michael Jackson was absolutely phenomenal! No one could command the attention that he could. With a single swing of his hip, or with one release of that famed high-pitched "Heee-Heee" of his, he could send a crowd into a frenzy. Grown men would be screaming like little girls. Grown women would be crying like babies. The Gheri Curl, the white glove, the high water pants, the leather jackets, the signature sunglasses....whew! It all would have looked crazy on the average brotha, but Michael pulled it off beautifully. Not to mention the Moonwalk! How'd he even think of creating that move? It was genius...pure genius. There was never another one before him, and there won't be one after him.

Though I haven't been a loyal follower of his music over the decades, one thing I have respected about him for years is his gift for writing. Michael knew how to write a song that told a story. Sometimes it was his story, and other times it may have been somebody else's story. But there always seemed to be a story behind his music, and as a writer, I definitely take my hat off to him for that. I find that the lyrics to many of the songs that top the music charts today are saying absolutely nothing. But when Michael Jackson sang, if you looked beyond the show-stopping dance steps and listened to the words, you would hear a story.

So for that, I wanted to take the time to salute the life and legacy of not just one of the greatest music geniuses of our time, but to salute the life and legacy of one of the greatest writers to have ever picked up a pen. The THRILLER himself may be gone, but the THRILL will continue to live on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, Virginia...There is an Opelika

Last weekend, I traveled to a city just outside of Auburn, Alabama called Opelika. I'd heard of it before, but to my knowledge, I'd never been there.

Some weeks ago, I was contacted by Marion Sankey, president of G.O.S.S.I.P. (Gathering Of Spiritual Sisters In Peace) Book Club (see top left photo), and my presence was requested for their June meeting. During my online exchanges with Marion, I introduced her to the writings of my daughter, bestselling teen author, Brittney Holmes, and suggested that they have us both join them.

Marion took the idea back to the book club, and the rest became history. What began as a regularly scheduled book club meeting turned into something more. Much, much more. In addition to the book club members, approximately fifty other members of the Opelika community joined me in a private room of the Hampton Inn Suites to enjoy some tasty finger foods and to discuss One Prayer Away, their pick of the month. And while I was fellowshipping with them, Brittney was in the open dining area of the Hampton, discussing her debut novel, Living Consquences, with nearly twenty of the area's teen and young adult readers. Both Brittney and I had a marvelous time with these groups.

And the fellowship didn't end there. On Sunday morning, we attended worship services at Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Clifford E. Jones. The majority of G.O.S.S.I.P.'s members are also members of Greater Peace. We had a wonderful fellowship there and was able to sell a few books at the close of the service. To cap off the weekend, Brittney and I were treated to a delicious meal at Red Lobster before hitting the road to head back to Atlanta.

What a delightful experience! Brittney and I had a blast and we met some lovely people in the process. Everyone who knows me knows that I feel particular blessed when I get the opportunity to make appearances with my daughter. She's become an old pro in the almost three years that she's been a published author. I'm so proud of her.

And G.O.S.S.I.P. Book Club was a gracious host! This book club puts Opelika on the map, for sure. I am already looking forward to returning to meet with them in the near future. They are preparing to read Three Fifty-Seven A.M. in the coming months, and I can hardly wait to hear their feedback on that one!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Victorious Magazine Launch Celebration

VICTORIOUS Magazine is the cornerstone of our public communication, providing access to articles representing our victorious message! By reaching out directly to each woman and touching on the concerns that are on her heart we are able to encourage her to press on toward her dreams to live victoriously, taking control of her own destiny and achieving her true purpose. Our editorial content is designed to validate the importance of the things that appeal to her on all levels - personally, professionally, spiritually, and mentally - in a way that only women can understand.

Our article categories include Destiny & Purpose, Inspiration & Empowerment, Stewardship, Victorious Living, Victorious Wellness, and Style & Grace. The publication launched its digital version March 30, 2009. The first print issue of VICTORIOUS MAGAZINE will hit the newsstands September 2009, with an initial circulation of 25,000.

Featured Columnist - Danyelle Scroggins

Danyelle Scroggins is the Pastor of New Vessels Ministries and author of Not Until You’re Ready. Learn more about Pastor Danyelle Scroggins by visiting her web site danyellescroggins.com.

The Value Of A Friend
by Pastor Danyelle Scroggins

Have you ever had time to just take inventory of all the friends you have? Have you ever been in a position when you needed a friend, but you just didn’t know who to call for that particular task? Or is it that you are so blessed, you don’t have to plunder on the need when it comes to your friends, all you have to do is call? The Lord showed me something awesome concerning friends and their value in the ninth chapter of Matthew.

