African American Images on Book Cover Premades!

If you’ve been following this blog for the past five years you know one of my biggest complaints has been the lack of African American/Black themed premade book covers. And guess what? I found a few!

Beetiful Book Covers

“Launched in 2013 by Stefanie Fontecha, Beetiful Book Covers offers African American premade book covers.”

Cover Your Dreams

This one is not exclusive to AFAM but I’ve seen several covers featuring black men/women. The prices are low so this may be useful for Indie Authors on a budget.

Marion Designs

This one looks a bit more upscale with professional photos.

Designs by Rachelle

It appears this site also occasionally features diverse photos in its premade covers.

Learn more about how to get the best out of premade covers and what to look for HERE


Do you know of any more we can add? Drop a comment on the table if you do and let us know!

Revising The Stella Trilogy: Book Two – Beyond the Colored Line

Book one is out and we are on to book two!

My main challenge for book two is making sure that it stays consistent with book one. This is important for any series, but for Historical Fiction, it is even more critical.

Since writing Historical Fiction is writing set in a time that has already occurred, the details of the past must be realistic to what was going on. A good Historical Fiction book places fictional characters somewhere in a world that has already existed in a way that reads authentic. Readers should be able to reimagine what that world was like by immersing themselves in the life of the characters and the world around them. I like to think of it as a time machine, which is also what makes writing #Histfic fun to me.

Style, Language, Dialogue

Like book one, book two opens in 1996 and picks up where we left off at Mama Sidney’s house in book one. But book two also takes us back into the life of Mama Sidney, and we revisit history from the 1920s through the 60s. My focus for book two was to make sure the dialogue, language, racial and political events occurring during this time were realistic to what was happening in the world. We talk about The Great Depression and touch on the reoccurring lynchings taking place in both the north and south. We look at the brutal murder of Emmett Till, the shooting of Dr. King, Jim Crow Laws, and The Black Panther Party. While I immerse Stella in her own world, there is still the larger world to deal with and we watch how she navigates both. How does Stella’s personal identity crises correlate to the identity crises plaguing her larger community?

Racial Terminology

The biggest thing to deal with for book two is the racial classifications of blacks during this period. African Americans are the only people whose racial terminology has changed with the census. We have been “Niggers,” Negros, Coloreds, Blacks, and African Americans, and this can get confusing when trying to use the right term for the right year. This is also not to mention other racial “nicknames” we called ourselves, such as Afro-American and The New Negro.

The challenge of using the right term for the right years is because there were terms that blacks preferred to call themselves and terms used discriminately by the wider society. Although by the 60s Black Americans were preferring to be called blacks or Afro-Americans (as Malcolm X used a lot after leaving the Nation of Islam) white separatist signage still referred to us as coloreds. “Whites Only / Coloreds Only,” or “Welcome to the Colored Zone,” banners and store signs could have read.

Credited to W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington, blacks advocated for a switch from Colored to Negro in the early 1920s. As blacks redefined themselves, terms like “The New Negro,” became popular and sparked a movement that later became known as The Harlem Renaissance.

By the 1960s, though, African Americans had transitioned from being “Negros,” to “Blacks.” (Malcolm X specifically didn’t like the term Negro).

During the Black Power movement when sayings such as “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” were popular (think James Brown “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!”) blacks wore their hair natural, read and published black literature and did what they thought would reconnect them with their lost heritage. In this process, many black political leaders of the time, such as Kwame Ture or Stokely Carmichael, helped to shift the terminology away from Negro and toward Black. Black publications like Ebony followed by switching from Negro to Black.

While a large majority of people still preferred Negro, “Black“ was becoming the preferred term with the New York Times and Associated Press abandoning “Negro” in the 1970s.

By the 1980s, Jesse Jackson called for a shift from Black to African American and while the change is still not as accepted or monumental as black was during the 60s, it is the term most socially acceptable when referring to black Americans.

I had to consider these changes when referring to blacks throughout this part of the book. What did they call themselves? What did society call them? How do I integrate this into the dialogue and setting realistically?

Setting, language, and dialogue is the backbone of Historical Fiction because the setting makes the story seem real and determines the character’s beliefs and actions. Not only do I strive to make the characters stand out but the culture of the time in which they live.


