Stacie J. Whitaker-Harris is a Minister of the Gospel, Author, Poet, Vocalist, Inspirational Speaker, Mental Health Advocate & Coach, Steward of Children, and a Peace Pusher that Advocates for Social Equality. She holds a Master’s in Law, Business and a Bachelor’s in Nonprofit Management.
Stacie authored Hell & Heaven at 8 and is the visionary and co-author of The Whitaker Book of Poetry. She co-authored the following anthologies: Permission to Feel & Heal, My Now for the Future Woman, My Now for the College Grad, Strengthening Your Walk Daily Devotional, What Goes On In My House Stays In My House: Breaking My Silence for My Sanity, and appeared as a professional contributor in Upside Down, The Alarming Phenomena of Stress on University Students. She formerly contributed to The Examiners, Faith & Culture online newspaper.
Stacie served as the Keynote Speaker for the following: Revolutionary Christian Literacy Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s BSU Leadership Conference, and Zion Oasis Empowerment Ministries, to name a few. She spoke as a panelist for Grace New Hope women’s event: Real Issues Women Face (A Closer Look at Depression, Anxiety, Abuse, and Low Self-Esteem). As the Women Speak/We Speak Justice for All platform architect, she facilitated topics on Mental Wellness in the Black Community and Campus Safety and the College Climate.
As a vocalist, Stacie has performed on many stages. She opened the NAACP’s centennial celebration with the Black National Anthem, and she also sang Mary Mary’s Can’t Give Up Now. She rendered a selection on the same stage as Ruben Studdard in New York for the United Nations Inaugural World Sickle Cell Day.
Stacie uses the canvas to paint away pain, disconnect from her empathic gifts, reconnect to her heart, and refuel her soul. She loves all things art including knitting and creating sounds with her keyboard. She serves her community with compassion, resilience, and great faith. She is the loving mother of three young adults that she cherishes as Jewels and a fur baby that she adores.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed. Great questions! I started writing poetry and short stories when I was in elementary school. I mostly used fictional writing to express myself and as a way to escape the everyday realities of suffering and abuse. Quite often, while my friends were outside playing, I was snuggled in a corner with my pen and paper.
By age ten, I wrote out all the things I wanted to do with my life to protect children, uplift the community, and build stronger families. I knew that I would write my personal story to encourage and inspire others to overcome life’s difficulties. I really didn’t think about writing anything other than books when I was in elementary school. During middle school, I won writing contests and was recognized for my literary skills, and my love for writing continued to grow. The more I read other books, the more my passion for writing grew.
The thing that I love most about writing is that I have complete autonomy with my blank slate. I can use colorful language and vivid imagery to connect with the readers. However, I still love to escape, curl up in a corner and lose myself through journaling and doodling.
Hmmm, what do I dislike most about writing? That’s a tricky question. I am going to say that the thing I dislike most about writing is sometimes I have way too many thoughts, which means sometimes, I just throw up all over my notebook or computer (laugh). And yes, I still write my stories longhand sometimes…it just feels better.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
This year I contributed to two anthologies. The first is Permission to Feel and Heal, which discusses grief. 2020 challenged many of us as we witnessed a record number of deaths and other losses. Most people don’t associate the loss of a job, house, car, or marriage with grief, but far too many lost these things along with the loss of loved ones last year. My chapter, “Healing After A Real-Life Nightmare,” shares how 2020 allowed my repressed grief to rule my life and the steps I took to begin a new journey of healing.
The second anthology, “What Goes On In My House Stays In My House: Breaking My Silence For My Sanity consists of powerful stories of turning trauma into triumph. My chapter, “I Thought I Sold My Soul For A Whopper,” gives an account of when I realized that the little girl inside was holding grownup me hostage.
In essence, for me, both of these books are exposing the importance of seeking a supportive community as you grieve and heal from losses and trauma. I contributed to these anthologies because mental health and wellness are essential to me, and I know I want people to see that they are not alone.
To learn more about my books you can visit my website www.staciejwhitakerharris.com
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I am spearheading my own book compilation and working on several other books that expose issues and challenges that many of us face during our lives. I am also freelance writing and supporting up-and-coming writers that desire to become published authors.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My most significant achievement as a writer thus far is that Permission to Feel and Heal made Amazon’s best-selling list and ranked in the top one hundred for over a week.
Where do I see myself in my career in the next five years? That’s another excellent question. Over the next five years, I see myself traveling the world to inspire and transform lives, and of course, I plan to write many more books.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
I have dealt with rejection creatively and persistently. I self-published my first two books Hell & Heaven at 8 and The Whitaker Book of Poetry.
Although I enjoy the therapeutic nature of writing, when faced with rejection, I remember that my writing aims to bring awareness to the topics I share and encourage others.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
No, I don’t have a schedule for when I write. I tend to write whenever an idea comes to me or when I am in deep thought and processing “life.” I rarely use outlines, but they do help when I feel stuck or my topic is complex. I can write a book in as little as seven days when I sit still and only focus on writing, but most times, it takes about three to four months. If research or collaboration is involved, it can take up to a year to finish writing.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
No, I don’t believe time or age should prevent aspiring writers from pursuing their goals. Success should not be measured by time because time is a restrictive box created to discourage people from overcoming the invisible timeline of success. Furthermore, success is a mindset not a time limit. So I hope that aspiring authors understand that all they need to do is write and be persistent. Don’t look at success through the lens of “stardom,” but look at it from the lens that you accomplished something that you desired to do. You set a goal and achieved it! Lastly, “too late” to advance in the writing industry is when you are no longer alive to write. As long as you have breath in your body, you can fulfill whatever your heart desires.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
Yes, I am an avid reader. I love all sorts of genres, so it’s tough to share the first book that really touched me emotionally and really share my favorite author’s name. My favorite book of all time is A Long Way From Home by Connie Briscoe. When I was younger, I loved reading love stories and more sensual books by authors like Zane and Eric Jerome Dickey. While in junior college, I read Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall and fell in love with his writing style. It was relatable! As I grew in my spiritual journey, in leadership, and in my profession, I grew to love books by Bishop TD Jakes, Iyanla Vanzant, Howard Thurman, John C. Maxwell, Bruce Wilkinson, Wayne Dyer, and many others.
I wish I could say that I am only reading one book, but more often than not, you will find me reading several books at once. I really enjoy history books that shed light on the life of my ancestors and self-help books. I am currently reading Radical Self-Forgiveness by Colin Tipping, Self-Care for Empaths by Tanya Carroll Richardson, Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr., and rereading Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
The Pandemic definitely drove me to write more, and it forced me to dig deep into my soul to explore other aspects of my creativity. All of a sudden, I found myself painting too. The Pandemic reminded me of the brevity of life, the importance of doing things that bring me joy, and it taught me to set healthy boundaries.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I really haven’t thought much of the publishing industry lately. I guess I had not considered that thoroughfare because of how challenging some of my colleagues and friends say it has been for them to get published. I tend to lean into self-publishing, but I love the idea of being a hybrid author. As a free-spirited person, I enjoy flexibility.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
Writing allows me to paint vivid images in the minds of my readers. I share my stories and experiences in ways that are relatable. I know how to bring a smile to your face and draw you into the emotion of the character. Writing helps me be more empowered in my purpose because of the impact on the readers. When the audience provides feedback it reminds me of why I share my writings. Essentially, I could write and keep it to myself just because I enjoy writing. However, I don’t want to bury my gift. That would be selfish. Every experience we ever have in this life is for someone else. It’s not for us to hoard the experiences or hide the lessons.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my story and writing journey.