The Black Plague

Steppers Delight Giclee On Canvas by John Holyfield

They treated them like The Black Plague.

This walking pestilence ravaging the Earth.

Walking all proud-like and powerful

all royalty-like and purposeful

infecting generations of people with its culture, music, dance, and cornrolls.

This was a virus that needed to be controlled.

They could not have this thing infecting people with all this hope.

COVID-19 is terrifying, but empowering the people was worse

so, the powers that be raised their glasses, smiled and solidified the oath.

 

The first phase was overt

strip them of their names, rape their wives, and remove their clothes.

Next, shackle them together and dismantle their dignity.

The vaccination was so far working.

They became Mammies instead of Mothers

and Negroes instead of Kings.

 

But the Black Plague continued to spread

continued to influence

and shift the direction of the Earth

there was no restraining the wind

out of its affliction grew the epidemic

of black excellence

building communities, gaining wealth, and reestablishing identity.

The so-called powers had to take their power back

and so, they infected their neighborhoods with crack.

Mass incarcerate them

“Jump Jim Crow” them

redline them

school-to-prison pipeline them

hide their history

hide their truth

miseducate them and kill the youth.

Put your knees on their necks

and stick your knives in their backs.

But none of it worked.

 

It was a secret deeper than White Supremacy

more in-depth than the witchcraft of stolen identity

deeper than unarmed black men bleeding in the streets

more frightening than charred bodies hanging from trees

more detailed than this apparent sickness was the truth

these people they called plagues were not plagues at all

they were Prophets

and healers of the Earth.

 

It was no wonder the more they were afflicted,

the more they grew.

#BookReview “I am Soul” by the Imcomparable Yecheilyah Ysrayl

BOOK REVIEW “I AM SOUL” BY THE IMCOMPARABLE YECHEILYAH YSRAYL #RRBC #RWISA

Forrest takes a Journey!

Book Review “I am Soul” by the imcomparable Yecheilyah Ysrayl #RRBC #RWISA

FOREMOST, It has been a long time my friends but I hope you all have remained safe and healthy. This is a crazy time we are living in right now. I have fallen behind in reviewing some incredible books and collections due my work life as a Social Worker and Inpatient Program Manager. I wish to thank everyone who has reached out to me or sent warm wishes during this health scare that is surrounding us all. I do apologize if my silence has worried anyone or caused them concern.

My first review is a beautiful poetry and prose anthology by the beautiful Yecheilyah Ysrayl. I happened upon her through the wonder Rave Reviews Book Club #RRBC and #RWISA.

Before I go into my review, please read more about Yecheilyah Ysrayl and her collection “I am Soul”

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7 Reasons No One Follows Your Blog

I haven’t written a blog post about blogging in a while. I slowed down on that because I could be, you know, writing.

Today, I am not writing. I am enjoying this good weather and stealing this downtime for a quick blog post. I hope these tips /reminders will be useful for any new bloggers out there.

You Don’t Have a Follow Button.

I have spoken heavily on this in the past, and it’s still true today. I still find people whose blogs I want to follow, but I can’t because there is no follow button. At this point in life, with COVID and all, few people will stop to go on a scavenger hunt to find where your button is. If you are blogging on WordPress, go to your Dashboard > Appearance> Widget > Follow blog. Place it somewhere near the top (not at the bottom), so it is noticed.

You Don’t Post Enough.

I am sure I probably post too much (sorry fam), which can have repercussions, but not posting enough is also not good. Not only will people not be interested in following you, but those who follow you may forget you are there, meaning that when you post, they aren’t even reading. People are forgetful, and it’s a lot going on in the world right now. I am not the person who thinks people should blog every day, but I think the posts should be consistent enough to keep the blogger memorable and the people engaged.

You Don’t Respond to Comments.

Social media isn’t about followers anymore, so much as it is about engagement. Responding to comments is one of the easiest ways to engage with your audience and other bloggers. Commenting on someone else’s blog is also a simple way to gain a follower. This is the power of networking. When someone comments on your blog, don’t just like their comment, reply! And respond not to get the follow, but have an opinion on the topic. Give your feedback some substance and add it to the conversation.

