Forrest takes a Journey!

#WritingCommunity #PoetryCommunity #FIGAuthors

Artwork from Handmaid’s Tale, performed by the San Francisco Opera

Handmaids’ Tale? By Forrest Robert Stepnowski

Are we living in the prequel to a Handmaids tale?

Misogyny is on the rise

Women are being silenced once again by the hands of white men

Forcing their control, “power”, dominance

Men who lack respect, concern, compassion

Men who hide in their insecurities

Stand back and stand by

He trumpeted loudly to white nationalists groups who claim to be…. proud

The commanders triumph as we become a nation of Handmaids

And the proud serve as “the guardians of the right”

Protect and serve?

In God…. we trust?

How do we pray when HATE is the sermon that is being preached?

How do we end racism when bigotry is endorsed by men in leadership?

How do we end this renewed rape culture, when our politicians say “grab them by the …,” because boys will be boys?

We are living with anxiety

We are living with terror

We are living while our breath is being taken away from us

We are living a dystopian nightmare

All lives do not matter until black lives matter equally, without persecution or murder

All lives do not matter until the lives of transgendered are protected from hunters who see blood

My sisters and brothers, I say this to you

Let your voices raise up to the rafters

Let your intolerance of injustice be your instrument

Let your song be sung until “we overcome”

Let your art be displayed so our eyes see your truth

Let your poem be written so others can read it

So people know they are not alone

Reclaiming the day…

A year ago to the date, an unfortunate event occurred in my life. One that would leave me with temporary ambulatory and balance issues due to a significant head injury, impaired ability to walk, exacerbated PTSD, and unfortunately, permanent hearing loss in my left ear. At the time, I did not know I would endure months of therapy, strengthening of both emotional and physical functioning. I had hoped for a quick recovery, but that was not in the cards. I have slowly recovered over time. In some ways, I am still recovering from the incident, as I am still receiving therapy and treatment. Those who saw me in November saw me with a cane and having to adapt to noise and large groups of people around me. I struggled greatly but was happy to see many of you. As of December, I was able to walk without the cane. In the beginning of January, I was able to resume full duty and return to work.

I am not writing this today for empathy, pity, or compassion. I hope that all who read this see this as a reclaiming ritual. Today, I find myself reflective over the past year. I have been focusing on healing, not only by the incident, but from past failed relationships, abuse, and history of self deprecation and doubt. I am in the process of finding my strength, joy, and inner peace again. I have come very far in this effort, but I still have a long way to go.

Over the past year, I have discovered who my real friends are, and also discovered who are not genuine. It never ceases to amaze me how a traumatic event can give a reality check. Whether we are aware of it or not, we often need reality checks to determine the difference between toxic relationships and positive ones. We become aware of other lunacies and manipulations, when we are at our most vulnerable. However, I digress. This is not an essay on the dysfunction of toxic relationships. This is my reclaiming ritual. A review or the progress and healing. To acknowledge that my broken pieces are still beautiful.

The hearing loss has taken sometime to adjust too, and at times can be quite frustrating. That being said, it could be quite worse. I acknowledge, I could have permanent issues with walking, and my activities of daily living. The hearing loss may be sad, however, it has not unmanageable. My story is not one of martyrdom; it is one of survival and strength.

We all have baggage we carry from our past, but when we focus on the present we are able to achieve great things. When we dwell on our past hurts and fixations, we fail to become successful. Today, I reclaim this moment with positive energy, and deny the scars of this incident to take control ever again.



Say their names
Not because they are another news statistic
Not because they are yet another young black man who was slain in the streets by mad men
Mad men whose bias and ignorance have “justified” their psychosis and unrealistic fears
Don’t let their deaths be another statistic lost in the headlines
How sad it is that Martin Luther King, who created a “Dream,” is nothing more than another name we need to report
Remind us of their humanity

Say their names
George Floyd
Ahmaud Arbery
Breonna Taylor 
Michelle Cusseaux
Gabrielle Nevarez
Sandra Bland

