All posts by kceres

Call for Articles

Call for Articles

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF)

DWASF is calling for articles for publication in the first issue of its magazine, Celebrating Craft. The first issue will concern flash fiction, as well as writing basics such as world-building, plotting, and developing characters. Requested topics include, but are not limited to:

• How to write flash fiction
• Where to submit your flash fiction
• Flash fiction contests
• How to world build
• How to plot
• How to develop characters
• How to write the Other
• How to self-edit
• Common grammatical errors
• Diversity in science fiction
• Diversity in fantasy
• Diversity in horror
• How to self-publish
• Afrocentric writing workshops and conventions

The issue will also feature interviews with writers and artists. Please let us know if you would be interested in being interviewed.

Important Dates

Article submission deadline: July 20, 2017
Notification of acceptance of an article: July 30, 2017
Camera-ready article: August 15, 2017
Publication: October 1, 2017

Submission Guidelines

DWASF invites high-quality original articles on the craft of writing. The first issue of the magazine will highlight flash fiction, but articles on other writing topics are welcome. Please submit 500- to 4,000-word articles in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins to K. Ceres Wright at kcereswright@gmail.com. Authors of accepted articles will receive $15 and a copy of the magazine.

Contact:

If you have any questions regarding the call for articles, please send an email to kcereswright@gmail.com.

DWASF is:

K. Ceres Wright, President
John Edward Lawson, Vice President
Diane Williams, Executive Director
Gina Anderson, Media Outreach Coordinator
Stafford Battle, Web Master
B. Sharise Moore, Events Coordinator

Whitewashing in Hollywood by William Mason Jones

William Mason Jones was kind enough to stop by the DWASF writing workshop to deliver a workshop on Whitewashing in Hollywood. Enjoy!

@DWASF Afrofuturism writing workshop–Whitewashing in Hollywood with William Mason Jones Jr.

Posted by K. Ceres Wright on Saturday, October 22, 2016

Get Out Movie Review by John Edward Lawson

In late 2016, I came across one of those social media oddities that can really make your day: a fake movie trailer for the variety of film you always wish film studios would develop and push nationally. It was a satire of with such deadly accuracy that it zoomed past hilarity to hit somber dread, which in turn heightened the humor. It was stunning. And, as it turned out, what I was seeing wasn’t a spoof.

After experiencing the initial trailer for Get Out, and confirming its veracity with other creative types of diverse ethnic backgrounds like myself, well, I experienced trepidation walking into the theater on opening day. The showing was at 1:45 in the afternoon during a work day, but instead of finding an empty theater there were 50-60 other audience members. Clearly the enthusiasm wasn’t contained to just the arts community.
Despite initially being impressed—or perhaps due to that strong, positive impression—I was unwilling to believe the filmmakers would carry through on the promise delivered via trailers and pre-release hype. Too often films fail to contain more substance or thrills than their cleverly cut commercials offered to begin with.

Especially in this case, right? I mean, if you’ve seen any of the publicity you understand Get Out focuses on the African diaspora attempting to navigate our contemporary “post-racial” United States. They couldn’t really be permitted to fully go there, could they? Even if they did, it couldn’t happen with intelligence or enough restraint to come off as anything more than ham-handed lashing out.

Martin “LilRel” Howery is a scene-stealer with his charisma and delivery, but without the sharp dialogue to make it work he’d have been a flat character at best, or stereotype at worst, of the variety we so often see in “black friend” characters.

Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, playing the love interest’s parents, turn out to be a brilliant pairing. Their background in both drama and comedy brings moments to the film that rival the best they brought to work such as The West Wing, Being John Malkovich, Cabin in the Woods, etc. They have a knack for helping director Jordan Peele find the uncomfortable in otherwise happy moments, and the disarmingly humorous and relatable in alarming situations.

As the protagonist Daniel Kaluuya delivers a performance so understated that you forget he is acting, delivering the full emotional range from grief to love to rage, but shining just as strongly existing in the mundane moments we all share, and making those believable is his most important strength because it is in these “in-between” moments the film builds intensity.

It would be easy to go the route of a typical slasher, torture porn, or supernatural FX blowout. Instead Get Out uses moments of silence to unnerve, and seriously…when all conversation stopped during the party scene the audience was unanimous in our “Nope, y’all are too much!” response. Gratuitous content is avoided, with most violence occurring out of the frame, and an absence of nudity or sex scenes. Instead of hyperkinetic jump cuts to raise our heart rates we have lengthy closeups up weirdoes dragging us through painfully awkward conversations to increase apprehension.

In addition to avoiding common pitfalls of horror, the black characters disappearing in last 20 minutes of major films like Sicario and Jurassic World after being scared into submission were not here…no white savior.

When it comes to what the film is really saying we could get deep. On examining the speculative element we experience the reproblematization of black autonomy/identity, the theories of Marshal McLuhan re: The Media is the Massage/cool media, “the opiate of the masses,” or—perhaps most disturbing of all—the story as a condemnation of us as a society, and blacks in particular, for sitting back and watching as our people are literally killed in the streets with no recourse. But that’s a discussion best left to academic journals. Suffice it to say: this movie is creepy as all get-out, and not in a way that makes you feel like a cheese ball for enjoying it.

When it comes to the dangers racial bigotry poses to our entire society I’m continually chastened—both publicly and privately—not to rush to judgment, be grateful things aren’t worse, and if I don’t like it go make my own. One problem is that when we do “go make our own” there is a backlash against accepting any part of how we express our experience, because observing racism is “racist”—a delegitimizing accusation already levied against Get Out by multiple outlets. The other problem is the rest of Hollywood’s productions stand in even more stark contrast than previously. If high caliber entertainment with desegregated casting can be made…then why isn’t it?

