FIYAH Lit Mag Issue #1: A Review

I was breathless to read the first issue of Fiyah Lit Mag, but I forced myself to wait until I finished reading my current book. That was not easy, I promise you. I’ve felt this was needed for a long time.

Finally, I opened it. I’d kept myself away from reading other reviews of the mag, although I knew it to be astounding because I’ve seen the first seven words of Tweets about its stunning portrayals of POCs in speculative fiction worlds.

I’m with those Tweeters. Believe. But first, that cover:

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“Rebirth” is the theme of the first of what I hope will be many issues of this mag. And each author has wound it seamlessly into the story only they can tell. It reads like they all sat around a table, clutching their caffeinated beverage of choice, and brainstormed how to make readers stare at the page in fascination. Which authors? The ToC is below:

Long Time Lurker, First Time Bomber — by Malon Edwards

Police Magic — by Brent Lambert

Revival — by Wendi Dunlap

The Shade Caller — by Davaun Sanders

We Have Ended — by V.H. Galloway

Chesirah — by L.D. Lewis

 

Edward’s “Long Time Lurker, First Time Bomber” is set in a futuristic world of robotics and impermanent death.

“Police Magic” shows us boys on a quest to find a way to end a dark magic taking over the world.

“The Shade Caller” and “We Have Ended” have alternate reality versions of Africa, but hold true to the storytelling traditions and lore.

In “Revival” you think you know what’s going to happen, but the story will take you of guard.

“Chesirah” gives us a strong female protagonist and the lengths she will go to for freedom, surprising even herself.

Each author’s voice is distinct, yet they all call out from within the African diaspora. Premises of freedom, expression, love, and sacrifice abound, dancing equally as well with tech implants as they do with magical creatures. Issue #1 sings, it shouts, it resonates with who we are and what we strive to be. It is the voice of Black spec fic.

It doesn’t shy away from where we’ve been, but its head is turned toward the future, feeling the wind coming off the sea of change on its scalp. And y’all know that feels good.

So pick up a copy of Fiyah Lit Mag, Issue #1. Read these stories of where Black Speculative Fiction is and where it’s going. You’ll want to come along for the ride.

Freeks: Book Release and Blog Tour

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I’m so excited to share an excerpt from Amanda Hocking’s new release Freeks out now from St. Martin’s Griffin. I love a carnival setting for a dark, creepy read and Hocking, A New York Times best-selling author, delivers.

How do I know? Here, have an excerpt:

1. premonitions

My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes.

The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough that I could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched on for miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water around us, looking gray in the early morning light.

The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have the money to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d cracked the window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s why I never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid and too many bugs.

But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spell waiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We all were. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what we would’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make it down here.

I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The whole thing had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it, meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Once sparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off. My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in the car was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and that wasn’t helping anything.

“You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested.

She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic, and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheap stones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake, and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms.

For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked so much alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young, but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet to sprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow.

I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No, I’m okay.”

“We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

“You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving across the Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached the Atlantic by now.”

She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitant to leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago, with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to our destination, she didn’t see the point in it.

On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, Blossom Mandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. I glanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion, and her brown curls fell around her face.

Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared with Carrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he had begun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in our trailer sometimes to give them privacy.

It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, my mom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in age and the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogate mother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us. Blossom was two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’t understand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy to take her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring. Well, that and the telekinesis.

“Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing it again.”

“What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back over the seat. At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then I saw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in the air, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head.

The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well when she worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be real problematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pulling things toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken up to books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug had smacked her right in the head.

“Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and went over to get it. The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string, and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep. I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us just in time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smash into the guardrail.

“Mom! Look out!” I shouted.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

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Grab a copy of Freeks from Macmillan, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Find out more about Amanda on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, and Pinterest.

 

 

 

Forever Vacancy: A Release

For those that don’t know, I’m one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a group of dark speculative fiction authors of color and authors who write and read characters of color. CID exists to provide support to authors of color in the speculative fiction genres of horror, paranormal, sci-fi, dark fantasy, and combinations thereof.

We also are a place to find new work to read if you enjoy seeing characters of color in the genres above.

In our Facebook group, we share calls for submissions, writing advice, and provide beta reading for these diverse stories and their authors.

We’re excited to announce our latest project, and anthology of stories from these authors, Forever Vacancy.

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The pre-order link is on Amazon and the book will release on January 13th.

Want to know more? Here’s a bite:

Amid the upheaval of the 1960s, the Kretcher Motel opened in a poor, desolate part of Atlanta. It still serves its original purpose: to lure those souls who are lost, who are troubled, who are evil…to itself. Check in to view these thirteen dark tales of horror, betrayal, fear, and wickedness, all featuring characters of color. You may never want to leave.

