How Nipsey Hussle’s Life Inspires Me

nhI’m not a huge fan of current-day rap, and I didn’t know the name Nipsey Hussle until the rapper/entrepreneur/community builder’s recent untimely death. But in that brief time, the overwhelming mainstream media coverage about his impact, and the unfiltered grief of his friends and fans (he’s reportedly the Tupac of this generation), have shown the world what it means to live with honor and create a meaningful legacy that outlasts you. 
I also don’t know whether Nipsey Hussle was a man of faith; but in his own way, he exemplified the St. Francis of Assisi mandate to “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words.”
Today is his memorial service. May he RIP, may those who loved and admired him be inspired to emulate his positive focus and generosity, and may we all aim to leave our family, our community, and this world a little better for our having been here.

Her Story: A Bond with Horses Connected Her To God

By Guest Blogger Katy Pistole

I have loved horses since I could see. I remember being very young, maybe three, when a man came to the door of my family home with a small pinto pony, offering to take pictures for a fee. I still have that picture of myself with that horse, and while I couldn’t have realized it at that young age, it was a pivotal moment in my life. That encounter launched me into a relationship with horses that continues to this day.

When I learned to read, I practically memorized every horse book I could find. Just before my 12th birthday, while living in the southern African country of Botswana, where my father, a career diplomat, had moved our family, I received my first horse.

During our stay in Botswana, my parents met some Anglican missionaries who introduced them to Jesus. My family attended church regularly, and would have called themselves Christians, but had not understood the intimacy of a personal connection with God. My parents dearly wanted me to receive the Lord as well, but my heart was full. I had a horse. What else could I need?

And then my beloved Black Jack became very sick. He was diagnosed with a fatal disease called African Horse Sickness. There was no medicine, no cure, no treatment. Nothing available to save him. Now I had a need.

My mom suggested a prayer meeting. Desperate and without other options, I agreed.

Soon after, 12 adults gathered around me in our home and prayed for Black Jack and for me. The next morning, I raced to the barn to find my horse healthy and eating hay.

The veterinarian had no explanation. He shook his head and muttered to himself.

But I knew in that moment, at age 12, that God is real, and powerful and good. I am convinced that He gave me Black Jack so I could understand the difference between a generic love for horses and a personal connection with someone who is beloved, because Black Jack belonged to me and I loved him – just as we belong to God and He passionately loves us.

My love for horses continued to grow, and in 1992 I started incorporating them into a discipleship program for youth. Horses have helped me understand and share what it means to belong to Someone. Today, I share my stories about my love for this magnificent animal to help others understand God’s love for humanity and for them, personally.

Katy Pistole is an award-winning author of seven books. LittleScooty1 (1652x2010) (4)Her newest release, Jubilee, TheLove Story, won the Genesis Contest in 2011 and is now in the running for the 2019 Author Academy Awards.Katy loves to share her love for horses as a contemporary Shepherd/sheep metaphor by weaving analogies through her stories. Katy’s unique perspective on brokenness has helped her lead thousands of God’s children into a deeper understanding of the Abundant Life and the heart of The Shepherd. Katy is an ordained minister, Bible teacher, crisis counselor, and the Executive Director of Beautiful Brokenness Ministries, a horse-themed discipleship and teaching ministry located in Central Virginia. You can find Katy on the Internet at www.KatyPistole.com and www.BeautifulBrokenness.org

 

Chat With the Author: She Writes To Bring Joy

By day, Dr. Trevy A. McDonald is a tenured professor of journalism who helps young minds hone their storytelling skills for a variety of communications professions. However, she also has another avenue for feeding her love of research and writing: penning and publishing fiction.

Her most recent works are two women’s fiction novels. The first book is titled Time Will Tell, and the sequel is Round ‘Bout Midnight, which explores the journeys of childhood friends Thomasine, Rachel and Hope as they seek to heal from hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues. As these women mature and grow, they learn that life is best lived one day at a time, with each new day starting “’round ’bout midnight.”round bout midnight final 72dpi

Meet (or learn more) about Trevy here, as she shares her path to publishing books that feature characters who keep readers turning pages long into the night.

