Happy Easter or Happy Resurrection Day! However you choose to refer to this day, this is the day that Christians the world over celebrate the most important day in our faith! Today we celebrate that while death is a powerful foe indeed, the power of death could not and cannot compare to the indestructible power of the Lord Jesus Christ! HE IS RISEN! We no longer have to live in sin, be ruled by destructive habits and or addictions or walk through this earth alone! We have a savior and a friend in Jesus Christ! Like the Baptists, I’ve got a reason to shout! Like the Pentecostals, I’ve got a reason to get my dance on! Like the Methodists, I’ve got a reason to be in silent awe! And then do it all over again! JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! Please find yourself in somebody’s church today because the Lord has a blessing for you, and you don’t want to miss it!
And speaking of blessings, I was reading the resurrection story in Matthew 27, and I read some verses that I don’t recall reading before…Do you know that Jesus was not the only one that God rose from the dead? According to Matthew 27:51-53, “51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Many theologians have differing opinions of what this miraculous occurrence meant, and it is not mentioned if these people remained on Earth or ascended with Jesus back to heaven.
As a lay person or a regular ole Christian or maybe even as a writer, these verses are further evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not just about spiritual good that is just good for Heaven, it is also a good that makes sense right here on Earth! What do I mean? Using my sanctified storyteller imagination, I imagine that one of the dead was a mother who had passed away while giving birth to a son who had never known his mother except through the stories of family and friends. On the day that Jesus rose, this child was able to meet his mother for the first time! I can also imagine that one of those dead was a beloved husband of an elderly widow that had not seen him in decades unless she dreamed about him at night. Can you imagine how elated she was when he came to her during the day? Or what about the young woman that died suddenly after a brief and mysterious illness leaving her family and friends to question why God allowed this tragedy to happen? I imagined that they wept after she confirmed that even death could not keep her from the ones she loved! I’m sure this day of resurrection was a day of overflowing joy!
So what does this mean for us today? First of all and most importantly, we have a risen savior that promises to give us eternal life with Him in heaven. And while we are here on Earth, Jesus can break the chains of sin, addiction and destructive habits and give us joy and peace that sustains us through everything! AND he can bring back to life what we thought was dead…Maybe you dreamed of launching a business but you no longer have the financial backing to get it going. Don’t worry. Just pray! He can bring this dream back to life. Maybe you’ve been set back by setback after setback. God can restore your life! Maybe you are still grieving the death of a loved one years later and have been unable to really move on, God can show you how to live and not die!
What you thought was dead can now come back to life…Ponder on these verses…God will show you exactly what they mean to you…
Sorry I had to do it. Write in the third person that is. I just couldn’t figure out how to state the fact that I have written my first novelwithout being a little extra. And referring to yourself in the third person is as extra as you can get on a written page. So pardon me for being braggadocios. It’s just that I’ve written a novel that I’m extremely proud of and it’s finally time to tell you all about it!
When I first imagined myself as a writer at the adorable age of six, I saw myself weaving words into worlds as a novelist. Well, maybe not a quite a novel, but certainly a work of fiction. As I matured and began to grasp that writing was not as simple as it seemed, I gravitated toward journalism where real life (just the facts, ma’am) was written down and every story was thankfully short. I just didn’t think I had enough words to write a whole novel. But in my heart, behind the wall of fear, I wondered if I would ever summon enough stamina and skill to craft a world of words also known as a novel. In 2009, yes, 10 years ago, a real-life event took hold of me and demanded that I explore this topic as a novel. And it literally took me 10 years to learn how to write a novel AND get it published. So Destination Wedding written by Jacqueline J. Holness (oh so extra I know) will be released in December to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the real-life event that inspired me and captivated me enough to write a novel at long last! So below is the synopsis followed by my interview with 96Kix’s Kimberly Kaye, who interviewed me as I wrote Destination Wedding. (Read and or listen to the interview.)
Three successful best friends in Atlanta believe they are thriving in the Black Mecca. Bossy bank executive Senalda breaks down men from business to bed no holds barred. Hip hop PR guru Jarena praises the Lord and pursues married men with equal persistence. Famous and infamous radio personality Mimi fights with her fans and for the love of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.
