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Sunday, April 11, 2021

COLUMBUS SHORT: Living (and Loving) Life on His Own Terms

by Cyrus Webb

There is nothing like living a life of purpose. 

For Columbus Short*,  he has had the privilege of living many lives, both in front and behind the camera, doing work that he loves and building a fan-base around the world in the process. A true renaissance man, he is an accomplished actor, producer, choreographer and recording artist. In 2020 he added another title to his list of accomplishments: that of author. His book SHORT STORIES: The Autobiography of Columbus Short allows him to tell his story in his own words and on his own terms. 

We discussed the journey that led to where he is today in this fascinating conversation. 

Columbus, thank you for the time. One of the big takeaways for me is how through the book people really get to know who you are. Have you found that to be the thing that people who even think they know Columbus Short is that this book gives them a whole different view.

Absolutely. And that was the original reason for doing the book. I kept my life private as possible, being an old Hollywood kind of guy where I still believe in mystique. The less they know about me, the more they'll believe whatever characters I'm playing. They would dive into the roles that I play. What I think tends to happen now in Hollywood and the world is we're so inside everybody's world. We know everything about people. The public wants to know everything: when you're dating, when you're pregnant, etc. So when you see them in a movie, you're kind of seeing just that person. You're not seeing the character that they're portraying.

I just felt like for all of my career I did such a good job of that until, you know, headlines kind of created a narrative, and that was all they got. That's what they were left with. This book was not only a process of healing, it was also Columbus the man writing for Columbus the child that went through a lot. 

It kind of spoke to everything. It lends to that I am human, that I am fallible... I am all of the things that people kind of think actors or people in the limelight or celebrities aren't, you know?

 How did you get to a place, though, Columbus where you could share and let us into not just the makings of the man, but also the events that kind of impacted the man?

I love that, 'the makings of a man.' It's part of the journey, I guess. I think everything that I was going through in the moment I wasn't ready for and it kind of sends you reeling. And I think I got to a place where it was like, I lost myself. When you lose your keys, for example, I was always told that you retrace your steps. Like, how did I get here? I started retracing my steps, doing the hard work on yourself with therapy and things where you really can dive into...Some things that you really never paid attention to. Life just kind of goes by and you bury certain things and block them away and you never deal with them, but they will rear their ugly head unexpectedly. So I think that's it right there.

You share an interesting story for those who have the print edition of the book it's in Chapter 7. There you talk about a plane ride that stayed with you where you were with Aaron Sorkin. We sometimes look at events in our lives and the impact they make on us. How did that plane ride impact you moving forward?

I was on Studio 60 at the time in Los Angeles, but I traveled to New York to promote Stomp the Yard, which was the movie that put me on the map. I was traveling doing a press junket for that. I was on the plane back from New York to get back to work for the next episode of Studio 60 (written and created by Aaron Sorkin). Aaron, just Shonda, never gives you the script until the table read. I don't think they're even done with the script until the day of . It's hot off the presses when we get them. We never know what's happening the next week.

I'm on the plane, and I sit down and Aaron Sorkin's next to me. He's like 'What the heck are you doing here, Columbus?' 'I'm coming back to work,' I say. We chatted for a bit, and as soon as it was time for take off he was in the zone. He opened up his draft on his computer, and he had nothing written on the page. To myself I said he hasn't written the episode, and we got a table read tomorrow. I went to sleep, and by the time we were landing he was ending the episode. Literally he was writing end episode. I was like, no way.

In that moment I realized...  This is how a pianist sits down in front of his piano and can play a chart down, same as with any musician. To be a literary mind, a literary master is something. It's a true gift to sit down and really write a screenplay, or a television episode, a teleplay or anything... And as a writer, I always wanted to have that flow. Like I was just like 'How is he thinking about his dialogue? He's just flowing. He just had a flow. It just flows like butter.'

That's when I knew I wanted to do that. I'm going to do that, and I'm going to get really good at doing that.


There are some light moments like that, Columbus, that you share, but there's also some more reflective moments and even darker ones, too. I think one of the most powerful chapters in the book for me is chapter 14, EXORCISING LITTLE WALTER.

I  learned a lot about you in this particular chapter.  One of the big things I think that you do that has made you who you are, is being able to not only to read, but to embrace a character...to become that character. And even after cut, not letting that character go.

Talk to us about the blessing and the curse of that, embracing the character but also the complexity of living the character.

It's crazy. I watched something Denzel said about this too late. I wish I would've known it before... How we are opening up our vessels, right, to embody characters. Especially when you're playing dark characters. It's a dangerous place to go. And if you're not an actor, you don't understand that, because we really go there. Most actors, if they really are worth their salt, go completely dumb to and open to the manifestation, embodiment and a possession of a character. 

And so in building that and being with a character so long... It takes 21 days to make a habit, right? If I'm walking and I'm talking like a certain way for 21 days.. I'm drinking---I never was a drinker ever---but I was drinking. I got to the point where I was drinking like it was water. It was like nothing to me, and I'm smoking cigarettes. And I was slick-talking. I was enamored by that, because that wasn't me. I very much loved it and the freedom to be that. 

