New Author Tip – Nothing is a Waste of Time

Me and Vivica Fox at her Book Signing yesterday. Be sure to stop by The Medu Bookstore at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta and grab your copy of ‘Everyday I’m Hustling’ by Ms. Fox and ‘I am Soul‘ by me!

Dear Indie Author / Self-Publisher, that thing you are doing, that step you’re taking, that move you made….

…is not a waste of time and don’t let anyone tell you that it is. Time is never wasted. Everything is a learning experience IF you choose to see it that way. People like to tell you not to do something because it hadn’t worked out for them or because they can’t see any good in it. If you sow negativity about every mistake then you will reap negativity and nothing will ever work. But, if you sow positivity by turning those mistakes into lessons then you will reap positivity by acquiring a new skill. You will be blessed with an understanding you didn’t have before and the courage to take risks that are no longer bound by the limitations of others.  As an Indie Author you will be bombarded with advice so you have to be very conscious of what works for YOU and what doesn’t. Sometimes the only way to know this for certain is to do the work. Knowledge is only power when it is applied. At some point you must make the difficult decision to stop researching and have faith in the work. Just do the work.

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Writespiration: Have You Done All That You Could Do?

This is my husband’s advice to everything and I love him for it. It always brings me back. Whenever I am stressing about something this is the first thing he asks me. “Have you done all that you could do?” I want to use this question as motivation for some writespiration today.

Writing books is not easy and building a business around those books is even more challenging. Sometimes I get down because things are just not going the way I want them to. Or need them to! Sometimes I get frustrated and I really want to give up. I say to myself: Is it worth it? Is there anyone who really cares? Am I wasting my time? These are questions we all have from time to time. After all, we are human with feelings and emotions and every now and again, we get down. We do not stay down, it is my hope, but it happens. (Especially when we are on the brink of something great.)

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

But then my husband’s voice goes off in my head: Have you done all that you could do?

This means to me, have I done everything in my power to move this thing forward?

If the answer is no the follow-up question is: what can you do with what you have financially, intellectually, practically? Is it money that’s limiting you? Is it a lack of knowledge that’s limiting you? Is it the practical application? Is it lack of support? Are you communicating with your audience? No problem can be solved without a thorough understanding of why it’s even a problem in the first place.

Have you done all that you could do?

If the answer is yes, the follow-up is: It’s out of your control now. Now you must pray for Yah to move on the spiritual realm. Let Yah bring the super and you bring the natural. Ask him to remove the stumbling blocks and demonic forces blocking your way. Ask him for the strength and the courage to wait for what is on its way to you. Ask Yah for patience and believe he has the power to make it happen.

Have you done all that you could do?

This question asks us to examine our goals in a logical way instead of sulking and complaining (which literally does nothing) and gives us something practical to work with. By implementing action we are usually capable of shifting the negative energy toward a more positive vibe. Do not forget that you have the power to change the way that you feel and to take a negative emotion or situation and turn it into a positive one at any time. When you ask yourself, “have I done all that I could do?” it will bring forward new ideas and force you to do something and see the good rather than the bad. You will begin to examine what you have done instead of what you have not done and what you do have instead of what you do not have.


Be sure to pick up your copy of Revolution: The Nora White Story – Book Two, available now for pre-order on Amazon. Didn’t read book one? Grab it for 99cents here from now through 5/30.

Question

Yecheilyah brainstorming at the Lounge, 2018.

When Def Jam started they had a small office with three desks, two phones, and no air conditioning. The point is that you can’t be afraid to start from the bottom. If you can see the vision through to the end, there are no limits to where you can go. Do not misunderstand me, I am not telling you to be Def Jam (let those who read understand.) I am simply showing you the power of endurance. If you can’t endure the struggle for a little while and in that process be hated, mocked, lied on, judged unrighteously, and looked down upon… please tell me again why you deserve to be great?

