5 Lessons I learned from the movie American Gangster

CEVWBh1UkAIumVq

American Gangster is based on the true story of real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas who by the 1960s constructed an international drug ring that spanned from New York to South East Asia. The film features Denzel Washington as Lucas and a New York City cop (Russell Crowe) who busted a big-time heroin ring. I have a love-hate relationship with this movie. In no way do I condone selling drugs and yet I will still watch this movie. There’s a little angel on my shoulder shaking her head in disgust and a little devil smirking at me as we both smile while watching Denzel’s swag.

I’ve been a bad girl

So anyway, I was watching American Gangster last week and I started typing away at the notepad in my phone. Somehow, I had managed to think about writing. These days, I watch movies to see if they are well written as well as educational and entertaining. Eventually, I had come up with a nice little list of things I learned and I thought I’d share it with you.

Lesson #1: Influence

“I want what you got Uncle Frank. I wanna be you.”

One of the most powerful aspects of this movie is the message on Influence. Social influence occurs when someone’s emotions, opinions or behaviors are affected by others. In the movie, Frank’s nephew Stevie Lucas is an excellent baseball player and had been playing since he was a child. Now at the prominent financial level to do so, Frank schedules a meeting for his nephew with the Dodgers. Stevie does not show up. Now that he was part of his Uncle’s drug enterprise, he no longer had a desire to play ball. Instead, he wanted to be a drug kingpin like Frank. Played by the rapper T.I. this was one of the saddest parts of the movie for me when Stevie Lucas said he didn’t want to play baseball anymore although that was his passion since childhood. Instead, he wanted to be a drug dealer.

This movie is a reminder that you are not just living for yourself. The decisions you make and the opinions you give do not just belong to you but can influence the people around you. We don’t have to be celebrities or someone great to have influence. Somewhere, in our little corner of the world, someone is listening to us and silently taking our advice. People are watching you whether you know it or not and whether they speak up about it or not. The danger in this is that people will follow your example. Sadly, even when you’re wrong if they admire you enough.

Lesson #2: Follow Your Own Advice

“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”

Frank said this to Huey Lucas, his brother, after seeing him hanging out with Nicky Barnes, “one of the biggest heroin dealers in the country,” a 1977 New York Times Magazine article titled “Mister Untouchable” stated. Nicky is known as being arrogant and living a flamboyant lifestyle. In the movie Huey had taken on Nicky’s flamboyant way of dress and his haughty demeanor.

There is so much to learn from this quote alone. It goes hand in hand with the phrase, “the more you talk, the less you know.” Usually, it’s the people who are the weakest who makes the most noise.

Frank then turned around and wore an expensive fur, bought by his wife, to the Ali/Fraizer fight–the same “clown suit” he warned his brother not to wear–and stuck out like a sore thumb. This is what made the police take notice of him and pay attention to him. From this one mistake, they learned of Franks every move.

The message here is to remember to take your own advice, which is not always easy to do if you’re not paying attention. I am sure we all have an instance to which we forgot to take our own advice.

Lesson #3: The Love of Money

“Success has enemies…quitting while you are ahead is not the same as quitting.”

All any black man wants to do is take care of his family, I get that. But Frank messed his brothers and nephews life up. He traveled to North Carolina and recruited his brothers and cousins into his drug empire but he didn’t have to bring them into that. His brothers and cousins were country boys so it’s almost like, to me, that Frank took their innocence. He was the oldest (if the movie is correct in this portrayal) and they looked up to him. He could have used his influence more positively. Even his mother in the movie said: “If you was a preacher they would have all been preachers.” This goes back to lesson one. You have people who watch you and look up to you even if you don’t know it. So, my question is, why couldn’t they invest in the businesses they used as fronts for the drug deals to create real, legit businesses? Because of the love of money.

Lesson #4: The Business Mind

“Nobody owns me though. That’s ’cause I own my own company and my company sells a product that’s better than the competition, at a price that’s lower than the competition.”

There’s a lot to learn about business in this movie. Even if the business was in selling drugs. I believe you can get a lesson from anything if you’re paying enough attention to it. One of Frank’s many lessons had to do with launching a new product that was cheap but still held quality. In the 1970s heroine was often diluted with sugars, chalk, flour or powdered milk in order to stretch it. Addicts understood that the drug would have a lower potency. To create his one-of-a-kind “product,” Frank had to step outside of his comfort zone and go outside of the established heroin supply chain. He cut out the middleman and went straight to the source, a heroin producer in Saigon, Vietnam. In the movie, Frank didn’t dilute his heroin which made it more potent. He also sold it at a lower price.