If I was just this way in the streets, people would say "This is crazy." But on, and under the context (of the film), they're like, 'Wow. He's a genius." 

So when it was over with, I didn't properly cleanse my spirit of Little Walter and those habits that I acquired during that process. I didn't properly detox my mind, my body, and my spirit and clean my slate. So I just kind of just kept it. And I think those things, as wonderful as it was, I paid for. I paid a price for it: emotionally and spiritually for sure. Holyfield always tells me, 'My mama says if you don't ever pick nothing up, you don't ever have to put it down.'  That's why he never drank, never smoked. Never did any of that. I'm grateful for that learning process.

And then there was an insecurity to why I never broke character. I didn't want to lose it. I knew when I tapped in, I knew I was in and I never wanted to come out and not be able to get back in. That was  my worst fear. As I've grown so much as an actor in the game I know how to come in, and I know how to get out. That's one of the things I learned through all that, throughout that process, but it was an amazing process. One I wouldn't change for the world.


And I think it has definitely gotten you to where you are. We talk a lot about personal success.  People would look at your career: singer, songwriter, actor, producer, choreographer... You've done all these things and worked with all these amazing people, Does it feel for you that you have gotten what you wanted? It seems like along the journey that you have been searching for something or seeking something. Do you think you have found what you were looking for?

That's a really great question, Cyrus. I like this question. 

You know how in the corporate world there's upward mobility, right? If I, let's say, wanted to be a banker, I may have started in the mail room and worked my way up. My real goal is to get to that table to get to that upper, top floor office.

 I think I've looked at my career that way. Coming from the bottom as that boy from Kansas City. I got into the business, and I knew I was at the bottom. I knew I had to do guest starring roles before I could be the star. 

Everything has been like stepping stones. I'm always like 'Okay, what's next?' I'm always thinking about what's the next proper step, because I never wanted to fast-track myself or try to cut a corner. I wanted to do everything the right way. 

And I was like, 'I can do this. I know I can assemble and acquire a slate of great material, continue and be a job creator and be a creator, because I am a creator. I've been a creative my whole life. I wanted to be on the front lines of bringing great content and telling great stories. Not just African-American stories. Stories to audiences around the world. And so I think that was always my goal.  I was paying my dues, and there were times that I got impatient. If I would've just been a little bit more patient at the time, my day was coming. Right before my day came, I had a fall...but the fall is just part of the story.

I also think the fall is part of the test to see what I was really made of. It was never going be that easy. I can a voice in my head saying 'You thought you were going to get here like that? You thought you were going to just walk up in here and take over the game?' I think this was the test. What am I built of? What am I made of? Can I be an example? Can I be a leader? 

If I can't produce my life, how can I produce a movie? So once I realized I got to produce my life first then I realized I can now produce whatever I want. That is where I am now.

Stay connected with Columbus on Instagram at www.instagram.com/officialcshort and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ColumbusShort1

* All photos of Columbus Short by Erik Johnson

Monday, April 5, 2021

Entrepreneur and Author Clifton McKnight talks life, overcoming challenges and helping others along the way



by Cyrus Webb

Having known Clifton McKnight for a number of years, I can attest to the fact that he is a man of purpose, passion and principal. His book IF YOU CAN'T CALM THE WATERS LEARN TO RIDE THE WAVES gives you a glimpse into the lessons he has learned and what he hopes you are able to glean from them when facing life's challenges. 

That is just the way Clifton is: always looking out for others, wanting to add value. In this conversation we talk about how he got where he is today, the importance of helping others and how financial stability is something everyone has a chance to achieve if they're willing to do the work. 

 

Clifton, so glad we have this time to catch up and share your story with our readers. I first got to know you because of your inspirational book IF YOU CAN’T CALM THE WATERS LEARN TO RIDE THE WAVES. Have you always known that you have been meant to inspire others?

Cyrus, I can say I have always desired to encourage.  Being encouraged was always good for me and it always felt good to me so I wanted to spread it.  

Life has a way of shifting for us all. What has helped you to ride the waves that life throws? 

The inspiration for Chapter 4 in part and Chapter 5 more directly was born out of this question.  The short answer is Prayer, People and Perspective. When the waves are choppy, we can consider what actions we need to take.  We step out of ourselves to gain more perspective, to consider our problem in a way that perhaps is less alarming or concerning.  

It also can help a situation by appreciating another's vantage point .  If the waves are a bit more violent, we can talk to people who have our best interest at heart.  Sometimes we seek out those who are wise or knowledgeable or just who will listen. Perhaps it is so we can hear ourselves, we can just get it out and really look at it.

