Speculative Literature Foundation’s Good Work

Last year, I won the Speculative Literature Foundation‘s Diverse Worlds grant, and it changed my writing.

I’d gotten to a place where I felt a bit… hopeless. As though my writing wasn’t good enough… strong enough to get beyond where it was. I felt I’d hit a plateau. I was getting rejections, and each one felt like a blow.

When I was attending a lecture in Oxford by one of my favorite writers Jewell Parker Rhodes, I got the email that I’d been chosen for this grant. From what I recall (my mind goes a bit foggy here as I was in such shock) I sat on the bed in my hotel room and stared at the screen for a full minute.

Someone believed in my work! It sent my heart racing. It send my brain racing too. Stories I wanted to finish. Ideas I’d had that I’d never committed to paper before. Suddenly, all of it seemed possible. Not sure I really slept much that night. But I do remember this:

I promised myself I’d submit more of my work in 2017. 

And I kept that promise. Most of my stories were published this year that I’ve ever had. I got my first professional sale this year. I have stories on the Nebula’s and the Horror Writer’s Association’s recommended reading lists.

Spec lit foundation

The SLF has just started its big fundraiser for the year, with the goal of getting enough sponsorships to ensure the Diversity Grants continue for five more years, and expand our other activities — reading series, workshops, and more, with monthly funding that we can count on as we plan activities.

About the SLF from Mary Ann Mohanraj, Executive Director: 

The SLF is a non-profit arts foundation, modeled on the National Endowment for the Arts, but focused specifically on serving the speculative literature (science fiction, fantasy, and horror) community.  We aim to encourage promising new writers, assist established writers, facilitate the work of quality magazines and small presses, and develop a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction. 

They need your help.

If you can donate, please do. This fundraiser has 29 more days and I’d love to see them reach their goal as they helped me reach one of mine.

Advertisements

Graveyard Shift Sister: Michele Berger

Horror meets Black hair care.

When I found out about Michele Berger’s latest release, Reenu-You, I knew I had to reach out to her to discuss her inspiration for the book, the strength of sisterhood, and how she’d never before thought of herself as a horror writer.

Well, welcome to the sisterhood, Michele. We’re glad to have you.

REENU_YOU_FRONTCOVER

Read the entire review and interview on Graveyard Shift Sisters.

Emily Knight I Am… – A Review

I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed a YA novel for this blog before. Not that I’ve specifically excluded them, but …

*shrugs*

Well, now I am. And it’s a wonderful one to start with: Emily Knight I Am… by A. Bello.

I met her in September of last year at the Triskele Literary Festival in London. She was fun and energetic, and her work was so impressive. She was also a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneurship Award in 2016. For more on that and the press she’s started, you can read my interview with her on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website.

When she asked if I would review Emily Knight, I was flattered. Her book has a brand-new cover, more vibrant than the last in my humble opinion.

Emily knight

 

Emily Knight is a troubled thirteen year-old girl, who takes her frustration out on the world around her. She fights, she steals, and is unrepentant when caught. She doesn’t need to steal, she’s from one of the wealthiest, most well-known families around. The paparazzi have captured many of her thefts on camera.

But Emily is crying out for attention. Her father hasn’t been home in years, instead he’s searching the planet for her long-lost brother, Lox. Both Emily’s father and brother are famous fighters, with the ability to fly, breathe underwater, command fire. While Emily is struggling to control her power. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, she’s still unhappy.

When Emily gets the chance to go to the Osaki Training School, where her father and brother attended, she’s nervous. She wants to learn, but is worried the other students (and teachers) will expect more from her and she won’t be able to deliver. She’s Thomas Knight’s daughter, after all.

Soon, what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter as an evil older than she is resurfaces, and Emily will have to use her intelligence and cunning to protect everything and everyone she loves.

Emily Knight I Am… is a page-turner, full of magic and dojo-style fights, perfect for any reader that loves to watch an imperfect character grow into a hero.

It’s rare for me to read about a character of color from a wealthy, famous family who is tested and challenged to become something more than she started to be. The teachers as well as the students in the Osaki Training School are of diverse backgrounds, both racially and socio-economically, which makes it feel like a real specialist school. The lessons are fascinating, and I was amazed to find out that there is real danger of injury and pain for the students.

