You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS? – by Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape)

Just a friendly reminder to remember to review 🙂

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

PLEASE

A stack of books and words Read - Review - RepeatIf not, why not?

I don’t have time

The author probably spent a heck of a lot more time writing the story than you took to read it, no matter how slow you think you are, so why not take a few minutes to record your feelings about it.

I can’t write long fancy reviews like those I see on book review blogs

You don’t have to, Amazon, for example, only ask you to use a minimum of 25 non repeating words.

I can’t express myself very well

No-one is asking you to produce a literary masterpiece, start off with things you liked, didn’t like or a mix of both about the book, e.g.,

I liked this book because –

it reminded me of –

it made me think about –

it made me so scared I couldn’t sleep for –

it made me feel homesick for –

it…

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FREE Ways to Support Your Favorite Indie Authors

Buying books written by Independent Authors is a terrific way to show support, and word of mouth is still a powerful way to make sure other people know of an author’s work without spending money. There are tons of ways to do this online.

Review the book on Amazon – Amazon is still a powerhouse and trusted source of content for readers. It’s easy to send a review via email, DM, or to post about the book on Social Media. While I am confident, the writer will appreciate any form of support, reviewing a book on Amazon will undoubtedly give the author more exposure. Amazon is the third-largest search engine with Google first and YouTube second. But then, “if we exclude YouTube as part of Google, Amazon is technically the second largest search engine in the world.” (E-Commerce SEO). Suffice it to say Amazon reviews are a great way to support your favorite author, boost their exposure, and act as a great social proof form. In short, an honest, legitimate Amazon review will help an Indie Author go far. In the words of Michael LeBoeuf, “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”

Just because someone bought a book doesn’t mean they read it. Leaving reviews is a great way to show the author that you read the book, whether you enjoyed it or not.

Click here to review My Soul is a Witness on Amazon

Rate/Review Book on Goodreads – While many people are no longer fans of Goodreads (and I’ve fallen off a bit there myself), do remember that it’s a platform full of people who love to read and talk about books! Granted, some people reviewing here are rude, but that’s certainly not everyone. Goodreads is still an excellent platform to use as an online word of mouth to discuss books read. It also allows for the sharing of reviews for books not posted to Amazon for whatever reason. If you don’t have the book, you can utilize the Want to Read button to add it to your bookshelf. Adding a book will show up on your page, exposing the book to your followers/friends. If an author is hosting a giveaway entering the contest will also mark their book Want to Read and add it to your shelf.

Note to authors: I have heard stories about people taking advantage of authors hosting giveaways on Goodreads when it involves paperback books. Please research this on your own as I have no first-hand experience with it, but I’ve heard complaints.

Click here to add My Soul is a Witness on Goodreads

Follow the Author on Social Media – Through social media, you get to learn more about the author outside of books. Many authors post pictures of their family, friends, and pets. Authors share their daily routines, hold contests, and take readers behind the scenes. Readers can interact directly with their favorite authors by sharing a post, saving a post, commenting on a post, and liking a post. All of this helps contribute to helping spread the author’s message without spending a dime.

Follow me on Instagram Here

Follow me on Twitter Here

Like/Follow me on Facebook Here

Subscribe to the Author’s Blog – Following the author’s blog (if they have one) is an extension of following them on social media. Writers have the space to share so much more about themselves and their life’s work and inspirations through blogging. It is a great way to network and become privy to new material as writers tend to publish sneak peeks and short stories to their blogs before they publish them. Writers also post their publishing process in detail on their blogs. You may be inspired to write your own book and learn a thing or two.

Click that lovely subscribe button to follow this blog

Join the Author’s Mailing List or Author Group – Joining the author’s mailing list or author group opens up an opportunity to get to know the author on a much more personal level. You are interacting with them behind the scenes, sort of speak. An author may go live so you can see their face, hear their voice, and interact with them in real-time. Authors explain the deeper meanings behind their stories, answer questions, host private, exclusive contests, and much more. Joining the author behind the scenes in this way shows you trust them with your email address and are ready to commit on a deeper level.

Click here to Join my Author Mailing List

Post Image of Book on Instagram / Facebook – Posting images of the author’s book – or pictures of you and the author at an event – to IG and Facebook (tag the author) is an excellent public display of support. It helps leverage the author’s exposure through cross-promotion. One of your followers interested in that book will potentially follow the author, purchase a copy of the book, review the book, and become a new fan. They may post the book image to their page, and the process repeats itself as one of their followers may find themselves interested in the book. It is a beautiful and selfless display of support and strengthening of the author’s network and the Indie Author community in general.

There are so many ways to support the Indie Author community. I have mentioned these previously, but one crucial component sets this list apart as making a real difference for your favorite authors:

Participation.

