Black History Fun Fact Friday – Sundown Towns

“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.”—conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001. James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006),3

Anna, Illinois was named after the daughter of the founder of the town, but got its more derogatory name after the 1909 lynching of a black man in Cairo IL and the mob of angry white citizens who drove out Anna’s 40 or so black families following the lynching. It is at this point that Anna, IL became a sundown town.

A sundown town is a town with an exclusive population of non-whites on purpose. They are towns with overwhelming populations of non-whites and are so deliberately.

Historically, the name Sundown-town comes from Blacks not being allowed in certain towns beyond sunset and the signs that some towns posted within their city limits warning Blacks not to let the sun go down on them in that town (see pics).

Side Note: I wonder if that’s where the parental command to be in the house when the street lights came on, comes from? I’d have to explore that one.

Although signs were posted, forced exclusion was also implemented:

“There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.” – America’s Black Holocaust Museum, James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

The Beginning

Sundown towns began after Slavery and the Civil War when blacks left the plantations and poured into every city and corner of the country. This was followed by the system we know as Jim Crow, in which black codes and laws were made for the intention of keeping blacks as enslaved as possible despite their free status.

Of course, we are familiar by now with the eyes that had to be kept to the ground, the stepping to the side when whites walked by, the separate restrooms and water fountains, movie theaters and many others. But in addition to all this were sundown towns, all-white neighborhoods where blacks were not allowed to live. Many of these towns existed in the North as the Great Migration brought floods of blacks into Northern Cities.

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These communities feared the blacks pouring into their neighborhoods and established Sundown towns by evicting black residents and not allowing them in.

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This statue of Orville Hubbard which sits outside of the City Hall in Dearborn Michigan, was the cause of much controversy when people started to learn more about his past.

Hubbard was the mayor of the then all-white suburban town outside of Detroit from 1942 to 1978 and in a 1969 speech acquired by the New York Times said that “If whites didn’t want to live with N–they sure didn’t have to.” He went on to say that this was a free country and that this was America.

“City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,’ ” according to David Good, a lifelong resident of the city who is the author of ‘‘Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” a biography of Mayor Hubbard.

“Out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klans live. I know Dearborn, you know I’m from Detroit, used to live out there in Easten. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Easten. Just like riding through Mississippi once you got to Dearborn.” -Malcolm X

Over time the name “Sundown-town” faded but Sundown Suburbs still exist. A sundown suburb is a discrete way in which Sundown-towns exist today. It is when large white populations migrate to the suburban part of the city with the express purpose of separating themselves from the minority population.

Don Massenzio’s Author Challenge: Where Do You Write?

Last Tuesday one of my favorite bloggers, Don Massenzio, posted a fun challenge for authors called: “Where do you write?” This is my post in support of the challenge, though, it’s not nearly as fun as his! (Like, who can beat Homer Simpson??)

OK so here’s an overview. I will do a close-up of everything and try to make this interesting. I do warn you though. I’m a nerd and not very exciting.

So, yea, that’s the basic work-space there. I work from two computers. Or, I did until my desktop stopped working. Boo. Now it is the holder of my sticky notes (see pic below).

These notes in particular are notes on Renaissance, Book One in The Nora White Story. Book One is finished but I’m writing book two and need to make sure I don’t contradict myself.

These are my awards! I received the glass one in Atlanta last year. It was a gift from my readers and supporters and a wonderful surprise. It is not something I won as a result of a contest or anything like that but I cherish it more because it came from the most important group of people out there: readers!

The standing one is an award I received for my work as a member of my women’s organization Blessed Handmaidens in honor of  hard work and dedication.

Poster-sized image of The Road to Freedom! I got this blown up at Walmart and keep it in front of me as I work. It helps to keep me motivated. I also take it down and use it for any book signings for this book. Under it are some envelopes that somehow found themselves in the picture.

On the PC is a YouTube video of Shahrazad Ali doing interviews for The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Black Woman, one of my favorite books. It wasn’t supposed to be in the picture either. I think these inanimate objects have a life of their own. I wonder what they are doing when I’m not looking….

