Inspirational Women (Featured Authors)

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To celebrate Women’s History Month, our featured Lulu authors this month are three motivational women! If you’re in need of a coloring book filled with sheroes, a memoir about perseverance, or a guide to advancing your career, look no further!

Summer Dawn Reyes

Author Summer Dawn Reyes is a multi-talented author, director, and organizer. Her book, Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines, is a celebration of women of color and their vibrancy. A part of Reyes’s larger project, Thinking In Full Color, an organization that empowers women of color through education & the arts.

Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines by Summer Dawn Reyes

Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines By Summer Dawn Reyes

Growing up, we all have heroes — from cartoon characters that remind us of us, to famous people who’ve overcome the same challenges we face. But finding these heroes isn’t easy for everyone, especially young girls of color. This groundbreaking coloring book features dozens of stories of women of color to inspire hundreds of girls. By giving young women of color positive role models who look like them, we help them visualize a world where they become heroes, too.

The book came about as part of Reyes’s desire to give young women and girls of color clearly defined role models. Learn more about Summer on our Facebook Live:

You can also find a Guest Post on our Better than Yesterday blog from Summer Dawn Reyes.

Read the Full Transcript:

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Summer Dawn Reyes and I am from Jersey City, N.J. I am a writer, director and actress. I am also the founder of Thinking In Full Color, an organization that empowers women of color through education and the arts. I’m married to a very tall Greg and the proud stepmom of a slightly smaller one. People get a kick out of seeing us walk down the street, as I’m 4’11’’ and my husband is 6’3’’.

Any fun facts you’d like your readers to know about you?

I have always been a writer. As a little kid, I would make up stories and record them on cassette tapes since I couldn’t write nearly as fast as I could think. I started writing plays at 16 when my friend Rab encouraged me to apply to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest. I was one of four winners and they did a pretty elaborate staged reading of my play, The Not-So-Lovely Tale of Strawberry Fructose, about the daughter of two candymakers who was cursed with an allergy to sweets by the Wicked Witch of the Unspecified Direction. I was blown away seeing my imagination come to life, and that changed everything for me.

What inspired you to create Thinking in Full Color?

I am a very Asian, somewhat white Hispanic woman, and as an actress I always had a hard time finding roles – especially meaty and non-stereotypical roles — to play, and had to write them myself. One day I decided to create a theatrical show that would give other women of color the same opportunity to perform their own works, or works by someone of their background, written in an authentic voice. This show, In Full Color, was a huge hit that is coming up on its fifth season. (Submissions for the show are actually open right now! The deadline is April 15, and I think it would be great to share with your followers. Details are here: As our social and feminist message grew, so did our desire to create opportunities for more women in more media. Thus, Thinking In Full Color was born!

Why did you decide to publish this coloring book?

“Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines” is TIFC’s first big visual arts venture, which means a lot to me because I have always loved the visual arts and used to be an arts journalist. But what really makes it special is that it is, in many ways, a childhood dream come true. I rarely felt represented as a kid watching movies and TV, and I know I’m not alone in that experience. I wanted to see people who looked like me do cool things — beat up bad guys, solve mysteries and fall in love. I decided to create this coloring book to give little girls of color role models who looked like them, so they could imagine themselves being heroes, too.

Tell us about the creation process and the self-publishing process of this book

To make the book happen, we decided to do a Kickstarter campaign, which I did before for a one-woman show I did. This time, I felt it would be easier because it was a project that would positively impact so many people. It definitely wasn’t easier, but I was right about people’s interest in the book. It took a lot of hard work and campaigning, but we met our goal! I worked with five woman and non-binary artists of color, including three women I was already good friends with and two I randomly approached because I loved their work. I asked each of the artists to choose their she-roes, women who inspired them as little girls. I wanted each portrait to be done with genuine admiration and love, and I wanted each artist to be passionate about their part of the project. Our lead artist, Nerissa Tutiven, chose Maya Angelou, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Rita Moreno, but also asked to contribute more drawings, so we brainstormed more she-roes together. Inspired by the title, I wanted to see women who had pushed beyond the boundaries and society’s expectations – like Asian athletes, or Black women in STEM.

“Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines” is a great title because it pushes its readers to do exactly that, to go above and beyond despite their constraints. (While I personally was always a very neat colorer as a kid, as an adult I can endorse at least the more philosophical interpretation of the phrase.) By the way, we chose Mithali Raj and Katherine Johnson! As for the cover, this was my big task. While Nerissa helped me choose colors and typographical feel, I was ultimately in charge of graphic design (my background in publishing and journalism helped a lot). I created a watercolor scribble design reminiscent of a heart for a pop of color, a touch of cuteness and a nod to the purpose of the book. I then chose some of my favorite portraits from the book, one from each artist, that together hinted at the diversity on the rest of the pages. Lastly, I wrote biographies for each of the women and included some fun facts and quotes. I wanted this book to have appeal to audiences of all ages – younger kids can enjoy the beautiful art, while adults can appreciate the power of each woman’s story. The book is probably best for middle-school kids, ages 9 to 12, who can appreciate both. All the text is written in a sensitive way that kids can easily understand, but that also challenges them to further explore.

What advice do you have for other people or organizations interested in crowdfunding a project?

The number one things that will attract people to your project and get them to support you is passion – but that’s probably something you already have. The key is to electrify other people’s passion, too. Find a way to make them care. Also, include people who already care in the creation of your project – when your potential backers see how contagious, and viable, your passion is, the more likely they will be to support. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, but also be respectful of people’s boundaries and budgets. Lastly, plan carefully. Triple check your budgets and include a contingency in your asking amount – you never know what unexpected costs you’ll encounter.

