Black Only Awards

I hope you are doing well.

It’s finally time to reveal some news I’ve been sitting on.

I was nominated for the Book Author of the Year Award by the Black Only Awards a couple of months ago. I sat on this to give me time to verify their legitimacy as I had never heard of them.

My first thought was, what in the Indie BET awards is going on here? (I’m not in the business of being scammed, lol.)

It turns out that they’re legit. (And unlike BET they are black owned.) A little hood, but that’s alright! I’m from the south side of Chicago. These my people. No judgment here.

That said, I am excited at the opportunity to win a literary award. I don’t do it for the applause, but it is nice to be appreciated, and I thank whoever in the world who considered me for this and cast my name.

I am especially honored to end the year this way because of how the year started. I had an emergency surgery in February that took a long time to recover, and I am still healing. Also approaching is the second anniversary of my mom’s death (9/23). I needed this boost of encouragement.

How you start is not how you finish, that’s for sure! Keep striving, folks.

Now, here’s how to vote!

Visit the website at blackonlyawards.com.

Who Are You Voting For:

Yecheilyah

Category:

Book Author of the Year

Your Email

Why You Think I Should Win

That’s it! Easy peasy.

Note: Because I am asking for votes later than everyone else (I had to do my research first), I really need your support. You can vote as many times as you like, but voting ends October 1st.

Thank You!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Relentlessly Resilient: Overcoming the Resistance by Monique Johnson

Title: Relentlessly Resilient: Overcoming the Resistance
Author: Monique Johnson
Publisher: Monique Johnson
Published: July 4, 2022
Pages: 193

In Relentlessly Resilient, the author gives us an unflinching look at her life as a young woman enduring trial after trial and her resolve to overcome all the hurdles thrown her way. Seduced by the cute, play-boy, roughneck types, Monique learns the hard way that looks can deceive when a boy she falls for forces himself on her.

From the trauma of sexual assault, becoming a young mother, battling diabetes, and much more, this book kicks into gear quickly, starting with a series of tumultuous relationships, including dating a guy who had become addicted to drugs. I grew up around many addicts in the projects, including my parents, so I know their ways and could empathize with how she felt about the disappearing acts and stolen TV.

When she went to get the stolen bike back from the dealer, I was yelling at the book at this point. Girl, what are you doing? But nothing happened, to which the author credits her faith. The dealer actually gave her the bike back. Whew. That was close.

I enjoyed the author’s candor when discussing her thought patterns during these challenging times and talking us through the lessons she learned. One of the most important ones involved her son, Tyrell. Although she was working hard and providing for her son’s needs physically, she projected the stress she took on onto him every time she yelled at him to get ready or couldn’t spend time with him because of her busy schedule.

Relentlessly Resilient is a story I believe we can all relate to on some level. At the end of each chapter, the author shares a reflection as a final touch.

Monique’s story is a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Constantly thrown through life’s curveballs, the author always recovers quickly and regains her strength.

Ratings:

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Now Available in Digital and Paperback

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Speak to Me of My Mother, Who Was She by Jasmine Mans

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that have to do with that in some way.

This one, “Speak to me of My Mother, Who was She,” is an excellent example of a freedom poem that digs deeper than the surface. Enjoy!

Photo by Thiago Borges

Tell me about the girl

my mother was,

before she traded in

all her girl

to be my mother.

What did she smell like?

How many friends did she have,

before she had no room?

Before I took up so much

space in her prayers,

who did she pray for?

  • Source: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans, p. 13

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Dear Self-Published Author, Don’t Overpay to Play

“Don’t Overpay to Play”

– Vivica A. Fox

I low-key don’t like this picture because that black shirt was cuter in my mirror at home, lol.

I met Vivica in 2018 when she released her book Everyday I’m Hustling, which I read and reviewed. In it, she talks about not overpaying to play. When applied to Self-Publishing, this kind of advice can save us tons of money and wasted time.

The scammers are getting clever by the day, and they gear their tactics toward Self-Published authors. One thing we can do to arm ourselves is to understand the difference between investing in ourselves and our books and paying to play. 

Investments

An investment in your book is anything that will help with the publication, promotion, and marketing of your work in a way that brings value. These are usually services offered by well-known, reputable people and organizations that produce quality. It is when you vet and hire a competent editor, when you pay for a dope cover design, when you buy ads, when you pay for web design, coaching, and so forth. These are investments that can take you to new levels. It’s an investment because you get a return.

