Post-Panel Thoughts: Representation

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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.

Psst…Nominate Me, Please

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My poem “Vox” (Apex Magazine, Issue 95, April 2017) is eligible for the 2018 Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s (SFPA) Rhysling Award!

The catch? I need someone to actually nominate it! This is the first time I’ve been through this process, so psst…

And yeah, that’s me in my favorite chair working on some new ones!

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.

Post-Blerdcon 2017 Thoughts

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!

Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Journaling the Frenzy

2017-06-21 20.46.59So tonight was the first writing sprint or as I like to think of it: “My Hour Of Writing Frenzy.” I decided I’d keep a journal of my crazy thoughts…

9:00 PM: WRITING SPRINT BEGINS! Annnnd we’re off! Soexcitedsoexcitedsoexcited!

9:02 PM: Crap…what story do I want to work on? What do I want to work on? What am I feeling tonight? Goddammit…I’ve wasted two minutes already?! Planning ahead is everything? Is it really already 9:04???

9:04 PM: So I decided to go with a fantasy novel WIP called “Between the Mountains and the Sea” (working title) that I’ve been really digging lately and wanting to work on. It already has 476 words. Okaaay…I can roll with that.

9:30 PM: I’ve been kind of obsessed with this for a while and wanted to work on it. I’m at least trying to add to it? 711 words so far. Alright, alright, alright.

9:45: I need a bio break SO BAD. No, no…I don’t yet. Peeing is for the weak! I can power through this. I NEED TO WRITE.

10: And that’s a wrap! Went from 479 words to 1150. My fingers were flying. I’m going to look at a lot of it tomorrow like “WTF?!” but it felt good to get words down like that.

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.

 

Clarion Write-a-Thon: Day One

So, last month I signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon, a month-long writing spree that kicks off today. I thought “Why not?” thinking it’d be a good way to hold me accountable writing-wise.

It is also the well-known writing workshop’s annual fundraiser, so you can sponsor authors (like me!) as they try to meet their writing goals.

Me? I’m going to use it to bang out some short stories and add to a novel in progress.

Computer? Check. Imagination? Check.

Let’s do this!

My Hypeness is Real…

apexApr2017 coverThe latest issue (April 2017, Issue 95) of Apex Magazine is out!

I am incredibly excited because my poem “Vox” is published in it! Not only does this mark my debut as a poet, but I am so honored to be in it with luminaries such as Walter Mosely! Guest edited by Maurice Broaddus, it has fiction by Sheree Renee Thomas, Chesya Burke, and Kendra Fortmeyer and poetry by Linda Addison. It also has an essay by Tanya DePass and interviews with Sheree and artist Angelique Shelley, whose cover is stunning! My hypeness is SO REAL!

From the site:
Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released the first Tuesday of every month.”

Please check it out and also support Apex‘s subscription drive so that you can continue to get wonderful, quality publications such as this!

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.

Dusting Off the Cobwebs…

My buddy Chesya told me that my essay “Citizen of Dork Nation” is going to be in an upcoming anthology that she is co-editing entitled Miseducation of the Writer. Comprised of non-fiction essays by genre writers “of color” like myself about the industry and art of writing, I think it will be a really insightful read once it’s out. I know I’m excited about it. While roaming through the Internet jungle that is Google, I found a bright, shiny new cover for Dark Dreams II and a reissue date of October 2012. I kind of did a doubletake. A reissue? Well, OK! It has my favorite story (“Breath of Life”) of the ones that I have in the three anthologies and I hope it’s true as it means folks get to enjoy it all over again.

It also means I need to get cracking, so I started writing again. Having a one-year old crawling everywhere and into everything could distract even dedicated folks. Add to that the fact that I am starting grad school this summer and there’s a lot going on. Even so, I’ve been sitting down writing again anyway. I think every writer suffers from a bit of “Can I do this? Why am I doing this to myself?” and hearing this news and reading other things in regards to my writing just reminded me of what I know I can do.

And it feels good.