Good Writers

Maybe the book didn’t come out the way you envisioned it would or maybe you’ve got a one-star review. Maybe your editor marked all up and down your manuscript or someone critiqued the confidence right out of you. Maybe you failed, miserably. And maybe you want to crawl underneath the covers and will yourself away. If only you could shrink so that even your body disappears. Maybe, just maybe you are becoming a good writer.

Good writers get negative feedback at some point, period. Good writers get it wrong A LOT. Good writers fail, miserably. Good writers have confidence that appears low because good writers are humble. Good writers are scared to death of publishing the next book because good writers are real. They mess up. They get mixed reviews and feedback.

The difference between their failures and those who quit is that good writers have failed so many times that they are equipped to handle disappointment. And therefore, have the resilience and maturity to get back up and try again.

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The next time you receive feedback that makes you want to cringe you gotta remember that you are in good company. Every good writer was a failure first and every master was first a student.

Don’t misunderstand me, everyday ain’t beautiful. I don’t want my optimism on this blog to be too sweet for you. Cheerfulness ain’t a pill you can take that will make it all go away. I don’t want you to think that the struggle isn’t real, but if you never mess up, if you have never doubted, if you have never failed, never been knocked down, and if you give up too easily then maybe you can never really become a good writer.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Sleeping Serpent by Luna Saint Claire

Title: The Sleeping Serpent: A Woman’s Struggle to Break an Obsessive Bond with her Yoga Master

Author: Luna Saint Claire

Print Length: 428 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1928816762

Publisher: Compelled Books (October 19, 2015)

Publication Date: October 19, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B016LUUB1K

The Sleeping Serpent follows Hollywood costume designer Luna and several other women and their obsessions with their manipulative yoga instructor Nicolas or Nico. Appropriately titled, this book is deceptive on many levels. First, I picked it up as a psychological read but it can easily fall into erotica just the same so that was a bit of a surprise. (As I don’t usually review Erotica but since its not technically in the Erotica category we’ll let it slide).

Nico uses Chakra and Kundalini magic to put women under a spell that makes them cling to him in more ways than one. Falling victim to his elegant speech, smooth words, sex, and laced tea, the women become drawn to him without realizing it. Not only do they allow him to abuse them physically and emotionally, but they also invest in him financially and comes under the captivity of doing whatever he wants them to do and despite how he berates them, the women cannot get enough.

Nico is not just a yoga instructor. Nico is a warlock, a sleeping serpent preying on the vulnerability of successful women in an attempt to turn them into his mother. I think the most powerful portrayal of Nico’s spell is over Luna herself. While she is not as clingy as the other women and on occasion tells him how it is, I feel that the mental hold Nico has on her is stronger than the physical hold he has on the other women. Though married, Luna will drop everything to be with him.

The book is written well and maintains good pacing, although after a while I did start to think the story was just repeating itself as Nico captivated woman after woman and sexes them crazy.

I would recommend this book to lovers of Erotica, Romance, and Psychological Thrillers. (I’m starting to really like these psycho reads! Wait, does that make me a psycho??)

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4 / 5

The Sleeping Serpent: A Woman’s Struggle to Break an Obsessive Bond with her Yoga Master by Luna Saint Claire is Available now on Amazon. Go Get it!

Sky

Who can regret the chill of the wind and the smell of the air in the spring when the sun sets? I love it when the heavens bleeds crimson with splashes of leftover daylight prophesying hints of yellow like screaming oracles; burnt orange clouds cementing inside the belly of the sky. The way that birds defy the darkness to find refuge in the path of light, soaring on the backs of colors like they were some tangible thing and beige highlights swinging low like sweet chariots. Even the wind rejoices in the shadows of the rest of the sunlight bouncing off the concrete, hoping to capture as much of its essence as possible before it retires into its chamber. Whether you’re driving home from work or sitting on the front porch mesmerized by the cool wind, the silence of nightfall and the sky, it’s the little things that bring calm. Let it fill your empty. Turn your distress into dancing, solemn into singing. Good night.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

I am off today as usual and I’m actually not at home but I wanted to share the first official review for Nora. A special thank you to Rachel for taking the time to read and review my book. Her honest feedback is just what I need to make improvements before the big day.

Rachel Poli

Book Review | Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah YsraylTitle: Renaissance: The Nora White Story
Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Published: 
July 15, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I got the book: I received a free eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

When seventeen-year-old NoraWhite successfully graduates High School in 1922 Mississippi and is College bound, everyone is overjoyed and excited. Everyone except Nora. She dreams of Harlem, Cotton Clubs, Fancy Dresses, and Langston Hughes. For years, she’s sat under Mr. Oak, the big oak tree on the plush green grass of her families five acres, and daydreamed of The Black Mecca.

