If you want a shot at winning one of the top four slots for this year’s poetry contest, be sure to email your poem to me at email@example.com by midnight tonight.
That’s 12a EST, 11p CST.
The rest of ya, figure out ya time zone, lol.
I know we can get a bit anxious as we wait for the results, so please take the time to review the following:
Poetry submissions close at the end of the day on September 30, 2022. I don’t read any poems until after the contest ends, and neither do my fellow judges. Feedback on entries will not be provided until the winners are announced.
We will announce the winners on November 1, 2022. I am an advocate for questions. Asking questions is how we learn. However, do not ask if I liked your poem or how I feel about it before the winners are announced on 11/1.
Winners will be notified by email of their win at least one week before the public announcement to prepare them for their promotions. Our first-place winner also wins a personalized frame of their poem that must be customized, so the artist will need these details ahead of time.
It is imperative that the email you have on file is active and that it is the one you check often. We will need to pick another winner if we cannot contact you about your win in time. Not only do you not want this, but it also creates more work for us, so please be diligent. Start paying attention close to the end of Oct. Check your spam and junk folders. If we follow each other on IG, check your DM’s. Know I will do everything in my power to contact you, but if I have to call the FBI you’re gonna miss out.
If you submitted a poem, you should have received a reply saying your submission has been received. If you did not get this email, please resend it ASAP.
We are giving away cash prizes this year, so when contacted about your win, we will ask you how you’d like to receive your money electronically. The other gifts will be shipped off to you.
You will be promoted on my blog, main author newsletter, Twitter, and IG pages @yecheilyah and @yecheilyahbooksllc. Be sure you are following both (especially @yecheilyah, as it gets the most engagement).
What if I didn’t win?
We are only contacting the four winners. If, on November 1, you do not see your name among the winners, your poem has not been selected.
I want to take the time to thank each and every one of you for participating in this contest. Putting yourself out there is not easy, and I am humbled that you’ve trusted me with your creative work. Make no mistake about it: without your support, there is no contest, so I am grateful, humbled, and excitedddd to read what you’ve blessed us with.
How Can I Read the Poems of Previous Winners?
You can check out the poems and interviews of previous winners at the links below.
**2020 was skipped per Covid when none of us knew what to do next.**
*FINAL CHECK* The little things can sometimes get away from us so remember: get your poem in BEFORE the deadline. Make sure it is on the topic of FREEDOM in some way. Double check you’ve sent it to the CORRECT email and that you are 18+.
It’s that time of the year again when ya’ll start telling people to quit their jobs and start a business.
Entrepreneur advice on social media is leading a lot of people astray. Here are my top pet peeves.
Telling People to Quit their Jobs
Please stop this.
There is nothing wrong with people working a traditional 9-5 or working in corporate America. Starting and running a business has a lot to do with lifestyle more than anything else. We all have different ways of life, and some of our lives aren’t conducive to the entrepreneurial arena. It can also be a mental thing. Some people are stressed out mentally from their 9-5s and want to try something new. But at the same time, some people love their jobs.
There is also the misconception that entrepreneurs work for themselves. But, the truth is even entrepreneurs depend on other people to make money. If people didn’t want to read my books/writings, there would be no one to buy them. If the hairdresser doesn’t have people who want to get their hair done, there is no business. There is no business if people don’t want to listen to your music. There is no business if people don’t buy your products/services.
“Six Figure Earner”
This really grinds my gears.
First, when did it become cool to tell people how much money we make? I thought people who had money didn’t talk about it? Now, everywhere you look, people are talking about being six and seven-figure earners. It’s giving elitist vibes. Like ya’ll can’t sit with us type.
People are even screenshotting their PayPal and Stripe accounts and posting them to the gram. Like huh? Before you call me a hater, ask yourself if this is good business sense. Heck, is it safe? The same thing applies to taking pictures of your house keys. Congrats on the house, but it takes nothing to copy a key. My husband works in the apartment industry so I know. Post something else, but not your house keys, baby.
