Introducing: Triton (LLoA)

I’m a Sweet 16er, a member of the 2016 YA/MG Debut group. True fact: I have been loving these groups (and their names) since the Apocalypsies of 2012. So cool to be in one – and come on. The Sweet 16s? Awesome.

In July, the #SixteensBlogAbout character so I want to introduce one of my favorites from The Last Life of Avrilis: Triton, of the silver planet.

Triton

First things first: I found this picture (and edited the eyes, of course) ALL of the years ago. Which sadly means I don’t recall from whence it came or how to give proper credit. If you see this and are the photographer or model, please let me know!

So, TRITON! I adore him, I truly do, from his black eyes (he lost the whites to his work underground) to his dreadlocks to his zeppelin to his staggering height to his reverent custom of salutation. He’s originally from Infinitas, the silver planet across the sky from sweet (much more Victorian) Aetas. Infinitas has a haze around it – the first indication of the difference between the twin worlds and a result of their constant progress and mechanization, and Triton fits in as the prophet’s engineer.

In lifetimes past, he’s loved Nestra – more on her in a later post? – but this time they’ve both taken the oath: not to follow the script until the prophet’s plan to end it once and for all has come to pass and the new age begins. His loyalties and the pride he’s held in his position will be tested when Avrilis suddenly appears and with her, revelations about the prophet, the script, the oath and what the so-called new age will cost.

Never defy the planets. Never change the script.

The Last Life of Avrilis will be published in September 2016! Find out more of the story at Bethany C. Morrow and follow along with my author page on Facebook!

 

Congratula-TIONS, Manny Singer!

Oooh, Manny!

[Pretending my name is Manny and also finishing Jenny’s awesomely awkward speech in my head because nothing but death can keep me from her and homgIJustDidAnAmazingSegueFromCorrinaCorrinaToTheColorPurple. I win the internets, Whoopi Goldberg. I win them all.]

You would think today of all days I could not be ridiculously scatter-stream-of-consciousness rambling, but you would be wrong. We are, in fact, here for this:

Grab a party hat and a hula hoop – and an awesome vintage dress with matching bloomers, if you got one – and help me celebrate a writerly milestone!

My 1st book deal!!

Rite?

She knows what I’m talking about.

So, if you followed the link in the last blog to my author website, you’ll know that I signed with Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group a couple weeks ago! What you wouldn’t have yet known is that the week before that I received an offer of publication for The Last Life of Avrilis from Month9Books! (Publishing and its sekrets!) Yesterday, this happened:

Trident Announcement

I conceived LLoA in June 2010 and wrote it for the first time in July.

In between numerous other projects (that will have their day in the sun!), I rewrote it for myself, received a lot (like a ton) of rejection and a lot of enthusiasm including 5 r&rs – 4 of which I executed and the result of which left me with a book I adore – and then, 5 years to the month after I began, I went from query to request to phone call in about 7 hours. #ThereIsNoSuchThingAsOvernightSuccess

This is a story about a black girl who refused to stop writing about a black girl who wanted to cross the sky from one planet to another and find out whether the destinies we’re handed are written in stone. It means adventure is for everyone. It means I get to keep my voice – mine, whether it fits the normative mold or not – and I finally found the champions who want to be part of sharing that voice.

Thank you Mark forĀ racing on board. Thank you Georgia for loving that voice.

Thank you Joshie and Steph and Elena and Andy and Jen and everyone who critiqued it along the way. Please join me on stage for the following.

Le Fall Down

This is life after revision.

For me anyway. It’s actually every part of the writing life after an intense stretch of intensity. Because nothing can fill the vacuum of a weeks long cocoon of creative expression and mental preoccupation. Every fiber of my being has been directed in one, beautiful direction. And then bam. I’m a little girl laying face down in the rain. What is life even.

Other uses for this posture:

1) The night THAT episode of The Good Wife aired. You know the one.

2) The first day of that week in the life of a woman.