TOC:
The Thing in Room 204 – C.W. Blackwell

Karma Suture – Tawanna Sullivan

The Last Day of Jerome Brown – Jordan King-Lacroix

Roost – Kenya Moss-Dyme

Salvation – Ross Baxter

The Honeymoon Suite: Jacob’s Reunion – Sumiko Saulson

A Long Way From the Ritz – Eden Royce

Mister Mackintosh – David Turnbull

Flesh Trap – Querus Abuttu

A Devil of a Deal – David O’Hanlon

Hollygraham – Sy Shanti

The Adjusters – Dahlia DeWinters

Need – Zin E. Rocklyn

 

 

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Deadly Reads Radio: An Appearance

I’ll be interviewed on Deadly Reads Radio with Linda and Lisa on Wednesday, but you won’t need to stay up. They’re doing a special show to accommodate my time zone. If you’re around at 4:00 pm Eastern, I’d love to have you call in!

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Feel free to ask me Southern Gothic horror is or what work I have coming out or my recommended reads for those lovers of the grotesque. I’m even open to chatting about recipes, local eerie legends, and what the heck a Charleston girl is doing in the United Kingdom.

Once the show starts, you can call in to speak with the horror hostesses: (646) 668-2716

You can listen to the show here on Wednesday, January 5th  at 4:00 pm Eastern time–which for me is 9:00 pm here in England.

Let’s get 2017 started!

2016: Wrap Up and What I Wrote

2016 is almost over and I’m sorry to say I haven’t had a lot of my work published this year. I was concerned about this and I wondered where the days had gone and what I’d actually done with my time over the past 12 months.

Turns out, I did more than I’d thought.

I put together Spook Lights 2, a follow-up to my Southern Gothic horror short story collection, Spook Lights, which is featured as a recommended read on Graveyard Shift Sister’s Black Women’s Horror Studies course. At this moment, it’s a fictional course, but I’d love to see it come to fruition one day. I plan to release Spook Lights 2 in February 2017.

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I was asked to submit stories to two separate anthologies, both of which were accepted, both of which have publication dates that are TBD—to be determined. *Wails*

I had a story accepted into Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of horror fiction and poetry written by African-American women and edited by Kinitra Brooks, PhD, Linda D. Addison & Susana Morris, PhD. I’m honored to be included among the amazing writers here and the book will be out in February 2017.

I polished up my NaNoWriMo novel from 2015, a YA southern Gothic/magical realism story about the niece and nephew of a Carolina witchdoctor who begin learning the trade. I also managed to finish another NaNo project for 2016, which I did alongside FIYAH Lit Mag‘s November writing challenge, an adult Southern Gothic mystery with a splash of romance.

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Dirge Magazine published two interviews I did with two amazing musicians and I think they’re both some of the best writing I’ve done. The first was with M. Lamar—you may recognize him from his appearance on Orange is the New Black, where he played the part of his twin sister, Laverne Cox, pre-transition. His music is soul-searing and for me it’s the soundtrack of Southern Gothic. I came away from that interview more inspired than I ever have been.

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The second was with Azizaa Mystic, songwriter, singer, vodoushie, witch. Speaking with her was like chatting with someone I’ve known for years and it solidified the bond between the vodou of Ghana and the hoodoo/root magic of the Carolinas, where much of the inspiration for my writing comes from.

 

Speaking of hoodoo and root, I write an article for Horror Addicts “Misconceptions About Southern Conjure” that has been shared on Tumblr and has over 207 notes as of my last count, many of the shares by hoodoo practitioners.

Finally, something I wrote that you can read is a piece of flash fiction, “Parcel Post.” This short tale is about a woman who has to deliver a package in an area that has…shall we say, a sinister reputation. It’s published in Spider Road Press’ Approaching Footsteps, a collection of four suspenseful novellas written by women. The flash fiction part of the collection is comprised of stories by the winners of Spider Road’s flash fiction contest and by the two judges—the wonderful Kathryn Kulpa and myself. Spider Road Press is fantastic to work with and donates 5% of their proceeds from all titles to charities, which address the issues of sexual assault, supporting American veterans, empowering youth and fighting hunger at home and abroad.

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This year I went to a lecture on the Oxford University campus in May, where I got to meet one of my favorite writers, Jewell Parker Rhodes. She was sharp, funny, and sweet and more than willing to sign my copy of her novel, Voodoo Dreams. They say to never meet your heroes, but I’ll always remember meeting Jewell, and how she told us about of the best and worst times in her life and shared how they shaped her work.

While in Oxford, I also got to meet Nuzo Onoh, whose work in African horror I’ve been reading for a few years now. Nuzo, a British-African writer uses her personal experiences living in war-torn Nigeria, formerly the Republic of Biafra to create vivid, visceral tales of horror.

Graveyard Shift Sisters has also published several of my interviews with women of color in horror and fantasy, like Abiola Bello, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and filmmaker Moesha Bean. The most amazing thing that happened in my writing career happened this year. I was awarded the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant, intended for work that best presents a diverse world. Winners were chosen by a jury of SLF staff members. Grants are made possible by contributions from Ellen Wright (Senior Publicist, Hachette Book Group) and Faye Bi (Publicist at Simon & Schuster). I’m so thrilled to have received this honor and I hope to use it to catapult my work forward in 2017, where I hope to have more work available on this year-end list.

Here’s wishing all of you a Happy and Productive New Year!