But I digress.
Here is why I think someone calling themselves a six figure earner can be misleading:
Are you making six figures consistently or did you make a mil one time and started calling yourself a millionaire?
How much taxes are you paying out of that six figures?
How much of that do you have to pay to employees or put back into the work?
How much of that goes toward bills and household maintenance?
The next time you feel discouraged by somebody you see on the internet, remember that social media shows us very little about how people live their lives. Many entrepreneurs still work a 9-5 to fund their businesses, and there’s nothing wrong with this unless you pretend you don’t for clout.
Missy – “Ooh. I have one.”
EC – “Missy. I’m trying to talk to the people.”
Missy – “But I’m your pet and I have a pet peeve.”
EC – “Go ahead girl. What’s your Pet Peeve?”
Missy: “Okay, okay. Okay.” *wags tail*
EC – “Missy…”
Missy – “Okay. Okay. What gets under my fur is how there aren’t any pictures of me on this blog. Not one single photograph.”
EC – “Missy, that doesn’t have anything to do with entrepreneurship.”
Missy – “But you are gonna let me get my own Instagram right, right?”
EC – “No.”
Missy – “Why not?”
EC – “You don’t have a purpose for an Instagram. All you wanna do is post selfies all day.”
Missy – “What’s wrong with that?”
EC – “I said what I said.”
Sorry about that. She thought because this was called “Pet Peeves,” I was supposed to talk about her.
Yes, I am an entrepreneur. Full time. But I don’t believe in shaming other people into becoming one if it’s not something they are really passionate about doing.
What about you guys? Any pet peeves you have with advice floating around social media? We haven’t even talked about all this bad financial advice. Whew chile.
The financial part of Self-Publishing is not talked about enough. Lack of funding can get in the way of an author producing a high-quality book which can get in the way of that author selling that book.
One solution you can employ is to reinvest in yourself by taking the money you make from your book to publish more books!
I’m a slow writer. By slow, I mean I only publish 1-2 books yearly. I have no plans of publishing a book this year. But here’s the twist:
The money I made and saved in 2022 will help me to publish in 2023.
I have the privilege of speaking at Griffin High School again this year. As you know, teaching, children, and writing are all passions of mine, so whenever I can combine them is a plus. This will pay for editing my black history book. The money I made from book signings will help to cover the cost of the cover and other things.
See where I’m going with this? I knew you would.
If you think about it, by reinvesting, you are not spending your own money!
It’s about changing your perspective and putting those creative skills to work.
No. I did not publish a book this year.
I’ve been stacking my coins so I can publish two books next year.
My mom and aunts never forced us to go to church. Except for that one year we moved from the projects to a new apartment. My aunt seemed hell-bent on giving us the American dream. I suppose after the trauma of growing up in Robert Taylor, if she couldn’t give it to us in total, she’d try to provide us with the next best thing. To her, that meant bump beds, new clothes, our own rooms, going to church every Sunday, and choir rehearsal every Thursday like all the other “good Christian folk.”
We hated it.
The first time I got baptized, the church came to scoop the project kids up in these school buses, took us to some building, separated the girls from the boys, and made us undress and put on long, white t-shirts with no underwear.
So when the new church tried to baptize me, I was so terrified that my entire head didn’t go into the water.
Fortunately for us, that was the only time in our lives we were ever required to go. As we aged, going to church became one of those decisions we could make ourselves. We got to decide what or how we would believe. Later in life, my cousin decided to be a Jehovah’s Witness.
I think choosing our belief system and the freedom of being able to explore religion outside of Christianity was one of the healthiest things the surrounding adults could have done for us, which we totally overlooked growing up.
There was so much trauma I think we missed this critical sort of autonomy our parents afforded us. And I think they missed it too. With all the drugs and abandonment, there were still these glimmers of hope we didn’t realize were diamonds in the ruff.
