Up and comings and down and dones

Oh, life.

HA. You thought I was going to quote the entire opening to REM’s Losing My Religion, but I’m NOT because that song is NOT the boss of me, and I’m singing it in my head anyway because the lengths that I will go to. The distance in your eyes.

headdesk

And so anyway.

If you guessed that what follows will have nothing to do with this preamble, congratulations. You know me well.

FIRST. Up and comings!

This Saturday, August 18th, at 1pm, I’ll be meeting readers (one hopes) at Indigo Dix30 in the Montreal area!

Screenshot 2018-08-15 22.05.53

This is my first Montreal appearance, and since MEM is set in Montreal and all. It’s a whole thing. You should come and take selfies with me, or whatever.

SECOND. The down and dones, but still super excitings! I am so happy that my PBS interview finally aired, as well as my Great American Reads recommendation spot, and the primary school age Bethany who stayed up to watch Masterpiece Theater is finally in awe of me! Like, LOOK.

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-26,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Such fun. And hush, yes, of course I’m gonna share the vid as well!

First my spot!

And finally, the interview!

Some day I’ll be able to share the footage from my Books Are Magic event in Brooklyn, during which I had an awesome conversation with Jenn Baker, but alas. It is a huge file and I have zero idea how to share it well. One day! xx

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We Need To Talk About Jurassic Park

“Now we all know the thirteen stripes are for good luck, but why does the American flag have exactly 48 stars?”*

Hi, and welcome back to I will be your immediate bff if you use random, well-placed, hopefully obscure Simpsons quotes.

For instance, last time I was at a not-my-book-event and someone said, “Don’t you hate pants?!” and I almost kissed them on the mouth.

But on to super important things.

I recently(ish) saw the latest Jurassic Park movie – which my son exasperatedly keeps reminding me is Jurassic World, but like, shuttup, kid, you’ve been on earth for like a minute and stuff existed before you – and since it was only slightly better than the beleaguered third Jurassic Park film (you know the one where Tea Leoni won’t stop yelling and running despite no fewer than four people immediately being brutally destroyed by dinosaurs and an expert telling her to not do that)…. it feels like we need to finally talk about Jurassic Park.

But first: a walkabout. (This is me, friends.)

#5’s first and most egregious offense was using Jeff in the trailer when…it literally showcased the entirety of his involvement. Sucks to your asmar, jerks.

Secondly, it … wasn’t super smart. Again, it’s no worse than Jurassic Park 3: The One With Tea Leoni, but since that was the previous Definite Worst One, that’s not saying much. Like, what the franchise has going for it is that each movie has some additional trajectory or revelation, usually to do with raptors. A big issue with #3 (and something that happened in #5) is that, while that “something necessary” is still present, it largely became a horror/monster movie. I mean, the big, ridiculous mouth in the plane scene? Who. Why. How come.

Also this:

Jurassic-Park-3-7

I mean.

::deep breath::

Okay, but we were supposed to be talking about #5. Wait no, we’re supposed to be talking about the whole franchise.

Things Jurassic Park Does Well:

(1) Characters: First of all, shout out to B.D. Wong for holding it down as the scientist/innovator who is really not tryna worry about the consequences, yo. He is singlehandedly handing the planet over to ever-wilder dinos, and I love it.

The fact that there are always kids, and they’re always smart. Unrealistic? Sure. But since these kids are always in the proximity of the scientific community involved in bringing dinos back to life – and since they never cease to be kids – I’ll allow it.

Full disclosure: they didn’t really do great with Dallas Texas Ranger’s character tbh. She has a complete lack of backstory, actually, which. Huh. And I literally cannot remember if Dallas is her first or second name, help me out. I can’t be arsed to google.

(2) Have a bleak enough view of humanity to sell that yep, we’d still be doing this, even after what the world saw in the first movie. Going into #4, I was like, HOW. WHY. And then, as soon as it started, I was like, naw this tracks.

Reasons Jurassic Park Is Ludicrous:

And it’s not because Michael Crichton never really explained how we got from point dna in amber to point dino egg.

My issue with JP is the completely self-aggrandizing, narcissistic assumption of dinosaurs’ preoccupation with humans. 

Like. We are just REFUSING to live in a world where a dinosaur might pass us by because we are simply not sustenance enough to warrant the effort. We will not ABIDE the concept that if LARGEST POSSIBLE DINOSAUR had scores of its natural food source available and had NEVER SEEN A HUMAN, it might not recognize us or be interested in investigating our existence, much the way we don’t stop every bug and destroy it in creatively grotesque ways knowing we would need to eat them nonstop for hours to be sated.

