The Practice of Creativity

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Hi creative community,
Although Halloween is officially over, I’ve got something for you if you enjoy horror, stories about the undead and/or want to support diverse creators.
I just contributed to the Indiegogo campaign for Blackened Roots: An Anthology of the Undead.

Blackened Roots is an anthology of stories written by Black writers from all over the world featuring tales of non-traditional zombies. Think The Girl With All The Gifts, not The Walking Dead.

The anthology is co-edited by Stoker-nominated and award-winning editor and writer Nicole Givens Kurtz at Mocha Memoirs Press, and award-winning producer and editor Tonia Ransom at NIGHTLIGHT. At least three stories from the anthology will air on the NIGHTLIGHT podcast.

Even if you can’t give at this time, would you do me a huge favor and share this campaign in your networks? TY!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/blackened-roots-an-anthology-of-the-undead–2#/

Nicole is an amazing author, a writing buddy of mine and also published one of my stories in the groundbreaking Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. And, I’ve been privileged to have one of my stories anthologized bu Nightlight. They are great team!
I asked Nicole to share a few words about this project:
1 . What makes your Indiegogo unique?
Our Indiegogo is unique because it features all Black horror authors proving non-traditional zombie stories. Many of these authors are award-winners and we’re working with an award-winning podcast, NIGHTLIGHT.
2 . Why should people support it?
People should support diversity in speculative fiction because representation matters, not just for those represented, but for everyone. Members need to see other ethnicities and races in various roles beyond stereotypical ones. It affects how Black people are seen.
3.  What’s the deadline?

The deadline for the Indiegogo is due November 25th.

4. Any other things about the indigogogo  you care to share.

The table of contents for this volume of non-traditional zombie stories features Eden Royce, Sheree Renee Thomas, Brandon Massey, Craig Laurence Gidney, and so many more. Also, this is the first volume of its  kind.
This anthology will be released during Black History month in 2023. Please share with your networks!

Happy New Year, all!

The second most important step in becoming a published creative writer, after finishing a piece, is submitting one’s work.  It’s the one thing that most writers don’t know how to do well, don’t do enough of, or don’t do consistently.

I’d like to help you beat the odds of your writing being rejected as we launch into 2022.

Fear of rejection, lack of confidence, and overwhelm topped of the list of challenges writers told me they faced submitting their work. Many writers struggle with submitting their work consistently and finding venues. You may struggle with cover and query letters, writing a great bio or knowing how to manage editorial feedback.

I GOT you.  The wait is over.  And, just in time to get your 2022 off to a productive start.

My FREE mini-training ‘Savvy Submission Strategies for Writers’ is designed to help you shed your ‘invisibility cloak’ and gain the tools you need to send more of your work into the world consistently and with confidence.

It begins on January 5th and includes two videos and an amazing LIVE workshop with me on ‘How to Navigate the Submission Stream’ on January 9th that you don’t want to miss.

And, there will be some surprises along the way!

CLICK HERE to register for the FREE mini-training.

I know the long and challenging journey to publication and I want to create some short cuts for you. There’s so many things I didn’t know about the submission process and also what to do when a work is accepted (intellectual property rights matter!). This will help emerging and established writers (indie or traditional publishing inclined).

Nothing in this training is theoretical or fluff. It’s based on my fifteen year coaching career helping writers become published and my experience as an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. I guarantee that this training will change the way you think about your writing potential as a writer and how you approach the submission experience.

CLICK HERE to register for the FREE mini-training.

 

Hi writing community! I’m really close to wrapping up my long-awaited comprehensive workshop on “Savvy Submission Strategies for Writers”. Writers often struggle with consistently submitting their work to agents, publishers, journal and anthology editors, etc. and dealing with the fear of rejection. We often don’t have efficient processes in place to keep track of our submissions. This workshop addresses those concerns and provide folks the tools to double their submission rate and feel confident while doing so and MUCH more. I’ll be offering my workshop in Nov. But before I offer it, I have a couple of questions. Can you help me out? You can answer the questions in this super short survey (and get a little more detail about the workshop).https://qfreeaccountssjc1.az1.qualtrics.com/…/SV…

THANKS, I really appreciate it!

P.S. We’re still in a pandemic and we’re still dealing with its impact on our writing habits, routines and motivations. My free guide may be helpful to you. Have you checked it out?: Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19 go to: https://mailchi.mp/creativetickle/tenways

Got inner critics? All creative people I know struggle with inner critics that can interrupt their work. What to do about them? It’s an unlikely but important answer–give them new jobs! In the latest Chatham County Line column I show folks how and even get to talk about Sandra Oh, too.

