Books I Love

Fiction is the truth inside the lie – Stephen King

The Official NOC #CrossLines Reading List

This has been up since May and I had no idea my book was on such a great list. Seriously, the company I’m keeping is far above my station. It also happens to be a kick-ass list for fiction by and about people of colour.

My only quibble is the link to my book leads to someone else’s book instead of mine. You can find mine here, or you can just click the link right here on my blog. You know, if you still care and all, seeing as this was posted in May and we’re in November. But some of you have Christmas presents to get right? Well, here’s a list full of good options. Go have fun with it!

thenerdsofcolor

This past weekend in Washington DC, the Smithsonian’s historic Arts & Industries building was home to the most important gathering of artists you have ever seen. The CrossLines pop-up culture lab on intersectionality brought together over 40 artists and scholars to explore race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, disability, etc.

I was fortunate enough to be invited and helped organize a Reading Lounge and live podcasts — while artist Matt Huynh painted a mural in real time the entire weekend. One of the questions I got asked the most was about the books we included, so after the jump you can find a complete list of books we had in the Lounge!

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NaNoWriMo And Piracity, Arrgh!

It’s been a while. Hope you guys behaved yourselves while I was gone.

Just a bit of news for those wondering what’s been happening since I last dropped by. I signed up for NaNoWriMo for only the second time in my life because I love deadlines and I really want to get this second book done. I’m hoping that being all public will make me push through to the end. Since this is the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, the sooner I have it in the can, the better. I totally got sidetracked by another book, but now that’s finished, time to refocus and try for the long haul.

I’ll be posting a synopsis, and excerpts as I go, to make sure I keep the writing juices flowing. I’d be delighted if anyone here reached out to me on the site and we hooked up as writing buddies for November. I’m MarenaCrewMember on the site, and if you read the excerpts, you’ll figure out what that means pretty quickly lol.

Another thing I’m involved in is an anthology called Piracity that’s been launched on Kickstarter. It’s being produced by Hugo Award winner Cheryl Morgan, in conjunction with Jo Hall and Roz Clarke. If it gets enough backers, you’ll have pirate stories of all genres from writers based in the UK and the Caribbean, and even further afield once funding is successful. Writers already attached include Karen Lord, Gareth L. Powell, Jonathan L. Howard, Stephanie Saulter, and yours truly. You can find out more about the project, including plans for more writers, by visiting the Kickstarter site.

Better yet, there’s currently a contest for the project where you dress like a pirate–or post a picture of a time you dressed like a pirate–and hashtag it #Piracity, and Cheryl and I get to award prizes to the best dressed. The contest ends soon, so enter as soon as you can.

I’ve already finished one story for the anthology, so be sure to back us if you can, or it will go to waste. And who wants to waste a good dragon pirate story, huh? Who?

dragon

I also have another story in case the first doesn’t pass muster, but that one’s set in space and features the Madinah warriors mentioned in LEX TALIONIS and–oh yeah–Shalon herself. It’s set between LEX TALIONIS and the sequel, IACTA ALEA EST, and yes, there’s space piracy.

So good luck at the start of a new NaNoWriMo and I hope I see you over on the site real soon. And be sure to drop by the Piracity Kickstarter and share the love. Because I really, really want to see what the other writers come up with and trust me, so do you.

Until then, stay thirsty, my friends.

3 Day Quote Challenge…And There They Go, Over The Finish Line!

Today’s day three of the 3 Day Quote Challenge. We made it all the way to the last day, guys! Thanks again to Erin Burns for nominating me. Go read her blog. You won’t regret it.

You can find out about the rules in my first post here.

And are today’s quotes. That’s right…in honour of this being the third and last day of the challenge, I’ve decided to post three quotes about one of my very favourite things. Books and reading. None of them, I trust, will need any explanation:

NEVER be ashamed..of your books :):

There’s only one of you, my friends. Only one unique, glorious, fascinating you. So don’t waste your time trying to be anyone else, or meeting anyone else’s idea of who or what you should be. Read what you love, watch what you love, be what you love.

