Black Lives Still Matter

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Me in Washington Park, Albany NY (Tulip Fest 2015)

Me in Wash­ing­ton Park, Albany NY (Tulip Fest 2015)

I am on a short vaca­tion to vis­it mom in Con­necti­cut. I need this time off, more than you know, and I thought it would be nice to see her for Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy few days, but enjoy­able. Yes­ter­day me, mom, and baby took a trip to Albany, NY for the Tulip Fes­ti­val in Wash­ing­ton Park. They crowned the Tulip Queen, who, if I recall, will go on to head a lit­er­a­cy cam­paign and oth­er inter­est­ing social­ly con­scious stuff, along with her court. The may­or was there. Lots of ven­dors, with cool, inter­est­ing and friv­o­lous wares for sale, food for which you want to take a lax­a­tive to get out of your sys­tem, thou­sands of gor­geous tulips, sun and hot and gen­er­al hap­pi­ness, a lit­tle lake where you could sit under trees and catch a breeze, adult bev­er­ages, peo­ple with kids in strollers, live music… It was nice.

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There were also a cou­ple of small but sig­nif­i­cant (at least to me) protests.

Just as the Tulip Queen was about to be announced a group of about 20 folks stepped for­ward to shout “Black Lives Mat­ter!” They did this for about five min­utes and moved along. This thrilled me. I mean, isn’t that a thing to be proud of? In the midst of tulip queen crown­ing there are still peo­ple who want to come out and remind us of the things that are tru­ly impor­tant to the coun­try and world at large. The Tulip crown­ing is impor­tant in the city of Albany, part of its Dutch her­itage, and a vehi­cle for ser­vice for the young woman crowned, but there are things even larg­er than this. The bru­tal­i­ty that young black men encounter on a day to day basis is enor­mous and trag­ic. Though the spot­light shines bright­ly on this issue now, it isn’t near­ly bright enough, and it isn’t new. Mod­ern tech has been said to make slaves of us, but I say it is a God­send. There are few things more beau­ti­ful than a cam­era phone.

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Lat­er, as me and fam­i­ly strolled through Wash­ing­ton Park, I saw a group of elder­ly white folks also tak­ing a stand for Black Lives. This struck me hard­er and deep­er than even the first protest. I had to stop, take a pic­ture or five or six, give them my thanks and a thumbs up. I know there are good peo­ple out there, but we (and by we, I mean, I) often expect the old guard to be out of step with cur­rent issues of race. Espe­cial­ly the old white guard. This is an erro­neous con­cept, at least in part.

After this, I was stopped by the local press. Well, a man with a cam­era and a mic. “Can I ask you a few ques­tions about what you saw over there (refer­ring to the Black Lives Mat­ter protest)?”

Sure,” I told him. I’m sure he saw me and thought, this lady is a for­tune in diver­si­ty. And, you know what? I’m hap­py to be.

He asked me what I thought of the protest. And also, “Have you ever expe­ri­enced racism?”

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! That was the jack­pot ques­tion of the day. And a slight­ly stu­pid one, if I may say. I’m African-Amer­i­can, I’m Mus­lim, and I’m a woman.

Have I ever expe­ri­enced racism? Take a guess.

It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day busy. Our day to day busy quick­ly and eas­i­ly becomes more impor­tant to us than the huge things that are hap­pen­ing out there in the world. Our car trou­ble, or the fact that we need to pick up eggs and milk for tomorrow’s break­fast, or the cof­fee stain on our work shirt, is emi­nent­ly more press­ing than say, the plight of the Pales­tini­ans, or hun­gry chil­dren in our own coun­try, or the sex­ism women face in the work­place, or the lives of black men that are being stolen whole­sale by the very peo­ple employed to pro­tect and serve them.

This all made me think about a brief but very mean­ing­ful Twit­ter con­vo I had with a few friends recent­ly about what it means to be an allie. Admit­ted­ly none of us had all of the answers, but I can say this. Being an allie is more than lip ser­vice. Being an allie is stand­ing out­side in the heat, hold­ing up signs in silent protest, when every­one else is walk­ing around drink­ing gal­lon size mugs of lemon aid. Being an allie is tak­ing a chance at ruin­ing every­one else’s good time to remind them that dammit, there are lives at risk out there and that it affects us ALL even though it may seem like it doesn’t. Being an allie is tak­ing time out of your day to stand in the midst of a Tulip Fes­ti­val only to be ignored and over­looked by every­one else. Except me.

#Black­Lives­Mat­ter

Still.

Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT

Amis­tad Memo­r­i­al in New Haven, CT

Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT

Amis­tad Memo­r­i­al in New Haven, CT

In A Year

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Last year about this time my writ­ing start­ed to drag.

It was a lot of things. The weath­er. Loss of con­fi­dence. Lack of direc­tion. Per­fec­tion­ism that man­aged to freeze me to the spot. The result was half a dozen incom­plete projects and ideas for projects that I nev­er start­ed.

In about March or April I decid­ed to take a class, which I’ve men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous post. I also decid­ed to ded­i­cate the next year (at least) to per­fect­ing short sto­ry writ­ing. About sev­en months have passed and I am nowhere near per­fect. Heck, I am nowhere near hav­ing a clue about what I am doing, in my esti­ma­tion, but I am work­ing hard on my writ­ing and I have had some suc­cess­es.

I have had a few rewrite requests. They’re not exact­ly sales but they are hope­ful and proof that I am on the right track.

