Updated: Jan 25, 2022
It is my extreme and absolute pleasure to shine our Spotlight on a trio of incredible authors. Throughout the course of a lifetime, most would find it extremely rare to meet one person who personifies the intelligence, grace and tenacity exemplified by these divas. So I am more than blessed to call each of them my friend and confidant. Writers by nature must form a certain degree of duality in order to be successful in their trade. We must be sensitive enough to delve into emotions and feelings that the average person has learned to avoid. Simultaneously, we have to develop a thick enough skin to handle the humbling rejections that often precede any measure of success. Authors are required to share the most personal parts of ourselves in the most public of forums. In my opinion, this duality makes writers the most vulnerable of all public figures. Entities and individuals seeking to criticize can attack either side of this duality . . . or both. For this reason I hold an immense amount of respect for these young ladies. To gift their works to us is to give us a portion of their souls. Authors crave commonality and kinship with their readers in reciprocity for their giving. In a world that perpetually succumbs to the destructive, negative forces of society, it becomes our duty to embrace positive, creative powers also. When destruction overcomes creation, we leap toward an existence void of life! Of course readers should expect the apex of our creative skills and abilities. In contrast, our global writing community should nurture, guide, and support new talent to ever higher zeniths. This is how we extend and advance our universal writing family. These queens have my unyielding support. Once you’ve become familiar with their work, I’m sure you will be pleased to support them as well. Allow me to introduce our latest literary ambassadors.
Romel and I met while we were both working for the University of North Texas. She was vivacious and abundantly energetic. In fact, I remembered her energy when I couldn’t remember her name. After our first meeting, I repeatedly forgot her name during every subsequent meeting. Due to embarrassment, I resulted to calling her Jada. She tolerated this for so long that it became my personal moniker for her and remains so to this day. The following is our interview Q&A:
Where are you from and how did you get into writing? I call myself a CalTex, LOL. I am originally from San Francisco, California and settled in Texas in my high school years, so I would like to say that I am a Cal-Tex. I have always wanted to write a book. It's funny that I wanted to write a kid's book first, so I made an illustration book about my soon who always disturbed my while I was asleep. Of course, it wasn't a published book. It was a handmade copy, but I loved it because I drew the illustrations myself. I do plan on writing a children's book one day. I also plan on writing a part 2 to "Common Secrets" as well as a motivational purposed book.
How long have you been an author? I have been a published author for three years.
Do you remember when you actually realized that you were good enough to be a professional? Ha Ha Ha! No I have never felt that I was good enough. Still feel that way today.
Who are some of your inspirations? Being authentic is my inspiration . . . just being real about everything.
What styles do you write in (fiction, non-fiction, poetry . . . )? Of these which is your favorite? Fiction, Fiction is my favorite.
What themes drive the visions of your work? The themes behind my work ar my visions. My visions are inspirations from God. When He sends me a vision, that is what begins the work. It's the foundation of my work ahead.
What are the proudest moments in your career as an author? I would say that I finished my last page with the last word and when I received my authors copy.
Have you ever found yourself creatively blocked as a writer? If so what methods did you use to overcome it? Yes of course, I believe as a true writer, you will experience writer's block more than once. The best way to handle it is to trust the process.
What was the biggest disappointment in your writing and how did you deal with it? I cannot think of any disappointments in my writing other than getting writer's block, but I just had to learn to trust the process. Once I learned it is a process. Being patient is a huge part of writing.
What are your future visions for your work and what do you believe will be the future directions of writing and reading in general? My future vision for Common Secrets is it being made into film . . . getting it on the big screen. I believe the future direction of writing and reading will have to be sticking to the truth and being honest and real.
What is something that most people do not know about you? That I am a Couture fashion designer and painter as well.
What advice would you give to a new or struggling author? The advice will be to stay focused, be patient, continue to believe in your book and to stay real.
