Vote For My Soul is a Witness Book Cover

They say not to judge a book by its cover…

…but I need you to do just that!

If you like the cover of my book, My Soul is a Witness, please vote for it for the cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

Here is the link:

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/10528/

Go, Go, Go!!

And thank you!!

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation

On this day in 2016, I posted about a former slave plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana I visited that weekend. I shared my experience on this blog, but I never made it a Black History Fun Fact. As the memory popped up in my Facebook archives, I decided to add it to the collection. Below is the original post for those of you who were not following me in 2016 and never saw this.


Originally Published on 11/28/2016

I took a week off to unplug and to spend time with my family. In addition to camping, we visited the Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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Reading and watching movies about slavery is one thing, but touring a former slave plantation is an entirely different experience. I didn’t get very emotional, but I will say for now that gratitude is my best way of describing it—appreciation for all the comforts I enjoy in my life that my ancestors paid for with their blood. As the sun lowered and we prepared to leave, I thought about what they would be doing at this time of the day. I thought about how they’d just be coming in from the fields to prepare for their nightly routines or, perhaps, still working.

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Originally called Bermuda, the founder of Oakland was Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme, who began farming the land in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The land’s first cash crops were tobacco, indigo, and cotton.

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The Prud’hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale.

The Overseer’s House

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Overseers were the middlemen of the Antebellum South’s plantation hierarchy. Sometimes they were white men working for the slave owner, and other times they were enslaved men hired to rule over their brothers. The “masters” expected overseers to maintain a workforce of slaves to produce a crop. The enslaved were the overseer’s responsibility. He was to keep them working by any means necessary. In return, he got to occupy his own cabin or possibly get a bit more food. The perception was that because his job was “better,” he himself was better off, but he was still an enslaved person.

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Close Up: Check Out this Old School Stove!

I also noticed the mud and straw still preserved from the original building of the house.

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Slave Quarters turned Home of Sharecroppers

After the Civil War, sharecropper and tenant farmers continued to live on the land up until the 1970s. They worked twelve hours a day, six days a week.

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Wash House

Martha Ann, an enslaved Laundress, worked in this wash house in the 1850s. In the 1940s, her descendant, Martha Helaire, earned $4 an hour working here as a Laundress. All we have to do is walk a few steps to the washer and dryer.

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Bemuda Store

Opened after The Civil War, sharecroppers and tenant farmers continued buying their supplies from family and farming from this store until 1983.

1983?!

The Prud’homme family owned and operated the store. They also ran the Post Office located inside.

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Carpenter Shop

Slaves built and repaired plantation structures from this workplace.

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Mule Barn

Smokehouse turned mule barn. Built by the enslaved, the plantation reused the smokehouse to accommodate the mules when the original mule barn burned down.

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Cane Syrup Pot

Used to make cane syrup.

On some plantations, they used these pots to punish the enslaved and to boil them alive (as depicted in the movie “Mandingo.” CLICK HERE to see the clip.)

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The Big House

This is the porch and perimeter of “The Big House.” We could tour everywhere except for this house. We were not allowed inside, and they did not give us a reason why.

It was overwhelming to look at the trees whose thick branches bowed low. Shading the big house, cooling it from the Louisiana sun, and sheltering it from the River breeze, these trees lined the walkway to the entrance of the gate and were planted in 1825.

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Strangers Room

I don’t know what a stranger’s room is (guest room?), but it’s a room in the big house. I tried to take pics of the inside from the window. It looks like the original furniture is still preserved.

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Carriage House

The carriage house dates to 1820. In its earlier years, the east bay was used as a horse stall. The overseer had the horse saddled each day and tied to the chain so that it was available for riding and checking the fields.

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Square Corn Crib and Cistern

The Corn Crib was built around 1821 of hand-hewn cypress logs and was used to store grain for the plantation. Rainwater was channeled from the crib roof into the cistern, which was 16 ft deep and held 4804 Gallons of water used for watering stock.

