Indie Shine – Eliza David

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In this month’s edition of Indie Shine, a place for rebirthoflisa to ‘Shine’ the spotlight on indie artists, we welcome author, womanist and creator of the popular Cougarette series Eliza David!

Bio:

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©Eliza David used with permission

Eliza David is the author of the five-star-rated, six-book Cougarette series. She was born and raised on the noisy South Side of Chicago, but now lives in super quiet Iowa. When she’s not writing, working full-time, or raising two children with her loving husband, Eliza enjoys reading throwback Jackie Collins and indulging in the occasional order of cheese fries. Eliza is a blogger as well, having served as a contributing writer for Real Moms of Eastern Iowa, Good Men Project, and Thirty on Tap. She was a featured panelist at both the Iowa Soul Festival and Iowa City Book Festival in 2016. Eliza’s latest novel, Savage, dropped in September. She’s currently working on the sequel to Savage – Still Savage – for release in 2017. For additional information, including witty clapbacks from this author, visit www.elizadavidwrites.com

Q & A

 

What do you do and Why do you do it?
When I’m not working my day job or freelancing on lifestyle blogs like ‘Thirty On Tap’, I write modern romance novels about not-so-modern women. My characters are what I like to call ‘flawed but fabulous’. They are mothers, daughters, and sisters. They work hard at their careers and at love. And yes, they like to have sex quite a bit! I write because my hope is to broaden the spectrum of women characters in fiction. Women aren’t binary and there are levels to us that aren’t explored. I hope to unlock some of those traits.
Tell us about your most recent work.
 
Still Savage is a sequel to my last novel, Savage. Savage tells the story of fundraising guru LaneySavage1.1 Townes, a divorced lesbian whose personal and professional lives intersect into sexy circumstances. In the sequel, Laney reunites with her ex, A-list R&B pop singer Eva Reynolds, for business. Of course, things happen that find them entangled with each other…which is awkward for Eva, who is still dating her male songwriting partner. Yes honey – drama!
Who inspires you? 
First and foremost, my mother – who always wanted me to be a writer but I just had to find my lane (and I have!). My writing heroes include Erica Jong, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Jennifer Weiner.
What do you consider your “Masterpiece” at this time?
The Cougarette series, hands down. It’s based on Laney’s BFF, CeeCee Banks. Forty-something CeeCee is only divorced for hours when she meets Jay – a man a little over half her age. The series is a collection of six books (first one’s free on Amazon!) and takes you on a sexy ride with CeeCee.
What is your motto in life? 
I remind myself often that tomorrow is another day. I tend to hold on to memories of human error way longer than I should and it never does me any favors.
Name your wildest dream. The one you can not imagine achieving, but would love for it to come true. 
FourBookProfilePic - Amanda Walker DesignI would love to see The Cougarette become a TV dramedy and (bonus!) I’d want a hand in creating the series – not just selling the rights off. That would make my life.
What is your favorite quote?
I am drawn to Alice Walker quotes and, if I had to select one as a motto for life, it would be…‘I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.’
 
I keep this ideal of the imagination being a free spirit when I write. I’m still a planner, but I use my plot outline as a road map. There are many ways to get to a destination – on the page and in real life!
When it is all said and done, what would you like to be remembered for?
Life is so hectic so if I’m remembered for anything, I’d want it to be giving my readers a sexy escape.
Tell us about your next project and when will it be available to the public?
I have three projects planned for 2017. In addition to ‘Still Savage’ hitting Amazon in the spring, I have two more novels I’d like to drop. First up is another Cougarette novel, tentatively titled ‘The Westons’. It will kick off a fresh book series, so I’m excited to step back into my fave character’s black stilettos. My third novel is a standalone tentatively titled ‘For The Fandom’, which I hope to drop around the holidays.
Where can fans purchase your work?
Amazon is the one-stop shop for all things me: http://amazon.com/author/elizadavid

Social Media Contact Information:

52feministsEliza

 

Facebook:  elizadwrites

Instagram: writegirlproblems

Blog: www.elizadavidwrites.com

You can also catch her on Twitter stirring up all types of trouble @elizadwrites.

 

 

Couch Convos featuring Author A. Renee Hunt

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Welcome to another episode of Couch Convos! Today we welcome A. Renee Hunt, author of ‘Puddle’ to the blog. Let’s get started.

Part I

LWT: How did you get into writing?

A. Renee Hunt

©A. Renee Hunt used with permission

ARH: I began writing back in elementary school. I was a military brat, so I was alone a lot. My thing was to hide in bathrooms and write stories. I’ve had a lifelong obsession with journals, so I used to buy them with my allowance. I would then calculate a story, with illustrations, and write so the tale fit perfectly inside. I would either keep them for myself or give them to my friends. Everyone loved them so I asked for a typewriter and the end result: me today!

LWT: In this book you take a silly childhood pastime and turn it into something sinister. How did you come up with this concept?

ARH: That’s a fun story I share; I’m a home school mom who believes in morning walks. When my son was in sixth grade, we took a walk on a rainy day. Normally we stomp puddles, but this storm snuck up on us unprepared. On the way home, I was struck with the idea of stomping a puddle, but instead of making a huge mess of a splash, we fell in. I could see the opening above me, while beneath the rainwater and everything! So we got home and I grabbed my umbrella and camera and snapped a bunch of photos. That day, I wrote the tale in about four hours. The current version has been revamped, but still the original story.

