Category Archives: Books

From Soldier of War to Children’s Author – Vera Harris

I find women veterans fascinating. Women all over the country have been raising their collective voices in the #metoo campaign, sharing stories of sexual violation. From Harvey Weinstein to Bill Cosby, we are seeing evidence of how years of protected patriarchy leaves women vulnerable to abuse. So, there is something powerful about a woman soldier. Vera Harris is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army having earned the distinguished honor of being the first female Command Sergeant Major to serve in an Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vera has taken on a different battle in her retirement from the armed forces; that of an author of children’s books. I had the honor of interviewing her recently.

Why do you write children’s books?

I was inspired by my grandson to write children’s picture books because I wanted not only my grandson but other children to develop a love for reading. I enjoy reading. I have been a reader all my life and I noticed that my grandson struggled with reading. So, I decided to write easy sight words so that kids like him could develop the courage to read (and) would enjoy what reading brings. Reading will help them develop into leaders and productive citizens. In my experience, most readers are great leaders and introducing children to the art of reading will help kids become great leaders in school, in their communities and in their circle of friends.

What impact do you hope your books will have on others?

The main impact that I hope my books will have on others to encourage young children to enjoy and develop a love for reading books so that the love of books will follow them into adult life.

What was the biggest obstacle to you becoming an author and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest obstacles to becoming an author is writing books that will engage young minds. I am learning more from veteran authors, from training, and conferences that specialize in helping authors improve their writing. I write from experience and from my imagination, so I am constantly working on books that will open up children’s imagination as well.

What should we expect from Vera Harris in the future?

I am excited about the future! I am currently working on my fourth children’s picture book which will be released in 2018. And since becoming a published author, I have been invited to speak at some events. I am enjoying and learning so much on this journey!

From defending our freedom as Americans to championing literacy for children, Ms. Harris is a true American Hero. You can connect with Ms. Harris by the following:

Happy Reading by Vera Harris

Vera Harris
Vera Harris of Happy Reading by Vera

Amazon.com/author/veraharris

Happy Reading by Vera – Facebook

Instagram: @vharris5413

Twitter: @vharris5413

#whyIwrite

I wake up in the morning, pray, and grab my phone. I read a scripture or online devotional and then, I check my notifications. I may be a just a bit addicted to social media. Pray for me.

I am swiping up, in the Twitter app this morning and I see the hashtag #whyIwrite. I suppressed the urge to shoot off a quick 140 characters to hop on the trend. I thought, this will require some introspection.

Writing my debut novel was a lot like giving birth, cliche as it may sound. I felt I had the story that had been building in me for years. I was swollen with characters, plots, and exposition. The stories of the myriad of women and men I have encountered through life provided DNA segments building the unique personality of each character. I had begun the Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story nearly a decade before. The idea, the dna, all brought together in the love making created a life that built up inside my mind. I just had to bring it forth.

Image result for writing is making love

Everyone always asks, when is part two. The truth is, I have allowed life to distract me from the art of love. Love is action. Love is deliberate. I am learning to write as a discipline. It is my passion. Some days, I am so wiped out, I do not feel the burning in my soul. It is like a marriage that way. I guess. I have never been married. But, I have read that you must choose to love your spouse even when do not feel like it.

My fingers are vessels carrying my thoughts to the keyboard. Words and writing – love in the making. Love making. There I go again.

So, why do I write? I write for love.

The Fairy Tale Life

A fairy tale is defined as a mythical tale featuring magical and fantastic creatures. There are heroic feats accomplished by ordinary humans who somehow found their inner strength after a long quest. Beautiful maidens are brought back to life by the kiss of a true love.  In short, it is a made up tale in a make believe world with invented characters and creatures. They are written for children. As children, we still possess that wide-eyed faith that good wins over evil. We believe in happy endings.

As we age, we stop believing. Kissed too many frogs and they stayed ugly and slimy. Dropped all of our money on a handful of beans and a dream to wake up still broke with no golden goose egg.  Disappointment and bad breaks lead to disillusionment.

I want you to believe again.

This is why I write. Have an eye-wide open faith in love, redemption and the happily ever after. It is hope that keeps us going. I write hope-filled love stories centered around Christian characters with real life issues. It is an un-sanitized look at imperfect people with a hope in a perfect God making mistakes, getting it wrong, and through the drama – finding redemption and a happy ending.  The happy ending may not look like a prince on a horse but something a little unexpected.

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I will keep writing and if, you will keep reading – we will get to our happy ending – together.

You can find a copy of Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story on Amazon and Kindle.

