This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! For the next two days, you’ll get to learn more about our grand prize winner.
Jahkazia reminded me that it’s never too late. How so? Because her poem came in exactly one minute to the deadline of this contest and won the entire competition. If she had thought, “maybe it’s too late,” then we would not get to meet and learn more about this beautiful soul. Let’s get into it.
Introducing Jahkazia Richardson
Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia which translates to Goddess of the land) is a slam poet hailed from Durham, NC. She studied Clinical Psychology at William Peace University and will be continuing her vocational path in Art and expressive therapy next fall. She appreciates going to live shows in the area as well as trying different recipes from all over the world. Currently, she is an insurance agent in ‘Bull City’ where she teaches clients how to protect their financial assets.
Welcome Jahkazia! So nice to meet you beautiful. We almost didn’t get to witness your beautiful writing and voice. Please, tell us what inspired your poem.
Jahkazia: In my darkest moments, I saw myself as a victim for a long time, and I always had a pretty negative outlook on life. When things got cleared up, I truly felt more powerful than I have ever felt before. My inspiration for my piece was a deep reflection of my overall growth and healing journey as well as wanting to honor my ancestors in their struggle to find their own power also.
We’re going to stop here because tomorrow we will go a bit deeper into the mind of Ms. Richardson. For now, let’s get into this poem!
What if I Knew My Worth?
Thunder thighs was my name growing up,
Thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors
Too bad I didn’t have their strength
Head hung low and shallow
my back hunched and broken.
How did I get here?
Words that cut deep into my skin like razors,
But I didn’t let anyone see me bleed
Times that I would cut into my own self
with the perpetuation of my thoughts
Lies that I would tell the little girl inside myself
Cut – excise the light from their eyes
Until darkness became my reality
Pain my reality
Depression my reality
Shujaa – warrior
Ripped out, open, and beaten.
Boom, boom, boom, I’m an African drum
Don’t let them see you break
Don’t let them see you bleed
Wrap them like the bastard’s child away and out of sight
Until the blood began to drip through
Until the universe can no longer ignore my cry
Cry like – negro spirituals echoing through the Earth and waking up the light
Somehow there was refuge in my brokenness
Deep in the soul of my being,
Up I came from the waters and introduced my light
Shujaa – warrior
Shujaa – strength
That’s me powerful with my pen and I write:
“Thunder thighs was my name growing up,
I hear thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors
Passed down like tales they used to speak,
I now know that power
I am worthy. I am warrior.”
Whew. That’s some powerful stuff. I highlighted some of the lyrics that really spoke to me. What did I like about this poem and why did I think it was worthy of the win?
Self-love is a journey and a journey is called that because you never know what you will find. It’s not always about being where you want to be but the journey. It’s about the process and all of the challenges and emotions that come along with it and the willpower to endure those challenges and to overcome those emotions.
This piece embodied the personal touch that all of the poems had. It was set-apart in that it told the story of how one person went from self-hatred to self-love in a deeply honest way. This is not just someone who had conquered the demon of self-hatred, but someone who had fought it and could show that fight in words. Someone who had gone through the journey and had fought to reclaim that power. This is a fight we’ve all had and this poem showcased that process. You get to see someone who did not just suddenly arrive but who evolved and endured the way we all do when we are coming home to ourselves. At some point, we have all asked ourselves, “What if I knew My Worth?”
Very well done.
Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!
Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson
Tomorrow, we will be asking Ms. Richardson some more questions and learning more about her as a person with an extensive introduction interview. You don’t want to miss this. Stay glued.
Missed our other poet spotlights? Please be sure to show our winners some love:
Whenever I am out and about the first question people ask: “Do you have a website?” So I thought I’d talk briefly about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both.
First, no. You don’t necessarily need both, though I do recommend it for authors with several published books. But, first, let’s get into the major differences.
Though both are referred to as “websites” a website is different from the blog in that it is something that is static and unchanging. It focuses on the author and his/her work without the distraction of too many other elements (like new posts). Sometimes websites just have one page and that’s OK. The purpose of the website is to give immediate information about who the person is, what it is that they do and how you can stay in touch with them and their work. These things must be understood immediately upon visiting the author’s website.
