Monthly Archives: January 2012

The State of Black Sci Fi, week 3: Why Is it important to show race, culture, minority politics or ethnicity in SciFi?

Why Is it important to show race, culture, minority politics or ethnicity in SciFi?

Are you kidding me? I mean, come on. Race, culture, minority politics, and ethnicity all play a huge role in the real world. Why would I ever want an imaginary world that fails to reflect such an important part of everyday life? Why would I want to gloss over something so large? Why make the sci fi world dull, boring and bland?

Sure, not every novel is going to focus on race and the like, but I want my science fiction to stretch my mind. I want it to boot me out of my comfort zone. I want it to make me realize all the possibilities there are for different points of view and explore ways in which we might make our real world different and better. I want science fiction that does all that. I don’t want it to gloss over the hard stuff. Please don’t leave me in the middle of my comfort zone. Shock me, surprise me, make my jaw drop.

I wish I could come up with examples of books that don’t address race, ethnicity, and cultural differences, and how they fall short because of that, but unfortunately I can’t. Readers, if you can, please leave a comment. I can put them on my list of books NOT to read. When I come across a boring book, I either don’t start it in the first place or, if I find it boring, I put it back down. Life is too short, and my reading time too limited, for me to stick with a book that doesn’t grab me. Not without some kind of compelling reason anyway, and compelling reasons for that are few and far between.

And here’s another question: Is it fair to hold a writer’s — or any kind of creative artist for that matter — to account for their personal views?

How do you, reader, feel about this? Do you listen to Wagner in spite of the fact that he was an anti-semite? Do you read Orson Scott Card in spite of the fact that he was a bigot? Me, I don’t want to support Card, and hence, IMO, lending credence to his views, by buying and reading his books.

And why am I willing to listen to Wagner but prefer not to read Card? Perhaps it’s because, IMO, Wagner’s views didn’t taint his music, but Card’s views do taint his work. {Grimace}. I don’t have the answer to this, but, readers, I am interested in your thoughts.

As to science fiction books, books that do take on the hard issues, what do you, reader, find are at the top of your list?

The one that comes most readily to mind, because we’ve mentioned it in the course of this blog tour already, is Walter Mosley’s 47, a novel that attacks the issue of slavery head-on. Another is Tananarive Due’s “Blood Colony,” which is about a hidden race of African immortals taking on the AIDS pandemic. Octavia Butler is another writer who takes on these issues.

Black writers can’t help but be aware of these issues, and to bring them to the table when they write. We need more books like these.

I can understand that many white writers are unwilling to take some of this on. I can understand not wanting to “get it wrong,” to do an inadequate job, to fall short. But is this any reason to sweep the whole race and class thing under the rug, to pretend it doesn’t exist, to never even (or rarely), put any Black faces into a fictional world? I don’t think so.

Here is an interesting blog post that talks about white writers including Black characters.

Is my character “black enough”

The reader who wrote in focused on speech patterns. Personally, I’d focus on cultural values and personal experience. I live in the Boston area, and I still recall an appalling in which a Black athlete was stopped by cops in Wellesley simply because of the color of his skin.

As my father used to say: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried. Writers, whatever the color, please don’t shy away from the hard stuff. You’ll do yourselves and your readers a favor if you do.

And readers, do please comment. What are your views?

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Check out my awesome fellow members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer— Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/
or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author— lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/


Thaddeus Howze, Author-
– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com


Carole McDonnell, Author
–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

State of Black SciFi 2012: Why I love Black Sci Fi?


I was already a die-hard sci fi fan by age 10. A self-confessed book addict, by the time I was a teen ager, I haunted both the local library and the drug store looking for new reading material. Books were considerably cheaper then, and the particular store I remember looking in most often was a couple of blocks north of our apartment. There I came upon a copy of Samuel Delany’s first novel, “The Jewels of Aptor,” published by Ace books. I was hooked.

Delany, by the way, was a fellow New Yorker and was married to poet Marilyn Hacker.

I’ve continue to read Delany in the years since His explorations of language, race, class and sexuality continue to fascinate me.

I no longer remember my first Octavia Butler novel — I started to read her sometime in the mid to late 1970’s, but I remember my fascination with her “Lilith’s Brood” trilogy and her three-sexed aliens. The trilogy explores issues of both class, race, and sexuality. And “Fledgling” has to be my all-time favorite take on the vampire theme.

