What I’ve Read: Trail of Lightning

Hey there everyone. I thought I’d keep on telling you about the stories I’ve been enjoying by specfic writers of color. This week, let’s talk about Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel Trail of Lightning! I, like so many others, loved her Hugo, Nebula and Campbell Award-winning short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™.” After I finished it, I simply said “Goddamn!” So when she came out with Trail of Lightning, I knew I had to read it.

When writers of color tell the stories of our own worlds, of our own cultures and experiences, readers are treated to something different and new because the well the author is drawing from is deep with unheard stories. The world that Rebecca Roanhorse, who identifies as Black and Pueblo, draws from for her Sixth World series is an Indigenous one filled with Diné mythology, tradition and every day life.

Protagonist Maggie Hoskie is pretty much a loner–or has preferred to be. A no-nonsense monster hunter, she is called upon to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, setting things in motion. Maggie tucks in the ends of her moccasin wraps, puts on her leather jacket, grabs her Boker knife and gets things done. She is not alone, joined by the handsome, smooth-talking, healer-in-training Kai (okay, can we talk about how damn fine Kai is supposed to be??) who, like Maggie, has clan powers that they use to their advantage.

Together, they travel through a Dinétah nation protected from the outside world by a wall constructed with help from the gods. The rest of the U.S. has been devastated by an apocalyptic flood. Who is creating the monstrosities that are running rampant? What the hell is the trickster Coyote/Ma’ii up to now? Where is Neizghání, with whom Maggie had shared so much? What is going on? There are gods and monsters, and she has to deal with them both as they figure it out.

The second book in her Sixth World series, Storm of Locusts, is coming out this April and is now available for pre-order. If you haven’t gotten into them yet, get on it!

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, 2018. Simon & Schuster.
Find out how to get your copy HERE.

***Getting that To Be Read List down one book at a time!***

So Nice It’s Out There Twice…

To start, Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to the Thunderdome…I mean, 2019!

News on my end is that my story “With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labour” has been reprinted in the January 2019 issue of Apex Magazine! You’ll be able to read it online on January 24, but you can get a copy of the issue at any time. You know you wanna. I mean, look at this beautiful cover by artist Tangmo Cecchini…

You can also find stories by Beth Dawkins, Lavie Tidhar, Marian Coman, Aja McCullough and an essay by Daniel M. Bensen. Check them out!

On the Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List!

At some point I’ll talk more about the fact that I’m a historian, but for right now I’ll talk about how being one brought my story “With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labour” into being.

A few years ago, I worked at the White House Historical Association and they had a small exhibit of paintings by artist Peter Waddell, who specializes in historically accurate works about historic architecture and events. One of those paintings, “A Vision Takes Form,” is about the construction of the White House. In the lower part of the painting were two Black laborers. I thought “There is a story there…”

…so I wrote one.

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It was published in FIYAH Magazine’s “Ahistorical Blackness” issue and recently, author Jason Sanford including it in his list of what he thought was the “Best SF/F Short Fiction, January through June 2018.” I’m in some seriously good company! Please read and consider “With These Hands” in the future if you get a chance.

Then I found out it made the Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List! What?! For all of you jaded folks out there, it’s my first time so I’m pretty damn hyped. HYPED, I tell ya. Even if it doesn’t make it any further (although I sure do hope that it does), it just makes me feel good and like I’m not toiling in absolute obscurity.

I’m just going to leave you with this document. It is a 1795 work for hire document from the National Archives for a laborer (and yes, the “U” in my full story title is intentional) at the White House. George was for hire, but was actually enslaved. All I could think of while writing my story were dreams of freedom and what it meant to be free…

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BlerdCon 2018

I had a really nice time at BlerdCon again this year. I spoke on the “The Future of Afrofuturism” panel with my DWASF colleague Chad Eric Smith, author V.R. McCoy and moderator William Jones of the Afrofuturism Network.

Our room was full and the audience asked great questions about the genre, movement, and the writing/publishing process. I was at Blerdcon’s first one last year. Seeing the turnout and feeling the excitement was fantastic. It is a personal, inclusive-feeling con and I encourage you all to come to next year’s. I’m already looking forward to it!

Post-Panel Thoughts: Balticon 2018

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Ooo, I just love going to cons. It’s always nice being surrounded by folks who love scifi, fantasy and horror as much as I do, so when our Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF) group was invited to participate, I was more than happy to go. Some of our members (B. Sharise Moore, K. Ceres Wright and Chad Eric Smith) were on an “Afrofuturism 101” panel (along with Stephanie Burke and Nicky Drayden) that was standing room only!2018-05-26 12.11.26We also had a readings event where DWASF members John Edward Lawson, Stafford Battle, Chad, K. Ceres & I read selections from our works. I read an excerpt of “With These Hands,” that was published in FIYAH Magazine.

2018-05-26 13.56.08We love telling others about our group and had a really fun meet and greet event. We’re talking food, trivia, giveaways and fun. I know I had a great time chatting with attendees about how to submit and where to find markets and about representation in specfic.

Lisa Adler-Golden, who is head of programming for Balticon, stopped through. She shared with us how important to her it was to have these events going forward. “It is not just about straight, white males,” she said. “Our membership is graying and the future of our organization depends upon recognizing the diversity and concerns of our younger members.”  Hearing that so many attendees were happy to know our group existed was fantastic!2018-05-26 17.35.16Thank you for having us Balticon! I know that I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to returning next year!