A blog is the place where the author (that’s you) would write on a regular and consistent basis. Deriving from the word weblog, blogs are technically also websites but the differences is that readers can come to learn more about you as a person and become familiar with your work through your consistent posts. They can get to know you personally and as you are writing your book, not just by reading your published work. A blog is always changing as the writer is always posting new content and is much more interactive than a website which is the basic difference between the two. Blogs have comments, sharing options and catch the attention of Google much better than a static website.
So the major difference is:
- Website- Static, to the point, unchanging (can have widgets and things but does not change as much with updated posts.)
- Blog – Constantly changing, interactive, easily indexed by Google
The question is: When should you invest in a website or blog?
If you have no books out, it would make more sense to start a free WordPress blog before investing money into a website. Use the free blog to get a feel for blogging and writing publicly, and use it as a way to build your platform by adding value that brings readers. Don’t just talk about your writing, talk about your life in general. Share your favorite kind of music, movies, or whatever pertains to the subject of the book you are writing. Also, learn more about blogging in general.
I am not going to get into the “Is writing blogging?” debate. I am just going to say that if you’re a writer using blogging to connect with readers you should probably take the time to learn a little bit about how your blog platform of choice works if you hope to do well. No, I don’t think just publishing posts alone is enough. You can write until you’re blue in the face but if you don’t know how to add tags and categories, set up an about or contact page, connect social media, add a follow button and all of the basic stuff, your blog is just going to sit there doing nothing. People may find you eventually, but understanding these basics will help them to find you quicker.
In any event, use blogging as an opportunity to be social, make new friends, and network with professionals. Blogs are interactive and a great way to keep your readers updated. It’s also the easiest way for you to get to know your audience on a level beyond the basics. You can tell by likes, comments or social shares what kind of content people like. This will help you to produce more valuable content and that’s what you want.
So, website? Blog? Both?
If you have several books published I would say to have both a website and a blog, with the blog accessible through your website.
I am not saying you have to spend a lot of money on a website but it should certainly be part of your budget strategy when you are ready to begin. I don’t understand why in every other business people understand that to start a business is to also start a financial plan as well, except when it comes to writing. Publishing books, my dearest Indie Authors, is not free. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to publish a book but it will cost something. Create a budget for that something and don’t publish the book until you can afford to do so. If you want to become a Self-Publisher you will need to be just as financially responsible as if you were starting any other business. Let’s start taking ourselves seriously as authors! And if you’re serious about publishing you must consider thinking like a businessperson and the basics of all businesses are having a website where people can learn more about that business. If you’re a serious author you should have a website.
But, your blog can also certainly act as your website….with a few changes.
Because the blog and the website still have major differences, if you do this (have your WordPress blog act as your website) consider making a few changes to your blog:
- Use your author name as your blog name and purchase a domain name. If you intend to use your blog as an author blog you are going to want it to be something like: www dot yournamehere dot com, and not www dot tanyaforeverlove dot wordpress dot com. Yes, this blog is not named after me but don’t be like me. But, also consider that I have an author website that is named after me already and this blog is linked to that site. I can send people to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they can still access this blog and that’s what you want: a place where people can access all of you in one place.
- If your blog is also your website (and you blog using WordPress), consider setting up a static or landing page. I can just tell people to go to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they will find everything they need on me (including this blog). But if you are using your blog as your website, remember, the major differences between the website and blog is that the website is static and gets straight to the point. There is no long list of posts to sift through and what the person does is immediately available. An author website focuses ONLY on you, the author, and your work. It’s unchanging and provides everything someone would need to learn more about you without the added commentary, widgets, theme changes and constantly updated articles. This means that if your blog is your website, you may want to change your blog name to reflect your author name, create a domain name of that name and then, you may want to also create a static page.
To create a static page on your blog, first, create a new page.
Dashboard > Pages > Add New
Make this a landing page. A landing page is a single web page used to promote a business or product. Click on my Stella Trilogy Page Here for an example. It was once the static page for this blog. Notice the number of comments. I also sold books through that page. By being able to keen in on the books with no other distractions, people were capable of focusing on the work. That’s what you want and that’s what author websites provide. If your blog is your author website, you can provide that same kind of focus by adding a static page.
After you’ve published your new page you’d want to make it your static page.
