Play Your Piano

LOS ANGELES, CA – (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for BET)

Vivica Fox told the story of being on the set of Booty Call. She said that she tried to take a couple naps between scenes except Jamie Foxx kept playing the piano. Being the outspoken person that she is, Vivica was not having it.

“…it was hard to be his dressing room neighbor for a few weeks…he had a piano in there, and he would just play it all the time, singing his pretty heart out!”

Vivica went out and screamed to Jamie to, “stop playing that damn piano!”

Let me give you some background information before we continue this story.

I decided about a year ago that I was not going to limit myself and that I was going to step outside of my comfort zone. This was not an easy decision. I am an extremely shy person who overthinks everything. Whatever I share online, do believe I’ve gone over it repeatedly and have examined every possible outcome. (I am learning to be less anxious however and more centered and balanced.) Anyway, I decided I was tired of reading about what I needed to do to be a better writer. I wanted to “hear it from the horse’s mouth.” Tired of writerly commandments that got me nowhere, I wanted to act. I needed to act. I decided that acting was the only true way of knowing.

So, fed up with my own lack of action, I logged off my computer last year and went around to bookstores, talked with businessmen and ask the questions I’d always been afraid to ask, armed with business cards (side note: No, I don’t recommend giving your business card out like it’s candy. Most people just throw them away. These are facts.) and sample books. This weekend, I ended up at A Cappella Books, a small Independent Bookstore in Atlanta. I spoke to a man there who gave me some advice.

“Get your name out there because even if you’re in the store, if you aren’t a household name people won’t find you,” he said, spreading his arms to insinuate the rest of his thoughts, which didn’t have to be said: you are a nobody so people won’t be able to find your book among all these books by well-known authors.

Now, ya’ll know I gotta be honest. At first, I was offended. Household name? I thought. Who the hell cares? So I’m not worthy?

“Are you going to the Decatur Festival?” he continued. Interrupting my thoughts about how I didn’t like him.

“Yes.”

“Good. That’s a good place to start. I get a lot of {Indie}authors coming in and calling but if people don’t know you…”

“I understand.”

I left the store, still offended but the blow was softened by the confirmation that I’d made the right decision to attend the Decatur event. It was the third time someone had mentioned it to me and I am big on spiritual confirmations. I believe that what’s meant for me will often be confirmed through others. (The first time I heard of the Festival was at the Atlanta African American Book Festival. An older man had bought two of my books and asked me if I was attending the Decatur Book Festival. “That’s where you need to be,” he had said. The second time was when speaking with my academic advisor. I told her I was going to a book festival and she brought up Decatur.)

After marinating on the man’s words, tasting them, digesting them, I wasn’t offended anymore, and I realized that he’d just given me lots of wisdom. It was deeper than selling in a store. He was telling me that as an author I needed to build relationships with others if I intended to sell books. He was telling me, without telling me, that familiarity sells books so I needed to network and give people a chance to get to know me first.

For online this is social media but offline this is events, book signings, meet and greets, lunch and dinner meetings. (side note: think big….introduce yourself to the person running the show…speak with owners and coordinators…also, with social media, don’t feel obligated to be everywhere…go where your audience is or where people have shown they care. I don’t do much on my personal Facebook page and I really just started posting regularly on my business Facebook page. Why? I don’t have anything personal against Facebook but if I see something is not providing value I am not the kind of person to want to keep doing it….if something is not working then I need to get a new something, not force it to work. If I see that the people on my personal page aren’t interested then I am not going to keep bothering them…I am going to go where I am valued and where the people have shown they are interested in what I have to offer. For me that is Twitter and IG so I post to these accounts the most without feeling guilty about not posting the same thing to Facebook.)

Back to the guy…

I knew what he was saying was truth and have known it for years but hearing it from him directly made it more real and helped me to understand how to better sell the books I have on the shelves of the other two stores in Georgia. People must know who I am in order to walk in and request my book. I needed to work harder to build awareness.

This point was further validated (confirmed) when I saw a post by Mixtus Media:

“Even if you’re an introvert,” the caption read, “you need to connect with people to sell your book…I know it’s intimidating to put yourself out there on social media–especially for introverts. I know because I am one! But in order for your book to see success, you have to do it.”

I know now, exactly what is needed for me to take my career to the next level.

Now, let’s get back to the story.

