Just a quick message to let you know that there are slots open for interviews. If you are new to this blog and are not familiar with my author interviews or how to schedule yours, click the original post HEREor the page HEREto learn what you need to do to be featured. Below is a brief description of this series. Please be sure to visit those pages for in-depth detail.
Introduce Yourself is a promotional opportunity for new authors I started back in 2016, hosted on this blog. It is an interview conducted by Yecheilyah (that’s me) with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better. Inspired by a song introduced in a children’s bible study class I helped coordinate, the song is meant to “break the ice.” With this feature, I hope to introduce new authors to my audience for an opportunity to learn more about them and their work. They say teamwork makes the dream work and I hope to do my part to introduce to the world little known authors and to assist in making these authors dreams come true. These interviews are free. All you have to do is follow the instructions and email me.
We have featured over 40 authors so far. New authors, established authors, Best Sellers and authors just getting started.
If you follow my social media (my personal accounts) then you know why I was excited yesterday. I am Soul got approved for stocking at Barnes and Noble at its Marietta, Georgia location, making this the fourth store to carry one or more of my books. This may not mean much to you but, briefly, here’s why these things excite me:
Poetry is not like other books, it’s hard to sell and yet I am Soul has been selling since its release in 2017. I don’t mean selling a lot. I mean consistent sales over time. (Much like consistent book reviews. They may not all come in on the day of release but if they trickle in every now and again for months or even years, that’s still good!)
I am Soul has remained relevant for two years even though I’ve published other books, something I have not been as successful with before. (No matter how long it’s been since publishing your book, it is always relevant. It can never be unwritten or go out of style. Make sure it doesn’t. Keep promoting it. Keep it fresh.)
I am not backed by a publisher. I am my own Publisher.
I don’t have a lot of money. Everything I make goes right back into the work. (In the beginning, you will have to invest in yourself. Although I’ve been publishing awhile, this is still the beginning for me).
I don’t have a lot of social media followers (if that’s important).
I gave a short testimony on my socials on being prepared but I will go in more detail here since we have the space (no worries, I’ll keep this short).
When I walked into Barnes and Noble yesterday and spoke with the manager, a few things she said stuck out.
“Oh, you have books.”
She seemed surprised.
When I shop my books around I carry the container you see here. It’s just something I got from Walmart many years ago. It only looks new because I cleaned it off. Don’t wanna embarrass my mama by going outside with something that looks like who did it and why did they do it. In this plastic container box are books, bookmarks, business cards, a PayPal Here card reader (because you never know if you meet someone on the street who might wanna buy a book. No cash? No problem! I can scan you right here lol), my author seal stickers, and a writing pen.
Eventually, after some convo, the woman asked to see one of my books so she could look me up.
“Most Self-Publishers come in here and they’re not in the system,” she said.
We’ll go into detail about what this means and how to get in the system later (I am putting something together to help Indies with that). For now, just picture walking into a B&N and picking up a book. You carry it over to the counter. Well, when the ISBN is scanned, what happens? If the book is in the B&N computer the information about pricing and everything comes up. This makes things easier on the store. How so? Because they can easily scan the book when someone picks it up, just as they would with any other book. (You can Self-Publish books with no ISBN but then you can’t sell it at stores.)
After going over the details and her agreeing to stock my book, I signed the copies we would leave there.
Me: “I’m gonna go ahead and sign these.”
“Yes, please do. We sell a lot of poetry. It’s making a comeback.”
“You have stickers?”
(she meant something that lets the reader know the book is signed….Queue my author seal!)
Me: “I do.”
“Got a pen?”
Me: “I do.”
Everything she asked me for, I had on my person. I am not saying I am always this prepared. I am not perfect or special. And it’s not like she wouldn’t have given me a pen if I didn’t have one. But by already having one I presented myself as an organized professional serious about her work because…
…and I am not just talking about physical preparation. I am also talking about mental preparation, spiritual preparation (faith), and time.
Time is part of the preparation. Time to research. Time to learn and understand. Time to ask questions. Time to write, publish, revise, improve, write and publish again. Time to make mistakes and learn from them. Time to put things in position so that when the time comes, you are ready.
At the recent signing, I had to recite a poem on the spot. I prepared for this. I knew one day it would come so when it happened I was ready. I was nervous, but I had a couple of poems in my head I knew by memory just in case. I was only prepared this time because I’ve dealt with not being prepared. Years ago, at a conference, I was asked to recite a poem. It was one of my audience favorite poems. I stood up there, said a few lines and forgot the rest! It was an old poem. A poem I should have never forgotten the words to. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to run out of the room. Instead, I quietly returned to my seat, ashamed. Prepare!
I’ve been publishing my books since 2008 but it took six years before I really got my books seen by people outside of my immediate circle. Six years to realize how much I didn’t know. Many of you are already way passed where I was when I started. You are much further along than you think. I’m just catching up.