WHO HAS TIME TO HUNT HUMANS?! Whom?!

It’s the same issue with like every skynet movie. Artificial intelligence would SURELY immediately turn homicidal and try to kill us because WE ARE THE MOST INTERESTING MAN ALIVE.

I dunno.

I’m over it.

In conclusion:

(1) Jurassic Park

(2) Jurassic World

(3) Lost World

(4) Fallen Kingdom ties with Jurassic Park 3.

I will likely switch second and third place for the rest of my movie-watching life.

*The opening line of this post had literally nothing to do with the title or the topic, and I can’t honestly defend its inclusion. Stream of consciousness, kids.

Woody’s Roundup!

I was gonna call this post, “Welcome To The Month of Mem!” but then I wouldn’t have been able to use this gif:

woody

You can see the bind I was in.

Also can we take a minute and talk about how this was the single funniest moment in a pretty funny franchise, and I have such a vivid memory of laughing my head off about this with my childhood bestie, Serrana? I don’t even remember if she found it as funny, but I – who had been in love with Tom Hanks since Bosom Buddies because I was a strange child, and by the way was that theme song not needlessly aggressive and confrontational?! – nearly wet myself the first seventeen times I saw Woody strut out of that box.

Wow, you guys get super easily distracted.

ANYWHO.

We’re here for a round-up. Because we’re T-18 days from launch and things are getting good. Here’s a bunch of places you can read about MEM – or even read some of it!

(1) Foreword – Now this one isn’t quite new anymore, but this interview was the truth, and I adore Letitia, fr fr. Plus, they made a graphic of me and Mem, so like. Come on.

Foreword interview graphic

(2) Next up, is my first MEM excerpt – and my first publication on Tor.com. Maybe only other submitting writers would know how big a friggin’ deal this is, but it’s been a bucket list item for literal years.

(3) More splendiferous ABA news: MEM is a June Indie Next Great Read pick! Complete with a new, absolutely amazing bookseller blurb, this time from Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD in Brooklyn, NY. (Click the link. Scroll down. Read her words. I adore.)

(4) The Washington Post called MEM one of the “Best SFF Books Out This Month”! (No, YOU shut up!)

(5) Bustle listed MEM as one of “The 15 Best Fiction Books Coming Out in May 2018” – among some seriously intriguing company!

(6) And over at the Chicago Review of Books, MEM is listed as a “Best New Book of May 2018”. (And keep an eye out for an interview with editor-in-chief, Adam Morgan, for Electric Literature, soon come!)

I feel….like that’s everything recent. If I have forgotten anything. You’ll live! KISS EMOJI WINK EMOJI!

And also, ready your cities! Well two of them anyway! The first leg of MEM related travels begins this month!

Book Tour 1.jpg_large

 

 

 

As If You Don’t Already Know

I’m smiling coyly, or however one smiles when they’re shamefully absent for six months. I just want you to know you’re not innocent in this, either. Every time someone subscribes to this dormant chamber of broken promises, I feel guilty, which of course sends me into a shame spiral, which is what I call it when I tweet non-stop for days at a time.

And then yesterday someone followed the link from my website here, and I was like WHY AM I SENDING PEOPLE TO MY ABANDONED BLOG OH NO. So I tweeted about it. But I have fortified my courage with tacos and iced tea and am here now to tell you all about the past six months. Just kidding, but here’s some stuff that happened or may yet soon and whatever.

First of all, the final jacket design for MEM was in my inbox yesterday and I can’t show it to you but I’m all,

Hell Yes

Like, I might actually cry when I hold it.

And then, wow, I made zero mention of my trip to Winter Institute, my first reading, my first signing, meeting amazing folks – I mean, outside of my FB author page, twitter and Instagram, so basically it’s been a secret. But what I haven’t posted is the amazing video that Tami Charles recorded of said first reading! (Mostly becuz you have to turn it ALL THE WAY UP to hear me – you’re almost there when the intro applause pops your eardrums.) So… I guess when I add captions, I’ll post that?

gotcha

And gosh, with MEM debuting in less than two months now (!!!!!!!!!), there’s been so much stuff, and I am super excited for launch events in LA and NYC (I’d say watch this space for more info but if you believe my lies, you’re just as much to blame, and clearly you’d be better off checking my twitter). But the thing I cannot believe I didn’t immediately blog about is thiiiiiiis:

DEAL ANNOUNCEMENT

My YA debut landed with Tor! Specifically with Diana M. Pho, which is just a wild, amazing thing, given how long she’s been supportive and willing to read my work.

