One of our favorite parts of creating a space that shines the light on creative women, is our ability to highlight female authors who have set out to encourage and impact others through their work.
Today we are shining the light on Karla Mason.
Hello, my name is Karla Davis Mason and I am an author/poet, activist, and speaker currently living in the Atlanta area. I have written 3 books to date. My first book is called Dear Daughter, You Are Worthy! I recently updated this book so I am currently reintroducing it to the world!
I was motivated to write this book for many reasons with the top 3 being:
1. It’s everything I wish I’d known as a young girl/young woman about my true worth
2. Young girls need it now more than ever with the constant influence of social media, millions of advertisers, and the public in general…at our fingertips and in our faces literally 24/7.
And lastly, I realized that no matter how much we try to protect and educate our youth about the more destructive forces in our culture, the outside influences do influence and our daughters need daily affirmations and reminders to keep them safe, sound, uplifted, and grounded.
It is my hope and prayer that my book will be a nightstand favorite – profound and prophetic but easy enough to digest and simple enough for anyone and everyone to understand.
My second book, Like the Sun in the Skies, We Rise!, is a compilation of thought provoking and prayerfully inspiring poetry. I completed this book in 2020 despite some serious health related challenges and setbacks. Glory to God I am healed, healing and rising higher each day but during that period in the valley I was truly tested – tested to live and heal by the kinda of faith I wrote about in my book Dear Daughters. Through my books and experiences, I have an even greater testimony to share with the world. Our greatest tests and trials often bring about good in spite of how they may appear when we are going through…I do believe
My third book “Dear Dad, Do You Know?” came out last year. It was my first children’s book but a book I’d been thinking about and developing for years. The book is in the form of a letter from a young son to his father. The young son expresses his pure love for his dad and innate need for his fathers love, support, and affirmation. I was inspired to write this book after recognizing just how much some young boys miss and need their father’s steady and positive presence. All children desire the love and support of their parental figures but it was my desire to bring to light the ways in which boys in particular need their fathers – a need that I believe gets overlooked and understated.
This book is written in a way that both children and adults alike can relate to – a great book to read together at any age or stage!
We had the unique opportunity of catching up with Karla to gain insight on why she wrote her books and the message behind them.
First things first, how did we develop an interest in writing?
From as far back as I can remember, reading and writing have been the pastimes and occasional occupations that I enjoyed most. As a young girl, reading allowed me to escape into my own creative thoughts and travel into other worlds. I could go anywhere that my imagination took me with both a sense of both peace and great adventure. As my love of reading increased, so did my desire to write like some of my favorite authors. Today I am still as passionate about both reading and writing. In fact, I still don’t often venture off too far without these essentials – my pen and pad or my computer and one or more of my favorite books.
As an adult, I realized the powerful impact my own words could have on the lives of others. That sense of both power and responsibility is what motivates me most to write about the things I do. I’ve been asked on more than a few occasions if I’d ever consider writing more fiction for entertainment than non-fiction for enlightenment…For now, I’ll stick with writing what I believe God is leading me to write. There is a place for all of our stories to be told…just keep writing!
When did you realize you had a story that the world needed to hear?
As an African American woman, I also know all too well the pressure society puts on us to be everything to everyone – to be soft and mostly agreeable yet bulletproof and unbreakable when the need arises; sensitive and adequately fragile yet able to able to withstand enormous amount of pain and discomfort; able to achieve and do superhuman things but not too great as overshadow or threaten the ego of our counterparts; to be sexy and provocative yet not too aggressive in a world that will easily turn that admiration into envy and even condemnation; to be humble and grateful yet willing to support those who seem most arrogant and ungrateful…the list goes on about the double standards we as women of color are forced to deal with in this often hypocritical world.
The older I got, the more I found myself asking the question “Just who should we as black women pretend to be and/or actually become to be respected in this world with more than its share of double standards and/or isms? The answer to that question, in my humble opinion, has become even more perplexing in modern-day societies as women are becoming more and more independent and demanding in a world that has forced us to be but also a world that doesn’t always celebrate what that now looks like – ‘be that strong independent woman who doesn’t depend on others but not too strong and independent that others can no longer completely depend on you.’ Despite all the easily accessible information, our rapidly growing technology and the constant virtual connectedness we as humans now have, today’s daughters seem to be even more confused and exasperated about who we should be as women. Imitation seems to rule over authenticity, superficiality over originality, and massively altered images over what’s actually real and true.
