Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest: Closing for Submissions Midnight!

First, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the Florida fam and anyone in the eye of the storm or who has been affected by Hurricane Ian in any way.

https://www.yecheilyahsannualpoetrycontest.org/

Today is the day!!


If you want a shot at winning one of the top four slots for this year’s poetry contest, be sure to email your poem to me at yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com by midnight tonight.

That’s 12a EST, 11p CST.

The rest of ya, figure out ya time zone, lol.

I know we can get a bit anxious as we wait for the results, so please take the time to review the following:

  • Poetry submissions close at the end of the day on September 30, 2022. I don’t read any poems until after the contest ends, and neither do my fellow judges. Feedback on entries will not be provided until the winners are announced.
  • We will announce the winners on November 1, 2022. I am an advocate for questions. Asking questions is how we learn. However, do not ask if I liked your poem or how I feel about it before the winners are announced on 11/1. 
  • Winners will be notified by email of their win at least one week before the public announcement to prepare them for their promotions. Our first-place winner also wins a personalized frame of their poem that must be customized, so the artist will need these details ahead of time.
  • It is imperative that the email you have on file is active and that it is the one you check often. We will need to pick another winner if we cannot contact you about your win in time. Not only do you not want this, but it also creates more work for us, so please be diligent. Start paying attention close to the end of Oct. Check your spam and junk folders. If we follow each other on IG, check your DM’s. Know I will do everything in my power to contact you, but if I have to call the FBI you’re gonna miss out.
  • If you submitted a poem, you should have received a reply saying your submission has been received. If you did not get this email, please resend it ASAP. 
  • We are giving away cash prizes this year, so when contacted about your win, we will ask you how you’d like to receive your money electronically. The other gifts will be shipped off to you.
  • You will be promoted on my blog, main author newsletter, Twitter, and IG pages @yecheilyah and @yecheilyahbooksllc.  Be sure you are following both (especially @yecheilyah, as it gets the most engagement).

What if I didn’t win?

We are only contacting the four winners. If, on November 1, you do not see your name among the winners, your poem has not been selected. 

I want to take the time to thank each and every one of you for participating in this contest. Putting yourself out there is not easy, and I am humbled that you’ve trusted me with your creative work. Make no mistake about it: without your support, there is no contest, so I am grateful, humbled, and excitedddd to read what you’ve blessed us with.

How Can I Read the Poems of Previous Winners?

You can check out the poems and interviews of previous winners at the links below.

**2020 was skipped per Covid when none of us knew what to do next.**

*FINAL CHECK* The little things can sometimes get away from us so remember: get your poem in BEFORE the deadline. Make sure it is on the topic of FREEDOM in some way. Double check you’ve sent it to the CORRECT email and that you are 18+.

My Pet Peeve with Entrepreneur Advice on Social Media

It’s that time of the year again when ya’ll start telling people to quit their jobs and start a business.

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Entrepreneur advice on social media is leading a lot of people astray. Here are my top pet peeves.

Telling People to Quit their Jobs

Please stop this.

There is nothing wrong with people working a traditional 9-5 or working in corporate America. Starting and running a business has a lot to do with lifestyle more than anything else. We all have different ways of life, and some of our lives aren’t conducive to the entrepreneurial arena. It can also be a mental thing. Some people are stressed out mentally from their 9-5s and want to try something new. But at the same time, some people love their jobs.

There is also the misconception that entrepreneurs work for themselves. But, the truth is even entrepreneurs depend on other people to make money. If people didn’t want to read my books/writings, there would be no one to buy them. If the hairdresser doesn’t have people who want to get their hair done, there is no business. There is no business if people don’t want to listen to your music. There is no business if people don’t buy your products/services.

“Six Figure Earner”

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This really grinds my gears.

First, when did it become cool to tell people how much money we make? I thought people who had money didn’t talk about it? Now, everywhere you look, people are talking about being six and seven-figure earners. It’s giving elitist vibes. Like ya’ll can’t sit with us type.

People are even screenshotting their PayPal and Stripe accounts and posting them to the gram. Like huh? Before you call me a hater, ask yourself if this is good business sense. Heck, is it safe? The same thing applies to taking pictures of your house keys. Congrats on the house, but it takes nothing to copy a key. My husband works in the apartment industry so I know. Post something else, but not your house keys, baby.

But I digress.

Here is why I think someone calling themselves a six figure earner can be misleading:

  • Are you making six figures consistently or did you make a mil one time and started calling yourself a millionaire?
  • How much taxes are you paying out of that six figures?
  • How much of that do you have to pay to employees or put back into the work?
  • How much of that goes toward bills and household maintenance?

The next time you feel discouraged by somebody you see on the internet, remember that social media shows us very little about how people live their lives. Many entrepreneurs still work a 9-5 to fund their businesses, and there’s nothing wrong with this unless you pretend you don’t for clout.

Missy – “Ooh. I have one.”

EC – “Missy. I’m trying to talk to the people.”