Now, when the clouds, the winds and the waters are very dark and ominous, when we are completely overwhelmed, then we discern the need to connect on a spiritual level, to take our minds off of ourselves and our problems, serving others while seeking divine guidance peace, grace and love.  This is actually where we could have begun.  Isn't it written "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

 After the year we had in 2020 many people are looking for ways to adjust and to stay afloat. You have also made adjustments. Talk with us about it. 

Cyrus, one might say I have been knocked around quite a bit over the years and 2020 certainly was no exception.  I dare say many of us if not all contend with sometimes overwhelming challenges.  Many centered around one theme, "loss." Whether loss of loved one(s), loss of finances, foreclosure,  bankruptcy, loss of confidence, loss of others' confidence in us, loss of reputation, loss of relationship, in these days in particular, we add loss of health, and confidence in our systems, loss of employment or business failure.  The list goes on.

I frame it quite differently, though.  I acknowledge being knocked around, mind you.  But the truth is I suggest we are blessed with being knocked "ON course." Over the years I had pursued real estate investment quite successfully for a time, while working in service of others as a counselor and professor, conducting live workshops, keynotes and more.  When it all at its foundation seemed to shake and shudder and even shatter.  I tell you, it felt very much like travelling, "through the valley of the shadow of death." What it did was it opened my spirit to look at new possibilities.  

I reentered the world of voice acting, an area I had been encouraged to pursue for decades but only had stuck my toe in and retreated from a decade before.  I did not see how I could pursue this with so many other competing priorities. 

I did not feel I had the luxury of taking time to learn something new, then in a few years maybe make a few more dollars.  "The hole is too deep." Here I had just "retired", walking away from what grew over the years to be a six figure income so I could retrieve my retirement account to rebuild my assets only to lose much of that.  

I endeavored to learn about FOREX, foreign exchange, and more.  I enrolled in IM Academy.  For a little under $250 and a monthly subscription fee that I could pay from profits or even have waived by referring a couple of others, IM  Academy offers systems and technologies to help me earn as I learn to trade in the market with as much as 80 to 90% accuracy.  It helped uplift my entire outlook, in the midst of turbulent times. 




Forex is something that a lot of us have heard about or seen posts about on social media. I have to admit I know very little about it. Talk with our readers about what it is and why it appealed to you?

Forex or FX, refers to foreign exchange, the global currency market.  Anyone who has travelled to another country has had to exchange their currency with the currency of the country they visited.  

The value of money in one country is paired with strength of another currency around the world and positions regarding it's current position and what direction it is heading.  This is a multi-trillion dollar marketplace which greatly exceeds the more popular stock market, and it is no wonder most of us are unfamiliar with it, because it was previously only available to those with over a million dollars plus in income and assets.  

 With the advent of international retail brokers, anyone can participate.  Some people fund their account with a couple of hundred or a thousand dollars and some with as little as $50.  You can enter a trade with as little as 10 cents!  And in this market, you can make a great deal of money in minutes.  

You can also lose more than you initially invest so you want to understand the mechanics of a trade.  It is reported that 75% of investors lose money.  So I aligned with an academy where I can learn from seasoned, successful traders who make hundreds of thousands and those who make millions of dollars trading in this market.

 Even seasoned investors join the academy to access the tools and insights these masters provide.  It is a game changer. 



Helping others has always been something you enjoyed. Did you see the work with Forex as another way of being able to do that?

Directly, Cyrus.  At first I needed to see it work.  As soon as I did, it seems that all I can think about are those who have had to endure the setbacks and challenges of these days and times and those who are in the midst of personal devastation.  IF YOU CAN'T CALM THE WATERS LEARN TO RIDE THE WAVES: HOW TO SUCCEED IN TURBULENT TIMES was written to help people through.  Now I could help them through financial devastation or just help them grow or create a financial legacy.  

It’s not easy to start anything new. What about for you? Was it easy for you to introduce your business with others?

Cyrus, I was working on my on rescue here. The thought of talking to others about it was not even a consideration, at first.  I just wanted to balance my budget and see a future and leave a legacy.  Since it is never required, I liked that I could earn unlimited amounts of money without telling a soul...  I could learn and copy trade signals.  

I am not afraid of risk, but I hate the feeling of being "taken."  Whether we realize it or not life is full of risks.  Once I started trading, I would take baby steps. But when I experienced earning what to me was quite significant in a session trading the same pair, I knew there were people who could benefit.    

Still, I am reminded that we have all tried stuff that was not successful for us, stuff that may have worked for others but still eluded my greatest efforts so there may understandably be a reticence, even a fear to try again. I explored a bit and saw people of all ages, including a youngster whose mother watched a few videos and listened to an expert and I don't know the details but I imagine they copied a trade and her son had a very successful trading experience.

On the business-building side, Cyrus, I know of people in their 20s literally earning more in a month than I had earned in 10 years, not just because they knew a lot of people but  because they were willing to share with someone else who was willing to try or who understood how to use social media.  There is no requirement.  I could stop at any time! 

Social media is a must for us these days. You and I have discussed that in our personal conversations. How has it helped you in connecting with your audience?

