Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author VALI BENSON

Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to VALI BENSON. Vali, welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Vali Benson. I was born in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. After graduating from U of I, I decided to go west to get away from the brutal winter weather. I now live in Tucson, AZ, where I am very happy with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.

Brutal is right! I am from Chicago so you ain’t never lied there. Vali, got a favorite drink?

Iced tea is my favorite drink, but it has to be super sweet. When I am writing, I need my sweet iced tea. Oddly enough, I do not like ice in my iced tea, and I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to the drink as “Ice” tea. As far as cocktails are concerned, I love a spicy Bloody Mary.

Nice. Favorite food?

My favorite food is escargots. Growing up in Illinois, I would have never dreamed that I would say that, but I absolutely love them. The first time I had escargots was on my honeymoon, and the only reason I did it was that I didn’t want to appear unsophisticated to my new husband. Thank heaven I had no idea what they were at first, or else I would never have tried them.

Pick up your copy of Blood and Silver from Amazon. Click Here.

Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

My first book, Blood and Silver, was published on April 3, 2020. To be honest, it was surreal. I had completed a lifelong dream of putting my ideas and feelings into an actual book for others to consume. I was numb and excited. At the same time, it was extremely frightening because my innermost thoughts were now fair game for all to criticize. I still cannot believe that I can call myself a published author.

That is awesome. Congratulations and welcome to the world of publishing. That Blood and Silver cover is dope!

What genre do you write in, why?

I generally prefer to write young adult fiction. This is probably because that genre had such an impact on me as a girl. I was not the most confident child, so when I could read about fictional characters that were around my age, it made me feel secure. If my books can instill others with those valued feelings of pride, confidence, and acceptance, I know I will have done my job.

Wonderful. What do you wish you knew more about?

I dearly wish I was more tech-savvy. Computers and I have never really gotten along, but I am sad to say that I am being left behind by the changing times. The day has come when I have had to admit that technology no longer consists of luxury; it exists as a necessity. I better start swimming, or I’ll sink like a stone.

Do you have a favorite color Val?

Blue has always been my favorite color. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have blue eyes, but I think it is because I am a believer in infinite possibilities. When I was a girl, there was nothing more infinite to me than the big bright blue sky.

Blue is a beautiful color. We love sharing historical fun facts on this blog. Who would you say is your favorite Historical figure?

Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so much more than just First Lady of the United States. Of all her accomplishments, it is her character that I admire most. The way she handled the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death with the whole world staring at her still amazes me. Her grace, poise, and dignity amid unimaginable catastrophe is something all people, not just women, should aspire to emulate.

Beautifully articulated. What do you think of the world we live in?

The world we live in is truly what we make of it. It all depends on perspective. I choose to be positive and focus on what I cherish in my life and not worry about the elements that are out of my control. One factor to remember is that advancements around our world might change, but people and human nature do not.

What don’t you like about yourself?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have let others’ opinions affect me more than they should. I do not like that I put so much stock in what others think of me. The great thing is, I am getting better at only worrying about how I view myself.

What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?

I love so many funny movies, and comedies are my favorite genre. But one that sticks out to me is Tropic Thunder from 2008. The performances are completely hilarious, and the writing is pure genius, but the film always conjures good vibes. The first time I saw Tropic Thunder, I really needed some cheering up, and it did exactly that. Plus, a bald Tom Cruise in a fat suit always cracks me up!

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

Have low expectations for yourself so you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve heard that one before too…

I understand, in theory, what the person was trying to convey, and they meant well, but the advice was directed at my own performance. It gave me the feeling that no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, so why even try. The adage goes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.” It was a long time before I believed in myself due to this piece of warped advice.

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


Author Photo: Vali Benson

Bio.

Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion for writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine, before she decided to try her hand at fiction. She grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons, and two grandchildren.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!


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


Dying on my Feet: Why I Write (A Message)

Last week, I asked for support of Black-Owned Businesses in a campaign that runs from June 19, 2020 (today) through July 6, 2020. I added that those who RSVP to join the campaign, called My Black Receipt, will be in the running to win a free signed copy of one of my books.

I got no support and no email with an RSVP screenshot for a free book.

What I Got:

  • 6 email unsubscribes
  • 2 Abuse Complaints
  • 1 Nasty Email Reply

I was told I was discriminating against other races and religions and that I had gone “too far,” for asking people to support black-owned businesses.

Instead of talk about that, I thought I’d re-introduce myself. I realize some of you are new to me, so you may not fully understand the extent of my work.