Paying to Play

Paying to play is paying an obscene amount of money for hype that offers no real value. They usually package these as opportunities to take your business to the next level. It could mean paying 10K to a vanity press to publish your book only to come out with a crappy cover and poorly edited book slapped up on Amazon or paying 2K to attend a pointless conference. 

Vivica explains it this way:

“When you get a little bit of success, you start getting invited to these big dinners and awards nights that on paper look like a great place to network. These invites can cost three hundred dollars and up! After you go to a few, you realize that you really just get the cocktail hour to network, and then it’s hard to see anyone once you’re seated for the presentation.”

Anytime you are paying tons of money to “get in the room,” you are overpaying to play. It doesn’t have to be literally in the room, as in Vivica’s example, but it could be anything that promises luxury but is not worth it in the end. Here are some examples from Anne R. Allen’s Bogus Agents, Phony Communities, Fake Conferences, and Pay-to-Play Anthologies: New Scam Warnings for Writers:

  • Republishing your book to send to “investors” or “get you a traditional publishing contract.”
  • Filming a pricey book trailer
  • Book-to-Film “licensing” (See my post on this heartbreaking scam And here’s Alli’s warning, including business names the book-to-film scammers use.) I hear from people every day who have been snagged by this scam.
  • High-ticket, useless marketing services.
  • Buying you an interview on a podcast or radio show nobody listens to.

And I will add to that:

  • Paying to be featured in an article no one knows exists or reads
  • Paying thousands to a vanity press only to receive poor editing and crappy cover art
  • Paying to speak at an event in exchange for “exposure” (seasoned speakers should get paid to speak)

Let’s say someone offers to promote your book to their 20K followers. What you want to look at is their engagement, not followers. No one will see your book if they have tons of followers, but no engagement. Engagement is likes, comments, saves, and shares. If they charge you money to promote on their page and they have 20K followers but 0-3 likes on a post, this is a red flag. It means chances are they bought their followers. (Buying followers is also a form of paying to play.)

Note: There’s nothing wrong with not having much engagement for the everyday social media user who is learning. I am talking about the people charging you money to be featured on their platform and using their millions of followers as bait.

Paying to play can also look like being offered a chance to be featured in an article in Forbes for the low price of $500.

Umm. Why would I pay to be featured in an article if I’m for real dope? Shouldn’t Forbes reach out to me?

This is the stuff we have to pay attention to. Many of these features in articles and media have been bought, not earned. This is paying to play the game.

I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book tbh, but Fox drops some great gems.

Everything is Not a Scam, But Vet People

I am not one of those “everything is a scam,” type people. Some businesses are new to what they are offering and we all know to become an expert, you must start. Everybody was a newbie at something at some point. You will know the scammer by the services offered in relation to the price tag. Why am I paying 5K to attend a conference for you to tell me to have more faith? Not when I can take that money and pay for professional therapy.

AJC Book Festival

I’m passionate about sharing my experiences as a Self-Published author because there are so many scams aimed at us. They mainly target the novice Self-Publisher. I do not mean the novice writer. You can have written before and be a master of the English language and still get scammed because you know little about Self-Publishing a book. Or, you can have Self-Published and still get scammed. It can happen to any of us.

That’s why our greatest weapon against it is knowledge and experience.

“I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.” – Vivica A. Fox


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Clothes by Kahlil Gibran

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that have to do with that in some way. Here’s a powerful one called “Clothes,” by Kahlil Gibran. Enjoy!

Photo by Uus Supend

And the weaver said, ‘Speak to us of Clothes.’

And he answered:

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.

And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.

Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment,

For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.

Some of you say, ‘It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear.’

But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.

And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.

Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.

And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.


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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King by Dr. Oliver T. Reid

Title: Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King
Author: Dr. Oliver T. Reid
Publisher: Publishing Advantage Group
Published: Officially Releasing August 27, 2022 (Available for Preorder)
ASIN: B0B933ZZJQ
Pages: 80

Prince Amir was born into royalty, but his parents verbally abused him, and his father, Naz, took credit for his work. This haunted Amir, causing him sadness and affecting his relationships with women.

Perhaps the most profound aspect of this book surrounds the wolf, which the author calls Liar.

