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.

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What We Do to Ourselves

“It cannot be denied that what we do to others we do equally to ourselves. When we treat ourselves better, we naturally treat others better.”


Keep Yourself Full is available for PreOrder!
*The Release date has been pushed back to August 6, 2019*
CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.
CLICK HERE TO MARK AS WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

“Today I finished reading Keep Yourself Full, and I am beyond in awe of this book! There were so many amazing points made in this work – even tips that I was not fully aware of. That says so much to me, as someone who thought they were aware of how to care for myself. While reading about self-abuse and indicators of it really opened my eyes to how much I don’t know! I look forward to buying a few copies to send my close friends.”

– K. McCoy

“I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book/devotional (It was like a devotional for me). I had been looking for a book such as this that was more of encouragement/devotional type… the topics that you chose were fitting for any individual. I even caught myself reading points that were real and true out loud to my husband (Balance and Value). I am so glad that you decided to write this type of book. I know this will encourage people because it encouraged me as I was reading it.”

– Natashia Crawford 

“This was a wonderful, inspiring read. I felt the book flowed well overall and the various parts seemed to go in a nice order. The writing style was poetic in a way and I felt as though it mimicked the way the verses were told, which I thought was a nice touch. It wasn’t “preachy” at all and it was just a general bout of information to remind everyone we should take better care of ourselves.”
 

– Rachel Poli

“Oh wow, Yecheilyah, I loved it. I’m following some of the advice you gave and finding such a difference in how I think about things. This is a wonderful book.

– Adele

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.


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We Are Not Negroes

Inspired by James Baldwin’s “I am Not Your Negro”

 

Negroes are born
without name
without record
they are boys despite age
Uncles
Johns
Negroes are sign language
using symbols to communicate
their existence
born without land
without placement
without ownership
what King referred to as
“a degeneration
of nobodyness”
they are sojourners
wandering from person to person
in search of themselves
Negroes are born
without heritage
without honor
without pride
without mothers
their umbilical cords
cut
their screams muffled with injustice
their bodies sold
and bellies stuffed with lies
Negroes bleed death
and cannot recognize their own corpse.

But we are not Negroes.

We are soil and Earth
lips that sing
mouths and song and praise.
We are bodies and flesh
veins and blood and salt
We are salt
of the Earth.

Seasoning.

We are crowns and rubies and pearls
eyes and nose
vision and smell.
We are scripture and fire
and dripping honey
We are blood, teeth, and bone
We are people
brave. proud. strong.
But we are not your

Negroes.

Careful Not to Tie Your Self-Worth into Not Achieving Your Goals

After much thought, I pushed the release for Keep Yourself Full (my first Inspirational Non-Fiction book) back to August (now reflected in the sidebar….new release date is 8/6). There’s a lot going on in July. The Book Festival, the Book Signing before that, our mini family road trip (next week! yayy) and I’m back in school so there’s no way I’ll have time to focus on releasing another book in the same month. This led me to a reminder I think we all need to hear every now and again.

Raise your hand if you get down on yourself when you do not accomplish what you set out to do. Maybe you had to push a date back, abandon a project or maybe you failed at executing something. I’ll be the first to raise mine. I get so frustrated, but I’ve learned something along the way: not to tie not achieving a goal to my self-worth. I am still worthy even if I do not achieve what I set out to when I set out to. My purpose is the same and my time will come. (Rom. 8:28)

“By tying your self-love and self-acceptance to a goal, your happiness corresponds to its achievement. When you reach your goal, your self-esteem rises temporarily; when you don’t, you think less of yourself as you have chosen to conditionally love yourself based on the success or failure of your obtaining this goal. Now the expectation of what “should be,” controls you.”

– The Mastery of Self by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr, son of Don Miguel, author of The Four Agreements.

The Mastery of Self is a great inspirational read. I just finished it and it has helped me tremendously in this decision. I recommend it. (The Fifth Agreement is also a decent read, though not as good as The Four Agreements in my opinion.) Goals help to keep us accountable but not achieving them does not make us useless or unimportant. Rest when you need to. Push that date back if you need to. Don’t rush. What is yours is still yours. It will wait for you. Even if you need to ghost Social Media for a while. Take care of yourself. We will be here when you get back.

My Memoir Writing Journey

What exactly am I working on now? A lot of things but mostly my memoir. Now that Keep Yourself Full is on its way out, I really want to get this done and I will have to deter a lot of projects to do it. At least until I finish the first draft and then I can work on other stuff and just work on the memoir from there.