About Book Two:

In book two, we dig deeper into the McNair family’s legacy. Named after her great-grandmother, Stella has a very light complexion causing her to be the tease of her classmates. Unable to find solace among her African American contemporaries, Stella finds it challenging to adjust to a world where she is too light to be black.

After The Great Depression of the 1930s forces Stella’s family to move to Chicago, a conversation with Aunt Sara provokes Stella to do something that will dramatically affect not just her life but the life of her children and grandchildren.

Stella: Beyond the Colored Line will be available through my website and back up on Amazon in digital and print by April 24th. I am not putting the rest of the books up for preorder, so you’ll be able to order it immediately on 4/24.

If you have not already read book one, click one of the links below.

Amazon Kindle

Signed paperback

https://www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/bookstore/stella-between-slavery-and-freedom

7 Free and Easy Ways to Support Me (and the rest of your Indie Author Friends)

As I tell people in person, support is not just financial. Here are 7 Easy and Free Ways to Support Me (and the rest of your Indie Author Friends):

  1. Follow this blog

  2. Post a review to any of my books you have read but not reviewed yet (See them all here)

  3. Add my books (or me) on Goodreads. My page is here. (Add a book by marking it as Want to Read)

  4. Join my email list here for first-notice updates on new books, Indie Author news articles and other information.

  5. Follow me on Instagram here

  6. Like my Facebook page here. Already liked the page? Leave a Recommendation/Review

  7. Follow me on Twitter at @ahouseofpoetry

 

You can substitute my information for any of your favorite Indie Authors!


Don’t forget my short story, “Even Salt Looks Like Sugar,” is available now in audio!

Click Here to start listening.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author K. McCoy

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is K. McCoy, and I am from Fort Myers, FL.

What’s your favorite color?

My favorite is blue.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

I would have to say that the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding time to take care of all the other things that help me with sharing my written work and meeting my scheduled deadlines. The most exciting thing about being a writer is hearing how people interpret my work once I have shared it.

Available now on Amazon and Smashwords

I love that part also. It’s fascinating how people can have different views on the work. Why is writing important to you?

Writing is one of my strongest outlets – my favorite creative releases. It’s part of my therapy, to be able to share my thoughts with others through storytelling. That is why writing is important to me.

What do you love about yourself?

My quirkiness is what I love most about myself. Took a long time before I could say that outloud, but it’s true.

Got it. What kind of music do you like?

I like almost every genre of music, but lately I have been listening to Lo-fi the most.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

Learn how to protect your peace in a peaceful way. By that I mean, learn to recognize and acknowledge behavior that may prevent you from flourishing – from being around people who do not have good intentions, overworking your physical self, to questioning habits (internally and/or externally) that you have personal and discussing how to process and handle them. Essentially, do no harm, but take no shit.

I like that! I’m gonna have to borrow that one.

A friend of mine says it at the end of her podcasts (Angela Page, Love Your Rebellion).

“Do no harm, but take no sh*t.”

– Angela Page

K, outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Singing and learning other languages are a few of my passions outside of writing.

Oh cool. Are you bilingual? If so, what other languages do you speak? If not, what other languages would you like to speak?

I wish that I was bilingual! At the moment, I speak a little conversational Spanish and Korean. I would really like to learn more about both languages, as well as Afrikaans and Creole.

Korean, nice! What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

A small studio, within the perfect distance away yet near a beach. With plenty of windows that let lots of sunshine in and full of intricate and inspiring artwork from my friends.That also comes with a cleaning service, a fully stocked fridge of water and healthy food. As well as a list of take out locations too!

That’s nice. What job do you think you’d be really good at?

I think that I would make a great Music History curator. Especially if I got the chance to study more of World Music!

What skill would you like to master?

I would love to master learning different languages so that I can become a polyglot.

That’s interesting. What kind of environment or situation do you think will benefit ones usage of several languages?

I feel that I would benefit by being able  to connect more with my bilingual and polyglot friends as well as travel to more places in the world more comfortably with the use of several languages.

In your own words, what is love?

Love is universal acceptance of all things. Abundance of happiness that you welcome into your life to make better, not whole.

