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ORIGINality #5 – 73 Million Blank Notebooks

It’s the Bullet Journal episode! Yep, we’re all about the BuJo here, except I try not to use the word “bujo” because… well… bujo.

I’ve had kind of a rocky relationship with the whole concept of bullet journaling, but, as I talk about in this episode, once I found an article that explained them in a way that made me feel like I could use and benefit from the system, I got into it. And it helped me find a use for the 73 million blank notebooks I have lying around. Hopefully this episode will do the same for those of you who’ve considered a bullet journal but get intimidated out of trying it by Instagram.

You can listen to or download the episode here, or you can listen below. But if you subscribe you’ll get each new episode in your podcatcher automatically. And if you become a RelayFM member you get extra cool stuff.

Listen

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ORIGINality #4 and Writing Exercises

Another episode of ORIGINality is out! This one is just Aleen and myself, and we talk about the role of practice in creative endeavors. I talk in depth about how I have not seen practice emphasized in creative writing the way it was when I learned music and the way I see it valued in other arts like drawing or dance. And yet, I come across students in every class who lament that they aren’t that good at describing setting or dialogue or writing action. To that I say: if you know you’re not good at it, then why don’t you practice?

To that end, I started a new thing on my Patreon: writing exercises. All patrons get a new writing exercise each week that’s meant to be done every day. Each will be about developing some particular skill. I encourage patrons to share the exercises with each other, but you don’t have to.

Patrons who want feedback from me on their exercises can get it if they are contributing on the Learn You Some level. All patrons can ask the other folks in the community for feedback if they want.

The idea is to have a 10 – 20 minute chunk of your day devoted to writing that is just about building a skill and not contributing to your wordcount. Not all words need to be designed to be read. You can create things just for the purpose of trying out new stuff.

Listen to me go on about this in the podcast below, or subscribe so you can listen in your favorite podcatcher.

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ORIGINality podcast episodes 2 and 3

I’m behind on alerting you to the new episodes of my new podcast, ORIGINality. Please forgive me for such tardiness.

In episode 2, A Couch Not Possessed by Cats or Satan, Aleen interviews Mikah Sargent and she and I talk about what writers need in order to produce words. Be it time, money, good health, someone to help with responsibilities, or a couch that isn’t possessed by cats or Satan.

You can listen below, or subscribe via iTunes, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RSS feed, or Google Play.

In episode 3, Unicorn Sidekick, Aleen interviews Kathy Campbell, who currently holds that title. She and I then talk about the role organization plays in the creative process and I get deep in my feels about bullet journals.

You can listen below, or subscribe via iTunes, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RSS feed, or Google Play.

If you like this show, you can also support it by becoming a RelayFM member. The money goes directly to Aleen and myself if you support our show specifically. We also get a cut if you decide to support all the shows on the network (and there are some fantastic ones).

Podcast logo for Originality which has a 7 pointed star in pink and yellow with a dark pink and black background and the words Originality exploring the roots of creative genius

New Podcast: ORIGINality

Today is launch day for the new podcast project[1] I’m involved in: ORIGINality, where we explore the roots of creative genius. I’m doing this podcast with Aleen Simms, who you may recognize from the JEMcast (oh man, I really miss it) or her amazing podcast Less Than Or Equal. Aleen came up with the idea for ORIGINality and asked me to join her, and I said yes.

Each episode we’ll explore some aspect of creativity, and not just writerly creatives or even those most folks would put in the category of Artist. Most episodes will feature an interview with a creative genius that sparks our conversation, like episode 1: Steampunk Mermaids with Nisi Shawl. In this I asked Nisi about the reason she wrote Everfair — ahem, excuse me, that is Nebula and Locus award nominated Everfair — and Aleen and I talk about how annoyance with what you see in art can inspire you to create better versions of said art. Go listen!

ORIGINality will have a new episode every other week. If you subscribe it’ll show up in your podcast player automagically. And if you become a member of Relay/the show, you’ll get access to members only Episode 0 and other members only episodes in the future. Plus, you support the hosts (me! Aleen!) directly.

I’m very excited about where this podcast is gonna take us and I hope you love it, too :)

Footnotes

  1. Hey Tempest, I hear you saying, what about your OTHER podcast? The Write Gear? Well, dear listener, I am very much hoping to get back to that, but I am in need of someone to help me edit the show. That’s the big sticking point. Know anyone who wants to edit a podcast for free?[]
Tempest Challenge - History According to Women

History, According to Women | The Tempest Challenge

Today is the close of women’s history month! It doesn’t quite loom as large, or as annoyingly, as Black History Month in terms of the kinds of narratives it perpetuates about women. There’s still probably far too narrow a focus on what Women’s History means (I see a bunch of suffragette stuff bandied about). The thing that interests me most about women and history is how different history looks when women write it.