The ambitious, young Nora is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance and decides she doesn’t want to go to College. Despite her parent’s staunch protest, Nora finds herself in Jacobsville, New York, a small town forty-five minutes outside of Harlem.

Shocked by their daughter’s…

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Don Massenzio’s Author Challenge: Where Do You Write?

Last Tuesday one of my favorite bloggers, Don Massenzio, posted a fun challenge for authors called: “Where do you write?” This is my post in support of the challenge, though, it’s not nearly as fun as his! (Like, who can beat Homer Simpson??)

OK so here’s an overview. I will do a close-up of everything and try to make this interesting. I do warn you though. I’m a nerd and not very exciting.

So, yea, that’s the basic work-space there. I work from two computers. Or, I did until my desktop stopped working. Boo. Now it is the holder of my sticky notes (see pic below).

These notes in particular are notes on Renaissance, Book One in The Nora White Story. Book One is finished but I’m writing book two and need to make sure I don’t contradict myself.

These are my awards! I received the glass one in Atlanta last year. It was a gift from my readers and supporters and a wonderful surprise. It is not something I won as a result of a contest or anything like that but I cherish it more because it came from the most important group of people out there: readers!

The standing one is an award I received for my work as a member of my women’s organization Blessed Handmaidens in honor of  hard work and dedication.

Poster-sized image of The Road to Freedom! I got this blown up at Walmart and keep it in front of me as I work. It helps to keep me motivated. I also take it down and use it for any book signings for this book. Under it are some envelopes that somehow found themselves in the picture.

On the PC is a YouTube video of Shahrazad Ali doing interviews for The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Black Woman, one of my favorite books. It wasn’t supposed to be in the picture either. I think these inanimate objects have a life of their own. I wonder what they are doing when I’m not looking….

Another thing I do for inspiration is blow up pictures of some of my favorite book reviews or the ones that give me the most hope. I appreciate your book reviews! If they are really moving, I will put them on a poster. This one is by Colleen Chesebro on Beyond the Colored Line. It says:

“Even more revealing, is how relevant Stella’s story is in America today. I wonder how many people, faced with the same dilemma’s that Stella dealt with, would be able to reconcile their feelings about their own ethnicity. Stella’s story helped me to discover connections with my own family I never had before. It just proves that even in my own family, nothing is ever just black and white.”

This one is from Anna Kopp on the same book. It says:

“If I had the power, I would put this book in the hands of every middle school child in America and let them truly understand what it means to be beyond the colored line. The thing is, the literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn definitely bring up the issues of race, but they’re incredibly removed from what is portrayed  as in today’s world.”

And now, what we’ve all been looking at. The Bookshelf!

Well, one of them.

This one is filled with mostly research material.

The other one is in the living room and that’s where most of my novels are.

We just moved so there are some books missing. Here’s a close-up of what’s on the shelf.

The top shelf is biblical reads:

Bibles (starting with the gigantic one on the end there with the black man’s face on it) Apocrypha’s, The Book of Enoch, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha’s, The Book of Jasher, the 1611 version of the King James Bible, and the Scriptural Translation published by the Institute for Scriptural Research in South Africa.

The next shelf is Black Historical reads. Let’s see what’s on the shelf:

A Pictorial History of Black America.

Roots. I have no idea what happened to the cover but the book is old. It’s the original 1976 version my husband got from….I don’t know where he got it from but I’m glad we have it.

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. I’ve had this book for a long time as well (and the Book of Josephus is on the wrong shelf. That’s a biblical read. Well, Historical too but it is out of place. Again, these things are moving around on their own. I am sure of it).

Black Spark, White Fire.

The Miss-education of the Negro, Willie Lynch Letter

From Babylon to Timbuktu.

The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader, and….The Dead Sea Scrolls? I gotta organize this ya’ll lol. Wrong shelf again.

Remembering Slavery, Introduction to Black Studies, From Slavery to Freedom, Bullwhip Days and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry which should be on the bookshelf in the other room where the novels are.

The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman, Negro Slave Songs in the United States, and Medical Apartheid.

The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture, Black Man’s Burden, The Isis Papers, and

100 Years of Lynching

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This could go on forever. To the bottom…

The next to the bottom of the bookshelf is the controversial shelf. More research, Masonry, Fallen Angels, The Watchtower and the Masons, Secret Teachings, Dictionary of Angels, etc. All the “Forbidden Knowledge” type stuff. So, yea, that.

