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!

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

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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!

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

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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!

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.

 

 

 

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-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!