My book is called The Spirit Of New Orleans – McKnight Family Chronicles Of Hurricane Katrina.
It opens with Mayor Ray Nagin on air saying, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this one y’all”. You could feel the weight of his seriousness through the television. My husband, our children and I leave home. We arrive to Houston, TX the day before the storm and settle in a 3 bedroom home with 23 other family members and what chaos we endured. This book is an emotional roller coaster to say the least as our experiences are released in my own voice as I tell our story. The book bounces back into New Orleans, during the storm. My 53 year old Aunt decided to stay behind and endure the winds in order to care for her neighbor. Here’s a taste of what happens in that chapter…
“Suddenly, a big wave of water came rushing through the parking lot. It came from nowhere and burst the front door open! Auntie ran to the door and pushed with all her strength to close the door. She fell against the wall and tried to push the door closed with her foot but the water was too strong and too fast.
Auntie got a glimpse of Ms. Margaret as her elderly neighbor slipped underneath the water. She scurried through the water that had reached her chest by this time and grabbed hold of Ms. Margaret to lift her head out of the water that tried to capture her fate. Auntie considered climbing out of the window and on top the roof, but Ms. Margaret was 82 years old and my aunt knew the old lady wouldn’t make it.
Instead, she picked up her elderly neighbor and tried to hang her arms over the curtain rod, but it broke because of the weight and they slipped underneath the water again. Neither of the women could swim so they needed to move quickly before this water rose above their heads… “Let’s Pray, Ms. Margaret! Let’s Pray!”
The story takes the reader back to Houston in the midst of our panic as the news caster announces, there was no home for the residents of New Orleans. Some of the people had the hardest time adjusting, but a few of us, picked up our swords of faith, our belts of truth and put on our breast plates of righteousness and began to rebuild!
This story describes our day to day accounts, the prayers we prayed and the principles we stood upon as we refused to be moved. My book has been designed to serve as a guide that shows people how to get through any storms in life!
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a New Orleans native of Creole heritage. My passion for writing emerged as a child as I expressed my every thought and care in my diaries. This was the only place that I felt safe enough to embrace me. As I grew, I tapped into the art of poetry and in my twenties opened a spiritual greeting card company, which I ran out of my home (me, my love for God, my poetry and my laser jet printer) was all I needed. Writing has always been a passion for me, but I never knew I had a book inside until the birth of The Spirit Of New Orleans.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book began to form after we evacuated. I saw many of our people from New Orleans lost, in turmoil and seeking direction. Many couldn’t move forward and were stagnated. I was moved with compassion and wanted to write something that would remind them of the principles God gave us in His Word. Principles that would guide them out of their current situation and into the promise land experience. Principles such as “Write The Vision and Make It Plain” (devising a plan), and “Speak Those Things That are not, As Though They Were” (claiming dominion in the earth). I wanted to show them in story form what we did, when we did it, what we said, how we stood and when we would not be moved. I also wanted them see when and how God showed up and Showed-Out as we believed. Originally this book was for my people, but now I see it as a manual for all.
How did you choose the title?