Another thing I do for inspiration is blow up pictures of some of my favorite book reviews or the ones that give me the most hope. I appreciate your book reviews! If they are really moving, I will put them on a poster. This one is by Colleen Chesebro on Beyond the Colored Line. It says:

“Even more revealing, is how relevant Stella’s story is in America today. I wonder how many people, faced with the same dilemma’s that Stella dealt with, would be able to reconcile their feelings about their own ethnicity. Stella’s story helped me to discover connections with my own family I never had before. It just proves that even in my own family, nothing is ever just black and white.”

This one is from Anna Kopp on the same book. It says:

“If I had the power, I would put this book in the hands of every middle school child in America and let them truly understand what it means to be beyond the colored line. The thing is, the literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn definitely bring up the issues of race, but they’re incredibly removed from what is portrayed  as in today’s world.”

And now, what we’ve all been looking at. The Bookshelf!

Well, one of them.

This one is filled with mostly research material.

The other one is in the living room and that’s where most of my novels are.

We just moved so there are some books missing. Here’s a close-up of what’s on the shelf.

The top shelf is biblical reads:

Bibles (starting with the gigantic one on the end there with the black man’s face on it) Apocrypha’s, The Book of Enoch, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha’s, The Book of Jasher, the 1611 version of the King James Bible, and the Scriptural Translation published by the Institute for Scriptural Research in South Africa.

The next shelf is Black Historical reads. Let’s see what’s on the shelf:

A Pictorial History of Black America.

Roots. I have no idea what happened to the cover but the book is old. It’s the original 1976 version my husband got from….I don’t know where he got it from but I’m glad we have it.

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. I’ve had this book for a long time as well (and the Book of Josephus is on the wrong shelf. That’s a biblical read. Well, Historical too but it is out of place. Again, these things are moving around on their own. I am sure of it).

Black Spark, White Fire.

The Miss-education of the Negro, Willie Lynch Letter

From Babylon to Timbuktu.

The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader, and….The Dead Sea Scrolls? I gotta organize this ya’ll lol. Wrong shelf again.

Remembering Slavery, Introduction to Black Studies, From Slavery to Freedom, Bullwhip Days and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry which should be on the bookshelf in the other room where the novels are.

The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman, Negro Slave Songs in the United States, and Medical Apartheid.

The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture, Black Man’s Burden, The Isis Papers, and

100 Years of Lynching

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This could go on forever. To the bottom…

The next to the bottom of the bookshelf is the controversial shelf. More research, Masonry, Fallen Angels, The Watchtower and the Masons, Secret Teachings, Dictionary of Angels, etc. All the “Forbidden Knowledge” type stuff. So, yea, that.

I was in a play two years ago at The Dusable Museum of African American History. Yea, it was awesome. The program and tickets are also hanging on the wall for inspiration:

I think I’ve showed you everything. Oh, wait! The Calendar. My husband went out and got me a calendar after seeing way too much yellow…

I’m kinda obsessed with sticky notes.

I admit, they are everywhere.

And of course, throughout this tour of my office one thing remains:

Coffee! Lol

And water. See. I have water too. So, yea.

That kinda justifies it. ; )

So, authors, why don’t you join us? Show us your writing spot! It’s  a fun challenge and helps you connect more with your audience. Be sure to check out Don HERE for details.

Movie Night Friday – Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

The Dog EC Hired to Help Host Movie Night Friday.

This isn’t my favorite movie (It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen it) but it is one of those coming of age movies I liked growing up. While I don’t like everything about it, like all the movies I enjoy, it does combine elements from some of my favorite things. Before we get into some of what I love about it, let’s get a quick glance at what this movie is about.

Wikipedia:

In this sequel, Las Vegas performer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is surprised by a visit from her nun friends, including Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Mary Wickes). It appears Deloris is needed in her nun guise as Sister Mary Clarence to help teach music to teens at a troubled school in hopes of keeping the facility from closing at the hands of Mr. Crisp (James Coburn), a callous administrator. Can Deloris shape the rowdy kids into a real choir?

