Reaching a Milestone

vector Golden number 10000 ten thousand metallic balloon. Party decoration golden balloons. Anniversary sign for happy holiday, celebration, birthday,

In the first blog post I wrote five years ago, Cheers to New Beginnings, I celebrated the step I took to build my author website. At the time, I didn’t have a publishing contract, but I was excited about taking a leap and claiming a space for me as a writer. I talked about how I had to overcome doubt and fear in order to create something meaningful to me.

So, there’s no other place than here that I’m excited to share a huge milestone: I’ve sold over 10,000 copies of my two novels (Blaming the Wind and Everything She Lost). I’m not a math person, and I honestly never had a sales goal I wanted to reach. But, I did have a goal in mind when I wrote my novels. And I decided it was time to overcome my doubt and fear and talk about that goal and the journey of writing my books.

After freelance writing for a few years, I took my first creative writing class at a local Adult Ed program in January 2010. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of 4 kids (ages 7, 5, 3, and 1). I was so excited to have a few hours in the evening with other adults devoted to learning the the craft of fiction writing.

It was a tough time in my young family’s life. My grandfather and father-in-law had both passed away the previous month. The financial, physical, and emotional toll of having four kids in Silicon Valley was weighing very heavy on my husband and I. After reaching a breaking point, we separated.

What followed was bad. Without realizing what was happening, my mental health deteriorated rapidly. The best way I can describe it is I became the equivalent of Thanos in the Avengers movies – a monster. I did and said things completely out of character that caused a lot of hurt, confusion, and chaos. When family intervened a few weeks later, I was hospitalized against my will for a week.

When I left the hospital, the world I had known no longer existed. I lost custody of my kids and could not go home. My best friends would not speak to me, and I wasn’t speaking to most of my family. Without money or support, I ended up crashing at a cheap motel, trying to figure out my next move. After a few weeks, a good friend who heard about my predicament let me stay with her for a couple of months. Then I moved in with my dad and his significant other.

With the reality of everything that had happened hitting home, I sunk into the deepest, darkest realm of rock bottom. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how my life had collapsed. I’d never in my life imagined I would have a breakdown, and it was impossible to understand how it had resulted in the loss of everything I loved. Going from spending every second with my kids to only seeing them a few hours a week hurt in a way I can’t describe. And the friends I thought would have my back through thick and thin wouldn’t return my calls.

I saw a lot of doctors that said different, scary things: PTSD, major depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. All I heard was a death sentence. I figured I’d spend the rest of my life going in and out of hospitals, penniless, and unable to take care of myself or my kids.

I wish I could say I was like Job in the Old Testament, who’d lost his health, family, and livelihood as a test of his faith and proved his dedication to God. But, I didn’t. I completely lost my faith. I couldn’t fathom that the God I’d believed in could let my life crumble so quickly and unexpectedly. The only thing that made sense to me was that God didn’t exist.

With no home, no kids, no husband, no job, no money, I had absolutely no hope. I spiraled into a depression that completely consumed me. I thought suicide was the only answer. I could not fathom that life could ever get better. But my family and closest friends wouldn’t give up on me, and they wouldn’t let me give up on myself.

At the time, I was hypersensitive to other people’s suffering. Stories I used to easily tune out like a person having family members killed, or being kidnapped and held captive, or losing everything in a natural disaster, now held a special place in my heart. I could deeply empathize with others going through hard times. And hearing how other people lived through something awful helped me think somehow, someway I could survive what I was going through, also.

After everything that had happened in the weeks leading up to my hospitalization, I honestly doubted my husband would ever speak to me again. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t imagine my life without him and raising our kids together. Then, out of the blue, something miraculous happened. My husband contacted me. He’d heard I was doing everything in my power to follow doctors’ advice and become healthy again, and he wanted to support me.

I won’t bore you with the details, but miracle by miracle, God stitched my life back together. I was able to regain my health, reconcile with my husband, move back home with my children, get a job (which I still hold), and eventually finish writing my novels.

I remember growing up and seeing framed pictures of the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

When I look back, I realize it was God who carried me through the fire. Never once did He leave me or forsake me. I will eternally be grateful and in awe of how God restored my health, restored my marriage, and restored my family.

