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.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Abiola Bello

I’m catching up, I promise. November was intense, but come January I should be on track.

Anyway, I interviewed the phenomenal Abiola Bello. She’s a writer, entrepreneur, and mentor. This year, she even started her own press. Rarely do I have books for young people on this blog, but I was so inspired by what she’s able to accomplish, I’ve decided to feature her work.

Check out my interview with her–I’ve left her responses in British English, so don’t think I’ve gone mad with my spelling–on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website.

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