Interview with Suzette Webb the author of Blues to Blessings: Moving from Fearful to Faithful

I had the pleasure of reading Blues to Blessings:  Moving from Fearful to Faithful by Suzette Webb at the beginning of this year.  I don’t usually read books like this which would be classified as self-help, but this one I found interesting and I could see how it could be a big help to a lot of women who are in doubt of their paths and looking to revive their lives in the right way.
Blues to Blessings is written in a diary format in the author’s first person point-of-view.
We follow Webb’s search for herself and her eventual reconnection with God.  Through the book, we see how she struggles to find herself in her work and family life  present and past, as well as how she finally opens up and faces everything head on.
I found this book helpful in getting me to reflect on a lot of things about my work and family life past and present.  Moreover, I was still interested even though I’m no longer particularly religious.  I especially enjoyed the diary sections because Webb’s honesty about aspects of her past were moving to read.   Each chapter ends with a Coming Full Circle section where she analyzes what was discussed in the chapter and ends on a quote from the Bible which relates to it.
After finishing Blues to Blessings, I was drawn to the idea of getting an interview with Suzette Webb to find out more about the book and what’s to come.  I urge you to follow Suzette Webb on here different social media platforms where she gives great motivational talks regularly.  You can find her on Instagram, YouTube, and of course on her website.  Click the video below to here one of her motivational talks.
Blues
Interview with Suzette Webb:

1.  When did you decide to write this book?  How long did it take and is it your first book?

I had this book on my heart a couple of years before I actually put pen to paper.  It took me 5 years to complete Blues to Blessings — far longer than I ever expected.  No, this isn’t my first book.  I self-published an affirmations book in 1997 titled Moments of Truth.  This one is currently out of print.

 

2.  What were some of the problems and/or difficulties you ran into while writing Blues to Blessings?

Getting to a place of peace about exposing my deepest secrets, struggles, flaws, etc. for all the world to see and likely judge.  I also wanted to tell a truthful story without hurting my family members.  For example, if I tell readers that my parents were never married and my father played no role in my upbringing, I am also telling my mother’s story that she had a child out of wedlock — a taboo for her generation.  This is why in the acknowledgment section I say something to the effect — “Thanks to my mother, husband and family members for allowing me to tell their story, so that I might tell mine.”

3. How did you come up with the title? It  fits the book perfectly.

Thank you.  “Blues to Blessings” was the second affirmation in Moments of Truth and it was the one that seemed to resonate with readers the most.  After the affirmations book, I knew that my next book would be about transformation and ‘blues to blessings” seemed to be the perfect fit.  The alliteration also didn’t hurt.ūüėä

 

4.  I don‚Äôt usually read self help books and I have to admit I‚Äôm agnostic, but despite those things I thoroughly appreciated Blues to Blessings.  How do you explain that?

First, I am so glad to hear that you really appreciated Blues to Blessings!  It was not written for the devout religious.  One evening I was attending my small women’s group (a group of women who experienced some form of abuse during childhood) when one of the participants, Marilyn  shared that she had been raised as a Catholic but no longer believed in a loving God.  She simply reasoned what loving God would allow a little girl to experience the horrific pain and trauma that she had endured.  

Personally, I believe the measure of a good book (especially a non-fiction book) is enlightening the reader’s perspective…inspiring them to think and act in different ways.  That night, I tasked myself with writing a book for the Marilyns of the world.  If I could inspire Marilyn even in the slightest way to see her relationship with God differently, I had written a good book.  

Rather than write a religious or spiritual book that was centered around me telling others what they should and shouldn’t do, I was much more inspired to use my vulnerable voice to write about my own transformation and to show how God’s hand was riddled throughout my process.  I consistently hear from Amazon reviewers that B2B was hard to put down.  I think it’s this aspect of the book that draws the reader in. 

By the way, Marilyn ended up giving me a quote for my 1st edition:

“Suzette‚Äôs book immediately captured my attention.  It helped me find what I was seeking – insight into my relationship with God.  While Blues to Blessings focuses on the author‚Äôs beliefs, each of us experience God, our Higher Power, in our own way, myself included.  This book challenged me to re-evaluate my beliefs, gave me new perspective and helped  me see that God has been and will be right next to me, guiding me as I go through life.”  Marilyn D., Chicago, Illinois 

5.  Your consulting company is called LOM (Light of Mine).  Could you explain how you started it and what it‚Äôs all about?

When I finished college, all I wanted to do was enter the corporate world.  After spending several years there, all I wanted to do was leave it.  I had been conforming and dancing to everyone else’s tune for far too long, and it was time for my little light to start shining.  After earning my MBA at Northwestern, at a minimum, I knew I could consult — hence, Light of Mine (LOM) was born on my knees at my tub.