Say their names
Not because their gender identity was different than what society deemed fit
Not because they were identified as another “deviant” whose life ended too short
Too short because “hate” is taught more than prayers and the act of loving thy neighbor 
Don’t let their deaths be silenced any longer and remember who started Stonewall… thank you, Martha P. Johnson!
To remind us, that “We the Different” still have a voice

Say their names 
Dana Martin
Ashanti Carmen
Claire Legato
Jordan Cofer
Muhlaysia Booker
Bailey Reeves
Nikki Kahnhauser
Tony McDade

Say their names
Not because our tearful cries are being ignored as we constantly sing a chorus of “we shall overcome” constantly… while it falls on deaf ears and muted tongues 
Not because our trail of tears resembles blood stained cracks on the floor of the murdered and oppressed
Yes, murdered and oppressed, while the privileged dance a waltz of “innocence” to the tune of “I didn’t know what I was doing”
And society embraces them and asks forgiveness when they, the surviving families, grieve the loss of another child

Say their names
Trayvon Martin
Michael Brown
Alton Sterling
Eric Garner
Laquan McDonald
Monica Diamond
Dustin Parker
Johanna Metzger
And the list continues…

Say their names
Not because we lost another brother and sister, cause of death…death by cop, death by hate
Not because the media is asking us to protest against hate and bigotry
Bigotry that has transpired over centuries because it was “carefully taught” by overly projected stereotypes, mistruths, and white nationalistic propaganda


Say their names because they are new guardian angels who will attempt to watch over all of us in an effort to keep us safe
Safe from history constantly repeating itself, over and over again
Like a never ending rollercoaster that has lost its breaks

Say their names

#BlackLivesMatter #Saytheirnames #poetrycommunity #writingcommunity

Thank you for stopping by today!

{#RRBC #RWISA} You Don’t Have to Be #Black to …

May 29, 2020


Watch Nonnie Write!

…be disgusted by what is transpiring right in front of our eyes.  I am infuriated, and that’s my nice word for these events.

neon signage Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on

WARNING:  There is profanity used in some of these videos. But, can you blame them?


Why we’re all here today  … “On Tuesday, #GeorgeFloyd was killed by police in an incident in Minneapolis, captured on video, where an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes as he lay on the ground, begging for his life. George’s family say they want the “four officers involved in his death to be charged with murder.”  (I personally want them to suffer something much worse.)

Next, a black woman in Michigan protesting the MURDER of George Floyd, is brutally assaulted by a white (POS) police officer, who wanted her to stop recording, what I’m sure was more of their…

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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”

About “I am Soul” (taken from Amazon):

I am Soul is Yecheilyah’s fourth collection of poetry and a 2019 Kindle Book Review Winner for Poetry in the 8th Annual Kindle Book Awards, 2019. The poems focus on Black History, Identity, Personal Development, and Spirituality. Readers describe this collection as touching, intelligent, personal and deeply soulful.

About Yecheilyah Ysrayl:

Yecheilyah (e-SEE-li-yah, affectionately nicknamed EC) grew up on the South Side of Chicago, IL. She is an award-winning Author, Blogger, and Poet. Yecheilyah studied Technical and Professional Writing at Chicago State University, and Psychology with a minor in Child and Adolescent Studies at Argosy University, Atlanta. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC), RWISA International Society of Authors, and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She writes Black Historical Fiction, Poetry, and Inspirational Non-Fiction. Ysrayl is the founder of Yecheilyah Books LLC, Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests, Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets, and The PBS Blog, where she publishes the work of other writers, Book Reviews, and Writing Tips for Independent (Indie) Authors and Publishers. Yecheilyah lives in Dallas, Georgia with her husband where attends the University of West Alabama online while writing and publishing full-time. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Truth is limitless

and humble

It needs no acknowledgment

and yet wears a crown.

Truth needs no confirmations,

and yet rules.

yet royal,

it’s accepted by the faithful

and resisted by those who are afraid.

Excerpt from the poem “Truth” by Yecheilyah Ysrayl from “I am Soul”

My Review:

It is difficult to find the words to truly express my emotions regarding this exquisite collection of poetry and prose by Yecheilyah Ysrayl, other than I am truly speechless and in awe. Ms Israyl takes her readers on a journey of identity, struggle, and African-American history in a way that leaves the reader truly breathless and mesmerized. Every one of her poetic works causes the reader to picture the literary image she is painting through lyrical arts.