Where can we view and purchase your work? (click the following links) www.romelcelanesesmith.com, barnes&noble, amazon, halfpricebooks
*Click here to read an exerpt from Common Secrets
I worked with Portia in the IT Departments of State Farm Insurance. The Information Technology positions can prove very taxing and sometimes overwhelming. On breaks we would all joke around to lighten the mood at the job. Initially I believed that I should tone it down when she was in the break room with us. To my astonishment, I soon found that she had a very genuine personality and could crack side-splitters with the best of us. We became a surrogate family there and many of us still keep in touch. The following is our interview Q&A:
Where are you from and how did you get into writing? My family is from Greenville, NC, but i was a military kid so I'm from a little bit of everywhere. As a kid, I like to make up stories. I loved how it captivated my audience. It wasn't until I was an adult bored at work that i started penning my stories.
How long have you been an author? I wrote my first full novel about 20 years ago, I was so excited when I completed it. Only a few people got a chance to read it before I had a mishap with an external hard drive. My second novel took a lot longer, but I self-published it in 2019.
Do you remember when you actually realized that you were good enough to be a professional? I was only a few chapters into my first novel when I allowed a friend to read it. A couple months later she asked me about the characters. She remembered their names and was invested in their stories. That gave me the confidence to share like I did when I was a kid.
Who are some of your inspirations? Two of my favorite authors are Bebe Moore Campbell and Walter Mosely. Pearl Cleage is another favorite. I loved her first novel "What Looks Crazy," the first sentence just woke you up and there was no putting it down.
What styles do you write in (fiction, non-fiction, poetry . . . )? Of these which is your favorite? Fiction and poetry. Working on being brave enought to do copywriting professionally. My favorite are fiction short stories . . . mostly about relationships. The challenge is to get to the point quickly.
What themes drive the visions of your work? Self-help and friendships between women. I realized that my novel is a self-help book disguised as a fiction novel. My dream would be to write mystery novels. But as i start to type, that darn love yourself shows up on the page.
What are the proudest moments in your career as an author? Getting on stage and doing my first (and only) poetry reading.
Have you ever found yourself creatively blocked as a writer? If so what methods did you use to overcome it? Meditation, running on the treadmill, driving to a hiking trail and taking a walk. I find that blocks happen when I am trying to be perfect. I have to let go and allow the character to write their story.
What was the biggest disappointment in your writing and how did you deal with it? The fear of putting myself out there. Selling a novel requires marketing but the introverted me is too shy. I'm still learning to deal with it.
What are your future visions for your work and what do you believe will be the future directions of writing and reading in general? I'm currently writing two more books and working on a screenplay. I mentioned earlier, I am also working on copywriting. I plan to take a scriptwriting course and to find some work writing for television and/or movies. I think the future direction for writing and reading will be the same as it has been. What changes is the way we do it. I love the fact that as an author, we can now self-publish. No more begging the big houses to notice us. We can create our own audiobooks. And some day, when my courage is up, we can crate our own YouTube and TikTok channels. Without writers, there are no forms of entertainment. Someone has to tell the stories.
What is something that most people do not know about you? I want to move to Italy. It's been calling my name since I was a kid. I don't know why. It will be a good place for the second half of my life.
What advice would you give to a new or struggling author? Even if you don't think its good, write it anyway. And get around different people. That is where you find your inspiration.
Where can we view and purchase your work? www.amazon.com/author/portialeivette, IG:@portialeivette
Excerpt from It was That Moment When…
By Portia Leivette
“Good evening,” Chris spoke as the two were peering in his direction.
“This is Chris,” Lexie introduced. “He is going to have a drink with us.”
“Well, I was just getting my food to go,” he told her.
“No, no, stay,” Brie suggested.
Chris smiled as he onced over Brie’s curvy frame in her black dress slacks and emerald green, satin blouse. She was cute and seemed innocent, but he knew better. He imagined she was the good girl of the group. Phaedra looked but didn’t speak until he did. Chris couldn’t read her as well as he did the other two, but Phaedra’s first question was, “What do you do for a living?” turned him off.
Chris took a minute to respond answering her, “I’m a teacher. Physics to be exact.”