 

The First Book Club Featuring – Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story

Back in the '90s, there was a hip-hop song, "We're All in the Same Gang". It was a collaboration of West Coast rappers that promoted anti-gang violence. The message of the song is that we are all fighting the same battle so why fight each other. The relationship between women can be as precarious as gang-affiliations. If a new sister enters the arena, she is an enemy first until proven otherwise. I may be getting a little too deep but that has been my experience. Moving from city to city, I have been the new girl more often than not. 

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Saturday, I participated in a newly formed book club at my new church. My novel, Ruth's Awakening: A Love Story, was selected as the first book. I was a little nervous about this meeting. As a writer, I consider my novel my baby. I am very protective of it. I had to overcome the self-doubt that others would find the story as good as I thought it to be. Plus, I am the new girl. I was not sure what to expect. 

We met at a local bakery. I handed out an agenda created to facilitate the conversation. In no time, everyone was opening up, laughing and talking. The characters in the novel became a mirror by which  some attendees could see their own experiences reflected. The experience was revelatory. 

I learned a few things during our book club discussion.

Continue reading The First Book Club Featuring – Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story

Goal Accomplished, Now What?

The best thing about a hard fought race is the finish line. It all begins with an idea which leads to developing a plan. Add some hard work and consistency. Eventually you break that tape. 

The worst thing about a hard fought race is the finish line.  Sweat covered brow,  catching one's breath. The endorphin high gradually fades. You are left pondering – now what? 

2014 was a year of completions. I completed my 2nd 5K. Most importantly,  I finished my debut novel, "Ruth's Awakening: A Love Story".  It was such a relief. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. After the buzz of the initial release, I found myself pondering the question – now what? 

Keep it moving. 

I have to market this baby and grow my platform(s). I have to start book number two. I have to meet Oprah!!! That's what. 

Life is a journey with a a series of land markers. You never really cross a "finish" line. The journey don't stop 'til the casket drop. Even then, I will be forever with my Lord. 

Can the church say, Amen!

It took me seven years to finish this novel. There have been many drafts, rewrites, ending changes, and edits. The finished product is a milestone. A little bump on my road to destiny. I want other dreamers to spy the territory I have marked and, hopefully, it will make their journey that much easier. 

Be blessed. 

 

Felicia Malone, Author

 

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Forgive and Release, You

The year's end is upon us. Cue the onslaught of reflections and resolutions. I resolve to <insert goal here>. Bring on those rhyming catch phrases, "In 2015, I'm getting in those size 10 jeans." lol

It is what it is.

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For many, the New Year inspires hope for the future. For others, it can  spark an onset of the blues. I was speaking with a friend who confided that he felt a bit down. The New Year's Blues, I suggested.  I explained that when we reflect on how we have spent the year, often we focus on what we did not do quite right – the shoulda, coulda and wouldas. I found myself in a similar quagmire last night. In addition, a sand truck was dumping on all of the things I still had to do. 

I inhaled and exhaled. Through the simple act of breathing, I began the process of letting go. The more I focused on the air entering my lungs and escaping my body, I relaxed. Every mistake made is already past. I can only move forward. Trying to relive the past is as futile as trying to recapture yesterday's air. 

It came to me, like an epiphany. *cue Chrisette Michele*. I can let it all go and just breathe. 

2015 Right now, I resolve to forgive myself for bad choices. I release myself to make good choices. I also acknowledge all of the things I have gotten right – 40 lbs gone,  MBA received and first book published! Yeah me!!!!

This encompasses money, healthy, relationships, career, etc.  

I would encourage anyone reading to embark on a journey of self-improvement. Read books, join clubs, expand your circle of friends. Empower yourself, through knowledge and experience, to make better choices. Like the old folk say, "You know better, you do better!"

If you are looking for resources, check out the links below.

http://thebudgetnista.com/free-stuff

Get Fit With Fe

Ruth's Awakening: A Love Story

Preachers of LA? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

I must preface the following by stating that I have NEVER watched a single episode of Preachers of LA and I never will, Lord willing. What I hear of it, it is an abomination. Yes, I just used abomination in a current context. Why do I feel so? I believe in keeping what is sacred, holy, or set apart. When you make the gospel 'entertainment', especially a reality show, you are on Real Housewives of Ain't None of Ya'll Really Married territory. In defense of the show, gospel star Fred Hammond stated that God may be using this venue to save the lost. Mmmkayy. You can read a compilation of his 22-tweet response HERE.

Color me jaded 'cause I ain't buying it.