Keep reading. It's one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have. -Lloyd Alexander:

Is there any place more fun, exciting and endlessly entertaining than the depths of our own minds?

So true.:

Reading is the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s make sure more kids know that joy.

And the final three blogs you might like to visit:

  • kelzbelzphotography blogs on photography, her hobbies and her life. If you like arts, craft and an honest, captivating voice, this is the blog for you.
  • My friend Alex West muses on writing, movies and whatever strikes her fancy on Compulsive Writer. She’s one hell of a fantasy writer, and you can learn some really great tips here.
  • Tonya Moore has excellent writing advice and insights on her blog, especially for beginners. A great place for guest posts and free stories.

Thanks for staying with me through this challenge, my friends. And if you like my quotes, you can take a look at my Pinterest page, where I got most of them from.

Have a great weekend, and stay thirsty, my friends!

Yes, Virginia, There Are People Of Colour In Your European Past

Been following this awesome Twitter account called Medievalpoc for a while now. The writer does amazing and important work identifying people of colour in European art history, especially during medieval times.

(Source: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/)

A lot of people have studied history and art and not been taught just how integrated the world was, and continues to be (do yourself a favour and look up the Silk Road). It’s a huge reason why when shows like ‘The Musketeers’ are produced and have people of colour as a main character, people come out of the woodwork to declare it ‘unrealistic’ or ‘inaccurate’. Truth is, we have the Victorian era to thank for erasing a lot of the multi-cultural eras that came before it, along with a lot of cherry-picking by historians who were more interested in finding ways to make the past fit their present.

Just so you know, ‘The Three Musketeers’–you know the book the series was based on–was written by a black man. Yes, Alexandre Dumas was black.

Star Trek Patrick Stewart animated GIF

Anyway on both Twitter and Tumblr, Medievalpoc has been working hard to compile evidence from the art and documents of times long past showing that the world has always been, and will always be, inhabited in every corner by people of colour. It’s important work, and fascinating, and I’ve learned a lot.

Take a look for yourself and tell me you’re not surprised and amazed by how much you didn’t know.

Have fun, and stay thirsty, my friends!

A Few Good Women…

Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble did a great article featuring 7 speculative fiction books that feature strong female characters.

Is it exhaustive? By no means. But it has a nice mix of modern and classic and also had the good sense to include the queen of Caribbean speculative fiction, Nalo Hopkinson. Seriously, if you haven’t read ‘Midnight Robber’ you’ve…well, you’ve robbed yourself of something truly special.

See what I did there?

Pun Manatee animated GIF

Have fun with the list. I have it on good authority all the books are great, even the ones I haven’t read.

What are your favourite scifi or fantasy books with strong female leads? Sound off in the comments below. And if you buy and read (or already read) any of these, be sure to let me know what you think.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

SciFi From Around The World

There’s a cool article in the Guardian today for anyone looking for links so they can start reading scifi that isn’t default American/English.

Scifi from all corners of the globe has always been around, but recently some of those works have been hitting the mainstream, culminating in this year’s Hugo Awards, where the Chinese novel, The Three-Body Problem, walked away with Best Novel. There are so many stunning, unique, fascinating and entertaining stories out there now, coming from completely new and original points of view.

There are also writers, like myself, who take the old myths and legends, stir them up with beloved scifi troupes and try to find a story that’s fresh and unexpected in it.

The same thing is happening in Fantasy, and across spec fic. It’s been a long time coming, but we have spec fic in the Western world that’s beginning to show a little of the huge market that’s out there.

I think that’s cause for celebration, don’t you?

Dancing reaction gifs

Okay, maybe not quite like that…

Best part of this article for me is that a former OWW member, Aliette de Bodard, is mentioned. Hurrah for my writing workshop! For those of us who have been there forever, hurrah for the Zoo and the good old OWW! It’s amazing how many truly great writers have left the OWW and gone on to great things: CC Finlay, Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Jim Butcher, Rae Carson, Fran Wilde, N.K. Jemisin…the list goes on and on.

