Play Your Piano

LOS ANGELES, CA – (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for BET)

Vivica Fox told the story of being on the set of Booty Call. She said that she tried to take a couple naps between scenes except Jamie Foxx kept playing the piano. Being the outspoken person that she is, Vivica was not having it.

“…it was hard to be his dressing room neighbor for a few weeks…he had a piano in there, and he would just play it all the time, singing his pretty heart out!”

Vivica went out and screamed to Jamie to, “stop playing that damn piano!”

Let me give you some background information before we continue this story.

I decided about a year ago that I was not going to limit myself and that I was going to step outside of my comfort zone. This was not an easy decision. I am an extremely shy person who overthinks everything. Whatever I share online, do believe I’ve gone over it repeatedly and have examined every possible outcome. (I am learning to be less anxious however and more centered and balanced.) Anyway, I decided I was tired of reading about what I needed to do to be a better writer. I wanted to “hear it from the horse’s mouth.” Tired of writerly commandments that got me nowhere, I wanted to act. I needed to act. I decided that acting was the only true way of knowing.

So, fed up with my own lack of action, I logged off my computer last year and went around to bookstores, talked with businessmen and ask the questions I’d always been afraid to ask, armed with business cards (side note: No, I don’t recommend giving your business card out like it’s candy. Most people just throw them away. These are facts.) and sample books. This weekend, I ended up at A Cappella Books, a small Independent Bookstore in Atlanta. I spoke to a man there who gave me some advice.

“Get your name out there because even if you’re in the store, if you aren’t a household name people won’t find you,” he said, spreading his arms to insinuate the rest of his thoughts, which didn’t have to be said: you are a nobody so people won’t be able to find your book among all these books by well-known authors.

Now, ya’ll know I gotta be honest. At first, I was offended. Household name? I thought. Who the hell cares? So I’m not worthy?

“Are you going to the Decatur Festival?” he continued. Interrupting my thoughts about how I didn’t like him.

“Yes.”

“Good. That’s a good place to start. I get a lot of {Indie}authors coming in and calling but if people don’t know you…”

“I understand.”

I left the store, still offended but the blow was softened by the confirmation that I’d made the right decision to attend the Decatur event. It was the third time someone had mentioned it to me and I am big on spiritual confirmations. I believe that what’s meant for me will often be confirmed through others. (The first time I heard of the Festival was at the Atlanta African American Book Festival. An older man had bought two of my books and asked me if I was attending the Decatur Book Festival. “That’s where you need to be,” he had said. The second time was when speaking with my academic advisor. I told her I was going to a book festival and she brought up Decatur.)

After marinating on the man’s words, tasting them, digesting them, I wasn’t offended anymore, and I realized that he’d just given me lots of wisdom. It was deeper than selling in a store. He was telling me that as an author I needed to build relationships with others if I intended to sell books. He was telling me, without telling me, that familiarity sells books so I needed to network and give people a chance to get to know me first.

For online this is social media but offline this is events, book signings, meet and greets, lunch and dinner meetings. (side note: think big….introduce yourself to the person running the show…speak with owners and coordinators…also, with social media, don’t feel obligated to be everywhere…go where your audience is or where people have shown they care. I don’t do much on my personal Facebook page and I really just started posting regularly on my business Facebook page. Why? I don’t have anything personal against Facebook but if I see something is not providing value I am not the kind of person to want to keep doing it….if something is not working then I need to get a new something, not force it to work. If I see that the people on my personal page aren’t interested then I am not going to keep bothering them…I am going to go where I am valued and where the people have shown they are interested in what I have to offer. For me that is Twitter and IG so I post to these accounts the most without feeling guilty about not posting the same thing to Facebook.)

Back to the guy…

I knew what he was saying was truth and have known it for years but hearing it from him directly made it more real and helped me to understand how to better sell the books I have on the shelves of the other two stores in Georgia. People must know who I am in order to walk in and request my book. I needed to work harder to build awareness.

This point was further validated (confirmed) when I saw a post by Mixtus Media:

“Even if you’re an introvert,” the caption read, “you need to connect with people to sell your book…I know it’s intimidating to put yourself out there on social media–especially for introverts. I know because I am one! But in order for your book to see success, you have to do it.”

