Verb Noire Announcement (Call for Submissions)

So, as some of you may have noticed I haven’t been around overly much lately. It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s just that I’m in the middle of starting a small press with a friend. Verb Noire is intended to be a platform for all those stories that have been hidden for so long because the protagonist didn’t fit the mainstream mold. What does that mean?

Submission Guidelines Ahead!!

It means we are looking for original works of genre fiction (science fiction/fantasy/mystery/romance) that feature a person of color and/or LGBT as the central character. Book-length manuscripts must be at least 250 pages, and short stories cannot be over 100 pages. All manuscripts must be double-spaced, in 12-point font (Times New Roman, Courier, etc) in black text, and must be a Word/Open Office compatible document. We ask that you insert a header with your name and the first two words of the title at the top of each page. Please do not send them as read-only files as that will make any editing more difficult.

We are also accepting poems in traditional and experimental styles with a maximum of 10 pages. The same formatting rules will apply.

Personal and critical essays are also welcome as long as they are within the aforementioned themes. Poetry, essays, and short stories may be subject to inclusion in anthologies depending upon the number of submissions fitting a specific theme.

There will be (approximately) a 6-8 week turnaround time in which submissions will be reviewed and a decision will be made as to whether or not we will be publishing your manuscript. Payment will be dependent upon sales, as each published author will received a percentage of the sales price.

There is no need to submit a query letter, nor do we require you to have an agent, but we do want a brief synopsis of the plot for longer manuscripts. We will accept works from white authors as long as the the central characters are of color and/or LGBT. Please send all submissions to verb.noire@gmail.com.

We’ve been raising money to defray start up costs and the response has been fabulous. Feel free to come check out us out on LJ as well.

Black Is The New Doctor

This may all come to nothing, but it’s being widely reported that Patterson Joseph has been asked to play the lead in Doctor Who and he’s either thinking hard or has accepted the role.

For those of you who don’t know Doctor Who, it’s an iconic British SF show where the main character, The Doctor, has an unusual reaction to being killed.  Instead of dying, his body regenerates and he gets a new face, body, and personality.  This conceit was invented way back when the guy who first played the Doctor said he didn’t want to, anymore, but the show was doing so well that they didn’t want to end it, so they wrote an in-story explanation for the actor change and now there have been 10 guys in this role.

Further in case you didn’t know: Patterson Joseph is black.  And the Doctor has always been played by white guys.

Yes, I hear the wank coming for us, too.  There’s already been a bit.

But this is a pretty awesome turn of events.  Joseph is a good actor, from what I’ve seen, and quite handsome, which doesn’t hurt.  And the role of the Doctor is, as I mentioned, iconic, and a very big deal.  Doctor Who isn’t just a very famous SF show.  In England particularly, but in Western countries all over, the show transcends genre and is regarded as an integral part of childhood TV viewing.  This role is one that actors dream of playing.  It’s a chance to make some very influential TV.

I hope that the rumors don’t end up being unfounded, because it has the potential to be very awesome (or very crazy.  Doctor Who is not immune to icky race stuff).  Yes, the fandom will explode in stupid racism, but it may come out on the other end better and more enlightened.

And also: Black Doctor.

25 Black Superheroes… are there even that many?

Need a break from politics and war and other stuff getting you down?  Go over to Fantasy magazine and read this article by (former guest blogger) Naamen Tilahun taking BlackVoices to task for their top 25 list of fail.  I’m not a big fan of the superhero genre, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be trying to find a brother or sister in those pages or on the screen that doesn’t make you cringe.  Just like all media, right?  Still, there must be at least 25 awesome black superheroes and we’re trying to put together a better list.  So come help out.  And then go back to being pissed about Sarah Palin.

Dealing with bigotry: an SF response

So apropos of one of my earlier posts, we’ve had another Incident in the SF community.

In a nutshell, the editor of a prominent fiction magazine sent a rejection letter to a hopeful writer which contained some blatantly bigoted statements against Muslims. The letter got out, a shitstorm erupted; the editor acted even more unprofessional, and a very un-fun time was had by all.

This isn’t the first time that members of the SF community have shown their ass, and it won’t be the last. However, it was the first time that I’ve seen a large group of writers — including myself — make an organized collective response. The full story is here at our new site, Transcriptase. This makes me very happy.

 

(I often get asked why I bother with science fiction and fantasy. Aren’t there other, better ways in which I can use my writing talent to improve the world? Aren’t there more important battlegrounds for the fight against oppression? As my mother once told me, “Why don’t you write something black?”

What it all boils down to is this: we have a future too. [Hell, we own the future.] We have a past that’s worth exploring. Our dreams and lore are just as potent, and just as worthy of sharing, as everyone else’s. When I write science fiction and fantasy, I am writing “something black.”

So this is why.)