Missy – “But I’m your pet and I have a pet peeve.”

EC – “Go ahead girl. What’s your Pet Peeve?”

Missy: “Okay, okay. Okay.” *wags tail*

EC –  “Missy…”

Missy – “Okay. Okay. What gets under my fur is how there aren’t any pictures of me on this blog. Not one single photograph.”

EC – “Missy, that doesn’t have anything to do with entrepreneurship.”

Missy –  “But you are gonna let me get my own Instagram right, right?”

EC –  “No.”

Missy – “Why not?”

EC –  “You don’t have a purpose for an Instagram. All you wanna do is post selfies all day.”

Missy –  “What’s wrong with that?”

EC –  “I said what I said.”

Sorry about that. She thought because this was called “Pet Peeves,” I was supposed to talk about her.

Yes, I am an entrepreneur. Full time. But I don’t believe in shaming other people into becoming one if it’s not something they are really passionate about doing.

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What about you guys? Any pet peeves you have with advice floating around social media? We haven’t even talked about all this bad financial advice. Whew chile.

Yecheilyah’s Self-Publishing Checklist

You are gonna wanna bookmark this one!

1. Professional Edit

Editing is first for several reasons, one being that I can’t get the book formatted before it has been properly edited. I determine my production schedule on the date the book comes back from editing.

2. Digital and Print Formatting

Now that the book has been edited, it can be formatted for digital and print. Formatting for digital ensures that it flows properly when you read it on your kindle, phone, and other e-devices. 

Print formatting is vital to ensure the intended finished size of the book is how I want it. The most common size is 6×9 for a standard paperback. Poetry books tend to be smaller, 5×8, and workbooks are larger, maybe 8×10.

When I published my first poetry book, I chose 8×10. Imagine a poetry book the size of the 8×10 picture on your wall. Yes, it was a mess.

Oh, and Microsoft Word will not take care of your book formatting for you. Converting an MS word document to PDF and uploading it as is, is why many Self-Published books look messy and all over the place on digital devices. It can also make the printed book look poorly done, such as having too much spacing that makes your novel look like a College Essay. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

Don’t skip on formatting. How your book looks inside is important.

3. Professional Cover Design 

Technically, the cover can be worked on as the book is being edited. A finished cover can be used to help promote the book if it’s done early and even kick off early preorders.

However, there’s a reason cover art is not right under editing. 

To complete the entire cover (front, back, and spine), the artist needs the exact number of pages and the book’s trim size. Usually, the number of pages changes after formatting. Also, some books are too thin for a spine. If I give him/her the wrong size, it can affect how the book prints, and then I’ll have to get it redone, which can cost more money.

While I can get away with a finished cover, I cannot complete the full artwork before steps one and two are accomplished.

As you can see, I have a strategic reason for publishing in this order.

4. Buy / Assign ISBN

I buy ISBNs in bulk, so this part is usually already done. If it’s not, this is around the time I get them.

5. Upload Files to KDP / Ingram Spark / Draft2Digital

This part requires its own post to fully explain. I’ll do my best to keep it short but clear. 

I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingram. KDP for Amazon and Ingram for wholesale distribution to bookstores and libraries.

How it works is I upload my files to KDP per usual, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution. The reason is that if you are making your title available in both self-publishing systems, that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark.

Although Amazon works with Ingram, publishing with Ingram separately makes it easier for your book to be ordered by bookstores. And bookstores hate Amazon, by the way. The thought of carrying a book published by Amazon gets their blood boiling. That’s another reason it’s good to have your own ISBN. It can make it easier for the store to carry your print-on-demand title without being distracted by the fact it was published independently by Amazon.

After publishing with Amazon, I go through the process of uploading my files to Ingram Spark.

If step three was not done properly, this is the part I can get stuck on. The cover must match the size of the book and the artist must provide a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.

Lastly, I upload my files to draft2digital for distribution to all online retailers, from B&N, to Kobo, to iTunes. 

6. Order Proof Book 

Order the proof copy of the book from Amazon and Ingram. Check for errors. 

7. Start Production Schedule / Publish Book

Now that the book is complete, I can kick off the production schedule. 


Wanna Use this System for Your Book? Click Here to Schedule a Personal Consult with Me


Takeover Tuesday: The Invisible Woman: Black Women and Infertility by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

The number of women coming forward about how they can relate to this is truly humbling. Check out my guest post on Navigating the Change blog and if you can relate, be sure to drop a comment on the post (if you feel obliged), so other women can see they are not alone. 

Click the link below to read the article.

Stigmas die when we speak up about the things that matter.

The Invisible Woman: Black Women and Infertility

Black History Fun Fact Friday – 5 Things You Didn’t Learn About the 1963 16th Street Church Bombing

Yesterday marked the 59th Anniversary of the bombing of the sixteenth street baptist church that killed four little girls on September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama. After revisiting revisions for the book, I realized I hadn’t included a chapter on this story. You’ll have to get the deeper details later. For now, here are five things we didn’t learn about that tragedy.