The lesson here is that sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort circles to reach new levels. If you are surrounded by broke people then you will more than likely be broke too. If you are surrounded by people with no vision then all you will ever do is dream. If you want to reach new levels you have to surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. Want to publish a book? Want to understand how it’s done? Then surround yourself with people who are doing it right and take advice from people who have made it to where you want to be. This same thing applies to any business.

Lesson #5: Not Everything is as it Seems

Lucas_Brothers

The final and most important lesson is not to believe everything that you see. Much of this movie is made up by Hollywood. Denzel Washington is a more smooth and exaggerated version of the real Frank Lucas. The real Frank Lucas was not Bumpy Johnson’s driver for 15 years. He was not with Bumpy when he died. The real Frank Lucas did dilute his heroin, though not as much as the other dealers. The real Frank Lucas did collect numerous full mink and chinchillas aside from the one his wife bought and is often mentioned as being just as “flashy” as Nicky Barnes. And the real Frank Lucas is rumored to have been illiterate.

The cop, Richie Roberts, persona was also exaggerated in the movie. He did not have a child and was not in a custody battle with his ex-wife. He also had a much smaller role in the capturing of Frank Lucas.

The lesson here is to remember to do your own research. Don’t just believe the movies you watch, the articles you read or the things that you see on social media. Even salt looks like sugar and spoiled milk is still white. Always double-check your facts.

Sources:

http://brandautopsy.com/

http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/americangangster.php

https://www.biography.com/people/frank-lucas-253710

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Lucas_(drug_dealer)

http://www.complex.com/style/2013/01/the-10-most-stylish-drug-kingpins-of-all-time/khun-sa

https://citylimits.org/2009/07/05/heroin-from-the-civil-war-to-the-70s-and-beyond/

Advertisements

Let’s Congratulate Don! Introducing DSM Publications!

Guys, help me to congratulate my author friend Don Massenzio on his new business endeavor. DSM Publications offers Editing and Formatting services to Indie Authors at a reasonable rate with advice and networking with other authors. Don is a big supporter of this blog so I am delighted to return the favor! Be sure to like his new Facebook page HERE and to follow his new blog HERE and subscribe to his email list HERE. (If you sign up for DSM Newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of Don’s book, The Ultimate Guide for Independently Published Authors.) To learn more, visit his post HERE . Remember, we are in this together! Whoo hoo.

Writespiration: Have You Done All That You Could Do?

This is my husband’s advice to everything and I love him for it. It always brings me back. Whenever I am stressing about something this is the first thing he asks me. “Have you done all that you could do?” I want to use this question as motivation for some writespiration today.

Writing books is not easy and building a business around those books is even more challenging. Sometimes I get down because things are just not going the way I want them to. Or need them to! Sometimes I get frustrated and I really want to give up. I say to myself: Is it worth it? Is there anyone who really cares? Am I wasting my time? These are questions we all have from time to time. After all, we are human with feelings and emotions and every now and again, we get down. We do not stay down, it is my hope, but it happens. (Especially when we are on the brink of something great.)

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

But then my husband’s voice goes off in my head: Have you done all that you could do?

This means to me, have I done everything in my power to move this thing forward?

If the answer is no the follow-up question is: what can you do with what you have financially, intellectually, practically? Is it money that’s limiting you? Is it a lack of knowledge that’s limiting you? Is it the practical application? Is it lack of support? Are you communicating with your audience? No problem can be solved without a thorough understanding of why it’s even a problem in the first place.

Have you done all that you could do?

If the answer is yes, the follow-up is: It’s out of your control now. Now you must pray for Yah to move on the spiritual realm. Let Yah bring the super and you bring the natural. Ask him to remove the stumbling blocks and demonic forces blocking your way. Ask him for the strength and the courage to wait for what is on its way to you. Ask Yah for patience and believe he has the power to make it happen.

Have you done all that you could do?

This question asks us to examine our goals in a logical way instead of sulking and complaining (which literally does nothing) and gives us something practical to work with. By implementing action we are usually capable of shifting the negative energy toward a more positive vibe. Do not forget that you have the power to change the way that you feel and to take a negative emotion or situation and turn it into a positive one at any time. When you ask yourself, “have I done all that I could do?” it will bring forward new ideas and force you to do something and see the good rather than the bad. You will begin to examine what you have done instead of what you have not done and what you do have instead of what you do not have.