Big blessings to you, Cyrus, for encouraging me about reconnecting on social media.  I have had a lapse in my social presence.  You reminded me that I only need to persist with some level of consistency to reach out to people who can benefit from my journey. Thank you for that.  

I don't have to try to force anyone.  I pray that they overcome their fear and their pain which may have occurred in the past but tends to cling to the now as if it is still so today.  So I do tend to reach out, encourage them to join me so they can see the miracle gifts of  the present.  Past experiences can be paralyzing. Been there and on occasion still go there.  Sometimes, we take action anyway.  I empathize.  I inform.  If I can, I inspire.  I will  follow-up and follow-through, but it is not out of desperate need but out of love.  I am already experiencing my blessing. If they see it for them, praise God.  If not, praise God.  I just want them to have the same success or better, if they are willing.  

Thanks for the time, Clifton. How can our audience stay connected with you and get more information. 

Cyrus, I am on Facebook "Clifton McKnight Motivision" and Instagram.  "IF YOU CAN'T CALM THE WATERS LEARN TO RIDE THE WAVES" has a Facebook page.  I am also available on WhatsApp and my google voice for text is 7048029283.  

Thank you for the privilege of addressing your audience.  

 


Saturday, April 3, 2021

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Janice Blue Washington

Janice, Conversations is glad to have you as part of our Author Spotlight series. Congratulations on your first children's book. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I think I have known for the majority of my life. To put an actual time frame, it would have been in middle school.  I started writing poems about things that were going on in the world.  I gradually started writing short stories and stage plays.  It wasn’t until after retirement, that I decided to make a dream come true and become an author.  So, I put it on my bucket list and that is where we are today.  

That's amazing. When did you decide to write the book PRINCESS ALYSSA’S BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY?

In 2016, Alyssa was playing princess dress-up.  We talked about her being a princess and all the beautiful things she could do as a princess.  We started referring to her as Princess Alyssa and the idea grew from there.  

Our readers can see you with the book with this feature. What was it like for you to hold the finished book in your hands?

I was overcome with gratitude.  I was so thankful to God, because it was a dream come true.  Publishing my first book was on my bucket list, so there was also a sense of accomplishment. 

As you mentioned you have a granddaughter named Alyssa. What did she think of the book?

Actually, Alyssa is the main character, but my other granddaughter’s, Jamya and Airea, are characters in the book also.  They all loved the book and were pleased with the finished product and how they were portrayed in the book.   Jamya said that it was an inspiration for her, and Airea thought it was wonderful.  Alyssa held the book up and said, “I love it!”  

What has been the response from your family and friends about the book?

I have three sons, and they constantly tell me how proud they are of me.  My family and friends are and have always been very supportive.  

You told me, Janice, you have plans for other books featuring Alyssa. What can we expect in the future?

 Princes Alyssa is going to be a series of different adventures for Princess Alyssa with her sisters and friends.  I will also introduce her mother and father in future books.  I am hoping to have the next book by the end of 2021. 

What advice do you have for those out there with a story inside of them?

Never give up and always pursue your dreams.  I have a saying that keeps me motivated, “dreams without actions are just dreams”.   You need to make your dreams come true by doing the necessary work.  We often use our age as an excuse, but as long as you are living, you can make a difference.   Don’t ever give up, God has a plan and purpose for your life.  All you need to do is trust him and get to work.  

Make sure to follow Janice on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjanicewashington/ 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Author/Coach Lisa W. Beckwith: Sharing How the Teacher Also Can Learn From Life Experiences

by Cyrus Webb

Just because you have found yourself in a position where you have been able to help others doesn't mean you won't at times need help yourself. If you find yourself in that situation, know that it's okay. Lisa W. Beckwith is someone who knows this firsthand. With her first book FOOD FOR L.I.F.E. she shared with the world how her life experiences had taught her lessons that she could share with others. 

In her new book GOD IS CARRYING ME: I am His Warrior she is reminded of the importance of using those lessons learned to stay strong in spite of  what life throws her way. 

May this conversation inspire you as you deal with your own challenges. 

Great to catch up with you again, Lisa. Let's go back a bit. What has it been like to see the response from your first book FOOD FOR L.I.F.E. to the newest book GOD IS CARRYING ME?

The response has been interesting. My book Food for L.I.F.E. is about developmental stages that we face as we grow and mature. God is Carrying Me is a personal experience that causes you to exercise your faith in a situation.  

2020 was a year of challenges for many. How did you personally navigate it?

The year was challenging, and I learned how to understand that life will happen and I must be prepared for it by doing what I can do and allowing God to do what He has to do.  I had to put all of my hope and faith in God, because there was nothing that I could do about something I did not cause.

You have told me that your book GOD IS CARRYING ME is more personal for you. Explain that to our readers.

This book is personal because it was written to share my experience with a medical condition that I was totally shocked that I had.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2020. The book was my personal diary that I shared with the world because even though it was personal for me I know that it happened to thousands of women in the world.  I was not alone and wanted to share how I handled the condition.  I have a movement  and product line called Be Courageous (B.C) and it replaces the words that are hard for any woman to hear. 

