Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can by Laura Kronen

Title: Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can
Author: Laura Kronen
Print Length: 209 Pages
Publisher: Be You Only Better
Publication Date: July 4, 2020


I have been an advocate for Home School since 2009, when my husband and I moved to Louisiana from Chicago, and our friends moved with us. They had decided they would Homeschool their children, and we agreed to help. At this time, I had not started teaching professionally (that would happen later), so I had no idea what I was doing, and I was nervous about being in such an important position.

At 21 years old, I was not fully aware of the magnitude of what I had agreed to do. We were responsible now for shaping young minds. What we taught and did not teach could have a massive impact on how these children would understand the world. So began my journey of researching the American Educational System. First, to find resources for the various subjects and understand how lesson plans and curricula were to be done and then to understand the American Educational Institution as a whole.

The information I found, the connections to psychology, the racist roots, the outcome-based education, the truth about Common Core, the absence of life skills, and the dumbing down of our children, would forever leave an impression on me. From then on, I would do more research until my husband and I eventually put together a lecture presentation where we traveled from city to city teaching parents about the benefits of a Home Schooled Education. We also managed a community center in Shreveport’s inner-city (before moving to Georgia) for five years, where we tutored children of all ages.

Homeschool Happily is more than a guide that teaches parents and professionals about the many benefits of Homeschooling. The author’s down-to-earth persona made me feel like I was sitting at her kitchen table, listening to her talk about this journey. I could see her showing me the outlines for the skills and concepts for each subject. Usually, I am not a fan of forwards when it comes to non-fiction (get to the point already), but this was a good one. The author begins with a substantial breakdown of the difference between Quarantine Schooling Pandemic Crisis Schooling and Homeschooling, which are not the same things.

I found this exceptionally important because we are now amid a global pandemic where parents are forced to experience, at least in part, what it is like to Homeschool their children. Many parents think the day needs to mimic a traditional public school, but Homeschooling does not require six-eight hours a day. Parents can finish Pre-K – Kindergarten classes in an hour or two. Older grades (1st – 5th) can be done by lunch, depending on how early you start. (*1) Junior High and High School classes will take longer, but no study has to last all day.

Homeschool Happily made me happy to read it because it was easy to understand (no unnecessary five-dollar words to get the point across).  The author talks about why someone may choose to Homeschool, such as flexibility, travel, religious reasons, politics, vaccination exemption, avoiding racism, high-quality education, and more. She dismantles the stereotypes surrounding a Homeschooled education with common sense breakdowns and tips on structuring curriculum and managing a Homeschooled budget. (This was a great breakdown. Most people don’t think of a budget when it comes to Homeschool.)

As someone already on the Homeschool bandwagon, I enjoyed the resources and educational tools, tips on managing the subjects for your children, and the advice on standardized testing and AP exams the most. It provided not only a what but also how. I think staying on top of testing is so important. Because Homeschool is still looked at as taboo, parents might want to keep these kinds of records. (*2)

I did not need to be convinced that Homeschooling can provide high-quality education. Still, for someone who is not yet sure about Homeschooling and how it differs from traditional schooling, what it is, and how it is done, this is the perfect manual for that parent or professional. I would even recommend purchasing the paperback so you can highlight and take notes.

*1 – *Homeschool gives children the chance to get more sleep. Think about it: Why is it that small children who wake up early start their school day later, close to nap time? And why is it that teenagers with raging hormones, body changes, and hours of homework from the night previous and who sleep later start the school day earlier?

Homeschooling gives parents a chance to regulate things like this, so children aren’t sleep deprived. The author notes that Homeschooled children get 90 minutes more sleep per night than non-homeschooled children. (This doesn’t mean kids should be allowed to sleep all day). 

*2 – I am not saying that state testing is the model for measuring intelligence. I am saying it is a good idea to see how your children are progressing as Homeschoolers if you need to provide paperwork to prove your Homeschool program’s authenticity to state/government officials.

Additionally, to be prepared in case your child(ren) will want to pursue a college education, and finally, for your own peace of mind. Homeschooling provides a High-Quality Education. But if your child(ren) aren’t scoring at grade level compared to traditional public school students, then you will know to take a better look at your program or process to find out why or even to decide if Homeschooling is right for your family.

Strong Introduction: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Overall: 5/5*

Homeschool Happily: Yes, You Can is Available Now on Amazon


My book review registry is CLOSED. Be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here to learn how to RSVP your book for 2021.

Self-Publishing (The Right Way) Is Not Free

I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.

Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.

I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.

That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.

I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.

As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.

What Happens Traditionally:

I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.

Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.

Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.

The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.

Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.

Why VP’s charge

Image Cred: Reedsy

Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.

Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)

Self-Publishing companies that promise you can keep “100% of your copyright” promise the new author something they already own because the work is under copyright from the moment of creation. If the author wants to go the extra mile and register it, they can do that for $45, according to the .gov copyright website here.

ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.

That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.

Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)

Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.

The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.

The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:

A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.

But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.

Self-Publishing 

With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?

The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.

Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right

With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.

It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.

But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.

You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.

Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.

You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.

Again, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to publish a book. There are many great pre-made cover designs, for example, that are cheaper than custom made covers, and editors who have great deals.

This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.

The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right. 

Click here for the Best Self-Publishing services and the worst rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Looking for more Indie Author Basics?

Click Here.

Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.

Let each one, reach one.

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.

Author Scams and Publishing Companies to Avoid

I came across this excellent article this morning on identifying author scams and publishing companies to avoid. Click on the read more here link below for the full article.

“The great thing about publishing with major retailers is that it’s almost always free! And unless you’re 100% technophobic, you shouldn’t have much of a problem uploading your book to Amazon or Kobo or Apple Books within a few quick minutes. There is often value in working with a professional to optimize your blurb and your metadata or perfecting your author bio, but getting your book listed on Amazon is not something you need to pay for.”

Read More Here

How to Sleep Through the Night

Photo by Pedro Henrique Santos on Unsplash

Go outside and stand on the porch. Let the refreshing wind kiss your face. Listen to the trees as they laugh and sway. Welcome the sound of insects’ singing lullabies as the sun lowers itself into sleep. Bask in the beauty that is a changing sky. Reflect on the rich hues, reds, and orange-golds and let the sweetness of nature wash over you. Eat the meal you love without punishment. Something so savory it melts on your tongue. Let it fill you like a cup of hot chocolate on the first day of winter. Drink water. Bathe. Make sure the water’s hot and marinate in Epsom salt. Wash off the worries of the world. Drift into peace like someone swimming. Wear something comfortable to bed. Something that will hold your body like your grandmother’s hugs. Make the room completely dark and close your eyes. Feel the drum of your heartbeat prophesy that you are still alive. Touch your chest and feel the vibrations underneath your fingers. You are still here. Calm the chaos of your mind and focus on your breath. Breathe deep. Inhale. Hold it. Exhale. Now let your soul rest.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 18 – The Women with Blue Eyes

I am only sharing two more chapters of The Women with Blue Eyes as I’ve decided to publish it as a full-length novel. As promised, I am sharing freely the first 20 chapters. Today, we return with Chapter 18. New to this blog? Start at the beginning. 


Chapter 18: “1500”


The women boarded the elevator for the 15th floor. The old buildings didn’t have elevators. There was no need since they were not high risers, but the renovations added several floors, elevators, laundry rooms, and two-bathroom apartments. Altgeld had fresh green paint, new windows, and more cameras. But none of that mattered in the end. Drug dealers and addicts still ran the buildings and poverty prevailed. It was like covering shit with chocolate and hoping it would turn into candy. Many of the more political residents complained about how the city wasted money on glitter and gold but didn’t address the real issues.

Janiyah sighed.

“Come on now, J, don’t start that,” Tabitha scratched at her wig. “We got a new shipment today, and I don’t need you acting all brand new. You know we get paid by the number of bags.”

“You know I hate this stuff, Tab.”

“I know, baby, but you can make that lil bread you owe tonight and be done if you play your cards right. Take that money and never look back.”

“I’ll do half tonight and come back tomorrow. Make that my last night.”

“See you being lazy. Twenty of them lil bags, ain’t nothing. I do that in a couple of hours.”

Janiyah laughed. She couldn’t spend that much time here. She had to relieve Miss Bernice soon. Janiyah had a strict curfew.

“Dang, we gonna miss you J.”

“What about you Tab? Don’t you wanna get outta here?”

Tabitha brushed it off. “And leave all this?” She twirled around and posed, smiling.

“I’m serious. You ever think about something else?”

Tabitha rolled her eyes. “Come on now J. I ain’t for the preaching tonight, aiight?”

Janiyah waved her hand. “Aiight.”

There was silence between them as the elevator climbed and stopped on the thirteenth floor. A mother and her daughter got on.

“Of course, I think about it,” Tab lowered her voice. “But I ain’t got a big house in the suburbs and a fancy-ass detective mama to spoil me to death.”

