Latifah’s Had It Up To Here

I have no doubt I’ve used that title before. There’s just no universe in which I haven’t.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter you don’t really know me you may have missed yesterday’s big, exciting, fantasmic cover reveal! And its sadly relevant timing.

(So this post is gonna be heavy on the Twitter screenshots, frenz. Because it’s easier than just repeating myself, eh.)

screenshot 2019-01-25 13.00.30

There is no hilarious intro for this. “Four 12-year-old girls, who are Black, were questioned and strip-searched by the school nurse and assistant principal because they seemed giddy during their lunch hour and were suspected of possessing drugs.”

Imagine your middle school sisterhood joviality abruptly ending with two adults ordering you out of your clothing. Imagining it will break something inside of you, if you’re still anywhere near a whole and functional person, but imagine it anyway because it happens to children much younger and more at risk than you.

Imagine if we were what they say we are. The penalty for this treatment….whew.

But I cannot just sit all day, imagining the vengeance and destruction that has been earned. Because there are children who feel frightened, not furious; confused, not confident. And I would rather give them my attention. I need to.

screenshot 2019-01-25 13.01.03

And so the anthology I’ve been editing and writing for since this whole nightmare administration began. TAKE THE MIC: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance has poems by Jason Reynolds, Samira Ahmed, and Keah Brown; art by Connie Sun; stories by myself, Darcie Little Badger, Yamile Saied Mendez, Sofia Quintero, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, and Ray Stoeve. It reps for Black kids, Muslim kids, Queer kids, Latinx kids, Jewish kids, Indigenous kids, disabled kids, because no we’re not tryna make somebody wait. 

This cover reveal, and knowing this anthology is soon come, is literally what stopped my chest hurting and my rage crying yesterday. It’s how I can be of some use. How I can funnel all the anger and hurt and refusal to let this stand into something that – I hope and pray – is salve for somebody else’s wounds. Is a shot of adrenaline or encouragement or fuel for someone who thought they couldn’t do it again, not today.

I cannot wait to release this collection. Wheeeeew, Lord. 

takethemic

Click the image or this sentence to add it to your Goodreads TBR!

And it didn’t really stop there. Because I’m currently in the process of drafting. And I could tell you more (cryptically) but again, why repeat when I can just retweet.

screenshot 2019-01-25 13.07.24

Because homegirl is unapologetically upset. And we know that’s not allowed, not even after all these think pieces about The Power Of Being Pissed Off, it never quite extends to Black Women. The policing never seems to end. So yes, let’s challenge who gets to be angry, and whether even the most conscious reader who is intentionally trying to unpack their prejudices can really stave off the automatic dislike. Because I am giving no freebies, no cracks in her self-confident facade that allows the reader to see the weakness they must witness to offer any sort of grace. Not today. And that news story up top? It gave her something to say.

And the church said?

latifah

This Things I Believe

Simpsons.

ANYWAY. I’m here for so many reasons. Because I feel like writing but don’t have words for the projects I’m actually working on. Because I can’t journal about the thing I’ve been journaling about again and expect to get the same level of fulfillment. Because it has been oppressively cold for the past few days and there’s ice under the snow and Ezra’s been too busy living his best life to keep my walkway clear, but MY GOD. [Preacher.gif] He gave me a balmy 23 F today and it makes all the difference.

Musically, I am currently* obsessed with Monica Martin (and all the groups she’s been in), Violents (sans MM), Tender. I’d post YT vids like I used to but I realize there’s a chance folks outside the US can’t see that anyway, so my laziness wins out.

*Surely you know me well enough to understand that this is a literal allotment of time. This may be applied with certainty only right now, at 12:59 PM EST, on January 15th. Please request a new list of artists if such time has passed.

But really, what I want to talk about are performances/projects that actually surprise you. It’s so rare, to be honest. Surprise is not something you get to experience often, and I don’t think that’s just me. We’re all in the same aquarium, which is why it can be so insufferable when people declare themselves out of the ordinary. Because we would love to experience someone who really is, content that really is, and we know from experience and disappointment how unlikely that is. And then sometimes you find it, and – again, in my experience – it’s not a wholly positive experience. Like I said, we’re all in the same aquarium and as much as we hate to admit it, [insert various qualifiers and contexts] it feels good to go with the grain. Aside from which, it takes very directed effort not to and not to have our expectations best satisfied by the familiar.

