Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Birth Days by Carol Massey

Title: Birth Days: Stories of Women Who Turned Difficult Beginnings into Glorious Lives

Author: Carol Massey

Print Length: 157 pages

Publisher: Pure Heart Publishing

Publication Date: November 2019

Language: English

Reviewed By: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

 

Birth Days is just what its subtitle says, “the stories of women who turned difficult beginnings into glorious lives.” The author introduces us to several fictional women who endure heartbreaking struggles with birth and parenting. Dr. Francine Young gives her baby up for adoption, Lulu didn’t know she was pregnant until two months before giving birth, Margaret messed around with Jackson Jones (and he was not her husband), and Lulu’s grandson became the President of Howard University in 2027.

We are witnesses to the trials these women endured, the men they loved and the people who assisted them in their journeys. (Like Aunt Sis who acted as a Midwife and caregiver for Mary and Connie). Readers will be eager to see what happens next as each woman tackles her beast. We can consider the stories historical as many of them take place as far back as the thirty’s and forty’s and I enjoyed the pieces of history sprinkled throughout as it pertained to the differences of the lives of African Americans in the North as compared to the South. (Though, I wish the author had placed more emphasis on how racist the North was too. To her credit, there was mention of the racial subtleties of the North, but I still got the feeling that for the characters it represented the land of milk and honey.)

My favorite story is the first one, Two Sisters, with Connie and Mary, Aunt Sis and Aunt Ailene. I could see the mother’s grief at having such a difficult pregnancy and the fear that gripped the family at having lost a baby before, and their anxiousness over whether Mary would live. I felt the father’s heartache at building the baby coffin out of the fear she would die like the others. (And when the father renovated the house later in the story and came home with Clara it had a Color Purple feel to it). I was eager to see what would happen to the sisters in the long run. The author did a good job of keeping me wanting to read on. (I enjoyed Dr. Francine’s story too.)

I believe this book to be a five-star read. It’s not a long book and the stories of the women and their struggles with maternity fit well within today’s society where women, their efforts and lives are at the forefront. However, because of a few errors, I cannot rate this book the five stars I think some minor adjustments could help it become. Too much telling, no chapter headings and too many exclamation marks are among my concerns that impede the flow of the reading and, as a result, contribute to my final rating.

 

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

Authenticity / Believable: 3.5/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Birth Days is available here.

“Birth Days is an engaging book filled with rich characters who faced many life struggles. It is a compilation of captivating narratives. Each heart-warming story surrounds a unique birth. Journey through these five memorable tales of love, lust, longing, loneliness and triumph. Despite the circumstances around each birth, each is an opportunity to create a beautiful life and to offer special gifts to the world. We come to know these characters and celebrate their triumphs!” – Pure Heart Publishing

About the Author:

After retiring from a 30+ year career in health and educational administration, Carol Massey had time to reflect on the people, places and events that influenced and inspired her. She wanted to pay homage to  some of the women who guided, nurtured and supported her journey from childhood through college, career and life as a single mother of an African American male child.  Carol, a California native, now lives in suburban Atlanta with her rescue pup, Ms. Frances.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolmasseyauthor

You can now find this review under the Blog Book Review Page here.

Black History Fun Fact Friday Guest Writers

On January 17, 2015, I started a Blog Series in honor of Black History Month called Black History Fun Fact Friday. The series was supposed to run from January 2015 through the end of February 2015, but two badges and 66 weeks of posts later we are still going strong. 2017 and 2018 have been our best years to date with the most posts and the most interesting topics.

But I don’t have that kind of time anymore and no man is an Island.

Black History Fun Fact Friday is not just a Black History Month segment anymore. It has carved out its own space in the internet’s land.

I want to get back to publishing Black History articles to this blog every Friday, and would love to have some help.

As we prepare for 2020, I am reaching out to Black writers interested in helping to contribute to this series.

Requirements:

 

  • Because of the nature of this series interested writers must be Black/African American (this includes so-called Afro Cuban, Jamaican, Hatian, Cuban, Afro Brazilian, Dominican etc.).

 

  • Must be original work. Do not copy and paste the article from other blogs unless that blog is your own.  If you have a Black History article to share that you published to your own site you are welcomed to submit it for Black History Fun Facts. I have no problem with that as long as it is your own work.

 

  • Topics must be relatable to the history of Blacks/African Americans.

 

  • Articles must be emailed to me for approval at least one week before publishing. If you email your article on 1/31 for example, I will publish it on 2/7 if there are no needed changes. This series is not exclusive to Black History Month but if you want your articles published in time for February, please have them submitted no later than Monday, January 27, 2020. Writers looking for more exposure will be wise to try for a Feb slot. A Black History Article during Black History Month will naturally attract more readers.

 

  • Please send articles in a Word Document, 12p Font, Times New Roman text.

 

  • Please do your best to self-edit your work for basic typos/spelling/grammatical errors before submission. Grammarly and ProWritingAid are good free self-edit software programs to use.

 

  • The BHFFF badge will be included in every post but you are welcomed to create your own image to add as well. Canva is a good program to use to make your own images. Unsplash is good for free images.

