*I was gifted a copy of this book but it was so good that I decided to purchase it in support of the author*
I am excited to be doing reviews again and boy do I have a tasty one for you today! I love poetry, have written four collections myself and hosted two poetry contests so far on this blog. For these reasons, it was probably surprising that I opted not to review poetry when I first started. One of the reasons was because I found it difficult to judge. Poetry is very personal and intimate and I don‘t think there’s any such thing as bad poetry. But, since my last contest (where we read over and critiqued tons of poems) I decided to review poetry books on this blog and since coming in contact with Knighten, I am glad I changed my mind!
/NAKEED/: a bare soul is a collection of love poems from an amazing poet, Shequila Knighten and her journey of discovering her authentic self. Upon the first read, you may mistakenly think these are poems mostly about a woman’s relationship with a man but as you continue, you’ll find it is much more than that. There is romance but on a deeper level these are poems about a woman’s love for herself, a journey of healing through heartbreak, depression, and facing insecurities. These poems are beautifully written and what I liked most is that the pieces are raw but not vulgar which is not easy to do. There‘s a sexiness to them but Shequila’s lyrics are elegant, strong and inspiring.
“He had a voice smooth as a saxophone…”
“they say time heals all wounds…I think my watch died…”
“insecurity established a deep-rooted self-hate growing in my womb…”
Whew. See what I mean fam? I am hoping Shequila will consider entering my next poetry contest! We will see. In the meantime, be sure to pick up your copy of /NAKEED/ which is just 99cents on Amazon!
Shequila is a writer of poetry and inspirational blogger. She became a writer after growing up with the constant fear of people not understanding her speaking what’s on her mind, so writing became her outlet. Starting with poetry, she released her first book of poems, /’NAKEED/. She now lives by the motto, ”if you can’t speak it, write it; your point will still be heard.” Shequila currently resides in Southwest Florida with her three children.
I wrote this poem in honor of my dad last year, inspired by a real experience. I was listening to Pandora and Yolanda Adams “Open My Heart” came on. I usually turn the station because the song reminds me of my dad who died of cancer in 2000. This time though, I allowed myself to feel. I allowed myself to grieve. I put this video together when I first published the poem to this blog but I am just now getting it uploaded as I am getting my YouTube grind back! Listen to the poem below, read the poem hereand be sure to subscribe for more poems!
This is the time of the year where we step back and analyze where we are and where we want to be. The time where we consider if the goals, we set at the beginning of the year have been realized and if there are any changes or improvements that need to be made. This is also the time of the year when I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the year. Usually, I do this closer to the end of the month but my family is moving so things are busy around these parts. Last year, I had an entire list of lessons learned. This year, I only have one.
December is when I do a lot of reflection. An entire year has passed. What changed? What remained? What needs to be added onto or removed? 2018 has been filled with amazing growth for me personally as well as professionally. At the end of 2017, I was celebrating my move to Georgia and one of my books in a brick and mortar bookstore. At the end of 2018, four of my twelve books are in three bookstores and I’ve just purchased my first home. I attribute this to learning one valuable lesson. A lesson that I do not think we ever stop learning but that gets easier the more we love ourselves, a lesson that I’ve learned and that I will keep learning, a lesson that has changed my mentality and thus also, the way I do things. To further illustrate this point, let me first tell you about an experiment.
The Asch Conformity Experiment
Named after Solomon Asch, the Asch Conformity Study was meant to study conformity in people (how we behave according to other people’s desires and standards) and was conducted in the 1950s. The participants were shown three lines on a piece of paper and a fourth line. The participants had to simply match one of the three lines with the fourth line. Most of the people were accomplices in on the study with only one or two real participants. According to the study, 76% of participants picked the wrong line after the majority of the room picked the wrong line. The study was groundbreaking in studying conformity in groups and has been repeated many times throughout the years. (You can find examples of the study on YouTube.)
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into conformity by doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to achieve success. The problem is, entrepreneurship is about authenticity and there is nothing authentic about conformity. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The only question is, what are you influencing people to do? Who are you influencing people to be?
We talk about embracing being unique and different but at the same time, we secretly want a seat at the table. At the same time, we don’t really want to be different. We want to be like everyone else because not being like everyone else comes at a cost that we are not courageous enough to pay. It is the cost of standing out instead of standing in. It is the cost of rejection and being misunderstood. It is a beautiful sacrifice that many of us, despite what we say, are not willing to make.
But you can’t want to be like the world and be different from the world at the same time. Either stand for something or fall for anything.
In the midst of the Kevin Hart situation, I think it’s important for us to all remember how important it is to be ourselves and to stand on our own integrity. And if we must influence, I hope it is to influence others to be undeniably and unapologetically themselves.
