Navigating Through Race: The Plight of Storytellers of Color

Originally published at Fangs for the Fantasy

A gent by the name of Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Many people often wonder how I’m able to reconcile being a spec fic author with being a social justice activist. Malcolm X’s quote is that very reason.

Because while the media has the power to control the minds of the masses, it’s also a platform to hold a mirror and expose inconvenient truths such as bigotry to a society who is still plugged into the proverbial Matrix of privilege and institutional oppression.

But in order share the truth, marginalized artists have to make many decisions that can play an impact on our careers, our art and its potential impact on society.

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Writing to a Non-Existing Audience

Originally published at Thagomizer

Recently I was having a conversation with a couple of friends and acquaintances regarding the release of my novel, Hollowstone. As I explained the premise behind the book, they expressed it was a novel they would be very interested in reading.

They then expressed that they don’t read books. As the conversation continued, they explained it was in large part to their horrors in school. Horror stories I was all too familiar with. The others elaborated that they hated being forced to read classic literature which usually translated works written by old dead white men and ergo deemed as the only type of “literature” worth reading.

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My Steps To Creating Characters And Building Worlds

Originally published at Twinjas Book Reviews

One of the questions I’m constantly asked (which admittedly I never get tired of answering) is what  my process in terms of world building and developing complex characters.

My approach to world-building and character development ultimately corresponds to my overall approach to storytelling. As a writer, I personally belong to the school of character = story. What truth do we discover along the character’s journey? More than that, whether it’s fiction, articles or blog posts, I generally have three mandates which I dub E-Cubed: Enlighten, entertain and empower.

Needless to say that E-Cubed has led to other techniques which has only enhanced my storytelling abilities over the years.

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How to Fall in Love with Your Writing

It’s 5:45 a.m. on Monday, November. 30, at the time of writing this article. For the past few hours I’ve been in writer mode which can best be described as Puppet Angel, hence the pic.

For most people it’s the start of a new week and the final day in the month. But for an intrepid lot, today is essentially Judgment Day.

The final hours of National Novel Writing Month are upon us. NaNoWriMo is perhaps the writing equivalent of Battle Royale/Hunger Games/Mortal Kombat/Thunderdome. Each year, many enter, but only a handful survive.

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My 20 Steps To Getting Published

With two novels under my belt, Hollowstone and West of Sunset, one of the things I’m asked the most is advice about getting published. Shifting into writer mode which coincidentally looks a lot like Puppet Angel (hence the above pic).

The following is an email I sent to readers sharing my experiences which I think may serve as a useful resource for other writing aspirants.

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West of Sunset: My Love Letter To Black Women

Originally published on Black Girl Nerds

When my debut novel, Hollowstone, was released a few years back, I had no idea how far the rabbit hole would go. What began as me publishing a YA novel that I completed during my inaugural NaNoWriMo challenge has resulted in endless opportunities (such as writing for Black Girl Nerds). It’s also sparked some most excellent discussions on diversity: race, LGBTQ, and gender.

I couldn’t be more humbled and honored.

Looking back, there was one thing I found to be a bit unsettling. Whenever white feminists commented on the female players of Hollowstone, they discussed (and praised) Neely at length. Understandable, given that she was a universal fan-favorite. While Abigail and Brianna were examined, I noticed Cassidy and Ruby were ignored. This bothered me. Brianna was only in the first half of the novel as opposed to Cass and Ruby who were main players that appear throughout the entire novel.

The difference is that both Cassidy and Ruby are Black women.

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Rape Culture: From Grimdark Fantasy to Reality

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault and Rape Survivors

When I worked as a reporter for a local paper in East Tennessee some years back, a story arose about a young woman who had been sexually assaulted at her high school. When the issue was brought to the school board’s attention, they moved heaven and earth to shame the young woman and to vilify her and her family.

No one denied the attack happened but nothing was done about it because the attacker was a star athlete and the school’s administration was beyond corrupt. When I tried to follow up and get the family’s side of events, the story was buried due to local politics and my publisher’s wish to stay in good with the Powers That Be in the county.

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