Black History through Poetry

I hope you are all doing well and all that good stuff. I have not blogged much lately because I am working on The Women with Blue Eyes and tons of other projects, including our 4th Annual Poetry Contest I want to get underway next month.

If you are new here, welcome to The PBS Blog! This is a great time for you to learn more about who I am through my most recent interview

Below is a snippet of the interview and links with WRDE-TV, an affiliate of CBS. Also find links to Fox 34 and WBOC, affiliate of NBC. (If you read one, you’ve read the others cause it’s the same article, just on different platforms.)

Interview Snippet:

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

Y: Faith without works is dead, so my best advice is to do your work. Get on your knees and pray and then get on your feet and work. I hate to sound so overly simplistic, but sometimes things are a lot simpler than we make them out to be. We must be willing to do the work necessary to manifest all that we believe we can achieve. Belief is good, but alone it is not enough so I cannot tell you to just believe in yourself. You must prove this belief with action. What you say you believe is one thing, but what you do exposes who you really are. Whatever it is you say you want, you must act on it for it to become a reality.

Not only must we love ourselves and believe in our ability, but we must also be prepared to do the work necessary to turn the unseen into the seen. Consistency is also key because while actions speak louder than words, consistency speaks louder than both. These skills Yah has blessed us with are not intended to serve only us. They are meant for us to multiply. This is possible when we combine a steadfast belief with a compelling work ethic.

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

Success to me means to genuinely enjoy what you do with your life without sacrificing your authenticity. It means to multiply your gifts to serve as many people as is destined for as long as the breath of life is in your body and you are walking this earth. To do so with as much grit and love as possible, and to do it all while staying true to your integrity.

Read more at one of these links:

FOX 34: https://www.wdfxfox34.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WRDE: https://www.wrde.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WBOC: https://www.wboc.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry


Read I am Soul or My Soul is a Witness? Don’t forget to leave an honest review! Links below.

Click here to review (or buy for 99cents!) I am Soul

Click here to review (or buy) My Soul is a Witness

Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 1: Skipping Revisions

I am deep in revisions for my first fantasy novel, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen. I am on the clock because I want my editor to start work on it next month. As I go over my work, I realize how horrified I would have been not going back over this. As usual, I want to share what I am learning with you. In this new Indie Author Basics series, I am sharing some signs I have noticed that indicate that you are probably not ready to Self-Publish that book.

You Skip the Revision Process

Step one in the process of Self-Publishing is to write the book. It is unnecessary to self-edit during this stage because it would be challenging to finish the book if you are editing as you are writing. Step one is like a brain dump where you are getting everything down on paper. It is the most exciting part of the journey as you let your ideas and creativity flow. Step one is creating the rough draft of your story, the version of your manuscript that is complete but not polished.

I know a writer is not ready to Self-Publish when they skip the revision process.

Revisions are rewrites of the manuscript before sending it to a professional editor.

It is AFTER the book is finished because you don’t want to edit as you write (you’ll never finish) but BEFORE the professional edit.

The rewrite is more challenging than the rough draft because you are not only putting your ideas on paper, but now you are organizing those ideas, cutting out what doesn’t work, and working with what does work. The revision stage (rewrites) strengthens your work into something worthy of publication.

If you skip this stage, you are publishing your rough draft. If you send the rough draft to an editor, you will still ultimately publish your manuscript’s rough draft version. While the editor can clean it up some, it is not the editor’s job to write the book for you. If you are looking for someone to write the book for you, you need a Ghostwriter. If you want to write your own book, it is essential not to skip the revision process when you are Self-Publishing.

The rough draft is not the final draft and will not be the best representation of your writing.

How to Know if You Have Skipped Revisions:

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. You take this book , create a PDF, and upload it to Amazon. You have not gone back to rewrite or make corrections, and you have not had it properly edited. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • Technology has been your godsend. You have finished recording your book using speech-to-text technology that has translated your words to the page. You finish the book, but you don’t rewrite what you spoke into the document for comprehension. Everything is kind of all over the place. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. Then, you take this version (the rough draft) and send it to an editor. If I have described you, you have also skipped the revision process. And unfortunately, for your editor they have the job of rewriting your book. If they are a quality editor, they will send the MS back to you and request a rewrite.

