I was directed to the attention of Miss Williams while interacting with Author, Renata Hannans who was recently featured with her book, PS – Never Give Up Hope. I was ecstatic to see that a young, local woman had published a book, so imagine my excitement when I learned that the publisher of this book was ALSO a female and ALSO an author!!! I was quite impressed to say the least, and that was before I actually had the chance to hear what she had to say.
Here is the story of Miss Liltera R Williams…
Thank you for your willingness to share a bit about yourself and your experiences with the Sh’Shares NETWORK audience! Please tell us a little about your background including your childhood.
“I grew up in the hood where it wasn’t all good”… The opening line from my poem Amateur Thoughts Discovered, which is featured in my poetry book, Amateur Thoughts: A Personal Collection of iWrite Poetry & LRW Quotes. I was raised in a two-parent household with my younger brother, but spent most of my childhood days under my maternal grandmother’s care. She lived in an apartment complex that was and probably still is a well-known landmark on the Southside [of Jacksonville, FL]–formerly Emerson Arms, now Sable Palms. I can offer numerous details about my childhood experiences, but I think the highlight of my story is how I was determined to not become a product of my environment, as far as the negative connotation is concerned. In essence, I am a fine product of what was instilled in me by certain members of my family. My morals and values were immediately developed based on what I was taught, in addition to the things I personally witnessed.
Unlike others in my age group, I did what was expected of me, and although I usually stood out, I often felt like an outcast, if that makes sense. I was a talented multi-sport athlete (basketball; baseball-yes, with the boys; soccer; softball and track). [I was] usually referred to as a “tomboy” and a “goody two shoes” as a result of my ability to succeed. This led to me becoming unsure about my identity; a conflict developed between who I was and who I wanted to be. I honestly didn’t know. I think most children who have a strong desire to please their elders struggle with how to please themselves. I was pleased with making my family proud, and somehow avoided the temptations that could have easily depicted me as a victim of peer pressure. However, I always felt like I was being pressured to be great.
Give us an idea of where you currently are in life and how that came to be?
I am living my dream, completely! It took forever to get to this point, honestly; but hard work and dedication propelled me. Things didn’t begin to unfold within the boundaries of my career right away. I graduated from Florida State University with my Creative Writing degree in December of 2008, and I was anxious to put it to relevant use. I never really had an issue with finding work. With assistance from my aunt, I got my first job at 16 at a doctor’s office that always welcomed me back. My issue was finding work that I actually enjoyed, and I soon learned that when you’re doing what you love, it never feels like work.
I started writing at age 12. In the beginning it was just a way for me to express myself in private, but while in college I realized that writing was actually my purpose; what I was born to do. I was good at it, and I enjoyed it. During my initial post-graduate period, I was constantly searching for opportunities; trying to write and get noticed. It FINALLY happened in early 2009. I was offered an (unpaid) internship with White Publishing Company in Jacksonville and my first assignment was actually the feature story for 904 Magazine. I continued to build my freelance portfolio over the next few years with other local publications, including Jacksonville Magazine, EU Jacksonville Newspaper, The Ponte Vedra Recorder and The First Coast Register, but I was still waiting for my “big break”. In June 2011, after almost settling for a career as an English teacher, I received a random phone call from a company that located my resume online. They offered me a full-time position as a Quality Control Editor. It was somewhat related to what I was attempting to pursue, so I accepted. A couple weeks after I got comfortable in the position, one of my aunts contacted me to seek help with writing her first book. It was the first time anyone had ever reached out to me for that specific purpose and something she said during our conversation suddenly awakened the passion that was stored deep inside. She asked me for a rate. When I told her that I would not charge anything for her request, without any hesitation, she responded with, “You’re too talented to offer your gifts for free.” It was a subtle and heartfelt comment that inspired me to start my own business, iWrite4orU, which allows me to provide a wide variety of writing, proofreading, editing and publishing services. My client base grew pretty fast, and a few months later, I transferred to an SEO Copywriter position with the same company. My first “real” writing job! I was getting paid to do what I love and expected things to only get better.
Going a little deeper, what types of challenges have you faced over the years prior to arriving where you currently find yourself?