When Vivica screamed at Jamie to stop playing, she didn’t know at the time that he would later win an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy all for playing the piano, among other things, in his portrayal of Ray Charles in the movie Ray.

What you do tomorrow is determined by what you do today. You think Jamie Foxx decided to play the piano when he found out he was gonna play Ray Charles? No. Jamie Foxx had been playing the piano since he was five years old (back when he was still Eric) and the practice helped him later in life to do something he probably didn’t even know that he would ever do.

Vivica A. Fox Book Signing, 7/22

Whether you write, sing, dance, act, teach or swim, play your piano. In other words, prepare and do what is necessary today even if you don’t understand why you must do it. You have to be ready when the time comes and not trying to get ready.

Being an Independent Author doesn’t mean you should not listen to people who are trying to educate you about improving your craft. As Vivica puts it, “when you receive constructive criticism and it helps you deliver, you have to acknowledge it.”

Vivica had another story. This one about a woman she met who wanted to be an actor. The woman was concerned that she was too old. She had gotten a head-shot and everything and wanted Ms. Fox’s advice.

“Well, you can’t stand by the pool,” Vivica told her, “you have to get in.”

Vivica explained that the work is not just what’s on screen. I think this can apply to those of us in this digital era. The work is not just what’s on screen! On Facebook, on Twitter, on IG, on the blog. The work is constant and much of it takes place behind the scenes.

“I so appreciate that (name) put time into studying,” Vivica continues, “but I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.”

Ms. Fox is right. Five or ten years from now you may find that the work you put in was preparing you for that one moment.

Additionally, don’t wait for someone you think is more important than you to make the decision of who you are gonna be. I got offended by the man’s words (at first) because I’ve never been a “star struck” kind of person. I cheer for everyone and give everyone the same level of respect, honoring each of our sacrifices and contributions regardless of position. These authors are people like I’m a person. They aren’t better than me and I am not better than them. They just started earlier.

This isn’t about bragging but as a wise person once said, “you will have a very hard time running a successful business with low self-esteem.” You can be humble and confident in your ability to deliver at the same time. You are not better than anyone (humility) but you have to know what sets you apart from the rest (confident). I struggle with being timid and unsure too but it’s something I am learning (quickly) I’d need to get over to take it to the next level.

If you want to be successful at anything you must see yourself as such already. Before I married I knew that I needed to become a wife before I actually was. Jamie Foxx didn’t become a pianist when people started to recognize him as such. He always was. Just like you already are. Everything you strive to be, YOU ALREADY ARE. Act accordingly.


Don’t forget to join me tomorrow for the start of the I am Soul Blog Tour! I will be visiting a total of 10 blogs over the course of the next few months and introducing some of my poetry. Be sure you are following these blogs by clicking HERE. You don’t want to miss it!

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The Power of Preparation – Guest Post by, Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

Join me on The Story Reading Ape Blog with Chris! Tonight, I am talking the power of being prepared using my bookstore journey as an example. Come on over!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Yecheilyah and Nora at The Nubian Bookstore in Morrow, GA. Copyright©2017 Yecheilyah Ysrayl.

If you’ve been following The PBS Blog you know that I have been on a bookstore journey where I am visiting bookstores to see if I can better understand the process. The update is that I’ve been stocked in one store, two are currently reviewing two of my books, and I am hosting a double book signing event this month. Today, I would like to share a few things I’ve learned about the power of being prepared and how it has allowed me to cut through a lot of red tape.

But first, why bookstores? Aren’t brick and mortars over and done with? Not quite. Large stores like Barnes and Noble may be on the decline but Independent Bookstores are making a comeback which can have major positive benefits for Self-Publishers.

“Just take a look at the…

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Prepare for your Success Part 2: The 80/20 Rule – Blogging for Writers

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What is the difference between writing and blogging? Do you really know?

Before going on, please read part one HERE.

I was listening to Lynn Serafinn during the Publishing Success Summit and she spoke about social media layers and how this influences a writer who strives to build an author platform through the blog. I read complaints from many writers who want to start blogs but are not sure what to blog about.

I thought about this and how beneficial it may be for some authors to come up with a strategy. Well, I hate to use the word strategy because it makes it sound too much like a plan when what we blog about should be a natural extension of us. However, there may be some who really do need to develop a system. They want to use the blog to help their writing but they aren’t sure how to blog or how to use it as an author. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk to you about author blogs or what makes one. (I have my own opinions on that. I’ll share them later). Instead, let’s explore something to which we’re all familiar.