So S&S is about a Portland that’s legitimately weird, we’re talking eloko/gargoyle/sprite weird, and two play-sisters who are the kind of weird that’s still not allowed. Tavia (s/o Octavia Butler) is a siren in a world where only Black women are, and so of course it’s no longer romantic or desirable, and sirens are hidden and protected by the Black community. Effie plays a mermaid in the Renaissance Faire, and with weird shenanigans happening to and around her again, it turns out she might really be one.

Basically it’s a story about the harm of self-proclaimed progressive states who don’t interrogate anti-blackness, it’s about the radical life-saving joy of Black sisterhood, it’s about young Black girls finding love, and building safety, and using their voices, and needing support, and loving the water, and how I always want a Skyline burger, and never laughing harder than I do with my sister and

Ahem.

Anyway, so all you have to do is wait til Winter 2020. AND add it to your TBR!

AND pre-order MEM!

AND….I’ll probably never see you here again just kidding.

 

 

 

 

It’s. About. Ta-go. Down.

You guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuise!

Comin In

It’s getting real, friends, and if I try to slow down and talk about the overwhelm and the awesome, this will get unwieldy and long and emo, so let’s just get into it!

(A) So, if you know me from Twitter, you’ll know I signed with lit agent Victoria Marini! I am psyched to work with V, and have been a fan for quite some time, so this is huge for me!

(B) MEM, my debut forthcoming from Unnamed Press in May 2018, has a cover, and it. is. eeeeeeeeeeverything! Seriously, it’s so pitch perfect, and so lovely, and ever so slightly concerning, and just sets the perfect tone. Just fyi, Jaya Nicely, Unnamed’s Art Director, is a genius, and just entirely nailed it.

Mem cover

     Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept.

     And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. 

(C) MEM is also available for TBRs and preorder! Snatch these links, y’all!

IndieBound

B&N

Powell’s

Book Depository

Amazon

Goodreads

Next week, I will have a super exciting announcement, so y’know. Don’t forget to check up on me!

Hair toss

 

 

 

Put It On Me

I’m not a blogger anymore, and I just need to say and accept that. I realize I’m here right this minute but it doesn’t mean anything. Don’t fall for me. I’ll only hurt you. And I’m really self-serving too because the only reason I’m here is that I can’t figure out how to tweet this properly.

So once upon a time I wrote a piece of flash fiction. And then I wrote a related one. And then I wrote a third one. And they were all about the same person in the same multi-planet-co-op but they were all stylistically different and what not. And I always thought I wanted to just keep doing that but then after the first three and brainstorming a fourth and fifth, I was like, that’s really restrictive and also it’s a big concept and maybe I should write a novella. And then I was like maybe it should be a YA novel. And then as per yoosh, I started writing two sets of notes: If This Were YA and If This Were Adult, and again as per yoosh, one of those lists got longer much faster. Decision made.

So I did what I do which is Excel Spreadsheet. (S/O to my boo, Excel.)

Ja Rule

And I made all my separate sheets, and had a grand ole time, and started gridding vaguely, and deciding on the major points of the plot, as you do. And like this minor character needed to be really important to the protagonist, right? So I was like, getting images for the first chapter and I got my first line and I got this dope idea for world building and just a lot of stuff was like YUSS. And so I wrote the first chapter and it was really good and it destroyed the entire plan and plot and built in all these other expectations and made the minor character way more important and crap, this is literally what happened when I drafted Avrilis.

So now I’m over here like six months later – because things – rereading the chapter and realizing I have to write a book to match/fulfill this chapter and like, who said writers get to decide what stories they tell? WHOM?!

Anyway.

Also did Fyre Fest really happen or was that a beautiful fever dream?

And finally, did I ever show you this? Ignore the date, I told you I’m trash, don’t make it a whole thing.

MEM PM Announcement

It’s Coming Around Again

(Incubus nostalgia comes on you with a vengeance, is all I can say about that title, friends.)

I don’t write contemporary fiction. I talked about it years ago, about why a novel I spent years working on was shelved. What I didn’t say, perhaps, is how it never felt like fiction. (JK, I’m pretty sure I at least said it felt like thinly veiled fiction.) It felt like cheating. The story was already there; it felt like I was just telling it back to you, and as though you really didn’t need me to do that. I felt unimaginative.

Just as a Shakespearean aside, I’ve felt all manner of things that make no sense, people. This ain’t unique.

