When Fiction Reflects Life, Readers Can Relate

When women’s fiction explores relevant issues, readers can grow.

#womensrights #womensissues #womensfiction #womenwriters #socialjustice #faithbasedfiction #inspirationalfiction

These times in which we’re living keep bringing my older novels top of mind, because the themes I explored when I wrote them seem more relevant than ever.

Lead Me Home is one of those books.

This novel, which received a Publisher’s Weekly starred review, features female characters who grapple with secrets and shame, and do so as women who can make their own choices about their lives and their futures.

Consider picking up a copy of this faith-based novel as one of your summer reads (or re-reads), wherever books are sold.

Lead Me Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams

YOU Are With You…Becoming Jubilant

Happiness comes from within…a relevant reminder on this #Juneteenth holiday from my #novels set in the fictional town of Jubilant, Texas.

#womensfiction #blackauthors #inspiringreads #summerreading #weekendreading #fiction #hope #personalgrowth

On this post-Juneteenth Monday, it feels appropriate to share the covers of my Jubilant Soul series – my three women’s fiction novels set in the fictional town of Jubilant, Texas.

I created Jubilant to symbolize how we as humans (and characters) are often searching for happiness “over there” or “somewhere” that feels just out of reach. But when the characters in each of these books find themselves back in Jubilant for a season, they realize, in their own ways, that happiness really does begin within; and since YOU are with you wherever you go, it pays to find ways to fill your soul with joy.

Hope you’ll enjoy reading (or re-reading) these novels as I continue to work on my latest! (Available wherever books are sold.)

Celebrating Women’s Stories

On this Throwback Thursday I’ll take you back to October 2014, when I hosted my inaugural Celebrating the Power of Women’s Stories inspirational brunch with friends at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: https://tinyurl.com/celebratingwomensstories

I share it at this time to enjoy and be inspired (or inspired again!), while also asking you to SAVE THE DATE for the second time around!

Yes – eight years later, it will happen again – same place, same time, on OCTOBER 22, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

I will be sharing more details in another month or so about the amazing speakers and other participants, and I’m honored that I’ll be partnering with them to bring you their inspiring personal stories and more. In the meantime, please mark your calendar and spread the word!

Words of Wisdom from Mom-In-Chief

The hottest ticket in town this week was Michelle Obama!

She graced the Altria Theater stage as a guest of The Richmond Forum, and I was grateful to be in the building.

Mrs. Obama set the tone from the start that this would be a nonpartisan, apolitical conversation, borne from her forever title: Mom-in-Chief.

Through that lens, I resonated with her greatly, having children the same age as hers (her youngest child turns 21 on Friday; mine turns 21 on Sunday), and having penned a daily newspaper parenting column for 11 years.

There were so many great takeaways from her conversation with Forum Executive Director Heather Crislip, many of them directed to parents and to the young people who were in the theater or watching via simulcast.

But there also were some collective words of wisdom for all.

In the spirit of the “Wednesday Wisdom” I occasionally share, here are some of the gems Michelle Obama dropped:

* You don’t have to change the world to change something.

* There is power in the small – in the little, everyday things that we take for granted, like spending time with family, voting, etc. Doing these things with excellence and intention make a difference.

* Don’t lose sight of your own destiny. It holds power.

* We owe hope to the next generation. Democracy requires us to be hopeful.

* Find your passion and do something meaningful with your life.

* You are smart enough to be there, wherever your desired or longed-for “there” is.

* When someone kindly touches you, that gives you the liberty to respond in kind, even if it’s the Queen of England. (That’s how and why that went down, she says! Lol)

And my favorite: Stories matter.

Mrs. Obama delivered that declaration as she discussed some of the projects she is working on with Netflix and due to her interactions with people from all walks of life, all over the world, whose stories have inspired her.

I share that view, from my local and lived vantage point, and through the work I do as a journalist, writer mentor and author.

It’s in this spirit that I invite you to “Save the Date” for an October 22 storytelling event I’m hosting in RVA. More details are coming soon!

In the meantime, lean into some other wisdom that Mrs. Obama shared, which is to consider tackling big issues and hard conversations by starting with connection first.

