Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. When no one wanted to listen to me or was able to understand my struggles of dating, and my lack of communication with my Daddy, I began to journal my thoughts and feelings. From about the age of 25 to 28, poetic words flowed out of my heart like a fountain. Oddly enough, the season of poetry ceased after 3 years. I knew that my Dad’s heart change was a miracle from God. I knew my transformation is a miracle from God.
Now that I am a Christian, I write what the Lord puts on my heart. All of the letters that I wrote that are my book are messages God put on my heart. Each person that I encountered was either family members or men that I dated or attempted to pursue a relationship with me. I must admit that writing these letters were hardest messages to deliver. I feared the backlash. To my surprise, I did not receive any negative feedback! This was confirmation these messages were inspired by God! So I write about real life situations that impact people every day. I use the gift God has given me to help people understand and deal with issues that plague our lives: relationships, faith, sex, prayer, death, and the list goes on. It is a blessing to be able to use the gift of writing and words to help people see their need for Jesus in a way that customized just for them.
Repentance, the change of my mind and heart, is the greatest miracle that is no talks about in church. Other people cannot know about the miracle if I am not unwilling to share my life story. If I truly believe I am forgiven of all my sins – like the Bible promises – then what do I have to fear. What started out as just a friendly email conversation, evolves into a collection of poems and letters that I believe in my heart will draw people closer to God. My life is a testament of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness: the underlining theme throughout the entire Bible.
Tell us about your books.
My first book, “Algebra for the Urban Student” was inspired by students that I taught. So many times students do so well in class, but when they leave my classroom they have forgotten everything or are confused as to how to do their homework. My students would say to me, “I wish I could stick you in pocket and take you home with me.” Because I heard this so frequently from them, I started writing stories for my students. The activities are guided practice exercises so they would a “navigation system” for them throughout the assignment. It is closest thing to having me right there with them as they were doing their homework. My stories became a hit with the students and parents alike. I have written enough stories to compile them all into a book.
My book, “Algebra for the Urban Student”, takes into the consideration the challenges minority students in the math classroom and use cultural relevance to help them wrap their minds around abstract concepts so they are able to experience in their math class. It started off as a collection of units for my students, so I could ensure that were exposed to and mastered all the topics for the assessments. Parents commented on homework assignments because they could now help their children with their homework because it was easy to understand and follow without even stepping foot in my class! My students liked coming to class because they wanted to know the next story I had written. For the first time, many students understood their homework and could complete their assignments. Also, students were improving their reading and comprehension skills in both English and algebra! I had written enough units and assessments to write a book. Textbooks are designed for math teachers and professors: “Algebra for the Urban Student” is intended for the common student.
Shortly after my crisis of belief in August 2013, I gave up my career and sold my house to move back to home town of Brinkley, Arkansas. In August 2014, the second book I wrote is called, “Algebra Easy as Pi.” Everything, from the writing, editing, printing and assembly had been done by my own hands. No one was able tell the story and take the time to give the attention and message like I am able to do. I was very excited about this book. It contained more than 600 pages of activities that were custom-written and tailored to the needs of students. Each activity was all-inclusive, with a tour guide that told a story, explained vocabulary and concepts, asked questions to help you make sense of it, and also multiple choice questions to help with test preparation. And if you still had trouble, I have included a page by page answer key to each and every activity! There are seven chapters, including assessments and project guide. Each book is print on demand, printed right at my home.
Yes, it was a lot of work but it is well worth it because each of these activities has been tried and tested by students and worked because I took the time to ask: What did you learn today? What did you like about the activity? Did the activity help you understand the concept? If not, what can be done to make it better?
The purpose of the activity to take some of the pressure off the teacher from having to think of every question they need to ask students to lead them to the correct answer. In addition, the questions help students think and learn how to think logically. These skills help students become better test takers. There are practice test questions included in the lesson. In addition, there is a key included with this activity. If you enjoy these kinds of lessons and activities for your students, you will love the book, “Algebra Easy as Pi” because it contains over 600 pages of activities just like this one!
In the fall of 2015, I sat down to share with a friend a mine my life story. Many times we do not take the time to get to know our friends and want to fit them into our own thoughts, feelings and way of life. Trying to fit into a box is very uncomfortable for me and takes away from whom God has created me to be. A box with the standards of the world made my life miserable and lonely; this is not how we are to live! By no means am I perfect, but I do take my faith seriously and am not willing to compromise it for anyone. I can say that I have not always been convicted in my faith as a Christian, but behind every believer is a supernatural story of grace, love and redemption.
I shared a snapshot of my story on Facebook, and I have also shared my testimony in church. For those listening, it said to be “compelling, inspirational, moving and motivational.” The Lord put it on my heart to dig into my past and to share my failures, heartache, mistakes, feelings, and experiences that helped shape the person I was BEFORE Christ and what led to my supernatural encounter with Jesus that transformed my mind and my heart into the godly woman I am today.
I do not to tried to deny whom Christ has molded me into. When I decided to surrender my life to Him, at was at the mercy of the Almighty God. He gave me grace when I deserved judgment. From that day forward, I know because I am forgiven much, that I do love much. It is my love for Christ that drives and compels me every day to want to be live like, talk like, love, like, give like, be bold like Christ every day.
