Clarion West Write-A-Thon 2018: Sprint #2

So, it’s Saturday evening…that means it’s time for me to do my one hour Clarion West Write-A-Thon sprint!

9:50 pm: For my Saturday sprint project “Spire” (working title) I left off at 981 words and a whole lotta questions about birds…time to get cracking in 10 minutes!

10: OK…fingers to keyboard!

10:14: Oh crap…I need a character name. “Hey you” isn’t going to work…

10:16: LOL…I actually worked that into the story.

11:02: And…that’s a wrap! Ended this week’s Write-A-Thon sprint at 2204 words. I’m really enjoying this story.

11:06: Random/not so random thoughts…

  • What type of animal can climb with a person on their back? Are there any?
  • If you can be anything, what would you be?
  • Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned betrayal 🗡
  • I really like pineapple juice. 🍍🍍🍍

Follow my sprint craziness on Saturdays and feel free to sponsor me (and other writers) so that we can keep this great workshop going!

Clarion West Write-A-Thon 2018: Sprint #1

twitter-profile-headCW2017WaTSooo…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.
  • I can’t wait to write more of this one!

Follow my sprint craziness on Saturdays and feel free to sponsor me (and other writers) so that we can keep this great workshop going!

Post-Panel Thoughts: Balticon 2018

balticon
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!

Small Victories

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…

See ya next time…

~L.

Be About This Writer Life

“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

20170918_112441I 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!

What are you waiting for?

See ya next time!

~L.

Post-Panel Thoughts: AwesomeCon 2018

2018-03-31 20.22.06

I am a member of the DC Metro area-based creatives group Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF). We are authors, poets, artists, filmmakers, and publishers. That’s us (Diane Williams, K. Ceres Wright, Stafford Battle, Chad Eric Smith, and me; not pictured: John Edward Lawson and Lisa Wood) above at AwesomeCon in DC last weekend. We presented a panel on Black*(Panther+Indie Comics+Characters) and this is what it looked like from my view:

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I loved the hypeness, positivity and energy of the audience. We have done panels together at BlerdCon and Capclave, but this was the first time we’ve done one so large. You walk up on that dais, take a seat, look out into that large room, and wow! It was almost full and no one wanted to leave afterwards! Why? Because the topic that we were discussing–representation–was so meaningful to those there.

When we talk about the phenomenon that is Black Panther, we have to talk about the bigger concepts contributing to it: the profundity of seeing oneself positively, the envisioning of a people and place, and the convergence and timing of an entire movement of futurist and forward-thinking thought. It was like having a conversation with friends with an audience listening and chiming in, and it was great.

I always love to tell audiences about this fantastic quote by Walidah Imarisha (from the book Octavia’s Brood). It gets a collective gasp every time:

“And for those of us from communities with historic collective trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking around on two legs. Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us.”

Essentially, our very existence–how we live, our accomplishments, even being free–would have been considered science fiction to our ancestors who could not have possibly imagined our lives today. It is incredibly important that we see ourselves in literature, music, art, and on film as part of a future that we are helping to create and not invisible in favor of the “default.”

It’s like ripples in a pond that keep going and going and going.

For me, as a historian who writes speculative fiction, it is interesting because I see us drawing upon our pasts in the present to inform our representations in the future. You can not disconnect one from the other, and that’s OK.

Many thanks to the attendees out there for helping to make it a great panel! It was a joy.

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.

 

 

 

Walk Down the Path

I’ve been struggling with what to write in these posts, so I think that I am going to just go ahead and get personal with it. Let’s talk about perseverance.

This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. My husband needing a double lung transplant. Caregiving. Moving. Helping my son with autism transition through these changes. Feeling financially nervous (who doesn’t?). Finishing my thesis and graduating from grad school. A sick mom. Now needing to move yet again.

Yet, through it all I have been positive as an writer and now I’ve been recognized as a poet as well. Had a story come out in an anthology (Sycorax’s Daughters) and a poem published in Apex. And then there’s a project that I can’t even discuss yet. These are exciting, encouraging times for me right now. I see this momentum. I’m gonna walk right on down the path it’s taking me on. It might seem hokey, but writing has been my constant in the face of upheaval.

There have been times I have doubted my existence. There have been times that I wanted to close my eyes and just be done. We all have these moments of crisis when we are overwhelmed, when we are confused, scared, or want to give up. But that is just it. Please don’t.

The Ancestors are looking out for you. The Creator/Universal Energy that we are all a part of has a path for you to follow–and there is room along the way for your dreams. For writers and other creatives out there who are struggling: I know that it feels hard, but don’t give up.

Make it happen.

It will.

Until next time…
~L

Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Sprint #2

Today was the second Clarion West Write-a-Thon writing sprint. The goal today? An article rough draft. Word count minimum of 500 words. Again, I journaled my spree…

8:15 PM: So, the two Short Dudes are gone. Time to get my writing on. I want to work on a rough draft of an article about speculative fiction for the first issue of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF) Magazine. The catch? My computer’s dead.

8:39 PM: I don’t know how many words I have so far. I’m just flowing. Words down. Get this draft as far as possible. Edit later.

9:00 PM: I just made a Chrissy Teigen face about how often I’ve used a certain word.
9:15 PM: Whew! Made the minimum word count. That’s a nice start and I have a decent rough draft. Not bad for banging it out on my phone! Thanks Word app!

Wanna sponsor me? You can if you want. You can also find out more about Clarion West and the Write-A-thon and how it helps authors to be their best.