Confession and Cover Reveal

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Many of you know that I have pushed my two bigger projects back but I’ve been low-key working on another one and yesterday, I revealed the news to my email list.

I have wanted to publish many of the poems featured on this blog (by featured I am referring to my own poems) in a book for a long time. I tried it with my third collection but since then I’ve written a lot more poetry. To make a long story short, I’ve finally submitted the final copy of I AM SOUL in to be edited last week and we’re looking at a release date as early as December 20th, my mother’s birthday.

COVER REVEAL – I AM SOUL

 

Inspiration Behind the Title

“You have an old soul.”

I don’t particularly like this phrase and I cringe when people tell me this. But, it is a fact that I’ve heard this many times over the course of my life, disguised in many different ways.

“You act older than you are.”

“You’re mature for your age.”

Or as my big sister so elegantly put it: “You old.”

So, I decided to drop the “Old” (because I’m young shooo lol) and just go with Soul.

Personal

I read something once that said, “The best writing is vulnerable.” I kept rolling this around in my head. It’s so true. I am extremely shy when it comes to my own personal feelings and I admit I am embarrassed to reveal too much of myself because, well, I think it will be too much. I’m too much yall (lol tee hee). But, the person was right. We connect deeper with people who we can relate to. People who are just as human as we are. People who make mistakes and are dripping with flaws. They may not always be this way, but they help us to see there is still hope. Their testimonies make redemption real. They are not somewhere in heaven while the rest of us are here on Earth. Their mistakes are a bridge of commonality that connects them to the rest of mankind. It is why we connect with people who are real.

This book is also a compilation of the Black History poems published to this blog which is another inspiration for the title. We have always had a unique way about us from our rich history to our style of dress to the way that we speak. We are the salt of the Earth. We are flavoring. We are Soul Train and Soul Brothers. We are soul.

I AM SOUL is personal in more ways than one and seeks to tell the truth. To be honest. To be vulnerable. To be weak and in that weakness, to be strong. ( 2 Co 12:10) This book is all things personal. This book is all things, soul.

So, there you have it. I’ll have more details and developments as we get closer to release but I am excited and I hope you will enjoy this collection just as much as you enjoy the poetry on this blog.

I AM SOUL- 3D

Coming Soon

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Beyond Imagination

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We live in a world where certain elements of truth are not allowed to exist. They live instead behind the pages of books and underneath the skin of imagination. Writing fiction is fun to me because we have the opportunity to play with these elements, mixing and matching reality and day dreams until anything becomes possible within the reach of imagination. There is no right and wrong answer. No specific way of doing things, anything and everything is indeed possible. So much so that some of what we read can be described as strange. Completely made up monsters pop in from outer space, people fly and houses speak to us. But truth is stranger than fiction and stretches beyond imagination. That is, nothing we can make up compares to the unusual reality of the kinds of things that actually take place in the real world. You think you’re watching a movie written by a writer who stuttered embellishments in the darkness of his bedroom, fingers tapping against the keyboard while memory plays hide and seek with his thoughts. But what if his characters really do exist? What if armies of giants live underground with thousand eye locusts like horses ready for battle? You think Shrek was the genius of a profound imagination until you realize there were talking Donkey’s in the history of man. You think The Matrix is just a movie until you begin to understand a parallel universe. “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” isn’t just a fancy tag line put together by a writer of fiction; not something I dug up between the inspirations of Mark Twain. What it seeks to communicate is the notion that  nothing we can create can be as unusual as what we are bound to find in real life, and speaks metaphorically of the unsettling realness of truth. The “strangeness” of reality. You think something is weird until you find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Perhaps maybe your characters are not just stick men, but what if they actually do exist?


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of eight books, most notably, The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman 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.

If Your Blog Was a Resume

I am re-posting this article from some time ago. Quick reason why: So I went to this fabulous blog party yesterday right, and there was one common thread: We couldn’t follow each other! On more than one occasion there was an issue with someone’s follow button (including mine!) and other critical buttons in its relation to networking.

