Nourish Your Offline Relationships

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Would you know if your friend is feeling down if he/she didn’t post about it? Would you know when his/her birthday was if Facebook didn’t tell you? Would you have the information necessary to congratulate those you love on their achievements, like weddings, and graduations if they didn’t post about it?

How well do we know the people we call friends?

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and birthdays always have me thinking about relationships and social media. A few years back I had deactivated my Facebook a few days before my birthday. I didn’t feel like being bothered with accolades from people who hadn’t spoken to me since my last birthday. An interesting thing happens when I do this: The people who know me most will call or text me. Then, at the conclusion of the day I’ll post something on social and out of the woods will come those who thought they knew me and yet didn’t know something as basic as the date of my birth.

I had one person I considered a sister call me three days after my thirtieth birthday. There’s no harm in this. I’m not that sensitive. People don’t have to stop their lives for me. Reach out when you can. What I found odd is not that she called three days later. What was odd is that she thought she had called on my actual birthday. I found this odd because I thought we were closer than that. I had known the woman over ten years. We had lived with one another at some point, interacted with one another’s children, dined together, laughed, and had deep conversations. This wasn’t just any sister, this was someone I thought knew me well. Well enough to know my birthday is not May 29th. It doesn’t surprise me that today, we are no longer in touch.

But don’t get distracted. This is not about birthdays.

This is about the work we put or do not put into relationships now that Social Media automates our lives. Now that there is “an app for that” some of us have become lazy in our interactions with one another.

I had the pleasure of visiting Griffin High School last weekend. I spoke to four classes of tenth and eleventh graders about writing, publishing, and my journey as an author. I love young people. I love their innocence and straightforwardness. I love their non-sugarcoating questions. Many of them asked me if I “made a lot of money,” and “how do I deal with criticism?” It swelled my heart to have the pleasure of being there with them. One student asked me if I thought the ebooks would overtake paperbacks. I told him that while digital has enhanced writing in many ways, I think the paperback is here to stay.

Digital books are convenient when I am eagerly expecting reading a book and I don’t want to wait for the paperback to come in the mail. It’s fast and quickly satisfying. Buying a paperback book costs more and takes patience but when it comes there is something immensely gratifying about holding the book in my hands and turning the pages. A feeling I do not get when I read digitally. When I can look in someone’s eyes and talk with them as I did last week, answer their questions, hear their concerns, sign their books organically, hug them and take pictures with them, nothing online can compare to that experience. That human experience.

Let’s say digital books represent social media and paperbacks represent real life. While it may be easier to wait for a notification to tell you that your loved ones are “feeling sad” it is much more productive to hear their voice on the other end of the phone or to give them an inspiring word through text. It is even more fruitful to see them face-to-face, to hear their voices, and look into their eyes. Some things you will never know about a person from their social media pages. If they are like me, quiet, reserved and private, you will only get the basics. Facebook may tell you when it’s my birthday or notify you when I am traveling or checking into a restaurant but for those personal, heartfelt thoughts? There’s no app for that.

Nourish your offline relationships. To nourish someone is to feed them deeply with something good for them. It means to give them something that will encourage them to live well. When you do this, you do not make assumptions about anything you see in the virtual reality. You are not easily offended because someone “didn’t tell you” they were traveling or gathering or graduating. You already know these things because you have built a real-life relationship with the people you love and that bond is stronger than any post, tag, or “Friendversary” that pops up in your Facebook memories.

My Soul is a Witness

Annndd here she is!

My next collection of poetry releases this year and I have decided on the title, “My Soul is a Witness.” I want to thank the members of my email list for helping me to choose the perfect image (we had a contest featuring several images. If you are not subscribed for exclusive first-looks and sneak peeks, you may click here).

This book releases in the fall and will be available for preorder soon. Exact date to be announced.

Haven’t read I am Soul yet? Get it here.

 

One of my favorite movies (I have lots of favorites lol) is The Great Debaters. I love the use of language, history, and education, and it also feels like to me they are doing performance poetry, not just debating. When the movie comes on, the Negro Spiritual song, “Witness,” is being sung as the people dance.

Just as with I am Soul, My Soul is a Witness jumped out at me and I felt it in my spirit that this was the appropriate title for the book. The soulful, sacred, and riveting Negro Spiritual songs taught of freedom, of hope, of redemption, and biblical justice and righteousness. I hope these poems do the same for you. I hope that they are liberating, restoring, and reinvigorating. “My Soul is a Witness,” is poetry that reminds us that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. It reminds us that our scars do not cripple us but prepare us for a work, and that our greatest weaknesses make us strong. Here, I give you my ache and my praise. This is a love letter to our overcoming, of yours and mine. My Soul is a Witness.