Take the research I’m currently engaged in. The novel I’m writing is a historical fantasy novel set in a real time in earth’s history. I’ve spent over a decade reading books and journal articles about Ancient Egypt for various versions of this project. A few years ago I hit a point where I decided that I just wasn’t going to read any more books on the subject written by men. The more I began to understand my research subject, the more I could see how much patriarchal nonsense plays a role in how everything from artifacts to culture are interpreted and presented.

I recently picked up Merlin Stone’s When God Was A Woman and found in the introduction a reaffirmation of the observations I’d made.

…another problem I encountered was the sexual and religious bias of many of the erudite scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most of the available information in both archaeology and ancient religious history was compiled and discussed by male authors. The overwhelming prevalence of male scholars, and the fact that nearly all archaeologists, historians and theologians of both sexes were raised in societies that embrace the male-oriented religions of Judaism or Christianity, appeared to influence heavily what was included and expanded upon and what was considered to be minor and hardly worth mentioning.

…Despite the discovery of temples of the Goddess in nearly every Neolithic and historic excavation, Werner Keller writes that the female deity was worshiped primarily on “hills and knolls,” simply echoing the words of the Old Testament. Professor W. F. Albright, one of the leading authorities on the archaeology of Palestine, wrote of the female religion as “orgiastic nature worship, sensuous nudity and gross mythology.” He continued by saying that “It was replaced by Israel with its pastoral simplicity and purity of life, its lofty monotheism and its severe code of ethics.” It is difficult to understand how these words can be academically justified after reading of the massacres perpetrated by the Hebrews on the original inhabitants of Canaan as portrayed in the Book of Joshua, especially chapters nine to eleven.

This part in particular caught my eye, given my proclivities:

In 1961 a series of mistakes was described by Professor Walter Emery, who took part in the excavations of some of the earliest Egyptian tombs. He tells us that “The chronological position and status of Meryet-Nit is uncertain, but there is reason to suppose that she might be the successor of Zer and the third sovereign of the First Dynasty.” Writing of the excavation of this tomb by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1900 he says, “At that time it was believed that Meryet-Nit was a king, but later research has shown the name to be that of a woman and, to judge by the richness of the burial, a queen.” He goes on to say, “In 1896 de Morgan, then Director of the Service of Antiquities discovered at Nagadeh a gigantic tomb which, from the objects found in it, was identified as the burial place of Hor-Aha, first king of the First Dynasty. However later research has shown that it is more probable that it was the sepulchre of Nit-Hotep, Hor-Aha’s mother.” And again he tells us that “On the mace of Narmer a seated figure in a canopied palanquin was once thought to be that of a man, but a comparison of similar figures on a wooden label from Sakkara shows that this is improbable and that it almost certainly represents a woman.” Yet, despite his own accounts of this series of assumptions that the richest burials and royal palanquins of the past were for men, rather than women, in describing the tomb of King Narmer he then states, “This monument is almost insignificant in comparison with the tomb of Nit-Hotep at Nagadeh and we can only conclude that this was only the king’s southern tomb and that his real burial place still awaits discovery …” Though some pharaohs did build two tombs, one might expect a “possibly” or “probably” rather than such an absolute conclusion and the implied dismissal of the possibility that, in that period of earliest dynastic Egypt, a queen’s tomb just might have been larger and more richly decorated than a king’s. (emphasis mine)

If you’re interested in this subject you should read the entire introduction because I can’t excerpt all the good parts here.

When God Was A Woman was written in the 1970s, but lo these almost 40 years later, this is still a problem. That’s because many of these foundational ideas of archaeology aren’t being challenged, they’re being taught. So new discoveries are often analyzed through these faulty, patriarchal lenses.

It’s not just men who do this, mind you. On one of my trips to Powell’s I came across a book I should have wanted to buy immediately: Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen by Joyce Tyldesley. But when I read the introduction I came across a paragraph that made me shut the entire thing and fling it back at the shelf.

The women of the 18th Dynasty enjoyed a freedom that made them unique in the ancient world. They had the same legal rights as men, and were permitted to own property, to work outside the home, and to live alone and raise their children without the protection of a male guardian.

