Truancy: A Release

With yesterday being Juneteeth,–yes, I’m late– it was a perfect day for Truancy Mag to release the latest issue of their small, indie and not-for-profit literary microzine. Its theme is #ownvoices, folktales and traditional stories from the African continent and diaspora.

Behold the gorgeous cover by Salim Busuru, an artist from Kenya, who is passionate about Africa and it’s progress. He also lets his studies of Africa inspire the comic and gaming projects he is pursuing with Avandu studios, where he is Creative Director.

Truancy cover art
Image from ‘Mrembo wa kwetu’ (Swahili for: Our Beautiful Girl From Home)

 

Inside this issue you’ll find an editorial by editors Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Troy L. Wiggins, along with fiction and non-fiction by V. H. Galloway, Mame Bougouma Diene, R.S.A. Garcia, Zina Hutton, and me!  Best of all, it’s free to read online!

The release of this issue  is bittersweet for me.

I found out it will be Truancy’s last issue. Nin HarrisEditor-in-Chief and Founder/Creator of the Delinquent’s Spice & Truancy Creative Projects, is passing on the baton of featuring the stories of marginalized people. From her commentary on Twitter about the subject, when she started Delinquent Spice around 2010, there were almost no venues for the stories of marginalized people..

Nin goes on to say that she feels she can end the Truancy/Delinquent Spice project in peace as there are venues to take up the mantle of getting these stories told. Among the places she recommends are: FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, Anathema Magazine (work by queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginals), Arsenika, Rambutan Literary (work by Southeast Asians from all over the world), and Mithila Review.

So get your stories out there!

But first, read Truancy Issue 4. And check out the back issues of Truancy and Delinquent Spice free online.

 

 

 

 

FIYAH Lit Mag: A Publication

It’s here!

Yes, the date is April first, but this is no Fool’s joke. I have a story published in FIYAH, magazine of Black Speculative Fiction!

(Excuse me while I do the Running Man. *Cough* Thank you.)

I did a review on this blog of the first issue: Rebirth, and you can read that here. Not sure if I should review an issue in which one of my own stories appears, but you’ll get my thoughts on the issue soon enough…

Issue Two is themed Spilling Tea. We’re talking literal beverages and we’re talking figurative “T”– you know: telling the truth, no matter how challenging that might be.

First of all, let’s get into this cover:

FIYAH Issue2_300-1

Gorgeous, isn’t it? And the authors in this issue are no joke, either.

Maurice Broaddus

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Russell Nichols

Christopher Caldwell

Wole Talabi

Barbara L.W. Myers

Eden Royce <—That’s me! 

I’m so honored to be included in this issue alongside such phenomenal authors. Grab yourself a copy of FIYAH’s second issue, Spilling Tea. Also, check out the Spotify playlist that goes along with the issue. And their indie author spotlight featuring Constance Burris.

Oh, you want to know what my story’s about? Well, FIYAH’s editors, Justine Ireland and Troy L. Wiggins, came up with the perfect way to summarize “Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment” in all its Southern Gothic glory:

Wanted: one negress to find a certain lost cargo. Welcome to a Charleston of the past filled with a very necessary magic.

And that is what FIYAH is bringing to you with this magazine — necessary magic, necessary stories, and a time when the sound of our voices is very necessary.

Freeks: Book Release and Blog Tour

blog-tour-banner

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.

freeks-cover

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.

 

 

 

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.

Featured Author: Lance Keeble

I’d like to introduce you to a new author of speculative fiction I met recently: Lance Keeble.

His latest release, Globes Disease, is a horror novel set in the quiet town of La Mort Douce. A vampire threatens the small group of werewolves, who treat them like wild game. The government promises a cure, but will it come in time?

GD Hard Cover Image for ER

Tell us about yourself, Lance. 

Well let’s see, I was born and raised in LA. My mother was my primary parent; she worked for social services for 20 years. She earned her Masters Degree when I was 13. She was my first influence when it came to reading. In fact I would get in trouble because I would read books under the covers with a flashlight and be too exhausted to get up for school the next day.

I was a “B” average student with a fantastical imagination and though I read fiction and non-fiction, I found Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy and even Comic Books quite intriguing. Around 7 years old I wrote, illustrated and bound my first book about an Ant that becomes an Astronaut.

I was always writing poems or songs. I devoured Godzilla movies and black and white horror movies like Dracula, The Wolf-man, The Fly, I Was a Teen-age Werewolf,  along with Speed Racer, James Bond movies, Batman and American football.

I did some brief college, became a fireman when my first son was born, been married a few times, had a gaggle of kids and provided for them. I stopped writing in the early 80’s for way too many reason to write in this article. In 2003/2004, I picked up a pen and dedicated myself to writing again.

Currently I am working on retiring in 3 years and I hope to establish myself into my new career so I can stay home, write and help raise my 3-year-old daughter. I love geek stuff, technology and new takes on the Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Superhero and Horror genres. I have a sick sense of humor and I am general immature (when I am not being responsible) and harmless. I am one big bifurcated contradiction of sorts.