LWT: I read the 2nd Anniversary Edition of ‘Puddle’. Were there any significant changes to this edition?

ARH: Yes I’ve made some changes, that I felt were significant, but only to lend the urban legend more substance. At the time, I was living in DeSoto, MO, which carries a lot of history, both black and white. I wanted to add more into Puddle, without taking from the original myth. Some of the events mentioned are from true, but as far as which ones… I won’t say. “wink wink”

LWT: When I write I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Quinn and Maxine?

ARH: When it came to Quinn, I saw my middle school self, because I was always new. Many times, I was the only black kid or one of a few, as well, so it just worked. I saw a friend of mine named Nicole as Maxine. She and I became besties, years after she’d beat me up for being new.  Another crazy story I may share in a novelette.

LWT: Did you allow your son to read this story or was it too scary for him?

ARH: Whenever I decide to write a short story on children, I always want it safe for my son to read. Reading is a huge deal for me, passed on by my engineer of a father, so if I’m writing on kids at a certain age, I want my son to be able to read it too.  Thankfully, this one wasn’t bad for him, but he’s not really in to horror… yet.

LWT: I see you have written a couple of Halloween tales. Do you only write short stories for children?

ARH: Those Halloween tales were actually written for my son. He was the inspiration- he’s even on the cover of the In The Walls short stories. I’ve had a lot of friends enjoy them but no, children are not my usual focus. I usually write with New Adults in mind. I guess because that’s how I still see myself.  And I’m not!

Part II

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LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?

ARH: Ever since my first experience with traditional publishing and moved Indie, I’ve always done things backwards. When I get a story idea, I create my book cover. Either I will make it all from scratch myself, or I will reach out to a really fabulous artist I’d originally found on Fiverr.com. Now we’re friends and he’s my Go To man for artwork. I draw it, but he creates what I want to see, like a true visionary.

LWT:  Do you use social media and does it help with sales?

ARH: I love social media, but as far as it helping me, I can say about half. By no means do I feel I’m a big selling author, because that’s no why I write. I just love the idea of getting a story out of me and sharing. When I use social media, it helps but I mostly use it to help others.  Crazy I guess.

LWT:  Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.

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©A. Renee Hunt used with permission

ARH: LOL Spill the tea; I like that! My process is as such: I gain an idea and purchase a new journal. I then create my characters in such a way’ they practically come to life. When I can see them clearly, I have them drawn by my concept artist. I then add their pics to my journal and as I write, they’re either on my computer, beside my document, or open in my book so I can see them. To me, they’re real- conversations, quirks, jobs- I need to see them. I can write any place at any time, on my Mac, iPhone or iPads. I also take lots of notes and add them to the journal. By the time I’m done with the story, that journal is a wreck!

LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?

ARH: My worst challenge as an indie author was when I took my traditionally published, first novel back from the publisher. It was crazy, I was foolish and I didn’t have the control I was promised. Now, I can do what I wish when I want, and when it flops, I have myself to blame on my choices- not someone else’s.

LWT: How does your editing process work?

ARH: Oh my goodness, my editing process is very redundant. I run through it a few times, making changes. Then I read it again with changes. Then again, before passing it to someone to read. I make appropriate adjustments and read it again. Then I find a team of at least 6, then make adjustments and read again, before sending it to an editor. I then read it again. By the time it’s published, I’m sick of it!

LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?

ARH: My three tips are: (1) Don’t ever pay to be published! (2) Make yourself sick of your story by reading it so many times, you can find nothing wrong. Then hand it to others for editing. My final tip, (3) Always keep a thesaurus on hand. It should become your best friend.

LWT: Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?

ARH: I believe the most unique method of marketing I’ve ever had the pleasure was marketing inside a comic book. A friend of mine was releasing his first graphic novel, and he gave me a half page, FREE! Best move I ever agreed to.

LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?

ARH: I’m not even going to lie- my best resource are other authors! I read more than 200 books a year (physical, ebook & audio), and because of their styles, I developed my own. As an author, the best thing you can do is glean successes and mistakes made by other authors.

LWT: We met on Instagram, where you are very active. How important is a site like Instagram for indie writers?

Author A. Renee Hunt

©A. Renee Hunt used with permission

ARH: I am just now easing up on how much I’m on media, but I LOVE Instagram more than any other site. People share and interact more there, than any other for me. Plus, there’s no drama.

LWT: What does success look like for you?

ARH: Oh that’s an easy one! Success is when my mom called me last week stating, my aunt had mentioned to some friends that her niece was an author and stated my name. They said they knew my name and title- even the story’s theme. They’re in Philly! Needless to say, I was elated. To me, that’s the best form of success; someone knew my name and my story. The sales can come later.

LWT: What’s up next for you?

ARH: I am currently writing my first serious novel, as an Indie Author. The Malignant Soul is my toughest project yet, because I have to go deeper than I’ve ever gone emotionally. With a novel of this capacity, I need more description, more personality and more of a plot. It’s a complex story, but I believe my research and imagery will push this novel to great heights.