You Post Your Blog Link in the Comments Asking for a Follow

This is tacky and unattractive to other bloggers. Leaving a comment that is only a link back to your blog, followed by “please follow my blog,” makes you look desperate and turns that blogger off. I am much more likely to subscribe to someone’s blog who just left a real comment on my blog or liked my post than I will someone posting a link back to their blog in my comments. If you think this is mean, then you have not been blogging long enough to come across spammers and trolls. How do I tell the difference between you, the real blogger, and a spammer if you are both spamming me?

Please, don’t do this.

Your Content is Not Interesting To Your Readers

Sometimes it’s just the basics, such as not posting anything valuable for your audience. One lesson I learned in life is being relatable and making connections with people based on a common goal or interest. I think blogging and social media is the same way. No man is an island, and no man knows it all. Therefore, while I have my way of seeing things, I think it’s necessary to allow room for diverse thoughts and differences of perspective. To me, that shakes things up and makes it fun. It also provides room for learning and growth.

I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me, and I’m not walking on eggshells around anyone else. Yes, I’ve had some heated debates on this blog, and I am pretty sure some people hate my guts, but those same people also know me the better because of it. I think some of the best friendships develop from a difference in opinion because people are not all the same, and when each person can bring something different, I think it creates a good balance.

To make a long story short, people don’t want to follow a boring blog.

Your Blog is Hard to Navigate

Making things more accessible to people is the best way to encourage them to stick around. If your blog is hard to navigate, people might not want to follow you. Everything should be easily attainable from your follow button to your widgets to your pages. Beyond this, be sure your blog is easy to read so dark colors with dark text that is heavy on the eyes is a no-no (keep in mind the visually impaired too), and consider a modern, updated look. If your blog looks like it belonged somewhere in 1998, I will be less inclined to follow. I suggest using WordPress because WordPress offers some neat free themes and widgets, is already optimized for mobile, and powers thirty percent of the internet. WordPress is a powerhouse for building websites and blogs, and I am not being paid to say this.

You Are Not Sharing Your Post on Social Media

I would leave this at six, but we might as well squeeze in one more. Another reason people may not follow your blog is that you are not telling them about it. Social media is the new word of mouth. The easiest way to draw attention to your posts is to share them to your social networking sites, whichever you use. I almost always share with Twitter, but I have shared it with my Facebook page too, and now and then, Instagram. Be sure to let people know about your excellent recent blog post. You will be glad you did. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Open your mouth.

I hope this is helpful to someone out there and if it has, let me know in the comments. Do you have any useful blogging tips for us? I would love to know. I want to improve my blog too!


Enjoy your weekend people!

“The Day You Plant the Seed is Not the Day You Eat the Fruit”

I learned a lot revising The Stella Trilogy, but the most important lesson I learned is, “the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” I don’t know who the original author is of this saying, and I know there are many versions of the same quote.

This means to me, the first time you get an idea is not the same time you will bring it forward. I had wanted to revise The Stella Trilogy for a long time, but it was hard to imagine taking the time to launch a book that has already released, let alone three. It was hard to imagine having the resources to produce three new covers, edit three separate books, format them, and all that other jazz.

But the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.

I had to wait until I had the time and resources to get it done.

Then, I had to put it in my mind that once I began, I would have to keep going. This meant no waiting two and three months between books. If I was going to release book one, books two and three had to be right behind it.

And I’m sort of a slow writer.

It’s incredible to realize that what we put into our mind can manifest as we planned it if we are disciplined and patient enough.

It’s even more incredible to know that although a man plans his way, Yah guides his steps. (Prov. 16:9)

I wanted to release these books back to back, and I am thankful that I could accomplish what I set out to do.

It was hard for me to see the purpose of this endeavor at first, but revising these books helped me to see visions of another series using the same characters from The Stella Trilogy (something like a spin-off) with Joseph’s children.

Isn’t that amazing? Maybe revising this story wasn’t about what was already there, so much as what can grow from it.

I am excited about where these visions will take me and so happy to have you here with me.


Book 3 in The Stella Trilogy,
The Road to Freedom, is ready for you.

About.

Book three follows Stella’s son Joseph after a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and virtually no plan, the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen await them at the New Orleans bus terminal. Find out in the third installment of the Stella Trilogy how Joseph and his friends discover the hard way that freedom has never been free.

