Heaven or Hell? Part 1

Well, for those of you who read my short story “No More Tears”, which appeared in my short story anthology “Love, Lies, and Heartbreak volume 1”, you will recall that Regina Richards, after years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of her husband Calvin, finally took matters into her own hands. She did what she felt was best to relieve her of the pain she suffered at the hands of her husband. It was not the right way to go about it, but she did what she thought was best. Regina murdered Calvin by poisoning him to death. Well, now that Calvin is no longer terrorizing his wife, it’s time for him to answer for his actions. What will his sentence be? Heaven or hell?

Calvin Richards slowly pulled himself up to a seated position and looked around in wide-eyed wonder. Everywhere he looked, all he saw was white. He felt as if he was trapped in the clouds. He rubbed his hands over his eyes, hoping to clear his vision, but when he withdrew his hands, the same vision greeted him. His head swiveled from left to right, but all he saw was white. It wasn’t as if everything in a room was white. He wasn’t in a room. There weren’t any objects in the area at all. The whole scene was just blanketed in white. There were no corners distinguishing walls and floors. It was just a white space.

He slowly stood up to his feet, jutting out his arm to help him along his way. He cautiously slid one foot in front of the other as he crept along. His arm swayed back and forth, trying to guide his path, but the whiteness didn’t dissipate. Calvin’s brows furrowed in confusion. What was this place? Why was he here? How did he get here? What in the world was going on? The last thing he remembered was lying on the kitchen floor, pleading for his wife, Regina to help him. His last vision he could recall was her angry face staring down at him as he took his last breath.

Just then, a light of recognition shone across his face. It finally dawned on him where he was. Since he knew he had died, then that meant that he was in heaven. Regina had killed him, and he was now in heaven. Calvin’s heart began to drum in an unsteady rhythm as this conclusion settled itself in his mind. He wasn’t sure what to expect. He had never imagined dying so young, so he had no idea how heaven worked. He looked around as he continued to creep along, but it seemed as though he was alone.

If he was in heaven, shouldn’t there be people milling about? What about the innocent babies and children who died way too young? Where were they? Grandmothers, fathers, teachers, students, doctors? Where was everyone? His mother? He knew she was in heaven, so where was she? If he was in heaven, then he was sure he wouldn’t be the only one there. Calvin’s confusion continued to plague him as he crept along. The more he walked, the more everything stayed the same. The whiteness didn’t look as if it was going to end any time soon. Calvin walked and walked, swinging his hand back and forth, but nothing changed. The path before and behind him was still white. He even turned to look back where he had come from previously, and everything was just as it was before. White.

Just as he was taking another step, he froze in his tracks at the sudden sound of a loud, booming voice. He snapped his head in the direction of the voice, but he saw no one. Fear slowly began to creep down his spine as he searched in vain for the source of the voice. Who was that? Where were they? How come he couldn’t see them? Calvin had no idea what was going on and where he was, but he felt that things were not supposed to be like this. A sinking, uneasy feeling tugged at his insides. He swallowed a huge lump that had suddenly lodged itself in his throat as his eyes scanned his surroundings for the person speaking.

Calvin slid his right foot in front of his left one just a fraction before he was halted in place by the bodiless voice again.

“Stop right there. Don’t go any further.” the voice ordered.

Calvin froze where he stood. His body quaked in fear as he waited for the voice to speak again. Right before his eyes, Calvin watched in stunned horror as a small beam of golden light appeared out of nowhere. The light seemed to get brighter the larger it became. Calvin threw his hands over his face to shield his eyes from the bright light. It was extremely too bright for him to look directly into it. Just the little moment he had looked into it, he had felt his eyes beginning to burn.

“Drop your hands!” the voice demanded.

Calvin quickly dropped his hands, but he squeezed his eyes as tight as he could get them. Although his eyes were closed, he could still see the golden light streaming through his eyelids. His stomach began to do flips as he waited with baited breath to see what would happen next. He felt on the verge of hurling up his insides, but he tried with all his might to contain his stomach contents.

“Do you know why you’re here?” the voice asked in its deep baritone.

The voice echoed throughout the place. It seemed to echo on and on.

“No,” Calvin said in a small, frightened voice.

“Do you know where you are?” the voice asked.

“No,” Calvin replied.

“Well, let me inform you Calvin Emanuel Richards.”

