Ahern: Beverly author wants to help women make right choices
By Patti Ahern Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org June 27, 2013 2:30PM
Melda Beaty | Supplied photo
Updated: August 2, 2013 6:09AM
Writer Melda Beaty rejects rejection.
Rejection, the frustrating yet realistic part of the business of writing, happens so often that many aspiring writers give up their dream to become an author.
Many give up, but not all, and not Beaty. A resident of the Beverly community of Chicago, Beaty felt the sting of rejection as she submitted a book she wrote to agents and publishers. But she took the path that many in this age of Internet social media are taking — she self-published.
“It was hard. I must have checked out 50 agents, and I spent a long time trying to get published in the traditional way,” Beaty said. “It got to the point where I was beginning to question my own writing skills. I don’t know who read my work, but it affected my self-esteem.”
Beaty, 42, a self-described National Public Radio addict, said an NPR story about a self-published author piqued her interest in the idea of publishing a book on her own. She began to consider this option, researched it and finally chose to publish through an Amazon.com company known as CreateSpace.
Beaty’s first self-published work, “My Soul to His Spirit — Soulful Expressions from Black Daughters to Their Fathers,” was a collection of narratives that examined the relationship that black women have with their fathers.
She sent it to Ebony magazine, which featured the book in its 2005 Father’s Day Edition, and the book went on to win the 2006 National Fresh Voices Award. Eventually, Beaty’s beloved NPR took note of her book, and the exposure from that interview along with her success in promoting her work gave her the incentive to try the self-publishing route again.
As she considered her next writing endeavor, Beaty said she was inspired by the TV show, “America’s Next Top Model.” There she saw women struggling to become top models, all while balancing their personal lives that often included serious problems, such as abusive boyfriends or eating disorders.
Beaty knew of friends who had similar problems.
“Some of these women were educated, independent and successful women in abusive relationships. It blew my mind,” she said.
Beaty addressed these issues in her second book, “Lime,” a novel about a supermodel who comes from a broken home, where she was raised by an abusive mother.
Oak Park resident Robin Barrett, who has known Beaty since college, is a fan of “Lime.” The two were in a book club together, and Barrett knew Beaty was working on the book for a few years because she would ask club members for input about its characters.
When the book came out, Barrett said she “felt like she finally had the baby,” jokingly referring to Beaty.
Beaty hopes that her writing will not only interest readers but will also help to empower women to avoid or leave violent relationships. This is important to Beaty because she not only feels the need to reach women at large but also because she is the mother of three daughters — a 9-year-old and twins who are 6.
Beaty wants her daughters to realize that she is following her dream of writing but is also writing about issues that are vital to women, and to society as a whole.
“I want to write stories with social consciousness,” she said. “I want society to question and think more critically around us and maybe be moved to act. I want to add something to the discussion, add to self-esteem and add to good choices. If I have fulfilled that, I have fulfilled my duty to speak to a larger issue.”
Beaty promotes her work using social media sites such as Facebook and will speak about her book or the writing process to book clubs.
And her journey as an author is ongoing. Her dream is to find greater success as a writer, but for now, economic reality means she must keep her day job teaching college-level composition, which provides more consistent income.
In the meantime, she’s starting work on a third book, a sequel to “Lime,” and is busy with a play that will debut in Los Angeles sometime next year.
“In the sequel, Lime is taking her message to expose violence against women in the Congo. I am committed to writing empowering women’s stories,” Beaty said.
For more information about Beaty or to schedule her for a book club appearance visit www.meldacreates.com. Beaty’s books are available at amazon.com or as an ebook at www.smashwords.com.