I know now, exactly what is needed for me to take my career to the next level.

Now, let’s get back to the story.

When Vivica screamed at Jamie to stop playing, she didn’t know at the time that he would later win an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy all for playing the piano, among other things, in his portrayal of Ray Charles in the movie Ray.

What you do tomorrow is determined by what you do today. You think Jamie Foxx decided to play the piano when he found out he was gonna play Ray Charles? No. Jamie Foxx had been playing the piano since he was five years old (back when he was still Eric) and the practice helped him later in life to do something he probably didn’t even know that he would ever do.

Vivica A. Fox Book Signing, 7/22

Whether you write, sing, dance, act, teach or swim, play your piano. In other words, prepare and do what is necessary today even if you don’t understand why you must do it. You have to be ready when the time comes and not trying to get ready.

Being an Independent Author doesn’t mean you should not listen to people who are trying to educate you about improving your craft. As Vivica puts it, “when you receive constructive criticism and it helps you deliver, you have to acknowledge it.”

Vivica had another story. This one about a woman she met who wanted to be an actor. The woman was concerned that she was too old. She had gotten a head-shot and everything and wanted Ms. Fox’s advice.

“Well, you can’t stand by the pool,” Vivica told her, “you have to get in.”

Vivica explained that the work is not just what’s on screen. I think this can apply to those of us in this digital era. The work is not just what’s on screen! On Facebook, on Twitter, on IG, on the blog. The work is constant and much of it takes place behind the scenes.

“I so appreciate that (name) put time into studying,” Vivica continues, “but I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.”

Ms. Fox is right. Five or ten years from now you may find that the work you put in was preparing you for that one moment.

Additionally, don’t wait for someone you think is more important than you to make the decision of who you are gonna be. I got offended by the man’s words (at first) because I’ve never been a “star struck” kind of person. I cheer for everyone and give everyone the same level of respect, honoring each of our sacrifices and contributions regardless of position. These authors are people like I’m a person. They aren’t better than me and I am not better than them. They just started earlier.

This isn’t about bragging but as a wise person once said, “you will have a very hard time running a successful business with low self-esteem.” You can be humble and confident in your ability to deliver at the same time. You are not better than anyone (humility) but you have to know what sets you apart from the rest (confident). I struggle with being timid and unsure too but it’s something I am learning (quickly) I’d need to get over to take it to the next level.

If you want to be successful at anything you must see yourself as such already. Before I married I knew that I needed to become a wife before I actually was. Jamie Foxx didn’t become a pianist when people started to recognize him as such. He always was. Just like you already are. Everything you strive to be, YOU ALREADY ARE. Act accordingly.


Don’t forget to join me tomorrow for the start of the I am Soul Blog Tour! I will be visiting a total of 10 blogs over the course of the next few months and introducing some of my poetry. Be sure you are following these blogs by clicking HERE. You don’t want to miss it!

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Be my guest: Yecheilyah Ysrayl – Platforms Made Easy – A Simple Look at Platform Building for Aspiring Authors

My guest post on building platforms. (I am off today. Will share across social media tonight).

*Comments disabled here. Meet me on the other side!*

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

a-simple-look-at-platform-buildingNote: This article can apply to ANYONE just starting a business, not just writers, who would like to understand more about platform building. Just replace writer / author with your profession.

Platform building is not something we writers want to hear about AGAIN. Honestly, we all really just want to write books, publish them, and then crack open bottles of wine to celebrate. Next, we wait. And wait. And wait. What are we waiting for? We’re waiting for the readers to come of course, isn’t everyone? No. Some people have readers before they even come out with a book flocking to their Amazon pages or Author websites to buy. Some people do not have to build a fan base after they’ve published a book, tweet until their fingers ache, or spam their family and friends on Facebook. Some people seem to just have thousands of readers already lined up at…

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Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting The Excess

Laying Bricks(1)

When applying Mortar, sometimes it’s just too much and you need to cut the excess. When you get your script back, you’ll need to decide what to keep and what to ignore.

Cutting The Bricks

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“A good book needs a good edit: nothing screams ‘amateur’ louder than a glaring spelling mistake or improper punctuation. One criticism leveled at self-published literature is that the quality isn’t up to the standard set by the traditional trade, where editorial services are of precious significance. The constructive input of a skilled editor is certainly valuable; a structural overhaul – or even just a light copy edit – can radically transform a novel, elevating it from the ordinary to the extraordinary. In fact, in a recent poll of publishers and their authors, authors said that the number one thing they wanted their publisher to contribute was ‘discoverability’ i.e.: marketing. The publishers however, all thought that their most important contribution was editorial input.”

Editing, like feedback from critiques and beta reads, is part of the revision process and encourages more rewrites. After the feedback from your readers you’ll need to revise. Then, you’ll need to get your manuscript edited. Finally, you’ll want to take it through another revision, adding the changes suggested by your editor (or some of them).

  • First Draft
  • Beta Readers / Critique
  • Revision Stage One
  • Revision Stage Two
  • Edit
  • Revision Stage Three
  • Proofread

You can really have as many revisions as your heart desires. Not all bricks will suffice at their original size. Most walls require smaller bricks at their ends. Before cutting a script, it helps to place it in the hands of someone with the credentials to absorb the shock of the blow. There are many forms of the edit but don’t worry, you may not need them all. Choose the brick chisel you need to cut your brick:

  • Line Editor
  • Copy Editor
  • Developmental Editor
  • Proofreader

Let’s get help from The Helpful Writer to define these:

Copy

The copy editor specializes in grammar, punctualization, fact-checking, spelling, and formatting. The Copy Editor is used most often in journalism publications, but utilized by some smaller publishers.

Line

Also known as a Copy/Content Editor, often employed by the small – medium publishers, and self-published authors. They do it all – grammar, fact-checking, spelling, formatting, plot, sentences, characterization, setting, punctualization, and voice. They go through every inch of an MS, word by word, line by line.

(EC: Go into the edit with the mind that you’ll have to utterly destroy your favorite parts. Truth is, your favorite part isn’t necessarily the reader’s favorite and we’ve already established the fact that giving readers what they want is important).

Developmental

Used by big publishing houses, and often ghost writers. You can find a few freelancing DEs. They are best with non-fiction writing, but can be hired by fiction writers. Their primary function is to ensure a book moves in a forward motion, watching plot and characterization. Think writing coach.

Proofreader

Many get a proofreader and an editor confused. A proofreader is the one who goes over your MS after an editor. They look for the glaring mistakes missed, generally in punctuation, spelling, and formatting. They look for the glaring mistakes that may have been missed during edits.

What if I want to Keep Parts?

That’s OK, as long as you keep in mind that you’re writing for more than just yourself and what you find profound may not resonate with your readers if it’s not presented well. For instance, I’m a big advocate for writing with purpose. I believe everyone has a mission, a purpose, a calling if you will and that everyone, as a consequence, has a responsibility to live up to this purpose. That said, when deciding what changes to make for me personally, it’s important that the vision is not lost in the revision. There are some parts of a story I will not sacrifice.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t heed the call of feedback that makes sense. It doesn’t have to come wrapped in fancy wrapping paper with a bow, some advice just makes sense. Its logical. The wisdom in what to change in your script is to heed logical advice while learning how to incorporate your passion into a story people will enjoy. As stated in Episode One, at the end of the day good stories sell. Period. Market and promote all you want. If its not a good story, it won’t sell. So while living up to your purpose, keep in mind that no one likes to be preached to. By preach I mean anything that may come across as preachy whether it’s of a religious nature or not. Always remember that there’s a way to embed messages into stories. In short, think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.

The final stage of the revision process is the proofread. Once you got your bricks in place, you’ll want to give it a once over. Are the bricks straight or crooked? Is mortar oozing from all sides? Do you need to cut out portions of the brick itself?

Proofreading is done to look for those final errors that slipped through the cracks. Proofreaders examine your script carefully to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling missed during the edit. Proofreading should be done after the edit and is the final stage of the revision process. In this way, you can ensure a polished manuscript before moving onto other fun stuff.

All excess mortar is squeezed out, and the joint is removed by scraping it off with the proofread and we’re ready to move on.