If you have not gone back over your rough draft to make changes, this is a sign you are not ready to Self-Publish.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here.

Also, here are some ideas for revising!

Revisions: Self-Editing #amwriting

Revisions Part 2

The Writer Talks with Asha G. Kumar Part One

Thank you to Asha G. Kumar, host of The Writer Talks, for having me on!

Check out Part One of this two-part interview with yours truly. In this first part, we talk about the inspiration behind my first forthcoming Urban Fantasy/SciFi/Speculative Fiction novel, The Women with Blue Eyesmy belief in aliens lol, and my latest poetry collection, My Soul is a Witness. In part two, we dig deeper into my journey as a writer, my advice to other writers, Black History, and you know I had to recite some poetry!

Part 1 is available now on YouTube.

Link below!

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Stepping Outside the Genre Box

Once upon a time, back in 2017, I shared the first chapter of a crazy fantasy story about fallen angels disguised as women with blue eyes killing black men for their power and one woman’s mission to stop them. I had no intentions of ever publishing it. My purpose was to share a free story on the blog that readers could enjoy. I played around using some of the same characters and background from another book I had written but have since retired.

To my surprise, so many people enjoyed the first chapter, so I came back the next week and wrote another chapter and then another and then another until I had written eighteen chapters of a book I never intended to write.

The more I shared, the more readers loved it. This got me excited!

In 2020, while we were all bored in the house and in the house bored, I worked on finishing the book. It is now a full-length novel I will release later this year.

If you have been following this blog over the years, you are already familiar with The Women with Blue Eyes (now titled The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen) and I am so excited to finish it for you.

Moral of the Story

 

It’s okay to step outside the box and write something different, especially if it’s something you know readers would enjoy. Master P is not just a rapper, he is also a full-blown businessman with several products. He has everything from cereal to oodles and noodles, to potato chips to fish fry.

As I was drafting this post, I tried to think of how to explain that it’s okay to write in a genre you are not typically known for without sacrificing your author brand.

My first thought was to remind you that you are the brand, not the book. It is less about the genre and more about how you stay true to your message.

This is still true, but last week I came across a post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller where she was given some advice that really put it into perspective for me.

Recently I was advised to “stay in my lane” of military and espionage writing so that I could be considered for that niche. This is especially so because my background supports this lane.

Yet when I mentioned staying in my lane to an entertainment industry exec, she had an interesting POV about branding oneself as a writer.

She didn’t agree with staying in one’s lane in terms of specific genres. Instead, her advice to me was to remain the same lens and perspective across genres.

“Remain the same lens and perspective across genres.”

I love this because it frees the writer from the genre box. In my own words, I would say to write in whatever genre you want, but keep your message consistent. While Master P does many different things he wasn’t known for before, his “No Limit” message stayed the same.

Since I usually write Black Historical Fiction, my story will incorporate black history, all the way down to how I represent the characters. In Greek Mythology, Paschar is the angel of vision and is a white male. In my version, Paschar is still a fallen angel, but she operates in the skin of a black woman.

I’ve also infused black history into the narrative with my character’s background and dialogue. If you’ve been following the series on this blog, Miss Vicky is a new character you haven’t met yet. She is a member of the renovation committee at the new Altgeld Projects and former cook for the Chicago Chapter of the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program. Here is an excerpt from her giving black history to a couple of corner boys working for Big Sam’s organization:

Closer to the buildings, girls jumped double-dutch on the sidewalk, and young boys stood up on their bikes, riding them back and forth. The boys wore no shirt, and yellow headscarves hung out of their back pants pockets. Their pants were always sagging, revealing their boxers underneath. They knew they will be scolded by Miss Vicky if caught. She was always telling them to pull their pants up and giving the history of Buck Breaking. It was the practice of slave owners raping black men as a form of punishment on the plantations and then forcing them to sag their pants in the fields, so everyone knew the cost of disobedience.