 

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Birth Days by Carol Massey

Title: Birth Days: Stories of Women Who Turned Difficult Beginnings into Glorious Lives

Author: Carol Massey

Print Length: 157 pages

Publisher: Pure Heart Publishing

Publication Date: November 2019

Language: English

Reviewed By: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

 

Birth Days is just what its subtitle says, “the stories of women who turned difficult beginnings into glorious lives.” The author introduces us to several fictional women who endure heartbreaking struggles with birth and parenting. Dr. Francine Young gives her baby up for adoption, Lulu didn’t know she was pregnant until two months before giving birth, Margaret messed around with Jackson Jones (and he was not her husband), and Lulu’s grandson became the President of Howard University in 2027.

We are witnesses to the trials these women endured, the men they loved and the people who assisted them in their journeys. (Like Aunt Sis who acted as a Midwife and caregiver for Mary and Connie). Readers will be eager to see what happens next as each woman tackles her beast. We can consider the stories historical as many of them take place as far back as the thirty’s and forty’s and I enjoyed the pieces of history sprinkled throughout as it pertained to the differences of the lives of African Americans in the North as compared to the South. (Though, I wish the author had placed more emphasis on how racist the North was too. To her credit, there was mention of the racial subtleties of the North, but I still got the feeling that for the characters it represented the land of milk and honey.)

My favorite story is the first one, Two Sisters, with Connie and Mary, Aunt Sis and Aunt Ailene. I could see the mother’s grief at having such a difficult pregnancy and the fear that gripped the family at having lost a baby before, and their anxiousness over whether Mary would live. I felt the father’s heartache at building the baby coffin out of the fear she would die like the others. (And when the father renovated the house later in the story and came home with Clara it had a Color Purple feel to it). I was eager to see what would happen to the sisters in the long run. The author did a good job of keeping me wanting to read on. (I enjoyed Dr. Francine’s story too.)

I believe this book to be a five-star read. It’s not a long book and the stories of the women and their struggles with maternity fit well within today’s society where women, their efforts and lives are at the forefront. However, because of a few errors, I cannot rate this book the five stars I think some minor adjustments could help it become. Too much telling, no chapter headings and too many exclamation marks are among my concerns that impede the flow of the reading and, as a result, contribute to my final rating.

 

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

Authenticity / Believable: 3.5/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Birth Days is available here.

“Birth Days is an engaging book filled with rich characters who faced many life struggles. It is a compilation of captivating narratives. Each heart-warming story surrounds a unique birth. Journey through these five memorable tales of love, lust, longing, loneliness and triumph. Despite the circumstances around each birth, each is an opportunity to create a beautiful life and to offer special gifts to the world. We come to know these characters and celebrate their triumphs!” – Pure Heart Publishing

About the Author:

After retiring from a 30+ year career in health and educational administration, Carol Massey had time to reflect on the people, places and events that influenced and inspired her. She wanted to pay homage to  some of the women who guided, nurtured and supported her journey from childhood through college, career and life as a single mother of an African American male child.  Carol, a California native, now lives in suburban Atlanta with her rescue pup, Ms. Frances.

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

You can now find this review under the Blog Book Review Page here.

Don’t Wait Two Weeks Before Release to Prepare Your Audience for Your Book

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to get started on your 2020 goals. If you want to release/write a book in 2020, you should be planning...now. Actually, you are already behind. Even if you are Self-Publishing, it helps to start early. Notable mainstream authors releasing books in 2020 already have their preorder up. “Planning out your book marketing in advance and adequately preparing for your book’s release is crucial to a successful book launch.” (Sansevieri, 2019) Don’t wait two weeks before release to prepare your audience for your book. Here are some tips:

  • Put some money aside for your book. Your biggest expense will be editing, then cover design. You will also need the book formatted for e-readers. Don’t wait until the last minute to put something to the side. Invest in your book. Invest in yourself. Save some coins. (Prioritize your expenses! Don’t spend money on the tools you don’t need right now. Business cards and fancy thank you cards can wait. Save your money.)
  • If you want to start a blog, do it 3-6months before your book releases. Post content relatable to the book and who you are as a person (don’t make your blog all about your book. Talk about other stuff you like.)
  • Set up your Author Social Media pages and get to work. Talk about the upcoming book, educate, inform, uplift, go live. Use SM for something other than memes and gossip. Social Media is a FREE platform to use to spread the word about your book/business. Don’t sleep on it.
  • Make sure your website is ready to go. Here’s something the “gurus” won’t tell you: Selling through Amazon is nice, but selling through your own website is better because you get the entire dollar instead of just a percentage. Print on Demand Companies like Amazon’s KDP, Lulu, and Ingram Spark makes it easy to order copies of your book in bulk that you can sell individually through your website. (You can also sell your books in bulk! I’m trying to tell you something…level it up)
  • Create a landing page with a great giveaway offer or freebie to collect emails for your author email list. A sample of the first few chapters of the new book is a good start. The email list isn’t for everyone, but it’s good to have in case Social Media (blogs included) is no more. You will still have a connection with your audience. Find what works best for you. For instance, the giveaway/freebie thing is a good idea and many people use it, but this strategy didn’t work for me. I get more email sign-ups by having the pop up on this blog than giving away a free chapter of a book. People say pop-ups don’t work but they do for me so don’t let people tell you what will or won’t work for you. I wrote a post on how to set up an email list with Mailchimp here.  Also check out 7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List.
  • If your book is up for pre-order on Amazon, make sure you set up your Amazon Author Central Page. Add an author photo, bio, and link your blog. You can also list your events. (Listing events is no longer an option). This is a good time to set up your Author Goodreads account too. I wrote a tutorial on how to set up the Amazon Author Central page here.
  • If you want to host author events in bookstores, start pitching them about 3-4months out. If they’re local, walk-in and introduce yourself. (I book most of my events by walking in and talking to people in person.) Always travel with a copy of your book and some business cards.

