HAPPY BOOK LAUNCH DAY (plus The Big Idea)!

Happy book launch day to me! Buffalo Soldier is now out and about. Over on John Scalzi‘s blog, I write about the Big Idea. And the role my mom played in the story, because apparently I don’t talk about her enough. Or call enough.

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The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.

MAURICE BROADDUS:

My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.

[Continue reading on John Scalzi’s Whatever]

Apex Magazine’s New Reprints Editor

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor
lesley@apex-magazine.com

Apex Publications is proud to announce that author/editor Maurice Broaddus has taken on the role of reprints editor for Apex Magazine. Apex Magazine publishes one reprint in each issue. Maurice will be responsible for finding those reprints beginning with issue 98, July 2017.

Maurice Broaddus and Apex Publications have a long history together going back 10 years. He has been published in several of our anthologies, including most recently in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Monica Vallentinelli and Jaym Gates. He has also had several books published through Apex, including Orgy of Souls (co-written by Wrath James White), I Can Transform You, and the anthologies Dark Faith and Dark Faith: Invocations which he co-edited with Jerry Gordon. Most recently, Maurice Broaddus guest edited an issue of Apex Magazine—issue 95 (http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-95-april-2017/), which included original fiction by Walter Mosley, Chesya Burke, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Kendra Fortmeyer, poetry by Linda D. Addison and LH Moore, and nonfiction by Tanya C. DePass.

We are extremely excited to see what reprints he will bring to the magazine each and every month, and to have Maurice be part of the Apex Magazine team.

APEX PUBLICATIONS (www.apexbookcompany.com) is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Uh Oh! Here Come the Artists

(Ruminations on Art, Race, and Gentrification)

“The larger the amount of money that flows to the poor apart from relationship, the more likely the givers are to be supporting systems that caused the injustice in the first place.” David E Fitch, Faithful Presence

gentrification in progress

The relationship between art and gentrification has become so fraught that when some communities see artists moving in, they start a mental countdown clock to their eventual ejection. The scenario plays out in too many variations, from New York to Detroit, to ignore it. Indianapolis has seen small iterations of such transformation in Fountain Square, sending a ripple of fear through different communities not wanting to see the same story repeat.

People rarely agree on the definition of gentrification, often falling back to something analogous to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s characterization of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” However, to paraphrase Ruth Glass’ original definition of gentrification, it’s when the original occupiers of a neighborhood become displaced and the whole social character of a neighborhood soon changes. As WildStyle Paschall puts it, “GENTRIFICATION is when development causes property taxes to go up so high that homeowners can’t afford it and leave. But its NEVER that simple.” While he does on to describe the collusion between predatory property taxes and out of state speculators, there are other aspects to look at. 

The story of gentrification begins when someone—be they artist, developer, business person, city official, or community stakeholder—an area of town that has been abandoned by the middle class and forgotten by the city. They declare that area of town dead or in need of renewed attention. This declaration of death is critical because with nothing of value seen/apparently going on in that area, they can move in and take possession of the land. They can displace natives and change the neighborhood for the better for use by the new/future residents. It is urban colonization under the polite guise of redevelopment, renewal, or revitalization. Words mean things: redevelopment, renewal, and revitalization imply that a place was undeveloped, broken, and dead, all with the tidy bonus of labeling those still living there as the problem rather than the people, businesses, and political forces who fled the area in the first place. By those same people, businesses, and political forces now “discovering” that place, gentrification becomes neocolonialism.

This goes a long way to explaining why some people panic when they see the gentrifying pioneers—artists, college students, and young professionals on the rise—moving in. They know that as long time residents, they are reduced to neighborhood flavor. They can only watch as the character of their neighborhood metamorphosing into something unrecognizable, like a series of cafes and breweries. Residents get caught either by being long term renters with no set financial footing in the neighborhood (read: easily displaced) or get priced out due to higher property taxes (rather than have clauses in place to protect them).

The problem with the “artists” in this scenario is that too often they are privileged, well-intended, naive people with savior complexes. Though they bring excitement and attention, with a mission to beautify, the key thing to remember is that they come in from the outside. They define what’s beauty and art by imposition. They paint new stories on the canvass of the old neighborhood. And they forget the people, at best; or see them as objects to an end, at worst. By being imported in, the message sent to that community is that “we don’t know you, we don’t value you, and we have a better way of doing things.”

Such artists don’t stop to ask what a community’s capacity to beautify itself (read: they don’t talk to residents). Ideas, visions, and priorities are heard differently when they come in from the outside rather than from within the community. Whether such artists realize it or not, they cut the neighborhood from its history, heritage, and legacy (read: disconnect the residents). Whether they operate out of such naivete or simply without guiding principles, they risk becoming opportunists whose sole mission is to chase grant money and recognition.