Liar represents Amir’s inner sadness, depression, and low self-worth. Whenever Amir’s parents talk down to him or anger rises within him, this negativity feeds the wolf inside of him. It is something we can all relate to, as we have each had to deal with the wolves in our own lives.

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These Love Jones bookmarks tho!! Designed by Inspire the Tribe.

Finally, the prince meets a woman that will help him overcome his inner wolf. Princess Khari comes into his life and pours goodness and kindness into his heart. Not only that, she also makes his parents aware that their words are hurting their son.

Discover how the love story between Amir and Khari unfolds and how the wolf gets starved out in this African-themed love story.

Although not marketed as a children’s book, Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King is a quick read with some powerful concepts that are easy to digest.

The illustrator also did a wonderful job with the images, which are absolutely beautiful and illustrated throughout the book. The story is easy to follow, there is no profane language, and the pictures are a gorgeous representation of black beauty.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Now available for preorder in digital, paperback, and hardcover.

Reid


About the Author

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Dr. Oliver T. Reid is multi-best-selling author, motivational speaker, founder and president of I am a Solution Consulting Firm LLC. He is a Black Man Image Award Winner and 2016-2017 NAACP Image Award recipient and has been featured on Black Enterprise, CBS, Fox, iHeart Radio, NBC, Time Warner and much more.

Dr. Reid is most known as “The Writing Coach,” where he uses groundbreaking writing and coaching techniques to help entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches to write their books.

If you need help writing your book, he’s the plug! But first, be sure to support him by preordering your copy of Starving the Wolf.

www.drolivertreid.com

Instagram + Twitter: @drolivertreid


To have your book reviewed by me on this blog apply here.

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Please read through the entire policy and note the books in the queue so you know how many books would be in front of yours. That will determine the turnaround time.

Space is very limited so don’t sleep. Apply right now.

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Is Writing Still a Gift?

Photo by Lisa Fotios

When I was coming up, we treated writing like a special gift, and those who could write well felt like they had superpowers. Or at least I did.

In elementary school, I was a terrible student. I got straight F’s, and the source of my lousy grades was math. I failed the sixth grade twice and almost failed the seventh grade. 

Correction: I did fail the seventh grade, but someone had mercy on me, and I passed on to the eighth grade. I cannot say for sure today how it happened. Only I am glad it did.

By the time I was in eighth grade, I was seeing a special ed teacher. Every day he would come into our class, they would announce the special ed teacher was here, and the four, five, or six of us would stand and leave with him. 

If that weren’t degrading enough, the work we did in that small room was fit for a first grader. Two plus two and four plus four. It was frustrating because the math I needed help with was the eighth-grade stuff.

I knew that one plus one was two. I didn’t know how it applied to the more advanced math in the other room. Still, they would give us these long worksheets with these kindergarten math problems, tons of them all down the paper. Some days, they would give us candy. 

It was humiliating, and I would go home and vent my rage in my diary. I would write about how it felt to be singled out in front of the entire class and for the teacher to utter the words, “The special ed teacher is here,” which I thought was unnecessary. The lack of discretion seemed to me a lack of care for our feelings as students. I felt stupid and if that’s how I felt, I am sure the other kids felt it, too.

And then something happened.

This same teacher discovered I knew how to write. Suddenly, everything turned around. I cannot even say for sure how it happened. I still did not understand the math, but the more I wrote, the better my grades got. By the time the school year ended, I had an armful of academic awards and was graduating with honors.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Writing got me out of the eighth grade and into honors classes in High School. (Even honors math.)

Writing got me into College while still in High School. I attended Robert Morris College in my Junior year for early credit. I would go to High School in the daytime and then take the green line downtown for my college course in the evenings. It was dark when I got home every day.

Writing got me into AP Literature, graduating High School with honors, tenth in my class.

Photo by Thirdman

The Point of it All

For writers like me, writing isn’t something we dreamed up on a whim, but is an intimate part of our lives. It is something we can trace as ever-present. For us, writing is a deeply rooted passion that played a major role in developing who we are.

My concern now is writing isn’t taken as seriously as other gifts. Do we even consider it a gift? Indeed, one can learn to write through education, training, and coaching, but is it still a gift

Are there still people who are natural wordsmiths? People, who go the extra mile to string words together into comprehension? People, who devour books like a man starving? And is writing still opening doors for them? As it did for me?

Do we still consider writing a gift, or is everyone a writer?