Calvin shivered at the sound of his full name emanating from the beam of light. It sent an eerie sensation throughout his entire body. How could someone who didn’t have a physical body know his name? As soon as his mind processed that thought, he mentally smacked himself across the forehead. Of course. If he was in heaven, then God would know his name. He just never expected things to be like this in heaven. He thought all people who died would be walking around merrily as if they were still on earth. He didn’t expect things to be so quiet. Eerily quiet. If this was heaven, then it was nothing how he had imagined it to be.

Out of nowhere, a television screen slowly appeared in front of Calvin. He looked around in utter shock as the television turned on by itself. The screen was filled with white static, and the loudness of the volume made Calvin jump back in surprise.

“If you haven’t already guessed. You are in heaven. Well, not exactly. You are in the holding station. You are automatically transported here when you die to be processed. Everyone who dies comes here. I’m sure you’re wondering where all the people who have been admitted to heaven are. They are indeed in heaven where they belong. Just think of things this way. You are on an elevator. There are three floors. Currently, you are stuck on the middle floor. The next floor up is heaven, and the floor beneath you is hell.”

“Holding station?” Calvin asked confused.

“Yes,” the voice boomed. “You didn’t think that you would automatically be granted entrance into my kingdom did you?”

“Um . . . No,” Calvin muttered, looking down at his feet.

“It’s your day of judgment, and I will decide if you are worthy of entering my pearly gates, or if you are destined to spend the rest of your days roasting in the underworld. I am God, and today is the day you answer for your life choices.”

“But how come I can’t see you?” Calvin asked nervously.

“No one can see me until they have been granted access to heaven. If you are not fortunate enough to make it to my holy kingdom, then you will never know what I look like. That is only a perk that my faithful servants are granted. No one who has ever lived has ever seen my face. The only way that is possible is after death, and if you make it to my paradise.”

“Oh . . . “ said Calvin.

He nervously rubbed his hands against his pants. The entire ordeal with making him uncomfortable. A fine sheen of perspiration had begun to form on his forehead and on the top of his lip. His heart rate felt as if he was running laps around a fifty-mile track. Worry lines creased his forehead as he mentally tried to prepare himself for what was to come next. He had no idea what his fate would be. He felt that he had been a pretty decent man on earth, but what he deemed decent may not be the same way that God saw things.

While he had been among the living, Calvin didn’t consider himself a Godly man. He had stopped believing in God a long time ago. He felt that if God really existed, then he would’ve helped his mother out of the abusive relationship that she found herself in, which had eventually claimed her life. He had spent many nights as a child praying to God to help his mother leave his father, but to him, God never answered his prayers. He had hardened his heart to God, and went on with his life without ever acknowledging God’s presence again.

Now that he was faced with the presence of God, guilt slowly began to plague him. He wanted to take back the harsh words he had spewed at God in his times of anger and bitterness, but what was done was done. He never lived his life with regrets, but now that he was faced with an uncertain future, he was regretting his life’s choices. He didn’t see the error of his ways when he was doing wrong, but now he wanted to make amends with the people he hurt. God was real, and Calvin was wishing that he had never turned his back on him. The only problem was, it was too late. He wouldn’t have another opportunity to right his wrongs. Judgment day was upon him, and he had to answer for his actions.

To be continued . . .

Author Q and A: Richelle Resto

Author Richelle Resto

Blaque: Well, it’s a new month, and it’s also time for a new author spotlight. Helping me to bring in the month of March, is Richelle Resto. Welcome Richelle!

Richelle: Thank you so much Blaque Diamond.

Blaque: No problem. Spring is on the horizon, so why not freshen up my blog with a fresh new interview?

Richelle: LOL. I’m glad I’m the person you chose to help you freshen things up a bit.

Blaque: I am as well. So, tell me about your book “The Gift of life Nobody Wanted: Your Tears have Purpose.”

Richelle: Well, I wrote this book to help women understand the rationale of the gifts of pain, devastation, rejection, and the purpose of tears. Throughout this book, I sprinkle little spiritual nuggets and strategies needed to triumph over years of pain.

Blaque: Hmm… Sounds interesting. Coming from someone who knows all about pain, it seems as if this book can perhaps help many women who don’t know how to deal with the obstacles that life may throw in their path. Tears can also have a cleansing effect on the soul. I had to learn that from first-hand experience.

Richelle: You are so right!

Blaque: So, where are you from Richelle?

Richelle: I’m proud to be from Durham, North Carolina.

Blaque: Oh, wow! I’m from Greensboro. I’m not originally from the area, but it has been my home for the past eight years. Durham is only a hop and a skip away from Greensboro.

Richelle: Yep. LOL. Durham is my home.