“Nuh, uh,” the boys would protest, “I heard that started in the jails Miss Vicky.”

“You heard wrong,” the middle-aged woman would protest, “that’s not to say it didn’t circulate in the jails, but that ain’t where it started. Buck Breaking was popular in the Caribbean ya see, and it involved white supremacists and slave owners raping a male slave in front of the public to embarrass him and make him feel less of a man. Buck Breaking became popular when slave rebellions went up. Enslaved men were first stripped naked and flogged.”

“What’s flogged Miss Vicky?”

“Boy, don’t they teach you nothing in school?”

The boy would laugh, holding onto the handles of his bicycle.

“He don’t go, Miss Vicky,” another boy would chide, laughing at his friend.

“You remember how ya mama beat you for stealing car parts last year? That’s flogging. Whippings. Beatings.”

“She flogged ya ass,” the boys’ friend would tease.

Vicky would hide her laughter and continue her lesson. “Like I said, they would flog—whoop the man in front of a crowd after they raped him to serve as a warning to other slaves. Sometimes enslaved men with families were forced to have sex with each other in front of their family, or they were raped in front of their sons…”

“Dang,” the boy would say, doing wheelies on his bike.

“Hmm hmm, sure did. Lot of ’em who had gone through the process of buck breaking killed themselves afterward or ran away and never returned. Better learn ya history.”

“Aiight,” the boys would say, smiling and riding off. Miss Vicky would go on to finish her laundry, and the boys would ride off and play. Secretly, they enjoyed listening to her black history stories and would ask her questions just to get her talking. Though, they still did not pull up their pants.

The boys were not regular teens. They were corner boys for Big Sam’s crew. The yellow bandanas that hung from their back pocket was proof that they belonged to the organization. Miss Vicky liked talking to them because they were innocent during these conversations. When she spoke to them, she saw their youthfulness peaking out from behind their eyes. It was hard trying to get a fourteen-year-old boy who paid all his mama’s bills with drug money and had already decided he was a man to listen to you, but when Miss Vicky told her stories, they listened. At these times, she could see them like she used to when they were just four and five years old before Scar recruited them.

How does a Black Historical Fiction writer write Fantasy? By infusing black history into the narrative. You will learn how it all ties in when you read the book.

Read. Read. Read.

Another tip I would add is to read books in that genre. No matter how deep your message, nothing will free you from not following the basic elements associated with that genre, so read, read, read. Otherwise, nothing is wrong with stepping outside the genre box.

Share Your Work

Next, don’t be afraid to share your work. I don’t know if I would have been as confident in this story as I am if not for my freedom readers and their feedback! Thank you all for helping me pick a subtitle. The winner (as you can see) is Rise of the Fallen!

Try It Out on the Blog

And finally, blogging is another great way to write your book! It gives you the chance to get instant feedback that could help you to stay motivated along the way.

“I don’t think Byron stands a chance from falling.”
“Wow wow wow. I am enjoying this story. I’m all invested. I can’t wait for the next installment. This story has some interesting characters. Keep up the excellent penmanship!!!!”

“I’m truly enjoying this :-). I’m glad I can click on episode 3 😛 Thank you EC. Much love from Spain.”

“More please!”

“Loved this and wanted to read more. Is there more?”

“You are an excellent writer.”

“Hi Yecheilyah! I’m new to this series. I will need to go back and catch up! Chapter ten is captivating.”

About.

When Tina’s nephew Ronnie died, it traumatized her. It wasn’t just that he died. It was the way he died. After taking custody of Ronnie’s sisters and brother, Tina experienced supernatural phenomenons that eventually led to therapy and hallucinogenic suppressants. This didn’t help.

She meets Azbuga, an Archangel sent to tie the missing pieces together, still connecting her to Ronnie’s death.

