Normally I would do separate posts for highlights in my life I want to share, however, so much happened in a short period I was too overwhelmed handling it all to give announcement to those who care. This is, of course, a good problem to have. Writing is usually the ne’er-spoken-of tunnel of that opposite place where nothing much seems to bear fruit and daylong toil made me feel like a fool. If you are born on April Fool’s Day as I was, that can feel sadly more predetermined.
But as a writer of many published works, including two prior novels, I know how to give thanks when due. It often seems to be feast or famine, but both do multiply themselves if you let them. I made a decision sometime ago to let the feast multiply of anything was to. I thank God for many blessings to share. The time of feasting is what makes the isolated career of a writer such a paradox. And it is always the unexpected that feels the best.
If anyone out there is second-guessing themselves for wanting to be an author or writer, or whatever the chosen label for your tendency is, I won’t try to talk you out of it. There’s so much self-glorification and unsharpened work out here that to try to make others believe you are different is nearly impossible. Yet if you still have it in you to keep doing what you love to do and hoping it will materialize, I hope my message inspires you to think it will.
I have a couple of important essays in progress, as well as stories and characters teeming in my head to speak to fuller forms others can enjoy and I can forget about when they are done. I am hoping to be done with a quality draft of my next novel by November 30, in honor of National Novel Writing Month; I have gotten a headstart over this year, but who’s refereeing? Until then, here’s great news!
My new novel SOLEMN (hardcover, 304 pages) is now available for pre-order on Amazon ahead of its May 3, 2016, release date from St. Martin’s Press/MacMillan. For those unfamiliar with the novel from my prior messages about it, please enjoy excerpts of it I am honored were published in some premiere online journals: Hermeneutic Chaos, gravel, Deep South Magazine, and Hermeneutic Chaos again. I worked on the novel with legendary literary agent Albert Zuckerman, found of the Writers House in New York City. And I really love the cover.
About SOLEMN: Solemn Redvine is a precocious Mississippi girl who senses a nearby baby may be her half-sibling: the outcome of her father’s mistakes with a married woman who lives in their mobile home community. After Solemn witnesses a man throw the baby down a community well, she struggles to understand the event, leaving her forever changed.
You can read my new e-book, PICK ME, for free (Kindle Unlimited subscribers) or for just $1.99 on Amazon. The story tells of a mixed-race Chicago couple who decide to adopt a Black child. You can preview the story, which “grapples with notions of race, privilege, and ambition in the modern age – and the strain those forces can put on a relationship,” for free.
My return to writing short stories has been a joy, as I had so many possible novels I started to have headaches I could not get them out. Publishing the resultant stories this last year or so introduced me to a wonderful community of outstanding writers, novelists, and editors online and at universities, to read and gain inspiration from for my own discipline and work. It feels wonderful to cap off that time with a Pushcart Prize nomination for my story “Word,” published in San Diego State University’s Fiction International and selected by Editor-in-Chief Harold Jaffe. The Pushcart Prize is designed to reward the best work published in independent presses over the previous year.
The story is especially meaningful for me because I wrote it in response to a reminder I came across about the death of a Detroit woman in the year I graduated high school. 33-year old mother and business student Deletha Word was stuck in traffic on the Detroit bridge in the summer of 1995, and a simple fender bender led to a man attacking her so severely she leaped over the bridge to her death. In the story, I enliven one of the bystanders who watched and remains haunted by his passive permission to her murder.
You can order your own copy of the Fall 2015 issue Here.
pluck! Journal of Afrillachian Arts and Culture at the University of Kentucky just released its Fall 2015 issue 12, and my story “The Pitchfork Game” is in there alongside the brilliance of other creatives like Bianca Spriggs and Thomas Sayers Ellis. It comes from material I generated for SOLEMN, and details one of my favorite characters: a mother who cares for the main character but suspects some things are wrong. Please visit the journal’s website to get an actual real print copy.
You can order your own copy Here.
I was included in a taping of Black Entertainment Television’s new true-crime series, Criminals at Work, a show to document cases of crime in employment settings. I was flown to Jackson, Mississippi, to appear as a case commentator in a premiere season episode about the shock of Mississippi state’s largest bank robbery in history.
I was so exhausted at the time I received an email from my Sister in Crime who facilitates members’ involvement in these appearances, and was headed to a no-Internet retreat in the woods just to read and sleep for a while. But I received a call back while I was out there from producers who wanted me down South and an expert on the case in two days. So I got a second wind, managed to handle business and make it work, and in turn had one of the best times I have had with great people at Sirens Media. And, the food down there was just exquisite.
And, as has been going on all summer and Fall for me, my course “Spirit of Writing” went up live again at The Eckleburg Workshops housed out of Johns Hopkins University on Sunday, November 1. There is still time for this week’s lesson or to register for the December 2015 class. I made a commitment last year about this time to not start off another new year with a resolution to write more, but to start it off in a more writing revolution I had already begun. Do join me if you can!