3 Reasons Working for Yourself is Harder than Working for Someone Else

Book Signing at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, downtown Chicago, circa 2014

It is more challenging to work for yourself in my opinion than someone else. My husband and I both run our own businesses. Here’s why it’s more of a challenge:

  • You Can’t Be Lazy

I know, you work for yourself, why can’t you? The truth is that though it’s more freedom, this freedom is a doubled edged sword. Having and running your own business is different than working a 9-5. When you work a 9-5 you’re expected to be there every day and on time and you can have paid times off or vacations or just decide not to come into work today. Pull that when you’re your own boss and it’s the difference between buying groceries and going hungry. The truth is that when you work for yourself you can’t be lazy. Instead of getting paid per hour, you’re getting paid per client and it is how you pay your bills and provide for your family. Not putting in work means to literally not get paid that day.

  • More Discipline

This goes hand in hand with not being lazy. Working for yourself requires more discipline. The reason is because when you work a 9-5 you have days off. When you work for yourself, however, you have to create those days and it’s tempting to procrastinate or put things off. Even though I work from home I still must discipline myself to get up early. There are only so many hours in a day and the earlier you get up the more you can get done. First of all, I need to get a good workout in to get the juices pumping and then I have to get to work which works well if I get up early enough. For my personal business, it’s more so building. Since I don’t have any “clients” yet what I don’t spend in money I spend in time. Researching, writing, blogging, sending off packages, marketing, promotion, and organizing.

However, since I am also the Vice President for my husband’s contracting business, I only have a certain amount of time to do certain things so I do not neglect any key responsibilities. My husband calls it “clocking in”. I call it walking into the office with a cup of coffee in my PJs. Though liberating, I have to constantly remind myself to take breaks and because I make my own schedule I have to incorporate my own vacations. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because when you work for yourself you’re never off. Your phone is constantly ringing from clients, your email and text messages are overflowing with new messages, and you’re just overall always locked in. My husband had to literally talk me into writing last weeks Black History Fun Fact Friday article. If it was not for him you all would not have had a BHFFF article for real. After grocery shopping, putting up food, and cleaning the kitchen I certainly didn’t feel like researching on the computer. But my husband’s work ethic is amazing and he does not let me slack off.  Truth is, people think that not having a “job” means you have all the time in the world and that you spend your days staring at the wall. In reality, I rarely have time to watch TV. (My version of TV is CNN as background noise). So, breaks such as movie night is something that we create.

  • Taking Breaks

10603772_720596317976228_4749338203801196478_nSince I mentioned breaks, I figured I should go ahead and list this one for the last bullet point. When you work for yourself you must schedule your own breaks. This sounds simple, but it’s not. Entrepreneurs are largely made up of what people call workaholics. The truth is not everyone is a workaholic, it’s just that when you make your own money you’re constantly working (as I’ve just mentioned) because nothing is guaranteed and every cent is earned. Therefore, business owners must create schedules to ensure they don’t lose their minds. We must create our own days off and vacations (mine is coming up, whoo hoo!) When we return, we’re reminded of why working for yourself is so much more mentally challenging. Everything we put off has piled up and so the grind continues but….

I would do it all again in another lifetime.

When you own your own business, you don’t just have more control but you gain so many more valuable skills, such as being more accountable for your actions and being more attentive to your surroundings and the behavior of people. You learn to do things like take the initiative (doing what needs to be done without being told) which is a great leadership skill. There’s something about doing the work yourself that gives you a different way of looking at the world, a new perspective, and a higher level of discipline and responsibility. In addition, the reward for all of this work is well worth it. The benefits of entrepreneurship certainly outweigh the challenges.


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 summer, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release (coming soon) for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Between Books – When the Blog Comes in Handy

This isn't my PC but this is how it looks. I have sticky notes everywhere! Uhh.
Google Images Pic.