I was in a play two years ago at The Dusable Museum of African American History. Yea, it was awesome. The program and tickets are also hanging on the wall for inspiration:

I think I’ve showed you everything. Oh, wait! The Calendar. My husband went out and got me a calendar after seeing way too much yellow…

I’m kinda obsessed with sticky notes.

I admit, they are everywhere.

And of course, throughout this tour of my office one thing remains:

Coffee! Lol

And water. See. I have water too. So, yea.

That kinda justifies it. ; )

So, authors, why don’t you join us? Show us your writing spot! It’s  a fun challenge and helps you connect more with your audience. Be sure to check out Don HERE for details.

Writer’s Wednesday – Beyond the Colored Line

Sooo. Yea. One reason I don’t like saying what I am going to do is because I end up not doing it (don’t ever say what you will do. Bad idea.) So, when I said Chapter 3 of The Men with Blue Eyes was coming this week I did not anticipate not finishing it. But yea, it’s not finished. So, this week I am sharing a Chapter from my novella “Beyond the Colored Line” (2015) instead. Enjoy.


September 4, 1923

“You’s white.”

Margaret and Josephine had their hands on their hips again, Josephine taking the lead role as always. The wind felt soft against their skin and swayed the handmade dresses in all directions, hovering well below her long, skinny legs.

Her pony tails were twists that never really wanted to stay together. Stella got lost for a minute. Slightly envious. She wished her hair was as thick as Josephine’s. But instead hers could never keep a braid. School had just started at Crestwood Elementary of Belvedere City, just south of Boone County Illinois and already Stella could see this would not be a good year. Same as always.

“I’m not white; I’m Negro, same as you.”

Josephine rolled her eyes, “You look white. You sound white. I thinks you white.”

The girls laughed. Meanwhile, Stella’s blood boiled. Her hazel eyes darkened, blonde hair glistened in the sun, and the blush of anger showed quickly in the space of her cheeks and around her ears.

“You’s white ‘cause we say you’s white,” said Margaret.

“That’s right”, co-signed Josephine, “what kind of name is Stella anyway? What, you some kind of slave?”

“Naw, said Margaret, “she ain’t no slave, she massa.”

Josephine turned her head toward Margaret and laughed in her ear but Margaret saw it coming from her peripheral.

“Josephine!” she yelled. But it was too late. Stella was already on top of Josephine pulling her neatly pressed hair and slamming her face into the dirt. She could hear the screams of the teachers nearby calling her name but she just couldn’t stop.

“I’m not white! I’m not white! I’m the same as you!” she yelled, hot tears streaking down her face.

Josephine was crying now as Margaret tried to peel Stella off her.

“I’m Negro the same as you!” she yelled, slamming Josephine’s face into the ground, the screams from the teachers nearing, inaudible to the anger that consumed her.

Later that Day

Judith stood by the door, tapping her foot impatiently against the hardwood floor as she burned a hole in the back of Stella’s head who sat silently on the sofa, her head down.

“You’re going to have to learn to control yourself Stella.”

“But Mom—”

“Did I ask you to say a word?” Scolded Judith, opening the door at the same time. She expected her guest and opened before she could knock. Mrs. Velma Connor, Stella’s teacher, walked in.

“Good Afternoon, I’d like to apologize again for what happened today. May I offer you some coffee?”

“Never mind that”, said Velma, “I don’t specs to be here long.”

“Well”, said Judith, “let me offer you to a seat then.”

The women walked over to the sofa. Judith sat beside Stella as Velma took the sofa across from them and cleared her throat.

“Stella seems to be having a difficult time adjusting. Her temper is far too easily tickled, if you catch my meaning.”

I do”, said Judith.

“We think perhaps she would be better off in a more comfortable environment. Somewhere more of her liking, if you catch my meaning.”

Judith straightened and looked Velma in her sparkling blue eyes, “Not exactly.”

“Well, Ms. May, the accusations from some of the children are hard to ignore.”

“What accusations?”

“Well, you know. Children will be children,” Velma laughed, “It’s just that they don’t take very well with our kind. Surely you ‘d prefer for Stella— “

“Our kind?” interrupted Judith.

“Why, yes.”

“You don’t have to say anything more Mrs. Conner”, said Judith standing. The fair-skinned woman smoothed the apron hanging from her waist and walked to the door. Opening it, she turned to Stella.

“Stella Mae?”

“Yes mama?”

“Go on upstairs so me and your teacher can talk.”

