I’ve been on both sides of the publishing table…Well, it’s probably more accurate to say I’ve been on most sides of the big round table of publishing.

  • I am currently an author of a series published by a traditional house (Hatchette/FaithWords).
  • I was acquisitions director for children and family for 7 years at a traditional house (Tyndale).
  • I also worked in other capacities at houses that publish curriculum and some books  (Mcgraw-Hill Education and Urban Ministries, Inc/UMI)
  • And my company, Esteempub.com,  has worked with some excellent writers to produce top quality books. Continue reading

This week my very first book (written under my name) was released! And in my more than 20-something years of publishing, I’ve learned just as much this week (or leading up to it) that I learned in journalism school and working in the industry combined (well, that’s a little of a stretch, but the essence of the point is definitely true. I know a lot of people have a book inside of them and want to know how to get it out. I hope my reflections will get you started—or help you keep going—or make you rethink things (lol).

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Happy New Year!

Katara-photo

 

 

 

Happy New Year! How’s the resolutions or goals or new mantras going? Some people say they don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do think a fresh year gives us a time to reflect and ponder what we might want to do more of, do less of, do differently, etc.

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balloonsFor the past 31 days, I’ve been counting down the days to my birthday by reflecting on what I’ve learned this year and throughout my 43 years of life. This is the last installment, thankfully!

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…reflecting on what I’m learning as I turn 43 in a few days (this has been a challenging task to keep up with!) One of the themes of this week: Where has the time gone? (Look at lil K at about 6 weeks at her first outing…and now, at 3.5 years old! It feels like just a short time–well, most times it does! We have to learn to love the moments…

 

August 24: There are just some moments where you sit back and watch and realize that the years are truly short; days might seem long, but then you look up and it’s another year…or 11 years later. That’s one of the many thoughts that ran through my head today as I watched my best friend and her husband host a block party.  (How in the world did we get old enough to really host these things?) I smiled as I watched her very handsome 11-year-old son sit and talk with my husband—it feels like only a few short years ago I watched my college pal worry if her little shaking newborn was okay ( my mom said he needed to be swaddled!). How did this little baby get to be 11? How did my friend’s 9-year-old get to be a surrogate big sister for my 3.5 year old (big sister pushed my girl on a bike, big sister  helped my Kayla  in the jumping jack and took pride in having a little kid to show around). Wow! Wow! Wow! I’m reminded today to enjoy the moments…the crazy ones, the hard ones, the great ones…because we’ll look up and it will be 11 (or more) years later. Enjoy this moment!

August 25: Today was an excellent day! I was especially touched at the simplest yet kindest gesture at church. A woman wanted to share something with me about parenting. She leaned in and purposefully grabbed my hand and spoke softly into my ear. Awww, refreshing and reassuring. I appreciate her gentleness and care in how she said those words…even more than the words. It’s hard for me to take advice sometimes…but I so appreciated that she took the time to make sure I understood her words were meant with gentleness and sincerity. Oh, if we could all deliver messages like that maybe our words would be better received. I’m learning…

August 26: I am so looking forward to a little break this week and weekend. Kayla is out of school so we will hang out a bit at the end of the week; I will then journey to New York to see my other bestie. I need a break. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to—this helps me keep going. I must learn to plan treats and things to look forward to—whether big trips away or small lunch breaks. Looking forward to something helps!

August 27: Staying the course regardless of the signs we see is so important. On this weight loss journey, I’ve been weighing in each week. For the past 2 weeks, I have stayed the exact same weight. Now, this is a good thing when you’re not trying to lose, but when you’re working out, tracking what you eat, trying your “almost” best, it can be frustrating. But, this week, I stepped on that scale and was down a significant amount (for a woman about to be 43!) It showed. My hard work was not in vain. And in life, I’m learning things work like that silly scale. Sometimes our hard work and effort do not show on the day we expect it to (or in the way), but if we don’t get discouraged, keep doing what we know works, evaluate what isn’t working, we can do it. I look forward to another loss soon…but I will also learn to keep working regardless of what one system shows as progress (or lack of) and know that I am making progress. We’re going for progress, not perfection, says one of our weight loss counselors. Amen!