Prepare for where you want to be. Get in position because if you are not ready when it comes it will make no difference. If the universe wants to pour into your cup but you are not even holding a cup, it will make no difference how long you’ve been standing there. You weren’t ready when what you said you wanted, arrived.
It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.
Practice Makes Perfect
While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.
It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.
Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans
In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.
Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)
The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:
They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
They stopped by
They spoke to me
They asked questions
They stopped when hearing what the book was about
There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.
Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline
Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:
Do you have a card?
Do you have a website?
Can I follow you online?
Can I pay with my card?
Applying this means:
Having business cards with me
Having a website for people to go to
Being present on social media
Having a card reader on hand
If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
It’d be overlooking the Eiffel Tower and would have an inspirational quote on the wall, a chic, white leather couch, and a Frappuccino maker!
What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
I hate when people give me ideas for stories because they’re usually pretty offbeat and aren’t suited to my style. I appreciate it, though, when others encourage me not to quit and when my mentors offer suggestions about plot twists.
In your own words, what is love?
I expressed that in my newest novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. It’s living through and reflecting on the bad moments but wanting to be together, regardless. There are always problems, and relationships end because of them. It’s easy to give up on a fleeting feeling, but that isn’t the case with real love.
Does blogging help you to write?
It does keep my creative processes flowing and keeps me in shape, I suppose, but it takes away a lot of time from my usual writing. I guess it’s a love/hate relationship.
Blogging does take a lot of time. I get it. What kind of music do you like?
I enjoy almost everything from oldies to pop to (some) country.
In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is accepting that you’re flawed. You can still be proud of your abilities, but you have to recognize that others can and will be better. I think it’s also realizing that your ways and opinions aren’t law.
I dig it. Would you like to have children?
Yes, because they’re fun, genuine, and change your outlook on life.
Awwue. Right? Why is writing important to you?
Writing gives me freedom. Having Cerebral Palsy, there aren’t many things I can do on my own, but writing is one exception. Every idea and keystroke is mine alone—unless I’m on a deadline and need help typing. Plus, I’m free to create plot lines without being barred by reality.
That cover is so fun looking! What genre do you write in, why?
Though I’ve written love stories, I mainly write mysteries. I enjoy sculpting different twists and turns to make readers keep guessing. That said, almost all my mysteries have a romantic element to them because I “love love!” ♥
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I’m a big baseball fan, and I also love shoes.
Thank you Karina for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015 and was well-received by readers. Her second, Forgetting My Way Back to You, was released in October 2018 by Vinspire Publishing and has been praised by reviewers. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!
*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author some time ago. This review is long overdo.*
This is my second read from this author. I absolutely loved COEDand you can find my five-star review of that book here. I enjoy Fant’s writing style and how his characters always remind me of real people (which if you’ve been following my reviews long enough you know that’s my most favorite thing about books, good characterization and dialogue that sounds like real communication between people.)
On September 3, 2001 , Dallas gets a call from his friend Kevin inviting him to a BBQ during Labor Day Weekend. At the house Dallas meets Kevin’s sister Thena. Kevin and his wife Jasmine are trying to hook Dallas up with her. Everything seems normal at first, until Dallas wakes the next day to the same phone call from Kevin, the same invitation to his BBQ, the meeting of Thena and the same series of events from the previous night. That’s because it’s September 3rd again, 2001, and it will be for the better part of the book. Each September 3rd runs through September 11th and then Dallas wakes up to September 3rd again. The loops involve similar but different outcomes, playing on Dallas mind until he realizes he is stuck in a time loop.
What I loved most about this book was the Final Destination type clues sprinkled about. If you haven’t seen the Final Destination movie series then you’ve seriously been living under a rock. Briefly, the movie released in 2000 and is a supernatural horror movie about a young man named Alex who experiences a premonition of a plane exploding and killing everyone on it. After insisting everyone exists the plane, several people do and shortly afterward watch the plane explode just as Alex saw in his vision. Throughout the movie the characters will experience coincidences and DejaVu associated with the coming of their own deaths. So yea, this book is kinda like that but without the gory deaths.
In Fant’s Darkest Loop, I loved how something would happen in one loop and then the author would take us to a loop that gives us the same events from a different perspective. Like how Dallas smells the scent of a woman on his sheets and meets a woman the next day with the same scent. They are just meeting but have already met and been together. The series of coincidences and Déjà vu keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially since Dallas is trying to figure things out just as the reader is. This book also reminds me of Premonition , the movie starring Sandra Bullock.
The only thing I did not like very much is the ending. The anticipation and tension was so well done that I was not as impressed with the revelation toward the end of the book. Things got weird…I mean more weird than usual for this book and while weird can be good, I felt the author drifted and the whole reason behind the loop was not as satisfying for me as I had hoped. Otherwise, definitely a five-star read.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 4/5
Authenticity / Believable: 3.5/5
Thought Provoking: 4/5
Unfortunately, it looks like The Darkest Loop is out of print on Amazon. I do recommend you follow this author though and check out his other books. I recommend COED, linked above.
