The Writer Talks with Asha G. Kumar Part One

Thank you to Asha G. Kumar, host of The Writer Talks, for having me on!

Check out Part One of this two-part interview with yours truly. In this first part, we talk about the inspiration behind my first forthcoming Urban Fantasy/SciFi/Speculative Fiction novel, The Women with Blue Eyesmy belief in aliens lol, and my latest poetry collection, My Soul is a Witness. In part two, we dig deeper into my journey as a writer, my advice to other writers, Black History, and you know I had to recite some poetry!

Part 1 is available now on YouTube.

Link below!

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2 by Aundriel H Washington

Title: Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2
Author: Aundriel H Washington
Print Length: 177 Pages
Publisher: Aundriel’s Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2020


What if you saw a giant blue dragon in your neighbor’s backyard?

That’s how fantasy writer Aundriel Washington kicks off chapter one of book two in the Dawn series. With a 129 ft wingspan and standing twenty-five feet tall, Xavgon blocks the sun. Riding on his back is the central character Kalera, who draws some unwanted attention as she lands her dragon on Rocheblave Street in New Orleans. The police, National Guard, FBI, and military surround Kalera and her dragon. The girl and her creature, whom she refers to as her son, are coming from the Zaylen Realm, the world Kalera got sucked into in book one, Palera Dawn.

Xavgon freezes time to give them a chance to figure out how to escape the authorities. They run into the house of Kalera’s boyfriend Zaron and are joined by Musfall, her friend, and voodoo priest. They must find their way back to Zaylen to defeat Zaylen’s ruler, King Ager. To do this, they set out on a mission to Gros Cave, the door to Zaylen. Their first mission is to go to the Saint Louis Cathedral, where Musfall’s priest friend is a cave diver. Together, Kalera, Xavgon, Zoran, Musfall, and Kalera’s dog Rome, set out on a mission that takes them through a whirlwind of adventure and revelation.

This book maintains good action. I love the first chapter-opening, which reminded me of the movie Bright with Will Smith. I can imagine the authorities terrified as they surround a residential area where a large, fire-breathing creature has landed. Dawn of the Dragon is book two in a series, and for this, I don’t think the author needs a prologue. The way chapter one opened is good enough to capture and maintain the reader’s attention.

The author also did an excellent job of recounting what happened in book one so that readers new to this book can understand how all of this started. I also enjoyed how Xavgon communicated with Kalera telepathically. When she thinks about Harriet Tubman, for example, the dragon asks, “who is Harriet?” It helped the magical aspect of the book come to life.

 

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 3/5

Authenticity / Believable: 3/5

Overall: 3/5*

Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2 is available now on Amazon


My book review registry is still CLOSED. These are reviews booked before the unexpected loss of my mom. I will be reopen for new submissions at a later time. Be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here to learn more.

Stella: Beyond the Colored Line is Live (The Stella Trilogy Book 2)

Beyond the Colored Line is LIVE

“This story retells the history of many African-American families alive today. It is a heritage rich with strife and suffering but also filled with a hope and a desire to finally grasp the freedom that has been so elusive and out of reach for so many. At times, I was forced to accept some uncomfortable truths about our American past. There is nothing wrong with that. This story makes you think about freedom and what it really means to you as a person, and as an American. I loved this story because it is through the learning of other’s journeys that we begin to learn much about ourselves. Their pain becomes our pain and we begin to see through their eyes. Stella will touch your soul with such a sweet simplicity you won’t even know it.”

– Colleen Chesebro, on Stella: Beyond the Colored Line, First Edition

About.

In book two, we dig deeper into the McNair family’s legacy. Named after her great-grandmother, Stella has a very light complexion which causes her to be the tease of her classmates. Unable to find solace among her African American contemporaries, Stella finds it challenging to adjust to a world where she is too light to be “black.” After The Great Depression of the 1930s forces Stella’s family to move to Chicago, a conversation with Aunt Sara provokes Stella to do something that will dramatically affect not just her life but the life of her children and grandchildren.


Excerpt.

1928

Daddy runs off to no one knows where on account of his life. Some racist whites had seen him and Mama together and threatened to lynch him if found, so he runs off. The community gossip is that his brothers know, but they won’t say. We weren’t alone, though, Mama and me. It seems like Mama filled the hole where Papa should have been with our whole family. The house always stayed filled with guests, my people, and peoples of my people. My granddaddy was a colored man and owned this land. My namesake, his Mama Stella, was a slave and was given this house by her owner. As the story goes, after Grandma died, I was born. Since Mama was the closest, she named me after her.