August 28: I celebrated a friend’s graduation from seminary today…a few months later than we initially planned, but we celebrated all the same. It put me on the way back machine from when I was in her shoes—a mere 10 years ago. Seems like a very long time, yet such a short time. Again, weird how time does that to you. My heart goes out to her as she stands at a crossroads—filled with decisions and emotions. I, too, had many of those same feelings…and I’m thankful that 10 years later I am still moving—even when the path seems unclear. Walking by faith—especially when the path seems unclear. Learning…

August 29: Kayla and mommy jumped rope today. Oh, the life of a carefree child. I love it. And jumping speed rope is a great cardio workout. Whew. I’m thankful that although I had postpartum cardio myopathy (yep, heart failure), I am here to jump rope with my child (and live to write about it!) Thanking God! Thanking God! Thanking God!

August 30—I got a treat today! I got to visit with my cousin. She shared stories about my grandmother and her mother, who were sisters. It was nice to hear more about my grandmother and the “good old days.” I was reminded even more that there is nothing new under the sun. We’ve got to share our stories to help those coming behind us.

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That’s me…with my mom sometime in the early 70s!

 

 

I had planned to post this during my series of blogs on Mother’s Day week (how to celebrate Mother’s Day when mom is no longer on Earth); well, as grief would have it, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to continue that emotional journey that particular week. So, this post never made it up. But, today I celebrate Mom’s 71st Birthday and I thought this would be a nice way to honor her and to encourage all of us who belong to this club. Happy Birthday, Mama!

 

Whoa…the big, bad wolf (that’s me) just had a melt down.
Yep, after saying how I felt after 7 years of saying good-bye to mom, posting to help others, reading your comments about how special she was and the recipes of hers that you still use…and then, enjoying a warm bath and reading the first chapter of a new Tyndale release (A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson), I broke down.
Sophie, who is from the South, described her Mamaw and Papaw’s (I didn’t know that’s how you spell that! Awesome editorial team at Tyndale!) marriage, relationship, and eventually Mamaw’s death.

salty

This is the cover of the book I was reading when I had my melt down. Sophie Hudson paints such a vivid picture of how they said good-bye to Mamaw that I couldn’t help but recall how my family said good-bye to Mom. I don’t know Sophie, but we have so much in common. Humanity! (more on that later)

 

Whoa…Sophie told this through the eyes of her 14-year-old self…right around the same age my oldest nephew was when his Mamaw (my mom) died.
Whoa…her cooking (uhm, if you had tasted Ernestine Washington’s cooking, you’d know what I mean…just about the best around Southern Louisiana for sure…she always wanted to be a home economics teacher and while she never did, she used all of that talent to bless her family and friends…and she actually retired as a nutrionist aid who helped mothers on the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program learn to cook nutritional meals…uhm, sounds like God gave her the desires of her heart…more on that another day!)
Whoa…mamaw sounded like the white version of my mom.
Whoa…I was supposed to be reading to unwind and catch a few more zzzzs before I get ready for the day.
Whoa…that’s how grief will do you; when you’re not thinking about it, when you’re feeling fine, when it’s a good day, a bad day, an uneventful day, a full day, it can hit you. Right smack in the middle of your heart.
So how do you go on?
Know that you will go on; someone how some way, you will. How else will you be able to honor your mom and her legacy. Surely she didn’t pour all that she had into you for you to die when she died.
Yes, grieve. Yes, cry. But go on. Live like your mom taught you to live; learn from the lessons she passed on—intentionally or inadvertently through the mistakes she made. Live as a woman or man who wants to honor mom through your life.
How I do it?
I pray (mom prayed a lot; I heard her pray out loud for her family every Sunday morning; it used to get on my nerves, but now I cherish the fact that I know exactly how and what my mama prayed for me…more on that another time too!)
I try to find balance (if I could send a letter to my mom 50 years prior to her death…I’d ask her to put herself first just a little bit more; exercise more, eat better, handle stress differently)…so I try to do those things myself in her honor.
I love my family and my friends. Mom loved us…unconditionally. When we messed up, I never felt judged; disciplined yes…but judged…no. She’s was that kind of person.
Mom taught me to love the Lord through her messages and most importantly through her life. I seek to do the same…what a difference having that anchor makes in times of trouble.

So, grieve my friend. But live too. Live like your mama taught you to!

 

 

How do you honor your mom?

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I was mom’s 3rd child and 3rd child to graduate from college (Fair Dillard, N.O., LA!). She was a firm believer in education…thank you, Mama!