So, to conclude and return to the original point of this post, I had a goal when I wrote my novels. I wanted to tell stories of everyday people facing serious problems and overcoming them. I wanted to write about mental health issues in a raw and real way that dispels stereotypes and lets people know that a diagnosis is not the end. But most importantly, I wanted to give people hope in the possibility of new beginnings. It’s been nine years since my breakdown, and everyday I’m thankful that I’m still here. I hope by sharing my story, anyone doubting if they can come through the other end of whatever struggle they’re facing knows they can too.

10,000 copies sold, and I’m just getting started.




I once felt like I had died. In what seemed like a flash of the eye, everything I had known to be my life had been taken away. It was dark, scary, hopeless. I couldn’t see a way out.

Today on Holy Saturday, we reflect on Jesus in the grave. I can only imagine what the day must have felt like for his mother, the disciples, and those who loved and followed Jesus. All their hopes and expectations of Jesus as the Messiah must have felt buried along with him. In fear and devastated, they must have faced a completely uncertain future.

In an imperfect world, there are always hardships that threaten to end us. Events like the loss of a relationship or job, death of a loved one, illness, or tragedy can happen and threaten to swallow us whole.

But as we know, Jesus didn’t stay buried. What seemed like the end of his ministry, turned out to be the greatest triumph over death ever. Those who trust in God have confidence to believe that He has a divine purpose and plan for every person.

Regardless of the depth of the struggle, we remember that God is with us every step of the way. Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Though it took time and patience, I emerged from what felt like the end of me to a new and better phase of life. When we need to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” we know he descended to the darkness of hell before ascending to the heights of heaven. Wherever we are in between, so, too, is Jesus. If we’re ever faced with despair, remember Easter will always come.

Negative Thoughts Allowed


I had really high hopes for 2018. My second novel, Everything She Lost, had a release date of January 2, my kids were getting older and (I thought) wiser, and I really wanted a year without drama. To give away the ending, 2018 was far from drama-free. Among my family (including extended), we faced hospitalizations, surgery, teen angst, bullying, and a hurricane (Bud of all names). 2018 felt like a bumpy roller coaster ride that wouldn’t end, and I have new gray hair to prove it.

I got through last year with lots of prayer, grumbling, and exasperation. But one thing that hasn’t helped, and has actually made the situation worse are three words that, while well-intentioned, annoy me to no end: “think positive thoughts.”

I’m sure “positive thinking” has been around for a really long time. But in my lifetime, I can trace the explosion of the concept to the 2006 self-help book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. Don’t get me wrong – I was enamored with the concept initially. If I only think positive thoughts, only positive things will happen, the wisdom went. I thought, I can literally think my way to a life of prosperity, good health, ideal relationships, an awesome job, etc. I remember after reading the book, I felt so positive. And apparently, a lot of other people did too. The concept spread and spread, and before long, everyone was just brimming with positivity. Which is good! Of course, it’s good to be positive. But then life still happens.

In 2010, I had what could only be called a perfect storm of bad things happen. Really, really bad. As I struggled through that year, people kept telling me to “think positive thoughts.” Like, I know your world fell apart, but don’t think about it. I know you’re in a hard spot, but you must have brought in on yourself by negative thinking. I know you feel bad, but you shouldn’t, so don’t think about it. It felt like I was getting the message that if I was really going through something bad, I either brought it on myself by not thinking positively enough or I wasn’t thinking positively enough in order to get out of it. The “think positive mantra” insisted, if one can just see the bright side, everything will miraculously be better and fixed.

As anyone who has really suffered, or suffers, knows, that’s not how it works. Thinking positive thoughts isn’t a panacea to life’s problems. The fact is, bad things happen to people who’ve done absolutely nothing to warrant it – they didn’t think it into existence. People who live with chronic pain or illness can’t simply think their way to health. Those suffering loss and grief can’t just magically make their sorrow go away. Pain and hardship are a normal, and at times painstaking, part of life no matter how hard we try to safeguard ourselves from them.

I’m not saying being positive isn’t a good thing. Studies show that positive attitudes can often lead to positive health outcomes and help speed recovery. But wanting to have a positive outlook for yourself (which is good) and telling someone else they should be positive are two different things. When I’ve faced hardship, what I’ve wanted most from other people was simply to be there and empathize – not to tell me what to do or how I should do it.

