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Exhale, read Stephanie Guerilus' novel 'Control' for free

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Hey Exhale fam, 

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a writer named Stephanie Guerilus (@It'sAllAboutControl).

She penned a novel titled Control. It's inspired by the iconic Janet Jackson album title. :jj:

She's giving back to pop fans by offering her book free of charge on Kindle via Amazon. You may have noticed the shiny Control banner at the top of Exhale. When you click it, you're taken to the Amazon page where you can give it a read at no cost to you. :kyliecry:

Here's a synopsis:


Control, whose title is lifted from the iconic Janet Jackson song, embodies its name. Theresa Marie Jenkins is a 17-year-old who thinks she knows it all. As the saying goes, a hard head makes for a soft *** and Reesa learns the hard way that she doesn’t really know much about life.

Reesa quickly becomes an It girl after speaking up at a Black Lives Matter protest but her activism gets in the way of her career. She wants to be the next pop diva on the charts. For that to happen, Reesa will have to be packaged; smile and wave as though she’s at a beauty pageant. She’ll have to give control to advisers who want her to sing on cue, tap dance on command, no throwing shoes at parties and keeping her mouth shut on the culture. If only Reesa had just sat there and ate her food.

Control is a novel that addresses the political climate, #MeToo, identity and what it means when you are a young woman of color who the world doesn’t automatically think to protect.

If you would like to own a physical copy (like me :gagasmile:) there's an option to buy it as well.

Why does this matter?

  • It's a fun way to escape life's troubles right now and indulge in something good for your mind. :setfire:
  • The novel touches on important subjects like racial inequality, abuse, and female power. :nynod:
  • It's something we can do together. I'm currently reading it as well. Looks like Exhale has a book club now! :ohwut:

Below is a chat Stephanie and I had about the book. Give it a read and then check her novel out.

We'd also LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. I know how honest Exhale can be. :imdying:

Stephanie and I are responding to your guys' replies! 



Why should people read Control?

Obviously, I’m biased but it’s a great book!

Also, I’m a music lover and indulge in escapism. Control combines the two. There’s a lot of hurt, sadness, and depression in the world, more than the usual. 2020 has broken the stimulation and I want to do my part to give some relief. I remember when I first got hooked on books, picking up The Coldest Winter, Fly Girl, and Satin Girl. I want to pay it forward and give a new generation that same feeling.

What do you want people to take away from it?

I definitely hope they like Control and understand that there’s no such thing as the “perfect” victim. Any one of us can become a victim but become survivors. Feel the hurt, go through it and get to the other side.

Also, don’t give up on your dreams. Family and friends often mean well and tell you to chill but if there’s something that you’re absolutely driven by—For Reesa it’s her singing and me it’s my writing--- go after it. It may take a while, but you’ll get to where you’re destined to be.

What was the greatest lesson your learnt about your writing since publishing the book?

I’ve had to learn that it’s not going to be absolutely perfect and that’s alright. There are days when I want to go back to change a word, plot and ending. I have to trust my instincts. Feedback is really important to me and I’m going to change what I can, but everyone is going to have an opinion. I can’t make everyone happy. I need to do my best to stay true to the characters and story. Where I can do that, I’ll adjust.

How has your mindset changed as a writer from when you wrote the first draft to now?

It definitely has. During the initial draft, I wrote Reesa from the perspective that she and the guy who was grooming her were equals as though a teenager is on the same mental ground as a fully formed adult. It’s because there was a part of me that blamed myself for my own abuse, believing if I had done things differently and internalizing all the stuff I’d been conditioned to believe. I remember after one assault, an older woman told me, “that’s not how you play”. She made it my fault and for a while, I believed that. A lot of young women and boys are told that if they hadn’t been around the creepy uncle or worn a different outfit, then they wouldn’t have gotten hurt.

Also, I cut down on my words! One of my mentors, Karen E. Quinones Miller, asked me if I planned on getting to the point any time soon.

The first version of Control, “By Any Means Necessary”, was as thick as the Bible. Even I didn’t want to read all that lol.

How do you identify with Theresa? Can you open up about your personal journey?

Reesa and I are both passionate Aries and at times, that gets us into trouble. I was born under a fire sign and keeping that flame lit drives me. I’ve gotten burned because I’m too nice and eager at times, but it’s paved the way of my journey.

Like Reesa, she suffers abuse in the novel and her first instinct is to keep it to herself. That’s what I did. There are days when I wonder what kind of person I’d be if that abuse never happened. But it did and who I was meant to always be is emerging. I’ve found that voice later than I might’ve liked but Reesa and I are both using our voices. Hers will get her to the top of the charts and hopefully mine will be loud enough to make a difference.

Why is it so powerful to speak about your fears/demons out loud?

There’s power in speaking things into existence, whether it be good or bad. I’ve had a bad few years where my Dad died, my mom was hospitalized, and my career wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. I just kept pushing through and doing daily affirmations. On the flip side, it’s been necessary for me to say out loud that I was ******** abused. There was a time I couldn’t even speak up about it. Someone even asked me if I was a mute. I know that not everyone will believe me, but it happened and saying it out loud takes away from the power that I’ve given other people.

I’m taking back control of my story and telling it how it happened.

What advice would you offer someone who faces similar struggles that you or Theresa dealt with?

I’d say to keep pushing through. You’re stronger than you realize. It’s cliché to say that but Theresa Marie Jenkins isn’t going down without a fight. As long as there’s breath in your body, swing at whatever is trying to put you down. To freedom!

Anything else you'd like to add?

I just want Control to be given a chance. It won’t be for everyone, but I just ask for the chance. This book wasn’t written in vain and I do believe it’ll help someone.





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