In a magical way, she reviews the works of novelist James Baldwin, all while sharing her own memoir. I loved every poetic work she created but I do have a few favorites, such as “Truth”, If My Books Shall Die”, “Her Song”, “Hope Like Water”, “To Lose a Friend”, “These Good People”, “Why I Read”, “Silent Heart Breaks”, “Eyes to See”, “I Wonder”, to name a few. I also enjoyed her “Love Letters to some of the Black Women Writers who inspired me” section, as well. Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou are two of my favorite writers, and if I might add, their influence is definitely infused throughout her work.


The poetic works “If My Books Shall Die” truly hit hard, as she describes an artist’s legacy. As author’s, we all hope to leave a piece of our soul, if not our entire soul, in our bodies of work. Not only does she leave her soul in this collection, but her body, blood, mind, and breath as well. She is my new “goddess of the lyrical”, as she reminded me why I also write in the poetic free verse form.

As a woman of color, she reminds us to never take our differences or history for granted, and to celebrate the scars we inherited in an effort to stop the cycle of racism, bigotry, and hatred. If our recent losses in the US have pointed out anything, we still have work to do. Children are shot for jogging in their neighborhood, and some of our police officers continue to profile the different. I pray for a world where we can hold hands and not have to worry about who wants to harm or kill me.

As you can see, Yecheilyah will take all of her readers on a journey of retrospection and education. She will remind you that we live in a world where some people wish things were still “black and white”, instead of celebrating it in full color. This being said, I humbly give “I am Soul” a FIVE-STAR rating, and truly everyone picks up this book today!

Five golden rating star vector illustration in white background.

To learn more about this author and poet, please click the links below.

Author Website

RWISA Author Page


Thank you everyone for stopping by!

See you soon!

Good evening everyone;

I was requested recently to make a posting with colleagues of mine in a not for profit group I am involved in regarding COVID-19 and effective precautions you can take that can help you and your loved ones safe and healthy. ,I decided to share this information with you all this evening.

Many of us in healthcare receive updates regarding the virus daily, sometimes multiple times a day, so I wanted to share with you all some of the important facts and preventative measures you can all implement in your households. This post was created from information we received from the Washington State Department of Health and CDC.

Full disclosure, I am not an expert on this disease by any means, but we hope that the sharing of this information may help you understand the virus more and what precautions can be effective to protect yourselves and loved ones, as able. I hope this information finds you useful. 

Things to pay attention too with COVID-19 aka the Corona Virus


COVID-19 is a severe cold virus and is NOT related to Influenza. It is much more contagious then any influenza or common cold virus known to us currently.

“People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, autoimmune suppressed, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.”

People may experience:

1) Dry deep coughs

2) Fevers (greater than 100 F specifically)

3) Tiredness/fatigue/lethargy

4) Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath (severe cases); one will feel like they are gasping for air at times. (seek medical attention immediately)

5) Significant loss in teste or smell

6) Some cases- runny nose (outside of the norm of common allergies)

7) Chest pain or increased pressure in your lungs/chest region (seek medical attention emergently)

8) Changes in your complexion or color (seek medical attention emergently)

Some cases have been passed along from individuals who have not had symptoms at all!

Please be aware of who is around you and your potential risks of exposure.

Many essential healthcare workers, grocery store staff, first responders, long term care providers, etc., hold a higher risk for being exposed.

Things you can do to prevent the potential spread or exposure.

1) Wash your hands properly (20 seconds at a time; sing happy birthday twice if need be)

2) If leaving your home to obtain household necessities; Wash your hands before going to the store or after returning from the store.

3) Sanitize your hands (if able, before trips in your car, before entering the store, and after returning to your car or mode of public transportation.

4) COVER Coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow/arm always. This will decrease the spread of droplets from these episodes.

5) SOCIAL DISTANCING- this is key. Avoid areas where there may be large groups of people. Some grocery stores have implemented precautions and store capacity monitoring to prevent from too many people being in their stores all at once. When out and about- maintain 6-8 feet distance from others.