This is the hardest writing job I’ve ever undertaken. I have deleted everything I ever sent my email list as a sneak peek two years ago (can’t believe I let you in on that *insert eye-ball roll*) and have started over. I am fifty pages and nine chapters into the first draft so it’s not so bad considering starting over. What I don’t want this memoir to be is an autobiography. I’ve always wanted to write an autobiography, but that’s before I learned the difference between the two.

I learned memoirs differ from autobiographies. Memoirs are popular because they center on one theme and read like novels, making them much more interesting than the chronological format of the autobiography.

Theme

One thing I am working on is not making this psychoanalytic, if that’s the right word. While I’ve endured much trauma in my life, I don’t want this to be a dark history of my crazy. I don’t want this to be a therapy session. This is difficult because I’m not a sugarcoat type person and neither is my mother. I gotta keep it all the way real. I gotta be honest. How do I do this without going too far?

My title is “I Wasn’t Built to Break,” so my theme is to take all the things that have been obstacles and challenges in my life, that could have broken me physically, mentally, and emotionally, but didn’t. This means that I will not go into every single detail of my life but I will focus on certain significant events, starting with growing up in the Robert Taylor Projects.

Anyone who grew up in any of Chicago’s projects is a survivor in my eyes, a warrior. It meant they not only escaped the drugs, violence, poverty, neglect, and gangs, but they also escaped literal death. Perched above the high-risers of Robert Taylor and Cabrini Green, snipers (aka Gang Members) with high-powered rifles would sit on a top floor (in a vacant apartment) and shoot their rivals. These bullets though, often hit innocent bystanders, mostly children. I remember my Uncle coming to school to get us early because the buildings were shooting, and we had to run to our building. When I say it was a Warzone, I mean that literally. And none of us project kids ever got counseling or therapy for the things we saw. Not even the classmates of the seven-year-old Dantrell Davis from Cabrini who was shot by a sniper on his way to school in 1992 in front of his mother, teachers, police officers, and classmates.

Historical

Writing a memoir is no easy task so my approach is to research and write this as if I am writing a Historical Fiction novel, except everything is true. Since I enjoy writing Historical Fiction, I’ll use history as a buffer. Instead of focusing on my experiences only, I want to take us back into the politics of some of what was going on in the world I did not have knowledge of as a kid. There’s my world where I can only see what’s in front of me and around me. As, a child my view is limited not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. I can only understand my current surroundings and circumstances from an eight-year-old‘s perspective (which is the timeframe I am focusing on in the beginning of the book). Then there’s the world at large. How did the decisions of others affect me, one of 21,000 children growing up in what became known as one of the poorest urban communities in the United States, a concentration of poverty they called it, the Robert Taylor Projects?

I want to go into how the projects under the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) replaced the Chicago Slums, the discriminatory policies like redlining that kept blacks from purchasing homes in their own neighborhoods, the kitchenettes and one-room basements blacks lived in during the 30s, 40s and 50s, the beacon of hope the projects promised as a replacement, the mixed-community that was there (because whites and blacks both lived in the PJs!), the racial riots that never made the news, and the racist policies that caused many white families to move out of the projects and into the suburbs. Also, the Plan for Transformation that demolished Public Housing and replaced them with a mixed-income community of condos and townhomes and what this cultural mix meant for former public housing residents. (There is even history behind the name Robert Taylor. He was a black man on the board of CHA who opposed building the projects on the same land as the slums. He wanted to spread them out, so they fully integrated blacks throughout Chicago. After CHA refused, he quit. To name a building after him in the same location he worked against was disrespectful and an insult to his memory.)

I hope that if I do this, it will be a much more enjoyable read. I want to incorporate both history and personal testimony with the testimony supporting the history. I remember for instance that whole “Homie the Clown” Scare of the early 90s. I remember that because I had nightmares of the clown coming into our apartment and chasing me around the couch. In 1991, rumors surfaced that a man who we called “Homie the Clown” was riding around in a van kidnapping and killing kids. “Homey the Clown,” was the name of a character played by Damon Wayans on the early 90s sketch-comedy show In Living Color. The character was an angry black ex-con who carried a sock for knocking bad kids upside the head. His catchphrase was “Homey don’t play that.” Our “Homie the Clown” was allegedly dressed as a clown and went around kidnapping kids. Rumors said that he rode in a van and liked to stand next to mailboxes eating bananas. This sounds silly now, but it was serious back then, just like the recent clown scares. We got let out of school early and children were afraid to walk by mailboxes. It also didn’t help that Stephen King’s IT had also just come out.