A. Renee Hunt, Alyssa by those who know her, is a home school mother, London Lover, Book & Funko Pop Hoarder, Tea Drinker, Reader & Reviewer. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and son.To connect with A. Renee please click the links to her Social Media sites below. To purchase her e-book, Puddle, click here to go to Amazon

Author Website: http://www.areneehunt.com

Instagram: @bookzbookzbookz

Twitter: @AReneeHunt

Tumblr: areneehunt

Pinterest: @AReneeHunt

Google+: AReneeHunt

Linkedin: areneehunt

Facebook: AlyssaHunt40

Goodreads: Books_Books_Books_

Bookstr: BookzBookzBookz

Past Author Interview – Lit World Interviews

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Here’s another interview I did about ‘Zora’ on Lit World Interviews. I thank Colleen Chesebro for this wonderful interview. She was a huge supporter of my work then, and continues to be now. At the time she was working on her first book, The Swamp Fairy and now she is a published author too. I am so proud of her. Click here to read our interview.

Revisiting past Author Interviews – T.O. Weller

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In celebrating the 2 year anniversary of my book release for “The Mistreatment of Zora Langston” I will be sharing some past interviews I did when I first released the book. This one is from author T.O. Weller’s blog Never too Lat to Write. Click Here to read the interview.

Indie Shine – Ranjeeta Nath Ghai

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In our February edition of Indie Shine, a place for @rebirthoflisa to ‘Shine’ the spotlight on indie artists, we welcome poet Ranjeeta Nath Ghai.

Bio:

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©Ranjeeta Nath Ghai used with permission

Born to a Gujarati mother, Assamese father in MH Agra Cantt, Uttar Pradesh, brought up in New Delhi and married to a Punjabi… I have a rich cultural background. “Mann Ki आरज़ू” is my debut attempt at publishing a few of my poems which I have been writing since 1985 to date. Being an army BRAT(Born Raised And Transferred) and Army Officer’s wife I have had the golden opportunity denied to many(and mine by birth)… to have covered the length and breadth of India, and seeing it in its splendor. Hardly have I ever lived in any state for more than a period of 2 years. Giving up my promising career as a graphic designer I build a parallel career as an educationist, to spend more time with my expanding family. My life has been enriched by my seven furry buddies who with their unconditional love have always been a de-stressing factor of my life teaching me to value and love all HIS creations unconditionally. From being a daughter to being a mother, from a caregiver to being loved back in return, being a friend and having friends worth dying for, life has come a full circle. “Life has treated me good and God has been kind to me. Looking back today I feel no regret as I have lived and celebrated each moment of my life with passion, on my own terms and conditions.” You can follow her blog: http://atrangizindagieksafar.wordpress.com

Q & A:

What do you do and Why do you do it?
I am a mentor. Teaching is my passion and I love to express my feelings through poetry.
Tell us about your most recent work
My most recent work is a collection of poems of the past 35 years called Mann Ki Aarzoo, an Amalgamation of Sentiments. It is my maiden venture in book publishing.
book-cover-front
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by LIFE. what i see, how i perceive, and what goes on around me… all are converted into poems.
What do you consider your “Masterpiece” at this time? 
My best is yet to come… but for beginners… its my book Mann Ki Aarzoo
What is your motto in life?
Live and let life
Name your wildest dream. The one you can not imagine achieving, but would love for it to come true.
My wildest dream would be my books breaking all records.
What is your favorite quote?

It is a Bengali quote by Rabindranath Tagore:

“Jodi tor daak shune keu na aashe tobe ekla cholo re. Ekla cholo ekla cholo ekla cholo ekla cholo re.” (“IF THEY ANSWER not to thy call walk alone, If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall, O thou of evil luck, Open thy mind and speak out alone.”)

When it is all said and done, what would you like to be remembered for?
When it is all said and done, I want to be remembered for standing up for truth and justice; be it towards humans or animals.
Tell us about your next project and when will it be available to the public?
My next book will be Chandramauli, A Ray of Hope. It should be available by April 2018.
Where can fans purchase your work?
It’s available on Notion Press, Amazon.in, Amazon.UK., Flipkart… all you have to do is type the name 🙂 For US Amazon Click Here.
There you have it Lovies. I hope you will not only purchase Ranjeeta’s inspirational poetry, but also follow her on social media.

Social Media Links:

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Ranjeeta and her Mother at the World Book Fair

Twitter: @ghainath

Facebook: ranjeetanath.ghai

Blog: atrangizindagieksafar 

 

Couch Convos – Gisele Walko

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Welcome Back! It has been a long minute since I did an edition of Couch Convos.

Your girl was having some time management issue between working on the blog, and writing novels, but I have worked that all out and decided to bring back this feature. Today we have the talented Gisele Walko, an indie author who writes Paranormal Romance(PNR) stories. Her latest book Craving and Triggers is phenomenal. Let’s get to it:

Part I

 

LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos! Let’s get started. How did you get into writing PNR?

GW: PNR is the first thing I ever wrote. The story just came to me out of the blue, after my husband suggested that I try writing.

LWT: Sometimes we get our best inspiration out of the blue. Now, in this book your ‘hero’, Sani is a Skinwalker. How did you discover this entity and what compelled you to write about it?

 GW: Hmm. I’m pretty sure I read some Navajo short stories about Skinwalkers, and a couple of years ago when I wrote Wolf Girl finds Necromance, I thought he would fit in quite well with the werewolves and vampires.