I love science fiction, and I read it from an early age Now, I’m as fond as the next guy of a good spacee battle as the next reader, but at bottom I am much more interested in personal interaction, in clash of values, than in the sweep of empires That’s one reason I pick up novels written by women before those written by men

Cavveat: back when I was in grad school — in computer science — we used to quote the following: All generalizations are potentially dangerous, including this one.

Note “potentially.” So, yes, if you disagree, if you have counter-examples — or if you agree — l;eave me a comment.

What I like about Black Sci Fi is the variety of voices, of points of view, of subject. The willingness to tackle difficult subjects And including race as a factor in a novel opens up a whole bag of oppression, exploitation, clash of values. I remember Samuel Delaney’s “The Fall of the Towers” trilogy, which I read in the single-volume edition It involved three races of humans who co-existed. I found it both completely absorbing and very confusing. I’ve requested it from Inter-Library loan. I’ll tell you all what I think of now after I finish it — providing, of course, that I actually get hold of it.

I have a stack of five novels by Black authors on my bookshelf at the moment (thank you, public library): Tananarive Due’s “Blood Colony,” about a group of African immortals is the one I’m reading now. Tananarive Due may very well be my new favorite author. The main character is seventeen, yet this is an adult novel, as far as I can tell.

I’d love to see more books by Black science fiction authors actually in stock in book stores and on the shelves in our local libraries. When I was younger, I discovered many authors — including Delany and Butler — by browsing through my local bookstore or my library. I was fortunate in my library, as I haunted the Donnell branch of the New York Public Library when I was in high school. Not many teens are so lucky.

And I’d love to see more science fiction by Black authors for young adults. And I’d love for it not to be so hard to find.

So, readers, what do you love about Black sci fi? What was the first science fiction book you read by a Black author? Did you realize they were black? Keep those comments coming.

Here, again, are the links to my fellow bloggers.

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Check out my awesome fellow members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer— Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/
or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author— lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/


Thaddeus Howze, Author-
– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com


Carole McDonnell, Author
–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

The State of Black Speculative Fiction


I am excited to participate in a seven-week online event celebrating the State of Black Science Fiction 2012. Each participating writer will blog once a week on a common topic. Today’s is “The State of Black Science Fiction.”

There will also be giveaways. Our first giveaway will take place on Monday, February 6, 2012. Each time one of my blog readers leaves a comment here or on my Facebook page (my handle is madcapmaggie), they will be entered for a chance to win.

I will be giving away a signed copy of the Poetic Muselings anthology, Lifelines. The winner will be announced on February 6th. And you can go on over to another author’s blog for a chance to win there, too.

And now on to The State of Black Speculative Fiction

I have been reading science fiction for a long time. I’m 65 now, and I was already a fan when I selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for my tenth birthday. I read Samuel Delaney’s “Dhalgren” when it first came out. I’ve read reams of Octavia Butler and smaller amounts of Steven Barnes, Sheree Thomas, Walter Mosley and Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve sampled Charles Saunders and Tananarive Due. Still, in my opinion, we need more black writers, more readers, and better press.

My first love is poetry, and I’ve read a lot of poetry by black authors. I have a book of poetry by Rita Dove and another by Michael S. Harper on my nightstand. Gwendolyn Brooks is another favorite. A mention of Robert Hayden’s poem about Frederic Douglas made it into a poem of mine. Somewhere in my mess of books is an anthology. And I borrowed another from my local library. My local library is small and old. It’s so out of date that our town is building another.

Just for grins, I searched on Amazon for “African American poetry anthologies” (1244 results) versus “African American science fiction anthologies.” (174 results).

That’s sad. If any of my readers is interested in a list of Black poets, email me – or check one of the many anthologies out of the library and start reading. Your librarian can probably furnish you with a list of names with no difficulty.

If you’re interested in Black speculative fiction, you won’t be so lucky. Of the three librarian at my local library, only one, in her 20’s, had read any at all. The other two were both, I think, over 50, were at a loss. Neither was a fan of speculative fiction, much less heard of Black writers.