I. The biggest lesson I learned 2018 is to be fully myself even when who I am is not accepted by others. There are people who will think I’m foolish about certain decisions but it is my decision to make and my lesson to learn. I’ve learned to trust Yah more and to trust his will for my life. To make decisions without explaining myself or feeling the need to defend my position.
…and I hope the same for you.
What I enjoy most about being an Independent artist is the freedom to produce work that speaks to who I am, to not have to pull back, slow down, or sugarcoat my beliefs because of someone else standard. The right and the freedom to live freely in every sense of the word. To be true to myself, to my authenticity and do not have to apologize for it. I don’t have to tap dance around the truth for a check, I don’t have to scratch my hair unless it itches, and I don’t have to laugh unless something is actually funny. I’ve never been part of the “cool kids table” and I am not about to start now. This is freedom.
I hope you walk into 2019 not afraid to shine or to fail, understanding that both experiences shape you. It can be liberating to choose yourself, armed with the power to move forward without guilt, without arrogance, and without pride but with a deep love for yourself that is so strong that you can quickly realize when anyone or anything devalues you, even if that someone is your own self. The biggest challenge is not the war we fight with others but the war we fight with ourselves. To quote the African proverb, “when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” Kill the enemy within. Slay your demons, silence the doubt, and walk free.
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sharon Cathcart. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Sharon E. Cathcart. I was born in Portland, Ore., but now make my home in the Silicon Valley, Calif. In between, I’ve lived in Lawrence Township, Indiana, and literally all around the San Francisco Bay.
Are you employed outside of writing?
I’m the global grant coordinator for a major medical device firm.
Wow. That’s neat! What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals, and that was the best way I could think of to help them. However, I have dyscalculia (which is like dyslexia, but with numbers) and so my math marks were not high enough to qualify. I still help animals, though, by volunteering with our local humane society and caring for a colony of feral cats. I also donate all of my royalties from “Hugs and Hisses” to Humane Society Silicon Valley.
I love that. Speaking of writing, when did you publish your first book? What was that like?
In 1995. I was still working for the DoD and was tasked with writing the history of Sixth U.S. Army, which was decommissioned that year. The resulting work, “Born of War … Dedicated to Peace,” was given as a souvenir during the closure ceremony. It was kind of amazing, to be honest. I’d said for years that I wanted to write a book and suddenly I was holding one in my hand. However, when that job went away, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer for a very long time. I didn’t publish anything again until 2009 (that’s when my first novel, “In The Eye of The Beholder,” was released).
I’m glad you got back on the wagon. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to be able to draw (I can manage stick figures, and a passable horse head, but that’s about it). I would also like to be a better swimmer. I get claustrophobic when my face is in the water, so I’m really lousy.
I get it. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
Indiana. I lived there whilst attending the Defense Information School (I used to work for the Department of Defense as a public affairs specialist), and I tell people the same thing whenever they ask: “There were three things I loved about Indiana: the Connor Prairie Living History Center, the Indianapolis Zoo, and seeing Indiana go away under the airplane.” The main thing that sticks with me about living there was the day I looked something up in the phone book (remember those?)
Lol. I do.
…and found the KKK openly listed. I don’t remember what I was trying to find, but I sure remember that. It colored my feelings about the entire state – and not in a good way.
Doesn’t surprise me. Since you brought it up let’s go there. What are your views on racism?
Racism is a systemic thing, to me. It is about policies and laws that punch downward against people who are not in the majority. Any damn fool can be prejudiced/bigoted, but it takes political power to create racism.
By the way, I firmly believe that any white person who doesn’t recognize that the US is a white supremacist system is deluding themselves with willful ignorance. We all need to speak up against injustices like racism. If “social justice warrior” is an epithet, it’s one I’ll wear with honor. I spend a little time tackling racism in “Bayou Fire,” where my hero is an abolitionist in Jacksonian-era New Orleans – an unpopular position at the time, to say the least. I firmly believe we need to be speaking out today, and that’s why I created that personality trait for him.
Nice. I’d like to read this book. You said it takes political power to create racism. How so?
One has to be in a position to create systems designed to keep others down … and that means political power. We see numerous voter suppression laws being enacted, and attempts to roll back hard-won civil rights … because those holding the power are afraid of losing their hegemony. Holding the power to back up bigoted beliefs with action is what creates racism.
What songs have you completely memorized?
Just about everything by The Beatles and David Bowie. I’m not kidding.
So I guess I don’t have to ask what kind of music you like…
I have found something to like in every single genre except Chinese opera (which, even according to fans, is an acquired taste). My love show tunes, classical, bluegrass, just about everything you can imagine. My favorite artists are David Bowie, Ramin Karimloo, and The Beatles.