As you can see this is a sequel but I am not a fan of the first one. I’m not a Christian/Catholic and I just wasn’t moved. I think what made me enjoy this one though is the element of the youth being involved. To me they literally made the movie.

Letters to a Young Poet – The first time I heard of Maria Rainer Rilke was watching this movie. It’s funny because in the example Deloris used to encourage one of her more rebellious students (Rita played by Lauryn Hill), she used an example in which she talked about writing. saying:

 

“Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning you couldn’t think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.”

She was comparing this to the young woman’s desire to sing and that if she wakes up wanting to sing, then she’s supposed to be a singer. Not only did I believe what Deloris said (that if I woke up and all I could think about was writing then I’m a writer) but I also went out and bought the book when I grew up. (You gotta understand I was only six when this movie came out and didn’t see it until I was a little older). Sometimes I would watch the movie just to see this one part. Since I thought about writing, I knew she was talking about me.

Comedy – Of course, I love Whoopi’s comedy in the movie as well as the other women playing the nuns. I love to laugh and will rarely pass up a movie that gives a few chuckles.

Music – One of my favorite things about the movie is obviously the music. I loved hearing the kids voices and watching them transition as the choir began to take shape. And of course ya’ll know they jammed at the end.

Investing in our Youth – Just the fact that the movie is about someone taking the time to invest something positive into the lives of children is a huge plus for me. Now, it’s no Lean on Me but its still cool. The students were, as the description calls them “rowdy” when Deloris first met them. Talking back and playing cruel tricks on their teacher. Largely Black and Hispanic, the children live in the community and are barely being taught as the school does not have enough money for books. In fact, the school is in danger of closing down due to a lack of funding and of course, this will displace the children to schools in other districts. I liked seeing the different personalities of the children and seeing how they grew throughout the movie. With a passion for singing it is possible that they could be the first in their families to graduate and do something with their lives they never thought possible.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“If you wanna go somewhere, if you wanna be somebody, then you better wake up and pay attention. Cause the world out there don’t care how cool you think you are or who you kick it with. It don’t matter. If you don’t have an education, you don’t have anything and that’s the truth honey.”

“So because you think they sang it better, ya’ll are ready to leave cause you got scared…Let me remind you of something OK? If you wanna go somewhere and you wanna be somebody you better wake up and pay attention because if every time something scary comes up you wanna run, ya’ll are gonna be running for the rest of your lives.”

Sister Act 2 Trailer (even though to me they didn’t really show the good parts lol)

7 Things I Learned about Email List Building

I’ve learned so far that there’s a lot more to building an email list than getting people signed up. I’ve had an email list for years but I feel that only now am I starting to really understand how it works. A little. OK so maybe I just have an inkling of an idea. Who knows but it’s a start.

While having one is great, building an email list and the upkeep is not easy! OK, well, it’s not hair-pulling difficult but it does take some tending to. I don’t want to scare anyone away. It’s not brain surgery or anything like that but I guess that’s why they call it “building”. You don’t build anything over night. There are lots of steps and parts to keeping an email list updated and valuable.

(Click Here to read 7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List)

Here are some things I learned, or I should say I am learning, about the email list:

  1. More Subscribers Mean Little to Nothing

At first, I was concerned with getting more subscribers. I mean, that’s a start, right? Yes and no. Yes because of course I want readers. No because that’s just the beginning.

I learned that getting people to subscribe, as challenging as it can be, turned out not to represent as much of the process as I’d thought. While getting subscribers is great, you should know that it’s never a guarantee that people will:

  1. Stay subscribed to your list (people can unsubscribe anytime)
  2. Open the emails you send
  3. Click on your links
  4. Support your product / service

One of the first lessons I am learning in my continual quest to better understand list building is that subscribers mean little to nothing in the grand scheme of things. It is not so much how many people are on the list so much as it is how many of these people are engaged: open emails, read the content, click links and offer feedback. Are they part of my target audience or just taking up space? Are they at all interested in what I have to say?

I’ve learned that an email list of only ten people on it in which eight are engaged and supporting is better than a thousand who can care less.