Today, LOM is actually a small manufacturing company where we supply lights for armored vehicles.  I also speak as it relates to the book and re:  women’s issues.  I often say that I am in the world of lighting and enlightenment.

6.  How has your family reacted to you writing this book?

Initially, they were concerned that I would tell too much of their story, but they are all very pleased and supportive of the final product.

7.  New Orleans is your hometown and you speak candidly about the tragedy of New Orleans after Katrina in Blues to Blessings.  How do you feel about how the city is developing since the storm.

Unfortunately, I have only been back to New Orleans a handful of times after Katrina, so it’s hard for me to assess just how much the city has changed.  Although, I will say that some parts of the city were unrecognizable to me given the new developments.

8.  Do you have any plans for writing a second book?

If so, what subject matter would it treat?  Would it be nonfiction or fiction?

I think another non-fiction book may be in my future, but I really want to maximize the exposure of Blues to Blessings to as many  potential readers as possible.  I recently received a 250+ word 5-star review on Amazon and I often think there are a million more readers out there just like that reviewer in search of a book like B2B.  I have been razor-focused on finding those readers.  This has been my #1 priority before embarking upon a new project.  A new book would likely be non-fiction but I haven’t given the topic much thought.

 

 

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OCM Bocas Prize 2020 Longlist

Scrolling through my Instagram feed this morning I came across the announcement of the OCM Bocas Prize 2020 Longlist (9 longlist nominees), which I hadn’t heard of this prize. ¬†This OCM Bocas Prize was first launched in 2011 and it awards Caribbean authors who hold citizenship or were born in the Caribbean. ¬†Each category will be judged by three judges per category. ¬†They will determine the shortlists and the final winners. I couldn’t find any information on who would be judging this year. ¬†Here’s a list of the countries considered for this prize:

Anguilla                                               Unknown-1                                             

Antigua and Barbuda

Aruba

The Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

Bonaire

British Virgin Islands

Cayman Islands

Cuba

Curaçao

Dominica

Dominican Republic

French Guiana

Grenada

Guadeloupe

Guyana

Haiti

Jamaica

Martinique

Montserrat

Puerto Rico

Saba

St Barthélemy

St Kitts and Nevis

St Lucia

St Martin/Sint Maarten

St Vincent and the Grenadines Sint Eustatius

Suriname

Trinidad and Tobago

Turks and Caicos

US Virgin Islands

There are three judging categories for the Bocas Prize: ¬†fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. ¬†Under the fiction category both novels and short story collections are included. ¬†The non-fiction category accepts a plethora of works such as essay books, biographies, autobiographies, current affairs, travel, history, etc. ¬†Eligible books for this 2020 prize must be published in the calendar year of 2019 and be written originally in English. No translated works are accepted. So that’s a bit of a shame because that means most of the Francophone and Hispanphone authors will be left out of this prize. The overall winner of this prize will take home $10,000 and for the other categories the winners will win $3,000. ¬†The 2020 prize longlist was just announced. The shortlist will be announced in April 2020 and the overall winner will be abounded on May 2, 2020 at the Trinidad and Tobago’s Literary Festival in Port of Spain.

Longlisted books:

POETRY

Honeyfish, by Lauren K. Alleyne (Peepal Tree Press)

Skin Can Hold, by Vahni Capildeo (Carcanet Press)

Epiphaneia, by Richard Georges (Out-spoken Press)

FICTION

The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sara Collins (Viking UK)

Everything Inside, by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)

A Tall History of Sugar, by Curdella Forbes (Akashic)

NON-FICTION

Moments of Cooperation and Incorporation: African American and African Jamaican Connections, 1782‚Äď1996, by Erna Brodber (University of the West Indies Press)

Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition, by Aaron Kamugisha (Indiana University Press)

Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, by Tessa McWatt (Scribe)

I will be reading the fiction section since these three books have been on my TBR since last year. I’m particularly curious about A Tall History of Sugar published by one of my favorite independent publishing houses, Akashic Books. ¬†Although I have high expectations for all three. Are you interested in reading any of the books on this longlist? Have you heard of this Caribbean literary prize?

 

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 4

baubles24 Books to Christmas is really making me look back on my past reading. There are so many really great books that I’ve read in the recent past but also in the far away past. ¬†I decided to go with The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race¬†for day 4.

The Fire This Time¬† was released in 2016. ¬†It is an anthology that was edited by National Book Award Winner, Jesmyn Ward. ¬†It’s a collection of 17 essays by some of the top black American writers of the moment. Discussing race these essays are all poignant and thought-provoking. ¬†While its title is inspired by Baldwin’s, The Fire Next Time, Jesmyn Ward brought these essays together as a response to the ongoing atrocities happening to blacks and people of color in the United States. ¬†You surely won’t forget them.