Save Heroes

I know many of you are fans of the show Heroes.  I also know that many of you are just as frustrated as I am about some of the show’s less desirable elements, such as the way they treat many of the characters of color. To that end, I created Save Heroes. To wit:

…if we, the fans, are going to hang in there for the long haul, continue watching Volume 2, and go on to watch Volume 3, then we need to know that Heroes‘ problems are going to be addressed. Because it’s not about just getting rid of troubling characters and ditching inconvenient plots, it’s about understanding why those characters were troubling and why those plots made the audience twitch. And beyond that, Mr. Kring needs to understand how issues of race and gender play into both aspects.

All of these issues have been explored, sometimes at length, in blogs and on message boards in fandom. But is Tim Kring seeing all of that? Probably not. Does he care what the fans think? Of course. Is he capable of change and growth? Obviously. Therefore we, as fans, have to find a way to make our voices heard.

We need to write a detailed critique of the plot, character, race and gender elements of Heroes. We need to have one place where the producers and writers of Heroes can come and find what fandom has to say on these issues.

That’s the purpose of this website. We don’t need to Save Heroes from cancellation or network misuse, we need to Save Heroes from itself. Because it’s not a lost cause. It’s still capable of being the amazing show it was in season one. No, it’s capable of being even better.

How can you help Save Heroes? Easy. Just give your opinion on the Plot and Characters or Race and Gender issues in the show. We’re inviting all fans to contribute to a collaborative document in which we provide constructive, respectful criticism of the current season. Whether you offer your original thoughts or point to existing posts on the Internet, all ideas are welcome. Once we have enough contributions to create a coherent document, we’ll put it together in total and digitally sign it.

I would love it if some of the folks who’ve been making insightful comments here would go contribute.

Inconceivable!!

Ever since the new TV season started I’ve been pretty pissed off at Heroes. I believe my exact words have been:

Dear Heroes,

KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE RACISM AND SEXISM ALREADY.

Bob!Beyond that, the writing/plotting itself hasn’t been the best. Everyone I know who watches has been grumbling in the same way.

Usually when this occurs, the fans have little recourse. We complain on blogs and to each other offline, but the show continues to suck and eventually becomes the ninth season of Stargate SG-1. However, something amazing happened recently. A show creator actually acknowledged the problems with his show and –Gasp!– vowed to fix them.

I know! It sounds like a total lie. But look:

‘Heroes’ Creator Apologizes to Fans

[...] Kring himself is keenly aware that Heroes is broken. Here’s his candid critique:

THE PACE IS TOO SLOW ”We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake.”

THE WORLD-SAVING STAKES SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED SOONER [or perhaps scrapped altogether... --abw] The premonition of nuclear apocalypse created a larger context that unified every story line last season. Kring now sees that Volume 2 (the first 11 episodes of season 2) would have been better served if Peter’s vision of viral Armageddon had appeared in the season premiere rather than episode 7. ”We took too long to get to the big-picture story,” he says.

THE ROOKIES DIDN’T GREET THEMSELVES PROPERLY New Heroes Monica (Dana Davis), Maya (Dania Ramirez), and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) ”shouldn’t have been introduced in separate story lines that felt unattached to the show. The way we introduced Elle (Kristen Bell) — by weaving her in via Peter’s story line — is a more logical way to bring new characters into the show.” (That said, Kring says a few newbies won’t make it beyond this second volume, which wraps Dec. 3.)

HIRO WAS IN JAPAN WAY TOO LONG Hiro’s (Masi Oka) time-bending adventure in 17th-century Japan — where he mentored samurai hero Takezo Kensei (David Anders) — finally came to an end on Nov. 5. But Kring says it ”should have [lasted] three episodes. We didn’t give the audience enough story to justify the time we allotted it.”

YOUNG LOVE STINKS Kring regrets sticking Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with a super-dud boyfriend and forcing Hiro to moon over a cutesy princess. ”I’ve seen more convincing romances on TV,” he admits. ”In retrospect, I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us.”

There’s more at EW, go read.

He doesn’t touch on all of the problems — I see no mention of some of the icky race stuff. This gives me hope, though. I’ll hold out until Vol. 2 ends in December then eat some ginger, clean my palette, and go back to Heroes fresh and ready to be amazed again.

Art of Color

A few months ago a commenter named Sanjana Baijnath showed up on one of the media threads and informed us of the woeful education most artists get in shading skin tones that aren’t white. One of the regulars (Angel H?) clicked on her link and posted something like “Your art is amazing! You won me over with that image of Demona from Gargoyles.” Those are like magic words, because I love Gargoyles and Demona and really great art.

Skin Tone PracticeTurns out that the praise was spot-on, because I instantly fell in love with Sanjana’s portraits. Her Demona is just the tip of the iceberg. I love that she creates supremely beautiful art that features women of all different shades and types. I resolved that very instant to make Sanjana one of the first artist profiles I did for Fantasy magazine. And now that the mag has launched online, I can shove you all in that direction. Go read Sanajana’s profile and look at her beautiful images, then go to her website to see the full gallery and send an email telling her how awesome she is.

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