Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Author Spotlight (LaShanda Michelle)

This week's author spotlight is on my sister & fellow author LaShanda Michelle. I was privileged & honored to meet her through a mutual friend. If it wasn't for her, I probably would not have a book out to this day. Anyway, show this sister some love.

Born and raised in Huntsville, Texas, LaShanda Michelle always had a passion for writing. Every since her mother, now a retired school teacher, taught her how to correctly hold a pencil, she knew writing was what she was born to do. While in school her fourth grade teacher encouraged her to submit her work in a contest to become a published writer. When she didnt win, her teacher encouraged her to hold on to her creativity because her writing would surely take her far. LaShanda remained confident and concluded that one day her dream would come true.

Throughout middle and high school LaShanda studied journalism and served on the newspaper staffs of both schools. In her junior year of high school her hard work on the paper and undeniable writing ability earned her a coveted spot as a student columnist. Her senior year she served as Co-Editor-In-Chief, and was also a member of the student literary magazine staff. During this time she also won many awards that proved her writing ability.

After graduating high school in 2000, she studied journalism for one year at Sam Houston State University before enlisting in the United States Air Force as a medical supply specialist. Her enlistment privileged her to relocate to Anchorage, Alaska, where she spent the next few years honing her craft. While in Alaska she published four books, including a bible study that tackled many hot button issues that young adults face. She also wrote and produced a stage play entitled Let No man Put Asunder... Not Even You! She was also a part of Soulicitations, a creative arts ministry that toured the city promoting Christ through poetry, music, and acting. During this time LaShanda was also featured in Crusin' For Christ, a Christian entertainment cruise, hosted by best-selling author Kendra Norman-Bellamy.

In 2009 LaShanda released Casting Down Imaginations. It chronicles the lives of two young women who leave the supervision of their parents and live life on their own as college students. Along the way they experience a number of obstacles, including an abusive relationship, an unplanned pregnancy, and unforeseen family problems that threaten their futures.

LaShanda's latest novel, Sweeter Than The Honey, was released this past May. It tells the story of Kamilah, a high school senior who is forced to learn the hard lessons of life after falling into a same sex relationship with her new friend. Problems arise when her homophobic mother finds out, and Kamilah has to choose which love she will remain faithful to. The book is available through all major book retailers. 

LaShanda’s website is:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finding Your Passion

It’s Labor Day and 2/3 of this year is done. Where are you with your dreams and goals for 2011? Well, if you’re like me, you’ve had to endure some struggles this year. I’ve told many people at the beginning of 2011, that this is a year of big moves. I know some people can testify to that, but with it came a lot of struggles and unnecessary strife. From unemployment, threats of losing your job, people on your job (co-workers) threatening to drown you underwater to save their job or just tired of being a gerbil running on wheels (the rat race). There’s more, people are jealous because you decided to pursue your passion (or calling of God), other people are fearful of what the future holds because they have nothing to fall back on (not taking the time to find or pursue their passion) and want to make your life a living hell, your closest friends and family won’t support your passion/talents (see last week’s post entitled “No Love, No Honor, No Support” for more on that), or you are just ready to leave your current job to focus on your passion/talent to impact other people’s lives for the better (because you know that your passion/talent is not just for you, it’s for others around you and those you haven’t met yet).
If this describes what you’re going through, then this post is written for you to encourage you not to cast away your confidence, not to give up on God, and to press forward with your passion. Just know that this post is also for me. I need encouragement as well (considering I’m going through some of the things I mentioned above).

So, I ask you the following questions:
  1. Do you know what your passion is? Many people don’t, and they have a hard time finding it. If this is you, it’s OK. To find your passion or mission, you have to dig deep inside, get alone with God and pray for Him to reveal it to you in His time (remember, the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God). It will be revealed to you; meanwhile, just keep your mind stayed on Him and experience His perfect peace. If you know what your passion it, then give God praise and perfect it for the glory of God. If you perfect your passion, and present it in excellence, people will take notice and want more of your passion (granted, some people will actually be inspired to pursue their passion).
  2. Are there any activities or thoughts that absorb you so thoroughly you lose track of time?
  3. What subjects do you find most exciting to talk about?
  4. Do you have any skills or talents that inspire self-confidence? I know some of you have the gift of knitting, singing, writing, speaking life to others (and giving them hope and encourage with the love of Christ) and you know it too.
  5. When you have a free afternoon, how do you choose to spend it?
  6. If you had all the money you needed to pursue a hobby or a special project, what would it be?
  7. If you could develop a “dream” business for yourself, what would it be?

Talk about your passions with people who you know well and trust. Now I need to inject something here. Not everybody can embrace your passion, so you need to discern who you tell it to. Joseph in Genesis 37 is a prime example. He should’ve read his brothers better (they said, we shall see what will become of his dream). As one of my sister friends would say, not everybody is a divine connection to you. You don’t tell your business to someone who has a “what’s in it for me” mentality. Back to my original point, sometimes other people can read our souls when we can’t. Once you become aware of your passion, you can determine your mission and begin to feed it. This in turn will feed the drive that will make your dreams come true.

If you are making statements like the four mentioned below, I strongly consider that you pray and work on pursuing your passion now!
  1. I wish I could quit my job.
  2. I’m tired of going from job to job.
  3. I can’t keep working this hard. I’m getting too old for this.
  4. I’m tired of wasting my time, hanging around people without much ambition and who aren’t going anywhere.

Some people don’t want to pursue their passion (this is for those who know what their passion is), because they have selfish motives. They’re being stingy or prideful with it because their church or people around them won’t accept them or their passion/talent. The easy way to rectify that is to give it to God and understand that it’s not about you!  It’s for the glory of God – let Him do the work and give Him all the glory!

With that said, this is the time to make it happen. As Gloria Estefan would say, “Get On Your Feet!”