Are we to accept all things though? What about the not-so-good things in the world, are there any limitations? Does love have limits?

No, we do not have to accept all things, in my opinion. To protect our peace and to not cause harm to others, there must be limitations. The idea that love can have no limits is a fairy tale at best. I feel that love does have limits. It must, in order to save us from ourselves.


Copyright ©2019, K. McCoy.

Bio

K. McCoy wants to live in a world where indie vinyl record shops can be found in every city and sweets don’t come with so many calories. As an Independent Author, she is now putting the finishing touches on her first novelette, MAGIX, which will be released this year. Her stories are those of awkward cute meets, sassy women who take no ish, and sweet declarations and discoveries of love. Her poetry covers mental health, self-love, body positivity, and quirky traits that are to be celebrated.

When she is not baking or playing cards against Humanity with her friends, you can find her writing down new ideas and concepts somewhere sunny or discovering new music on online.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

You can find out how to connect with her more by visiting her on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, YouTube, and WordPress as @krealmccoy.

Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author William Ablan

 

What is your name and where are you from?

Thanks a lot for the opportunity to introduce myself, and I hope I do your space proud.  So here goes.

When I was a child, I asked one thing of God. I asked that I never live a boring life.  I just know the minute I made that prayer that God leaned back, smiled, and said: “Okay, buckle up Mr. Adventure!”I guess you really need to be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. My name is William Ablan (not my real name, of course).  I write under a pen name for one reason.  About seventy-five percent of what I write about happened, and doing so under a pen name gives me the chance to put some distance between me and it.  More on that later.

Okay Mr. Adventure, what was your childhood dream?

I was raised a cowboy, and I can do all the cowboy stuff to include riding, roping, branding, and so on. I’m the son of a rancher but realized at an early age that wasn’t the life I wanted.  My eyes were fixed on the stars, and I wanted to ride a rocket into space (still might someday). I took my degree in the second most useless thing in the world and then couldn’t find a job.

Aww. That sucks. What then?

Two months later they called, and I spent the next twenty years being a police officer.  As I said, I wanted adventure, and I got it.  I worked not only the streets but undercover narcotics, plainclothes investigations, protected VIPs, been an Undersheriff and a Chief of Police.  I can’t say I regretted my time working in Law Enforcement.  During that time I’ve been assaulted several times, stabbed twice, and shot at a few times.  It opened my eyes to the dark side of the human race.

It also showed me that there’s good in everyone.  Sometimes, you have to dig to find it, but it’s there.  Sometimes the last person on Earth you’d think would be at your side are the ones trying desperately to save the life of a stranger, or going into a dangerous situation and doing something heroic.  Or something as simple as being vulnerable to try to talk to someone.  The good is there, and when people let it out, it’s dazzling.

With, you being a former law enforcement officer, I have to ask. What do you think of police brutality in the black community? How would you solve this problem?

Any brutality isn’t good. I think I’m ill-equipped to answer that question.  The towns and counties I was a police officer in had no black community.  That said, it still happened, maybe not to blacks, but certainly other races.  I knew Hispanic cops that got themselves in a bind being racist against whites, and the reverse is also true.  But I also knew Hispanic cops who brutalized their own and the same concerning whites. The first time I was around a lot of blacks was when I was in the military.  I never had any problems and count a huge number of blacks among my best friends.

What’s the answer?  I wish I knew.  Part of me says better training and better screening of potential police officers.  I suspect the truth is simply being a better human being.  I only know one way to get that, and that involves God.

William, what are your thoughts on race in general?

The genealogy stuff factors in with my views on race.  I don’t get it.  From what I’ve been able to learn, my ancestors got ran out of almost every decent country around, got here, and ran into more of my ancestors who did their best to scalp them.  Somehow they managed to get along long enough to produce me.  I’ve got blood connections to almost every people who have ever walked the Earth with the possible exceptions of China, Japan, and India (and it wouldn’t surprise me too much to find out it’s folded in there someplace).

Now an admission I wish I didn’t have to make.  My parents were rather racist, especially against whites (and here I am, half white)  I found their views disgusting.  They openly expressed hate, and I thought that’s not logical.  By their thinking, I’m having to hate part of me.  I guess I’ve extended that thinking to all people since I have a pretty good idea of what became me.