Paschar is the angel of vision. She once saw the beauty of visions from the Almighty and projected these into human consciousness. Now, she is limited, capable only of seeing physical beauty, extracting energy from mortal man, and projecting illusions.

Paschar has fallen, and in a jealous rage, she attacks black men for their power. How dare he choose them over her?

Can Tina, Jason, and Az defeat Paschar and her legion once and for all? More black men are dying, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare with physical weapons.

Coming 2021

10 Good Things that Happened In 2020

With everyone talking about all the bad things in 2020, I almost felt compelled to join in. Almost.

One day, I will open up about ten bad things that happened in 2020.

Today is not that day lol.

The interesting thing about this list is I forgot most of it happened!

I did not forget about the books I published or the fact that I am still above ground, but a lot of this other stuff had become blurred amidst the pandemic, my mom’s death, and other things. As I looked back at pictures and dates, I could only think, “wow. A lot of good happened this year. I was just too focused on the bad.”

As you read this, I hope you will think more about some good things that happened to you this year that you might have forgotten about in the chaos. Yes, even if the only good thing is that you did not contact this deadly virus and are still above ground. Even if all you did was stay safely inside, kept your job and your family healthy. These are the most important things.

10. REVIVAL with Harry Lennix

I had the privilege of being contacted by TriCoast Entertainment to review Harry Lennix’s new film, REVIVAL, featuring a star-studded, mostly black cast in the retelling of the Book of John. With Michelle Williams playing Mary Magdalen, Chaka Khan as Herodias, Wendy Raquel Robinson as the woman with the blood issue, Kenny Lattimore as Lazarus, Harry Lennix as Pontius Pilate and Mali Music as Yahoshua, Revival! is a part short film, part musical, and part Broadway Play. You can check out my full review here.

9. Freedom Train Network

I enjoyed being a featured author for The Freedom Train Network at its Black Woman Celebration back in May. I also got to interview with them on The Freedom Train Network Podcast. It was a fabulous experience, and I am so thankful for platforms such as this one. Joseph Ward, Patrick Irvine, and Sam Carter, three Tallahassee natives dedicated to the betterment of their city and black America, founded the network designed to highlight black entrepreneurs, black professionals, black community leaders, and black-owned businesses throughout the United States. They use this network to educate, inspire, inform, uplift, and equip listeners with valuable and purposeful information. The network also serves as a media resource directory for black Americans who may not be informed about their available resources. (FTN)

8. Ambassador for Greenwood Dist

I became an ambassador for this amazing clothing line called Greenwood Dist. Greenwood Dist. is passionate about “proving that a black-owned business can celebrate black excellence while still making the market’s dopest clothing.” Greenwood believes that “fashion, culture, media, and art can and SHOULD help advocate and ensure that people’s voices are heard. Black culture is the biggest determinant of what’s “cool” and popular. Our culture determines everything from the way society talks to the brands that are popular.”

If you care about supporting black-owned businesses and you care about supporting me, be sure to check out the site. If you see something you like, use my discount code Soul at checkout for ten percent off. 

7. Sold My Books at Barnes and Noble

When I first started working with B&N, I was skeptical. The chain is not exactly doing well. There is not much black literature on the shelves, and I wasn’t sure I could stand out among so many notable authors. With bookstores, it’s like people have to know already who you are to look for you. I hoped to get my Georgia online audience excited enough to visit the store in the area. Well, I don’t know if that happened, but I do know the books sold, and I could bring in more to stock.

6. Visited Spain for First Time

We got to visit Madrid and Alicante, Spain, for the first time. It was just as things unfolded with the virus. We went and got back just in time. (I think Spain shut down like a week later). We picked oranges and lemons from trees, helped plant a garden in Almoradi, a city that gives free land to its citizens, and ate homemade churros and chocolate with coffee. It was so good y’all. We did other things top of course, but this is the cliff notes version.