Atlanta African American Book Festival | Georgia State University circa July 2018. Copyright © Yecheilyah Books LLC

My passion for the state of my people isn’t something that sprang up while watching protests on the news. I am not a “jump on the bandwagon,” kind of person. Supporting black people and black businesses is something I have done for many years. For me, it’s not about “white vs. black.” It has never been. It is about good vs. evil and right vs. wrong.

I write Black Historical Fiction and Poetry. My work targets black readers and aims to raise the consciousness of all people interested in understanding the plight of Black America.

The reason I say “Black America” is because Israelites/Blacks/African Americans have lived a different experience than the rest of the World, and for years that experience has been virtually unknown to non-black people. My goal is to expose those unknowns and free the mind of the black man, woman, and child.

I strive to manifest the restoration of the forgotten past to a forgotten people through book publishing and education.

In doing so, I hope my books can provide a roadmap for all people who find it difficult to be liberated in their own lives. I understand this isn’t easy to do considering the level of misinformation, deception, and religious ideologies that have enslaved us for so long.

I believe that faith without works is dead, so being actively involved is fundamental to me. Black readers are those I target and have targeted long before the Black Lives Matter movement. We are the people for whom my books are written, and these are our stories.

Those familiar with my work understand this statement by no means alienates other nationalities of people.

In the words of the Messiah Yahoshua, who I believe was a black man, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel .” (Matt. 15:24) It is to the lost sheep first and then to the nations. I believe black people are those lost sheep, and before I can liberate the minds of non-black people, I must work to free the black mind first.

I won’t apologize for this.

I have promoted people of all races, belief systems, and countries on this blog and social media, but I have also spoken about my love for black people. Anyone surprised about this either has not been paying attention or doesn’t know me very well and, therefore, are not members of my targeted audience.

And that’s okay.

I am not worried about those who leave because I would rather “die on my feet than live on my knees.” I would rather lose support standing for what I believe in than to sell myself short for a pat on the back. In the words of MLK, who so many non-black people are so apt to quote, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

For anyone to say my request for support of black businesses is abusive and discriminatory is proof of the very abuse and racial discrimination blacks face every day from people who do not understand what it’s like and what it means to be “black” in America.


My Book Sale is Live!

Click Here and get all my Black Historical Fiction books and poetry for 99cents each from Amazon.

Want a signed paperback?

Get it with FREE shipping from now through July 7th.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 13 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 13: “A Sixth Sense”


Paschar closed her eyes and inhaled Jason’s scent. It wasn’t as strong as before when she was sitting next to him, but she could still smell him through the phone. Just his voice alone activated her senses.

“Hello?”

Pas exhaled and hung up. His soul was something she craved. His friends were okay, but their energy wasn’t as strong as his. She thought back on the day of their deaths, remembering how she had to empty them to hit the spot. It was like being thirsty but drinking soda instead of water. Paschar laughed. Silly humans. All of this technology from Hephaestus, the Greek god of technology, and most of them didn’t know that the caffeine in soda is a diuretic so that drinking it will dehydrate you. That’s why soda (or pop as she’d heard some call it) can strain your body to find sources of water—which puts a good deal of stress on your kidneys. That’s what it was like for Pas to drain energy from weak men. It left her with the aftertaste of a dry tongue, just making her thirstier, so she had stopped time to get as much as was needed.

Paschar laughed. The waitress was no threat. She’d walked past the men table three times while they suffered but didn’t see them. Stopping time made Paschar and her girls invisible and their work easier. She knew the men would be invisible to humans. To them, it would be as if nothing had happened, the table empty of people until she left their corpses to rot.

She hung up the phone and used the energy from the technology to trace his steps. He had been to the police. Paschar laughed. What a joke. Humans were so arrogant. Didn’t he know this was spiritual warfare? What could a cop do with her? She could turn into a cop if she wanted. Although he had been ordered to give over his phone, Jason’s signal could still be seen on the screens of her eyes. Pas wasn’t sure why, but she followed it.

***

“What am I supposed to do then, Az? They are getting suspicious. You know they suspended a bitch.”

Tina smiled pretentiously at the mother and child that walked by, adjusting her earbuds and holding her cell. Az’s large body towered over her. He was sitting next to her on the park bench, but she was going to be smart this time. Since no one else could see him, she would have her earbuds in and her mobile phone in plain sight each time she spoke with Az. She even put the phone to her ear now and again. It would be obvious she’s “on the phone,” from now on.

“Yes. I know. Good for them.”

Tina frowned and looked in Az’s direction. She smacked her lips, “what?”

“Now you can focus on saving Jason.”

“What are you talking about? You told me to stop him from going to eat. I did that. What else do you want from me?”

“Yes. You did very well with the car accident, but Jason is still in danger.”

Tina shook her head. “This shit is for the birds. Maybe I should just tell him about you.”

“Be careful with that. The police are on to him which means that Pas is also onto him.”

