Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Words: Black Nature (poetry)

It's the second Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for Wednesday Words (this is probably the only day I usually remember to do on time).

As part of my research for my new project, I'm trying to immerse myself in black poetry, African culture, and African mythologies. This past week I began reading Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, edited by Camille T. Dungy.

At first, I thought, "I hate reading poetry about nature; I'm going to take this back to the library," but as I started reading a little more, I found poems I love and poems that remind me how much I love nature. Though I love the city, I'd give anything to live out in the countryside with a telescope and flowery fields all around me. Shoot, that's a poem I can start right there.

Also, living in Delaware, where nature poetry is, seemingly, all people do here, that's probably why I claimed I don't like it, but as the forward of this book says, there are also subconscious stigmas among black people about nature. However, with 400 years of nature poetry in my hand, it's clear how many other black Americans have embraced it.

Instead of sharing a page, I'm going to share this poem by George Marion McClellan called "A September Night."

Through marsh and lowlands stretching to the gulf.
Begirt with cotton fields Anguilla sits
Half bird-like dreaming on her summer nest
Amid her spreading figs, and roses still
In bloom with all their spring and summer hues.
Pomegranates hang with dapple cheeks full ripe,
And over all the town a dreamy haze
Drops down. The great plantations stretching far
Away are plains of cotton downy white.
O, glorious is this night of joyous sounds
Too full for sleep. Aromas wild and sweet,
From muscadine, late blooming jessamine,
And roses, all the heavy air suffuse.
Faint bellows from the alligators come
From swamps afar, where sluggish lagoons give
To them a peaceful home. The katydids
Make ceaseless cries. Ten thousand insects' wings
Stir in the moonlight haze and joyous shouts
Of Negro song and mirth awake hard by
The cabin dance. O, glorious is this night.
The summer sweetness fills my heart with songs
I cannot sing, with loves I cannot speak.

Beautiful, right?

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Insecure Writer's Support Group

You know, if I had a little voice in my head, I wouldn't have a problem remembering IWSG. It's the first Wednesday of the month, so that means it's time for us writers to throw our insecurities into the air and see where they land!

Last month, I told y'all that I was revising Fractured Princess into present tense, and I've reached the end again. With this revision, I've also made a few more cuts on scenes/sub-plots that no longer fit the story, so according to Google, I'm down to just over 88,000 words! This story has never been this short. But I hope with the change in tense, the voice clicks with an agent, as "connecting with the voice" was the general consensus in my last round of query fishing. I'm still working on the new project, but I really want the world to see FP.

On the job front, the job I've been waiting on for 4-5 years now has finally posted at my old workplace, so I applied. I'm claiming it as mine and throwing all the positivity I can into the atmosphere. (Side note: Google doesn't think "positivity" is a word. Weird.)

Here's to all going well for me this year!

EDIT: I forgot this month's question, which is: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

I actually don't, or haven't had the chance to, really. I should celebrate completing this last revision, but we'll see. I'll try to remember to celebrate finishing the first draft of the next project.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Final Fantasy Friday: Multiplayer Experience

Happy Friday!

February ended before I could do my monthly Final Fantasy Friday (and I didn't feel like posting one on the same week as Tuesday Tales), so this is a special First Friday Final Fantasy post.

And funny enough, I'm not sure how much more I can talk about Final Fantasy, especially when no new games are out, and I'm not playing anything new. I do have a Final Fantasy Type-0 awaiting my gameplay, and I did just download a Final Fantasy Dissidia on my phone that I haven't touched yet, so we'll see. I'm going to stretch it out for as long as I can.

If you aren't already aware, most of the Final Fantasy games are single-player role-playing games (RPGs). FFXI and FFXIV were massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and with the PS4, the FFXV team had the chance to make the game this HUGE endeavor with the main single-player game, a PC game they just released, a mobile game, playable side games, etc. One of the side games is Comrades: A Multiplayer Expansion, so I threw away my lack of care for MMORPGs and am trying this out (mainly because it's a world I'm already familiar with. I did the same with FFVII: Dirge of Cerberus, which is a first-person shooter).