Be sure to pick up your copy of Revolution: The Nora White Story – Book Two, available now for pre-order on Amazon. Didn’t read book one? Grab it for 99cents here from now through 5/30.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors by Anne R. Allen

Title: The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors

Author: Anne R. Allen

Print Length: 176 pages

Publisher: Kotu Beach Press

Publication Date: December 4, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B077Y5DKP9

 

*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author*

*Due to the high volume of reads I am behind on, reviews will no longer be restricted to Fridays. I will be publishing reviews on whatever day I get them out until I am caught up*

 

Anne R. Allen is no stranger to the blogging world. Writer’s Digest named “Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris” one of the “Best 101 Websites for Writers”, and the blog made The Write Life’s list of the Best 100 Websites for Writers for 2017. Her advice and suggestions are shared daily by bloggers and authors such as myself. As her book is targeted, I am a busy Author but I also love to blog. Blogging. It has become one of the things I must incorporate into my schedule. I love interacting with the WordPress platform, networking with other authors, readers, and bloggers and being able to share my post on social media. In short, if there was a book out there for busy author bloggers, I am definitely one of them which is why I definitely knew I was going to need this book. I was not disappointed.

This book is extremely easy to understand which I think makes the “Easy” in the title so critical. It helps to guide those authors who are new to blogging in a way that leaves no stone unturned. Whether it is Blogger or WordPress, if you are an author (even if you’re not a busy one) Allen’s book will give you the tools you need to make blogging part of your platform. What I loved most of all is the information on how an author blog is different than a business blog. I also enjoyed the part on writing an author bio, which I applied immediately. What I loved least is some of the information on author newsletters.

While I don’t think everyone should do it at all (and I also agree with the author on some of the focus of some newsletters), I still think the email list can be beneficial for staying in communication with an author’s target audience. While my blog is more interactive and people can subscribe and also get email notifications of new posts, the email list helps me to organize exactly who the people are who are subscribed. I do not think the email list is for hard-selling (it doesn’t work) or anything most people tell you it is for but I do think it can be helpful to know who your supporters are more intimately. I love my blog. I have more interaction, feedback and more subscribers but I don’t know who everyone is, who is actually reading my content or what percentage of them are no longer paying attention. With an email list, I know exactly who is active, who is inactive, who clicks links, who open emails and who doesn’t. People who are no longer interested can also unsubscribe, giving me, even more, insight into the people who care and the people who do not care.

Nonetheless, there are still some really good pointers here so my disagreement with this part didn’t downgrade my thoughts on the book. Allen brings up some good pointers, such as: not using your list to advertise hard sell, promote or spam. How blogs show up on search engines, can be shared on social media and is interactive. I also like that she brings up the Street Team newsletter where everyone is treated as members of the author’s team to help to review and promote the work. I don’t like the idea either and have always thought there should be a separate list for this.

I wouldn’t recommend this book just for busy authors. I recommend this book for author bloggers in general. It’s an easy read and gives all the tools you need to start your author blog today.

 

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors is available now on Amazon. Authors, go get it!

Anne R A

Anne R. Allen is the author of nine comic novels. THE GATSBY GAME, FOOD OF LOVE, and THE LADY OF THE LAKEWOOD DINER are available singly or in a boxed set called BOOMER WOMEN. She’s also the author of the hilarious Camilla Randall mysteries: THE BEST REVENGE, GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY, SHERWOOD, LTD., NO PLACE LIKE HOME, SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, and THE QUEEN OF STAVES. She is currently published by Kotu Beach Press.

She also has a collection of short stories and verses called WHY GRANDMA BOUGHT THAT CAR.

She’s the co-author of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…A SELF-HELP GUIDE, written with Amazon #1 seller, Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Her latest book is THE AUTHOR BLOG: EASY BLOGGING FOR BUSY AUTHORS.

Writer’s Digest named “Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris” one of the “Best 101 Websites for Writers”, and the blog made The Write Life’s list of the Best 100 Websites for Writers for 2017.

Anne is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and spent twenty-five years in the theater–acting and directing–before taking up fiction writing. She is the former artistic director of the Patio Playhouse in Escondido, CA and now lives on the foggy Central Coast of California with an imaginary cat and a lot of fictional people.