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If your blog was a resume, will I be able to contact you for a job?

I follow a lot of blogs through the WordPress reader that I would like to follow by way of my email because it’s easier for me to keep in touch. I manage the blogs I follow by regulating my settings. Some blogs I adjust to get emails every day and instantly. Some I have set for a few times a week, and some I purposely just follow through the reader.

I don’t consider myself an expert blogger so take this with a grain of salt, but perhaps it will be beneficial to make sure your Follow This Blog button is visible. I have come to really enjoy smaller blogs. There is something genuine about a blog with fewer followers. However, I soon discover why there is not much support. I enjoy the post but I can’t find a follow button. There is also one page. It is the about page. I click on the about page. There is nothing there. I don’t know what this blog is about and I can’t follow it to receive the next post. I leave. I may never return.

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I suppose we are all writing publicly for a reason. There is really no such thing as a private blog. If you really wanted to write privately you’d just buy a journal. Instead you started a blog on the World Wide Web so it means you are looking for some kind of attention. That said, the best way to meet people is when you expose things about yourself others can relate to. It can be anything from your favorite food to your humor to your family photos. The point I’m making is give us something. Give us a reason to care. If there’s not even a follow button you cannot expect people to follow you.

(Its Okay to admit you want people to follow your blog. This isn’t arrogance or narcissism. You’re not saying “worship me,” you are just looking for support to help improve your writing or expose yourself as an author or whatever the reason you are blogging. We all know by now that not everyone who follows your blog is really following your blog, this is not about that. This is about helping those who do really want to support you, to do so):

  • Go into your dashboard
  • Go to WP Admin
  • Appearance > Widgets

Here, you’ll see lots of widgets you can use to spice up your sidebar. You can place them anywhere you want on your blog.

There are two kinds of follow buttons. I use both but the one you really want to have is the one that says “Add an email follow button to allow people to follow your blog”. This is the one that will allow people to follow you through their emails. This means that every time you publish a post they will get it in their emails. This is better than if they followed the reader because even when they are not logged in they can still have access to your blog (If they get tired of your emails, they can even adjust their settings so they only get post alerts from you at certain times). This will increase visibility, likes, comments, and overall interaction with your blog. Click and drag this button to the sidebar section. Go back and view your site so you can see how it looks. Preferably, you want your follow button somewhere we can see it easily. Try not to have it at the bottom of the blog because some of us are lazy and don’t want to scroll down that far. The ideal place is actually as close to the top as possible and in your sidebar. (Quick Note: Mine doesn’t say Follow This Blog. It says Subscribe to this Blog. Either one is fine).

Next, add some pages.

Go to Pages > Add a Page

Pages are designed to permanently store information. So a contact page or an about page is a good way to use pages. If you already have an about page, put something on it. It is also a good idea to make sure your stream of posts aren’t infinite. Again, we are lazy with goldfish attention spans, don’t make it difficult.

  • Go To WP Admin > Settings > Reading
  • Blog Pages Show At Most (Add the number you want. Limit it to less than forever)
  • For Each Article In Feed > Click Show Summary so that when people scroll through your blog they see a summary of the post without going on….you guessed it, forever.

Also, decorate the place a little bit. Play with WordPress many themes and colors to fit your style and personality. Whatever you do, get creative. We may just stick around a bit longer than usual.


BE SURE TO VISIT THE BLOG TIPS PAGE HERE BLOG TIPS PAGE HERE FOR MORE

BE SURE TO FOLLOW ME ON IG HERE

BE SURE TO FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER HERE

BE SURE TO LIKE MY FB PAGE HERE

AND BE SURE TO VISIT ME ON THE WEB ATWWW.YECHEILYAHYSRAYL.COM TO LEARN MORE.

