Author Talk Session & Book Signing: A Community Success

I have a question for you: What do you do when you have a vision with little time to pull it off, not sure who will come, and not sure if it will even work? I’m sure you know the answer…you do it anyway

God dropped a vision into my spirit recently to bring together 10 authors living in the city of Pittsburgh, along with members of the community, to engage with one another, to learn from one another, and to bless one another. The event was billed as “Building Community through Literary Arts”. I began by reaching out to authors I had met through daily living—on Uber rides, attending bookstore events, and social media.

It was the same with the guests. I just put it out there and got some folks in attendance who were just the right people to be there; even had some young people there! The venue was spot on for how I set up the “Meet the Artist” activity. The idea was to have the authors behind the scenes until everyone had eaten. Then unleash the guests to find the authors using a raffle card showing only pictures of their books. The authors were waiting in two separate areas designated as Author Alley 1 & 2. The guests who participated and filled their card were then put in the raffle drawing for individual gift bags that had been donated by the authors themselves—including tee shirts, mugs, bookmarks, books and more. 

Partial list of authors: View the Author Gallery for the complete lineup.

  1. Devantae Butler (Breakthrough from Isolation to Elevation)
  2. Kyosho John Morgan Hamilton (Participation)
  3. Mark Craven (Karyeator)
  4. Rick Claypool (Leech Girl Lives)

I also invited a visual artist by the name of Tranikka Powell, an incredibly gifted young woman who showcased many of her pieces for the amazement of the guests as part of the “Meet the Artist” raffle. We auctioned off one piece called the “Lion Queen”. What I absolutely love about Tranikka’s work is that there is a life story behind each piece; about family, God, relationships, etc. She also presented us with a live event sketch at the end of the evening.

And there was the hospitality crew: hostess Victoria Dorsett (a local high school student) and caterer Vickey Giddens of Vickey Soul Grill Takeout and Catering in Mckeesport PA, a new startup supported by the Mon Valley Launch Box (a business incubator) and Idea Foundry (a business accelerator). The venue, The Beauty Shoppe Pitt Building, provided support as well with a staff member by the name of Sophia. I loved her spirit as she jumped right in, joined the conversation with the authors, and even helped with the cleanup. A young man by the name of Tacumba Turner was the photographer/videographer. One of the things he did was interview each author separately. (Can’t with to see what he produces!)

The highlight of the evening was the moderated Author Panel Discussion where we dived right into the topic of building community through literary arts. Each author gave a bit of their personal story and their writing testimony. Several moderated questions were presented which made for a dynamic, transparent and authentic discussion. The guest participated by asking their own questions, adding comments, and sharing some of their own personal experiences. Breakthroughs were made, prayers were sent up, and new relationships forged. Everyone contributed to building the community conversation. It was an amazing sight to behold!

The next step in the vision is twofold. First, launch a quarterly series of similar events in 2020 (Feb, May, Aug, Nov). And second, officially launch the “Write Source Community Book Club”, which will include a Facebook community for others to participate. Additional details will follow soon.

If you would like to be informed of what’s happening next, please join our mailing list. You can also visit my website, The Place to SOAR, to see what else is on the horizon.

“Always do more to SOAR!”

Voices of the 21st Century

I am excited to be a part of yet another book anthology, Voices of the 21st Century, a publication from Women Speakers Association. My chapter of the book, Pangs of Guilt, tells of decision I made that taught me two significant life lessons. First, it is important to recognize that deeply rooted negative emotions often drive decision-making. Second, sometimes God will answer your prayer not to bless you but to teach you.

I am premiere member of Women Speakers Association leading the way for women to take the driver’s seat in creating what is to come. We are clear that this is a birthing process; a collaborative, co-creative experience that is being defined moment by moment by our members. We are committed to you being a part of our evolution.

Responding to what you want, rather than deciding for you, is what we stand for. We invite you to contribute your feelings, feedback and ideas, and to participate in this pivotal, generative conversation; to express yourself authentically and powerfully; to be bold and take a stand; and to give voice to your truest heart’s desires.

LEARN MORE AND JOIN
To participate in this dialogue and be a part of our community, we invite you to become a WSA member today.