Available now on Amazon

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Why did you start writing?

I started writing because I’m into genealogy.  I always heard stories about some of my ancestors, and with very few exceptions, none of them left more than the barest records of what they’d done and who they were.  In some cases, the stories I heard weren’t true.

I can understand that for sure…

An example is my great, great grandfather.  The story I heard was he was in the Confederate army, had been captured, and spent the war in the Union POW camp in Allentown.  Now, granted, the POW system back then was a mess, but if you spent four years someplace, you would think your name would turn up.  I could never find anything from the Confederate Army reference him either.  Then one day, I got an unexpected break.  Turns out he was never in the Confederacy, but in the Union Army.  And he was an officer to boot.  Where did the other story come from?  Near as I can figure that since he was from North Carolina, they made it up so he wouldn’t get beat up!  Later, he and his family came out west with the Mormon’s, and he was a General in their militia.  I’d love to have known his stories and heard what he had to say.

What a story.

So, that’s why I started writing.  I’ve not only been in places where history was being made but in some cases, helped shape it.  I didn’t want my great, great grandchildren trying to figure out who I was.  I’d leave a record for them.

But writing it down involved taking a step away from myself.  Some of the events were still pretty raw and I had to report the best I could.  I invented a character and inflicted my adventures on him.  And a really funny thing began to happen.  I discovered writing was healing.

I take it you are religious William…

Yes.  I’m a Christian.  Now why I’m a Christian involves what I could know I’m capable of being.  In the Bible, we read the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.  The Pharisee stood in the temple telling God how cool he was, and that he did this and that.  Basically, he was telling God that God was lucky to have him on his side.  The Tax Collector didn’t do that.  The Bible tells us he stood there, admitting again and again that he a sinner.  The Bible tells us it was the Tax collector who went away justified before God because he was being honest with God.

Well, I was the Pharisee.  As a Police Officer, I saw it my duty to protect the world, and while I never abused anyone, took bribes, or such, I was viewing myself as the perfect person.  It’s easy to do.  What I didn’t realize is there was a monster in me.

I see…

One day, I ran into it.  We were in Saudi Arabia, a few short days from invading Iraq.  We had a Platoon Sgt who was horrible at best, incompetent at worse.  He thought you pushed combat troops the same way you push recruits (you don’t, in case you’re wondering). He went down with us saying he wanted to get the purple heart.  By day two, we were all willing to help him.

So, we’re breaking down and getting ready to move up to the border when he comes up and starts screaming at me about something.  To this day I can’t tell you what he said.  All I know what something in me said, “Screw him!”  as he turned and started walking away, I suddenly felt a hand on top of mine.  A friend of mine was whispering in my ear, “Will, he’s not worth it.”  My pistol was halfway out of its holster.  My friend had stopped me from doing something incredibly stupid.  Had he not been there, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

You got some stories in you William!

I got a glimpse of the monster in us, and it terrified me.  I realized I was no better than some of the people I’d sent to prison for murder.  It was a very humbling encounter.  That night, I prayed, maybe for the first time in ages.  I asked God that if he got me out of this intact, and my mind sane, I’d serve him.  And I thanked him for putting someone in my life for stopping me from killing that man.

It was six months before I started trying to keep that promise.  Today, I can’t imagine ever having been the guy who almost killed a man.

Enough heavy stuff.

Okay. Let’s switch it up a bit. Tell us more about you, what foods do you like? Music? That stuff.

I’m a huge fan of hamburgers.

Lol! Yes to hamburgers!

While I love County-Western music, and Rock, I spend most of my time listening to Classical music, especially when I’m writing. I’m into some of the newer stuff that has a classical sound to it (think the soundtrack to Tron by Daft Punk).

Umm.. no idea who that is but carry on.

And if there was a single artist I could shadow, it would be the country artist Charles Russell.  I’d enjoyed spending an afternoon with him riding across the open plains.  He wrote about and painted the land he loved.  I guess it’s his passion I’d want to tap into.

What genre do you write in?

