Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Sheila Williams

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sheila Williams. Sheila, welcome to the PBS blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Sheila Williams. I am English, born in Yorkshire in the North of England (known as God’s own county to those who were born there!) Until five years ago my feet were firmly planted in English soil. Then, I had one of those ‘where did that idea come from’ moments and moved across the channel to the south-west of France – a region known as Occitanie (previously the Languedoc). I now live in a small village near the Pyrenees mountains with my dog Zouzou, otherwise known as the Ayatollah for his insistence on regularity – regular walkies, regular mealtimes, regular cuddles and regular snoozes on the sofa.

Awwue lol. I bet he’s adorable. Any siblings?

I am the youngest of three. My brother Mike is the oldest. He’s a very practical person, always building something. He has an apartment in my house here in France and stays for about six months every year which is very handy since the house is a bit of a wreck and always needs something doing. He’s a keen guitarist and banjo player and not a bad singer either. We’ve always been close despite our very different temperaments and political views. It makes for animated discussions on the terrace with a bottle of the local wine during summer.

My other sibling is my sister Pat. She too is an author and lives in New Zealand. As kids we were pretty close although she could be extremely prickly at times. She moved to Canada when she left college and then on to New Zealand. I have seen very little of her since then. Sadly, there was something of a schism, a family break-up after our father died which led to considerable ill-feeling between her and my mother and percolated through to Mike and myself. The rift is something I have never been able to repair and she remains stubbornly out of touch.

I am sorry to hear that. Hopefully you guys can reconcile! I think it’s cool your brother has an apartment in your house! What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

I would love to go on safari in Africa. I am passionate about this beautiful world that we live in and the creatures that populate it. Before it is too late and we ruin it altogether I want to see some of the species that are being driven towards extinction in their natural habitat. I am not a fan of zoos although some do good work in helping to preserve species. I can imagine a dawn safari, just as the sun is rising, still a chill in the air and seeing the different animals at the watering hole. I imagine the sounds and smells that would fill the air. One day I’ll do it. It’s top of my bucket list.

That sounds nice. What’s your favorite drink?

A cold glass of Blanquette de Limoux which was the earliest form of champagne. It goes down smoothly, with a little fizzy bite as an aftertaste. Just the thing after a swim on a hot sunny day.

You made that sound soo refreshing yess. Lol. avorite color?

Oh I’m definitely a blue person. I love all shades from the darkest velvety blue to the sharp blue of the morning sky. There is at least one shade of blue in every room in the house and my wardrobe likewise. It’s a colour that can soothe, sing, import elegance as well as casual comfort. What’s not to like?

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Who is your favorite writer?

Ah this is a tough one. There are so many. There are the three Kate’s – Kate Mosse, Kate Morton and Kate Atkinson – all very different in style and genre. For classics I love Jane Austen; for history Bernard Cornwell and for Sci-fi Robert Heinlein. Daphne du Maurier slips in there somewhere too.

When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

My first book was non-fiction ‘Close to the Edge – Tales from the Holderness Coast’. It is an eclectic history of part of the coast where I lived in England. My friend – a photographer and I walked up and down the length of the coast researching people and places. It was huge fun. I published it with Amazon and not being very techie-minded got into a bit of a muddle but it all got sorted out. Then, when the paperback arrived I went round all the caravan sites and got them to hold copies of it to sell to the visitors; I donated copies to all the local libraries and got the tourist information offices to sell it for me. It was extremely hard work and my first introduction to marketing a book. It’s not a best-seller but the sales continue to trickle in even four years later.

That’s awesome. Aside from Non-Fiction, what genre do you write in?

I’ve probably made it a bit difficult for myself! I write a mix of history with a dash of fantasy or spooky stuff. I published a book of short stories ‘The Siren and Other Strange Tales’ which has a lot of spooky stuff in it and my first novel ‘The Weave’  is a contemporary fantasy story with history woven in. My wip is definitely history, set in the 7th century with a splash of fantasy. I like the little bit of something extra that fantasy gives me as a writer. It gives me an opportunity to tease the reader a bit…to make them wonder whether there is something psychological going on in a character or whether it is something supernatural/fantastic really happening. It is something I’m exploring much more in my wip.

Okay History, Sci-Fi and Horror book readers! You heard it here first. Here’s a writer for you.

What takes up too much of your time?

French bureaucracy! The French love their paperwork and as an expat there are wads of it to be completed. They also have strict demarcation lines between who does what which sometimes means that the carefully gathered information slips between departmental gaps. It’s getting better though as more and more is brought on-line. The Brexit situation has created even more since most expats I know in France are applying for a ‘carte de sejour’ which will allow them to stay in France. The documentation required is extensive and much of it is already in the maws of bureaucracy but it still has to be provided anew.