To make a long story short, I’m an anomaly to most people because while I am obviously spiritual, I am not religious (and I believe there is a difference.) Because no one had ever forced religion on me, I’ve never been devout in the traditional sense. I can talk about the bible all day, but I’ve never been the “church lady,” nor do I live my life that way.
And no, you don’t have to be a Christian to be a “church lady.” Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
I have zero interest in being the embodiment of that fake piousness too often present in mainstream religions. This pretentiousness, in my opinion, causes many to lack the ability to be relatable.
Take my most recent Instagram post, for example. (If you read this later, it’s the reel with the God Did song by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Wayne, and Jay-Z…whose part was too long and not as great as everyone says, but I digress.)
In general, I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream rap. I think most of it is trash. Give me some throwback Common or Talib Kweli. I’ll even take College Dropout Kanye.
But pairing that song with the message I had for that day (and doing it on a Sunday when most people’s minds are religiously focused), I thought it would relate to people more deeply.
And it did.
I should point out that being relatable does not mean compromising your own beliefs. I see it more like being able to connect with something others might find familiar for a greater, more clear understanding.
My internal motto is: “You (your actions, how you carry yourself, think) will be the only bible some people will ever read.”
I hope one day more of us could consider this point of view in all its layers.
One complaint I hear from new Self-Publishers (a lot) is how much they wish they could do what they see other authors doing.
Usually, these are authors they perceive are more successful. I say perceive because you really don’t know what that person is going through, has gone through, or what they sacrificed to be where they are now.
But know this:
You are doing yourself a disservice when comparing your progress to others.
If you’ve published your first book, it is not fair for you to compare yourself to someone publishing their third or fourth book. Your journey will not be the same. Never measure your year one with someone else’s year ten.
My first few books were duds. I’m talking bootleg covers and crappy editing. The only people who bought them were members of my organization at the time—like someone whose church family buys their book.
The problem with this is that I wasn’t reaching anyone else. No one outside of my spiritual family and genetic relatives knew who I was.
It wasn’t until The Stella Trilogy (books 6-8) that I found my voice, and people became aware of who I was. Starting this blog and the support from the blogging community also helped. People interviewed me on their blogs, let me guest post, re-blogged my articles, and helped me to cast a wider net.
I miss those days!
But this was five books in.
Five published books before I saw some ripples. That’s five years.
I share my process and my journey to be an inspiration to aspiring and new Indie Authors. I share to raise awareness about the difficulties and perks of the self-publishing industry as I’ve experienced it and to spark hope for those seeking this path.
I do not share these things for you to look down on yourself, your journey, or your process.
Don’t give up on yourself too quickly. You have your own lane. A lane that will lead you to so many great endeavors and opportunities. Walk in it.
Own the space you are in.
PS. This message can also apply to life in general.
Please help me extend a warm welcome to Monique Johnson.
Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
I am Monique R Johnson, Los Angeles, CA born and raised, but moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2019.
Nice. Cali to Texas is a big transition. What inspired the move?
I considered Texas several years prior. A couple of people I grew up with made the move over 15 years ago. It was when I started dating a guy I worked with who, later took a job in Texas, that I reconsidered.
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
My perfect writing and reading room would look like a university library.
Nicee! I’m loving it already.
I’d have a writing desk with the perfect desk lamp for late-night writing. I’d have a bookcase with books from various genres: motivation, Christian spiritual, financial, self-help, poetry, and a few children’s books for my grands. I would have a leather recliner and a tall, full bird of paradise plant in the corner near the window.
What is the most annoying habit that you have?
Correcting grammar. It gets on everyone’s nerves.
So YOU the grammar police!
If you could do anything else, what job do you think you’d be really good at?
Lawyer. I love to make my point.
Lol. Any siblings Monique?
Three biological brothers, one step-brother, and three step-sisters.
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?