Today’s most heralded ‘leaders’ seem to be those who can attract the most fans and followers and not necessarily those with the most upstanding character and a passion to empower others. I see our daughters grappling with self-worth and self-love now more than ever. The more I witnessed young women of every age and background struggling to find purpose, maintain peace and establish principles in a world that often promotes the opposite, the more my desire to make a meaningful difference sooner than later grew.
My desire to use my writing gifts in ways that could hopefully and would prayerfully make the world a better place deepened with each passing day. I never deceived myself into thinking for one minute that I had answers to some of life’s most perplexing questions but I knew what I had learned along my journey – the nuggets of wisdom that gave me a greater sense of peace, joy, strength, understanding, and healing…the things that kept my feet on solid ground in an ever-changing world. In the fall of 2019, after years of contemplating, researching, learning, and writing, my first inspirational book, Dear Daughter, You Are Worthy! was published!
What was the writing process like, did you come up with your title first and build around it or did the manuscript come first?
Throughout the entire process of brainstorming, researching, writing, and developing my very first book, I kept one main goal at the forefront of my mind – letting my daughters, sisters, and mothers know how precious and valuable they were/are in ways that would be liberating, light-giving and life-changing. Focusing on this goal and the most significant messages I wanted to promote helped me stay on the most constructive path toward a finished product I could be completely satisfied with. For me, it was easier to develop a strong title first so I could keep that particular theme the main focus of the book from beginning to end. Lovers of writing can get lost in their own thoughts about writing if they are not really careful.
What is the message behind your title?
My message in my first book Dear Daughter, You Are Worthy! is very simple yet profound and something I believe we need to know and understand deeply sooner than later…As God’s creatively crafted, authentically assembled, and delicately designed precious daughters, we are worthy of light and love, joy and laughter; peace and protection and power; courage, wisdom, and respect; hope, forgiveness, and redemption; of authenticity and acceptance and so much more. I needed my title to be clear and impactful – We are Worthy! No matter what mixed messages we may get from the world, We Are Worthy of standing in our truth, God’s truth, now and forever more!
Can you share 3 takeaways you would like women to take away from your book?
Your worth is not determined by the increasingly superficial, sometimes misleading, and often fleeting things of this world. It is not determined by your bank account, job title, material gains, or achievements. It does not come from your reputation, social status, or friend list. Your worth comes from the undeniable eternal love God has for you and your understanding of that infinite value. True self-worth comes from you seeing yourself the way God sees you – a one-of-a-kind design with an irreplaceable heart, soul, and mind. Man cannot add to nor subtract from the value that God places on your life. You are worthy of using all that God has placed inside of you to live, learn, teach, reach, create, grow, to share. You are worthy of living with peace, joy, and purpose on purpose for as long as you can. You are worthy of reaching and rising and realizing your God-given gifts and potential – of using what you have inside of you to make this world a better place.
At any moment during your writing process did you experience writer’s block, what tips do you have for overcoming it?
Initially, it seemed that I had the opposite of writer’s block. I think I tried tying too much into one book. The first version of my first book Dear Daughter was rather long and full of too much information from too many places, I do believe. Thankfully, I had some very direct friends and editors who gave me some very helpful feedback about my first draft. If I could lend a piece of advice – Stick to the ideas and standards you set for yourself when writing but it also pays to seek good and direct advice from those you can trust to be accurate and honest with you. We can be so emotionally tied into our ‘stories’ that we can lose sight of a clear and concise vision – what message and/or messages are you trying to get across in your story in the most meaningful and clearest way possible? People have shorter attention spans today as everything is so condensed, abbreviated, and electronically accessible. I think to maximize our success, we have to adjust accordingly.
Again, if you’re writing a book for the purpose of educating, enlightening and empowering, you want to include an adequate amount of useful information and meaningful ideas but you also want it all to flow and be cohesive… not too overwhelming. As I said before, deciding what to include and what not to include in the end was definitely a challenging part of writing. While we want to include our opinions and thoughts in the works that mean the most to us, we don’t want to overwhelm the readers with too much. Another thing I learned is writers also don’t want to alienate or push readers away with what may come off as judgment and/or bias. On the other side of that, don’t obsess over every single thought or detail of your book to the point of indecisiveness, watering everything down, and/or an inability to move at a healthy pace toward completion and publication. We all have opinions about certain things.
