Good Writers

Maybe the book didn’t come out the way you envisioned it would or maybe you’ve got a one-star review. Maybe your editor marked all up and down your manuscript or someone critiqued the confidence right out of you. Maybe you failed, miserably. And maybe you want to crawl underneath the covers and will yourself away. If only you could shrink so that even your body disappears. Maybe, just maybe you are becoming a good writer.

Good writers get negative feedback at some point, period. Good writers get it wrong A LOT. Good writers fail, miserably. Good writers have confidence that appears low because good writers are humble. Good writers are scared to death of publishing the next book because good writers are real. They mess up. They get mixed reviews and feedback.

The difference between their failures and those who quit is that good writers have failed so many times that they are equipped to handle disappointment. And therefore, have the resilience and maturity to get back up and try again.

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The next time you receive feedback that makes you want to cringe you gotta remember that you are in good company. Every good writer was a failure first and every master was first a student.

Don’t misunderstand me, everyday ain’t beautiful. I don’t want my optimism on this blog to be too sweet for you. Cheerfulness ain’t a pill you can take that will make it all go away. I don’t want you to think that the struggle isn’t real, but if you never mess up, if you have never doubted, if you have never failed, never been knocked down, and if you give up too easily then maybe you can never really become a good writer.

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Real Writers Don’t Self-Publish

Check out this excellent post by Kristen as a response to the “For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way” article as posted to The Guardian.

Personally, I admire aspects of both Traditional and Self-Pub and I couldn’t have said it better. I really liked Myth #2: “Self-Publish and ALL Time Will Be Spent Marketing Not Writing”. This is actually not true and proves a lot of people judge books by their covers (pun intended). Sure, Indie’s promote a lot and this is what is seen in public, but those Indie’s who do more promo and marketing than they do writing their next book is…umm, doing it wrong and are not staples for the entire Indie Author Community.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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One of the things I love about doing what I do is that I have the ability to connect so closely with you guys and speak on the topics that matter to you. Yesterday, a fellow writer shared an article from The Guardian, For me traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. She wanted my take on what the author had to say.

All right.

For those who’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, I hope I’ve been really clear that I support all paths of publishing (vanity press doesn’t count).

All forms of publishing hold advantages and disadvantages and, as a business, we are wise to consider what form of publishing is best for our writing, our work, our goals, our personality, etc. But my goal has always been to educate writers so they are making wise decisions based off data, not just personal…

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“Witness History First Hand” – Book Review of The Road to Freedom

That’s right, another 5 Star Review is in:

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I was very impressed with Yecheilyah Ysrayl’s Stella: Beyond the Colored Line, and her second book is just as compelling. The Road to Freedom – Joseph’s Story is something of a prequel to Beyond the Colored Line, and Stella’s son tells us about his own journey through turbulent times when South fights hard and dirty to stay segregated. Joseph and a group of his young, impassioned friends want to do something about it but don’t know exactly what.

Together they make a mix of blacks and whites, boys and girls, who inadvertently get what they wished for when they try to catch a bus to Atlanta. The youths are swept right into the action and end up being relentlessly chased by one side and becoming heroes to the other.

Like the first book, Ysrayl works her magic of putting the reader into her characters’ minds to witness history through their emotions and perspectives. At one point in the story, the friends are trapped in their vehicle as it’s mobbed by a pack of violent racists. My heart was literally pounding at this point. I was horrified that anyone had to experience such ugly cruelty. – C.J. Wojo.

Click Here to Finish Reading Christa’s Review

Blogging and Writing: The Benefits

edit-your-blog-postsI do believe blogging has had an impact on my writing life and that it can do the same for you. While not every blogger is a writer, as a writer I do not separate the two. For me, blogging and writing has a unique relationship. There is something about instant feedback that I believe helps bloggers to improve their writing. Yes, like a critique group of sorts and for bloggers who also happen to be writers, this can only be a good thing. At its core, writing is communication. It is about recording thoughts and while not all bloggers are writers blogging is still a platform that presents people with a unique medium from which to express themselves in writing. To that end, writing  improves with practice. Blogging will not make  you a better writer, but it can highlight those areas where improvement is necessary. It also helps to highlight those areas of strength. For me, blogging is not the key to authored success or anything like that and it is not something influenced by money. What it does instead is help to increase my interaction with readers which has a natural ability to sharpen my writing skills. When you know people are watching you have no choice but to produce your best, and becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are writing a book, a presentation, a resume, or a love letter to your spouse.

Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process forces you to think about what you’re going to say before you say it, and encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them and how to communicate this over to people in a way they can understand it. With immediate feedback by way of Likes and Follows, you’ll get to see how others view your form of writing and gain access to instant critique. Blogging can help you to write more, and in so doing stay focused on your writing goals. Blogging can not only improve and change your writing life; it also changes the life of the reader. As you write, the reader gains and because blogs are free for the audience and open to the public, on many levels, it is an act of giving. It is a selfless act of service to invest your time, energy, and worldview into a piece of writing and then offer it free to anybody who wants to read it. You will find your voice, and others will find inspiration.

Critique a Piece of Work – “A Raisin in the Sun”

I love experimenting with symbolism and imagery in my writing and in my poetry. Last year, I participated in a Writing 101 assignment that asked us to Critique a Piece of Work, in which I shared my thoughts on Gwendolyn Brooks “We Real Cool”. I thought that would be fun to experiment with again today.

Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is the classic play by Lorraine Hansberry that was performed on Broadway in 1959. The title comes from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. A Raisin in the Sun is a piece that is loaded with symbolism.

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To start, heat from the sun is very intense and it drains just as much energy as it gives. It is exhausting and causes death to those who cannot escape a temporary refuge away from its obvious danger. While some sunlight causes plants to grow, too much sun can be destructive.

Raisin

Raisins come from grapes that are dried out by the sun. The sun sucks its moisture and nutrients until it has withered dramatically. However, dried grapes writhe and get small, but they do not turn to mush and rot. (Which is totally awesome. I love raisins!)

A raisin in the sun is symbolic of a family’s dreams under the intense struggles they must endure to reach it. It symbolizes that the family’s dreams and hopes for a better life will never dry up, but more importantly, their dreams will never rot despite the intense struggles they are under.

The Plant

The plant that Mama keeps near the apartment’s sole window is barely surviving because it lacks adequate nourishment.  Yet she is completely dedicated to the plant and lovingly tends it every single day in the hopes that it will one day be able to flourish. This is by far the play’s most overt symbol because the plant acts as a metaphor for the family.

Cockroaches, Rats, etc.

These creatures heavily reinforce the Younger family’s undesirable living situation.

Sunlight

Hansberry writes about sunlight and how the old apartment has so little of it. The first thing Ruth asks about in Act Two, Scene One is whether or not the new house will have a lot of sunlight. Sunlight is a symbol for hope and life, since all human life depends on warmth and energy from the sun. Light is also symbolic for truth. It is the truth that truly sets a people free.

 

Writing 101 – Assignment #12: Critique a Piece of Work – “We Real Cool”

Today I will be critiquing Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool” for today’s Blogging U assignment:

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

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Gwendolyn Brooks is the renowned poet from Chicago that we have grown to love. In her own words, Brooks explains her inspiration behind this poem, which began while walking passed a pool hall in a Chicago neighborhood. She saw there a group of young men and pondered to herself how they felt about themselves. “I wrote [‘We Real Cool’] because I was passing by a pool hall in my community one afternoon during school time, and I saw, therein, a little bunch of boys – I say here in this poem, seven – and they were shooting pool. But instead of asking myself, ‘Why aren’t they in school?’ I asked myself, ‘I wonder how they feel about themselves?” Gwendolyn Brooks

I think when people read this poem they are put in the mind that these boys are too cool for school and when I first read it, years ago, I have to say I summed it up to pretty much mean that. Here are a group of young men who would rather partake in other activities rather than an education and as a result they die living the life they have chosen. However, with maturity came a different understanding of this poem.

“We Real Cool” is a poem that speaks from the point of view of these seven young men and it is why Brooks recites it the way that she does. The “We” is to carry lightness. Not so much to be pronounced harshly, but it is a slang that is carried in a  kind of whisper and you’ll hear this if you’ve ever heard Brooks recite it. So it is indication that this is not Gwendolyn Brooks who speaks, but it is the young men speaking and they are expressing a feeling about themselves that has been brought on due their interaction with a certain establishment.

“We
Jazz June.”

June is a symbol of an establishment. Typically, Americans adore June as a month. It is the time of summer; a time where school ends and the sun is out, and children play. June is in short a fun time. A time where people are married, and children have birthday parties. Traditionally, people cannot wait for June to come because it represents that transition into the summer months where things are happy and vibrant and lively and fun. For these young men however they “Jazz June” meaning they do not like it. They are not looking forward to June but they “Jazz” June. Jazz is a slang word meaning that the young men are willing to do anything that would annoy June; anything that would rebel against June. And so June is a symbol for an establishment. It is to say that these young men feel left out of it. They do not feel part of the system and so they leave school, they stay out late, they sin (which is not so much a transgression of biblical law in this sense but more so a transgression of the laws of the land. It is a symbol of their rebellion) and they do anything in general that will contradict June.