The second book in the series Emily Knight I Am…Awakened will be launched here in the UK on September 28th at Waterstone’s Islington 6:30-8:00pm. If you can’t make it, grab a copy of Bello’s Emily Knight I Am… on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Emily Knight 2 book launch invite

Graveyard Shift Sister: L.C. Cruell

Talking to artists gets me inspired.

No matter the medium — books, film, paint, digital — speaking with these artists and hearing what keeps them doing what they do drives me forward.

One person whose drive always impresses is L.C. Cruell. (I can’t imagine how she gets it all done.) I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cruell on her 7 Magpies project, a horror film anthology written and directed by Black women, feating a slew of talented authors and directors. It’s still in progress, but I wanted to talk more with her about her ideas, her motivation, and her experience.

You can read the entire interview this amazing filmmaker on Graveyard Shift Sisters.

cemetery-tales

 

While you’re at it, check out some of the trailers for her films:

31 the web series – www.youtube.com/31theseries

I Need You Trailer – https://vimeo.com/97681128.

Cemetery Tales Trailer – https://vimeo.com/158551687

13 Dark: A Fiction & Art Project

Are you ready for a journey into the dark? 

I’ve been asked to be a part of an amazing project.

13Dark (stylized to †3Dark) is a unique project that will showcase both written and visual artwork of some of speculative fiction’s greatest creatives.

17632415_1500509016627952_5039949885580878627_o

All of the work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic. Think of the kind of subtle supernaturalism and religiosity of something like True Detective, or Craig Clevenger’s story “Act of Contrition” from The New Black.

 

Who are the writers?  Established names including Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Veronica Magenta Nero, and Christa Wojciechowski as well as newer voices such as Matthew Blackwell, Andy Cashmore, Samuel Parr, Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, Ross Jeffery, Jamie Parry-Bruce and Tice Cin. And myself, of course.

17310925_10211441636824029_5787896036546690207_o

The aim is to release 13 unique short stories monthly, in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world, and the darkness it holds.

Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by editor Joseph Sale. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal. Joseph has put together a YouTube video for 13 Dark, where he talks about the project and why he quit his job to bring his vision to fruition.

Here’s the Kickstarter link. Check out the amazing rewards, including magazine subscriptions from Gamut and Storgy, custom designed artwork, and professional editing for your novel or novella! Then share, and donate if you can. Talk about the project on your social media channels.

Keep up with new releases, artwork, and how we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, are you wondering what my story is about? (It’s scheduled for release in January 2018.) I have some ideas, but it isn’t written yet, so feel free to leave me a comment if you want to throw out a suggestion.

Day 18: Toni Morrison

toni_morrison

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931. A novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, her work is best known for its epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters.

Beloved (1987) won Morrison the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, yet is one of the most highly disputed works in terms of genre. Many contend that it is not a work of horror, even though it is a ghost story, and is rife with isolation, violence and paranormal activity. Others, myself included, contend that horror’s definition desperately needs widening, to embrace this masterpiece of a work. As such, it is one of the books in the 28 Days of Black Women in Horror giveaway.

beloved

But Beloved isn’t Morrison’s first foray into speculative fiction.

Morrison points out that with its island of spirits and talking trees, her novel Tar Baby (1981), is more “timeless phantasmagoria” than identifiable present reality. Her latest novel, God Help the Child–her 11th–is a successor of sorts to Tar Baby in theme: beauty, self-image, and blackness.

Pick up Morrison’s books on Amazon. For more about her, head over to her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Tananarive Due

tananarive-due

 

Tananarive Due was born in Tallahassee, Florida is a recipient of The American Book Award (for The Living Blood), NAACP Image Award (for the In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel, with Blair Underwood and Steven Barnes), and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award (for the short story collection Ghost Summer).

Due was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for The Between (Superior Achievement in a First Novel) and My Soul to Keep (Best Novel). Due, author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir, was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University in 2010.

Danger Word, a short horror film funded by a successful crowdfunding venture, is based on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi short story of the same name by Due and husband Steven Barnes. The short story has also sparked full length YA horror novels Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls.

ghost-summer

 

Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before— her first short story collection, Ghost Summer is a must read. Keep up with Tananarive on her website, her mailing list, and on Twitter.