#BlackGirlMagic in Publishing

blackgirlmagicFirst off, there is so much #blackgirlmagic happening in publishing write now. Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, Dhonielle Clayton. It is beautiful to finally see more black women making it in publishing. In theaters now is Everything, Everything, a YA romance based off of a book written by a wonderful black woman, Nicola Yoon. I get so excited seeing the opportunities black women are finally being afforded in this often sexist and racist industry.

I went to a writing retreat back in March about diversity in writing. It was wonderful and I got to meet some of my favorite authors (including Nicola), but the thing I most took away from the retreat was a sense of community. While at the retreat I got to meet so many different people from different walks of life, but the thing that impacted me the most didn’t happen until the night before we were all to leave and on the ride home.

That night a big snow storm was predicted to hit Chicago. During the retreat, I’d met three women, Rena, Nia, and Ronni. All three of them would be impacted by the storm. Nia had already ridden up with me from Atlanta and was going to ride back down, but I mentioned off handedly, that there was room in my car for two more. They took me up on my offer and it was set that they would ride back to Atlanta with me and stay there with family they had until they could fly back out.

That ride was the most magical thing I had ever experienced. I got to connect with three wonderful women and since then have talked to them almost every day. They are my writing community. We are able to lean on each other for support and bounce ideas off of each other and rant about the industry in privacy.

There have been times I was close to giving up and times I needed advice and they are always there for me. I like to think that I am there for them too. We have big plans with each other and supporting one another is just the beginning.

Summer of Color

Recently looking at my bookshelf, I realized that there was something missing. This was emphasized more when my friends would talk about various authors of whom I had never read. As much as I preach about the beauty of people of color, and especially women of color, they were missing from much of my reading.

Part of this is because publishing still has issues where the cis white male is held up as the gold standard and women of color often have problems breaking the barriers that keep them out of publishing. This is even more true for the two genres I spend most of my time reading in, romance and fantasy. But to be honest with myself, these are just excuses. If I want to read books by people that look like me, I can put in the effort to find them.

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It was with this in mind that I promised myself that over the summer I would only read books by women of color. Sure that means missing out on new releases I’ve been looking forward to, but those books will still be around in fall. The summer is for my ladies that don’t get the marketing they deserve. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

From the beginning of June to the end of August it is going to be all women of color all the time. A few weeks ago I put out a call on Twitter for suggestions of authors and books I should check out and got amazing responses, but I am always happy to get more recs. There is no such thing as too many book recommendations and even if I don’t finish them all this summer, there is nothing stopping me from reading them after. So in the comments, if you have a book or author I should check out, let me know. I would love to add to my list.

This is just a peek at some of the books I plan to read.

Hello Again

Sometimes you get to that point where you are so busy, that you are exhausted and can’t even muster up the energy to do things you enjoy. That has been me for the past couple of months, and, sadly, the main thing that fell to the wayside is this blog.

There has been so much that has happened in April and I have thought up blog posts that I can’t wait to share with you guys. You can think of this as a new dawn.

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The important things to note are that I finished the first draft of Star of Xianu (Yay!). I honestly did not think that day would come. I have been working on this book on and off since last year and I finished this draft at about 56,000 words. It is a bit short for a YA fantasy novel, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done to it and I think I can get it up to 70,000 words easy. I really think with my friends as betas, I could be ready to send this out on query by the end of summer.

Also, I have found a writing community that inspires and challenges me at every turn. You will hear more about them in an upcoming blog post. I can’t wait to tell you about them.

As part of my program of self-improvement, I am working on getting out of my shell and participating in more social media. That means if you look to the left in the pull out screen (click the three bars in the top left corner), you will see more tabs under Social Media. I am more active on building writing resources and book inspiration on Pinterest and I am determined to getting back into my online writing streams on Twitch. I am also trying to do better with my self image and post pictures on Instagram, but that is a work in progress. And, of course, I am still easily be found on Twitter.

With my screenwriting, I am still editing another draft of Court Square, but there are several scenes I want to add in before I consider it really done. There is a cool table read of the script if you are interested in listening to it being read by different actors. I am also finally brave enough to tackle a comedy script. In June, the plan is to work on an half-hour comedy pilot, so wish me luck with that.

I had to break my silence and come back to this page. I am going to work harder to make time to post here. As I said, I have several post ideas brewing in my head. But until next time.

