2018 Year in Review and Eligibility Works

2018 was a bizarre year for me.

In order to explain this year, I need to back up a bit to the year of 2016. There was a whole bunch of stuff going on that year that I couldn’t really talk about online. The only way I could cope with it was by writing. So I wrote. A whole lot.

One particularly bad day, I was checking the twitters when this thread from Rachael K Jones popped up on my feed. And then, she wrote this:

That tweet stayed with me through the craziness that followed: selling our house, buying a new one, day job insanity, the election of 45. And then 2017, where I continued my push to finish the novel and got back into publishing nonfiction. All the while, the dayjob got busier and busier, and I was coming home more and more exhausted, until in May 2018, I realized that that if I was going to write more, I needed to find another job. Either one that was less intense or less hours.

So I started looking. It took way longer than I thought, considering that I hadn’t really looked for a new job in ten years. But I’m happy to say starting in February 2019, I be starting a new admin position. Same place, still full-time, but I’ll get two afternoons off to write while keeping my benefits.

It’s a start.

Oddly enough, in 2018, as I searched for a job that will allow me to write more, I got a surprising amount of fiction and non-fiction written and published. In April, my short story “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” was published by Fireside Magazine. In July, my novelette “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good” was published by FIYAH magazine (this was originally the novella I wrote in 2016 before I cut it down to a more readable length). I also wrote a third short story that will be coming out soon, but that hasn’t been officially announced yet, so shhhh! But both the two stories mentioned above are eligible for awards, so read, enjoy, share, etc.

I also wrote a bunch of non-fiction articles, including an exploration of Nisi Shawl’s Filter House on Tor.com, a review of Janelle Monáe’s album Dirty Computer in Apex Magazine, and…heh hehe, another article that remains secret for now, but will be published sometime this year. And all of that while writing cover letters and filling out job applications and updating my resume.

Of course, with all the above, my editing input on the final draft of Willow tanked. As of today, I’ve only managed to complete 68% of the final edits. Which, actually, isn’t so bad, considering that I worked on it on top of all the other things I worked on last year but still. I laughed out loud when I saw the deadline I had originally set for myself, which was March 2018. Yeah, that sooooooo didn’t happen.

But it’s now 2019. I got some time freed up. I don’t have any writing projects pending for the next couple of months. Well, one, but it’s a quick one. And, before 2019 ended, I fixed the last major chapter that needed serious fixing (chapter 27). So all the edits from this point on should technically go fast. I’m resetting the Willow Final Edit clock to March 2019. At 68%, I know I can do it. You can cheer me on at @tbonejenkins on Twitter. And then once I’m done, I can finally tackle the goals I had written for 2018.

Butt in chair, eyes on the prize. Let’s go.

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LaShawn’s WisCon 42 Schedule

WisCon 42 is coming up in a couple of weeks and I will be there! For those of you who are going, here’s where you can find me.

Friday, 5:30pm: POC Dinner
It’s our POC annual dinner! If you’re a person of color and haven’t gotten your ticket yet, sign up here. Even if you can’t pay, please sign up for a ticket so we know how much food to order. I’m also coordinating volunteers for the dinner to help with setup or cleaning afterwards, so you want to help, let me know in the comment section of this post and I’ll get in touch with you.

Saturday, 4:00pm: Steven Universe Sing-along
From “Giant Woman” to “It’s Over, Isn’t It,” Steven Universe offers a variety of beautiful songs in different genres that we can all sing our hearts out to. Hopefully we’ll be able to sing up to the latest song “A Distant Shore” and WE WON’T LIKE BE TALKING ABOUT THE NEXT EPISODE AFTER THAT BUT DANG THAT PUTS SOME OF THE SONGS IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT LIGHT NOW DON’T IT.

Anyway, I will be there.

Sunday, 1:00pm: Reading @ Michaelangelo’s — Smash the Patriarchy
Join me along with fellow readers Monica Valentinelli, David Levine and Naomi Kritzer as we read stories that will unsettle you, make you uncomfortable, force you to think and feel. Come for the stories. Leave with possibilities. I’ll be reading my latest short story, “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy”, that was published in Fireside Magazine last month.

Sunday, 2:30p: It Is Our Time: A People’s Celebration, Exploration & Analysis Of Black Panther
In which I geek out with a bunch of other people about Black Panther.

Monday, 11:30am: Sign-Out
This year, I got a whole bunch of stationary I want to use up. So if you visit me at the Sign-Out, I will write out a quick flash story on whatever subject you like. It will only be at the most a paragraph, at the most, 100 words, but hey, free story from me !

Of course I’ll also be around just to chat, so if you see me, feel free to say hi!

(Unless I’m peopled out…or working on the novel…in which case, a wave would do….)

Story Notes for “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy”, now up at Fireside Magazine

I got a new story out! “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” is now up at Fireside Magazine, where you can read it for free, and y’all, the illustration for it…THE ILLUSTRATION!!!