In what genre do you write? I primarily write women’s fiction, which I call “ChocLit” with a literary flair. My current work-in-progress is a middle grades series about the Civil Rights movement.

What is the title of your most recent book? My most recent book is titled Round ‘Bout Midnight.  It is the sequel to my novel Time Will Tell. Both books are titles of songs from an early Wynton Marsalis recording The All-American Hero. In Time Will Tell each chapter is titled after a song which was current when the chapter was set and relates to a theme in the chapter. In Round ‘Bout Midnight each chapter is the title of a jazz song, and most of them are standards. The first chapter, It Never Entered My Mind is also the opening line for each of the three main characters. Other chapter titles include “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Rise,” “Love’s Serenade,” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”

What is your primary goal as an author – what do you want your readers to get out of your books? My goal as an author is in line with my life’s purpose, which is to use my God-given gifts and talents to uplift, inspire and empower others in an informative and entertaining way which brings them joy.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about your current book or another recent title? One reader shared that Round ‘Bout Midnight is more than a work of fiction and compared it to Paula Giddings When and Where I Enter and Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden.” For this reader, Round ‘Bout Midnight is about a form of liberation that begins within.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey? The range of audiences my novels attract. I think the biggest compliment came from a 98-year-old reader who recently read Time Will Tell and Round ‘Bout Midnight back to back. She shared that she stayed up late at night reading until she finished the books, and that she relived her younger days through the characters.

How do you continue growing as a writer?  I’m an avid researcher and reader. I also explore other forms of art, such as photography and painting. This helps me in creating pictures with words in my fiction writing.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors? Yolanda Joe, Jacquelin Thomas and Venise Berry.

What else are you passionate about, i.e. if you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing? I am also a tenured professor of broadcast journalism. Representations of marginalized groups in mainstream media is an issue that I am extremely passionate about.

What do you like to do for fun? I enjoy running, photography, films, baking, painting, and my new hobby—knitting.

Trevy McDonald Headshot August 2018 (1)Trevy A. McDonald is an author, independent book publisher and tenured professor of journalism at the University of North Carolin at Chapel Hill. She was just 25 years old when she earned her Ph.D. from this university’s renowned  journalism school and is the first African American woman to be tenured at the school. She  pursues her passion and life purpose through writing and teaching.  She also owns Reyomi Publishing, LLC, a successful independent book publishing and consulting company based in Durham N.C. Trevy is the author of the novel Time Will Tell, co-editor of two scholarly anthologies, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications. Her latest release is Round ‘Bout Midnight, the sequel to Time Will Tell.  Learn more about Trevy at drtrevy.com  and connect with her on Facebook at  facebook.com/DrTrevy   and Twitter at twitter.com/DrTrevy.

5 Ways to Ignite Your Inner Champion

Admit it: You’ve already spent the first few hours of this day checking the needs of your family, your employer and maybe even your friend and colleagues off your To Do List. Perhaps you’ve treated yourself to a cup of coffee or tea, but have you given yourself a dose of care and encouragement, too?

If not, here are 5 strategies to consider that you can perhaps transform into helpful habits. When you treat yourself to a few personal wins, everyone around you wins, too.

  • Accept today that you are enough  – good enough, lovable enough, smart enough – to have dreams; to embrace them (however unattainable or simple they may seem), and to pursue them in consistent and strategic ways that transform them into your reality.
  • Choose Wisely the inner circle to share your goals, your fears and your victories with, for they’ll form the core that carries you through doubting days and encourages you to conquer the hills that stand between you and that new reality you desire. Help them dream big and win big, too.
  • Give Up your Superwoman or Superman cape and surrender perfection. Give your best and release the rest. Trust that your sincere effort, and being your authentic self, will produce the grace and the results you need, just when you need them most.
  • Move Forward with the assurance that wherever you are is your assigned circumstance for this season, regardless of how you got there. You may grow weary, but keep going. Be grateful that you’re trusted by the Creator to do the right things in this mighty or humble place. Your positive actions and attitude are creating a ripple effect in your home, school, workplace, community, and possibly, the world.
  • Keep Reading my books and others! Reading will enhance your life by lifting your spirits, taking you on journeys (in your soul and imagination) and helping you view life from another perspective. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my books and also consider giving at least three authors who are new to you a try this year. I’m confident you’ll discover some hidden gems.
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Why March Madness Should Matter To You

