Dr. Raye Mitchell is a social entrepreneur working to change the way change is made.
She is an award winning humanitarian and both a trainer in the field of leadership as a social entrepreneur leadership and a practicing social entrepreneur as the Chief Social Entrepreneur (“CSE”) of The New Reality B-Corp, a California benefits corporation. (“NRB”) a Certified Social Impact Enterprise™, a boutique legal and business firm providing expertise and services for social entrepreneurs and social impact ventures.
Dr. Raye Mitchell is the founder of the New Reality Foundation, Inc., and CEO at the Winning Edge Institute Inc. She is a power and influence expert, attorney, author, speaker and activist. Mitchell is a member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund network providing legal support for women and girls affected by harassment. Mitchell has received national acclaim for her work mentoring women and girls of color to beat the odds and excel as leaders.
She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California (USC), the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (B.S.) and the USC Marshall School of Business (MBA). She is a native of Los Angeles, California.
BPM: What made you want to become a writer? How long have you been writing?
I have considered myself a storyteller and writer all my life in one form or another. In spite of this, a different question is when did I decide to go public with this passion and persistent drive to be a writer of non-fiction and fiction works and why?
As a marketing and branding professional and litigation attorney in the entertainment industry, I was always involved in persuasive writing, storytelling and trying to get others to listen to the stories of my clients. But, several years ago, my inside voice that craved to be a writer succeeded in overtaking my outside voice that consistently focused on perfecting my skills as an entrepreneur, businesswoman, and an attorney. Upon reflection, it is now clear that I had been fully engaged as a creative writer all the time by merging my professional commitment to advocating, justice, and fairness by writing about my experiences with the civil justice system and persuading juries to return justice for my clients in situations of injustice.
BPM: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think I have evolved creatively by honing my craft as a writer in multiple sectors by and expanding my creative decision-making zone-which is my way of saying I have permitted myself to write. outside of my comfort zone. I am always yearning to learn how to write better and how to take unique writing skills from one sector and apply to another. It is my way of shaking myself up to find a new perspective on a familiar storyline.
BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Yes. I went public with my creative writing projects in about 2010. I gained my courage when I was so humbled and yet inspired by my humbled encounter with an apparently homeless woman, Margie, I began assembling a collection of words of self-respect and success from notable female role models, past and present and produced an anthology based on quotes to inspire and inform. The story of Margie first appeared in my first significant book entitled, The Evolution of Brilliance: Voices Celebrating the Importance of Women“.
The story of Margie began outside a high-profile restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Margie approached me outside of this very expensive restaurant. For some reason, Margie, who appeared to be homeless, singled me out of a group of at least twenty people. Looking me directly in the eye, she said, “Can you help me?” She was carrying a cup meant to collect loose change. Assuming myself to be polite and assuming she only sought money, I turned to leave and simply said, “Sorry. I cannot help tonight.” I turned to leave. Margie stepped in closer, and the men in my group started to make a protective move, but we all stopped. Margie then said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Yes,” I replied. Without hesitation, she added, “How can you say you cannot help me when you do not know what help I need?”
I stopped, and for the first time that night, I looked into Margie’s eyes and made a personal connection, realizing that she may have just been trying to advance her life utilizing the only tools she had at her disposal. I said, “You know, you are right. What help do you need?” All Margie wanted was prayer and the chance to be counted as a person in this world as she strived to rebuild her life. Even though I was a stranger and she knew nothing about me, I was humbled that she entrusted me with her simple request for help. Margie’s story and my decision to be a published writer thus came to life in 2011.
I turn to my writing to tell stories about experiences and stories that sometimes you just want to share with God because God has no judgment. I want to write stories about our experiences as Black women and girls being judged and how we deal with that burden and opportunity to rise above the judgment.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
My writing has helped me be a better person. My quest to shift gears from being a full-time entertainment attorney with my law firm to being a full time humanitarian and writer has not been easy. I thus began translating these challenges, hurdles, setbacks and disappointments into my creative energy to tell the story. I then discovered the personal power of telling the story, no matter how difficult the journey. My writing has transformed my sense of well-being and wellness. My writing has also helped me find another way to merge my passion for helping others, especially women and girls with my technical skills as a writer, storyteller, and even a persuader.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I have learned in crafting my books is that one story leads to another story and so I have to find the discipline to keep each story contained and interesting without giving away the elements of the next story. It is entertaining to have this connected series of creative storylines.
BPM: How do you find or make time to write? Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I steal time to make it happen, and I collapse time from other events to give myself thinking and writing time. As an example of collapsing time, I will save my favorite shows, movies and audiobooks to enjoy while I am working out and on the treadmill. I will steal time from other events and obligations by becoming more efficient in getting those projects completed. Mostly, I see myself as a writer first, and all else second.
I am very focused on my writing right now. I think I am a combination of plotter and punster. When a concept comes to me, I immediately write the contours of the story down on any piece of paper, iPhone or iPad I can find. I can even think of a quick title to frame my concept. Then, this sounds funny; I secure the URL for the name of the book, check a little around the Internet to see if the idea has been written before and then put it all away. I rarely start writing, and I let it simmer for a while. I have no shortage of stuff to write.
BPM: How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I rarely start out by thinking about which genre to in because I start with stories inspired by and or based on facts. I let the story decide the genre-nonfiction, creative nonfiction or traditional fiction. I tend to stay away from genres that I would not read myself or genres where I have no life experience, and I don’t know anyone who has life experience in that segment. Finally, there are those genres that just don’t move my interest to learn more about romance novels, war, true murder crime, or police dramas.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent non-fiction work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Yes. The books will be on Nook and Kindle. I write about women and girls beating the odds. I like to write about power and influence and who has it, how to get it and how to be fair when you have power and influence. 2018 is my most exciting year ever as a writer. I have spent the last two to three years working on a series of nonfiction and creative fiction books that will release in 2018.