Reviews: I Wanna See Laney’s House

WONDERFUL WRITING STYLE
I met the author several months ago and wanted to support her writing effort; besides I wanted to know what the title referred to. Anita’s writing style drew me in and made me feel like I was experiencing the events of her childhood along with her. I found it difficult to put the book down. Her chapter titles, often references to the Bible, were spot on. I wish I had the ability to remember even half as many events from my youth as she does from hers.
C Schelle

A MUST READ
The author, Anita D. Russell and I were high school classmates at the then newly merged Steel Valley High School in Pennsylvania. I Loved her book! For anyone from our area, from our times, this is a MUST READ. Anyone else could certainly learn from Anita’s well-written journey and wisdom. The book tells her personal story, (which could have been enough), and threads the story of integration, family, life and death, and her spiritual relationship with God. Enjoy and tell your friends and family!
Joanne Rego

DON’T STOP READING
I would definitely recommend everyone pick up this book and read. I was in tears and joy of remembering my childhood. The author bought life to the words on the pages.
Jean Thompson

Reviews: Voices of the 21st Century

A BOOK EVERY WOMAN NEEDS TO READ.
This is definitely an extraordinary work. You rarely get this kind of opportunity to hear from 50 powerful women all at once. The Author Gail Watson brings the teachings, encouragements, and inspirations of these 50 women all in one place. You have no excuses not to have a copy of this book. I love the fact that each woman in this book has a voice of her own and not like 50 people talking over the same idea. Above all, this book really inspired me and opened my eyes to a lot of things I never knew in the past. When I read some of the chapters, it felt as if though I was the one been addressed to. I can’t wait to introduce this book to my daughter when she comes home for a holiday.
—KarynH

YOU, TOO, ARE A DIAMOND WHO IS HERE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Author Gail Watson, founder of Women Speakers Association, is joined by Deb Coman, an editor, copywriter, and marketer, in presenting this valuable and inspiring collection of women who have made a difference and share their messages to aid other women in empowering themselves.This fine book is published by the Women Speakers Association and as an opener, Gail shares the vision of that group: ‘Our vision is of a world in which women are empowered to authentically express themselves; to build a thriving, prosperous business; and feel a part of something greater. A world in which women take ownership of and step into being the leaders they are; using their voice to powerfully inspire others, thus causing transformation in the lives of their clients, their companies, communities and the world.
—Grady Harp

A COLLECTION OF INSPIRATION FROM WOMEN OF THE WORLD.
This book is a collection of stories from women of different backgrounds who have shared personal experiences and how they overcame the adversity to prosper and be successful. One of my favorites was I tore off my Superhero costume. This was a powerful story from a successful business woman, wife, and mother who one day decided to stop trying to be perfect. The methods she used were inspiring and can benefit anyone in that situation. This is a great collection of advice from some very successful women with inspiring stories and action plans. This is a great read for anyone looking to make a positive change in life, personal or work. Check this one out and let me know what you think.
—Jimmy ray

Latest Release: Voices of the 21st Century

Get your signed customized copy TODAY!

FIND OUT ABOUT ANITA’S “PANGS OF GUILT”
Sometimes what looks like a good decision turns out to be a life-changing revelation of the inner personal kind—giving a deeper knowledge of who you are and who you are not.

DEDICATION
We dedicate the stories in this book to you.
You, too, are a diamond who is here to make a difference.

Continue reading

Solo Debut Release: I Wanna See Laney’s House

GET YOUR SIGNED COPY TODAY!

Take a Walk in a Decades-long Spiritual  Journey Towards Mental Wellness. Anita immerses you in her life story from tragedy and grief to triumph and peace. She divides her life into five main seasons of growth and cultivated change from a broken little girl to an awakening adolescent, a nurturing young adult, and an evolving grown woman. As a result, she stands today speaking of her yearnings as a liberated woman.

Advocacy, Health and Wellness

Overcoming Decades of Childhood Grief

My recent debut as a solo author, “I Wanna See Laney’s House”, reveals a decades-long journey towards spiritual growth and mental wellness. It begins with a tragic moment at the family home on Linden Avenue in East Pittsburgh. A dark night of the soul unfolds when one sister is hit by a car and the other hit by depression.