Check out the rest of this article at VictoriousMagazine.com.

For the full schedule visit, http://bit.ly/VictoriousMagazineLaunch.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Celebrating "The Lyons Den" Connecticut Style

I'm still in awe. It's been almost a month since the porverbial icing was placed on the cake for the book club tour that was set in place to celebrate the release of The Lyons Den, yet whenever I think about that Saturday (April 18th), I'm awed all over again. I have only two words for the Connecticut celebration...."Oh, my!"

When I approached Lizz McCrae, president of Genesis Book Club (see photo), with the idea of her group hosting one of three official tour stops, I knew it was going to be a well-planned event. I'd met this awesome group of sisters last year when they sent for me to come and join them for the discussion of some of my previous titles. An instant spiritual bond was formed between us, and I now feel that they (especially Lizz) are not only my fans and supporters, but also my friends. It's a God thing! The women of Genesis are my sisters in the Spirit.

Anyway...back to the book release. As I said, I knew it was going to be well-organized, but I had no idea that it would be what it was. The Connecticut event wasn't just about celebrating books, it was about celebrating Christ. A flood of guests poured into the Christian Union Outreach Ministry's banquet hall to be a part of the festivities. Some came from as far as New York (shout out to Jackie) and New Jersey (shout out to Sharel and her crew)! The program consisted of powerful spoken word, praise dancing, songs rendered by several local talented artists, and live entertainment from the awesome Ace Livingston (and his band). Additionally, there was a solo rendered by a rising gospel artist by the name of Jimmy Wells. The event had already been an emotionally charged one, but when Jimmy took the mic, the Spirit began to move on a whole new level. At that point, it wasn't even really about books anymore, it was about worship. And boy did we worship...and worship...and worship!

I can go on and on about Connecticut, but I must end this blog entry. However, I cannot close without mentioning that the Saturday evening gathering turned into a two-day affair. Since my flight back to Atlanta wasn't until Sunday afternoon, I was invited to attend church services with Lizz and others of the members of Genesis Book Club on Sunday morning. Once again, two words..."Oh, my!" I had quite a wonderful experience during my time of fellowship with Bishop Frankie & Dr. Kim Carmichael at Love Center Deliverance Ministry in Hamden. All I can say is Dr. Kim brought the Word and I (along with everyone else in the building who was receptive to the Word) was truly blessed. By the time church ended, I was so uplifted that it felt like I was flying long before I boarded the plane to head back to Atlanta.

All in all, the weekend was beyond fabulous. Oh, did I forget to mention that I completely sold out of the cases of books that were shipped ahead of my arrival? The support was absolutely incredible, and I thank Lizz, the members of Genesis, Bishop & Dr. Carmichael, and all of the supporters in Connecticut who took part in making the last stop on my book release tour a memorable one.

To view a few of the photos taken, click HERE. For easier viewing, click on the "View Photos" at the bottom of the page and then choose "Play Slideshow" at the top of the next page.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Celebrating "The Lyons Den" Atlanta Style

The second stop on my "The Lyons Den book release tour" allowed me to avoid interstate or airport traffic. (YAY!) The celebration was held on April 11th and was hosted by the ladies of Imani Book Club (see photo at left).

Supporters gathered at the Auburn Avenue Research Library and joined me for an afternoon of food, fellowship, and some awesome live entertainment. In the way of entertainment, author, Terence B. Lester, ministered through a moving spoken word piece. His talent was followed by Antonio Allen who brought the crowd to its feet when he rendered an inspirational medley from his latest album, "The Air I Breathe." And the final layer of icing was placed on the cake when Emmy Award winning poet, Hank Stewart shared one of his most popular pieces, simply entitled "It." Everybody who came to this event was special to me, but I have to send a special shout out to my husband and daughters, the members of the Delta chapter of Iota Phi Lambda (the baddest sorority in the world), all of the local area authors who attended, Praise 102.5's radio personality, Rhodell Lewis (a.k.a. "Rhodell in the ATL") for stopping in to support, and to the local members of my national aspiring and new writers group, The Writer's Cocoon Focus Group.

It was no surprise to me that Imani Book Club did an outstanding job of organizing the Atlanta affair. This book club is one of the longest standing ones that I've ever fellowshipped with, and after more than fifteen years, they are still going strong and being a major support system to authors everywhere. And I absolutely LOVE the beautiful 'Daniel in the Lion's Den' matching Bible cover and journal that they presented to me in private at the close of the celebration. How creative of them to match the gift with the book's theme!

Thank you, Imani Book Club, and thank you, Atlanta, GA for the mad home town support!

