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Featuring Women Writers for Women’s History Month

In previous weeks, I introduced several women writers who are featured in the recently released anthology Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature . This week I am pleased to introduce yet another–Toyette Dowdell. I met Toyette years ago and know her to be a highly skilled writer. I consider it an honor for my work to appear with hers in Voices. I can’t wait for you to learn more about this gifted writer through her interview below, and if you’re interested in meeting Toyette in person, she and many of the other contributors to Voices will be at Absinthe Lounge at Southside on Lamar, Dallas, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 7:00 pm.

When did you know you wanted to write?
Toyette: I was an insatiable reader as a child and wrote lots of short stories and plays when I was young, but I decided I wanted to pursue it more seriously after watching the movie Purple Rain by Prince. I said to myself, “Prince wrote a movie so I know I can do that!”

What was your first written work?
Toyette: My first written work was a youth mystery patterned after the Encyclopedia Brown series. My first published piece was a play I wrote that was performed on stage when I was a freshman in high school.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.
Toyette: My inspiration for writing is to make other people feel the way I do when I read a really good book which is to be totally immersed in the story. My writing is all about entertaining and engaging my readers. I want them to be caught up in what’s happening and if there is a little bit of thought provocation then all the better.

What are you currently working on?
Toyette: I am currently working on a mystery thriller based in Texas about a female Texas Ranger.

March Brings Women, Women, Women!

March not only ushers in spring, the Lenten season and March Madness, it also heralds the opportunity to learn more about women and our contributions to the world as we celebrate Women’s History Month. This Women’s History Month, I want to take a slightly different position. I still plan to honor women in my posts this month, but my focus will be on six amazing women who I have had the pleasure of working with recently and who I am sure are creating history of their own. These women, along with yours truly, are contributors to an anthology which will be released this month. It is titled, “Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature,” and it features poems, essays and short fiction, original works by these talented women. I will showcase one or two of these great writers weekly, and I hope the introductions will inspire you to seek more of their written work. I know I am inspired by them. They truly are women of history.

Prepare to meet:  Toyette Dowdell, Bennye Johnson, Ingrid Lawton, Sharron Pete, Breggett Rideau, and Faith Simone.

First up:  Faith Simone

Jamie Gross

When did you know you wanted to write?

Faith:  I knew I wanted to be a writer as a young girl of about 9 or 10 years old. I was always writing in my journal, as well as penning short stories and poems. I knew I wanted to be an author when I grew up, but I let fear of not having a steady career cause me to relegate writing to ‘just a hobby.’ Now, I’m heading full steam ahead in pursuit of a stellar writing career!

What was your first written work?

Faith: My first written work was a fourth grade English assignment. I wrote a novella involving a young girl dealing with her mother’s abandonment and her father’s subsequent re-entry into the world of dating. It was pretty deep subject matter for a nine year old. I still have the original!

The anthology “Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature” is my first published work. I am proud to have contributed several poems and short stories focused primarily on women’s issues and relationships.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.

Faith: Love is my inspiration for writing. The love God has for us, the love we have for ourselves, the love between a man and a woman, a mother and child, siblings and friends, etc. Love is a beautiful thing! It’s complicated and rich. It’s multi-layered and inexplicable.  I get ideas for my short stories, poems and novels from everyday life. Inspiration can come to me while watching the news, overhearing a conversation, watching a movie, reading my Facebook newsfeed or staring at a cloud. Many times I get great ideas just by sitting quietly with my own thoughts.

What are you currently working on?

Faith: Currently, I’m working on getting my first full length women’s fiction book published. It’s a contemporary inspirational novel about a woman struggling to move forward after being hurt in a past relationship. Forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting, and the question is will the main character be able to let go of her anger and walk into all that God has for her? I’m also writing my next novel and blogging away about publishing and other shenanigans on my blog, faithsimone.com.

Black Literary Facts – 2014

Another February has come and with its arrival another opportunity to meet more Black writers and receive an introduction (or maybe re-introduction) to their works. Some of these writers I have met; others I have not. But, all impressed me with their talent and/or successes. I hope you enjoy reading about these impressive writers and that you’ll be inspired to read some or all of their works. Enjoy Black History Month and Black Literary Facts!

Leslie Esdaile Banks – With more than 60 works to her credit, Banks is best known for her Vampire Huntress Legend series and her romance novels.