The book of Genesis tells the account of Hagar, the slave of Sarai. After Sarai and Abram were unable to conceive a baby, Sarai told her husband to sleep with Hagar. After Hagar conceived, Sarai grew jealous and treated her slave harshly and with contempt. Unable to endure Sarai’s abuse any longer, Hagar ran away to the desert.

An angel of God found Hagar there. The angel told Hagar to go back home and submit to Sarai, and promised Hagar that her descendants will be “too numerous to count.” Humbled and moved that God had seen her in her pain and anguish, Hagar praises God saying, “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me,’” (Genesis 16:13b), and Hagar calls God by His name, El Roi, “the God who sees me.”

God sees every single person living with pain, suffering, illness, anxiety, and other hardships. I love revisiting the short by Brene Brown on Empathy. I’ve started 2019 knowing that whatever this year brings, God sees me and will always help me through whatever I’m going through; and I will strive to see others in their pain and respond with empathy.

*If you enjoyed this post, check out Buried.

The Untold Story of a Modern Day Miracle


Since 2014, the issue of diversity in publishing has garnered a lot of attention and raised the question: which stories deserve to be told? Many statistics highlight that stories written by and featuring people of color, as well as those from marginalized communities, are published less often, less reviewed, and given less exposure. One true-life story that’s often overlooked happened in Kibeho, Rwanda.

Most adults know about the Rwandan genocide in 1994 or even saw the critically acclaimed movie, “Hotel Rwanda.” In the span of 100 days, approximately 800,000 Rwandans were murdered by their neighbors while the world looked on. However, most people don’t know about the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to many people beginning in 1981 in the small village in that country, Kibeho, that transformed lives and foretold the genocide. The narrative told during the genocide had the power to preserve life or cause death.

On November 28, 1981, sixteen-year-old Alphonsine Mumureke had finished a pop quiz in geometry at Kibeho High School and was walking down the hall when she began to feel odd. She lost all sense of time and space and saw a vision of a beautiful woman emerging from a cloud, bathed in shimmering light. The woman introduced herself as “the Mother of the Word,” said she wanted Alphonsine and her friends to have more faith, and wanted to be loved and trusted to lead souls to Jesus. After the vision, the majority of the people at school did not believe Alphonsine had seen Mary. However, Mary gradually appeared to three other students, then many more. Soon people became convinced the Mother of God truly was visiting the girls.

Thousands of people flocked to watch the visionaries have apparitions of Our Lady, and faith and goodwill spread throughout Kibeho and the neighboring villages. Expecting something wonderful to occur, over 20,000 people turned out on August 15, 1982 – the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. However, during Alphonsine’s vision, Mary’s message was unexpectedly dire. Alphonsine became very upset and later revealed that she was shown horrific images of destruction; rivers of blood; and hundreds of thousands of dead, dismembered, and decapitated bodies. The two other visionaries subsequently were shown the same horrifying images.

Mary urged the visionaries to warn the people that Rwanda was on the road to destruction if everyone did not cleanse their hearts of hatred. She told them that a small seed of anger can grow into a tree of hatred. During Mary’s apparitions to Marie-Claire, she assigned the young visionary a mission to reintroduce the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which had been instituted in the Middle Ages but fell out of use, and recalls the sorrows Jesus and Mary faced during their lives.

After the visions, two separate investigation commissions were established by the local ordinary: a medical commission on March 20th, 1982 to find out if the visionaries had any medical or mental health conditions; and a theological commission on May 14th, 1982 to evaluate if the messages given to the visionaries were theologically sound. In 1985, the theological commission carried out an investigation to collect the reactions to the events and found a great spiritual renewal, conversions, and an increase of vocations to the priesthood or religious life. On August 15, 1988, the local Bishop decided to approve a public devotion linked to the apparitions of Kibeho. Marie-Claire’s last vision was on September 15th, 1982; Nathalie’s last vision was  December 3rd, 1983, and Alphonsine’s visions lasted for exactly eight years, ending on November 28th, 1989. Though the visions ended, with such renewed faith emanating out of Kibeho and spreading through Rwanda, many had no reason to believe Mary’s prophecy would happen.