LWT: Speaking of previous books, I hear this isn’t Sani’s first appearance in your writing. How did his character start out and what inspired you to give him his own book?

GW: Sani was the villain in my first book, but through some growth and soul-searching he was able to grow as a person, and made a great hero in Cravings and Triggers.  I wrote him a book because I love my spinoffs, but it hadn’t occurred to me to give him his own story until my friends Heather Crews and Donnya both told me within a few days of each other that he should have his own story.  I gave them namesakes in the book.

LWT: I love it when readers get involved in your books! When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Sani and Zeph?

GW: For Zeph, I pictured Meagan Good, but a little darker and curvier.  For Sani, I just had myself a good time looking up hot Native American men with long hair.  No one in particular stands out.

LWT: I can attest, it is fun finding inspiration for the characters, especially the men! In this story Zeph has a teenage daughter who is transgender and identifies as a boy. What inspired you to write Z as a transgender youth?

GW: Well, I love diversity in books, is probably the main reason.  Secondly, my mother used to be a foster parent and she had one male to female transgender child, and two female to male transgender children.  One of the female to male children was such a sweet person, but had issues and challenges relating to all kinds of things.  He eventually moved on to another foster home, where the foster parents were very religious and forced him to identify as a female.  It made me sad.  I still think about him and hope he’s okay.

LWT: I have to know, in Cravings and Triggers, why did you decide to include a vampire element?

GW: I just think vampires are fun. The book already had some supernatural stuff going on.  One of the reviews I got said the supernatural stuff wasn’t necessary, which may be true, but I write for enjoyment, and it was fun.

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©Gisele Walko Used with permission.

LWT: Having fun and enjoying the writing is what it is all about. Explain why Sani felt so comfortable revealing that he was a Skinwalker to Zeph and Z on the day they first met. He seemed to know that they would not be disturbed by this?

GW: I think Sani wasn’t really expecting to see Zeph much or get attached to her and he was just having a little fun. He would have been entertained even if they were terrified.  In Wolf Girl finds Necromance, he actually was trying to scare Brennan when he revealed himself to her, but then she turned into a huge wolf and pinned him to the floor, so maybe it was like a nod to his past too.

LWT: Speaking of wolves and shifters, how do you feel that some people think PNR promotes bestiality and can you defend against it?

GW: I wasn’t aware that people felt that way.  I don’t share that opinion.  I don’t know how to defend against it, other than to say I don’t condone any form of animal abuse.

LWT: In the book does Zeph have the supernatural power to read minds or is it only Sani’s mind that she seems to read?

GW: Just Sani’s dark and twisted mind.

LWT: Who are some of your favorite PNR writers and why?

GW: Hmm.  I like Theodora Taylor’s wolf books; all of her books really.  Heather Crews has an interracial vampire romance called ‘Prince of Misery’ that I like.  G.L. Tomas has a couple that I like, but surprisingly I haven’t read too much PNR.

Part II

LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?

GW: My husband and I do them on Adobe Photoshop to the best of our ability.  I try to do everything for cheap or free.

 LWT: Isn’t that the indie author’s way? Do you use social media and does it help with sales?

GW: I send out a few tweets, but I’m not great at social media. I wish I was better at it.  Goodreads is my social media.

 LWT: That totally counts! Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete

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©Gisele Walko Used with permission.

silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.

GW: I usually start with a few scenes or bits of dialogue and try to build around that.  I think when I sit down to write again, I may try using note cards.  I don’t write out an outline or anything like that. Then I just try to string the scenes and conversations together.  I usually have on the TV when I write, but just for background noise.  If I find myself writing at night, I may have a glass of wine or two, but sometimes when I go back to reread those scenes, they’re not as funny as I thought they were when I was tipsy.

LWT: That’s why they say write drunk and edit sober. LOL. What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?

GW: I am an approval seeker by nature, so I hope most people like my books.  In the beginning, bad reviews would hurt my feelings.  Some people don’t like my stuff of course, and that’s okay. I try to take any constructive feedback I get and incorporate it and improve. Probably, some of the reviews that have helped me grow most were two star reviews.  If I only got fours and fives, I would just think that everything I did was perfect, or damn near perfect, and never learn.  Also finding readers is a challenge of course.

LWT: That is a huge challenge for us all. Earlier you mentioned how helpful your husband has been. I hear he also assists you with editing. How does that process work? Does it spark arguments or does it bring you closer?

GW: My husband reads and rereads for spelling and grammar mostly, but if he doesn’t get a joke, or thinks something sounds awkward, or thinks I need to look at a scene and tweak it, he’s vocal about it.  Usually I agree, when I finish being defensive.  I originally killed Sani, and he was like, “No! Absolutely not!”  I un-killed Sani.  We don’t really argue about it.  He’s a sounding board and he’s pretty good at catching editing issues.

LWT: Well, he made the right call on Sani. I would have been devastated if he died. Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?

GW: I don’t know that I’m successful.

  • I try to deliver a product pretty clear of most spelling and editing issues, because I know how they can distract from a story, and it’s important to be professional.
  • Secondly, write for yourself. Writing a book is a tedious process, so write the kind of thing that you would like to read and just have fun with all the imaginary friends in your head. Chances are other people will like it too.
  • Thirdly, I would recommend that you spend $5 on fiverr and promote with bknights. For Ethan and Michelle, I did really well with his gig.  For my other books, not as well, but you’ll at least recoup your initial investment.