Eleanor Taylor Bland – As a mystery novelist, Bland’s focus was to “give voice to those normally without a voice.” Marti MacAlister is the heroine in her eleven-book MacAlister detective series.

Charles W. Chesnutt – Author and essayist, Chestnutt wrote novels and short stories dealing with race and social identity during the post Civil War.

Donald Crews – A two-time Caldecott Honor winner, Crews authored the children’s books Freight Train and Truck.

Eric Jerome Dickey – This New York Times bestselling author has penned over twenty novels that feature strong female characters in lead roles.

Percival Everett – He is a poet, novelist and short story writer as well as the recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Believer Book Award, the PEN and numerous other awards.

Sharon G. Flake – This writer is a Publisher’s Weekly favorite. She is a young adult literary writer whose goal is to give hope, foster beliefs and encourage dreams.

Ernest Gaines – A National Endowment for the Arts recipient, Gaines has had several of his novels adapted to film, the most popular being The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying.

Marita Golden – Author of 14 works of fiction and nonfiction, she has received the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Award and the Literary Award for Fiction for After.

Eloise Greenfield began writing children’s book because “far too few books told the truth about African-American people.” Her writings reflect her seriousness in telling the truth of her people.

Francis Ray – Romance novelist and short story writer who penned more than 50 books. She was an award winning, bestselling writer as well as the creator of a foundation to help victims of domestic abuse.

bell hooksAin’t I a Woman? is the title of this author’s work which greatly influenced contemporary feminist thought. She has also written literature for young people.

Elliott Eli Jackson – This author, poet and speaker writes nonfiction books, blogs and essays on spirituality and healing. He is a frequent speaker at conferences.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a Harvard professor and the author of 16 books. In addition, he is affiliated with The Root, a daily online magazine.

Jesse C. Jackson – A young adult novelist whose stories focused on minorities forced to integrate a white environment is best known for Call Me Charley and Tessie.

Etheridge Knight – This poet wrote multiple books of poetry during the time of the Black Arts Movement. He was engaged with such notables as Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez.

Alain Locke – A Rhodes Scholarship winner, Locke’s writings and focus was on African and African American literature and writers. He wrote The New Negro, which is a classic.

John Marrant – In 1785, his pamphlet, A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black, was published and was so popular it was reprinted many times.

Brandon Massey – This award winning author of horror and suspense has published novels and short story collections. His works also appear in anthologies.

Richard Bruce Nugent – A popular figure during the Harlem Renaissance, his novel Gentleman Jigger was published in 2008, 70 years after it was written.

ZZ PackerDrinking Coffee Elsewhere was this author’s international bestseller. She has published frequently in The New Yorker and Granta.

Gordon Parks – Best known as the most important black photographer of our time, he is also the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film, The Learning Tree based on his novel.

Alvin F. Poussaint – This author has written several nonfiction books on parenting, crime and other contemporary issues. In addition, he has an impressive list of articles on the same topics.

Willis Richardson – A playwright during the ’20s and ’30s, Richardson is considered a leader in the Negro Theatre movement. His plays were performed around the country and received countless awards.

Carl Hancock Rux – He is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and recording artist. His work, A City Reimagined: Voices of 9/11 in Poetry and Performance is a tribute to 9/11.

Ishmael Reed – A poet, essayist and novelist, he is best known for Mumbo Jumbo and Flight to Canada. Two of his books were nominated for the National Book Awards and other prizes.

Brenda Jackson – This USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author has penned more than 100 novels and has more than three million books in print.

Angela Davis – Author of Women, Race, and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis is best known for her work in social, civil and women’s rights.

May Miller – Her poem, Blazing Accusation is well known and was written after the 1963 bombing in Birmingham. She is also the award-winning playwright of The Bog Guide and Within the Shadows.

Fuller’s Curse Official Launch Event

I hope you’ll join me at the official launch event for Fuller’s Curse, my latest novel. Please see details below.

FULLER’S CURSE

LINKING the PAST to the PRESENT

Date:  Saturday, September 28, 2013

Time:  4:00 – 6:00 pm

Location: Freedman’s Memorial Cemetery; Dallas, TX

Bordered by I-75 (3600 block), Lemmon Ave., and Calvary Street (3000 block)*

Cost:  Free

Dress:  Come as you are

RSVP:  None required

Join the family and friends of author, Ann Fields as we explore the link between the past and the present as depicted in her latest book, Fuller’s Curse. At this special event, enjoy:

  • historical tours of the grounds and sculptures;
  • a reading from Fuller’s Curse;
  • genealogy discussion/drawing;
  • African drumming;
  • book and Scentsy displays;
  • refreshments and more

Questions/Comments:  call 214-263-7791

Sponsored by family and friends of author, Ann Fields.