Pause right here. This kind of paragraph can be found in many books or articles that tackle the subject of women in Ancient Egypt. These conclusions are based on several things, including existing records around Egyptian law, plus first person observations of historians and travelers from ancient times. This is where I wish most of these paragraphs would end. Yet there is always a But. Or, in this case, a:

Nevertheless, few women received a formal education and, in a country where maybe between two and ten per cent of the population was literate, few women could read or write. Women were not expected to train for careers.

Pausing again to slam my fist on a table. Because first, no one ever backs that bit about the formal education up with actual data and, second, what is the criteria for “formal education”? Is it “training men receive to do jobs generally done by men in these times”? I bet if you asked Joyce Tyldesley if masonry required a “formal education” she’d say yes, but if we asked her if weaving required one, she’d say no. And she’d be wrong.

Also, that line about “few women could read or write” is always, ALWAYS included in these things. But if less than ten percent of the population could read or write then that means few men could read or write, so why are we taking this time to single out women?

And finally, what constitutes a career in Ancient Egypt? Once again I’m going to bet if we asked, the answers would reveal this is some patriarchal nonsense. Because:

They were expected to marry and produce children, and mothers enjoyed a position of great respect within the home and the wider community. Nefertiti was no exception. Born a non-royal member of Egypt’s elite, she was married as a young girl to the most enigmatic individual in Egyptian history. By the age of thirty Nefertiti had borne at least six children and had transformed herself into a semi-divine human being. Meanwhile her husband, Akhenaten, had instigated a religious revolution and founded a capital city.

I don’t have time to dismantle all the nonsense around the idea of women being wives and mothers means they couldn’t have careers or read or anything, because this would turn into a book and other people have written far better ones on this than I could. But do you see how she positions Nefertiti as a person who was just expected to produce children, which she did, proving she was just like any other woman, but hey she was married to an extraordinary man! This is a book about Nefertiti.

You see why I put it back on the shelf.

And yeah, Joyce Tyldesley is a woman, and she still falls under the sway of patriarchal nonsense, because she was educated by the institutions that uphold it. That’s going to be true for many of the books I come across in my research quest. Still, of the books about Egypt, and about history in general, that I read, the ones I see stepping out of the shadow of patriarchy are all written by women. I’m more willing to give those books my time and money.

Many of the research books I’ve come across in the last few years are written by women who seem to acknowledge that early pioneers in this field had unexamined biases and that their conclusions and conjectures need not be dismissed, but rather re-examined in that light. Still, they are willing to step back and see new things, reach different conclusions, and present a different paradigm.

And that’s so important, not just in archaeology, but in many disciplines that examine the past. The assumptions and base viewpoints of the scholars doing the research will always have an impact. And it would not surprise me to find that across many different history categories there are women writing books, papers, articles, and more that are more willing to poke at those paradigms. It probably costs them to do so. That’s another good reason to seek out their work.

Here are my current favorite books that touch on Ancient Egypt written by women. I’m always on the hunt for new ones. If you know of any, please do share them in the comments.

When God Was A Woman by Merlin StoneWhen God Was A Woman by Merlin Stone

This book doesn’t focus on Egypt specifically, yet it’s been very valuable to me as I try to construct a matrifocal[1] culture for my book. Stone talks about the evidence she found for how spiritualities and religions with goddesses at the center as well as how women were treated in the cultures where this was prevalent. Then she goes into how matrifocal cultures were invaded and replaced by patrifocal ones. It’s all fascinating and still relevant many decades on. More relevant right now, I’d say.

Hathor Rising The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt by Alison Roberts Ph.D.Hathor Rising: The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt by Alison Roberts Ph.D.

The way Dr. Roberts illuminates the story of the goddess Hathor through textual, mythological, and archaeological evidence is amazing. Hathor is so much more than just Egypt’s Aphrodite, and is so intertwined with the other major female deities as well as the history and evolution of dynastic Egypt that I’m surprised more alternative Egyptologists don’t spend more time on her. The author is not necessarily of that alternative set; I do find it interesting that the press where she chose to publish this leans heavily toward books on spirituality and not serious books on Ancient Egypt.

