Born in 1982 in Missouri to a homemaker and construction worker/author/building manager, Bhakti Mary dreamed of growing up and helping others. It would take a long time for her to discover how to embark on that journey. She majored in Business Management at the United States Air Force Academy and went on to achieve an MBA. She is married to Mark Wills and they reside in Ohio with their three children.
Bhakti is the author of the brownBerry series which focuses on current well-being and preparation for a lifetime of abundant joy through sustained social, mental, and physical fitness. The first book in the series, Cherry - A Personal Growth Compass, was published in 2017, a second book, Magnolia - The Benefits of Diversity was published in 2019, and a third book, Hello 20s - Amazing Advice From Women For Women was published in 2020. She is a human rights advocate and an avid supporter of empowerment and advancement.
When she is not writing, Bhakti devotes her time to her family and serving as a military officer and federal civilian in the fields of intelligence and defense acquisition. She is also an active mentor in her community and workplace.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Dayton-based author. I am a United States Air Force Academy graduate. My number is 1576. I was the 1576th African American graduate of that prestigious institution in 2004. I am also a combat veteran and have lived in Guyana, Missouri, Mississippi, Colorado, Texas, Japan, Iraq, and Ohio. I have always worked in the fields of project management and intelligence in the government sector.
With such a busy professional career, how do you find time to write?
When I am working, I am often too mentally full to write but when I am doing what I enjoy, the thoughts flow with ease. I usually write late at night, but also I try to remember to down creative thoughts throughout the day.
What was your earliest experience with writing?
Growing up, I watched my dad, Michael Beloved, write; he taught me how to type on a manual typewriter and he typed book after book after book on manual typewriters. Whiteout sheets and pens were the editing tools. He even bound his books at home. His books were a family affair. This was long before the self-publishing phenomenon which makes it very easy to publish and reach a wide audience. My father adapted quickly to computers and self-publishing on the Internet. He writes about deeply philosophical and psychological topics and includes translations of many sacred Sanskrit books along with writings on kundalini yoga, astral projection and advanced meditation. By the way, you can find his 40+ books on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and Nook or at https://michaelbeloved.com.
How did your father's writing inspire you to write?
As a young girl not interested in yoga and meditation, I found his writing hard to follow, but I did know that I was interested in reflection and self-improvement. I have always been a writer starting with my poetry about lovers from high school – I loved to write about passionate experiences where I felt joy. I also wrote a small book on mentorship in high school. In my adult years, I began writing about what I considered to be every day human experiences. I wanted to reflect on my experiences and writing helped me analyze my experiences in ways that served to improve myself. While this was not all I was writing about, this is what I have chosen to self-publish so far. My mom Marcia and dad Michael were my first fans and encouraged me to write and publish often.
How have your life experiences shaped your work?
My life experience is full of love, heartbreak, fear, hard knocks and opportunities. It is a series of leaps from shaky foundations. I know I am not alone. I am passionate about empathy, service, and knowledge – and- the empowerment and advancement of women and people of color. As I mature, I am more apt to share this passion widely. The knowledge piece is the key to unlocking infinite empathy. Service is at the center of who I am.
I am a self-proclaimed introvert but reading and writing has opened me up and given me the ability to desire human connection in a way I could not have imagined growing up. My deepest human connections are still being formed right now as I prepare to exit my 30s.
What do you like about writing?
My favorite part about being an author is the conversations my writing sparks with my friends and family. Every chapter means something different every time you read it. It is this fluidity of application that should drive us to continuing this experience called life and to constantly seeking to improve. My writing teaches me about myself, others about me, and others about themselves. My children inspire me to document my thoughts. I hope that one day it will provide them encouragement to thrive in a world where so many are surviving.
Your first two books are called Cherry and Magnolia. What inspired these titles and what's the history behind the name brownBerry Books?
My books are the names of beautiful flowers and I call them brownBerry Books. My brown berries are my three children. They are brown and they are sweet like berries. In each brownBerry book, you will read content that makes you feel encouraged to be present and be your best. By changing your perspective, you can change your life and start reaching for the stars!
Tell me a little about each of your books.
In Cherry: A Personal Growth Compass, you find short chapters full of fresh insight and advice that you can apply everywhere. You will find yourself assessing who you really are and you will learn practical ways to increase your present awareness and to control responses to the parts of life you love and hate alike.
In Magnolia: The Benefits of Diversity, I discuss parts of my experience which are probably not unique to me. Somewhere in the world, there is another human going through the same things you are going through if not worse things. Keep life and experiences in that perspective and stay on your feet. No matter how hard things get, they can also turn quickly to something wonderful. Ground to something so that you can understand the volatility and stability that life provides. Be ready for both. The hardest part about life is heartbreak and the most wonderful part of life is love itself. Love yourself so you always have something to come back to…you can always return home.
In Hello 20s - An Amazing Guide from Women for Women, young women can find guidance to help them navigate all aspects of their life - physical stuff, relationships, kids, money, education, career, adventure––and self. It's really designed for women in their early 20s but the advice is enduring.
What do you do for fun?
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband, kids, family, and friends. I also enjoy helping others, gardening, writing, building things, working out, traveling, and watching documentaries.
What's next for you?
I am trying to find the courage to publish some really raw content about my daily thoughts and experiences. I also want to publish a family history book for my children so their heritage is documented in a meaningful and lasting way.