My aunts would gather around the table with my mama, and they laugh and cry most of the night about their girlhood. They would talk about what it was like being four mixed girls in Illinois. I don’t have uncles on my mother’s side, but Daddy got six brothers.

Due to the controversy around my parent’s relationship, Daddy being a Negro, and Mama being half-white, they only visit on special occasions. Uncle Roy, Daddy’s younger brother, says Mama acts differently around her sisters and that we too uppity, especially Aunt Sara. She’s the youngest of my aunties and the most spoiled. She’s the one who convinced Mama to send me to a white school in the first place, and boy was my uncles hot! They said we were breaking the law–that a Negro had no business in a white school. But Aunt Sara said I had all the right in the world since I was half white. For her, not only could I do this, I had a right to do it.

“But does the school know she a Negro?” Uncle Roy would ask.

“That’s none of the school’s business, now is it?” Aunt Sara would say, and they’d go back and forth until Mama break it up.

Not all talks were good talks. I used to sit until my eyes were red with fatigue to hear Mama and my uncles talk about all the killings that were taking place around the country, and especially in the South. I felt like I lived in two worlds, one black and one white, but none mixed. And what did that mean, mixed?

My aunties wanted to talk about education, family, career, and navigating the world as a mixed-race person, whereas Daddy’s side liked to talk about the black condition, what was going on in the black community, and what it meant to be black in America. They talked less about blacks navigating a world that they felt didn’t include them, and more about blacks redefining themselves and creating their own worlds. The conversations were intriguing and fascinating on both sides, but it left me feeling like my very body was a contradiction. Was I white? Was I black? Race wars always involved these two groups of people, and there ain’t seemed to be room for a mulatto.

“That’s what I say,” said the voice of Uncle Keith, Daddy’s second oldest brother.

“Up there in Minnesota.”

“That close?” Mama gasped.

“Yeah, that close. What woman, you living under a rock? They just had one over in DeKalb last month,” said Uncle Roy.

“It’s a crying-out-loud shame,” continued Keith. “Say they dragged the boys from the cell and a whole mob of ‘em lynched ‘em. Say it was ‘bout a thousand of ‘em.”

“My my,” said Aunt Rebecca.

There were times even I witnessed evidence of the events rocking the country. One day, Mama and I went to visit Cousin Mary in Texas and drove the truck up to a general store. We walked in, and I picked up a postcard from a rack. It was of a man hanging on a tree that supported an iron chain that lifted him above a fire. The man didn’t seem to have much of a body left. They cut his fingers off, his ears and his body was burned to a crisp. On the back of the postcard read: “This is the barbecue we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Dan.”

I learned later the picture was of a seventeen-year-old mentally ill boy named, Johnny, who had agreed to have raped a white woman. And everybody at home still talked of the Cairo Circus of 1909, the public lynching that took place here in Illinois. I couldn’t understand why Mama was so upset about a circus until I found out what kind of spectacle it was. My aunts didn’t want anything to do with the land or the house because of events like these. They say it’s too close to slavery. No one wanted to inherit the home or the property, but Mama, and this is how I spent several years of my life living in the same house where my great-grandmother had been a slave. Mama kept the house full of guests by renting out rooms to help with her washerwoman salary.

We weren’t much of a churchgoing family, party going is more like it, unless Mama wanted to show off a new dress or hat when somebody died or needed saving and on holidays and such. Folk would come from all over southern Illinois to hang out with “Cousin Judy.” Sundays sure were fun, my second favorite day of the week. Saturdays were my favorite day of the week. It was the day for shopping, and that only meant one thing, Chicago.

First, Mama would wake me to the smell of biscuits or pancakes. This massive breakfast was to keep me full enough throughout the day, so she didn’t have to worry any about food buying. Then, she commanded me to bathe real good, paint my arms and legs with coconut oil, untie my curls, and we’d both put on our Sunday’s best and be two of the most beautiful women you’d ever seen. I was a young lady now, and shopping was the best thing for a young lady, next to boys, but you couldn’t like them in public.

You could like shopping, though, and I loved going from store to store in search of the finest. I skipped along while Mama scanned the insides of magazines for stuff she heard about from the white women whose laundry she cleaned. We would squeeze our way through crowds of people, just bumping into each other. Everyone dressed in their weekend wear and bought ice cream for their children. Some went to see the picture show, and so did Mama and me. We could buy candy or jewelry, or perhaps a new hat or two. We could drink from water fountains without a label and spend money without prejudice.

We had a good time on Saturdays because on Saturday, no one knew we were colored.

Click here for a signed paperback
of Beyond the Colored Line

*Click Here to get it on Kindle

Haven’t read book one? Get it for 99cents on Kindle here or in paperback here.
*Paperbacks ordered today will ship next week.

