Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Natasha Jeneen Thomas

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Natasha Thomas.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Natasha and I’m from Daytona Beach, Florida. I’ve been living in the metro Atlanta area for the past 11 years.

Cool beans. Are you employed outside of writing?

I am! I have worked as a psychiatrist for eleven years. I treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and psychotic disorders. But my specialty areas are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and peripartum mood and anxiety disorders. Those are disturbances in mood that happen during pregnancy or in the postpartum period.

Over the course of doing this work, I’ve learned the postpartum period is much longer than the six weeks women are usually taught to consider postpartum. I walk with women through their entire pregnancies and at least the first year of their baby’s life to make sure they adjust well and their mental health is supported.

I start treating people at age 15 and have patients in their eighties!

Wow! You are doing such important work.

Now, I just finished binge-watching this (I’m late to the party), so you know I gotta ask, with you being in Atlanta and in the medical space…

39588

…are you a fan of Married to Medicine, and have you met any of the women from the show?

So funny you asked about Married to Medicine! I’ve never met any of the ladies. But being a psychiatrist, I have met and share patients with Dr. Lunceford (Quad’s husband). He works at a local inpatient facility. So at times when patients aren’t doing well and have to be hospitalized, they’ve been under his care. During those times, he typically reaches out to me so we can collaborate on their outpatient treatment after their hospital discharge.

In addition, Dr. Damon Kimes (Dr. Heavenly’s husband) is an absolute joy to share patients with. He is extremely compassionate to the mental health needs of his patients that also have issues with pain management. Having the opportunity to collaborate with local docs is one of my favorite things about building a medical network here!

That is so cool! See, I knew I was watching that show for a reason, lol. And Chile, they fight like real sisters, and the shade!

37700

Any siblings Natasha?

I technically am an only child. I have a very close cousin and very close friend. They have been my “sister” and “brother” since I was two years old. They were both raised as only children, too. So, though I grew up without siblings at my home, I have never really felt alone.

That’s precious. Speaking of growing up, what was your childhood dream?

When I was six years old, I developed a strong interest in biology. And this came from reading the children’s encyclopedia series my parents ordered for me. The last book was a guide for parents to understand their children’s health. It was the most interesting part of the entire series to me. But interestingly, I decided in fourth grade that I would attend Yale Law School. I have no idea where that aspiration came from. That lasted a few years, but science just continued to interest me so much that I began to consider medicine around age twelve if memory serves me correctly. By the time I was getting ready to attend college, I started feeling the pull to write. My mother and father encouraged both – but medicine first!

I was a very daydreamy and quirky child. So, from that angle, I had dreamt of doing everything from finding Smurfs in the tree in my backyard to oddly wanting to become a maternity model in the JC Penney’s catalog. That’s the most bizarre realization I’ve ever had about my childhood dreams! Oh goodness.

Lol. That’s what we want to hear! We want you to dig deep. What’s your favorite color?

Green. Kelly green to be exact!

Nice! Favorite food?

I am a true seafood lover. Fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab – I mean, I could just go on and on. My favorite meal, altogether, would be white rice, with fish and collard greens. Interestingly, I was told that was the exact favorite meal of my grandfather, who passed away before I had the chance to meet him.

I love that about genetics. How we could inherit a trait from family outside of our mothers and fathers.

Family-Medicine-eBook-Cvr (2)

You mentioned the pull to write, so let’s go there. What genre do you write and why?

I write psychological suspense. I guess, with what I do for a living, it’s not all that mysterious why I have chosen that genre. I’m fascinated by the human mind. Absolutely. What happens to the psyche through one’s life story is incredible, and nothing intrigues me as much. Whether I’m reading, writing, or watching movies or TV, suspense and thrillers with a psychological component are always my favorites. I think we learn a lot about ourselves that we may not want to express when we consume thrillers and suspense. They give us an opportunity to look at our moral compasses and question what, if any, absolute truths we hold.

I love the education your are giving us right now. Do you blog? Does blogging help with writing?

I actually feel like it’s the reverse for me; writing helps me blog. I started a mental health blog called Hope Grove in 2018. It was inspired by the cool work I get to do with my patients, and many of the questions they ask me. I figured if they had these questions, others would as well. That’s especially true for those who, for whatever reason, do not have access to mental health care. And even though the questions drive my blog postings, sometimes I would feel it required a real push to finish a topic.

