Hello, beautiful readers! I have the pleasure of sharing with you a phenomenal woman and great author, Shirley Harris-Slaughter. I've read her books and short stories and encourage you to do the same. I hope you enjoy getting to know Shirley today. Leave her a comment below to show her some love! :-)
I was the financial/office manager for a Catholic church on the east side of Detroit in a second career when I got the inspiration to finally write our story. Three things happened that pushed me to do it:
1) seeing the word “administrator” appear in “The Michigan Catholic” behind the name of my former pastor’s affiliation with OLV during his anniversary celebration as a priest. I thought he was our pastor. This revelation would change everything;
2) the release of a book by the diocese called “Make Straight the Path” celebrating 300 years of a presence in the Detroit region. The book represented the history of all the churches in the region EXCEPT OLV; and
3) looking though a directory of churches and seeing OLVs’ start date listed in 1975 (after merging) when it clearly was founded in 1943, thereby wiping out its entire early history.
I was horrified and shocked, so I contacted the archives office and was asked, “Why don’t you get something down here?” Don’t present me with a challenge because I will take you up on it. And that’s how I came to write our story.
What interested you the most about this topic?
Seizing the opportunity to preserve the history because it was clear to me that it was never going to happen unless I did it. I was overcome with satisfaction knowing, in some small way, I could save those wonderful pictures that would have sat in a box stored away forever or possibly destroyed.
How much research was required?
My book required a lot of initial research and interviews. I’m a terrible procrastinator. It’s tedious work and requires will power sometimes just to finish a task. I interviewed and recorded two individuals. My research took me to Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s Archives; and I rummaged through the files at our church -- recording & copying information; and I spoke with individuals in their homes. But because I was driven to do this, I got the job done. The rest of the research came from my own experience.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me 5 years from start to release date. The editing and publishing took up the most time. Being a perfectionist about my work didn’t make it any smoother. It was difficult finding the right kind of editor, so I settled on a referral from a friend to use a print-on-demand publisher. Today, I’m with Amazon and will always need an editor and formatter, unfortunately.
What is the most valuable thing you learned through the process?
Saving our history and telling the story was by far the most precious gift. It practically fell into my lap. I was the chosen one to make it happen. And so, the lesson I learned is that if I don’t do it, nobody will.
How hard is it to write about personal experiences?
It is extremely difficult to expose yourself. I put down on paper experiences I was too ashamed to talk about my entire life. In some ways, writing it down provided a release. I don’t think I ever would have opened up any other way.
How do you like to connect with readers?
I want my readers to ask questions about anything they don’t understand, and there are a lot of questions to be asked. It lets me know that they read the book. I love doing speaking engagements because audience connections stem from lots of questions
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
You are not alone. There is a community of writers you should hook up with---preferably Rave Reviews Book Club. When I first became an author, that was the first piece of advice I got. RRBC was not around at the time, but I did join a couple of local writer’s networks. Enroll in writing classes to hone up your skills. That is something I didn’t do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us today?
As I sat here and answered all your questions, it struck me that being in Rave Reviews Book Club is like a one-stop-shop, as you can get everything you need here in the club. We are scrambling around trying to find editors, formatters, and book cover designers, and they are right there in the club. Plus, it has all the promotion you can get. We have the Pop Up Book Shop coming up and must get registered for it.
Last of all, I want to thank you, Yvette, for having me on your blog. It’s just wonderful!
You are most welcome, Shirley! Check out Our Lady of Victory at Amazon today. It's a great book (it's even won the Seal of Approval as one of Nonnie Jules' Amazing Reads.)
One act set in motion a chain of events that threatened one Catholic community's ability to thrive.
It happened between 1945 and 1946 at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Detroit in the Chancellor's office. Msgr. John C. Ryan called an emergency meeting with the cardinal...And so the stage was set for the years of turmoil that followed and the subsequent demise of this once vibrant church. Here comes the author who gives the reader an intimate look at her Catholic community, the township she grew up in, and its historical significance to World War II, Henry Ford's auto plant, migration from the south, and the housing crisis that was unfolding. She talks about having fond memories as well as sadness and pain. While preparing a farewell speech for the departing pastor, she wondered at the age of twelve what was going to happen to her and the parish family she came to love. What a burden for a young child to bear? The reader is introduced to the pioneers who helped shape and establish this community that shaped her. But the book takes a different turn as the research uncovers forgotten secrets...
Shirley Harris-Slaughter @sharrislaughter is a Michigan native. She is a community activist having been a school board trustee in the Oak Park School District and mentored four freshmen girls in the Winning Futures Program. Shirley loves trains, vintage clothes, and old buildings with historic significance. So, it was a natural that she would write about growing up in historic Royal Oak Twp. and keep alive a Catholic community that was about to lose its history and identity. It seems that everything she loved closed, and she was not about to let any of it be forgotten. Shirley joined Rave Reviews Book Club because she recognized the need to support fellow authors in order to move forward in her own endeavors. She already had a thriving relationship with like twitter followers that lead her there. “We all had the same goals, so it was a natural fit.”
Check out her other books as well:
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You can also email her here.