3) After failing as an adult in one of the following ways:

a) having poured cereal without first checking that there was milk.

b) having wet one’s hair before realizing that there is no more apple vinegar shampoo.

c) being unable to find the car keys.

Demolition (Wo)Man

I’m gonna be honest, I gave that title all of three seconds of thought. That’s a lie. It was less than that and I feel like you can tell.

So I’m in the middle of a really, excruciatingly deceptive revision right now. Like, a deep bones revision.

You know how you’re watching brain surgery (as one does) and it just looks like this person will never be the same because you’ve flipped their scalp the other way and sawed through their cranium and dug around in the brain – and then you see them afterward and you cannot see the scar? (Shout-out to the docu-series, Brain Hospital. I wanna be you when I grow up.)

Okay, that’s what I feel like but not what I feel like I’m doing. Let’s start over.

This is the book.

Oh my gosh, it’s also the house I wanna DIE in.

::ahem::

Sorry. Anyway, so that’s the book, right? It’s the world, the concept, the scene outline, the characters to some extent. And so, that – that beautiful structure up there – looks relatively the same.

But see, inside – where one keeps all the insulation and world logic and character interaction and motivations?

….

Right?

So, sometimes my brain’s all, no, what are you talking about, this is totally a low-key revision because look.

And I’m like, yeah!

What was I thinking! This is gonna be super chill. I’m so silly. I think I’m just getting all mixed up about this whole driving in the snow and feeling like every mile brings me closer to the moment I go home to be with the Lord and this whole hubby having been sick and fever dreaming, cuz I really haven’t been getting great sleep what with how he’s taken to growling and kicking off the covers so lemme just open this word doc again, I don’t even know what I got so worked up about –

::crying in the wreckage::

~

So we’re good.

It’s gonna be great.

Super excited. Mildly terrified. Glad we’re doin’ it.

Totally unrelated: isn’t it hilarious when agents/editors/cps make one apt comment and you re-envision (the execution of) the entire novel. I love it.

Next time we’ll talk about writing other projects and how it sometimes teaches you how to properly write the first one. (And we’ll use “the first” rull loosely.)

::puts on hard hat::

 

A Story Is A Play Is A Novel Is A Show

The first time I changed formats/mediums was in university. I’d written a short story about a girl who realizes her boyfriend’s interest is moreso in the fact that theirs is an interracial relationship than in her. (It would be giving it too much credit to believe the execution lived up to that, since what I mostly remember is the character fumbling with the inconsistencies of what you’d expect your partner to “get”, what level of social maturity/critiquing in which you’d expect they could participate.)

I decided the story was better served as a screenplay, a decision probably not unrelated to the fact that moving from high school into university cut my performances by about 90%. No marching band, no color guard, no repertory theatre, no drill team. But that’s not the point.

The process of transposing a story from the page to the stage or screen is such an exciting (to me) experience. It’s also (sometimes) frustrating, stumping, illuminating, a dozen other things. My willingness/need to do this – not only when I realize a story is better suited to something other than a short story, novella or novel, but also when it would simply be an interesting variation to see it that way in addition – is probably why I’ve always taken exception with people who insist on comparing novels to their film adaptations. Or more accurately, comparing films to their source books. It. Is. Not. The. Same. It’s not supposed to be, it couldn’t possibly be. Get on with it.

So, upon hearing about the Sci-fest (the Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival)

…I decided to take one of my short stories – one that wouldn’t exceed the 20 min run time – and transpose it into a stage play. It was actually pretty easy to make the choice, not just based on length but also on what I thought I could most effectively stage on a budget. (The flash trilogy about planets having their own unique soul conditions or my beloved Jigsaw, whose synopsis is available on my Writing page, did not quite fit this bill.)

The clear choice was Caroline Samir is Alive and Well.

And then I got stuck.

Not inorganically, which is just another way of saying the pause in the process was necessary, but still. Frustration. (Mostly because I had other deadlines…) Because pretty early on, it was apparent that the choice Caroline makes in the short story would not be emotionally satisfying or even possibly defensible on stage. Which means that I needed to reimagine her decision for the physical audience that (if not at sci-fest then someday and somewhere else!) would be watching. And of course it still had to be consistent with who she is.