Tina sighed. “I know. They found out he’s connected to the Steakhouse murders.”

“Listen, Pas was a leader for a reason. You have to expect her to be three steps ahead of you. Approach this as if he’s already been caught. Assume she already knows about you. Trust no one.”

Az vanished and Tina typed into her phone.

Tina: Hey. It’s Tina. Can I meet you somewhere?

***

The Starbucks was buzzing with customers, as usual, with the smell of their signature blend, which was addicting to everyone’s nostrils. Writers sat with their laptops open, and couples laughed in hushed tones over coffee. Tina smiled. Could that be us? Could we be a couple? She dismissed the thought just as quickly as she considered it. She had too much on her plate to think about a relationship.

“Good afternoon! What can I get for you?”

Tina smiled at the young girl behind the counter. She was a pretty girl with lush dark skin and silky black hair. She had to be no older than sixteen. Tina ordered her coffee and carried it over to a table in the corner of the room. She liked to sit with her back to the wall so she can see every angle. She smiled as the girl waved at her. So sweet, she thought.

***

“Good afternoon, what can I get you?”

Pas smiled, feeling giddy and youthful in her skin. She had transformed into the body of a fifteen-year-old Ethiopian girl. As Tina gave her order, Paschar smiled. They had finally met.

“Caramel Macchiato, please.”

“Coming right up!”

Tina smiled, and Pas studied her energy as she downloaded the skill to make the drink. As she prepared it, she saw into Tina’s future. She saw her and Jason speaking with Az and their plan to destroy the operation at Altgeld. That was Big Sam’s territory, now under the leadership of Renita and Scar and the authority of her legion sister, Hitomi.

Pas watched as Tina tugged at her collar, her temperature rising. Paschar wanted so much to dig. To reach into the depths of Tina’s soul and destroy everything she’d ever loved. If she wanted, she could download everything about her in a manner of seconds and leave her empty on the Starbucks floor.

“Here you go!”

She watched as Tina took the drink and sat at the table in the corner, her back to the wall. Tina caught her staring and waved. Pas waved back, smiling.

But not now. Pas couldn’t dig. Tina was the key to how she’ll get close to Jason again, and she was no good to her dead.


Chapter 14: “I, Spy”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Will There Be a Fire Next Time?

“I am very worried about the state of the civilization which produced that photograph of the white cop standing on that Negro woman’s neck in Birmingham in 1963.”

– Lorraine Hansberry


Fifty years from now, when you do not see protests on the news,

sixty years from now, when George Floyd’s blood has dried up,

and Ahmaud Arbery is nothing more than a Google search,

when you no longer see your brothers and sisters marching and protesting in the streets for justice,

forty years from now, when there are no more hashtags

on which to hang your consciousness

and no Instagram to snapshot the revolution

when “black,” is no longer “trending”

will there be a fire next time?

 

When the news goes back to its regularly scheduled program

and the American flag is still soaked with the blood of the saints

their memory etched into the concrete we walk on

who will walk on?

When the history books forget to mention Breonna Taylor’s name, will we?

Did you know there were five little girls injured during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963?

Did you know that the fifth little girl, Sarah Collins Rudolph, lived?

twenty years from now, whose legacy lives?

Who will Emmett Till Trayvon Martin’s memory?

When America’s anger sizzles into complacency

will there be a fire next time?


“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” – James Baldwin

Blog Book Review Registry: OPEN

Hello good people!

My book review registry is back open. I am ready to read and support the best Indie Books around. Please take the time to read through my blog book review policy below. This same policy can also be found on its own page here.

Many times authors ask for a review from book bloggers without checking to see if they have a system in place first. This negligence to be thorough and get to know the blogger almost always leads to a resounding silence. This is a hard “No,” from the reviewer so please, understand my policy before you request a review.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review may be a primary source, opinion piece, summary review, or scholarly review. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay but can also be as short as a single sentence. Book reviews help encourage readers to purchase a book, acts as social proof, helps with an author’s Amazon ranking, and increases the book’s visibility.

About Yecheilyah’s Reviews

I have reviewed over thirty books (thirty-six to be exact) by over thirty different authors spanning five years. My authors include both new and Best Selling writers from all over the world. The PBS Blog has been on Reedsy’s Best Book Review Blogs since 2017 and still holds a spot in 2020 as one of it’s vetted catalog of active book blogs and thoughtful, quality, book reviews. My reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

“It’s not just because she reviewed my novelette, All Good Stories, and gave it 5 stars, I’m writing about her because she gives great (and helpful) reviews. In a market, so full, it’s hard to choose what to read, isn’t it? We really need reviews these days that go beyond the minimalistic, “I liked it,” to know what we’re investing our money in. Because money doesn’t grow on trees. Neither do books anymore, for that matter.” – Linda G. Hill, author, All Good Stories.

