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Click the cover below to order Conversations Magazine's Anniversary Issue
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Thursday, April 9, 2020

[To You, From Me] Embrace Your Power

We're living at a time in the world where so many feel powerless. Either because of their own personal circumstances or the Coronavirus Pandemic that has paralyzed much of the world with fear of the uncertainty that might lie ahead. Regardless of what we're dealing with, I want to remind you of something that might not seem realistic, but it is true: You have power. You can make an impact!

This issue of Conversations Magazine, the last one before our 14th Anniversary Issue, has evolved since it was first conceived, and it serves as a lesson that I hope you get some comfort from. Due to forces outside of our control we had features that had to be rescheduled, some of the subjects of this issue actually passed away, and I was left with some decisions to make. Would I just abandon the issue altogether,or would I take what I had and make the most of it. I chose the latter, and the result is now what you are reading.

What I realized was that I had the power to decide whether this was going to be a success or a failure. I had the power to make the most of what I had or make an excuse as to why I couldn't move forward. Today throughout the challenges and the uncertainty WE have the power to decide whether we will allow what is happening to break us or better shape us. I would argue that this issue of Conversations Magazine is actually STRONGER than the one that was planned. And I can honestly say I am proud of it.

Inside you will discover what we call Women Warriors, women who are not just making a name for themselves but making a difference in the world. Here I'm pictured with author/motivational speaker/media personality Dr. Teresa A. Smith or Dr. TAS, one of our featured Women Warriors. Truth be told, all of the women in this issue are warriors in their own way, and we are better off because of their examples.

So take this message of hope with you. Yes, times are hard. There are things we don't know or fully understand. That, however, shouldn't cause us to give our power away. Today embrace your power, and see how you mpact things around you.

Until next time,




Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine
www.conversationsmag.com

[BOOK REVIEW] THE POWER OF PAIN shows that what you experience in life doesn't have to define you

It takes great courage to open the doors of your life to others, sharing what you have experienced and overcome, knowing it will not just help you heal but show others what is possible for them as well. That is exactly what Kneika Robbins, Audra Bush and Kenya Frazier have done with THE POWER OF PAIN. The three of them share some personal situations that could have broken them or at least define them, and now they are letting us know that regardless of what you experience---or who might have hurt you---there is a way forward that can lead to peace and happiness.

Love the courage they shared by putting this book together, and I know that their lives will be a testament to others as to why they shouldn't give up on life and love.

Yes the world has its share of pain, but if you are willing to move beyond it then you can enjoy all the other things that life has to offer---and who know? You might be just the example others need as to what they can do as well.

[BOOK REVIEW] YOUR TURN by Dr. Tyra Manning

Everybody has a story.

That is something you have probably heard before, but maybe you didn't see it applying to yourself. Maybe you thought your story or your journey wasn't that interesting. Or maybe you have come to believe that unless you are famous or have a certain amount of followers online that you don't have something to say. Well if you think any of that then reading YOUR TURN by Dr. Tyra Manning is sure to change your mind.

The book not just shares her own story of finding peace and closure in regards to her husband. It also from beginning to end showcases that all of us have a story to tell: something we have experienced that can not just help us by sharing but be an encouragement for others, too. Written in a way that is part memoir and at times a pep talk, Dr. Manning is able to lay out how events big and small can impact us. Sometimes it takes writing it down or sharing to discover just how much.

This might be just what you need to get off the sidelines and start writing. Dr. Tyra Manning's YOUR TURN reminds us your story deserves to be told, so get about telling it. Not just for you, but for those who you might inspire.

Get YOUR TURN on Amazon.com

Author Karen Keilt: Overcoming the Past by Spreading Hope Today


by Cyrus Webb

Some events just seem like something out of a movie. One example of this is the inspiring story of Karen Keilt. She went from seemingly having it all to experiencing one of the darkest chapters of her life.

Through the experience came the book THE PARROT'S PERCH. It was 8 years ago that I was first told about Karen and her story through a mutual friend Andrea Chilcote, and after hearing some of what she had gone through I knew it was tailor-made for Conversations. Over the years we have stayed in touch, and she has become a regular guest on Conversations LIVE the radio show. In 2019 we met in person for the first time while in Chicago, and we discussed the journey and the re-release of her book THE PARROT'S PERCH by She Writes Press.


KAREN KEILT ON THE DECISION TO SHARE: 
"It came about in an interesting way. I had moved on with my life, not wanting to tell anyone. One day in yoga one of my teacher's themes was about forgiveness. What she said was that forgiveness was about letting go of the hope that your past could ever be different. That resonated with me for several days. I realized that though I had gone on with my life I hadn't forgiven and gotten past the events of my life. I knew I had to tell the story."

KAREN KEILT ON THE PAST:
"When I was 22 years old I was falsely arrested and imprisoned in Brazil where I grew up. Within a matter of hours my entire life was turned completely upside down. I was raped, my husband and I were beaten and tortured on a device called the Parrot's Perch."

KAREN KEILT ON HER STORY RESONATING:
"I believe the reason the story resonated with people is because torture and crime and corruption are extremely common in Brazil. Human rights violations are happening every day."

KAREN KEILT'S HOPE:
"I think that this matter is so important that people take a look at it. It needed to be told. I sent a copy to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and President Obama thanked me for the courage to tell my story. My hope is that something really positive can come from it.

"These events happened to me but don't define me. I consider myself very blessed that what happened did happen to me and that somehow I had the strength to come through it. There's a purpose for everything. I didn't know that I could come back from what happened. Now I have the strength and ability to help people to become more aware. I'm the one who found the voice to talk about it."

Karen's message for us is this: "I really believe that all of us have much more strength than we expect. There were many times when I didn't think I could get through this. My mom used to tell me 'This, too, shall pass.' That's important for all of us to know. We can get through whatever it is. "

To stay in touch with Karen and to get your own copy of her book The Parrot's Perch visit www.theparrotsperch.com. The book is also available on Amazon.com.


TAKE TEN with Marcella D. Moore, Author/Motivational Speaker

1. Marcella, glad to have you as part of our Take Ten series. I met you because of your contribution to the book 31 Ways of Influence which focuses on the Proverbs 31 woman. Share with our audience what it’s been like to see the response to the book.
I am grateful that this book has blessed so many women.  This is the benefit of collaboration; several women with different stories of hope and triumph.  I am honored that God chose to use my story of pain, disappointment, uncertainty and low self-esteem to encourage others and show them that they can live beyond their circumstances.

2. You have made a name for yourself in business as well as through your work as a motivational speaker and author. What has it been like to see how your gifts have benefited others?
It brings me great joy to know that my stories have brought so much life to others.  This is confirmation for me that I am walking and living out my purpose. 

3. In your chapter of the book 31 Ways of Influence you share about your own purpose and dealing with challenges. What was that like for you to show others, especially women, what they could overcome?
While experiencing my challenges I did not know that it was something I had to go through in order to be where I am today.  Every time I receive feedback and testimonies from women of how my story helped them it brings another level of confidence in my life and provides a clearer understanding of who God has called me to me.  Initially I did not get it; I felt abandoned and unloved but I now have clarity and that clarity helps me speak life to others, encouraging them and reminding them that they can overcome too.