“Yes ma’am”, said Stella, hurrying up the stairs.

Velma remained seated, “Is there a problem?”

Judith smiled, “No. There’s no problem but I do want you to leave my house.”

Velma’s cheeks turned red as she stood, pointing her nose in the air and strolling toward the door. Her face cringing a scowl.

“By the way, the school has placed Stella under suspension, you understand why.”

“Oh, I do”, said Judith, “you see, defending ourselves, is what we’re taught.”

Confusion washed over Velma’s face as she stared into the green eyes of the white woman in front of her, disgusted that she would stoop so low as to lay with one of them.

“What we’re taught? I’m not sure I follow.”

“Oh yes,” said Judith, “It’s one of the first things my Negro father taught me. You know, our kind I guess.”

The pink rushed to the woman’s nose as she hurried out the door.

And that’s how things had been for us growing up. I couldn’t understand what made Mama so strong. She loved Daddy with every bone in her body but society would never have of it. Mama was Negro sure enough as she was white but Papa didn’t trust it. Being with the love of his life was just too costly for him I guess. I thought about Papa that day and all the days afterward as I stood at the top of the stairs, and watched as my mother waved goodbye to my racist teacher with a smile on her face.

– Stella


This book is available now on Amazon.

Get it free in exchange for an honest review. Email me HERE


“Stella: Beyond the Colored Line is a fascinating walk through the ages–from slavery, to segregation, to the black power movement, to modern times. Through the eyes of one mixed race woman, the author touches on major events in African American history, allowing the reader to experience them in real time. The story deepens when Stella decides to live as a white woman and raise her children as whites. As her family grows and develops within a changing society, Stella and her children reveal complex perspectives and attitudes that make it clear that it doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. Nothing is just simply black or white.”

– Christa Wojo.,

Amazon Customer Review

7 Things I Learned about Email List Building

I’ve learned so far that there’s a lot more to building an email list than getting people signed up. I’ve had an email list for years but I feel that only now am I starting to really understand how it works. A little. OK so maybe I just have an inkling of an idea. Who knows but it’s a start.

While having one is great, building an email list and the upkeep is not easy! OK, well, it’s not hair-pulling difficult but it does take some tending to. I don’t want to scare anyone away. It’s not brain surgery or anything like that but I guess that’s why they call it “building”. You don’t build anything over night. There are lots of steps and parts to keeping an email list updated and valuable.

(Click Here to read 7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List)

Here are some things I learned, or I should say I am learning, about the email list:

  1. More Subscribers Mean Little to Nothing

At first, I was concerned with getting more subscribers. I mean, that’s a start, right? Yes and no. Yes because of course I want readers. No because that’s just the beginning.

I learned that getting people to subscribe, as challenging as it can be, turned out not to represent as much of the process as I’d thought. While getting subscribers is great, you should know that it’s never a guarantee that people will:

  1. Stay subscribed to your list (people can unsubscribe anytime)
  2. Open the emails you send
  3. Click on your links
  4. Support your product / service

One of the first lessons I am learning in my continual quest to better understand list building is that subscribers mean little to nothing in the grand scheme of things. It is not so much how many people are on the list so much as it is how many of these people are engaged: open emails, read the content, click links and offer feedback. Are they part of my target audience or just taking up space? Are they at all interested in what I have to say?

I’ve learned that an email list of only ten people on it in which eight are engaged and supporting is better than a thousand who can care less.

2. The “From” Address – Use the name that is the most popular and noticeable to your readers

When setting up an email list, part of the process is to enter a “From” Address or the name you want to appear as the person the email is coming from. For the two years or so of sending emails through Mail Chimp I used Literary Korner Publishing, my business name and all was well.

Toward the close of last year, I decided to do something different. I stopped using my business name and used my name, Yecheilyah, instead. I wanted to see if my open and click rate would increase. It did. It worked because it is the name most familiar to my readers.

3. Email – Use a business email address

Another thing I started off with is using my personal Gmail account as the email linked to my list. When setting up an email list, you’ll also have the option of choosing where the emails will come from / people can reply to. In the beginning, it was my Gmail account. I have since changed this.

Toward the close of last year I changed my email. It required an upgrade but it was worth it. It does look more professional but I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t do it for how it would look. I did it to make sure my emails aren’t going into my subscriber’s spam folders. As a result, my open rates did increase. I didn’t get a snapshot so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ll remember to snag some images next time.

What’s a good business email address?