The good thing about Caroline herself, and one of the reasons I knew this story was the right one to use, is that she is very boldly herself. Probably irritatingly so, for some. Myself included if I had to spend more than 5000 words with her, to be honest. But that possibly made it a bit easier to think of another way her choice would manifest.

So, long story short (not really, we’ve already been here a while, no?), the ending of the stage play is completely different from the ending of the short story. Necessarily so. And I love that.

And don’t get me started on transitioning a novel into a tv series.

Have you ever rewritten a story for a different medium? Did you love it? (Objection. Leading.)

Yes, it *IS* bold to end a blog post with a question when your once conversational community may be gone forever, which is totally your own fault for not blogging in like ever.

Now. Here’s the deal.

As usual, I’d like to share the blame for my blog absence with you. (As in let’s just say we’re both wrong and be done with it.)

The reality is productivity. Every single thing has been written and submitted and crazy amazingly fun opportunities like Issa Rae’s ColorCreative.tv search for tv pilots written by women and writers of color and Sci-fest’s one act play festival and deadlines for these things and others have happened.

Because seriously, people, if you are like me, you’ve been ready for this for a good minute. Yas.

So away I have been getting the little boy settled in his new school (which we love and about which we sing hallelujah), writing all the things (including this one act play that should NOT be taking this long except for all the other writing deadline interruptions, geez), having no free weekends (which is killing my family as we are homebodies and I am only half-joking).

Watching my dog go full-senile. Yes, he’s almost 11 but dang. He hit old age hard. Let’s just say he is no longer the dog that has to go out once a day. O_O Not at all.

Oh and other AMAZINGLY MARVELOUS things still open to submissions?

Just adore Black Balloon and you should look into this.

If any stranger stumbles upon this post and enters either of these, let me know! So cool.

What We Lie About When We Talk About Diversity

People don’t buy books with people of color on the cover.

People don’t read books with people of color as narrator or MC.

People can’t relate.

First of all, one of the best things about that collection of quotes explaining racism is that it calls us out for not identifying who is being racist. Because of the way we police our speech, there are no racists, right? Just racist things that are happening all on their own. Just a machine already in motion (which is true) that no one is controlling (which could be true but that doesn’t negate) that someone is benefiting from. So s/he is responsible for shutting it down.

So we’re not talking about “people.” We’re talking about white people. White people is not a dirty word, you guys, unless you insist on just being people while the rest of us have always been identified by our phenotype or ethnicity. Which says something. (I’m convinced that there are at least a slight number of people who – if they had something pointed out – can get the message.)

And while others have already eloquently spoken on the fact that the thing about diversity is that white people shouldn’t have to be able to relate to everything in the marketplace – which I will sum up as follows: Diversity in literature is having something for everyone, not everything for someone – what I wanna talk about is how that’s baloney. That whole can’t-relate dealie. Is baloney.

Because the thing is: none of us fell out of the womb relating. We were *taught* how to relate to the default voice. From the first reading assignment through to the last, by whom we were assigned to read, by the way we were taught to decipher it, we were taught how to relate to literature.

Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Frost, Atwood, Wharton, and everyone else we read. We were taught how to read them. We were socialized to identify and identify with the style, the imagery, the pentameter, the allusions, the themes. We were taught.

Which means you can learn. Anyone who wants to. Everyone. Because – instead of trying to edit out the minority voice – the standard response should be, lemme stretch myself so I can hear the things I’m not hearing. Let me learn a new way to read, just like all of the western world was taught to hear the white, (mostly) male voice.

Learn to read, y’all.

And if you need to hear it again, please go read this. Because TRUTH:

White is an ethnicity as well. Which is why you can’t take a white character, slap a skin color on, and say, “Tada, now you’re (insert race)!” Because your character, depending on what race and background they have, isn’t going to look at white things the way a white person would.

#We

#Need

#Diverse

#Authors

And I’m keeping my voice.