But when an ABC News Nightline report, “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company,” asks why can’t a successful black woman find a man? The friends are suddenly hyper-aware of their inclusion in the sad statistic: 42% of black women who have never been married. Like the women in the report, they are career-driven, beautiful black women living in Atlanta who have everything — but a mate. They resolve to defy the statistic by marrying in a year and have it all by tackling their goal as a project with a vision board, monthly meetings, and more. Project Destination Weddingis born. A “happily married” best friend Whitney is a project consultant.
But as the deadline ticks closer, the women wonder if they can withstand another year of looking for love in the media-proclaimed no-man’s land of Atlanta. Senalda wrests a marriage proposal from the male version of herself, but the proposal comes simultaneously with a devastating secret. Jarena unleashes hell when her call to ministry coincides with dating her married college sweetheart. Mimi faces losing her career and jail time chasing her boyfriend and marries another man in the process. Whitney’s power couple profile plummets when her husband, a pornography addict, announces he would rather pursue photography than be an MD.
Inspired by an actual Nightline report, Destination Weddingcharts four women’s journeys as they discover that love is not an experiment easily confined to a timetable.
These are the four main characters as I saw them in my mind as I was writing- Jarena, Mimi, Senalda & Whitney…Can you match the women to how they actually turned out on the cover?
Kimberly: 96 KIX. On the line with me, I have Jacqueline Holness. How are you Jacqueline?
Jacqueline: I’m great. How are you Kimberly?
Kimberly: I’m wonderful. Welcome back to the show!
Jacqueline: Thank you so much for having me!
Kimberly: You know the last time you we talked it was all about ‘After the Altar Call.’ Now, what have you been up to? I know I always read your blog. Always.
Jacqueline: Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate that. You never know who is reading. Thank you so much.
Kimberly: How is it working with the blog?
Jacqueline: Well, I love to write so it’s a creative outlet for me. And I’m always surprised when people actually respond to what I write because it’s not something that I get paid to do. I just love to do it. Even if people didn’t read it, I would still write.
Kimberly: You said, regardless, you’re gonna blog!
Jacqueline: Yes! Definitely.
Kimberly: Now, how do you pick your topics to know what to blog about?
Jacqueline: Well, the most important aspect of my life is my faith so I always want to talk about my faith and whatever area I choose to talk about whether it be pop culture or whether it be more serious issues, I always try to look at it through the lens of having faith in God and how God would want us to see certain things that play out in our society.
Kimberly: Right, well that’s great. Now, also I saw that you are getting ready to write another book for us.
Jacqueline: Yes, I grew up reading fiction books, but when I got older, I just veered off into non-fiction books. But recently, I rediscovered my love of fiction and I decided to write a fiction book about three single black women in Atlanta.
Kimberly: Alright. Can you give us a little bit more? Or is that all you can give us?
Jacqueline: (Laughter) I’ll tell you a little more about it, but I’m not finished yet. But basically, I’m not sure if you saw the ABC News Nightline special that came on in December 2009 where it was quoted that 42% of black women have never been married?
Kimberly: Wow! That’s a high percentage.
Jacqueline: Yes, a very high percentage and they featured black women in Atlanta who had everything but a mate. And from there, there was a debate that was held in Atlanta. Steve Harvey was here. Sherri Shepherd. A lot of notables came in town to debate this issue in Atlanta. So as a black woman, I was single at the time, I’m married now, it really impacted me. And I thought what if I wrote a book about black women, fictional black women, who saw this report, and decided to defy the statistics and get married in a year.
Kimberly: Now you live in Atlanta?
Jacqueline: I do live in Atlanta.
Kimberly: Do you see that problem?
Jacqueline: Well, I see it all over. When I travel, I meet a lot of single black women, but for some reason, Atlanta seems to be the epicenter I guess of single black women. And because I was single and just got married at 40 years old, I know what it’s like to be single and I know what it’s like to wonder, ‘Why aren’t men choosing me?’ So I decided to write a book from my own personal journey and do it through the lens of fiction.
Kimberly: That sounds great. Do you know when you will be finished?
Jacqueline: Well, I hope to have the rough draft finished very soon. I’m going to work on it for the next few months. What interested you when you read, I know you read the blog post about me working on this book. What interested you? I’m just curious.
Kimberly: Like you said, we have a lot in common, Jacqueline. I got married when I was 40. Same thing.
Jacqueline: Oh really?
