When It Rains

The rain gives me the permission to slow down. As the sky darkens, I feel safe to retreat under the covers and do nothing without guilt. The growl of thunder speaks a language it knows I understand. “Rest,” it says and just like the water falling from heaven nourishes the ground, I too am recharged by laying my burdens down. I love it most when the sky darkens. It’s like the earth turned off its lights. Giggling at the revelation, I turn my lights off too and listen to the thundering command my next move. I am a kid again thinking of things to do before the grownups come back. The body is such a beautiful creation, releasing melatonin to induce drowsiness when natural light disappears in the evening. When this happens in the middle of the day, it is a special treat. I sit down to write something to match the energy bursting forth from the sky before the sun returns from its sabbatical, and my body releases the cortisone that will get us up and going again. I sit in the darkness with only a lamp of light to write before the tranquility of the moment passes, taking with it these words.

My Favorite Instagram Hacks


Instagram is my favorite place to interact with readers outside of this blog, Twitter follows this, and then Facebook is last. If you are an author on Instagram or have ever thought of using it as a platform, here are some of my favorite hacks for increasing engagement.

Less is More: Pick a Few Kinds of Posts and Stick with It

I heard David Shands of the SleepisforSuckers brand and the Social Proof Podcast mention something like this and realized I was already doing it. This awareness encouraged me to stay consistent with this strategy, which has been working wonderfully. If you’ve been paying attention, I only post four kinds of content. 

  • Black History
  • Books I Read / Recommend
  • Author / Entrepreneur Stuff
  • Family / Travel Stuff

I have incorporated reels, but that’s more along the lines of the medium to which I present the content.

Whether it is in the form of a reel, IGTV video, or image, the core of my content is the same.

It seems like I do a lot, but when you break it down, I really don’t. Everything I post falls into one of these four categories. A poetry contest post falls into the author business category. A t-shirt promo is an entrepreneur post, too, because I am promoting someone’s brand. A post of my twin sister or hubby or doggie is a family post, and so on.

While I still struggle sometimes with what to post, knowing I only have to focus on one of these four (depending on the last time I posted about it) makes it much easier to stay consistent. 

I learned you don’t have to have a lot going on to be productive.

This is a lesson in “less is more.”

I don’t even post a lot. Some recommend posting at least 3x a day on Instagram to stay on top of the algorithm. Welp, I am behind on that. But I will say that has not affected my engagement, and I think it’s because the kinds of posts I publish are consistent. Remember, consistency is not about speed or quantity. To be consistent means something that does not vary.

Use Saves and Shares to Learn What’s Working / Not Working

Instagram, like every other app, is constantly changing. In 2021, the platform’s algorithms favor saves and shares over comments and likes. Below is an image someone posted that sums this up perfectly.

Likes still play a role. It is just not the most important in terms of pushing the algorithm.

You can’t see how many saves someone’s post has or know who has saved your post or shared it, but the act alone helps understand the kind of content your audience engages with the most, which lets you know what types of content to post.

UPDATE: Below is a screenshot of how the save, share, like, and comment buttons look on IG. Saving is not reposting. It’s just clicking that ribbon looking icon on the far right and the post is saved instantly. On the left you have the like button, comment and share.

To view the insights for a post (assuming your page is a business page), click on the insights tab under your post.

It will pull up your insights…

…including the number of accounts you reached, the percentage of people who weren’t following you before, the number of people who followed you, and your impressions.

This will help you see what kinds of posts people engage with the most, which is your audience’s way of saying what types of posts are getting their attention. 

I measure the success of a post based on the number of saves, then shares, comments, and then likes. Notice likes are last, and that is because the algorithm wants to cut down on bots. Some people also buy followers for some strange reason. A bot can like a post, but true engagement is measured by more thoughtful action. Comments of five or more words are better than emojis, and shares and saves are better than likes. The Women with Blue Eyes post did far better than I thought it would, which lead to preorder sales from new people.

Create Folders for Saves

When I come across a post, I like I save it for later—especially a Black History post I may want to repost in the future. 