4. Your faith has obviously guided you along the way, Marcella. When did you realize that you were created for a specific purpose?
I love this question.  When I was a little girl I knew that there was something special about me but I had no one to cultivate and help me understand what it was.  As I grew older I knew that I was supposed to encourage and help people.  I knew from attending church as a child that God called people to ministry.  In my mid-twenties I was told by a minister that God called me to teach.  While not clear about what that meant I continued to encourage others.  My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 and during her treatments she brought people to me who was diagnosed with state 3 and 4 cancer asking me to encourage and pray for them.  During that time I became 100% clear about my purpose.

5. Has it been easy for you to embrace your own greatness, especially when things don’t seem to be going your way?
I still second guess myself at times but every time I get in that space God sends someone to remind me that I helped them.  When I find myself facing challenges, I constantly remind myself that something great is at the end of the process.  I also use the tools that I teach to others and remind myself of whose I am.  While it can be overwhelming at times I am committed to the mission and to the woman God has called me to be.

6. One of the things you talk about is seeing ourselves as God sees us. That’s not always easy. What has helped you to do that?
This at times is one of my biggest challenges especially in this world of social media.  I think women rule when it comes to comparing ourselves to others.  When I start feeling unworthy and less than the woman God has called me to be, I quickly go to the scriptures and remind myself of whose I am.  I rehearse scriptures like Genesis 1:27 and Psalms 139:14. I also become intentional about spending time with people who are secure with their identity, I create affirmations that speak life to me and I pray. 

7. So many people get stuck, allowing either their past or others to define them and what’s possible. What has helped you not to get stuck in that trap?
I constantly tell myself that my past does not dictate my future but it creates lessons that I can use to empower me today.  I work hard not to become isolated, isolation can be a dangerous space.  I remember the tools that have helped me throughout my journey and I practice them and I remember my why.

8. I know 2020 is going to be an exciting year for you. What are some of the things we should be looking out for?
The last couple of years I’ve focused mainly on my non-profit organization, Motivate and Pray, Inc.  This year I will focus more on expanding my business, Marcella D. Moore, LLC.  My business goals include more collaborations, my own book and continuing to create empowerment events that encourage individuals to live a more productive life.

9. Thanks for your time, Marcella. Glad we had a chance to connect. How can our audience stay connected with you?
Thank you for this amazing opportunity to be a part of your platform.  Readers can connect with me on my website www.marcelladmoore.com, Facebook – Marcella D. Moore and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @celladmotivates.

10. Finally what advice do you have for readers about the importance of realizing who they were created to be?
It is mandatory that you understand who you were created to be.  When God released us in the earth from our mother’s womb we cried and I believe that cry was an announcement to the world that I AM HERE!  During that announcement purpose was released with us and when you understand that you have something special to offer the world you will cancel out the negative energies that try to keep you down.  God has not nor will He change His mind concerning the purpose He has for your life, when we believe this we can embrace the different processes of life and understand that they are necessary to fine-tune and develop us so that we can be effective in the earth.  You are amazing, you are special and you are God’s beloved.

[The J Spot with Shari Alyse] Your Flaws Are Beautiful

For years I tried to be perfect. I didn’t want people to know that below these shoulders was a body that didn’t fit my thinner face. I didn’t want people to know that I wore hair pieces and wigs. Somehow, I thought that by being perfect, I would be more loved.

The only ones that loved me more were the people who cared about that kind of thing. And the thing about those kind of people, they were ultimately the ones I didn’t want in my life and wouldn’t stick around through the tough stuff anyway.

The kicker about all of this, the more and more I hid who I really was and presented what I thought others wanted, I was the one that didn’t end up liking this person. I was the one who always felt discontent, inauthentic and a mere shadow of myself.

The beautiful thing about you and I are our imperfections, our flaws, quirks and crooked smiles. The beautiful thing about us is that we were created to be exactly who we are and each moment that we choose and allow ourselves to show up in all of our imperfect perfection, is truly when we begin living.

I know it can be tough when the world around you seems to demand more from you. When you find yourself unconsciously comparing yourself to the more successful person, the flatter abs, the ‘always’ vacationing couple, the seemingly ‘always' happy person and the ‘fill in the blank’ of anyone else or anything else you compare yourself to.

 I get it. It’s right in your face wherever you turn. But the important thing to note is that there is nobody that has it all together. There is nobody that is perfectly happy in every single area of their life - from health, relationships, career, looks, etc. We all have been dealt a hand that has been tailor made for us - a hand that helps us grow, expand, heal and love. A hand that simply wants you to begin to understand your worth and value and one that knows that only you can offer your kind of greatness.

So enough with this hiding! Enough with the sitting on the sidelines of your life! And enough with the dimming of your light! We need you. The world needs you. Your flaws are your strength and your personal power. Use them. Embrace them. Be proud of them. They are yours and not a soul on this planet will ever be able to carry them the way that you do.

And for the record, I now post full-body pictures online. I now have spoken very openly about my hair or rather the hair I bought and I even use the hashtag #wigs when I do. You see, the day that I decided to take a real good look within, was the day that I saw all of me. And all of me and all of you is pure and indescribable beauty.

Your flaws are unbelievably beautiful and unbelievably YOU.

Shari Alyse is the best selling author of the book, Love Yourself Happy. She is also a motivational speaker and self-love coach. If you’d like to work with Shari, you can find out more about her at www.ShariAlyse.com

Book Chat with Tina Siemens, author of SEMINOLE

by Cyrus Webb

In the book SEMINOLE author Tina Siemens not just a part of her family's history. The book is about the resilience of the human spirit and what we can achieve. We discuss the book and it's message in this Book Chat.

Tina, your book Seminole is a great mixture of family, history, and inspiration. What has it been like to see the response to it?
It’s been so inspiring to hear how people identify with the history of the story. They stop on the street to thank me for doing this book. Most of them remember the drama of that time period. After all, it was an international story in the late seventies and early eighties.

How does it feel to be a published author with a book available for the world to read?
Humbling. Out of the millions of books available on the market today, to receive a sales report each month showing folks from Europe, Canada, and Mexico are reading it, I get excited. And then to read the fantastic reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I can only say that this project has been blessed by God.

Share with our readers what inspired you to want to share your family story with the world?
I wanted my children and grandchildren to have a written account of their family’s history. It was a dream that they would have a tool to connect them to their roots. Mission accomplished!

We live in a world unfortunately in some ways that mirror the situations your family faced. How has looking at their example helped to keep you moving forward?
In so many cases, history repeats itself. This has inspired me to study how my ancestors reacted, the actions they took, and how they persevered. That gives me the strength to keep moving forward.

You and I met through another author, Tyra Manning. How has the support of your fellow authors help you on this new journey?
Tyra Manning has been an amazing inspiration to me. I would not have gotten in touch with you if it wasn’t for Mrs. Manning. I have also been overwhelmed with other authors who have been so supportive in pushing my story to be published in the media. It’s wonderful that other authors are paying it forward. I hope to do the same.

Have you always been a fan of history or did having such a rich history around you inspire your interest?
From a very young age, I remember loving to hear stories and asking questions of my elders. As I got older and had the opportunity to travel and learn about the journeys of generations before me, my interest in history was rekindled. Now, I can’t imagine my life without looking back on where we have all come from. In fact, there’s a bestselling book that has a great deal of history about our past. It’s called the Bible.