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Pigeoneer

There are several Pigeonnier’s on the land. The Prud’ Hommes harvested young pigeons for a delicacy called “Squab.”

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Chicken Coop

Husband checking out the Chicken Coop.

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Fattening Pen

Chickens were bred, hatched and fattened in this area. Turkeys were also raised on the land.

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Randoms

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What I carried home with me was an even deeper appreciation for those little things we take for granted every day. I was headed back to the campsite to sleep in a tent, but I knew that eventually, I’d be going home to a hot shower, a full meal, and a warm bed. As we packed up to leave the plantation, I considered what it would be like to be forced to stay. What is it like not to have a home to go back to and nothing more to look forward to tomorrow than the same back-breaking work?

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My revelations were not just in relation to dark history (I am aware black history is not just about slavery). As I looked around the land, I saw how the enslaved built almost everything on the property. It reminded me of how skillful and resourceful we are as a people. From shelters to clothing, food, and shoes, I thought how empowering it would be to get back to building our own.

Often deemed ignorant and illiterate, the truth is that Israelites, so-called Blacks, were not as naive as we are taught. It occurred to me that many blacks were only lost when it came to adapting and assimilating into American culture. Otherwise, we were expert farmers, inventors, midwives, carpenters, and chefs. Thus, I left not just in appreciation for the tangible things in my life, but for everything my people have endured and the knowledge they’ve passed down to me through the generations.


Being that I drafted this post when we got home so it can be ready for you today, I’m going to crawl into this bed and get ready to catch up. I’ll be scrolling your blogs to see what I missed. The grind continues.

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Click here to read more Black History Fun Fact Friday Articles!

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.


Writing Journals for Poets and Writers Are Now Available for preorder!!

Every journal includes a high-quality stainless steel diamond pen.

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www.mysoulisawitness.com

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can by Laura Kronen

Title: Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can
Author: Laura Kronen
Print Length: 209 Pages
Publisher: Be You Only Better
Publication Date: July 4, 2020


I have been an advocate for Home School since 2009, when my husband and I moved to Louisiana from Chicago, and our friends moved with us. They had decided they would Homeschool their children, and we agreed to help. At this time, I had not started teaching professionally (that would happen later), so I had no idea what I was doing, and I was nervous about being in such an important position.

At 21 years old, I was not fully aware of the magnitude of what I had agreed to do. We were responsible now for shaping young minds. What we taught and did not teach could have a massive impact on how these children would understand the world. So began my journey of researching the American Educational System. First, to find resources for the various subjects and understand how lesson plans and curricula were to be done and then to understand the American Educational Institution as a whole.

The information I found, the connections to psychology, the racist roots, the outcome-based education, the truth about Common Core, the absence of life skills, and the dumbing down of our children, would forever leave an impression on me. From then on, I would do more research until my husband and I eventually put together a lecture presentation where we traveled from city to city teaching parents about the benefits of a Home Schooled Education. We also managed a community center in Shreveport’s inner-city (before moving to Georgia) for five years, where we tutored children of all ages.

Homeschool Happily is more than a guide that teaches parents and professionals about the many benefits of Homeschooling. The author’s down-to-earth persona made me feel like I was sitting at her kitchen table, listening to her talk about this journey. I could see her showing me the outlines for the skills and concepts for each subject. Usually, I am not a fan of forwards when it comes to non-fiction (get to the point already), but this was a good one. The author begins with a substantial breakdown of the difference between Quarantine Schooling Pandemic Crisis Schooling and Homeschooling, which are not the same things.

I found this exceptionally important because we are now amid a global pandemic where parents are forced to experience, at least in part, what it is like to Homeschool their children. Many parents think the day needs to mimic a traditional public school, but Homeschooling does not require six-eight hours a day. Parents can finish Pre-K – Kindergarten classes in an hour or two. Older grades (1st – 5th) can be done by lunch, depending on how early you start. (*1) Junior High and High School classes will take longer, but no study has to last all day.