When you save a post, it will show you something like this. 

Click Save to Collection

The list of your folders will come up. If you do not have folders, click on the plus sign and create one.

To view your saves in folders, go to Saves, and there they are. This makes it easier to go back to those dope posts to share, like, or comment on them.

My folders are:

  • Black History
  • Entrepreneur
  • Inspiring
  • Authors

Separate Business Messages from Personal Messages in the DMs

I don’t know if you know, but many good business deals happen in the DMs. I’ve sold lots of books from the DM alone. Here’s how I keep up with it: I separate my business messages from personal/family messages.

Direct Messages from family and friends go under the general tab, and business messages go under the primary tab.

I also have my messages set up to limit who messages me, so I am not bombarded by spam and freaks. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings > Messages > Message Requests On

This means that their message comes in as a message request you can either approve or decline for anyone not following you.

You can see a preview of the message, so you can decline it if it looks weird and then block that person.

We have all heard about the other things I do before, such as always using the best picture possible, including a caption that describes the image and using relevant hashtags. For the photos, make sure they are not pixelated and that the text on the image is not hard to read. Instagram focuses on photos, so your pictures must be eye-catching.

And those are some of my hacks! Feel free to use them and tell me how it’s going. Do you have any social media strategies you use to interact with your readers and strengthen your author brand? I’d love to hear about it!

Follow me @yecheilyah on Instagram!


Don’t forget to preorder your copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! Releasing June 8th.

Preorder: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Without further ado, I hope you will enjoy my introduction to Urban / Contemporary / Black AFAM Fantasy Fiction.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Title: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Editor: Dr. KE Garland

Publisher: Literary Korner Publishing/Yecheilyah Books LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy / Black & African American Fantasy Fiction

Release Date: June, 8, 2021

TWWBE: PreOrder a Signed Paperback

TWWBE: PreOrder Ebook From Amazon

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Amanda Boyd

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Amanda Boyd.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Amanda Boyd, and I am a lover of erotic literature. I’m a passionate reader of this genre as well as an Indie author and blogger. I spent my childhood in California and then had the opportunity to spend my 20’s in Europe. This was an awesome experience and taught me a lot about different cultures and the way we as a society can live our lives. However, as the United States was and will ever be my home country, I came back some years ago, and I’m now living with my family again in California. So I would say I’m an American Girl with a global background.

What state or country do you never want to go back to?

I was once on holiday in Sharm-El-Sheik, Egypt after an exam session during my time at the University. So I was young, single and a little short of money and therefore went to a rather cheap hotel. The whole week was pure stress: as soon as I left my hotel room, people started to either pitch some cheap stuff to me or tried to flirt with me in a really cheap way. I felt really uncomfortable the whole week and after about two days, I didn’t leave my room anymore.

So my association with Egypt is unfortunately really bad. But I want to be clear here: I really think that there are awesome places and people also in Egypt. I know people who love to go there and always had a great time. Maybe I had just bad luck or that some aspects of the culture there does not fit to my personal values

I would love to visit Egypt one day. Amanda, does blogging help you to write?

Blogging does really help me writing my own stories. The section of my blog where I write about my favorite books helps me as those authors are clearly role models for me. On the other hand, I also do interviews with other authors. These interviews range from debut authors like Kuristien Elizabeth to already established and successful authors like H.L. Swan. The interviews provide inspiration in the sense that I can exchange with other authors and share thoughts about their sources of inspiration, their challenges as authors, and how they stay motivated.

Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I published my first short story in September 2020. It was a huge relief and experience. The journey to publishing my first story was long and challenging. I wrote stories for years for myself and really close friends, but to overcome self-doubts that people won’t like your work or maybe ignore it was a long process. To be honest, it takes courage to publish your work! If you fail, you also fail publicly, so I have great respect for every author who accepts all the challenges in order to become a published author! 

The story is about a young woman named Veronica, who is the daughter of a business founder and owner. The men around her are nothing but oversized boys, without serious thoughts yet toward their futures. Their pick-up lines and cheesy attempts at romance do nothing for her, so singlehood is a constant in her world. That is until she is touring her father’s company and meets Mark Grier. Her father’s successful, gorgeous right hand is older than her, but there is something obvious between them from the first handshake.