What do you love about yourself?

I suppose it’s my ability to be myself without embarrassment, without worrying about what others’ might think any more. It’s something that has crept up with age and I guess experience too. I like to do daft things now and again like make up silly songs and sing them in the shower or dance with the dog in the village square. I don’t worry about making a fool of myself. Alongside that I have developed assertiveness which I sadly lacked when I was younger and I like the fact that I can say saying clearly(albeit diplomatically I hope) what I think!

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


Bio.

Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed. Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means of marriage  before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.

In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artifacts can be uncovered.

Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.

Be Sure to Follow Sheila Online!

e-mail: sheila@writeonthebeach.co.uk

blog: www.writeonthebeach.wordpress.com

website: www.sheilawilliams.net

Twitter: twitter.com@sheilawwilliams

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2WQA38R


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. (Only 2 slots left for March! Schedule today.)

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Courage

How dramatic the transformation is when I turn lioness
how dangerous courage is
how beautiful too
how tingly the feeling when you throw caution to the wind
when an introvert speaks
you know that little mustard seed’s got a fire
how revolutionary to be humble in spirit,
but courageous in character.
The weight of this bravery
both heavy and powerful
how sensitive and warrior I am at the same time.
How powerful strength is
when you don’t know that it is there.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Dana Kearney

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Dana Kearney. Welcome to the PBS Blog. Let’s get started!


What was you childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to be a doctor. Then I realized hospitals and sick people scare me. So I had to find something else to be and I always loved writing.

Cool. In your own words, what is love?

Love is a connection that you cannot describe. It is so powerful when you feel it you know because you have never felt it before. It is a part of the air you breathe. It is unconditional. Love has been around since the beginning of time. Love lasts through the universe and galaxies. It is a selfless feeling that transforms you into your highest self. Love is when frequencies align, your life is complete, and the passion is at its peak. Love is when you see stars in their eyes. Love is balance with the universe.

Okaay Dana. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

A trip around the world would be the most exciting to go on. You could travel many different ways and see so many historic sites.

I love that. Who is your favorite writer?

My favorite writer is Zora Neale Hurston. Her stories transcend, time, space and culture. She takes us through two worlds where some of us live.  She describes a time that has passed, but it is also infinite.  She gives our lives space, meaning, love, and divinity.

What kind of music do you like?

I like rhythm and blues, hip-hop, pop, old school music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Sometimes I pick whatever makes me escape into another place and other times I pick what resonates with current moments in time.

Nice. Dana, define racism.

Racism is the power to negatively impact millions of lives through housing, employment, and natural resources based on race.

Nicely put. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?

My favorite movie is Gladiator. I love stories of Ancient Times. I love how the actors bring you into the story. They make you root for one over the other. Behind all the backstabbing and treachery it is a love story and a father trying to return home after he avenges his family.

Diamonds or Light? is available now on Amazon.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult part about being a writer is getting your thoughts into a familiar structure. The most exciting part is giving your perspective on life.

What does that mean, getting your thoughts into a familiar structure?

Putting my thoughts into a format that people are comfortable with. As your thoughts come out they may not be organized or naturally flow.

Ahh. Got it. That’s true. Is there anything you don’t you like about yourself?

I don’t like my need for perfection. It stresses me out but I still strive for perfection.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

My best advice for reducing stress is take care of yourself. Do what makes you happy. Take time to meditate or pray. Take time to do your favorite things. Take care of yourself.

I love it.

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


Copyright©2019 Dana Kearney. photo used with permission.

Bio.

Dana Kearney was raised in Oakland, CA and graduated from the University of California Davis. Dana was a public school educator for ten years. She loves to read, write, swim, teach, and travel. Dana still lives in California and is currently working on Diamonds or Light? Part II

Please be sure to follow Dana online!

Blog. https://orangeallinherit.com/

Instagram: @diamondsorLight

Dear Black Entrepreneur: You Are Enough

I was sitting here drafting a Black History Fun Fact about the first black-owned TV and radio stations but as I read I noticed a disturbing trend. A trend we can still see present today. To start, I was researching WGPR-TV, first black-owned television station in the U.S. and W.E.R.D., first black-owned radio station in the U.S. WGPR-TV was run and operated in Detroit and W.E.R.D. was based in Atlanta. We’ll go deeper into their history in a separate post but both stations became a platform for black artists, from Jazz and Blues musicians to Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. using it to broadcast his sermons and later, Civil Rights announcements. There are two things I noticed associated with each of these companies as the inspiration to today’s post:

  • Jesse Blayton, founder of W.E.R.D., also taught accounting at Atlanta University and tried encouraging young black people to enter the field. He was unsuccessful because the students knew that no white-owned accounting firms would hire them and Blayton’s, the only black-owned firm in the South, was small and had few openings.