BUT ON TO WHAT I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT.

This.

zone one by colson whitehead

And this.

equals the film

My experience of these admittedly very different things actually has quite a bit of overlap, my apologies to Colson Whitehead (which is probably a very elitist thing to say, since I deem his project the more serious of the two, as an act of contrition I shall something something).

Anyway, to start, please keep this between us. 

Thank you.

Zone One was my second or third attempt at reading CW, because his concepts grab me immediately (The Intuitionist, anyone, c’mon), and his language is so satisfying. Until it isn’t, and I’m drowning. It’s not that it changes, it’s that it’s unrelenting. Which makes it feel intentional, it just occurred to me that I shouldn’t be writing this and that I intentionally don’t review things but I feel that Mr. Whitehead is doing well and shan’t be bothered, but also, it comes around.

And Zone One genuinely shouldn’t have been the one that worked for me – and to be honest, had I not gone against my nature and forced myself to finish it, it wouldn’t have been. But the reason it shouldn’t have from jump is zombies. I don’t do them. I do not understand the appeal, and the only zombie movie I’ve watched is I Am Legend, pretty sure, because the delightful melancholy! The inevitable tragedy of it all. Anyway, so Zone One.

Just like my other attempts, I started out like, “Why do I keep forgetting how good he is, homg, this is brilliantly worded” and then the words started to trample me, but I was like, I refuse not to be able to say I’ve finished a CW book, this is ludicrous. (I cannot explain this feeling, since I do not care about reading particular people or finishing books for the sake of it.) And I was legit angry at some point leading up to the middle. I literally told the book to SHUT. UP. Or Colson, probably. Like,

I GET IT. THE CITY IS A CHARACTER AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DESCRIBE BUILDINGS AS THOUGH THEY WERE BORN AND NOT BUILT AND THERE ARE SUCH LAYERS AND MUCH COMMENTATION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND KEEP THE WORD SALADS AT BAY.

(I am so sorry, please remember that it is one of my five star reads and that I am courageous in my honesty right now.)

And then I read on (here I feel it’s necessary to say, no, this will not keep me from DNFing work that is not for me, be quiet). And sweet mercy, that is a come-around for the ages. That book. That heart-wrenching, devastating, foreboding and strangely hopeful book. There are so few times that I genuinely feel the main character was required for the execution, for the resolution. It couldn’t have, wouldn’t have been this story without them. But Zone One is one of the two times I’ve felt it strongly. Colson made me a believer. Ugh.

Excuse me while I just run through different scenes in my head, which is what inevitably happens whenever I try to talk about this book. Maybe I believed it before this book and I’m just agreeing with something I already felt, but he so masterfully composes a world and conclusion that believably proceeds from where we are, and demonstrates why the heroes we’ve mythologized for so long could not survive it, I CAN’T EVEN EXPRESS THIS PROPERLY, COME SIT IN SILENCE WITH ME, WIDE-EYED AND NODDING, KAY.

Me, upon finishing the last page:

bob unhinged

It … just kept escalating.

And then Equals.

So I wanted to see this movie because I like Kristen Stewart (a lot and in a way I probably can only admit because I never saw or read Twilight. I stand by my flawless judgment.) and also the dude, (though he’s only attractive from very specific angles, but he’s tall and isn’t it sad how far that takes some dudes) and because the trailer used a very devastating Aurora sample into which I was deeply immersed at the time.

Pretty immediately upon starting the movie, I was like. Oh. Okay, so this is everything we’ve ever already seen. It’d be easier to just say, “This is just We,” but since so many of you heathen are heathens, I’ll set my tongue on fire and say it in a way you’ll understand: This is just 1984 A Brave New World THX 1138 We. This is just We. Sorry, I couldn’t do it.

Like, I can see that they were really trying to bait me in particular, what with the slow, and quiet, and troubling, and yes, I do think I’m always the target audience, prove me wrong. But like. Justify yourself, Equals. Amirite. Like, why do you need to exist, exactly?

And I felt like that almost the whole way through the movie – which is, of course, much easier to tolerate in a visual medium – especially when the stakes weren’t what they traditionally are. They were stakes which, at first glance, were only stakes to the characters in the movie. Which…actually, I adore from a creator perspective even more, because otherwise, they’re stakes for the viewer’s expectations, which means they’re stakes with which we’re familiar and probably fit a formula, and this is the whole aquarium socialization I was referring to at the onset. They were only life and death if you refuse to live without love. Which. yeah, those are pretty high stakes.

