Lessons from a Tomato Plant

We’ve been trying to grow a tomato plant but the weather in Georgia is not warm enough to put it into the ground so it’s still in the original package. The plant is dying as you can tell. It needs to be transplanted to a bigger environment. Either we will attempt to put it into the ground or my husband will put it into a large Styrofoam cup temporarily. (He’s done it before. Brilliant he is with plants.) Just as long as it is removed from its current place to a bigger place, it can survive long enough for us to put it into the ground. This had me thinking about life. Funny how inspiration can come from something as seemingly insignificant as a plant.

There’s a common misconception that fish only grow to the size of the fish tank it’s in. This is not necessarily true. Not statistically anyway. It’s not about the fish tank. The fish will continue to grow just as the plant will continue to grow. However, if the environment the fish or the plant is in does not accommodate it’s growth, both will die. Just as the plant needs to be transplanted to a bigger environment, the fish needs to be moved into a bigger tank as well.

The moral of this story is that, as humans, we are not much different. We do not stop growing but if we are not in an environment that encourages growth, we will be stagnant and, like this plant, can wither away. We wither in various ways. We get sad. We get depressed and, sadly, some of us even commit suicide. Just like plants die and fish die, we die too when we cannot fulfill our purpose. When we cannot grow as we need to, we die. When we do not feel that we have anything to offer the world, we die. This may not be a physical death but it could also be an emotional and psychological one. This can also be a spiritual one.

There’s a quote floating around that says you cannot grow in the same environment that broke you. I don’t know who said it originally but whoever it was, you’re right. Our environments and the people we surround ourselves with must begin, at some point, to take a more important role in our lives. It’s not just about us individually, but also who we surround ourselves with. If you are growing but you have not removed yourself from an environment that does not support that growth, does not nurture that growth, it might stop you from reaching your true potential. The point is this, our environment is not an insignificant part of our lives. It is essential.

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The Most Irritating Thing about the Self-Care Movement

the fact that everything is a movement now

like the importance of self-love didn’t exist

before Instagram memes

like healing is a status update

like self-care ain’t a journey but a tweet

like healing ain’t a process but words we hang

on our Facebook walls

and pretend we ain’t cover trauma in hashtags

I see healing differently

mistakes are opportunities

failure is strength

and self-love and healing is a process

paths that we aren’t always sure to take

we become masters of ourselves

only to begin again

like a battle we don’t know if we’ve won yet

a journey, healing is

and we master the parts of ourselves

until there are no more apologies

in our throats

until everything we do doesn’t sound like

sorry

until we value ourselves like we do

likes on a post

until burden ain’t heavy no more

cause we learned how to carry it

until we no longer carry it

until we’ve struggled so long

we don’t know what quitting is

Introduce Yourself Author Interviews: Poetry Edition

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Author Interview programming for this special announcement.

National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry which takes place each April, was introduced in 1996 and is organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the U.S. For our April Author Interviews, I’d like to feature as many author poets as possible. If you have not been interviewed on the blog, head on over to the Introduce Yourself Author Interview page (linked below) and find out how you can get involved! Stay tuned for next weeks final author introduction for March.

*All authors are still welcomed to participate in the interviews. These interviews occur every week on Monday’s. You don’t have to be a poet. I would just like to feature poets for the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month.

>> LEARN HOW TO JOIN. CLICK HERE <<

 

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: The Unveiling by Camille A. Frazer

Title: The Unveiling
Author: Camille A Frazer
Pages: 132
Publisher: Frazer Mill Publishing (December 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0999523007
ISBN-13: 978-0999523001
*I was gifted a copy of this book from the author*

The Unveiling is a powerful collection of poetry from debut author and poet, Camille Frazer. Divided into several sections, the poems range from a variety of topics concerning the human condition. We learn of purpose, faith, hope, love, beauty and much more. The poems themselves are elegant and strong, forcing you to reread them for meaning and self-reflection. This is definitely not a book that you can just skim through. You will want to take your time and savor each line. Poems like Mana and Faith unveils a spiritual tone and set-apartness while poems like A Warrior’s Heart and Lionhearted are fierce. Some of my favorite pieces include: What is Love, Education, Lost, and Hidden History. Whether you are in search of your purpose in life, are in need of motivation from a spiritual perspective or are a lover of history, there’s something for everyone in this book. Check out the blurb below.