6) Wipe down all frequently touched surfaces, i.e. doorknobs, kitchen/bathroom counters, railings, etc., frequently with a germicidal cleanser, such as Lysol or Bleach.

7) Wipe down media devices with alcohol pads or wipes. Attempt not to share your devices.

8) COVER YOUR MOUTH, NOSE, AND EYES when out in public. Wearing masks, even of cloth type will decrease the spread of the virus significantly. Wearing a face shield, if able will decrease the risk of droplets from entering your eye spaces.

9) If able, wear gloves when out in public, especially grocery shopping. Grocery stores are not able to guarantee that their environments have been consistently sanitize or disinfected.

If there are basic necessities you are having difficulty locating, please let one of us know. We are all taking this journey together and no one will remain hungry or struggle without basic essentials. There are people who can help! 

Here are some videos and links that may help you as well-

6-Steps to Prevent COVID-19-

For hearing impaired individuals-

What to do if you are sick?

Symptoms of Corona Virus-

Here is the link to the Center for Disease Control and Prevent:

The more you know!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you Vashti Q for a amazing review! I love the recommendations as well. I will be picking up these books today!

The Writer Next Door | Vashti Q

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all safe and healthy.

“There is no place like home.”

~L. Frank Baum

The best thing we could do right now to slow the spread of the coronavirus is to stay home. Of course, that’s not possible for everyone, but if you can work from home you should. Self isolation has worked well for other countries and in past pandemics. Practice social distancing even if you’re young and healthy because although your chances of dying from COVID– 19 is low you could still spread the disease to people that are vulnerable and could die from it.

I’d like to thank all the people in the medical field, including my brother Ralph, who’s at the front lines every day, and my cousins Lissette, Ray, Miguel, Leo, and Sonya. You’re putting yourselves at risk on a daily basis to help those in need. Thank you.


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Thank you Nonnie for sharing your wisdom! You are always a guiding jewel of support to all of us. This is a great blog post today.


During our 4th Annual Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, I was scheduled to present a session on my “15 Pearls” of Literature on Marketing, Blogging, Community, and Support.  As it has worked out in the past (but won’t be the case anymore), I wasn’t able to get this session up in time but did get it done eventually – just not published.  Those who registered for that session will be getting 3 new sessions FREE during our upcoming WC&BE in August! 

This session on my “PEARLS…” will be shared here for all our members, in hopes that it will help in our quest to become more successful and better at marketing our work as we make connections that will benefit us professionally as well as personally.  These will be posted under our posting schedule of Mondays & Thursdays each week, in separate parts.  

Welcome to Part 2!


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Thank you Nonnie for the reminder! We are all fortunate to have the solid family and support we have here at #RRBC!


Hello, RRBC!

We are living through what has already promised to be one of the most trying times in the history of the world.

This pandemic (the Coronavirus) is not affecting only me, it’s affecting my brothers and sisters next door, those around the corner, in the next city, the adjoining states and my extended, chosen family … those of you across the waters.

RRBC cares about its members.  And although our hands may never touch, and our eyes may never see, we support one another.  We are here for each other.

Many of us are now confined to our homes – some willfully and others out of health compliance, so as not to even potentially spread this awful disease.  The good thing (if there is one to be found in all of this) is that unlike awful situations of our past, we now have the world wide web to…

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Congratulations to my dear friend and poet Balroop Singh for being this month’s #RRBCSpotlightAuthor! I am proud to share Nonnie’s post for you today!

Watch Nonnie Write!

Hello, Friends!

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to an awesome member of theRAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, Author, Balroop Singh!

Balroop Singh

What makes her so awesome? I’m sure this question is front and center of some of your visiting minds here today. 

Balroop is one of the most honest individuals (in her reviews) I’ve come across in a long while.  (If you think I’m kidding, just head to Amazon and take a whiff of some of her reviews there.)  I recently caught wind of a couple of those book reviews, and instantly knew she was my kind of reviewer.  

In today’s society, many find being honest a really hard thing to do, especially when you become a target for those who you piss off in your honesty.  We all know that everyone doesn’t really want to know the truth about themselves, especially when it comes to their writing.  You…

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