Photos from the Atlanta event can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Celebrating "The Lyons Den" Mississippi Style

April 1, 2009 marked the official release date of my 13th novel, The Lyons Den. I'm humbled when I think back over the life of my career and see where God has brought me. Not that I've been writing for that terribly long of a time, but in the seven years since the release of my debut novel, For Love & Grace (the self-published version), I know that I have been truly blessed.

As the release date of The Lyons Den neared, I pondered whether or not to have an official release celebration as I have had with most of my previous novels. I have been blessed with such a supportive fanbase of readers, but after more than a dozen books, I wondered if they would be so eager to attend yet another celebratory occasion. But as I was wrestling with the "should I or should I not," God reminded me that all of His blessings are worth celebrating. His favor never grows old and as one who has been a recepient of His favor, I should never doubt whether I should celebrate Him. After that eye-opening revelation, I was inspired to not only have one official book release event, but several of them. And if I had any doubts about whether or not my supporters would embrace the idea of joining me again for another book release commemoration, all of those doubts were put to rest when I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday, April 5th, for the first of three official launch parties.

The sisters of Q.U.E.E.N.S. Book Club of Mississippi (see group photo) were the gracious hostesses, and they worked together to organize and carry out a fun-filled affair that took place in a private dining area of a local eatery called Sal and Mookies. The food was delicious and the fellowship was divine. Dozens of supporters packed out the room and showed more support that I ever imagined, purchasing not only my newest novel, but virtually clearing out the stash of other titles that I brought along as well. Several other area book clubs were represented at the affair as well and I'm grateful for each of them.

I would like to again thank Adrienne (president of Q.U.E.E.N.S. Book Club of Mississippi) for accepting the challenge of spearheading the book release party as well as all those who came out and proved that there is no hospitality like southern hospitality. With such a great first event, I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for the two remaining celebrations.

To view a photo slide show of the Mississippi release, click HERE then choose the "view album" link near the bottom of the page.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Group for Aspiring & New Writers

I know I'm not the only one who the game of life has thrown curve balls to at one time or another. I'm inclined to believe that the majority of us have made plans or had long-term goals for something that didn't quite turn out the way that we thought it would when we first laid the initial foundation. Can I get an amen? Well, if you're like me, you ultimately take these curve balls as a reminder that you're not the one who is in control to begin with. Sometimes, as unexpected as they may be, they serve as a divine shifting in the path that we are traveling. These curves are simply a result of God's desire for us to change directions and/or regroup. Don't you just love the way He does things?

In January of this year, I was pitched one of those undesired balls, and the curve was so steep that I not only was unable to hit it, but it hit me. Hard. It was one of those balls whose impact brought so much discomfort and discombobulation that I had to call a time-out so that I could give the pain time to dissolve, my lungs time to regain the wind that had been knocked out of them, and my body time to muster up the strength to get up off the ground. Amazingly, it only took a few seconds for all of that to take place. And once I'd brushed off the dirt that lingered from the fall, God planted a new seed that He promised to grow bigger and better I imagined. Thus, the Writer's Cocoon Focus Group was born.

Through this newly established national organization, designed specifically for aspiring and new writers, I am able to continue living out my Spirit-induced passion for helping up and coming writers through the process of creating their literary projects and even assisting them beyond the writing process into the publishing and marketing aspects of the business. Often times, I receive generous emails from the wonderful members of this group who pour out their heartfelt thanks for the insight I share with them in our online forum and even in our periodic in-person group meetings. While I appreciate all of their accolades, knowing that I've helped them in some way is plenty thanks enough for me.

I am grateful to God for this new platform that He has inspired and enabled me to build. If you are a new or aspiring artist who is serious about attaining your goals as a fiction or nonfiction writer, and you are interested in being a part of the Writer's Cocoon Focus Group, please visit the website and click on the link to join.

Official website: Writer's Cocoon Focus Group

Saturday, February 7, 2009

CFC Short Story Winner is Nationally Published Author!

I first met author, Wanda B. Campbell, two years ago. I was facilitating a session of The Writer's Cocoon in Atlanta, Georgia, and she was among the many registrants who gathered that day to learn more about the ins and outs of the writing, publishing and marketing process. Every name and face that was there had a thirst for increased knowledge, but Wanda's attendance stood out because while all of the other students in my class had come from somewhere in the metropolitan Atlanta area, she had flown all the way from California for the sole purpose of taking part in that four-hour workshop. It was passion and determination in action. I knew then that it would only be a matter of time before she would soar full speed into her destiny. And with God's help, she has now taken flight.

