Lawanna Lynn Campbell was born in Philadelphia and attended Philadelphia public schools. She graduated from Dobbins Area Vocational Technical School in 1975, ranking third in a class of more than 500 students. Lawanna has worked in various secretarial, administrative, and office supervisory positions and is currently an executive legal assistant at a major staffing company. Her lively and vibrant storytelling skills make her a sought after speaker and presenter. Lawanna has three adult children, is engaged, and resides on Long Island in New York.
Is She Dead Yet? The story of how a woman struggled to escape domestic violence and build a new life provides a first-person account of living with domestic violence and offers tools and resources that other women can use to break the cycle of abuse.
Lawanna tells of a 23-year long marriage filled with abuse, infidelity, and drug and alcohol abuse at the hands of her husband, who was also a business owner and church leader. She describes the roller coaster ride of intense and violent episodes of abuse, followed by periods of normalcy. Learn what Lawanna did right, what she did wrong, the warning signs of domestic abuse, and the five deadly marriage deal-breakers. Walk with her as she takes matters into her own hands and gets the legal, therapeutic, and spiritual help needed to make a new life for herself.
This poignant, true story takes you on a journey from the pulpit to the prison cell as Lawanna strives to free herself from a life of pain, shame, and guilt, and then leaves you with a surprise ending.
How did you start out your writing career?
I had always kept diaries as a young girl, and I when I got married I wrote about the abuse in my journals since I wouldn’t dare talk about it with anyone. In recent years, however, I had begun to tell my story of surviving domestic abuse. People were impressed and surprised, and encouraged me to write a book about how I escaped it. After being challenged by a good friend and by a personal coach, I started and finished my goal of writing the book, Is She Dead Yet?
What did you learn while writing this book?
While writing this book, I learned that there are still some strong, underlying and unresolved feelings and issues that affect me and my children even though the abuse has stopped. These residual affects have impacted some of our family and love relationships.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
There are several things I hope to accomplish with this book: (1) to let other women know that they are not alone and that they can escape abusive relationships, and I offer tools and resources throughout the book to help them; (2) to bring to the forefront the issue of domestic violence to our churches; (3) to challenge community and church leadership to speak up, take a stand, and to protect families who are suffering; and, finally (4) to empower everyone who reads the book to not be afraid to talk about this social malady and to break the cycle of abuse by breaking the silence.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
The toughest test I faced while writing this book was coming back to the keyboard after resurrecting the pain and reliving the violent episodes in my mind. There were times when I actually had to stop typing and leave the computer for days and weeks at a time as I recalled the loss and heartache that I thought was long forgotten.
If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?
1. Saint Paul of Tarsus, writer of many of the New Testament Books of the Holy Bible. I would love to listen to him tell of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, as well as how God kept him motivated and inspired during his times of trials, beatings, and imprisonment.
2. Maya Angelou. Her poetry and strength encourage my soul. I would love to sit in the presence of modern day royalty, wisdom, and grace, and just listen to her whisper words of beauty.
3. Bishop T.D. Jakes. His command of Scripture, spiritual knowledge, and good common sense resemble what a Godly father should be. I appreciate his advice and his books that encourage women who are hurting.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1. I wish I had known just how valuable, precious, and important I was and that I didn’t have to get married to prove my self-worth.
2. I wish I had known that at 18 years of age my education was the most important thing…not a man.
3. I wish I had, as a teenager, known and listened to positive role models who would have inspired and pushed me to reach for the unreachable star and to not give up!
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
DO learn how to write and write only about what you know.
DON’T be discouraged or distracted from your goal of becoming a writer.
I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?
My author fantasy would be to see this book as mandatory reading in all junior and high schools, as well as on college campuses, or that all schools in the country and around the world provide the tools and resources necessary to combat domestic abuse and help students recognize when they are being abused, to get help, and to get out of it. I’d also like to see more local, state, and federal agencies help the abusers learn how to deal with control issues. And, finally, to get on the Oprah Show and onto the movie screen.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
I wish non-writers would understand that it takes uninterrupted concentration and solitude to finish a manuscript, and this should not be confused with being chronically antisocial or a self-imposed recluse.
What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?
The best advice I’d ever gotten about the publishing industry was to read The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner. I don’t recall getting any bad advice. And if I did, it wasn’t worth remembering anyway.
If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?
I would love to visit Eastern European countries such as Greece, France, and Italy for their art and architecture. When I visited the U.K. several years ago, I was enthralled with the beauty and history of that country.
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
I do enjoy going on the annual girls-week retreat!
Our theme for this month is STAYING OUT OF THE SLUSH PILE? What advice would you give someone to make sure their manuscript stays out of the slush pile?
I would recommend writing a concise intro about your manuscript that will grab the publisher’s or agent’s attention. Make time to research different publishing houses to determine what they are looking for, but be prepared to wait a long time. I decided to self-publish because this topic was urgent to me, and I didn’t want to wait around while women were dying. I needed to tell my story to others NOW!
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know for sure that I love my children and nothing they do will ever change that. And, I also know that if you ever truly love someone that love will never die.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
There are a couple of things I’m seriously thinking about. One would probably be a work of fiction about a woman who rediscovers herself while trying to avoid the pitfalls of recovering from an abusive relationship. Or maybe a story about family dysfunction. And one not so serious – about the traveling mishaps a middle-aged black woman on an Eastern European solo sojourn, just for fun.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Lawanna Lynn Campbell
PO Box 1360
Medford, NY 11763
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