History was made in Jauary 2008. Here is the report
There are no words really to describe what happened to Conversations or FOR Conversations on January 19, 2008.
On the first snowy day in Mississippi in over five years, a caravan of individuals (Cyrus A. Webb, Robin Gardner, Cheryl Haynes, Lacricia Peters, Voncele Savage, Val Tayor, Christian Vance, Jokah the General and Mason) let the state headed for New Orleans with one purpose: to be a part of history. And they weren't disappointed. This day was reported on by MTV, the Chicago Tribune as well as dozens of entertainment websites. And we were a part of it.
With smiles, laughs and playful conversation, no one knew exactly what was to come. Here we were: two authors (one of them also a minister), a journalist, a personal trainer, 2 recording artists, a college student(who doubles as a dance minister), a elementary school principal as well as a book club president headed to a book club meeting? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! But such was the case, and there was one thing that all of us agreed on... Our lives would never be the same.
When we made it to our new home for this book club, the management welcomed us at the door, and I was glad to see there were people waiting for us already! We filed into the breakfast room of the hotel, filling chairs and getting our bearings.
Again, this was a historic day for the movement that has been Conversations since November 2006. Lacricia Peters---our guest author from Tennessee---had never been to Mississippi or Louisiana and had stepped out on faith, was just part of our debut meeting in New Orleans. Our second guest for the event---Corey "C-Murder" Miller---was on his home turf and walked in all smiles and full of excitement for what was to come.
In all, over 40 people (including New Orleans author Dedra Johnson) attended this special meeting. As I sat in the front of the group to make the introductions, I was struck (as were others) at the makeup of the group. Young and old of all shades were present--- for a book club meeting? Unthinkable! But here we all were.
It was showtime.
First up was author Lacricia Peters. After she introduced herself and talked about her beginnings as a writer, we delved into her debut novel GIRL, NAW! With ease she dissected the characters with us: discussing their insecurities as well as their past betrayals, and how they all worked hard to accomplish one purpose: to love their God, others and themselves. Peters opened up about how the book added to her own dialogue with herself about issues in her past. She talked about how she was balancing the roles of author, publisher and marketing director---even bringing her kids in to aide with publicity with t-shirts and the like. Listening to her discuss what she was doing to ensure her book was a success allowed others to see behind the glamour of just having a book in print.
After some questions we welcomed up C-Murder, who has developed a lasting friendship and involvment with Conversations and quite frankly with me as a person. By the time of this meeting, Cee and I have been working together for a year. It began with a few conference calls with books lovers and mushroomed into his historic visit to Mississippi in October 2007 as the guest of our book club---something that he had never done up to that point, and I can proudly say he hasn't done with anyone else since. He even granted me an exclusive first tv interview with him in over 5 years---something that was first broadcast in Mississippi, but thanks to Youtube has now been seen worldwide at this point.
What struck me as telling about the day that was January 19, 2008 is how those gathered reacted to what they were a part of. There were no side conversations going on. No one drifting off to sleep... Everyone---and I do mean EVERYONE---gave these two their undivided attention. When we said we were reading from a page, you could hear pages turning. When passages were read, people reacted to the reading. We were all on one accord.
Afterwards, pictures were taken, autographs were given and most importantly those in that place new one thing: book discussions in Louisiana would neve be the same.
So what are you waiting for? C'mon. Join the addiction: Get hooked on books!