LWT: Oh, I love Fiverr. I will have to check him out. Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?

 GW: At the risk of sounding crazy…I had business cards made up for my first book. On occasion, I still leave them places; the pharmacy, the grocery store, the doctor’s office.  As far as I know, this has resulted in zero sales, but it’s a good time.

LWT: That doesn’t sound crazy at all. Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?

GW: The thesaurus and Google for research, or funny stories.

LWT: We met on Goodreads, where you are very active. How important is a site like Goodreads that brings writers and readers together in the same place?

GW: Goodreads is my favorite. Writers are readers, and I have found lots of fantastic authors (yourself included) who I have had the joy of discovering. I also love having a platform where I can interact with my readers.

LWT: It’s great isn’t it? What does success look like for you?

GW: I would eventually like to make some money at writing, so I can quit my day job and write more. I had a dream that my seventh book really took off, and I’m at number five so…we’ll just see.

LWT: You better speak that into existence! Speaking of your seventh book, what’s up next for Gisele?

GW: I was thinking earlier, that maybe I would start on Donnya and Ezra’s story from Cravings and Triggers, and keep the supernatural elements out of it.  I don’t think it would be that hard since the vampire part was only the last 25% of Cravings and Triggers, and the new book would be mostly the meeting and falling in love part of the Donnya and Ezra story.  I already love Donnya because she doesn’t cuss.  She says things like, “What the cuss do you think you’re hecking doing?!” Ezra, I have to figure out more.

LWT: That sounds intriguing! I look forward to reading it.

 There you have it ladies and gentlemen, another edition of Couch Convos in the books. You can purchase her books on Amazon by clicking the picture below:

gisele-walko

Gisele Walko is a wife, mother, and elementary school assistant librarian.  She has a degree in Social Sciences, which she doesn’t use, from the University of Oklahoma.  She loves writing, reading, and hanging out and watching movies with her family.  She resides in the Oklahoma City suburbs with her hubby, two teenagers, and three spoiled rotten dogs.To connect with Gisele please click the links to her Social Media sites below.

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Couch Convos w/ Lisa W. Tetting featuring Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl

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Welcome to another edition of Couch Convos with your girl, Lisa W. Tetting. Today we have a special treat for you. Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl, aka EC, joins us to talk about her short story trilogy, Stella. It is a unique take on racism, slavery and provides a history lesson we all need to learn.

Part I

LWT: Welcome EC, let’s get started. What was your inspiration behind Stella?

YY: “Well, I used to teach third and fourth grade creative writing as part of a Home School program and we studied black literature a lot. In that process, Stella was conceived during an assignment I’d given my students on writing about that era, about slavery and discrimination. I always seek to be an example, especially to children, so I occasionally participated in these assignments to show my students that we were in this together and if I could do it, they could as well. That is when I wrote the first chapter, or part, of Stella. I saved it because I started to like Stella! And I knew I would build on her life at some point in the future.”

LWT: I’m glad you save it! Why did you choose to make this a short story trilogy as opposed to a novel?

YY: “I felt that drawing it out, which I would have had to do for a novel, would have taken away from the simplicity I am trying to achieve with these books. I don’t want my readers to get bored and because of the way Stella was designed, I think a novel would have done that. Of course, there is always room to add more, and always room to clarify. But I want my readers to have something to think about after reading these books. I want to leave yall hanging a little bit; it’s a lot more fun. It provokes the individual to go on his own search and to think more. The idea was to make it short, sweet, and to the point. Ideally, I would like for each book to be under 100 pages.

LWT: That being said, there is a difference between the e-book and the print book, why did you decide to make them different?

YY: “This was a mistake actually! I sent everything in to the various distributors, Amazon, B&N, etc., for the e-book version. Afterward however, I realized that I wanted to add more to the prologue to really capture those scenes and I also wanted to lessen the broken language of the slave scenes so that it’s easier to read. Because I could not reedit the e-book, I just reedited the print book and decided to make it a special thing since you’d generally pay more for the paperback than the e-book anyway. So I turned this mistake into a marketing tool. That is, if you want the deleted scenes you’d have to get the print book!”

LWT: Explain Cynthia’s belief that she is not a racist, yet she believes blacks and whites should be separate?

YY: “Cynthia is an example of the upbringing of many Europeans who are the offspring of parents who have been taught racism. It has been said that many black people still exhibit characteristics of slavery because of the deep rooted trauma they’ve incurred. But the same is true for some white people. If we believe that African Americans have developed character traits that go back to chattel slavery, then is it too far-fetched to say that whites may have also developed character traits that go back to their fathers? So, Cynthia’s mentality is attributed to a kind of generational, institutionalized racism. For instance, Cynthia makes the statement that her Aunts tell her all the time about how it was better to live in the 60s when the races were separate. Cynthia then really believes she’s not racist and in her mind she may not hate blacks, but racism shows up in her heart because it was planted there.”

©Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl used with permission

©Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl used with permission

LWT: That is very profound and gives us all something to think about. What is your opinion on the concept of Separate but Equal?