I’m constantly facing new challenges as I grow, but as things began to progress in my professional life, some other personal commitments were falling apart, including the relationships with my ex-boyfriends. As I was transitioning from college into the world, the relationship with my high school sweetheart was coming to an end. Likewise, on the cusp of catapulting my writing career, the relationship with my most recent ex began to deteriorate. The last go-round, I was trying to balance the responsibility of building my company and mapping out the plans for my future, uncertain about him being included. I guess you can say being in love was/is my weakness and my most pressing challenge. However, I realized that falling out of love (twice) was simply God’s way of leading me to a secure position of self-acceptance. I had grown accustomed to pleasing my partner(s), often putting their needs first, and never really took the time to cultivate my own desires. I’ve always considered myself to be a Christian, but I didn’t connect deeply with my spiritual side until April 2011, when I rededicated my life to Christ and became a member of All People International Church. I learned how to seriously pray and surrounded myself with like-minded, positive individuals. Although I was recovering from a broken heart, it was the motivation that I needed to pursue my dream.
On Being an Author…
Tell us about your book.
I have two books out now, actually. My poetry book, Amateur Thoughts: A Personal Collection of iWrite Poetry & LRW Quotes, was released on 12-12-12 and I just released my first novel as well, Dearly Beloved S.I.S.T.A.S. Amateur Thoughts is basically an accumulation of my poetry over the years, with inspirational quotes included. Dearly Beloved S.I.S.T.A.S is a spiritual story of sacrifice that explores the concepts of Family, Faith, Friendship, Forgiveness and inFidelity.
Here’s a brief synopsis:
Sheila seems to have it all… a successful husband named Carl who loves her to death and three SISTAS that never leave her side, but an identity crisis is separating Sheila from those who care about her the most. While searching for something that starts with an S, Sheila finally accepts the truth once she comes face to face with someone from her past and a shocking secret threatens to tear them apart forever. Can Brenda, Sunni and Faith offer Sheila the support she needs, or will she have to sacrifice her own life in the end to gain some peace of mind?
What inspired you to write it?
In reference to Amateur Thoughts, I never really planned to expose myself so publicly, but once I fully accepted my purpose I had no choice. I was in the beginning stages of composing my novel and knew that it would take quite some time to finish, so I wanted to introduce myself as a poet first and foremost. I reviewed most of the poems that I had written over the years and narrowed it down to the few that best illustrated my emotional journey. I decided to publish the collection on 12-12-12 after conducting some research and finding out that the number 12 means “to form a whole” or “to put things in order”. 2012 was a growth year for me; I felt complete. So, Amateur Thoughts was sort of like my way of breaking out of my shell and embracing my gift wholeheartedly.
Dearly Beloved S.I.S.T.A.S was an intense project, to say the least. I began working on the concept immediately after graduating from college, in early 2009, with a goal to just write in the free time that I was granted while fresh out of school. However, I had to face the duties of being an adult and was led astray from my initial mission, due to lack of time and other excuses. I just wasn’t motivated enough. The motivation came after starting my company and assisting a few clients. I had something to prove, to myself and to others. Freelancing was effective, but it didn’t allow me to explore my creative range like I wanted to. I finally set a new goal and decided to officially begin writing the story in January of 2012; a page a day until the year was up. Of course, I frequently deterred from this strict requirement and got behind on my page count. By the end of the year, I was playing catch up and missed my December 31, 2012 deadline. I became frustrated, but continued to write until I was satisfied. The process ended in late July/early August of 2013 and I proceeded with editing and publishing. Inspiration came from everywhere; from personal conversations with family members and friends to movies, songs, traveling and more. I took notes faithfully and converted real life events into fiction.
Did you always aspire to be an author? How did it come to be?
Becoming an author was a hidden passion. I discovered my love for writing early, but I didn’t seriously consider pursuing it as a career until I declared Creative Writing as my major in college and learned more and more about the craft. I actually wanted to be an Entertainment Journalist at first. As an avid lover of music and television, I also dreamed of interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. I never thought about publishing a book until people started asking me when I would write one. With an English degree, you really only have two choices: educator or writer. In the midst of doing freelance work, I suddenly wanted to know more about how the entire publishing industry worked, including newspapers, magazines and books, so I attended various writers’ conferences throughout Florida and applied that knowledge accordingly.
On Living Your DREAMS…
While writing, were there ever any instances where you thought to give up? Give some examples.
I never thought about giving up, but there were many times where I had to just take a break from my novel. The more I tried to force it; the more I would have to deal with writer’s block. The biggest lesson that I learned, which was also a piece of advice offered to me by Bestselling Romance Author, Brenda Jackson, is that my story had to be character-driven. I was focusing so much on developing the plot instead of just letting my characters guide me. Missing deadlines made me panic as well. Although I was functioning on my own time, I’m my worst critic and deadlines are an important aspect of the writing industry. If I couldn’t meet my own deadlines, how could I expect to be successful as a corporate writer or columnist? That was my mindset. In relation to freelancing, I wasn’t getting paid in the beginning so I did wonder if it would all pay off, literally and figuratively. Obviously, it did. 🙂
Why didn’t you give up? Why are you still Living Your Dreams, Liltera?
