Pyramids and Punk

Help Me Get To Egypt, Get Cool Stuff

If you follow me on social media you likely know that I am finally planning to go to Egypt to do research for my AfroRetroFuturist series in progress. I found a tour that’s going to all the places I need to go, including one that package tours rarely go to, and it’ll cost me about $6,000 dollars all told. Some of that will be taken care of by the money I get from my (amazing, wonderful) Patreon supporters, but I have to raise the bulk of it outside of that. Thus, I set up a page on YouCaring.com.

I’m really eager to get this series of books and stories right. With it I intend to challenge ideas about gender roles in the ancient world and explore what a matrifocal, technological, and unquestionably African Egypt could look like. I’m doing it with characters that exist beyond binary sexualities and beyond binary genders, and whose problems don’t arise from those identities. And I’m doing it with queer Black women as my protagonists.

I need to go to Egypt because experience has taught me that in order to capture the sense of a place, a structure, or a monument in my writing I need to experience it firsthand.

In college I traveled to England for a class, and our teacher was able to get us special access to Stonehenge. We were allowed walk among the stones instead of settling for only getting tourist close. All my life I’d seen images of Stonehenge, heard from experts and visitors about how impressive an achievement it is, read about the height and weight and makeup of the stones. But it wasn’t until the moment I was standing next to them, touching them, and craning my neck up to see the top that I grokked the magnitude of the accomplishment Stonehenge represents.

I had to experience the truth of those facts myself before I could begin to understand and then convey them. I need to stand next to the pyramids for the same reason.

If you’d like to support this trip and my work in general but don’t want to do the monthly thing via Patreon, now you can send me a lump sum. All donors will get added to my new monthly newsletter mailing list, and depending on how much you donate, you get some of the same content my Patreon supporters get each month.

$25+ gets you a 30 minute video chat ask me anything session, $50+ gets you a piece of (very) short fiction every month, $100+ gets you chapters from the work in progress once a month, $200+ gets you a critique of a short story. There are some more levels and more rewards Click over to the YouCaring page to see them all.

As of this blog posting I’ve raised over $600, but I’m not to $1,000 yet. When I hit $600 I promised to do a live rewatch of The Prince of Egypt and a vlog with my reactions to it. That is coming up this weekend. When I hit $1,000 I’ll do the same with Exodus: Gods and Kings. With every major goal I hit — $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, etc.–I will do a live watch of some movie set in Ancient Egypt and very likely rip it apart for being inaccurate, whitewashed, or nonsense. It’ll be a good time.

And yes, one of those levels will unlock a live watch of The Gods of Egypt, which I have never seen. I will suffer through it for money.

If you’re able to donate, thank you! If you’re not ale to but want to help, please share this blog post or the direct link to the YouCaring page via social networks, email, directly to friends. Anything and everything helps.

Originality podcast logo

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.

A photoshopped image of tempest standing next to a camel with the great Pyramid in the background. An arrow points to Tempest, under it are the words This Could Be Me!

Want To Help Me Reach My Research Goals?

When I was in college I spent three weeks traveling the UK for a class that traced how mythology, folklore, history, and conquest all blended together. Toward the end, our teacher was able to get us special access to Stonehenge, meaning we could walk around inside and not have to settle for only getting tourist close.

All my life I’d seen images of Stonehenge, heard from experts and visitors about how impressive an achievement it is, read about the height and weight and makeup of the stones. But it wasn’t until the moment I was standing next to them, touching them, and craning my neck up to see the top that I grokked the magnitude of the accomplishment Stonehenge represents. I had to experience the truth of those facts myself before I could begin to understand them.

It was a key moment for me as a writer. It helped me realize how important experiencing a place is to being able to convey it on the page–for me.

Today we have so many tools at our disposal to help put us in places virtually. Google Earth is a treasure, Flickr and Facebook and the millions of photos you can find there from every angle are priceless, 3D modeling and 360 degree photography are everything. Still, I know myself, and I know that it’s hard to really capture what it’s like to be somewhere unless I’ve been there or been in a similar space. And there aren’t many places on Earth similar to the Great Pyramid in Giza.

I’ve wanted to go to Egypt on a research trip for many years, but events have made be wary to go until now. Yes, there’s still instability and unrest, but I think the time is finally right for me. So, I’m trying to gather funds for a trip.

The main way I’m doing this is through my Patreon. My first goal is to get to $700 per month. The next goal is $1000. I need to get to my first goal at least in order to save up enough for Egypt.

I’ve picked out a tour in May of 2018 — it’s a group package that includes all the sites key to my novels, including two sites not usually included in tourist packages. In order to go, I’ll need at least $5500.

If you are inclined to help me get to this goal, consider becoming my patron. There’s a $1 month level and everything. If you’re already a patron, or just do not have the wiggle room in your budget, would you tell your friends about my Patreon? All boosting of signal is helpful.

I’m also applying for grants and fellowships (SLF, Tiptree, etc.) to help fund this. If you know of any that I should be aware of, please do let me know.

I know I’m taking a big leap here, especially as I am not a proven novelist. I want very much to get this right, especially in later books in the series where a sense of place is key to the structure and worldbuilding. No matter what happens with these trips, I’ll keep writing and using the tools I do have to get this novel on paper and out in the world.

Come for the giant steampunk scarabs, stay for the matriarchal culture

Let Me Sum Up: May 2017 on Patreon

A summary of the content my Patreon patrons got for the month of May plus what’s new for patrons plus a kitty.