In turn, the arts collective becomes a pawn for those with the power to gentrify. Developers invest in communities while their political partners in local government provide incentives. They target black, brown, and poor white communities—all of whom have being disenfranchised, marginalized, and impoverished in common—not bothering to talk to the community residents. For the sake of short term profits, neighborhoods along with their history and culture become the collateral damage.

As a city, we quietly balk when we have too much investment by foreign nations. We recognize the dangers of someone coming in from the outside and staking financial claims where we live. We know that whoever controls the purse strings, whoever can call in debt markers, has the real power. Yet we fail to see the irony of that being played out in neighborhoods facing down such unchecked development.

gentrification

Keep in mind the history of how many of those communities were formed. Some were displaced by previous development (see the construction of IUPUI). Some grew up in the shadow of segregation (see the history of America). Some were settled as African American migrants sought increased opportunity and/or escape from racial violence (again, see the history of America). The repeated forces of segregation, red-lining, and neglect by local government come together as the familiar backdrop to the gentrification conversation.

History has repeatedly shown that race, class, and power (economic and political) if combined poorly only leave destruction. Similarly, few like to point out the class and race divisions within art. Art is a tether to elitism, with arts collectives seen as white producers for white consumers. As such, the conversation shifts from “what is art?” to “who’s art is it?” But art can also work to unite. It can pursue social justice across race and class lines, questioning social constructs from privilege to supremacy. If an arts collective is not interested in being part of the community, if it’s not interested in working with the community, then it’s just there to change it. Change it into something they are comfortable with, which, unsurprisingly, looks like a reflection of themselves.

Development shouldn’t equal destruction. Investment in community done well releases the power of the residents, reminds them of the power they already have. In order to have a good reputation in the community, artists, and more importantly those who fund them, need to have a shift from what Reverend Mike Mathers of Broadway United Methodist Church calls a “master” mindset to a “servant” mindset.

A master mindset moves with the arrogance that “we have the answer.” In practice, it looks like them showing up uninvited to bring art to beautify a neighborhood as if no one in the neighborhood has the capacity to do so themselves. A master mindset “rebrands” a neighborhood to attract a new or wealthy demographic. This is why even the simple act of branding/naming is important. Every person wants the power to identify themselves because there is inherent power to the namer. Masters name. The namer has authority over those named so naming becomes political and re-naming becomes erasure.

Under a servant model, a person asks “how can we support what you’re already doing?” A servant follows the community. Servants serve. Servants go do the research and asks questions of their neighbors. They go and talk to everyone within the first few blocks around them and begin to build trust equity. They tap into the creativity and passions of the people within their community rather than just bring in more people like them.

The problem isn’t engagement, it’s the process. Just as “game recognizes game,” in the chase of grants “money recognizes money.” Arts collectives suffer mission drift and identity loss as they write grants about places they’ve never been to work on people they don’t know. As they mount projects more about glitz and glamour to get their name in the paper in order to get more funding. If there are no guiding principles beyond chasing money, the door to gentrification opens.

Responsible investment in neighborhoods brings positive change that can benefit everyone: repaired sidewalks, fixed streetlights, additional green space, cleaned waterways, and the elimination of food deserts. The current residents want this. Community development done in a healthy way requires a commitment to the people of their community. It recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of its neighbors. A new model of community development and resident engagement through art collectives begins with learning to collaborate, demonstrating a partnership between organizations, activists, residents, and artists to serve and better our communities. It can help rebuild the social fabric. Listen to what your neighbors want. Know what your neighbors are doing. Let your neighbors know “we see you and we value you.” We risk losing the role of the artist as prophet, to speak truth to power. As part of art’s role is to reveal our humanity, what makes us most human, it must demonstrate a radical imagining of art to capture story, reflect story, to protest, and to protect.

“Charity to urban black communities is NOT the equivalent of transformative Justice. You can give charitably to a community for years but not contribute to its fundamental transformation towards human flourishing. In many ways, if your only posture to that community is charity you may actually exacerbate and embolden poverty and degradation in a community.” -Anthony Smith

A story, an essay, and a sneak peek

I’ll have a story, “The Rebel” (co-written with Sarah Hans), in MECHANICAL ANIMALS, ed. Selena Chambers and Jason Heller. I look forward to seeing that full table of contents.