The great thing about these writers is they’re all doing their part to push against the boundaries and turn spec fic on it’s head in the best way possible. By giving a voice in the mainstream to those who had no place there before.

Congratulations to all you guys for being part of a revolution! This is only the beginning, because we have a lot more stories left to share and new writers all around the world popping up and joining the club every day. Welcome everyone, and congrats. Keep it coming!

Have a great weekend and stay thirsty, my friends.

Stephen King On Stephen King

Sorry I was off for a while. Wasn’t feeling too well. Better now and hoping to get back on schedule with everything.

The New York Times ran a great piece by Stephen King on prolific writers, which you might have already read. Like him, I think every writer has their own process and their own speed. I’ve found that I’ve gotten better at the craft as I go along, but I’ve also slowed down a lot because of that, both in reading and writing speed.

With reading, I have less patience for bad now and no burning desire to finish no matter what. Life’s too short now and I will put a book down if it isn’t working for me. I can find others that will, I reason. With writing, I think it’s mostly doubt about if it’s working. I get paralyzed all the time from doubt and from not knowing how to get from point A to B. I know where I’m going, but sometimes the path is shrouded in mist. And sometimes I’m just tired and lazy. Writing can become an exercise in pulling teeth that way, but I feel like a heel if I don’t write, which leads to paralysis, and thence begins a vicious cycle.

Thankfully, I can usually find my way back out.

King also had a Q & A session yesterday though, and it was really interesting. He’s the writer that inspired me most as a young person, and he some great wisdom and quirky answers here. His response to Jake from Wisconsin wasn’t what I expected, but he’s right. If someone’s made up their mind, why bother playing their game?

I have to try that pillow behind my back thing while I’m writing though. I can feel the relaxation now…

relax animated GIF

Stay thirsty, my friends!

14 Writers Who Rock

And who happen to be women.

Clapping reaction gifs

Huffington Post has an article about women who write scifi and fantasy and stand head and shoulders above all others. It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it is a good place to start if you want to add to your list of great women writers.

I’m extremely pleased to see Nalo Hopkinson on the list. Her ‘Midnight Robber’ blew my mind when I first read it in school and I couldn’t understand, then or now, why it wasn’t required reading in our English classes. I haven’t been in a school in ages, so I’m hoping that has changed, but even if it hasn’t, here’s hoping it does eventually.

I have heard of Sophia Samatar, but my reading list is so far behind, it pains me to even look at it. At the moment, I’m reading Nnedi’s Who Fears Death and enjoying it, so at least there’s that.

Let me know who on the list is your favourite and why in the comment section.

Catch you on the flip-side!

A Cannibal and His Food

This is a great article about the lady that styles the food on “Hannibal”.

“Hannibal” is one of my favourite TV shows, and one of the things I love about it is the luscious cooking and presentation of food–even if sometimes, that food happens to be longpork. Mads’ Hannibal Lecter is even more stylish and sophisticated than Sir Hopkins. In fact, I rather think Mads would have eaten Hopkins’ version of Lecter because he would have been just a bit too crass to let live, but interesting enough to taste good, you know?

Sure, it unnerves me sometimes that a show about an unrepentant monster that eats people works so well for me, but once you’ve seen the visually original way they shoot it, and the lack of apologies they have for taking their time with the plot, or throwing out the kind of twists that would usually kill any other show, you really can’t imagine this story being told any other way. Could any other show on television leave every major character at death’s door due to the villain–with the certainty at least one of them was a goner–like had Hannibal did at the end of season 2? Even Walking Dead fans would have rioted!

Anyway, it’s fascinating reading how she comes up with the meals and the fake meats that are so important the story. And it was really cool to find out Mads does his own stunts and most of the fake cooking. I did wonder about that, as he seemed so good at it in the show. Glad to know it really is skill and not just skillful editing.