YY: “In my opinion, it should have been Separate but Unequal. I am also of the opinion that this was not necessarily a bad concept. Of course, I don’t agree we should have been bitten by dogs and burned to a crisp, but I do believe that Blacks have always been called to be different. Everything that black people do is mimicked by people all over the world because everything about them is unique. Everything about them is special. Everything about them is unequal. The separation of blacks during this time in history actually helped us to maintain a more communal mentality than integration did. It was our inability to acquire the same jobs as others that motivated us to build what would later be known as Black Wall Street. The Greenwood community of Tulsa, Oklahoma was one of the most successful and wealthiest African American communities of the 20th century. Black people were also the first to Home School their children when they couldn’t go to the same schools. Upon integration however, we lost a lot of that culture and that family bond we once had. Our children also did not receive the same kind of education upon school desegregation and many of them began to fail. It has been said before and I’ll say it again, we are a spiritual people. And it is the bible that says to envy not your oppressor and to choose none of his ways.”

LWT: Speaking of racial divide, please expound on the concept humans were meant to be divided by nationality as opposed to race.

YY: “Historians and Scholars have deemed Genesis Chapter 10 of the bible as The Table of Nations because it’s basically a description of the genealogy of man, the nations divided from Noah. These nations have been traced back to the various people spread across the world. For instance, Magog has been traced back to the Russians, Hungarians, Goths, etc. Madai goes back to the Meds or Indo-European people. The Kushites, who lived south of Egypt in what is the Sudan today, are the Ethiopians and Nubians, and according to the record of Egypt, the Somalians go back to Put. So forth and so on was man divided according to his lands. Race, a term first used by a French physician Francois Bernier, who was the first to use the word race as a category for classifying humans, focuses solely on physical attributes and characteristics (race) as opposed to land, language and livelihood (nationality). We are called blacks but black is not a nationality. Meaning it does not have land, and it does not have language. It does not have these things because black is a color. But we identify ourselves as blacks because man has divided the world into shades and colors and sizes, this is race. In fact, Science has a lot to do with the usage of race to identify a people. Although there is uncertainty about the correctness of the term “race” versus “species” to classify human variation, Bernier relied on categories based on outward physical characteristics such as skin color. To make a long story short, the Almighty divided the world into Nations of people. Man on the other hand, divided it into races of people and by attributing psychological value and importance to race; this became what we know as racism.”

LWT: What is your opinion on people who pass for another race?

YY: “I think people who pass for another race, in addition to whatever issues many of them have or feel in regard to their own physical attributes, are also on a quest to understand more on how to rightly place themselves among the races. If race does not actually exist and we are all nations of people, where does that put the person who does not fully understand what nation they are from? If race does exist, where do we rightly place the person of a mixed race? Could they pass to position themselves among one people? So, you know, I think the answer is rooted in nationhood and a sense of belonging.”

LWT: That being said, how do you feel about the Rachael Dolezal issue?

YY: “I find the Rachel Dolezal story intriguing actually. I do not feel betrayed nor do I think she’s crazy, but I believe she understands more about black people than she’s letting on and that she is trying to mimic that. For instance, in a comment on whether or not she was African American, Dolezal stated: “I don’t understand the question.” That was profound to me because I tend to give people a similar answer about what it means to be African American. I use these terms, Black, African American, for the sake of understanding but like Black, African American is also not a nationality; it’s just a combining of two continents, the continent of Africa and the continent of America. The ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Libyans never spoke of a place called Africa even though these people were indigenous to that continent. In fact, the word Africa is foreign to many of the indigenous people living there today. The name Africa is Latin and it was Leo Africanus, a Roman, who called that land mass Africa, in honor of their military general who defeated Hannibal in the Punic wars. And as I stated, there has always been something special about black people that other people have wanted to copy and in that aspect I believe Rachel was really trying to mimic a restored identity. I mean, don’t tell a white woman she can’t wear a black hair style and excuse Beyoncé for wearing a white hair style. I’m just saying if we gonna keep it real, keep it all the way real. Black women have been trying to be white for years.”

LWT: With such passion for bettering the race,why do you choose to use the “N” word in your writing?

YY: “I use the “N” word in my writing because my stories are representative of real people and real people use the “N” word despite their Nationality. I also use the “N” word in my writing because I think it’s foolish to think that getting rid of a word will get rid of the behavior associated with it. I’m all for change, but as long as certain behaviors exist, so will these kinds of words. Black people will always be known by mockeries, proverbs, and bywords as long as they are unaware of who they are and as long as they are comfortable living their lives in ignorance.

LWT: Tying this back to Stella, why is this story so relevant in today’s society?

YY: “I believe the so called Black people today are the direct descendants of the ancient Israelites and that their entire existence has been prophesied about in the bible. For nearly 400 years black people have suffered at the hands of their oppressors. From slavery, to Jim Crow, and to police brutality, if there is any kind of suffering going on you can be sure that we are in the midst of it. And if we are not dying in the streets we are suffering from incurable diseases, our children are in the foster care systems, and our brothers and sisters hang out on the corners like wild bulls in a net. And if they aren’t strung out on the latest drug they are in jail. African Americans comprise the highest prison population both black men and black women. I read an article once that prisons estimate how many more beds to add to their cells based on the reading scores of 4th grade black males. This story or these kinds of stories rather, are more important today than they were fifty years ago because slavery is being taken out of the history books. Our children know nothing about whom they truly are or where they come from. Many of them don’t even know about the events of The Civil Rights Movement, we’re talking about the basics. So, I hope that my books can be a stepping stone to increased understanding in a world that seems to be without structure and without placement for the so-called African American people.”