Following someone on social media, subscribing to their blog, or joining their email list or author group means nothing without an active commitment to engage.


My Soul is a Witness is Out. Be sure to grab your copy today and remember to leave a review when you have finished reading! 🙂

Welcome

Wherever you are in the world, welcome. I have been MIA a minute, and I’ve noticed an uptick of Freedom Readers to this blog. You guys are fantastic.

If you have not already done so, be sure to visit the About Page to learn more about me and this blog.

My name is Yecheilyah, pronounced e-SEE-li-yah, aka EC. It is a Hebrew name meaning Yah Lives. In case you are wondering, I was not born with this name. I follow in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture, and others who are not widely known by their birth names.

At some point, I imagine these people, like I, have awakened to a truth that demanded a better version of themselves and a better way of living. Not only did they strive to change their perspective on life, but they changed their names to fit the newly developed person, they became. (I am drafting an article called “The Power of Your Name,” about the vital role our name plays in author branding. I should have it ready for you sometime next week).

Speaking of growing, this blog is so much more than what it was. It is the primary platform from which I share my work and the work of others. From our home office, living room, or bedroom, we can reach people worldwide. Isn’t that amazing? While I don’t intend to blog forever, I hope what I share here serves a purpose. With so many people home now because of this global pandemic, I take my role as writer/author/blogger even more seriously than ever. I know now more than any other time the power of the written word and its capability to change lives.

This blog runs mainly by a few weekly posts you might want to know about.

Wednesdays

The Women with Blue Eyes – I usually author poetry and black historical fiction, but I have a secret love affair with Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My first published novel (The Aftermath, 2012) was Sci-Fi. I got interested in writing in this genre after reading George Orwell’s 1984 in 2008.

The Women with Blue Eyes is a free fantasy story I have been sharing freely here on the blog. When Tina’s nephew Ronnie died, it traumatized her. It wasn’t just that he died. It was the way he died. After taking custody of Ronnie’s sisters and brother, Tina experienced supernatural phenomenons that eventually led to therapy and hallucinogenic suppressants. This didn’t help.

She meets Azbuga, an Archangel sent to tie the missing pieces together, still connecting her to Ronnie’s death.

Paschar (pu-shar), is the angel of vision, once tasked with guarding the veil between the physical world and the heavens, between consciousness and unconsciousness, between awareness and illusion. She once saw the beauty of visions from the Almighty and projected these into human consciousness. Now, she is limited, capable only of seeing physical beauty, extracting energy from mortal man, and projecting illusions. Paschar has fallen, and in a jealous rage, she attacks black men for their energy. How dare he choose them over her?

Can Tina, Jason, and Az defeat Paschar and her Legion once and for all? More black men are dying, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare with physical weapons.

This series is divided into two parts, and I am sharing freely part one, chapters 1-20. Click here to read chapters 1-17. Chapter 18 publishes next week. (Note: The Women with Blue Eyes is a Rated-R Fantasy series. You should know there is some profanity for those sensitive to cursing, and adult language).

My intent is to use this platform as a motivation for completing the series and one day turning it into a full-length novel.

Thursdays

Throwback Thursday Jams – If I was on the edge of a cliff, music would be one force pulling me back from jumping.

Okay, well, that’s a lil dramatic but, yea. I love music. Tee Hee.

So while I’m a serious person, I am also a silly and musical person. I love R&B and old school soul, and Thursdays are all about introducing you to some of my favorite throwback jams. Now, when I say throwback, I don’t mean that they are all technically throwbacks. I post music ranging from Old School (60-80s), the 90s (my fav), and the early 2000s. And sometimes I might post something new-ish because I just like it. Check out the Throwback Thursday category to jam out.

Fridays

Black History Fun Fact Friday -Black History Fun Fact Friday is a weekly blog series of articles focused on Israelite/Black/African American history. While the title of the series includes the words “Fun Facts,” not all pieces are “fun,” in the sense that is is all positive. My intention with this series is to present black history as it is without adding to or taking away from the truth, despite how brutal or uncomfortable it may be to read.

Take Sun-Down Towns, for example. The unfortunate truth is that some all-white communities today are all-white neighborhoods because they were once sun-down towns or cities where blacks were driven out and not allowed to enter after sun-down. Read more about that here. 

 

And while this is a weekly series, we have had no new articles in a few weeks. There’s a good reason for that, and I will let you all know about that exciting bit of news later!! In the meantime, if you would like to participate, I am still accepting black history guest blog posts for this feature. Please click here to learn how to apply.

These are some top weekly posts you can get used to. In between them, I share poetry, quotes, blog, and writing tips I call Indie Author Basics with EC based on my experience as an Independent Author.

 

It’s almost time for me to change my Avatar’s outfit. It’s getting cooler out! Who’s ready for the fall??