Thanks for sharing that with us, Lisa. How has social media helped you to share the message of your book and platform during the pandemic?

Social media is a great platform because I can reach people all over the world to share my story and hopefully inspire others

What has it been like for you to be a source of inspiration for others?

It is a great feel to know I am a part of other's inspiration as it relates to life and finding a way to deal with it in peaceful way

Not only are you an author, Lisa. You also serve others as a life coach. When did you realize that gift, being able to help others? 

I discovered it when I paid attention to the feedback others were giving me after they shared their feelings with me. I knew then I was able to gain people's trust just by me being an active listener.  As a Life Coach I help people not to allow their minds to get in the way of their desires. I help them to change their thinking and actions. Then their world transforms; because of the results they set.  

Mindset is the first step toward the results people are seeking. The Result in L.I.F.E. is based on the action that you take. Life Coaching helps people to get from where they are and find a way to get to what they want. It’s a place for someone to be heard and seen. My technique is to listen and be present in all of my sessions. The highest good thing to say is asking my clients questions about themselves. That allows them to share more with me. When I show curiosity, it builds a stronger conversation with my clients. A Life Coach must be courageous in order to direct their clients into uncertainty without causing them to be fearful of the unknown. I have to led my clients on a path that they typically want go themselves 


What would you say to people who might feel shellshock by what 2020 has brought about?

I would tell those people it is a natural reaction and it's okay to be shocked about a sudden unpredictable situation. The quick shift could traumatic anyone, but we must find a way to calm our spirits.  I would also tell them that without darkness light can not appear.  


How do you plan to use your platform this year?

I plan on walking with humility and grace.  My focus this year is to understand  that the result in L.I.F.E. is knowing that it may cause us to wait patiently for the outcome. 2021 has an even and odd number, so we have to make sure that when negative energy is around we have to take those two negatives and turn them into a positive. 

What advice do you have for others about not allowing fear to stop them as they move forward?

The advice I want to give to others is understand that fear is a part of our nature, and its okay to have that emotion, but don’t allow it to overtake their life goals. 

Thanks for the time, Lisa. Excited to see what you do this year. How can our readers stay connected with you?

It has truly been my pleasure and I appreciate you so much.  My website  is www.lisabeckwith.com and there they can find my other media handles there as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

[BOOK EXCERPT] Seminole: Some People Never Give Up by Tina Siemens

 Author Tina Siemens' book SEMINOLE: Some People Never Give Up is not just an account about her family. It's a reminder of what we can get through and overcome. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter Twenty-One of her book, and get your copy on Amazon. 


Chapter Twenty-One

Two long years passed after that initial meeting. Of course, there were more meetings and more plans. During one of them, David found himself surrounded by a determined group of men interested in permanently leaving the colony for Seminole. This time, though, he would have to speak. His palms were sweaty and his throat was dry as he waited for his turn. Mr. Reimer went first.

He told the men he had been working with a lawyer in El Paso to process potential groups from the Old Colony and EMMC into America. He’d assured them that their children would be properly educated, the rubber tires would stay on the tractors, and other mandatory hardships would be done away with—the main point being that each man could live his life as he saw fit.

This was what David needed to hear. No matter the obstacles, he was now fully committed.

“Gentlemen!” Mr. Reimer shouted. “We have another report to give you. Let me call your

attention to Mr. David Rempel.”

David rubbed his palms on his overalls before stepping onto the stump, unaccustomed to being

the center of attention. He cleared his throat, swallowed hard, then started talking. “Four weeks

ago, Mr. Schmitt and I hitched a ride with Mr. Reimer, who was driving to Seminole to pick up

some farm equipment. We stayed in Seminole for three weeks, at the Teepee Lodge. I learned

that the Reimer family has spent so much time in Seminole that the owners of the Teepee

Lodge asked them if they would be interested in buying the motel, since the owners are ready to

retire. Mr. Reimer agreed and is moving to Seminole to run it when the purchase goes through. I tell you this because it means we will have people from our colony in Seminole— people who know their way around.

They speak the language and have connections. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel

comfortable.”

The group of men nodded at each other. David continued. “We stayed in Seminole for three

weeks, at the same Teepee Lodge Mr. Reimer is pur- chasing. I spent the entire time looking

around. Since Mr. Schmitt wanted to earn money for his way back, he had a chance to work at a

machine shop there. Mr. Schmitt can tell you there is plenty of work because he found some

and doesn’t even speak the language.”

“What’s the land like?” an anxious man called out.

“The land is good,” David replied. “It’s dry, but there’s farming going on. They need more of the

mesquite land cleared and planted.”

Several men smiled, apparently satisfied with the answer. David con- tinued. “I want to tell you I

liked what I saw. I told my wife that they have these machines for the dishes. No one has to

wash dishes anymore. The machine does it all for you. And they have little houses for dogs.

