By Ed Brock
A few years ago Shawanna Whitiker realized that her lifestyle of partying and drinking would deliver her "into a lost world."
To save her life, she learned to listen to an inner voice, a voice that would lead her to write the book she is self-publishing, "A Prayer Journal for Strength and Dedication."
"It just started coming into me and I would literally sleep with a pen and paper," Whitiker said. "I knew where it came from, I knew I was changing in my life, this was something I was hearing inside and I became very interested in what I was hearing."
The direct inspiration for the book, the changes occurring in Whitiker's life, is related to her experiences as a teen-age mother. Whitiker, 27, of Morrow was 16 when she had her daughter, Chrishanna, and 19 when she had her son Ke'Angelo.
Whitiker went to cosmetology school so she was able to support herself, but living the party life would leave her nowhere.
"Even though I had a license and a trade and I was making good money, I realized I was also killing myself," Whitiker said.
So Whitiker had a spiritual awakening and decided to move to the Atlanta area in 1999 with her children and husband, Anthony.
"He was looking for something, too," she said.
But it was the summer of 1998 that Whitiker discovered her passion for writing. Nearly four years after that she decided to self publish the book she had just about completed. The decision came after an acquaintance told her how inspiring her writing was and another asked her what she was doing about her book.
"That's something I've been told before but this time it touched my heart," Whitiker said.
But talking about doing something and getting it done are two different things, Whitiker said. She was determined to do it right.
"You have to know your standards, you have to know where you are," Whitiker said. "I know where I want to go with this and I don't want to sell myself short."
While she was working on ways to promote the book she made contacts with people at the Hobby Lobby in Morrow where she now works. At the same time she formed her own company, Avoice of Silence Publishings.
The first 1,500 copies of the book should be ready by July 30, Whitiker said, and she has talked to several potential distributors, including the Nubian Bookstore in Southlake Mall and the Call to Conquer bookstore of the New Birth Church.
Her husband, Anthony, has supported her efforts for the entire time.
"It's a blessing to have a talent to do so. That's what God made her to do," Anthony Whitiker said. "I'm proud of my wife. She's been humble through the whole process."
Whitiker also runs his own business, High Demand Phenomenal Fruit, and even Chrishanna and Ke'Angelo have a business they call Cookie Crunch. Rather than dismissing her children's ideas, Whitiker said she tries to encourage them and teach them how to accomplish their goals.
"We're all about being entrepreneurs," Whitiker said.
A long- time friend of the Whitikers, Nikkia Holmes, did some proof reading for Whitiker and found herself inspired by what she read.
"It speaks to reality. You can tell it came from somebody who's come through a lot," Holmes said. "At the time I read it there was something in the book that spoke to what was going on in my life."
That's the effect Whitker wants.
"I love to inspire people. I love to share the life I have," Whitiker said.