Your family’s faith and resilience are two things that definitely come through. How has their exercise of faith helped you through difficult times?
In Chapter One, I write about a guy named Dirk Willems. At the very moment, when he could have reached freedom, he turned around and saved the one who kept him captive. His display of faith was how I wanted the book to start out. It’s that important. Another example was my father standing in line at the border for the fifth day in a row, waiting for an immigration attorney who didn’t show. When the officer called him to the counter, my father, David Rempel, vowed to himself that he would tell the truth, even if it meant denied entry into the U.S. He was willing to go back to misery in poverty to avoid lying and entering the U.S. under false pretenses. His and Dirk Willems’ examples have given me the courage to rely on my faith in tough times.

Based on your experience, what advice do you have for others who are thinking about writing a book or sharing their own story?
Every person has a story to tell. There is someone out there who would be inspired by that story. I would encourage each person to journal or record their experiences now before they forget important details. Also, record your older relatives. I failed to get my mother’s story before she died, and I regret it every day. My book would have been even richer. Finally, consider that after you are gone from this world, your story will live on forever. Leave your legacy here on Earth for us to enjoy instead of taking it to heaven with you.

Thanks so much for the time! Let our readers know how they can stay connected with you.
They can reach me through my website, which is www.SeminoleTheBook.com or by email, which is SeminoleTheBook@gmail.com. I also have a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Author/Speaker Tiffany James: Enjoying the Blessings From Walking In Purpose

by Cyrus Webb

Having been introduced to motivational speaker Tiffany James through her book LIVING IN THE LAND OF I AM it is clear that not only does she have an inspiring story, but she is committed to helping others find their own personal fulfillment and happiness. Enjoy our conversation.

Tiffany, a big part of your work has had to do with words. When did you first realize the power of words for yourself? 
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved the beauty of words, however, I didn’t recognize the power they possessed until April of 2006 when one of my poems was entered in the International Poet Competition. After reciting a poem entitled “Life” that I wrote, several women came up to me afterwards expressing how my words encouraged them as they openly shared the trials they had been going through. I was beyond moved and although I did not win, I left Vegas with a greater prize-fulfillment!

When I returned to work and shared with my co-workers the poem I had chosen to recite, to my surprise I was asked if they could have a copy. That same night I printed copies of the poem out on a beautiful card stock and placed it in a very inexpensive frame. They next day I handed them out to those who requested a copy. It was humbling and to be honest it felt a little uncomfortable because they refused to take it without paying for it. This opened the eyes of my imagination to the possibility that my words had value and could change the world.

I love that in LIVING IN THE LAND OF I AM you are able to take us through the challenges or the valley all the way to the mountaintop of your journey. What was it like to reflect on where you started and where you are today? 
It was euphoric Cyrus!  It was also very liberating to finally be at a place in my life where I could tell my story while guilt and shame stood on the sidelines speechless because they no longer had the power to silence me. It also gave me the desire to share with others who may still be in the valley what I learned. 

I consider us all a work in progress, every day giving us the chance to become better. How has that outlook helped you to be forgiving of yourself? 
That’s a great question. In short, I would say understanding that I can’t change my past, but I have the power to choose to be a better version of myself with each new day.  The key is also learning from your past mistakes and not allow them to define you. I always say my mess has become my message for someone else who might be or have been where I was. 

Faith is a major aspect of your life. How has that kept you grounded as you have found success? 
Cyrus, my book, “Living in the Land of I Am,” is one version of my story, but there is another version of my story that has never been fully told in written form yet. With that being said, I know that what I’ve gone through nobody, but God could have brought me through those painful seasons of my life while transforming me into the woman I am today. I truly understand apart from Him I can’t do anything, nor do I want to. My faith reminds me that there is a purpose behind my passion. If I lose sight of that then I lose sight of who I am. My faith is the reason that I am fulfilled.

It’s one thing to know what is possible for yourself. Share with our audience what it’s been like to share it with others. It’s one thing for others to believe in you but it’s empowering and life changing when you realize and can embrace it for yourself.  Every time I share it with others it’s a confirmation that this is what I called to do. I am always in awe that when I step out and share with others how it empowers them to step out and own their truth of who they were created to be!

On social media you not only share your book but inspirational messages. How has social media helped you to spread the word about your work?
It has helped me encourage people that I know and those that I may never meet in person.  People from different states, race, pedigree, and beliefs. It is because of social media that my book release was such a huge success. It’s nothing like being able to send out a mass invite by the click of a button! Cyrus, social media has also been a great audition tool for me being a speaker/storyteller- many doors of opportunity have opened through people watching my video online.

Being unique is not always easy. You encourage readers of the book to rethink what they have been told about thinking outside the box and staying within boundaries. What has given you the courage to do what others haven’t been able to achieve?
Well, you mentioned it earlier: my Faith. Not only that, I surround myself around people who encourage me, as well as challenge me in my journey. Cyrus, I also challenge myself by constantly stepping out and trying new things. If a creative idea come to me, I try to move on it immediately (writing it down, talking about it with my inner circle, praying about, and moving on it in small ways with excitement even if I don’t have the big picture yet) before I start contemplating all the things I must do in order for it to be successful. When I begin contemplating & calculating that’s when I lose my creativity and if I’m not careful will talk myself out of it especially if it’s outside of the box.

Tiffany, I also mentioned your success earlier. When you look at the path, you’re on, how has your idea of success changed along the way?
I can be honest, like many people today, I thought being successful was all about who I was associated with or how much money I made. However, I learned that true success is truly about personal fulfillment. It’s about being true to who you are. There was a point in my life where I thought I had reached some level of success, but I was unfilled and unhappy. It was not until I started to embrace who I was created to be and the purpose that I was called to fulfill that I understood what success was. This truth started to spill over into every area of my life. Cyrus, I heard Oprah say in a speech that she was not special or better than anyone else, but that she simply answered the call of the dream. Again, we all have a dream and we must answer the call!

What should our readers be on the lookout for from you next? 
I have recently partnered with a Christian radio station – TruthFM to do a 1 to 2-minute encouraging word for the day every Friday.  You can find them at https://truthfmlive.com  or on Facebook TruthFM. The show airs at 6am-8am PST. They are recorded audio messages that I will also be sharing on my social media platform and website. There will be times that they will have me on during the show by phone to elaborate on the word I shared. I am also starting a live book reading of my new book, Living in the Land of I Am. It’s one of those new and creative ideas I mentioned earlier! Cyrus, I’m so open to the future and anything is possible.

Thanks again for the time. Excited about what 2020 has in store for you. How can our audience stay connected with you?
Thank you, Cyrus it has been an honor. My website is www.encouragingtouch.com , email : tiffany@encouragingtouch.com , Instagram : @ncouragetouch, Facebook: Tiffany James or Encouraging Touch Enterprises.

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Jacqueline "Lulu" Brown, Author/Speaker/Entrepreneur

by Cyrus Webb

Author and Speaker Jacqueline “Lulu” Brown is able to show by example what you are able to achieve when you don’t allow your life to be led by fear. I had a chance to interview her because of her part in an anthology 31 WAYS OF INFLUENCE, but her work goes well beyond that. In this chat we talk about what she has done, how she has been able to impact the lives of others and what’s to come. 