I have found that writing a post has flowed much easier since I’ve been working on my novel. I think that’s because I’ve been working with a different part of my brain, my imagination, and that tends to mobilize me in general. I also am an intermediate level Haitian Kreyol speaker. I have found my use of the language drastically improved since I’ve been writing my novel. It makes sense but I wasn’t expecting that to happen!

Why is writing important to you?

Oh, that’s a big question. Writing is my outlet. But it is also the way that I take all my life’s experiences and distill them down into bite-sized pieces that I can process and understand. Just like everyone else, I have pain, regrets, doubt, successes, joy – so many emotions to turn over and over in my head. Writing helps me do that in a healthy way. And to turn some of my life lessons into a story that benefits myself and my readers is a gift. The writing of others is also massively important to me. Through the work of greats like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Edwidge Danticat, and Nikki Giovanni, I started to see writing as a window and a healer. Can you imagine a world without it? I’d certainly rather not!

I love it.

In your own words, what is love?

Love is honesty – honesty that allows you to see yourself and grow into your highest potential.

Thank you, Natasha, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!


Natasha Thomas - Book Cover-083 (2)
Natasha Thomas, 2021

Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in private psychiatric practice exploring the individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.

Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at the University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. In 2010, she moved to Metro Atlanta to work as an outpatient psychiatrist and has the continued honor of providing clinical care as owner & CEO of Hope Grove Psychiatry, PC. When she is not doctoring or writing, she enjoys her family, home, or corner of the couch.

Be Sure to Follow Natasha on Social Media!

Social Media Handles:
Facebook  – @natashajeneenthomasauthor
Instagram – @natashajeneenthomasauthor
Twitter – @JeneenAuthor
 

…and preorder her Psychological Suspense Thriller coming this fall!

 
Family-Medicine-eBook-Cvr (2)
 

About the Book:

Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in South Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes.

When Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar.

But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find.


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

No Whining Wednesday – Growth Isn’t Always What You Can See

NWW(1)

Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word is about growth:

I’ve heard growth several times this week and the one message that stuck with me is this one.

“Growth isn’t always what you can see.”

While I love that people realize the importance of self-love these days, social media can make that look like a fairy tale. People start to make money and travel, and then they post pictures of themselves living their best life and caption it something about self-love. This can give the impression loving on yourself is only luxury. 

But self-love is not all glamorous. It is not manicures and pedicures and vacations to Ghana. That can be a form of self-care, but self-love includes:

  • Acknowledging your own crap
  • Setting Boundaries
  • Discipline
  • Forgiveness
  • Saying No
  • Speaking Up
  • Seeking therapy 
  • and more (add them here)

People have gone so far as to say they are not humble because “humility is thinking low of oneself.” A lot of this “self-love” on the internet is really just arrogance masquerading as growth.

What I have noticed is growth is being promoted as this outward, physical thing. Growth can be outward. We do not have the same bodies as adults we had as children because our bodies grow and expand as we age. 

But a twelve-year-old with a twenty-year-old body still has the mind of a twelve-year-old.

And a sixteen-year-old who reads and counts at the level of a ten-year-old would be considered for a learning disability.

These examples show growing outwardly is not enough. 

Outward growth is expansion. Inward growth is depth. 

Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets don’t look like much outwardly because they grow underground. Peanuts also grow underground.

We can also see this by looking at the tree in general. Its branches stretch wide with leaves and fruit, and it’s beautiful.

But if that tree is not rooted in the soil, it will be blown away by the weakest storm.

No matter how beautiful the tree has expanded on the outside, the tree doesn’t stand a chance if its roots have not grown deep below.

Just because you do not physically see the growth does not mean it’s not happening.

No Whining Wednesday – Never Judge Clarity on How Others Respond

NWW(1)

No Whining Wednesdays are back!!

It’s been awhile so let’s do a quick recap.

What is No Whining Wednesday?

Coined by Iyanla Vanzant, NWW is a segment I added to this blog a couple of years ago to help us stay motivated for the remainder of the week. You can look at it as the extra push to get over the hump on “hump day.” For the entire day on Wednesdays, you cannot whine, complain, or criticize.

No Whining Wednesday is not only a fun exercise but a gratitude practice. To keep from complaining, you have to remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

The hope is we can lessen the complaints we have not only on Wednesdays but every day.