Who would you choose – Superman or Clark Kent? I know some one of you
would say neither but picture superman as that fine Tom Welling and not
old school Christopher Reeve. lol Who would you choose? The choice really is perfection or
humanity. Or better yet – humanity versus divinity? I mean, are not these men claiming to be men of God? I know sometimes we as human beings focus so much on the God-part we forget that men are really just men. I get that. I just do not want to see your humanity on display in a tailored-suit and driving around in a Bentley.

On to the next one.

My book is a romantic drama set in the church world. In it, I tell the story of a girl whose life is unraveling. She is trying to hold onto her faith as an old flame walks back into her life. I delve very bluntly into the humanity of the 'saved'. Do not expect a whitewashed PG version of a romance novel. I keeps it real. lol

Which kind of brings me to my point. Are we overly judgemental of those claiming to be saved, saints, men/women of God? Can we see their humanity and their calling?

As I began thinking about publishing/marketing my book, I thought about what other believers would think about the subject matter. I was researching publishers of Christian romance and one well-known publisher outlined what was acceptable material. It was something like – so sex, no drugs, blah, blah, blah.  How can you tell a story about falling and getting back up without portraying the fall because it is too 'dirty' to discuss. Everyone knows that Christians never have sex. . .except they do. Even unmarried ones.

*gasp*

I am not saying that it is right. I am saying that it happens. So, it is in the book. If my book includes the forbidden, is it a 'Christian' romance? Yes. The overarching theme in the book is redemption, faith and second chances. Sin is not rewarded. I try to portray sin as a reality that people encounter when they look to their own means to bring about contentment instead of looking to God. I just do not hit people over the head with the Bible.

I understand there is a line of demarcation. Does the reality show cross it? I do not know. I have not seen it. There is something a little more removed about a novel. After all, I made this stuff up *wink* lol

By January, you may all read it for yourself and let me now exactly what you think.

A Writer’s Burden

To create; to retell; to represent the history of a people in literary form. The self-ordained griot.

Life is full of amazing encounters and unbelievable heartbreak. The writer writes. 

The man I loved married someone else. A story is born. 

The one who should love me the most, betrayed me. Sounds like a plot line. 

I must forgive the one who has never apologized. This is good stuff!

The burden: How real should I make it? What if people think that I am really writing about me? What if someone mistakenly thinks I am writing about them? 

Type the words. 

Everyday strangers sit across from each other at church with only a timid smile and wave between them. What if one of them actually says hello? Ensue rising actions, climax and 'happily ever after' or not.

I give the character courage and dialogue. The 'what-ifs' are brought to life. And so, I write. 

I hope someone finds liberation in seeing their untold story play out in black and white. 

The prom date that never was. The crush that did not notice. The loneliness of doing the 'right thing'. This time there is a second act. 

Romance. Heartbreak. Faith. Dreams. Second chances. It is all on the page and out of the heart. 

My novella has gone into the editing phase. I am really excited. In truth, I am sharing my story with someone for the first time. I cannot wait to share it with the world. 

Until then. . . Once upon a time. . .

What I Am Reading: Eat To Live

So I bit the bullet and got rid of cable. My big flat screen monitor, yes monitor, has been relegated to finding the weakly broadcast digital signal converted by some little black box. I need said black converter box because the great deal I thought I had found on a flat screen TV was just a good price on a monitor. *insert sad face*

Due to the lack of variety in scheduled programming and aforementioned weak signals, I watch PBS a lot. Partially because the PBS station magically always transmits. BUT there really is interesting programming on PBS. Having had my IQ diminished by addictive reality TV showcased on cable, it took a force of budgetary constraints to bring me back to my first love, PBS.

Anyone remember Sesame Street?

I digress.

I am watching PBS and there is a show featuring a Dr. Joel Furhman discussing how eating less to no meat can literally reverse illness. From my frequent blog rants, you guys know about my constant bouts with acid reflux. ARGH!

I buy the book and it is truly a revelation. Dr. Furhman warns about trying the veggie/fruit diet plan that he advocates  before completing the entire book. As I am reading, I am having some serious reservations about giving up meat until I read this gem about “pink slime” going unlabeled in our meat supply:

"The trimmings are heated to soften fat and spun in a centrifuge to separate the meat, which is then pressed and added to hamburger. A puff of an ammonia and water mix is used to kill bacteria." SOURCE

Don’t you just love the use of words like “carcass” and “puff of ammonia” used to describe food you put into your precious body?

Well, I do not. So back to Eat To Live. Great info, not so great recipes. Here is where my readers come in. Do you have any good meatless recipes? Something without a ton of unique ingredient would be helpful.

I am going to attempt to concoct one of my own, enchilada pie. If it works out, I will post.

Until then.