The Stella Trilogy: The Research (Book One)

Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana, November, 2016.

Since the meat of book one focuses on what life was like for a little girl, and then a young woman, growing up in slavery, the bulk of my research had to do with reading slave narratives and studying enslavement through the eyes of women and children.

Between Slavery and Freedom centers on Stella’s enslavement on The Saddler Plantation in Louisiana. As I introduce us to the first Stella, she is a six-year-old girl enslaved with her mother, Deborah. At this age, she is not aware that she is living property, which was typical for some enslaved children in their early years. She plays with the other children, including the slave owners’ daughter, but she does not yet understand the value of her flesh, that she could be bought, sold, traded, transferred, deeded, and gifted. Stella describes the plantation as a “big family.” She loves running through the dirt and the way it feels on her toes. She talks of childish things like eating sweet cakes, playing with Miss Carla, and trying to convince Mama, she touched the sun.

“One time, I made it where I touched the sun. It wasn’t even hot either. It didn’t feel like nothing but air. I told Mama the sun was tricking us. 

“And how it do that?”

“Cause Mama. I touched it, and it ain’t burn my finger none. It feels hot, but it ain’t really.”

– Stella, Between Slavery and Freedom

Historically, enslaved children who had a “childhood” in this way realized their status gradually. Their awakened consciousness may have been signified by seeing a family member sold for the first time or being sold themselves. The research points to ten as the age where the enslaved child knew and understood that he or she was property, except in the circumstances, as I have mentioned. As soon as they were old enough, the enslaved child’s life changed, and they realized that their lives as enslaved differed greatly from the lives of the white children they once played with as small children.

Slave-owners raised southern white youth as enslavers in training. Sometimes slave-owners gifted their children an enslaved person as a pet (sometimes it was the same child they played with). Literature also played a role in the training of southern youth to not only accept slavery as a regular part of society but to prepare them to own slaves of their own. Examples of such books is The Child’s Book on Slavery; or Slavery Made Plain. In a chapter called The Duty of Learning about Slavery, it states:

“if slavery is good, we ought to help it forward…”

In a chapter called Does Color Make Slavery, it states:

“Moses and all his people, I have said, were slaves in Egypt, but they were not colored people.” 

This explanation was to try to explain to the children that slavery wasn’t based on skin color, and it is a lie. Egypt is in Africa. Moses and his people were “people of color.”

In a chapter called What is a Slave, the author compares the enslaved to a horse, saying:

“Perhaps your father has a horse. That is his property. He has a right to make the horse work, only he should treat him kindly and give him good food. If the horse is his, nobody has a right to tell him he must not use the horse so. And then, if he thinks it best, he has a right to sell the horse to somebody else. Nobody has a right to forbid him. He need not go and ask even the horse, if he may have him plow the garden, or draw the wagon, for the horse would not understand him, and could not speak to him, and will never grow so old or so wise, that he can understand our words, and talk himself.”

Source: https://archive.org/details/ASPC0001969600/page/n5/mode/2up

Speaking of literature, another part of writing book one was reading many slave narratives, including Frederick Douglass An American Slave, and Up from Slavery. Other books included When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative CollectionBullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember, and Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation.

Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana, November, 2016.

“Some people have to take the cotton and pick out the seeds, and others have to spin and weave. They don’t do nothing but spins and weaves. Some people even had to turn the weaves into threads.”

– Stella, Between Slavery and Freedom

More profound than this is my visit to a former slave plantation at The Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

You might ask yourself why anyone would want to visit such a place. I was writing about people living on a slave plantation and what better way to get inside their heads than to visit one.

Originally called Bermuda, the founder of Oakland was Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’ Homme, who began farming the land in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The land’s first cash crops were tobacco, indigo, and cotton. The Prud’ Hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale.

Cane River Creole National Park – Oakland Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana, November, 2016. Slave Quarter turned home of Sharecroppers

“Down in the quarters, every family had a one- or two-room log cabin. Mostly one room though. We had mattresses filled with corn shucks. Sometimes the men build chairs at night. We didn’t know much about having anything, though. There were a lot of cabins for the slaves, but they weren’t fitting for nobody to live in. We just had to put up with them.”

– Stella, Between Slavery and Freedom

After the Civil War, sharecropper and tenant farmers continued to live on the land until the 1970s, and slave quarters became homes to sharecroppers later. The people worked twelve hours a day, six days a week. Seeing this with my own eyes put it into perspective how the south had reconstructed slavery by returning land to former slave owners and putting former slaves back into the fields under another name. Slave codes designed to control the enslaved became black codes intended to control freedmen, and cotton pickers became sharecroppers.

