Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author D.L. Heather

 

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Please help me extend a warm welcome to D.L. Heather.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

Hi, my name is Debra, and I was born in Canada, but I live in Detroit now.

Oh, cool. Detroit in the house. Are you employed outside of writing?

No, writing is my life. Before writing books, I was a contributor and columnist for various magazine outlets.

Awesome! What was your childhood dream?

To walk into a bookstore and see my books on the shelves. As a child, all I wanted was to write. I was never without a pen and a notebook. 

That’s so cool because I have a similar story. Always had me a notebook or journal.

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Let’s talk about writing. Tell us about publishing your first book. What was that like?

My first book, Metamorphosis, was published in 2018. Indescribable – it’s not a word we writers like to admit to. Surely, there is an adjective or simile for every eventuality, and yet here I am using it to describe the feeling of holding my book for the first time. The writing process is a long journey of transformation, from a single idea to months of writing, innumerable coffees, countless revisions. And now it’s a physical thing I can hold in my hands. Like I said – indescribable.

I love how you described that process!

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Debra, what takes up too much of your time?

I find building my brand on social media platforms the biggest time-consumer. I’d rather be writing, haha.

For sure. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie? 

My favorite TV show is Sons of Anarchy. Movie, hmm, that’s a tough one, I have many but I would say Training Day is up there at the top of the list.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing? 

The most difficult thing about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them (sometimes they’re right but not always). That’s the truth–and as the artist, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Be prepared–before you’ve even finished the story, even, you can see it in their eyes that they are full of wonder. It’s about them, isn’t it. Yes! It is! It has to be! There’s no way it’s not! 

The most exciting thing about being a writer to me is it doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, poem, or a journal entry, writing helps let the demons out. We have to deal with complex emotions and a good way to understand them (in a healthy way) is to have a creative outlet—like, writing, music, or art. Writing is great because you can literally put down on paper how you feel. It’s cathartic at the time, and in my experience, later on when you read it. It’s a reminder of how you felt and what you thought at a point in time and how you dealt with it.

What genre do you write in, why?

Poetry and nonfiction. I’ve used my writing not just for my personal creative gain but in the hopes that maybe I could write something someday that would help people get through tough times. Maybe I could write something that would make a difference in another person’s life.

I knew you were a poet by how you answered that one question!

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In your own words, what is love?

To me, love is just a word and one I don’t use that freely. Because love is scary, it’s basically giving someone a map of all your flaws and imperfections and putting faith in them to not abuse that power. And that can be so beautiful, but it can also be brutal! Love can make you do the hardest thing a human could ever do, be vulnerable.

That is a very interesting way of putting it.

Why is writing important to you?

Writing keeps me whole. Writing keeps me sane. I’m not that great at expressing myself in person. Still, when I write, I feel like I can get all of my ideas down without interruption, without influence from someone’s body language, without fear of what someone will think of me if I stumble over my words while I’m forming a thought (which happens more than I would like to admit). Writing has always been my outlet. My writing is so closely linked to my personal experiences, regardless of what it is that I’m writing. It’s a way for me to process things and understand myself. It’s a way for me to escape the restrictions of my own life (such as grief, heartbreak, and childhood trauma). It allows me to feel free again. 

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


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Copyright © D.L. Heather

 

D.L. Heather is the pen name for poet, writer, and former music journalist Debra Heather. She has a B.A. in English and is the author of the inspirational poetry collections Life Interrupted and Metamorphosis.

Writing came into her life in her teens through therapy and the exploration of healing through journaling. Her writing is motivated by her experiences with childhood trauma, love, loss, healing, heartbreak, and self-discovery.

She prefers to let her work speak for itself, a private person by nature, in the way poetry allows her to. She hopes to inspire others and reinforce the fact that you are not alone.

When she isn’t writing in her studio, she enjoys traveling, reading, movies and gardening. Her book, Petals of Healing, will be available in December 2021. 

Be Sure to Follow D.L. online!

Website: www.dlheatherbooks.net

Instagram: @author.dlheather

Twitter: @AuthorDLHeather

COMING DECEMBER 3, 2021

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

No Whining Wednesday – You Are Inherently Worthy

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

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How other people view you is not a measurement of your worthiness. Both online and off, good decision or bad decision, right or wrong, your value does not change.

A Quick Story.

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When I first moved to Georgia in 2017, I enrolled in Argosy University, Atlanta. This was before Covid, so I had on and offline classes. In one of my campus classes, we always did these exercises. In one activity, we were talking about hot personality, cold personality, and warm. We had to say which one we thought we were and why. A few of my classmates mentioned I was cold. This perplexed me because we had not known each other that long. When they said it, most of the class agreed.