Phaedra curled her lip because she knew he was lying and went back to her drink. Chris laughed then Brie spoke up, “I like science.”
You probably can’t spell science,” Lexie said her words slurring even worse now.
“I think you are at your limit,” Brie huffed pulling the drink out of Lexie’s hand.
“No, not yet. Just two more,” Lexie begged.
“Sorry,” Brie apologized to Chris. “She’s had a bad day. She is usually a very nice person.”
“Are you going to need help getting her to the car?” He offered.
“We might. Dead weight you know,” Brie smiled now standing behind Lexie’s chair. She was close enough now to see the few gray hairs coming through his beard. She guessed his age to be late 30’s early 40’s.
Chris realized the two had locked into a staring contest. He smiled and picked up his water to distract himself. The bar tender had laid his food on the counter in front of him. Chris dug out his credit card and passed it to Eric.
“Brielle Jackson,” she finally introduced herself locking eyes again.
“Christopher Hollingsworth,” he told her.
“Wow, you guys used full names. I’m Alexia Felecia Simmons,” Lexie jumped in.
“No, you are drunk ass Lexie and it is time for you to go home,” Phaedra said as she waved goodbye to the guy she was talking to.
“I’m not drunk. I’m happy,” Lexie answered sliding slowly off the bar stool. Chris reached out to help her down. Lexie smiled and said thank you to him.
Brie’s hair rose on her back as she quickly asked, “Should we call Mark?”
“No, let’s not call Mark. We have a Christopher. We don’t need a Mark when we have a Christopher,” Lexie told her irritated.
“Yeah, but, you might want a Mark when you wake up in the morning with a vodka headache. A Christopher won’t be there in the morning,” Phaedra advised.
“No Mark!” Lexie demanded.
“We are not usually a group of circus clowns. She is usually the designated driver for us all,” Phaedra explained.
“Yes, I know. She’s having a bad day,” Chris replied with a smile.
“She was laid off today after 12 years with her company,” Phaedra further explained.
“Don’t tell him that. He’ll think I’m broke. I’m not broke. I don’t need a man to buy me anything,” Lexie protested.
“Lexie, at this moment in time I want you to stop talking. If you open your mouth again, I’m going to shove a napkin into it. Okay?” Phaedra promised her.
Lexie put her index finger to her lip and went, “shhhhhhh,” spitting on Phaedra and then laughing.
Chris passed his dinner to Brie and asked her to hold it while he guided Lexie out. He truly wanted to throw her over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes, but that would have been undignified. He walked slowly behind her as she walked with her hand over her mouth fearing the consequences if she said another word. Chris ignored the stares and found the whole thing entertaining. Not what he was expecting when dropping in to grab a quick bite.
Phaedra stayed to settle their tab but Eric informed her Chris had taken care of the bill. Phaedra smiled and told him she would see him next time and added a $50 tip. Phaedra headed for the front door laughing at her drunk friend. In the four years she has known her, this was only the second time Lexie was like this. When she stepped out, Brie was trying to find Lexie’s car. Brie did not want to walk them to her car because she did not want Chris to see she had car seats. She feared he would not be interested in a single woman with kids. Phaedra asked what the problem was and Brie explained she did not know where Lexie parked. Phaedra knew Brie well enough to know what she was thinking and gave the woman a smirk. Brie responded with wide eyes which meant don’t you dare.
“Ladies, would you like me to just put her in my car and drive her home?” Chris asked them.
“No, stranger danger,” Phaedra told him. “I’ll drive her home. Wait right here while I pull around.”
Chris laughed but indicated that skinny was a handful.
“Good thing you’ve got big hands,” Phaedra smiled and walked away.
“We really appreciate your kindness, Chris. Do you come here often?” Brie asked.
“Not too often. I saw a commercial and thought that I would grab some dinner here tonight before I headed home,” he said.
“So, are you coming back? Cause we are coming back. Here, put your number in my phone,” Lexie said passing her phone to Chris.
Chris took the phone from her and entered his number. Brie felt a little jealous. “Call me next time you guys come out. It would be interesting to come hang with you.”