Kimberly: Yes, we have that in common. I was going through life, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna ever get married.’ But once I quit thinking about it, dwelling on it, it happened so that’s what kind of intrigued me. It takes a lot. You wonder, Am I doing something wrong? Is it me? Why didn’t I get married when I was in my 20s or in my 30s? So that’s why I was interested.
Jacqueline: Wow! So I’m so glad we have that in common. We may have to talk off the air later about that as older women who have gotten married. That’s a category in itself – older brides. I may have to write something about that.
Kimberly: (Laughter) Yes! Well, I’m anticipating it.
Jacqueline: Yes, well, please go to my website AftertheAltarCall.com and you will see updates about the book. I’m really excited about, and I hope it will be on bookshelves as soon as possible.
Kimberly: And that’s also why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to spread the word about your blog. I think it’s just terrific, and I want everyone to be aware of it.
Jacqueline: Oh, thank you so much!
(Note: There is just a minute or so more left of the interview, but I included what pertains to today’s blog post.)
Below are some advance reviews I have received about Destination Wedding!
“Jacqueline J. Holness has penned a delightful read that puts a new spin on the age-old dilemma of the beautiful, successful, single black woman finding a mate! Did I say beautiful and successful? Set in the Black Mecca – The ATL – Destination Wedding will have you asking, “Why is this so hard?” I found myself in the moment, rooting for these women – and thoroughly enjoyed their journeys to happily-ever-after.” – Monica Richardson, author of the Talbots of Harbour Island series
“In need of a getaway? Destination Wedding is the read you need. Filled with characters that will remind you of your girlfriends and unexpected adventures, it’s the perfect vacation read.” – Chandra Sparks Splond, author and blogger
“In Destination Wedding, Jacqueline J. Holness takes readers on page-turning twists and turns that hijack several friendships on the path to love. If you’re eager for an entertaining read that will leave you rooting for the characters as if they’re your friends, pick up your copy today.” – Stacy Hawkins Adams, multi-published author of Coming Home, Watercolored Pearls, The Someday List and more
So Destination Wedding will officially debut on Dec. 3, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Target right now! And I’m not gonna be shy about this: I want this book to be a best-selling book so your pre-orders will help me achieve that goal! As a matter of fact, I will be offering some free gifts if you pre-order so come back here often for updates!
Finally, if you would like to be a member of my book launch team which means getting a FREE advance copy of Destination Wedding, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you so much for reading this blog post, and I hope and pray you will be reading my first novel Destination Weddingvery soon!
I watched several hours of The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s funeral or homegoing (which word you choose is likely a reflection of your cultural origin) on Friday, but I must admit I missed the The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s (pastor emeritus of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, Georgia) eulogy of the Queen of Soul on Friday. I mostly watched to hear some good ole black church saaangin and see who was there! Yes, I can be shallow like that. But as far as what the pastors and preachers had to say, I figured it would be what we always hear at funerals – some variation of the person was a good person or decent person, etc. (eulogy definition – a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died.) and a come- to-Jesus- while-there- is- yet-blood-running-through-your-veins appeal at the end. I’m in church every Sunday and when I was growing up that was every Sunday and Wednesday so I’ve been to many many church services and funerals/homegoings. But I’m not a preacher nor a pastor and don’t aspire to such a controversial calling but I probably could plan a pretty decent church service or homegoing if I was called upon to do so.
All that being said (written), that was why I didn’t pay attention. Some of you may wonder well wouldn’t that apply to black church saangin too. Probably but given the fact that this was the Queen of Soul’s homegoing, I figured the music would be on another level and it was. But I digress. So later on Friday, after this homegoing of all homegoings had finally commenced, I saw all kinds of chatter online regarding Rev. Williams’ eulogy.
“I need people to know that this eulogy was not reflective of God nor was it honoring to #arethafranklin nor did it offer comfort to the bereaved or give hope for tomorrow. It was, in fact, trash. And as long as we don’t boldly call this out we are complicit.”
“Aretha Franklin was a mother of four black boys, two of them she had as a teenager. She was all set to bail Angela Davis out of jail. Raised money for the CRM. This eulogy is disrespectful to her legacy. I’m upset. #ArethaHomegoing”
But since I hadn’t taken it in for myself, I had no thoughts on it. However, my mother told me my father, pastor emeritus of our church, Central Christian Church in Southwest Atlanta, approved it. So I was like, “Uh oh, if my father likes it” but many people that I “know” online don’t like it, there must be an old school/new school dynamic at work.