The great thing about this game is that you can create your own avatar, so I get to put myself in the game! If you follow me on Twitter, you know my greatest "argh" about Final Fantasy games is the lack of black women in the franchise. There are over 15 games, and so far, only X and XV have given us black women as non-playable side-characters (Dona and Sania). I'd love to see a black woman MC in the next installment. For now, I will enjoy literally seeing myself in the MMORPG.

And here I am (these are NOT my tats):

Final thoughts: If I do end up changing my Friday posts, they will remain Fantasy Fridays, so I'd ultimately either need to share what I'm reading (which is hopefully fantasy) or highlight some fantasy I have read. Which means Wednesday Words would strictly be for what I've been writing, so excerpts, draft changes, things like that.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Tales: Sitting Down with Andyrsn

Fortunately, it's still Tuesday!

I just remembered that I'm supposed to be posting today. It's been a busy one for me! I hope everyone is getting some warm weather. It hit the 70s here today, and for once, I don't mind it in the Winter. This one was HARSH.

Anyway, I was asking some character questions, and I think I'll choose Andyrsn to answer this time around.

Hey, guys!

What words or phrases do you overuse?Andyrsn: I don't know if I have one that I use too much . . . I think I have more physical quirks than verbal. I scratch my head when I'm nervous or feeling awkward. I try not to do it, but at this rate it can't be helped.

How do you display affection?
Andyrsn: I'm a hugger. I'm from Viveno Island. It can't be helped.

How do you want to be seen by others?
Andyrsn: I'd like to hope I'm living up to my dad's legacy. He was such an icon, though, so I can't be sure. I at least want people to see me as a good man.

How do you think others see you?
Andyrsn: They think I goof off too much, I'm sure. I just like to keep the mood light. If it involves a prank or two, hopefully they laughed.

How do you react to praise?
Andyrsn: I don't know if it's just me, or maybe it's a Watchman thing, but I'd rather not be put on the spot. I mean, I'd say thank you, but I never know how to act after, and my segues aren't the greatest, so it just gets weird.

How do you react to criticism?
Andyrsn: Now that is something I can work with. It helps me improve, so I like to hear it. Bring on whatever you've got.

What is your perception of family?
Andyrsn: My family is everything to me. My brothers have been all I've had for years, and I know they'd do just about anything for me and the other way around. Where we come from, you've really gotta appreciate who you have because they can be gone the next minute.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Andyrsn: Crazy that I would have to say this, but loosen up! You'll grow into your . . . everything! Just be more confident and let loose.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday Words: My New Project!

It's after 10 am, which I guess is normally the time I remember I forgot to post, so good morning! I set aside the 2nd Wednesday of each month to share what I am writing and/or reading. Today, I am going to share a piece of the YA/NA project I've begun working on (that magical princesses one I keep ranting about). It has a few kinks in it (I've almost successfully forced myself not to go back and touch anything yet because of NaNoWriMo. I was just trying to get words onto pages), but it's still exciting that I'm moving onto new work again. The tentative title is The Queen's Daughters, and here is a snippet from the chapter "The Festival."

Also, just for some context, my MC Ash and her sisters have been paraded back to their father's castle with their dead mother to a celebration of their "return home." Ash's power (she can conceal herself, her thoughts, and/or her feelings so no one else can see or detect her/them) isn't noticeable in this scene, but her sister Naiyalah's comes into play: she can both take in thoughts and emotions and project her own onto others.


“My darling girls,” our father says softly. He looks at each of us in turn, and his eyes mist over before he blinks them dry. “I am glad you have returned to me.”

Words lodge in my throat, as they should. Instead of what I want to say, I follow my sisters and kneel, head bowed, hands folded demurely in my lap. He comes to Zuraiyah first, lifts her chin and guides her to her feet.

“My beauty,” he says and kisses her left cheek. “Welcome.” Then her right. “Welcome.”

“Thank you, Auba,” she says in a small voice.

We didn’t have to speak small with our mother.

He moves to Naiyalah next. She is “his purpose.” A kiss on her cheeks, a welcome for each as well.