New Opportunities

Life has been pretty grand for me lately. I’ve been given new opportunities that are expanding my reach as a writer and a person. I’ve attended my first writers’ retreat/workshop and connected with a lot of other writers. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and working on some secret stuff that only a few people know about. But what I wanted to discuss today is an opportunity that I have been very open about.

My friend, Cade, recently started a new website called Fandom Bay. The site is a one stop shop for info on fan culture, pop culture, politics, music, and anything else that people have a passion for. I’m working as an editor and contributor for the site!

This site is letting me explore the topics in media I have been dying to write about. I’m lucky to be a part of this group and everyone should definitely check them out. I already have a few articles up there ranging from new shows on race relations to how media has handled sexuality.

Go check them out!

New Year’s Resolutions…Or Something Like That

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Like most people, I am usually terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Exercise more, travel more, eat healthier, spend less time on social media, blah blah blah. Except during 2016, I actually was able to keep a resolution. I resolved to take more pictures, especially of myself. See, before this year I hated taking pictures of myself. Selfies were great for other people, but not for me.

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My first selfie of 2016

I had to work hard at being self confident enough to not only take selfies but want to take them. It was a long process and I am still a work in progress.

In my last post, I also mentioned a few other achievements I made this year, including several writing ones. I wanted to write more this year and by golly I did. I was able to complete a novel and several other works.

crazy-typingThis coming year, I want to do that and more. I am already halfway done with the first draft of my second novel and will write another novella and start a new series when I complete that. I will also finish a spec script, and a couple more pilot ideas I have. Even more importantly, I am going to actually do something with these works.

I am going to start the query process with my first novel and enter into some fellowships. This is the most terrifying thing for me. Everyone must overcome the fear of rejection at some point for different things. I will do these things, come hell or high water. It is almost like the important part is me putting myself out there not the outcome. Sure, I hope that I get an agent and make it into s fellowship, but as long as I have tried I will be proud of myself.

Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are yours?

R.I.P. 2016

Sigh. For the most part, 2016 has been a mixed bag of a year. While I have made many personal strides, the world around me has also be falling apart. I am sure I don’t need to explain to you why 2016 was so awful (here’s a hint: Orlando, Trump, Brexit, so many cool people dying. I could go on and on).

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But as I also said, this had been a year of great personal achievement. I completed a novel, a novella, a script, my thesis, finally posted some short stories, worked on my self-confidence, gained new friends, cleared others out. It was all a lot of work, but I have grown as a person because of it. I am sure there are others out there have feel the same and are taking some semblance of joy out of what was a difficult year.

So, while I am grateful for all 2016 has taught me, good and bad, I am looking forward to 2017. I feel it will be a year of even greater progress, personal and societal. I have so many plans for the year.

Do you have any big plans for 2017? Share them below!

Originals And Comics And Franchises, Oh My!

Writing makes my world go round. When I am not writing (which is far too often) I am thinking about all the things that I want to write. So many original ideas run around my head on a daily basis. Most writers I know are the exact same. We all want to see the stories in our heads play out for the world to see, be it on screen or on page. I feel like I should preface this next part with a paraphrasing quote from Mean Girls. I’m not a regular screenwriter. I’m a cool screenwriter.

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You see, I constantly hear from other writers that they only want to write original stuff, they don’t want to become a cog in the machine of Hollywood and crank out things for franchises or adaptations. Be prepared to judge me for the worse, but I do. I do want to write for franchises, I do want to make a superhero movie, I do want the chance to adapt a novel.

I grew up loving these movies alongside my love of the classics. As I write this I am upset because I have to wait a day to see Captain America: Civil War (and I have plans to see it multiple times opening weekend). I am a total geek girl and I love these movies. It would be a dream to be a part of bringing the wonder of things I love to the world.

It seems that many consider the people that write these movies are only doing it for the money, but I am sure my desire comes from one of two things. I freakin’ love comic books. Give me a chance to write a Ms. Marvel movie and I will hop on it in a second. Origin story for Harley Quinn? Yes, please. Do I already have ideas for a modern retelling of Pygmalion? You bet I do. Of course I want to write my original specs, but my love of comics and novels too.

The other reason may be because of where I got my start in writing. Some of my first real substantial writings were fanfiction. No longer media’s dirty little secret, fanfiction has become more prevalent and makes me less ashamed to talk about my writing roots. As a fanfic writer, I frequently play in other people’s worlds. I take something others have created and morph it into something new and unique to me and that gives me great pleasure. I get to play in a world I love, and what are franchise movies if not that?