Today, I am delighted to welcome fellow author and poet, Merci McKinley. I enjoyed reading her latest work, The Harvest, and I am grateful to showcase it here on my blog!
1|I particularly enjoy featuring other writers who, such as myself, have a testimony of chronic illness and domestic violence that empowers other women and puts an emphasis on their Christian walk. Tell us about your decision to include your faith in your writing.
The decision to write The Harvest came rather easy because it is my tribute to the presence of GOD within my life. It was my way of thanking him by helping another discover who he is through seeing the importance of having a relationship with him for themselves. Oddly enough, but rather a divine intervention, I chose the cover and the title for the book prior to writing it. I wanted to provide someone with the same gift I was given which is an ultimate relationship with the Heavenly Father and propel her forward towards it. Our faith is ultimately our lifeline and I wanted to provide that lifeline to the woman whom is sitting where I once was sitting. I was sitting in a dark place, paralyzed and living inside of a box due to traumatic experiences. When I discovered God’s presence even in the midst of my storms, I discovered the box I placed myself in was nonexistent. So many of us live a life contained within this box we created for ourselves. Henceforth, we come to exists rather than truly living. So God placed my testimony within me to allow others to live vicariously through me, and show them that with God and in him, we can discover the ability to live long after trauma. He never promised us a life without trials and tribulations, but he did say I am the truth, the way and the light. I will never forsake you, and my grace, love, and mercy shall be with thee. So given this, it is hard for us to see this when our hearts are filled with thorns. If we allow GOD to do the mending, we can see he is providing us with the strength, and tools necessary to pull out these very same thorns. So ideally, writing about my journey with him and growing into a Survivor of many things because of it, I found whom Merci ultimately is. I sought to provide the same for others so they can in return learn to break the mental chains place upon them due to trauma. It would be easier for me to say my testimony is rather powerful, but it is even better to have it affirmed by a reader whom it was specifically written for. When they are able to connect with it, then I know it is none other than God speaking through my written words, in order to reach them. At this very moment, I am able to understand that God will call the unqualified to teach what he wants others to learn through that person for a reason. I am simply a vessel for it, and my oh my what an honor it is to be able to be it.
2|Who are some of your writing influences?
I grew up reading poetry, so my influencers were Langston Hughes, Phyllis Wheatley, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mya Angelou to name a few. Their ability to influence others with hidden meaning behind their words was intriguing to me. It is not enough to write, but it is more than enough to evoke thought in the reader themselves that ultimately challenges them and change their lives. The lyrical intervention in words is powerful beyond measure.
3|Do you schedule your writing or just let it flow?
I find that when we force ourselves to write, we aren’t writing to our fullest potential. Writing should not be a chore, but rather an ability to escape and be free while doing it. So for myself, I just let it flow. As writers we must not confine ourselves to timelines, but confine ourselves to the passion for writing. We must always allow this to be our guide.
4|Who are you hoping to reach with your stories? Do you have a certain theme that you focus on?
I am specifically writing to the person that is hidden behind a false exterior and not truly thriving in life. Ideally, my reader is someone whom is struggling to rebuild themselves because they think they can’t make it. So, it is my honor and privilege to be able to connect with them, and provide them with the tools necessary so they can see beyond the now, and start the steps necessary to move towards the future. I am for empowering them. Yet, had I not gone through what I went through, I would not be able to understand how to do it. God said if you give ears to my words, you will hear me and see me in the ways I am revealing myself to you. I am revealing transparency to my readers in order to empower them. The theme I am focusing on is self-love, self-worth, and determining one’s value. I find that we often try and seek validation in others whom or just as broken as we are, if not more. I find that we seek a counterfeit love rather than a love based in truth and in understanding. There is only one person I know that can provide that, and that is God of course. Just as the cover of The Harvest is that of sunflower that much position itself before the sun in order to survive, we must position ourselves constantly before the Lord in order to survive. My overall theme is tackling tough issues and empowering others through it.
5|What a wonderful message of empowerment! What's next for Merci McKinley?
Ultimately, my next move for myself is to continue to nurture my craft, and recognize something I think all of us writers must be able to do. We must get out from beyond the book, and recognize the book in which we have written is not our only product, but rather an extension of ourselves. We must get out and connect with our readers. I see myself as more of a motivational speaker, so I am building for that. I envision taking my She Speaks Creatively into new heights which is a platform for emerging female poets. The ability to write poetry takes deep thought, connecting to emotions, and a unique gift that must be embraced. So I am starting the She Speaks Creatively Anthology. Female poets will now have the platform necessary to perform lyrical interventions. In addition, I am starting my self-publishing consultation services. There is an author within us all, as well as stories that are waiting to be told. Ideally, I am trying to assist someone to discover the author and voice within.
From the latest release of “ The Harvest” by Merci L. McKinley
The Poem “Look in the Mirror”
Look at yourself in the mirror
With the beauty as God sees you
Look past the hurt, and past the tears
And know that God is seeing you through
Look in the mirror with a love
So fiercely and wonderfully made
Uniquely crafted from the heavenly father above
Be not weary or dismayed
Look in the mirror with faith and conviction
You are not defined by relationships that did not last
Look beyond your ailments, pain and afflictions
You are worth so much more than your past
Look at yourself with the love as God sees you
With a faith built through prayer
Beyond your fears as God is working anew
Releasing the burdens, you thought you could not bare
About the Author
Merci McKinley is a living testimony to overcoming the odds. She’s an author, a veteran and a survivor of domestic abuse and military sexual trauma. She’s an advocate who raises her voice on behalf of those who can’t speak, who don’t know there’s a way out and for those who can’t bear another day of abuse. Ms. Merci McKinley is not only their voice, but their armor bearer and a source of unending hope!
This stellar product of Prince George’s County, Maryland, has traveled the world in the fight for freedom as a United States soldier. Yet, in defending the liberty and rights of fellow countrymen and women, she had to fight hardest for her own. In battles that would have defeated lesser individuals, Merci triumphed through the Grace of God and the steely strength that makes her unstoppable! After being medically retired from the Army, Ms. McKinley launched her advocacy as an Author, Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker. It’s no surprise she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science!
In the short time Merci has been published, the accolades are adding up. In addition to being a contributor to the #1 Bestseller SILENT NO MORE, Ms. McKinley has become a top author in her own right with her titles THE HARVEST and LYRICAL INTERVENTION. To learn more of Ms. Merci McKinley, survivor extraordinaire, you may visit her website at www.mercimckinley.com or contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Merci McKinley:
I hope you enjoyed the testimony and poetry of Merci McKinley as much as I did! If you would like to be featured, feel free to stop by my site and leave me a message.
Peace and Blessings,
Straight from a Diva's Heart!
Michelle Lynn Stephens is a poet and #1 Bestselling Author with Brown Girls Books. She has a heart for sharing the work of others and assisting them in sharing their vision with the world.