During her work as a children’s advocate, Camille A. Frazer has seen suffering and tragedy. But as she shows in this refreshingly optimistic new poetry collection, tragedy does not have to define us. Through her poems, Ms. Frazer examines the current direction of humanity and illustrates the importance of each individual life.

Ms. Frazer divides her work into distinct sections. The first urges a lesser focus on the individual and the recognition a larger whole. The second examines the fracture between the individual and society. It is at these breaking points, she posits, that violence has seeped in.

Even as Ms. Frazer examines societal ills like mass incarceration, slavery, and human trafficking, she never loses her faith in humanity. Her writing recognizes the failures of humankind but expresses the joys. She writes of tender familial love, passionate romance, and the all-encompassing support of the larger collective.

Her poems demonstrate an unshakeable faith in a better future for the world. Ms. Frazer believes that every human has a purpose, and is capable of compassion, contentment, and making meaningful connections. She hopes that her work will inspire you to find these gifts in yourself and then share them with others.

Rating:

Lyrical Factor: 4/5

Presentation: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 4.5 / 5

The Unveiling is available now on Amazon. Click Here.

Camille is also one of our featured authors. If you missed her Introduce Yourself interview, CLICK HERE.

 

About Camille Frazer:

Camille Frazer currently serves as Regional Legal Counsel for the State of Florida Guardian ad Litem Program. Ms. Frazer has been with the Guardian ad Litem Program for twelve years. Prior to her current position, Ms. Frazer was the Supervising Attorney in the 19th Judicial Circuit.

In 2005, she began her tenure with the Guardian ad Litem Program as a Best Interest Attorney in the 11th Judicial Circuit. While there, she also represented the Guardian ad Litem Program in the capacity of Litigation Attorney. After a one year hiatus practicing in the field of Insurance Defense, Ms. Frazer re-joined the Guardian ad Litem Program in October 2009, continuing her advocacy for the best interest of children.

Ms. Frazer earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She obtained her law degree from New England Law, where she served as a Senior Editor for the New England Journal of International and Comparative Law.

Ms. Frazer serves as a mentor with the Florida Take Stock in Children Program, which prepares high school students for college and provides scholarships to assist with their educational needs. She is also a member of the Family Support Committee with Habitat for Humanity.

The Unveiling is her first collection of poems. The poems cover the many nuances of a relationship between people, between an individual and a community. Ms. Frazer believes that every moment has meaning, and each should be utilized to achieve its full potential.


Got a book for me? Click HERE to order a review and promotion on this blog. Want to be interviewed too? Click HERE. (There is just ONE more interview slot for March. If you want to be featured THIS month, email me soon.)

A New Book Review and a Book Signing

Don’t you just love being surprised by new reviews? Yes! I am Soul has a new review and it is just in time for the next signing. If you are in Georgia and have not yet grabbed a signed, paperback copy of this book, I’ll be at the Nubian Bookstore on Friday, April 12th in Morrow, GA. The signing will take place from 5-8:00p Eastern Standard Time. This means you good people can stop through on your way home from work. See how I consider you fam? Lol

Here’s what the reviewer had to say:

Grab your copy on Amazon here or order a signed paperback HERE.