I didn’t fare much better at my local Barnes and Noble. There was indeed a novel by Walter Mosley on display, but it was one of his mysteries. The only Samuel Delaney they had was a single copy of Dhalgren, and they had nothing by Charles Saunders, Tananarive Due, or Steven Barnes. I would have found this much more frustrating if I hadn’t just borrowed several novels by Steven Barnes from my local library using inter-library loan.

What about Black characters by white sci fi authors? The only one who leaps to mind is Robert A. Heinlein. The main character in Tunnel in the Sky, Rod Walker, is black, as are a couple of the other characters. And Sergeant Jelal in Starship Troopers is black as well — a fact Heinlein, who loved to jolt readers out of their comfort zone, doesn’t reveal until half-way through the book, well after readers have had time to form an opinion about the character. Tunnel in the Sky, by the way, was written in 1955, and Starship Troopers in 1959.

As to me, I’m tired of the good guys always being white. That was a big part of the reason the alien Aleyni, my main character, Raketh Frey, and his father in my upcoming novel, “Relocated,” are all black. Another character who proves sympathetic, Major Brad Reynolds, is of mixed Native American heritage. The bad guys are white, and yes, it was a deliberate choice.

I’d like to see readers, regardless of race, be more open to reading about multi-ethnic characters, and I’d like to see more writers putting them in their fiction. I wish more we had more Black writers of speculative fiction, and more white writers with who are willing to take a risk and include Black characters in theirs.

Call me naive, but in my opinion, “I didn’t think about the race of my character,” is a cop-out. We live in a race-conscious world, a world that still marginalizes Blacks. I don’t want to see that continued into our vision of the future.

Do leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Lifelines. Who is your favorite Black poet? Who is your favorite Black speculative fiction author?

And be sure to check out my awesome fellow bloggers and support them by buying their novels. And keep reading.

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event: 

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com. 

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com. 

Margaret Fieland, Author— lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com. 

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Alicia McCalla, Author- writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012.  The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: http://www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Rasheedah Phillips,Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Authoris also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

 

 

 

 

 

Preditors and Editors poll results

Ihe cover for “Lifelines” by Lin Neiswender won third place in book/ebook cover art in the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll.

Also the Poetic Muselings placed third in poets category.

Our anthology, “Lifelines”, placed tenth in anthologies in the anthologies .

Thanks, folks, to everyone who voted for us. We appreciate your support.

And I’m a guest on the Book Boost, blogging about poetry.

http://thebookboost.blogspot.com/2012/01/poetry-in-motion-with-guest-blogger.html

Interview with author Kristin Battestella


Tell us about yourself.

Oh this is always the tough part! I always feel pretentious when talking about myself or my books- and that’s half of all the promotion! There’s not much to tell really. I’d still say I’m a newlywed over 3 years on. I’m currently watching Bob Ross. I collect records, and need more bookcases. That is all.

How long have you been writing?

Fore-eva! Professionally, it has probably been 10 or 12 years, but I started seriously writing in high school, submitting to contests, and looking at writing as a grown up. As a child, however, I had the basics of storytelling, even if the stories were complete crap. I was always acting something out and writing plays to go along with them. I suppose people define ‘writer’ or ‘author’ or the professional or success by things like how much money you make or books you sell, but for me, I’ve always been a storyteller, and will always write whether it is expressly for publication or not.

You write horror novels. How did you get started?

Simply put, the ones I was reading were crap! I love scary movies of course as well, science fiction, and genre. I like the crazy possibilities and wonder why it is that we have such connections with adrenaline, flight or fight, and being scared as entertainment. I kept watching dumb shoes and reading books that just seemed so simplistic, plain, not asking the big psychological questions of fear and torment. I simply said to myself one day that my ideas were better, or at least I could entertain myself with the things I wrote. When the kids at school began passing around my work and students I didn’t even know were coming to me and asking me for more, I realized there might be something special for other readers.


What’s different about your vampires?

I’m old school. I know everyone says ‘vampire family’ like it is nothing these days, but when I began my world, there was Anne Rice and Lauren K. Hamilton and Forever Knight and Dark Shadows. I liked when vamps were niche, underground, scary, and reflective of ourselves. The Welshire are a family by blood and by vampirism, and neither is easy for them through the centuries. Why are some happy to be creatures of the night? How can others crumble under damnation? Can one born of evil be good? I like the dark questions. To be a vampire is to question! I don’t know how this new boy vamps are just about girls and high school. That seems so boring and mundane to me, and a bit pedophile! Who wants to be in high school forever? That is so instant of the moment. My vamps are about far more lasting fate, fangs, and consequences.

