Publishing with passion: App State student guides others through writing


Courtesy of Shabrina McPherson

Shabrina McPherson, a senior English literature major with a concentration in film studies, has contributed to four published books and is working on her first solo book.

Ansley Puckett, Reporter

From “Harry Potter” to “Goosebumps” to “The Boxcar Children,” one App State student has been engrossed in fictional worlds her whole life, and now she creates her own. 

Shabrina McPherson, a senior English literature major with a concentration in film studies, has been a reader since she was a child. Coming from a large family, reading became an escape, and she spent her summers at the library or bookstore looking for her next great read.

“I think there is an imaginative world that kept me into reading cause I’ve read everything,” McPherson said. “I cannot even think of a genre that I don’t love reading, honestly.”

Translating that love of reading into becoming a writer, McPherson began writing poetry in middle school, and in high school, she started writing short stories. 

“I started to realize that people go through the same things that I go through, and maybe they need some guidance on how to handle it, so that is what my writing is about now,” McPherson said.

McPherson writes for a company owned by a family friend called Joyful Bee Publishing where she writes short stories with a group of women. The short stories center around a specific issue and then discuss how to face and handle that issue. 

After approaching the owner about writing for middle school-aged students and the issues they may struggle with, McPherson helped start Joyful Bee Publishing’s teen section.

“My writing comes from a place trying to find peace, trying to find answers,” McPherson said.

McPherson has four completed works published, including a teen anthology called “We Rise Together,” a book called “Endurance,” a book of poetry titled “My Soul in the Wind,” and a teen anthology about childhood abuse named “Touched.” She is also working on her first solo book,  “Fathering,” which focuses on fathers as they navigate being first-time dads in a pandemic.

McPherson also runs an Instagram account devoted to books she’s read, called “@shabrinalvsbooks,” which she hopes to revisit when she finishes school and has more time for pleasure reading. 

When she’s not reading or writing, McPherson mentors young girls with New Covenant Christian Church in Wilkesboro. The women’s group she works with, “Wild,” stands for leadership development and works with girls at the church to answer life questions about growing up and society. 

“I’m a big sister. My mother has 11 children, and I’m number three,” McPherson said. “So I’ve always been the older one. I’ve always had a lot of young people look up to me, and I felt like I was a good contribution to the group because I have a lot of experience working with younger people.”

Considering herself to be a “life-long” student, McPherson said she loves education and helping educate others. When she graduates in May, she will have earned her third degree. McPherson has also worked as a substitute teacher for the last six years.

McPherson plans to get her master’s degree in library science and a doctorate in education. She hopes to help children adapt to the advancing technology and navigate it through media literacy.

“Honestly, I feel like education is one of the most valuable things that anybody could achieve for themselves,” McPherson said. “I never feel like I’ve learned enough, and if I could afford it, I would be a career student.”

She also makes it a priority to surround herself with good people. McPherson is a part of the club Queen in You, a club specifically for women of color, and has found a community within the organization. 

“I have a very large group of girls that I get to commune with, and we understand each other on a deeper level, and they keep me grounded,” McPherson said. “I think that App — even though it’s not as diverse as you want it to be, we still make things work.”

In each part of her life, whether in her education, her community or her writing, McPherson said she strives to follow her passions and hopes that other people choose to do the same.

“So that’s my biggest advice is to make sure that whatever you’re choosing to do, whatever path you’re following is something that you will know you’re going to be happy with,” McPherson said. “Because life is just too short to waste chasing money.”

McPherson’s work is available on Amazon, select book stores and on her website.