I have start­ed read­ing slush for Escape Pod. I am par­tic­u­lar­ly gid­dy about this as I’ve been lis­ten­ing to EP for 2–3 years now and nev­er in a mil­lion years did I think I would be on the inside.

I’ve man­aged to com­plete 5 short sto­ries.

I’ve made my first pro sale to An Alpha­bet of Embers anthol­o­gy which should be released in May 2015.

I’ve met sev­er­al won­der­ful writ­ers that I now con­sid­er friends. They offer sup­port, grease for my ego, and guid­ance when I need it.

I am in a new class now, with Daniel Jose Old­er. This is has been a blast so far. And I am learn­ing lots. I am sop­ping up his writ­ing genius with my bis­cuit brain. 🙂

And I’ve got plans for next year. I want to dou­ble my count of com­plet­ed short sto­ries. That means at least 10 com­plete sto­ries by the end of the year. And I want to sell at least two more sto­ries in the com­ing year. Come on friends, cheer me on.

As for writ­ing, this has been a very good year.

 

 

Why My Book is Free and Writing and Reviewing With Integrity

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AUW_ebook_1875x2500_72dpiAbout every 9–12 months I feel the need to reju­ve­nate my writ­ing and my writ­ing goals. I reached that breaking/building point about a month ago. I real­ized that while I’ve been writ­ing, none of it was coher­ent, con­nect­ed, or pro­gres­sive with regard­ing to devel­op­ing my craft or my career as an inde­pen­dent author. I made some promis­es to myself about what I want­ed do. I said these things out loud, which I believe will press me to be account­able, and I’ve set dead­lines, so that I will be account­able to myself.

I believe that dead­lines are essen­tial.

One of the things that I have decid­ed to do is join the Sto­ry Car­tel pro­gram, where­in I offer my book, An  Unpro­duc­tive Woman, for free for a peri­od of about three weeks. Each read­er who reviews my book is auto­mat­i­cal­ly entered into a draw­ing for the chance to win a $10 Ama­zon gift card. Sto­ryCar­tel will choose the three win­ners. I first heard about this rel­a­tive­ly new pro­gram via a newslet­ter and then lat­er in a pod­cast by K.M. Wei­land (http://www.kmweiland.com/wp-content/podcast/storycartel.mp3). K.M. Wei­land placed her new book in this pro­gram as part of her new book launch to drum up inter­est and fresh reviews.

Before mak­ing the deci­sion to try out Sto­ry Car­tel, my inten­tion was to low­er the price of AUW on Ama­zon, open it up on oth­er out­lets and then for­get it exist­ed. But, I start­ed to think about my WIP and what I would need to accom­plish to do a rea­son­ably pro­fes­sion­al pub­li­ca­tion and launch. As cheap and easy as self-pub­lish­ing is, some of these tasks will cost mon­ey. I am guessti­mat­ing I will spend about $600 to $1000 in the process. This will cov­er the cost of an edi­tor and a cov­er artist and pos­si­bly some­one to for­mat my WIP for Kin­dle. (I for­mat­ted AUW for eBook myself but it wasn’t fun and I’d rather not do it again.)

My hope? That I will make a few dol­lars on my cur­rent nov­el and use those pro­ceeds to fund my cur­rent WIP. I’m hop­ing that more reviews will make this hap­pen for me. Hop­ing.

I’ve made AUW free on Ama­zon before via their KDP pro­gram, and I have giv­en away many free copies as well. I have a nice num­ber of reviews (total­ing 45 pri­or to Sto­ry Car­tel) but I was hop­ing that if I can man­age to dou­ble those reviews I’ll light up with­in Amazon’s com­pli­cat­ed sys­tem of algo­rithms and gar­ner more atten­tion and pos­si­bly more sales. Also I will have access to the email address­es of all of the peo­ple who have signed up to down­load, read and review my book. They can be added to my newslet­ter list for my next book launch. It is a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

I think that most of us know why hon­est reviews are impor­tant, espe­cial­ly as a self-pub­lished author. Though our sit­u­a­tion has improved over recent years, many read­ers still have the sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that our writ­ing will be sub-par. In truth, it some­times is.  But some­times it is not. Some­times our writ­ing and our sto­ries are phe­nom­e­nal and just as good as any tra­di­tion­al­ly pub­lished author, which brings me to the top­ic of writ­ing with integri­ty.

This morn­ing I saw a call-out on Goodreads where­in one mem­ber  offered book reviews for five dol­lars each. She stat­ed that all one has to do is send her a syn­op­sis of the book and the five dol­lars in exchange for her review. While not sur­prised, I am ecsta­t­ic to see that every­one who respond­ed to this call-out, called this per­son out for attempt­ing to offer such a dis­hon­est ser­vice. Kudos indie authors! Keep liv­ing and writ­ing with integri­ty.

So, this is why my book is cur­rent­ly free. Please put the word out on my behalf. Tell any­one you believe might be inter­est­ed in a good free book. Check me out at Sto­ryCar­tel, http://storycartel.com/books/464/an-unpro­duc­tive-wom­an/. Click the link and tweet about it or post it to your G+ or Face­book. This indie author would appre­ci­ate your sup­port.

What do you think about pay­ing for fake reviews?

Is there ever room for them?

Would you respect or read an author you knew had received fake reviews?

What do you think of authors who review their own books?

I would love to know what you think.