2. The “From” Address – Use the name that is the most popular and noticeable to your readers

When setting up an email list, part of the process is to enter a “From” Address or the name you want to appear as the person the email is coming from. For the two years or so of sending emails through Mail Chimp I used Literary Korner Publishing, my business name and all was well.

Toward the close of last year, I decided to do something different. I stopped using my business name and used my name, Yecheilyah, instead. I wanted to see if my open and click rate would increase. It did. It worked because it is the name most familiar to my readers.

3. Email – Use a business email address

Another thing I started off with is using my personal Gmail account as the email linked to my list. When setting up an email list, you’ll also have the option of choosing where the emails will come from / people can reply to. In the beginning, it was my Gmail account. I have since changed this.

Toward the close of last year I changed my email. It required an upgrade but it was worth it. It does look more professional but I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t do it for how it would look. I did it to make sure my emails aren’t going into my subscriber’s spam folders. As a result, my open rates did increase. I didn’t get a snapshot so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ll remember to snag some images next time.

What’s a good business email address?

Your name (at) your domain name dot com (yourname@yourdomainname.com)

4. Headline – Choose a headline that will speak to your list

I didn’t start off paying much attention to my email list headline. If people opened the email they opened it. If not, oh well. That’s how I saw it.

And then I grew up…

I am not doing this for my health which means that it does matter if people are finding value in the content or not and if I am seeing a return as a result. So, I started to pay more attention to the Headline of my emails or the title that people see that tells them what the email is about. It didn’t occur to me that if this didn’t speak to them there would be no reason to open the email! Yikes.

Somehow, I’d taken it for granted that people, though signed up, are not obligated to open and read the content. I thought about blogging and how important the title of the blog post is. (Click Here for 5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post) I decided to apply this to my list.

Just like someone must be interested enough to click on the blog and read it, someone must also be interested enough in the email headline to open the email and read it.

The headline is the first clue to the reader on what the email is about. If it is something they can care less about, they will not open the email. I have noticed that putting more thought into my email headlines has increased the open rates as well. Meaning, more people are opening the emails and clicking on the links. (A decent open rate is anywhere from 30-55%. It means that most of your list is seeing every email. But do not expect everyone on your list to be engaged. I’ve learned that even if only 20% of my list is communicating with me, that’s good).

5. Dividing the List – Sub divide your list by interest

I really didn’t want to do this. The only reason I can think of is laziness. I didn’t feel like splitting anyone up and sending more than one email.

And then I grew up…

I have recently began the first process of dividing my list and I feel good about it so far! The feedback alone told me a lot about the people who open and read my emails and gave me an idea into what it is they each want. Right now, I am only working with two lists and it was interesting to see who fell into which group.

Monthly – My monthly email list is compiled mostly of people who have either known me for years (at least more than two years but also as long as ten), enjoy getting everything summarized into one list, or who I know have busy schedules and don’t feel like being bothered with me more than once a month. They know me too well.

Bimonthly – My bimonthly email list, which is much smaller, is compiled mostly of people who have met me recently (anywhere from one week to one year ago), open my emails regularly and give the most feedback, are interested in emails about inspiration and motivation, and who like their emails smaller.

I loved the process of dividing them up! It was fun and helped me to focus on every single subscriber and to get to know them on a more personal level based on their interest.

6. Less is More – Limiting the Creative Mind

I consider myself a boring person outside of writing. But when I am writing and putting together emails I love colors and images! I love doing different things and experimenting. I love being silly and using my cartoon avatar. However, I have since pulled back a little with this.

Maybe I’m just getting older or I just know better but I cut a lot of that out. My avatar remains but outside of this I’ve limited the number of images used, switched to a basic theme with a white background and toned down the colors. While I’d love for my email to look like a magazine spread, images increase the possibility of spam as well and too much going on is distracting. The white background on the other hand made everything pop and it is easier to read.

7. Removal – Taking people off your email list

What? You mean I did all that work to get people signed up and now I have to…take them off?

Yea, pretty much.