I went home feeling down. Their words had seeped into my soul, and I questioned what made them think I was a cold-hearted person. Had I done something to them? Did I offend anyone? Had they heard something about me?

Then, I thought back to my childhood and realized this wasn’t anything new. I remember being told my twin would be a bride for Halloween and that I would be the devil. As a kid, I remembered thinking, “the devil?”

I laugh at it now, but it affected my self-esteem and how I thought of myself back then. This was not the only time, someone had also decided I would be a witch years prior. “A witch?” I remembered thinking. It was weird to me because my sister was some kind of animal. If we are twins, why am I a witch and she’s a cute kitten?

I was always referred to as “the mean twin,” and it affected how I felt about myself.

Going home after that class made me think of all these things, and I questioned if I was a good person.

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What I’ve realized since then is how we tend to tie our self-worth to other people. We look at the way others perceive us, and we measure ourselves up to that image. That person doesn’t like me, so I am not a good person, or that person admires me, so I am a good person. This is especially true in the age of social media. This person I admire didn’t like my post, so I guess it wasn’t a good post, or this person did like it, so I guess it was good.

All of this is a lie.

The same worthiness you have when people think highly of you, or when you are winning and making the right choices, and being the best version of yourself is the same worthiness you still have when people think of you in a negative light, when you make mistakes, or when you are not your best self.

There is one truth, and it is the only truth that matters:

You are inherently worthy.

This worth does not need to be earned or won or acknowledged to exist. You have value and purpose the moment you enter this world. As the scripture says, “before I formed you in your mother’s belly I knew you, and I did set you apart.” (Jer. 1:5)

How other people perceive this set-apartness does not determine if it exists. It is there and was there from the very beginning.

Let’s Stay in Touch

Hey ya’ll, hey.

With yesterday’s social media shenanigans, I want to drop in to give some tidbits about how to join my author list for those of you who might not be subscribed but thought you were.

First, you should know subscribing to this blog is not the same as subscribing to my author email list.

  • Subscribing to this blog ensures you receive email notifications every time I publish a blog post.

  • Subscribing to my author list means you receive email notifications whenever I have author news to share for myself and other authors. These emails go out about once or twice a month.

“I Thought I was Already Subscribed But I Don’t Get Your Newsletters”

Due to excessive spam emails and inactivity, I deleted all emails from the first list and started over. If you remember my emails, but noticed they have stopped, it means you are not subscribed to the new list.

Because I want to make sure those who signed up want to sign up, I am not re-subscribing people manually. You must click on the link below to add your email back to the list.

When You Subscribe to my Author List:

  • You receive a free ecopy of my award-winning poetry collection, I am Soul.

  • You get first dibs on book reviews and other services I might offer. My review registry is currently closed for 2021, but my email members get the first chance at registering early. I will pick books from authors on my list first.

  • You get an inside look at what’s going on behind the scenes of my work, a summary of any blog posts you might have missed, and links to writing resources I might have discovered since we last connected.

  • If anything happens like yesterday’s outage, you are not left in the dark about what’s going on with me or the services I provide.

Click on the link below to connect with me. You will know you did it right when you receive a welcome email.

Ready???

Click HERE to Join My Community

See you soon!

What Indie Authors Could Learn from the Instagram + Facebook Outage

Today, October 4, 2021 Facebook and Instagram went down in the US.

This is nothing new. Facebook and Instagram have had outages before. I have no doubt everyone will be back online soon.

That linked article said this happened this morning, but I was on Instagram and Facebook, and it was working fine, so the outage is relatively recent. (I noticed it afternoon-ish.)

The interesting thing about all of this is it wasn’t until I sent my fourth quarter email out to my list that I noticed these platforms were down. I got an alert from the news app on my phone just as soon as I pressed send.

“Oh. Okay.”

Short story: I wasn’t panicked.

This message is simple:

It would be best to have other ways of engaging with your readers outside of these two major platforms. Instagram and Facebook might be the most popular, but they are not the only social networking sites available, nor are they the only places authors should look to when engaging an audience.

If anything permanent happened to these social media sites, I’d like people to know they can still visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com, contact me using my contact form and sign up to my email list and blog for updates.

Many Indie Authors depend solely on Instagram and Facebook for sharing content. This isn’t even just for Authors. Many new entrepreneurs operate solely by way of Facebook pages and Cash App. 

Not good. 

If Instagram and Facebook were to be down indefinitely, people would lose contact with most of their audience.

How so?

Well, my language is poetry so to quote Najwa Zebian: “The biggest mistake that we make is that we build our homes in other people.”