However, on April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana was assassinated. At the time, there were three ethnic groups: Hutu (who made up roughly 85% of the population), the Tutsi (14%) and the Twa (1%). The elite class “Tutsis” had been manufactured under German and Belgian colonial rule during the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries – a tactic widely used during colonization – and the Belgians used the Tutsi minority to enforce their rule over Hutu. There were decades of conflict between the ethnic groups, and after the president’s assassination, the Rwandan Armed Forces and civilian militias known as interahamwe began killing the Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The privately-owned radio station, Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines, known as  “Hate Radio” in Rwanda, became a weapon, and its broadcasts inflamed tensions by telling a false political narrative to motivate Hutus to continue killing their neighbors. They stoked flames by reminding Hutus of the injustices committed against them since colonial rule, and stated that if they did not fight back, they would become slaves to the Tutsis. Following the instruction of the radio station, many Hutus killed hundreds of thousands of people. Sadly, the Virgin Mary’s prophecies came true.

After the genocide, and with renewed interest in the Marian prophecies, the investigation into the validity of the Kibeho visionaries continued. On June 29, 2001, Mons. Augustine Misago, Bishop of Gikongoro, read the Holy See’s final judgment, which concluded the Virgin Mary did indeed appear in Kibeho, and only considered the testimonies of the three initial visionaries – Alphonsine, Nathalie, and Marie Claire – as authentic. Three days later, Pope John Paul II and the Vatican added Kibeho to the list of Marian approved apparition sites, making it the 15th approved apparition site since the 16th century.

Today, an estimated 500,000 pilgrims journey to Kibeho every year to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho, which houses a sixteen-foot tall Divine Mercy statue. However, the Marian apparition is not widely known outside of the African continent, nor given the amount of recognition or devotion it deserves. Mary repeatedly told the visionaries that her message of renewed faith, love, repentance, and forgiveness was not just for Kibeho, or Rwanda, or Africa – it was for the whole world. In such tense and divisive times, it’s important to spread and heed this message. The true-life story of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Kibeho is a story that deserves to be told.


Ilibagiza, Immaculee. Our Lady of Kibeho. Hay House, Inc., 2008.

Lyon, Meghan. “Radio in the Rwandan Genocide.” The Devil’s Tale, 1 May 2017,

When You Don’t Belong

Photo Courtesy of National Park Service

When I studied Comparative Religious Studies in college, I had one class where we’d have to write personal reflections on various religious topics, and I always got a B on my reflections. Apparently, I wasn’t digging deep enough or reflecting correctly (insert rolling eyes emoji). However, I finally received an A on one assignment. I reflected on a fictional short story we’d read about the millions of Africans who’d died on the transatlantic slave voyage transporting people from Africa to the Americas. The story imagined what happened to their spirits which remained forever in the ocean, stuck between their birth country and enslavement; and without proper burial, stuck between life and death. I wrote about how I often felt stuck between different worlds, too. Though that was over a decade ago, that feeling grows more and more each day over the past couple of years.

I was a child of divorced parents – an immigrant South African mother, whose family was politically exiled to the UK before she came to the US, and African-American father. I attended a predominantly white Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. And while I always had friends I considered dear, I always felt like I didn’t quite fit in. Skin color, hair texture, and body shape made me physically different from people who weren’t black. And growing up with a Catholic mother who spoke with a foreign accent, primarily watched BBC, and sipped tea instead of cooking soul food, made me feel culturally different from the black community. It took me years to get to where I am now: a mix of my heritage and culture, community, and history. I attend mass and regularly watch Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church’s Youtube sermons. I pray the rosary and listen to gospel music. I take interest in both African and African-American issues. I’m confident in who I am, and appreciate my diversity.

So, while being different and never quite fitting in isn’t new, I hadn’t expected to again encounter it as a writer. Though my first novel, Blaming the Wind, alternated between four characters: two male and two female, I learned about different genres and queried it as women’s fiction. Since two of the perspectives were male, and men enjoyed the book, I didn’t think it was the “typical” women’s fiction novel, but every book needs to fit somewhere, and my publisher and I were fine with it in that category. I was a “women’s fiction author,” so I joined an association and tried to fit in a community and belong. I made great connections and learned a lot.

