At nearly every book signing, someone in the audience asks me, “Where did you get the idea for this book?” Of course, my short answer is, “From the Lord,” because, really, my life is quite boring. I don’t watch much television and I probably spend about 65% of my time alone. I have to trust Him to draw my attention to things that He knows will bless people.
While some of my storylines stem from likely sources (family members, co-workers, and my own experiences), I’d say most of them come from single observations made in a moment’s time. Those seeds took root and grew in my head until they blossomed into full-fledged plots.
Here are seven of the my most unusual sparks of inspiration:
1. Falling Into Grace Falling Into Grace (90s R&B singer trying to join the praise team to re-launch her singing career) – I attended a funeral where three different people sang the same song. One person was on program. The second said she was singing “at the family’s request”, and a third just busted out singing when she was supposed to only make a 2-minute remark. Apparently, there was some disagreement about which person’s voice the deceased would enjoy most. I discussed the situation with a church musician later and learned that some people will do almost anything to stand up and sing at church—like being seen on stage in the sanctuary is their entire life’s goal, even if it’s at a funeral.
2. Boaz Brown (Black woman finds herself attracted to a white man) – Prior to 9-1-1, I never felt any sense of patriotism, any sense of loyalty to America whatsoever. But when I saw pictures of survivors who were covered in gray ash, suddenly it didn’t matter what color they were. They were people on the same side of this tragedy as me. As I was praying for the survivors (without the filter of color), the Lord began to deal with me about the prejudices that I carried in my heart.
3. Trouble in My Way (Teen girl’s mother reads her diary…that’s where the trouble starts) – I’ve kept a journal since I was twelve years old. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at hiding them. The last time my mother hit me was the morning after she read my diary. I was 16 but I remember it like yesterday. She was driving me and my friend to school and fussing at me about some of the things she’d read. I do not know how these words came out of my mouth, but I said to my mother, “This wouldn’t be a problem if you hadn’t read my diary.” Y’all – I promise you, my mother’s hand was faster than Mohammad Ali’s!
4. Stepping Down (How can a pastor run the church when he can’t run his own home?) – I got Riva’s Tims’s book (When It All Falls Apart), which chronicles her journey through the pain of watching her husband, a prominent minister, succumb to the pressures of pastoring while he was struggling with a drug addiction. The part that stuck with me: She told her husband that he needed to step down and get help, but he felt such a sense of obligation to serve the flock that he couldn’t bring himself to leave the pulpit (not to mention the church leaders who didn’t want the church to lose its momentum in his absence).
5. “Posted” (A Short Story) Posted (Will one social media post ruin a career?) – I find it interesting how quickly one post can quickly get the first stone soaring. Two events brought this to light for me: 1) The woman who wrote the post about the president’s daughters; 2) A teacher in my community who lost her job for a nasty reply to a nasty tweet aimed at her.
6. My Untitled Screenplay (Girl who grew up in a cult breaks the rules and goes away to college) – My friend had recently joined a church and begun contributing financially. She and her husband hit a rough patch in their marriage, with her health, and with their pocketbooks. In the midst of these trials, she stopped attending church. Instead of someone calling to check on her and see if she was even still alive, the church sent her an invoice in the mail requesting her tithes! I was floored. You know I had to write something about that! One of these days, it’ll be published
7. Leaving the Classroom: Guidance for Teachers Moving Toward Career Change Leaving the Classroom (Non-fiction / Tips for Teachers Moving Toward Career Change ) – While working at a campus, I came across an educator who actually created amazing lesson plans but hated teaching, didn’t like her students, and had a hard time believing in their ability to succeed. Bottom line: She really needed to move and do something else with her skill set. I certainly don’t want to encourage teachers to run from classrooms. But there comes a time when someone who really doesn’t want to be in a room of 25 kids is doing more harm than good. There’s no shame in switching careers if the classroom teaching season is over.
If you’d like to know what inspired any of the books written by Black Christian Reads authors, hit us up in the comments or on Facebook! You just might be surprised at what you learn!