Imagine a place so rich that they build houses for dogs.”

A buzz raced through the group with several men shaking their heads in disbelief.

“After three weeks, we hopped on a bus and came back here. I don’t know about you, but I’m

moving my family to Seminole. Are there any questions?”

One man raised his hand. “How do we buy some land?”

David was ready for this. “The Reimer family is putting together a joint purchase. They’re

looking for a large piece of land, enough for all of us. When they find some, they have a lawyer

who will draft a contract and obtain financing for the first year. After that, we will make payments

directly to the bank. The good news is we will only have to deal with the Reimers. They will

handle everything.” 

Heads bobbed up and down, smiling and grinning, as the men realized how easy this entire plan

was coming together. David answered a few more questions before stepping down and talking

individually to several men. When everyone was satisfied, he climbed into his Volkswagen and

headed home.


If only Anna was as agreeable as the men, he thought, setting his jaw. It didn’t matter, though.

He had waited two full years before putting his plan into action. It was past time they left.

Stepping through the door of his small house, David heard some splash- ing from the room

containing the bathtub. With no running water, they took their baths in a small clawfoot tub in its

own little room. The water was heated up outside and carried in, which his wife was doing right

now. He thought back to Seminole, where the water came right out of a faucet. And it was hot or

cold, depending on how the knobs were turned. The colony was so far behind that he now

dreaded his daily trips to the outhouse, thinking of the nice commode and endless supply of

toilet paper at the Teepee Lodge.

He walked up to the bathroom door and knocked. “Who’s in there?” “It’s me, Tina.”

He could hear her splashing around in the tub, something she loved to

do. “Are you almost done?” “Yes, Dad.”

Tina took baths with her cheap plastic sandals on. They were one of her most precious

possessions. Anna had told him that his daughter wore them directly into the tub to clean off the

hard-packed mud from their soles. After removing all the mud and pebbles, she would bathe in

the dirty water and somehow clean herself up. He smiled, amused by the little girl so attached to

those sandals that she refused to take them off.

David checked on the other children, finding them scattered about the house, waiting for their

turn at the tub. Then he spotted Anna—out back, tending the fire and heating up water for the

next child. When she noticed her husband, she frowned.

“You’ve been at another meeting,” she said.

“I have,” he replied coolly.

Anna stared down at the boiling water. “I suppose you’ve made up your mind.”

“You know I made up my mind when we left for Canada. I’m just sorry that didn’t work out.”

“When are you going to tell the children?” she asked, shoving more fuel onto the fire.

“Tonight, after supper. It’s the best time.”

She didn’t meet his eyes. “It’s going to be your job, not mine.” “That’s fair,” he said.

Anna and the girls put away the last dishes as David sat in his favorite chair, working over a

toothpick, waiting for his wife and daughters to join him and his son. When the entire clan had

assembled, he looked at them, sitting up a little straighter.

“Children,” he said confidently, “I’ve got something to tell you.”

Tina raised her hand. “We forgot to tell you about our turkeys. Remember?” “Turkeys? Why...

oh, yes. Go ahead,” he said, unhappy with the delay. Tina ran to her room and brought back

three pieces of paper. Each one had fabric glued to it. David studied them as Tina explained.

“While you were away, we had a project at school. The teacher wanted us to make our own turkey.”

“I see,” David said. “They look nice.”

“Yes,” she replied, clearly not through with the story. “The teacher told

everyone to bring some fabric to school, and the other kids had a few pieces in tiny plastic bags.

But we brought a big cracker box of scrap fabric. When we pulled it out, the other kids laughed

at us and said, ‘What were you thinking?’ But we had the scraps left over from all the dresses

Mom makes for us.” She lowered her voice. “The other kids don’t dress like we do.”

At EMMC, David knew that his kids looked different because of their clothes. He was hoping

that would change in Seminole.


“Anyway,” Tina continued, “David, Elizabeth, and I started making turkeys with all the scrap, and

they were looking really good. That’s when the other kids—the ones making fun of us—started

coming over and asking if they could have some. We were very popular!”

David’s face lit up. It was important for Tina to feel she could help others. She loved learning,

and especially loved being asked to do import- ant tasks—ones that required trust. There was

something in her spirit that needed to be needed.

“That’s wonderful!” David told her. “I’m so proud of you.”

Tina beamed, nudging Elizabeth and David. They hid their emotions better than her, but David

could tell that they were pleased by his words, too. Of course, two-year-old Nancy could only sit

and listen.

David put his hands on his knees, looking at each one of their happy faces. “I have some news,

too. Your mother and I have decided to move to Texas. The town is called Seminole.”

Suddenly, the smiles disappeared. “Are we leaving the colony?” his son asked.

“Yes, we are,” David told him.

“And our friends?” Elizabeth ventured.

“Yes, but you’ll meet new ones in Seminole.”

“Can I take my sandals?” Tina asked, ready to cry if the answer was

not what she wanted to hear. “Yes.”