And then, 2016 happened. Of course it didn’t happen suddenly or in a vacuum; it was the moment after critical mass. It’s not necessary or possible to list every sin or infraction that birthed or contributed to the disruption. The tear, the breach. When there’s a years-long campaign against a people vital to the foundation of this nation and its conscience, when there’s a march of civil-servants-turned-mercenaries from the scene of the crime to the courthouse and back out into the line of duty without consequence or justice, it’s sin enough.

screenshot-2017-01-16-19-44-56

And then, the sins continued. “Well-intentioned” people revised their beliefs to make room for injustice, to safeguard their comfort – and it required the oppressed to either be “equally” wrong (for their “methods” usually) or else praised for the beauty and grace of their long-suffering. Encouraged to settle for the moral victory of being wrongly executed, rather than to seek an end to it.

mlk

Happy MLK Day, y’all. #ReclaimMLK

And then November came, and the realization that standing by while injustice thrived might have sent the message that justice need not be for everyone. And if it need not be for everyone, then eventually, it won’t be for you. And now, the majority of the country is devastated and afraid. Collaborators tend to become victims, I should have mentioned. But my stars, the confusion! The shock and incredulity.

And oh goodness, Bethany, what does this have to do with writing contemporary fiction? Well, it felt redundant (to write, not to read, apparently). It felt like preaching to the choir, on some level, and that felt – well, wait, I tweeted about this not too long ago.

screenshot-2017-01-16-19-57-53

And that doesn’t even speak to the realization that – as evidenced by the extensive incredulity – there were so very many people all along who didn’t get it. I thought it was preaching to the choir because I gave “well-intentioned” people too much credit. I thought they were doing work they hadn’t even begun.

And so now I’m musing on a contemporary short story about the world as it actually is, for the young among us who are surviving scenarios and realities that shame this nation. And unlike any speculative fiction, or at least in a way they didn’t, it feels almost too ambitious. What felt like cheating before feels impossible. Describing something in which we’re consciously mired would be a feat in any year, but let’s not forget… I haven’t just been witness to all of this. I may be trying to wrestle it now, but it’s gotten a  significant head-start. Since 2014, each year has been the hardest of my life. Not because my personal life matches what I see, but almost because it doesn’t. There’s been a rampant and persistent displacement and disorientation when it felt like a group of us were living in an ugly world on our own, trying to explain it to people living beside us and somehow somewhere else entirely. My interior life has been ravaged watching society happily resurrect its demons. There’s me in thought, me in daily life, and me in society, and daily life and love and friends have been overshadowed for what feels like forever. Or at least what feels like forever from now on.

Writing contemporary fiction feels too ambitious now. Which, of course, is another reason I have to write it. I have to relearn to be explicit, that it’s not and never was redundant. I have to describe it even when you think you already know what I mean. When you think you’ve been paying attention, I have to tell you what you’ve missed. In all honesty, I don’t know if I can. But how can I not.

*

Some links to me:

(1) If you wanted to read my personal essay on the Queen of Katwe, and the power of inclusion done right.

(2) If you missed a thread on Twitter, I might have Storify’d it.

 

On Sensitivity Reads

In the words of Old Rafiki, “It is time.”

Today I’m talking about sensitivity reads – not a study in what they are and why I encourage them (I feel like you should know this by now and plenty of people have already discussed it), but an explanation of on what I feel comfortable/equipped giving feedback – and what it might cost.

Since finishing my last wip and announcing my availability on twitter, I’ve gotten the range of expected responses/reactions. Just a quick word of advice: Don’t expect free labor from marginalized people. But that’s common sense by now, right? So maybe it’s time to tack on: When they inform you of the rate, especially don’t tell said people that you’re disappointed in them.

no joke Ezzie

I know, Unamused Baby Ezzie. No one would do that. (They have.)

But! Those experiences aside, I’m glad I’ve started offering editorial services and sensitivity reads! It’s been a year since I was editorial intern for a publisher, and I missed it. And to be honest, what with the malaise that just reappears at random because, you know, of the world and the nation and the pushback you get on declaring your humanity and right to not die or be hated as a form of patriotism, it’s actually really nice to open someone else’s work. Because I can’t always get in the head space to create, but being too far from what I love can make that malaise worse. So thank you, is I guess what I’m trying to say. Despite that there can be problematic content in the work – which is the whole reason you’re paying for the service – it can be an escape for me, right now. It reminds me there are people who want to do better.

Unfortunately, I’m not the right sensitivity reader for everyone. (Not so much unfortunate as true.) So on to where I can most help you.

Across age categories and genres, I’m happy to read your ms if you’re writing about Black American history and/or identity, and any of these intersections (or these topics on their own): womanness, motherhood, family dynamics (including sisterhood and sibling dynamics in larger families), higher education (specifically PWIs), expatriation, international travel, interracial relationships, accelerated education programs (specifically GATE and International Baccalaureate), invisible disability, performance cultures (ex: marching band, drill team, dance, etc).

