Who’s Leilani?

I’m an award-winning writer with a passion for reaching women, and advocating for special needs kids. I own a boutique social media/copywriting business born from the need to be more available for my 15-year-old daughter, D’Anda who has Down syndrome. I have two sons who are aspiring singers, musicians and producers in their own right. I wonder if growing up with mom who was always writing an article or a book influenced their creativity.

My 22-year-old son, Chris, is an emerging indie artist who can also illustrate, draw and act. Alex is 19 and attending Oral Roberts University. At his young age he has already been involved in 2 albums and several EP projects. Chris was a star in his high school musicals while Alex was a lead singer in a Christian alternative band called The Selfless Remain and a blues rock band, Shades of Blue.

My prayer is that Chris and Alex can figure out how to make a living from what they love to in music. Besides running Haywood Marketing Communications, I’m the former editor of of Spirit-led Woman eMagazine and author of, Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God.

I started writing when I was in the 4th grade in Stockton, California. My teacher, Mrs. Fong, posted my stories and poems on the bulletin board. My home life was chaotic and writing was an exit out of the poverty and pain at that time. While my mom tried to figure out how to put on the food on the table, I wrote poems, stories and created illustrations.

At 11-years-old I had my first story published in a kid’s magazine. My mom and dad divorced and I spent summers at his house working in his garden and writing stories. We moved from Stockton, California to Keeau, Hawaii. I hated my new high-school and got kicked out at 16 because of fighting. That same year I started college at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

I took a senior-level English composition course as a freshman. We were required to write 3 papers and I wrote one long, well-researched story. My professor gave me an A and asked me to come to his office. “Have you ever thought of becoming a writer?” He asked me. “No. I want to be a lawyer. I don’t want to be a starving artist.” He shook his head and continue to encourage me to pursue writing as a career. He must have been prophetic because I ended up writing my way through college.

I worked at my campus newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii covering politics.  I received my degree in Journalism and Political Science and started my first job as a reporter at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. From writing stories about politics, I’ve taken this incredible winding journey writing articles, scripts, ads, web sites – anything to pay the bills.

I’ve never thought of myself as spectacularly creative. Just a hard-working hack that tries to put out copy that resonates with the audience and “makes bank” as my son Chris would say. The people that keep me sane through this journey are:


(From left to right) Me, my diva D’Andra, Chris holding the flowers in his mouth, Alex in the graduation gown, Erin and my brother Leo. My husband, Jerome is kneeling up front. He is the best thing that ever happened to me besides becoming a Christian.

5 thoughts on “Who’s Leilani?

  1. Leilani, It’s been forever and a day! I think you also wrote some articles for us at Good News Journal or was it the Centralia Fireside Guard or both? I was trying to think where I knew you from. I know it was when we both lived in Columbia, which is where I still am. Laurel shared your blog on Facebook. I blog. too, at teresashieldsparker.com. I just finished my memoir about my weight loss journey. I’m working on a teaching guide before I release it probably in October. The title is Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying To Earn God’s Favor.

    Although i still write I pretty much stopped working a writing job when my daughter was born 22 years ago. I freelanced for awhile and then in 1999 started doing foster care of special needs kids which morphed into having a supportive living facility for mentally challenged young women.

    God had been dealing with me for awhile about writing my story. I started working on it in Feb. and finished the writing in June. Still working on revisions. I thought writing would be the most difficult part but I’m learning there’s a lot more after writing. Of course, I’m self-publishing so I’m learning every little aspect as I go along. It’s great to reconnect.

    • Wow it has been forever and a day! I remember you very well. I remember you editing in Linda’s basement or working on the Good News Journal. Congrats on the weight loss victory! I don’t know if you know this but I’m also the editor of Spiritled Woman eMagazine – an affiliate pub of Charisma. I would love to republish some of your blog posts on our site at http://www.spiritledwoman.com. I can’t pay but it might get more traffic for your site and more visibility for your book. Email me at ldhaywood@gmail.com if you’re interested. Blessings, Leilani

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