Blaque: Where is your favorite place to write?

Richelle: I enjoy writing near the water, and listening to the sound of the ocean.

Blaque: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Richelle: People that make excuses for not accomplishing goals is my biggest pet peeve.

Blaque: We all have that favorite something that we just can’t live without, what is your favorite food?

Richelle: My favorite food is Mexican and Seafood.

Blaque: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Richelle: I tend to eat ice cream and chew Super Bubble gum until my next thought generates.

Blaque: Wow! That’s different. I’ve never heard anyone say that before. LOL.

Richelle: Well, it works for me. LOL.

Blaque: What is your favorite color?

Richelle: My favorite color is purple and magenta.

Blaque: So, you’re a purple girl.

Richelle: Yes, ma’am.

Blaque: For most authors, writing is something they do on the side apart from a regular nine-five. Do you write full-time, or is writing like a second job?

Richelle: Writing is my passion, and not a hobby that I love to do every day.

Blaque: What is your favorite type of dessert?

Richelle: My favorite dessert is snicker bar cheesecake

Blaque: Where do you get most of your story ideas?

Richelle: Most of my story ideas originate from college experiences, family, friends, and journal notes.

Blaque: Do you have any other talents besides writing?

Richelle: Yes, my favorite talents include writing poetry and making t-shirt designs.

Blaque: Are you a sports fan? If so, who is your favorite team?

Richelle: My favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys for life.

Blaque: What is your all-time favorite movie?

Richelle: My all-time favorite movie is “This Christmas.”

Blaque: I have several works in progress, but what are you currently working on?

Richelle: I’m currently working on two new releases: All Eyes on Me to Achieve My Destiny, and Married to the Church, Wife is a Mistress

Blaque: If your best friend could describe you in one word, what would it be?

Richelle: My best friend would describe me as SHY.

Blaque: When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Richelle: My favorite thing to do is explore different types of restaurants, wrap up in my Snuggie and play Candy Crush.

Blaque: What inspired your latest book?

Richelle: These books were inspired by my husband and father-in-love.

Blaque: Are you a cat, or are you a dog person?

Richelle: I love my two pets Sir Julius and Princess Eva.

Blaque: Awww! What cute names for your pets. LOL.

Richelle: Yes, they are my world.

Blaque: What is your all-time favorite book?

Richelle: My favorite book is “Woman thou art loose” by: T. D. Jakes.

Blaque: How would you describe your personality?

Richelle: My personality is fun, serious, and loyal.

Blaque: What show(s) did you enjoy watching as a child?

Richelle: My favorite show was Good Times.

Blaque: I agree one-hundred percent. I still watch reruns on DVD to this day. My favorite character of all was JJ, of course. He was dynamite! LOL.

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created?

Richelle: My favorite imaginary character that I’ve created is Lynette.

Blaque: Ok, before we wrap this up, describe your latest book in just ten words.

Richelle: This book offers spiritual nuggets to triumph over years of pain.

Blaque: I see you are a person who believes that there is purpose in your pain. I do as well.

Richelle: Yes, I do.

Blaque: What we go through in life helps us to become who we are supposed to be. You take the joy with the pain and make the best of it.

Richelle: I agree.

Blaque: Well, Mrs. Resto, I am so glad that you stopped by to speak with me today. It has been great getting to know you better.

Richelle: Thanks so much for allowing me this opportunity to speak with you. It has been my pleasure.

Blaque: So, any of you readers out there looking for some spiritual nuggets to get you through tough times? Check out Richelle Resto’s book “The Gift Nobody Wanted: Your Tears have Purpose. I’m sure you’ll find some wisdom and inspiration that will help get you through the murky waters of life.

The gift of life nobody wanted: your tears have purpose book cover

For more about Richelle and her books, check out her website here.

Until next time. Happy writing!

** Note **

If you are an indie author, and you would like to spotlight on my blog, visit Author Spotlight and follow the instructions to submit your interview. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Author Q and A: Jacqueline Goodwin

 

 

Picture of author jacqueline goodwin

 

“There is purpose in your pain.” – Jacqueline Goodwin

 

Blaque: It’s that time again. Another author spotlight. This time, I have the pleasure of speaking with author Jacqueline Goodwin, who resides in South Carolina.

 

Jacqueline: It’s such an honor to have the opportunity to speak with you Blaque Diamond.

 

Blaque: The pleasures all mine. It makes me feel like you and I share something special just because you’re from South Carolina. LOL.

 

Jacqueline: Really?