“We will,” Lexie promised with a big smile on her face.
Phaedra pulled up in her silver 2005 Thunderbird. Chris opened the door and helped Lexie in and then turned to ask, “Where are you going to sit Brie?”
Phaedra yelled from her driver’s seat, “Brie drove her own car.”
Brie cringed and leaned down to give Phaedra an evil look. “Call me when you get home,” she said through gritted teeth. Brie turned her attention back to Chris. “The three of us met here. I parked somewhere yonder.”
Phaedra yelled back, “I will. Can’t wait to talk.”
Brie passed Chris his food and told him thank you again. She turned to walk away feeling defeated.
Have you ever had one of those days when life has been exceptionally ugly and you just want some cold libations and positive company? If so then you know how I felt the day I met Tina. I’d come to one of my favorite pool spots to unwind and shake off the horrible day, when I noticed her. My first impression was that she must have been there to audit the place. She dressed too impeccably and was just a bit too graceful to be a part of the regular crowd. She seemed completely out of place. Soon we struck up a deep conversation that lasted for hours. Over time I found that many people (including myself) had come to know her as a health and spiritual advisor and friend. The following is our interview Q&A:
Where are you from and how did you get into writing? I am from Dallas, Texas. I got into writing after my husband at the time encouraged me to write my life story.
How long have you been an author? I was always an writer and was great with my hands. I was the kid with the pencil behind my ear carrying a lot of books.
Do you remember when you actually realized that you were good enough to be a professional? After starting my first business at the age of thirteen.
Who are some of your inspirations? My inspirations are Maya Angelou, Zig Ziglar, and Beethoven.
What styles do you write in (fiction, non-fiction, poetry . . . )? Of these which is your favorite? I like experimenting with different writing styles. I like cursory writing to accomplish goals with other forms of writing . . . Narrative, Persuasive, Analytical writing.
What themes drive the visions of your work? Life messages usually about self-experience, societal needs, empowerment or human nature . . . universal ideals and just sharing and exploring all my gifts.
What are the proudest moments in your career as an author? Accomplishing a goal and seeing it complete and when I see someone inspired by my writing to go after their dreams.
Have you ever found yourself creatively blocked as a writer? If so what methods did you use to overcome it? Yes . . . I release negative people and thoughts, find peace, and re-open my mind to my creative flow.
What was the biggest disappointment in your writing and how did you deal with it? When I didn’t value my work and its importance by releasing it to the wrong people to edit it. It was like putting my baby into the wrong hands. It threw me back two years, having to rewrite the book . . . lesson learned.
What are your future visions for your work and what do you believe will be the future directions of writing and reading in general? I want all my books to reach an international audience. I also plan on doing screen writing for movies.
What is something that most people do not know about you? Growing up as a kid I had a learning disability, which meant I had to work harder than other kids.
What advice would you give to a new or struggling author? Never throw in the towel on your dreams and expand outside of your box to find your hidden abilities.
Where can we view and purchase your work? I am currently working on a website, but for now purchases can be made through my FaceBook, and payment can be made also through my PayPal: email@example.com
Amieteen "Tina” Watkins is a Dallas native, author of 14 books and an advocate for empowering women through seminars, workshops and roundtable discussions. She is Founder of the nonprofit Women Empower Empire for single mothers and owner of Queen Touch Products. Tina is the oldest of four children and has five children of her own. She has overcome major challenges in her life. During her early years, Tina was a victim of sexual assault on more than one occasion. She also saw violence in her home. As a small child, she witnessed her mother shooting her father, but thankfully not killing him. As a 7 year old she recalls holding her mother’s bleeding head in her lap after a particularly brutal assault by her father. As a teen, she was beaten by her stepfather, and even had a gun held to her head. Despite all her challenges, Tina drew closer to God, and was ordained in 2012 as a minister. Instead of allowing her hardships to defeat her, she forced them to motivate her!
* The Quintessential Quill is planning follow-up interviews with each of these authors soon. The way we defeat the negative is by supporting the positive . . . Carpe Diem!