Why is writing important to you?

First of all, writing is a passion. I just love to do it. That’s why I wrote a lot before starting to publish. Writing fiction always gives you the opportunity to create something. You can shape your own world, develop characters and when you’re really into the writing process, you can more or less just let these characters act in scenarios you design for them. This process is most fascinating for me.

Secondly, sometimes when writing you enter into a writing flow. In this state, a story just evolves in front of you. It’s a state in which you are fully focused on your story and nothing else can disturb you. It’s kind of a meditative condition.

Meditative condition. I’ve never heard of it said that way before. Good stuff. 

Can you tell us more about the genre you write?

I write steamy and erotic romance. I’m a sensual as well as sensitive person, so human interaction and attraction always fascinated me and still does. At least, in my opinion, there is no better feeling than those moments in your love life, when you lose control and just let your love and attraction for your partner flow. I’m not a sex addict, but these moments are pure freedom as you don’t care about any norms or rules and just let your emotions carry you. To put it short, love stories and the sensual parts of a love story between two people fascinate me.

What takes up too much of your time?

I think if I’m honest, it’s procrastination. I think we all suffer from this phenomenon. However, I tried to implement some routines which help me overcome internal barriers. But to be honest with you they don’t always work as efficiently as I wish.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stay true and pursue your goals, but do it in a clever way. This means focusing on the most important things, trying to do them as good as you can, and listening to the advice of people who already solved similar challenges in their lives. And believe me, almost every problem one can have in life has been solved before. So it is crucial to try to connect to the right people, people who motivate you and do not tear you down.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

I don’t want to compare my « sort of stress » to those other people in the world have to handle. If one lives in a nice house or flat and has everything in one’s hand for daily life, you can be happy. Especially if you then have a bunch of lovely family members and really good friends too.

What if someone has a nice home/flat and  friends and everything at their fingertips, but they still aren’t happy? What advice would you give this person for finding that sense of fulfillment?

I would go with Monthy Python😊: “Always look on the bright side!” Sometimes we as human beings forget to look at the really good things in life and tend to just focus on the problems. I would suggest that they go on a walk and think about all the good things that have happened to them. And think about the hardships they had to overcome in order to achieve what they now have. So every time I have a hard time or a lot to do, I try to see these things. I have everything I truly need in my life! Everything else is just the icing on the cake.

I love that answer, an attitude of gratitude.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Oh, you mean besides buying some lottery tickets😊?

You right, Hahaha

I think I would do the same as I do today. There is a saying in Europe, “the route is the goal.” I can only be proud of an achievement if I had to overcome some challenges and hardships. Of course, if I knew I could not fail, it would make it easier to gain confidence in a challenging moment. But isn’t it a great feeling when you achieve something, and you know how much work and dedication it has cost you?

This is true.

These are the moments when you can be really proud of yourself. So I think I wouldn’t want to miss that. And furthermore, I think that everybody should fail from time to time to stay humble and empathetic. And humble and empathetic people are, in almost every case, valuable members of our society. But hey, that does not mean that I like failing. Of course, I would really love if my stories finally become a success!

Speaking of which, what does success mean to you?

I always have great respect for people who can live off their passion. I give you an example: a friend of mine is a baker and confectioner. And he is it from the bottom of his heart! When he talks about a new cake or dessert creation, he tells you a story about it in a way that you feel the love and passion he has for his profession. So he does not go to «work» in the morning; he does what he loves. Isn’t that pure freedom and true success?

Achieving freedom in what you are, for me, is a good definition of success. How much does freedom mean to me? I would say a lot. However, I already enjoy the pursuit of my goals as it is. In my view, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to focus your energy on your personal goals.

Thank you, Amanda, for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Amanda Boyd

Amanda Boyd was born in 1986 and raised in Mountain View, California. She spent her 20’s in Europe and then came back in 2013 to the United States to build her family. She now lives on the West Coast with her partner and two lovely dogs. 