 

  • This is Black History Fun Fact Friday not Black History Opinions so do your best to submit articles covering accurate historical information. I will vet the submissions to make sure they do. If you have links to sources, please include them.

 

  • Please include a photo of yourself, social media handles, website, or links to books you’ve written on the topic. This will be added to the end of the post as your call to action. This is where you give readers the chance to follow/learn more about you.

Benefits of Guest Blogging:

 

  • Increase traffic to your own website/blog
  • Build Relationships/Online Influence
  • Build Domain and Search Engine Authority
  • Capture Wider Audience
  • Develop Your Authority on a topic
  • Improve Your Writing
  • Opens the doors for paid business opportunities

More Information:

The series is Black Historical so submissions should be articles detailing the history of Blacks in some way. You can talk about The Transatlantic Slave Trade, Enslavement, Civil Rights, Police Brutality, Medical/Educational discrimination, Black Power Movement, Inventors, Black Biblical History, and much more.) Tell us about a little Known Black Historical Fact or introduce us to a little-known Black Historical person or place. (For example, I once published a post on Sundown Towns, all-white communities where Blacks were restricted from after Sundown).

Topics can vary as long as they cover Black History (this includes Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Caribbean, and Dominican.) Specifically, I am looking to feature full-length articles that inform and educate on some part of Black History at 300+ words or more. (Do not send a book, but make sure your article is at least 300 words. We want it long enough to inform but short enough to keep the reader’s attention.)

A copy of this post is archived to its own page here.

Email articles to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com. 

I hope to hear from you!

Your Testimony is a Bridge

Copyright©2019. Photo by Ciao Bella Photography.

The Houston Signing was excellent. It was different from my other signings. We had a small crowd but it felt more intimate and personal. What’s better than talking about self-love to a group of Black women? It reminded me of teaching and you know what they say “when you teach you learn twice.” One of the most important lessons I learned is the importance of telling our stories. I wish I had gone deeper into my background during the introduction. I think it would have added a bit more depth.

I was raised on the south side of Chicago in the Robert Taylor Projects, the largest housing project in the world and one of the poorest urban communities in the United States (second only to Cabrini Green). I’ve seen things most people only read about or watch in hood movies. I know what it’s like to grow up around drug addicts and gangs. I got my own war wounds. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hungry. I know what it’s like to be depressed and sad. Keep Yourself Full is not a regurgitation of the latest Social Media Self-love Guru. Keep Yourself Full exist because I know what it’s like to feel empty.

This kind of vulnerability helps us to be more relatable with others and capable of helping people who are where we were to see living proof that overcoming is not just a word: it actually is possible. If we consider ourselves healed and whole, how did we get that way? What lessons have we learned? We didn’t always know what we know today and preaching and browbeating rarely works…

…but stories do.

Tell your story. Let people know how you got here. Stories help us to connect more with others. It humanizes us and makes people open to hearing our perspective.

Your testimony is a bridge.


More photos of the signing will be uploaded to my website soon. yecheilyahysrayl.com/photos

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Kiyana Blount Returns

Kiyana Blount is not new to the spotlight. She’s a returning winner, placing fourth in Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018.

Blount is a hard working, dedicated and strong single mother who is on a journey of living through self love, self awareness and true divinity. She is seeking her true purpose and living it to make an impact on the world.

“Keep watching me I’m coming like the Lioness of the jungle
Hunting the wanting of my universal platform
Perspiring strength while I join the revolution for my evolution
Fighting my way through the shed layers of my old self”

-Excerpt from “Lioness Strength”

Kiyana! Good to have you back.

Lioness Strength is such a powerful title and we are excited to read the whole piece in next years Literary Magazine. For now, please tell us, what inspired your poem?

The major life changes that I had to endure this year led me to a path of realizing I needed to love myself more. Even though much had happened, I used those down moments to build myself back up and be the Goddess I am. Now I am working towards building my empire and legacy to leave my mark and leave for my SonShine to carry.

Right now I have my own business of promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing whole food natural products to help aid in weight loss and a healthy, natural you from the inner to the outer.

Eating healthy is big right now. How does this relate to or help you with your writing?

Working on my inner has really helped me to express externally. Taking the healthy approach along with strengthening myself spiritually and emotionally has made it easier for me to tap into my art and connect with my poetry on another level! I read my poetry and see the growth from being an unhealthy me to working towards and being closer to a better version of me inside and out.

Beautiful. Any books in the works Kiyana?

I am not a published author YET but I am working on some pieces. Peace, love and light Kings and Queens! You’ll see me soon!

You heard it here first people! Look for her. She’s coming.

 

Be sure you are following Kiyana online!

Web. kiyanablount.itworks.com

IG: @kueen7

Facebook: Kiyana Blount


Jahkazia Richardson is up Friday! Hit the subscription button so you don’t miss it!

Peace and hair grease!