Homeschool Happily made me happy to read it because it was easy to understand (no unnecessary five-dollar words to get the point across).  The author talks about why someone may choose to Homeschool, such as flexibility, travel, religious reasons, politics, vaccination exemption, avoiding racism, high-quality education, and more. She dismantles the stereotypes surrounding a Homeschooled education with common sense breakdowns and tips on structuring curriculum and managing a Homeschooled budget. (This was a great breakdown. Most people don’t think of a budget when it comes to Homeschool.)

As someone already on the Homeschool bandwagon, I enjoyed the resources and educational tools, tips on managing the subjects for your children, and the advice on standardized testing and AP exams the most. It provided not only a what but also how. I think staying on top of testing is so important. Because Homeschool is still looked at as taboo, parents might want to keep these kinds of records. (*2)

I did not need to be convinced that Homeschooling can provide high-quality education. Still, for someone who is not yet sure about Homeschooling and how it differs from traditional schooling, what it is, and how it is done, this is the perfect manual for that parent or professional. I would even recommend purchasing the paperback so you can highlight and take notes.

*1 – *Homeschool gives children the chance to get more sleep. Think about it: Why is it that small children who wake up early start their school day later, close to nap time? And why is it that teenagers with raging hormones, body changes, and hours of homework from the night previous and who sleep later start the school day earlier?

Homeschooling gives parents a chance to regulate things like this, so children aren’t sleep deprived. The author notes that Homeschooled children get 90 minutes more sleep per night than non-homeschooled children. (This doesn’t mean kids should be allowed to sleep all day). 

*2 – I am not saying that state testing is the model for measuring intelligence. I am saying it is a good idea to see how your children are progressing as Homeschoolers if you need to provide paperwork to prove your Homeschool program’s authenticity to state/government officials.

Additionally, to be prepared in case your child(ren) will want to pursue a college education, and finally, for your own peace of mind. Homeschooling provides a High-Quality Education. But if your child(ren) aren’t scoring at grade level compared to traditional public school students, then you will know to take a better look at your program or process to find out why or even to decide if Homeschooling is right for your family.

Strong Introduction: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Overall: 5/5*

Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can is Available Now on Amazon


My book review registry is CLOSED. Be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here to learn how to RSVP your book for 2021.

ATTN. Authors: Blog Book Review Policy Reminder

Good day everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I want to send a quick message to the authors/writers’ reading.

Over the past month, I have received tons of requests for book reviews. Many of you are contacting me through the contact form on this blog.

These submissions tend to go into my spam. If I see them at all, it is weeks and sometimes months later.

Please do not contact me about book reviews using the contact form. This includes if you were referred here from Reedsy.

Instead, please go to the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

This page will tell you all you need to know about how to schedule a review from me.

Note: The registry is currently closed and won’t reopen until 2021. Reviews you see until then are reviews from authors who scheduled them months ago. (Or books I have read on my own time.)

If you would like to RSVP for a chance at being reviewed, follow the steps on the policy page under RSVP for 2021.

Again, please read the Book Review Policy in full. Do not email me before reading the policy and do not send requests through this blog’s contact form.

>>BLOG BOOK REVIEW POLICY<<

Self-Publishing (The Right Way) Is Not Free

I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.

Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.

I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.

That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.

I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.

As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.

What Happens Traditionally:

I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.

Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.

Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.

The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.

Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.

Why VP’s charge

Image Cred: Reedsy

Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.

Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)

Self-Publishing companies that promise you can keep “100% of your copyright” promise the new author something they already own because the work is under copyright from the moment of creation. If the author wants to go the extra mile and register it, they can do that for $45, according to the .gov copyright website here.

ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.

That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.

Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)

Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.

The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.

The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:

A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.

But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.

Self-Publishing 

With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?

The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.

Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right

With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.

It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.

But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.

You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.

Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.

You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.

Again, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to publish a book. There are many great pre-made cover designs, for example, that are cheaper than custom made covers, and editors who have great deals.

This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.

The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right. 

Click here for the Best Self-Publishing services and the worst rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Looking for more Indie Author Basics?

Click Here.

Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.

Let each one, reach one.