Get to know your neighbors and colleagues and find some commonalities rather than letting social media or other sources shape your views. Once you understand what you have in common, you’re better able to appreciate others’ similarities and differences, maybe better understand their perspectives, and maybe even become friends – and then, through those lenses, talk about the tough, and important, stuff.

June!

How did we get halfway through 2022? Hopefully with some beauty, some growth and lots of gratitude.
#welcomejune #LifeUntapped #lifemusings

We move through life in ways that are both unique to us and collectively familiar, and perhaps many of you join me in wondering how half of this year has zoomed by.

Welcome to June!

Some of the things I’ve come to appreciate about the first half of 2022 are the experiences that have stretched me the most, and in the process, helped me get to know myself all the better while appreciating others as they are.

I make that sound easy, but we all know this is where the work lies!

In these six months I have learned to find peace in surrendering to every day’s measure of work, rest, hope, contentment, and mutual giving and sharing.

I invite you to reflect on your highlights and challenges thus far, too, and to celebrate how far you’ve come, while seeking lessons from the valleys you’ve traversed and the mountains you’ve scaled.

There’s so much to reflect on and grow from, and in some cases celebrate, including the simple gifts of each day and the aha moments that have opened your heart.

So, with what I pray are miles to go, I say hello to June, and to the possibilities and promises the rest of this year holds. They are ours for the taking, if we’ll believe, trust and invite these blessings in, however they come.

Words Matter

“I am tired, just fatigued.”

I spoke those words in a meeting with acquaintances yesterday as we chatted about the recent wave of hate crime murders in Buffalo, NYC and other cities.

We had no idea as we gathered that horror was unfolding in Texas, and when I learned about the school shooting last night, I had no words.

I was left speechless because words seemingly haven’t served as a shield.

Yet, I realized this morning that while they may be rambling or awkward or filled with trepidation, words do matter.

Words still hold power.

Words can be the first step to keeping hate from having the final say.

So we must use them, however imperfectly,

to voice our anger,

to share our collective pain,

to let the families of these 19 murdered children and their two teachers know they don’t grieve alone;

to speak the names of those who were killed yesterday,

and in recent weeks, and even over the years,

so that these men, women and children don’t become invisible casualties in the hate that seeks to become a societal norm.

We must speak up and speak out, because regardless of whether we personally know victims of gun violence and hate crimes,

humanity is deeper than DNA.

We are our brothers only keepers.

We are our sisters only keepers.

We are our children’s collective keepers, too, and we cannot quit on the job.

When one soars we all benefit. When one is harmed, we should all be hurting.

I can only imagine how every teacher, principal and school official aches today – wanting to protect your “school babies” yet having to talk to them about murder.

I still have no words that can make it any better. But I hope that knowing I care helps.

Because I am a woman of faith I am indeed praying for God to bring comfort to the families and all who are grieving.

Because I‘ve long lent my voice to child advocacy issues, I also will lean into seeking out ways to support changes in policies and laws that can make a positive difference.

I will continue to vote.

I will stand for good in other tangible ways, on an ongoing basis, even when silence could be easier.

So yes, I am tired.

And yes, my heart is broken.

And yes, I’m at a loss for perfectly poised words.

But even so, this post matters, and your words and actions do, too.

Please, please use them to help staunch the hate and end the violence.

About Last Night, About Will Smith

Some of my dearest friends and I have agreed to disagree about the angry choices a certain actor made on Hollywood’s biggest night.

What’s also true is that I don’t condone violence; I wish he would have handled it backstage, and I was waiting on him to offer a more direct apology in the aftermath.

But as I often say, we rarely know another person’s full story – including the challenges they may be walking through.

As Will Smith accepted his Oscar I saw what appeared to be shame in celebrating his biggest career achievement amid his biggest career misstep – knowing that his mother (who he seemed upset with for not coming) and his children had witnessed his implosion.

Who knows? Maybe he had to beg Jada to show up and deal with her alopecia-related hair loss on a night when other women’s tresses were flowing.

And who knows what else Will may be dealing with in his family, with his health or within himself?

He still shouldn’t have strode onstage and slapped a colleague.

He did what hurt people often do – hurt other people. And in this case, he hurt himself most of all by taking away from the legacy of “strength in the face of fire” that Venus and Serena entrusted to him.