Music and Words Blog Award

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Although The PBS Blog is now Blog Free, I would like to take the time to thank Elissa of Embracing My Inner Ginger for nominating us for the Music and Words Blog Award. I love music and I believe it’s such an important part of history, of future and of present day. There is such a healing quality to music that can be as light as touching the surface of human emotion or run as deep as impacting and changing lives. The musical therapy of words can take us as far back as childhood and for this I always find solace in finding that one song that can take me back to a memorable place. Music to me is a lot like moving pictures. Photos capture the excitement or action of the moment and whenever we look at them we are taken back to that place. We remember when we were learning something new, doing something adventurous or feeling slightly down. The pictures take us back there. Back to that exact second. The moment our eyes twinkled for the first time and just before it darkened again to be revisited at a later time. Like the time between when the baby took his first step and before he fell. Camera’s capture that tiny space of opportunity and music, to me, is much the same way. Except music is moving and flowing, and riding the beat like waves into another time and place.

Of course, since I am blog free I will not be participating in any of the rules but I have added the Award to my PBS Blog Award shelf as I do all of my awards to show my appreciation.

Don’t forget to stop by Thursday for our weekly Throwback Thursday Jams :).

Separation From Blogging

The sun had not completely set on my first night away before I was flooded with post and story ideas. And by the time the sky was overspread with blackness and poured into my bedroom, I’d written two poems already. To what do I owe this sudden flood of inspiration? I suppose it’s because a relaxed mind is a creative mind, or so they say. But in my reflection, I’ve had a lot of time to think and have come to the conclusion that there is some truth to that saying; separation from the online scene does tend to resurrect a kind of motivation lost during the constant interaction online. Personally, the desire to force a thought on top white paper seems to ring too loudly when I want to write, or rather feel I have to as opposed to when I’m just living life. The anxious stroke of the pen, or the thrashing keyboard always comes in that moment when you’re consciously aware that you must scribble something into existence. You thus search desperately for something to spark a flame, something to satisfy this urge but pushing always pulls away. The more you push a thought, try as you must to force a post, the more ideas slip from your fingers like liquid desperation.

It is at this point that the mind needs to be set aside for a while. To separate, to relax, and to calm from the influx of emails, WordPress Readers, and advice on how we should transfer our thoughts on to the page or rather, the screen. This tends to, for me, bring to life a sudden rush of creativity. Where thoughts have been left to grow and to mature before hitting the spotlight. To give my thoughts a chance to breathe and to exist, all neatly wrapped and stored into this place inaccessible among the crowd but dancing in a place called solitude. Even this post for instance,  came easy, smooth and without effort. There was no question or debate or concern about what it would be like. It just existed and I let it be. Just a coming forth of thoughts I’d written down while sitting on my bed and yet not at all there. Somewhere uninterrupted by the perspective of others, whose words do tend to spark great creativity, but whose birth is not as beautiful as the new born torn from my own flesh. Words that come untainted and unscathed by opinion. Nothing but pure inspiration come from my own head, smack down in the midst of the quite.

5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post

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They tell you the first sentence draws you in. After that the first paragraph, and then the first page. I believe however that the real first is the title of the blog post itself. While it may not be ultra extremely important, blog titles do carry weight. This is, after all, still the headline of your post when you decide to publish the article, video, quote, or whatever you are publishing today. It is the teaser that will either pull others in or scare them away. Titles are so important that some people will decide not to tune into a blog post at all because they do not agree with whats in the title (which is too bad for them. Didn’t your mothers ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?)

Any who, the more I blog the more I learn. As I watch those with years of experience, I have learned a little about what makes for an acceptable blog post headline. Not only have a learned from watching others, but I’ve learned from paying attention to my own reading habits. Below is a list of the blog post titles that usually catch my attention.