Indie Authors and new entrepreneurs make a mistake when they build their businesses solely on temporary social media platforms with no means of staying in contact with people beyond that social media site.

Consider:

You have 8,000 Instagram followers, but someone hacks you or Instagram dies. You have 12,000 Facebook followers, but FB’s dead too. Now thousands of potentially eager clients no longer exist. Well, they exist, but they have no idea how to contact you because:

  • You don’t have a website they can visit to support you. 
  • You don’t have an email marketing strategy for them to keep up with you. 
  • You don’t have a blog to continue to share your content. You know, the content you usually share on the Instagram that no longer exists.

Heartbreaking stuff.

Other Ways of Connecting / Interacting with Your Readers Outside of Facebook and Instagram

Every Author Should Have a Website

Not to beat a dead horse here, but you should really have an author website. We’ve talked about this guys. Your website is your home. It is where people can go to learn more about you, buy your books/services, and contact you. This is your main hub, a summary of all things you, the author. Websites demonstrate professionalism, and every professional business has one. Serious Indie Authors should have one too.

Blog

Your blog (which should be easily accessible from your website) is where you provide content. Blogs perform better traffic-wise than static websites because they are updated regularly with new material. I think having a blog and static website is a great balance.

Email

Your email list (which should be easily accessible from your website) is a way of nurturing relationships with new readers who aren’t following your blog but bought your book and providing updates to loyal readers who want to engage with you more deeply. 

Collecting emails to a list is important for Indie Authors because POD services like Amazon’s KDP do not tell you who the people are who bought your book. You see the sale, but not the name or anything else about the customer. This means if I buy your book from Amazon, you won’t know unless I tell you. This makes it challenging to keep track of me as a new reader and build a stronger relationship with me.

This is also why you should be pushing book sales from your author website too because you have a better connection to the people buying your books. Oh, wait, you don’t have a website. See how that works?

Some readers will do you the favor of posting about your book on Facebook and Instagram. But, wait, there is no FB and IG in this scenario.

Other Social Sites

Believe it or not, other social media sites exist. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube for video, and maybe even LinkedIn can be good alternatives to communicate with your audience if the others are gone.

The point is, there are other ways of being visible online outside of Facebook and Instagram.

I hope this outage helps us to rethink our social media strategy and develop ways of moving those loyal Insta-friends over to our own platforms.

Update: All those random emails ya’ll sent out the blue yesterday to people who probably forgot they signed up to your list is like rushing out to the grocery store to buy food during a shortage rather than just stocking up before the shortage happens.

Moral: Just having an email list is not enough if you don’t use it. It can hurt you more than help you.


Meet and Greet Book Signing 11/13

On 11/13, I am hosting my first book signing since Covid. My last signing was in 2019, so I am nervous and excited to be around people again.

Please be advised we are still fighting this virus, so there is very limited space and vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask. I am also not putting in a large order of books, so first come, first served. COME EARLY.

No Whining Wednesday – We Are Each Other’s Harvest

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

This week, I kept thinking about teamwork, network, and community. As such, I was inspired by the following quote from Gwendolyn Brooks.

IMG-4242I did something different this week. I asked my audience on Instagram what the quote meant to them. This was part of my quest for us to be each other’s harvest. As a result, I got a lot of good feedback, and I want to share some of it with you.

But first, a little history:

Gwendolyn Brooks poem from which this quote derives is about the Black singer, and activist Paul Robeson. In fact, the poem is called Paul Robeson.

“The poem from which the text ‘we are each other’s is drawn is one example of Brooks’s commitment to civil rightsa poem she wrote in testament to Paul Robeson. Robeson was a Black actor and activist, a famous baritone who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for his political commitments. Brooks celebrates his leadership at his death writing, “That time, we all heard it…The major Voice. The adult Voice…warning, in music-words devout and large that we are each other’s harvest: we are each other’s business: we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”  – Interfaith Youth Core

Gwendolyn Brooks was a poet whose family moved from Topeka, Kansas, to Chicago during the Great Migration, the massive movement of Blacks from the south to northern cities. Brooks loved Chicago, as I do, and she drew on her experiences in the city to tell the stories of Black urban communities. Brooks called Chicago her “Home Base.”

“We are each other’s
harvest:
we are each other’s
business:
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Gwendolyn Brooks lived these words, becoming the first Black Pulitzer prize winner, the Poet Laureate of Illinois, the Poet Laureate Consultant for the Library of Congress, and the first African American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts. She also dedicated time to teaching the next generation of artists in Chicago.