It took my numbers down a notch but I feel that the cleaning will do me some good. I am not interested in having people subscribed who really don’t want to be there or who are just there to spy, just for the sake of numbers. That’s never been me. One thing I am sure everyone should do every now and again is to clean up their email list.

This means to go through the list and either (1) reach out to or (2) remove altogether those emails belonging to people who never open your emails or interact with you at all. I imagine they see the emails and trash / spam them but for whatever strange reason they don’t unsubscribe. Or maybe they subscribed because you had a contest or offered something for them and now that they got it they’re no longer interested. Whatever the reason, it’s their business. Growth is not just about gaining. It’s about losing too. I believe trimming the weeds will help me to grow and I will soon have twice as much support as I’ve had to lose.

The point is that I want people on my email list who want to be there. Not people who are just there to spy or be nosy. They hate my guts but they open every email. That doesn’t make any sense. I also don’t want people on my list who never open a single email but they won’t unsubscribe. I don’t understand why they are there.

Even when people unsubscribe themselves, I’ve learned this is not a bad thing. It literally does me no good to have people around who don’t want to be. This is a business not a hobby. Whatever is not contributing to growth has gotta go. Don’t be afraid to get rid of dead weight.

When I look at my list today I feel good. I know that the people subscribed want to be there and if they ever feel bored, I hope they will just unsubscribe. That’s just the realness of it. You win some, and you lose some but you live. You live to fight another day. Yes, that’s from the movie Friday. It doesn’t have anything to do with this article but I thought I’d leave you with a chuckle. Or not.

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Interested in being part of my crew? They’re great! Emails go out once or twice a month based on your preference. CLICK HERE to sign up and thank you!

Introduce Yourself – Promotional Opportunity for New Authors

Many of you know me from my writing and this blog but before I dedicated my time to writing full-time, I worked with children and to an extent, I still do.

I taught creative writing as part of a private Louisiana In-Home School program for about four years and then I helped to run a research and fellowship center in Shreveport for about five more years. My primary job was working with children, tutoring and teaching them.

What does this have to do with my promotional opportunity for New Authors?

One of the songs we’ve come up with to help children to break the ice sorta speak in the children’s bible study class (to which I am still involved) is an Introduce yourself song. It starts:

“Introduce yourself, hey hey! Introduce yourself…hey!

My name is___________.”

At the end of last year, I told you all that I was looking to implement another promotional opportunity for authors on this blog. It has taken a long time but is finally here!

At the moment, I run two:

  • Book Reviews (currently closed for registry but returning soon. Stay tuned.)
  • Book Promo. – Where I promote book covers in my email list FREE. Send me your cover, blurb, and buy links to be featured to my email HERE.

Now I am implementing a third opportunity. Something I am hoping will give you a bit more exposure. I am calling it Introduce Yourself, inspired by the children. Here’s how it works:

Introduce Yourself – a promotional opportunity for new authors on The PBS Blog. It is an interview conducted by me with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better.

I enjoy thought provoking conversation and so is the tone of this blog so please be as detailed as possible in your answers. People are less likely to support people they don’t know anything about so dig deep and let us get to know the real you!

How to Get Involved

All you have to do is choose at least 10 questions from the list below and email them to me with your social media handles, photos, a brief bio, and a link to your website or blog. Email me HERE . Once I receive your email, I will respond in 2-3 business days with the date of your feature.

Again, answer the questions as fully and as detailed as possible.

Even though this segment is inspired by new authors (i.e. Introduce Yourself), any author can jump on board!

INDIE AUTHORS AND TRAD. AUTHORS

PUBLISHED AUTHORS AND ASPIRING AUTHORS

NEW AUTHORS AND EXPERIENCED AUTHORS

I run into people all the time who didn’t know who I was until they saw me featured on someone’s blog. It is a wonderful opportunity for increased exposure.

If you’re interested please choose your questions* (no less than 10 but no more than 40), email them HERE along with your photos, bio, and social links. I won’t pull your arm or beg you to participate in this but let’s face it, this is for you! Also, let’s not forget this is a FREE opportunity for exposure.

Just saying.