The Dawning Moon of the Mind Unlocking the Pyramid Texts by Susan Brind MorrowThe Dawning Moon of the Mind: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts by Susan Brind Morrow

If, like me, you have ever tried to read the Pyramid Texts or the so-called Book of the Dead and went: “The hell? This doesn’t make sense…” you need to read this book. It’s a new translation of the texts by a woman who understands poetry, knows multiple languages derived from Ancient Egyptian, and views the texts from a spiritual perspective most of the original translators don’t. The middle of the book is the straight up translation, but the first and third parts go through the texts line by line, column by column, explaining the author’s conclusions and readings. It’s so wonderful.

The Woman Who Would Be King Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara CooneyThe Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

I haven’t read this one yet! I’m recommending it, anyway, based on the reviews that I’ve read, including this one from a woman Egyptologist on Goodreads. Hatshepsut may be the protagonist of my next book in the Steampunk Egypt books, so this is near the top of my To Read pile. I am side-eyeing that cover, though.


I do have a few other go to Egyptology books that I always keep around written by men. So let’s not hear any of you saying BUT BUT BUT YOU’RE MISSING OUT BLAARRGGG because I’m not. Going forward, though, if an Egyptology book isn’t written by a woman or a trans person or a non-binary person, it’s going to have to prove itself to me in several specific ways before I get too deep into it.

For those who venture into the comments, which books about history written by women are your favorites?

Footnotes

  1. Matrifocal is a new term I heard at this year’s ICFA conference. It encompasses matriarchal and matrilineal, which aren’t exactly the same thing. It’s a nice umbrella term.[]

Book Trailer: Untitled Egyptian Steampunk Novel In Progress

Can one have a book trailer for a book that isn’t quite written yet? Dunno, but I decided to make one, anyway. Given that I have no budget and only rudimentary video editing skills, this was always going to look very DIY. Enjoy…

Teehee.

As you may have surmised, this is part of the video I made for my Patreon page. I’m in the middle of draft 2 of this novel and I’m looking for some support as I write it. If you become my patron, you can see excerpts from the book each month or even read along as I write one chapter per week. The draft is still pretty rough, so I cannot promise you polished.

I’ll also post about some of my writing process, including the quite intriguing research I’ve done and will do for this book.

Plus there will be deleted scenes, DVD extras, and microfiction every month. I have reward levels starting at $1 per month on up to $25.

Support Black Authors, Artists, and Creatives

Support Black Authors, Artists, & Creatives | Tempest Challenge Black History Month

Winding down Black History Month by talking about The Black Present, which is more important. History is important to know and understand so we can work toward a better future. But the present is where we live, and Black people’s challenges aren’t a thing of the past. The thing that’s gonna get us through and into that glorious future all humans want for themselves and the people who come after is art, and it’s crucial that artists at a social, cultural, or class disadvantage get all the support we can find for them.

Support Black writers and artists and performers and playwrights and filmmakers and other creative people. Support them by buying their books and art and jewelry or going to their shows or movies. Support them by boosting the signal about their art on social media, to your friends, or to influencers such as editors, publishers, gallery owners, venue owners, museums and the like. Or support them directly through Patreon and crowdfunding sites and tip jars.

For that last one, I challenge you to peruse the list below and back at least one of them, preferably two or three.

Taneka & Genué

Taneka is a black queer tumbleweed and the co-founder of Beyond Press, a small press responsible for the award-winning Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology, ELEMENTS: Fire an Anthology by Creators of Color, and the newly launched Passion Fruit: A Queerotica Anthology by Queer Creators. Genué is a queer xicana who has been sharing fancomics and pinups for sites like Tumblr and Filthy Figments, but has finally pushed through to the other side with her debut in ELEMENTS: Fire and as the colorist of Full Circle.

Together, we’re finally ready to share our worlds with you.

Love Circuits, is a comic that was born out of a rotten deal with a publisher that no longer exists (HOORAY). After paying to get our IP back, we have full control of sharing the adventures of Yvonne King, a new kind of sculptor living in an alternative Miami, and Lucos, a refurbished android companion.

Demonomics (or “Business is Hell”), is a fun little doodle comic about demons in the fashion industry starring Reyna, Amon, and Luce. We’ll tell you now, the devil definitely does wear Prada and looks amazing in Louboutins.

Terence Wiggins

black nerd network header
From his Patreon page:

Do you like podcasts? What about video podcasts? Do you like writing about video games? What about cookies? Do you also like jokes?

Because I’m doing all of those things.

You should hop over there and look at the whole list, but for me, this cinched it:

Fanfiction Theater is a 10-15 minute podcast where I read crossover fanfictions accompanied by classical music.