Here are some definitions:

To Whine – give or make a long, high-pitched complaining cry or sound; to grumble, murmur or complain in a feeble way.

To Complain – express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event; state that one is suffering from; state of grievance.

To Criticize – indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way; to condemn, attack, discourage.

If you are new to this blog please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word to help get through your day comes from Vanzant herself.

IMG-1375

Though I am a black movie buff and can probably quote the lines to every black movie ever made, I don’t watch much TV during the day. Most of my TV watching is in the evenings and on the weekend. If I find I am finished with work early, I am reading or listening to a YouTube video in the background while doing laundry or something. While listening to an inspirational compilation of Iyanla Vanzant’s speeches, I came across this quote.

“Never judge your clarity on how others respond.”

I am sure we can all draw our own meaning from this. For me, it means having the courage to stick with what you know is right in your heart. It means if you’ve been given divine instruction to do something, don’t change your mind because someone else rejects the idea or doesn’t understand it. It means if you’ve been given absolute clarity on something, don’t let others plant the seed of doubt in your heart despite how good their intentions. It means to hold on tight to your integrity.

Clarity – the quality of being coherent and intelligible. Clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

It was hard for me to delete my email list at first because I was worried about how other people would respond. I didn’t want anyone to take it personally. Look at me, worried about how somebody else will feel about something I am absolutely clear about doing. Ain’t that crazy?

It was only when I listened and did what I knew needed to be done that I could see the freedom in the decision.

Since restarting my list, I have far fewer subscribers but more engagement. My open rate went from 30-70% because the people on my list want to be there. I am absolutely clear about that.

Your turn!

What does this quote mean to you?

Have you ever changed your mind about something you were clear about because of how someone else responded?

How do you plan to lessen your number of complaints today?

 

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Sundown Towns

BLACK HISTORY

“Beginning in about 1890 and continuing until 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States for whites only. Many towns drove out their black populations, then posted sundown signs.” – James W. Lowen

When I first published this article in 2017, I got much controversy about it. I didn’t take it personally for two reasons. First, very little literature covers sundown towns, and not much is said about it in the limited topics covered during black history month.

The other reason is, although these towns were known as sundown towns, the people of the town did not call it that. It was only a well-known fact that some blacks were not allowed in some towns, and if they visited, they had better leave before the sun sets or risk lynching. Therefore, when I wrote about it, some people thought I was making it up.

IMG-1223
Follow me on Instagram @yecheilyah

This past week, I posted this image to my Instagram, and I was surprised to see how many more people had not heard of this. For this reason, today, we are revisiting our black history fun fact on sundown towns.


“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.”—conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001.

James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006),3

Anna, Illinois, was named after the daughter of the town’s founder but got its more derogatory name after the 1909 lynching of a black man in Cairo, IL, and the mob of angry white citizens who drove out Anna’s 40 or so black families following the lynching. It is at this point that Anna, IL became a sundown town.

A sundown town is a town with an exclusive population of non-whites on purpose. They are towns with overwhelming populations of non-whites and are so deliberately.  Sundown towns were also known as “Sunset Towns.”

“A sundown town town is an organized jurisdiction that for decades kept African Americans or other groups from living in it and was thus “all-white” on purpose.”

Side Note: In the black community, black kids are constantly warned to “come in the house when the street lights come on,” so many of us had to be in the house before the sunset. I wonder if Sundown Towns had something to do with this. Not to say black parents are the only ones with this command, but it’s food for thought.

Although signs were posted, forced exclusion was also implemented:

“There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.”

– America’s Black Holocaust Museum, James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

The Beginning

Sundown towns began after slavery and the Civil War when blacks left the plantations and poured into every city and corner of the country. This was followed by the system we know as Jim Crow.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the southern and northern United States to keep blacks in a state of servitude. It included having to look down and step to the side when a white person walked by, drinking from separate water fountains, entering the rear of the bus, sitting in the balcony of the movie theater (which came to be known as “Nigger Heaven,”), attending separate schools, and more.

While Jim Crow and segregation are most notably known as a southern practice (“The Jim Crow South”), it also existed in the north. In fact, many parts of the north were more segregated than the south, and when it comes to Sundown Towns, these communities mainly existed in the north as the Great Migration brought floods of blacks into northern cities. Many suburbs to this day are mostly white because they were either part of redlining -the systematic denial of various services to black residents either explicitly or through the selective raising of prices – or its white residents ran its black residents out of town, and the descendants of those people kept it that way.