Mansion, with an east and west wing, two kitchens, game room, media room, living room, enclosed patio, herb and vegetable garden on one side of the back yard, a dog run in the other, and an in-ground swimming pool in the center. The house would have a balcony with an amazing view. The bathroom would have a walk-in shower, with a waterfall feature and a sitting area.
Let’s get into writing a bit. What genre do you write in and why?
Mixed Genre of non-fiction with a dramatic approach and a sprinkle of poetry to end each chapter. I love writing this way because it makes it more engaging and easier to explain how people can get unstuck.
Why is writing important to you?
I write for my family and generations to come so that they will know how I made it through the toughest times in my life. I want readers of my work, be it my poetry, my magazine articles, or my novel, to know that an everyday person like themselves can get through whatever they are dealing with if they decide to believe that they can.
When did you publish your first book?
My first Anthology was published December 2021. My first memoir was published June 30, 2022. It was exciting and challenging for me. I learned that publishing is not the hard part, it’s the promotion and marketing that’s hard for me.
I get it. So what takes up too much of your time?
Figuring out systems for my business and now my book journey.
In your book, you talked a lot about how your faith got you through a lot of the pain. Do you consider yourself a religious person?
I am not religious in that I do not believe in all of the rules and traditions that mark religions. I do follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe Christ was a spiritual teacher and healer, but the world was not ready to receive such a reality. Religion nailed him to the cross.
If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?
To make everyone love each other with a Godly love.
What does a Godly love look like?
A Godly love looks like a man and woman who puts God first, demonstrates unconditional love, sacrifices for one another, and goes to God in prayer over situations the couple cannot handle in their own strength.
What are your thoughts on race?
We should embrace our differences, and not be opinionated on who is the better of the races. The conflict is in the ignorance of one or the other and the fear.
What do you think of police brutality in the black community?
I am mixed on it. I am a mother of black sons and they express to me that they know how to do the psychological game with the police so, thank God, they’ve not been a victim of it. They have been stopped, even arrested, but never mishandled. How can we do better? I think all of our people who have been victimized, profiled, or targeted by law enforcement should learn to use psychology, or better yet wisdom instead of responding with emotions. That is not helping during intense situations.
How would one use the study of the mind to avoid police brutality? Can you give some examples of how getting overly emotional could worsen already intense situations?
For example, if an officer is approaching a black man on a routine traffic stop, or suspicious activity, the black man should not react in a defensive, or in any way that can be taken as uncooperative, or threatening. Instead, he should be compliant, ask what the stop is for, ask if he is being put under arrest, and get the officers names. A calm, unemotional state of mind will put the officer a little more at ease, thus de-escalating the situation.
You KNOW I got more questions, chile. But, let’s move on.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again.
What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Get enough word in you to have something to meditate on when you are getting overwhelmed. Walk, bike ride, or spend time doing dedicated workouts. Eat healthy.
In your own words, what is humility?
Maintaining a grateful attitude, not thinking you deserve all the accolades, but are willing to share the spotlight. Gracious in your acceptance of gifts, complements, and is not easily offended.
What is love?
God. It is receiving others right where they are without judgement. Accepting the good and the bad. Tolerance. Caring about your fellow human. Forgiving.
Thank you, Monique, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!
Monique Johnson is a native Californian who relocated to Texas in pursuit of new opportunities just before the world-wide pandemic and social unrest. She is the former founder and president of a nonprofit after school program she created to help keep teens off of the streets. She brought awareness to the Prison Industrial Complex and how it’s growth was planned based on statistics pulled from the minority population. These stats have been improperly used to build more prisons, thus keeping this population incarcerated. She mentored youth to keep them from making bad choices that could land them in the unforgiving criminal justice system.
Johnson motivates single mothers, women in general, as well as young men to push through the hard parts of life. She is an experienced trainer, speaker, project manager, and has a gift of leadership as displayed in her professional career and community. Her books and her upcoming workshops are geared toward her goal to help women and men in their business, personal and spiritual development.