The point of starting early:

You want to build your readership ahead of time so when you release the book you have people who want to buy it.


CLICK HERE for more Indie Author Basics and happy writing! I’m rooting for you.

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Buddah Desmond

 

Welcome to the blog Buddah and congratulations! Your poem, “Claiming Victory” was so uplifting it won you the #2 spot. Please tell us, what inspired this piece?

This poem was inspired by the challenges many of us face in believing in ourselves and doing what’s necessary to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. Too often we think we’re not good enough. Too often we think we don’t have what it takes to make it. Too often we allow the noise, conditioning, and all the junk we’ve been fed by external forces to negatively impact our outlook and our ability to act. When we’re able to change our mindset, own all of who we are, and shed all of which hasn’t served us, we’re unstoppable. That’s when we can embrace abundance. And claim our victory!

“People get caught up on the highs, peaks,
and successes
They don’t see what went down in the valleys
What it took to get up, get out, and rise again
It’s what we’ve been through—
the periods between life’s highs and lows—
that make us so resilient
We can’t concede
We have to keep on”

-Excerpt from “Claiming Victory.”

As one of the top winners you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?

Thank you. May I have water please?

Copyright©2019. Buddah Desmond

Certainly!

Now, let’s start from the top. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us your name and where you’re from.

My name is Buddah Desmond (aka BDez). I was born in Washington, DC. Was raised in P.G. County MD (primarily in Forestville, MD and Greenbelt, MD). I currently reside in Alexandria, VA.

That’s very specific Buddah lol.

LOL, yes. I know. I can’t help it. Just call me Mr. Specificity. LOL

Soo Mr. Specificity, are you employed outside of writing?

Yes, I am a User Experience (UX) professional with over 13 years of experience crafting timely, intuitive, and forward-thinking solutions to improve the overall usability / UX of websites, apps, and services for non-profit, commercial, and government clients. My specialties include user research and analysis, user-centered design, user experience design, usability testing, content strategy, and information architecture. I’m also a health and wellness coach. Finished my masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health earlier this year. I’m in the process of completing my hours and studying to become a certified Nutritionist, and in the very early stages of starting my health and wellness coaching practice.

Wow. Congratulations on all your endeavors! With all this, what was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream (and still my dream today) was to be a Renaissance man… To be able to pull from my many talents, do work that matters, and to make a difference. I’m striving to achieve this mission still to this day.

What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?

A number of favorites here, but one show that continues to be at the top of my list is Queen Sugar. The writing, acting, cinematography, the landscape, and the issues that are addressed with each episode—it’s phenomenal. I love everything that Ava DuVernay has done. She’s a gem. A national treasure. The epitome of Black Girl Magic! In terms of film, Black Panther has been sitting at the top of my movie list since it’s opening weekend. What an inspiring, impactful, and empowering film. A classic. Ryan Coogler did that!

He did indeed. We love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like?

Music is my first love. I come from a family that deeply loves, appreciates, and respects music. A number of us, myself included, are musically inclined. I have an eclectic taste in music. I love Jazz, R&B/Soul, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Classical, Reggae, Dancehall, Afrobeat, Latin, Country, and Rock… Music is an undeniably powerful and universal art form. Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

We agree there. Speaking of the Universe, with a name like Buddah I have to ask, religious or nah?

No, I’m not religious. I’m more of a spiritual being. I believe in the Most High… The Divine Creator of our universe that ties us all together. I’ve always been fascinated by religion though, and learning about how people worship, where they worship, their sacred texts, and the similarities / differences between the guiding principles we abide by.

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Favorite writer. Go.

These questions are always tough because it’s a rarity that I can ever narrow down to just one favorite of anything. LOL!

I knew I’d get you eventually.

