It was six years ago this month that I first mentioned on this blog that Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram stole more than 200 Christian and Muslim Nigerian girls in the middle of the night from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria.
Below is a 2020 update about what has happened to these girls from the grio.com:
Six years later, 164 have been returned or accounted for. Many of them struggle to readjust as some have been ostracized for wearing the unearned cloak of shame that many victims have to dress themselves in. We can thank God for those who, over the last few years, have either escaped or negotiated themselves out of bondage, however, there are still 112 unaccounted young women, still ransomed, sold into slavery, forced into marriage and or dead.
Read the rest of the article Bring Back Our Girls: 6 Years Later, And People Still Don’t Care by Nicole Duncan-Smith, a member of Bring Back Our Girls, USA, HERE.
In 2018, Leah Sharibu, then 14, was kidnapped by Boko Haram along with 109 of her female Dapchi schoolmates. In the days following, five of the girls died in captivity, and 104 were released on March 20, 2018. Leah alone was kept because she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and convert to Islam, as demanded by her captors. TODAY, as it is her 17th birthday, a prayer vigil is being held to pray for release. Below are the details.
The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), a coalition partner of Save the Persecuted Christians, will host the online prayer vigil at 4 p.m. Here is the link to join: standwithnigeria.org.
For Desiray Cooper, the path to the beauty industry took an unexpected turn — from one of walking out her dreams of life on the runway to one of launching her own line of beauty and body products. The D’esir Cosmetics line (desircosmetics.com) includes body butter, an eyeshadow palette, lip scrubs and soy massage candles.
Cooper’s attempts to meet the high demands of the fashion and beauty industry led to an eating disorder followed by doctors’ diagnoses of autoimmune diseases. Those challenges were compounded by attacks triggered by food allergies and intolerances. Over time, the metro Atlanta resident would connect with others facing similar challenges. Then came physical tests by her son who battled outbreaks from eczema. The combination of trials inspired Cooper to take matters into her own hands by developing skincare and makeup products that are safe to use — avoiding the pattern, as with some other brands, of including harsh ingredients.
Below is my interview with Desiray…
Tell us about D’esir Cosmetics.
D’esir Cosmetics is an online-based skincare and makeup line, with each skincare collection centered around your deepest desires. For example, with our newly released eyeshadow palette “I Need Love Like Confetti,” we celebrate that deep inside everyone desires love, so the palette name serves as a representation of the need for endless love — as with confetti that keeps falling. We also have a spa product collection of gluten-free products, which are free from the unnecessary chemicals most companies add to their products. We use real ingredients that not only make you smell good, but nourish the body.
Why did you see a need to launch D’esir Cosmetics?
The industry was always lacking something I was seeking. I came to realize that if I felt that way, there must have been others feeling the same. As someone who is always looking for products that won’t irritate my skin, I came to understand those would have to come through me. For example, it took me almost two years to perfect my body butter. My son suffered with severe eczema for years with no relief; there was no product on the market that was able to help his skin — not one — and we tried them all. It wasn’t until I developed my body butter made with natural ingredients such as shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil and nutrients that feed his skin that we were able to see a transformation.
You previously owned a popular bakery, now a cosmetics company. Is it safe to say you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug?
I constantly look for ways to create solutions for problems. When I launched the bakery in Spangdahlem, Germany, there was a large community of Americans that was not able to get real American sweets locally. Our military people wanted a ‘cake boss,’ and a cupcake craze experience in Germany, and we did just that.
You’re a PK, with a mother as a pastor. How would you say your spirituality has played into your business ventures and professional life?
My faith in God is the center of everything I do. It’s Him and Him alone that has pulled me out of a very dark place of depression more times than I can count. I’m a living witness if you call on Him He will answer you in your time of need. I’m on a journey, and He is guiding my direction. This is a process that allowed me to reach where I am today and will continue to guide me in the future. I know without Him, nothing is possible.
On your website, you share of how personal experience with an eating disorder and your son’s eczema issues helped lead to the start of your business. Tell us more about that.
Growing up, I always felt like I had to find my place in society — as I faced questions about ‘why was I made this way?’ and ‘why was I almost six feet tall in high school?’ I was always made fun of because I looked different. I soon found my passion for fashion, and my love for everything art. The only thing standing in my way was my weight. Constant bulimia, and abuse of laxatives even has taken a great toll on my body. It seems as though for a few years I dealt with constant discomfort, hair loss, loss of teeth and a diminished self-esteem. I’m on a journey to loving myself, and hope to inspire others in the process. There is no amount of success or even love that should cause you to lose yourself. Having autoimmune diseases and other health problems was triggered by my choices; that’s a hard pill to swallow. Trusting God has allowed me to accept the plan He has for my life, and I understand His process led me down a different path. I wanted to use every gift He gave me, and through this I created my own brand that defines its own definition of beauty — and that is we are all beautiful in our own way.
What advice would you offer to others with business ideas yet to be birthed?
Trust God and make Him the center of every decision you make. Do your homework and learn everything you can about your craft. Understand that it is hard work, and be ready to commit to it so that you can see it all the way through.
D’esir Cosmetics is an online business offering beauty and body solutions that are safe on skin, including products that are free of parabens and gluten. D’esir aims to empower others from all walks of life to own their beauty and embrace their desires. More info:desircosmetics.com
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!