Amanda writes erotic short stories and describes herself as a passionate lover of erotic literature who understands the importance of high-quality romance books. 

“The days of hiding away our romance novels under the couch cushions or feeling embarrassed to admit that we enjoy sex that goes along with steamy romance are over.”

– Amanda Boyd

That is why Amanda started her classy Erotic Romance Blog www.filthybooks.com as a place for readers to learn more about erotica. 

In addition to getting access to Amanda’s latest work, Filthybooks provides access to all kinds of information about the steamy romance genre. You can find lists and reviews of the latest online and print erotic literature, and no subject matter is off the table. So if you are in the mood of embracing your naughty side, you can find some exciting reading ideas from Amanda. 

Be Sure You Are Following Amanda on Social Media

Website: www.filthybooks.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/Amanda-Boyd-116011026919625

Instagram: instagram.com/aboydbooks/

Tumblr: amandaboyd.tumblr.com/

…and if you are a Erotica / Romance fan, check out her books!

You can download the first short story, Forbidden Complication, for free on www.filthybooks.com and find the link to the second story, Forbidden Fingers at www.filthybooks.com/news


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

Give Me My Flowers Today

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but on discovering a dear blogger friend’s death at the same time the world is mourning Earl “DMX” Simmons, a thought struck me.

“I just wish we could love people when they live the way we do when they die.”

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn page (and I am rarely on LinkedIn), I came across this post and was surprised to learn of Sue Vincent’s passing. 

I know Sue from her promotional posts for authors and her generosity in opening up her space to give others time to shine. I’ve been featured on her blog a few times, and each time that we emailed, she was always welcoming to have me. 

I feel sadness about Sue because I have not been as immersed in the blogging community as I used to be. My schedule is crazy these days, and I have not had the time to dedicate myself to my own blog, much less engage with others. On searching her name, I found tons of posts dedicated to her and posts she wrote about her illness. I am so very sorry for missing it all. 

I also want to note that Sue was a poet, and with it being National Poetry Month, I dedicate this post to her honor.

As per the title of this post, I want to remind us to give people their flowers while they live.

If there is someone you appreciate or someone you love, or someone who has added value to your life in any way, I encourage you to make it known to them now.

Why now? 

Why not now?

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

Last June 2020 was the last time I saw my mother alive. I had taken a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate the life of another person I knew who had passed and stopped by my mom’s place. I was literally only passing through. My husband had to make a run, so I ended up staying with my mother for longer than I had anticipated.

At the time, I was irritated Moshe was taking so long to come back. I did not see how much of a blessing it was he took this run.

Before I left, I put a necklace on her neck that I had meant to ship but never got the chance to. As I snapped it on her, I kissed her cheek and left. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is something I did all the time, kiss her cheek and tell her I loved her. The difference this time is I didn’t know this would be the last time I would do it, as she would pass on in September.

I have been away from home since 2009, when we moved to Louisiana. I now live in Georgia, but most of my family still lives in Chicago. That said, I didn’t see my mom daily because we did not live in the same city. If I had not come to Chicago that June, the last memory I would have of her would have been December of 2019 when we celebrated her 60th, and unknown to us, her last birthday.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

We never know when will be the last time we see or speak to someone, but we still take it for granted. We still treat each other like every day is promised. We still love people more in death than we do in life. We see this every time a celebrity passes.

I hope that one day this will change.

I hope that one day we will live with such immense gratitude that hindsight is no longer 20/20 because we will see things clearly at the moment.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from If My Books Shall Die:

“Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors on silver platters,

for I am feeding you with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat.

I offer you the best of me.

And when I am dead

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance.

See my lips move

and witness passion soar 

from beyond the grave.

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life.

But if my books shall live

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

resurrect me

and carry

my bones.”


Read the full poem in I am Soul

Don’t Forget to Enter this Year’s Poetry Contest. Click Here to Learn How.


PS. I am not a fan of the new WordPress editor. I like the ease of embedding tweets, but I think the blocks are unnecessarily complicated.