Where to Find My Books

Whenever I travel, I always get the same question, “where can I find your books?” So, here’s a breakdown of where you can find me. For clarity, I write Poetry and Black Historical Fiction so my books are either poetic/inspirational or historical.

1. Always check my website first. Everything is there in one place. Just visit me at yecheilyahysrayl.com. Go to the bookstore page for print books only and the Amazon Author Central page for digital + print books. Go to services to learn about the services I offer and visit the events page for updates on any new events I have coming up.

 

2. After you have already checked my website, you can also find me on Webuyblack.com. Simply click on the link in my bio or go to > webuyblack.com/yecheilyahysrayl 

 

3. you can also find me on Amazon. Follow this Amazon Author Central link and it will take you to my page where you can see all the books I have available on Amazon. (some of my books are only available on my website. be sure to check there first).

 

3. If you are in ATL, remember that I need your support at the stores. You can find I am Soul and Renaissance at Nubian books (IG handle – @nubian_bookstore), I am Soul at Medu (IG handle – @medubookstoreatl), Even Salt Looks Like Sugar and The Road to Freedom at Tall Tales Books (IG handle – @talltalesbooks). Be sure to stop in for a physical, signed copy and help me stay on the shelves. Not in ATL? Follow the first three steps.

…and don’t forget to follow me on social media!

IG: @yecheilyah

Twitter: @ahouseofpoetry

Fb: Literary Korner Publishing

And now you know how to support me! Yayy. Lol 🙂


 

Dear Author: Stop Giving Everything Away for Free if You are Trying to Run a Business

Booking

Not everyone doing well for themselves have “sold out.” Not everyone doing well for themselves are chasing the American dream. Not everyone doing well for themselves are seeking worldly success. These kinds of self-limiting beliefs will leave you stuck, broke, and dimming your light because, ya know, you don’t want people to think you are trying to get rich or die trying.

Stop giving everything away for free if you are trying to run a business.

I have a few free services I offer to authors to contribute to the writing community and my commitment to putting other writers on. (Author Interviews are one of them, and they are free. Click Here to learn how to sign up.) 

As an author, I feel it is my responsibility to do my part to help others. I genuinely believe in the saying, “do what you love, and the money will come,” so money has never (and will never) be my focus. My focus is on doing what I love while providing as much value as I can to others. I am passionate about writing, so it doesn’t feel like work, and I am happy to help no matter the circumstance. Besides my free services and tutorials, I also give away free chapters of books on this blog or my email list. 

But freebies must be kept to a minimum because I do run a business.

Would you work a 9-5 for free? Would it be more righteous for us to wait for a corporate promotion than to run our own business? Why is working for someone more admirable and respected than someone working for themselves?

While freebies are useful, keep them to a minimum. It’s okay (and I would even recommend it) to give stuff away for free now and again. How else will people get to sample your work? The problem is if everything you do is free, you are teaching your audience not to take you seriously, and they will get used to you doing everything free. Set a few things aside as freebies (maybe they get a free book when they sign up to your author newsletter) but charge your worth in other areas.

Advice is a consult and comes with a price, teaching is a service and comes with a price, and I am sorry, but no, all of my ebooks are not 99cents. This is not a game, I did not come to play, and neither should you. YOU are important. YOU are special, your work is exceptional, and in 2019 you deserve more.

  • Educate yourself to ensure that what you are charging for is valuable (research, research, research)
  • Charge your worth
  • Ask your clients to leave reviews. Reviews are like witnesses that your product/service is of good quality and worth the time / money investment.

This isn’t about money, but let’s stop acting like people don’t need money to live in this world. Let’s stop acting like your children don’t need to eat, your bills don’t need to be paid, and your books don’t need to be edited.

This is about knowing your worth and your value professionally. Financial literacy and management are the backbones of successful businesses. You don’t have to spend hours of blood, sweat, tears, and money, sacrificing your time and energy writing and doing all these AMAZING things so that you can give it away for free.

Not everything free is valuable. Paying for something of good quality creates more of a commitment to follow-through. When someone pays for something, they are more likely to listen to, watch, apply or read it. If they didn’t pay for it, they are more likely to put it off for a better time, and a better time may never come. I can’t tell you how many ebooks are on the Kindle that I got for free. I intend to read them all, but the ones I read first are the ones I paid for. That’s just real.

How serious are you about your writing? Either this is an expensive hobby or a writing business. You choose.


