Tag Archives: fiction
Writing characters who are the feminists of their fictional time in one of the books of my upcoming fantasy series, THE ELEMENTS, proves to be a challenge to me. I’m not a feminist as I understand feminism, by any stretch of the imagination & I’m always thinking in terms of balance when it comes to gender, as it relates to our daily affairs. Perhaps feminists have an undeserved, bad reputation, or I still have simply been ignorant, but I tend to see feminism as an extreme. I literally have had to study, read (as I would for anything else) and then subdue instinctual reflexes in character development. It’s a very interesting process…
I wanted to share you the new episode II of Evolve
That is all……..
Today I wanted to share a brief excerpt from Book I of my upcoming, alternative Earth fantasy – THE ELEMENTS, which I began in 2003 after seeing the news coverage of the beginnings of the war in Iraq. I have talked about my fictional writing mostly on my website, but I wanted to share some it with you all. Enjoy!
“Zuri, the flesh must be divided evenly,” instructed Leena, pointing to her too generous cuts of the meat given to them by the recently returned warriors.
“You mean less the largest portion which goes to the Queen,” The young woman stopped cutting the flesh in front of her, took a deep breath and started dividing the portions already cut into smaller pieces.
“I hear she doesn’t even eat it,” said another.
“She doesn’t. She doesn’t like the meat from wild beasts and says that it smells bad. I tell her that it’s all of the meat we have now. She just drinks the muthi and makes me take the stew away most days– I give it to the those in need of it,” said Olufemi.
“You give it to Wasswa,” teased Nia as she walked by Olufemi carrying a basket full of fruit that somehow she had to divide between so many.
“We give the best to the King’s family while the people are starving. It isn’t enough and it never is,” said Olufemi.
“You can ignore me all you want Olufemi but I see the way he looks at you…and you he,”
“He is a warrior and I am a servant, bound to the king and his family. These eyes wander no further than the Queen’s izindlu,” said Olufemi without looking up from her task.
“We do as we are told and we are lucky to have this much meat. The days of hunger will end and we will have rain again. King Nkosana has shared this from the ancestors, that we will suffer for a short time and the Kishnu will kneel at our feet. It is prophesy!”
“Yes, Leena of course,” said Olufemi, nodding her head in agreement.
“Leena, you are old and sound just like the King. Do you have any thoughts that are your own? I’m tired of the prophesy and I want to eat everyday. I’m tired of hearing about the ancestors, what about the living? Why can’t we till the soil or go fishing in the sea for ourselves? Why must only Nkosana provide?!” asked Nia for the third time since the last rain.
Without warning, the elder cook rushed to the girl, raised her right hand up above her,slapping her left cheek with so much force the girl staggered backwards. All of the others stood where they were, speechless. The young cook’s pride alone was enough of a dam to keep tears from her face. She raised her hands to the left side of her face for a moment, then dropped them and faced Leena as if she was ready to strike her back.
“Nkosana comes from a line of kings too great in number for you to count, child. He has always provided us with food even when the land refuses to. We don’t have to sweat in the hot sun or suffer the dangers at sea like Kishnu women – faces painted black, climbing trees,weapons in hand like men, with not a trace of themselves left recognizable, except for bosoms. Your tongue is a young child running ahead, beyond the reach of your father’s spear, into the jaws of a lion. Our duty is to prepare the food given to us by our king. Never again let Nkosana’s name pass your lips unless followed by praise or gratitude!”
“Nia, wait! Don’t leave!” yelled Olufemi as the girl turned and rushed out of the room so quickly a breeze tickled each of them.
“I’ll go after her,” announced Olufemi while cleansing her hands with water from a potjiepot in front of her.
“No. There’s too much work to be done and every hand is needed. She wants you to come after her as you always do when she’s in trouble. Leave her to her anger. It will have abandoned her by night fall,”
“Leena, she’s my sister. She is young and needs me. Let me go to her. I’ll bring her back to finish the cooking,”said Olufemi.
Leena turned to Olufemi and embraced one of her shoulders by extending one of her arms.
“Olufemi, you’re loyal to your sister and that is good, but now your duty to Lungizwe requires your loyalty. You cannot share it. Let her be,”
“Yes, she’ll be fine. She always is,” said Olufemi with a faint smile. By now the others were listening but had returned to their respective duties. Leena and Olufemi returned to theirs, all in silence.
Excerpt from THE ELEMENTS Book I Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. www.theelementsbooks.com
I rarely ask people to donate funds for anything, but this project, Danger Word Film is very dear to my heart & it is important to me, so I wanted to remind everyone about this community funded project I’ve have asked you all to be a part of, throughout social media. It’s from husband-wife writing team Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due . Steven is the author of 27 novels & has written for television shows such as The Outer Limits, Andromeda & the (new) Twilight Zone. The episode he wrote “A Stitch In Time” on The Outer Limits won an Emmy Award as well.