*Click Here to Get The Road to Freedom

Writers Wednesday – Chapter Twelve – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 12: My Brother’s Keeper


Sweat pooled along Jason’s forehead and poured down his face, dripping from his body. Shirtless, he attacked the bag, beating it with all the anger inside of him. Word on the street was that Big Steve, Marquise, and Chris were murdered at El Che the other day. Not only was this shocking but it reminded him of how close he had come to his own death. He was supposed to meet with them that night. If it weren’t for that car accident, he would be dead too. Damn, he thought of Tina. That woman saved my life.

Their first date was approaching, and now that he understood the weight of why the accident happened, he’d have to treat her to something special. He was eternally grateful even if also sad. In one day, he had lost all his friends. He didn’t understand how no one had seen anything when it happened in broad daylight in front of a room full of people.

It was also reported that Steve’s phone was missing, which would explain why he didn’t answer his texts. Jason didn’t believe the cops and detectives and assumed they were not doing their job as usual to solve his friend’s case. Was it because they were all black men? There was no way no one knew anything. There was no way no one saw anything, and now he was organizing a fundraiser to raise the money to bury three of his friends.

“Ah!” Jason yelled out loud in frustration.

“Everything gonna be alright, man,” said Eddie, Jason’s workout buddy.

“Somebody gonna find out something.”

Jason sat down on a bench and wiped his head and chest with a towel. “It’s just not making sense. How the hell three men die in your establishment in broad damn daylight and nobody see nothing? Somebody lying.”

“I agree with that bro, for real,” said Eddie punching a bag.

“They saying it might be drug-related.”

“What?”

“Yea, man, talking about they found cocaine in their system.”

“What?” Eddie said again.

“And you know my brothers didn’t smoke. We may have hit some weed or something but not that other shit.”

“I know,” agreed Eddie. That’s not how Jason rolled. He didn’t get high, and he didn’t hang with people who got high. Jay wasn’t perfect, but he tried to be an upright man. Eddie knew that he wouldn’t hang around with no scrubs.

Jason’s cell rang, and he stared at the screen in disbelief. “What the…?”

Eddie stopped punching the bag, and Jason showed him the screen.

“Steve?”

Jason pulled the phone back. “What I say about people playing games?”

“That’s some spooky shit,” said Eddie. Silence filled the room as the phone went silent and then started vibrating again.

Eddie tilted his head, “Didn’t they say Big Steve’s phone was missing? Yo answer that.”

Jason held up a hand and answered. “Hello?”

There was no answer.

Eddie thought he’d stopped breathing as they listened, the phone on speakerphone.

“Hello?”

Jason hung up the phone and grabbed his shirt off the bench, pulling it over his head. “Eh, man, I’m out. Gotta find out what the hell is going on here.”

“Take care of your businessman,” said Eddy.

The men hugged, fist-bumped, and Jason was out the door. Eddie returned to punching the bag in front of him.

***

Jason’s head pounded as he drove to the nearest police station, thankful Amarie was still with his parents. He had not gone back to get her since the news came. They understood and offered to give him as much time as he needed. “Just remember this is your daughter,” his dad cautioned.

Jason cursed under his breath at the Chicago traffic and hoped the cops could trace the call back to the killer.

When he drove past a police station, Jason made a U-Turn and barely parked his car when he jumped out of it and ran into the building.

“I need to speak to someone,” he said to the receptionist, a white woman with brown freckles and glasses that hung off the tip of her nose. She frowned at the sweaty-faced, out-of-breath man with the wet t-shirt and grabbed a sticky note.

“About?”

“I got some information about the El Che Steakhouse murders.”

The woman removed her glasses and raised a brow. “What kind of information?”

***

Juan typed into his computer and scribbled words onto a notepad. They were still investigating the death of Byron Jones, and now three more people had died. They were being slaughtered with paperwork and follow-ups.

“Mr. Emerson? You have a visitor.”

Juan sighed and kept typing.

“Mr. Emerson?”

“One moment Kathy,” he said, finishing the last of the sentence his secretary had interrupted. “Do you think you can handle that for me? We’re swamped in here today.”

“He says he’s got information on the Steakhouse murders.”

Juan stopped typing and looked up. “We don’t know if it’s murder yet. Send him in.”

A light-complexioned black man entered, sweaty-faced and out of breath.

“Good afternoon. I’m detective Emerson. Please, have a seat.”

He watched as the man sat and looked around the room. Juan smiled. That was the usual response to his office. He was an avid reader and took great pride in his collection.

“What can I do for you? I hear you have information on the Steakhouse case?”

The man pulled out a cell phone and started scrolling.