*The questions are not in any particular order. Start with question 30 or question one. Your choice. Just make it an interesting mix.

  1. What is your name and where are you from?
  2. What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
  3. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
  4. Are you employed outside of writing? Is so, tell us about your job.
  5. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
  6. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
  7. How many siblings do you have?
  8. What was your childhood dream?
  9. What skill would you like to master?
  10. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
  11. In your own words, what is humility?
  12. In your own words, what is love?
  13. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
  14. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
  15. What’s your favorite drink?
  16. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
  17. What songs have you completely memorized?
  18. Does blogging help you to write? If not, why so? If so, how so?
  19. What’s your favorite food?
  20. What’s your favorite color?
  21. Who is your favorite writer?
  22. If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
  23. What kind of music do you like?
  24. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
  25. If you could live in a movie, which would it be? Why?
  26. Who is your best friend?
  27. Are you married? How long?
  28. Are you single? Would you like to be married?
  29. Do you have children?
  30. Would you like to have children? Why?
  31. What takes up too much of your time?
  32. What do you wish you knew more about?
  33. What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult?
  34. What’s your favorite Historical figure?
  35. What do you think of the world we live in?
  36. What are your thoughts on Race?
  37. In your own words (not Google’s) define racism.
  38. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
  39. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
  40. What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
  41. Are you religious? Explain.
  42. Are you political? Explain.
  43. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
  44. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
  45. Why is writing important to you?
  46. What do you love about yourself?
  47. What don’t you like about yourself?
  48. If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be? Why?
  49. What genre do you write in, why?
  50. In your own words, what is truth?

Added Disclaimer: DO NOT try to use this as an opportunity to preach your personal message of salvation, bombard / hit us over the heads with your awesome books, or take advantage of this space in any way that is discriminatory. That is NOT how you want to use this feature! This is an opportunity for us to get to know you as a person. Only then will we be interested in your work. That said, try being less “salesy” and more genuine in your answers!

Blogging: Establishing Your Fine Print (Blogging with Purpose)

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A couple years ago I wrote a post Does Your Blog Reflect Your Purpose? about how focusing on my purpose helps me to continue to write and also about living in the moment as a catalyst for post ideas. As I sit here, I decided to update my views on this topic with a follow-up: Blogging: Establishing Your Fine Print (Blogging With Purpose).

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Each blog is different because each individual is different. We each have our own set of thought processes and routines that we feel makes our writing better and our blogs overall capable of expansion. As such, I have noticed one thing in common with each blog that I follow, the ones I have come to really enjoy: Purpose. Most of the blogs I follow touch on a variety of topics. Our posts have the potential to scan the horizon. From poetry, to short story, to news articles, to quotes, you name it we’re writing about it. I love this because variety makes it possible to reach  more people than a singular subject ( or niche) and for this I love diving into varying topics.

The Fine Print

fine-print

Fineprint – inconspicuous details or conditions printed in an agreement or contract

While my blog, like most, is filled with variety, there is also a primary purpose that remains in the fine print and I have found it in each of the blogs in which I read. That purpose is the inconspicuous detail. It doesn’t matter how many topics the blogger touches on, each person has his own primary purpose for blogging and that is the foundation I think we should each take into account as we build readership. I call this The Fine Print. Everyone has one because we all have a certain set of values that govern how we live. This doesn’t mean we have to shout to the rooftops about it, but it is the underlining foundation to how we live our lives. If we apply this to blogging, I think it will help us to build and maintain focus. By us I mean myself as well. These posts are not professional blog advice, in fact its not really advice at all but thoughts I tell myself to help me to become better that I’d like to share.

Finding Your Fine Print:

1). What are you passionate about?

Think about what matters most to you outside of blogging. Your passion usually will lead to your purpose. Your purpose is then incorporated into your everyday life: including blogging.

2). What is the one thing that motivates you to blog? 

