An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on http://www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Happening?

I love to sit on the floor, and I’m not sure why–it’s just a habit.  If I’m not on the floor then I am in my favorite chair reclining just a little.  Getting off the floor is not a problem, in fact it is easy.  I credit this to the fact that I have always tried to do some form of exercise.

Recently thought I went to get up out of my favorite chair, and something happened.  It was something that caught me by surprise.  It seemed that my hip had a catch in it.  I’m not really sure how to explain it, not a pain, but a catch.

After a couple of steps it was okay, and I didn’t really think that much about it.  There had been other signs that something was happening tthat I had noticed, but kind of put out of my mind.  The first thing that I noticed was that I don’t like jumping exercises, and I haven’t liked them for some time.  It feels like something is loose inside, and it feels funny.  I still do them sometimes, but I have found other exercises instead of jumping jacks that give the same results.

Years ago the doctor told me I had a torn meniscus, and that he didn’t suggest surgery, just therapy.  That knee is not the same.  It doesn’t hurt, it is just not the same as it was before. Since the doctor said that I could have torn it years earlier, I told my husband it was from my tomboy days as a child playing sports with boys.

But back to the hip, what is the problem?  I finally found out–nothing.  It is just one of the signs of aging.  It’s sort of like your house when things still work, but not as good as when you first got them.  It may take the water heater a little longer to heat the water, but it still heats.  It may take the television a little longer to switch stations (you channel surf), but you get there.

I wondered how I would feel if I didn’t exercise or if I didn’t stretch every morning.  It didn’t take me long to realize that it would be a lot worse.  All of these things are happening as we age.  Take a look at a baby lying on the floor.  The baby can put his toes in his mouth.  Can you, and why would you want to? This is just to say that flexibility is something that we all must continue to work on.  Exercise may need to be fine tuned, and some things may need to be added and/or deleted.

So I have decided that I will continue to exercise and do the stretches.  The trainer has even changed how she trains us as we have matured–she has matured too.

The hip, the knee, the insides, the torn meniscus and everything else reminds me of a car.  If you keep up the maintenance, it may not run as it did when it was driven off the showroom, but it still keeps going with only a few hiccups that are called aging.

So what is happening?  It’s call aging, but we can age like fine wine.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

Voyage Dallas Magazine Interview

Here is the interview that I gave to Voyage Dallas Magazine.  I hope that you will enjoy reading it. It was a lot of fun to give.

Interview With Voyage Dallas Magazine

Thank you so much for following thisisyourbestyear“.  There is a lot more in store for all of us.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Enjoy life….. and thanks again!

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At The Texas Conference For Women–Women Rock

It is always great to be in the presence of women, especially smart women.  The Texas Conference for Women has so much to see, hear and do that it is hard to decide which way to go. That is why you see me rushing almost running in the halls of the Austin Convention Center with my two bags, comfortable shoes, and phone. I was off to races.

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I was able to snag two great interviews with two amazing women.  My first interview came as a surprise.  We just struck up a conversation, and I knew women would love to know about her company “iFundWomen”.  Below is the interview that I did with the CEO and founder of “iFundWomen”, Ms. Karen Cahn. For women who are looking for ways to fund their startup, she is the person to know.

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My second interview was with the Emmy award winner, Ms. Gaby Natale.  She is the host of the Emmy award-winning show Super Latina, and now the author of the book El Circulo Virtuoso.  Her story is one that a lot of people can identify with. She is inspirational.  My interview with Gaby is below.

Both women are successful entrepreneurs who have found their passions and turned them into their careers.  As each would tell you it has been a journey that has taken some unexpected turns.  They epitomize the women that attended and participated in the Texas Conference for Women.  This year there were 7,500 women in attendance from all over the United States.

Each of the women had their own schedule to adhere to and knew which sessions they wanted to attend and why.  All of us were able to hear the three keynote speakers, Ms. Anita Hill, Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, and Ms. Viola Davis.  Their presentations were informative and more.  You can see some of Ms. Anita Hill’s talInstagramFacebook Page–thisisyourbestyear, Instagram–thisisyourbestyear and Twitter–@mariciajohns.

If you have never attended this conference, you should think about it for next year.  There is something for everyone from, pitching your product to QVC, working on your Linkedin Page, coping with grief, fitness and much more.