“I need ya’ll to track this number.” He put the phone down on the desk. “That number belongs to Steve. Steve is my friend,” the man sniffed. “Was my friend. My best friend.”

“Okay,” said Juan picking up the phone. He recalled Steve being one of the names of the victims. “And by Steve, you mean Steve Richardson?”

A tear escaped the man’s eye, but he wiped it away quickly.

“Yes. Steve Richardson, Chris Washington, and Marquis Johnson. Those were my friends and I believe that whoever killed them called me from that number just now. Why? I don’t know that’s why I’m here, but I know I got a call from that number and that’s Steve’s number, and I don’t know what’s going on, but I need someone to explain to me why a dead man is calling my phone.”

Juan leaned back in his seat and held out a hand. “Did you say these were your friends?”

“Yea man, so what ya’ll gonna do? Can’t you put some tracking shit on that or something?”

Juan typed into the computer. “I’m sorry. I never got your name.”

“Jason. My name is Jason.”

Juan nodded. So, this is Jason.

“What?” asked Jason, annoyed.

Juan cleared his throat. He hadn’t meant to stare. “I’m sorry, this is just the first real lead in this case.”

Juan scratched at his chin. This could be a real opportunity for them. Tina’s suspension can prove more valuable than they had anticipated. She needed to be out of the picture for what he had in mind.

Jason’s phone vibrated, and he looked down at it and typed. “Look, man,” he said, “I gotta go. Ya’ll gonna help me solve my brother’s murder or what?”

“First, it’s not technically a murder. There’s no proof that anyone killed these men. No witnesses and no weapon. Right now, it’s looking like a freak accident.”

Jason waved his hand, “man, that’s bullshit.”

“It’s called Asphyxiam,” said Juan. “It’s what happens when your body doesn’t get enough oxygen to keep you from passing out. When you breathe normally, first you take in oxygen. Your lungs send that oxygen into your blood, which carries it to your tissues. Then your cells use it to make energy. Any interruption to the process of breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide can make you pass out or lose your life.”

“What’s your point?”

“It looks as if the men suffocated, on what we don’t know. It could be aspiration, when food goes down the wrong pipe or choking. Perhaps they choked on the food they were eating, but our only witness, the waitress, said the men hadn’t ordered any food yet. We are still waiting for her to come in to confirm it. She says they were too focused on some women at another table.”

Juan stopped talking and cocked his head.

The women. How had he missed that? Who are these women?

He picked up the phone and started dialing.


Coming Up:

We’ve been going intense week after week with The Women with Blue Eyes. Next week, we will take a break to allow some of you to catch up on the earlier episodes! This story is divided into two parts called seasons. Season 1 is Chapters 1 through 20, and it will be vital for you to have read the earlier chapters before continuing. When we come back, we will be on Chapter 13. Take advantage of this time, and get your reading on!

Click here for a list of the linked chapters.

Authentic Support

As an author, I am always thinking about ways I can add value to my audience. It’s easy to point the finger when you don’t see people being as supportive as you think they should be, but I am the person who will always look at me first. In doing this, I have thought about what support means, not from an author/entrepreneur perspective, but from the perspective of the reader/audience member. Why? Because I was a reader before I was a writer.

This has led me to think about the importance of authentic support.

I think authenticity is important even when supporting others. No one can be bullied, into supporting. It has to be in them to do it. It has to be part of who they are. People have to be passionate about whatever it is they are supporting.

Authentic – true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character 

It was easy to get upset with people for not being supportive until I realized the truth: People support what is true to their personality, spirit, or character. It doesn’t matter if we are of the same family, organization, or group. People will support what is in alignment with who they are. It has to speak to them.

There must be some connection or commonality between the supporter and the movement, some kind of bridge connecting the two that makes the support worth it. When I think of it this way, I am more at ease with those who don’t support me because I realize it’s not personal. If the support is to be genuine, the person must first feel some kind of connection to whatever it is they are supporting.

I can’t speak for others, but I know that in my experience in the Indie Author community there is a lot of talk about being supportive but the thing is, people, don’t support just for the sake of supporting. I know we would like to think of it this way but that’s not the truth. If I am being real with myself and looking at this from the reader/audience/observer’s perspective then I have to admit that we support what we believe in. If what is being offered isn’t in agreement with that belief, we will probably be less supportive.

I learned that if I am being my authentic self, then I will attract authentic support.