Y’all. Come on. Give him a dollar for that at least.

Joyful Reads by Kristen Carter


From the GoFundMe page:

I’m starting a monthly subscription box called Joyful Reads. Joyful Reads is a subscription box committed to marginalized voices and books that reflect the world around us. I would like to open in May 2017. Our target demographic is teenagers and young adults who love Young Adult literature.

You can also support Kristen via:

Damien

From the Patreon page:

So look, here’s the thing: For the past decade, I’ve been writing, talking, thinking, teaching, and learning about philosophy, comparative religion, magic, artificial intelligence, human physical and mental augmentation, pop culture, and how they all relate. I think about, talk about, write about, and work toward a future worth living in, and I want to do all of that with you.

I mean a future where we have the option but not the expectation to self-cyborg. A future where, when we’re confronted with the new and unprecedentedly strange kinds of minds we’re likely to meet in this century, we can embrace the new and the strange, and use it to make ourselves even more than we already are. A future where everyone has the data, information, knowledge, and ability to conduct their lives in their communities, the best they know how.

I’m doing this work at both AFutureWorthThinkingAbout.com and, now, Technoccult.net, but to do all of this—to write, talk, read, converse, and write some more to, with, and about leading thinkers-and-doers in many fields of philosophy, science, art, technology, magic…so many thing—takes time, and so much of all of our time, these days, is spent trying to make money, and, to be honest, some of the ways we spend our time making our livings can drain the will to live, let alone do the kind of work we love and want to be doing.

That’s where you come in.

Wanda Lotus


Her photos are amazing!

From her Patreon:

I am a native New Yorker and street photographer. Capturing ordinary people living everyday life is my passion. I have been doing it since 2007, when I decided to seriously nurture my life-long interest in photography. Now I am working towards getting my work in front of a wider audience. Your monthly pledges will help me do that! With your donations I will be able to send initial contact packets to galleries and art dealers, self-publish photo books (including hiring professionals to help me with the layouts),enter prestigious photo contests, and have my photos printed and framed for exhibitions.

Odera Igbokwe

My name is Odera Igbokwe and I am an illustrator and painter. You might know me from projects such as”Odera Redesigns the cast of Sailor Moon”,FEM4FEM,”Pepperbreath!: A Digimon Fanzine”, or Black History Month: Celebrating illustrators/painters of the African Diaspora.

I am constantly creating more inclusive illustrations, that celebrate the diversity of people of the african diaspora, and show that we exist in fantastical realms.

With “Melanin Mythologies” I will produce 2* illustrations a month. One illustration is exclusive to patrons, and the other is open to the general public. These will range from character illustrations to original paintings. (*2 illustrations a month can happen if we reach the $500 goal!)

Your support on Patreon will provide me with the resources to create more inclusive illustrations. As an illustrator, many of the assignments I take on continue to exclude people of the african diaspora. With your support I can take on less of those assignments, in favor of showing the world more of our black resilience, intersectionality, and magic aka ~melanin on fleek~

OliveOilCorp / Alone

Alone is a romance comic about the budding relationship between Jack, a quiet widower, and Sarah, a former musician, as they both try to reconcile with their pasts.

While a love story at its core, Alone also deals with themes of grief, family, prejudice,addiction, and the effect music has on our lives. You can read all of the story up to this point for free at alone-comic.com.

I’ve been posting Alone online for the past two years, but between juggling school and other jobs, updates have been…sporadic at best. Supporting my Patreon will help me dedicate more time to working on the comic and other side projects along the way.

Milton Davis

Hey y’all! I’m here with a group of talented artists and writers to create my first Sword and Soul graphic novel series, Uhuru. Uhuru is based on my novel series Meji, but expands the world of the epic fantasy with new stories and new characters. If you liked Meji, you’ll love Uhuru.

Mildred Louis / Agents of the Realm

Agents of the Realm is a College years coming of age story, taking influence from a number of timeless Magical Girl themed tales. Shortly after beginning their first year of college at Silvermount University, Five young women; Norah, Adele, Kendall, Paige and Jordan, discover that they’ve each been chosen to help protect not just our world, but a newly discovered sister dimension as well. As they venture forward through their college years, their lives start to take on forms of their own, providing them with new opportunities to learn just how much power they have over their destinies. This is a currently running webcomic that updates twice a week on Sundays and Thursdays.

