[Cover Reveal] Opal Charm: Hope in Nautical Dusk

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Today’s the cover reveal for Miri Castor’s Hope in Nautical Dusk, hosted by Rich in Variety a tour hosting site dedicated to diversity. Hope in Nautical Dusk is the second book in the Opal Charm fantasy series and will be released March 19th, I can’t wait! So without further ado, here’s the complete cover, isn’t it gorgeous!

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About the book:

Author: Miri Castor • Publication Date: March 19th, 2017 • Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy • Inclusion of Diversity: Bisexual African American protagonist.

The Gift of Twilight flourishes within Opal Charm as winter descends on Dewdrop. Life was already rough before, but Opal’s got new obstacles to face – getting into high school, bringing her brother back home, and training to protect Athre and Earth from Samael, the mysterious overlord who seeks to rule all, and put an end to her and the Charm lineage. The balance between harsh truths and sweet lies is more fragile than ever. Yet, as winter rolls on, the balance begins to break as a new threat emerges. Memories Opal once trusted are disintegrating her friendships, and lies are clouding her Path of Dawn and Dusk. Opal must seek the truth while protecting those close to her, no matter how painful it may be.

Add to goodreads!

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About the author:

Miri Castor is the author of Opal Charm: The Path to Dawn. She spent many recesses in middle school writing fantasy stories, with Opal Charm being one of many. She has written for Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine and was featured as a Spotlight New Author in 2016. Now attending a university on the East Coast, she studies biochemistry and will receive her B.S. in 2016. A New York native, Miri is working on her second novel while in her last year as an undergraduate. She enjoys playing video games, attending music concerts, and strolling through the City.

10 Poetry Collections by Black Women #BlackHistoryMonth

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It’s Black History Month! And while I try to read and highlight Black writers throughout the year, I thought I’d contribute a few extra posts for folks celebrating and folks looking for more resources. While spoken word is my first love, I have been getting better at reading poetry and so I thought I’d share some of my favorite Black women poets and collections that I’m reading or that are on my list. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading this month!

1.Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women by Cheryl Clarke gr-pic

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Black lesbian poet Cheryl Clarke’s 1992 collection, first published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, is about love and women creating representation.

 

2.The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde gr-pic

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Fed up with the whiteness of the poetry and nearly all literature taught in my school, Audre Lorde was one of the first poets I really connected with. The poems in this collection are beautiful and powerful, and explore how we inhabit multiple positions. Find “A Litany for Survival,” and other poems here.

 

3.Black Wings & Blind Angels by Sapphire gr-pic

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This work collects over 40 poems by the author of Push, as unflinching and harrowing and powerful as her novel, but also trigger warnings for abuse and incest.

 

4.Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith gr-pic

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When it comes to poetry, spoken word is my first love. Here’s Blood Dazzler by amazing Patricia Smith, check our her spoken word performances (some videos are available online)! This collection follows Hurricane Katrina and the destruction unleashed through the voices of survivors, politicians and even the hurricane itself.

5.They Are All Me by Dominique Christina gr-pic

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Another slam poet, Dominique Christina is also an educator and activist and this work is her second poetry collection.  She takes on topics such as genocide, police violence, Katrina and menstruation.

6.Gospel by Samiya Bashir gr-pic

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In this collection, poet Samiya Bashir takes on fear and power through gospel, but not necessarily (just) the religious meaning of the word. By the way, Bashir’s newest work comes out in April!

 

7.Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo gr-pic

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In the 2016 collection Beastgirl, Afro-Latina poet Acevedo interweaves personal stories, mythology and Dominican culture.

8. BlackGirl Mansion by Angel Nafis gr-pic

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Also a spoken word artist, Angel Nafis’ poetry leaps off the page: “I am here now,/speaking and giving/in bursts/of chest, and effort,/and temperature.”

9.Trigger by Venus Selenite gr-pic

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This is poet, writer, performance artist, social critic, editor, educator, and technologist Venus Selenite’s debut collection “is a bold, intimate, and comfortable/uncomfortable quest, through (Selenite’s) own eyes, in being Black, being queer, being trans, being a woman, and being non-binary in 21st century America, in what continues to be systemic and oppressive, but also adventurous and ecstatic” (venusselenite.com). Venus Selenite is also the co-editor of Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color (forthcoming).

10.Name Poems by Jewelle L. Gómez gr-pic

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The Gilda Stories author Jewelle Gómez writes poetry as well. In this 2015 collection, she examines experiences at multiple intersections, exploring her Native American (Ioway, Wampanoag) heritage and Black lesbian identity.

