Just a quick message to let you know that there are slots open for interviews. If you are new to this blog and are not familiar with my author interviews or how to schedule yours, click the original post HEREor the page HEREto learn what you need to do to be featured. Below is a brief description of this series. Please be sure to visit those pages for in-depth detail.
Introduce Yourself is a promotional opportunity for new authors I started back in 2016, hosted on this blog. It is an interview conducted by Yecheilyah (that’s me) with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better. Inspired by a song introduced in a children’s bible study class I helped coordinate, the song is meant to “break the ice.” With this feature, I hope to introduce new authors to my audience for an opportunity to learn more about them and their work. They say teamwork makes the dream work and I hope to do my part to introduce to the world little known authors and to assist in making these authors dreams come true. These interviews are free. All you have to do is follow the instructions and email me.
We have featured over 40 authors so far. New authors, established authors, Best Sellers and authors just getting started.
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
It’d be overlooking the Eiffel Tower and would have an inspirational quote on the wall, a chic, white leather couch, and a Frappuccino maker!
What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
I hate when people give me ideas for stories because they’re usually pretty offbeat and aren’t suited to my style. I appreciate it, though, when others encourage me not to quit and when my mentors offer suggestions about plot twists.
In your own words, what is love?
I expressed that in my newest novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. It’s living through and reflecting on the bad moments but wanting to be together, regardless. There are always problems, and relationships end because of them. It’s easy to give up on a fleeting feeling, but that isn’t the case with real love.
Does blogging help you to write?
It does keep my creative processes flowing and keeps me in shape, I suppose, but it takes away a lot of time from my usual writing. I guess it’s a love/hate relationship.
Blogging does take a lot of time. I get it. What kind of music do you like?
I enjoy almost everything from oldies to pop to (some) country.
In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is accepting that you’re flawed. You can still be proud of your abilities, but you have to recognize that others can and will be better. I think it’s also realizing that your ways and opinions aren’t law.
I dig it. Would you like to have children?
Yes, because they’re fun, genuine, and change your outlook on life.
Awwue. Right? Why is writing important to you?
Writing gives me freedom. Having Cerebral Palsy, there aren’t many things I can do on my own, but writing is one exception. Every idea and keystroke is mine alone—unless I’m on a deadline and need help typing. Plus, I’m free to create plot lines without being barred by reality.
That cover is so fun looking! What genre do you write in, why?
Though I’ve written love stories, I mainly write mysteries. I enjoy sculpting different twists and turns to make readers keep guessing. That said, almost all my mysteries have a romantic element to them because I “love love!” ♥
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I’m a big baseball fan, and I also love shoes.
Thank you Karina for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015 and was well-received by readers. Her second, Forgetting My Way Back to You, was released in October 2018 by Vinspire Publishing and has been praised by reviewers. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!
*I was gifted a copy of this book from the author*
The Cursed Queen is part of Ocaya’s Mystical Tales series, a fantasy, mystery novel full of adventure and magic. The story takes place on a hidden Island called Ophen and the world is reminiscent of Bright; the movie starring Will Smith, where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies co-exist. In this book, there are short people called Hervecs, big, colorful skinned people called Broncords, animal people called Naiths, and magical people called Elves.
Yuna Queenertia has just awakened from a coma and does not understand who she is or where she is. She lives with a woman named Marianna Waterglow, who calls herself Granny, a woman named Anna and her daughter Samantha, who everyone calls Sam. Sam is hilarious and I enjoyed how the author has developed her character. (I admit I liked her better than Yuna. She just seemed more real to me, like a real little girl.) I enjoyed the tension surrounding Yuna’s confusion about who she is and why she is not allowed out of her room. The anticipation makes you want to keep reading. We soon discover that Yuna has silver hair and that because of this hair she is cursed. The people throw stones at her and treat her badly. As the book progresses, we follow Yuna, Sam, and their family on a journey of self-discovery as Yuna searches for her memories. We are taken back to her childhood for some backstory, introduced to more interesting characters with interesting abilities and discover many twists as secrets are revealed.
I do wish there was more that tied in with Yuna’s hair though. A lot is revealed but I felt that it became more about the Wraiths (a terrorist group in the magical realm), than it was about Yuna’s discovery. I would have liked for the story to dig deeper into the history behind people with silver hair more than it did. But, this is just book one so who knows what Ocaya’s got up his sleeves! I think it’s fascinating to depict someone with this hair as someone who is cursed because normally gray and silver hair is indicative of someone with wisdom.