Lulu, you have literally been able to travel the world, sharing your gifts with individuals that you meet. What has it been like for you to reflect on what you have been able to achieve?
It’s been truly amazing to reflect and see how God enabled me to accelerate and literally “ascend” in Ministry which began with the role of Deaconess and Sunday School Teacher, and now, Licensed Minister, Reverend, Entrepreneurship as a Women’s Empowerment Consultant, and retired Information Technology Executive Leader. The learnings and experience working with other cultures across the world continues to blow my mind even now.

Ironically the two of us connected because of your contribution to the bestselling book 31 WAYS OF INFLUENCE: The Tools of the Proverb 31 Women to Successfully Impact Nations. How does it feel to be able to share your story and your testimony with people and know it’s benefiting them? 
It is exhilarating to share my story with others and my God inspired testimony. It was the many stories of others that motivated and inspired me over the years. It is an honor to now give to others through writing. Originally it felt a little scary to go from sharing my story during speaking engagements with a limited audience - too sharing my story with an unlimited number of people across the world.

Conversations’ theme for 2020 is “Embracing Your Greatness”. Tell us what it’s been like for you to embrace your God-given abilities.
Embracing my God-given abilities is a freedom that brings about liberation on a whole new level for me. If one can image, previously, a woman “dressed to the nine” and “boardroom ready”, successful by the secular definition, yet; this woman has chains around her wrists and ankles. Embracing God’s greatness in me and operating in my God-given gifts is now “KNOWING” what it means to operate from a “real” seat of power. 

In the chapters you contribute in the book 31 WAYS OF INFLUENCE you share the balancing act of success in your personal and professional life. Have you found that to be striking a chord with women reading the book?
Yes, I’ve received feedback on  striking that chord, however; what I’ve shared in 1:1 conversations takes things a little deeper. I’ve also learned that there really wasn’t a “balancing personal and professional life” as much as I thought it was at the time. I found that this “balancing thing” was more auto pilot of “getting it all done”. Today, there is no balance, rather, there is “INTEGRATION of it all. Balance made me feel that I had to do all things equally. Today, I prioritize, make better choices, and most importantly, I integrate all that I do across all aspects of my life. As an example, my Husband travels with me everywhere I go. He is integrated into all aspects of what I do. While he might see himself as a supporter, I see him as a partner in ministry and my business.

Transparency is another facet you discuss in the book. What has that conversation been like for you to have with others about being authentic in their dealings in life?
The conversation around transparency and being authentic is very difficult for those that are not ready to have the “REAL CONVERSATION”. I’ve found that many women are offended by the slightest hint that they might not be living in total authenticity. Today’s world and “the world’s system” can keep us in a place of “superficiality”. A person can see everyone else’s mask, yet, they don’t see their own mask. For those women that are ready to experience their “highest self” and “ascend” to a place far beyond their current success, the conversation of authenticity is extremely easy. These women are ready to come out of the “matrix”. They are willing to do the work around “awakening”, dig deep into “self-discovery”, take the “transformational healing journey”, and “ascend”.

For those who are just discovering your work when did you realize that you were given a gift that was meant to share? 
I knew I was meant for something major from the age of five (5); I didn’t know exactly what however. I’ve always known that I was different. My full name is Jacqueline “Lulu”, but I’m fondly known as “Lulu”. I was named Lulu after the endearing and mischievous cartoon character, Little Lulu. For those discovering my work it is important to know that I didn’t arrive to this place without a lot of lessons learned; many of those lessons almost took my life. I’m not a fan of “pimping my pain”, therefore; I keep the focus on being victorious. I’m never a victim. The glory is in the victory. Accepting accountability for all my experiences both good and bad is one of many keys to success.

Lulu, fear is one of those things we talk a lot about, because it seems to be one of the things that keeps people from moving forward. How have you not allowed yourself to be paralyzed by fear in your life?
How I don’t allow fear to paralyze me is to stay true to myself and make sure that the mask I once wore is destroyed forever. And, when the mask is presented back to me by others, well let’s just say, I know where to tell folks to go with that mask. In the beginning I allowed fear to keep me from breaking free of those chains I spoke about because fear was my chain.

On the radio show Conversations LIVE you discussed your faith and the role it is has played in getting you where you are. What do you want people of faith to realize, though, about the struggle they still have to face when it comes to achieving their purpose? 
The most critical thing to remember is that “to whom much is given, much is required”. It takes more than operating in one’s greatness, gifts, and brilliance. It takes standing the tests, perseverance, and showing up in excellence at all times, including when we don’t feel like it. Everyone will not agree with the path that God gives us as individuals. We must be willing to accept the calling when it is not a “popular” message or popular thing to do at the time. Finally, know the difference between the voice of flesh and the voice of God. This is achieved with fasting, much prayer, and lots of meditation.

You have a busy 2020 planned. Tell our audience some of what you are excited about. 
I’m honored that I am hosting a twice weekly segment on iWorship96 Internet radio Mondays and Fridays, 10:00 A.M EST. January started Revolution Ascension's "Your Ascension” Academy. The Academy is a 3-month program where participants tap into their DIVINE FEMININE SELF, take the reigns of their life and walk on a path of ASCENSION. And, let’s make this clear: Revolution Ascension is not “just another women’s support movement.” Clients walk away with insightful, thought-provoking solutions that they can implement into their daily lives with ease and grace. The program repeats 4 times during the year. 

Thanks so much for the time, Lulu. How can our audience stay connected with you?
Thank you for the opportunity to have this interview and the audience can connect with me on Facebook www.facebook.com/revolutionascension on the web at www.revolutionascension.com or email at jacquelinelulu@revolutionascension.com.

TAKE TEN with author Doris H. Dancy

by Cyrus Webb

1. Doris, you and I have had a great chat on Conversations LIVE the radio show, so I am glad we get a chance to catch up here.  Let’s talk about the reflection first. What has it been like for you to write your books and to see the way that readers are able to relate to them?
Writing my novels has been one of those unexpected joys…the joy that comes with the unpredictability of life.  I have spent my career teaching the skill of writing, but one day God whispered in my ear that He wanted me to embark on this awesome journey of sharing my special messages with the world through Christian Romance…and what a journey it has been.  Often, my readers bring tears to my eyes when they tell me how much my messages have made a positive change in their lives.  One young man said to me, “Mrs. Dancy, don’t tell my boys that I read a romance novel, but I loved it, and I learned a lot of important things that I’ll never forget.  Don’t stop writing and helping us learn to value one another.” For me, having this kind of impact on the lives of so many has been invaluable.

2. Did you know when you began the journey that you wanted to entertain readers as well as inspire them?
Yes. As a lifelong educator, I have always wanted to inspire; however, for me, entertainment was secondary. My goal in life has been to enlighten … to help others see the best path for them to take and to encourage them.  I enjoy helping people become the best that they can be.  That’s the teacher in me.  In my Christian novels, I don’t preach, but through the twists and turns of events, I hope my readers understand the value of overcoming the many obstacles that life puts in our path no matter how difficult they may seem at their inception. In my writing, I consistently demonstrate how available God is and how He never leaves or forsakes when we trust Him.