Your name (at) your domain name dot com (yourname@yourdomainname.com)

4. Headline – Choose a headline that will speak to your list

I didn’t start off paying much attention to my email list headline. If people opened the email they opened it. If not, oh well. That’s how I saw it.

And then I grew up…

I am not doing this for my health which means that it does matter if people are finding value in the content or not and if I am seeing a return as a result. So, I started to pay more attention to the Headline of my emails or the title that people see that tells them what the email is about. It didn’t occur to me that if this didn’t speak to them there would be no reason to open the email! Yikes.

Somehow, I’d taken it for granted that people, though signed up, are not obligated to open and read the content. I thought about blogging and how important the title of the blog post is. (Click Here for 5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post) I decided to apply this to my list.

Just like someone must be interested enough to click on the blog and read it, someone must also be interested enough in the email headline to open the email and read it.

The headline is the first clue to the reader on what the email is about. If it is something they can care less about, they will not open the email. I have noticed that putting more thought into my email headlines has increased the open rates as well. Meaning, more people are opening the emails and clicking on the links. (A decent open rate is anywhere from 30-55%. It means that most of your list is seeing every email. But do not expect everyone on your list to be engaged. I’ve learned that even if only 20% of my list is communicating with me, that’s good).

5. Dividing the List – Sub divide your list by interest

I really didn’t want to do this. The only reason I can think of is laziness. I didn’t feel like splitting anyone up and sending more than one email.

And then I grew up…

I have recently began the first process of dividing my list and I feel good about it so far! The feedback alone told me a lot about the people who open and read my emails and gave me an idea into what it is they each want. Right now, I am only working with two lists and it was interesting to see who fell into which group.

Monthly – My monthly email list is compiled mostly of people who have either known me for years (at least more than two years but also as long as ten), enjoy getting everything summarized into one list, or who I know have busy schedules and don’t feel like being bothered with me more than once a month. They know me too well.

Bimonthly – My bimonthly email list, which is much smaller, is compiled mostly of people who have met me recently (anywhere from one week to one year ago), open my emails regularly and give the most feedback, are interested in emails about inspiration and motivation, and who like their emails smaller.

I loved the process of dividing them up! It was fun and helped me to focus on every single subscriber and to get to know them on a more personal level based on their interest.

6. Less is More – Limiting the Creative Mind

I consider myself a boring person outside of writing. But when I am writing and putting together emails I love colors and images! I love doing different things and experimenting. I love being silly and using my cartoon avatar. However, I have since pulled back a little with this.

Maybe I’m just getting older or I just know better but I cut a lot of that out. My avatar remains but outside of this I’ve limited the number of images used, switched to a basic theme with a white background and toned down the colors. While I’d love for my email to look like a magazine spread, images increase the possibility of spam as well and too much going on is distracting. The white background on the other hand made everything pop and it is easier to read.

7. Removal – Taking people off your email list

What? You mean I did all that work to get people signed up and now I have to…take them off?

Yea, pretty much.

It took my numbers down a notch but I feel that the cleaning will do me some good. I am not interested in having people subscribed who really don’t want to be there or who are just there to spy, just for the sake of numbers. That’s never been me. One thing I am sure everyone should do every now and again is to clean up their email list.

This means to go through the list and either (1) reach out to or (2) remove altogether those emails belonging to people who never open your emails or interact with you at all. I imagine they see the emails and trash / spam them but for whatever strange reason they don’t unsubscribe. Or maybe they subscribed because you had a contest or offered something for them and now that they got it they’re no longer interested. Whatever the reason, it’s their business. Growth is not just about gaining. It’s about losing too. I believe trimming the weeds will help me to grow and I will soon have twice as much support as I’ve had to lose.

The point is that I want people on my email list who want to be there. Not people who are just there to spy or be nosy. They hate my guts but they open every email. That doesn’t make any sense. I also don’t want people on my list who never open a single email but they won’t unsubscribe. I don’t understand why they are there.

Even when people unsubscribe themselves, I’ve learned this is not a bad thing. It literally does me no good to have people around who don’t want to be. This is a business not a hobby. Whatever is not contributing to growth has gotta go. Don’t be afraid to get rid of dead weight.

When I look at my list today I feel good. I know that the people subscribed want to be there and if they ever feel bored, I hope they will just unsubscribe. That’s just the realness of it. You win some, and you lose some but you live. You live to fight another day. Yes, that’s from the movie Friday. It doesn’t have anything to do with this article but I thought I’d leave you with a chuckle. Or not.

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Interested in being part of my crew? They’re great! Emails go out once or twice a month based on your preference. CLICK HERE to sign up and thank you!