Give Your Inner Critic a New Job

No matter how lumpy or faded or boring you feel, your creativity is of value.

—SARK

Inner critics can sabotage our creative work. More than a decade ago, I began to study how and why inner critics become unwanted residents in our psyches.

Inner critics are the sharp-tongued internal voices that often prevent us from consistently writing and creating. They speak to us with the seemingly definitive voice of KNOWING ABOUT EVERYTHING CREATIVE. Inner critics usually know how to do just one thing and have long outlived whatever protective role they once had. Inner critics want to protect us from failure, shame and embarrassment. Gentle and honest feedback about our work is important and can be gained from a variety of sources. Inner critics go awry when they enter into the creative process at an early stage. They become destructive when they engage us in black or white thinking that may or not be accurate. Inner critics often drive us to abandon work too early, convince us that our ideas aren’t worthy, or that we will never be successful.

Inner critics can have a personal and also a cultural component to their makeup. Read the rest here.

afrofuturistbundle

Looking for a summer reading bonanza? And a playlist, too? I’m thrilled to be included in this NEW Afrofuturist and Black Fantastic ‘storybundle’ featuring established and emerging voices in speculative fiction. It was curated by award-winning writer Tenea D. Johnson and includes work from a Horror Writers Association lifetime achievement winner, Tiptree winner, a couple of Parallax winners, fresh voices from the Caribbean and Africa, African historical fiction, intelligent space romps, vampires, and a fiction album.

I believe this is the first Afrofuturist and Black Fantastic themed storybundle. It’s my first time being included in a curated storybundle!

How does it work?

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE. For a little more you’ll get 11 books! My novella, Reenu-You about a mysterious virus seemingly transmitted through a hair care product billed as a natural relaxer is one of the ‘bonus books’.

Bundle buyers also have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers, an amazing organization that supports young writers! Check out all the details below. This bundle is available for just three weeks. And, please feel free to signal boost. Thanks!

https://storybundle.com/afrofuturism

Feeling stuck in your writing and storytelling? Are you not finishing things because you get overwhelmed with keeping track of your characters and plotlines? Frustrated with how you are plotting your novel or memoir? Are you painting yourself into too many story corners that you don’t know how to get out of?

Want to know how to bring a story full circle, connect the dots and create a fantastic ending? Want to know more about ‘story beats’ and how to effectively employ them?

Want some inspiring writing craft and mindset tips?

Great, my writer friend, Emma Dhesi can help! She is hosting a cool series that you’re going to love.

Emma has brought together 20+ writers, creatives, editors, and publishers for this complimentary training series. 

The Be a Bestseller: Structure Your Story of Success series is guaranteed to ignite your creativity. Many speakers will be sharing their expertise for better plotting and story structure and others will be focused on mindset issues. It is geared for novelists, memoirists and short story writers. She is a fantastic interviewer.

And, I’m ALSO one of the speakers! I’ll be talking about how positive self-talk can supercharge your writing life (as you know one of my favorite topics)!

And it’s totally free. Sign up here and see all the speakers: https://masterclass.beabestseller.net/MicheleTBerger

BTW: If you are struggling with motivation and momentum in your writing, you might like my free guide: Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19.

So delighted to be on the Adam Messer radio show live. The first hour flew. We’re talking about inner critics and the creative process and also speculative fiction.

Here’s a guide for his listeners to keep their creativity flowing: ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self During COVID-19.

Second hour of the show begins now. Check it out here: https://www.wruu.org/shows/the-adam-messer-show/

One of my writing joys in 2020 was producing a monthly column on creativity for the Chatham County Line. It’s always been a strong publication and great community resource, but under the recent leadership of Randy Voller and Lesley Landis it has flourished. The layout and design is fantastic.

In the summer, I began a three part series about how publishing and writing will change during this decade. The last installment of the series spotlights diversity and is now available. Documenting the ugly things about publishing and its lack of diversity was painful. For a while I had writer’s block (which is atypical for me) because I had to relive and remember the ways I’ve been affected by the cumulative effects of multiple ‘isms’ in publishing’s history. In the end, I found a way to strike a balance between talking about the structural obstacles and point to the tentative positive direction of change. That felt like a win as it gives the average reader a way to understand the issues without overwhelming them. And, I took some of the most charged parts of my experience out to explore in a future long-form essay, so that’s a win, too. Writing always leads to more writing!