*Park along Calvary Street or the parking lot of Emanu-El Cemetery.

Finally!

Hallelujah!

Finally, finally, the print version of my book, Fuller’s Curse is now available.

Yeah! Hand claps! Yippee! Woo-Hoo!

Please visit one of the following etailers or bookstores (physical) to purchase your copy:

Barnes and Noble
Books A Million
Amazon
IndieBound

My book is priced for every budget and autographs are free! Just come see me at one (or more) of the book signings or appearances listed on the “What’s New?” page on my web site (AnnFields.com) and I’ll be happy to sign your print book. I hope to see you soon and thank you for your interest in my writings.

Love and light to all!

PS: Keep a lookout for the future announcement stating when the Nook, iPad, Sony Reader and Smashwords versions of Fuller’s Curse will be available. Fingers crossed for the end of July!

PSS: Again, my hearty thanks to everyone who has supported me past and present. Words really are inadequate at a time like this when true supporters make themselves known. I love and appreciate you all.

OUCH! Change Hurts!

Okay, maybe changing one’s career, living arrangements, school, hairstyle, doctor, etc. doesn’t physically hurt, but it sure is uncomfortable. And that’s the position I found myself in last year (2012) when my then editor Goldie Browning told me my book, Fuller’s Curse was a horror book. That news disappointed me for two reasons: one, I had not intended to write a horror book; I was striving for literary or mainstream fiction; and two, I had spent over ten years in the romance genre and did not want to venture into another genre. So to help me with my change from romance writer to horror writer, and to help me examine some of my preconceived ideas about horror writing, I began researching the horror genre and guess who I found—Sumiko Saulson.

sumiko-blog-photo[1]

Sumiko titles herself a horror novelist, but in addition to novels, she writes short stories and comics (isn’t that cool?). Beyond her computer, she speaks at horror writing/reading events and blogs about the topic. I’d go so far as to say she lives and breathes the genre. Others have labeled her “one of the most active women in horror” and she is an Ambassador for Women in Horror Month. In short, she’s the expert I’d been searching for.

I explained to Sumiko that I needed an intro to the horror genre and she eagerly agreed to share what knowledge she had which turned out to be a lot. So much so I can not share her entire interview here, however the highlights appear below. I hope you enjoy learning about this genre as much as I did.

Ann: As an insider in the horror genre, how do you define horror?
Sumiko: Horror is simply writing intended to frighten the reader and tap into some deep and primal instinct of fear. Reading, and for that matter, writing horror is kind of like riding a roller coaster; it’s an adrenaline rush. Many horror writers, like Edgar Allan Poe and me are also exorcising personal demons with our writing. Like Poe, I was originally a poet. I tried to write non-horror fiction, but it’s not what tends to exude from my mind or my fingertips, so for me, horror was almost a default setting.

Ann: What are some of the misconceptions about the horror genre that you encounter?
Sumiko: Very frequently women will tell me “Oh, I don’t read horror” shortly after finding out that I write in the genre. Sometimes the same people will read something I’ve written and say “Oh, well, this is very good for horror” or “I was surprised I liked it.” Frankly, the gender bias is strong, especially for women. People have the tendency to think writing or reading horror is unladylike or undignified and so a lot of women want to disassociate from the genre; it’s just not something “nice girls” do. The other side of it is people – in this case usually men – who think women can’t write horror because we are so soft and dainty. But I think horror is something intrinsic to the human experience and it is not actually gender specific. Mary Shelley was said to have been inspired to write Frankenstein during a period of mourning over a failed pregnancy. Horror often allows the writer to process the terrible things that can happen while touching on some of the bigger questions, such as in Shelley’s case: whether or not we should be attempting to create new life from the dead.