Okay. I’m done. Carry on.

I have so many favorite writers. Maya Angelou. Langston Hughes. Nikki Giovanni. Sonia Sanchez. Saul Williams. James Baldwin. Toni Morrison. Alice Walker. Terry McMillan. Yrsa Daley-Ward. Nayyirah Waheed. Lucille Clifton. June Jordan. Janet Mock. Ntozake Shange. Devon Franklin. Octavia Butler. Amiri Baraka. Haki Madhubuti. Zora Neale Hurston. I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.

What genre do you write in, why?

My primary genre is poetry. I also write prose, essays, short stories, song lyrics, and blogposts. There’s a universality and musicality to the language of poetry. I couldn’t deny it when I first started reading it. And definitely couldn’t deny it when I started writing it. I think Amiri Baraka said it best, “Poetry is music, and nothing but music. Words with musical emphasis.”

I absolutely agree. It’s like poetry has this ability to bring out the depth in us in ways nothing else can.

YES! Poetry gives us the freedom to get soul-deep to tell our stories in such extraordinary ways.

Soul-deep. I like that. Yess.

The beauty is that we can each write a poem in any form about the same topic, emotion, or experience, and it can be embraced and interpreted quite differently by readers. What we as writers get out of it may be worlds away from what our readers get out of it. And that’s amazing. Truly amazing. Poetry has the power to change minds, and change lives.

When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I self-published my first volume of poetry, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, in June 2012 through iUniverse. The experience was exhilarating, rewarding, frustrating, so many things. When I made the decision to publish my manuscript, I had a “no turning back” attitude. I was at a point in my life where it was imperative to go all in for the things I wanted. I couldn’t be mad at anyone but myself if I didn’t put in the effort or work to make my dreams come true. And I’m grateful I did. Publishing Prevail afforded many opportunities for growth and development, reading and speaking at a number of events, and connecting with other writers, creatives, and readers alike. Not to mention, many learning lessons about building a platform, social media, and book marketing and promotion.

Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available now on Amazon.

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

That’s a great question. Hmmm… The most difficult thing would be pushing through writer’s block. Or periods when you really want to write, but the muse, inspiration, or motivation is sorely lacking. The most exciting thing is the freedom of expression. Being able to create you own world or worlds. New possibilities. And the blessings of your work opening minds, speaking for those whose voices aren’t being heard, and making deep, meaningful connections with a larger audience.

Nice. Buddah, what is humility?

Humility is quiet confidence. It’s being comfortable in who you are, your abilities, and what you bring to the table without being rude, brash, egotistical, or narcissistic. It’s also about being open to change and possibilities. And knowing that your way, whatever it may be, is not the only way.

What is love?

Love is one of the greatest emotions. It’s more than just deep feelings for something or someone. It’s in the actions. It’s all in what you do (or don’t do). Love can be life changing. Life-saving even. It’s unconditional. As I wrote in a recent piece, “I am nothing without love. I am everything with love.”

Beautiful. Thank you Buddah for spending this time with us. We certainly enjoyed you.

Be Sure to Follow Buddah Desmond below and look out for his piece, “Claiming Victory” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.

Copyright© 2019 BuddahDesmond

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buddahdesmond/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BuddahDesmond/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/buddahdesmond

Website: http://buddahdesmond.com/

Get the Book: Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics


Stay glued guys! Our first place winner is coming up!

Hit subscribe so you don’t miss it!

 

3rd Annual Poetry Contest Spotlight 2019: Introducing Dondi Springer

Dondi A Springer is a happily married man and has been writing for a lifetime. At 43-years-young he never took writing seriously until his wife told him he should do something with it. “I was mostly inspired by the strength of my mother,” he says, “and also my own life experiences. As a champion of the underdogs, I strive to constantly grow, and show that through personal growth anything is possible.”

We are certainly glad you kept writing Dondi!

“Faith has already brought you farther than you can see
You crawled before you walked, bumped your head, and scraped those knees
Tears burning, blurring your vision, and yet wiped from your cheeks..”

-Excerpt from “Look Within”

Springer’s submission, Look Within is a short inspiring piece about looking within to find the strength that we need.

Dondi, please tell us what inspired your poem.

“My personal mantra is Ignorance Does Not Open Doors (I.D.N.O.D.), and ignorance did not overcome me. You can find plenty of positive energy, and motivation on my social media pages, and stay tapped in for what’s coming next for me.”

Copyright©Dondi A Springer

Springer has had poems published by the National Library of Poetry and is working hard on several projects.

Keep in touch with Dondi by following him online at the Social Media handles below!

Instagram: @napalmjax

Facebook: @DSpringer76

Twitter: @MrSpringer76


Kiyana Blount is up on Wednesday! Hit the subscription button so you don’t miss it!

Peace and hair grease!