As we embark upon a new year filled with new dreams, goals, and expectations, let us reflect for a moment on the old. Have we accomplished what we started out to do this time last year? If so, congratulations! If not, what held you back? I've learned that we shouldn't dwell on the past, but make each day a new beginning for there is nothing we can change from the past. All we can do is take what we've learned from the previous year, or even the previous day and use it for the time at hand. I do believe that we should set goals for ourselves as this makes it more concrete as to what we're working towards.
This year, unlike the last, I plan to be more active in my writing. As many are aware, I have been silent for almost five years, up until the past fall....but that was then and this is now. With the gift that God has given me, I plan to use it to His glory laying aside my own insecurities as to what others may think. It is only God we must aim to please, letting His will be done not our own. I pray that in 2010 many will recognize that life is too short to be preoccupied with the past and too precious to be laden with the "what ifs" of the future. It is a day by day effort of how we must live as tomorrow is not promised and yesterday is gone. Today is the day...
Also, I wanted to take a moment to introduce The Testimony Corner. A place where readers, writers, teachers, administrative assistants, social workers, specialists, policemen, people (anyone) in general can post something they're thankful to God for. It can be a grand miracle or one of the many blessings God provides for us on a daily basis. I have read and seen many encouraging stories about real-life that has moved me to tears and I'm sure if it helps me, it will definitely help others. There maybe something you've been through that you can share with another. Please, be encouraged to share God through what He's done in your life. My first is posted below.
In this issue, the feature article is about bestselling author Kendra Norman Bellamy. With this newsletter, I aim to showcase people with a passion for the Lord; those who willfully encourage others with a heart to serve and give, not only to receive. I've found Kendra to be not only generous, but the more I learn about her, the more I see genuineness shining through her life's work. She's an author by occupation, but a Christian by choice; and that, I respect above all else.
~ Feature Article ~
An Interview with author, Kendra Norman-Bellamy
This issue's feature article takes a look into the life of bestselling author, Kendra Norman-Bellamy, who resides in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Kendra is a devoted wife and mother of two daughters (ages 17 and 20) where the oldest daughter, Brittany Holmes, is also a national bestselling author of Christian fiction for teens and young adults. Brittany has published three books to date.
Kendra is the founder of KNB Publications LLC, an independent self-publishing house for Christian writers and Cruisin’ For Christ that celebrates Christian artists and artistries. She's also the creator of The Writer’s Hut, a national support network for published authors of African American fiction and The Writer’s Cocoon Focus Group, a national support network for aspiring and new writers. With a heart for people, Kendra openly shares with Straight Up! Newsletter (SUN) her motivation for writing as well as her faith in Christ which paves the way. Please join us in our interview session that Kendra so graciously donated of her time to do. Learn more about Mrs. Bellamy, in her words.
SUN: Have you always wanted to be an author?
KNB: I get asked that question quite often, and sometimes, I wish I could say yes just because that seems like the right response. I have industry friends who say they knew they wanted to be writers when they were barely able to walk, talk, or even pick up a pencil. There are those who have said that they knew from their mother’s womb that they were destined to be authors. There are days when I wish that was my testimony. How awesome it must be to know your purpose so early in life. Such a keen awareness cuts out years of what would be considered “wasted time.” But every writer has his or her own testimony, and to be honest, mine doesn’t come with that early knowledge of my life’s direction. I didn’t have a clue that writing on a professional level was my destiny. I’ve enjoyed creative writing since I was an elementary school student, and throughout my school years, subjects surrounding writing (English, Journalism, Composition, etc.) were where I would shine the most. But even with all of that, not once did I aspire to be an author. I recall wanting to be a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a florist, and even an executive secretary, which is ultimately what I became after graduating college. This author thing was in no way a planned career choice for me; therefore, I don’t necessarily see it as a career. It’s far more of a ministry; a divine calling. I didn’t see it coming, but God did. He assigned it to me before I was born, but chose not to reveal it to me until much later – in His own time.
SUN: What prompted you to begin writing, and why Christian fiction?