What inspired you to write dark fiction?

Science fiction and horror monsters have always been a fascination of mine. I like the classic protagonist, and love when someone is successful at giving the genre a new twist. It’s funny whenever I sit down to write the only thing that comes out is dark fantasy, fiction and super hero stuff.

And the impetus for Globes Disease was…

I wrote a short story about a man who contracts Lycanthropy and is walking down the street trying to figure out if people are looking at him because he is Black or a Werewolf. That story grew. Eventually the characters increased and evolved. Eventually I began to include people I was familiar with and had not yet seen before in those types of stories.

I think True Blood was onto something but the show jumped the rails. That happens, it’s hard to talk about the same people over and over and over.

I liked Underworld’s initial introduction, but now it’s Romeo and Juliet with fangs to me.

No diss on any of these ideas and stories, they have to evolve to keep people interested, I am certain I will gain and lose readers the same way. Though personally I would prefer Game of Thrones’ success, but how often does that happen– where someone takes your work and attempts to keep it as close to the original as possible? I believe everyone would love that type of success.

Impetus? Basically I was tired of seeing the same thing with the same people in the same roles and scenarios. I thought it was about time to explore the Who? What? Why? And When? Using different perspectives when it comes to the Werewolf.

As authors of color, how can we gain a larger share of the dark fiction fan base? Is it all about visibility?

It’s the numbers, the more creators, writers and authors of color, the more the world will get used to us and just naturally buy our work with out thinking about it.

It also is gonna take the gatekeepers, the powers that be, allowing or funding, artists of color to be expansive and groundbreaking. Making sure not to pigeon hold authors in the Urban Section of the book stores or only highlighting Street tales, Ghetto Soap Operas and Afro Pulp Fiction. Again I am not dissing anyone, I just want to see the same variety and exposure that we see in mainstream publishing. I want to be allowed to and to be celebrated for, being different and strange like Waters, Palahniuk, Burton, etc.…

I want to find my audience.

Globes Disease blends horror and fantasy, making lycanthropy a disease—similar to how some have tackled vampires and zombies—with a heavy dose of action thrown in. Why mix these genres, and why werewolves?
I always felt Werewolves were an afterthought over all in the genre. Almost like they don’t know exactly what to do with them. Which is sad cause I loved movies like The Howling and American Werewolf in London, Ginger Snaps yet somehow the sequels jumped the shark. Underworld is phenomenal. But most portrayals are normally sympathetic to the Vampires. Vampires we know by name, Dracula, etc. Can you name any Werewolves? Vampires are portrayed as classy, well-dressed, romantic and societal, Werewolves are portrayed as dirty, uncontrollable, wild, always alone or in warring packs.

I don’t see Vampires that way; look at Salem’s Lot there is a reason it stands out. I think Anne Rice’s vampires are romantic but, the Vampires in her books have tipping points, human failings, I like that. I think someone who lives forever has to be alone on occasion, don’t ya’ think? Would you, could you really be with your significant other or best friend for 100 years plus? You’d want to kill one another; you need 50-60 years of alone time every now and then.

I think Wolves are natural pack animals and seek support and love; they are passionate, and unselfish, yet they can be loners as well.

I think in the past, writers and moviemakers didn’t care if Werewolves loved or had feelings. I think they were fetishized, kinda like some people who date different types to prove something or to check off the “I did that!” list.

I do like that books and movies in recent years have attempted to explore Werewolves but when I started this idea, there wasn’t much material that I found interesting.

And honestly, I love Werewolves. I like that rawness.

In short I think it’s been said that Vampires are a metaphor for romantic sex. I think Werewolves are a metaphor for passionate fucking. (Can I say that?)

(Yes. Yes, you can.) 

What research do you perform or is your work mostly spawned from personal experience?

I do what I call a brain dump. My mind has a wealth of trivial info and general knowledge that I can mostly refer to (snicker), but I want to tell a story first. Flush the plot out, see if I can give it something different or interesting as well as exploring the characters I’m curious about, after which I do deep research to answer questions I have or beta readers may have about certain details.

What I love about fiction is, you can make something up and then combine facts that make it seem plausible. I created a superhero character that was spawned from the technology of the Kuwaiti wars and when I tell people the origin, they think its real. I find that reaction to be very kool.

As far as research, folklore makes the best place to draw from, in my the third Globes Disease novel I found a perfect Native American tale about where the Werewolf comes from that I was able to incorporate into my story perfectly.

What’s your next project?

The Prequel to Globes Disease (second novel) is finished and I need an editor…

I am writing a superhero prose using public domain characters. I did another one already for Black Power: The Superhero Anthology! organized by Balogun Ojetade, titled: “Nikia the Pandora. I completed a children’s book I need an artist for that. I am currently working on the 3rd book in the GD series as well.

What truly scares you? How do these fears inspire your writing?

Rape. Children getting hurt or dying (I walked out of Pet Semetery).

I was told once to write what scares you or makes you uncomfortable (Helen Gerth)…I tend to turn off movies and put down books that cover the above subjects. So I thought I would address it a little and see where I am at with it in the third book. Honestly, I actually still don’t like it, but the book is too good to rewrite it.