Only a writer would be folding clothes at twelve o’clock at night and contemplating whether they should make a batch of coffee to spend just a few more hours writing, all of this while the History Channel recaps an episode of Pearl Harbor as background noise. It was then that this post was conceived. In fact, I still have a pair of pants under my arm as I am drafting this. What can I say, gotta write when the spirit moves.

As I took a break from my work to finish laundry that could have waited until morning for normal people, I thought about how much this blog has helped to fill in the gaps during my “Between books” stage (thanks for your support BTW!). I like to think I write at a decent speed (six months to complete the first draft) but after that things tend to slow way down as the revision and editing process kicks in. I thus find myself in the waiting room watching as an author after author fangirls over their new release while I’m in chill mode, waiting for my name to be called. It will be awhile before my book is ready. This is when blogging (among other things) helps a great deal.

It helps because while I am in limbo I can keep up with learning new things, reading new books, and keeping myself in tuned with my readers and supporters until the next book is due. It almost feels like teaching but being off for the summer. Some teachers volunteer to teach summer school for some extra funds while others take advantage of the free time. Blogging for me is like a writing summer school, a way to stay active between books. This also helps me to brainstorm on other ways to expand my business beyond the book itself and into other areas of product.

I do admit it’s a challenge to produce blog posts, engage with other bloggers, share content, engage in social media and keep my ear to the Indie Publishing ground all while writing a novel and there are days where I must turn the phone off. It’s either that or pull my hair out. However, I see it all as part of the work and it’s also a lot of fun to me. I’m a worker bee which means that I HAVE to be doing something and while the blog is still a small part of my life in the full scope of things, it does help to keep me active in more ways than one. I guess that’s sort of the point of this post.

It’s important to continue to produce material and sometimes that will take time. The Blog (and the email list) is the answer to how to stay engaged while you wait. Or at least it is for me. The ability to schedule blog posts is a huge time saver and I could sit my butt in the chair and finish what I’d been putting off. Patience truly is a virtue and I am quite pleased with the revelations I’ve been given so far. I can only hope for increased growth. #HWPO is something I try to keep at the back of my mind. That is, hard work pays off. Let’s hope so.

Now, I should probably go ahead and publish this post and get back to these clothes. It is after 1am my time after all. I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere in dreamland when you’re reading this…or not (shout out to my night-owls with the tiny light under the covers scrolling through blog posts).

 

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Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy, Blogger, and Poet. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman who dreams of being a writer in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parent’s struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peeks of chapters, the pending book cover release, and full blurb for this series, be sure to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

How to Get Your Blog to Work for You (When You’re Not Blogging)

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Since I have a family camping trip coming up (Whoo hoo!) and I know that many of you are also looking forward to breaks and vacations as this year nears its end, I thought this was a perfect time to discuss how we can ensure our blogs are still putting in work (even when we’re not).

When I started this blog in 2014, I didn’t know about the specifics of what went into building a blog that could last. I also didn’t care. At least not consciously. I mean obviously I wanted to grow, but I wasn’t devoting any time and effort into figuring that out. My learning process has been pretty much learn as you go. The more I interacted with veteran bloggers, participated in challenges, and commented on other blogs the more I became aware of the little nuggets and tidbits I needed to help my blog, not to grow, but to keep growing. Which is, of course, a goal that I consistently strive for.

Though I wasn’t new to the concept of blogging, I was afraid to miss a day of blogging, let alone a couple days! But, this turned out to work in my favor. Once I decided I wanted to stick around for awhile, I developed a routine that I kept up for my first year of blogging. This routine, as I discussed in How I Reached 300 Blog Followers in 3 Months, consisted of me publishing three new posts every day for six days. I know, crazy, right? Maybe so, but to get your blog to work for you even when you aren’t blogging is going to take you getting a little bit crazy (especially in the beginning).

I’m not an expert and you probably have more followers than I do (lol hee hee), but I do believe in hard work. I also believe that hard work pays off. These are pretty much the basic principles that help me to keep this blog going.