Sadly I feel like this collection was hardly pushed in the book influencer community at its release. ¬†I wonder if that was because of the subject matter, or because it’s an anthology, or both. ¬†Please comment below and let me know what you think the reason could be.

You’ll read powerful essays from Isabel Wilkerson, Kiese Laymon, Mitchell S. Jackson, Edwidge Danticat, Daniel Jos√© Older, and more. ¬†The Fire This Time is accessible and not very long for those that find long essay collections a put off. ¬†The collection is separated into 3 parts: ¬†Legacy, Reckoning, and Jubilee, which represent some of “the darkest corners of American history” (The Fire This Time inside book flap)the fire this time. ¬† I recommend this essay collection to readers looking for and excellent nonfiction read, readers who desire to learn more about living in the United States as a black person, and who are interested in reading nonfiction pieces from some of their favorite black authors.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Publisher:  Scribner

Pages:  215

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 16Anticipated New Release(s)

Like who doesn’t want to read any of these four?  Awesome! I’m expecting loads from all four of them. I hope not to be disappointed. These should all give me lots of food for thought. Which new releases are you anticipating?

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#ReadSoulLit Day 15 Fave Memoir(s)

I read these 2 memoirs amazing memoirs last year. ¬†They both touched me in different ways and I don’t think I’ll be able to forget them any time soon. ¬†You all know how I feel about Hunger A¬†Memoir of (My) Body¬†by Roxane Gay¬†– powerful, poignant, unflinchingly honest, and full of teachable moments for everyone, and so is¬†The Mother of Black Hollywood¬†, which is a testament to what it takes to face bipolarism, sex addiction, and maintain and be a successful actress. ¬†That memoir depicted the strength and determination of Jenifer Lewis who is equally brilliant, talented, funny, and so real in the way she talks about all that she’s been through. ¬†This book had so many ups and downs, I really didn’t know what was going to happen next. ¬†It’s great to see where she gets all her talent. ¬†All you have to do is follow her over on her Instagram page¬†and you get why she’s so lovable and how talented she is. ¬†I could have also added to these two memoirs, Born a Crime because it was just as edifying. ¬†Trevor Noah growing up in apartheid South Africa as a mixed-race boy raised by a strong-willed, black mother definitely was not easy; however that mother/son relationship was everything to read about. ¬†It was inspiring! ¬†Last year has given me a new look into reading memoirs and I don’t want to lose that great feeling I caught. So, I‚Äôm going to be reading more memoirs this year. Can you guess which ones? Let know below. ¬†Check out the videos below which will show you how Fantastic both these women are! Enjoy!

Hunger – Roxane Gay, hardcover, 304 pages (Harper Collins)

The Mother Of Black Hollywood – Jenifer Lewis, hardcover, 306 pages (Amistad)

 

#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 13 “Food” for Thought

Had to go with this amazing book, 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro. ¬†I‚Äôve started reading since Saturday. 100 Amazing Facts About The Negro is the newly published (2017) nonfiction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which is based on the first edition from 1957 by Joel Augustus Rogers entitled ¬ę¬†A Negro Believe It Or Not¬†¬Ľ. This book goes African diaspora and African-American History. You‚Äôll find out Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who were Africa‚Äôs first Ambassadors to Europe? or Why did free black people living in the South before the end of the Civil War stay there?

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates Jr. – hardcover, 496 pages (Pantheon Books)

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Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race

It was approximately five months ago that my book club was speaking about race since we were discussing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. ¬†I found myself being the unique reference since I was the only black person in the room. ¬†Scary. That brought home the idea that black people are not a monolith.Everybody else is white and the majority are from the UK. ¬†Surprisingly enough, the subject of race and the UK came up as they all declared themselves disappointed with America’s outward racism since 45 being elected. ¬†They then came to the conclusion that class was more of a divide in the UK than race. ¬†I was surprised to hear this because the few black people I’ve known from the UK always said that race was largely the issue. ¬†Not being able to speak knowledgeably about the UK’s race issues, I remained silent on that one, while silently suspecting that they were giving the UK a bit too much credit on the race issue.

Contrary to the title ¬†Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, ¬†I find myself img_4073having to do it more frequently, since I’ve been living in France for over 20+ years. ¬†Here nobody wants to bring up the subject of race. ¬†The French are living in a race Disneyland in their heads. ¬†They never question the lack of racial diversity on television, in politics, in schools, and in the hierarchy of big business. ¬†Everything is hunky dory here. ¬†France has quite a way to go before they begin to just scratch the surface of their race issues.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was an engrossing and informative read touching on race in the UK. ¬†This book was developed from a blog post Reni Eddo-Lodge had written on 22 February 2014 about her difficulty to speak about race with white people.

