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Authors share sisterhood connection

  • Written by Dorothy Bracy Alston

 

Jae Henderson, LaDawna S. Byers, Megan Mottley and Summer Owens are four amazing, savvy and sophisticated sisters with an interconnected sense of sisterhood.

Jae Henderson, LaDawna S. Byers, Megan Mottley and Summer Owens are four amazing, savvy and sophisticated sisters with an interconnected sense of sisterhood.

 
Jae Henderson

 
LaDawna S. Byers

 
Megan Mottley

 
Summer Owens

Each is an author with a personal story of setting out for college to get an education and along the way finding a voice, a dream and purpose. African American History Month was the backdrop when the quartet of University of Memphis alums came together recently in the Bluff Room of the University of Memphis’ University Center.

U of M students and staff mingled with members of the Memphis community for the presentation, which doubled as proof that one of the cycles in life holds true – it’s possible to go from searching for role modes to bearing the title oneself.

Byers, now a wife and mother, was the first crewmate to become a published author. She describes her book, “The Perfect Front,” as a love story with many twists and turns.

“It’s the first in a series of upcoming novels that will focus on tragedy and spiritual triumph for the everyday reader,” said Byers. “It is full of drama, drama, drama.”

Byers knows about living a drama-filled life.

 “I was not such a sweet girl while in school. I was angry in high school and real angry in college. I had a chip on my shoulder due to the things that happened to me. That drama stole a whole semester from me. Now I know that everyday counts; everything that happens counts. Own it and move on,” said Byers.

With publishing success under her belt, Byers became the go-to person and advisor when Henderson, Mottley and Owens began the publishing process.

“Within the first month I sold thousands of copies of my book and a publisher found me,” said Byers. “I have since sold the rights, as a screen play to Fox.”

Mottley, author of “Glamour Girl: How To Get The Ultimate Makeover,” and publisher of DIVINE Magazine, an online and hardcover magazine, said she stumbled into writing.

“I came here wanting to major in chemistry. I was making all F’s but I was breezing through English,” said Mottley. “When my advisor saw that I was passing English and flunking chemistry, she advised me to change my major.”

Mottley strongly resisted. “And with the same fervor and resistance, my advisor pushed back,” she said.

During her sophomore year, a friend suggested Mottley shadow Mikel Carpenter, then the managing editor of Grace Magazine. The result was some freelance writing work and later an internship with the magazine.

“When I saw my name in print, I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That day, I changed my major to English,” said Mottley, who launched her own magazine in 2007.

Inspired by the biblical story of Queen Esther, Mottley’s book was birthed after she was challenged to take a year off from dating and to read the Bible in the process.

What did she learn?

“There’s a lot that women do to beautify themselves on the outside, and I want women to understand the inside is important, as well,” she said.

Henderson, a voiceover artist, marketing and media professional, CEO of Put It In Writing, and author of the  “I’m A Good Woman Series” majored in broadcast journalism.

“I wanted to be Claudia Barr, but I fell into writing and fell in love with talk radio when I interned, both at Clear Channel and the ‘Tom Joyner Show,’” she said.

The author of “Someday” and the newly released sequel, “Someday, Too,” Henderson describes her books as Christian romance geared toward single Christian women who are trying to build romantic relationships.

“My books provide moral messaging, allowing us to think about the choices we’re making,” she said. “I didn’t want to preach, but I did want people to think about their decisions.”

Owens, senior marketing executive at FedEx, began writing book while in college, but “life got in the way. It took me ten years to complete.”

“Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother,” is an account of how a 15-year-old teen mother was a campus leader, earned a bachelor’s degree, was named Miss University of Memphis in 2001, became a marketing executive, and with seven-year-old son Jaylan in tow, worked 70 to 80 hours per week, while earning a master’s degree.

“I live a life without excuses,” said Owens. “When I was on campus, I had a two-year-old son, but I got involved in campus life. Everybody on campus, who knew me, also knew my son, Jaylan. I took him everywhere with me.”

Owens’ book comes with a curriculum and is now part of Memphis City School’s curriculum for teen mothers. It has netted her much exposure, including being featured on CNN Headline News and the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club.”

Bianca Hall, a U of M senior majoring in education and president of African American Educators of Tomorrow, moderated the panel discussion. During the Q&A session, Dr. Rosie Phillips Bingham, U of M Vice President of Student Affairs, helped put the journeys of the four U of M alums – and now role models – into perspective.

“Isn’t it amazing how the stuff that our grandmother’s told us is still true,” said Bingham. “So, if you’ve done something you don’t like, forgive yourself and move on.”

(For more information, check out LaDawna Byers – www.Facebook.com/ LaDawna.Byers; Megan Motley – www.The GlamourGirlMovement.com; Jae Henderson – www.ImAGoodWoman .com; and Summer Owens www.LifeAfterBirthBook.com.)

(Dorothy Bracy Alston is a journalist, author, freelance writer and, adjunct English professor. Visit Dorothy’s blog at http://www.CisbaAssociates.blogspot.com; join her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dorothybracyalston, email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 901-570-3923.)


 

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