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Speaking of a table of contents, check out this one for People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, ed. Nisi Shawl (who, when she read my essay, dubbed me the nerd of nerds):

Fiction

What Futures by Su-Yee Lin
Shadow Animals by Stephen Graham Jones
Darkout by E. Lily Yu
The Executioner by Jennifer Marie Brissett
I Understand by Jermaine McGill
Walking Round Money by Paul Miles
Serving Fish by Christopher Caldwell
Fortitude by Eliza Victoria
The Sacrifice of the Hanged Monkey by Minsoo Kang
Maggie Doll by Alex Jennings
Glass Bottle Trick by Nalo Hopkinson
The Great Leap of Shin by Henry Lien
The Palapye White Birch by Tlotlo Tsamaase
The Ace of Knives by Tonya Liburd
Legacy by Irette Y. Patterson
Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas by Alberto Yanez

Non Fiction

Must Watch TV: Into the Badlands by S. Qiouyi Lu
Rebirth, Truth-with-a-Tea, and FIYAH by Erin Roberts
Read Me! 7 by Terence Taylor
Hopefulbright to the Rescue! by Darcie Little Badger
Star Trek’s Lt. Cmdr. Worf and His Journey of Ontological Klingon-ness by Maurice Broaddus

 

Lastly, can’t wait another week for Buffalo Soldier to drop? Here’s a sneak peak posted over on Tor.

The Learning Tree Presents Sawubona 46208 – The Living Room Concert

Tonight was the first of a series of living room concerts The Learning Tree plans on putting on over the next few months. We at The Learning Tree want to showcase and celebrate the gifts and talents present in our neighborhood. Culinary artists, writers, poets, musicians, activists, organizers, videographers, and visual artists all within a few blocks. The people here, doing the work to effect change. The goal of the concerts is to network and connect them with people with resources who also want to effect change. To figure out ways to support the work that’s already being done, but that’s not always seen.

Tonight’s featured artists were Leslie RedJanuarie York, and Damon Dulin (with special appearances by Ro Townsend and Earl E. Townsend, whose Open Bite Night Revolution is coming up in a few weeks).

[And you’ll have to forgive my crappy pictures. I’ll soon be posting pics by Wildstyle Paschall and Diop Adisa on The Learning Tree site when I get them]

 

Apex Magazine #95 is out! Plus Revive the Drive!

apex 95 cover

It’s here, it’s here! Issue 95 of Apex Magazine, guest edited by moi, has been released.
Original fiction by Walter Mosley, Sheree Renée ThomasKendra Fortmeyer, and Chesya Burke.
Interview with Sheree Renee Thomas by Andrea Johnson. Interview with cover artist Angelique Shelley by Russell Dickerson. An essay about diversity and inclusion by Tanya DePass.
Poetry by Linda D Addison and Lawana Holland-Moore.
I hope you enjoy it!

Also, over on Apex Magazine’s Revive the Drive, I have a copy of The Voices of Martyrs and The Knights of Breton Court omnibus up for purchase. Autographed to you!

JUST ADDED: “Have some face time with Maurice Broaddus (Voices of MartyrsBuffalo SoldiersI Can Transform You), Apex eic Jason Sizemore, and managing editor Lesley Conner. This can be your opportunity to discuss your writing and editing, or whatever strikes your fancy. This reward also comes with a copy of Maurice Broaddus’s outstanding novella I Can Transform You.” Only one is available so act fast!

I’m on Fiyah! (updated with a review)

Fiyah Issue 2

If you ain’t up on Fiyah – Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, you have no idea what you’re missing. Issue #2 is out with my story, “Vade Retro Satana.” UPDATED: A review of the issue in Quick Sips – Fiyah #2 Spilling Tea says this about my story:

This is a complex and powerful story that revolves around faith and colonization, assimilation and freedom. The piece is set on a far-off world where Christian colonizers, spearheading a vast Christian organization, has arrived on Nambra in order to “civilize” it. Macia, the main character, is a soldier in that organization, encased in a biosuit that separates her from the world of Nambra, and from the people she both protects and polices. And Macia is a person in conflict, her background very similar to what’s going on on Nambra, her parents converts who died violently, her own past since then dominated by her anger and funneling it into whatever mission the church gave her. I love the way the story tackles the complexity of colonization and religion, the way that these themes find mirrors on Earth, in our past and in our present. And I love the way the story affirms stories and the stories we tell as being foundational to who we are and where we go. That it is not a defeat to recognize that there are things in the past that cannot be reclaimed, and that moving forward is often fraught and difficult. Throw into the mix the heady violence of the story, of the setting, of the characters, and things move from bad to worse pretty quickly. At the heart of the story for me, though, is the way the story pictures faith and religion as most dangerous and damaging at their most rigid. But when more adaptable, when more catered to the needs of the people and not treated as some universal to be “equally” and brutally applied, religion can be a great tool to bring people together. Because it is a story and because stories can inform each other, can bridge distance and culture. Can make enemies into friends. But that the power of stories can also be used to harm, can be used as a weapon, can be used to corrupt and erase. It’s a difficult story at times because of the way it doesn’t look away from violence and conflict, and it also makes it a very hopeful story, in the end, which is beautifully done. An amazing read and a fantastic way to kick off the issue!