I didn’t ask you what your blog was about because it’s deeper than that. Your reason for creating your blog is also not necessarily that thing that keeps you blogging. Your blog can be about puppies but puppies do not get you up every day to publish posts. I also did not mention why you write because not all bloggers are writers. Some bloggers are photographers, chefs, etc. But I asked you what was the one thing that motivates you to blog because if you can name that thing that insists that you must blog, that thing that tugs at your being and demand that you release words into this public forum, then that is the first step toward finding your Fine Print.

3). Do not Preach Your Fine Print

Your Fine Print is for you. To help to keep you focused. Once you’ve defined your purpose, it’s not going to help you to preach to the choir. The reason this is called a Fine Print is because it’s a foundation to the entire document. You can read through an employee handbook, but the fine print is what sets the document apart as serious business.

A bloggers fine print is their driving force, their purpose, their one motivating factor, their reason for doing. Its not something they have to bring up in every conversation, but it is that thing in which they strategically incorporate into their blog in a way that drives curiosity and helps readers to get to know them better. If you bring your purpose up in every post it will drive people away. No one wants to be preached to or forced to accept anything. Your fine print is to help YOU to stay focused. When people sign a contract they are agreeing both to the contents of the document itself and also to the fine print. Fine Prints are that underlying message. When you follow a blog, you may not know it, but you’re not just supporting that blog, you are also agreeing with that blogs Fine Print, which is the whole point. In other words, that bloggers purpose for writing intrigues you in some way and has prompted you to endorse them.

Does your blog have a Fine Print?

Find out what drives you to blog and keep that as the underlying message to everything that you post. This is your Fine Print. It doesn’t mean bash everyone over the head with your ideas. It is instead using your purpose as a driving force to produce quality material. People follow blogs for so many different reasons that it is possible that your one weekly feature was their sole purpose for following you. In this way, you have reached them. Though your Fine Print is inspiring people, your weekly feature became the catalyst for which this was done, the method that has proven effective in a way that will continue to drive traffic.

4). Stay Focused

Purpose – the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Don’t get so caught up in the purpose of someone else that you subtly make their purpose your purpose. Your fine print is not really for them, it’s to help YOU to stay focused. Blogging is a communal activity. This means that one thing we all have in common is that we want our blogs seen by the online public for whatever reason (< your fine print). Otherwise we would all just keep. private journals, diaries, notebooks, whatever but we would not be writing so openly on the Internet. For whatever reason (fine print, purpose) we are writing online. No, we are not just writing for ourselves. I do not believe that. To publish material as openly as the internet has to be for a reason deeper than personal gratification. For whatever reason, we are blogging. We serve this community by interacting with one another. In essence we serve one another. But what I think keeps a good blog going is the individual’s  focus on their fine print once they’ve found it. It is not something they are willing to compromise and it is not something they will allow others to take away.

Have you ever read a book that was so good in the beginning but towards the end it fell short? That can happen with our blogs. We must remember that the fine print is not so much for readership as it is for our own individual marker to help keep us focused. This naturally makes it easier to produce material without compromising the integrity of the blog.

And that’s it for me. I hope these tips are helpful to each of you as you continue your blogging journey.

5 Ways Reading Influences Your Perspective

I speak a lot on this blog about the power of perspective and not being limited in thought. It occurred to me, as I was making my coffee yesterday morning and thinking about a book I needed to finish, that I thought about reading and the deeper role that literacy plays in our lives.

Perspective can be defined as:

“…a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.”

Television is not the only thing that can influence your perspective but so can books. Be careful what you’re feeding your mind. It can empower you or limit you.

#1 You Are What You Read

The saying, “You are what you eat” is used to convey the message that we should be careful what we are putting into our bodies. A stunning new report from the World Health Organization has concluded that there is clear scientific evidence that eating pork leads to cancer and I’m not just saying this because I don’t eat pork. (Even if it is gross and bad for your health). Over-doing the snacks is also not good and can hurt the kidneys and harm weight. Just like we are what we eat, we are also what we read!

What you put into your mind has the power to change you (either for better or for worse). While I love Black History and culture, these are not the only kinds of books that I read. I also read the bible and other books that provide useful information (either for my mind, body, or spirit).