My second novel, Everything She Lost, tells the stories of two women and has a lot of psychological suspense. I didn’t doubt it was women’s fiction with suspense, and I submitted it to the association for marketing purposes. So, when I received an email that said my book did not meet their criteria for women’s fiction because it sounded more like psychological suspense/thriller, and therefore I was not able to reap the benefits of the association, I was floored. Not only because I’d spent four years paying membership dues and building community, but also because, once again, I didn’t fit it.

As an expert in being the other, I moved on. Though still connected with women fiction authors, I’ve also found a new community of mystery, suspense, and thriller writers of color that I still don’t quite fit in with, but that I enjoy and have learned a a great deal about the genre. But writing aside, my sense of being stuck in between different worlds grows every day.

As a devout Catholic, I’m stuck in another raging battle. While more traditional Catholics pray for the downfall of the pope because of the more inviting and accepting direction he’s trying to take the church, I agree with the pope in that respect. But I’m still very disgusted by the horrible and inexcusable child abuse scandal and cover-up. As an African-American, I don’t face the very real threat of deportation like many immigrants who call the US home, but I have to endure a president that called my mother’s country a “shithole” and uses his voice to push debunked conspiracy theories about the plight of white farmers over the real issues faced by many African countries still reeling from the effects of colonization, unjust debt, and prejudice. And at home, I’m stuck between a middle class existence where my kids can attend a good desegregated public school as a result of the civil rights movement, yet I worry every day that the next black male killed for no reason other than the color of his skin could be one of my sons.

When stuck in between two places, it’s a fight to stay afloat and find a sense of belonging. But as a descendant of people who survived the middle passage to America, I dare not sink. The thing about being in between is you see both sides – whether you agree with them or not. So in life, as well as my writing, I will continue to build bridges by giving voice to those without one and exploring topics that often aren’t discussed. Building bridges means choosing not to argue with people on social media who have differing opinions, but instead praying for them. It means not being a registered Republican or Democrat, but still voting in every election for people and ideas that I support. If never fitting in means I don’t have the privilege to stand comfortably on the sidelines, than that’s a position I’m glad to have.

As I write this on the anniversary of the horrific September 11 attacks, I recall how most Americans came together as one nation to stand firmly and declare that no terrorist could destroy all that our democratic nation stands for. My prayer is that our country is able to heal its divisions and finally become a country where all people feel that they belong.

When Characters Are Sinners

Photo by theilr

A really nice priest emailed me after reading my last post, When Prayers Are Answered, Sort Of, and ended the email by wishing me luck and saying he bought my novel, Blaming the Wind. I’m grateful to everyone who supports my writing, but I also wish my books had some sort of warning like: May Not Be Suitable for Priests (NSFP). I’m only half-kidding, because while I am Christian, my books definitely have Rated R content, and I’m mindful that some people may find it offensive.

Of course an option is certainly to only write Christian fiction, but I’ve felt called to write about people who would be considered sinners, and I don’t shy away from exploring “bad” behavior. And though it’s often not talked about, the holiest of books – the Bible – is full of messed up and sinful people. Whether it’s Cain killing his brother Abel, or Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery, or the daughters of Lot getting their father drunk so he could impregnate them, or David getting Bathsheba pregnant then ordering her husband to be killed in war, or Saul persecuting Christians, or on and on, the Bible depicts the full gamut of human nature. But to me, it’s not the fact that Bible portrays bad behavior that’s important. What’s more important is the long history of how God endlessly calls sinners back to Him, His never ending mercy, the importance of repentance, and the hope of redemption.

Before I wrote my first novel, I had grown fed up with the contemporary stories I read: women who had perfect lives that were suddenly faced with a trial of some sort but ultimately made the virtuous decision and lived happily ever after. I couldn’t identify with these perfect people, and I wasn’t the only one. There’s a large population of people who don’t fit inside the middle-class, white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied box with a storybook perfect life. So, when I started writing, I focused on characters that also haven’t always had it easy, and often don’t make the right decisions, and unfortunately face discrimination, and have experienced the toll that disability can take.

In my second novel, Everything She Lost, neither of my female protagonists grew up in easy circumstances and as adults both continue to struggle with the hand they’ve been dealt in life. Toward the end of the story, Deja has a conversation with her estranged mother, Kim, who says, “It’s not easy being a single mom. I know firsthand, and we both know I’ve made decisions I regret. My choices made it so you didn’t have it easy most of your life. Sometimes, we have to choose between hard and harder. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human.”