3.Your characters have always been so real. What has it been like for you to travel the world with them and to see the world through their eyes?
Traveling the world with my characters and seeing the world through their eyes has been intriguing, incredible, and life changing. I’ve felt their pain, learned their inner secrets, enjoyed their triumphs, accepted their weaknesses, and marveled at their outstanding walk through a maze to find redemption.  It’s always fascinating for me to view the unfolding of characters, and watch them become “real” as they reveal their voices, set their tones, create their moods and dive into the action that brings them to authentic life.  When I finally completed my second novel, Shattered Pieces, I had no idea where that end would lead me until I heard my character, Summer, say, “I have a story to tell.”  …and what a story she tells!   She cautiously reveals why she allowed herself to be abused by the man she claimed to love and why she felt such a strong desire never to forgive so many people in her past.  Writing her truth was amazing.  It was like watching the layers of her life unfold, displaying a story so many women in our world never find the strength to tell.

4. Recently you have been promoting the book ALL OTHER GROUND. Tell us about what inspired it?
Several things inspired this novel… Women for one!  So many women who have been strong, but weak against the men who claimed to love them inspired this novel.  Betrayal inspired it.  Understanding the devastation of betrayal and the sense of loss that can take a lifetime to overcome inspired All Other Ground.  So many people who refuse to forgive inspired it.  I wanted to give the world a sense of how important it is to forgive if you want to lift the weight from your own shoulders and live your best life.  That idea is what inspired, Summer, my protagonist.  Women in my family, young high school girls I have taught, and just women I have met along the way have some heartfelt stories to tell.

While there are some differences, they all seem to have very similar broken threads refusing to be strong enough to mend them back together again.  I wanted to give these women a pathway to mend the broken heart.  Alcohol cannot mend it. Sex cannot mend it, and  drugs won’t do it either.  I believe a close relationship with God is the Way, but “ALL OTHER GROUND is sinking sand.”

5. Social media, Doris, is one of the ways you have been able to share the message of your books. It’s the way that you and I were introduced. How has it helped you to connect with readers?
I think allowing my audience to see the real me has been the way I have connected with my readers.  I share what makes me happy, what makes me sad, the events of my life, and I participate in their lives as well.  One of the things I love about Facebook and Instagram is being able to connect with friends far and wide…just staying in touch.  A word or two now and then goes a long way to create a smile, and I love seeing their smiles.

6. Being an author, putting your work out there, is not an easy thing. I’m sure aspiring authors will want to know how you have gotten over the fear?
For me, it was prayer…knowing that this is the plan that God has for me gave me that blessed assurance that I was not alone.  I did not have to do this thing by myself.  Also, I remember listening to a Kirk Franklin song entitled  “Hello Fear” and I can honestly say that looking closely at the words to that song helped me throw caution to the wind. It helped to build my faith that I could do more than teach the skill; I could make an additional positive impact on the world by sharing powerful messages.  I think you just have to get to the point where you believe in yourself and believe you have something very important to say, and then be determined to say it.

7. It’s hard to choose which one of your children is the favorite, right? Out of the books you have released, though, is there one that has really felt extremely close to you?
This is a VERY HARD question.  I love all three of my novels because of their powerful messages: the devastation of betrayal, the self destruction of failing to forgive, as well as the result of having children before one might be ready to take on the awesome responsibilities children demand. However, I choose All Other Ground because I believe that its message ties all of the others together.  In All Other Ground, youthful rebellion creates some devastating events that just didn’t have to be.  When I speak with young people about this novel, I try to help them realize how important it is to hold on tightly to their own goals and dreams…never to allow anyone the power to destroy what they want for themselves. This theme reminds me of Langston Hughes’ poem, What Happens to A Dream Deferred.”  His imagery is profound because it depicts the hopelessness and the agony of defeat that results in relinquishing the desires we have for ourselves.

All Other Ground places this theme at center stage and it is the message that encompasses each of the three novels: sex is not a toy, children resulting from careless behavior are not toys, and raising them is no easy task.  I want kids to understand that there is a time for everything, and their youth is a time to go after dreams and goals… to value themselves enough to be a little selfish about what they are willing to sacrifice.  I try to encourage them to be careful with infatuation, go after their dreams with passion, and built a life on solid ground.  For these reasons, I choose my novel All Other Ground as my favorite.

8. Success is such a personal thing. I’m curious how your idea of success in your writing career has evolved from the time you started. 
Success is a funny word.  It all depends on how you view it.  For me, I have had a very successful life as an educator where I never stopped writing or teaching writing.  From childhood, writing has always been my passion.  It is what inspires me, motivates me, and creates that thing that you can’t stop no matter what.  My success comes when I feel that I have done my best, and I’m willing to share my ideas with the world.  If people enjoy what I write, I’m elated.  If I enjoy what I write and believe in its truth, I am elated and satisfied.  That has been my measure of success from my childhood to this very day.

9. Any advice you would give to those looking to get started on their own literary journey?
Yes.  Think BEFORE you write. Write what you know.  Research things that you need to verify.  Write often and never be afraid to share your work. TALK about your writing with someone you trust and will give you an HONEST opinion.  That is the only thing that will really help you improve.  Never hear that this is something you cannot do, and never publish without first getting an editor.

10. Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us, Doris. How can our audience stay connected with you?
My email is ddancy.pen2paper@yahoo.com
My website is www.dorishdancy.com
Instagram : instagram@dorishdancy
Facebook: @dorishdancy

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Teresa A. Smith, Author/Motivational Speaker/Media Personality

by Cyrus Webb

Having seen the amazing work she has done over the past two years there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Teresa A. Smith or Dr. TAS as she has become known is a warrior. 

She's an author, motivational speaker, media personality and an individual that I am glad to call not just a client but a friend. 2020 is already a big year for her, with her own radio segment and new books in the works. This chat takes you back to the beginning. 

Hello, Teresa. Thanks so much for your time. Your book STRONGER is so inspiring and full of lessons I think readers from all walks of life can learn from. How does it feel to see the response?
It is humbling. As an author and motivational speaker, I work diligently to develop my message in a style that is intriguing and thought-provoking. When readers say my story is theirs and thank me for sharing, it’s confirmation I completed the task correctly.

 You are so candid about your life and challenges in the book. Was that an easy decision to make?
In STRONGER, it was easy to be transparent about my truth. I learned early in life not to misrepresent facts so that others are comfortable with their reality. Being candid is a necessary part of my healing.

 You have shown through your own life that we can be stronger than our circumstances, however, fear stops so many. You have a saying about fear I think readers will appreciate. Share that with us, please.
Fear is a normal emotional response to a perceived threat to one’s well-being. When experienced, we can either run away or fight. To fight for my well-being, I changed my perspective of fear to Face Everything And Rise.

 You definitely are a survivor, Teresa. What gave you the strength to press forward in life?
I found my personal mantra in God and the knowledge that my birth and following life events did not occur by coincidence. My existence is part of a broader matrix which positively intertwines my life with other people.

Not only are you an author and motivational speaker, you are also an entrepreneur. Talk with us about what it’s been like to build your own brand.
I spent much of my career working in human services and am known as a helper. As an entrepreneur, my brand focuses on assisting others with living their best life whether it’s working to repair credit, promoting medical care, or helping those with chronic pain. When I reflect on my brand, I realize giving back to others has always been at the core of my being.