#1. Keep It Simple Short

The blog titles that often catch my attention are those that are short and to the point. It is not a good idea to make your blog post titles too long. If posting a quote, it is also not a good idea to post the entire quote as your title. People get bored easily and do not want to read a paragraph before getting to the actual article. Instead, look at your title as if it were a tweet that must be restricted to 140 characters. Ask yourself what the post is about and what key words are important to include. For instance, whenever I write a post about self-publishing I always include Self-Publishing before the title of the post so that those Indie Authors looking for insight can easily find it. I then follow it up behind what the post is about: Self-Publishing: The Workflow, Self-Publishing: ISBN Numbers for example. Short and sweet titles are also those that don’t take much brain power to decipher. “I Hate Coffee” or “This Dumb Computer” is just as likely to attract attention. Both of these titles leads me to my next bullet point.

#2. Something Catchy!

Blog titles that are creative also catches my attention. This reminds me of a cold open in a movie script. Cold Open is a term screen writers use to indicate that you are coming in on an action scene. It is when you come in smack down in the middle of all the drama. Right when the husband walks in and catches his wife pulling her jeans on next to an unidentified figure in the bed. Its the look on his face when she pauses and scans the room as if an excuse is going to pop up in the corner. It is the camera zooming in on a street fight right at the moment when fist meets chin. Ouch. That is what catchy titles can do for readers. It makes us wonder what the rest of the article is about. For example: “Doctors Are Gods”. From the onset, you have no idea what this blog post is about. You don’t know if I actually believe Doctors are Gods, if this is a poem, or if I’m setting out to criticize the profession. In either event I know that I would want to check this post out! Even if I don’t make it through the article, if your blog post said “Doctors Are Gods” it would be enough to peek my interest and I would click on your blog to see what you’re talking about (or if you actually know what you’re talking about).

#3. Shock and Awe

People, for some reason, love drama. If your blog post is controversial or has the potential to spark a heated debate, try a title that will shock your readers into curiosity. This will guarantee some attention and strangely, the weirder the better! If I saw a post that headlined: “Homosexuals Are Taking Over The World” I’d be headed right on over to see what juicy details the blogger has included and if there is any truth there. This is also an example of a title that some may utterly ignore because it offends them. I wouldn’t worry about that. Of course its offensive, your post is controversial! And yet, lots of people will tune in to see what you have to say. Why? Because people looovveee drama! (Speaking of which, exclamation marks in a blog post title is also a good way to get readers attention!)

#4. Current Events

If your blog post is about current events, news, sports, politics, or celebrity drama, include some of that in your blog post title. The only exception here is that it is more effective if your post on current events is well, current. If you want to spark conversation over the latest news be sure to do it right when the action happens. A blog post about Rachel Dolezal would spark some fire but not merely as much as when the story first broke. Kim Kardashians nudity may be today’s distraction, but next week is a different thing. Still, there is another way to play with this: You can make your post historical in nature. For instance, this year would be the 15th anniversary of 9/11. If your post said: “Remembering 9/11” or “Looking Back: When The Towers Fell” that may attract some attention. But, if you published this post on the anniversary it will attract even more attention. Why? Because its a reminder in people’s minds. They will hear about it all day on CNN and everywhere they go. In fact, 9/11 is such a historical, life changing event that you can just title your post: “9/11” and people will tune in. This is yet another way to play with titles. What’s important to world history? Use it.

#5. Questions

And finally, I have also noticed my curiosity peeked on blog post with titles that ask questions. What better way to get someones attention than to ask them a question? This doesn’t have to mean you are actually looking for answers in the article, but it is another way to spark interest. “Is Orange The New Black?” is a creative spin on a title that doesn’t actually have to have anything to do with the TV show. Maybe its a title about race and ethnicity. Maybe it is about the TV show and has nothing to do with race. Just be creative. (Oh and when writing a post that includes a list, like this one, include that number in your blog post! People love advice: “10 Simple Ways to Clean Your Computer” is likely to get some action. Notice that I went a step further and added “Simple” so that people know this article is not just for the technologically advanced).