Further reading:

10 Works of Black Lesbian Short Fiction

What are you reading this Black History Month?

10 Works of Black Lesbian Short Fiction

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Recently, I was asked about short story collections by women of Color, and what a timely thing, too, since I’m planning on reading more short fiction this year. Collections are always a bit complicated for me: on the one hand I want to take my time and savor each story, treat it as a complete work by itself (as should be, unless it’s interconnected stories), but on the other I usually fail and pressure myself to read the whole collection quickly. So this year, I will again start an extra page in my menu for short stories I’ve read. I used to do this a few years ago, but have sadly let it slide. That way I hope to concentrate on a variety of stories,  giving each the same attention I would give a novel.

Now, short story collections by women of Color, that covers a lot of ground! So I’m starting with this list of Black lesbian short fiction:

1.Does Your Mama Know?: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories by Lisa C. Moore, ed. gr-pic

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This important 1998 collection showcases Black lesbian coming out experiences. Many of the contributions are short stories but you can also find poems, interviews and essays. Edited by Lisa C. Moore who is also the founder and editor of the amazing RedBone Press, which publishes Black lesbian and gay literature. Note: There is now a second edition that comes with 17 new stories!

2.Speaking in Whispers: African-American Lesbian Erotica by Kathleen E. Morris gr-pic

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A 1996 collection of erotic short fiction, celebrating Black lesbian sexuality and sensuality, also available from RedBone Press! Kathleen E. Morris identifies herself as a militant total femme dyke.

3.Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing by Catherine E. McKinley, L. Joyce DeLaney, eds. gr-pic

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First published in 1995, the Afrekete anthology also includes poetry and nonfiction. It features works by Audre Lorde, Jewelle Gómez, Jacqueline Woodson, Alexis De Veaux and more and was nominated for the Lambda award in 1996.

4.Don’t Explain by Jewelle Gómez gr-pic

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In her short story collection, American writer and cultural worker Jewelle Gómez (of The Gilda Stories fame) presents Black lesbian speculative fiction set in 1960s Boston and other futures.

5.Longing, Lust, and Love: Black Lesbian Stories by Shonia Brown, ed. gr-pic

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A 2006 collection of erotic short fiction about Black lesbian love at different stages., edited by Shonia Brown, author of a novel and independent book publisher.

6.Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction by S. Andrea Allen, Lauren Cherelle, eds. gr-pic

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A recent addition, this collection presents stories about the range of Black lesbian experiences in such genres as romance and SFF. Editor S. Andrea Allen is also the founder and publisher of Black feminist press BLF Press, take a look!

7.Two Moons: Stories by Krystal A. Smith gr-pic

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This collection isn’t out yet, but will be released June 20, 2017 ( also by BLF Press)! Krystal A. Smith is a “Black lesbian writer of poetry and speculative fiction.”

8.Callaloo & Other Lesbian Love Tales by LaShonda K. Barnett gr-pic

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LaShonda Barnett is an author, radio host and scholar, and also the author of the novel Jam! On the Vine. Her short story collection from 1999 presents tales of Black lesbian women from different walks of life.

9.Black Girl Love by Anondra “Kat” Williams gr-pic

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Anondra “Kat” Williams is a writer and poet as well as a radio host and the author of another collection, SistaGirl. Black Girl Love collects more than 25 short stories and poems about Black lesbians on love, life and sex.

10.Once and Future Lovers: A Collection of Short Fiction by Sheree L. Greer gr-pic

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Sheree L. Greer is an author and the host of Oral Fixation, an LGBTQ Open Mic series. Her 2012 book is a short collection about the courage, joy, pain and pleasure of love and relationships.

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How do you read short story collections? And have you read any of the works above? 

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Further reading:

For all the Black lesbian lit recommendations, visit Rena’s excellent blog Sistahs on the Shelf.

For more generally diverse short story collections, see for example Naz’ wonderful list “Give Short Fiction A Chance” here.

Review: Opal Charm + Interview with Author Miri Castor

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The titular character of Opal Charm: The Path to Dawn, a YA fantasy novel, is a Black (pre-)teen girl living in the quiet New York suburb of Dewdrop with her parents and sister. But Opal isn’t having the best time what with the death of her older brother, her sister alway snapping at her, no friends and parents who are in turns distant and all up in her space. Things seem to look up, however, when a new girl, Hope Adair, befriends Opal and Opal reconnects with her childhood friend Aaron. But Opal keeps having these unsettling dreams and there’s more to Hope than meets the eye.