How many of you have seen Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor? I’m not a Tyler Perry fan but this movie had a great message: You never leave 80 for 20.

Briefly, here is what the movie is about:

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Judith is a therapist who works at a matchmaking agency owned by Janice and is married to Brice, whom Judith has known since she was six. After obtaining her masters Judith is unfulfilled and dissatisfied with her job and anxious to start her own marriage counseling business, but Brice tells her to wait until they are more financially stable. Meanwhile, Judith meets Harley at work, a wealthy Internet entrepreneur who wants to invest in Janice’s business. He attempts to seduce Judith as they work late on matchmaking surveys. When Harley questions the absence of sex in the surveys, Judith says she does not believe in premarital sex. Harley thinks Judith’s sex life is boring and Judith, now questioning her sex life with Brice, tries to improve it.

Judith and Harley
Judith and Harley

Long story short, when Judith changes her hair and makeup for her birthday and Brice fails to notice the change or remember her birthday, Judith is more inclined to give into Harley’s advances (though she is unwilling to admit it). She receives flowers that she believes are from Brice but are really from Harley who appears and notes her change in appearance – something she didn’t get from Brice (hope you’re seeing where I’m going with this). Janice sends Judith to New Orleans with Harley to finalize a deal with shareholders, telling her to flirt with Harley, but also to be careful. Judith’s co-worker, Ava gives Judith a makeover and in New Orleans, Judith and Harley complete the business deal and go dancing and sightseeing. On the way home, Harley seduces Judith in his private jet and the sexual tension between them is solidified when Judith gives in. She has the affair.

The moral of the story is that Harley is 20%. Yes, the sex is good but there isn’t anything of substance that would denote he is husband material. After the making out there is basically nothing. This isn’t to say that Brice is perfect either but Judith could have communicated with Brice how she likes it and kept the 80% she was getting from him while working on the 20% she wasn’t getting. At the end of the day, you never leave 80 for 20 people.

Everyone’s got flaws, but you don’t leave someone with at least 80% of their stuff together for someone who just looks good but head is in the clouds, also known as 20. Anyway, it looks good and probably feels the same but after that, there’s nothing left. No mind. No aspirations. Nothing.

In blogging, it helps (or at least it has helped me) if 80% of your time is spent networking and providing value. Writing is good but building a blog takes a little bit more than that. How do we measure a blog’s success? That depends on the individual. One thing is for sure, writing is just 20%. To learn to blog is to do much more and that much more is largely rooted in one word: Network.

  • Comments – When they come, respond back to them! Yes, on comments left to you on the blogs of others too.
  • Negative Feedback – It happens. Not everyone is going to agree with you. If you publish a controversial post, be prepared to stand on it.
  • Carve Out Some Time – Be ready to put the hours in that are necessary to achieve your blog goals. If you want to increase your number of followers/subscribers, it’s going to take you blogging more than once a month. I may not have many subscribers myself but I will tell you, with my integrity in tact, that I have earned every last one of you! I put mad hours into this blog. As expressed in The First 300: How I Reached 300 Blog Followers in 3 Months, I started this blog publishing three posts a day for six days. Yes, I only took one day off from blogging and not because anyone forced me to. Of course I’ve slowed down now but I can only afford to do that because of the foundation I’ve laid in the beginning.
  • Work on Your Tags – The tagging on my older posts are just sad. Don’t be like me. Jason over at Harsh Reality has some great advice on tagging. He recommends 15 Tags (includes a category. Categories act as tags) and is a mixture of unique as well as generic tags. Generic tags are tags that are used the most by bloggers like blog, blogging, bloggers. Unique tags are tags that are exclusive to your post, tags you make up or tailor to your content. Because of this theme, my tags show up at the top of each of my post. Look at them. In each of my post you’ll count 14 tags. My 15th tag is my category. Or, you’ll count 13 tags if I chose two categories and so on (the lesser my tags, the more the categories. Remember, categories count as tags). To learn more, visit Jason’s posts on tagging. I’ve followed his advice since the beginning and it has worked for me thus far. No, I don’t have the link. You have to do some of the work.
  • Visible Follow Buttons – I’ve been preaching this same “sermon” for probably about a year now but it’s only because I run into it probably every day. I’m trying to follow someone’s blog but I can’t find the follow button. That means guess what? I’m not following you. Go to your WP Dashboard > Widgets and add a follow button. Make sure it’s the one that says “Follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts via email”. The other one will just allow people to follow you through the reader.
  • About Page – Although I am starting to wonder how many people pay attention to the about page (people tend to follow a blog after liking a post that caught their attention, hoping to receive the same kind of content) be sure to complete your about page. It just looks professional and helps those who do read about pages to know more about you. (Tip: Read a blogger about page. You’d be surprised to find many of your questions about them answered).
  • INTERACT – This is in all caps for a reason. If you’re interested in building a blog that does well, be sure that you’re interacting with others. Try to leave comments that aren’t so phony. OK, let me define “phony”. It’s OK to be short, but to really start to get to know people you’re going to have to say more than “Great post!” There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you find something that really moves you, dig in as my mother used to say. Give us full explanations on why you feel a certain way. This allows your personality to come out and for others to be prompted to respond. This is how relationships are formed, through communication.
  • Easy to Read – The easier your blog is to read, the better. Stay away from brightly colored text that is hard to read and clutter. Don’t just throw your blog furniture all over the place. Too many widgets are distracting.

