It’s that time of the year and I have works that are eligible for 2018 science fiction, fantasy and horror awards (such as the Nebula, Hugo, and Stoker) this year. Oooo! Ahhhh! I am hyped. I really do hope that you’ll consider them and add them to some lists!
Short Story: “With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labour” FIYAH Magazine, Winter 2018 (Issue #5: “Ahistorical Blackness”) As the symbol of a new country is constructed, all is not what it seems.
Novelette: “Peregrination” (co-written with Chesya Burke) Chiral Mad 4 (Written Backwards), October 2018 Editors: Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder What makes us special. What we will do to protect the ones we love.
There’s dimensional plane-jumping and spending a little time in the void. Not to mention a twist on what constitutes family (especially when they aren’t quite…human) and the lengths to which they will go. All set during the Red Summer of 1919. Check it out!
And please consider Chiral Mad 4, the groundbreaking anthology that it is a part of, too: four short stories, four novelettes, four novellas and four graphic adaptations–all collaborations. It is seriously something!! More info about Chiral Mad 4 can be found at https://blog.nettirw.com/2018/10/19/chir4l-mad/ or by contacting editor Michael Bailey.
Short Story: “Here, Kitty!” Black Magic Women: Terrifying Tales by Scary Sisters (Amazon) (Mocha Memoirs Press) Editor: Sumiko Saulson What’s lost should probably not be found.
Wrong place. Wrong time. Or was it? I always enjoyed those “Take a hint, run!”-type stories and had a blast writing one myself. I hope that you will enjoy and consider it too.
The Black Magic Women anthology is also eligible for awards as well. If you are a juror and would like a free eBook of it please email editor Sumiko Saulson at email@example.com. For a hard copy, contact publisher Mocha Memoirs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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…
I enjoy going to Capclave, hosted by the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA), as it tends to be more literary-inclined and about writers and readers. I was busy all day as I was on four panels. *gasp* What?! No, really…I had a blast.
My first panel was about “How We Imagine the Future and What It Says About Us” about scifi’s visionaries since its inception (such as Verne and Wells) and others such as Gernsback, Heinlein and Asimov. I take a historian’s long view on things, such as their writing being a reflection of the concerns, morals and challenges of their times. We talked about technology and governments, dystopic futures and utopias. It was a great panel. My next was about “Overcoming Assumptions” and how we as writers deal with challenges related to gender, LGBTQ identity, disability and race.
Kenesha Williams and Sherin Nicole of Geek Girl Riot joined the DWASF crew for “Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Fiction.” We were kind of goofing off in this photo. I was doing my poses like Jet magazine*…
We then had a DWASF Meet and Greet. Lots of fun and good conversations. We showed Chad’s films and had book giveaways. I had to dip out for a moment to go to my last panel of the day about “Writing for Anthologies.” We had a nice discussion with the audience with tips for submitting to and writing for anthologies. Afterwards, I ran back for the rest of our meet and greet. I really enjoy talking to the public. I mean, scifi and speculative fiction…what’s not to like?
Oh and if, you didn’t get my Jet magazine reference, look no further than this clip from Eddie Murphy’s “Boomerang” around 0:42.
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!
Sooo…I’m participating in the Clarion West Write-A-Thon again this year! My goals? Get. Stories. DONE. Let’s get this show going…
10:06 PM: I’m doing the first of my hour-long Clarion West Write-A-Thon sprints…now! Word count is zero. I have a story in mind. I am a total pantser writing-wise tonight. As in, totally flying by the seat of ’em.
10:12 PM: Hm. Thing is…I know the very last words of this story’s end. That part I’m certain of.
10:50 PM: Well, I need more info about how birds communicate and the mechanics/physics of how they fly. Things you realize…
11:15 PM: OK! It’s been an hour! That went by fast! Word count is 994 and I’m pretty excited about this one actually. Working title is “Spire.”
11:20 PM: Things (OK…tangents) I thought about:
Are worms tasty?
Are some birds scared of heights?
Hostess CupCakes are delicious and I love them, but I have none and I’m supposed to be good, but ohhh…I want some SO badly.
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!We 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.
We 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!Thank you for having us Balticon! I know that I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to returning next year!
I talk a lot about rejections. Won’t be the first time. Won’t be the last. They’re both a writer’s rite of passage and the bane of our writing existence. It wouldn’t be realistic if I only told you about acceptances. Both happen, but it’s pushing through those rejections that keeps you going.
I think that we’re often so inundated with seeing other people’s successes in a way that can make you feel like “Damn, I must be doing something wrong.” While you’re glad and hyped for your colleagues, a little part of you screams inside sometimes. After you get over yourself, you realize anew that you love what you do, so you keep on with all sorts of hope in your heart that you’ll get to that point too.
Thing is, you take your small victories where you can. Did you write a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, whole pages? That’s something. More than what you had before! Keep going.
And write some more. And if the rejections still have you down, here are some bunnies who were like “This is MY driveway!” to me this morning…
“I’m a 46-year old writer who can remember being a 10-year old writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year old writer…” ~Octavia Butler
“I have no ability nor desire to be other than a writer…though the fact is I whistle beautifully.” ~Dorothy West
I loved to write as a kid and here is an excerpt from a story that I wrote in the 4th grade. There are sorcerers, dragons, and even a “flute of dance!” I mean, you just have to include a flute of dance, right?? We’re talking ADVENTURE! Thing is…I kept doing it. I never stopped writing. And I can tell you: It’s never too late.
If you are thinking, I’d like to try my hand at this writing thing, go for it! I am so not a hater. There’s room for us all. There is no one definitive way to be a writer, but there are some basic truths:
Read the works of others and hone your own skills. Take workshops. Join groups. Read books or sites about writing. Talk to other writers. Be nice to other writers! Don’t be that person. Find colleagues. Find your peeps. Get a sense of it all. But most of all? Write! Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Pay attention to asked-for formats and guidelines. And when you feel ready, take that plunge and submit! Put yourself out there. You will get rejections. You will have moments of “Why the hell am I doing this?” or “I. SUCK.” I know it’s rough and feels a li’l hellish, but get out of your feelings and keep going because you love what you do. Keep at it. You will get published. Be about this writer life!