Easy Blogging for Authors: 10 Tips for a Successful Author Blog, Anne R Allen

Anne is at it again with a most excellent article on Blogging for Authors. If you’re an author and you’re looking to learn more about how your blog differs from a business blog, check out this post. She talks being true to your brand, not defining your blog success by numbers, networking and not sacrificing your WIP (work in progress).

My biggest mistake was that I didn’t see that an author blog has a different purpose and goal from a business blog. Author blogs aren’t about making money directly with ads or sales.

Instead, they provide a platform for your writing and a way to communicate with readers and fellow writers. An excellent one. In fact, a blog is still the best platform-building tool for authors, according to agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, (Laurie will be visiting us in January.)

Good writers don’t need gimmicks. We only need to entertain and inform: content really is king. Be accessible and be yourself. Nothing else matters. (Well, correct spelling and grammar help too. 🙂 )

Click through to the ORIGINAL POST HERE to read the entire article.

Setting up with MailChimp

Setting up an email list isn’t part of every author’s platform but for those who are looking to set up, you have a number of them to choose from:

  • Convertkit
  • Mailerlite
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber

….and so on…

Today, I’d like to talk a bit about MailChimp and show you how easy it is to get started. (It is free for your first 2,000 subscribers)

First, go to www.mailchimp.com and set up an account.

When creating a password, be sure you have a password using at least one capital letter, a number, and a special character:

Example_1 is an example of what would be accepted. If you don’t have at least one number, capital letter and special character it won’t let you go on.

After you set everything up, check your email and activate your account.

Here is where you enter your name and the name of your business.

Screenshot (59)Screenshot (60)

Next, you are going to have to add a physical address. This is because of anti-spam laws. Learn more about that HERE. But you can always come back to this page to change it later.

I would recommend your first and last name and the city, state, and zip in place of Do Not Contact. It looks more professional.

Your Name

Your City, State, Zip

Remember, a street address is optional so you don’t really need that and also remember that you can change this later.

Screenshot (61)

This is your dashboard. When you start sending emails you will see your campaign here, your data and so forth.

Screenshot (62)

Now for the fun part. It’s time to get started. First, you need to create a List. Click on the List tab.

Go ahead and create list.

Screenshot (77)

List Name > The Name of Your Newsletter

Default from email > Your Business Email

Default Name > I highly recommend using a name people are familiar with already, such as your name. I started with Literary Korner Publishing but then switched to Yecheilyah and my open rates have increased tremendously since then. For your default name, I recommend using your name.

Remind people why they signed up > Wherever people could have accessed your form, put that here “You are receiving this email because…”

Screenshot (84)

Scroll down and check the address for this list. If you want to change it from when you first set up, do that now.

Screenshot (87)

Scroll down. Now that Mailchimp has changed to offer Single Opt-In, you can decide if you want to continue with a double opt in or not. Double Opt-In means once people sign up to your list they will have to confirm again before they are added, like always. Single Opt-In means they are automatically signed up when they first fill out your form. No checking emails and confirmations. They will be automatically added.

If you want Single Opt-In, leave this as is. If you want double opt-in, click on it.

Now, move on to notifications and check all that apply. It’s just asking how often you’d like to be emailed on activity with this list.

Screenshot (90)

Next, you’ll see this page. Until someone is subscribed to your list, you’re done.

Or, you can manually add subscribers you have been given permission to add.

You can also import contacts from your email, assuming you’ve been given permission from those people to be added.

In any event, you won’t be able to send a Campaign or email until you have subscribers to the list.

To manually add subscribers, click add contacts and go from there. In the meantime, let’s move on to how to send emails.

(Reaching out to people to ask if they would like to join your list and if you can add them manually is another great way to increase your number of subscribers. Everyone doesn’t have to sign up, sometimes you can get creative and just ask around (Text messages, Facebook Messages, DM Twitter and IG Messages) All that matters is that you have their permission to sign them up.)

Screenshot (95)

I added myself so that I can show you how to create a Campaign. Click on the campaign tab to get started. This page will come up with the floating arrow to show you where to click.

Screenshot (99)

Click on Create Email

Screenshot (103)

Name your campaign. Whatever your email is about.

Screenshot (105)

The next page is self-explanatory. Just complete the fields based on your list. The To field will ask what list you are wanting this email sent to. Choose the list (you’ll just have one list if you just started), save and proceed to the other fields.