I want to thank Julie Rios for taking a chance on this story, and also a big thanks to Dawid Planeta, who illustrated the story! (Did you see how he captured the jade bracelet woman?! And the basalt stone?! AAAAAAHHHHH IT’S SO AWESOME!!!)

I wrote the framework for this story five years ago as a fun writing exercise. I was trying to combine my two favorite fortune telling nursery rhymes. Monday’s Child” (Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, etc.) and the Counting Crows rhyme  (one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, etc). For the former, I’ve always been struck by that rhyme, particularly since I was born on a Tuesday, so I’ve always tried to live my life filled with grace. Also, as a kid, I had a necklace that had “Tuesday’s Child is full of grace” engraved on it. Funny thing–even as I type these words, I’m just now realizing that that pendant was probably the basis for the coins in the story. The Counting Crows poem is popular from the band of the same name, but also from a kids book The Secret of the Seven Crows. It was a mystery that involved tracking down some treasure where the clues were pictures of crows. There was some black kids in the story but I don’t know if I want to go back and read it. if I recall, the father was going to give his kids a whoopin by ‘getting a switch from a tree’. And then something about him joking that ‘maybe he’ll just get an itty bitty switch’…

Anywho, I wanted the story to be about children and crows and then somehow it turned into a creepy weird story about crows stealing dead children and I was like “ooooookay. This is getting weird. Better put this away so it never sees the light of day.”

Then 2014 happened. Ferguson happened. Eric Garner happened. Black lives matter happened. I had a miscarriage. I lost a friend to suicide, a beloved uncle to a heart attack. My dayjob went through a major crisis. We sold and bought a house in 4 months. And basically all of 2016. I stopped writing short stories and just focused on the novel. Every once in a while, I tried to write something to process my feelings but nothing seemed adequate enough.

Then in 2017, I started to get the urge to write short stories again. I went through my old journals and stumbled across the story.  Immediately, I thought, “This isn’t about crows or dead children. This is about grief.”

From there, I finished the story in two weeks.

So yeah, this story is pretty personal to me. I’m glad it got picked up, and I’m hoping it will speak to others going through their own grieving processes. And did I tell you that I love that illustration? OMIGOSH THAT ILLUSTRATION.

Book Review in latest issue of CSZ

The latest issue of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is out and I got a book review in there! I reviewed “Time’s Oldest Daughter” by Susan W. Lyons, a retelling of the Creation Story from Sin’s point of view. You can buy the issue at their website–PDF is $3, print copy for $5. There’s also book reviews from fine people such as Arley Song and Maria Velazquez, poetry from Rose Lemberg, Sonya Taafe and Nancy Kress, and an essay by L. Timmel Duchamp. 

Afrofuturism and Black Panther

Last week, Twitter sort of exploded (because it’s always exploding one way or another) thanks to Nnedi Okorafor’s tweets regarding Afrofuturism. I’m…not…real…sure on how I feel about it. Confusion mostly, because I really don’t know enough to add much to the conversation. What I can do is list some of the responses. 

Mikki Kendall’s got a thread here.

K. Tempest Bradford’s has another thread here.

Troy Wiggins got a blog post on it here.

One thing stood out in my mind: Nnedi kept saying we need to talk about this due to the Black Panther movie coming out. I didn’t get it until I read Troy’s previous post “Critical Conversations: Marvel’s Black Panther” which began to put it into perspective for me. I wonder if this isn’t so much who is gets to define Afrofuturism, but how can black american writers honor our roots in our creative work without it descending into cultural appropriation. Which, yeah, that’s a way, way bigger cultural conversation that needs to happen between Black Americans, Africans, and Blacks of the Diaspora. 

I’ll keep updating this, mostly for my own reading, but if anyone has anything to add, feel free to let me know in the comments.

New Essay up at Uncanny Magazine: “Learning to Turn Your Lips Sideways”

I was doing some maintenance on my website, updating a few things, and I realized that I never mentioned here on my blog my essay that was published at the TWO-TIME HUGO AWARD WINNING Uncanny Magazine. It was published in their May/June 2017 issue…and things were a little crazy so while I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter, I hadn’t really gotten around to my blog and then dayjob stuff blew up and then other things happened and…

So HEY GUESS WHAT! I have an essay up at Uncanny Magazine called “Learning to Turn Your Lips Sideways“. I like to think of it as an unofficial response to the Fireside Fiction report that was released a couple of months afterward the Uncanny issue.Yeah…let’s go with that. Enjoy!

New Book Review Column up at Lightspeed!

It’s been a super, duper SUPER DUPER busy time for me, but just wanted to say that my August book review column is now up at LightspeedThis month, I’ll explore the nature of caretakers in The Sum of Us anthology, take a trip back to The River Bankin a sequel to The Wind in the Willows, and get turned into an emotional wreck by N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky.