The old steamer trunk that used to belong to Aunt Donsy was now a coffee table in Delores’ living room where the Searcy family gathered after Clarence’s funeral, it was one of the few family possessions left from the previous generation. The group conversation began to focus on our shared memories and questions about Aunt Donsy’s trunk. Until that conversation we each only had questions, but no complete answers . . . When did the trunk become so mysterious, and why? Where did the trunk come from, and what were the secret contents? Aunt Donsy’s trunk became a conduit as the family pieced together the fragments of information that each one knew. It was like putting a puzzle together as our history began to take shape to form a picture of one family: The righteous, and the unscrupulous; the determined and the pretenders; the strong and the fragile.
As a retired educator who is very active in my community, I write part time.
I enjoy writing early in the morning and I spend the rest of the day with family and community affairs and events.
I have always "had a book in me." When I retired and became the family matriarch I realized that I knew more about our family history than anyone else in the family; therefore, I began to write for the benefit of my children. It didn't take me long to discover that others were interested in my writings... As I shared my stories, friends and neighbors told enthusiastically me. "I could tell you some stories," or, "I could write a book too." This acknowledgement lead me to create workshops, conduct classes, and make personal appearances to encourage others to write their own history and genealogy. And, I continue to research and record more in depth information for my own family... This effort is what wakes me up by 5:30 every morning - researching about my discoveries...
At this moment, I am researching and recording the life stories of older Africans Americans - 80 & 90 years old. These people are only a few (one -two) generations removed from the year the Emancipation Proclamation was passed... I am interested in how their families lived and adjusted to the new found freedom, and no-one knows better that the immediate descendants.
The preservation of my own family history.
Non-Fiction/ History is my genre because of the need to share real stories about the African American community : Our Stories - Our Truth.
My research consisted of: my own memory and personal memories of other (friends, classmates, relatives), and history / timeline sites.
I have become my aware of how my work is inspirational to others; therefore, as I write and research for myself I keep that in mind and keep more information about my journey in order to share my experiences.
The hardest thing a in writing "Aunt Donsy's Trunk" was pulling on the other members of my family to confirm my memories and add their own. It took me 10 years from start to finish; older cousins passed away during that time, few replied to my requests, and getting copies of family pictures was like pulling hems teeth.
The most rewarding for me was the actual publication of "Aunt Donsy's Trunk." It was after the book was published that my family really began to understand what I was doing; then, I heard things like.. "I could have given you a picture of her/him/that." and "Can you help me write/ find out about ____!" I feel so excited about inspiring others to fill in the gaps of our true American History.
If I had a do-over, I would have started earlier in my life... I waited until I retired because I did't think I had to time to write while I was working, running a small business, and raising four daughters. Actually, as I look back, I could have made the time if I had realized the importance of this work to others.
I had to learn how to make what I envisioned in my head become something that others could see.
I wake up early and pray - it is my way to connect to the universal; then, after breakfast. I dive right in and let my thoughts flow.
I love to communicate with my readers; therefore I make myself available for book clubs, and personal appearances. I enjoy the daily dialogue with the social media connections.
My readers influence me to wanting to find and record more information about the true history that was not taught in school... I have a wide assortment of "friends" who have responded to my post that they appreciate the information I share, and how the current events can be correlated to passages in my books... I do have another book, "Price Road," which can be called "true history. "It is listed as fiction because the names of the places and characters are my creative input; the core of the book's story-lines are based on real people and events and filled with intriguing symbolism;however, because of my reader's display of interest in real truth, I am leaning toward all of my writing being absolute truth...
When I first started writing, I joined a support group of other writers which helpful me build my confidence... I think that was an absolutely necessary experience as I was entering into an unfamiliar area... It gave me the strength to develop my skills in an emotionally safe environment.
I have worked with an editor on each of my books or blogs. My editor, also an African American, keeps me focused on my target. She understands my story and what I want to convey and makes suggestions to achieve that while making sure the punctuation and grammar are correct. Often I tell my editor that I couldn't be a writer without her and spellcheck...
I am the first person in my immediate family to finish college; therefore, no-one in my family even recognized my unrevealed interest in writing... Yet, I never forgot the elementary school teacher, Mrs, Elmore, who showed appreciation for a play I wrote on my own and shared with her when I was in the 5th grade. Mrs. Elmore actually had my class to put my play on for an assembly program and introduced me as the "writer" - teachers can be a great lifelong influence. Mrs Elmore was my influence although after I graduated from that school I never saw her again; however, I never forgot her.
I do everything I can think of to get the information about my books to the public: speaking engagements, social media, and radio interviews; additionally, both books are in the Philadelphia, PA, Hampton,VA, and Eden, NC. Free Libraries...
I self published my books with iUniverse. The traditional route was to long and based on personal opinions within the industry... As a retiree, I wanted to tell My Story - My Truth in my own way.
I have considered writing a follow-up book because I am continuing gather more information that I would love to share.
I believe that we live in a microwave generation; therefore, I don't think today's reader will spend too much time with a long book. My novel, Aunt Donsy's Trunk is less than 300 pages which I think is a good quick- read length.
I don't have a strategy for finding reviewers. All of my reviews have come from enthused readers without solicitation.
I would say to m with younger self, "You are a talented writer - develop and pursue that talent!!!"
Believe it or not I love "The Wiz" Diana Ross and Micheal Jackson... My family views this movie at least once a year as a group; we use it as a conduit to discuss and analyze life conditions, aspirations, and concerns.
I have used video's about my book. I think trailers and all forms video presentations are beneficial to the exposure about the books.
My next immediate project is the script for a documentary titled "Our Stories - Our Truth." Following the information disclosed in the "Slave Narratives" this documentary explores the lives of the descendants of slaves...
I don't let much upset me because I have learned that stress will kill you, and frustration and worry will sap your energy... If either of these will stop you in your tracks - you can't accomplish your goals. I am too old to waste time with frustration and worry, I have too much to do; I need to live a long time.
I think it is important for a writer to: be consistent, stay on track, ignore the negative forces that will surround you, and don't become discouraged if things take longer to accomplish than you thought...
Elaine T. Jones
Elaine T Jones
I am a retired educator who has always been active in my community as a: community organizer, church worker, volunteer, mentor, and activity coordinator. I did my undergraduate studies at Drexel University, and my graduate studies at Temple University.
I am the author of two novels - “Aunt Donsy’s Trunk” and “Price Road,” and the writer of an award winning documentary about the Black Firefighter’s, “The Valiants Ins.” I speak for schools, congregations, and organizations emphasizing the thrill and excitement of researching and compiling the family genealogy.
I have taught creative writing classes for teenagers inspiring them to record the stories around them; additionally, I have conducted seminars for adults that encourage them to place a value on the sharing of their memories - no matter how insignificant they may believe them to be.
I am adamant about the preservation and understanding of the challenges and triumphs of our history (Black / African American) in order for us to hold on to our identity and focus on our future with a purpose … Our Stories- Our Truth!