Screenshot (109)

When you get to Design Email, you’ll see a page come up that looks like this. Choose the template of your choice. I am going to go with the follow-up.

Screenshot (111)

This is where you design your email. It’s super easy. Just drag, drop and enter text wherever you want. I am not going to bore you with a step-by-step with this. At least not yet, maybe in another post. However, I would like to caution about one thing….

Screenshot (113)

When I first started my email list I had colors and pictures and it was just going all the way on. While I can only offer suggestions (not guaranteed solutions), I would advise against this. As much as we want to showcase our personality, it helps if our email design is plain and simple. I know, that sounds boring but it’s easier on your audience.

Your email list is really not about you, it’s about the people who read them. Everything, from your subject line to your content and even your design is about making it easier on your subscribers. Therefore, I would say to stay away from too many colors, lots of widgets and pictures, and super long emails.

Personally, I love using my Cartoon Bitmoji as well as my Banner. Aside from these basics, I have taken everything else away. Here’s a snapshot of my real email list to give you an example:

Top

Screenshot (121)

At the top I have my banner (which can be your logo) and a display of my social media buttons. I WOULDN’T PUT MY SOCIAL BUTTONS ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM. I would put them at the top and at the bottom.

Body

Screenshot (122)

The body of my emails have gotten a makeover since I first started. Black letters or gray against a white background. That’s it. Plain, simple, and easy to read.

Bottom

Screenshot (123)

My bitmoji cartoon takes us on out with a reminder to add me to your address book (so my emails don’t go to your spam), check your Spam and Junk Folders (in case my emails go to spam), and a reminder that Gmail emails from Mailchimp tend to go into the promotions folder.

Very Bottom / Signature

Screenshot (126)

Under the reminders is another look at my social widgets and my links.

OK, we’ve had enough Mailchimp for today. Just make sure your emails are clean, easy on the eyes (colors that are not too light or dark), easy to navigate and to the point.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Subscribe to Yecheilyah’s Email List HERE.

 

 

 

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Coed by James Fant

Title:  Coed

Author: James Fant

Print Length: 188 pages

Publisher: James Fant Books, LLC

Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01N9SH36I

*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author*

Coed is a romantic comedy about a man and woman who invests in a barber-beauty shop business called Coed. In a scene reminiscent of the movie Barber Shop, men cut hair on one side and the women do hair on the other. Owners Travis “Trap” Barber and Sade Styles are best friends whose friendship is put to the test when Sade’s lease is up and she moves in with Travis. Being “besties” is one thing but can Trap and Sade maintains a platonic relationship while living under the same roof? The novel seeks to answer this question in a hilarious way.

I loved this book mostly because the author had me rolling. Make me laugh like that and you’re a winner in my book. When Sade moves in with Trap, they each fight to control the feelings they have for one another like Sidney and Dre from the movie Brown Sugar. It is obvious they are attracted to each other on multiple levels but Sade has a man and Trap’s a playboy. Eventually, Sade breaks it off with her boyfriend and Trap insists on attending Myrtle Beach with her to see Lalah Hathaway. What he doesn’t know is how deeply the trip would impact them both.

While Coed is funny, I enjoyed the important messages throughout the novel as well and how it took on a more serious feel toward the end. We get to understand more deeply about the past of the main characters and what contributed to them being the way that they are. It was refreshing and I appreciated this because it is not something we often think about in relationships period. That is, why do people do the things that they do? What makes them tick? So, they are exhibiting off behavior, but why? Have we sought to understand or did we write them off? Instead of casting one another off, see people through the eyes of love. Usually, when someone is being nasty it’s because they are going through something. If we thought of this more, I think the world would be in a much better position.

My least favorite part was that there were instances where the author inserted himself into the narrative. I found this distracting and unnecessary. I also think the “He Said, “She Said” at the beginning of the Chapters is not needed. The author is talented enough to capture whose perspective we are reading without it.

However, none of these took away from the story. At the end of the day I was still laughing my butt off and Trap and Sade’s past revealed was really the final touch this novel needed to bring it on home. I stayed up late just to see what would happen. If you’re a fan of Brown Sugar, Barbershop, and The Best Man, you’ll want to read this book.

I recommend it for lovers of romance, comedy and drama. It has it all.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

COED is available now on Amazon

 

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

Website: http://www.jamesfantbooks.com/