Tananarive is the award winning novelist of 10 horror novels such as the African Immortal series which started with MY SOUL TO KEEP & she is the Spelman College Cosby Chair in the Humanities.
I have met them both, been informally mentored as a person and writer & they are wonderful, down-to-earth, exceptional human beings. Both of their novels have influenced me as a writer as well. Please visit www.dangerwordfilm.wordpress.com to learn how you can be a part of/support this project! I will be donating myself & NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL (OR BIG hehe!) Amounts can be donated anywhere from $1 & up, simply click the “donate” button once you’re on their website! They have acknowledgements for all levels of donations and some fantastic incentives available. Recently, they announced that the part of “Grandpa Joe” will be played by veteran actor Frankie Faison, well known for his roles on television show “The Wire” and The Silence of The Lambs. Faison is currently co-starring in Alan Ball’s series “Banshee” on Cinemax. Steven & Tananarive share more here:
Connect with Danger Word Film on social media:
“Like” DWF on Facebook HERE
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Thanks so much to those who have donated already! It is greatly appreciated.
-Talitha “TK” McEachin
I’ll cut to the chase:
1. READ, READ, READ – You learn from the great writers. For dialogue I learned from Hemingway, figurative language from Richard Wright & to name a contemporary author, Janet Fitch. The point is that certain authors have certain strengths & you can learn from them by reading, from Shakespeare to The Odyssey to Zora Neale Hurston. READ!
2. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE – I have observed many writers focusing on marketing, discussions on social media about writing, illustrations, maps, plot synopsis (over & over again) – just write the book already. Write it without continuously editing it as you write (even I have trouble with this). Get it out of you, then worry about other things. Marketing is meaningless if you wrote & published a crappy book.
3. Find a great, supportive but honest critique group. Develop thick skin. If you put out a sample chapter for people to read be ready for any level of criticism. Do you want people to lie to you & pat you on the back or help you make it better? Decide. If you want the lie, please don’t ever ask me to critique your work. Also, give & take in critique groups. In other words, you should not be receiving more critiques than you give. It should be balanced. Nothing annoys me more in critique groups than members who always want others to read/critique their work but never do the same for others. The basic Golden Rule principle comes to mind here. Scribophile is a wonderful site for having your excerpts critiqued because they work on a karma point system & you can’t present your work to others unless you first gain karma points by helping other writers first.
4. DO NOT under ANY circumstances, publish a book that has only been edited by you, no matter how good you think you are. You’ll never catch all of your own errors.Some editors don’t catch every single error. Hire a good editor who is able to give you references & is familiar with your genre. It is my personal opinion that editing speculative fiction (for example) is different from other genres, so I advise getting an editor who has worked with authors in the genre you are writing in. Everyone may not agree with that and yet, the world turns. Don’t go for the “full editorial services for $99-$199” type of people – no serious, credible editor will edit an entire manuscript for so little money because it’s not worth their time – it’s a scam that too many writers fall for. Real editors don’t troll & spam potential clients to the point of ad nauseam, clients come to them.For those cheap prices, they’ll do little more than a spell check, which you can do yourself.
5. If you don’t have the money to pay for editing, wait until you do to publish the book or present it to literary agents and/or publishers. The same can be applied to self-publishing.Now some will disagree with that, citing the fact that an agent or publisher could see potential & offer a contract, even if the manuscript is not perfect. While they might have a point, I say, if you care about your work, you invest in it to polish it as if you only have one shot. If you are in the one percent of querying writers whose partial and/or full manuscript is requested (keywords: one percent), it needs to be error free as much as possible. Why would an agent or publisher choose your story with errors when Jane Doe submitted a story in the same genre with an equally compelling plot & proper editing? You are competing with every other writer for the coveted 1%. It amazes me how many writers think that if they just put the book out there without professional editing (usually for .99) it will catch on. They think it will sell enough copies to pay for the editing for the sequel or make them rich. Shullbit. Amanda Hocking’s story is rare & most .99 books don’t turn writers into millionaires. Most regularly priced books don’t turn writers into millionaires.Get an extra job, ask your family for the money, sell an egg…or sperm, start cutting grass for $$$. Don’t sell crystal meth in a basement lab in your home. Or, do what I did – I raised money via Indiegogo. Fellow writer Dianne Gardner is doing the same via Kickstarter now. It’s worth the wait.
I’ll be back next week with more advice for writers.
TK McEachin is a political/cultural blogger and up & coming writer of fiction. Her first novel, THE ELEMENTS is the first in an epic fantasy series.To learn more about her fictional projects visit www.theelementsbooks.com. You may donate to her campaign on the home page as well, if you missed the deadline for her fundraising campaign.