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color

I’m seeing in color. I am living in color!
For anyone who has dealt with depression, you probably have more than an inkling of what it means to see in color (and to just see gray).
When I am depressed—especially for a prolonged period of time—things seem gray; unclear, uninteresting, dull…like I just want to go to bed. Even things I normally love take a whole lot of energy to complete. I once sat with a publisher client on the other side of a mirror at a focus group. The group was discussing Black women and Bible reading habits. Now anyone who knows me knows that those two subjects alone can keep me talking and thinking and excited. But, I sat behind those mirrors, looking at women getting excited about a possible project and I ate M&Ms. (those are focus group staples, by the way).  I wolfed those chocolate candies down probably three by three and just wished for the focus group to be over so I could go back home and sleep. My mom was sick at this time and I probably sensed her death was close, but I had been pretty down a few months before this time. The things that once seemed exciting to me were just not. Continue reading

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I’ve been thinking about exactly what a clean slate means, especially in light of Holy Week.
A clean slate means we’ve wiped clear whatever was there–just like one of my childhood favorite games, Etch-a-sketch. I drew a lot of silly stuff, made mistakes, created pictures on the toy, but as soon as I turned that red rectangle over and shook it, I had a clean slate. A clean board to begin anew.
Christians believe that’s what Jesus’ death did and does for us. We are forgiven for our sins, given a clean slate to work with. Brand new mercies come each day.
But, I was reminded this season to also extend that clean slate to others. I’m not pretending to be the savior of the world (thankfully, none of us are), but I am reminded of Scripture and the Lord’s prayer that says: Forgive us our sins as we forgive others their sins. (See Matthew 6:12)
A few verses later, scripture reminds us that if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:15). We need to forgive.
So as a Post-resurrection vow, I’m not letting old issues and old attitudes and old petty stuff get in the way. I’m giving myself a clean slate. But I’m also giving others a clean slate.
When I’m tempted to think of the hurt or the annoyance, I’m going to shake my head and clear those thoughts…and envision that clean slate.
Thank you Lord for a clean slate.

Depression: When you feel better, do better….
And when you don’t, take the pressure off of yourself and sit down.

Ever since I’ve come out of the closet about depression (right around my 41st birthday in September 2011), I’ve become the depression queen  Not a title I was vying for like my beloved Homecoming Queen title of 1987 (yep, Homecoming Queens get depressed too…and since no one cares about that title after high school, why not slip it into a blog post…shamelessly)

Anyway, as Depression Queen, my friends—and sometimes just acquaintances– now tell me more and more when they think they are down, blue or fighting depression. These discussions help me reflect on depression as a whole and my depression in particular.

So here’s another nugget I’ve recently reflected on while helping a friend.

You know there are just some seasons in this life when you can do more. You have the energy and the will to organize those closets (ha! I’ve been wanting to do this forever…and two apartments later, I think I’m on the road to organization). You might decide to take up a hobby and can actually stick with it. You want to get out, you want to try a new recipe; shoot, you just might want to date and post your profile on match.com (another shameless plug for those of you who know my story!)

But then, there are times where just thinking of any of those tasks can send you into a tailspin. When I was in the middle of my depression state—the foggy, numb kind– getting out of bed to catch the #4 bus to head downtown (only a few miles from my house) was a major chore. If I got to work, I could consider this day a success. If I turned in my work on time, proclaim it a gold-star day. Thankfully, I worked in an environment with flexible deadlines. And quite frankly, my past work had proven I did make deadlines and I did do my work well so my bosses were generally less worried about my ability to deliver. This is where over achiever syndrome pays off; people know your ability and if you just do minimal work, you can still “fake” it for a minute and still look like you’re achieving something.

Of course, the high achiever syndrome does have a down side; you have to lower your own personal standards for yourself…and that can be hard and troubling and our biggest hurdle. Looking back, I know my work wasn’t my personal best during these years; perhaps I didn’t think of many new ideas and just completed the necessary tasks. But you know what, that was okay for that stage of my life.

So, that’s why this post is titled: when you feel better, do better. (just like knowing and doing better). But when you don’t feel well, lower your standards. Figure out what HAS to be done and do it. The other stuff (like the closet) will be there when you feel better. And trust me, organizing a closet won’t feel so painful when you’re healthier (Right now, I actually enjoy reading and trying to implement the helpful tips at container store.com).

Take a moment to go easy on yourself—it could help you get better sooner.

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