Then and Now – Writing 1920s Fiction in 2017 – Guest Post by, Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

My monthly Guest Post with Chris. Writing 1920s Fiction in 2017 has its challenges. It is also a lot of fun. (I’ve been away from the blog lately but I’ll be returning soon.)

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

One of the important pieces of research I must do for my books is to look at the differences between how we live today and how we lived in the early 1900s. In writing book one of The Nora White Story, for instance, I found myself researching some strange things, such as how the people bathed back then. It may sound funny but such details can make or break a work of Historical Fiction. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself doing weeks of research just for a single scene. Here’s an excerpt from The Nora White Story:

Sunday night baths were the norm but the boys got so dirty in the field that mom was bathing them every night. Nora and Walter would take turns drawing the water up from the well on the land, Nora would set it to boil on the stove and let sit for cooling…

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Inspiration Behind “Renaissance”

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Since this is our last Black History Fun Fact of the year (There won’t be one next week. I will be on vacation), I decided to share my inspiration for the first book in my soon-to-be released novel series Renaissance: The Nora White Story.


renaissance-ebookDespite the wealth of information online, in books, and in movies, there’s still a misconception about what it meant to be black in the south and black in the north in the early 1900s. One recycled piece of information that no doubt holds some truth, is the mass movement of blacks who packed up and carried their southern roots north to escape Jim Crow and to acquire better financial opportunities. But not only were blacks escaping Jim Crow, but the north had a reputation of being prosperous and successful. This image largely shaped by the south’s brutal history.

Slavery is so much the outstanding feature of the South, in the unthinking view of it, that people often forget there had been slaves all over the U.S. Slaves were auctioned openly in the Market House of Philadelphia; in the shadow of Congregational churches in Rhode Island; in Boston taverns and warehouses; In Chicago and weekly, sometimes daily, in Merchant’s Coffee House of New York. The north has been painted as the picture of staunch abolitionism when in truth Northerners bought, sold, and owned slaves.

In the presence of such information, many blacks came to look at northern cities as a saving grace. Not only did it represent freedom from bondage, but discrimination in the north has always been so well organized that it did not have the same up close and the personal effect that the south had. The south was more brutal, more abusive, and more personal whereas the racism in the northern cities was sugar coated (I should use the present tense here).

Blacks then looked up to Harlem and Chicago and many in their hearts scorned their brothers and sisters in Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana who picked cotton instead of sleep on the floor. Blacks opted to tread north to share rooms with rats and roaches in overcrowding apartment buildings while leaving an impression among their southern brethren that they were in the lands of milk and honey. And even when we returned, many of us maintained this air of superiority and this created a silent fuel between blacks in the south and blacks in the north.

Deep down southern blacks knew that northern blacks thought themselves too proud because they were in New York trying to live like white men but being black men without a pot to piss in, and a window to throw it out of. This was my inspiration behind The Nora White Story.

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Shaped by such views, Nora is not as appreciative of the sacrifices that her parents made as she should be. She’s naïve, pampered, and sees the North through the same eyes as many who came before her. Before and during The Harlem Renaissance, many black women tried to mimic the traditional image and role of white women. Many of them saw themselves as  elite and often tried to appear “white”. (Many black women lightened their skin or passed as white as portrayed in Book Two of The Stella Trilogy “Beyond The Colored Line” which you can read free HERE). Since the days of chattel slavery blacks have been faced with a constant reminder of America’s sweetheart.

Her blonde hair and blue eyes graced the workplace, newspapers, women’s magazines, and everywhere in their daily lives’. When the end of slavery happened and blacks were given the opportunity to escape the south, a symbol of their captivity, many adapted the model of the white world and white standards of beauty and not only beauty but the concept of success itself, that is to exude whiteness.

Nora is a descendant of freemen, not just slaves. Her family does not sharecrop but they own land, and Nora does not live in a shabby home in the middle of corn fields. This story, Nora’s story, is not of your stereotypical black southern family. Nora’s lineage is a prestigious one. The only question is, will she realize how good she’s got it before it’s gone?


book-and-e-reader-nora-wRenaissance: The Nora White Story Coming July 15-16, 2017

Meanwhile, The Road to Freedom is $0.99! Don’t miss out. Get your copy at this super low price now HERE.

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“Deeply concerned about the state of Black America, a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and essentially no plan the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen also await them at the New Orleans bus terminal.”

Refocusing – Book Production Updates

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Morning!

You may have noticed I’ve been posting less frequently this past couple of weeks. I’d admit. I’ve been so into research of the industry that I’ve lost focus a bit on how I do things. So concerned about how it’s done that I’ve neglected my way of getting it done. You’ve been off focus Yecheilyah (Yes, I talk to myself, doesn’t everyone?) Now that I’ve disciplined myself, it’s time to refocus.

So, here’s what’s going on guys.

As you all know I’m writing a two-part novel series and I am approaching that six-month pre-release time. My hope is to launch Book One of The Nora White Story between June and July of next year. Though I haven’t decided on a date, I am putting together a plan that will help me to focus on execution. My husband says I suck at multi-tasking which takes someone who knows me well to see considering the load I carry.