Book Release- Cozened: A Cybil Lewis Novel

So glad to hear author Nicole Kurtz is back on the scene with a new release. I’ve known Nicole for a while now,  having met at ConCarolinas several years ago. We share a love of speculative fiction, which has given us the opportunity to work together on a few projects for her publishing house, Mocha Memoirs Press.

In addition to her futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis, Nicole also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science FictionEPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.

It’s been some time since we chatted, but when I saw she had a new Cybil Lewis novel out, I applauded. So here’s the info. Get yourself a copy.

BLURB:

Cybil Lewis and her inspector-in-training, Jane, are back on the case. Hired to find the missing son of a prominent woman, Cybil is pulled into the District’s sordid political arena of a governor’s family with dark and dangerous secrets, and the determination to keep them hidden. Cybil will soon learn that anyone can be a little cozen.

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EXCERPT:

      Something about seeing someone smeared over Freedom Square with its historic quotations and long dead implications made me shudder. It wasn’t right.

The shiny moonlight revealed glistening drops that led off from the man’s body on to the impenetrable trees that dotted the pavement along the square. A reminder of a time when the United States wasn’t a jigsaw puzzle of territories, the vegetation had part of continuing Thomas Jefferson’s law to keep D.C. beautiful.

Now, no one even flew their vehicles this close to the ground unless landing.

“What the heck?” Without even realizing it, I’d drifted over to the violation scene once more for closer inspection. My eyes squinted as they tried to focus on the substance.

“Stop!” A regulator resembling a brick wall with a tan jumped in front of me just as I reached the liquid trail’s beginning a few feet from the cautionary beam. Between the beam and the brute, they’d managed to keep all citizens out of the violation scene. Beneath his uniform, muscles bulged against the fabric, threatening to rend the material.

“You’re not authorized to be here!” The monstrous regulator’s deep voice sounded like it had been modified from an audio file. Lips firmly pressed together and trunk-sized arms crossed over his chest, I knew immediately that my usual sweet-talking charm wasn’t going to melt his ice.

“Well, Regulator Tom said…” The lie formed on my tongue and slid off like a snake.

“I said what?” Daniel quipped from behind me.

I groaned. I needed to see those stains closer.

“She’s leaving, Ron.” Daniel frowned at my actions, no doubt. He grabbed my arm and directed me over to a somewhat secluded spot several paces away.   “Are you trying to get me fired?” he asked heatedly once we were out of earshot.

“You invited me here!” I removed his hand from my arm. I turned slightly away from him. His fingers brushed my arm in a half-hearted attempt to reclaim it.

“If the captain finds you here…”

“I know. So why wake me up just to jerk my chain?” I didn’t want to argue with him. Daniel’s arguments could go on for eternity, even if I’d died midway through the debate.

“No, but go home. I’ll let you know when I get more.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond to that and retain my dignity, so I stood with my arms crossed and my face fixed at pissed.

“I needed you to ID him, all right? You keep telling me you don’t know who he is, though the look on your face tells me you do. Since you won’t make the identification, I’ve got to put you back with the citizens.”

With his hand on my shoulder, he moved me toward the crowd of hungry spectators. Perhaps it was more guiding than dragging. I seemed to gravitate to my wauto. I didn’t tell him or anyone about the inky dark spots. No doubt the regulators’ vioTechs would locate and misinterpret them. This wasn’t my case and I wasn’t getting paid. Home sounded better and better.

I paused before getting into the pilot’s seat. Behind the caution beam, doctors removed chunks of the body into a body bag and hauled it away on a levitating dolly. Flashes from digital cameras lit up the early morning sky. The cool air seemed to suck all the strength out of me.

Death.

No matter how often I saw it, regardless of what form it took, it made me reflect on just why I did this kind of work. The loss of human life always unnerved me. Well okay, not always. When someone is trying to silence you truly permanently, then no, I don’t weep for the bastard who eats the other end of my laser gun.

Yet, this accident dropped a sharp stab into my emotional soft spots, the ones I usually keep covered with my own internal Kevlar vest.

As I sank into my wauto’s leather seat, images of him swirled across my vision like contact lenses—suctioned on, refusing to let go until the tears washed them out. I didn’t cry, not then. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.

The body no longer resembled a human being, but a battered hunk of meat.

Once he had been handsome, healthy, and one hell of a lover.

His name had been Carlos Rodriguez.

 

Cozened is available now on Amazon. Follow Nicole on her social media outlets:

Website/Blog: http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nicolegkurtz

Twitter: @nicolegkurtz

Goodreads: Nicole Givens Kurtz

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nlkurtz

 

Spook Lights 2: A Release

As an author, especially as an indie, you have to try different things with your work. This time ’round, I’m putting my newest book release, Spook Lights 2: Southern Gothic Horror up for pre-order.

In January, I’ll be releasing the second collection of Southern Gothic stories, Spook Lights 2. With this collection, I hope to broaden the definition of what horror is by weaving in magical realism and fantasy with the good old fashioned grotesque that brands a work as Southern Gothic. Closer to release date, I’ll do a Goodreads giveaway of a print copy of my first collection, Spook Lights.

I’m also considering doing a slightly different cover for the eBook versus the print copy. Have a gander at the images below and let me know your thoughts.