We Are Each Other’s Harvest

In farming, a harvest is a season for gathering crops. (Come on, Queen Sugar fans) One of the reasons I felt this was such a powerfully timely quote is because Fall is harvest season:

“Harvesting is the process of gathering ripe crops, or animals and fish, to eat. While not all crops are ready for harvest in the Fall, apples, winter squashes like pumpkins and acorn squash, and potatoes are!”

– American Farm Bureau for Agriculture

If we are each other’s harvest, we nurture one another. In that spirit of collaboration, we can illustrate the lyrics of this poem by supplying one another with the strength we gather from the positive words of others.

That’s what No Whining Wednesday is about, working together to cut down on our complaints and criticisms by adopting a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness.

Here are some of my favorites from the post, and I would love to hear what you think of the quote as well!

Take it away, guys!

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It’s Okay to Talk About Something Other Than Your Books

At its core, businesses are built on the foundation of relationships. This is especially true in the Self-Publishing world, where authors do not always have access to the exposure traditionally published authors receive.

When it comes to social media, it’s about being social and making connections with others, so it’s okay to talk about things outside of your books. It helps people get to know you on a deeper level and feel comfortable shopping with you.

Some basics to start with is sharing a little about you and maybe throwing in your thoughts on current events.

What are some things you like to do when you are not writing? What’s your favorite color? What are you passionate about in life? What do you think about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vax/non vax wars? What about what’s going on in Haiti? When is your birthday? What exciting things did you get into this weekend?

And so on…

I’m going to make this short because the message is pretty straightforward. No one wants to be inundated with “Buy My Book” messages all day, not on social media and not in their inboxes. I know it sounds kinda funny, but people only care about how what you are saying is relatable to their lives. You really do have to care about people, which sometimes means stepping outside your comfort zone and opening up a little about other things that may have nothing to do with your books. The great thing about this is you can still come back around and tie it into your brand.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Fields of Grace by Wendy Waters

Title: Fields of Grace
Author: Wendy Waters
Publisher: Wendy Waters
Publication date: October 24, 2019
Genre: Biographical Fiction
Pages: 444
ASIN: B07ZL2FHBG

It is September 23, 2009, and there is a dust storm in Sydney. But, Grace is from a family of pagans, so it is not only a dust storm for them. As the amber glow, which Grace calls the glowing, tangerine-colored fog, blankets the city, Grace Fieldgrill, now in her seventies, senses her time has come to die. The amber glow will want a sacrifice, and she is ready to give herself.

Grace believes the day she unlocks the trunk in the corner of her room, the spirit of John, her feu sacré or sacred flame, would come, as prophesied by her mother, to whisk her away. But, before she dies, she wants her son, Christian, to know the truth about his birth father and her granddaughter Samantha (Sam) to succeed in her career. These are affairs she must sort through before sunset. Grace commands Sam to unlock the trunk, and this is where our story begins.

“73-years is a long time to remain earthbound when you want to fly.”

I am not convinced Ms. Waters is not a poet. As with Catch the Moon Mary, Fields of Grace is full of poetic language and reads like a romantic love story and a historical fiction novel. When Sam opens the trunk and pulls out items, we follow Grace back to 1934, where she lives at the Wyncote House, a ladies-only establishment. The women of the house are hilarious. Although, Julia’s low self-esteem and constant complaints about not being pretty made me want to jump through the page and shake her.

As a history buff, I loved how the author used actual historical figures to interact with the fictional characters, which I love doing in my own writing. Sir John Gielgud was an English actor and theater director whose career spanned eight decades. And Peggy Ashcroft was an English stage actress who appeared in both classic and modern plays. Peggy and Gielgud’s relationship in the novel reminded me of brother and sister:

‘Our new thespian is rich, flings money like confetti at a wedding. A little flattery will grant me artistic freedom.’

‘Peg pushed my remaining ribbons aside and swiveled to face Mr. Gieldgud. ‘How rich?’

‘I knew that was all you heard.’

Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace

The author also gives us updates on Hitler and the pending war and where the world stood on women’s rights at the time.

Some parts were so fun I found myself reading some of the lines aloud as if I was in a play. Here is a funny exchange between Peggy and Grace about a handsome man named Dashiell Tanner, who has just replaced another actor:

‘I think he has talent, don’t you?’

‘No.’

‘He’s incredibly handsome.’

‘He’s incredibly arrogant.’

‘So, you’re not in love with him?’

‘Do I sound like I’m in love with him?’

Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace

You will learn the significance of this exchange when you read the book.

The story goes back and forth from past to present. I was worried about getting lost, but the author did this so well it was not confusing at all.

My only criticism is the book is very long, and it might be too much for readers with not a lot of time on their hands. (It took me a while to finish myself). Otherwise, I found Fields of Grace to be an exciting and entertaining read. 

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Fields of Grace on Amazon