Having been blessed to be an advance reader of her debut nationally published book, Illusions, I can say without doubt that the literary world is going to love the works of this breakout author. It is my pleasure to have Wanda as the first author to be featured on the Blessed2Write Blog.

Read on....

B2W: At what point did you realize that writing would become an intricate part of your life?

WBC: As a Christian, I allow God to direct my steps. On a good day, I follow the path He orders. In April of 2006 as I sat in a worship service, I asked God what He wanted me to do with the stories I'd written. At the time I had two completed manuscripts, but didn't know what to do with them. The answer came minutes later in the form of a Jehovah's Witness, who to this day has not read one word of Christian Fiction, placing money in my hand for a plane ticket to Georgia for a writing workshop. Her exact words were, "You are going to get your stuff published."

B2W: How was the transition for you from self-published author to mainstream?

WBC: Initially, I was excited to have been selected by a mainstream publisher. As the reality of my responsibilities as an author settled, some of the excitment faltered. I still have to work like I'm self-published to promote my book, but it's an awesome feeling walking into a major bookstore and seeing my book displayed.

B2W: From where did you draw the inspiration for Illusions?

WBC: Illusions was truly inspired by God. I vowed never to write a story with the subject matter covered in Illusions. However, God set it up to where I didn't have a choice. Illusions won the Cruisin for Christ Short Story Contest in August 2007. The cruise is founded and organized by national bestselling author, Kendra Norman-Bellamy. To claim the prize of being published by a mainstream publisher, I had to turn the short story into a full length novel and present it to the executive editor at Urban Christian. At the time, Illusions was only 8,000 words long. After much prayer, I submitted the manuscript six weeks later. Every word was written with the help of prayer and worship music (Israel & New Breed: Live From A Deeper Level).

B2W: Did you have any doubts or reservations about tackling such a touchy subject matter in a Christian novel?

WBC: My initial reservations about the subject matter stemmed from my desire not to write a painful story. I prefer to write romances with happy endings. It is my belief that any and all topics Christian face should be covered in a Christian novel. The challenge is not to stop at identifying the problem, but to show the reader how to overcome real-life struggles.

B2W: Choose three major characters from the story and introduce them to the Blessed2Write Blog readers.

WBC: The main characters are Pastor Bryce and First Lady Denise Hightower. They have been married for three years and shepherd what appears to be a healthy, growing congregation. On the surface, Bryce is the ideal husband and pastor. He’s anointed and he loves God. However, he has a secret addiction that has grown out of control and could destroy his marriage and his position as pastor.

Denise, a deacon’s daughter who grew up in the church. Under the tutelage of her mother, she plays the role of the “perfect” first lady until she accidentally discovers her husband’s secret. As a result, she is torn between doing what’s best for the church or what’s best for her. Feeling pressure from Bryce and the revealing of a family secret by her mother, Denise agrees to keep the quiet and help Bryce work through his issues.

Benny is a retired gardener who is anointed to stick his nose in other folks' business. He's pushy and tells it like it is. Although rough around the edges, he has a tender heart.

B2W: What kind of message do you hope readers will take from this story?

WBC: It is my prayer that readers will not only be entertained, but also ministered to. I hope readers will take a deep look within themselves and learn what drives them to perform counterproductive actions. I want all people to stop suffering in silence and seek God's help for deliverance.

B2W: What is the title of your 2010 novel and what kind of meaningful topics will you be addressing in that one.

WBC: Right Package, Wrong Baggage is scheduled for release July 2010. In this romance, readers will learn what happens when God sends a mate with the right packaging, but you can't handle the baggage.

B2W: Any advice for aspiring writers who hope to follow your path?

WBC: Before diving head-first into the vast ocean known as "the literary world," make sure this is the path God has ordained for you. Then learn as much as you can about the business.

Wanda B. Campbell currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons. Purchase her novel by clicking on the Amazon link provided in the right banner of this interview. Once you've read Illusions, please feel free to email the author directly at wbcampbell@prodigy.net, and let her know your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Believe

I had so many "moments" yesterday as our 44th President of the United States officially took office that I didn't even try to keep count. When he won the election back in November of last year, I remember being speechless. It was one of those moments that needed no words...if there were any to describe it.

Yesterday, the moments were different. Still somewhat indescribable, but on a much different level. Yesterday made it all real, and my emotions varied from one minute to the next.

I clapped and gave my best round of barking (pumping my fist and all) when the name Barack H. Obama was called out over the loud speakers, and he made his grand entrance into the arena where the ceremony was to take place. I laughed as he took the Oath of Office, keeping his poise amidst the fumbled words that were given to him to repeat. I cheered after what I thought was a well-written, amazingly-delivered inaugural speech. I burst into unexplainable tears the first time President and First Lady Obama exited "The Beast" (the name given to the massive car they rode in during the motorcade to The White House) and walked for seven minutes down Pennsylvania Avenue waving and thanking their adoring supporters.