I can see this book as a movie and would recommend it to young adults. I just feel like children would love it. Yuna’s History and Tradition teacher, for instance, is a Hervec with a long mustache that reaches to the floor, a long robe and glasses. I think this would be funny to see on the screen. Then there’s the funny little fairy Yuna and Sam meets in search for Anna. I can’t tell you much else without spoiling the book, but there’s a youthful, fun, innocence about this book that I love. Although the anticipation of Yuna discovering her memories wrecked my nerves (lol), this was a fun, adventurous read.
Carlo Ocaya was born and raised from the island called Saipan (No, not Spain, Saipan). Staying within his hometown for the first 19 years, he decided to join the Marine Corps and was sent to the U.S. mainland in California.
During his time in the military, Carlo began writing his first few drafts of the Mystical Tales series. He got the idea of his first book by the thought of his home. The setting of the island was meant to contain similar features as his homeland with the people and settings slightly altered. His adventure towards the states is what has created and developed his future ideas on books.
He went to school overnight in order to study the basics of writing and further his knowledge on grammar and literature. It wasn’t until the next few years that he gained the confidence to publish the book.
Independent and thriving, Carlo uses his knowledge from software engineering class to further develop his website into what it is now. He continues to further his education by learning the tricks and trade at San Diego Mesa College.
Now residing in Santa Ana, California, he stays with his brother and goes to school full time. Carlo hopes to partake in future book events and display his writing, skills, and books to others.
His first book, Mystical Tales: The Cursed Queen, will be featured within LA Times Festival of Books and San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Author Interview programming for this special announcement.
National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry which takes place each April, was introduced in 1996 and is organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the U.S. For our April Author Interviews, I’d like to feature as many author poets as possible. If you have not been interviewed on the blog, head on over to the Introduce Yourself Author Interview page (linked below) and find out how you can get involved! Stay tuned for next weeks final author introduction for March.
*All authors are still welcomed to participate in the interviews. These interviews occur every week on Monday’s. You don’t have to be a poet. I would just like to feature poets for the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month.
In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.
The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.
This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.
If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.
Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28.
Today, I’d like to welcome Sophia Tsegaye to the blog. Welcome! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Sophia Tsegaye; I am an Ethiopian American living in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia in the house. What was it like transitioning from Ethiopia to America? Any major adjustments?
I arrived in America as a newlywed, and my husband and I had to adjust to the cultural difference at first, with the help of my sister. And soon our neighbors and co-workers led us through our new lifestyle. One of the adjustments was being away from my parents and extended family members.
The other adjustment was the difference between American and Ethiopian calendar. Ethiopia uses Julian Calendar and is 7 and a half or 8 years behind the American Calendar. Ethiopia has 13 months (12 months of 30 days each, and one month of 5 or 6 days).
Now as a family, we celebrate both cultures. My children have learned to embrace the diversity in the family. In short, we have two New Years, two Christmases, two Easters and the like.
Wow, I didn’t know that about the calendar difference. This is why I yearn so much to travel outside the country!
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first book “She Is My Mommy!” in March 2019 through CreateSpace. Holding my book for the first time was rewarding. Carrying a task to completion was my first goal, and I felt fulfilled. It has kindled the desire and the strength to go forward with my second book. And now I am working on my third one.
Congratulations! Amazing feeling right? Are you married Sophia? Got a boo somewhere?
I am married to a wonderful and supportive husband for the last fifteen years.
Yes. I have three awesome boys, ages 14, 12 and 3.
Beautiful. What do you wish you knew more about?
Growing up, one of my many challenges was speaking up. Both in Middle and High school, I was known for being timid and introvert. It continued well into my graduate class. For example, I would know the answer to a question, or want to voice my opinion, but could not make myself to say something. It was like being present and absent at the same time.
Later on, I realize that the only thing that was holding from communicating was the fear of making mistakes.
Now, I know that making mistakes is all right, you learn from them and move forward.
I can relate for sure. What small things makes you life easier? What makes it difficult?