#2. Reading One Type of Book

Do this and you will surely be confined to one form of thought. You can be passionate without being limited. There are books about Black History that are not written by African Americans and I don’t neglect them because of it. I don’t believe in the racial superiority of any sort whether that is White Supremacy or Black Supremacy. (I don’t even believe in white or black people. I use these terms specifically for understanding but I believe we are nations, not colors). That said, I do not shy away from networking with other nationalities of people and I do not neglect my own. I read Urban Fiction but I will also read Western Literature. I can converse with the woman on the corner and the intellectual. I’m not afraid to sit down with sinners and saints because I’m not a judge and it’s really none of my business what people think of me. That’s their problem. I will not be boxed in and I will not be limited.

#3. Neglecting Indie Authors

Readers should not be limited to reading just Traditionally Published books because you’ve read one poorly written book and now every Self-Published book is no good (even when they are being made into movies every day). The Shack, a book I own and have used for research for many years, is now being made into a movie. It started out as a Self-Published Book and became a USA Today Best Seller. It is now being made into a movie.

As an Independent Author, it is my duty to support this community so of course I read books written by Independent Authors. If I am reading something, like a classic novel, I make sure that I also have an Indie book to read. Since I’m a book reviewer, I almost always have one on hand. I don’t just read Indie books, I actually enjoy reading them. Indie books also tend to be cheaper than Trad so there’s really no excuse. You spend more on lunch, no, coffee! Two dollars and under a month (for an eBook) is not expensive. Go the extra mile and buy the paperback (I love paperbacks, obviously). Pick an Indie Author whose books you love that are well-written and support them. Or, pick a slew of Indie Authors and purchase at least one book a month. How can you really support Indie Authors (or change the way you think of us) if you don’t read our books? How can you say all Independent books suck if you’ve never read any? Writing books is the only Independent community where we are having this conversation! Indie Music Artists, for instance, are always supported.

#4. Neglecting Trad. Published / Classics

The door swings both ways people. Don’t neglect the Traditionally Published books and Classics either. Particularly since many of them are well-written. This next part may be sensitive for some of you but it is the truth:

Be Careful Reading Poorly Written Books

This is mainly for you writers out there. Balance is everything. I’m an Indie Author and I support Indie Authors but to disregard the elephant in the room is just naive. While I enjoy Indie books, not all Indie books are well-written.

I’m an advocate for reading period no matter how they were published and I read Indie Books as well as classics and Traditionally Published books because even if I don’t like a story, many of the classics do happen to be well-written. (Which isn’t to say Trad books are always well-written). This is important to me because if you keep reading books that are not up to par you can only begin to write just the same.

Again, I am not saying Indie books can’t compete with literary classics or traditional publishing. I am saying that there are still lots of Self-Published books that are just not well-written. To continue to read this kind of material is counterproductive. So, when reading be sure to have a balance.

#5. Morals / Values

I saved this for last because I know how sensitive we are about anything that we “perceive” to be religious. However, it must be brought up and goes back to the first bullet point: You are what you read.

There are lots of books that are great for research purposes and then there are books that are not worth your time. While some of you are strong enough to “chew the meat and spit out the bones” (take the information that is worthy and apply it and throw out the rest), some of you are also weak minded. By weak-minded I mean it doesn’t take much for you to be negatively influenced or adopt foreign beliefs even if they don’t make any sense.

If you know that you are easily swayed and unstable in your thoughts, you may want to stay away from certain literature that has the potential to change who you are.

Sure, I have books on the importance of watching what I eat but I am not going to become a vegetarian Goddess who condemns all meat-eaters because we should love animals. That’s what I am talking about. It’s not that serious people. How about you love the people around you.

As I say always, staying true to yourself is priority. There are some books that are not even worth your time and you have to be the one to discern that balance. People walk around like reading is just always good. It is not. Everything has a balance to it. There are books that are bad for you just like there is food that is bad for you. Make sure that as you read, you are also paying attention to yourself. Reading can influence your perspective in more ways than one.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the author of The Stella Trilogy and is currently working on her next book series. Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book One is due for release July 15, 2017. For updates on this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.