Check out the rest of the amazing TOC of issue #2:

CONTENTS:

VADE RETRO SATANA // Maurice Broaddus

Not even Macia’s thick armor can protect her from her own conscience. A story of redemption, self-determination, and discovering what faith truly means.

TALKING TO CANCER // Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Layla has the power to save or end a person’s life with a few words. In this story, we learn the true limits of power and responsibility.

THE HARD SHELL // Russell Nichols

The story of a hard boiled detective, a chick, and town steeped in lies. You think you know the truth behind the rhymes, but the truth is you don’t know Jack from Jill.

THE BEEKEEPER’S GARDEN // Christopher Caldwell

In this dreamy tale, a young woman is trapped in a strange house with a strange woman and no memory of her past. She must brave her captor’s garden and learn its secrets if she is to make her escape.

HOME IS WHERE MY MOTHER’S HEART IS BURIED // Wole Talabi

Arin wants to go home to Earth, and Tinu wants to let go of her Earthborn memories. In this story, we explore the true meaning of family and belonging.

WE LAUGH IN ITS FACE // Barbara L.W. Myers

What good is forever if you have no one to spend it with? In this story, we explore the true cost of life eternal.

GRAVEROBBING NEGRESS SEEKS EMPLOYMENT // Eden Royce

Wanted: one negress to find a certain lost cargo. Welcome to a Charleston of the past filled with a very necessary magic.

INDIE SPOTLIGHT : COAL // Constance Burris

 

5 Things That Inspired ‘The Voices of Martyrs’

THE VOICES OF MARTYRS-Cover1

This week we welcome author Maurice Broaddus to Geek Speaks…Fiction! Maurice has written many pieces of wonderful speculative fiction that have appeared in places such as Lightspeed MagazineWeird Tales, Asimov’s, and more. Most recently, several of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs, available now from Rosarium Publishing (Rosarium is a fabulous small press headed by Bill Cambell. I highly suggest you check out all their books!). In this article, Maurice talks about five things that inspired this new anthology!

My first love is writing short stories, so, naturally, I love short story collections. Such collections brought me into the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker) and showed me what all could be done with the genre (Walter Mosley, Kelly Link, Tananarive Due, Ted Chiang, Jeffrey Ford, Octavia Butler). Collections can be a kind of sampler platter to illustrate what all an author does. With over 50 short stories published from which to draw, what I wanted to do with The Voices of Martyrs was look at the African American experience through the lens of history. That’s the overarching idea behind the collection, though I do have five things in particular that helped inspire some of the stories.

[Continue reading over on the Geek Dad site]

Writing the Other Workshop (Signal Boost!)

ClassHeader5WeekClass

Writers often wonder and worry about if it is possible to write characters whose gender, sexual orientation, religion, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity differs from their own. Many authors are afraid to try even though it is possible to do so sensitively and convincingly. In this five-week course, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford delve into this tricky skill through a combination of readings, videos, discussions, and writing exercises in a safe, supportive atmosphere. The class is appropriate for all writers (fiction, plays, comics, screenplays) from all backgrounds and any skill level.

This class will cover Language & Description, Characterization & Identity, Dialogue & Dialect, Worldbuilding Without Appropriation, Researching the Other, and MUCH more. In addition to instruction from Shawl and Bradford, students will have access to the video and resources from three Writing the Other Master Classes on writing Native American characters, Trans & Non-Binary narratives, and Deaf and Blind characters, plus exclusive access to a guest lecture on worldbuilding without appropriation by Max Gladstone.

The course does not have set meeting times. You can access class material and discussion and participate in class at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussion will take place in an accessible private online forum and all class work done on Google Drive.

There are 20 spots available for open enrollment. The course costs $500, but we have several options for writers who wish to take the class but need financial flexibility, such as Payment Plans, Pay What You Can Afford, and full Scholarships. The scholarship deadline is April 2nd, so please click the link below to find out how to apply right away if you’re interested.

Writing Inclusive Fiction April 6 – May 14 (students may enroll in class up to April 9)

Apex Magazine #95 – Guest Edited by Maurice Broaddus (Sneak Peek)

 

apex 95 cover

Stories by Walter Mosley, Sheree Renée Thomas, Chesya Burke, and Kendra Fortmeyer.

Poems by Linda D Addison and Lawana Holland-Moore.

Essay by Tanya DePass. Interview by Andrea Johnson.

Cover art by Angelique Shelley.