The truth is I can only get away with doing so much due to maintaining a level of balance and by balance I mean deadlines and dedication. For instance, I host an online radio show every Thursday evening with a queue sheet that needs to be sent to my panel no later than Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning at the latest. These are deadlines I’ve given myself. That’s because I know myself and how much I need deadlines to keep me focused and as the excitement of another book release begins to creep in, I’ll be shifting my efforts to ensure everything is in its proper place.

I’ll admit something else too. I don’t like to reveal too much of what I’m doing during the writing and publishing process! At least not until I’ve met a certain goal. The reason is because I believe there are forces out there that are against us just as there are forces that are for us. I do not then think it is wise to reveal your plans or at least not everything that you’re doing. As I am refocusing I’ve noticed that my level of discretion is in need of a tune up so I won’t be divulging every detail but I will let you in on a little something-something!

  • Return on Time

The first thing I am focusing on is time management and ROT. We’ve all heard of Return on Investment. A high ROI means you receive a gain that is well worth the investment. Taking the ROI understanding and applying it to time, although I cannot foresee the details of the future I can take advantage of the time I am given in each day to dedicate toward some of the production work for this book. What I want to implement is practical tactics and execution that will produce a valuable gain from having put in the work, such as the completion of my work by the deadlines I set forth.

As of now, I’m thinking about things I can do to increase interest in the book (that I’ll implement later) that won’t be just a waste of time and resources. I truly believe hard work pays off and let’s just say it’s time to grind! Once I settle on a release date and announce that date, I do not intend on changing it, and if I manage my time right, I shouldn’t have to.

Speaking of release dates, I have my first real update for you!

December 2016

  • Book Launch Date
  • Book Cover Release
  • Matching Social Media Banners
  • Blurb

This is all tentative but if everything falls into place I’ll have a book cover and blurb to promote as early as December to accompany the decided launch date for next year. I’ve chosen to do this for several reasons, one of them being it’s different than how I released my other books and that’s what I love about Independent Publishing. With every book are new experiences so I love experimenting with different things. I also really want to have certain things done before I start promoting a release date. It’s important to me to have the Book Cover and blurb to go along with the date. This way the visual representation and a full idea of what the book is about will keep things exciting!

  • Guest Blog Posts and Email List

I enjoy blogging (*Waves to new subscribers, by the way!*) and consider it an important part of my work so of course, I’ll still be here but you should expect the number of posts to decline. (By decline I just mean I’ll be posting once or twice a day or every other day instead of my usual outrageous posting behavior). Instead, I intend to guest post on as many blogs as I can so I won’t be entirely out of the loop. As part of my refocus initiative, I am also dedicating time to building up and adding more value to my email list.

  • Book Reviews

Book reviews will commence. I know I’ve missed a couple weeks but I’ll have another author for you Friday. Those of you who submitted your book for a review I thank you for your patience. I’ll be reading and writing reviews as part of my refocus initiative so I should be churning them out more consistently. I do read a lot but that also includes my scripture studies (can’t neglect the word!) so I have to balance my time. If I haven’t responded to you yet no worries, I got them all and am organizing them to be read in the order in which they were received.

(P.S. I have a surprise, guess what’s coming back Friday? Black History Fun Fact Friday! Friday, I am officially bringing back this segment. Our first story is a group of beautiful women that not a lot of people know about. Their story is, well, something. You don’t want to miss it).

Why Black Girls Need Diverse Books

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“Storylines with Black female main characters’ supplement in-school experiences where the stories of Black people are often misrepresented or excluded from the classroom curriculum. Stories with Black main characters fill in where classroom curricula leave gaps. In addition, narratives with people of color at the forefront introduce readers to new vocabulary words, customs, people, and places that they otherwise might not have learned about.”

http://educationpost.org/why-black-girls-need-diverse-books/

‘Queen Sugar’ Author Wants More Diverse Stories About Black People

“As I started to write Queen Sugar, especially in the late ‘90s … all of these great diverse stories that I had grown up on and was inspired by, started to disappear. All of a sudden you saw a very, very narrow portrayal of the African-American experience on the bookshelf. All of a sudden the only thing you saw were titles like The Bitch Is Back or Stackin’ Paper, and there’d be a picture of a woman, scantily clad, on the hood of a car.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/queen-sugar-natalie-baszile-interview_us_57d337dfe4b06a74c9f4e712

Popular Indie Book Publisher Launches Campaign to Prove That Diversity in Publishing Matters

Rosarium Publishing was founded in 2013 by scifi/fiction writer Bill Campbell with one goal: to bring true diversity to publishing so that the high-quality books and comics the company produces actually reflect the fascinating, multicultural world we truly live in today.

https://www.newswire.com/news/popular-indie-book-publisher-launches-campaign-to-prove-that-diversity-9870669

50 Books That Every African American Should Read

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/50-books-that-every-african-american-should-read_n_1647614.html

“Huffington Post BlackVoices has compiled an extensive book list, featuring a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science-fiction and the autobiography.

