When I was eight years old and writing stories to amuse myself on scraps of newsprint given to me by my 4th grade teacher, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would one day co-own a publishing company! Yes, I always imagined a book, held in my hands, with my name on the cover, right below the title that would grab everyone’s eye. I whispered thanks for prayers only my heart uttered each time an essay or poem was published.
In 2015, I took a leap of faith and published my first work of fiction; an e-book series. “A Name That Sang,” “Buttermilk and Baseball” and “At Last: Jubilee’s Journey” were now available for all to read. I had finally walked fully into my identity as WRITER. This had taken some time despite the fact that I’d been writing most of my life. It took the words “you are a writer” from a colleague and friend to make me even consider that this might be the case. What came next surprised even me. Ideate Publishing, LLC (which I co-own with an amazing editor, Tira McDonald) published its debut project in November 2017 – “Where’s My Tiara?” In the era that seems to draw its breath from the power of women, publishing an anthology of short stories by women seemed Divinely ordered. I was over the moon, holding the book in my hands. Yes, there was still a lot to learn about the business side of writing/publishing. Yes, there would always be something I ‘might have’ changed later; but this was not “later.” This was now!
Writing has always been about NOW for me. It is the singular activity that ties me to the moment. A friend described it as the way I commune with God. I agree with her. Characters seem to appear before my eyes, speaking gently and clearly as I take notes. Most times I feel merely like a scribe who is giving life to stories that have been just waiting to be told.
I can hardly wait to see what comes next. Where will this journey as writer lead? What I’ve learned from writing is that I don’t have to know the end before I begin. All I have to do is grab my pen and paper and make ready for the trip.
La Rhonda wrote her first story, “How the Animals Saved the Forest” at the age of 8 years old. She remembers fondly sharing with her class how forest animals fought the huge machinery that threatened their home. She cannot remember a time when she hasn’t loved stories. Her early audiences were her mother and younger sister. At the urging of friend and mentor, Blanche Richardson, La Rhonda attended Tina McElroy Ansa’s first Sea Island Writer’s Retreat on Sapelo Island in 2004. It was there that she began to “see” herself as a writer.
She is a contributor to the award-winning Life Spices From Seasoned Sistahs anthology series and has also published work in “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write To The New First Lady”, “Sassy, Savvy and Bold After 50”, “The Beauty of Darkness” (poetry) and an ebook, serial novel. La Rhonda is honored to also be a part of the anthology “All The Women In My Family Sing” edited by Deborah Santana.
La Rhonda is co-founder of Ideate Publishing, LLC. She and co-owner and editor, Tira Mc Donald, published Ideate’s debut project, an anthology of short stories titled, “Where’s My Tiara?” in the fall of 2017. She lives in San Leandro with her husband and biggest fan, Ernest Johnson and is currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel, “Unveiled” scheduled for release in late 2018.