Tanya DePass / I Need Diverse Games

I Need Diverse Games is my full time job thanks to I Need Diverse Games becoming a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization as of August 13th, 2016. Because of this change, I’m dedicating all my time and resources available, but doing this doesn’t generate a lot of money to keep the lights on, pay for miscellaneous things that you need daily. In fact, keeping I Need Diverse Games afloat would cost me what little I had to spare when I was employed.

If you can help me support myself while I do this work it would be great. Thank you in advance for any help you can give so I can continue to do this full time.

Zig Zag Claybourne

From his Patreon page:

First rule of Write Club is talk incessantly about writing, because everybody out there has questions about story and I don’t mean just of the written variety. I mean story. Life. So we talk. We might understand something essential maybe around the 27 trillionth conversation had.

I love fiction. Worlds imagined, worlds altered, reshaped or totally twisted. Anything that fires the imagination is a gift from the gods. As such I try to only write fiction that I feel, something that resonates between us beyond the financial transaction. I want to add vitality to that 27 trillion-and-one conversation.

I can do that with your help. Maybe you like blogs on writing. Maybe you don’t mind some slice-of-life. My “Posts” page is for you; we can play however we like there. I’ll write for you, I’ll honor you and, most importantly, we’ll get to listen to each other. That, my friends, is a conversation worth having.

Gisele Jobateh

I have been working on my webcomic Star Trip for three years now and both the comic’s art and writing have improved significantly. I am currently working on Book 2 and the completed comic will be THREE Books in total with around 400-500 pages per book. I really enjoy working on this comic and I am very proud of how much it has grown!

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN! Your contributions per month will give me enough of a safety net to help me stay on my feet and keep creating. In return for your patronage you will receive exclusive Patreon only posts of concept art for the currently running Star Trip chapter, Patreon exclusive monthly wallpapers, early access to my mini comics, scanned sketchbooks, and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with helping an artist do what they love while keeping them housed and fed!

Inda Lauryn

From the Patreon page:

I host a radio show called the Black Swan Collective. When I announced this show, I mentioned that I had larger intentions for it than just music. I wanted to feature artists of all types and give them a platform to showcase their work. So this is what I’m going to do as soon as possible.

I am planning to launch a daily (weekday) show to give Black women artists of all types a platform. I want to talk with women in music, film, theatre, writing, poetry, painting, sculpting, fashion, comics, mixed media, anything they use to express themselves creatively. Furthermore, I want to talk with activists whether or not they use art to address their social issues.

You can also support them via:

Bethany C Morrow

I’m a speculative literary author of YA and adult fiction. Raising my voice in a world trying to silence me.

Follow her on Twitter @bcmorrow.

Support her via:

Shannon Barber

I’ve been a fan of Shannon’s non-fiction writing for a while; you should read it here. Then head to her Patreon and support her writing by supporting her!

Astria Legends

Astria Legends is a Christian Fantasy series that is being adapted into novels, comics, animated shorts, dance and spoken word productions as well as other visual/performance arts mediums.

Black Girl Squee

From the Patreon:

Podcasting, like mainstream media, has become another male-dominated medium. Even the spaces occupied by people of color tend to amplify male voices over women’s.

I want to change that. My goal is to build a podcast network of shows made by and for women, primarily women of color. My dream is to hear women’s perspectives on everything from music to pop culture to politics, sports, and activism, in a thoughtful way, always considering intersectionality.

You can help make this vision reality by supporting this Patreon. Donations will be used to cover the costs of shows already in production (Black Girl Squee, Ratchet Research) as well the creation of new shows that will be the foundation of the premium podcast network (i.e., the Building Fund).

Random Jeweler

I am rebuilding my jewelry business and to do that, I’m experimenting with selling some poetry. Subjects will include job hunting, Memphis life, and the struggles of living between the margin and the center in the Trump era.

Did I miss you? Go on and add your links and/or pitch in the comments :)

August Wilson's Plays

August Wilson’s Plays | Tempest Challenge BHM

When I was a wee Tempest by mother took me with her on a business trip to New York City. We had tickets to see the original Broadway run of Fences with James Earl Jones playing the lead. After the play, we went backstage and I met him. I don’t know how she pulled that off. My mother was a magical fairy of some type. It didn’t completely sink in how amazing that moment was when it happened to me, but I do remember being fascinated with the play. I was too young for it, probably, but I understood enough.

The only reason I have not yet seen the movie Fences is because I still have the memory of that performance in my head. And it was so powerful and so wonderful I don’t want to do anything that might change or erase it.