“She’s not my mother…”

“Okay, whatever. You know what I mean. A detective auntie then who make sure ya’ll don’t want for anything. What do I have? Of course, I think about leaving, but for what J? What’s waiting out there for me?”

Janiyah let the silence fill the air. After getting custody over her and her siblings, Tina moved them into that big house in the suburbs, while people like Tabitha had to stay here. It wasn’t fair, and Janiyah hated having to leave her. She also didn’t want people thinking she’d forgotten where she came from. It was part of why she made frequent visits to Altgeld. Janiyah was angry with Tina for taking them away. She thought about her history class, where Professor Grier referred to them as “The Talented Tenth.”

According to Dubois, the talented tenth was the ten percent of blacks who were skilled and intelligent enough to guide the ninety percent. Grier said they were the leaders of the race. Some bullshit, Janiyah shook her head. If every successful black person moved out of the hood, who would help the hood? Janiyah thought black people abandoned their own when they made it, leaving people like Tabitha feeling like there was no way out. And what did “made it” look like anyway? What did it feel like? They were doing well, but here she was on the same elevator, getting ready to do the same thing as Tab.

The elevator opened to floor fifteen, and the women stepped out, leaving the woman and her daughter. They must live on the sixteenth floor, Janiyah thought. The building only had sixteen floors, and everyone knew what the fifteenth floor was all about. The woman gave a side-eye to Janiyah and Tabitha as they exited.

“What?” Tabitha smacked her lips and rolled her eyes as the elevator doors closed. “Judgmental ass.”

The young women walked toward apartment 1502, stopping at apartment 1500, where many people stood, some of them workers waiting on the door to 1502 to open, and some of them leechers just there for weed and drinks. They could hear the music booming, the conversation roaring, and the drunken laughter as they got closer. Men and women surrounded the doorway. It was like a party every night at 1500.

“What it looking like in there today?” asked Tabitha as they walked up, speaking to one of the women.

“Same shit.”

“I thought we were getting a new shipment tonight?”

Tabitha wondered why the door to 1502 was still closed. It was time to get down to business. She was all about making extra money. It’s how she paid her bills.

“Nah,” said a man standing by, “It ain’t come yet.”

Tabitha laughed when she looked into the man’s glossy eyes. “Yo, you on that trip, huh?”

“Yea,” said a woman, “he tripping hard. The woman turned her attention to Janiyah, “how you doing, lil mama, you good?”

Janiyah forced a smile, “Yea, I’m straight.”

Irritation consumed her as she avoided eye contact with the woman. She couldn’t stand being around these people, especially the women. Most everybody had heard stories of her first job and what she used to do. She had to fight off the women just as well as the men.

They stood around and talked some more, idle conversation to pass the time. The apartment door was wide open, and Janiyah and Tabitha walked into a large living room area where people slumped on the couch, already high. Others argued over a game of dominoes at the card table in the middle of the room. Weed smoke and musk filled the air, and drinks were abundant. A short woman with short blonde hair approached them smoking a cigarette.

“They ain’t ready yet. Said give them ten minutes to finish the last round. Ya’ll eat? Got some wings in the kitchen.”

“Hey Mika, girl,” said Tabitha hugging her. “We just tryna handle this and be out.”

Janiyah and Tabitha had rules too. They never ate at 1500 and never drank unless it was bottled water or made it themselves. Most of the time, they brought their own drinks. Mama ain’t raise no fool.

“I feel you.”

Tabitha and Mika talked and laughed, and Janiyah frowned. Dang, can they hurry up? She turned to look at the door, the group of people still standing around. That meant they weren’t open yet.

“How long they say they gonna be?”

Mika looked Janiyah up and down. “What, you got somewhere else you need to be?” The woman stepped back, her eyes roaming Janiyah’s body.

“Yea, I heard about you,” she smiled wickedly, and Tabitha grabbed Mika’s arm.

“Chill with that lame shit aiight?”

Mika snatched her arm away. “I’m cool. I just think people with histories shouldn’t act, so uppidity is all I’m saying.” Mika laughed and walked off.

Janiyah shook her head. “I can’t stand that bitch.”

The women mingled for a few more minutes until a man called Big Boi, the head watchman made the call. Whenever Big Boi yelled, “we up!” into the apartment and people scattered, they knew apartment 1502 was open, and it was time.


Chapter 19: “Trip”

Are you new to this series?  

Click Here to Read Chapter One!