What’s up? Writing.
Reading (fiction) and Writing (non-fiction) that is. As you know, I do monthly book and comic book reviews at BlackNerdProblems.com. (What? You don’t know that? Get over there and read my stuff! Some fan you are.) The site is 6 months in, and between all the hard work of the contributors and the guiding hand of William Evans as the Editor-in-Chief, it is blowing up.
I’ve really hit my stride in my book and comic reviews. It pushes me to consider fiction in a holistic way, considering the whole and the parts. I’m a copy editor by trade, I read in the weeds, worrying about spelling and sentence structure and metaphor construction. But as a pop culture critic, I’m not going to give the thumbs-down just because of some misspelled words – I’ll judge, don’t get me wrong – but I won’t automatically throw shade at a book because of it. A novel is a machine that produces a result (entertainment, horror, action, whatever) and the quality of that result is what most deserves comment. It is what drives a person to buy or not to buy. Now if only I could find a reliable source for culturally relevant images without having to spend hours of my day sorting tumblr porn, I’d be as chill as this:
In the last few months I’ve realized how solitary my writing, and nerding, life has been. I’ve been in writing groups and shared my nerd loves with friends, attended conventions, even dressed funny in public, but as I spend more of my free time conversing with and reading the work of other Black Nerds, I see that I was always, subtly, culturally isolated. I was always explaining my jokes and defending my choices and fighting expectations of my preferences. It is the work of a Black Nerd in a White Nerd world, just as it is the work of a Black person in a White one. Now, I’m not going to say I’ve “met my people” by becoming active in the Black Nerd community (There’s a Black Nerd community? Yep, there is. We have our own Twitter hashtags and everything. No, I’m not going to tell you what they are tho, that’d be too easy) but I am going to say I feel understood in a way I’ve never felt before. And that’s about the best way to go into Autumn I can think of.
This weekend, I’ll be attending Convolution SF in SF . I’ll be doing readings from the book, or perhaps a few of my short stories, and holding down a few panels on Women, inspiration, and creativity while parenting. If you are in the area, come on by. It’ll be a great chance to spend some good geek time at a place with a pool and a bar. No downside there.
If you want to hear my opinions on books, comics, and other assorted Black Nerd items, hit me at BlackNerdProblems.com or find me on the Twitter. I know interesting people who tweet interesting things which I then re-tweet with reckless abandon. Again, no downside there.
I’m reminded that it has been a while since I dropped a link to the novel, you know Queen of Hunger, into a blog post. So, here it is: Queen of Hunger: Tales of the Assembled Book 1. You haven’t bought it? Try the sample chapter…
The family and I attended Westercon 66 in Sacramento this past weekend (July 4-7) as the central event of our little summer vacation. I came prepared to do a reading of QUEEN OF HUNGER (hell, I could practically recite the first 100 pages by heart) but I didn’t really think anything would come of it. That’ll teach me to doubt. Not only did I read, I passed out a grip of promotional materials and had my own cosplayer! Now you don’t have to be a fellow geek to know how cool it is to have a reader like your work enough to dress up like them in public. Thank you to my Mama Leah costumed friend, and all my other friends and supporters who came around to hear of Mama, Teach, Mona, and Wyatt. It really helps to know you’re out there reading, and listening and loving every minute.
The reading went quite well and I got to hear from a few other talented writers as well. Their names and book links are listed below in the order we read. I will say that it continues to be entertaining to read out loud and observe the reactions of some listeners to my “urban” style and frank language. When I drop that first f-bomb and the listener blanches I always think to myself, Honey, you ain’t heard nothing yet. I admit that I’m starting to wonder if the reaction isn’t just to the word fuck, but to me somehow. But that’s another post.
In addition to the reading, I attended several panels about issues facing women in gaming and geek culture, received a list of princess fairy tales from around the world, and learned to build a quickie air-propelled rocket. I’m finding myself falling in love with fan conventions. Where else could I do all of that in a weekend and attend a concert by the Phenomenauts and and go to several parties, see a drink mixing robot, sip margaritas with a guy who would later dress as Grimlock, and learn to play roulette with two very lovely spies? OH, and have my daughter photographed with Captain America? Yeah, a small hotel in Sacramento, CA.