About the book:
Dallas Anderson is stuck in a time loop that repeats Labor Day 2001 to September 11, 2001. He thinks he must prevent the terrorist attacks to break the loop. But each loop challenges that theory, igniting a fiery romance between him and his best friend’s sister and exposing the dark truth behind Déjà vu.
About the author:
James Fant is an award winning author who lives in Charleston, SC with his lovely wife and two hilarious children. He received a degree in biology from College of Charleston and a master’s in business administration from Charleston Southern University. His love for literature was forged by the works of Eric Jerome Dickey, Walter Mosely, and Stephen King. He also finds inspiration from screenwriters Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin and Kurt Sutter. Literally, James has always been drawn to intelligent yet imperfect characters and he writes novels with them in mind.
Got a book* for me? Learn more about my Book Reviews Here.
*Books are read in the order they are received. The sooner you get your order in, the sooner I can get to your book and get your review published.
If you are a new entrepreneur, if you are just publishing your books or starting your own business, I want to congratulate you! I want to tell you; you will do well and go far. I want to tell you; you are brave and beautiful.
But I also want to warn you:
start a business that is not dependent only on the people you know personally to be successful.
One of the best decisions I made in the past 2yrs was to go out and network with people face to face without worrying whether they believed exactly as I did or worrying about what people would think of me.
Only depending on the people who know you personally to support your business can leave you doubtful and broke because there are people who will project their fears and limitations onto you. This means that once you’ve moved beyond those limitations, once you’ve elevated, these people abandon you because you no longer fit within the box they mentally created for you.
There’s a meme circulating that says:
This is all the truth. Most of the people who will continuously support you will eventually become like family. They will be all the wonderful people you meet along the way who will root for you harder than anyone you’ve known personally. Social media is cool, but there’s an entire world outside of the internet.
When you are running a business, the people you know, including relatives, are the icing on the cake. They are the ones in your corner cheering you on and going “Yaass, sis yaass,” or “yams bro!” They are the people there to support you no matter what and we all need some of that encouragement! But we also need longevity in our business which can only come from consistent financial support and there are so many people in the world willing to pay you for your knowledge not just like your posts.
Author Tip: Take the time to discover who your book or business is for specifically and target your content to those people. This is called a target audience, and it helps you to focus on the group of people most interested in your content so that your book, product, or service doesn’t stop selling after your family and friends have bought it.
We had a private cover war going on in my email list, where I asked my audience to choose between my original cover for Keep Yourself Full and a new concept I was thinking about. Almost everyone chose the new concept and together we decided to switch it up. For those of you who don’t know, I did a similar thing with I am Soul. The original cover is still up on Goodreads, while the new concept (the one loved by everyone!) is the black woman rocking the fro you can see on the amazon page, except, I didn’t have to ask which was better. I knew, without doubt, the new version of I am Soul was much, much better and readers agreed. (I love this about Indie Publishing! Total creative control.)
For Keep Yourself Full, I loved the simplicity of the original cover and the water. Water is deep enough to cleanse you yet gentle enough to quench your thirst, and still powerful enough to destroy you. Water is powerful. The new cover certainly popped more but I was concerned the flower didn’t communicate as powerfully as the water. We are talking about keeping yourself full after all, and when you think of this you instantly think, water. In the end, we chose the new concept. Here’s a snippet on why (after much thought and prayer) I decided on the new cover.
At this writing, we are entering the spring months. A time where everything is renewed, refreshed and being reborn. Colors are big, bold and vibrant. Grass is cut low to the ground and the bright greenery is beautiful. The bright, bold colors stir something exciting in your soul. There is a reason people wear black and gray during funerals or when they’re depressed. It is because colors portray mood and give off a feeling. Blue is a beautiful and powerful color. It’s symbolism is used to portray inspiration, communication, freedom, imagination, self-expression, and clarity. All the things Keep Yourself Full was written to establish; the freedom to accept ourselves as we are, to love ourselves unconditionally and to be renewed and replenished; to have a sense of clarity in regard to who we are, what our purpose is as individuals first, and the ability to communicate this in our interactions with others through our actions and words. When a flower blooms is also significant. The bloom of the flower is figurative meaning the peak or ideal moment of something. March has been a rainy month here in Georgia and April is also said to be a rainy month. Rain-loving flowers might remind us of purification, spiritual cleansing and refreshing the soul.
Publication Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Publisher: Literary Korner Publishing
Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Target Audience: This book is perfect for young men and women 18-45 struggling with low self-esteem/worth, depression; Bible believers looking to be encouraged and motivated from a spiritual perspective, readers of Self-Help/Inspirational Non-fiction, lovers of inspiring quotes, poetry and books focused on self-love and self-care.
Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my own personal testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is important not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.