Martha Ann, an enslaved Laundress, worked in this wash house in the 1850s. In the 1940s, her descendant, Martha Helaire, earned $4 an hour working here as a Laundress. All we have to do is walk a few steps to the washer and dryer.

I blogged about this visit years ago. Get the full picture and see more pics by revisiting that post here.

Living on 40 Acres of Land

Finally, part of my preparation for book one also included where I was living at the time I started writing these books.

At the time I released the first book in this trilogy, my husband and I lived in an old house owned by our elderly cousin on 40-acres of land. Over the years, we planted a garden on the property, built a chicken coop and raised chickens, owned several dogs, goats, and even a horse. My grandmother-in-law also recounted stories of when she and some cousins picked cotton on this land.

The elderly cousin and her father built the house we rented many years ago. It was an old house and an old land. It was easy for my overactive imagination to envision what it would be like if we were not renting this house from our cousin; if we were not free to live life on our own terms; if this was not the 2000s, but the 1800s, and if we were not free but enslaved. I walked the property, breathed the air, and looked up at the trees. I had dreams of black people hanging from those trees and visions of people trying to escape.

We lived on that land for five years, eventually moving away in 2015, and I had a completed manuscript.


Preorder the ebook here for just 99cents

Preorder a Signed Paperback Here

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

(If you read Stella the first time around I would most appreciate you marking it as read on Goodreads!)

Stella: Between Slavery and Freedom (Preorder Book One)

Stella is a work of Historical Fiction and is distinctive in its focus on one woman’s road to self-discovery, against the backdrop of the African American fight for justice, racial equality, and freedom. The 3-Part series focuses on the history of one family in their struggle for racial identity. We discover in this Trilogy how three individuals living in separate periods strive to overcome the same battle, carefully knit together by one blood.

Preorder Book One Now. 3/24/2020

These books were first released in 2015 and helped elevate my writing to another level. These were not the first books I had ever written. Still, they were the first books to appeal to people outside of my circle and were my first Historical Fiction books.

I took the risk of removing them to get them re-edited, re-formatted, and the covers recreated.

I am happy with my decision and even prouder of this work. I get to relaunch these books and reach more readers of African American Historical Fiction. I am hoping to at least sell 50 copies of book one to start (at least 25 ebooks, 25, print books), and I hope you can help me with that!

Stella: Between Slavery and Freedom

In book one, Cynthia McNair and her boyfriend, Alex, express some racists’ feelings toward blacks. They visit Cynthia’s Grandmother Sidney McNair, who recounts the story of her ancestor, a slave named Stella Mae. Cynthia has no idea of her African ancestry or how deep this rabbit hole goes.

Book one is available now for preorder in digital and print. Release day is March 24th.

The preorder price is 99cents but will go up after release, so you want to take advantage of this.

Preorders are also available in paperback through my website. Paperback books are signed and will ship the first week of April.

*If you already read this series, you should know book one has an alternate ending! The story is the same, but the books are better polished, and each book flows smoothly into the next book. This time, while the books can be read alone, they are much more in a series format. You will want to read all three books to get the full picture. Well worth re-reading! 

Preorder the ebook for 99cents

Preorder a signed paperback

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

(Already read Stella? Mark as read and leave a review)

Lit Mag 2020 Is On the Way

The 2020 Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets is on its way out! We are proud to feature last year’s Grand Prize Winner Chanelle Barnes on the cover. Volume 2, Edition 2, is scheduled to print Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

This year’s magazine features the winners of “Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest 2019”: Chanelle Barnes, BuddahDesmond, Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia) Richardson (our 2018 Champion), Kiyana Blount, and Dondi A Springer. The mag also features the poems of select poets who participated last year.

How can you be featured in the Lit Mag Magazine? Be sure to participate in my annual poetry contests! Rules and guidelines for the 2020 competition to be announced.

Be sure to support this contest by picking up your copy of LitMag 2019 by clicking on the link below. Your contribution helps us to keep this contest going by keeping the entry fee-free or low-cost for participants, allows us to print the magazine featuring the winners, and of course, offers some dope prizes to contestants! Link below:

Get LitMag 2019 Here

Visit our 2017 Winners Here

Visit our 2018 Winners Here

Visit our 2019 Winners Here

Why Writers Should Keep Writing

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

You cannot know for sure every one your writing helps. Not everyone will leave reviews, emails, or broadcast to the world how your vulnerability saved their life. Some people silently depend on the wisdom of your words, like pieces of salvation scribbled in ink. Some people are thirsty to hear your voice, and they wait for you to gather the courage to wrap them in that red cape we call writing. They are waiting for you to make them heroes to whatever suffering led them here. Not everyone is looking for words that are pretty either, cute, cuddly, and attractive looking. Some people need not be coddled but scorned out of comfort zones and disciplined out of negligence. Writers should keep writing because they are saviors to people they may never know.