Living a simple life, being grateful and exercising kindness make my life easier. I try to see the positive in people. I believe that it is wise to listen to your conscious before you speak. We often forget that a calmer tone conveys a message more effectively. I think that we all have the choice to decide whether to make our life easy or difficult. It is a choice we need to make every day. If you always feel you are a victim and everybody is onto you, then you will remain a victim of your own conscious.
If you do not control your temper, you will be treated as the perpetrator even if you are on the right.
If you are not kind, then you will miss the heart-warming reward that you get from it.
I love that Sophia. Wise words. Let’s get back to writing a bit. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The most difficult thing as a writer is writer’s block.
The most exciting thing is when you are in that creative zone, and you have no control over your writing.
Why is writing important to you?
When I write, I let myself go to places I have not visited for a long time. I navigate through my thought and dig deep into the desire to correct the wrong, to encourage the weak, to give a voice to the timid, and the like.
I want to show the reader that she or he is not alone in any circumstance. Happiness, fear, triumph, sadness, friendliness, and depression are a part of life. Therefore, what we need to do is find a way to fix the problem. In my books, I encourage children to learn to ask for help.
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I love making pieces of jewelry and cooking.
You’re a children’s author. What do you think of the bullying in our schools?
Unfortunately, bullying is a real and dangerous issue. I try to focus on this issue in my books and demonstrate the effects it can bring.
My boys have experienced bullying, and I have also heard of various incidents in the school. I have seen firsthand how bullying can break the spirit of a fun loving and active child.
As a parent, we should teach our kids empathy at an early age. If we see our child push another child, we should be able to explain that it is wrong.
We have to encourage our kids to communicate with us, or the school personnel if they feel unsafe or overwhelmed. Schools have councilors, and they should use these resources.
And I urge parents to listen to their kids. If a kid voices concern then parents should intervene immediately.
If you could, would you visit the past?
Yes, I would visit the past if I could. Would I give some advice to my young self and try to change the past? I do not think so, because those experiences made me the person I am today.
Precisely. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to trust her instinct and be comfortable in her own skin. And of course, tell her to take it easy, enjoy life, and laugh more.
Thank you Sophia for spending this time with us! We enjoyed you.
Sophia E Tsegaye, is a stay-at-home mom, with three boys who keep her busy. She’s a children’s book writer, living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
From the Author:
I enjoy listening to what happens in school. Every day, my boys will come home with new stories, but unfortunately, not all are pleasant. I use their stories as a learning experience, and I guess this is how my books were born.
Many little kids are fascinated by school buses and animals. Hence I chose to have a school bus and animals as the characters.
There are different approaches to explain to kids about being unique, being different and being accommodating, so I try to bring these issues through my books.
The first book “She Is My Mommy!” is about transracial adoption, and the second book “Your Jokes Are Not Funny!” is about bullying.
Kids can be simple and yet complex. They ask us complex questions and are satisfied with the simplest explanation.
I believe in teaching kids empathy at a tender age.
Introduce Yourself continues next week with the introduction of more awesome authors. I have pushed it back a week for some important reminders and updates. You will also find these updates and reminders on the Introduce Yourself page.
#1: When emailing me about the introduce yourself interview, please put Introduce Yourself Author Interview in the subject line.
#2: Please be clear about why you are emailing me. Do not just send me questions. Address me by name, include your author bio, social media handles and your blog so I can follow you. Let me know you have at least attempted to read the instructions and be professional. Learn more about what to include in your email HERE and learn more about me by reading the About page of this blog HERE. You can also check out my author website HERE.
#3: Please attach your questions in a Word document and attach images separately. Do not include images in the word document. Attach them separately.
#4: When answering the questions, please post the question first and then your answer. Example: What is your name and where are you from? My name is _________. I ask you to do it this way so I don‘t have to go back and figure out which question you are answering. This is a free service but if I have to do extra work, I will start to charge a fee.
#5. Please do not send ambiguous emails where I have to figure out what you want. If you are emailing me about the introduction interview series, please say so plainly. Whatever service you are inquiring about, say so plainly.
#6: Again, please read the instructions published to the Introduce Yourself Author Interview page HERE.
Failure to follow these instructions mean I will ignore your email. All I ask is that you approach this opportunity with respect and professionalism. Nothing less.
Are you a new author looking for more exposure? Learn more HERE.