How to Apply for a Review

1). Email me the link to your book on Amazon.

Put Blog Book Review Request in the header and do not send anything  but the link to the book. I don’t need the title or description. Just the link.

If the book is not published, send me the title, description, and book cover if you have it. Email this to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com. This is only if the books is not published.

2). Wait for approval

I will email you back and let you know if I would like to move forward and review your book. Please allow 2-3 business days before hearing back from me.

3). Upon approval pay the readers fee* through the main author website.

If I choose to review the book there is a small reader’s fee. Pay the fee through my site at this link.

*If your book is not approved for a review you will not have to pay the fee as I will not be reading/reviewing the book.

*The reader’s fee does not guarantee a positive review, nor is it payment for an Amazon review, which is against Amazon’s terms of service.

4). Gift me a copy of your book.

If your book is published:

  • Gift it through amazon to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

For published books I am no longer accepting PDF documents. You must gift me the book.

You may send an epub or mobi file directly to my kindle email address at yecheilyahysrayl@kindle.com. PDF documents are acceptable if the book is not published.

If the book is in Kindle Unlimited you won’t have to gift it. I have a KU account and I can grab it for free.

  • You may ship me a paperback / hard copy but let me know this in our email correspondence.

Pro. This option will allow me to post a picture of the book on Social Media! (If I reviewed your book as an ebook and loved it, you can always send me a paperback if you want me to go the extra mile and post a pic to sm!)

Con. This option is a longer turnaround time on the review since I have to wait for it in the mail, read it, and then review it. I do not recommend this option if you are in a hurry for feedback.

Honest Reviews:

I take the “honesty” part of the honest review seriously. If you’re looking for someone to sugar coat feedback of your book, I am not the reviewer for you. I invest much time and attention to the books I review. I do not skim through your writing, skip large text, or copy and paste the book blurb from Amazon. I take my time to read.

As a professional book reviewer and Indie Author, I consider it my responsibility to promote the best, so I am not cutting corners this year. If your book is full of typos and errors, you lessen the chances of being approved for a review. Excellence is a priority.

If your book is approved, I rate on the scale of 3-5 only on this blog. If your review falls below a 3-star rating, I will email you the report and my thoughts — only scores of 3-5 qualify for a published feature and spotlight on this blog.

Rating System

Only ratings of  3 – 5 are published on this blog.

Rating meanings vary between reviewers but here are mine.

  • Plot Movement / Strength
  • Entertainment Factor
  • Characterization
  • Authenticity / Believable
  • Thought Provoking

*Poetry ratings will differ from other books:

  • Presentation
  • Thought Provoking
  • Creativity / Authenticity

Five StarsAmazing, Outstanding

This book was hard to put down and is highly recommended. It was well-written, wasn’t preachy, included fully developed characters who were relatable and realistic, masterful use of language, an engaging plot, and a satisfying ending.

Four Stars – Very Good

This book is delightful and well worth the read. Great story with only minor weaknesses that may include aspects of plot/dialogue/character development.

Three Stars – Nice

This book was lovely. The writing and storytelling are sound, but several aspects could be improved. The author may have too many editing/typo errors, too much telling, or I couldn’t get into the story as much as I’d hoped, but it was enjoyable.

In the event you receive a one or two-star personal review from me:

Two Stars – Not Recommended

This book did not fully capture the reader’s attention or interest. Admirable attempt but needs more attention to plot/dialogue/editing/formatting/character development.

One Star – Poor

This book has significant issues with text that outweigh any enjoyment by the reader. Poorly written, preachy, unprofessional editing/layout/printing; needs considerable revision to deserve the reader’s time.

My Favorite Genres to Read/Review:

  • Black History
  • Fiction (Literary/Historical/General)
  • Memoirs
  • Self-Help
  • Motivational / Inspirational
  • Poetry

Pro Tip: It is best that you try to send reviewers books they are  most interested in reading!

Genres I Don’t Review

I do not currently review the following genres. It is not intended to be discriminatory in any way. Thank you for understanding:

• LGBT Fiction / Literature
• Erotica*

*Romance is okay, but not strict erotica.

IMPORTANT:

a. I do not accept unsolicited requests for reviews. Do not email me a digital copy of your book if we have not already corresponded through email using the steps mentioned above.

b. Agreement on my part to read a book does not imply blanket authorization to send me other works of yours (including books in a series.) You must follow these steps for each book you want to be reviewed.

c. Turnaround time for receipt of the review depends on the length of the book. Naturally, shorter texts are read and reviewed quicker than longer books.