Your Books in Independent Bookstores

When 2018 started, I told myself that I would step outside of my comfort zone by trying to get my books accepted into bookstores, a challenge for an Indie Author with no large following and no large publisher backing her. But I did it and now I am making it a goal to get my books into libraries and in schools. And if it’s Yah’s will, I hope to do some public speaking. Before this year ends, I’ll be sending my email list my personal goal-setting chart and they will get to see exactly how I set my goals and the action steps I implement to achieve them. Today, I am taking the time to reveal some basic things you can do to prepare your books to be accepted at bookstores and how to go about the process and it’s yours free. All you have to do is subscribe to my email list HERE to access the PDF. You will get a welcome email and the document will be in that email. Please be sure to check your spam / junk folders if you do not see the welcome email in your inbox.

Some of the things covered in the document.

  • Know Your Why

Unless you are already famous, people aren’t gonna be checking for your books at bookstores in the same way they do online. In order for people to walk in and not look over your book, they must have some prior knowledge about who you are (more on this below). Be sure you know why you are doing this. Getting in bookstores and libraries is not some fast track to fame or money maker. That’s not what it’s about. Getting into bookstores is only a big deal to Indie writers because many of us aren’t backed by a big publisher so getting onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores gives us a greater opportunity for the possibility of hosting book signings at those stores, meet new people (who we probably would not have met online), and expanding our brand far and wide.

  • Get Your Name Out There

As you’ll see in the document, it’s not very difficult to get into small, local, Independent bookstores on consignment which means that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is selling those books which is difficult to do if people don’t know who you are. I am still trying to get my name out there and I have identified some areas where I could do better. However, you don’t have to be a celebrity or famous to start. You can start with social media and drive traffic through your blog and social media accounts. The most effective thing, though, is to get out and attend local events. Is there a book festival in your hometown? Go. Is there any event that matches what your books are about? Go to those events. Here, you’ll meet people who may be able to help you, work with you, recommend you, and help you to get your message out.

  • Target Stores that Match Your Audience

I approach black-owned bookstores because my books are about black history. There are exceptions where I’ll take a chance on a non-black-owned store (such as Tall Tales Book Shop…I love their store set-up), but for the most part my target is populations where the majority of the readers are Israelites (Blacks) and women. Why? Because my books are about the lives of Blacks in America and the lives of women. It has nothing to do with “race” and everything to do with positioning myself to be at the places where my ideal reader is.

  • Technology is Still King

Don’t overthink it with the bookstores though and forget why the Indie Revolution started in the first place. It’s good to attend events and get out and network with people face to face but don’t forget technology is still king. You don’t want to create a situation where your presence is needed to make you money as perfectly put by Cici aka “The 6 Figure Chick” on IG. That is, you don’t want to only bring in income when you do an event. Keep that online presence going. I am of the opinion that Indies with books in the store should do so as a supplement to the online business, not as the business itself.

A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business (and if you’re an author with books on amazon be sure to have an Amazon Author Central Page set-up. You can learn how to do that here). Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart (including amazon) is how you get paid. If you meet people in person, it won’t mean anything without a way for them to keep in contact with you. Update your blog and social media pages regularly and continue to be consistent. Remember that your success is not the same as everyone else’s and being authentic doesn’t have to mean doing what everyone else is doing. Be you. Be disciplined. Be consistent.

Read more by downloading the entire PDF Document when you subscribe to my email list HERE.


Pictures from Friday’s signing at Tall Tales Book Shop are now available on my website HERE. Thank you to everyone who came out. If you’re in the ATL area, my next signing is December 22nd from 2-5p EST at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall.

3 Lessons I Learned from the Settlefree Mixer Event

If you’ve been following me on social media you have already seen the photos of this weekend’s mixer. I had a good time, though I spent most of it being reserved. I mostly listened. There were many in the room who had achieved greatness and I just wanted to soak up their wisdom. I learned a lot that way too and was given some excellent advice. I did not take many pictures at all. Most of the pictures I have were taken by others. I have included a few pictures in this post but to view more pictures, CLICK HERE.

A Deeper Understanding of Self

Copyright©2018. Tinzley Bradford and Settlefree TV.

I have learned that the way you feel about yourself influences everything around you both on and off the job. It influences the way you run your business, the way you interact in relationships, and what you choose to accept and not to accept. It controls how you speak up for yourself and how you handle disputes. How you feel about yourself is so powerful that it shapes every single decision you make from getting out of the bed in the morning to laying down in the evening. How you feel about yourself is important because it influences the choices that you make. People with high self-esteem are not people who have it together all the time or never have down and depressed moments. People with high-self-esteem are also not necessarily people who are loud and outspoken. Whether someone is quiet or outspoken should never be used as a measure for how they feel about themselves because some people are loud to cover up insecurities. And people with high self-esteem are also not arrogant and proud since love is also not arrogant and proud. Instead, people with high levels of self-esteem know that they are good people regardless of the circumstances. They have a deeply spiritual understanding of themselves because their self-perceived value of self is set high.