One way that I’ve found for bloggers like me to be consistently active is to….be active! As active in the blogging community as possible. In the beginning, you should be publishing a new post every other day or once a week at minimum. No, not once a month, that’s pushing it. Pushing what? Pushing your chances of not being seen. In addition to posting its also important to follow other blogs, comment on other blogs and interact on social media. It’s also important to respond to comments on your own blog as well. Communication is key. Not only do I believe new bloggers could benefit from doing these simple, basic things, but I believe they should do it obsessively! (What?)

OK, let me explain obsessively. Perhaps dedication is a better word? I’m not saying that quantity beats quality. I am saying that with dedication and persistence it won’t matter, you can have both; pushing quality content at faster rates. I know, don’t look at me like that. This post is about getting your blog to work for you when you are away, but that doesn’t happen unless you first work on your blog.

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Here’s the thing: When you are active in the blogging community (really active), your blog will get views and follows even on the days when you are not blogging. I’m not saying you should blog just for those follows (as your content must still have enough value for people to stick around), but what I am saying is that hard work pays off. If you work at setting a foundation that’s strong, then you can build on it. You won’t have to worry about posting as much once you’ve been doing it consistently for a period of time and you won’t have to worry about losing followers as much because there’s enough content for people who have not yet discovered your blog, to read. I’m not saying work like a Hebrew slave. I’m saying start working like a Hebrew slave and then quit. Start off strong and your blog will be there for you in the end. Yes, some people aren’t fond of receiving lots of blog post from their subscriptions but who cares? Not me. Sure, you’ll lose followers. It happens, part of the territory. Don’t take it personally. It’s inevitable. Everyone does not like you. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

On creating enough content for others to read:

Last week a blog post I published two years ago suddenly got lots of attention. My stats were going crazy! Shooting up to over six hundred views within a 48 hour period (over 3,000 by the end of the day) with over four thousand shares on Facebook. This was an old post that was just being discovered by new visitors. OK, so it only lasted two days, but here’s a clear example of your blog working for you! If I wanted, I could have sat back and took an entire week off and made it up in views, likes, and follows coming in from that post alone. This same thing can work on posts that surround certain historical events, like 9/11. Maybe you posted something on 9/11 and two years from now it gets all of the attention you thought it deserved when you first published it. It’s all about timing.

Time spent blogging and time spent writing can often clash into each other, frustrating author bloggers who understand the value of using blogging as a legitimate platform, while at the same time understanding that producing more material is essential. We struggle between having a presence in the blogosphere and dedicating more time to our books. Contrary to popular belief, there’s a way to stay active in the blogosphere while consistently producing material without neglecting the blog. Yes, I’m saying its possible. I know because I’ve done it. Since starting this blog, I’ve published three books and I am in the process of publishing two more next year.

The key is a little bit of discipline and networking with others, incorporating blogging into your platform building strategy as a necessary part of the work, and producing quality posts as early and as often as possible in your blogging journey.

An Easier Way

Sorry, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. There’s no way to build a blog than to work at it. The best way for us to grow our blogs is to be present.

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“How ya’ll liking the new look of the blog? Not really a fan of the tags at the top but I got tired of the gray. I’m wearing it instead, hee hee.”

7 Black Communities That Prospered

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This post was last updated September, 2016.


I love entrepreneurship. I talk about it. I live it. I stand behind it. I encourage all people, especially black people to go on and do it. If you’ve ever had a desire to own your own business, I say to go for it. Don’t wait until the time is right. The time will never be right. Here are some black-owned communities that prospered to get your blood pumping:

Free Blacks of Israel Hill

This community is actually the inspiration for my novel in progress. In Renaissance: The Nora White Story, Nora is  descendent of the free blacks of Israel Hill. It is how her father Gideon inherited five acres of land and why, although Nora’s not very impressed, they’re doing well financially compared to those around them. Anywho, it was during my trip to New Mexico last year while reading Melvin Patrick Ely’s book Israel on The Appomattox, winner of  THE BANCROFT PRIZE, A New York Times Book Review, and Atlantic Monthly Editors’ Choice, that the first inklings of a story idea emerged.