White_only_-_Detroit_1943

I’ll use Chicago as an example, still one of the most segregated cities in America. Yes, I said Chicago. Remember, we started this conversation with Anna (“Ain’t No Negroes Allowed”), Illinois.

Screenshot (14)
From Time .com / Bettmann / Getty Images

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Chicago in 1966 due to the high poverty rate in black neighborhoods and rented an apartment on the west side. He was there as part of what he would call The Poor People’s Campaign and the Freedom Movement. On August 5, 1966, King led a march through Cicero, an all-white district, and was hit in the head with a rock by members of the angry mob.

Years later (the early 80s), my brother-in-law and his friends would be chased out of this same area, racial slurs hitting their backs as they rode their bikes out of Cicero.

poster_caa060f6d48c41ae8e6e574b5838f5ed_57654824_ver1.0_640_480

This statue below is of Orville Hubbard, which sits outside of the City Hall in Dearborn, Michigan, was the cause of much controversy when people started to learn more about his past.

Hubbard was the mayor of the then all-white suburban town outside of Detroit from 1942 to 1978 and, in a 1969 speech acquired by the New York Times, said that “If whites didn’t want to live with N–they sure didn’t have to.” He went on to say this was a free country, and this was America.

“City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,’ ” according to David Good, a lifelong resident of the city who is the author of ‘‘Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” a biography of Mayor Hubbard.

“Out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klans live. I know Dearborn, you know I’m from Detroit, used to live out there in Easten. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Easten. Just like riding through Mississippi once you got to Dearborn.” – Malcolm X

Over time the name “Sundown-town” faded, but Sundown Suburbs still exist. A sundown suburb is a discrete way in which Sundown-towns live today when large white populations migrate to the suburban part of the city with the express purpose of separating themselves from the minority population. We can see this in our Cicero example.

Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 2: Not Preparing Financially

I once paid $300 for a book cover. At the time, I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on a cover. Not only did I not have the money, but even if I did, I couldn’t afford to invest it into a book cover when there were, as I saw it, much more severe priorities in front of me. But, I was young and excited, and I wanted to publish this book, and I wanted that cover.

But I was broke, broke.

So, what did I do?

I set up a GoFundMe.

I went around to people I knew and explained my vision and why I was raising the money. I (and get this) talked to people.

And I don’t like talking to people.

Not only did I make enough to purchase the cover I wanted, but I also made that money right back at a Book Signing in Chicago.

It was 2014, and we were at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. I had just released my first screenplay, which, interestingly enough, is the book that inspired The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen.

I made that $300 back and then some.

You might be thinking, “But, EC, if you couldn’t afford to pay for a book cover, how did you cover editing?”

I didn’t. I had a friend edit the book, which is why it is retired today.

annelies-geneyn-bhBONc07WsI-unsplash
Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

Self-Publishing is an area where the term, Proper preparation prevents pissed poor performance holds much weight. We don’t talk about it enough, but financial planning is part of the basics of Self-Publishing.

Self-Publishing requires a mindset shift regarding how you feel about yourself and how you look at your finances. One of the first things I’ve noticed in my journey is that most first-time Self-Publishers haven’t decided if they are publishing this book for themselves or publishing the book for others to read.

Did I confuse you there? Read on.

Publishing for Yourself vs. Publishing a Book that Sells

christopher-jolly-7gC5vnDf-F0-unsplash
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Publishing a book for yourself means you fulfill your dream of becoming a published author and want to give copies away to family and friends. It means you are not selling the book or wanting to create a business out of it; rather, you want to satisfy a desire for something you’ve always wanted to do.

In this case, it would not be necessary to put a lot of money into this project, mainly because you are not getting the money back through sales since you are not selling the book. You may decide to get your book cover made using a cover template from KDP or Lulu or a homemade cover from Canva. You might choose to have a friend edit the book for you or use free software for formatting. This would be sufficient for a book you don’t want to sell. There are tons of economical ways to publish a book for this purpose.

Attachment-1(12)

But, suppose you are publishing this book because you want to leverage your business, spread your message and get it into as many hands as possible. Suppose you are a speaker and want to sell copies at your event, see your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or get the book stocked at bookstores, libraries, and schools.