Providing Value means (but is not limited to):

–    Well written and consistent content (Aka blogging as often as possible)

–    Following other blogs (and re-blogging others)

–    Responding to comments (both on your blog and the blogs of others)

–    Promoting and helping others

–    Writing about life in general (not just your writing)

–    Keeping your blog updated, clean, easy to read, and easy to follow (so like, have a follow button!)

Is there a word that sticks out to you? Right. Others. Blogging isn’t about just focusing on content far as publishing posts are concerned (which is why it’s about more than just writing. Sorry, but blogging does have a lot to do with the technical things as well. Views, stats, subscribers, tags, photos, etc.) it also means that most of your time is spent on engaging your readers and helping others.

In short, it may help if authors learn to blog because it will help (or at least it has helped me so far) to reach a new readership. I also believe in the importance of building trust and that authors should do this first before expecting new readers.

The reason you spend most of your time (80%) understanding blogging and doing it effectively (if you’re trying to build a blog that is. If you don’t care about blogging or think it’s a waste of time then this obviously does not apply to you) is because people must grow to like you enough to trust you and no one needs a Best-Selling book or fancy certificate to understand that. In fact, I’ve learned that learning how to blog (which I am still doing myself) is just understanding people in general. What are they trusting you to do? They’re trusting you to deliver valuable content without constantly selling to them. If people think you’re just trying to sell your book to them, they won’t trust that your content is genuine. No matter how relevant, they will ignore your service because they think you’re just out to make money.

Serafinn identified four layers of social media and we all know that when baking a cake or pie or anything that has layers, we know that the good stuff is somewhere in the middle, not at the top.

Lynn didn’t name the layers in her interview so I took the liberty of doing so. You know, so this is a bit more fun.

Layer 1: The Crust

–    The crust is the top layer and it is oh so good! But, it is also usually too good. You see, the crust doesn’t usually have any nutritional value to it whether that’s the buttery crust on an apple pie or crust on the lasagna (you know that’s where all that cheese is!). Per Serafinn, the first layer is made up of people who don’t know you at all and don’t care about you or your writings. The crust looks good but that’s about it.

Layer 2: The Sauce

–    I call layer two the sauce. Like layer one, the sauce doesn’t do much. Although it may provide a bit more than the crust only because there are probably bits of onions and green peppers in there somewhere. The second layer is the people who follow you on social networks and know you only slightly. Maybe they liked your Tweet or Facebook Post.

Layer 3: The Noodle

–    Now we’re starting to get somewhere. I call the third layer the noodle. It’s bound to provide a lot more substance than crust and sauce. At least the noodle will coat your stomach. The third group is your casual blog visitors. They know you a little bit more than the second group because they read your blog every so often.

Layer 4: The Meat

–    Now we’re deep into it and get to take a mouthful of that delicious meatball! The final layer is the layer we want to pay attention to. They are our regular blog readers or people who support us consistently. They are always liking, commenting, and sharing our content, they have signed up to our email lists, and may have even bought a book. These are the people who trust us more than the other three groups because they read us consistently. They are the meat. This isn’t to say they know you in the deeper sense of the word considering it takes so much more to really get to know a person but they are trying and on the surface of knowing, these are the people who at least trust you more than the other groups to deliver. This is the layer we want to grow because it means that they will support us during that 20% of the time that we are pushing our books.