 

Blaque: Yes, I am also originally from South Carolina. Charleston, South Carolina to be exact.

 

Jacqueline: Oh, wow! That’s pretty amazing. You never know how small the world really is.

 

Blaque: Yes, I miss home, but there were better opportunities for me in North Carolina, so it is my home now.

 

Jacqueline: That is understandable.

 

Blaque: So, before we begin your interview, tell me a little about your book.

 

Jacqueline: Well, Healing in the Vessel is my story. It is a book filled with true-to-life testimonies of how God has moved in my life as a mother and a daughter. I want my book to empower readers everywhere and build up their faith in God.

 

Blaque: Nice. So, this book is full of inspiration as you tell your life’s story?

 

Jacqueline: Yes, I’m sharing my story with the world to change the life of some young person out there. If my story can touch at least one person, then I know there is purpose in my pain.

 

Blaque: Powerful. I’m sure your readers will be able to take some valuable lessons with them after reading your book.

 

Jacqueline: That is my hope and prayer.

 

Blaque: Ok, so let’s get started.

 

Jacqueline: I’m ready when you are.

 

Blaque: What inspires you to write?

 

Jacqueline: My inspiration for writing comes from the Holy Spirit.

 

Blaque: Where is your favorite place to write?

 

Jacqueline: My favorite place to write is at the park.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite holiday, and why?

 

Jacqueline: My favorite holiday is July 4th, because that is the day that God brought me into this world.

 

Blaque: Cool! You’re the second person I know that has a fourth of July birthday. That must be pretty exciting. Not only are you celebrating America’s independence, but also your born day.

 

Jacqueline: Yes, it’s pretty amazing.

 

Blaque: So, where do you see yourself in five years?

 

Jacqueline: In five years, I see myself traveling to various countries preaching and teaching God’s Word. Also, I see myself publishing more books and speaking at different conferences.

 

Blaque: What can bring tears to your eyes?

 

Jacqueline: When I see a young person give their life to Christ, it brings tears to my eyes.

 

Blaque: If you had $1,000,000 to donate to a worthy cause, which would it be, and why?

 

Jacqueline: I would donate the money to help further the research in finding a cure for HIV and AIDS because of my own personal testimony.

 

Blaque: We all need someone to keep pushing us forward, so who has been your biggest supporter in your writing career?

 

Jacqueline: My daughter Jasmine has been my biggest supporter in my writing career.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite color?

 

Jacqueline: My favorite color is pink.

 

Blaque: Pink is also my favorite color as well. Actually pink, red, and white are all my favorite colors. So tell me, where do you get most of your story ideas?

 

Jacqueline: Many of my story ideas come from my own trials and tribulations that I have endured in my life.

 

Blaque: What is your fondest childhood memory?

 

Jacqueline: My fondest childhood memory is playing in my room with my Winnie-pooh bear that my dad won from the State fair.

 

Blaque: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as an author?

 

Jacqueline: My biggest accomplishment as an author is having my book sent overseas to be placed in a library in Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

Blaque: If your best friend could describe you in one word, what would it be?

 

Jacqueline: My best friend would describe me as humble.

 

Blaque: When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

 

Jacqueline: When I am not writing, I enjoy reading my Bible, meditating, praying, and exercising.

 

Blaque: What did you want to be when you grew up? Is that the occupation you’re in now?

 

Jacqueline: I wanted to be an attorney when I grew up, but God took me in a totally different direction. I am not an attorney, but instead I am a pastor and author. These are two occupations that I never really saw myself in, but I would not change them for anything now.

 

Blaque: As authors, most of us have nine to five jobs that help to support our writing careers. Do you write full-time, or is writing like a second job?

 

Jacqueline: Writing is a second job for me, but I am praying for God to open the doors for it to become a full-time career.

 

Blaque: Are you a cat, or a dog person?

 

Jacqueline: I am a dog person.

 

Blaque: I know how it makes me feel, but how does it make you feel when a reader tells you that they enjoyed reading your book?

 

Jacqueline: When a reader tells me that they enjoyed reading my book, it makes me feel that there is purpose in my pain.

 

Blaque: What is your goal as an author?

 

Jacqueline: My goal as an author is to publish my first novel, have my books in various languages, and produce my books in audio format.

 

Blaque: Producing your book(s) in audio format would be beneficial to me and other blind and visually impaired avid readers out there. Even though EBooks are accessible for the blind to read, we still enjoy listening to an actual person read a book compared to a text-to-speech software reading it. I would definitely encourage you to pursue that avenue of publishing your books.