What if you are writing this book because you want other people to read it?

In this case, you must prepare for this journey from the mind of a business person and not only an author.

When you publish a book you intend to sell, you consider other factors outside of what you want from the book because this book isn’t only for you. You think about building a platform, the market, and you consider the financial obligation necessary to bring the vision forward. 

This isn’t to say write a book that doesn’t speak to your soul. It means you publish a book that speaks to your soul and the soul of others. It means you are publishing a book you see is needed in your community.

“You may have a robust knowledge of quantum computing but if everything the audience wants from you is how to use Microsoft Excel, give them just that. You write no book about quantum computing until you are able to build an audience around it.

Most self-published authors don’t do this. They do the exact opposite. They write what they like and try to figure out how to shove it down people’s throats.”

-David O, Entrepreneurs Handbook

Publishing a Book You Want to Sell Requires A Financial Investment

michael-longmire-lhltMGdohc8-unsplash
Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Spending money on your book is only an investment if you have put a strategy in place designed to ensure how you will sell this book. This, in my experience, is the difference between publishing for yourself and publishing a book for other people to enjoy as well. Many authors who venture into Self-Publishing ignore the market, so the book doesn’t sell outside of close family and friends because they have written a book no one wants to read. 

When was the last time you bought a book by an author you have NOT been following for some time, on a subject you really don’t care about?

This is called Indie Author Basics because we focus on laying a strong foundation (a well-written and packaged book) to make it easier to build everything else on top of it. Too many new Indie Books are not attractive, not well-written, poorly produced, and is about topics no one cares about. As a result, the average self-published author makes less than $1,000 per year, according to a survey by Guardian in 2015, and a third of them make less than $500 per year.

What does this have to do with preparing financially?

When authors publish books they intend to sell for reasons outside of themselves, they are mentally prepared to invest the time and money to produce a high-quality product because they know they will get a return on their investment if done right.

Again, an investment isn’t just putting your money into something. Investing is putting your money into something you know will yield a return, either financially, mentally, or spiritually. It is the act of allocating resources with the expectation of generating an income or profit.

That’s why we had to talk about if you want to even publish this book to sell it first because not everyone wants to publish a book to sell it, but for those who do, financial investment is necessary.

PBS bc front
My dope $300 cover for my first screenplay

My books do not sit on the shelves with major traditionally published books (and sell) because I’m the best writer or because I have the best books or even the best marketing strategy. I also put good money into producing my books, among other things. I wasn’t going to say this, but it needs to be said that I practice what I preach.

It also needs to be said I am on a budget just like most of us, but I prepare early for this so that what I do invest into publishing my book isn’t coming from the money I need to grocery shop or pay bills. It is coming from the money I have saved and put away specifically for this project since I first decided I will publish the book. That’s how seriously I take my writing.

I am not saying spending lots of money on your book will guarantee sales. It won’t. You first have to publish a book people want to read.  (Although I got my money back from what I spent on the cover from the screenplay, the book did not continue to sell after that.) But, after that, making sure the book is well packaged plays its part too.

I am also not telling you to sell a leg to publish your book. There is nothing wrong with finding economical ways to publish (premade covers are cheaper than custom made), but if you try to find the cheapest way possible or skim on editing because you don’t want to put in the work, it will only cost you more in the end.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INDIE AUTHOR BASICS WITH EC!

Unfinished

Photo by Carlos Quintero on Unsplash

Would you still love me

If I told you instead of making mistakes, I made choices

that clawed its way into my conscious

Would it frighten you

to know being hit by a car isn’t my only accident

and a surgical staple isn’t the only thing

I’ve been shot with

Would it shock you

if I said, I am not always acting like a queen

Could I be honest

about the weight of this crown

What if I confessed my sins in ink

washed my hands of transgression on paper

Is it okay if I sacrifice my body to this poem?

Purify my mind and kill my pride

by lynching my secrets to this tree

transform this test into a testimony

take this trial and morph it into some kind of triumph

some kind of victory like the overcoming of flesh

forged in a fire for the overcoming of death

Would you still admire me

If you knew about the parts of me that aren’t admirable

Add me

to your list of humans humble enough to admit

we encounter defeat

but strong enough not to be defeated

We are not diminished

Maybe just a little

unfinished


Click Here to Subscribe to the List

Read More Poetry Here and Here

@ yecheilyah on IG and Twitter