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

Cry Out

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

How does it make you feel

to see someone

mistreating themselves

to hear them poison their mouth

with self-hate language

or disrespect their soul

with insecurities

does not your intestines cringe

do they not wrap themselves around the wrongness there

the diseased spirit of a person defeated

does not your stomach turn into knots

does not the human in you cry out

now imagine

if you were outside your own body

and observing yourself

poisoning your mouth with self-hate language

and disrespecting your soul with insecurities

do your intestines cringe?

do they wrap themselves around the wrongness there?

do you recognize the diseased spirit of a person defeated?

does your stomach turn into knots?

when you are self-hating yourself

does the human in you

Cry Out


It’s National Poetry Month!!

 

Grab your copy of I am Soul for just 99cents in ebook for the entire month of April.  Want a paperback? The Nubian bookstore signing is next week! (4/12) Be sure to stop by for a signed paperback copy and save on shipping. Meet me in person and let’s take pictures and stuff!

https://www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/

8 Basic Tips for Social Media Etiquette

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On social media, everything is a part of your brand and is an extension of you. People don’t know you personally so all they have to work with is the vibes you give off. From the way that you send emails, your blog posts, your social media posts and newsletters, everything. What you publish reveals who you are and can tell people one or two things. Either you’re a nasty, disrespectful person or you’re a kind, respectful person. It doesn’t take much to show others respect and appreciation and it may also grant you a follower, or more, a supporter for life. Below are some basic actions we can implement to help to keep our respect levels at an all-time high.

Give Thanks

When someone reblogs or pingbacks on one of your posts, say thank you. It really just takes a second. Although the person probably didn’t share your post to look good, everyone likes to be appreciated. This same thing applies to any social media sharing. When others share your work, thank them. They didn’t have to do it.

Respond to Comments

When someone leaves a comment on your blog or social media in general, respond back. Let them know you see their support and you appreciate it. Remember, no one has to say anything to you so acknowledge those who do.

Use Names

It only takes a second to navigate to the person’s avatar and discover what their name is. You can see some people’s names with their comment profile but for some, you may have to visit their blog to see their real name. Taking a few seconds out of your day to go the extra mile is a form of respect. Using the person name also makes it more personable and shows you really mean it. It makes the other person feel good inside that you took the time to learn their name.

Follow their Blog, Twitter, IG, Like their FB pages, etc

If you really connect with someone, show that you are interested in learning more about them and their work by following their social media pages. You can learn a lot about a person, or at least glimpse who they are, by following them on social media.

Participate

How will we know you’re not just some robot follower or someone following to get a follow back? Through your level of participation. When following someone on social media, don’t just follow and become a ghost. Participate. Retweet their pinned tweet or something they are promoting. Thank them if they retweet something of yours and share their information with your audience as you would like them to do for you.  Like some of their Facebook posts. You don’t have to become a stalker but remember, actions speak louder than words. Show you’re a real person by genuinely participating.

Don’t Be Disrespectful

A wise person once said, don’t burn your bridges. I am sure we’ve all heard this before. The saying suggests that you never know who you will need later in life and where you will have to go so don’t cut off what could possibly connect you to something greater on the other side. Don’t burn down your bridge. Understand that there will be differences in opinions and it’s OK to disagree. In fact, I am all for being firm and standing your ground, but don’t allow someone to get you so upset that you are out of character and are being disrespectful in a way you can’t come back from.

Remember that people are not dumb. Even through texting and social media we can still tell when someone’s being “smart” and condescending. Using all caps, exclamation marks, and publishing blog posts indirectly talking to other bloggers are all signs that you are angry and will not be missed by your fellow peers. They may find this behavior childish and disrespectful and you could lose a good supporter forever. It is possible to disagree with someone and leave them with their dignity.

Ask Questions and Never Assume

We have a duty, especially on social media, to communicate our wants and needs with anyone we share personal space with. This includes blogging and social media. People’s lives are busy and you never know what someone is going through. If there’s something you don’t understand, something that needs clarity, or if you yourself want to clarify something, be sure to communicate effectively and ask questions when needed. Never,  make assumptions and be clear that you are dealing with 100% factual information. Anything that is spoken about in anger that is not reflective of the truth can turn potential clients / readers / supporters off. It means you didn’t even have the decency to verify your information before attacking them.

Always ask questions and never make assumptions. Also, if someone asks you a question, try your best to answer it. If you don’t know the answer swallow your pride and admit you don’t know (no one knows everything). But don’t leave the question hanging in the air. It could be read as a sign of disrespect.

Don’t Disrespect Your Spouse / Loved Ones on Social Media

The way you treat those closets to you speaks volumes about who you are. If you talk about your husband or wife in a way that is nasty it doesn’t just embarrass him/her, it also embarrasses you. It brings shame to your household and makes you look childish and unkind. Never, ever, disrespect the one you love in public either by revealing personal matters or cursing them out on social media. This is especially shameful if you’re a writer or businessperson. Who wants to support someone who demeans the people they love so effortlessly? Not me.

Be careful how you talk to people online. Emails, personal DMs and phone calls are ways you can reach out to people privately if you have  pressing issues. (These are also good ways to communicate if you see someone doing something wrong and feel they need correction. Sometimes people just need to be educated, not demeaned.) Respect starts at home. Give it to your household first and then give it to others.