 

Jacqueline: That is definitely on my agenda.

 

Blaque:  What has been the hardest hurdle you’ve had to jump over while embarking on your writing journey?

 

Jacqueline: The hardest hurdle I’ve had to jump over while embarking on my writing journey is finding time to write.

 

Blaque: If your parents could see you right now, would they be proud of you?

 

Jacqueline: Yes, both of my parents would be proud of me if they could see me right now.

 

Blaque: Well, we have reached the end of the interview. I hope your readers enjoyed getting a chance to know you better.

 

Jacqueline: I hope so too. It was nice talking to you.

 

Blaque: Oh, no! The pleasure was all mine. Before I let you go, leave readers with your information so that they can get a copy of your book. We want to make sure that your book gets into the right hands.

 

Jacqueline: LOL. Definitely. So, my book can be purchased from Amazon in paperback format. Readers can also purchase an autographed copy here Autographed Healing in the Vessel A Mother’s Love, A Daughter’s Journey of Faith

 

Blaque: Great! Are you active on social media?

 

Jacqueline: Yes, readers can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

 

Blaque: Readers, be sure to grab your copy of Ms. Jacqueline’s book. If you’re looking for a book of inspiration, you have to look no further. Thanks again for stopping by.

 

Jacqueline: No, thank you for having me.

 

Blaque: Until next time. Happy writing!

 

 

** Note ** If you are an independent author and would like to spotlight on my blog, visit Author Spotlight to view the requirements and send in your interview. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

 

Author Q and A: Leah Forney

Picture of author Leah Forney

 

“Take a negative experience and turn it into a beautiful memory.” – Leah Forney

 

Blaque: Welcome back everyone to another author spotlight. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Nonfiction author, Leah Forney. She is the author of “Unapologetically me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”.

 

Leah: Thanks so much for allowing me to interview with you Blaque Diamond.

 

Blaque: I am the one who feels honored. I want other authors like myself to get as much exposure as they can. Any little bit helps, and I want to do my part to help guide your writing career any way I can.

 

Leah: I am definitely thankful for this opportunity.

 

Blaque: So, tell me a little about your book “Unapologetically Me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”. It sounds like a book full of inspiration and strength.

 

Leah: Well, that it definitely is. This is my story. The story of my struggles, strength, and redemption. I want to teach others that even the most painful parts of our lives have a purpose. With God by your side, you can become who you were created to be.

 

Blaque: Wow! That is such a powerful statement. I have always believed that to be true. That’s why I never regret anything I have went through in my own life. I believe it made me who I am today, and I am unapologetically me.

 

Leah: That’s the message I am trying to convey in my book.

 

Blaque: Well, I’m sure some lucky reader out there is going to get your message loud and clear. So, let’s get to know the woman behind the inspiration. I think your book gives us an idea of who you are, but let’s touch on things that might not have been revealed about you in the book.

 

Leah: Ok. That sounds good to me.

 

Blaque: So, What inspires you to write?

 

Leah: I am inspired by life to write, and also by the people around me. My family and friends, my relationship with my fiancé Joseph, and the good, bad, and ugly aspects of my life inspire me to write. I believe that everyone has a story to tell. No one can tell your story like you can.

 

Blaque: That is so true. No one can tell your story like you can. Now that we know what inspires you to write, where is your favorite place to write?

 

Leah: My favorite place to write is in my bedroom. It is something about my bedroom that allows for my creativity to run wild. I have penned some of my greatest poems, short stories, essays, etc. in my bedroom. It is also the place that I pray and worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that’s why my bedroom is a special place for me to write.

 

Blaque: When it comes to creativity, I believe the place where you develop your craft should feel sacred to you. What is your favorite season, and why?

 

Leah: I am a winter baby. I was born in January. My favorite season would have to be the spring. Spring is the start of new beginnings and fresh starts.

 

Blaque: We all have those things that annoy us, so what is your biggest pet peeve?

 

Leah: That’s a great question. LOL. My biggest pet peeve is someone who is a habitual liar. I don’t like liars because I believe that liars take away a person’s right to choose.

 

Blaque: That is one of my biggest pet peeves also. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

 

Leah: I would change human-trafficking. Human-trafficking is happening every day. It is not being talked about on a regular basis like it should.

 

Blaque: You are right about that. That is one of the most deplorable and inhumane things someone could do to another person. SMH. Everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. No one should have the power to dictate your life, but I’m not going to get in my feelings about that right now. We’re trying to keep things on a positive note. LOL. So, what is your favorite food?