“I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. ¬†Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms. ¬†I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. ¬†You can see their eyes shut down and harden. ¬†It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. ¬†It’s like they can no longer hear us.” (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, p. ix) White people not being interested in hearing about race problems¬†was very similar to what Michael Eric Dyson described in Tears We Cannot Cry: ¬†A Sermon to White America.

This book is her detailed extension of that blog post. ¬†It reminds the reader that black American story has taken over and become the story that is learned in the UK, while the black British story being neglected. ¬†So neglected that the average British person probably isn’t aware of how blacks really got to Britain nor how much race as also shaped the UK. ¬†It opens with a powerful preface, introducing you to Eddo-Lodge’s voice – ¬†insightful and punctilious. ¬† The book is separated into seven chapters, Chapter 1 beginning with the history of Britain – colonialism and slavery. ¬†The other chapters cover the system, white privilege, mixed race people, feminism, and finally race and class. ¬†The very last chapter is uplifting and gives both white and black people ideas on how to deal with discussions about race. ¬†Basically, we have to choose our battles carefully.

“Racism does not go both ways. ¬†There are unique forms of discrimination that are backed up by entitlement, assertion and, most importantly, supported by structural power strong enough to scare you into complying with the demands of the status quo. ¬†We have to recognize this.” (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race,¬†p. 98)

If you’re still not sure about reading Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, click the video below and listen to Reni Eddo-Lodge talking about it. ¬†It’ll give you an even better overview of the topics she covers.

My copy: ¬†Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, ¬†paperback, 224 pages

My rating:  * * * * *

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Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

The inauguration of the newly elected president of America is upon us. Racism has shownimg_3313 to be very alive and well ¬†in the United States, contrary to popular belief. People are all questioning how we could go from President Barak Obama to what was elected on November 7, 2016. ¬†Deep down I think we all know why and aren’t really surprised, but in essence most of us don’t want to admit what the problem really is. ¬†Tears We Cannot Stop : A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson delves profoundly and with precision into the murky racist history America keeps holding on to, as it seems, for dear life. ¬† Do YOU really want to know what the problem is? Or, do you prefer to keep pretending you don’t see color and that racism doesn’t exist?

Dyson opens Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America showing the reader that we are all different, living and seeing the world from our own points of view. ¬†However similar that is, black people’s experiences are being minimized and ignored. ¬† The realization that black people are still viewed today as inferior and the struggle for white people to acknowledge their white privilege are only two of the many problems Dyson analyzes in Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. ¬†Dyson chose to structure this novel to resemble a church service, henceforth giving the book a very heart-felt, sincere tone. ¬†Instead of being separated into simple numbered chapters, they are each labeled with a part of a full church service, Chapter I. Call to Worship, Chapter II. Hymns of Praise, Chapter III. ¬†Invocation, ¬†Chapter IV. Scripture Reading, Chapter V. Sermon, VI. Benediction, VII. Offering Plate, and finally VIII. Closing Prayer.

Written in only 188 pages, Dyson incisively takes “beloved” (white people) through the 360¬į lesson on race and understanding it from a black person’s point of view. ¬†He leaves no stone unturned. ¬†He demystifies whiteness in exactitude and with unflinching truth. ¬†Yes it’s uncomfortable, which he states right from the beginning, but it’s necessary. ¬†Dyson utilizes pop culture, expressions, lyrics, tv shows, famous people, and most of all real examples from his own life. ¬†He uses all of this to demonstrate white America’s inability ¬†to accept their part in racism still exiting so strongly today. ¬†Despite sounding negative, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America is not all gloom and doom.

I don’t want to give anything more away, but EVERYONE white, black, hispanic, asian, or other NEEDS to read this book, as well as those of you who aren’t American but want to understand America’s race struggle better. ¬†Dyson’s writing is truthful and informative, while being equally interesting. ¬†It will be hard to avoid understanding some of the problems of racism in America today, after reading this book. ¬†Those who read it won’t have any excuses. ¬†This book isn’t a cry for help or a plea for pity, it’s a demand for REAL respect, understanding, and action.

You may not know who Michael Eric Dyson is but every black American does and you should too. ¬†He is an author, radio host, and professor of Sociology. ¬†He¬†teaches Sociology at Georgetown University. ¬†He became an ordained Baptist minister at 19. ¬†He’s obtained various degrees from Knoxville College, Carson-Newman College, and Princeton University. Dyson definitely has his finger on the pulse of America’s race problem because ¬†he’s written many books discussing race and related topics, such as Why I Love Black Women,¬† Know What I Mean? Reflections On Hip Hop, ¬† Debating Race: with Michael Eric Dyson,¬†Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, among many others¬†and Tears ¬†We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America ¬†is his nineteenth.

*I was sent this book for an honest review from St. Martin’s Press.

Tears We Cannot Stop A Sermon to White America, 188 pages ¬†– St. Martin’s Press

My rating: 5 stars

Recommended to: Readers interested in reading about race relations in the United States

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