By Yushima Cherry-Burks
When Tamarind Hill Press (THP) chose to publish my book, Picking Up the Pieces to 100 Broken Promises, I envisioned a media storm coming to seek me out and watch in wide-eyed admiration as I dropped them gems to share with the masses. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I can’t blame it on COVID-19. The reality is that I am a first-time published author, and I am still learning how to navigate this new terrain. So, when THP chose to publish A Companion Workbook to Picking Up the Pieces to 100 Broken Promises, I was excited but more realistic this time around. I didn’t clear my calendar for the media storm, but I did set up a few interviews.
Currently, I have under 700 followers on Instagram, on an account that I reluctantly started under a year ago. My YouTube channel has now reached about 60 subscribers, which makes me swell with pride, I must say. I didn’t think to add a business Facebook page until one month ago, so that has about 145 likes and followers. What’s my point? My point is this: I wrote a book, I am a published author. I believe in my work; I am passionate about my craft and I love what I do. I am learning how to translate that to the world in a new space, using a new outlet that I used to loathe.
When I was invited to attend a book signing being held on February 27, 2021, the panic swelled, and I almost cancelled more than once. I had less than two weeks to plan. I have two published books one published almost a year ago on March 08, 2020 and the workbook was published on February 17, 2021. I am a newbie. However, having the workbook now, helped to calm me. I was in, but I was nervous. I thought that because I don’t have that many followers, I couldn’t possibly pull this off. Thoughts of, ‘there will be so many authors there bustling with business and laughter, while I will be the kid in the corner waiting to get picked’ taunted me. I have travelled and spoken about trauma, I have taught doctors, nurses, families, communities, and professionals how to prognosticate child sexual abuse, abuse, and neglect. I did this for ten years, and I am good at it. I’ve written programs for multi-million-dollar corporations and non-profits. I am a beast in my element. But this. This is showing up for my own story and it’s personal for me.
I invited everyone that I know had purchased my book. I talked up my new workbook, which is awesome, if I may say so myself. I had my new workbook to look forward to. I posted about it on social media. I made videos discussing it, and explaining how it will change lives, because that’s what I do, right? I did all of the things. More people decided to come. It was great! Unfortunately, COVID-19 is affecting many businesses and two days before the signing, I learned that my workbook would not be here in time for the book signing. I had to rework my vision. I would take pre-orders. I would provide free shipping. This is fine. This is okay. I am okay. I don’t want to go. Oh my God. This is happening again. My anxiety was on ten.
I was anxious until the day before the book signing. My devotional that morning was about a woman who wanted to have another child. She had a five-year-old son, a loving husband, supportive friends and family members, but she didn’t have another baby, which is what she really wanted. She and her husband had been trying to conceive for four years. She said that 27 of her friends, church members and co-workers had gotten pregnant that year. She explained how she felt, and instead of using the words envy or jealousy, she stated that she felt desperate. I understood that desperation to not only live and walk in my purpose, but to prove to the world that I am worthy to be here. She went on to say that she realized that her friends became distant, and they stopped wanting to share their good news with her when they became pregnant. She didn’t like the person that she had become. One night, she read, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). That verse reminded her that she had enough.
This resonated with me. I am enough. I have enough. I am enjoying the journey of becoming. I made a decision that night, that if two people, or twenty-two people showed up, I would be grateful. I would enjoy myself. I would take in the experience and meet the other authors. I would network and make new friends. Whatever the outcome, it would be good for me and I would give the glory to God. I prayed about it and I felt peace. The anxiety melted away and I felt excited about the prospect of being in the presence of other writers.
The morning of the book signing came quickly. I hadn’t slept, an issue that isn’t new to me. I still had to be “on.” I made it to the venue an hour early and I sat in the parking lot waiting for my dear friend, and owner of Sincerely Elle Designs, Lindsey. Thank God for her. She showed up for me and she made me feel so much better. With all of her expertise, my table was beautiful. My first consumer was a fellow author that I have known since she was too small to remember. I was elated to see her, and she felt the same. She bought a book and I signed it. This wasn’t so bad. Okay. Things were looking good.
I watched other authors display their books with purpose, vendors showed their cupcakes, liquor spiked popcorn, t-shirts, hoodies, and everything else you can think of. I was inspired. Another person came in for me. I was ecstatic, another book sold, another connection, another validation that God answers prayer. I was happy with my two sales, my two connections. I decided to make my rounds. I met with one vendor, and three authors. Once I was halfway through the venue, I was called back to my table, where three people waited for me, smiling, and admiring my beautifully designed table. I connected with people I had known, and people I had just met. I was humbled and excited, and I felt like a kid who heard their estranged mother say, “Atta girl,” for the first time. After that, I was too busy to leave my table again. I sold out of books. I made connections. I received several pre-orders for my workbooks. My heart swelled with love and appreciation for these people who took time to come and see me. My soul ached with love for my God who loves me enough to care about something as small as my book signing.
Who am I to deserve this? I am Yushima Cherry Burks, an author, therapist and CEO of Year of Yushima and my purpose is to help families heal from the trauma of abuse as long as God will use me. I don’t have many followers, I have connections. I have friends; I have sisters of the soul who were broken and who want to heal; I have men who desire to be heard and validated for their struggle. I have people of all walks of life, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, education levels, age and religions who just want to become. I am people. I want people, not followers. I will continue making connections and praying that my work helps them heal. That’s what I want more than anything else. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my first book signing.