5. Published Four Books (3 Revised)

I revised The Stella Trilogy, something I have wanted to do because of the poor editing and cover design the first time around. All three parts got a professional edit, new covers, new formatting, and my own ISBN. And I could still release a new poetry book. Now that I think of it, I published four books this year. Between Slavery and Freedom is available free on my website here, and the entire Stella Trilogy is available on KU here.

4. Books in a School

Griffin High School bought some of my books for their school library after my visit in January. I didn’t get to sign them because COVID hit before I could but I am Soul, Renaissance, Revolution, Keep Yourself Full, and Even Salt Looks Like Sugar are all available at the school.

3. Books in a Public Library

I got I am Soul into the Dallas Public Library in Dallas, Georgia. We stock next month. This is exciting because it opens the door for me to get my books into other, larger libraries. As I have heard, it is easier to get into the others when you get into one. Well, we will see if that’s true. I want to focus less on selling books one-by-one and more on packaging them in bulk for larger companies and corporations and then, if it is Yah’s will, do more teaching and coaching. I will still write and publish my own books, but I am ready to move on to what’s next for me. There are no limits.

2. The Next Generation

I spoke to four classes of tenth and eleventh graders at Griffin about writing, publishing, my journey as an author, and advice on how they can Self-Publish their own books. This was the highlight of 2020 for me. I love young people, their innocence and straightforwardness, their non-sugarcoating questions. I love their realness. Because of school policy, I couldn’t take pictures of them except for the media specialist’s one, as seen here. However, some students bought books, some of them asked questions in private after the session, and almost all of them wrote to me thank you cards.

1. Alive and Well

Above all else, the most important thing of it all is that I still have the breath of life in my body. I am alive, my family is alive, and despite everything we are healthy and have lacked nothing during the pandemic.

UPDATE: I forgot about the awesome dinner I had as keynote speaker with Queens Circle of ATL Book Club! As I’ve said, a lot of good happened I forgot about in the chaos.

Call me naïve, but I still believe in silver linings. Even if it’s something you think you might have done poorly or something that went badly, always look for growth in it.

Humility vs. Fear

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

There is a humility that is sacred and far more valuable than any tangible thing. Then there is a humility rooted in fear. This humility is not real. It is the mask we wear when we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zones. It is the fear of being “too much.” It is the fear of being perceived as arrogant and proud. There is a pride that leads to destruction. It operates under the belief that we cannot teach it. It is that nasty arrogance they always warn us to stay away from, and for a good reason. But there is another way in which to be proud. It is the pride that gives us the courage to be who we are. It is the pride that acknowledges all the struggles we’ve endured to be where we are. It is the fulfillment that gives us the intestinal fortitude to hold our heads up and believe that we are capable despite all obstacles and impossibilities. There is a nasty and egotistic pride, and then there is a pride that is self-respect. There is sincere humility that will take us places money and status never will. Then, there is a humility that keeps us stuck because it is not humility; it is fear.


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How to Sleep Through the Night

Photo by Pedro Henrique Santos on Unsplash

Go outside and stand on the porch. Let the refreshing wind kiss your face. Listen to the trees as they laugh and sway. Welcome the sound of insects’ singing lullabies as the sun lowers itself into sleep. Bask in the beauty that is a changing sky. Reflect on the rich hues, reds, and orange-golds and let the sweetness of nature wash over you. Eat the meal you love without punishment. Something so savory it melts on your tongue. Let it fill you like a cup of hot chocolate on the first day of winter. Drink water. Bathe. Make sure the water’s hot and marinate in Epsom salt. Wash off the worries of the world. Drift into peace like someone swimming. Wear something comfortable to bed. Something that will hold your body like your grandmother’s hugs. Make the room completely dark and close your eyes. Feel the drum of your heartbeat prophesy that you are still alive. Touch your chest and feel the vibrations underneath your fingers. You are still here. Calm the chaos of your mind and focus on your breath. Breathe deep. Inhale. Hold it. Exhale. Now let your soul rest.