“And my doll?”

“Of course.”

Before he could say more, the single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling

dimmed. David got to his feet and trudged outside, switching out the car batteries. This was the

only light they had at night, unless they pulled out the expensive oil lamps. He couldn’t wait to

leave this place and turn on all the lights simply by flipping a switch. What a day that would be!

A horsefly buzzed around looking for a place to land. David swatted at it then heard his father

kicking some dirt clods out of the way as he shuffled to his barn, where David waited. This

would be another goodbye, one that David hoped would be permanent.


SEMINOLE: Some People Never Give Up available on Amazon

TAKE TEN with Author and Visionary Eve Lynne

 




by Cyrus Webb

There is nothing like the power of the imagination. When I first heard about author Eve Lynne Robinson and her character Ella B. Jenkins, I was excited about how she was able to takes real-life situations and make them fun and educational for the reader. I even had the privilege to blurb her book Ella B. Jenkins Meets First Lady Michelle Obama

Now Eve Lynne and Therapist Whitney Jade Gordy have teamed up for the latest installment of the Ella B. Jenkins series: Ella B. Jenkins Meets Vice President Kamala Harris.

In this Take Ten I talk with Eve about the series and the new book. 

Eve, congratulations on the new release ELLA B. JENKINS MEETS VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS. Before we discuss that what has it been like to see the response to Ella B. Jenkins?

I have been incredibly grateful to watch the evolution of Ella B. Jenkins in the last decade. Many people initially gravitated toward this character because at the time, there was no character out there quite like her. We also understand at this point in history the importance of representation and being able to identify with cultural situations in our day-to-day life are of the upmost importance. Everyone seems to love Ella B., and I hope to give our Ella B. Family more content and material to connect with.

I never had a chance to ask you before, but where did the idea for Ella B. Jenkins come from?

Before Ella B. was created, I was creating ceramic art and sculptures with an Afrocentric flair and influence. I wanted to make ceramic tiles for my bathroom with a character representing a little chocolate girl. At the time,  I had not seen ceramic tiles with any African American images available, so I set out to create my own.  I was in my studio with a friend who said she needed a name. We went back and forth, but the name Ella kept standing out to me.  After hours of trying out different names, I decided upon Ella B. Jenkins. Her name sounded strong and had a ring to it.  I also love the Letter B. for her middle name. The story behind that will be disclosed in a future book.

We look forward to that story. Have you always wanted to write children’s books?

I have always dreamed of writing children’s books! The ability we have, especially the younger audience, to tap into the gift of imagination and fantasy is unparalleled. In these moments we have a chance again, to experience magic. 

Ella B. Jenkins has become more than just another character in a book. She’s become her own brand. How did that come about?

Ella B. truly has a life of her own. Her brand developed quite organically. Ella’s charm, mixed with sly wit has won over the support of small families, young children, independent artists and activists alike. Ella B is on a mission, and people are paying attention

Going back to the new book, it is literally right on time with where we are in time. Tell our readers about the new book.

The new book takes us on Ella B’s next adventure. We get to learn more about Ella B. and her family and how her roots around activism and social justice were influenced. We learn Ella’s mother is an incredible advocate and has inspired her passions and enthusiasm for cultural and community based causes. As an added bonus we learn Ella B. Jenkins meets Vice president Kamala Harris along the way. It’s a very fun story and highlights other important figures within the community

This book includes not just Ella B. Jenkins meeting the Vice President. It also includes some of the issues that we see going on in the world today. How did you decide on that element?

To ignore what is happening in the world right now would be a serious injustice.  Black communities and communities of color deal with a systemic problem on a day-to-day basis, that is not designed to protect or support us. The world we see today has reached its breaking point, again. Not talking about what happens around us and what we see on a daily basis is like asking us to ignore the biggest and most important parts of ourselves. 

Social media has taken on even greater importance today because of life during the pandemic. How has it helped you to read your readers?

Social media has allowed us to engage with new readers and new audiences. In the age of new media, we are also working on being able to provide a digital copy of each of these books so that you can download and access these stories on your tablets, phones and e-readers. Having access to these books through various forms is incredibly important especially as we all are doing our best to socially distance and reduce our interactions in the public. 

You have been writing for a while now, Eve. Any advice for aspiring authors out there?

The best advice I can give is to write from a place of passion and love the subject matter you are writing about. Writing can sometimes feel like a thankless job, however, being able to see your artistic vision and creativity come to life on the page is truly a rewarding and inspiring experience. 

Can you give us an idea of where Ella B. might pop up next? 

I have given a lot of thought about Ella B.’s next adventure, and I’m sure if I know Ella B. the way I think I do, she will definitely be making her way to Georgia to get a firsthand look at a certain hero who has mobilized voters and advocated for voters rights.

That gives us something to look forward to. Thanks for the time, Eve. How can our readers stay connected with you and get their copy of ELLA B. JENKINS MEETS VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS?