LWT: How do we combat this epidemic of misinformation that is fed to the masses about slavery and history in general?

YY: “I believe Self-Revolution is what is necessary to combat the level of misinformation that plagues us today. I mean, as a people we have to change. In the 1960s and 70s black people spoke a lot about a revolution to come and many of them stood up and declared themselves revolutionaries. Revolution by definition is a change in power or organizational structures, and so many of our people at that time sought to spark a revolution among our people. They did this in many ways but the way they didn’t try was Self-Revolution and because of this many of these revolutionaries are no longer with us today. But the revolution has not ended. You see the problem with the revolutions that they were bringing is that it always started on the outside, but in truth if one seeks to create a change or reversal of a condition it has to begin on the inside, it has to begin with self. You’re only capable of changing lives if you yourself have been changed. Black people, and all people, who wish to see a change in their conditions have to first seek a change in themselves. To love ourselves enough to reverse our condition will help to bring about a reversal of the condition that plagues the world, which is a lack of love. Love is a universal language and can be understood by all people. When a baby emerges from his mother’s womb he is crying out for love; he must be reconnected to her breast, literally or figuratively, to continue to receive that love. This is what the bible talks about from the beginning to the end; it teaches us how to love. I can walk down the street in China and help an elderly woman across the street and she’ll understand that language. That’s because the law of Love inspires discipline and compassion among all people. It is the umbilical cord that connects us to our creator and the rest of mankind.”

Part II

 LWT: Switching gears, let’s talk about the business of writing. What tools do you use to market your work?

YY: “I use a combination of online and offline methods to market my work; mostly online since social media has made it easier to be visible that way. I have an Author Website, a Newsletter, and social media accounts across the board. Whatever is out there I’m on it. I blog, I tweet, I post, I upload, all of that. I try to be everywhere there is to be online. Offline is the part I think is important for me to explain because we often lose sight that we need a combination of both. I don’t have a lot of money, but I try to run my writing like a business so when promoting offline I’m marketing myself as an online merchant. I don’t have the funds to carry around boxes of books, so I carry business cards and flyers instead. Professionally designed and printed flyers with my book covers and contact information on it. I also try to always have at least a sample book to present. But in all of this I’m putting my books out there as part of an online store. In this way, people know to expect to find me online and if they don’t have internet access they can always request an offline form. Fill that out, mail it back to me and I will process that order. That combined with the blessing of social media gets the job done.”

LWT: That is amazing advice! Now, tell us about your experience using iTunes?

YY: “I actually have not experienced using iTunes hands on. I didn’t upload my e-book to that service directly, but it was sent to iTunes, Amazon, and B&N directly from my publishing platform so my books can be available at multiple places. When I get my Publishing Company off the ground however, I’ll have a better answer for you! But in brief, what I love about iTunes is that it gives readers another venue in which to purchase books. Like I said, I’m trying to be everywhere there is to be online. Whatever you want, I got it. That’s my motto: “Using Digital Technology to Create Unique Reading Experiences”. So if you want to download Stella from iTunes, I got you. You can do that.”

LWT: A one stop shop. I love it! Do you find doing book reviews helpful to exposure for your work as well as other authors?

YY: “I do. Not only do I enjoy writing book reviews to help others, but I really believe that anything an author writes is a kind of advertisement or marketing if you will, of their work. Of course, we all have those moments of personal writing on our blogs, social media and all that, but I also try to keep in mind that everything that I write is either useful or harmful to me as a writer. Writing Book Reviews for me is like a diamond in the ruff. It’s helpful for the author but it’s also helpful for the writer of the review; if you can convince someone to buy a book based solely on personal opinion and critical analysis that says a lot about you as a writer. It’s not just about exposure for the author, but it also helps me to sharpen my writing skills. If I like the book, I don’t want to just tell people what the book is about, but I want to help interpret the authors’ message for his or her audience in a way that will compel readers to buy. So I’m like promoting and learning in the process. And it’s a lot of fun too. You get to read all these great books nobody would ever know about if not for Self-Publishing.”

LWT: That is a blessing in itself. Please give other indie authors 5 tips to successful networking?

YY:

  • Have an Author Website where ALL of your work can be found in one place. Even if it’s on Amazon, put the Amazon links on your website. Make it easier for people to find you.
  • Create Social Networks for at least the top 3:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

  • Create Business Cards you could pass out to people you meet on the street. You never know who you’ll run into so keep it professional.
  • Save your Contacts. Surround yourself with people who can help you, especially those who are professionals at what they do and save their contacts. If you consider yourself an author you should have at least a few (non-related) author contacts.
  • Be Visible: Make your presence known online and offline. Stay in the loop.
©Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl

©Author Yecheilyah Ysrayl

LWT: Tell us what genres you have written in so far and why?