Still. Everyone needs to see Fences[1]. It needed to be brought to the big screen. Because everyone needs to experience the power of August Wilson’s plays.

You can buy his Pittsburgh Cycle/Century Cycle plays, of which Fences is one, as a bound edition. And if you read them, you will start to understand Wilson’s brilliance as you also come to understand the Black American experience he was trying to illuminate. It’s just that reading plays is never the same as attending them. They weren’t meant to be read–though Wilson of course knew that some folks would only ever get to read and not see them. This is why I say the movie is important.

Rent Fences, buy Fences, tell your friends about Fences, understand Fences. And then read all the rest and write letters to Denzel Washington begging him to please, please keep going and make all of these plays into movies.

Footnotes

  1. I mean right now. It’s streaming. Get it.[]
Black History Month Linkspam

Linkspam | Tempest Challenge Black History Month

This is the point where I cry out I’M JUST ONE PERSON! And also admit it was a bit of a major task to set myself to post something every single day. But I got through several awesome books and authors, and I have something similar planned for next month. Plus, this has got me back into the mood for doing Tempest Challenge stuff.

For this post I’ve decided to take advantage of other people’s awesome collections of Black authors and books you should read. Thus, this Black History Month linkspam.

Please add any relevant links in the comments.

Anthologies and Collections

Anthologies & Collections | Tempest Challenge Black History Month

Since we’re rolling into the middle of the month I’m going to suggest multiple readings for you in one post. Honestly, with the number of things I’ve highlighted already, you have enough reading to last you half a year. But you can never read enough words written by Black people!

Today it’s all about fiction anthologies and single author collections. They are mostly speculative fiction. I have never been shy about my biases.

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones edited by Sheree R. Thomas

Here, just watch this.

Sycorax’s Daughters, edited by Linda D. Addison, Kinitra Brooks PhD, and Susana Morris PhD

A Horror Anthology of fiction & poetry by African-American women. From Book Riot:

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Caliban, son of the Algerian sorceress Sycorax, is enslaved, but his male voice remains, to curse, to argue, to beg forgiveness. Sycorax, dead by Prospero’s hands long before the story begins, cannot speak.

Sycorax’s Daughters summons the silenced voice.

“This nation holds that Blackness, and therefore Black people, are the ultimate horror,” writes Walidah Imarisha in her foreword. The evening news is rife with cultural bias conflating blackness with monstrosity, even as the Black experience of “gentrification, white supremacists, brutal cops, and…slavery” makes the most brutal supernatural horror tropes appear “almost banal.” Many stories in the collection cast the Black female protagonist in a role that, from the outside, seem to mark her as the monster, even as her experience of the world has dictated her response.

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture edited by Ytasha L. Womack

From Sofia Samatar’s review:

…[this book] provides a lively introduction to an important black aesthetic. Womack’s subject is the creative output of a diverse group of artists: they are “[v]isual artists, graphic artists, musicians, poets, DJs, dancers, writers, and filmmakers,” and all employ “black characters or aesthetics to deconstruct images of the past to revisualize the future” (p. 22). The “Afro” in Afrofuturism is Africa and the African diaspora; the “futurism” is an expressive mode concerned with imagining a viable black future. Womack’s use of the word “revisualize” indicates Afrofuturism’s oppositional stance: in a world crammed with negative images of black people, cultures, and history, Afrofuturistic artists strive to see the world over again, to read it differently. They reread the signs, repurpose them, remix them, refuse them, and recreate them.

…Afrofuturism, as described by Womack and others, is not only about the future, but it uses the future as a source of energy. Consider Womack’s remarks on space:

Space is a frequent theme in Afrofuturist art. Whether it’s outer space, the cosmos, virtual space, creative space, or physical space, there’s this often-understated agreement that to think freely and creatively, particularly as a black person, one has to not just create a work of art, but literally or figuratively create the space to think it up in the first place. The world, it seems, is jam-packed with bought-and-sold rotated images, some as stereotypes and others as counterimages that become stereotypes mounting into watershed debates about “positive” and “negative” images in the media. (p. 142)

This is really a comment on the present, on the world we know, but it’s written in a way that demands a future: art is in the future; art is what comes after the space that must be created in order to make it possible. The urgency—one “has to” create both space and art, in order “to think freely and creatively”—flows from both the present and the past. It flows from opposition to the “rotated images” that fill the world, images that make the black past and present seem irreparably damaged, and the future impossible. While pessimism is not the prerogative of any one group, it has a particular hold on Africa and the African diaspora. As the sociologist Alondra Nelson tells Womack: “There’s something about racism that has produced a fatalism that has impacted futuristic thinking” (p. 41). Nelson explains that this fatalism is countered by black prophetic traditions, and it’s interesting to see Afrofuturism in that context: as a mode of futuristic thinking that draws on spiritual understanding and practices, and adds an emphasis on the power of technology.

