Thursday, July 30, 2015

Podcast: Critique It's a Nightmare

Episode 21: It's a Nightmare: Dystopian (Feminist) Fantasy Critique

listen                 here  or


Leslie & Alyssa critique the opening pages from Nicole Quinn’s It’s a Nightmare.
They discuss the genre, the function of the comma, the importance of a name, and
suspension of disbelief.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Santa Ana winds

Photo by Eric Massey (@masseyfoto)
When my Papa moved into our house to die, I imagined a sweet old man puttering around, till one day he wouldn’t wake up, and we’d all cry. That’s not what happened, nor who arrived. He was a gale, of hurricane force, that knocked me off course, tempered me, and left me refinished. 

My mother always blamed ill temper on the Santa Anas, downslope winds that originate inland, and drive everyone crazy, while racing southwest to the water of the California coastline.  Devil wind.  Santa Anas whoosh all of the smog away.  In their wake, everything is crisp, blue skies, a desert landscape climbing to snow capped mountains.  During Santa Anas there’s a notable rise in crime, freeway gun battles, Hollywood actors in rehab,100 mile winds, forest fires, sinus infections, and generally bad tempers all around. Some surgeons say that blood won’t clot predictably during the Santa Anas, and they adjust their operating schedules accordingly.

When the wind blows off the desert, hot and dry, or fresh off the mountains, skin blistering cold, beware. This is what I know of my family, and their moods. This is the East wind my father brought with him from the West.  He was a Santa Ana.

My Papa was kidnapped by Lewy Body dementia. Held hostage by its hallucinations, he held us all captive there too.  
Papa had caregivers around the clock.  A revolving cast of personalities that came and went, depending upon their capacity for aggressive insanity.  Papa sent one nurse to the E.R.  
While awake, he was visited by the ghosts of long gone friends and family, with whom he brokered forgiveness, and assigned blame, all while offering them breakfast.
At night, this ninety-four year old, retired rocket scientist, who could barely leave his wheelchair when awake, was a spy on a mission in his dreams. In those dreams turned nightmare, we were all the enemy, unseen voices, ever on the attack. He bit, he punched, he protected himself. He crawled from under his bed, as the wreckage of bombed buildings.  He balanced on the bedside table to wave in incoming aircraft.  We lived at the eye of this storm.

But Santa Ana winds are seasonal, inflaming everything as they whirl towards the Pacific Ocean, to be absorbed and neutralized.  The devil wind always ends.  The crime rate returns to normal, and more blood clots according to routine.  Papa’s gone now, and, as in the wake of the Santa Anas, the atmosphere is recharged, it’s clean. When the wind blows, sometimes the cradle rocks, and the bough does break, and crocuses still poke their heads up out of the snow.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Harlem Book Fair

Mina and I will be exhibitors at The Harlem Book Fair, July 18
You can find us  on 135th st, between Lenox Ave and Adam Clayton Powell

In Writer's Row: Blue Barn Productions - R6

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Replacing the Chief, 1978The Iakoiane or Clan Mother, a title which is passed down hereditarily through a clan. Among the five nations of the confederacy there are nine Mohawk Clan Mothers, nine Oneida, thirteen Onondaga, ten Cayuga and eight Seneca for a total of forty-nine Clan Mothers. It is her responsibility to look out for the welfare of the clan by overseeing the actions of the Chief and ensuring that he is performing his duties in accordance with the Great Law. As Clan Mother she will have her own wampum of two strings, one white and one purple, signifying her title within the Haudenosaunee. Should she pass on, the string will then be passed on to the next hereditary Clan Mother.
If a Chief acts improperly or is not living up to his responsibilities his Clan Mother and Faith Keepers will warn him about his actions. If he continues to act selfishly the Clan Mother may symbolically remove his antlers, thus removing his authority as Chief.
When a Chief passes away a Clan Mother selects a candidate to replace him hopefully within three days of the funeral though this process can take much longer. She will choose the candidate and present him to her nation. This candidate is then presented to their brother nation for approval. If approved the candidate is presented to all other members of Grand Council for approval before a Condolence ceremony may begin to raise up the new Chief. The Chief Todaharo does not have a Clan Mother which is why there are only 49 Clan Mothers yet 50 Chiefs. In the case of replacing him the Onondaga Chiefs will all decide on a candidate while taking into consideration the advice of all the Clan Mothers.

The Clan Mothers title is usually passed on to her female relatives, first to her eldest sister or other sisters and if an appropriate person isn’t found she will then look to her eldest daughter and other daughters. If an appropriate person is still not found a candidate will be sought out in the rest of the clan.

Like the Chiefs they choose, Clan Mothers must also live up to their duties and be good mothers to their children, knowledgeable of the Great Law and political structure of the Grand Council, honest and truthful and be a role model to the members of her clan.
As well as selecting and deposing Chiefs, Clan Mothers are also responsible for naming children from their own list of clan names and approving marriages to ensure that a bride and groom do not belong to the same clan and thus to the same family.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Everyday Thoughts

In 1990 Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number of human females missing from the planet, (selectively aborted, outright killed, or neglected to death), at 100 million; the death toll is higher now. 

Why does half the human population have to ask for human rights? It seems absurd, and yet, we are asking for the right to be equal to human men. 

Our planet, and her health, have been feminized for the same reasons, so she can be easily commoditized, rather than preserved. If we continue to measure success by an artificial construct, where everything on the planet has a price tag, what meaning is there in the actual value of anything? 

Feminism, (or equality, for those who equate ball busting with the first term), has a direct impact on the health of our planet, and its humans. Change is upon us. 

Grow something. Turn off the lights. Drive less. Understand where your water comes from, and make sure it's being protected. The planet will adapt, other species will survive, why not us?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2015 Wheatley Awards Nominees

Congratulations to all of the writers!  Mina and I are so grateful to be included.

The books listed have been selected for final consideration.
First Fiction
Adinkrahene: Fear of a Black Planet by Jeffery A. Faulkerson
Born at Dawn by Nigeria Lockley
It's A Nightmare, The Gold Stone Girl, Book 1 by Nicole Quinn
Once In A Lifetime In Love by Sonya Felice Jenkins
Princesa by Maria L. Perez
Reason by Tiombe Jones
Shifting Allegiances: A Nigerian's Story of Nigeria, America & Culture by Amaka Lily
Tea Leaf: What Hides Underneath by Mia Mitns
The Devil Made Me Do It by Colette R. Harrell
The Ugly Secrets of Private Roy by Edward Roy
The Unnamed by Elva Nelson Hayes
Weaver by Miriam Kelly Ferguson
Who Made the Potato Salad? by Inez Robinson-Turpin