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: Rules, Guidelines, and Prizes


Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

Theme: LOVE

This year’s theme is love. The difference between this year and our first year is this is not only about self-love or romantic love. You can certainly talk about self-love or the love of your life, but you can also talk about the love for family, the love for a hobby or career path, truth, history, and so on.

The grand prize this year is HUGE, so I am looking for some dopeness. If the poem doesn’t move me, I’m not accepting it, so bring your A-game. This is year four, and we are not accepting anything less than our best so let’s goooo!!

Here is a snippet of a poem from author and poet Jayla John on love. Let it inspire you!

“What love touches heals. What love reaches feels. What love bows to kneels. Love glances at sewage and turns it sacred. Love turns slander into praise. Love is a sacred storyteller. Love destroys all castles, drains all moats, rubbles royalty and thrones. Love answers. Prayers. Poetry. Passion fires. Love revolts. Love constantly births. Lets go. Remembers. Wakes your embers. Love is not romantic blindness. It is searing vision. Love sees. Love kills what is already dying, diseased, polluted, corrupted. Love makes all things new. Love is not in you. You are in love. And all of this is love.” –  Jalya John, Author of Freedom.

Submissions Accepted:

Thursday, April 1st – Tuesday, June 1, 2021 

*If your poem is ready, go ahead and submit it!*

Winners Announced: Wednesday, September 1st and 6th 2021*

*The 2nd-4th Place Winners are announced 9/1 with the Grand Prize Winner announced on 9/6.

Guidelines

  • The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Please send the poem as a Word Doc attachment, 12p font with your name on the document.
  • The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
  • The contest will be judged based on writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme. This year’s theme is LOVE. Keep in mind this isn’t limited to romantic type love. You can also write about love for family, love for the creator, love for a passion or hobby, self-love, e.g.
  • All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location. All poems must be written in English and there will be no shipments of books outside of the U.S. If a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. Ex. Ebooks instead of paperbacks.
  • All poets must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  • There is a $5 Entry Fee to enter the competition. This will help go toward the sponsoring of the prizes for the winners (See Below). If you are a member of the email list your fee is waived. If you would like your fee waived, sign up  HERE and email your poem to enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe before the competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on June 1st will  be disqualified.
  • Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of Yecheilyah Books LLC and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish their winning poem on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
  • Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 2-poem max.
  • Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.

Submission Instructions:

Click THIS link to pay the entry fee.

Or Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list.

This will automatically give your name and email address.

*If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email me your poem*

Once you’ve paid the entry fee OR subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

Submissions are accepted NOW through June 1st 2021.

Winners are announced September 1st and 6th, 2021 on The PBS Blog and across social media.

Video submissions are welcomed! This is a chance for you to get creative.

Prizes:

2nd, 3rd, 4th Place Prizes

  • $25 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box. The card has no fees and no expiration date and is redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com (ecards for International Winners)
  • Signed Copy of I am Soul + My Soul is a Witness + Matching Bookmarks (ecopies for International Winners)
  • Writing Journal and Diamond Pen
  • Poem Published to The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Interview on The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Social Media Promotion Across All Platforms (IG, Twitter, FB)

1st Place Winner / The Grand Prize

The first-place winner receives everything under 2-4th place with an exclusive publishing package courtesy of Yecheilyah Books LLC’s publishing arm Literary Korner Publishing. Yes, you heard me right! I will finance the publishing of your next (or first!) poetry ebook. As the grand prize winner, you get the following (in addition to everything else):

  • Book Cover Design (ebook only)
  • Copyediting
  • ISBN Assignment
  • Digital Format for e-readers such as Kindle
  • KDP Set-Up
  • PreOrder Set-Up (Optional)

The most exciting thing about this prize is I will work with you one-on-one every step of the way so you can know what to do the next time you want to publish a book. I am not here to fish for you. I am here to teach you how to fish so you can keep eating.


Let’s GOOO!!

Deadline to Submit is 6/1/2021

Yecheilyah’s 1st Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2017

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2018

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019