And then – uuugh I wanna spoil this, you don’t mind right?

The end completely justifies the movie, and broke my friggin heart. It was such a Romeo and Juliet IF YOU HAD JUST WAITED TWO SECONDS WHYYY and then the heartbreak of loving someone who can’t love you back anymore. But still honoring the commitment. IT GOT REAL, VERY QUICKLY, IS WHAT I’M SAYING, MY HEART.

Me, at the end:

how

And I have been thinking of them, by myself, ever since. Both. Because I have exactly zero people in my life who have read or watched this, as far as I know, please prove me wrong, someone because I NEED. I have such feelings. Have mercy on me.

Enfin.

MEM releases in paperback in March. Click-y the pic-y to pre-order!

mem paperback cover

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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

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.

Spotting Sweet 16s!

The year of debut is finally here, not just for me, but also for all my Sweet 16 siblings! One thing I didn’t realize was how exciting it would be to go into Barnes and Noble and spot their books in the wild! So fun!

I met up with Margot Harrison, author of the forthcoming THE KILLER IN ME, in Burlington, VT, and scoped out the debuters already on the shelves!

Sweet 16s January

I know onlookers must’ve thought we were holding our own books, haha! But it was so exciting! So cool to have something to send them, like checking in on your friend’s kid away at uni or something. 😀 They’re doing fine and thriving and they love you, Laurie and Marieke!

Just in case you haven’t heard of Laurie’s FIRSTS and Marieke’s THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS – somehow, some way – you’ll find their titles linked to Goodreads, so go have a look!

Holy goodness. Someday this will be my book, spotted places I didn’t put her, exciting fellow Sweet 16ers. ::head explodes:: Cannot imagine!

 

You Are Hearing Me Talk

There are things over which an author has no control. This is never more easily understood then when you are the author. Lately, there’s been at least one dust-up over something the author of a very popular series could not really be expected to change. Because, the “not in control” thing. But I guess some people think we’re just kidding.

Expectation:

Reality:

(But she looks comfy, tho.)

And so anyway, the point of all this is who knows what will be, but IF I were to see an audio rendition of The Last Life of Avrilis (guess where that links to… guess!), I have but one request. That the narrator be one of the following:

Pictures

To be fair, I think everything should be narrated by one or both of them. No. Not both. We would not survive it.

While, on deeper meditation, it seems strange to have a grown man narrate a novel with a young female protagonist written by a woman… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Have you heard them speak?! Was your soul not awakened?! (Apparently I have no convictions and stand for nothing. Because I think this could still work.)

But on the off chance that either selection would be off-putting, I will also benevolently accept another superstar narrator, in the form of Meagan Good.

 

Look Alive! Have A Lively Look About You!

I AM HERE.

What is life, guise. What is it.

What’s this life for.

It’s like…. life.

It’s bigger.

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me.

I’m….sorry, those are various song lyrics and assorted foolishments. I can’t rightly remember how to do this, but I feel like I’m nailing it.

So anyway, I am no longer an expatriate, for one thing, as my family has moved five minutes inside the US border. There’s that. So many changes, all at once, this summer was a whirlwind. And now it’s quiet. Like, country quiet. Like, city folk sitting in corners holding lanterns and holy water quiet. Which brings me to we got a new dog! (Read: a bigger, younger, much more vocal dog.)

Walker

Meet Walker. He is convinced he’s a cat, a human child, and whatever fights apple trees. I will love him more when he’s not teething anymore. (Spoiler: that bed – that bed that geriatric Phineas loved? – is no more.)

Other news: I am a Goodreads author with a book page for Avrilis and that just hasn’t lost its luster yet! LLoA is in copy edits, I’m anxiously and excitedly waiting to see what her cover will look like (insert SPDJFPOSKAGPKSDFG or some reasonable facsimile), and I’m writing the second book (more on that later)!

I’ve made friends with the local library (well, one town over), mostly because they are housed in this ridiculously awesome brick colonial and YAS. Oh and they gave me books so… I mean, friends for life.

So yes, we love the house, Ezzie loves his new school (1st time in an American school, he feels like he’s arrived!), we’re happily still in our church family, and life is moving right along!

Hopefully I’ll have more news to share soon! 😉

OHANDIT’SALMOSTCHRIS–