I write stories filled with people who are far from saints and make the wrong decisions. I write to give a voice to imperfect, underrepresented people. I write to remind people no matter how far someone falls, there’s always the possibility of getting back up and becoming the hero of the story. So while my novels might not be suitable for all people (or priests), I will continue writing them.


When Prayers Are Answered, Sort Of


I have to admit, whenever people say they’re “blessed and highly favored,” I’m a bit jealous. I don’t say that to detract from all the blessings I’ve received or to sound ungrateful. But sometimes I feel like I’m carrying my proverbial cross more than I’m standing at the mountain top. Recently, my experience with a Book Bub ad for my second novel, Everything She Lost, caused me to reflect on my personal experience with prayer and blessings and led me to a new understanding of both.

To give some context, I first learned about the almighty Book Bub ad in 2015. For those unfamiliar with it, Book Bub is a free newsletter service that gives daily emails highlighting free and bargain books that boasts millions of subscribers. When authors are lucky enough to be approved for an ad, one reduces their book to $0.99 or more for the week then waits for the magic to happen. Shortly after I signed a contract for my debut novel, Blaming the Wind, with Red Adept Publishing, one of my fellow authors had an amazing Book Bub run that resulted in her hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestseller list. After seeing that happen, I started believing and praying that I too could have that success in the future.

After Blaming the Wind was published, I prayed and prayed that I would be accepted for a Book Bub ad. But it didn’t happen. Although Book Bub’s criteria for acceptance is somewhat mysterious, it’s believed that having a lot of great reviews definitely increases your chances, and I had struggled to garner reviews early on. So when my second book came out in January two years later, I worked really hard to get a ton of reviews, and lo and behold, I received an email from my publisher in March that I had a Book Bub ad scheduled for the 28th.

To say I was elated is an understatement. I had literally been praying for this ad and the bestseller list for three years, especially asking for the intercession of St. Jude – known as the patron saint of hopeless causes – because I knew my chances were slim. Lots of people have Book Bub ads, but few become bestsellers. Now that I had an ad scheduled, I kicked my prayers into overdrive. I just felt that this was it – my ad would run and I would become a USA Today Bestseller. (After culling their list, New York Times had become almost impossible to hit, so that was off my wish list).

Over the previous years, I had paid attention to my fellow authors’ experiences with what did and did not work when they had Book Bub runs – how to stack ads, which ads worked, using social media – so when the week of my ad arrived, I knew I had it in the bag. It started out well, and as my Amazon rank climbed every day, my expectations grew too. The morning of the big day, my rank was already high and where I thought it needed to be.

My enthusiasm, however, started to wane. Sales seemed to slow, and the later the day grew, the more I started to worry. I’d wanted to have a bestselling week for so long, I didn’t want to give up hope. So I kicked my prayers into overtime, praying the rosary, the emergency novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for St. Jude’s intercession, the Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony, and “reminded” God that Jesus had said, “ask and you shall receive.” (When it’s convenient I leave out the part that says “according to His will.”) I was definitely asking, and I threw in some bargaining, too. If I could just sell enough books to make the USA Today bestsellers list, I’d let everyone know about how God had answered my prayers.

Now, I wouldn’t be the first or last person to try and bargain with God. Decades ago, Danny Thomas was struggling to make a name for himself in show business. After being told a personal account of St. Jude’s miraculous intercession, Danny began praying for the saint’s intercession, promising that he would do something big if he could be successful professionally. Over the years, his star rose, and he landed the role of a lifetime in 1953, starring in the long-running television comedy series “Make Room for Daddy.” Not forgetting his promise, Danny opened the world-famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on February 4, 1962, with the unveiling of the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus. Talk about a bargain that paid off.

As night fell on the day of my Book Bub ad, I peaked at 42 on Amazon’s bestsellers rank, and realized in spite of all my planning, praying, and bargaining, I hadn’t sold enough books to hit USA Today’s list. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I had wanted it so bad for so long, yet it had slipped out of my grasp.