 

What about you? Are there any other ways of being respectful in the blog / social media world we can add to this list?? Let me hear yours!

The PBS Blog Podcast Ep 9 – Language of Love

Note: The PBS Blog Podcast has a new Twitter and IG  Page! Be sure to follow us at @PBSBlogPodcast  and thepbsblog

It’s been a minute but I am back with another PBS Blog Podcast. Today we are talking about the language of love. The language you use when you speak about yourself is what is eventually manifested in your life.

I AM a PUBLISHER. I WILL publish books. I CAN publish books. I MUST publish books.

I AM paying this bill. I WILL pay this bill. I CAN pay this bill. I MUST pay this bill.

See how powerful these statements are as compared to: I want to publish books, I wish I could publish books….? Sounds kinda weak now right? Right.

When we start to infuse this kind of language into our lives we take back control of how we feel.

Listen to Language of Love now on Soundcloud and don’t forget to subscribe for notification of new episodes.

 

 

Black History Fun Fact Friday – How I Almost Learned an African Language

Welcome back to another Black History Fun Fact Friday. Technically, I am still doing research on the article I had hoped to finish in time for you today. (I am actually sitting here trying to finish it.) Instead of publishing anything, I am going to push it back to next week. However, I don’t want us to miss out on any episodes! So, with Black Panther as the latest craze, here is how I almost spoke an African language. (This is also a lesson in not giving up!)

When I was in College I mistakenly signed up for a Twi class. I walked around my house repeating “aane”, “dabi” to my husband (then boyfriend) like my cousin did in first grade when he learned to spell cat, house, and dog for the first time. I eventually dropped the class but I still remember “aane” and “dabi” which means: “yes- aane” and “no-dabi”. Twi is a dialect of the Akan language spoken in Ghana by about 6–9 million Ashanti people as a first and second language. I had no idea.

The Ashanti Empire was a powerful Akan empire and kingdom in what is now modern-day Ghana and they were rich in gold (i.e. The Gold Coast). According to Wikipedia:

“The name Asante means “because of war”. The word derives from the twi words asa meaning “war” and nti meaning “because of”. This name comes from the Asante’s origin as a kingdom created to fight the Denkyira kingdom.

The variant name “Ashanti” comes from British reports that transcribing “Asante” as the British heard it pronounced, as-hanti. The hyphenation was subsequently dropped and the name Ashanti remained, with various spellings including Ashantee common into the early 20th century. An alternative theory is that the name derives from the Hindi word Shanti, meaning peace, the opposite of which is Ashanti, meaning war.”

Ashan was also the name of a city located in southern Israel. The word Ashan in Hebrew means “smoke” “smoke city” or “burning city” which makes Ashanti “the people of Ashan or the people of the smoke city”. This was a reference to the city of Ashan after the Israelites took it over during the conquest of Canaan (1 Ch 4:32, 1 Ch 6:59) but that’s not all. The Ashanti people also had many Hebrew customs and traditions as part of their way of life. For example, for eight days after the birth of a child, the Ashanti mother is considered unclean. It is only on the eighth day that the child receives his/her personal name, and on the 40th day, a still further ceremony has to be observed. This mirrors Leviticus Chapter 12. Further, the Ashanti women were also unclean during their menstrual cycles as instructed in Leviticus 15:19-20.

In brief, the Ashanti were an organized and disciplined people who spoke both Akan or Twi and I sometimes wish I’d endured the class a little while longer. In 1701 Osei Kofi Tutu, chief of the small Akan city-state of Kumasi helped form the Ashanti Empire by unifying other Akan groups under the Golden Stool which is the Ashanti Seat of Power. He unified the people and conquered several other neighboring states, expanding the Ashanti wealth, power and influence.

If ever you have an opportunity to do something, do it! Even if you don’t end up liking it, there is still something you may learn from it in some way. You can also mark it off your bucket list as something you did.  Although I only know two words, it still feels awesome to say: “I know how to say yes and no in Twi!”

Choose Your Words

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Don’t act like these little black letters have no home outside the blank page. Like murder can’t come falling from your mouth. Like lawlessness can’t come ripping through towns like torn flesh from heavy winds. Choose your words as if the next phrase has the potential to destroy. Examine the shape of them as they exit your mouth. Taste the intention one syllable at a time, for corroded speech is too often praised these days and reveals the unpolished stains of the heart. Deception brimming the mind and falling from the mouth. A surge of power tap dancing in the air only to build nothing on the ground. No substance. No foundation. Just emotion all over the place. A melting pot of empty tongues. Be careful what you say least truth reveals the fairy-tale hopscotching around in your mouth. A collection of letters too light to gravity the ground. Too corroded to fly. Dare you pretend the taste of burnt ash that fell from your mouth and consumed a life did not first have a home in the heart. Choose your words but first guard your heart for out of it the mouth speaks. Amazing all this power in the tongue. This tiny member leaving bodies smashed up against the blog; the stench of bereavement emanating from the first sentence of a post. Choose your words as if the next phrase has the potential to destroy. Because it does.