From Ralph Ellison to Jesmyn Ward, many of the authors have been heralded with national awards in the United States. Others, such as Zadie Smith and Tsitsi Dangarembga, have broken literary ground abroad in countries such as Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Uganda. Stemming back to 1789 with Olaudah Equiano’s “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” these 50 titles have heavily contributed to contemporary narratives about the black experience across the globe.”

13 Books That Every African-American Should Have in His/Her Home

“Oftentimes, rich literary treasures are not associated with writers of African descent, but objective evidence has shown and continues to denote that some of the world’s finest books have evolved from the minds of black authors. Whether fiction or non-fiction, these writings have been important not only as poignant reflections of reality, but also as interesting opportunities for cross-cultural understanding.”

http://madamenoire.com/108532/13-important-african-american-books-that-you-should-have-in-your-home/

Beyond The Colored Line – A Year in Review

One year ago today, I published the second book in The Stella Trilogy, Beyond The Colored Line. I was shocked at the positive response I received from those who read it and the kinds of discussions it started. I hosted giveaways, book signings, and conducted an Interracial Interview series on this blog in which I interviewed couples in diverse relationships who still find themselves the victims of misunderstanding. I must say it seems more like a few years ago!  I’ve learned so much since then. Of course, there are lots of things I would have done differently with the knowledge I have now, but nonetheless BTCL still remains a favorite. And most importantly, still helping to expand the ongoing controversial subject that is race itself. I hope this book will live on through many generations and that my children will one day learn from this experience, as I did.

Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl used with permissionFeatured Image -- 481920160226_150037ReviewDSCN013120151207_114849 - Copy (2)DSCN014320160203_174649

My Favorite Review Quote:

“Move over To Kill a Mockingbird – the next best thing is here. If I had the power, I would put this book in the hands of every middle school child in America and let them truly understand what it means to be beyond the colored line. The thing is, the literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn definitely bring up the issues of race, but they’re incredibly separated from what it’s portrayed as in today’s world. But this story, even though the setting went through the Great Depression and beyond, is still just as relevant. It is a concept of what it means to be of a race and how it affects us that still exists on every level, individually and socially. It is the name you put down on your resume. It is the cop that shoots. It is the indifference toward poverty and murder in non-white communities. It explains, in great detail and without fault, what white privilege is, and how it shows itself behind that line.”

– Anna Kopp

To learn more about Beyond The Colored Line, my blog buddy Colleen, host of the famous Writer’s Quote Wednesday weekly segment, did a special blog feature for me on the day of the debut last year. Check it out here.  You can check out the Interracial Blog Feature Here.

In the meantime, what kind of wine should I get tonight tho?

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My husband thinks my avatar is hilarious

Renaissance: The Nora White Story

Dear Ms. Morrison,

Now that I’ve actually finished the first draft, received some feedback, and am on my way to the next part of the process, I’ve changed the name of my upcoming novel. I am almost brave enough to share some excerpts with you! Time permitting, I’ll be releasing chapters this fall and all that fun stuff.

New Title: Renaissance – The Nora White Story

Log-Line: “A young woman seeks to pursue a writing career in The Harlem Renaissance Movement. Meanwhile, her parents search for their daughter’s disappearance.”

I’ll have a full description of what this book is about at a later date. Stay tuned.

Title Reveal On 5/29: My 2017 Novel In Progress #MayChallengeDay19

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My Stella Trilogy has been a huge experience. I have come to network with so many talented authors and aspiring authors both online and face to face. I’ve grown as an artist exponentially in regard to my understanding of book publishing and it is one of the finest aspects of Self-Publishing. That is, with every book I publish I learn something new about myself and about my work. I notice the discrepancies that I may have been blinded to in the writing process and every piece of advice and constructive criticism I hold in my heart with the intention of learning from my mistakes and building on my strengths. I definitely do not see myself as some big author. The last thing I want to do is get comfortable. The moment you get comfortable and start to think you are something when you are not, that is the moment you fail. For that, I am most humbled by everyone who has supported and continue to support my work. Because of you, one fact remains: It’s been over a year since the publication of the first book in the Stella Trilogy and people are still talking about it.

Lots of people however, have been asking me about my WIP (work in progress). I’ve gotten questions from is there going to be a Stella Book Four? To what am I working on now? It’s almost like there’s a secret service of readers who know that I’m working on something and why haven’t I said? Lol. Well yes, I have not mentioned anything about another book. To start, I’m a real private person. Especially when it comes to my behind the scenes work. That’s right, I’m stingy in the beginning. I do not like to share much while in the beginning stages of writing. I think its most important to stay focused, for the foundation is the most critical aspect of any building. So I, a builder, have kept closed lipped on the details of my next work. Until now.

On Sunday, May 29th, I’ll finally reveal the title to my work in progress, along with some details on what the impending book is about. Speaking of this project, I will say for now that it is not a Stella book and this one is a full length novel. The projected release of this project is Spring of 2017, an exact date will be revealed toward the end of this year, time permitting, with the book cover debuting at the beginning of the year.

In the meantime, how about you? Are you an author? At what stage do you share your works in progress?