But, there is an issue that arises that comes along with the self-love journey that must be acknowledged. How high is too high to think of oneself? Is there such a thing as thinking too much of oneself? How do you find the balance between humility and confidence?

Narcissism is an extremely positive view of the self, combined with limited empathy for others. The difference between arrogance and confidence is an awareness of other people / the other person’s needs. That’s why I have always said that self-love gives you what you need for yourself so that you can be better for others. When you start to disregard other people’s feelings, thoughts, and perspectives you have crossed the line. It sounds simple, but it’s not so much. If you think about your everyday interactions, there is plenty of room for humility or cockiness. Will you choose to put your call on hold until after you have finished your exchange at the register? Will you move out of the way when someone says excuse me? Will you cover your mouth when you yawn or wait until someone finishes speaking before you speak? All of this requires some level of humility. The more self-aware you are (aware of your own emotions, feelings, and needs), the more aware you can be of how you are with others. The more aware you are of yourself, the more humble you become.

“If you wanna be a Michelle Obama, don’t get yourself a lil Wayne.”

Me and Moshe (Hubby). Photo by Relle Godwin with “Let’s Get Relle”

Laughs followed this statement made by the financially successful women on the panel on how to improve finances. The point was clearly understood. Having nothing against lil Wayne, the advice was to make sure that you are with someone who can elevate you to where you want to go. Depending on your goals you may very well want to get a lil Wayne. You and he may be going to the same places. Maybe you want to change the world musically. But, if you want to be in the White House, figuratively speaking, lil Wayne is not going to get you there. If you want to be Michelle Obama, you need a Barack Obama. I am only interested in being a better EC, thank you. But the point is, in relationships, make sure that you are with someone who can help you to level up financially as well. Be with someone you can build something with together. I will tell you, I am good by myself, but boi am I a force when we’re together! You should not be unequally yoked by any means. Make sure that you are on one accord in everything that you do. Be with someone who can lead you somewhere in every aspect of your life.

Your Circle

Me and Actress and TV Show Host Chere Turner | TV One)

I spoke to the audience briefly about my perspective on the circle. I challenged the idea that our circles should be small. On the surface, yes, that’s true. You don’t want to surround yourself with a whole bunch of fake people. But, what I explained was this: the size of the circle doesn’t matter. The quality of the people in the circle is what matters. I explained, that, you can have only two people in your circle or who you fellowship with and who you kick it with. But if these two people are both snakes you need another circle. People also do not fulfill the same roles and will thus add a different kind of value to your life. My husband is in my circle. He adds a value to my life that cannot be filled by anyone else, not even my mother. But my mother is also in my circle and she adds a value to my life that no one else can fulfill, not even my husband. My sisters are also in my circle and they have a role they fulfill as well. Everyone will bring something different. Professionally, there is a circle as well and your professional circle is different from your personal circle.

Tinzley’s 4th Quarterly Settlefree Mixer Group Pic

Professionally, I want a balanced circle, people I look up to who know more than me or who can teach me something new. I know that sounds odd, but that’s because we’ve learned, in this society, to hate each other. By surrounding myself with people who are more successful than me, I can learn how to perform on their level and beyond. I want to be around people I can learn from and look up to because it forces me to look up. Instead of being jealous of each other we should be learning from each other. As a reminder, the professional circle may not be the same as your personal circle. Your personal circle is what we usually think of when we speak of the circle but remember there are different kinds of circles.

There will always be people who look up to you but who do you look up to? Who is doing what you want to do one day professionally? Who can you align yourself with professionally, who can show you how to do what they do and to do it better? If you want to stop smoking what would be helpful to your life? Filling your circle with smokers who have no plan of action on how to quit or filling your circle with non-smokers whose non-smoking habits you can mimic? Which would help you to achieve your goal of not smoking? Common sense says the latter so why do we want to only be around people who are not where we want to be? What is at the core of us surrounding ourselves only with people who are at our levels or below our levels? Is it jealousy? Ego? Competition? Fear? It’s good for you to inspire others and to be a good example for others to learn from. That’s good. What’s also good is you having someone you can learn from as well. Seek to be informed and to inform, not just to inspire and be inspired.


Have you grabbed your copy of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? Have you reviewed Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? What are you waiting for?? Grab your copy now and leave an honest review when you’ve finished reading! CLICK HERE.