What’s your favorite color?
My long-time favorite is purple. However, I’m also fond of teal, which is the color of most of my author branding.
Are you married Sharon?
My husband, Jeff, and I have been together for 18 years and married for 16. It’s a second marriage for both of us.
Congrats! What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
My favorite film of all time is “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney. It’s the story of an 18th Century English rake, and is absolutely hilarious. You need to watch it just for the scene where he and one of the female characters are eating dinner; no one says a word, but the tension is fantastic!
What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
Please don’t get me started on TLC. I remember when it was “The Learning Channel.” Now it seems like it’s “The Lowest Common Denominator.” I’m not a fan of so-called reality TV, with the exception of cooking competitions.
I love cooking competition shows! I have to ask. Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen. I kind of adore Gordon Ramsey. He puts on an enormous display of temper, for sure, but you can tell he really cares about food.
Ha! I am in the middle. I love Top Chef but I just got into Hell’s Kitchen and I can tell Ramsey is fair in his decisions.
Speaking of Ramsey’s temper, what do you think of the bullying in our schools? How can we do better?
I was one of those kids who was bullied, pretty much from 6th grade on until high school graduation. Teachers need to take it seriously rather than blowing it off as “they’re just jealous” or “they’re teasing you because they like you.” Kids are not stupid; they know the difference between a buddy teasing you and someone being actively cruel. Parents need to teach their children to be kind rather just laughing off their aggression as “kids will be kids.” The teaching has to begin at home, and classrooms need to reinforce it.
We agree there. What advice would you give your younger self?
It is going to get better. Find the drama kids sooner. Don’t hold people at arm’s length because you’re afraid; everyone is struggling and you will discover that most people are genuinely kind.
Thank you Sharon for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Sharon E. Cathcart is an award-winning author of fiction featuring atypical characters.
A former journalist and newspaper editor, Sharon has been writing for as long as she can remember and always has at least one work in progress.
Sharon lives in the Silicon Valley, California, with her husband and an assortment of rescue pets.
I came across a question posed on Twitter from an author I follow. The answers to her question may shock some of you but I don’t want to give it away. First, I want to conduct my own study. Then, I’ll reveal what most readers (who weren’t authors themselves) said in response to this question on twitter along with the results of my own study (your commentary). I will reveal this first in my next email issue and then on this blog (my final email of the year will also include a copy of my goal-setting chart which you can use to set your goals for 2019. Click here to subscribe). If you are an author, please put your reader hat on. Think about your reading habits when you’re just buying a book to read for leisure. Be honest and be real.
The question is: “Do you read reviews before buying a book? Why or why not?”
Comment your answer below! Go, Go, Go! Please? Lol.
“What’s got you so happy?” said the dark-skinned, toothless woman. She was smoking a cigarette. But Lavenia was on that stuff and it had made her skin darken and cling to her bones. A lot of their neighbors was like this. They nodded, bowing low enough to be inches from the floor before jerking back again, brushing away bugs, only they could see as they unnecessarily cleaned, picking imaginary lint from their clothing, and laughing at jokes only they were in on—the real walking dead. Their skeletal bodies roamed the country roads early mornings, afternoons and late at night. Or they stood next to gas stations waiting for customers to come out, so they could collect change, their long skinny fingers curled into tight fists around the crack they sold their souls for.
Wanda cringed on the inside. Seeing her people like this made her physically sick. Lavenia was once pretty.
“It’s a good day. That’s all.”
Lavenia frowned and inhaled the cigarette like it was the last one she would ever smoke.
“Hmm. Yea. How Abby doing?”
Diversion. Lavenia never asked about Abby. Lavenia only cared about one thing. Getting high. Wanda frowned at the thought. She was so excited, she hadn’t noticed the signs.
“Oh, Abby is doing good, Miss Lavenia. I think she’s adjusting real nice. You seen her mama any?”
Lavenia let the cigarette breathe some, exhaling smoke into the air before sucking on it again.
“Naw. Ain’t seen her since that day.”
She was talking about the day she carried Abby into Cassaundra’s prison. Lavenia eyed the young lady in front of her. She had a shape like that once.
“You got some money? Let me borrow a couple dollars till my paycheck hit.”
“I’m sorry Miss L. I ain’t got nothing on me.”
“I can walk with you to the house. All I need is a lil change.”
“I can’t. I’m broke.”
Lavenia frowned. “You ain’t no damn broke.”
“Miss L. I am. For real. You know if I had it, you’d have it. I gotta get going. Tell Brandon I said hey.”
Lavenia walked off in a hurry. Brandon was her son. She’d probably left him in the house by himself again.
About. Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.