What do you like to read and/or watch?

Read- I like to read a variety of things, but not all the subjects I am interested in hold my attention. I am currently reading Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. I just finished George Clintons bio titled Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?: A Memoir, I read the Fight Club 2 comic and a few other comic books and I’m trudging through Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey…So for me, I pick up books and then if it grabs me I read them, if not I put it down or come back to it and see if it was my frame of mind…

Books that stood out to me, and made an impact on my writing are The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe, On a Pale Horse by Pierce Anthony, Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, the Thomas Covenant Series by Donaldson, and the first 3 books of Anne Rice’s Vampire series…(I’m sure there are more but I don’t want to bore everyone)

Watch- That varies too, the Thing, Empire Strikes Back, the Force Awakens, almost any Superhero movie (even the bad ones), Star Trek (Wrath of Kahn, Under Discovered Country, the 2 J.J. Abrams reboots), NFL and Two and Half Men, and a plethora of Animated films (Especially the ones my 3 year old likes), I like Vampire Hunter D. 1 & 2, the Killing Joke, Mask of the Phantasm, Under the Redhood, Zootopia, etc. 007 (Connery, Brosnan and Craig) again I could go on and on but…

What’s missing in fiction? What shape would you like to see the future of horror take?

It’s as if Grey, Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent, have shaped the mainstream industry…I would like more quality, more variety and less cooperate machine stuff. Which is kinda hypocritical cause I am happy about all the superhero stuff, even though they could have better diversity as well.

I think things are moving along because all the avenues to share content available, we are getting new voices but I would love to see more women and men of color. We seem to be rehashing shit and the voices aren’t diverse enough yet…It would be nice to find the next Shonda Rhimes, Matty Rich, Spike Lee, John Singleton, George Tillman Jr., Antoine Fuqua, M. Night Shyamalan, Adi Shanker of fantasy, sci-fi and horror…

I would like to see more color come to the top of that heap…and less formula…I know there is a Black Ridley Scott out there somewhere! (Laughing)

Who is your main inspiration?

My main inspirations are my Mother, Edgar Allen Poe, Chuck Palahniuk, Howard Chaykin, and a few people I may have mentioned earlier…

I like people who take the normal tropes and tweak them a little…

What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

Time. I have a busy job. I now have a busy life. Prior to this I had relationship issues that hindered me. And children are always a challenge but can be managed. I get up early or take parts of my off days to write. I text, email and sync to myself often, especially in traffic or when I’m stuck waiting for everything: Dr. Office, restaurants, DMV, (laughing). Sorry I am thinking about Zootopia and the Sloths.

Or

I finally sit down to type and then fall asleep. So needless to say, I would love to write full time. I think I will get better at it, when I can dedicate more time and efforts into it.

Is there a subject you refuse to touch?

There was but since I have passed that, I will say, I will not do child abuse/sexual abuse stuff like that… Even in my second book, when I pushed my comfort level, I didn’t necessarily describe the situations more than they needed to be described. Just enough to I indicated that they happened…

What do you do in your spare time? (If you have any, that is.)

I used to play video games but not any more. I am multitasking, watching and writing, working and parenting, I suffer from toddler fatigue, seriously (laughing). Writing has provided me more opportunities to write, so that is what I do in my spare time, write. I like it.

LOK by MDR for ER

Thanks so much for the interview. Is there anything else you like to mention?

Thank you for having me. It was a privilege and an honor to be able to share with you and your fans. Please read my book, fans. It’s a fast read and a character driven take on the genre that you might love. I think you will enjoy it overall.

Globes Disease is my debut novel, and as a fan of the genre it’s pretty good. I am excited cause I know I can only get better, so come grow with me…

Do You Have It? Grab yourself a copy of Globes Disease on Lance’s website or on Amazon

Please submit a review on my book that is how authors build a following. If you can, send me book-selfies. I will post them, unless they are dirty.  Like my YouTube vid, and follow me on FB, Twitter and Instagram. I love you all. Thank you.

 

Heliodor: A Cover Reveal

Helidor is a Steampunk fantasy mystery by Shannon Wendtland coming soon from Mocha Memoirs Press.

COVER:

Heliodor_72dpi

BLURB:

Malfric sees through the eyes of the dead – literally reliving their last moments as if they were his own. This ability is highly sought and highly priced, which is why the unscrupulous Captain Finch hires him to find the murderer of a nobleman and the whereabouts of a valuable artifact.

Quantex, the able-bodied first mate of Captain Finch, quickly becomes Malfric’s foil as he demonstrates uncommon intelligence during the investigation. Together the two uncover several clues that lead them to the killer, the artifact, and the frayed end of a mysterious plot that begins to unravel the moment Malfric takes it in hand and gives it a good yank.

AUTHOR BIO:

Shannon is a wife, mother, writer, database administrator and general pot-stirrer-turned-mystic. Find her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Heliodor will be released on March 22 from Mocha Memoirs Press.