This is one of the highlights of my year, seeing and hearing the speakers and meeting up with other bloggers, photographers, and other media again.  Hope you will take advantage of this great gathering of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

To find out more about how to fund your business go to the “iFundWomen” website.

www.ifundwomen.com

If you would like to know about Gaby Natale, and how to contact her for speaking engagements, book signings and more please visit her website.

www.gabynatale.com

Join me on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram as @thisisyourbestyear. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://instagram.com/download/?r=380485317

You can also follow us on Facebook–thisisyourbestyear, Twitter–@mariciajohns and of course our website–www.thisisyourbestyear.com.

          Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Letting The Silver Shine In My Hair

I finally decided to do it.  It wasn’t easy to let it go, but somewhere deep down inside I knew it was time.

India Arie told me that I was not my hair, but did I believe her?  I can remember to the date that my hair color changed from dark brown to red.  It was about the week after I graduated from high school.  I know this because my mother and I had discussed it for what seemed liked years.  Back then my Aunt Bonnie and my mother both colored their hair, and since I wanted to be them, I wanted to color mine.  My mother said that after high school graduation I could do just that.  From that week on my hair was some variety of red.  Most of the time I colored it a medium red, but occasionally it got a little light.  I was never fond of the darker shades, but I loved my red hair.

After I informed my daughters that I was going to stop coloring my hair, my youngest daughter suggested that I go natural too.  I told her one step at a time, and letting the silver shine through was the first step.  When the gray started to come in, I can honestly say I really didn’t remember what I looked like with my natural hair color.  It made laugh when my hubby told me he married a redhead, and I reminded him that I married a man with an afro–a big afro, and he was now sporting a ball head.

I’m not going to say I will never color my hair again–I am a woman of a certain age, and I can change my mind.  For now I have decided to let the silver shine through.  Who knows natural and blonde may be my next adventure.  Besides I can be a redhead whenever I want–I have enough alternative hair (wigs) to be almost every shade of red they make.

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 Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, you are not your hair.

 

 

The Texas Conference For Women Is Sold Out–But!

The amazing Texas Conference for Women in Austin, Texas on November 15, 2016 is officially sold out.

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As luck would have it, there may be a way to get tickets to attend this sold out event. You can put your name on a list to grab tickets if they become available. If you want to hear great speakers, be inspired, attend wonderful workshops, network with women who are on the move and so much more, you need to try as hard as possible to attend this event. To try for tickets click please let me get a ticket. Hope you are lucky!  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

Nighty Night–8 Tips For A Better Sleep By Arianna Huffington

I am one of those people who leaves the card on my bed at the hotel because I want the linen changed each day (give me a discount, and I might not).  As I reached for the card at my last hotel stay, I read something that made a lot of sense. It was Arianna Huffington’s  8 Tips For A Better Sleep.

As I have matured sleep has become more important.  At one time I could function very well on 4 to 5 hours of sleep, but as I have matured I need more.  As women of a certain age sometimes our sleeping patterns can go into some craziness because of the dreaded menopause.  You know, you just can’t get to sleep, or you wake up and then you are just up for the rest of the night.

Will her 8 tips work?  I’m not sure, but I do agree with trying them.  There are some things that I probably won’t do.  I can drink coffee at 10 PM and then go to bed, and it does not bother me.

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Take a look at the list and hopefully you will get some idea(s) on helping you get a good nights sleep–it’s worth a try.  Sleep does make you feel better and even look better. Ms. Huffington has written a book about the importance of sleep in our everyday life–The Sleep Revolution. It sounds like an interesting read.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear“.  Have a good nights sleep.  Sweet dreams!  In the comment section, tell us some of the things you do to get a good nights sleep.

Isn’t She Lovely–Mother’s Day Giveaway Winner

 2016 Mother’s Day Giveaway Winner–Tracy Marshall

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Tracy is an amazing woman of a certain age. She is the creator of the lifestyle blog–Tracy Marshall 1961 Blog which features articles on topics from travel, great gifts, family adventures and more. She is the winner of our 2016 Mother’s Day Giveaway.  Her lovely price is the beautiful statement necklace donated by Kendra Scott*

 

Congratulations Tracy!  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

*Special thanks to Kendra Scott, 1612 South University Drive, Fort Worth, TX  76107