7 Free and Easy Ways to Support Me (and the rest of your Indie Author Friends)

As I tell people in person, support is not just financial. Here are 7 Easy and Free Ways to Support Me (and the rest of your Indie Author Friends):

  1. Follow this blog

  2. Post a review to any of my books you have read but not reviewed yet (See them all here)

  3. Add my books (or me) on Goodreads. My page is here. (Add a book by marking it as Want to Read)

  4. Join my email list here for first-notice updates on new books, Indie Author news articles and other information.

  5. Follow me on Instagram here

  6. Like my Facebook page here. Already liked the page? Leave a Recommendation/Review

  7. Follow me on Twitter at @ahouseofpoetry

 

You can substitute my information for any of your favorite Indie Authors!


Don’t forget my short story, “Even Salt Looks Like Sugar,” is available now in audio!

Click Here to start listening.

14 Things Writers Miss When Building Their Author Platforms | Christa Wojo.

Authors, this is a must-read. I’ve known Christa now for a few years. She knows her stuff. Personally, I am not a big fan of automation (#11) and I can work on #12 myself (I am pretty good being consistent on Twitter and the Blog but I need to work on Insta and Facebook) but pay special attention to #1.

It’s well worth the extra money to invest in a domain name for your website/blog. No matter how you spin it, sites with yourname.wix, yourname.wordpress, yourname.weebly, etc. will never be as professional as yourname.com. Even if you are not an author reading this, if you have a business invest in a domain name. You may have to pay a little extra a year but you’ll make that back in sales because it is easier to find your site. It also becomes easier for media personnel to find you too for other projects. An interested reader will most likely Google your author name dot com so try for that before getting a dot net.

👇🏿Click on the link Below 👇🏿

14 Things Writers Miss When Building Their Author Platforms 

 

Writers Who Blog: Spread Your Net Wide

I got a Facebook memory a few days ago that made me smile. It was a post I made about reaching my first 100 blog followers. While I don’t post nearly as much as I used to, what I did in the beginning gave this blog a good boost and has established a system where the blog receives views and new subscribers daily. I am thankful.

I credit a lot of things to that (to include the support of fellow bloggers who share my posts).

I also credit the diversity of what I post and this is what I want to talk about today for those of you who are writers looking to use blogging as one of your author platforms for networking and meeting new readers.

Everyone has to find that thing that works for them. If you are struggling, consider spreading your net wider by diversifying your content.


This isn’t my first blog. This is actually my third blog.

I started my first blog in 2012 and my second blog shortly after that. I named my first blog after my first novel, The Aftermath, and the second one “A House of Poetry,” I dedicated exclusively to poetry. Neither of these blogs did very well, and I eventually deleted the second one after transferring the poems over to this one.

These blogs were dedicated to one kind of content. On my poetry blog, for instance, I posted poetry and nothing else. I did not talk about myself, my life, my likes or dislikes. Every post was a poem. Some of them got good feedback but mostly, the blog sat there. Lonely. Thirsty. Empty.

When I started this blog, I changed my perspective on blogging. While I did not do a good job with naming it (named this blog after a book I was writing…authors…not a good idea…chances are you will write other books…name your blog after yourself), I decided I would widen my net and diversify my content. Every day I was posting something different. News, music, random thoughts, poetry, quotes. I took part in challenges (like Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday) and took the Writer’s 101 Blog Course offered by WordPress.

I was posting five and six days a week, following other bloggers and commenting on their blogs. I met blog and author friends I am still in touch with today. I reblogged other people’s posts and promoted them on my social media. I followed the blogs of people who had been blogging for a while and applied their advice. Jason Cushman’s Opinionated Man blog was a huge help in understanding things like hashtags and such.

In the beginning, I was obsessed with growing my blog. I was nominated for blog awards so much that after 13 nominations I stopped doing the Blog Awards (you can still find them on the blog awards page up top).

Before I knew it, three months had passed, and I was over 300 subscribers in.

After a while, I switched it up and started sharing blog tips with others so new bloggers can level up their blog too.

I also started sharing writing tips based on my experiences that may be helpful to others and publishing book reviews.

I was eventually included in Reedsy’s Best Book Review Blogs list where I remain today.

My rate in the beginning was about 100 subscribers a month.

As the blog grew I did away with the WordPress part and upgraded to a plan that would allow me to use a dot com domain name for a bit more professionalism (I was never interested in going self-hosted).

Writers, Spread Your Net Wide: Diversify Your Content

I don’t have millions of followers, of course (I still consider this blog one of the little guys …I should be much further along by now hahaha). But what set the stage for this blog’s foundation in the beginning was being myself, posting about more than just my writing, interacting in the blog community and celebrating every step of the way. Most importantly, I actually enjoy blogging so I was learning and having fun.

Now, I have to say it. It’s important that writer bloggers are authentic. A different topic every day was something that worked for me but that doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Post consistently and be authentic with your content. Talk about the things you like, your life, the things you are passionate/knowledgeable about. Don’t try to mimic someone’s style or repost information from other people too much. Be yourself.

What I’m saying is, there is more to blogging than drafting a post and hitting the publish button.

If you are struggling with your author/writer blog, consider diversifying your content. Spread your net a little and try to understand how to blog outside of posting your stories. What are tags? How do we use them? How does pictures enhance the post? Is my follower button visible so people can follow me? Am I following anyone else? Have I supported someone else blog? How does my blog platform (in this case WordPress) work?

…and so on

Just something to consider.