 

Leah: My favorite food is Lasagna. I absolutely love Lasagna.

 

Blaque: What is your favorite holiday? Why?

 

Leah: My favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve. It is something about the start of a New Year that makes me feel amazing.

 

Blaque: Since you are so full of inspiration, I know there has to be others who inspire you. Can you name three people who inspire you and why?

 

Leah: The three people who inspire me are my mentor Andrea Hines, my spiritual mother Pastor Karla Godbee, and my grandmother Noel Mays. Andrea Hines inspires me because she was the first person that believed in the writer in me. She was the first person to ever allow me to act on stage as well as contribute to writing a stage play. Pastor Karla Godbee inspires me because she is my spiritual mother. She is also born on the same day as my biological mother. She is the mother that I never had, and I love her so much. Lastly, my grandmother Noel Mays inspires me because she is the first person to introduce me to Jesus Christ. I learned about faith and Jesus Christ from my grandmother.

 

Blaque: It’s nice to have so many people in your life who can encourage and inspire you to achieve your dreams. So, where do you see yourself in five years?

 

Leah: In five years, I will be married with a child. I also see myself writing and publishing more books. I will be traveling more, and by then I will be a licensed marriage and family therapist.

 

Blaque: That all sounds amazing. It’s always important to have a plan for your life. How many books have you published to date?

 

Leah: This year is the first time I became an author. It has always been a dream of mine. I have only released one book, but my second book will be releasing in early 2018.

 

Blaque: As authors, we are also readers, so how many books can you honestly say you’ve read in one year?

 

Leah: I have read six books and counting so far this year. I am an avid-reader. I believe that if you consider yourself a leader in any capacity, then you should be reading.

 

Blaque: How do you deal with writer’s block?

 

Leah: When I am experiencing writer’s block, I usually have to take a break. I don’t get writer’s block often. I usually have to do something fun that will help me to relax because I am putting too much pressure on myself.

 

Blaque: Yes, taking a break is the best way to give your mind time to slow down and relax. You can’t give something your all when you can’t focus properly.

 

Leah: You’re speaking the truth.

 

Blaque: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing career?

 

Leah: It is a tie between two people. My grandmother Willetta Daniels, who is my father’s mother and my fiancé Joseph Washington. My grandmother literally carries my book in her purse so she can brag to everyone about it. My fiancé is an incredible guy who knows how to push me in my writing, but also knows how to help me relax.

 

Blaque: Do you prefer to write your first-draft on paper, or on the computer? Why?

 

Leah: I prefer writing on both. I usually make an outline with my key ideas on paper, then I transfer it to my laptop. I feel like paper makes it feel more alive than the computer does. The computer aspect is more so for convenience.

 

Blaque: Where do you get most of your story ideas?

 

Leah: I get my ideas from life. My stories are my experiences in life. They come from the people in my life. Every good, bad, and ugly experience in my life creates my stories.

 

Blaque: What advice would you give someone who aspires to be an author?

 

Leah: My advice would be a few things. First, know your why, and be patient with the process. There’s a misconception that you can become an author overnight. Many of us, including myself, know that it can take years to become a published author. Knowing why you want to be an author will help you to stay motivated on the days that you want to give up. Secondly, know your audience. Who are you writing to and for, is very important. My publisher told me that my book is not for everyone. It is very true, so knowing who your audience is will help you to write your story. Lastly, be unapologetic in your story-telling. Again, No one can tell your story like you can, so own it and be bold about it.

 

Blaque: That is some very good advice you gave. I’m sure an aspiring author can gather confidence in their writing from your thoughtful answer. So, who is your favorite author, and why?

 

Leah: My favorite author is Shonda Rhimes. Shonda Rhimes inspires me on so many levels. She has a humble yet unapologetic spirit about herself. Her book “The year of Yes” inspired me to take a leap of faith into becoming an author.

 

Blaque: What is your goal as an author?

 

Leah: My goal as an author is to touch one person’s life. It is also to inspire, encourage, and motivate a generation of people who are experiencing such hopelessness in the world we live in today.

 

Blaque: What has been the hardest hurdle you had to jump over while embarking on your writing career?

 

Leah: I would have to say getting over the fear and just doing it. I can be my own worst critic at times, so I had to stop giving into the self-doubt and take the leap in faith.

 

Blaque: If your parents could see you right now, would they be proud of you?