Now obviously, there are variations on the above topics, or different but related ones. If you’re not sure or just generally have questions about this, contact me. Tell me about your project (a synopsis like one you might query to an agent and what you’re looking for – but try not to go too in-depth with explaining your intentions) and we can go from there.

And so, rates, amiright? Like many others, my base rate is $350*. This is based on three major criterion: (1) that the novel is no longer than 100k, (2) that the novel is polished, and (3) that the turnaround need not be shorter than 8 weeks.

*ETA: I have slightly raised my base rate due to the number of hours I’ve found I devote to each read, as well as my personal deadlines. This new rate is also subject to adjustment in particularly swamped seasons. I will advise, in that case.

Need help getting polished, with or without a sensitivity read? We can chat about that, too – but before I begin, please! Kiss emoji, wink emoji!

I think that’s enough to get us started, yes?

Final note: though my tweet says to DM me, that can get…unwieldy. Instead, follow the hyperlink above or just head to my Contact page for info on how best to reach me.

Aight, that’s enough work for one day. Now here’s this:

giphy1

 

 

Maybe God Is Tryna Tell You Something Right Now

There is always a come to Jesus moment, y’all.  That moment when God has had just about enough of your shenanigans and He is not playing anymore.

For Josh Morrow, that moment came last night.

But let me back up.

It is the magical time of year affectionately known as Morrowpalooza (by everyone, it’s internationally recognized). The time when all our birthdays happen within four days and then, just when you hoped thought it was done, BAM. Wedding anniversary.

5thAnniversary

This is us on our 5th wedding anniversary. (Pauses for “you were babieeeeeees!”) That night, we went to the movies to celebrate our anniversary properly. By seeing The Simpsons movie. Alas, that did not go to plan, for you see, the building was infested with BATS.

Okay, there was one bat. But that one bat was in our theatre. Here’s why I’m telling you this. Because for years – literally for the past nine years since – Josh has been besmirching my good name, claiming it was I who threw a fit. I who did not understand there was even a bat there for a minute. (I feel it’s relevant here to say I went to UCSC and lived at Porter and went into the woods at night and also was swept over by a murder/gaggle/epiphany/whatever of bats and did not scream. Just gonna set that down right there.) Josh on the other hand, threw his arm across me, bellowing, “JUST STAY CALM!”

Me:

Confusion

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, maybe he thought you were scared.” To which I can only say, “He eventually left me in the theatre alone with the bat.”

So.

Yeah, the thing was diving and dipping and generally sending my poor, terrified husband into a lather, and so he ran to get the TEENAGE USHER because of course that kid was trained for bat removal. (He wasn’t.) And when I say, “went to get,” I mean: tore down the steps with his hands covering his head. My poor Joshie.

The bat eventually sped out into the corridor while another movie was letting out and screaming ensued, which was the end of our entertainment for the evening for you see, when the movie came on, there was no audio. They restarted the movie and about ten minutes or so in, the audio dropped out again. So they basically destroyed my first viewing of The Simpsons Movie. (For which I’ll never forgive them.)

And as an aside, when I said it was the end of our entertainment for the evening, I wasn’t counting the fact that we got FULLY lost on the way home (we were somewhere near Vancouver, Washington, where we are not from nor have we ever lived) and ended up on a road near what looked like an abandoned college where I’m assuming a group of sorority sisters slayed a bunch of demons.

SO!

Josh has never (NEH-VORE) admitted to any of this. Not even to our closest friends. He claims his memory is of me being really upset and him having to run and get help so I didn’t completely lose it. (Please see above gif.)

So Jesus was finally like, “That’s enough of that.”

Our 14th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. [Insert all the pictures of us smooching.] We are far (faaaaaar) from Vancouver, Washington, in a place that you don’t know exists until you get here. The bat debacle is many years on, never to be put to rest. Or so we thought.

Last night, Joshie and I were hanging out, taking in the rural sights, swatting mosquitoes as one does. Neither of us aware of the divine judgment on its way.

“I think that’s a bat,” Josh said. I looked around but saw nothing, and went back to our conversation. At some point, Josh ventured off to get a closer look at some angus cow pups horsing around in the fading light of sunset.

And that’s when it happened.

The bat flew over Josh’s head, turned and swooped at him, and Josh. lost. his. mind. Yelled, “I hate bats!” (But wait, Josh. I thought I was afraid…)

Here is an artist’s rendering of his escape:

run

It was glorious. For real.

Best anniversary present ever.