Wow are your favorite writers in your genre?

I actually have more sf and fantasy influences than horror, perhaps. I grew up on classics, Dickens, Tolkien, Asimov. Early on I was in a total Arthurian phase, Malory, Tennyson, I loved Howard Pyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, too. Robin Hood, comic books, too, and Poe! Then I switched at some point to hard SF and all the 50s pulps and Tarzan. I love historicals like Hornblower, too, and Sharpe I’m reading now. I had my Anne Rice phase, too, but I don’t like Stephen King. While it is critical to know what has been done in your genre, I don’t like to be pigeonholed or get into routine with my writing, and my reading tastes are so varied anyway. I think one should read outside of their genre more perhaps, gain ideas and trends and bring them back to your work. I tend to alternate my books and reads, and don’t read and write in the same genre at the same time. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. I love non fiction and spiritual material, too. Really, what’s not to read?

What do you do in your spare time?

I have nothing but spare time! Not. Well, I work at home now so sometimes my fun time and work time do blur. When I need to get stuff done or things get crazy and interfere, that isn’t good. But when the writing is going magical and you do what you love, it’s easy to consider your work your fun. But I sleep a lot and do love me some sleep. I have to be in a streak to sew, but when I do, it’s pretty amazing stuff. And I like to Wii and pretend like I can play ice hockey again like in my younger glorious days. My husband and I do get on movie marathon streaks as well, and do little weekend travel trips when we can.


What’s the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

The worst is easy, simply because it is relative. What works for some will be disasterous with others. The Best advice is to just write, and be true to the material. If you took in every piece of what another author, editor, book, or publisher said, you’d probably find a lot of contradictions and never get anything done. We have such a rushed society, and at the seminars I’ve done with the New Jersey Authors Network, sometimes I’ve met aspiring writers who want to know about publishing and marketing but they haven’t completed a work yet. First and foremost, you have to write. The business research and all the bells and whistles can come later. Just sit down and tell the tale you have to tell. Fuck everything else. To thine own self be true! Then again, am I Stephenie Meyer, no, so maybe my advice tips should be taken with a grain of salt, hehe. The advice that works for you depends on what kind of writer you want to be. Not, do this for short fiction or this for non fiction, but are you going to write from your soul or sell out? So many people want to put the cart before the horse these days. Love your art, warts and all!

Do you have a writing routine?

In theory. Now, my little spot where I usually sit with my exercise ball is being taken up by my Christmas tree, so I’m a little squashed with all my stuff piled up by my usual recliner. I’m a night owl. I’d like to be normal and write in the day time, and be tan and do those things that sunshiney people do, but I enjoy the productivity that comes overnight. I have certain days and times when regular writing work needs to get done, but when edits or the muse takes over, it takes over! I’ll handwrite a first draft, then get a double session of fleshing out and editing as I type it at the keyboard, then there will be a dozen edits and read throughs before I go through my work by reading it out loud. That is my last touch where I get to hear how things sound, know if the rhythm matches the people or the place or where the plot lags.

How do you go about planning a new novel?

It depends. Sometimes ideas stew in my head or lie in my notebook for years, other times I have to immediately get a rough outline or draft done. Sometimes a great snip of dialogue will come to me, and once I start writing down, I find myself adding tags, descriptions, and I’m off. I also have to do goofy charts and side character materials. I will cut out photos or save entire folders of what a character would wear, jewelry, furniture. I’ll draw things, graph intersecting appearances and storylines. I do outline, sometimes just what happens from one seen to another, other times, completely finite stuff that takes up entire walls. Mainly, though, I don’t limit myself in any planning or composition. No, I have to adhere to this photo or the outline says this- forget that! You go where the story takes you then worry about the trimming next time around.

What are you working on now?