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Next– Brick Pathway

Next, we’ll talk about moving on from revisions with a manuscript that is ready to be seriously read. Now that you’ve scraped off excess mortar, what’s next in our brick laying process? Create a welcoming entrance to your book by laying a brick pathway. We’ll discover what that is next week. Stay tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first two episodes?

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks

(About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

(About the Revision)

Hot PBS Self-Publishing Topics to Date:


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

Laying Bricks(1)

“You cannot build your hopes upon unstable foundations and expect a product of longevity.”

– Audrey Prim,

Quote From heyygurrlheyy.wordpress.com

Sure, there are other things we’ll need to do: paint the walls, add furniture, and hire professionals but not now, not while laying bricks.

Execution is vital in going from an idea to something that is actually tangible. Goals are great, but alone they’re not enough. Written down, they are merely plans. Plans are awesome. But a plan that is not backed by action becomes fruitless.  Laying bricks is excellent, but it is not enough. No, you can’t just write, sorry. I wish it was that easy. Wait, actually, it is!

It is if you take your time. If we are to build a strong house, there are other things that we must do with these bricks besides lay them. In our first unofficial episode, we spoke about focusing on one brick and how to lay it properly. We got through the laying part but if the brick is not held together, then the entire foundation is weak and the house will crumble.

Applying Mortar – Revisions and Feedback

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Writing the story is important. It is your guide, your first brick. But we have all lived long enough to know that you can’t just stack bricks, you need something to hold them together. As much as we’d like to all just have fun, this is a business after all.

Safety Tip: When working with mortar, always wear gloves and a mask or respirator.

Before applying mortar, you’d need to protect yourself. This just means you’ll need to be prepared to battle self-doubt and rejection because this step requires revisions and feedback. If your first brick is the story, then how do you know if that story is any good? Surely we cannot depend on our own selves to determine the quality of work. I mean, are we brilliant? Yes, of course. But we are also too close to the work.

I’m not going to pretend your first draft isn’t everything, it is. It took lots of time and research. It is everything, but it’s not EVERYTHING! See how exciting the last everything was? First drafts are like the play-dough you just want to play with and get all “authorly” and say stuff like “yaasss”. However, we can’t just give readers dough now can we? We have to mold it into something and to do this properly, you’ll need a little bit of help.

Discover the tools you need to apply a generous amount of feedback to each layer of the brick. This may require:

  1. Beta Readers
  2. Advanced Review Readers
  3. Writing Critique Groups
  4. Facebook Writer Groups

Click Here for 40 Places to Find a Critique Partner

Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

I know. It sounds funny speaking about revisions so early on. The truth is that no first draft is ready to be published. The truth is that your manuscript will need revisions. But, how do you know what needs to be revised?

The job of these people listed is to provide constructive feedback. When it came time to participate in The Curiouser Author Society’s Critique day, whew! Nervous is not the word, I was terrified. However, when I finally did upload my novel’s first chapter and allowed this group of people to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Sure, I thought it was good but could I really depend on my own critique? Not really. Now that others read it and provided feedback I knew it was good. Granted, it wasn’t great (at this stage you don’t get to great yet… there were things I needed to fix), but I was confident that it wasn’t poor either which boosted my confidence as a writer. I’m telling you from experience, it is enough fuel to finish the book indeed!

Here are a few things to look for during revision:

  • Contradictions  – Usually writers start off strong in the beginning but then you get to the end and its like, “Where they do that at?” Look for contradictions in your characters behaviors or setting or anything. Is she wearing red shoes? I thought she hated red tho? Stuff like that.
  • Flow and Pace – If you skip it, chances are it needs to be skipped.
  • Destroy – I’ll speak more on this in the next episode but it is part of the revision process. To fix some things means you have to break it down to build it up. So if the shoe fits, yeah, some parts of your story will need to be utterly destroyed. Recently, I just had to cut an entire chapter from my WIP. Ouch.
  • One Thing at a Time – So is the whole point of this series. We’re not focused on the in depth stuff. In this series we’re focusing on the basics. When you perfect the basics you can build upon what you build. On the other hand, without a strong foundation none of the other stuff will matter. So, back to it. Revise in stages, fixing one thing at a time. Don’t rush. Remember, this is  a process. We’re not building a straw house. We’re building  a brick house.
  • Show and Tell – Check for moments you told instead of showed and vice verse. I won’t elaborate here since I plan to publish a separate post on it, but just be sure you understand the difference between telling vs. showing. Personally, I think good writers show and tell. There’s an ongoing debate in the writing world about Showing vs. Telling but here’s the secret: don’t show us everything! As a result of the show vs. tell debate authors are now showing us everything but their booty cheeks. That’s not what show vs. tell means and makes the story sound just as boring as my example. It’s called Storytelling for a reason. You are supposed to tell a story. The difference is in balancing the amount of telling and showing. Straight action doesn’t work no more than no action. Your characters just can’t be running all over the place, they need quite, emotional times too.
  • Grammar / Punctuation – This is last not because its not important. It’s just that this goes more into the next episode. But, there are still mistakes you can catch during your revision you may not have seen before. Especially those caught by your betas.

Sure, everyone’s opinions are just that, opinions. Additionally, opinions vary for each person. Still, it helps to have an extra set of eyes to validate some things for you as you revise your script. If you think you can really do it all yourself, then maybe you are not ready to build a house. (Ever watched those home reconstruction shows? Do you see how much work that is? Now, imagine one person doing it. Sheesh). The extra set of eyes are not to dictate your script, change the vision, or slam your work.

The extra eyes are just to help you along the revision process before you go in for the edit. So, “butter” that brick with mortar by recruiting additional sets of eyes to read your manuscript. They may be useful in locking each brick into place and to release any unnecessary plot bubbles that may be underneath all the glitter and glam.

Next– Removing Excess

Next, we’ll talk about removing the excess in your Self-Pub brick laying process. Find out what to do when you get your scripts back from readers. After you’ve gotten the book critiqued, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first episode? See Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Self-Publishing – Ep 1 Laying Bricks

My husband and I would like to build our own home one day. Building your own home can be one of the most exciting projects you can undertake. It can also be one of the most frustrating projects. Though rewarding, actually getting to the point of building can take many years to accomplish. However, breaking the process down into smaller pieces can make things go a lot smoother. Saving money, building credit, learning the proper ways to find a location, designing the home, acquiring the correct permits, tools, equipment, and breaking ground. By the time you actually start to build the house many years have passed. Self-Publishing is in many ways just the same. Before you build a house, you have to lay the bricks. Masonry, like Self-Publishing, isn’t a simple task but with the right tools, it can run smoothly.

When I step back and look at the publishing industry as a whole and all of the information that is out there, I want to scream. OK, maybe not scream. I’m not a screaming person, but I do want to pull out a few locs.

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It actually makes me happy to know that I knew none of this when I first started writing. Why? I probably would not have chosen to publish a book, let alone self-publish it. The truth is in most of our lives we are blinded from the full picture of the vision in order to a). ensure we will step outside of our comfort zones and b). grow into the person who can achieve said goal. Let’s face it, 15-50% of people are introverted. According to Best Selling Author of Quite: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, former corporate lawyer and self-professed introvert Susan Cain defines introverts as people who “like more quiet, less stimulating environments”.

In other words, Introverts are people who are shy and prefer not to be around lots of people (Although many argue shyness is not really introversion, let’s just keep it simple shall we? Let’s just say that shyness is a kind of introversion, whereas the individual responds differently to outside stimulation, particularly socially). In short, it’s easy for most of us to get overwhelmed with all of the constantly changing information out there. Sometimes it’s stressful just thinking about it. But then there is something we’re all forgetting: It is all a process.

If you don’t realize the small progressions in your life, how can you ever see the larger ones? If you don’t celebrate each small moment, how can you get to the greater ones?

If you try to look at this as an entire piece, you’ll never get anywhere, for no one ever moved a mountain all at once. Trying to follow everyone’s advice and stay up to date on every piece of information is not only bad strategy, but it will also wear you out. Instead, focus on one brick and how to lay it properly. Then focus on another one and another and another…you get the point. Sure, hubby and I would love to build a house but first we have to purchase land. Before we purchase land, we have to get approved for loans. At this stage, I am not designing a house and picking out decorations. Right now we’re focused on building credit and saving money.