 Our self-talk is so important. You address that in Stronger. Why do we have to be careful what we spoke over others and ourselves?
Self-talk is an intrinsic part of the self-fulfilling prophecy, the physical manifestation of our expectations. Self-talk is our internal dialogue usually driven by our ideas, emotions, and identity. When negative views dominate discussions about self or other individuals, we are less likely to be effective. To combat negative assumptions, we have to engage in productive exchanges with self and other people, so our beliefs support growth.

Your faith and belief in God definitely come through in the book. How has it helped you in moving forward in life?
My faith and trust in God continue in everything. My relationship with God provides reassurance that I can’t find in a man. When I might falter, God always sends a reader or DRTASLIVEAT9 listener who’ll share what my work has meant to them.

When people finish Stronger what do you hope they are able to see about what’s possible for them?
When people finish Stronger, I hope they understand challenges are normal and often bring life lessons. Further, I hope it motivates them to own their truth and devise a plan to reach their goals. I am a living example that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

 Thanks again for your time. How can our readers stay connected with you and get STRONGER for themselves?
Thank you for a wonderful interview! Readers can connect with me via the following:
Website:  www.askdrtas.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/drtastronger/
Tune into DRTASLIVEAT9 live show on Facebook Monday-Friday; replays are on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and Youtube
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DrTeresaSmith
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/drteresasmith/

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Shamay Edmonds, author of DEAR S.I.S.

Shamay, it’s great to have connected with you this year.   What has it been like for you to see the response to your book DEAR S.I.S. (Screaming In Silence)?
It has and still is an amazing experience. I knew God was going to make it something big, but I didn’t know how many were screaming and still are screaming in silence.

You are an author and a motivational speaker, using your platform to share your own story and that of others. When did you realize that you had a story you wanted to share?
I’ve always known God was going to give me a platform to encourage and inspire others. Since I was a child I was the "go to” person to help others through their problems, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I felt numb that I knew God wanted me to share my story bit by bit.

Being vulnerable is sometimes seen as a weakness. You have really shown it to be a strength. How did you get over the fear of what others would think of you by sharing your truth? 
Fear has had a lot of control over me in my school age days, however, as I became a mother of five I decided I was going to draw complete strength from God. I completely stopped predicting my steps off of others' reactions when I began to be confident in why God called me to be. Owning your truth and appreciating what it brings out of it for you is such a beautiful love story. 

DEAR S.I.S. reminds us that although we might not see what others are going through all
 of us are dealing with something. Tell us about what it’s been like for you to hear from readers. It has been so remarkable to hear readers saying things like “Thanks for being my voice,” “This book has truly giving me a chance to start to own my closet” and “This book has begun to knock down the layers.” It’s one thing to be confident in your story and mission, but it’s a completely different yet fulfilling emotion to see how it effects others.

I mentioned that you are also a motivational speaker. What has that been like for you to be out front and center with your message? 
It has been a very personal yet phenomenal experience. I have never had an issue with being vulnerable in my truth. It was just about sharing ALL of that truth and to be able to speak to others using how I overcame to show them they can too. It is so heart warming and fulfilling 

You really are using video well when it comes to sharing your message. What has that been like for you to see in real-time how others are benefiting from it?
It has been such a learning and emotional experience to see in real time how people really are screaming in silence and just need help finding their voice.

That brings up social media. You really seem to like Instagram and Facebook. How did you make the decision as to how you were going to use them in building your brand?
Yes I do indeed enjoy those platforms, because I know people all over need to hear about hope, inspiration, and beautiful masterpieces build in brokenness.

You and I met through a mutual friend. That means that word of mouth has been important for you. What has that been like to see the support of others when it comes to what you are doing? To get sincere support means so much. Again not ever looking for man's approval, because God has already approved me. To see someone taking hold of your vision and wanting to support you to carry it out because they know how impactful it is, leaves me speechless.

Can you give us an idea of what you are looking forward to as the year goes on?
Absolutely. I have two more parts to Screaming In Silence, which a lot of my followers are waiting for them. Dear Church will be covering church hurt and the silent screams, and the last one is “Dear me… NO MORE SCREAMING IN SILENCE” which will be more of my story. Ultimately I will be turning a few of the stories into short films and one into a movie. My”Dear Sis You Win” will be a movement that touches everywhere with hope and inspiration.

What advice do you have for others who believe they have a story to share and need that little push? 
Don’t let it be in vain. EVERYTHING you go through is for a reason Never doubt yourself and push it until you see what you pray for. We all have stories, but the ones that get written are the ones we choose to write. Make the choice to pursue what ever it is you want. Philippians 4:6 says 'Don’t  worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.' Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
‭‭‬‬‬‬
Thanks again for the time, Shamay. How can our readers stay connected with you and of course get the book?
My platforms consist of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All are “Dear Sis You Win”.
My book you can get off of my site www.dearsisyouwin.com and on Amazon, Kindle, iBook, and Nook.

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Teal Piper, Wrestler


by Cyrus Webb

Strong. Resilient. Determined. Unstoppable.

These words and so many more can be used to describe the amazing women I have had the honor to recognize in this issue of Conversations, and they definitely fit the one and only Teal Piper.

I had a chance to talk with Teal before her very first live event in 2019. It was a wide-ranging conversation talking about her own life in professional wrestling, what it’s like for her to build her own legacy and the support from her community.

What an exciting time this is for you Teal. Talk to us about the experience since you announced you were going to begin your own wrestling journey.
As soon as I said I wanted to get into wrestling, I knew it would be very fast and you know, you just kind of get thrown into everything. I think that's part of why I waited so long to say anything. It’s surreal. I'm enjoying it because it's something that I can do and I'm kind of relearning a part of my dad's life. But instead of me standing outside of the ring, I'm in it and I kind of get a little piece of what he did all those years. And so for me it’s a lot about as it turns out I actually like doing it.

One thing that you said in an interview recently that really struck me that I hope our audience gets. I think it happens to anyone who might be involved in what's considered the family business, right? No matter what it might be, there are always going to be comparisons. But you really talked a lot in this one interview about being able to be yourself. How important was that for you? I mean you were entering an arena literally that your father was known for. How important was it for you to let people know that you are going to be just you?
For me, that's one of the most important things, because I've said it time and again, there's never going to be another Rowdy Roddy Piper. I'm not that. I will not be that person. However, I do want to continue the family legacy, and I think that's also a part of why I waited so long to get into wrestling as it helped me kind of find my own identity with movies and music and entertainment and myself. I feel like I have my own identity that I can bring into the ring now. And hopefully as I'm performing and going along and having matches and everything, people will start to identify me more as my own, my own person. There’s no longevity in being Rowdy Roddy Piper's kid as a career. I am focusing very hard on bringing my own new things to the ring.

In another interview, Teal, you talked about your father and women, and what he would have thought about women wrestling. WOW didn’t exist in his time, but what is that like for you to think of being a part of a platform that welcomes women.
I've noticed with WOW (Women of Wrestling) when I watched their first season, they cut to the audience. I saw so many young girls just like in awe at what they're watching and so engaged in these matches. I thought, “Wow! This is definitely something I want to be a part of.” I have a lot of nieces, and I've always wanted to be a positive role model to the younger generations coming up and now in wrestling--being a girl—this is the time. Women are killing it across the industry right now, and it's a movement that I didn't want to miss out on. I wanted to be a part of it and help it grow.