I’m trying to satisfy myself with the next two full length novels following Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family 7 book series with Muse It Up Publishing. I’ve been off and on this vampire material for years. I think some folks might think I’m always hawking the same thing! But I just wrote a lot of stuff over a long period of time. The 7 novellas in Fate and Fangs are comprised of earlier material as well as more recent events. Requiem for the Vampire Family will pick up where the final tale in Fate and Fangs- Resurrection, due out in February- leaves off, and now it is going to be split in two with the final act being The Vampire Family Forever. I do write more than horror, well, not just vampires at least! I have big space operas that just keep getting bigger, but those need a lot of work! I did step aside and do an edit with another local author Leigh Wood. Again it is important to step outside your comfort zone. I did a read through on her new fantasy erotica Horns of Myleness. Way out of my zone- unicorns and medieval love triangles! It was totally mature even with such high fantasy romps, serious, deep. I love the world building. I enjoy being able to move through time with my vampires, immerse myself in their world for a little while. You get sick of it, and I go slow with the hand writing and you write and read again and again and think you are sick of your story! But then you leave it for something else and find you miss it. It keeps you coming back for more! Whew!

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I’d like a reader to think about what they read after it’s done. I adore books that change you. I love to read and be a different person from whom I was at the start on Page One. I like questions, conversations, examinations. What does my opinion of this book say about me? Who am I in comparison to the villain of this piece? I like literature that informs, inspires, and entertains, showcasing a mirror of who we are and what we can do! Yes I get all philosophical and lofty and would die of happiness of someone ever said something I wrote was life changing! On my review blog I Think, Therefore I Review, a gentleman commented on a article I wrote for Highlander: The Series last year. He said he had worked overnights many years ago and the highlight of the night was watching the show. Finding my review brought back some great memories and he said, ‘and I thank you for that.’ It was the greatest thing ever!! I never want a reader to feel shy. Come to me, talk to me, discuss. To me my book, any book, is not set in stone, it is a dialogue, a conversation on the human condition that should be shared. I don’t think you can get that from a 140 character limit. Thank you. I love you! Read me! Authors are needed people with something to say.

Any last words?

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

teehee!

You can find Kristin at http://vampfam.blogspot.com/

and check out Humanity, her latest book
http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=307&category_id=64&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

The Story Behind Don’t Look Back, Agnes and In This House

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The story behind Don’t Look Back, Agnes and In This House
by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3q9rZryFMo
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422

The older I get, the more I like to reminisce and write about what I’m going through at any particular time. I guess it’s an age thing. So many of my stories and novels come about because of what I’m actually experiencing in my real life at the time. Not all, but some.
But my novella, Don’t Look Back, Agnes is definitely one such story.

At the end of 1998 my beloved father, the very heart (along with my mother’s mother, Grandmother Fehrt, who was also much loved) of my large family, passed away after a short but heartbreaking battle with lung cancer. He’d been a cigarette smoker his whole life so it wasn’t a complete shock that it ended up killing him. Yet the suddenness and the swiftness of his departure devastated my six siblings, my mother, grandmother, and me. It was a very dark time for us.

To complicate the matter, my brothers and sisters, myself included, were in our forties and working hard at our lives, our families and jobs, but my grandmother and mother were left living alone together and neither one drove; so both needed constant care and attention. My grandmother was in her eighties and my mother in her late sixties; though my grandmother was fairly healthy (she was spunky lady, with a zest for life, who’d emigrated from Austria as a child) my mother was already in a wheelchair, crippled from bad ankle surgeries, debilitating osteoarthritis and a host of heart related problems.

The first thing the family had to do was move them into town, nearer to some of us, and out of the country where they’d been living in the new sprawling house my father had built them just the year before. It was too hard caring for them way out there and the house was too big, too expensive. Boy, that was fun. They had so much stuff, so many memories to dispose of and cry over. We settled them in a small ranch house in town and life went on. Or tried to.

Now, I loved my mother and grandmother dearly but taking care of them was often difficult. Each needed concentrated care, love, endless visits to the doctor, prescriptions fulfilled and, as time went on, housekeeping and grocery shopping help–and finally, someone to do their bills, my mother becoming too disoriented and sick to any longer do any of those chores. For a long time, years, my grandmother stepped up, even at her age, and became my mother’s constant nurse and helper. Their two Social Security checks combined were just enough for them to live on. It was a thin line they had to tread and we tried to help them every step of the way.

So, with love, sometimes desperation, and some bickering every so often between us siblings as to who would do what when, we took care of them and their whole household, their house. There were many late night runs to hospital emergency rooms, or long stays, and rehab centers for my mother, who steadily over the next nine years grew worse. By the end of 2005 it seemed we were always at the hospital with mom or grandma. My mom had her heart troubles, high blood pressure and medication problems, and my grandmother broke her hip. One thing after another. It was exhausting at times. Who’d ever think two sick old ladies could need so much care?