After Mad Max: Fury Road came out I had discussions with women who were in tears. Not because they were saddened or angry, but due to being so overwhelmed by seeing a major motion picture about women with portrayals and story construction that didn’t revolve around Hollywood stereotypes of women. I’m not saying folks left the theater in that state. Get Out was excellent, and while there was exuberance aplenty from the crowd as we filed out there were no tears.

Now if we can just work on ageism and ableism in film. Yes, Fury Road missed a huge opportunity for Hollywood, and society, by casting somebody with two arms as Furiosa, but I digress. The point is we’re moving toward richer entertainment experiences, but have to continue that momentum. A key to that will be the sophistication of the filmmaking itself.

When considering the framing, use of sound design, transitions, and attention to detail—in addition to more obvious elements such as the screenplay and performances—I find it difficult to believe this is Jordan Peele’s feature film directorial debut. Not satisfied which that accomplishment Peele also managed to create something that succeeds as both a horror/thriller and a comedy.

It’s my hope Peele not only continues to deliver, but those in minority groups inspired by him help make inroads in horror, and the other speculative genres as well. Because I’m telling your right now that guy can just take my money.

World Building by Cerece Rennie Murphy

Cerece Rennie Murphy was kind enough to stop by the DWASF Writing Workshop last year and we recorded her world-building session. Enjoy!

Live @ DWASF Afrofuturism Writing Workshop–Worldbuilding with Cerece Rennie Murphy

Posted by K. Ceres Wright on Saturday, October 22, 2016

Who’s That Black Man?

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The boat with the dinosaurs just landed, and a lone guard makes his way up the gangplank. As the camera moves in, we see the guard is…

Photo courtesy of Jurassic
Park Encyclopedia

Nate Lahey from How to Get Away With Murder!

In actuality, his name is Billy Brown, and he’s been acting in TV shows and films since 1993. He’s been in Cloverfield, Star Trek, Sons of Anarchy, and Dexter, among others. He’s also done voiceovers for the Superman, Matrix, and Terminator 3 video games, and voices the Vampire King in the cartoon, Adventure Time.

So if you’re watching The Wild Thornberrys movie and the rhino sounds familiar, you’ll know who it is.

Who’s That Black Woman?

Cleopatra 2525

A blast door slides open and out climbs a blonde, a man, and another woman with ponytail twists wearing a silver bustier. We look closer and we see that she’s…

Zoë Washburne from Firefly! No, wait, it’s Jessica Pearson from Suits!

In reality, it’s Gina Torres. Although she’s been acting in TV and film since 1992, her breakout role didn’t happen until 2002 when she played Zoë in the Joss Whedon science fiction TV show, Firefly. She’s also been in Buffy, The Matrix Reloaded, 24, Alias, and Hannibal. Voiceovers seem to be popular for Black actors, as she’s also done them for the animated series, Justice League, Transformers Prime, and Star Wars Rebels.

Keep an eye out for her in the Shondaland show, The Catch.

Trivia: A talented mezzo soprano, Gina sang the theme song for Cleopatra 2525.

Common Grammatical Errors

Don’t fret if you have used a few of these phrases incorrectly. Just read on and learn, grasshoppers.

Comprise vs. Compose
The word “comprise” means to include or contain, or to consist of. A proper use of the term would be as follows:
• The United States comprises 50 states.
• The committee comprises 10 members.

Think of the bigger whole comprising the smaller parts. Never use the term, “is comprised of.”

For smaller parts that make up the larger whole, use “compose.”
• The neighborhood was composed of two old buildings, a railway station, and my house.
• An orange and a banana composed the model’s lunch.

Your vs. You’re
The term “your” indicates a possessive. “You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” Do not confuse the two.
• Your book is under the bed.
• She said you’re the one who pranked her.

Should Of vs. Should Have
Never use the phrase “should of.” The proper phrasing is “should have.”
We can use the phrase “should have” to indicate past events that did not happen, or to speculate about events that may or may not have happened.
• I should have stashed a spare key under my car.
• She should have reached the train station by now.

Older Than I vs. Older Than Me
The correct phrasing is “older than I.” You say, “She is older than I am,” NOT “She is older than me am.”

Between You and Me vs. Between You and I
The correct phrasing is “between you and me.” The word “between” is a preposition, making “you and me” the objects of the preposition. You would therefore use the objective form of the pronoun, “me.”

That vs. Which
Use “that” with restrictive clauses and “which” with nonrestrictive clauses. A restrictive clause limits, or restricts, the meaning of the subject. For example, read the following sentence:

• The ring that she wore had belonged to her grandmother.

The phrase “that she wore” restricts the meaning of the sentence. Without those words, you would not know which ring had belonged to the grandmother.

A nonrestrictive clause provides additional information about a subject that is not necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence.

• A rug, which was handmade, covered the hole in the floor.

If you left out “which was handmade,” it would not affect the meaning of the sentence. Also note that a nonrestrictive clause is usually bracketed by commas.

Who vs. That
“Who” refers to people. “That” refers to things.

• Sally is the one who wrote the poem you read yesterday.
• The car in the driveway is the one that I crashed last week.

So, there you have it. Just study these rules and you will already be on your way to becoming a better writer. And all editors will love you for that. You may now leave the temple.