Opal is an unlikely heroine and a very reluctant one at that. Through much of the book, we also see her suffering from depression and having withdrawn from friends and others. Opal can be unlikable and difficult, but her depression and isolation grow out of grief, and I found myself empathizing with her, but also her family who were clearly overwhelmed with the situation. I thought I’d mention this as for much of the first part of the book the reason for Opal’s behavior might not be clear and some might read her as simply annoying and be put off.

The Path to Dawn is the first part of a book series and I really enjoyed the focus on Opal’s situation and her overcoming isolation and reconnecting with people. It is only in the latter part of the book that the Chosen One aspect of the story really kicks off and we learn a bit about the troubled world of Athre and the gifts Athrians and Opal share, cause make no mistake this is gonna be a superhero story! A superhero who happens to be a Black girl, yass! I’m so happy to see more stories where the chosen one isn’t a white dude.

All in all I really enjoyed reading the beginning of Opal’s story. At times the dialogue and reactions by the characters felt a bit off to me especially in the first few chapters and I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of Opal and Hope’s developing friendship. But I liked the long exposition and the focus on Opal’s struggles and the showdown at the end of this book seems like a promise that readers will find out what motivates the different factions fighting in Athre. I’m also hoping to see more of how Opal’s family might reconnect and heal. I’ll be reading Hope in Nautical Dusk or sure.

Make sure to scroll down to hear from the author, Miri Castor!

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Disclaimer: I was given a free e-copy of this book by the author, but never fear I remain my opinionated self!

Other thoughts:

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(yours?)

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Miri Castor is the author of Opal Charm: The Path to Dawn. She spent many recesses in middle school writing fantasy stories, with Opal Charm being one of many. She has written for Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine and was featured as a Spotlight New Author in 2016.
Now attending a university on the East Coast, she studies biochemistry and will receive her B.S. in 2016. A New York native, Miri is working on her second novel while in her last year as an undergraduate. She enjoys playing video games, attending music concerts, and strolling through the City.

Bina: What made you start writing and how do you manage writing while attending college?

Miri Castor: I was a huge bookworm back in the day. It started with me replacing the protagonists of my favorite SFF cartoons with my own characters when I was around eight years old. Then I started thinking after a few years, “wouldn’t it be cool to give them their own stories?” And that’s where I started.

Well, it was much easier when I was an undergraduate and had month-long breaks! As a college senior, I had a lot of time to dedicate to writing since I took a few classes. Now that I’m a first year in a PhD program, it’s a bit harder to manage with studies and research. I write with any downtime I can get.

Bina: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Miri Castor: As a nerd, I’m inspired by my favorite video games, anime, and a handful of fantasy authors, like Tananarive Due. Music is another major source of inspiration. Janelle Monáe’s music and style got me hooked into afrofuturism, as well as Solange, and a handful of alternative R&B singers.

Bina: What is your process with regard to feedback and editing as a self-published author?

Miri: I try to learn from all feedback I get, good or bad. I don’t let it interfere with my original ideas though. I feel like it’s definitely more personal as a self-published author to receive feedback because you usually don’t have a team behind you. You’re the editor, the artist (possibly), and the author.

Bina: Do you feel that self-publishing gives you more leeway with regard to diversity?

Miri: Definitely. I’d like to think in the near future traditional publishers won’t be as reluctant to showcase diverse books as they are now.

Bina: In Opal you’ve created a (reluctant) superhero, who is also a young Black girl. Can you tell us about reading (or not) about Black characters growing up and what you hope to contribute to issues of representation with your books?

Miri: “Reluctant” is such a nice way of putting it, haha! That aside, the only black characters I read growing up were from urban fiction books. These characters were from the hood, and had to deal with issues around family, school, and their environment. It wasn’t a bad thing, but that was the only representation I got for black girls as a kid. I would’ve loved to have read fantasy stories about magical black girls who became the chosen ones, and had to save the world.

My main goal with the Opal Charm series is to have humanizing portrayals of people of color, and to write stories the 12-year-old me would love.

Bina: The Path to Dawn is the first book in a series, how many books are you planning and can you tell us a bit about what’s next for Opal?

Miri: I’ve planned for 4 books for the main series, but I also have prequels and spinoffs in mind. I’m especially excited to get started on the prequels!

Opal’s got a lot in store for her. She undergoes training to protect Earth and the alternate world Athre, while learning more about her powers, the secrets of each JAEL member, and herself. All I can say is Opal’s hopes for the future will be put to the test.

Bina: Thanks so much for answering my questions!

twitter Connect with Miri on twitter!