Call me a lover of fairy tales....or maybe it is the romance writer in me. I don't know. But in the mix of all of the wonderfully profound things that went on during the course of the day, my favorite moment of all was the Obamas' first dance during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. Every single one of the reactions and emotions that I had to all of the other happenings joined forces (yes...including the barking and fist pumping) and erupted from me during this two or three minute dance to Etta's James's "At Last" as performed by Beyonce'. It was a near-perfect ending to a near-perfect day of celebration.

When I see the Obamas, and when I see what they've accomplished, and when I see where they plan to take this country, and when I see WHO (God) is really in charge and know that He has all power in His hands....I can't help but hope and believe. I'm not making Obama an idol of any kind. I know Who reigns and sits on the throne. I don't expect things to change overnight, and I don't expect President Obama to make all the right choices. But I hold fast to the Word of God that says all things are possible if we just believe.

I believe....do you?

Monday, January 19, 2009

The King & I

I remember being in my early weeks as a senior in high school when then President Ronald Reagan, though reluctantly, signed a bill that created a holiday honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In my Senior Memory Book commemorating my 1984 graduation, I wrote down that moment - the signing of the bill - as the most memorable day of my senior year.

There was a time in my life that I was beyond fascinated by Dr. King. Not just for what he'd done, but I was captivated by who he was...the man. As a child, I thought that he bore an odd, but distinct, resemblence to my dad. Both physically and otherwise. The relatively short statue, the calculated speech, the identical mustaches and similar lips, the title of "Reverend"...they all added up to make me feel like I had some strange personal connection with "the King." Maybe I did...maybe I still do...maybe we all do.

As a young writer, before I even knew I was a writer; some of my earliest poems were about Dr. King. His life. His ministry. His impact. His dream. In fact, it was a poem I wrote about him that won me my first literary award. I was honored with being named the winner of the citywide poetry contest in my then hometown of Valdosta, Georgia in 1992 for a poem I wrote simply entitled, Dr. Martin Luther King. I still have the $50.00 American Express savings bond that was the grand prize (smile). In a sense, it can be said that Dr. King and the impact of his legacy on my life played a pivotal role in the launch of my career as a writer. It would be a few years later before I would pick up a pen to write an actual novel, but the foundation had been laid.

So today...on this Martin Luther King Day of 2009, I salute a man who I never knew. A man I never had the priviledge to meet. A man who died at the young age of thirty-nine, yet lived a life that was fuller and more accomplishing than many men who live to be twice as old. A man whose existence impacted the lives of many little girls just like me, who were barely learning to walk and talk as he was being laid to rest. Today, I celebrate and thank God for the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Words from a Mother's Heart

I recall the day I became a national bestselling author. It was September 2005, and the book that marked that monumental moment for me was Crossing Jhordan's River (Moody Publishers/Lift Every Voice imprint), my third novel. Since that time, God has truly shown me much favor. Between then and now, six more of my titles have graced the Essence magazine's Best Selling Books list, making me a 7-time national bestseller. It's an humbling honor that I don't take for granted.

The first time I made "the list," I can remember thinking that it would be incredibly difficult for any happening in my literary life to measure up to that moment. I've been immeasureably grateful and elated every time I've made the list, but there has always been something about that first time that made it more special and more memorable than all the others. That moment - the moment Crossing Jhordan's River made the list - had never been rivaled...until now.

Today, my heart is overwhelmed. Thanks to the sales of her novel, Testing Relationships (Urban Books/Urban Christian imprint), my daughter, Brittney Holmes, made the list (see Essence magazine's February 2009 issue). And I found myself overjoyed beyond belief. Far more so than I was when I saw my name etched among the elite four years ago. Today I laughed louder, cried harder, and celebrated longer than I ever did for myself. My baby made the list! It was a prayer answered, and I took joy in calling her in her dorm on the campus of University of Georgia to inform her of the honor. While she released gleeful screams, I cried some more. The same glee motivated my tears.

It sounds so cliche' at times when we hear it said that parents want their children to be even more blessed than they, or to obtain greater achievements than they did. But what I felt today brought so much validation to that age-old adage. I was 38 when I became a national bestselling author. Brittney is 19. It was my third book. It's her second. She's on track to achieve above and beyond what her mother achieves, and I don't think I could be happier or prouder if I'd tried.

Congratulations, sweetie!

From a mother's heart......