So finally this morning, I watched it and I kept waiting to be outraged, incensed at the implications and or Trump thread throughout the tirade, but I just wasn’t. Maybe if I had a theology degree as many people who have criticized the message do, maybe I would feel differently. But as a lay person with my own mind, I didn’t mind at all what Rev. Williams said. So below is not the thesis of a theological scholar and I highly respect them, but I respect my thoughts as well.
As a student of history, I love a good history lesson. As a friend of the Franklin family who knew Aretha Franklin’s family and even delivered her own father the Rev. C.L. Franklin’s eulogy, the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. offered a very knowledgeable perspective about how the Queen of Soul even came to be. I thought it was beautiful that this man who preached the gospel had enough insight to know his daughter did not have to confine herself to gospel music. Williams described in great detail how on one occasion, Rev. C.L. Franklin preached a gospel sermon in an auditorium in Memphis followed up by his daughter’s blues performance.
Rev. Williams talked about how her iconic voice likely was developed. It was born of pain. The best artists of all kinds have gone through a measure of pain. And if you haven’t gone through pain, it’s hard to identify pleasure. In fact, pain and pleasure are twin souls and the most evocative of artistic expressions reflect both of them. Rev. C.L. Franklin’s home was a broken home and he was forced to raise four children on his own. It wasn’t the ideal situation, Rev. Williams noted and surely there must have been some pain felt along the way. It is likely that Aretha Franklin drew from that pain to sing the blues. I mean she made her first album at 14 years old! She was also 14 years old when she gave birth to her first son.
A lot has been said about how Rev. Williams criticized single mothers when the Queen of Soul was likely a single parent for some time. I didn’t see that. He was saying a two-parent household is the optimum environment in which to raise a child. He was not saying that if you are a single parent, your child is doomed to fail nor was he saying that children from two-parent households always fare better than children raised in a signal parent household. We all know situations where that is not the case. But he was saying if it indeed took two people to form to a create a child, why wouldn’t it be optimum for then those two to raise that child? Now there are situations where that is impossible, but that is the model. Also, he wasn’t saying that aren’t any black fathers in the home, but we all know that this a problem that needs addressing. (In addition, there are many single parents who have chosen to adopt children and that is a choice that should be commended.)
And there are others who believe that Rev. Williams criticized the Black Lives Matter movement. How Sway? He was saving that black lives do matter. And they matter whether we police officers take them or we take them. Yes, police officers shouldn’t kill innocent black people but neither should we. Now, I will admit I don’t like the phrase “black on black crime” because most people when they kill other people kill people from their own race so there is “white on white crime,” “brown on brown crime” and so on. But since his audience was largely black, he was directing to his words to black people. We can support the Black Lives Matter movement AND support eradicating unjust murders in which both parties are black. In fact, it would be pointless not to do so.
Now about his message about the virtues of segregation versus integration. Many of us have said that when black people had to depend on each other, we were more prosperous in terms of creating and sustaining our business models. I’ve never lived through segregation and based on what I’ve learned, I have no desire to do so. But also from what I’ve been told by those who have lived during both times, a certain cohesiveness has been lost in the name of progress.
Speaking of black communities, many people do walk around like zombies on all manner of mood enhancers (drugs). Now, there are other communities who are experiencing this as well (Hello opioid epidemic!) but he was directing the message to the audience. Why is that so upsetting? This remind me when one child is scolded and the child comes back with, “Well, he is doing wrong too” in reference to his brother. That may be the case, but that doesn’t negate your error either.
Back to my first thought. Rev. Williams is the same age as Aretha Franklin when she died last month. Do you not think she didn’t know him? They must have grown up together! That funeral was eight-hours long with dignitaries far and wide but in the end a preacher who had eugologized her father was the one I would dare to say she and the family chose. I know the Queen of Soul belongs to the world, but she was a human being first and she (they) chose him. In sum, all I can say is if you like it, I love it. Who am I to criticize whom you chose to deliver your eulogy?
That’s all I got.
Also I want to note that this is NOT a case of the whole “touch not my anointed” thing in which people are scared to criticize and critique long-time and revered clergymen. NO ONE not even the clergy is above criticism and critique which is what happened with the priests who were allowed to commit pedophilia for years in the Catholic church…
Watch the whole thing for yourself below. What are your thoughts?