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Astrid Martinez, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist


by Cyrus Webb

If you want to be reminded of what’s possible then look no further than Astrid Martinez. She is someone I have had the pleasure to follow professionally, and there is no doubt she is a force to be reckoned with. In 2019 her hard work in journalism and the community were recognized when she was chosen as one of the 50 Most Influential Latinos in Georgia. But that only tells part of the story. She is not just a trailblazer in one state or community. She is making a difference around the world just by embracing who she is.
This conversation is sure to inspire not just other Women Warriors but all of us to dream bigger and never let go of our God-given gifts.

Astrid, thank you so much for the time. I want to begin our conversation with the honor. What was it like for you to find out that you were being recognized as one of the 50 most influential Latinos in Georgia?
It sounds cliché, but I was definitely in shock. I was in awe, because I didn't even know that people were talking about me in this way. I move about in the community, I work, I keep my head down, and I made sure that my stories are positive.  When this happened it was a lot of joy. My heart literally felt like it was extending. It comes from the community, so it means a lot to me.

You are an Emmy award-winning journalist. That in itself is an amazing feat, but also the passion. I noticed even when I was prepping for this segment watching some of the clips of your program it's very obvious that you're passionate about what you do, that you love what you do. Did this seem like a natural fit for you when it came to journalism?
I first started in TV. I've always loved media. 10 years ago when I started my career I was told you need to cover hard news. I learned to love regular hard news, and I was happy with that. But once I got to Atlanta and I positioned myself in a place where I could actually do my heart's desire and still do it professionally and ethically, that's when I started to flourish. And that's when I actually started to see myself happy, going to work every day, having more passion than when I first started. So it's worked out where whatever categories they were trying to put me in, I was able to break out of all of that, and finally be in a place where I am passionate about what I do and I can tell good stories. And just because they're entertainment doesn't mean they're fluff.

On social media you have been able to leave some great reflection pieces. On September 6th (2019) on Twitter you wrote this about the honor: ‘My heart is currently fluttering and expanding with love and gratefulness.’ Do you think that gratefulness that you have for what you do is also what has contributed to the longevity of this?
I think it shows when you're authentic, and when you're happy and operate from a place of gratitude the Universe gives back to you so much more. That's my mantra: operating from a place of gratitude, because all the energy that you put out into the world comes back.
I was born in Columbia, South America, and it was a time during a lot of political and social unrest and civil unrest.  The way that I would escape my reality would be to watch movies or listen to music from the US, so images are powerful. When I came to the US some of those images didn't align. They portrayed Latinos or black people in a certain way.  I realized how much power the media has. So even though it's just entertainment, those that are on that side of our industry really can tell a huge story to the rest of the world. We're not curing cancer, but we're telling big stories, and we have to be responsible in the narrative.

We talk a lot about especially what's happening in Atlanta. It has really made itself a force when it comes to entertainment, especially when it comes to television and film. What has it been like for you to kind of be literally in the heart of this as it's happening?
You know how when Tyler Perry first started his movie studios, there's only a few people that can say, you know, I was with him from the beginning. Now anyone who tries to get into work with him, he already has his team established. So that's how I feel when it comes to the entertainment world.  I started my segment when there was no other segment here. We're kind of pioneering this, and I just feel so great to be here from the beginning. We did this, and stars now come here to our segments because they know they have to stop here. So it's just, it's nice to know that we've been here doing this from the beginning, starting and creating something and it'll be wonderful to see, you know, once I'm done doing media, who are the next journalists that are going to take over and what they do with a segment or with the entertainment venues here.

One of the wow moments you’ve enjoyed was being able to interview Nipsey Hussle. What was that like for you to kind of reflect on?
It's crazy, because as soon as you brought up his name I got goose bumps, and I get it every time I mention him. I had heard about Nipsey Hussle about two, three years ago, so I was relatively new to him, but I knew that the work he was doing in the community was impactful and that spoke volumes. So when I went to the Grammy's, and I interviewed him, he had a demeanor about him that he was something special and I felt just so honored that he talked to me. He was so humble. He was just very gracious and polite, and he was with his family. I knew, for me, I was in the presence of greatness.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Linda Diane Wattley, author of A LOVE STORY TO REMEMBER


Linda, congratulations on another great read with A LOVE STORY TO REMEMBER. Before we get into that let’s catch our readers up on your career. You have written both fiction and non-fiction titles, all covering a variety of topics. What has it been like for you to reflect on your writing career?
It has been one of those experiences in life that lets you know you are not alone.  When I wrote my first Novel, I had no ideal I was authoring a book.  The amazing way words came from the unseen to being seen was phenomenal.  It made me realize we are not alone in the world.  To be an author is an honor and a joy because I know it was something God wanted me to do. 

Have you always known that storytelling was going to be your way to share messages with the world?
No, I had no ideal storytelling would become a way of sharing messages with others.  But before I became an author, people would always share their painful feelings and experiences with me.  For some reason, I always seem to use the right words to make them feel better; so when storytelling found its way into my life it was easy and natural for me to want to author books that talks to the hearts and souls of others.   

When we first met you were discussing the topic of PTSD in your work. That continues to be one of the topics you cover, even in the new book. Why is it so important for you to discuss the impact that PTSD can have on the individual and those around them?
It is important to me to bring to the forefront the impact PTSD have on individuals and those around them because I feel if people realize how manageable and normal it is, then they can embrace one another better knowing healthy relationships are possible.  PTSD diagnosed and not diagnosed is a normal reaction to trauma.  Once we understand it is the body’s attempt to be in real time while it struggles with past-time engraved experiences that have not died.  The key is loving someone enough to know and learn the triggers that fuel the emotional and mental storage of the memories.  Also, it is so important that it is realized PTSD is not just a soldier experience, anyone can have it even children.

I’ve gathered over the years of interviewing you on Conversations LIVE the radio show that a lot of yourself and your experiences find themselves in your books. Is that part of your own therapy? 
It has been part of my therapy even though I did not realize it in the beginning.  When I wrote my first novel, it came into existence after my reading a book by Dr. Phil, ‘Self Matters.’  I remember being angered by that book for unknown reasons.  After reading his book, I was at work and suddenly began typing what I eventually learned a story that kept getting longer and longer.  Then I began to see, characters were me revealing buried experiences feelings I didn’t know I had.  From that day on, I went from hiding to transparent in revealing truth.  It was an awesome experience.

What is it like for you to see how something you have written has affected those reading it?
Knowing my writing affected my readers is such a humbling experience because I know it is the spirit in me that talks to them.  More than anything, I want readers to get to a better place within so that they can enjoy the life they create for themselves in an astounding way.  We can enjoy life until we inner wounds are healed and released.

That brings us back to A LOVE STORY TO REMEMBER. You have told me that this book means a lot to you. What led you to write this particular book?
This book to me, was always in the makings since the first day I began writing stories. But first I had to grow up, heal and let go of my past unjust experiences before I could author a book about love.  I had to understand the undiagnosed little girl with PTSD had become a woman diagnosed with PTSD, both wanted to be loved and give love.  So, when I finally qualified to write a deep, spirited, and entertaining book, A LOVE STORY TO REMEMBER was created.