Lonely Stardust: Two Plays, a Speech, and Eight Essays by Andrea Hairston

From a review by Rubén Mendoza:

Employing a hybrid mixture of voices, registers and sources, Hairston’s essays cover a wide-ranging archive that draws illuminating transdisciplinary connections across the fields of literature, film, performance, theatre, popular criticism and scholarly critique. While her plays at times reflect a bit too much of an underlying academic orientation (an aesthetic expression overly intertwined with and explicitly reflective of critical discourse and theory), taken together with her speech and in conversation with these essays they work to help flesh out a larger, more complex mixture of aesthetic and critical discourses that provides valuable insight into the films and literature Hairston analyses, as well as her own creative process and aims.

On the surface, Hairston’s book might be mistaken for a collection of disparate works that do not quite cohere into a whole, particularly given the inclusion of her plays and speech after her essays and the broad, unruly scope of varied works that they cover. … In many ways, though, it is the brief essay ‘Heretical Connectedness’ that is key to this complex, wide-ranging collection. … ‘Heretical Connectedness’ mounts a science-oriented defence of Lynn Margulis’s science treatise, Symbiotic Planet (A New Look at Evolution), and the Gaia theory of symbiosis and mutualism that it forwards. At the core of Hairston’s politico-aesthetic project is precisely the kind of symbiotic mutualism for which Margulis argues. And as the title of this short but packed piece implies, embracing such a symbiotic approach, both in science and aesthetics, is heretical. This is not just because such an embracing runs against the grain of compartmentalisation and specialisation but because of the disavowed connectedness it reveals in systems of interlocking oppressions. …as Hairston argues through analyses of films, plays, novels, critical receptions of aesthetic works, and even moments of interaction with others in her own life, in the context of an empire of ‘American Capitalist Wasteland’ and white male heteronormativity that is ‘invisified’ through universalist mechanisms of normalisation which seek to disavow and erase difference and connection – connectedness is heretical.

Filter House by Nisi Shawl

From the Tiptree Award website:

Publishers Weekly, which selected Filter House as one of the best books of 2008, described it as an “exquisitely rendered debut collection” that “ranges into the past and future to explore identity and belief in a dazzling variety of settings.” Tiptree jurors spotlight Shawl’s willingness to challenge the reader with her exploration of gender roles.

Juror K. Tempest Bradford writes, “The stories in Filter House refuse to allow the reader the comfort of assuming that the men and women will act according to the assumptions mainstream readers/society/culture puts on them.”

Juror Catherynne M. Valente notes that most of Shawl’s protagonists in this collection are young women coming to terms with womanhood and what that means “in terms of their culture, magic (almost always tribal, nuts and bolts, African-based magical systems, which is fascinating in itself), [and] technology.” In her comments, Valente points out some elements of stories that made this collection particularly appropriate for the Tiptree Award: “‘At the Huts of Ajala’ struck me deeply as a critique of beauty and coming of age rituals. The final story, ‘The Beads of Ku,’ deals with marriage and motherhood and death. ‘Shiomah’s Land’ deals with the sexuality of a godlike race, and a young woman’s liberation from it. ‘Wallamellon’ is a heartbreaking story about the Blue Lady, the folkloric figure invented by Florida orphans, and a young girl pursuing the Blue Lady straight into a kind of urban priestess-hood.”

Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

From a review by Eric J. Guignard:

Ghost Summer is a first-rate foray into horror that doesn’t have to be shocking or violent or gruesome to be effective, but rather finds its success in quiet, introspective, and atmospheric tales that wind readers down a lovely meandering path of curiosity and subtle dread before they find they are lost inescapably in some dark forest with a menacing breath coming from over their shoulder.

…each [story is] a character-driven piece that continues to affirm the author as an exemplary storyteller. The tales run the gambit between suspense, horror, post-apocalyptic, and magical realism. …There’s no reliance on gimmicks, but rather a confident literary voice that fills Due’s writing with allure, thrills, and equanimity.

So these are just a few of my favorites. there are more. Share them in the comments.