My name is Dana Ellington, and I’m a story-teller. I’ve been telling stories since 1974, when as the “new kid on the block,” I had to find a way to explain my British accent and precocious nature. You see, I’m an Air Force Brat, and by the time we took up residency in what was to be my home for the next 30 years, I came complete with a birthplace in Germany, had lived in three different cities in the States, and spent preschool and the first half of first grade in England. I’d had no memorable experience with American culture.
You can imagine my difficulties being a Black kid with a foreign accent in my first predominantly Black, inner city school. The bullying started within hours of my being introduced to the class. I learned fairly quickly that I could deflect some of the teasing by telling these exotic stories about my life. I sold them on the idea that I was African – they didn’t believe the truth that I was born in Germany and had lived in England. As far as they were concerned, Black people only existed in Africa, so I went with it. It stopped them from picking on me about my hair, my skin tone, my accent, and all the other things that set me apart. But as life would have it, time brought my truth to light and the bullying took on new heights. So much so, my storytelling stopped and I turned to reading for escape.
But the storyteller in me didn’t go away entirely. My stories had to be told, so I began writing. At twelve, I wrote a short story all about a girl who was recruited to save an entire planet from an alien invasion. That summer, at camp, I turned that story into a play which I produced, and stared in. We performed it for the parents at our end of summer extravaganza and earned a standing ovation. My inner storyteller was reborn. I would go on to write almost daily in a journal for the next 31 years – poems, bits and pieces of stories, and the ever dramatic details of my day-to-day life. All the broken hearts, infatuations that went unfulfilled, and the bullying that turned to physical and sexual abuse, that lead to self-loathing and issues with alcohol. My stories were dark, desperate things, but I lived them with fierce determination.
Fast forward to 2007. I was a single woman, with a teen-aged daughter, scratching out a living 1500 miles from where I’d grown up. I don’t remember what sparked it, but I got the idea that it was time to share my stories with the world again. I was driven to see my writing in book form. I poured through my hard drive and my journals and pulled together a bunch of sexual fantasies I’d written. I figured erotica would be easy to sell so, my first book, Satin Sheet Memoirs, Vol. 1 was born. I self-published, had fifty copies printed and promptly did everything I knew to do to get my stories out into the world.
That first foray into self-publishing taught me I didn’t know much about writing or publishing, so I did what anyone who wants to be good at something does; I went back to school for a Master of Arts in Professional Writing. Pulling from all that I was learning, I produced my second book; my novella, Let There Be Life. A fictional recounting of life after my divorce.
Another life event would soon find its way into my writing. Since my mid thirties, I’d been losing my hair. By 2008 I was wearing wigs because there was no other way to cover the loss. As far as my self-worth was concerned, losing my natural hair dropped my value down to that of a counterfeit three dollar bill. I was on the verge of giving up the fight.
Instead, my Muse brought me Charise, the leading lady of Hello Diva. Of course, she’s a writer who came from a childhood filled with bullying and abuse, who is also losing her hair. She is on the verge of giving up when things take a sudden turn in her career and her look. She sells her first novel to a big name publisher, then gets this fabulous weave. As I was writing the pivotal scene in the story – where she discovers a fundamental truth about the power of self-love – I started thinking it was probably what a lot of women needed to hear.
But you know how life works, que the dramatic music and enter, a leading man. Yes, I met someone, New Year’s day, 2011. I wish I could tell you that it was love and that he and I are blissfully together to this day, but that wouldn’t make for a good story, now would it? Up until him, I’d thought I had a fairly solid hold on my feelings. Then he came along. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say that when it was all said and done and he’d gone on to see other people, I was an emotional wreck. I had all the feels, as my daughter’s generation puts it. I’m sure menopause played a part as well, but what it boiled down to was in 2012, I suffered an emotional break through. And the book, Breaking Point was born. Published in the fall of 2013, it brought me from a place of emotional overload, to discovering what I believe to be the reason I write at all.
I write stories that I hope reach women who may be struggling to recognize their self-worth. I want them to read my stories and see that they’re not alone; that what they’re going through is a normal part of growing up and they’re worth the effort, hard work, highs and lows, we go through in the process.
I’m on a mission through my writing, to stand in all my crazy glory with as much self-worth, love and acceptance as I can muster and in doing so, inspire others to do the same.