2018 Wrap-Up and What I Wrote

2018 was a wild and crazy ride, full of ups and downs in my writing and personal life. As a result, I don’t have as many short story publications as I did in 2017.

Still, I’m doing an awards eligibility post (for the Hugo,  the Nebula, the Stoker, et al.) and a year end wrap-up because some amazing things did happen.

Like, I got a book deal! *Screams*

My debut novel, TYING THE DEVIL’S SHOESTRINGS, is a middle-grade Southern Gothic historical fantasy about twins learning rootwork, protecting themselves from monsters, and finding their place in the world. And it’s full of Gullah-Geechee tradition and folklore. Set in pre-Civil rights era South Carolina, the inspiration for the novel is stories from my grandmother, my great aunts, and my mother. My writing is so influenced by the place I’m from that I’m going to start referring to this subgenre that I write in as Gullah Gothic.

They want a second middle-grade book as well, which I’m well on my way to completing.

But this is also a 2018 short story award eligibility post, so on to the short stories I had published this year!

  • Every Good-Bye Ain’t Gone (Strange Horizons): My first story with this spectacular magazine! A Southern Gothic w/ love, loss, & food as séance. “…the only time her mother ever cooked was when a person had passed on and someone needed to speak with the dead.”

 

For Southern Girls 3

 

  • One If by Sea (Augur Magazine): One If by Sea (pubbed by Augur Magazine) – Fantasy flash. How far would you go to get your child from the land of the dead? A mother gets instructions. “You want your little girl back or not? I’ma tell you how to do it.” {You’ll have to purchase a copy of the issue to read the entire story, but you can read an excerpt at the above link.}

One if By Sea Collage

 

If you haven’t already, give these stories a read and if any of them move you, please consider nominating them!

 

 

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Crickets Sing for Naomi: A Release

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OMG. I’m so excited to announce that my Southern Gothic fantasy short story “Crickets Sing for Naomi” is up on PodCastle!

I’ve been listening to EscapeArtists Inc.’s podcasts (PodCastle for fantasy, Escape Pod for sci-fi, PseudoPod for horror, and most recently Cast of Wonders for YA.), for ages now and it’s such and honor to have one of my stories accepted there.

The story is read by the golden-voiced Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, one of the editors for the podcast. She’s done a wonderful job with the voices and the nuances of tone and enunciation. Which isn’t easy when all three speaking characters are women.

Crickets_podcastle

 

The idea for “Crickets Sing for Naomi” was born when I lived in an apartment in Northern Virginia. For some reason, crickets were everywhere–the sidewalks, the stairs–and they followed me around. At least they seemed to. So much so that one of my friends started calling me a cricket shaman.

As for the title of the story, it’s based on the song “Crickets Sing for Anamaria”, the English-language version of “Os Grilos” (“The Crickets”), written by Brazilian musicians Marcos Valle and Paulo Sérgio Valle.

Head on over to PodCastle and listen to the story for free. While you’re there, have a little nose around at their other stories. I’m sure you’ll find a lot to enjoy.

PodCastle

Day 22: V.H. Galloway

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Veronica Henry writes speculative fiction under the name V.H. Galloway. Born in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., she is a resident of Austin, TX, who has also lived in Ohio, California, and Nevada. From her career in tech, to her fascination with the stars, she is made of and loves all things geek.
In 2008, she traced her African ancestry to Sierra Leone and the subsequent trip still remains one of her proudest moments and her fiction often incorporates African themes.
Her short story “We Have Ended” is an example. It was chosen to be a part of Fiyah Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction’s first issue, “Rebirth,” a review of which you can find earlier on this blog.

Her horror/sci-fi hybrid, The Un-United States Of Z is a trilogy series that even for non-zombie fans has been described as “tasteful insanity.” In this trilogy, Galloway shows that even during the zombie apocalypse, the country remains racially divided. She has said “Reflecting this reality in my work is important because I think that its is only through ongoing dialogue that we can effect change.”

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Learn more about Veronica on her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

Day 21: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911) was born to a free African-American woman in Baltimore, and studied at her uncle’s school, the William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. She worked briefly as a servant, becoming a teacher in Ohio and Pennsylvania when she was in her mid-to-late twenties.

In 1854, she moved to the Boston area, and became active in abolitionist movement, lecturing publicly against slavery. In that same year, she  published Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, which sold over ten thousand copies.

In 1859, her story “The Two Offers” was published in Anglo-African Magazine, making her the first African-American woman to publish a short story in the United States.

