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Dera Williams

She was born in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Dera R. Williams (nee Jones) is the oldest child (one brother, one sister) of the late Laybon Jones, Sr. and Vivian Rowland Jones, who met at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. The family migrated to Oakland, California when she was two years-old where she still resides. A graduate of Oakland Public Schools, she completed an Associates of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Berkeley City College. She has attended summer writing programs at Squaw Valley Writers, Hurston/ Wright Foundation at St.Maryâ??s College, Orinda, California and the VONA Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

In the tradition of her family having careers in education, Dera has been employed for the last twenty years with the Peralta Community College District at Merritt College in Oakland where she is an instructional administration assistant. Her duties include assisting instructors in developing curriculum, assisting the Vice President, coordinating the Fee-based program and assisting students. She has also been active in the Collegeâ??s self-study accreditation process for the last sixteen years, most recently accreditation co-chair and editor. Prior to working for the college district, she worked for Alameda County and private industry.

Dera is a writer, editor, genealogist, writing mentor, researcher, and family historian, and she is active in local literary and national literary events. She was co-coordinator of Marcus Book Store Book Clubâ??s 2008 tenth anniversary and was a panelist at the Romance Slam Jam in Houston, TX. She is the keeper of family stories, archivist and helps coordinate the Rowland (maternal) family reunions in southern Arkansas. She is an active member of Elmhurst United Methodist Church where she is on the church council, writes devotionals, and assists in the Childrenâ??s Church. Dera is a member of the Board of Directors of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California and the recording secretary for the general membership.

Dera is an award-winning writer whose background includes novel writing, short story writing, academic writing, essayist, memoir, and blogging. She has been a book reviewer since 1997 for Affaire de Coeur magazine where she conducts author interviews and contributes articles. She is also a reviewer and co-editor for APOOO Exchange, a division of APOOO (A Place of Our Own) literary group. She has co-edited an anthology and has contributed profiles for encyclopedias. She is in the process of compiling a collection of childhood memories, Southern Roots/Cali Girl: My Coming of Age Story (several have already been published) for which she is seeking publication. Dera has three novels in the works which are in various stages of writing and revision. She is researching and writing her family history as well as researching the history of her motherâ??s hometown in southern Arkansas. Proud of her southern roots, she hears the ancestors whispering their stories to her.

Dera is the author of several short stories published in a number of anthologies and journals. Her publications include: Letter to First Lady, Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady: SUNY Press, 2009; â??Writing Family History in Small Bitesâ?, The Baobab Tree: AAGSNG, 2008 â??Hope for Dadâ??s First Bornâ?, Our Black Fathers,Brave, Bold, Beautiful: Five Sisters Publishing, 2008; â??All-time Favorite Bookâ? Jane Press Stories, 2007; â??Coming of Age in 1963â? Museum of African Diaspora (MOAD) Online Journal; 2006; â??Opportunity Knocksâ?, Letters To My Teacher: Tributes to the People Who Have Made a Difference: Adams Media, 2006; â??My Mother, Myselfâ?, Help! Iâ??ve Turned into My Mother: Strebor Books 2005; â??Epigraph: In the Company of Womenâ?, Lifeâ??s Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Nubian Images Publishing, 2005; â??My Blackberry Summerâ?, Peralta Press Literary Journal, 2004; â??Quilting a Legacyâ?, A Cup of Comfort for Women: Adams Media Corp, 2002; Encyclopedia entries: â??The Creole Revoltâ?, â??Ceremonial Danceâ?, The Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellions: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, â??Profiles of African American Writersâ?, Encyclopedia of African American Literature: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005; Affaire de Coeur, reviewer General fiction, nonfiction, romance ; author interviewer and article writer 1997- present; Blogger
The Journey of Dera R. Williams (A Room of My Own) www.derarwilliams.blogspot.com.

Dera enjoys sharing her love of family history and memoir writing with her family history writing group who mentor those who wish to write their family histories for the genealogy journal. She also coaches and mentors individuals who have sought her out about writing their memoirs. Dera loves to travel and will always hold dear in her heart the life-affirming trip she took to Cuba in 2008. Dera loves a good tea party and seeking out tea shoppes in the Bay Area for High Tea. She is a collector of teapots and antique tea sets, which she displays in her home. She is the proud mother of an adult daughter, Rebecca, a college graduate who works in private industry.