And if you think you’ll make the signing, be sure to stop by the store. Details below:

My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

Some ask me about using Instagram. I don’t know if I am the right person to ask; I don’t have a lot of followers (if that’s important). But, I managed to put together something for you. First, I think IG is a great place for writers because there is a huge reader and writing community there. But ya’ll know me and if you don’t here’s the thing: I am not just a writer. I am also a wife, student, and now the co-founder and CFO of my family’s new Non-Profit Heart of the Streets Inc (learn more here), which means I value my time so I don’t invest too much time in anything without researching it. I use IG because it works for my business and the support is better than what I receive from Facebook and Twitter. Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Private Page to Business Page

There are three kinds of pages. Private, Public, and Business pages. If you’re an author or businessperson using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your page is a business page. If you are using IG for business and your page is private it doesn’t make much sense. You won’t be able to track to see if your post strategy is working (assuming you have a strategy), and people who want to visit your website to possibly buy your product or learn more about you as a businessperson will be turned off when they run into the private wall. They may not return. Get out of thinking anything on the internet is private. It’s not and making your profile private does not make it “safe.”

Before you make the switch:

  • You will have to connect to a Facebook page. Not your personal page but an actual page. If you have not already, head over to Facebook and create a Facebook page for your author business. This will make it easier when you switch over. Then, come back to your IG, click on the three bars and go to settings. Click on account. Scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

If this is your personal account you are switching from, make sure it’s because you’re ready to transform the posts from your personal page into more business savvy content and not just random pictures of your cat. Some say you shouldn’t change your personal page to a business page (because of the cat thing), but I have found I get more engagement and clicks to my website using my personal page so this will depend on where you are already. If you have a separate business page and that page is already lit, by all means use it. As a new author though, you probably are using your personal page for now so you can just turn that page into a business page to make things easier.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from business, social media pages in some ways. Sharing our interests is part of people getting to know us better and people buy books from people they know and share interests with. The personal page, in my opinion, for new authors is the page people care most about and it makes sense to build on this by transforming it into a business page and publishing content that shows off your persona but is not so personal it’s distracting.

  • Track Progress by Using Instagram’s Insights So You Know What’s Working and What’s Not

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you to track the actions of your audience and to see which posts are actually reaching people. One of the hardest things to do is to understand what people want. The only way to know is to ask or to track behavior/pay attention to actions.

When your IG page is a business page, you get to see things you won’t see on personal pages. Below are screenshots of posts from my page. If you click on the insights (which you can see under your post but only if your page is a business account) you can see not just how many likes you got, but how many people shared your post,  viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link. These are the things you want to pay attention to because it shows you what people are most interested in. The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members or hang out. On those pages, likes and shares don’t mean much except maybe to boost your ego. On business pages, though, likes and shares are important to you understanding how your content performs – by tracking metrics over time – and is the key to developing a content strategy that works best for you.

As a business page on social media, the formula is typically:

Engagement = Likes / Comments

____________

Followers

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shared
  • Saved to collection
  • Profile Visits
  • Reach (Impressions)

My personal testimonies are a favorite for readers. Although the first picture got more likes, the second picture did just as well if you look at the other components. The first picture was saved six times and four people visited my profile. The second picture got three saves but two shares. This tells me my audience really enjoys the testimonies, but there are other things to see…

There is so much to see here, where the views came from, reach, profile visits, website clicks, e.g. And while I did not get new followers, six people did take action (viewed my profile or went to my website) which is what every authorpreneur wants! Other things you can track include:

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from. I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and to see the Chi representing. My biggest audience is made up of women which is always good since I am a woman, and the age group is between 25-44. Let’s move on.

  • Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and what I offer. Rather than my usual: Author, Blogger, Poet, I wanted to be specific. With limited characters, this isn’t easy. I decided on:

“I write Historical Fiction novels and novellas, Inspirational Non-Fiction, and Poetry | Restoring Black Historical truth for the freedom of all people.”

Following this is a link to my website (see pic) directing people to the specific page I created for this purpose. Also, I do not (at this writing) have many followers but that doesn’t matter to me much if those numbers don’t match the support. I have an arrow pointing to publisher because under the business account you can choose what best represents your brand. Notice I have an arrow pointed toward my highlights. Once you create a story you can add it to your highlights if you want to keep it at the forefront of your page. My highlights include my book signing pictures and events. This helps people get a feel for the work I do. Lastly, notice the call to action button (Email), which further encourages people to take action. What I want is to add a buy button as well.

