People love to spew inspirational phrases about adversity. They love to talk about how it builds character. How it reveals character,and how it enhances success and progress. For some, those phrases are more than just hollow and vapid cliches. It’s the toughest strand in the fabric of their lives.
Born and raised in Southeast Washington DC, Smith experienced the gamut of negative circumstances-from homlessness to domestic violence, Smith has endured it , but now she took that negativity and turned it into success. Three years ago, she released her debut novel ” He Kept Me”, a powerful and soul gripping story about a young woman’s struggle through the streets of DC. After releasing her novel, Smith went on to establish “Momma’s Safe Haven”, a foundation that offers a bridge of support to those in need of resources to help improve their lives and two businesses.
Recently, I spoke with Smith about her book, some of her favorite things and what’s next on the horizon for this dynamic woman.
Jannelle: Your book, “He Kept Me” has been out for three years and has received great reviews. For those who aren’t familiar with the book, fill readers in on the theme of the story. Tell them what makes the story “pop”. How does it resonate with your audience? What makes it a great read?
Beverly: The theme of my book is ” My Testimony straight no chaser!” What makes it pop is the rawness of the real life situations, representing DC, and landmarks in the city. It resonates with my audience through struggle, This is for people who have been through the fire. It’s a great read because there is a never a dull moment. It is definitely a page turner that will have you on a emotional roller coaster.
Jannelle: You have a foundation called Momma’s Safe Haven. What kind of projects and programs that your foundation spearhead?
Beverly: At Momma’s Safe Haven, we promote self love, higher education and self employment. We have ‘DC Youth has talent’, which is a program for the youth to display their talents while keeping them engaged. We had our first annual Show in February at the Benning Park Rec Center. Currently, we are in the planning process for our 2nd annual showcase. We also have a program called “Never Give Up”.It is a three hour work shop on wheels. The workshop consist of me sharing my story through my book, encouraging a purge through a writing session, a vision board, letting go of guilt and shame.
Jannelle: Some foundations sell products and take a percentages of the proceeds to support the the foundations or initiatives etc. Are some of your book sales funding “Momma’s Safe Haven”? If not, is it in the cards for the future?
Beverly:Yes! Momma’s Safe Haven has several sponsors that help fund our events. Some of the proceeds from “He Kept Me”, D&B Handyman Service, and B’s Natural Products just to name a few. I believe it’s very important to maintain a great relationship with those who are heading in the same direction as you.
Jannelle: What inspired you to take on the publishing world?
Beverly: I was inspired by pain that was eating me alive! I had to get it out. The purging was great and I knew it had to do something with the strength that I had gained from believing in God. I was inspired by wanting to help someone else who has experienced any of the things that I have been through.
Jannelle: You are a DV survivor and many people always talk about leaving the situation. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. What steps did you take to escape your situation?
Beverly: Yes I am a DV survivor and yes for me it was easier said than done. My strength to leave came when I gave birth to my second child my 12 grade year at Cardozo High School. I knew in order for me to provide for my children I had to leave the abuse. The first step for me was when I started to love myself more than I loved him and suddenly my fear of what happen if I left turned into what would happen had I stayed.
Jannelle: What advice do you have for women and even men who are victims of Domestic Violence?
Beverly: My advice to anyone who are victims of DV is to tell a loved one and talk to someone who you can trust. Leave them (the abusers) alone They will never be worth your time because love doesn’t hurt! Love nurtures, caress, protect. Self love is key! I have a support group on my website and you can call DV Hotline 1-800-799-7233.
Jannelle: Describe your writing process for “He Kept Me” ? What was your writing schedule like? How did you deal with writer’s block if you had any?
Beverly: I purged when I wrote my book. I was unemployed, attending Ashford University studying on line for my BA in ECE Administration and I was also studying spanish with Rosetta Stone. So my schedule was pretty flexible. I moved about an hour away from my family so I had plenty of peace and quiet. No i didn’t have to deal writers’ block. I feel writers’ block is just fear. It took me four months to write my book from beginning to end.
Jannelle: What do you find the most rewarding? Your book or your foundation? Are they equally rewarding? Or are they rewarding in different ways?
Beverly: They are both equally rewarding in different ways. My book is so personal and it draws others who has been hurt. My organization focuses on the healing process from the pain.
Jannelle: I have a few either or questions for you as well.
Jannelle: Paperback or Ebook?
Jannelle: Online or Stores?
Jannelle: Early Bird or Night Owl?
Beverly: Early Bird
Jannelle: Country or City?
Jannelle: Mall or Boutique?
Jannelle: Dress Up or Dress Down?
Beverly: Dress Up.
Jannelle: Money or Fame?
Jannelle: What is next for you? Please give us some links to where we can learn more about you and your projects.
Beverly: I have a short film titled “Still I Rise”. It’s a ten minute movie inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem. I entered it into a contest and won!! We finished filming my movie in July and it will premiere in the Fall! Stay tuned!
You can pick up “He Kept Me” on Amazon now and don’t forget to leave reviews.
Check out Beverly’s ” Momma’s Save Haven” as well
About the author
Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards” “Thirst”, “Thirst II”, and “Love’s Hangover” and is a fresh voice in African-American fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for two of her four titles. She’s also a freelance journalist. Her DC Bookdiva Debut, “Uppity” will be released in November, and is available for pre-order now at http://www.dcbookdiva.com