 

  • WGPR-TV was successful from my perspective but because it failed to reach a wider audience, it was eventually sold to CBS. WGPR-TV ran from 1975 to 1995 under its black leadership.

With, black-owned businesses, I notice a disturbing mindset among many of my people in the African-American community that success is synonymous with white support and that, without it, we aren’t as successful as we could be. Society has deceived many of us into thinking unless they have included us in the mainstream public eye, we are unsuccessful. I compare it to publishing in the sense that Traditional Publishing is still seen as a more successful route than Independent Publishing. It is still seen as a sign of prosperity to be signed to a publisher than to be your own publisher through the Self-publishing route because of the exposure. Although many Self-Publisher’s are making far more money, unless the Self-Publisher can look like a celebrity, he or she has not made it (whatever that means). This is flawed thinking and causes many to chase the temporary pleasures of money and fame over integrity.

The Oscars is a great example of this and for the record, I admire Spike Lee and Regina King most especially. The talent comprised in these two people is beyond words. However, the black community’s reaction to their Oscar win is a great example of how we do not often see ourselves as being enough. Spike Lee and Regina King are and have always been two powerful artists. What Spike Lee has done with Crooklyn, Four Little Girls, Mo Beta Blues, Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Malcolm X and more is nothing short of genius work. That Regina King can simultaneously bring to life two characters in Huey and Riley Freeman is nothing short of genius work. Not only did she capture the personas of two little boys but two little black boys. Whether that is Poetic Justice, Boyz N the Hood, Friday, Enemy of the State or Down to Earth, King’s roles are always down to earth. She’s got this skill that allows her to be relatable in any role. She‘s hilarious and you feel she can easily be your sister.

My point here is this: Lee and King did not need to win Oscars for me to recognize their brilliance. Yet, as a community, we champion this as the official ceremony to which we have received a piece of the pie. We have a track record of doing this, in which we do not see ourselves as successful except that we are integrated into mainstream societies expectations of what that success is supposed to look like. Angela Basset does not need an Oscar to be great.

There is nothing wrong with receiving support across all nationalities and nations of people. However, it is important for the black entrepreneur to know and understand that to be young, gifted, and black is also a success by itself and on its own terms.

Be Authentic: Message to New Indie Authors

In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.

The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.

This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.


If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.

Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28. 

What to do when people unsubscribe from your #author email list and why it is OKAY

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Email unsubscribes. Yup. I’ll be that one. I don’t care what anyone says, if done right and if it’s your cup of tea, author email lists work. At the end of the day, everyone’s journey is different so none of us are in the position to say for absolute certainty what works and what doesn’t work for someone else.

That said, IF you are a fan of the email list (I don’t refer to them as newsletters….I prefer email list), check it.

Not everything about being an author is peachy. Email unsubscribes feel like silent rejections and sometimes confusing because you don’t always know why the person left. Unsubscribes can leave authors feeling abandoned, especially if the person was a long-time member of the list. All kinds of thoughts go through your head.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Am I providing value?”

“Does my writing suck?”

“Do I suck?”

Did I email too much? Too little? What happened?”

The good news is that whether someone leaves your email list or your blog, it is not a bad thing. In 2019, we are not taking losses, we are taking lessons and there are tons of lessons we can learn from email unsubscribes. I hope this list encourages you and motivates you to push past that feeling of confusion and rejection.

  • Don’t subscribe people to your list without their permission.

I’ve personally never done this and I don’t understand it but please don’t let this be you. There are laws against doing things like this. Never, ever add anyone to anything without that person’s permission. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook group or email list, get permission first. When you let people subscribe on their own, they can unsubscribe whenever they want and do it all without you being sued. But if you subscribed someone without their say so, you can be sure they will unsubscribe. While there’s nothing wrong with compiling a list of supporters and emailing the old school way (directly), we live in a different time. You need a track record that shows proof this person agreed to get emails from you. You need permission. It is illegal to add people to your list and email them without permission. Do not grab emails from blogs and websites. Choose an email opt-in form and let people subscribe on their own or create an opt-in form of your own using google docs but just get permission. Don’t get sued. I recommend using one of these opt in forms:

  • Mailchimp
  • Mailerlite
  • Convertkit
  • Don’t take it personally.

If the subscriber was legal, and the person decided to leave, the most important lesson you can learn from this is not to take it personally. We don’t know why that person is no longer interested, and it doesn’t always have to have anything to do with us. People have their reasons for subscribing to a list/blog and not everyone is clear what that reason is. If someone mistakenly thought your list would offer something that it doesn’t, they may unsubscribe because it’s not what they thought it would be.