I close my eyes for the briefest of moments before his touch to my chin. I open my eyes and stand. Of the five of us, I have his face. He always smiles proudly at that. I did too, once. I am his favorite. There has never been any denial of that.

“Ashula,” he says even more softly. “My love.”

Another pulse of calm from Naiyalah when I just want to explode and burn the whole world and curl up and cry.

“Auba,” I manage to say.

He cups my face and kisses my forehead. “Welcome home.”

“Thank you.”

He pulls both Babri and Katri up and wraps his arms around them, kissing Babri’s head, then Katri’s. “Welcome home, my sweet girls.”

They were six years old when we first returned. They had both cried and whined and held onto our mother as the royal guards came for us. Never having met our father, they couldn’t understand why our mother was sending us all away. Now, after seven years of visits, his pampering, and none of the memories of before, they aren’t quite old enough to hate this man the way the rest of us do.

Or at least the way I do.

I close my eyes again, take a deep breath. I must. We still have hours to go in this long, awful night.

“The Heavens have blessed us with my daughters’ return,” he calls to the crowd behind us. “Let us praise them and welcome peace back to our land.”

We turn towards the masses as they take up their cheering and singing once again, as the drums bounce off of the walls and more wine is poured before the festivities resume. We have done our part to mingle, and so we may return to our platform. Our father has already moved onto his, just above us. As we climb the stairs, we each must meet his eyes and bow our head. He smiles and does the same. Fortunately, we do not have to smile this time, although I’m certain we’re supposed to be at our height of revelry by this time. I can no longer muster the strength for it anyhow. I simply nod and return to my throne.

Once we are all seated, the steward returns, after once again tasting his wine before the guards, to refill our chalices. He bows and pours. He clears this throat as he stands straight and moves on to me. Beads of sweat form on his brow as he pours my wine. When he straightens his back again, his body stiffens. With one wispy gasp, he collapses dead at my feet.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Insecure Writers Support Group

It's 6PM on the first Wednesday of the month, and that means I've forgotten to post this morning.

I hope everyone's had a good day. Are you writing anything new? Reading anything exciting? I just opened my package with Maurene Goo's I Believe in A Thing Called Love and am expecting Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles to arrive any hour now! I'm almost finished with Fourteen Hundred Cowries and Other African Tales, and so I hope to be able to read the next book more quickly.

I'm working steadily on a new project, which I'm excited about. It's a YA/NA fantasy with African influences. I hope it works out. Yesterday, I started seeing what Fractured Princess looks like in 1st Person Present Tense, as it's the only one I  haven't tried out yet. Wish me luck!

I'm also on the lookout for a new job. I don't have the will to get up in the morning for the one I currently have, and I feel bad that I prayed for a full-time job and can't enjoy the one I was given. Lesson learned. A few new jobs have caught my eye, though, so I'm working myself up to apply. One is a Proofreading job, but it's also a contract position. The other is a job at a new state division that really catches my eye, but it's less money than I make right now, and I'm already struggling. I'll figure out what to do.

Have a great month! Hope to see you around.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wednesday Words: Fourteen Hundred Cowries and Other African Tales

It is the last Wednesday in January; can you believe it?!

It's also the 5th Wednesday in the month, which means another glimpse into what I am reading! I'm doing research for a new NA/Adult fantasy project, and the research entails looking into African literature. I was really excited to find my library network had a few books, and the first one I'm reading is Fourteen Hundred Cowries and Other African Tales by Abayomi Fuja.

 I'm really excited by the stories I've read so far. We don't get the chance to learn about these tales in school unless you take a college course, but if only people could see more origin tales and mythologies from outside of Europe! These tales are clever, funny, and a little dark. There are a few fables I never would have heard about had I not picked up the book. One tale in particular that sparked my interest, "The Twins"--because I have an infatuation with twins and like to put them in my stories--had an interesting plot featuring the revenge of a sea monster's mother. Sound familiar?

There are tales explaining why leopards have their spots, why the ega bird isn't hard pressed to have its young taken away by hawks (that one was funny), and tales that show just how clever tortoises are (I love turtles and tortoises). It's a fast read, so if you get a chance, I urge you to take a day or two to read these tales.

What are you reading this week?