May was a weird month for me. A ton to do, a con to attend (and help organize), and writing to worry over. I ended up being stalled for most of the month due to brain weasels, but did manage to get all the May content complete and up… if a little late. I’ve discovered that having deadlines is somewhat useful for me, but what’s more useful is having people who are as forgiving about lateness due to brain weasels as they are eager to read what I’m writing. Once again I say: I have the best supporters.

Here’s what they got to access last month:

Read Along ($10 per month and up)

Section 2 of the book starts here! Patrons at this level got to read:

Sneak A Peek ($5 per month and up)

I had a hard time getting section 2 of the book started, so I had several scenes that ended up being cut or completely rewritten. I posted a few of them for the patrons on this level as well as a background sketch.

AMA ($2 per month and up)

In this Q&A post I answered a question about whether I’m an architect or gardener/discovery writer.

All Patrons ($1 per month and up)

Last month my new podcast, ORIGINality, debuted. I posted a link to the first episode here, but there was also a secret, members-only episode we recorded for folks who joined the Relay podcast network. That super secret episode is also available to my patrons!

Other Posts

This post is public, though it’s likely only of interest to people who’ve been reading the novel in progress: I’m Changing A Character’s Gender, Here’s Why

New Stuff

I’m adding new patron content over the next couple of months. June’s new thing is Writing Exercises, which I explain here.

So far I’m on track with June content, and there are more chapters and background sketches coming. Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through the turbulent month of May! And thank you to all the folks who just started supporting me. You give me a reason to keep writing.

Oh, I almost forgot, here is your kitty:

Bast statue with kittens at her feet

Support me on Patreon and read my steampunk ancient egypt novel as I write

Let Me Sum Up: April 2017 on Patreon

Last month I made a significant change to my goals over on Patreon. Not the amount, but the why. Now I’m not looking for support in general as I write my steampunk Ancient Egypt novel, I’m looking to fund some upcoming research trips I have planned. Since I am writing historical fiction, albeit fantasy-infused, I have a ton of research that needs doing, plus I need to set foot in Egypt at least once in my life in order to capture the sense of place the way I want to. To that end, I published a post about how I’ll use the money donated on Patreon, which you can read as it’s public.

As to what my patrons got to read last month:

Read Along level folks ($10/month) got chapters four, five, six, seven, and eight, which brings me to the end of section 1 of the book. I’m planning on 5 sections, we’ll see if that happens.

Folks on the Sneak A Peek level ($5/mo) also got to read Chapter Eight as well as two interludes that I’m trying to fit somewhere in the structure but don’t know exactly where they’ll go yet. I also posted a glimpse into the very first draft of this novel when it was a short story (ahahaha ahahaha AHAHAHAHAAAAAA ohgodIwillneverwriteanythinglessthan6000againwillI).

All patrons got to read a background scene exploring the history between my main character and her sister.

And there are a few interesting tidbits about my writing process in the Ask Me Anything posts for folks on the AMA tier and above.

As to what’s coming up in May: More of the same! I’m moving into section two of the book where all the DRAMAAAAAA happens. And the lesbian sex. This month’s background work is going to involve a ton of research into how a minority population successfully oppresses and marginalizes a majority population. Not exactly full of sunshine, I know.

One thing that will be on the more fun times end is that I am thinking of doing a class called Writing Practice based on some stuff I’ve noticed in the last couple of years teaching Writing the Other courses. The class will be entirely devoted to writing exercises with feedback from peers. The goal is to come up with one new exercise for every day and the class will last 30 days. But first I need to do one writing exercise every day to figure out which ones I want to use. A bunch of my efforts will likely end up in the patron content for May and June.

To those of you supporting me currently: Thank You So Much! I hope you’re enjoying the content.

To those of you still eyeing all this warily, I have some ideas for more things I can add to what patrons at different levels get that won’t take away from my writing time. Perhaps even the aforementioned writing exercises.

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.

Tempest is on Patreon! (And Looking For Your Support)

As of this month, I’m officially on Patreon and looking for patrons! You can support me creating cool stuff for $1 per month on up to $500 per month if you have deep pockets like that.

If you listened to my interview on the Less Than Or Equal podcast[1], you might be wondering why I said I was going to launch my Patreon page last year (wow, six months ago…) when I only just did so this month. There are a few reasons, but the biggest one can probably be summed up with the words Impostor Syndrome.

What’s so insidious about Impostor Syndrome is that even though I can identify it in other people and always attempt to beat it back with the “You’re awesome and your voice is needed and I’m glad you’re alive and loud and sharing your talent with the world” stick, I cannot always turn that on myself. Luckily, I do have friends to do so for me. After finally wrestling my brain weasels into a bag, I put my page together and even made a video.

Because I know that people think the Tempest Challenge and the video series that goes with it are valuable. I know that the Write Gear podcast has already helped some writers. I know that my writing on this blog and over at Medium and the other places I publish has added more signal than noise to discussions about genre and race and gender and writing. And I know that you all want to talk about Jem and the Holograms endlessly, just like I do! (And sing the songs, right? RIGHT?) That’s why I finally launched the Patreon, and I hope you’ll click and pledge and support.

Right now the support is for making vids and podcasts and writing non-fiction and not directly for me writing fiction. Why? Because I am a s.l.o.w. writer of fiction. And deadlines do not change that one iota. But I find that my own creative projects are much less draining than my freelance assignments. The opposite, actually: they energize and inform my fiction writing. So by pledging money to me for making vids and podcasts and writing essays and columns, you’re supporting me writing fiction as well.

Plus, you know you wanna see more You Done Fucked Up vids.

You can Make It So[2].

Footnotes

  1. You really should! It’s a great interview, if I say so myself.[]
  2. To all those who click and pledge: Thanks![]