Writers looking to build a readership through the blog should focus on building trust with the fourth layer by providing valuable content on a consistent basis. This means that you should do more than post excerpts and chapters of your book. Even if you’re a great writer blogging is more than that. By networking, commenting, sharing, and sharing other things about ourselves  we are giving people enough to grasp at our personality or become interested in who we are as a person. This will lead them to genuinely care about our writing. How so? You are concerned about people you care about. The more people get to know you, genuinely as a person (not that phony stuff), the more interested they are in your work because they are interested in you.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release July 15-16, 2017. For updates on this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Prepare for Your Success – Part 1

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The biggest mistake that people make is focusing exclusively on where they want to be instead of preparing for where they want to be. Someone may want to publish a book or have a successful blog but they aren’t prepared to receive it. What will happen if the book does blow up like you want it to, are you prepared? What if one of your blog posts does go “viral”, are you prepared? It’s not just about the end goal, it is also about the journey. I want to encourage you today to prepare for where you want to be. I wanted to provide blog and writing tips but I’ve decided to split this into multiple posts so it’s not too long because I know you got places to be. Today’s post is on mental preparation.

Mental

  • Nerves and Doubt is a Part of It

Don’t let others deceive you and don’t deceive yourself. You’re always going to be nervous before embarking on something that is truly life changing. You’re always going to have that fear or that doubt in the beginning and truth be told the only way to overcome that doubt is to do the very thing you’re absolutely nervous about doing. I always say that if you ever get too comfortable that’s when your humility is not as strong as it needs to be because you should always be just a little bit nervous before embarking on something great. Why is that? Because that uncomfortable nervous feeling is where the growth happens. No one ever did anything in the comfort zone.

  • Stop Telling Everyone Your Plans

Discouragement doesn’t just come organically but we also invite it. Not everyone deserves to know what you plan to do and how you plan to do it, especially people who don’t deserve to know. Spell casting is real and all it takes is the word. Words are spiritual and they live. When someone speaks negatively about your life they are trying to cast a spell on you whether they know it or not. Stop telling hateful people your plans and surround yourself with people who will support you. Remember, destruction is always loud just as the tree falls and hits the ground. However, the seed grows with no sound. Grow silently.

  • Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

Steve Harvey said that if nine of your friends are broke then you’re going to be the tenth. If eight of your friends are smokers, you’re going to be the ninth. We’ve heard the saying repeatedly, “Birds of a feather, flock together” because they do. If you’re truly trying to grow your business or writing career, surround yourself with the people who are where you want to go. Don’t be intimidated by their success or jealous of it, feed off it. Mimic it. Work ethic is great but effort directed in the wrong places is counterproductive. It won’t do you any good. Chances are if someone is more successful than me it’s because they’re doing something that I’m not. That’s motivation for me to find out what it is.

  • Learn not to Respond to Negativity

Silence is a beast. Listen, many of you don’t know me and I don’t say this to be mean or to say that we can’t develop a closer relationship at some point in our blogging journey’s together as we become more acquainted and of service to one another (wow, that was a long sentence lol), but it’s the truth, you don’t. If you knew me, you would know that I am not the most liked person in the world. People hate me fiercely. They annihilate me and my family on and off social media both for who I am as a person, for what I believe in, for the things that I say, and for just being me. I don’t count this as a bad thing, in fact, it’s a blessing and I pray for the people who I have loved but who have given me hate in return. In fact, I know that many of you will one day grow to hate me too and that’s OK because I know what I do this for and it’s not to please any of you. I say this because if you’re going to be successful at anything in your life you have got to learn not to respond to negativity. You’ve got to change your perspective on life itself and stop listening to people who tell you your silence represents guilt or fear.

The true mark of maturity is when someone hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of hurting them back. Silence amid the storm does not make you weak or incapable. It means that you’re meek and humble. You’re humble because you are not concerned about what you can say to lift yourself up above someone else who has torn you down. We’ve got to get to the point in our lives where we can understand that how we overcome adversity shines a light on who we really are. When you can hear something bad about me, something so unbelievable (because chances are it’s a lie) and still stand with me, that’s when I know that you know me as a person. It’s not the good times that you really get to know a person, it’s in the struggle that you find out just how real people are. If you have to jump in someone’s face or say something bad about someone because they said it about you that doesn’t mean that you’re fearless, it means that you are weak.

