Ercelene Kinnebrew has always enjoyed writing. It could be poetry, short stories, or sitting in a quiet space reading a book. Writing was a safe place to let her imagination run free. Ercelene had often thought about writing a book but ignored the idea for years as a result of her own “stinkin’ thinking.” She questioned how could her story be beneficial to anyone; who would want to read her story? During Ercelene’s own healing journey she prayed a lot. There were several times the idea of writing a book resurfaced and she ignored it.
She literally felt like God was nudging her but she was too stubborn to understand that writing the book was part of her healing. While sharing portions of her life experiences with others the idea to write the book resurfaced and again she ignored it, but didn’t completely close the door on the thought. Ercelene remembered sitting at dinner with two of her colleagues who became dear friends who during conversation mentioned she should write a book. Again, Ercelene felt like it was another nudge and she decided to give it a go and the rest is history.
Medium readers, please enjoy my interview with debut author of Unpacking Your Backpack : Overcoming the Influence of Your Past, and Founder of Curvy Girls Clubhouse, Ercelene Kinnebrew.
How long does it take you to write a book and how do you decide your schedule around it?
Ercelene: Believe it or not, I completed the first draft of Unpacking Your Backpack in roughly 45 days. Being it was my first time writing a book that I hoped to publish I worked with an awesome Coach, Angie Sims of League of Girlfriends. During our first meeting, she said I would be done in 30 days and honestly I thought to myself, “this lady is crazy” but she was right. During our first meeting, she encouraged me to buy a notebook and to keep it with me at all times to write whatever and whenever something came to mind. And that’s exactly what I did. Once my thoughts were written in the journal I set aside time every day after work and sometimes during my lunch to type my thoughts into a more of a story until the book was written.
What is the process like for you to get your books published and read by your supporters?
Ercelene: I chose to self-publish and Angie walked me through the process using Kindle Direct Publishing, (KDP). Honestly, I did not think it was too cumbersome or difficult. KDP was pretty straightforward. There are other options for publishing for anyone who doesn’t want to self-publish. There are independent publishers, writing coaches, ghostwriters, and people who specialize in book cover designs. I learned all of this during my initial research before starting my writing journey. With Angie being an author herself, she provided great support, encouragement and spent countless hours via Zoom to answer questions and offer feedback on my manuscript. The book cover was created from a photograph taken by Kim Taylor of Kimazing Photography. Kim was able to capture my idea in the photograph perfectly.
I would also say decide what size you want your book to be prior to spending a ton of time typing and formatting. There are templates that you can download and use on the KDP website.
To create excitement and interest in the book I announced the upcoming book to my family, on my social media channels, and started pre-sales. I recorded the unboxing of the proofs of the book when they arrived. Of course that day was super exciting for me. Some of the other things I did was attended book club meetings with ladies who read the book, book signing events, and with each signed copy I gave readers a wristband. On one side of the wrist band it says, “Unpacking Your Backpack” and on the other side “Overcoming Your Past”. I wear the bracelet myself.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Ercelene: Oh my gosh, YES! I didn’t think it would be possible to have writer’s block writing my own story (laughing) but there were times that I simply could not put sentences together to save my life. Or I would erase and rewrite my thoughts spending a lot of time on a couple of sentences. I found that doing something else that I enjoyed gave me the break I needed. I gave myself some grace because I still worked full time and had responsibilities as a mother. It is important to maintain balance throughout the process. There were times I didn’t write for a couple of days but when I started again, it just flowed effortlessly. I remember one night I didn’t go to bed until like 2:00 AM. Writer’s block may or may not happen but it is definitely something you can overcome.
Please tell us about the book you wrote, Unpacking Your Backpack.
Ercelene: Sure thing, the book is a novel and workbook combined into one reading experience. I wrote the book in a way that gives you a glimpse into my life and also helps the reader begin to unpack their own life issues. I share personal insecurities and how I was able to overcome the negative impact my past was having in my life. I use to hide my feelings behind a smile. No-one ever knew there were issues. To the outside world we “had made it” as a black family in our area. I talk about the “invisible backpack” that I carried full of all of the “stuff” influencing the way I showed up personally and professionally.
I say invisible because no one ever really saw all of the stressors, emotional insecurity or mental challenges that caused me to allow my representative to lead. I was not living in my authenticity out of fear. Not only do I share a portion of my own life but also guide readers to begin unpacking the “stuff” in their backpack and create a Healthy Emotional Life Plan that is focused on the whole person.
What advice would you have for a first-time author?
Ercelene: The first thing I would say is your story matters. Don’t second guess your decision to write your book. Of course, that was more motivation than advice. I can’t help myself (lol). Ok as far as advice, get a journal and write, write, write. Also, don’t sit at the computer for hours looking at the screen trying to force the words to come. Surround yourself with people or go to places that inspire you to write. Oh and stay away from anyone who is not encouraging your aspiration as an Author.
What can you tell us about Curvy Girls Clubhouse?
Ercelene:[smiling] Curvy Girls Clubhouse is what I wish I had growing up as a curvaceous girl. It is an online community for full-figured professional women to meet other full-figured professional women with common interests and similar experiences. I want to inspire women to love the woman they see in the mirror inside and out. To embrace and enjoy life with joy recognizing how awesome she is in the skin she’s in. No more shame or embarrassment because of size. Being part of a community of women who look like you and are doing amazing things personally and professionally is empowering.
Everyone needs their “crew” or “tribe” of people who can relate, educate, inspire and celebrate them. Curvy Girls Clubhouse is not only about socializing; women can learn techniques to increase confidence, communicate effectively with different personality types, get assistance creating her H.E.L.P., participate in unscripted conversations on life and love, receive meal planning tips and more, all in a private community! It is a safe place where women can be themselves without fear of being judged by body shape or weight. At the clubhouse curvy girls are “More Than a Dress Size”. You can visit www.curvygirlsclubhouse.com to connect with me for more information on how to join this growing community of phenomenal women.
What else would you like our readers to know about you?
Ercelene: Well Tammy, I want readers to know that this is just the beginning. I am currently writing my second book and have several other projects in the pipeline to include a Podcast! I invite your readers to connect with me on social media, my IG is @curvygirlsclubhouse.