Latresa Rice, author of Gate to Life, stopped by for an interview.
What do you do when you're not writing?
When I am not writing I like to motivate others through the vehicle of public speaking, teach public speaking to youth in grades K-12 and new entrepreneurs/adults, spend time with my god-children, take walks by water, audition for roles in plays, go bowling and to the movies.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in middle school as a means to cope with my feelings. I loved to write poems and read books as a kid. My favorite author was Nancy Drew. I read all of her books.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Yes, “The book according to James: Timely Truths for Victorious Living” by Bishop James A. Williams II has definitely influenced me as an adult. I love this book! There are two chapters within the book that I review whenever I am believing God for something outside of my ability to obtain. The first chapter is called “Give God Something to work with”. This chapter focuses on the importance of doing something instead of making excuses. The second chapter that I review is called, “Never Pay Major Attention to Minor People.” I love this chapter because whenever you set out to do something that is beyond the imaginations of others, you are faced with a plethora of negativity. However, when you fully know what position the individual holds in your life, you are better equipped to handle that negativity. One of the key phrases in this book that I thought was important to remember is “…minor people have a way of becoming major distractions when you are close to a monumental breakthrough.” Other key quotes that I remind myself of from the book are “…minor people change the emotional and spiritual tonality of our lives”…this is where the author compares minor people to minor keys in music. According to the author, “Soundtrack music for horror movies is usually written in minor keys…Changing the tonality from major to minor makes the music darker, oppressive, foreboding and mysterious…These people (minor people) cannot continue to be given entrance to the major areas of your life. They bring the Blues and horror to your soundtrack.” This chapter reminds me of why I wrote and sang the song titled “Thank You Haters” in 2011. It is definitely a must have for book readers. You can get it from JaWill Ministries (www.jawillministries.com).
What inspired you to write this particular book?
In a world in which people are consistently practicing unsafe sex, youth are murdering other youth and no one is considering the possible effects of their actions on themselves and those attached to them, I was inspired to write this book as a tool to help our youth make more wise choices with regards to the behaviors they choose to engage in, encourage those who are considered AIDS orphans or have had personal struggles to overcome them so they can live prosperous lives and remain adults that your actions affect more than just you.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite parts of the book are the gates that are presented throughout the book. These gates appear in the book at points in which the character had to make a decision. One gate led to a prosperous life and the other gate led to destruction. Each gate presented the reader with possible consequences related to choosing it, asked the reader which one they believe I chose and which one they would choose. It also asked them to think of any possible consequences to selecting the different gates. On the next page, I reveal which gate I chose and I vividly depict the consequences I faced as a result of making that selection.
What is the best writing advice you can give?
Set small goals daily. As you reach those goals, you will have a book that will be ready to impact society. My goal was to write three sentences per day. I listed this goal in my planner daily. As I accomplished this goal, I would check it off my things to do list within my calendar.
Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "There are 1,000 new HIV cases among youth (13-24 year olds) every month. Youth accounted for 25% of new HIV infections in 2010. Of these, 57% were among blacks/African Americans, 20% among Hispanics/Latinos, and 20% among whites. 72% of new infections among youth were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. Also, HIV/AIDS is the 5th leading cause of death in women in the United States ages 25-44." With facts as alarming as these, there is a great need to begin to speak with our children about abstinence/safe sex and the importance of making the right choices in their lives so that they can accomplish their dreams. Gate to Life: You Choose the Life that You Shall Experience is a great tool to use to empower your youth to overcome adversity and walk in victory by making the right choices.
About the book:
A captivating Autobiography of a dynamic woman who was once depressed, violent and consistently making poor choices. As a youth, she faced a multitude of emotional barriers which included the loss of her mother to AIDS at the age of seven and the discovery of her father's undisclosed sexuality by witnessing a sexual encounter between him and an individual she thought was her uncle. During a turning point in her life, she heeded the advice of her maternal grandmother and received the clues necessary to overcome depression, fear, anger and rage in order to live a prosperous life. Considered an AIDS orphan by society, Ms. Rice demonstrates in this book how you can rise above adversity and walk in victory. She also paints a vivid picture of the importance of making the right choices as she reminds us that our actions affect more than just us.
About the author:
Considered an AIDS orphan by society, due to the fact that my mother died of AIDS when I was 7 years old, I dealt with many of the things that you would expect someone who had experienced a tragic lost would have dealt with, such as depression and anger. At the age of 13, I discovered that my dad was bisexual by seeing him engaging in a sexual act with someone I had always thought was my uncle. As a result of not knowing how to properly deal with my feelings about everything that I had experienced, I was consistently involved in fights or altercations with others in the community (adults and children). Each time I was involved in a fight or did something that caused me to experience a negative consequence, my maternal grandmother would recite her favorite phrase to me by saying, "Don't be stupid all your life. At some point, get a clue." Fortunately, I finally received he clues I needed to access a better life and I used them. I graduated in the top 3 percent of my graduating class from Martin Luther King Junior Senior High School, received a dual bachelors degree with honors in Psychology and Communications from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, received a master's degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in Social Work, and a master's degree in General Administration along with a graduate certificate from the Central Michigan University. I am a motivational speaker for It's Time Enterprises (a company I created to empower others to push beyond the barriers they face in life and possess their dreams- www.itewisdom.com), a Clinical Children's Therapist with Development Centers, have recorded a ringtone called "Thank You Haters" and is currently the delegate for Precinct 5 in Westland, MI.