The story concerns two cousins, Laura and Janette, who consider Laura’s two offers of marriage. Janette suggest her cousin’s hesitation is due to her not wanting either man. Laura feels obligated to marry. Harper does not disclose the race of the the characters, suggesting similarities in how women are viewed and treated in black and white society. Her story provides an alternative to the established gender roles of the age, letting Janette embrace the idea of having her freedom by becoming “an old maid.”

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Some may say this story isn’t horrific enough. Since women of the time faced these choices–marry or live in poverty, I’ve decided to include it. A line from Harper’s story:

A shadow fell around her path; it came between her and the object of her heart’s worship; first a few cold words, estrangement, and then a painful separation; the old story of woman’s pride—digging the sepulchre of her happiness, and then a new-made grave, and her path over it to the spirit world; and thus faded out from that young heart her bright, brief and saddened dream of life.

Read “The Two Offers” online free.

 

Graveyard Shift Sister: Chatting with Nuzo Onoh

I was updating my media kit recently and I realized I’ve been writing features for the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog for over a year now. For anyone unfamiliar with Graveyard Shift Sisters, it is a site dedicated to purging the black female horror fan from the margins. Before sites such as GSS, many of us had few like minds to discuss our love of the genre with. In talking with other black female horror writers, we also experienced surprise from others–readers and authors alike–and it was much the same:

*You* write horror? Really? 

Yes. Yes, I do and I’m not alone.

Those responses were the reason I reached out to the owner of GSS, Ashlee Blackwell, and asked if I could write a feature on the black women who write horror. To my delight she responded with a resounding, “Yes!”.

My posts for these features tend to be my reading a book of the author’s choice and reviewing it, along with sending them an emailed list of questions about their work and inspirations, their experience with horror, and what shape they would like to see future of horror take. I’ve been told it’s one of Graveyard Shift Sisters’ most popular features. *Blush* (Actually, I think it’s badass.)

Badass as in Rosalind Cash as Lisa in The Omega Man badass.
Badass like Rosalind Cash as Lisa in The Omega Man badass.

This time, I had a real treat with the feature. Since I’ve moved to the UK, I’ve not been able to find a strong group of writers to talk shop with and I missed that feeling of camaraderie. So when African horror author Nuzo Onoh emailed me to review her latest release, Unhallowed Graves, I asked her if she’d be open to doing the interview on the phone instead of via email. (My first review/interview with her was via email on her short horror collection, The Reluctant Dead. You can read about it here.)

Nuzo agreed and I’m so glad she did. It’s different conducting an interview on the phone, but it was the right call to make. (Ha!) We had an inspiring talk about writing, writing horror as a woman of African descent, the similarities between her culture (Igbo) and mine (Gullah-Geechee), and the differences between England and America. (That last topic is for another post.)

Read my review of Unhallowed Graves and my conversation with Nuzo on the first two topics on the Graveyard Shift Sisters site here.

Do you know of a black female horror author whose work I should feature on a future post? Let me know!

Graveyard Shift Sister: Me!

Whenever I do an interview and review for the Graveyard Shift Sister website, I also post it here in case there’s someone who follows my blog, but isn’t connected to me on Facebook or Twitter.

Since the last post was about me, I’d neglected to do that.

While I have no issue singing the praises of other authors, I have a hard time promoting my own work. A part of me feels like it’s tooting my own horn and I should be more modest. But blogs and books on writing (and my advice to other authors) state you must get over that.

Gretchen Palmer in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow".
Gretchen Palmer in the Tales from the Crypt episode “Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow”.

It takes a lot for me to go against my natural tendencies and promote myself and my work.  Thankfully, the super talented Sumiko Saulson was willing to help.  Sumiko interviewed me via telephone and it was great to be able to chat about writing, trends in horror and my own inspirations.

Read the entire Graveyard Shift Sisters interview with me here.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Kenya Moss-Dyme

May is Short Story Month, so I’ve asked horror short story author Kenya Moss-Dyme to be Graveyard Shift Sister of the month.

As such, I’ve reviewed her collection Daymares, seven short tales of all-too-possible horror. Kenya is excellent at choosing everyday subjects and twisting them into stories that make you not want to trust anyone. I mean, we all know what happens when our loved one gets possessed by the spirit of a dead gangster. It’s hard to trust a guy after that.

Joan Pringle in J.D.'s Revenge (1976).  Watch this movie for what happens with the aforementioned possession thing.
Joan Pringle in J.D.’s Revenge (1976).
Watch this movie for what happens with the aforementioned possession thing.

Read my review of Daymares and my interview with Kenya on the Graveyard Shift Sisters site here.