Community

It wasn’t all bad though so I want to talk about the close knit community that existed there too that never made the news. Generations of families grew up together in what is rarely seen today. My mother’s friend, who lived next door, helped her to babysit. People watched one another children, shopped together, stepped up when someone was in need and shared food. We could go next door or downstairs to ask if someone had sugar or flour. We bartered services and passed along information about job openings or what was new at the Aid office and the candy lady was an entrepreneur. She used her food stamps to open a candy store back when you can get one piece of candy for every penny you had, better known as Penny Candy.  People threw house parties and sleepovers. Robert Taylor was not just a concentration of poverty. It was also a thriving community. When things were good, they were really good, and everyone was family. But you didn’t see this on the news. We were not all crack babies. We were not animals.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Katherine Joe

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Leila, though I sign my stories as Katherine Joe (long story). Currently, I live in London but originally I’m from Iran.

Iran in the house ya’ll. What are some major differences between living in London and Iran?

A lot of differences, not only in how I live, but mostly how my personality changes. In Iran I mostly depend on my parents, I would stay most of my time at home and with the people who are our close family/relatives. Here though I change to a different person and I have to decide about everything myself. From the basic things such as my home decoration to how to manage my money. It’s harder but worth it. I love my personality more in London than in Iran.

Sounds like you enjoy the independence of living in London. Cool beans. Are you employed outside of writing?

I have never been a one-dimensional person. I study PhD in computer science and systems biology and work as a tutor and a teaching assistant.

That’s awesome. What job do you think you’d be really good at?

I think I am good at teaching and research. I hope to be good in writing too.

How many siblings do you have?

I have an older brother who is married and has a child.

What was your childhood dream?

I had many; I have forgotten most. The ones I remember are: I wanted to be a famous mysterious author who no one knew about her. I wanted to be a teacher and an astronaut. I had a lion pet and was living in a village.

Sounds like your dreams have come true somewhat. You’re a teacher and you write under a different name which is kinda like the mysterious author lol. What is the most annoying habit that you have?

I lose confidence in a blink. Just something comes to my head, a small thought, I think it over and over and then conclude that I’m no good.

Happens to the best of us. We all have our moments of doubt. I commend you for being courageous enough to put that out there. We just gotta stop those thoughts immediately and replace them with good ones!

What’s your favorite color?

My favorite color is White.

Beautiful. Let’s talk about writing. Who is your favorite writer?

My favorite authors are Agatha Christie and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Why is writing important to you?

I love writing my thoughts and creating my worlds and running away to them from reality. With writing them I can share them. Inviting people to my world seems exciting. Knowing I am showing them something they have never seen, as amazing.
Available on Amazon. A virus has spread in the world. An army has promised to save everyone by taking them to the Shelter. Everyone sees the story from their eyes. But one thing is certain, something is not right. With the soldiers who do not remember their past and the people who have no identity in a completely controlled world, something is off.

What genre do you write in, why?

Sci-fi and fantasy, because I enjoy running away from real world. Drama and fiction to teach myself and others about the real world.

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

The most difficult is that a writer has a huge responsibility. It is important what we write and teach the reader. How we influence their way of thinking and their beliefs. At the same time, it is the most exciting thing. A writer is teaching something to someone which can change their lives.

I agree. Does blogging help you to write?

It does, yes. What a writer always wants is to be read and internet has made it easy. With the blog, your art is out there and people can enjoy it. It is so fun especially when someone puts a comment on your post to criticize or compliment.

Gotta love that feedback right? Are you religious Katherine?

I believe in God and I consider myself a Muslim. But I think about my religion a lot. Sometimes I’m lost. But I want to believe in something for my own heart warming.

Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean when you say that sometimes you are lost and want to believe in something for your own heart?

Well, I was born in a Muslim society but I was never like others to accept what they hear immediately or to deny all the thoughts simply because they judge the religion on the society and not itself. I always enjoy a friendly talk about religion and comparing them to each other as long as we both respect the other party’s beliefs (which sometimes it cannot happen). I look for the best way of living and I believe someone introduced religions to guide us in living a better life. Sometimes I get so confused yet I keep my faith in the things I believe. So I assume I am doing my best, to the best of my knowledge.

We definitely have to do some sidebar chatting. What do you love about yourself?

I think the thing I love about myself the most is that I am different and I can easily be a teacher to myself and comment on my own behavior, analyze them and see if I was doing the right thing. I also love the fact that I am honest, no matter the circumstances to everyone and most importantly to myself.

Beautiful. I love that you can self-examine yourself! It’s of crucial importance that we understand that. What don’t you like about yourself?

