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!

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.

What Would Octavia Do?

Photo by Nikolas Coukouma

Octavia Butler Signing "Fledgling"; Photo by Nikolas Coukouma

My friends Chesya and Kay would probably agree with me about my next statement: When I’m stumped in my writing, I ask myself “WWOD?”… “What Would Octavia Do?” Octavia Butler‘s prodigious talent as an award-winning writer has been such an influence upon us.

Today would have been her birthday. She passed away three years ago and I was so sad to hear of it. Kay had loaned me some of her books around that time, and I just happened to come across them recently. This led to what I can only call an Octavia reading spree. From Imago (1989) to Mind of My Mind (1977) to Clay’s Ark (1984) to Patternmaster (1976), for a week I could not put them down. Back in 2003, I remember flying across the country to my wedding reading the harrowing dystopic Parable of the Sower (1993) and flying back from it reading Parable of the Talents (1998). I had read Kindred (1979) years before.

If you want to know who my biggest influence as a writer is, it was Ms. Butler. Her writing style–almost spare, yet masterful in her treatment of words and the unfolding of the story itself–is a joy for me to read. Visionary and futurist, the stories themselves are engrossing and thought-provoking. As a female African-American writing in the scifi/speculative fiction genre, she was a trailblazer and inspiration to me.

WWOD? Keep on writing.