All that said, and even as I shook my head at it all, I could think of times I wished I had handled situations differently. Can’t we all?

Not condoning his behavior, but also not serving as judge nor jury. (The memes and Twitter comments are pure entertainment and offer enough sentences without mine.)

Will Smith will face his consequences, and as he deals with them privately and publicly, I hope the rest of us can use this as a reminder that at every age and stage, there’s room for growth and room for empathy.

And who walked away with his head held highest for showing restraint? Chris Rock, who I’m sure will be telling jokes about that experience for years to come. Get ready, Will.

14 Ways to Treasure It All

I’ve been reminded in various ways these first 90-plus days of 2022 to not take anything or anyone for granted – including yourself.

Treasure it all.

Stop to smell the roses.

Eat the cake without counting the calories.

Exercise not because you should, but because you can. 

Apologize sincerely, regardless of whether it’s acknowledged.

Forgive freely, even when it’s not requested.

Give thanks for your blessings; appreciate the lessons. 

Stretch yourself. Relax yourself. Enjoy yourself. 

Breathe more deeply, more often.

Smile more.

Laugh more.

Love more.

Pay attention, with intention.

For this is the journey called life, and yours is yours alone to treasure.

Introducing…On Womanhood

Seven years ago I launched an online mentoring program for aspiring writers called Focused Writers (www.focused-writers.com), not knowing that this intimate space for learning about writing and publishing would not only lead to books and blogs being birthed by members, but also to a tribe of mutual support.

When some of the members approached me about writing something together, I finally agreed, and in January 2021 we embarked upon a yearlong Mastermind Class of sorts, with me guiding them through every aspect of publishing – from idea stage to finished book.

Members have participated in every way along the way, from writing to editing to proofreading to formatting to designing the cover, and I’m delighted to share our “book baby” of personal essays – On Womanhood: Connecting and Thriving in Every Season.

Thanks to my friend and mentor Daphne Reid for writing our Foreword and to Chandra Sparks Splond for serving as our external editor. And most importantly, to our talented cover artist and Focused Writer member Dawn Edge Campbell.

We hope you love the cover as much as we do!

Also exciting for us as we release this book just in time for Women’s History Month in March, is our collective agreement to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from sales made from February 22 through March 31 to the YWCA USA.

Back in my reporter days, I covered a range of social issues, including writing stories about women working their way off of welfare, fleeing abusive relationships and learning to advocate for themselves and their children.

I also wrote about the organizations and nonprofits designed to support them, including the YWCA, whose mission is to empower women and eradicate racism.

So when my Focused Writers mentees decided to write a book together, title it On Womanhood, and donate a portion of proceeds from sales, the YWCA USA was a natural choice.

I am a six-year board member of the YWCA Richmond and can vouch firsthand for the staff’s dedication to serving women and children, in a myriad of ways.

Yet, we have chosen to contribute to the YWCA USA because our Focused Writers anthology authors are based around the nation – from Las Vegas to Houston to Savannah to Richmond. And each writer will be reaching out to her local branch, too.

So in addition to buying our short collection and supporting a great cause in the process, also take some time to learn more about the YWCA USA and the YWCA in your local area!

Stacy and the Focused Writers members featured in the anthology On Womanhood: Connecting and Thriving In Every Season
(Nailah-Benā Chambers, Margo Clifford, Jacqueline S. Owensby, Njeri Mathis Rutledge, Jackie Hunter, Wanda S. Lloyd, Cassie Edwards Whitlow, Belinda Todd, DaNika Neblett Robinson, Rita Flores Moore and Stacy Hawkins Adams.)

Every Life Matters

So many people are stunned by the tragic death of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst. And that of actress Regina King’s son. And perhaps the suicide of someone you know.

We must not let this become the next pandemic.

Check on people in your circle – and check the “petty” at the door.

Remind yourself that being kind is often more important than being right, because there’s often a story behind someone’s anger, silence, odd behavior, etc. 

You don’t have to be the judge and jury. 

Your call – our call – is to grant more grace and to love unconditionally.

Even if it’s from a different source, it will indeed boomerang in our favor.

Prayers and peace to all who are grieving, and heartfelt hugs to anyone who is suffering. Please keep reaching out until someone hears you. Your life matters.

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