Thank you to the organizers, programming staff, and all the fans at Westercon 66 this year. It was a blast.
Authors from the Open Reading:
Phyllis Kalbach, Blue Eden: The future after the ice melts
Eileen Rendahl, Don’t Kill the Messenger
Leslie Light, Queen of Hunger
Stephen Rose, Jr., The Fool’s Illusion
The main event for me at BayCon over Memorial Day weekend was the Themed Reading: Urban Fantasy panel, at which I read from QUEEN OF HUNGER and got to meet and hear a great crop of other authors working in the same rough genre. They all had FAR more experience than I, which meant I got to read first then sit back and listen. My two favorite of the other authors:
I have to geek-out here for a moment about Colin Fisk. Colin is the author of several of the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG sourcebooks — most notably the 1991 Chromebook. Now I don’t know if any of you are cyberpunk fans, either of the RPG or the genre, but I’ve read my Chromebook so many times the iconic pink cover isn’t attached any more. It was simply AWESOME for me to get to shake Colin’s hand and tell him how much he’d inspired me. He read from a new short story he’s working on, an intense piece of cyberpunk with a horror edge. I’ve added him to my Goodreads list so when the short comes out I can find it. I’d love to read more from him.
The other reading I really enjoyed was by Jay Hartlove from his novel THE CHOSEN. It is the first of an occult trilogy about Charles Redmond, a man who slowly convinces his psychologist that no, really, he’s sane…there really ARE demons chasing him and the loa of his Haitian Voodoo religion actually ARE alive and well and ready to help him in a fight for the future of the world. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley – Voodoo, horror, vengeance, redemption – all my favorite stuff.
In addition to sharing some great fiction, both men were also encouraging to me as the new author on the block. Let me tell you, when you’re reading from your heart in front of a room full of people, it is great to hear from the pros that you did well. Thanks to both of them for their cheers and support. I look forward to the next exciting pieces of fiction they both produce!
For my fellow gamer geeks — FLASHBACK!
I’m just settling in after a long weekend at my local Science Fiction/Fantasy fan-run convention, BayCon. It was a great chance for me to read from QUEEN OF HUNGER to a packed room and to get together with other fans and talk about our interests. Best of all for me, I met several other authors who I’m alternately inspired and impressed by. I wanted to give a review of the event but in the interest of short attention spans (and those of us who do our blog reading on our phones on our lunch hours) I’ll cut it into two posts. First – the Fans of Color Panel.
QUEEN OF HUNGER has been out for a couple of weeks now and it is slowly building momentum on Amazon — thanks in part to all of you. Please, continue to link it to your friends and if you enjoyed the read, a good review on Amazon would be awesome. Amazon reviews are the heart of the recommendation and ranking system for Kindle eBooks, so everything thing helps. Thanks in advance for that.
BUT! That’s not what I logged in to tell you today. Today, I have another announcement.
I, your local author, will be on three panels at my local science fiction/fantasy fandom convention — BayCon — May 24-27!
This is awesome for a number of reasons.
- My family has been attending BayCon as staffers and patrons almost every year for the last ten, so finally being on the other side of the panel table is a real thrill.
- This will give me a chance to introduce QUEEN OF HUNGER to my ideal audience — speculative fiction fans like myself.
- I’ll also get to chat endlessly about other topics that I care a great deal about to an interested audience.
My three panels:
- How To Be a Better Game Master: In which I’ll discuss various table top RPGs that I’ve run and how I kept my players coming back for more.
- Fans of Color in SF/F Fandom: In which we’ll review the current state of the art and hopefully inspire us all for what’s ahead.
- Themed Reading: Urban Fantasy II: This is the big deal for me as it’ll be my first public reading/discussion of QUEEN OF HUNGER. eeek!
Outside of these events, we’ll just be there enjoying our friends, trying out new things, and mostly romping around being fans. I’ll have badge ribbons to give and trade (if you’re not hip to the badge ribbon game, check here for a Doctor Who convention discussion on them) and will be ready to talk your ear off about the book.
Have a question? Find me and let’s discuss.
I look forward to the convention as it marks another mile on this journey. May your life continue to be an adventure. Mine certainly is.
EDIT: The dates for BayCon are May 24-27, 2013. My apologies for anyone I led astray with my bad information design.