So I got it all together and published it on Amazon: “What Does a Christian Look Like? Epistles of a Repentant Heart” is a heartfelt collection of poetry and letters that expresses the brokenness of my sinful heart to the renewed heart and mind through the “amazing grace” of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest miracles is when one sinner repents; this is a living testament to the validity of the Bible! We oftentimes think we are the only ones that feel, think, hurt, and believe the way we do. I am here to tell you, we are not as different as we may think. It is ONLY by the power of Jesus Christ that we were once lost but now found, and now given the light of life; never to walk in darkness again, but to have the Jesus to be the lamp unto our feet and to be light unto our paths.
How did you go about getting published?
The first time I wrote a book, I searched and found a publishing company to provide all the necessary avenues and connections for my book to be a success. Little did I know that after much time and money, the book I had written had not made any head way. It seemed like it was a complete failure. However, I sought out different avenues that were catered to my desired audience. In addition, I discovered that more people buy e-books than paperback books. It was to my advantage – the second time- to write a book that is available on-demand, where people can gain instant access: I could also get instant feedback and comments that I could use for the book in print. I found that taking the time to patiently seek and research various avenues, that I would gain greater success in the printing and in the distribution of my title, “What Does a Christian Look Like? Epistles of a Repentant Heart.”
I found that CreateSpace provides a user-friendly process of submitting and editing my book project. I ordered 5 proof copies of my book, and decided to share it with others to get some feedback. They, as I, were very expressed by the quality of the book cover. It is a professional quality and looks like a book that you would buy at Barnes and Noble. In addition, the interior layout is also of professional grade quality. As a self-published, I am able to create and produce a professional quality book project, without paying a publishing company fees for their time and energy. It is very rewarding and satisfying to personally take the time and energy to create my own one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
CreateSpace has allowed me to professionally create and publish my own work. The project is both personal and unique to the message that I want to convey and capture the hearts and attention of my audience. This is not just a book, but the story of my life, my supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ that changed my mind and my heart about Him forever! I have been able to create and publish my testimony and distribute in various methods to various people in the world! I am definitely using CreateSpace for every book I write from this point forward.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I have a combination of emotionally-driven writing, and mathematically-applicable writing. I have writing inspired by my personal, professional and spiritual lives. I am a logical, passionate, and reflective thinker. I spend a lot of time thinking about why people do the things they do. There are times in which I make an outline of topics that I want to include in my writing. I take to time to think about, how can this writing best benefit others? Since I become a Christian writer, I desire to make the Bible relevant to everyday life. I have been making videos to post on Facebook, and began sharing some letters and poems that had been written 10 years ago. I soon realized people really want to know about relationships. I had no idea until I started talking about it. The more I study the Bible, talk and listen to people, the better able I am to determine what people struggle with the most. The Lord has taught me not to give in to my fears, but be willing to step out on faith, and to share and to connect with people. So I do not have a one-two-three step method, I do, however, pray, listen and wait to see what the Lord wants me to talk about next. Then, He leads and guides my thoughts that allow me to convey the messages that I do.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
When I am not writing, I am a professional tutor. I read the Bible every morning. In addition, I am training to become a Bible fitness instructor. I am always seeking out new opportunities to serve in the Lord.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Creativity is the name of the game. Think about the theme of your book. For example, the life of a Christian is a life-long commitment to Christ. The relationship that Jesus desires to have with us is that of a bride. In order to find the perfect picture, I purchased photos from www.shutterstock.com. They have an amazing selection of photos and images to choose from.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
The book publishing industry has changed quite a bit because writing is more readily accessible to everybody. It is important to learn how to promote yourself. I have tried the traditional way. The truth is that I am able to do the same things they offer for the fraction of the price. It does take a lot of time and effort to find out what avenues are best suited for you to publish your book. I highly recommend taking the time to research to find out what small, independent companies have to offer and shop around for the best service for your money. Seek out small, independent contractors, such as the ones you find on fiverr.com; find e-books that market the best places to promote your book. Use small, independent agencies that have BBB rating and reliable reputation. Many people are out to take advantage of new authors because there are more people writing books than ever before. Patience, research, trial and error, and networking are the tools are the tools that help get jump start the process.
What’s your favorite book?
Way of the Master by Ray Comfort
What are you reading now?
Out of the Comfort Zone by Ray Comfort
What’s your next book project?
I have another writing project called, “The Writing on the Wall of My Heart.” It is currently under review. The completion and release date are not yet known. I can share that it is the story of how secrets, lies and deceptions separated and ripped my family apart. In addition to this project, I discovered – after making some videos for Facebook – a lot of people watched the videos pertaining to relationships. I am inclined to believe that people really want to know, and to talk about their personal relationships; who and what they should do and should listen to improve their relationships. So I took some time to look at the relationships in the Bible. When we understand the depravity of sinful nature, we see that we are no different than the people in the Bible. The Lord put on my heart, “The Ultimate Relationship Guide.” I never studied the Bible from this perspective, but I am confident it will help a lot of people have a better understanding of the human heart, lust, sex, and the need for the Savior.
Author Websites and Profiles
Canaa Lee Amazon Profile