I write what can best be called Police Adventure. I published my first book last year.  It’s called the Cross and the Badge, and to a large degree is about learning to live with the pains of the past. My next book is a direct sequel called “Dead Friends.” I’m aiming for a release date of 1 Sep.

Congratulations on the new release! I don’t think we discussed what you are doing now.

My wife and I live in a not so little town anymore called Greeley, Colorado. Some of my fondest memories is time spent with her. Like when we’d be coming back late at night from a gig she’d played (she played in a Country-Western band), stop under a star-filled sky, and talk until dawn.

I’ve children and grandchildren and could acquire great grandchildren here real soon.  I’ve threatened my grand kids with death if they do that to me anytime soon.  I’m too young to be a Great Grandfather.

And I like to introduce myself as a Writer who moonlights as a Systems Administrator.  I’ve been working in Information Technology for over twenty years now.  People consider me an expert (definition of an Expert – Someone who knows nothing about everything…)

Ha!

…in Virtualization, Information Security, and Disaster Recovery.  I must know something about it.  I also teach it.

If you had a superpower that could chance the world, what would it be?

It’s odd that one of your questions would be about having a superpower and using it to change the world.  I think I discovered I had a superpower while I was a police officer.  It was the ability to change lives, often times for the good.  Granted, there are people I sent to prison.  I thank God we have prisons to put some of those people in (some of them were a lot dangerous or crazy or whatever.  Suffice it to say, they killed people and enjoyed it).  But often times I was able to intervene in things and get people the help they needed to get them off the path that led to those places.  I guess if the superpower had a name it would be called “caring.”  I found myself being a mentor, a counselor, and an encourager.  As I see it, I’d been placed in a unique position, and I’d be a fool not to try to help people out.

While I hung up my guns over twenty years ago, I still find myself helping people.  As part of my church, I find myself working closely with veterans, gang members, and people life has beat up.  And I suppose in some crazy way, that answers one of your questions about what love is.  I know there’s the love I have for my wife, children, and grandchildren, but this is the kind of love Jesus has I suppose.  The kind of love that tells someone that they’re important and not something to be feared or cast aside.  I always remember that one of the miracles he performed was with a leper.  A leper was someone who should never be touched.  Before Jesus healed him, he touched him.  He acknowledged that person as important.  To me, that was a true miracle.

So, you don’t need to be able to fly, or have knives come out of your wrist to change the world.  Sometimes you just need to stand up and try.

Thank you William for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright©2019 William Ablan

Bio.

William R. Ablan is a graduate of Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado where he majored in Astronomy and Physics.  Because of the tough job market, he spent the next twenty years in Law Enforcement where he’s worked as a Police Officer and Deputy Sheriff.  He’s also held several important positions to include Undersheriff, Chief of Police, and Regional Emergency Manager for the San Luis Valley.  He’s also an eight-year U.S. Army combat veteran where he served as a Military Policeman where he worked undercover narcotics and investigations.  He’s been decorated several times for heroism and performance in both Law Enforcement and the Military.

He’s currently the author of “The Cross and the Badge.” His second book, “Dead Friends” will be released September 1, 2019.  It’s what he calls, Autobiographical fiction in that the majority of the cases happened, but he’s taken some literary license with the facts to turn them into a work of fiction.

Will hung up his guns in the 90s, and has work in the Information Technology field since.  He’s considered an expert in Network Security, Cloud Technologies, and Virtualization.

He resides in Greeley, Colorado with his wife Julie and works with veterans through his local church.  He has children and grandchildren, and currently lives in dread of possibly becoming a great grandfather.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

https://williamablan.wordpress.com/


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. (Now scheduling for June. Slots fill up fast. Email me today.)

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Cursed Queen: Mystery Tales Series Book One by Carlo Ocaya

Title: The Cursed Queen: Mystical Tales Series 1

Author: Carlo Ocaya

Publishing: Coming June 19, 2019

 

*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.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 4 /5

Overall Rating: 4 / 5

 

The Cursed Queen (Mystical Tales, #1) is available for Pre-Order at various retailers. Click Here.


About this Author:

Copyright©2019. Carlo Ocaya.

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.

Follow him Online:

Website: https://carloocaya.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OpTmystic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Carlo_Ocaya

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/op_t_mystic/


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