  • Spotting the Haters

Investing time in haters will halt your success. Point blank and period. If every time you bring something to someone they have something negative to say about it, that’s a red flag. They don’t have to agree with you but real friends will at least give you some insight into what you’re doing. They don’t just disagree but they give you something you can take back with you. You have to get to the point of understanding that everyone can’t go where you’re going.

  • Be Yourself

I know this sounds cliche but you’d be surprised how many people compromise their personal integrity once they think they’ve reached a level of success. Even in the blog world some of you start changing up your ways to please new followers. The truth is that things will constantly change but you have to stay true to who you are because who you are becomes your brand.

When Oprah started out she didn’t know what a brand was, and even though she’s a named brand today it wasn’t because she intentionally set out to be that, she just did what felt right to her. In fact, when she started The Oprah Winfrey Show everyone (except one person) said that she would fail. The point is that you are only successful being yourself. I hear people time and time again talk about how authors should be more personal on social media. That we should talk about more than books but more so of other things that we like and that’s cool if that’s you.

The reason I’m not as personal on Twitter, for instance (since I’m on there the most) is because I’ve never been that way on social media. Even when I was on Facebook I didn’t talk about walking the dog today or my favorite color. I keep telling ya’ll that I’m a private and laid back person so social media for me is just business and that’s how I use it. This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to get more personal online but that’s just not me is the point.

It don’t matter how many times people say it that’s not going to change my social media habits because it’s just not who I am. The same with this blog. I’m not changing the name of my blog, not even to my name. Is that a good strategy? It’s a great author branding strategy. Is it me? Nope.

I have this one blog post that I did not expect to do well (8 Ways to go from Author to Authorpreneur). I wasn’t trying to be someone giving advice, I was just sharing (as I always am) what I do and how it may can help you. Everything in that post is something that I did, that I literally put into practice myself and I wanted to share it with you. In short, I was just being me and it turned out to be one of my greatest PBS Blog posts (far as engagement is concerned).

In all things, to yourself be true. That’s what people are attracted to. You don’t have to change up because your subscriber number is growing or because the social media guru tells you to do this instead of that. Only do it if that’s what you would do anyway. Only do it if that’s already in line with who you are.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release July 15-16, 2017. For updates on this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

The World We Live In

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We wake up in the mornings and we go to work or we go to our office if we work from home. We get the children ready for school and send them off. Kiss our husbands. Kiss our wives. We complain about our jobs or the traffic on the way. We go to the grocery store or we log into our social media accounts. We go about our day and we don’t pay attention nor are we prepared for the time when our days are interrupted. We dream like those in movies where disaster pierces the peace of those who never expected things to be different. Open your eyes and look around. Things are different. But we do not pay attention nor are we prepared. For those who do prepare, like the old man down the street with a basement filled with extra food and water, he is crazy. Even though we don’t really know what crazy is. He’s just it. A conspiracy theorist fool. He is mocked by those who go into the grocery stores never contemplating the moment when the land may no longer produce the potatoes they so casually lift into their carts. Never expecting that one day the land won’t produce and the trucks will no longer be capable of being driven to the store to put on the shelf the Idaho potatoes we never considered won’t be there one day.

We just go about our day, writing our books, taking our pictures, building our businesses and shopping at grocery stores we’ve claimed as our own. It will always be there when we need it, we say. Our desensitization to evil has gone unnoticed. Death itself is a past time no longer cloaked under the veil of mystery but walking around openly, shaking hands and taking bets. The constant fuel of white and black relations is just the same ole, same ole song we’ve been singing since the 1960s until we look up and a race war has begun (and I don’t trust the economy can take it. The old man is wise). Who knows what may come upon this Earth or if it will be our airport next time or our minds tampered with. Who knows where the next Manchurian Candidate will come from or who will hear the voices next, but I’m talking outside the box now, I shouldn’t do that. Isn’t that right?

Just as long as we can update our Facebook pages and RT our favorite Twitterbugs, maybe post a cool picture of yesterday’s meal on Instagram, all is well. Keep walking on the wheel. Hampsters spinning. People moving in the same place. Too busy living to live. Too busy to see the world ain’t safe no more. Louisiana dropped to freezing temperatures this weekend only to go back up to the seventies this week but that doesn’t mean anything. Half the continent is in the winter months. How fitting, for the love of the world has gone cold. A change has come and no one is paying attention.