Sadly, the show has already been cancelled (yes, it wandered a bit there at the start of season 3, but last Thursday’s episode picked things up immensely). Still, I’m hoping Netflix or someone else steps up to the plate and saves it. More than any other show in this golden age of television, Hannibal deserves to carry out it’s delicious vision to the possibly bitter end.

And this sick thing is, I’d probably show up. ‘Cause that man can COOK.

Stay thirsty–and hungry–my friends!

A Story About A Man, A Trail And The Life Before

I don’t even remember why I clicked on this story. It was in one of my digests simply listed as ‘One Heckuva Hike’. Mild curiosity was probably the culprit. But what started off as a beautiful story about the Appalachian Trail ended up going deeper into the human psyche than I ever expected.

You can read A Long Walk’s End here.

It’s long, but really, really worth the read. Especially if you’re a writer.

So go on. Dive in without knowing anything like I did. It will be much better that way. I’m just going to sit here for a while and wait.

Bored meh reaction gifs

Done?

Good.

Amazing right?

Not done? Fine, but here there be spoilers…

I’ve never been someone who reads a lot of non-fiction, but I have read a lot of crime non-fiction. I think it started in my childhood with the crime magazines my older cousin left out in her room. Back then, I’d read anything new I could get my hands on in a household that had books, but rarely bought new ones. The magazines were horribly violent, had pictures of crime scenes and were definitely not meant for a child still in primary school, but they were fascinating. I loved the way they related police investigations, even if they did give rise to my unfortunate ability to be terrified by just about any true crime story because, ‘it could happen to me’. However, those magazines were not particularly well-written. They were about shock and gore.

A Long Walk’s End is the exact opposite. It’s a masterpiece that uses some of the best tools of fiction writing. It just happens to be non-fiction. Truman Capote would be proud. I was blown away by how the writer suckered you in with this heart-warming story of Bismarck the hiker, only to bit by bit, mind-blowing twist after mind-blowing twist, peel away the layers of this affable man to reveal a sordid story worthy of the Coen brothers.

Even with few answers presented to us about motivations, the missing money, what really happened in Bismarck’s brain all those years, and what happened to his first wife, we have a story here that builds tension to revelations we never saw coming. Is Hammes guilty of the crimes the FBI suspects he committed? A trial will tell us eventually. Perhaps even fill in the blanks.

But it’s the way the writer wove the story out of the low-key, mostly unknown, laid-back and genteel life of those hikers that walk the Trail that really made it work. You come away feeling you’ve experienced something beautiful, peaceful and right. Something that makes you smell the pinecones and long for the vistas. That Hammes was part of this world–a valued, loved part of it–boggles the mind, even as it does nothing to diminish its pureness. You want to join that Trail. You want to escape. You want to remake your life and leave all the mistakes and trials and problems behind.

For a brief span of minutes, you can relate to what this man did and why. For an instant, you run away with him to this beautiful place where you can be anyone. Where you can start over.

It is a profoundly disturbing realisation and key to this article’s impact. If what the FBI believes happened is what happened, then Hammes is that most terrifying of villains. The guy next door. The monster that wears a normal-skin. The one you think is just like you, until you realise too late, he’s not even human.

I’m not surprised William Browning has won awards for his writing. It’s hard to spin captivating truths out of your imagination, as writers do. It’s even harder to do it when you’re writing about the real world, and your main characters will never fully be known to you.

I take my hat off to this piece of writing and to Mr. Browning. And I’d tell every writer, new or old, to read this and take a look at how drama, tension and stunning plot twists can work in fiction, and non-fiction, if you know how to wield theme, setting, pacing, characterization and revelation the right way.

It’s a lot harder than it looks, we all know that. But when someone gets it right, it’s looks so, so easy. And we should all take notes.

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

Stay thirsty, my friends!