I have a riddle for you: How does a 5-year-old girl recover from depression? Click to read the full article on Kidsburgh online magazine to find the answer. . .

Musings of A Struggling Writer

I wrote this piece back in June of 2017 as I was struggling to finish I Wanna See Laney’s House, my debut publication as a solo author.

I confess that I am a struggling writer. I often struggle with my writing because I have so much to say but need to organize and structure my thoughts in order to say exactly what I really mean. Other times I
struggle because I have an idea in the recesses of my mind but I struggle to find the right words to communicate or express it. Still other times I can write an entire chapter or a poem in my head while taking a shower.

Creative writing sometimes needs a catalyst. You feel something inside; you can’t quite make it out but you know it’s there. I am struggling right now with writing a book, a spiritual memoir, to be exact. It’s a book that has been inside of me for years, wrapped up in childhood trauma, guilt and fear, a progressively changing identity, deepening spirituality and a hotbed of emotions. I realized there was something there after making a monumental decision to leave corporate America. Towards the end of
2012, I found myself in a difficult situation with a new manager who had a very different value system than my own. It happened at a time when I was already at a crossroads in my life.

I was at the right age with enough years of service under my belt to seriously consider early retirement. I was also yearning for independence and a real shot at building my own business. As a matter of fact, I had a vision one day while leaving work; a vision of stepping off of a cliff and just
soaring in the air, not falling but soaring. Shortly thereafter, I had an incredibly distasteful conversation with my manager.

When it was all said and done, when the steam stopped coming out of my ears, I knew it was time to move on. I gave myself a few days to mull it over then penned a rather lovely resignation letter—no struggle with that piece of writing. Suffice it to say, as of February 1, 2013, I no longer had a 9-5 job. Breathe.

Several months after my resignation, something unexpected happened. I had met a woman on Facebook who was hosting conference calls about mothers living their dreams and aspirations while being mothers, wives, caregivers, etc. She had gone through some dramatic life experiences that left her broken until she realized that she still had dreams and aspirations she wanted to achieve. She was also the compiler for an anthology of 30 writers, all women, and she invited me to be a contributing author.

I had always been pretty good at writing in general and had suspected for years that there was a book inside of me—though by no means did I actually consider myself a writer. After hearing the concept for the book, in the midst of pure uncertainty and bonafide fear, I said yes.

The book, Motherhood Dreams and Success: You can Have It All, originally published in 2014, turned out to be a gem, a collection of 30 incredible stories; stories of heartbreak, struggle, and pain juxtaposed with victories, triumphs and breakthroughs. Two things came out of that experience; first, it was an honor to be counted amongst the fellow authors; and, second, that 1500-word chapter was the creative catalyst I needed to begin the journey towards a solo book project, the spiritual memoir I mentioned earlier.

I started writing the memoir in 2015. I developed a rough draft for the first chapter, then stopped dead in my tracks. I struggled. I simply couldn’t go any further. Then I attended a one-night women’s revival at my church. At the end of the service we were like a river, all standing around the altar and praying, like women do. It was one of those serious, God-is-in-the house moments, where all these women were praying and crying together.

Right in the midst of that day-of-Pentecost moment, God spoke directly into my spirit, informing me that the reason I was unable to write is that I was simply not digging deep enough. He reminded me that it’s the depth of the journey that matters and if I do not dig through all the layers of trauma and emotion, I will never be able to write the truly authentic story that is in my
head. So I started digging, peeling stuff away to reveal the real story that is my life.

Though the struggle continues, my goal is to have the manuscript completed by June of this year. I am learning some very valuable lessons as I write. Hopefully these lessons learned will help other struggling writers out there. Happy struggling…I mean writing!

  1. As a writer, it is often a struggle to get the raw data out of your head. (My friend Lynn told me that.)
  2. Embrace the struggle, envisioning the life and the structure of your story as you write.
  3. The pool of human creativity never runs out, the more you create the more you have to create. (Maya Angelou taught me that.)
  4. Life is a never ending story and we are each a book in God’s eternal library.
  5. Writing is a function of your identity—know that only you are you and you must understand who you are to tell a truly reflective story.
  6. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper when you write; that’s where the golden nuggets lie.
  7. If writing is your gift, then you are a writer 24/7.