If you’re in any way familiar with college basketball, you’ll know the term ‘March Madness,’ which describes the season of NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that determines the championship teams each year.

Even a sports novice like me knows that these weeks of play matter most – to the teams and their coaches, to the fans creating fantasy leagues, and to students and alums of schools in the running to claim the title. Every team wants to make it to the Final Four and finish with the big win.

Because March also ushers in Women’s History Month and my favorite season (spring!), and continues the Christian period of Lent leading up to Easter, I consider it an ideal time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far this year and renew my commitment to thrive.

I invite you to create your own version of “March Madness” and do the same:

  •  Read a few books that encourage you and open your mind to new perspectives. (Here’s one recommendations, but there are many good options: The Confidence Code: The Science & Art of Self-Assurance by Katty Kay & Clair Shipman)
  •  Write journal entries, essays, poems, short stories or chapters in your book-in-progress that reflect your goals and dreams. If you can better articulate your inner world, you can manifest it.  (Details about my author coaching opportunities are here.
  •  Review your 2019 goals and be honest about whether you’re truly ready to live “Life Untapped” or if you’re more comfortable “talking versus doing.”
Wherever you are in the process, NOW is the perfect season for rebooting rather than ruminating with regret. Go for it, and view each milestone as a win. Seemingly small victories eventually lead to battles won.
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Respect Your Million Little Things

When your college-age daughter comes home for spring break and convinces you to binge watch the hit TV show A Million Little Things, it’s a struggle to get anything else done. (Amazing show!)

But as a writer, at least I can count this as storytelling homework, and  the takeaways from every episode are so rich that they leave you contemplating life, grief, ethics, truth, relationships, the power of love and more.

Just halfway through watching the season on demand, the lessons I’ve gleaned so far are ones that most of us already know, but often need reminders to practice. Among them are these gems:

  •  You never know what someone else is going through, so be kind.
  • You never know what someone else has been through, so stop judging.
  • Things aren’t always what they seem, so quit longing for the greener grass across the fence.
  • Pause in your busyness to really see and hear the people closest to you. Give them the space to be vulnerable and imperfect, and love them anyway.
  • Love yourself enough to give life all you’ve got, no matter how many times you fall and have to get back up again. You and your purpose are worth it.

May these reminders guide our actions and interactions in the days, weeks and months to come, until we no longer need to recall them, because they’ve become our habits.

 

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Chat With The Author: She Loves the Art of Storytelling – As Both An Actress and Author

If you grew up watching television in the 1990s, you may already feel as if you’ve “met” my featured writer today. Literary advocate and actress Karyn Parsons played the role of Hilary Banks, cousin to Will Smith’s character on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, from 1990-1996.

Karyn Parsons
Karyn Parsons

For years, she has operated Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning animated film series that shares little known stories from African American history; and this week, Karyn’s lead role became author, when her debut young adult novel,  How High The Moon, was released. (Congrats, Karyn!)

This historical fiction book tells the story of young girl in the Jim Crow south who is attempting to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father. The novel is based on the experiences of Karyn’s mother, a librarian who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina.How High The Moon

For her part, Karyn (who I had the pleasure of meeting through a mutual friend) is simply delighted that her words are gracing the world in a way that adds meaning and rich perspective. Enjoy this Life Untapped Author Chat with her, and be sure to pick up a copy of her novel (or download the ebook version) just in time for your weekend reading.