Lots of themes in this one: dealing with love, loss, self-discovery. Was it difficult for you to go through this journey along with the main character Leona Tillard?
I can honestly say yes but in dimensional ways like recapturing some of Leona’s experiences as a child was heart wrenching knowing not only were these my experiences but the experiences of so many innocent children.  Then there were the realities of the sufferings her mother experienced that made me understand my mother so much better over the years.  The high experiences during her time as a soldier reminded me of the amazing people I loved and loved me when I was in the service was bittersweet.  A LOVE STORY TO REMEMBER reminded me that God was with me the moment I was born and for sure God is with me now.

You and I discussed on the radio show how sometimes some saw Leona’s greatness more than she did. What do you want readers to know about their own value and how they should realize about their worth?
Because Leona’s childhood experiences forced her into facing life as though she was invisible, she did not know her self-value.  In time she learns, you must know your own value because to depend on others to reveal it for you can be dangerous or a waste of your time living.  I tell people, you are the first child you will ever have, protect this child making sure only the best is in his/her space.  You are responsible for your own happiness.

Faith is a huge part of the new book and your life. How has your faith helped you to get over challenges?
That question at once put a smile on my face, because I so love and believe in God.  I learned in the most painful moment in my life, God is closer than breathing.  My husband was in a car accident.  As I was approaching the entrance way to the hospital, I looked up to the sky and asked God to not take my husband, God’s response came before I had closed my lips.  He said:  Pray for something else, I already have.”  That moment right there changed me, as painful as that moment was, I came to realize God is closer than breathing, I could never be alone.  From that time on, I trust God with my life and learned His guidance is amazing.

You’ve already done so much.  What should our readers be expecting from you next?
I’m not sure what is up for me right now, but I feel God knows.  Can’t wait to see!

Thanks so much for the time, Linda. How can our readers stay connected with you?
Thank you Cyrus for the time also.  I can be reached on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lindadianewattley/, Twitter, www.twitter.com/universalove also my email:  universalove26@yahoo.com.

ENTERTAINMENT SPOTLIGHT: Danitza, Model


Danitza, what a year you are having: attending your first Grammy Awards and enjoying lots of modeling opportunities. What has it been like to see your dreams coming true?
It has been an absolute blessing. I am very fortunate to have been so accepted in an industry where most think it is very critical. However, in my experience the modeling industry is very protective and accepting. We become like family and that is always nice to have especially if you anyone is going through anything and need a shoulder to lean on.  Having family, friends, and fans supporting you makes it much easier to keep pushing for your goals and dreams.

The Grammys was one of my big highlights of the year and wearing an amazing $8000 dress designed by the international designer Odalys Marino. I also was able to work with Celebrity Makeup Artist Marissa Tomaino the daughter of Rick Harrison (Pawn Stars) and an award-winning competitive hair stylist Angelica Fernandez. I was also able to model in so many shows this year with very talented designers such as Pamela Roehm (Roehm Couture), DeJohnea Thorpe (DeJohnea Bianca), Jacka Saldana (Jacka Couture), Vanessa Froehling (Froehling Couture), Spanx, and so many others. Some of my favorite shows have been with Rougue Productions, Tampa Bay Fashion Week, St Pete Fashion Week (Donna Crowley - Lux Entertainment), Orlando International Fashion Week (Fierce Entertainment). I also was published in my first pinup coffee table book that was shot in an antique shop in Florida with Franco Ortiz as well as two pinup magazines.

It has been an honor to have met these talented people and so many more as they see my light and push me. Some even had me as their first plus size model as they recognize the industry has a need for exclusivity.

We had an opportunity to talk on Conversations LIVE the radio show about your journey. Tell our readers, though, what led you to modeling.
I started out several years ago very depressed and self-conscious due to going through a divorce and a husband not paying attention to me. I was asked to audition for a pinup calendar and decided to do it to get his attention. I enjoyed it and it made me feel a bit more confident and not ashamed of my body. After that I started doing more shoots just for myself. Then people started recognizing my talent and playfulness/energy in front of the camera. I started getting asked to do more shoots and eventually events and it all started to grow from there. 

I have had times I didn’t feel as great with my work and even wanted to give up. However, I started gaining a following of woman (models and non-models) who would message me telling me how much they loved following my work as it gave them courage to do things, they never thought they ever could. I would take the time to write them back and give them encouraging words to promote them. From there it grew, and I realized I had become a role model to so many other women. My platform is promoting woman of all sizes so they know they can be beautiful inside and out no matter their size, color, religion, creed etc. This is what keeps me going.

Our mutual friend, recording artist MLN, introduced us. How important has it been for you to surround yourself with people who keep you motivated as well as push you?
I feel it is always good to have people surrounding you who help encourage and lift you up. Even as a role model you can have days you feel not good enough or down on your spirits. Sometimes you need that extra push to keep going. I have been fortunate enough to know MLN since middle school growing up in a small town where everything revolves around football. So we made it a goal to show others you can do more than that. I have also been fortunate to have met so many amazing woman (and men) who have been successful in their lives. I know many people who have tried and failed at things and kept going. They are intelligent and wise and help give you lots of advice and encouragement. I would always recommend to anyone looking at trying to be successful in life to surround yourself with successful people who can mentor you and keep you on track.

Fear is one of the things that stops so many. How have you not allowed it to deter you?
Fear can definitely hinder a person from the smallest of things all the way up to life changing events. It all goes back to keeping yourself surrounded by successful people. Also having a good network of family, friends, and fans to help encourage you and keep pushing you to do better in life. In modeling or any business, hobby, etc there can be times that not everything will be perfect, but the show must go on as they say. I am a bit of a perfectionist so when things are not perfect it creates fear and anxiety in me. Someone once told me to sit back and ask yourself, “Did you do the best you can do?” If the answer is yes, then there is nothing more you can do other than know you tried and that is what matters.

Outside of your own success you have also been able to inspire others. How does that feel?
Yes, seeing as many women were starting to follow me, I realized I had become a role model and inspiration to many others. With my platform being “Promoting Women of all sizes.” I have had newer models reach out to me for advice as well as seasoned models who just need words of encouragement to keep going. I have had woman write to me saying that they saw my courage to get out there a s a plus size model and it encouraged them to try things they never thought they ever could such as sky diving, doing a boudoir shoot for a wedding, to just simple things. 

Knowing you are an inspiration and role model can be frazzling but rewarding. I do not see myself as a popular or a famous person but having others approach you for photos with them or advice is the best feeling.

What should our readers be on the look out for from you this year?
The Grammys was one of my big highlights of the year. I just shot the cover of Prolific Quarterly Magazine with their inspiring team. The magazine edition is set to be released the first week of March. I also have several other magazine shoots scheduled for the year and many more fashion shows. I post upcoming shows and events online so my fans can follow what is coming up.

Thanks again for the time. How can we stay connected with you?
My fans can follow me on Facebook at Danitza Snow Zar or Instagram Danitza_SnowZar. I do take the time to write back to people if they reach out to me.