“We
Die soon.”

The final line, “We die soon” is a result of the life that they live. Not so much how fast living leads to death (which it does) but more deeply it is the treatment of their lives by the institutions in which they are rebelling against itself. Because they are locked out of it, their lives are not as valid, valued, or cherished and so eventually they die. The young men are expressing, in this poem, their low self-esteem and low self-worth inside of the communities in which they live.

In an interview, Brooks discussed an experience she had at a University where she’d done some reading. She spoke concerning a young black woman who stood up and said, “Why do you keep talking about blackness? We all know that the time for that is over. We are now merely American’s”. Brooks’s response, in brief, was that she’d like for blacks to be proud of where they come from.”

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They say that youth is wasted on the young; that their minds have not fully developed into the capacity to appreciate certain things, particularly a sense of pride in heritage and identity. As I listened to that interview about the young woman I think back to this poem. What strikes me as important to note in regard to “We Real Cool” is its focus on manhood, or rather boyhood. The experience of a black boy in America is different than that of a black girl. And this is a fact that is often gone under the radar. We talk a lot about black women, particularly in regard to a focus on feminism and gender identity and double discrimination far as being both black and woman is concerned. I think this is in many ways a trap because it can easily develop into hatred for our men and if not hatred, blindness to the struggles that they endure and their discrimination’s as well as our own. I think we spend a lot of time focusing on doing it ourselves that we miss the purpose. The purpose being that the strength of black family life is directly tied into the respect and honor that we either have or don’t have for black men as black women. Gwendolyn said it best, “If we don’t pull together then we won’t be here to pull at all.”

I say this to say that there’s a lot of focus on black women and not so much black men. It is not to say that the black experience in America is limited to gender, of course we know that we have all experienced psychological trauma especially the black woman. But we do have to admit that there is not as much attention toward the same kind of trauma exposed to black men. It is a fact that to be a black man is quite different in many ways than to be a black woman. One of these ways is a black man’s treatment in America by its varying institutions be that employment, or simply his struggle to lead his own family. Being unlawfully pulled over by the police is another example, even the calculation of prison beds against the reading scores of black males in the public schools. And so this poem is a reminder, at least to me that black men in America are, in the words of Toni Morrison, criminalized more than any other man or woman for that matter in America, and they are in constant dread for their lives, be that spiritual or physical.

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

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What is a Book Review (and how to schedule yours)

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What is a Book Review?

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. Part of the purpose of a good book review is to help the reader ascertain whether the author accomplishes his/her goal or not so they can determine if they should read the book. Books are written to entertain, inform, persuade and overall to advance ideas and book reviews are written to further the discussion the author has started. A good book review doesn’t just answer questions related to why the book was written but expands the conversation of the book in order to advance the discussion. This in turn, expands the author’s message, helping readers get a feel for who he or she is and whether or not their style of writing is worth investing both their time and money in.

About Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews

My Book Reviews are honest and thorough. I approach each project with the same level of professionalism and care as I would a big company. I show no partiality and I do not publish constructive criticism. This means that any review under a 4 will not be published unless otherwise requested by the author. I believe there is some good in everything if we are willing to see it. So before I provide critical feedback I do so while first highlighting the positive points of where I think the author does well. The writer believed enough in his/her topic to write on it, so I believe the reviewer should acknowledge where the writer has been successful. This helps the author to feel that I understood his arguments, and it also helps the reader to understand that not everything in the book is bad.

The Process

Book Reviews are scheduled in the order in which they are received. After receiving your book in the mail (or email), I will begin reading and analyzing your book in the order in which I have received it (I will let you know if someone is in front of you and the estimated wait time). Please give me time to read your book. I will then write the review and then publish it to this blog as well as my social media sites. Again, I do not publish reviews under a 4 star rating, though I will send you a copy of the review via email. The purpose is not to badger you as author nor is it to overwhelm you, but to provide thoughtful feedback. I believe in this way the criticism is not more negative than it is helpful, but engages the author’s thoughts from the book.

Ratings

After studying the material, my final rating is based on the following system ( I rate on a scale of 1-5):

 
Plot Movement / Strength
Entertainment Factor
Characterization
Authenticity / Believable
Thought Provoking
Recommendation

Ratings of 4 and 5 stars are published to my blog and social networking sites. Links to author website, blog, and social networks are also promoted. Authors are also sent a free PDF copy of the review for their personal records. Reviews are free. If you like the review, I only ask for permission to use your feedback in the furthering of this service, such as the quote used in the AD above.

If you are interested, please complete the form below.