I have found that the line between stating your opinion about certain things and coming off as judgmental can be extremely fine. Again, we don’t want to be led by other people’s opinions about our opinions and/or facts, but we also don’t want to come off as offensive…at least that became a concern of mine. For example, I have my concerns about modern-day “idols” and their potentially negative influence on our youngest, most vulnerable, and most impressionable populations, so naturally a part of me wanted to express those concerns in my book…but I had to be careful not to indirectly or directly demonize or diminish the ‘worth’ of any “idols” by using certain references to their particular choices. If my mission is to uplift my daughters, sisters, and others it may come off as hypocritical if I am seemingly putting some others down. At one time I was against plastic surgery, particularly in cases where a young woman’s attempt to look like someone else posed life-threatening risks and/or serious emotional trauma. I still have serious concerns for our daughters but now I’m more careful to respect each person’s decision, celebrity or otherwise. But with that said, I will always hope and pray the decision to have elective surgery is well thought out and well researched. It can truly be a matter of life and death.
Take me through the first moment you held your book in your hands, what did that feel like for you?
It was truly a dream come true to finally hold my first published book in my hands. Because the task of writing a book is so all-encompassing, the rewards are that much more extraordinary. Books don’t decay or expire! If kept properly they will outlive the writers and many generations to come. In my humble opinion, when you create a piece of literary art, you are passing down parts of yourself and prayerfully the things you’ve learned and experienced in this thing called life. You are leaving a legacy! I hope and pray that my great-grands read my books, hopefully with a sense of heritage and humble pride.
What would you say was the most challenging part of your writing process?
The most challenging part of the writing process was again deciding what information and ideas to include or leave out. As writers we can be our own worst critics as well as our own biggest believers… meaning we feel strongly about what we feel strongly about yet with our strong opinions comes a natural concern about how they will be construed. Will they be taken as we intend them to be taken or could they offend those we don’t want to offend? There is a saying that the quickest way to be misunderstood is to put something in writing where others have to interpret the tone and intention. My advice to myself and others – speak from your heart and research with confidence and comfort but understand not everyone will love what you’re saying. Be true to your truest intentions and move forward.
If I could share another personal and professional challenge that may encourage someone down the road: My book came out just as covid was spreading across the world. That epidemic put everything on hold, including my ability to publicly promote my book in any real sense. With one of the best years of my life came one of the worst – published my first book and became sicker than I had ever been in my life!! Not only did I get covid during the storm but I also was diagnosed with another life-threatening illness… but God! It took me a while to bounce back physically, financially, and emotionally as I had to rely on the words of wisdom I wrote in my book and my faith to get me through. Talk about being challenged to believe in your own words and practice what you preach! I cannot stress enough the importance of believing in yourself, your story, and your faith.
My biggest tip is DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! One way in which I kept forging ahead was to utilize the resources I had to get the word out. Initially, I relied heavily on social media and word of mouth to get the word out about my book. I am eternally grateful to the vast number of people who supported me and my publications.
In the last year, I attended more functions where I was able to meet and greet even more buyers/supporters. Presently, I’m doing more in-person presentations at fairs, bookstores, parties, promotions, and other events. I find people seeing you in person is often more appealing than online and often leads to other connections.
Lastly, once you publish a book, it can be both time-consuming and costly all the way around to make changes and corrections. Be sure your final version is exactly how you want it to be, cover to cover. It pays to have great editors who truly care about the process and your final product.
What audience is your book written for?
As I was writing my first book, I had young women of color primarily between the ages of 12 to 24 in mind. That target audience became a lot wider as I witnessed an even greater interest from women 25 and beyond. You just never know who might find your subject matter appealing! While I know it’s important to have a target audience for your writings, I have learned that curiosity and interest can actually come from any age, background, gender, or race.
If I could offer any advice to writers and future writers I would say search your heart and soul and write about what means the most to you and will give you the most fulfillment at the end of the day, whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, serious drama, or fairy tales. Believe in your writing, your product, and your message to the world. Be true to yourself and your God-given gifts and take the leap of love and faith! The load may get heavy but the rewards are that much greater. You have what it takes and You Are Worthy of reaching the goals you set for yourself and the ones you work hard to achieve. Write on, write on!!!
Connect and Support Karla by following her Author Page on Amazon