After days of feeling let down, I watched a YouTube video of a sermon by Charles Metcalf of Transformation Church, called “Fixed Faith.” I love watching Transformation Church’s Lead Pastor, Michael Todd’s, messages. And though I hadn’t watched Pastor Metcalf before, I needed a good word, and I received one. In Metcalf’s sermon, he references the book of Daniel, when King Nebduchanezzer commanded everyone to bow down and worship his golden statue. If anyone refused, King Nebduchanezzer threatened they would be thrown into the burning furnace. Three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, only worshiped God and refused the king’s command. When they were brought to account for their disobedience, King Nebduchanezzer demanded the men comply or face death in the furnace. The three men answered,If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV). After their refusal, the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace, yet an angel descended into the furnace and protected them so they were not harmed. Astonished by this, King Nebduchanezzer praises God.


In the video, Metcalf uses this bible story as an example that when people fix their faith on God, they don’t doubt God’s power and know He has a plan for their lives regardless of current circumstances. It reminded me that although I’ll meet challenges, I need to stand firm in my faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew God could save them, and even if He didn’t, they still believed.

So, even though I didn’t hit a bestsellers list, I decided I’d still write a post about my Book Bub experience, St. Jude, and God’s benevolence, because I’m thankful for them. My prayers were answered because, a) I got approved for a Book Bub ad, and b) my Book Bub run was successful. I sold over 3000 books, and people have been recommending Everything She Lost ever since. That’s why I became a writer in the first place – to have people read my stories.

More importantly, even though some prayers don’t seem to be answered, I have to remember that God’s ways are higher than my own. Most certainly I remember the times I’ve been thrown in the fire and rescued. Like when my life fell apart, yet God miraculously put it back together; and when my son was in the hospital recently facing worse case scenarios, yet it ended up being something very treatable. I’m happy for my experience, because it reminded me that ultimately, even though I don’t always feel blessed, my faith tells me I am.

Cover Reveal: Everything She Lost

Everything She Lost

I absolutely adore the cover for my second book, Everything She Lost!

Here’s the description:

After suffering a mental breakdown that nearly destroyed her marriage, Nina Taylor works hard to maintain her tenuous hold on sanity and be a good mother to her two young daughters. Despite her best efforts, she questions the possibility of a full recovery.

Single mom Deja Johnson struggles to overcome her troubled past and raise her young son. But her friendship with Nina brings more complications. What Deja is hiding could not only destroy relationships, but endanger lives.

One traumatic night threatens to shatter Nina’s mind. With Deja’s help, she strives to maintain her mental balance. But as events spiral out of control, the women must find out if Nina is losing her sanity or if someone is plotting against her.

Coming soon!

I Survived the Summer and Other News

With the release of my debut novel, Blaming the Wind, a new day-job (that didn’t last), and my eldest starting high school in the fall, 2016 was a blur. So far, 2017 has been just as busy. As a mom of four, I’ve accepted that I’m perpetually busy. But this summer was a doozy. Between summer camp, summer school, vacation bible school, and my oldest son’s first summer job, I was running around like a madman.

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So while I’ve barely had time to enjoy summer – my favorite season – I did accomplish one huge thing that I’m very proud of: I completed four grueling months of editing my second novel! I worked with the same Red Adept Publishing editor, Alyssa Hall. I’m so excited about all the ways we made the story even better, and I can’t wait to share it with readers.

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With the kids back in school and life resuming a normal pace, I’ve dusted the cobwebs off my computer and am back to work on my next novel. The great thing about writing is that it’s like that best friend who will always take your call and pick up where you left off regardless of how long it’s been since you talked. 

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Before I get too far ahead of myself, back to the novel I just completed. The “official” book description and cover reveal are forthcoming, so make sure you are signed up for my email newsletter to receive all the excitement to come.


Alessandra Harris

Reviews! Reviews! Reviews!


I had a very proud mom moment the other day when my fourteen-year-old left a positive review for a book he had read and enjoyed.  If you aren’t a writer, you probably don’t think much about leaving a review after you’ve read a book.  However, reviews are so important for authors.  Leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads (or even better, both!) can help an author in a few ways:

  • Reviews encourage others to want to buy and read the book
  • Reviews help authors get into promotional offers like BookBub
  • Reviews make authors happy (especially the good ones)

So next time you complete a book, please think about leaving a review.  The author will appreciate it.