YY: “I’ve written Poetry, Sci-Fi, General Fiction, a Screenplay, and now Historical Fiction and Short Story. Poetry, obviously, was the reason I got into Self-Publishing in the first place. I didn’t have a desire to do anything outside of publish my poetry. I am also becoming really interested in science because my husband’s a science nerd! He’s a handsome nerd though, he’s no Geek, there’s a difference! LOL. He doesn’t have the goggle glasses and pocket protectors going on! But he is really intelligent and wise and I learn a lot from him. Consequently, I became really interested in writing about the future and advanced technology; designer babies, flying cars, and all that weird stuff and, most importantly, tying these things into scripture and the end times and all that. So that’s where the Sci-Fi comes in at. The screenplay was just something I wanted to try my hand at. I’ve written plays before for my High School and watched them being played out on the stage and was actually in some of them, so I wanted to kinda bring that back so that’s why I wrote Pearls Before Swine which is actually a play not a novel. I pretty much want to try my hand at every genre if possible! I’m looking at Romance kinda sideways though, I don’t know, I’m not really into Romance like that. I like to read it but I don’t think it’s really my style from the writing POV. Historical Fiction and Short Stories is something I’m really digging right now though and I think Stella has shown me my primary niche.”

 LWT: Since you write poetry in addition to books and short stories, how has spoken word helped you expand your readership?

YY: “Yessss! Finally a question about poetry! What took you so long? LOL. Having this skill has really blessed my readership. When I’m on stage or somewhere and I open my mouth to spit that piece, people are instantly interested in me individually which includes my work across the board because people love stories. What I’m quickly learning is that behind each product is a story, a narrative and it is that story that draws people in to support that product. As writers we are that product and we have to sell our stories. A book is good but it must have a heartbeat behind it too. For instance one day I was at this Open Mic spot right, in Shreveport, and these sisters were so drawn into this piece that I did about black women that they said that they will follow me everywhere and that just blew me away because I’m really into awakening the sisterhood. I was like ooookkk well, here’s my card, look me up! I don’t really share stuff like this though because I’d like to think I’m a pretty humble person and I don’t really need people thinking I got fans and whatnot. But I say this to say that poetry increases my readership a lot because of the power of spoken language and how it makes people feel. Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

LWT: Sorry I took so long, but I was warming you up. LOL. Speaking of people not forgetting how you make them feel. Social Media is a way to make an impression. How has social media helped you with building your readership?

YY: “Oh man. Social Media has given my readership like, steroids! I mean, I met you through social media! I get to communicate with a lot of authors and readers and professionals, by way of social, so that’s great and the feedback is awesome. My blog is doing better than any other blog I’ve had in the past (I’ve had two) and my website is starting to see some real traffic.”

LWT: Speaking of websites, how important is it to have a great author website?

YY: “I’m glad you asked that Lisa because I am actually in the process of upgrading my Author Website. It’s OK but nowhere near where I want it to be so hopefully my readers will be seeing a nice upgrade soon. Having a great Author Website is critical to an Author. As I talk a lot about on my blog, writers should treat this like a business. And any great business needs to invest in a website where people can go and view all of their products. Like I said when you asked me to give tips, create an Author Website and put ALL of your products on there so that people know where to find you. Even if you’re on Amazon, embed your Amazon links into your primary website because you need one place people can go. The idea is to drive as much traffic as possible to the website. If at all possible, get a professional to design the site for you. It has to be fun to visit, but also very easy to navigate so don’t try to do too much. Simplicity is always best.”

LWT: You are up for a small business grant from Merchant Negotiators; tell us about your budding business and how things are going?

YY: “I am so excited about starting this business! I don’t know if I’ll get the grant but as many of you who follow my blog already know, I want to do more than write books. I love writing but my passion for teaching has got to be included in some way. Eventually, I would like to start my own Publishing Business to help other Indie’s to get started (For the non-writers out there Indie is short for Indie Author or Independent Author). Not only do I want to help others to publish their own books, but I would also like to offer a few Self-Publishing packages even if they would like to publish elsewhere; a place where they can still come to me for Book Cover Design, Formatting, Editing, or whatever they need to help prepare the book for publishing. Right now I am in the process of registering The Literary Korner as an LLC or Limited Liability Company, polishing off the Business plan, and setting something up for those who would like to invest in this vision.

LWT:  That sounds like a great plan and I look forward to following the progress of your company. As far as writing goes, what is coming up next for you, EC?

YY: “Well Lisa, I have so many plans for this coming year that I’m excited about and I’m just taking it one step at a time. I want to stick to the Short Story Genre so hopefully more short stories are coming. Right now though, Stella Book #2, Beyond The Colored Line, releases on the 24th and I’m putting the finishing touches on Book #3, The Road to Freedom, before sending it to my editor which I’m really excited about. I think yall are really going to love it! Its part of the Stella series and takes you back to the Freedom Rider age. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to get this Publishing Business off the ground so there’s a lot to do but I’m excited.”

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, another edition of Couch Convos in the books. To connect with EC please click the links to her Social Media sites below. You can purchase her books at most online retailers or via her author website. Don’t forget to pick up Stella, available now and the sequel Beyond The Colored Line available on August 24th.

Wanderlust

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Author Website: www.theliterarykorner.com

Blog: www.thepbsblog.wordpress.com

Email: ahouseofpoetry@gmail.com, yecheilyahysrayl@theliterarykorner.com

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