The year of 2016 was full of highs and lows. I had finally finished my short story, The Next Time I Leave, a deep tale about a first-generation Sierra Leonean American woman, Asuma, who learns about life and love the hard way. It was a huge accomplishment for me, being a first time author. But the road to getting there wasn’t easy. For one, the story was extremely personal. There were issues such as sexual abuse, strained relationships and self-hate that was disclosed throughout the fictional story. Things that I myself experienced at some point. Being that I don’t typically share such stories, it was very awkward to say the least. Also, I didn’t know the first thing about publishing or editing – and it showed. Besides being excited about releasing a book, I rushed and overlooked many important things before putting the finished product out there. I’ll go ahead and throw in lack of guidance and greedy publishers in there as well! But hey, it was a huge learning experience for me, which gave me the strength to keep pushing until things were done right. Right when I was in the thick of learning and embracing the role of being a new author, tragedy struck. I had to fly overseas to bury my deceased father. I have to say, it has been hell bouncing back – not just from losing my father, but just getting back into the swing of things. Re-writing and editing the book became even more difficult, but I knew it was something I had to do. Fast forward to present day, and I couldn’t feel more accomplished, proud or excited. I started at 91 pages of drafted story telling in the first book to 320 with my current draft (and counting). Yep, I now have over 300 pages filled with love, hate, good sex, horrible sex, immigration, loneliness, success, rape, and cultural history. An interesting mixture to say the least! With the help of an editor who cares, I’ve been able to breath new life into each character, shaping the story into one that tickles for laughs and jerks tears at the same time. We’re winding down to the last couple of chapters and I must say there has been so much release and exercise on my part – and I just don’t mean mental exercise! The continued encouragement from friends, family and supporters has made a world of difference. Besides leaning on God to maintain my sanity, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through these past couple of years. Within these past years, I’ve also learned how to let certain hurts, pain and open situations GO once and for all. Since taking that step, so many doors have opened and so many relationships have flourished! With all of this being said, I ask that you continue to stay tuned as I wind down in rebuilding this special story, The Next Time I Leave. Asuma’s choice to leave wasn’t easy, but it definitely pays off in the long run. Believe me when I tell you, I can definitely relate!