 

Leah: I would hope that my parents would be proud of me. I don’t have a relationship with my parents because they have battled with addiction and incarceration since I was two-years-old, but I would hope that they were proud of my accomplishments.

 

Blaque: What a way to end this interview. I would hope that your parents are proud of you also. Despite your misfortunes in life, you have persevered and strive to encourage and inspire others.

 

Leah: We all need someone to inspire us and push us in the right direction.

 

Blaque: Sometimes that encouragement comes from home, and other times it comes from strangers. No matter who it comes from, it can impact someone’s life in a positive way. I thank you for all that you do to enrich the lives of others out there in the world. We need more people like you in society today. Thank you so much for talking with me. It was a great pleasure to get to know you better, and I’m sure readers will find your amazing spirit and drive throughout your book. Where can they get their hands on a copy of your book?

 

Leah: My book is available in paperback and as an EBook on Amazon.

 

Blaque: Are you active on social media?

 

Leah: Yes, readers can visit my Facebook page to learn more about me and my writing. They can also follow me on Instagram.

 

Blaque: Well, that’s all I have for today. I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know author Leah Forney in a deeper sense, and I hope she brought you encouragement through her words of inspiration. If you haven’t already read her book “Unapologetically Me: Living, Owning, and Walking in My Truth”, I would encourage you to pick up a copy and see what Leah has to share with you. Until next time. Happy writing.

 

Leah: Thank you so much for having me.

 

 

Coming to the Light

A picture of open french doors with light spilling through

I never would’ve guessed that my last fight would be the very last fight of my life. On March 14th, 2005 was the day that my life would be forever changed in a dramatic way. I got into an altercation with my brother, and it caused me to be where I am today, and where I will probably be for the rest of my life. At the tender age of fourteen, I got into a fist fight with my brother, and this time it wasn’t like our usual fights. I would walk away the loser of much more than just the fight, but also my sight.

I was already partially blind due to mal-practice at birth, but I still had good vision. I was not considered legally blind because I still had perfect vision in the “good eye.” I wore glasses to keep that eye strong. My retina had been detached in the right eye during my birth due to the doctors mishandling of the forceps, so my vision was already delicate. I didn’t find out why I couldn’t see out of that eye until I was an adult. I had always been told that my optic nerves never developed in that eye. I also developed a cataract in that eye at the age of five due to the trauma to the eye.

My brother and I got into the fight over a radio because of me changing the station that was playing. For most people, this is probably such a trivial thing to fight over, but in the violent household and environment that we were living in, this was the norm. Since my brother did not like the fact that I had changed the channel on the radio, he became enraged with me. We began to fight for the radio. He hauled off and punched me in the eye, and I immediately saw red dots. I thought that maybe my eye had been cut and that I was bleeding in my eye. I thought that it was just a minor injury and that I would be back to normal in no time, but I was wrong. That one punch caused me to be in darkness for the rest of my life.

After the fight was over, I tried telling my family that I was having trouble seeing, but I wasn’t believed. My sight did not go away right away, but it was the start of the damage. Losing the vision in that eye happened over time until I woke up one day and couldn’t see anything. When my mother finally did take me serious and took me to the doctor, it was found that it was too late. They could do nothing to fix my vision. Too much time had passed, and the tissue of the eye had already started scarring over. Since it took my mother seven months to get me help for my vision, the doctors didn’t hold up much hope of me getting any of my sight back. Surgeries were performed to see if it would make a difference, but sadly it was useless. From that one fist punch, my retina had become detached and the damage was irreversible. At that point, I felt life was now not worth living for me since I could no longer see.

My self-esteem took a huge nose dive. I felt that I would never be able to live a normal life. The only people that I had ever seen that were blind were elderly people and that happened with age. I thought that I was too young to be blind, and I went into a deep depression. So many scary thoughts were going through my mind. I kept replaying that day over and over wishing that I could rewind the hands of time and do it all over again. Well, my reality was that I couldn’t get a redo, so I had to deal with the circumstances that I was left to deal with. Not having any family support didn’t make the transition any easier either. I was left to deal with this tragedy all on my own.

Over the years, I learned to adapt to my new situation once I finally got out of my depression phase. It was a long and treacherous journey filled with many nights of tears and self-pity. I had to take a hard look at myself and my situation and wonder if I wanted to be that cripple or disabled girl that had to have someone do her basic needs for her, and I knew that was not the life I wanted for myself. So, I began to embrace my new life and learn all that I needed to know so I could live a normal and happy life. I learned braille, computers with the aid of text to speech software, independent living skills, and how to travel alone with a white cane. These skills were very necessary for me to live the life I wanted. I took on every new task with gusto because I was determined to be as independent as I possibly could. I didn’t want to feel like a burden to anyone, and I wanted to be able to take care of myself with minimal assistance.