Settled in Prince Edward County Virginia in 1810-1811 by ninety formerly enslaved persons who received freedom and 350 acres from Judith Randolph under the will of her husband, Richard Randolph, these Israelites and other free African Americans worked as farmers, craftspeople, and Appomattox River boatmen; some labored alongside whites for equal wages and the family of early settler Hercules White bought and sold real estate in Farmville. Israel Hill remained a vigorous black community into the twentieth century.

Rosewood

Rosewood, Florida is not mentioned very often except for the massacre that took place but it was before then a thriving community. The quite town prospered in 1870 when a railway depot was set up to transport the abundant red cedar, from which the town got its name, from Rosewood to a pencil factory in cedar key. By 1900 it was predominantly African American with a school, turpentine mill, baseball team, general store, and sugarcane mill. The community had two dozen plank two-story homes, some other small houses, as well as several small unoccupied plank structures.

Blackdom

There was much revelation during my New Mexico trip. It was also during that time I learned of Blackdom, another little known African American community about 18 miles southwest of Roswell New Mexico and was founded by Frank and Ella Boyer. Walking 2,000 miles on foot from Georgia to New Mexico, Boyer left his wife and children behind to cultivate land in the free territory of the West before sending for his family some three years later. At this time in history, Blacks had begun migrating from the south in great numbers in a movement called “The Great Exodus” following the Homestead Act of 1862, particularly in Kansas. Henry was a wagoner in the American-Mexican war when he first set eyes on the New Mexico land. The Artesian Water sprang in abundance as more and more blacks were invited and nourished on the land. Blackdom had its own school and post office.

Mound Bayou, MS

The first all-black town in Mississippi, Mound Bayou was founded by two former slaves, Isaiah Montgomery, and his cousin, Benjamin Green. In December of 1886, according to a Cleveland Mississippi article of July 1887,  Montgomery and Green bought 840 acres of land from the Louisville-New Orleans & Texas Railroad for $7 an acre. That acreage would serve as the site of Mound Bayou.

The men were successful, their town reaching a population of 4,000 people (99.6 percent black) by 1907. It had a train depot, a bank, a post office, numerous successful industries, a variety of stores and eateries, a newspaper, a telephone exchange and, eventually, a hospital. Mound Bayou was a thriving community.

Nicodemus Township in Graham County, Kansas

This town was founded in 1877 by a corporation of seven members, six of whom were Black along the south fork of the Solomon River. Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave and Underground Railroad conductor helped to produce what was called the “Kansas Fever” of the late 1870s. Tens of thousands of African Americans left their homes headed for Singleton’s Cherokee County colony or Nicodemus, in Graham County, Kansas.

Promoted as the “Promised Land” throughout the south, founders hosted visits by potential settlers. By 1879 the town’s population stood at about 700.

The All-Black Community of Boley, Oklahoma

The all-black community of Boley OK was founded in 1904. With Railroad access and land, that helped, Boley became one of at least 20 Black towns in Oklahoma, to thrive. By 1907, it had at least 1,000 residents, and twice that many farmers settled outside of town. There were several businesses and an industrial school.

Black Wall-Street

Speaking of Oklahoma, I’m sure many of us are already familiar with Greenwood, a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” due to its financial success that mirrored Wall Street. During the oil boom of the 1910s, which gained the town such titles as “Oil Capital of the World”, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including the Greenwood neighborhood. Home to several prominent Black businessmen, the neighborhood held many multimillionaires. Greenwood had grocery stores, clothing stores, barbershops, banks, hotels, cafes, movie theaters, two newspapers, and many contemporary homes. The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community.