KNB: I started writing poems as a child, and my first piece of poetry was written as an assignment in my fifth grade class. At that point in my life, it was my attempt to be creative, as my teacher had instructed. That started my journey to becoming a gifted poet, and I still write poems today, but primarily on demand; when people request me to do so for special occasions. Novel writing was an entirely different journey. I never meant to write novels – fiction or nonfiction, but here I am now doing both. Writing books was a purpose that was found through pain. It began with me sitting down to type what I thought was going to be a single journal entry three years after my first husband’s death. Until that point, I had not properly mourned his passing. I had hidden my grief, choosing to put on a front and smile through the pain; not wanting to admit – and to an extent, not even realizing - that I was a broken mess on the inside. So there I was, three years after burying him, sitting in front of my very first computer, typing out my harbored feelings and crying so heavily that I could barely see what I was typing. It was the first time I’d allowed myself to cry without restraint. That “single journal entry” turned into a 30-day purging process, and when all was said and done, a 125-page manuscript stared at me from my computer screen. I didn’t realize it then, but that would be the launching point of my writing ministry. From that day, fictional stories began forming in my head, and I began writing them with absolutely no intent to publish. The thought of publishing came about three years later. Being the daughter of two preachers and having been reared in a Christian home, I’m sure, played a big part in carving out the Christian fiction path. I never set out to write Christian fiction. What was inside of me is what poured out of me, and it was all Christ centered.
SUN: How did you start writing, and what pushed you to finish your first book?
KNB: This question is similar to the one before it, so I think I may have answered the first half of it in my previous answer. But as far as what pushed me to finish my first book, I’d have to say that the joy of writing was my motivation. It was never about seeing my work in print or on bookshelves across the globe because I never thought about publishing a book until I’d written several manuscripts. “For Love & Grace” was the first manuscript I tried to get in print, and it ultimately became my first published novel, but I think it was the sixth or seventh manuscript I’d written. Writing was therapeutic for me. I wrote because writing liberated me and made me happy. Getting my writings published was an after-thought, but having a back-log of manuscripts already complete made it easier for me because I was acquired by two mainstream publishers almost simultaneously, and having more than one completed work was a definite plus in meeting those early deadlines.
SUN: In your books, are you able to identify with any of the characters, if so, how?
KNB: Absolutely. Their stories aren’t my true-to-life experiences, but I can relate to their emotions and struggles. As Christians, we are not infallible. We are faced with a lot of choices on a daily basis, and we have to trust God to lead us to make the right ones. Additionally, many of the personality traits of my novels’ heroines are mine, and many of the traits of the heroes in the stories are those of the strong men in my family and my circle of friends. When it comes to the major players (leading men and women) in my books, many of their likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses are drawn either from me or from people in my life.
SUN: Do you ever find yourself “counseling” through your books by the Word of God?
KNB: When writing is ministry, I don’t think the counseling aspect is avoidable. Don’t misunderstand me, I want people to be entertained by the stories I create, but most importantly, my prayer is that they walk away having been changed in some positive way by reading my books. Change often comes about when a person has been advised, warned, encouraged, or given direction in some form or another. And that is what I desire for the readers of my works.
SUN: If you were to sum your life up in one sentence, how would you describe it?
KNB: My life has had its tests and trials, but beyond all else, it’s been blessed.
SUN: What is one thing you want readers to know about the woman behind the books?
KNB: I’m just a sister who loves life and loves God. I love music, seafood, traveling, taking cruises, and sharing time with my friends. I am determined, resilient, and a believer that I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Anyone who really knows me knows that I have a pure heart; always willing to help a fellowman if I have the ability to do so. If I can help open a door for someone to walk in their calling, I will, and even though my generosity has been misused by others, I refuse to allow their abuse to change who I am. I’m a King’s kid…God’s girl…and I believe that the sky is NOT the limit; it’s only the halfway point.
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To date, Kendra has successfully published thirteen novels (eight of which have been national bestsellers) and has four titles due out in 2010. The first title releases in the month of January entitled The Morning After published by Urban Books. Following titles due out are Fifteen Years (February 2010) Publisher: Moody Publishers, Song of Solomon (July 2010) Publisher: Urban Books, and her debut nonfiction book I Shall Not Die (October 2010) Publisher: KNB Publications.To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org