The Title comes from my description of New Orleans, as written in the poem/introduction of my book which says – “…New Orleans was not just a city but an essence that invoked it spirit into the people who lived there. It became the jazz in our walk and the way we talk and express our points of view. It became the buck-jump in our praise, our love for life and joy of living each day. As long as I live I will never forget that vibe…because forgetting The Spirit of New Orleans, is like forgetting me.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Once my book was written and edited I didn’t know what to do. I began to search for a publisher on-line. I ran across a publishing company that sort of leaped out at me. I still continued my searching just in case there was something better, (ever do that?) but this same company popped up in every search I enacted. Finally, I called the number and asked for the name of the gentleman listed on the website. He answered the phone. This gentleman explained that he’d recently found out that he’d had cancer and was no longer operating his publishing company due to preparing for surgery in a few weeks, but any questions that I had, feel free to ask them and he would give me the answers for everything I needed to know. This publisher taught me how to put my manuscript into professional format. He encouraged me not to wait on a publisher, that I could self publish my book on my own and he guided me through the process. Then he told me about developing a niche for promoting my book and how to work that niche. Every time I had a question this man was there to answer my questions. This man went in to surgery and came out victorious and still allows me to call upon him for knowledge and wisdom to this day.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
The story and desire to write a book was inside of me, but it took several years for me to act upon it. A friend finally came to me with an idea to write a book together about the various “storms” in life we’ve endured and how God brought us through. The only storm that kept coming to my mind was the physical “storm” hurricane Katrina. After calendaring our chapter completion deadline dates, my friend quit. She’d barely got started on her entries, but I couldn’t quit on mine. I had these deadlines in front of me and a story flowing from my heart. When I’d finished I gave it to a co-worker to edit. She was wow’d and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that this book would be received that well by more than her. You know we are our own worse critics, so I thought my book was O..K. at the most. After copyright, I passed my final manuscript out to a few people. To my surprise they were coming back with words like brilliant, excellent writer and fan for life! They were expressing how they were unable to put the book down from the very opening of the first page. I’ve read great books and I know the feeling of not being able to put a book down, (could this really be that good, I questioned). I remembered that I’d prayed and asked God to show me my talents, God has shown me that he’s really blessed me with something unique and I’m excited to honor him with my works. It is my desire to enlighten people with an easier, stress free way of life. Even though trials will come, we can still have a life filled with joy and peace as God intended and I want to experience that life and enlighten others to experience the same. Besides that …I loooove to write J.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I hate to say it I’m under a deadline (pressure) and when there’s a reason to write. Calendaring completion dates work best for me. I work myself to death to meet that deadline, and I must say always succeed. Isn’t that crazy? But it works for me. Instrumental music is cool too, but another crazy thing I’ve find myself doing is putting on earphones with no music on. That’s right complete silence, with earphones! Call me crazy…I do…but in a way, I can hear myself better. Don’t laugh!
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
This book is a memoir, so the names are real, but in the new book I’m writing I like to come up with names that sound good and that fit the character’s personality. A suave, debonair man would have a strong, handsome sounding name. A sexy chick would have an exotic name and an annoying person would have a not so cute name but each name would have to be unique to the sound.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Yes, I’ve learned that I can create my own career out of my own talents. I’ve written a book, published it myself, designed my cover, created my own website, two video book trailers, announcements, advertisements, business cards, honored Mayor Nagin and now am being interviewed on tv, radio and magazines, all since writing this book. I didn’t know I could do any of this. And now I’ve decided to minister to people through the written word as long as I live. I’ve created a career for myself.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I had it all to do over again, I would add more content to the stories of my book. People are coming to me wanting to know more about our family and what we experienced. I may write a sequel in the future.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
Iyanla Vanzant; She loves God, and ministering through writing her experiences which are similar to my passions. John Grisham; I love the suspense in his novels and investigative twists! These are vastly different types, but both exciting to me.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes! It’s called Step Into Your Divine Destiny! This book is about how to find your purpose, by understanding who we are in Gods sight as created in His image and by gaining knowledge of who God is to us, and how exactly we are to into His power and claim dominion in the earth.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Follow your passion! You can do it! Pray and God will help you find your way! I have created a webinar, that gives people all the information I know about how to write, get passed writers block, how to publish and market your own book. I believe if you have something to say, you can write a book, you just need to know what to do. I am offering your readers an opportunity to download the video for only $10. Visit: www.ladymcknight.com. Click on my email address. Mention this article and you will receive your personal access code to the video. It will become available to those persons to watch whenever they want as many times as they need to.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
The perfect readers for this book are anyone seeking to learn how to apply God’s principles in their daily lives, people who are interested in New Orleans and how New Orleaneans live life, those interested in tracking the path of the hurricane, hour by hour as it moved and it grew and persons interested in the political reactions from the mayor, the governor and the president. This book is also for those who are just wanting to read a really good story; a story filled with suspense, that will draw you in and make you laugh, cry, scream, love, and enjoy life with us. Laissez les bon temps rouler (say: lay-zay lay bon ton roo -lay)!! Our Creole cry for “Let The Good Times Roll”!
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
www.ladymcknight.com is where you can access all creations by Lady McKnight. All of my contact information is available there as well. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Or give me a call at 713-594-5447.