There were times when I just wanted to give up, but whenever I would think of the outcome if I didn’t push myself, it made me go even harder to learn all that I needed to know. I would always think of people who had other disabilities that were worse than mine, and I would think that I was lucky to just be blind. Even though I could no longer see physically, I could still walk, talk, feed myself, think for myself, and all the other great body functions we take for granted. I felt that things could’ve been worse and I know that I am blessed. I eventually started mentoring people who were just like me. They were struggling with the life that they now had to live because of their visual impairment. Before going blind myself, I would have never known that there were millions of people all over the world just like me young and old dealing with the same situation. Some weren’t taking it so great like I was at one time and others were taking it in stride. So, I look at my situation as a blessing in disguise. I could’ve died that night, but instead god had other plans for me.

I enjoy encouraging other blind and visually impaired people to become as independent as they possibly can. I always like to say, “Just because society sees us as being handicapped and unable to do for ourselves, doesn’t mean that we must live up to that standard or stigma that is placed upon us.” I take pride in knowing that I can do for myself despite what others may think or say because they are not in my situation. It took a while for me to get to where I am today in my thinking, but I am glad that I experienced all that I have in life because it made me the person that I am today. I wouldn’t change one thing about my past because if I did, then I probably wouldn’t be the same person that everyone knows and loves. My faith has a lot to do with how I got through my situation and remain positive about it. I feel that god doesn’t make any mistakes in our lives, so what happened to me must have happened for a specific purpose.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that life is easy because of course it’s not. I still struggle everyday with the fact that I can’t experience some of the day to day activities that most people who can see take for granted. Driving for example; I would love to be able to drive myself to and from work every day. I would also like to be able to go into a grocery store and pick out my own items without the assistance of someone. Going out to a place that I am not familiar with without assistance from someone who can see is something that I also wish I could do, but I am thankful for the blessings that I do have. There are some out here in the world who have it a lot worse than I do. I get frustrated from time to time when I must depend on someone who can see to read stuff for me or help me fill out paperwork, but that is minor compared to the circumstances that others must go through on a daily basis.

As of right now, there is no cure or treatment for my eye condition, but I have faith that one day there will be a way for me to regain my sight. If that day never comes, then I am comfortable in who and what I am. I have adapted to my life just fine and enjoy all the many blessings that god has bestowed upon me. I do not let my disability stop me from living and enjoying all that life has to offer. My life had to be adapted to fit my new situation of being blind, but with the way technology is, it makes it a fun and great learning experience for me. I had to come to the light by accepting who I now am and loving myself despite my circumstance. Every negative occurrence doesn’t have to be a tragedy. Sometimes things happen for a reason because life is something we have no guarantees in.

As an author, my visual impairment does throw up some road blocks that I have no control over. For instance, I have to depend on people to design my book covers and my website for me. I tell them what I imagine my items to look like, but the fact that I can’t see them for myself makes me have to trust their creative skills. I do have someone close to me check them out for me, but in these instances I have to go on what someone else thinks. As someone who used to be into graphics and drawing, the fact that I don’t have that ability anymore sometimes does get to me. Being artistic was a gift that I was proud of, but now I have to use the artistic talents of someone else to get my message across the way I picture it. The fact that I have seen before makes it easy to tell someone how I want something to look, but it still isn’t the same as me designing what I picture myself. When you have a visual impairment, you have to learn to trust people. There are things in life that having a visual impairment will alter, but there are ways to get around it. Everyone needs someone else for something since no one is totally independent and able to do everything themselves. Having that knowledge brings me relief and makes it easier for me to accept my circumstances and live life to the best of my ability.

I shared my story to encourage and inspire those who may be struggling with circumstances in life that they may feel have made them lose hope in themselves. There is still hope if you have faith in god and in yourself. You may see a situation in your life as a mountain or hill that is too steep for you to climb, but all you have to do is step back and evaluate your situation and figure out a new way to accomplish that task. Look at your situation in a positive light instead of as a bad thing. What could’ve happened to make your situation worse? For me the other outcome would’ve been death, so for me losing my sight was a minor inconvenience than losing my life. Every situation won’t be that easy to look at in a positive way, but to grow and accomplish whatever you are trying to succeed at you must see the light at the end of the tunnel.