In addition to supporting your mission of combatting the underrepresentation of WOC, how else has this coloring book impacted your organization and community?

I’m very proud of the coloring book’s impact on multiple aspects of our community. I have seen parents and other family members take time to think about how they can make the world better for their kid – and through their kid. I love that families of all colors are sharing this with their children, and that families of all colors and learning about other families of other colors. I’m proud that we were able to create viable, paid work for visual artists of color. Lastly, I’ve seen educators and their students get extremely excited and inspired by this book, which gives them an opportunity to discuss every student’s potential.

Do you have any plans to publish more books on Lulu?

Yes! I love Lulu and have already published three books with them – our first In Full Color anthology, with monologues and poems from our first two seasons, and “boys i haven’t loved yet,” a collection of my short stories. I’m currently laying out the text for “The First Five Years,” our next In Full Color anthology which I hope to print with Lulu this spring.

Where can people keep up with you and support your organization?

Web: (best resource)
Submissions for In Full Color 2019 (open to woman-identified writers of color from around the world, plus WOC actors from NY/NJ):
To stay posted with our events (currently in the Tri-State area, but expanding nationally this year!) or open calls for submissions, people should sign up for our mailing list through our website, located at the bottom of the page.

Velma Scantlebury

Our second featured author for March is a memoir from Velma Scantlebury, the first black, female transplant surgeon. Her incredible story begins with Dr. Scantlebury’s youth in Barbados and follows her as she learns and pursued her dreams to become a surgeon.

Beyond Every Wall by Velma P Scantlebury, M.D.

Beyond Every Wall By Velma P Scantlebury, M.D.

A remarkable journey in the life of young girl, born in Barbados, and her incredible stories as she struggled to become the first African American transplant surgeon in the United States. This book gives you a remarkable glimpse into the life and culture of Barbados. She takes us into the operating room where a transplant is being performed, as well as into her life as she journeys from a teenager in Brooklyn to overcoming the doubts and negativity that she encountered in her quest to become a surgeon. The struggles of advancing a career in a male dominated field are coupled with her personal struggles with depression, marriage and motherhood. As a role model and mentor, her story highlights possibilities for young girls whose dreams can become realities

Here’s our Facebook Live feature with Lulu author Velma Scantlebury:

Addie Perkins Williamson, Ph.D.

Last but not least, we have Addie Perkins Williamson, Ph.D. and her book ‘Crossing The Finish Line.’ Addie is a organizational psychologist who focuses on helping people in the workplace stay on track and find success.

Crossing the Finish Line: Getting to the Top and Staying There By Addie Perkins Williamson, Ph.D.

Crossing the Finish Line By Addie Perkins Williamson, Ph.D.

Addie Perkins Williamson is founder and CEO of Perkins Williamson Associates; a boutique organizational-development consulting firm that helps companies increase their operating effectiveness and efficiency, ensure high levels of employee engagement, and improve their overall global competitiveness. Prior to starting her own firm she was an executive at The Chase Manhattan Bank, Pfizer, Pepsi Cola and American Express.

Learn a little more about Addie and her amazing book in our Facebook Live feature:

Read the Full Transcript:

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am an organizational psychologist who specializes in making individuals, teams, and organizations as successful as possible, however they define it. As such, I often anticipate the future in an effort to prepare leaders to succeed in the long term. Right now I am focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 and Leadership 4.0 and their impact on career success in the digital-technical workplace. I continue to love my work after more than 25 years in the field.

Any fun facts you’d like your readers to know about you?

While I love my work, I am also an avid reader of many genres of books, a gardener, scrapbooker and love to play tennis and golf as well.

What inspired you to publish this book?

Through my work in a variety of organizations, I came to understand most people have no idea what is actually required for long-term career success, and thus focus their time and attention on the wrong behaviors. This book was designed to help the countless employees out there I am unable to touch in my coaching and consulting work to “self-coach” themselves to achieve the career success they desire and deserve.

Tell us about the creation process and self-publishing process of this book

After a number of years facilitating workshops and witnessing the utter fascination with this topic, I realized there is a broad audience for this kind of information. The title of the book is the title of many of my workshops, so choosing it was easy. My workshops also taught me the best order of presentation of the material for the optimal learning of participants, so I used a similar approach with the organization of my book’s chapters. However, organizing all of the above into a coherently written book was a labor of love which took many years!

What is your favorite or what do you think is the most important unwritten rule from your book?

Relationships make the world go ‘round. Since the dawn of time and in every part of the world, career success is directly linked to the quality of one’s relationships.

Tell us about one of your biggest career challenge or lesson learned? How did you overcome it?

One of my biggest lessons learned was the importance of networking. I did not begin my career with a love of socializing and networking, particularly as I am an introvert. However, as I came to understand the vital importance of building and maintaining a wide variety of relationships for career success, I also realized networking was an essential ingredient. I knew I had made a giant leap forward when my daughter was utterly amazed to learn I am a confirmed introvert (rather than an extrovert) who is not shy about networking and forming new relationships.

What advice do you have for your readers about organization and building a foundation for career success?

I firmly believe success begins in the head. Without strong conviction and intention, success at the highest levels is simply not possible. You have to want it and have a willingness to work very hard and make sacrifices to achieve it.

What advice do you have for finding a mentor?

Become a winner—that is, someone who has a reputation for doing a really great job. Most successful people prefer to mentor successful people. And demonstrate a willingness to have a mentor outside of your comfort zone.

Do you have any plans to publish more books on Lulu?

I am a strong supporter of self-publishing!

Where can people keep up with you?

Searching Perkins Williamson Associates will take you to my website, which is currently under construction to focus on success in the digital-technical workplace.

If you’d like to find some more amazing authors, check out our complete Featured Author Series here.

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