I encourage everyone to visit www.Ellabjenkins.com and follow us on Instagram @ellabjenkins and be our friend on Facebook under the same name. We have have all of Ella B’s books available for purchase along with clothing items, accessories and soon to be released, the Ella B. Jenkins plush doll. 


TAKE TEN with author Sherabim Joy

 by Cyrus Webb

Though 2020 had a series of challenges even outside of the global pandemic, it was great to see so many bright spots emerging to give people hope. One of those came from author Sherabim Joy in the release of her newest children's book MANNY AND THE MAGIC KEYS: A Gift From Papa.


In this Take Ten with Sherabim we discuss her writing journey and the new release.

Sherabim, glad we had a chance to connect more in 2020. What a year that ended up being, right? What helped you to navigate the year?

2020 has been a year for the history books! My faith in God’s sovereignty has helped me to navigate these unprecedented times. Like many, I was furloughed from my place of employment, but every one of my needs was provided and it allowed time for me to reassess my long-term goals and focus on what I need to do to accomplish them. Also understanding the necessity of remaining healthy mentally and  physically for my son’s sake motivated me to maintain my momentum.

 You are known for your work as an author and as motivational speaker. Have you always known you had a love of words?

I have had a passion for reading and writing from childhood. I was one of those children who requested books for Christmas in addition to toys. When I was younger, I would write stories for entertainment but never considered becoming an author until adulthood. My love for motivational speaking was birthed through being pushed and encouraged to share the Word of God in church. I soon realized that not only did I love to preach, but I also loved to empower, inspire, and encourage people through various motivational speaking platforms.

What I love about your writing style is that you are able to entertain as well as inspire. Was that your mission?

We are an entertainment-based society, so I recognize the appeal of incorporating an amusing escape from reality for my readers.  However, as a faith-based author, I feel it is my responsibility to plant nuggets of wisdom in the hearts and minds of my readers to motivate them to excel in every area of their lives; whether spiritually, relationally, emotionally, or otherwise. My mission is always to leave my readers with a “thought” that will make them make more sound decisions.

Social media is something you have used like the rest of us. How has it helped you to stay connected and reach new readers?

Social media has become a way of life and is a great and inexpensive way to stay connected with current followers of my work as well as reach new readers. There can be a significant amount of time in between releasing work, but social media helps my readers know that I’m still around, current, and working on new material to empower their lives. Simple gestures such as posting inspirational quotes, thoughts of the day, and blogging can be highly impactful when done consistently. It makes it easier to encourage readers to purchase new works when I have kept in communication with them during the “in-between” process.


You wrapped up 2020 with a children’s book MANNY AND THE MAGIC KEYS: A Gift From Papa. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Believe it or not, I wrote “Manny And The Magic Keys: A Gift From Papa” approximately 4 years ago. The idea was inspired by my son, the real-life, Manny. When he was a toddler he was mesmerized by my father’s, his Papa’s, keys. Whenever I went to my dad’s house he would play with them and did not want to return them. Eventually, my dad gave him an old pair to take home and play with and that’s how the idea was birthed!  I have no idea why I took so long to publish the book. I think subconsciously I was afraid because children’s book writing is a new genre for me. 

One of the great things about that book is that it shows the importance of using your imagination. What do you hope the reader gets from that when they look at themselves?

I hope that young readers would embrace the reality that anything is possible, and that they should never stop dreaming!  A new reality is just one dream away!

In your book for adults AFTER THE BENEDICTION, we see how fear can hold us back. How have you not allowed that to be the case for you?

Honestly, I have allowed fear and insecurity to hold me back for years! I was bound by the fear of failure and looking foolish. One day I just realized that I was my biggest hindrance and I decided to not allow myself to be bound by fear any longer. As my Pastor always says, “sometimes you have to do things while you still feel scared.”  That is some of the greatest advice that I  have ever received.  I still feel scared sometimes about advancing in new arenas, but I’m not fearful to take the steps of faith despite how I feel.

What advice would you give for those looking to pursue their own goals and dreams?

My advice to those looking to pursue their own goals and dreams is to refuse to be their own hindrance! Each person should take time for moments of introspection to determine if they are the cause of not reaching their dreams and goals. Likewise, every dreamer needs to develop an action plan for the dream to become a reality.  A dream without an action plan is simply wishful thinking.

Can you tell us what we should expect next from you?

I am excited to be working on “After the Benediction II”, and I will be releasing another book in the “Manny In the Magic Key’s Series!” in the coming months. Likewise, I am researching opportunities to bring my two novels “After the Benediction” and “Mema’s Pretty Little Black Girls” either to the stage or screen.

Thanks for the time, Sherabim. How can our readers stay connected with you?

Cyrus it was a joy to do this interview with you, and I thank you for having me!  Readers can keep in touch with me through my website and on social media:

www.sherabimjoy.com

Facebook: @sherabim

Twitter:  @Sherabimjoy

Instagram: @sherabimjoy