I underestimate myself and I am happy with “good enough.” Though I want to learn to be perfect at something.

The ability to understand both what you’re good at and what you think needs improvement is an important leadership skill!

Would you say that you’re political?

I’ve never liked politics. I find it boring and complicated.

Lol. I hear you. What do you wish you knew more about?

I would love to know more about Astronomy, God and humans.

What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?

TV show: Friends. Movie: don’t have one.

Whaat? You gotta have a favorite movie! What songs have you completely memorized?

Fire on fire Sam Smith, Reflexion from Mulan.

In your own words, define racism.

Not being able to love another person, or judging them at first glance simply because of their appearance. Not only skin color, anything.

I like that. If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?

Justice, which I could give everyone what they really deserve. With that I could give discipline to this world.

What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?

Comedy channel where they only shows comedies.

Does Comedy Central count?

I have never heard of that channel, not sure if it in on channel list in TV in UK. But if it plays comedy all day long, then absolutely it does count.

What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

I can write almost everywhere, and for some reason when I am surrounded by people and noise my brain has a better function. So my writing room is a small room full of books and a desk under the window and the view of the alley where people may pass every thirty minutes or so.

If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?

The house has 10 bedrooms. A big master bedroom for myself, with an enormous bathroom and a huge changing room/closet. The other 9 rooms are suited for children I have adopted….

Wait, you want nine children??? Don’t answer that, go on. This getting good…

Each have specific color yet no animation characters on the wall; for I want my children to create their favorite characters in their heads. My dining room’s walls are decorated with green-blue bookshelves and while there is a 12 seater wooden dining table, there are two yellow armchairs under the window, with a round coffee table in front of them and a tall standing lamp beside each which is the reading spot. This stops anyone in the house from skipping a meal for reading.

You are so detailed I love it

Then the kitchen is just beside the dining room. It has all white wood cabinets and an island in the middle where the sink is built. I can see my children in the living room and the dining room while I’m there. The living room has a huge TV and half-circle grey sofas so everyone can sit. Big windows on each wall are the best light source and I decorate them with blue curtains. There is a wooden coffee table in the middle with a glass top and a round rug with the combination color of blue, grey, yellow and green on the ground.

On the other side there is a chimney and in front of it four armchairs, two green and two yellow, are located. A square coffee table with another rug is there as well. It is the “important discussions” spot.

Okkaay

On the rug, there are many cushions in different colours so it can seat everyone on the ground, if not on the armchairs. There is the hidden attic too. It is “I-need-space” spot. It is decorated with just a bed and a desk just like Anne Shirley’s room.

If you could live in a movie, which would it be?

Chronicles of Narnia. Because of Aslan.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

In real life? Having a backpack and going around the world, not fearing a thing. In my head? Quite the same thing, with dragons, swords and monsters.

What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?

Mostly, it help you get better. Even if it’s an advice which you don’t agree with, it makes you look at your work from another aspect and think twice. Though, I don’t like the ones which come from the people who think they know everything, but they know nothing.

These are facts. What skill would you like to master?

I would love to master in writing what comes to my brain, also I love to learn how to draw. My brain knows how to, step by step but my hands cannot do what I think I want to do. I love singing though I don’t have a good voice and I love playing music as well.

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

I published my first book on Amazon, in February 2019. I did it mostly for myself confidence and I got great advice from the people who read it. They helped me through it a lot with reading my work and commenting on it. I also started believing in myself and I’m working even harder for my new work now.

Thank you Katherine for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright©2019. Katherine Joe

Bio.

Katherine was born in Iran in 1993 and has been writing since she was ten-years-old. She always has lots of ideas and sometimes she dreams about them. She believes if she does not write, her brain will implode (:D). Other than writing, Joe does photography as a hobby, plays the piano and is a student and researcher.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

Instagram is brain__implosion

Blog is: brainimplosion.wordpress.com

Twitter: @katherinejoe1


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

Lessons from a Book Signing

It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

 

While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.

 

It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.

 

  • Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans

 

In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.

 

  • Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)

 

The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:

 

  • They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
  • They stopped by
  • They spoke to me
  • They asked questions
  • They stopped when hearing what the book was about

There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.

  • Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline

 

Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:

 

  • Do you have a card?
  • Do you have a website?
  • Can I follow you online?
  • Can I pay with my card?

 

Applying this means:

 

  • Having business cards with me
  • Having a website for people to go to
  • Being present on social media
  • Having a card reader on hand

 


If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸

View more pictures from this signing here
Connect with me on IG here, Facebook here, and Twitter here
Visit me on the web Here