All of my works focus on the experiences of women and girls, and how we claim and reclaim our power, influence, and visibility. While the books are nonfiction, I work to speak truth to power by importing personal stories and experiences.
Invisible No More. Empowering Young Black Women and Girls to Rise-Up as Leaders is not a call to action, but a plan of action on how to help strengthen the leadership training programs for our young women and girls. Everybody has a stake in the outcome. When Black girls do well, we all do well.
I have another new release titled, When They Go Low, We Go High. How Women of Color Master the Art of Persuasion to Win Big Battles. We are all familiar with Michelle Obama’s famous quote, “When They Go Low, We Go High.” In my book of the same name, I focus on how women of color get things done and navigate with grace under fire. Michelle Obama is a fellow Harvard Law School alumnae, as with Michelle, I focus our strengths and how we as Black women find the strength to excel in the face of adverse forces.
BPM: What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close?
There is an old established African proverb that says, “If you want to know the ending, you have to look at the beginning.” The opening is the challenge. As a trial lawyer, I know that the opening statement is where you grab your jury and tell your story. Decisions are often made at the beginning, and so the hardest scene to write is the opening section. I think that is the make-it or break-it moment for all books, both fiction and nonfiction.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
In both Invisible No More and When They Go Low, We Go High, I revisit my journey growing up as a young Black girl, often feeling or made to feel invisible and powerless in the world because I was different; my skin was too dark, I was not the right size, etc. I have come full circle on my journey of self-love and self-acceptance, embracing my unique power and influence and my present journey is focused on helping other young women and girls champion themselves, and rise-up as leaders.
BPM: Is there a specific place/space that you find inspiration in?
It may sound funny, but I find inspiration when I am on the treadmill working out at the gym or working with my personal trainer. My time on the treadmill or working with the trainer is all my time. My mind takes me on journey after journey into the realm of what-if. When I am working with my personal trainer, and he gives me a particularly challenging exercise, I turn the exercise into an experience of one of my characters and envision writing about their efforts to beat the clock, or lift more weights, etc. I love the freedom of exercise, and creative writing merged for my well-being at the same time and space.
BPM: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I love writing about all of the BigCompanies and BigLaw firms that I have battled over the years. The lawyers and their clients are all characters in and of themselves. I studied them individually as I prosecuted or defended a case for my client or myself when I was under siege.
My favorite theme is about women and girls and how we rise-up with grace and candor even in some of the most challenging situations.
BPM: Do you want each of your books to stand on their own or do you prefer to write series?
All of my books are intended to stand alone, but if a reader engages all of them, they will discover a through line in the concepts of champion women and girls, faith, determination, and optimism.
BPM: Does writing energize you?
Yes. Writing feeds my soul and fuels me. Writing, like my physical exercise and my mental health well-being exercises, gives me a rush of euphoria and endorphins. Likewise, I get a rush reading excellent writing, whether a screenplay, a novel or great investigative journalism. I have high regard for writers, storytellers and other creative types that help us all transcend our daily realities. All of the proceeds from my books go to support my foundation, The New Reality Foundation, Inc. (www.TheNewReality.org) that helps young Black women and girls.
BPM: Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. I do believe that the right concept and the right energy have to come together at the right time. Sometimes that magic moment can happen on demand. Other times, that magical moment takes time to rise to the surface.
BPM: Do you try to deliver to readers what they want or let the characters guide your writing?
I let the story and the character or participants in the story in the case of nonfiction guide my writing. I try to allow the facts to develop the story, even in creative fiction writing.
BPM: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Never say never, but I am not inclined to write about satanic, Gothic or gory violence. I don’t see myself writing romance novels or love stories either. I love writing about real-life drama, legal drama and quirky stories of life experiences.
BPM: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Love scenes, death, and violence are hard for me to capture. Somehow, I have not found that workable moment to write these scenes with an authentic voice and perspective. I used to write love stories, but I have not written such stories in recent years.
BPM: Have you written any other books that are not published?
As mentioned, I have 4-5 books set to publish or release in 2018! I have been on this writing binge, and the books have all been written, most printed and ready to go. Included in my inventory coming forward:
Obstruction of Justice: Finding Grandma’s Bible, a creative nonfiction work, is a story about faith, determination and protecting family legacy and tradition.
How Women Negotiate From a Position of Strength: Protecting Branding and Intellectual Property Rights is the first nonfiction book is a six-part Rise-Up leadership and online training series focused on how women build positive power and influence. Release date May 1, 2018. Other books in the series will release every 6-8 weeks in 2018.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
In addition to my power and influence series on leadership, I am working on my first novel series under the title of The Harvard Litigator (www.TheHarvardLitigator.com). The Harvard Litigator, Zola Penelope Robinson, a Harvard Law School-trained attorney, who is a fixer for the little guy, who leaves the practice of law to work on essential programs protecting women and girls. When something goes wrong, it takes the right woman to fix it. Somehow, she always finds herself back in the practice of law helping former clients, mostly women, and families, dead with some pretty sticky, difficult, dangerous and even deadly situations and cases. Zola’s experiences are all inspired by my true life events and litigation case experiences.
I am working on finishing, Homeless. The Fight to Protect the American Dream of Homeownership. The foreclosure game goes from ruthless to deadly when Zola goes on the run and finds herself homeless as she fights a cutthroat BigBank bent on foreclosing on her client at all costs, including trying to make Zola abandon her clients, give-up the case and disappear for good.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Find all of the books written by Dr. Raye Mitchell
Twitter: @drrayemitchell or https://twitter.com/drrayemitchell
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/author/rayemitchell