Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Good Morning!  Today, we are hosting in our 10/10 seat Author Yara Kaleemah.

Can you please tell us who is Author Yara? 
Yara Kaleemah is a outgoing person who enjoys jumping on the bed when no one is home. 

What was your inspiration behind your latest book?
I wanted to dig deeper into my story telling abilities. I had to write something that set me apart from other authors. Often I hear readers complain that Urban Lit or African American fiction books are recycled. I don't want to be boxed in. 

What do you wish more people knew about the publishing side of things?
I wish that people knew that it is easy to self publish. Why be obligated to someone when you can make your own rules? 

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is taking the steps to take control of my career.

Do you have a philosophy by which you live?
Never let anyone deter you from your dreams. 

What type of legacy would you like to leave for your readers?
I want them to read Yara Kaleemah's books and talk about the experience they had when reading. 

How important was a "platform" in selling your books?
It's important to explore different platforms and avenues when selling a product. You have to have the ability to draw people in. 

Do you have book signings coming up where readers can meet you?
I will be at the Newark Book Fair on June 20th at the Newark Public Library. 

Can you tell us about your upcoming project(s)?
I have a new children's book expected to be published by September 2015.

What keeps you motivated?
My love for writing and the passion I have for molding my craft keeps me motivated.

Dark fell upon the small village. Dry warm air blew dust from the desert while mothers brewed stew of goat and duck on wooden stoves and fathers told stories of their ancestors’ past. The chanty town was complete with tepees of straw and small tents packed with families of four, five, or six. Onika lay still in a flat bed of sheep's skin and plucked leaves. As she stared at the makeshift ceiling she wondered what life would be like in the land she had heard about in the stories her teacher told them. Her teacher, a slender pale woman with thick blonde curls and ocean blue eyes, arrived there a few moons ago. She came from somewhere far away-- a place where women roamed free and soaked in knowledge without hesitation. Onika wanted that. She closed her eyes, dreaming of the place her teacher called America. 
   In the mist of the morning dew, her dream was shaken away when her mother woke her for school. She gently shook her by the arm and hissed in her ear. 
"You must wake now." Her hot breath brushed against the girl's earlobe. 
"I am awake." Onika's eyes popped open. "Get dressed and hurry." The woman moved toward the front of the tent. 
Onika sat up, stretching her arms, and then stood up. Mother had pressed her uniform and hung it over the hand built shelve. It was the only one they could afford. The dark green shirt was inscribed with the name of the brick school house and the short skirt was plaid; blue and green. Onika rolled a pair of knee-hi socks onto her frail legs and then slowly dressed in the uniform, slipping her feet into a shiny pair of leather shoes. Mother called them 'the good shoes.' 
   When she reached the front of the tent, a bowl of thick hot oatmeal awaited her. Mother's back was toward Onika as she sat in a wooden chair and started to eat. 
"You make sure to come straight home from school. Do not take any short cuts. Do you understand?" 
"Yes, ma'am." Onika rose from her seat, putting her napsack on her back. 
  It was still dark when she stepped outside. Her friend, Ada, was waiting a few feet away. They started the four mile walk to the school house. Along the way two or three more children joined them. They talked and laughed about nothing until they approached the edge of their town. That morning the road was blocked with cars. 
"We should turn back." Onika whispered. 
  "They may let us by." Ada's bottom lip rattled with fear. 
   A dark man emerged from the passenger seat of one of the trucks. Danger was ingrained in his face as he looked the group of children up and down. 
"Where are you going?" He growled. None of them answered though. 
He grabbed one of the boys by the collar. His lips rolled tight while he stared in his eyes. He posed the question again. 
"Where are you going?" 
The boy's teeth chattered as he shuttered to say, "School." 
He was let go with a hard shove and the man turned his attention to the three young girls in the crowd. All three looked away from the man, swollen with fear. Please, let him leave us, Onika prayed. Hot air blew from his nostrils onto her neck. 
"You do not need to go to school." He said. "Go back." He pointed up the road. "Female young have no need to go to school." Then, he did the unthinkable--running his hand on the edge of her skirt. 
Onika swatted him and backed away with clenched teeth. 
"Go back!" The man shouted. "You and you and you!" 
"We just want to learn." Ada's brave chest stuck out. "We aren't doing anything wrong." 
"You aren't doing anything wrong?" He laughed. "Everything you do is wrong. You are only good for laying on your back and making men children." He reached to grope her. "You know what?" A wicked smile creased his lips. "Lie down there." He pointed toward the ground. 
Ada looked down at the dirt road beneath her feet and then at the girls who accompanied her. Onika grabbed her hand. 
"We will go." Onika huffed. "We will go." They easily turned on their heels and hurried in the opposite direction. Onika looked over her shoulder every few steps until the men disappeared in the distance. 
"Let's go this way. It is a short cut I know." She pulled Ada toward the woods. 
   Tall trees covered the area while the girls jumped over logs and found a smooth trail. 
"Are you ever afraid?" Ada asked. 
"Afraid of what?" 
“Of what they might do to you? They are killing our people every day.” 
  The rest of walk was silent. The girls entered the school just as the bell rung. Onika took her seat in the front of the room because she liked to listen to their teacher talk. 
"Good morning, boys and girls." She said with a polite smile.


Yara Kaleemah was born and raised in Newark NJ. At age 7 she began to attend the summer program of Teach Enlighten Empower Motivate where she discovered her love for creative writing and expression. As the years went on, Yara started to write short stories and picture prompts. Later, her first poem was published in the American Poet Society's Anthology of Poetry. 

After becoming a teen mom, Yara decided that it was time to pursue her dream so in 2013, Too Much to Chew was published by Salaam Publications. 

Now Yara Kaleemah owns and operates SWAG Presents where she enjoys helping entrepreneurs take their experience to the next level.