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!