I’m a Scary Sister

Hey there…Just wanted to let y’all know how excited I am about my short story “Here, Kitty” being included in the Black Magic Women: Terrifying Tales by Scary Sisters anthology edited by Sumiko Saulson (Mocha Memoirs Press). IMG_20180129_015451For years, Sumiko has been keeping track of us scary sisters out there writing horror and supernatural suspense stories (because we do) with her “Black Women in Horror” series. Black Magic Women is a selection of stories by authors profiled in her guide (me included!)

I support her project and love of the genre and I am proud to be a part of this. You can support Black women horror writers too. Get yourself a copy of this e-book ASAP!

Until next time!

~L.

An Exercise in Lyrics

Hey there…I am so hyped to be a part of FIYAH Literary Magazine’s Winter 2018 Issue #5: “Ahistorical Blackness” along with Monique L. Desir, Irette Y. Patterson, Shari Paul, Phenderson Djèlí Clark and cover art by Trevor Fraley!
IMG_20171201_142345In addition to fantastic stories, essays and interviews every month, FIYAH releases a Spotify playlist in conjunction with the issue. The FIYAH team asked us to contribute three songs that complement our stories. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sat there for a moment like “Whoa…” as I hadn’t thought about it before. And I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed every minute of trying to decide.

I thought about my story’s themes and decided upon the main ones: freedom, dreaming, beginnings, creating. The lyrics of the songs themselves were also very important. Without telling you much more (you’ve gotta read “With These Hands” for yourself!) I went with Nina Simone‘s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”: “I wish I could live/Like I’m longin’ to live/I wish I could do/All the things that I can do/Though I’m way overdue/I’d be starting anew.”

The third song I chose, “Golden” by Jill Scott, has always felt like a celebration of self to me: “I’m taking my freedom/ Pulling it off the shelf/ Putting it on my chain/ Wear it around my neck…”

But the first one, “Fantasy” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, is a true love for me. It is one of the first songs that I ever knew in my life. I sang a part of it (“It’s your day/ shining day/ all your dreams come true”) to my baby when he was born. Its beautiful, hopeful lyrics have always spoken to me of dreaming, freedom and faraway places: “Come see victory, in the land called fantasy/ Loving life, a new decree/
Bring your mind to everlasting liberty.”

Enjoy the playlist and issue and support the hard work of the team at FIYAH by getting a subscription already!

See y’all next time…
~L.

 

 

 

Post-Panel Thoughts: Blerdcon 2017

I had a really good time at Blerdcon! Our “Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Fiction” panel on June 30 had a really good turnout! Animator and comic artist Uraeus, author K. Ceres Wright, actor/director Chad Eric Smith, and head of the Afrofuturism Network, moderator William Johnson, and I had a great discussion.
We talked about what those terms mean to us, representation in the genre, do’s and don’ts, and our thoughts about being Afrofuturistic content creators. I’ll go more in depth about my own thoughts in future posts.

I have SO much love for Blerdcon. There were some amazing cosplayers there! Many of the panels focused on diversity and inclusion. This was its first year and there was such a laid-back vibe with everyone enjoying themselves and having fun geeking out together. I know I felt like “My peeps!”

It felt good to be there and I look forward to coming back next year! If you’re into comics, gaming, anime and speculative fiction, you should go too!

NYC Book Signings!

Last weekend I rolled up to NYC for signings in Harlem and Brooklyn for Sycorax’s Daughters! The first was at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. I was joined by authors and poets (from l. to r.) Kiini Ibura Salaam, Nicole Sconiers, Joy Copeland, Amber Doe, Tracey Baptiste, K. Ceres Wright, Zin Rocklyn and Sheree Renee Thomas.schomburg sycorax 3-10schomburg syc authors 3-10We had a really nice turnout and a great crowd! We read excerpts and answered questions and had a lot of fun…
schomburg syc crowd 3-10Saturday night we were at Quimby’s Bookstore in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. It’s a great little bookstore that you have to check out if you’re there. Here we (A.J. Locke, Sheree, me and Kiini) are with the shop’s owner Steven Svymbersky…quimbys sycorax 3-11Had a good time laughing and chilling out in the corner with the fantabulous Sheree!
2017-03-11 20.58.30I had so much fun in NYC and it was wonderful meeting and being in the company of so many talented writers and poets. So much good energy going. Hope we cross paths again soon! Thank you to both venues for having and supporting us! Want to read Sycorax’s Daughters? Contact your local bookseller or grab a copy HERE.

DC Signings!

I joined K. Ceres Wright, Joy Copeland and L. Penelope at the Howard University Bookstore in DC for the first signing of our anthology Sycorax’s Daughters!2017-03-04 12.07.38We then headed over to Sankofa Video Books & Cafe for the second signing. Being two blocks from where I went to high school felt like being back home! Was I hyped? Yes. Definitely yes. Just look at me…
2017-03-04 13.24.36Sankofa is devoted to writers of African descent, founded by filmmakers Haile and Shirikiana Gerima. The vibe there was so nice and that cafe! Mm-MMM! We have to support independent booksellers!
2017-03-04 13.24.51For this signing, we were also joined by L. Marie Wood. She’s looking pretty serious in this pic, doesn’t she? We were actually smiling and laughing a lot. Book signings are especially exciting when there are more than one of you.
2017-03-04 15.43.14We all really enjoyed reading excerpts and discussing the book with everyone. We had a great time taking questions and talking about the craft and how we view horror and speculative fiction. What you will find in the anthology is a range of what horror can be. To me, it is a redefinition…and that’s a whole other post for another time.
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Contact your local bookseller or pick up a copy HERE!