Guide The Bricks – Write The Story

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Technically, your first brick is the Author Platform (a piece of land in which you’ve already established in which to build on), but I have decided not to talk about that today. There are already a gazillion posts, articles, and experts far more knowledgeable than I already talking their heads off about Author Platforms. However, if you can’t engage an audience your platform will falter. Your personality, area of expertise (which is what your books are built on), and ability to engage people is a big part of the platform building process. We have to give readers what they want and what they want is good stories. All of this starts with your skill set as a writer. Many authors have to get a few books under their belt before their platform really starts to blossom. This means your first brick is not the platform. Your first brick is really the story.

When writing the book, focus on doing it right. Block yourself out from all of the noise going on around you. Tempting, yes, but at the end of the day book publishing is about the story. If you can’t write a story that people will want to read, then you my friend do not have a career. Research is great at this stage of the process but try to limit it to research that’s going to help your story. Read books A LOT and look into information that deals with the construction of a story. Look into how to show and not tell, build a story arc, perfect character development, setting, etc. (Yes, I use etc. when I’ve ran out of things to say. Why else?) A mason’s line acts as a guide for setting bricks in perfectly straight rows. This is your story. A writer’s ability to capture an audience is what builds an audience! It sets things in motion and acts as a guide to the other important steps further along in the process.

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So far in the poll, many of you stated you’d like to receive more Self-Pub tips from The PBS Blog which was humbling for little ole me. As someone who is still learning, I am honored that you’d want to hear more of my ramble. Anywho, this was followed by Black History, and Life Tips / Inspirational. I am excited because these are some great categories!

I am in the process of introducing some new things here that I hope you’d love. First, a series called Laying Bricks. In it, we’ll discuss how to take the Self-Publishing world on, one brick at a time by focusing on perfecting the basics.

Next– The Mortar

Next, we’ll talk about the mortar aspect of your Self-Pub brick laying process. After you’ve written the book, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

In Case You Missed It: Popular PBS Self-Pub Tips:


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Building – When The Writing Begins

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Writing does not begin until I can see the entire story, even the end. It is a must that I can see how the story ends. You see for me writers are builders, architects if you will. A book starts with an idea, but not all ideas should become books. Not all ideas are story fabric. Some ideas are meant to be stored for a later time, while others require immediate attention. When an idea enters my mind, I first examine if it’s worthy enough to mature into something more. Is it powerful enough? Can it change lives? Is it different? In short, an idea has to be special, like a rare diamond or a spring of water in the desert. Can we want for it? Does it make us hunger? Does it make us thirst? Not only is it a nice idea, but is it necessary? For me, it has to be something so powerful that it has the potential to grow; an idea that is without potential to grow is not an idea that is fit to become a book.

When I have an idea that is worthy, the writing doesn’t begin just yet. I mean sure, there’s a paragraph here, a sentence there, a potential character name somewhere over there. Lots of things can change as I am seeking to stretch the idea into something more; to mold it into something tangible. The title may change, the name of the characters may change, the setting, plot. I am picking out pieces and adding some. I am changing colors and creating lives. I am an examiner of bricks and mortar to see what fits. Restoring and conserving ideas, coming up with new ways to use them. It is even possible that I may begin to sketch out a stretch of chapters. However, the writing has not yet begun. It does not yet begin because I cannot see the entire work on the page, just shades of pencil and splashes of ink but there’s no real story there. No, words on a page does not mean I have written just yet. Words on a page are merely the sand on the shores, the bricks in the pile, the outer frame of a building with no substance.

When I can see the story move in my head; when I can see it walk its way around from camera to camera; when the dust kicks up and there are actually footprints in the plot; when I can see people speaking and acting and living, that moment when the wind blows for the first time. This is when the writing starts for me. The writing begins when I can hear the story breathe. When I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the full construction on the page. Even how the book will end and this is when I can truly set out to navigate my way though this world. I am a spectator to a movie that has already begun, a director who must choreograph each scene. This is when I’ve began to write the first draft of a book. It is the moment when I know that the original idea is strong enough, and has the potential to be story fabric.