Go to your dashboard
Setting > Reading >
Under Your Homepage Displays, check static and then check the landing page you just created
Now, when you tell people about your website they won’t be distracted by your recent blog posts, sidebar widgets, comments, etc. It will act as an author website but also a blog.
Cons: Of course, there are pros and cons to everything. One con of having a static page on your blog is that sometimes it can be harder for people to access your blog posts and follow you. If people have to look for stuff they usually leave. This is one reason I took down my static page. Depending on your theme of choice, people won’t be able to access your blog posts or follow you with the static page up. With this theme I am using, the static page doesn’t even show my follow button.
Which comes back around to why I think, if you have several books out and have established yourself, it’s easier to have both.
- If you have no books out and are just getting started, create a free WordPress blog and be sure to name your blog after your author name as it will, for now at least, also act as your author website and people will try finding you first by your name so it’s easier.
- If you have several books out have both an author website and a blog. I suggest using either WordPress to create your author website or Squarespace and then making sure that your blog is accessible through your website. You can create a blog through your website platform (i.e. through Squarespace) or you can create a blog on WordPress separately and then just link it to your website. Either way, you want people to access the blog through the website.
Don’t forget about this year’s contest. Submissions are being accepted NOW. Don’t wait until the last minute. Enter now for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift-card, publication in an online magazine designed specifically for this contest, publication to this blog and across my social media, exposure to the platforms of our judges and sponsors, free books from our sponsors and more.
REMINDER: THERE ARE NO ENTRY FEES AND NO HIDDEN FEES TO ENTER THIS CONTEST!! ENTRY IS FREE! ENTER TODAY.
I would like to organize a blog tour to help to spread awareness about my latest collection of poetry, I am Soul. Except, I do not have much money so I am reaching out to bloggers who enjoy poetry to see if you would have the time and interest to host me on your blog this summer.
I would like to present a new poem to each of the blogs that I visit. The days of the tour will depend on the host blogger interested in hosting me. I am open to any blogs willing to promote Indie Authors, though poetry blogs would be a plus. I will provide the following:
- I am Soul Book Cover
- Buy Links
- One new poem per blog
- 5 Fun Facts about myself
- Short Bio
- Author Website
- Amazon Author Central Page
- Social Media Links
- Author Photo
I am willing to put in the work necessary to provide all that you need since I do not have the funds to pay for a tour. All you will have to do is schedule my post according to your time and our agreed upon dates.
Once I have a list of blogs willing to volunteer to help me out (and your dates), I will create a promotional flyer to use to promote the tour. This means that all the blogs willing to help me will get exposure and promotion right alongside me. Your blogs will be promoted, your views will increase and you may just find new followers. Promoting me is not just about me. It’s about all of the blogs willing to participate. We will essentially be promoting each other. Each one, reach one.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please email me at yecheilyah (at) yecheilyahysrayl (dot) com. I will send you the required information this week and see what dates work best for you.
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UPDATE: CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS. SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ALL THE BLOGGERS WHO VOLUNTEERED TO ASSIST ME! I AM NO LONGER ACCEPTING MORE HOSTS.
Very good breakdown from Derek on understanding why Amazon is deleting reviews. Nobody took me (and others) seriously when we said it was not wise to include the words, “I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.” Maybe you’ll listen to Derek:
“So it’s fine to give copies of books or ARCs away as long as you don’t require a review in exchange. Jennetta Penner recommends language like “I received an ARC at no cost from the author” – so you might want to ask your readers to stop using the word “exchange” in book reviews.”
CLICK HERE TO READ THROUGH TO THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE.
As a reminder, Renaissance is 99cents on Amazon. I’ve never received 20+ reviews but I am almost there! I need just one more review to reach this mini milestone. To purchase this book at just 99cents. CLICK HERE and, if you would like, I’d be honored if you could leave an honest review.
So far I have provided four different resources for understanding GDPR. Again, the general understanding is that you don’t have to send out re-confirmations to your list as long as you’ve been obtaining emails legally in the first place. Just make sure your opt-in forms and privacy policies are clear and transparent. Derek Murphy’s article talks about GDPR as it relates to using email marketing for list building and giveaways. Check it out below (it’s #4).