Reverend Celeste Tolliver-Kelley is a native of Hamtramck, Michigan, and has one son, LaMont. She was licensed and ordained by Dr. James L. Morman.
She is the Co-Founder and Director of The SISTAHS Ministry International (http://www.thesistahsministry.com/) and hosts the Write the Vision Radio Show.
The "Sister Girl..." Series was motivated by the calling of God to help women and girls. As her desire came to fruition by God’s grace, she is committed to carrying out His purpose. The Series is nationally distributed and she is living her dream in being a blessing all over the United States.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I would hope that reading "Sister Girl..." would ignite a fire to either (1) discover one's destiny, or (2) continue in the destiny one has. In either case, it is hopeful that readers would realize that it's more about themselves than it is about the sister (or brother) across the way. I also pray that it would ignite a sense of sisterhood that seems to be lacking in today's world. It should also be realized that one is not alone in working toward those dreams and visions and that "the sister across the way" had a hard road in reaching hers too. Just because she doesn't speak on the bad times, or "look like" she struggled, there is always some type of bumpy road when you're trying to accomplish goals - if no other reason, it is satan's job to put the obstacles there - so, there are definitely some struggles for everyone.
Why did you choose to write this book?
Because of the experiences I had in dealing with my sisterhood. From sister friends to "other women" in a relationship situation, there was always some type of hateration going on, and I was guilty to, to some extent. So as the Lord began to deal with me and my issues, I came to realize that there were "sister issues" that needed to be addressed, that might help someone else to get going on the road God has for them. For me, this book was my start, and the chapters basically lay out things I had to do to realize I could write a book and it was what the Lord wanted from me before He actually blessed me with the "one thing" I so desired (and I'm still waiting by the way, LOL).
What did you learn while writing this book?
That growth is continuous, and the very things we believe we've conquered the Lord will bring back to us for surety and/or so we can handle them better the next time around. I've also learned that the "hateraide" addiction is massive with some people, even moreso when you enter the destiny God has for you. However, the words of the book continue to propel me forward.
What was your favorite scene from the book?
LOL, the "sister accosting another sister" parable. I wrote that out of my own direct experience in a situation where I was accosted at a bowling alley, trying to do something nice for someone I was friends with at the time. I was standing there minding my own business and there the sister went into how she was dating him and not me - but the brother was not committed to anyone... Some sisters just don't know how to handle "dating" in the sense of meaning single people can date as many people as they like. I had to learn the hard way too. Actually it's made a lot of men say they're not "dating" anyone - he has "friends" (LOL), but the sisters did it to themselves with all the possessive traits we have. The days of "courting" for the most part are over and sisters need to get over it - when you go out on a date with a man that does not mean you are in a "dating relationship" unless it has been communicated directly from that man's mouth to your ears, and exclusivity happens the same way.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
It is a gift. It can be a developed talent, like any other thing also. Writing doesn't come over night and it's inspired. I believe, whether fiction or non-fiction, no matter what genre, the Lord has to inspire what is actually penned on paper.
What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?
You get out of it what you put into it. You have to "show up to go up". Being self-published is hard work, you have to be part of the "net" that "works" in order to get an established network wherein you can gain access to the wealth of information that some are willing to share. Furthermore, when you believe in the message of your book, getting out there and networking is continuous.
As a first-time novelist, how would you describe the first moment you found out that your book was going to be published? What did you do to celebrate?
I was amazed. Truly, truly amazed. Being that I never aspired to be an author, although I have loved to write all my life and hid behind it many time, I never thought about writing a book. As a matter of fact, I am known not to be an avid reader, so it was a joke to many of my friends (LOL). I never went back to read anything until I was totally done, but when I did I cried, cried and cried some more because what is in the book is what was in my heart, and what the Lord wanted me to share with those who read it. I've developed a passion for my sisters out there, so this was truly a paramount time in my life that I would get to share these things and hopefully be a part of changing someone's life or getting them to move in the things the Lord has for them.
As far as a celebration, beside the Book Release Celebration which was also a birthday party, it was a wrap. But, I did cut more than a few steps and holla more than a few times at home! I was more amazed at what the Lord was doing in my life and trying to learn the literary world. Plus, most of all, I was humbled that the Lord chose me to be a vessel in sharing with my sisters.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Reliving what I've written. As I said, the Lord will flip certain situations back on you just as you believe that you've conquered those things. One of the other things I've faced is writing at the "wrong" time. There is a wrong time to write. If it is not inspired, put your pen down. It then becomes a test of the wills, the Lord's or ours - are we writing for another "glorious" moment for ourselves, or are we waiting on God's timing as authors - even if it takes years to complete the next project.
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
Shoot pool. My father was an avid pool shooter, so I'm truly his baby.
Now that you’ve reached the published goal, what three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
(1) The Financial Obligation. As mentioned before, being self-published is literally a commitment. You have to be committed to get out there and network. That, in and of itself, costs money - to travel, to pay distributors, to reorder books, always have some in stock - money!
(2) Marketing and Public Relations. Again, it costs to have promotions and you have to have them to get your book out there.
(3) Literary Competitivess. The literary world is no different than any other industry. There are those with that "competitive" spirit, and it can be discouraging sometime being that I'm not competitive. I believe that the doors given to me are from God and how many doors He gives me is up to Him. However, some will try to close doors for you because of their competitive spirit.
If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?
Maya Angelou. She is an icon in the literary world. I would like to know how she developed the passion for her craft.
Juanita Bynum. She changed a lot of women's lives with her "No More Sheets" series. I would like to know how about her transition into ministry and becomgin an author, and how she handles her haters - being that she's a minister, author, TV host.
Steve Harvey. He's a debut author, so it makes me wonder about the process of his project. I also believe he has an awesome testimony about his career as a comedian.
What advice would you offer to someone whose book is about to be released?
Get ready to ride the wave! There is no limit to where God can take you, but He is NOT the co-pilot is HE IS THE PILOT. Never move on your own merits. Even if you're unsure about what you're doing the Lord will give you confirmation as long as you honor Him first in everything you do. Don't listen to haters. Use them as elevators.
Our theme for this month is Writing the book, what three writing books would you recommend a new writer have in their library?
Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books by Dan Poynter
Writing the Christian Romance Writers Digest by Gail Gaymer Martin
The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well by Paula LaRocque
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Minister Celeste Kelley
Booking: PraizPR Marketing and Ministry Consulting - PraizPR@yahoo.com
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
It's called "The Drama Queen's Prophecy: Breaking The Chains to Breakthrough" - I'm still breaking some chains, so I'm still peeking into it myself (LOL), but there are some things people try to speak into our lives that just cause us drama. We must press on to breakthrough and the double portion of blessings the Lord will bless us with.
SISTER GIRL… IT’S NOT THAT SERIOUS
Have you experienced the Hateraide addict of jealousy? Scenarios are presented of the author’s own experiences. This is the self-empowering story of how people “hate” for no apparent reason. Most times we contribute by allowing “haters” in our lives, giving them strongholds on our livelihoods. This book teaches methods for dealing with Hateraide addicts, as well as the principles for Hateraide recovery. More importantly, it helps to learn not to lean to our own understanding. Upon reading these principles, you will be more apt to consider yourself and your surroundings as you grow and enter into your destiny.
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