Then my grandmother got really ill and was rushed to the hospital. She needed emergency surgery and afterwards was in intensive care for a month…never recovered…then sadly joined our grandfather in the next life. We were all so broken hearted.

That left our mother, all alone, without enough money to live on (her Social Security meager; no savings), and unable to care for herself or her three cats. Born an only child, she was a demanding sort of woman, almost childlike in her unending need for attention and devotion. She was terrified of going to a nursing home so the family did what we could to keep her in her own home as long as possible. My brother got her a reverse mortgage on her house and we all chipped in financially whenever and however we could. We fought the good fight but there came a day where mom got so sick, was rushed to the hospital so often, needed so much constant supervision, that my siblings and I had to admit defeat…mom had to go into a nursing home or one of us had to move in with her, which wasn’t feasible. We were married with families.

So a nursing home it was. We picked out a newly opened one in town, the nicest we could find, and the next time mom got sick we moved her into it for her recovery. Then told her the truth. The house was up for sale and the cats had been placed in new homes. I even took one, Patches (the cat in the story), because it was old and no one wanted her. My husband and I already had two cats but it was something I had to do…for mom. She really loved that cat as she’d really loved her home. But poor Patches, probably pining for her mistress and her old life, only lasted five months. I lied to my mother for months afterwards, afraid to tell her that the old cat had died (mom had always said that when Patches died, she’d die) and it broke my heart when I finally had to tell her. Mom had come to our house for a family Thanksgiving and I couldn’t hide the fact that Patches was no longer there. Oh, that was hard. Telling her.

If anyone has ever put a parent or relative into a nursing home, they know the heartbreak it causes all around. My mother was inconsolable and my guilt was awful. But, as sick as mom had become, with so many prescriptions each day, hospital visits, and how most days she couldn’t even get out of bed or get to the bathroom, clean or feed herself…we had no choice. She stayed in that nursing home – although it was a bright cheery place with kind people running it – until she died two years later. The hardest two years of my life. I visited her often, shopped for her and kept her company. Decorated her room so it looked like a home. Brought her special lunches and little gifts. Fancy quilts and stuffed cats. It still broke my heart.

I began writing the novella, Don’t Look Back, Agnes, while she was there. A ghost story centered around a young woman who’s forced by grim circumstances into returning to her haunted, and deadly, childhood home because her mother is ill in a nursing home and needs her. Looking back now, I can see it was also my way of dealing with the nursing home guilt…of wishing for a different ending to mom’s life than what had occurred. Writing the story was my therapy. I cried all my sorrow out into those words and prayed to be forgiven for putting my mother into such a place.

Even In This House, the bonus short story included because it’s also a ghostly tale, deals with old age and the passing of all a person (or a couple in this instance) ever knew or loved as time and their lives slip away, as it must always do. At the same time I was writing the Agnes story I read an article in the newspaper about this old man who was the last resident of a neighborhood that had been systematically bought out and emptied by an iron smelter plant. He was the last one living there in the last house. He spoke of his loneliness since his wife had died; about her. Their past. It sparked the idea for In This House. Both stories deal with responsibility, sacrifice and…love. Love for a mate, for an aging parent, children, and a way of life or the loss of one’s independence that we all in the end have to relinquish in one way or another. Life’s sorrows faced with a brave smile to cover the tears.

I hope the two stories help anyone going through what I was going through in those difficult years. If they do, then the words have done their job.

Written by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith this nineteenth day of December 2011

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A writer for 40 years I’ve had 14 novels and 8 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author’s Edition is a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.
My books (most out again from Damnation Books and Eternal Press): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***

Our anthology and us muselings in Preditors and Editors poll

The cover of “Lifeline,” the Poetic Muselings’ anthology, with artwork by Lin Neiswender, has been nominated in the P and E book/ebook cover artwork category.
Our cover, our anthology, and us poets are all in the Preditors and Editors poll:

Check it out, and if you like it, please vote.

http://www.critters.org/predpoll/bookart.shtml

Poetic Muselings poets http://critters.org/predpoll/poet.shtml

Lifelines Anthology http://critters.org/predpoll/antho.shtml