Giving up just wasn’t an option. I had come too far to quit. I thrived off of the progress I was making. Most importantly, when you activate your gift and start living a purpose-driven life, God has officially begun to use you. There’s no way that I could ever tell Him “No”. Writing, in all facets, is my reason for breathing. I’m happiest when I am connecting with words. Also, my parents invested their love, money, time and energy into helping me become a success and I have always aspired to make them proud.
What is your focus? / What guides you on your path?
I am focused on reaching my maximum potential; ideally becoming a Bestselling Author before age 30, owning a magazine and writing TV and movie scripts. The possibility of failure keeps my “eyes on the prize”. I understand that this can all be taken from me at any time, so I utilize my gift in every way, whenever an opportunity arises for me to do so. My faith guides me, as well as the encouragement that I receive from those who genuinely want to see me do well. In this short time of excelling and accomplishing my goals, I have inspired many people. I receive messages constantly from total strangers expressing how much I have impacted their lives. It’s truly a blessing to be actively living out my purpose.
Did you always know that you would be an author AND publisher? Were these goals for you? OR Did they just happen?
I’d say that I was forced to self-publish in a sense, so both titles, author and publisher, were acquired simultaneously. I weighed the pros and cons of traditional publishing and didn’t really like the idea of not maintaining control over the work that I would eventually produce. Publishing in general is a tedious process, whether you are doing it independently or with an agent acting on your behalf. I quickly saw evidence associated with the notion that “no one can promote you better than YOU” and discerned that marketing is indeed a full-time job. I had the power to determine my own destiny and manage my own success and that’s what I prefer. I still hope to receive a writing contract someday, to gain more global exposure, but if it doesn’t happen I think I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I built my empire, solely, via research and experience.
Provide an example of sacrifice that you have made for the sake of your career/goals.
Other than financial investments, the most apparent sacrifice is the personal time that I have available; it’s definitely lacking. I hardly get to spend as much time as I would like with family and friends, and of course dating is tough. Because I’m so dedicated to my passion for writing, I have to focus on career tasks that pull me away from leisure activities. However, I made a vow to find balance. I attempted to be more spontaneous this year and I’m carrying it over into 2014. I also hope to be a married woman and have children with “the man of my dreams”, someone who is completely supportive when it comes to my goals. Prayerfully, I’ll have a personal life that complements my growing career very soon.
Has it all been worth it? Are you fulfilled?
A definite “yes” to both! I worked and wrote my way up the ladder; from unpaid internships, to spending full-time hours at just-to-get-by jobs and finally utilizing my degree in an applicable corporate setting as an SEO Copywriter, I am basking in the recognition as a prospering business owner and two-time author. God is good!
If you could share a word of advice or tip with others, what would you share?
LIVE YOUR DREAM! That’s my repetitive message. Do what you love and love what you do. There’s no logical reason why anyone should not be pursuing what they are passionate about. No excuses! Also, I know this is cliché, but nothing is impossible. Philippians 4:13.
Finally, knowing where you are now and all you have experienced up until this point, what TWO words of advice would you share with your younger self?
- Don’t be afraid. I let fear creep in occasionally, which made me hesitant in my quest starting out.
- True love doesn’t hurt. I wasted time in two unhealthy relationships, and the majority of that time I was hurting. I was immature with unrealistic expectations, but ironically, that pain inspired me to write more.
What do you have in store for your future?
I intend to grow my iWrite4orU brand. In addition to writing, proofreading/editing and publishing, I will be offering tutoring services for middle school and high school students. In the near future, I also plan to establish a literacy center in Jacksonville, aiming to improve the reading and writing abilities for people of all ages. I am already being influenced to start working on my next book, so the outlining and drafting process may begin soon. I will diligently continue to make use of my talents as a Freelancer/Poet/Author/Editor/Publisher, ultimately doing what God wants me to do.
“Writing, in all facets, is my reason for breathing.
I’m happiest when I am connecting with words.”
– Liltera Williams
To contact Liltera Williams for services and appearances,
email email@example.com OR call (904) 566-2964.
Dearly Beloved S.I.S.T.A.S