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Local Baltimorean publishes despite obstacles

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By day, she is 34-year-old Keisha Wizzart, but she transforms into Keisha Starr, author of "Diary of a Boss Chic", an urban fiction anthology of two stories. Starr's is the story of a young lady who is married to a successful lawyer. Although she is an outcast and unsociable, she goes through a metamorphosis and turns the tables on the people in her life. She is determined to maintain her boss lifestyle at any cost, even with a twist at the end.

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This writer had the pleasurable opportunity to interview Keisha Starr.

Q: What made you write this story?
A: I had written a story before. I started doing music, traveling with my parents and started singing. I always loved to write and was eventually introduced to writer Nikki Turner. My first short story, Dying to be a Star, was published in one of her anthologies called "Street Chronicles: A Woman's Work". Nikki Turner's fans started seeking me out. That book made the bestseller's list. Later, I met Monique Hall, another writer, and was mentored by her. She started her own publishing company and invited me to come to Atlanta. I went and doors began to open for me. I had the chance to network with many people. I built a team from Atlanta and eventually started ExSTARdinary, my own publishing company in July 2013 here in Baltimore. It is run by my business partner, Tyran Hill, and me. When I decided to do a book, Monique took the book and made things happen for me. I even had a book launch at book launch at Peju's Lounge, which brought together four reality stars under one roof: Mama D from Love & Hip Hop, Tashera Simmons ex-wife of DMX, Sabrina Rowe and Sharlinda Parker, the twin sisters from Big Rich Atlanta.

Q How did you know you would be a writer?

A: When I was 10, I was always with my parents. I always went with them, but I had to be six in order to perform. They were singing and I wanted to sing. I sang Whitney Houston's 'The Greatest Love of All'. I wrote my first song at age 10. I released "True Confessions", my first CD. Later, I was contacted by Island Def Jam to purchase a song that was on the CD for singer Ashanti to use. When the contracts came, the terms were not what I wanted. There were no rights, no publishing, no royalties and no writer's credit. I just wanted the exposure. I would have gotten nothing, just a small check. So I kept writing music for local artists and started working with producers.

Q: What challenges have you faced?
A: There have been a few challenges such as getting and maintaining local support; book stores closing down in the Baltimore area. I once went to the Baltimore Book Festival & asked the security guard where the urban fiction tent was. He looked at me and basically let me know about his belief in the myth that Black people don't read. Changing mindsets is always an issue. I use social media a lot. Facebook has been wonderful.

Q: What is your background?
A: I am from the Baltimore area, but my parents are from Jamaica. I am currently enrolled in a PH.d program in Marriage and Family Counseling at Cappella University. I am pursuing a multi-disciplinary approach to Human Services with a concentration in Marriage and Family Counseling. I received my undergraduate degree from Coppin State University in Early Childhood Education after getting my Associates' degree from Baltimore City Community College. I then got my Master's degree from a joint program with University of Baltimore and Coppin. The two colleges offered a collaborative Human Services program. I worked in Headstart for a while. I also worked with helping unemployed people in getting jobs. That's where I became fascinated with helping people.

Q: What do you want readers to take from your writing?
A: I write to reach people and to teach a lesson through the writing. I try to use humor in my writing. Everything always falls back to my passion for writing and helping.

Q: What or who inspires you?
A: I am inspired first by God. I grew up in a spiritual and supportive, close-knit family. I am also inspired by my business partner and my siblings. I am the oldest so I set the example and the bar high for them.

Q: What would you like to do in the future?
A: I have another book to be released called, "Jamaican Me Crazy". I also want to do motivational speaking and to publish other authors. I love when people take their God-given gifts and share them with the world. I'm planning to do everything I want to do. Nobody can tell me that I can't do something. I remember once when I was sick, I was getting a blood transfusion and typing a forty-page paper at the same time to make sure I could graduate. I want to be able to publish other genres, especially biographies. I don't want ExSTARdinary to be locked into a box with just urban fiction.

"Diary of a Boss Chic" is available on Amazon.com.

Keisha Starr can be reached at www.facebook.com/keisha.starr, www.instagram.com/keishastarr or www.twitter.com/keishastarr.

Starr's fanpage can be found at www.facebook.com/keishastarrfanpage. Her email address is keishastarr@yahoo.com.

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