It may not seem like a big deal to put all this work into an IG profile, especially with such limited space but as authors we are the whole package. Everything must represent who we are.

  • Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos so if the pictures you’re posting look grainy and pixelated it won’t attract many readers. Try to use sharp, high-quality images in your post. You can brand yourself by creating lovely images using Canva or PosterMyWall. It’s also good if the images have something to do with your books or show off your personality in some way. A good practice is something I saw someone post about looking at your last 9 posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I’ve been doing this (looking at my last 9 posts) and it has been a helpful reminder to publish content that is relevant to my books or services or who I am as a person. People will see the image before they see the caption so it’s important that the image speaks first.

  • Include Text with Images

Make good use of the caption area where you can add text. It is a good idea to always use text when posting images on Instagram. I have noticed that some celebs don’t do this, but that’s because they’ve already built their audience. David Banner doesn’t have to include text on his images and he will still get over a thousand likes and hundreds of comments and shares, but you are not David Banner. You are a new author at the beginning of an exciting journey and you are introducing people to who you are for the first time. Use text to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy. Something as simple as a sentence is good. Nothing to say? Just use hashtags. Anything is better than leaving it blank.

  • Hashtags

Going back to this screenshot, it appears my hashtags are working on this post, reaching 45 people alone. Hashtags don’t exist just so you can be cute but they work just like the tags you’ll use on a blog post. They are searchable on social media. If you click on your hashtag, it will take you to all the posts relevant to that hashtag. They help categorize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. You can Google the hashtags that are best for your business. It may even be necessary to research your hashtags (I did because I’m a nerd lol). There are tools available like Hashtags.org or HashtagDirectory.com that can help you. You don’t really need 50 hashtags. The most important thing is that the hashtags you use are trending and apply to your business.

Website Link or Linktree in Bio

Where are you directing people to? What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your post? Do you want them to like, comment and move on with their lives? Do you want them to research something? Do you want them to buy something? What do you want people to do when they come across your page? That answer is the link you promote in your bio. As stated before, social media should not be the end of the road. If you’re trying to sell books, you should be directing people to your author website, the place where they can learn more about who you are, what you offer, and how it is beneficial to their lives.

In your bio, you may also want to include a special website link. This link is special because it can be created specifically for Instagram. Instead of posting the link to the site alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Chances are you have more than one link to promote which means you can do one of two things:

  • You can use linktree to compile link buttons
  • You can create your own version landing page on your website

If you don’t have a website, I recommend Linktree, which allows you to promote more than one link at a time. When people visit your site they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for awhile and it’s excellent. What I love most is being able to see how many clicks each button gets and it increased traffic to my author website. I only recently stopped using it  because I have a website.

If you have a website of your own, it doesn’t make much sense to use linktree unless you use the paid version. While recommended, using the free version of linktree can compromise your branding a bit. How so? Linktree, is all over their free version so it was in the URL in my Instagram bio, at the top of the landing page, and at the bottom of the landing page in logo form. To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version but if you have your own website (that you are paying for) it may be a good idea to use your site. This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree. You can also get creative with your link. I used ecreads as the special page for my IG. Something simple and to the point. (If you’d like to check out what I’ve done, visit my IG page and click on the link. You won’t find this link just by going to my website since it’s created specifically for my ig page).

Website Link + Call to action button helps direct potential readers to your books, blog or wherever you want them to go. Remember, social media is not the end of the road. If you want people to do more than like a post, be sure to lead them somewhere they can learn more.

The only time your IG shouldn’t have a website link is if you are not using it for business and are just on there to socialize and hang out.


To summarize:

  • Switch your account from Private to Public and then create a Business page. Change up your content to reflect your business profile and use the metrics you see overtime to improve your strategy and increase clicks to your website
  • Write a bio that targets what it is that you do and what you offer
  • Use hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of writer you are
  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links
  • Use sharp, high-quality images
  • Use text to describe images