Ann: What value does horror writing add to the literary landscape?
Sumiko: Horror, like all speculative fiction, allows the writer to explore subjects that the reader might be uncomfortable confronting head on. These can include political questions such as in Stephen King’s “The Stand” when the reader is forced to question whether or not we should trust government to experiment with biological weapons, or like Mary Shelley’s religious question from above: should we play God? By creating some distance between the world we live in, both horror and science fiction allow us to examine these questions without having things hit too close to home. A lot of people noticed Gene Roddenberry doing this with Star Trek in the 60s when he used alien species to create parables and fables regarding contemporary issues such as racism, interracial romance, and the Cold War.

Ann: It sounds like there are some genres that lend themselves more readily to cross-pollinate with the horror genre. If you agree, what are they? Can you share some examples of cross pollination that worked well?
Sumiko: The reason the “Speculative Fiction” umbrella emerged was because of the close relationship between science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You see that when you read something as old and established as Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” Both science fiction and horror genres are eager to claim the work, and it is frequently named as an early example of women in horror and in sci-fi. We see a lot of paranormal romances these days which combine the supernatural element generally associated with horror with romance, and in some cases, like the L.A. Banks vampire slayer stories, actually can be considered horror or urban fantasy as well as paranormal romance. Then, of course, dystopic and apocalyptic themes are seen across multiple genres. You see that in Robert Neville’s “I Am Legend,” which includes apocalyptic, science fiction and horror themes.

Ann: Why should a reader try a horror book if they’ve never read one? What books do you recommend for “new” horror readers?
Sumiko: I don’t think everyone needs to read horror. Some people don’t like it the same way some don’t like roller coaster rides. However, if someone is interested, I suggest they start with classic horror with one of the many short stories. There is a terrific online archive of wonderful works by Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and others like Ambrose Bierce and even Charles Dickens. A favorite of mine which can be found on the archive is W.W. Jacob’s “The Monkey’s Paw.” Here’s the link to the archive: http://www.classichorrorstories.com/

Ann: What are some trends in the horror genre?
Sumiko: Paranormal romance has become extremely popular lately, and it seems to appeal to women of all ages. We have stories about girls romantically involved with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and Bigfoot. A lot of these stories are more like erotica and romance and less like horror, but you do have some where the world the characters live in – like L.A. Banks’ “Vampire Huntress” series or the latest Anne Rice “Wolf Gift” series – falls into the horror genre. The identification of the work as a part of the horror genre has to do with the presence of real threats, real danger, and generally real harm occurring to characters within the stories. Where there is no risk, there is no horror, because there is no danger to be terrified of.

And on those insightful words, I ended my interview with Sumiko Saulson, the author of “Solitude,” “Warmth,” and “The Moon Cried Blood.” A big hug and thanks to Sumiko for sharing her knowledge and time. To visit her online, go to www.sumikosaulson.com.

Today is THE Day!

WOW!

I can’t believe April 23rd is really here. I started this publishing journey a year ago and back then 4/23/13 seemed so far off. Now, it’s really here and that means Fuller’s Curse is really here.

My story of accidental deaths, curses, good and evil is now available on Amazon. You can purchase the book for your Kindle, computer or SmartPhone at the low introductory price of $4.99 (limited time).

For those of you who prefer the feel of a physical book in your hands (like me), the print version of Fuller’s Curse will be available in late May. Check back here (www.AnnFields.com) for the actual release date, but I’m shooting for May 23.

And finally, for those of you who refuse to contribute to Amazon taking over the world but prefer ebooks, you will have the option of purchasing your ebook copy of Fuller’s Curse from Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and other e-tailers by the end of July.

Publishing Schedule:
April 23 – ebook (Amazon) – $4.99
May 23 – print copy – $14.99
July 23 – ebook (Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple and other e-tailers) – $4.99 (introductory price)

Book Release Party:
Some of you have been asking about a book release/launch party and I’m happy to tell you plans are underway. I don’t have the exact date yet because the party will be held in conjunction with the release of the print version of Fuller’s Curse. But I can tell you that the book release party will be a party in the fullest sense of the word with giveaways, fun, party pics, displays and more. Check my web site regularly as information will be posted and updated here. I can also tell you that the setting for the party…it will blow your mind! I promise.

Discover Authors Giveaway:
For those of you who entered the Discover Authors drawing for a free book–hold off on purchasing your copy. You may be the winner! Check your email this evening for the official results.

In Gratitude:
Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. Publishing is not easy. Writing is not easy. But both are made more enjoyable when the author is in the midst of caring family, friends and associates. God bless you and enjoy Fuller’s Curse.