LaShay Abney has had several firsts in her life.
She was one of the first female officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. Then, she was the first in her family to go to college. Now she's first to publish a literary work, the illustrated story "Amber Ann—Overcoming Evil With Good."
LaShay seems to have found decision making the spice of life. In her book, her teenage heroines, Amber and Samaria, find this, too.
LaShay will be one of three authors attending the Atlanta Library's chocolate party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 20, where she will sign copies of her book.
Here is her personal story.
Born in Amarillo, she moved at age 15 to South Central Los Angeles.
"I had one year of high school there, but didn't fit in, and in the 11th grade I dropped out," LaShay said.
"A friend encouraged me to go back, and in one year of both day and night school, I caught up and graduated with my class. It was a proud moment. I was thankful to the one who pushed me."
She then came to Texas to attend Texas Southern University in Houston, and again achieved another record of sorts, she said with a smile.
"I had no financial backing and felt isolated, and so I dropped out of college, too. Well, that meant I was first in my family to go to college and first to drop out."
LaShay went back to California and found work in a fish market. One night, she said, she had a strange dream.
"I saw myself as an old lady, disfigured and working in that same fish market. I awoke and told myself, 'This can't be my life.'"
The next morning she saw an announcement that the Los Angeles Police Department was looking for recruits. She applied, was hired and remained for 10 years before transferring to a smaller city police department for three years. She had been in a group of the first female patrol officers in Los Angeles.
But it wasn't all positive.
"I was terrified all the time. I didn't want to get myself or the public hurt.
"Then I thought of moving my daughter and myself out of the big city. I wanted a small-town life for her, so we moved to Gladewater in 1996. That's where I married my husband, Barry, who is from Atlanta, and so we came here."
One day while bouncing granddaughter Amber on her knees and making up songs, she had a decisive moment of wanting to write book about Amber and decision making.
"I didn't know where to start, only that it would take place in school and have a Christian message of transforming one's life. So every day after work I'd go home, sit at the dining room table, slowly writing the story."
LaShay's stepdaughter Destani June created the illustrations and layout. An Atlanta High School graduate who now lives in Memphis, Tenn., Destani has a graphic arts degree from Arkansas State University.
The book was self-published at $10 for each copy. LaShay sells the book now for $15. She's made a special decision about that, too, she said.
"All the profit goes for local high school students for college or trade school. It's part of Barry's and my ministry called Aim for Christ. We've awarded over $12,000 in Cass County."
The ministry also raises money with T-shirts, which are emblazoned with "Overcome Evil with Good" on the front and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" on the back.
One reviewer who read LaShay's book wrote, "Amber Ann is a story of the confidence in Christ in a world where our children are told they have everything they need to survive on their own."