You can read it (and parts 1 & 2) on the updated website. I look forward to writing more columns this year. And, if you’ve got a topic you’d like to see me explore, please let me know!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Writing and Publishing in the 2020s-Part 3

Coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, I never read a commercial novel that featured a character that was anything like me: African American, female, wickedly smart, urban, and geeky. The children’s and young adult market was dominated by white heroes, white heroines and white authors. If I came across an African American character, they were typically described by the color of their skin (in contrast to white characters who were never described by skin tone) and simplistically rendered. They functioned as a sidekick, devoid of cultural experiences that connected them to the rich kaleidoscope of African American life. It wasn’t until college (!) that I discovered commercial (and literary) novels that reflected some of my life experiences back to me. This was a result of two factors. One was the success of small independent presses begun by second wave feminists that published new work by a diversity of women writers. The second was that by the mid-1980s traditional publishing briefly opened up to a few African American female writers, including Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.

Read the rest here

When I was asked by Nicole Givens Kurtz to contribute to her anthology about vampires and their slayers across the African diaspora, I was both thrilled and terrified. Thrilled in that I would get to pen a new story and be in a collection with many established and well-known writers in speculative fiction. Terrified in that I hadn’t ever written a story about vampires nor was I steeped in vampire lore. But, when you get a great writing opportunity, you always say yes!



SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire launches on Tuesday. SLAY includes twenty-nine stories, plus original illustrations. It’s a big book!

Here’s an overview: Few creatures in contemporary horror are as compelling as the vampire, who manages to captivate us in a simultaneous state of fear and desire. Drawing from a variety of cultural and mythological backgrounds, SLAY dares to imagine a world of horror and wonder where Black protagonists take center stage — as vampires, as hunters, as heroes. From immortal African deities to resistance fighters; matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers; coming of age stories to end of life stories, SLAY is a groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora.

SLAY has already received positive reviews from early reviewers!

I loved working on my story and digging into urban fantasy, a new genre for me. I knew that I wanted the story to center on contemporary vampires. My story “Blood Saviors” features a conflict between Fae, humans and vampires–and a virus to boot (I couldn’t help myself). It’s the first story I ever wrote where I began with a theme. I wanted that theme to resonate and I wanted the reader to feel the weight of the moral choices that confront the main character, Shonda. The story explores the question: What would someone be willing to do to save their own kind? Would they be willing to sacrifice another race to save their own?

This collection is important in a couple of different ways: SLAY will be a touchstone for readers of color who love horror and are aficionados of vampire stories but never really saw themselves reflected in mainstream narratives. It offers white readers something unique in the vampire subgenre because the anthology isn’t centered in white and/or male characters. It’s important for the genre in that until now no one has attempted to retell the vampire mythology through and about the experiences of people across the African diaspora.

Pre-order link for SLAY is here

Below is a sampler of AWESOMENESS about SLAY that includes my participation on Alicia McCalla’s Diverse Sci-Fi & Fantasy podcast. We had an outstanding time talking about my story, vampires and subverting conventional tropes in speculative fiction. 

Milton Davis one of the contributors (and small press publisher in his own right) has been hosting many of SLAY’s authors on his blog for short interviews where we ‘SLAY 11 Questions’. They are fabulous. I have enjoyed reading more about the other contributors. You can check out my interview here and learn why I name Shori from Octavia Butler’s Fledgling as one of my favorite vampires.

Check out contributor John Linwood Grant’s excellent posts on ‘Black Vampire’ week on his Grey Dog Tales blog. He covers African vampires, movies with Black vampires and more.

I’d appreciate any signal boosting that you can do for this collection. Thanks in advance.

And, if you are a writer struggling with your productivity and motivation, you might like my ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’. Click here to receive it.

I’m super excited about my guest for this author Q&A and the new format. I thought I’d start moving my author Q&As to Youtube. Dr. Molly Howes was so gracious in agreeing to being the first one!

Molly is a Harvard trained psychologist and an award-winning writer. I met Molly in summer 2015 when we were both soaking up the wonders of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico during the A Room of Her Own (AROHO) residency.

Anne Lee Photography

As I say in the interview, I always felt an openhearted vibe from Molly and I’m glad we have stayed in touch over the years. When I heard about the release of her new book A Good Apology: Four Steps to Make Things Right, I knew I wanted to share her work here.

It’s a timely and powerful book that I enjoyed reading. During the interview we talk about her comprehensive approach to apologies, why it’s important to do them well, how her case studies from years as a psychologist inform the book, and how A Good Apology made its way into publication. We also talk about racial legacies and reparations and Molly’s experience as a new author. I hope you enjoy our discussion and let me know if you want more Youtube interviews!

***

Your invitation still stands, click here to get your ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’.


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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