  • Never respond to an unsubscribe.

Resist the inclination to ask people why they left. Unless they have reached out to you, do not send them follow-up emails. If they unsubscribed from your main list, they probably don’t want to keep receiving emails from you. Again, don’t take the unsubscribe personally. One apple don’t stop no show (and that’s grammatically incorrect on purpose), just keep grinding.

  • Quality over Quantity: You don’t have to have a gazillion email list subscribers to be relevant.

With email lists, remember it’s more so about the quality of your team. It’s better to have 30 or 40 committed people who are eager to support your work and read your books than 2,000 who won’t lift a finger to give you so much as a piece of advice. You ask a question and hear crickets. I have only about 172 subscribers to my email list. (I say email list because I don’t like to refer to them as newsletters *yawn*), and I am more than okay with this. Of course, I’d like to grow (who wouldn’t?) but I am in no rush. It’s challenging enough managing the subscribers I already have. I’ll wait patiently. Always remember quality over quantity. It’s probably easier to manage 30 or 50 subscribers than it is to manage 200 and 300 starting out.

  • Resist the urge to vent your rage on your favorite social media platform

Again, don’t take it personally. Email unsubscribes are like bad reviews that only you see. Just as it is not recommended to discuss the bad review, it is also not recommended to discuss the unsubscribe. We are all human but venting about these things on social media (this includes the blog) makes you look like an amateur. Accept this person has decided they are no longer interested in your content (for whatever reason) and move on. People come in and out of our lives for a reason and we just have to accept when the season is over. Don‘t make it bigger than it is.

  • Remove and Renew

Don’t be afraid to lose people. It may even be necessary to unsubscribe people yourself that you see are no longer interested. Sometimes people subscribe to email lists for the wrong reason. Maybe they believe they would receive something, and the emails turned out not to be what they wanted. But there will also be people who won’t unsubscribe. They’ll just ignore you and delete your emails or they may just ignore it without acting. In any event, it’s a good idea to do a good ole cleansing occasionally. Delete some people. Don’t be so thirsty for high numbers to your own detriment. If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter, and you are deceiving yourself. Every 2-3 months I clean my list. I go through and delete people who have not been active. Have not been opening emails, clicking links, responding to questions or participating in any way. Their presence is irrelevant. I love them, but my emails are clearly not their cup of tea and they shouldn’t be forced to drink it. They must go.

  • It takes time

Writing is a business and like all businesses, it takes trial, error, consistency and time to build. We may have been born with gifts but no one was born knowing exactly how to execute them. No one woke up with the skills to hire a team or produce excellent products. Similarly, you don’t know how to manage an email list except through practice and hard work and even still people will unsubscribe.

This woman makes enough money to know what she’s talking about. If you aren’t following her on IG, you should be.

 

I used to transcribe to the same practices of some “gurus” who said to only email once a month. While I understand why you wouldn’t want to email too frequently, you have to do what works for you. It’s a personal journey first. So I followed my own path and now email whenever I have news. The truth is, it’s hard to stay connected to anyone you don’t speak to for months at a time. The email list can be an important source of support if you want it to be. Or, the email list can be just another social media account you update to tell people about your new books. *Yawn.* Truth is, there will always be someone to unsubscribe. The real question is, who cares? People unsubscribe from our lives all the time but we can’t stop working just because people leave. People unsubscribing from the list can be a blessing as it teaches us what works, what doesn’t and how to better connect with our audience. People unsubscribing from our list is not even the real problem. The real problem is learning how to connect with our audience. If we do our jobs well, we don’t have anything to worry about.

  • One door closes, one door opens

Every time someone unsubscribes from my list, someone new subscribes. That’s the fun thing about it. When one door closes another always opens. Just because a few people unsubscribe does not mean more won’t come. I’ve been successful in keeping my numbers steady because I am always blessed with a new subscriber whenever someone else leaves. When unsubscribes do happen, now I just smile knowing someone new is on their way and hopefully, they’ll find value where the other person did not. The end of one relationship is the beginning of another.

Helpful Tips:

  • Ask your email list questions to discover what they want.
  • Let your readers in a bit on who you are. Write stories, give updates not shared anywhere else, showcase your personality, e.g.
  • If possible, use a domain email address as your from address instead of gmail. Ex: yourname(at)yourdomainname(dot)com.

Reminders:

1. Don‘t take the unsubscribe personally
2. Don‘t subscribe people without their permission
3. Never vent your rage about it on your favorite social media platform
4. Quality over quantity
5. Recognize the growth that comes with removal and renewal
6. Remember that it takes time to build anything of substance
7. and that when one door closes, another always opens

For more email list building tips check out one of the most popular posts on this blog:

7 Things I Learned About Email List Building.