In what genre do you write? My most recent book is historical fiction; however, I love short story fiction. I’ve started writing something else that is also historical fiction, but I am feeling the itch for writing a short story. I have a couple things that I’m anxious to get out.

What is your primary goal as an author, i.e., what do you want your readers to take away from reading your book? Mostly I want them to surrender to the world of the book and empathize and relate to the characters in the book. Hopefully, the story and characters will challenge some preconceived ideas and opinions. I know I learn a lot when I write and uncover truths that I didn’t always know were there when I started writing.  And while it isn’t my primary goal, I do love the many lessons that historical fiction offers.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about How High The MoonThere as a direction that I went in the book – can’t talk about it specifically as it’s a spoiler – that I was pleased to find readers (at least the ones that spoke with me about it) liked. I had been concerned people might have a problem with it. So vague if you haven’t read it, right?! I was also just really excited that people were responsive to the story and its characters. It’s my first book, so it’s new for me to communicate with people this way. I’ve shared stories with small groups before; friends, writing groups, teachers and classes. That’s a different kind of share. A workshopping, really. To hand over something finished to strangers and have them be engaged and invested in the characters and the story, that’s been very cool.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey? Even though I’d always written here and there and had been a big reader throughout my life, I took to really focusing on writing AFTER I’d made a name for myself as an actress. And as serious as I was, I think I expected others to dismiss the idea of me as a writer. I’d been an actress for so long. It’s what everyone identified me as. So, when motherhood came along and threw me completely off course, there was a sadness that shrouded the writer me. I hadn’t given up, but I was becoming embarrassed by not being able to find time to write. And I was even more afraid to tell people I wanted to write because, well…I wasn’t writing! So, when I bumped into an old friend – a literary agent – who knew me for being as much a writer as an actress, and he encouraged me to write something, that encouragement went a long way. It meant so much to be seen. It was hard and clumsy, but I wrote my novel. And now, because of that accomplishment, even when things are tough, I don’t doubt that I’m a writer or concern myself much with what others might think.    

How do you continue growing as a writer? Reading and writing. Reading all sorts of books, reading about writing, and then just writing. Giving myself permission to be silly and messy and bad, bad, bad. And then…more reading.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors? I truly admire Toni Morrison. At the same time I admire how clean Hemingway writes. I had already known some of Jacqueline Woodson’s work, but in taking on writing for a young audience, I read more of her work, re-read and paid more attention. Her writing really resonates with me and, at the same time, feels so natural and right. I also read interviews with her and saw her speak. She’s so smart and generous and she’s got this enchanting soul. A lovely person. In a way, she’s a mentor. I trust and feel truth in what she has to say.

Do you think you’ll continue to act in coming years? I still love acting. I think if I could do theater, that’s where I’d be. That’s the best place to be able to really act. To not be so encumbered by all of the technical and production distractions. I get nervous in front of an audience, though. Ugh. That’s always been a mountain for me, that part.

What else are you passionate about? If you weren’t an author and actress, what else would you be doing? We’re big movie people in my household. My husband is a filmmaker and I’m a real film geek. I also like to bake even though I’m really, really bad at it. No one eats my stuff. But, I don’t care, I still like it. And I’ll get better.

50681587_2230760680302384_8356357223718322176_nKaryn Parsons is best known for her role as Will Smith’s cousin Hilary Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After leaving acting behind, Karyn has gone on to found and produce Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning series of children’s animated films, to share stories about unsung black heroes in history, featuring narration from stars such as Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, Chris Rock, and Laurence Fishburne. The films have screened on HBO and Netflix, and are enjoyed by schools and libraries across the country. Karyn’s debut novel, How High The Moon, hits bookshelves this month March 2019. To learn more about Karyn and her body of work, visit  sweetblackberry.org or friend her on the following:

Twitter: @Karyn_Parsons or @swtblackberry

Facebook: KarynParsons or SweetBlackberry

IG: KarynParsons or Swtblackberry