Rolling Out

Author Shunda Brown inspires goalsetters with Scripture-based segments

Photo courtesy of Shunda Brown
Shunda Brown, a proud mother of two adult children and “Grammy” of two baby girls, recently released her book, Do Something New. This compilation of 20 brief chapters is designed to guide readers to become doers of the Word as well as doers of things that will enhance their lives. Brown peppered her text with probing questions such as “Why aren’t you moving forward?” and “If your walls could talk, what would they say?” The questions are designed to encourage those whose setbacks may have steered them off course.
Formerly the editor-in-chief of Booking Matters Magazine, Brown chatted with rolling out about her life as a newly-published author and her plans for the future as an accomplished writer.
What made you want to write Do Something New?
I’ve always been an avid reader and I’ve always immensely enjoyed the written word. So I grew up loving books, loving to read and most avid readers are writers. Either they admit it and write books or they shy away from it.
Who are your influences?
I had the opportunity to work with E. Lynn Harris before he passed a few years ago. I had so much respect for him for stepping outside the box.  Invisible Life was self-published like my first book. E. Lynn sold his books out the trunk of his car. I remember back in the day when his book first came out, it was amazing. He was one of my mentors in the literary industry.
Octavia Butler, who is also deceased, is one of the very few African American sci-fi writers. I met and interviewed her for Booking Matters Magazine years ago. I hosted an event for her at Paschal’s [an Atlanta eatery] years ago.
I love J. California Cooper who just passed a few years ago. I’ve done several events and promotions with Pearl Cleage, one of my living mentors in the literary industry.
Through Booking Matters Magazine, I’ve established relationships with a ton of writers. I’ve interviewed Mo’Nique, Dr. Cornel West, Nikki Giovanni. So the history is long and deep. Do Something New was the result of all of those connections.
What are you reading now?
I am reading The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden. She is also one of my favorite writers. I read a lot of devotional books, self-help books but that’s my fiction fix right now. I’ve been trying to get through it but I’ve been busy promoting Do Something New so my time for reading has been slim to none. I take my books everywhere I go anyway even if I don’t get to read them.
Now, what’s on my nightstand? A whole bunch of stuff I don’t know when I’ll have time to read because I’m in promotion mode right now.
Take us through your creative process.
For me, for writing, inspiration can come from anywhere. I can be sitting at a traffic light and if I let my mind wander for a few seconds, I’ll just look around and inspiration will come. I try to travel with a journal and keep it by my bedside on my nightstand so when thoughts come, I write them down. A lot of times I don’t know where I’m going with it. All of my books thus far, are nonfiction. I know they’re going to be in the vein of inspirational and motivational. So I just write ideas down. It depends on my schedule because I work a full-time job. So sometimes when I’m inspired, I dream about certain things. If I dream about something and it has significance, I jot it down. I’m just led by spirit.
I wrote a brief book that is not out yet. But will be out in 2017 called What They Leave Behind. It’s the whole process of losing someone dear and to get beyond that. What to do to celebrate their life after they’re no longer here. I wrote that book as a result of losing my mom 10 years ago. I wrote it because I want to help other people who surely have to walk in the valley of the shadow of death. Because we all live and we die.
I was inspired to do another book that’s going to come out at some point called Don’t Ignore the Signs, Your Life is Speaking. I was inspired by a vacation trip to Florida. Some of the signs were confusing to me because they have tolls down there and we don’t have tolls in Atlanta. So I just started jotting down some thoughts that I had. I don’t want to jump the gun on that book but it’s going to have traffic signs that we see every day and I’m going to make them relevant. Case in point: The sign says STAY IN YOUR LANE and what does that mean to make it relevant for us today? It means in one sense, mind your own affairs. Mind your business. Don’t get outside of what you’re supposed to be doing as far as your destiny. So when we get outside of what we’re supposed to do, we mess up.
All of my books are dedicated to my mom. She was my biggest fan. She knew I was writing Do Something New and she passed a year after I started writing it. Here we are 10 years later and I’m dedicating it to her.
What do you want your readers to grasp as takeaways?
First of all, when they’re done with the last page, I want them to walk away feeling like it’s OK to do something new. Age has nothing to do with it. Education, how much money you make (or don’t make) have nothing to do with it. I want them to be encouraged to do something different. Whenever I autograph the books, a lot of times I write: “Never give up on your dreams.”
This book was titled Do Something New in 2005 when I started it. I wanted to have some say-so in this conversation about people giving up, staying stuck and just knowing that something is not working. You know the saying: If you want something you never had, you must do something different. So I titled the book Do Something New and over the years the chapters’ order changed but the chapter titles never changed. The only one that remotely changed just a little bit was the one on “Forgiveness.” I changed that one to say “Must I Forgive?” because I wanted the readers to make it personal for them.
I like the idea of the journal page after each chapter. Why did you decide to add that?
This goes back to being an avid reader. I always kept a diary or a journal. When you read something powerful, most times we don’t have a highlighter on us. I wanted to include a journal space so that if a chapter really speaks to you, you would want to jot down something. Even if you write, “Go back to page 21.”
At a book club meeting, I was signing their books and I saw where people were underlining and they had written in their journal pages and it blessed me. And I’m like, “God, thank you.”
Contact info:
Facebook: dsnbySbrown

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