Bombings Were Common in Black Homes and Churchs At That Time

Part of the shock and awe factor was the audacity of someone to bomb a church. But, this wasn’t the first time a bombing had taken place. African Americans lived in constant fear as bombs and riots erupted during summer. On December 25, 1956, the KKK bombed the home of civil rights activist Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Fifty dynamite explosions occurred in Birmingham between 1947 and 1965, giving the city its nickname “Bombingham.”

Campaign to End Community Integration

The bombings started as a campaign by white people to stop Black people from moving into all-white neighborhoods. Governor George Wallace and Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Conner went the extra mile in their fight to keep the south segregated. The starting point of many marches, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was a target because it was where civil rights activists held many meetings during the 1960s.

The Fifth Little Girl

A fifth little girl was injured but survived. We don’t hear much about Sarah Collins Rudolph, but she was the sister to Addie Mae Collins and was present in the basement with the girls during the explosion. She was blessed to survive, though she lost her right eye.

The Two Little Black Boys

Sadly, the four girls weren’t the only tragedy that happened that day. Shortly after the church bombing, someone killed two black boys, Johnny Robinson Jr. and Virgil Ware. In the book, we’ll dig deeper into their story and what led to their deaths.

A Separate Service

With over 8,000 attendees and Dr. King giving the eulogy, Carole Robertson’s family opted out of the joint funeral and held a separate, private funeral for her. I can’t say that I blame them. What’s worse than seeing the small casket of your now deceased daughter but also having to see the three coffins of her friends?

Black History Facts You Didn’t Learn in School

Coming 2023

Destiny

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that have to do with that in some way.

This one, “Destiny” is from yours truly. Enjoy!

Photo by Pixabay

She could not tame the lyric

there was no trapping the soul

no caging the courage

no binding the song.

There was freedom in her fingers

and a revolution in her pen

this

was her prerogative

The path hard

but the calling HIGHER

the heroism of destiny

beckoning

to be set free

  • Source: Yecheilyah © 2022. (Listen to me recite this on Tik Tok @ yecheilyah or YouTube here.

Haven’t Sent Your Poem in Yet? Wanna win interviews, cash prizes and more?

Click Here!

Religion and Relatability (or the Lack Thereof)

Photo by Pixabay

My mom and aunts never forced us to go to church. Except for that one year we moved from the projects to a new apartment. My aunt seemed hell-bent on giving us the American dream. I suppose after the trauma of growing up in Robert Taylor, if she couldn’t give it to us in total, she’d try to provide us with the next best thing. To her, that meant bump beds, new clothes, our own rooms, going to church every Sunday, and choir rehearsal every Thursday like all the other “good Christian folk.”

We hated it.

8 Year Old Me

The first time I got baptized, the church came to scoop the project kids up in these school buses, took us to some building, separated the girls from the boys, and made us undress and put on long, white t-shirts with no underwear. 

Right.

So when the new church tried to baptize me, I was so terrified that my entire head didn’t go into the water. 

Fortunately for us, that was the only time in our lives we were ever required to go. As we aged, going to church became one of those decisions we could make ourselves. We got to decide what or how we would believe. Later in life, my cousin decided to be a Jehovah’s Witness.

Easter, 1995, Robert Taylor Projects at 4947 S. Federal

I think choosing our belief system and the freedom of being able to explore religion outside of Christianity was one of the healthiest things the surrounding adults could have done for us, which we totally overlooked growing up.

There was so much trauma I think we missed this critical sort of autonomy our parents afforded us. And I think they missed it too. With all the drugs and abandonment, there were still these glimmers of hope we didn’t realize were diamonds in the ruff.

To make a long story short, I’m an anomaly to most people because while I am obviously spiritual, I am not religious (and I believe there is a difference.) Because no one had ever forced religion on me, I’ve never been devout in the traditional sense. I can talk about the bible all day, but I’ve never been the “church lady,” nor do I live my life that way.

And no, you don’t have to be a Christian to be a “church lady.” Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

I have zero interest in being the embodiment of that fake piousness too often present in mainstream religions. This pretentiousness, in my opinion, causes many to lack the ability to be relatable.

Take my most recent Instagram post, for example. (If you read this later, it’s the reel with the God Did song by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Wayne, and Jay-Z…whose part was too long and not as great as everyone says, but I digress.)

In general, I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream rap. I think most of it is trash. Give me some throwback Common or Talib Kweli. I’ll even take College Dropout Kanye.

But pairing that song with the message I had for that day (and doing it on a Sunday when most people’s minds are religiously focused), I thought it would relate to people more deeply. 

And it did. 

I should point out that being relatable does not mean compromising your own beliefs. I see it more like being able to connect with something others might find familiar for a greater, more clear understanding.

My internal motto is: “You (your actions, how you carry yourself, think) will be the only bible some people will ever read.”

I hope one day more of us could consider this point of view in all its layers.