Tag Archives: People

How About We Continue “The Fiction Talk.”

Blog2018People applaud Proctor and Gamble for their commercials “The Talk.” The television show Blackish devoted an entire program on “The Talk.”

What you should know about The Talk, is that parents from the majority culture in the United States, will not have The Talk with their children. So, those of you, who don’t know about The Talk, find out at the links above, after reading my article.

For me, The Talk also hits home when it comes to fiction writing. I, often, include what I call “The Fiction Talk,” extending it beyond the words on a page.

At my university, the students in the Graduate Fine Arts program, are predominately white. Therefore, I find myself as the lone author in a writing workshop, for example, attempting to enlighten the students, who think The Talk in fiction, is off-putting or offensive. Attempting to explain, why I choose to demonstrate in some of my writing (depending on the character), why police, for example, profile African Americans. And although I am writing fiction, based on real life statistics, it contrasts their view of an “Officer-Friendly.”

What inspired me to also touch on this topic, is an article I read: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. There was a clever diagram in it, offering a snapshot of publishing categories, with a variety of sub-categories. The information promoted mainstream avenues. There was no mention of subcategories such as multiculturalism, urban fiction “dubbed street literature or gangster literature” fiction. Neither LGBT, or multigenerational for that matter, received a mention. Nothing wrong with that. There are authors who don’t want to be pigeon-holed. Book sellers do not classify my work under niche categories, but I have The Fiction Talk, like other authors, who do not feel compelled to shelve their work under niche categories, to have or not have, The Fiction Talk.

We live in a country divided by culture and race, despite some fiction authors claiming readers do not want to hear about it—claiming it does not exist. Much like the current White House Administration (Unnamed because I refuse to give them a voice) and their supporters. Writers expanding their words beyond mainstream ideals, must be more courageous and outspoken, keeping The Fiction Talk in the forefront. It is our right.

Publishing today can be a gamechanger, if you find the right avenue that works for you. Publishing is broader and includes more than adding self-publishing to the list. Given the additional sub-categories mentioned above, they do deserve a mention. Readers are very diverse, like writing, and reflect society of today. There are some readers, who hunt for titles, listed under their niche interests. I know a Lesbian woman who says she purposely looks for books labeled under an LGBT category. There are commercial publishers interested in these types of fiction categories. Authors may opt to choose one because of the difficulty obtaining a mainstream publisher; they may want to proudly display culture, opposed to following the lead of publishers, wanting manuscripts that assimilate culture, rather than tout real-life diversity.

There is a variety of ways authors can represent The Fiction Talk, for readers hungry to understand what all The Talk is about. Wanting to learn how to be more tolerant, rather than jump to defend. As determined writers, it is our passion to inspire understanding. That is why the title of this blog is: How About We Continue the “Fiction Talk.” A statement, not a question.

In truth,

Amani Shakhete

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Science Fiction inspires reality

 “Science fiction is the only genre that depicts how society could function differently. This is the first step towards progress as it allows us to imagine the future we want, and consider ways to work towards it. It also makes us aware of futures we wish to avoid, and helps us prevent them. (Klus)

This powerful statement by Dr. Klus sums up what I have learned over the past 10 weeks regarding science fiction. And that it is much more than a popular genre that can sell thousands of books just because. The ideas and foresight coming out of the minds of deep and futuristic thinkers, takes us on a journey of human spirit, turning longing for a more exciting future or something better than our present into possibilities or even reality. This very thought inspires me to finish my sci-fi novel. Although, admittedly, I have often thought about setting it aside and crawl back into my comfort zone.

But the dream of a Utopian society I want to create in this new read, is not without struggle. Such is life when trying to build something bigger and better. So far, working through this novel with the help of fellow students, continues to offer me a look inside this infinite and ever-expanding universe with so many dimensions we can only see through writing sci-fi. Like Klus says “Everything that’s physically possible is actually happening somewhere.”

Chatting it up with fellow writers in my virtual meet up reminds me, I am not alone in this cosmos of infinite words, waiting to inspire me “to imagine the future I want, and consider ways to work towards it.”

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Remembering Ivancie Harris reported missing found dead

ivancie harris (2)Earlier this month Ivancie Harris, a young black female college student from Gresham, Oregon traveled to Hawaii with friends to celebrate her 29th birthday. Little did she know she would be the victim of an unidentified suspect.

A few days ago I went searching on the Internet for Ivancie’s story. Do you know there were only 2 stories released on the day she went missing? No follow-up stories until yesterday when they found her dead body. And nothing since.

What I wanted to do here is make sure we remember this black young woman who media gave no equal time too.  A woman whose voice deserves to be heard and her killer brought to justice.

An excerpt from the Diary of Tippy Ellis…

Chapter 20: Big G’s other victim

9/10/2012

in Stone Mountain…

My BFF’s in trouble.

“Where you taking me?” Ooo. I’m dizzy. “Whas happening?”

I remember walking… I stopped to call Tippy… Got her voicemail… Thought about going home ‘cause I got nervous about a strange car I saw. I started walkin’ fast thinking how glad I was the car is on the other side of street. I thought I could run to a neighbor’s house if something crazy jumps…

Awwwwwk! They grabbed me from behind, put a smelly cloth over my nose and mouth.

When did they tie me up? How did I get back here? I can hear them whispering. Are they male or female? I hope not sex predators.

Huh. We’re leaving town; the traffic noise is fading. Stay awake TiAnna. Stay awake. Where are they taking me – north or south, east or west – which direction?  God I’m so damn stupid. I shoulda trained like Tippy, instead of tryin’ to be cute. Didn’t wanna break a naaail. Now look at me. I’m probably gonna die!

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Will African American fiction authors get the credit they deserve?

This is a blog I wrote a few years ago; however, it is still relevant. Things have changed since then like I now live in Atlanta, GA. And this series so far has three parts under the series title “The Tippy Ellis Story.”  You can find her on Amazon.com and a host of other bookstore retailers. 

As a new author to the fiction world, I am amazed at the wide range of talented black writers in this industry. Many authors we’ve heard of Carl Weber, Terry McMillian, Alice Monroe, Tony Morrison, Walter Mosley but numerous authors have yet to be acknowleged or celebrated.  For example, if you search for African American authors on-line at Barnes and Noble the results will come back with over 3,000 titles. Amazing huh?  Yep, black folks have passion for much more than basketball, singing and hip hop.

From what I’ve seen, even the most popular black authors rarely grace the front pages of major magazines or mainstream news. Seemingly, we have to fight our way to the forefront – to be seen – hoping to be heard and applauded for our works.

We have passion for what we do. Our individuality inspires great writers with great stories, offering ideals from a variety of black experiences beyond your typical street and hip hop literature, which appears to be growing in popularity – this is of no surprise.

Perhaps me being synical comes from living in a city called Portland, Oregon where blacks are 2 percent of the population if that. We usually get recognized if we commit a crime or if we belong to a closed niche group of black folks who the major news outlets recycle, making it sound like only a handful of black folks are doing good deeds, doing  great things.  I guess we can be grateful for our black media. But in my experience the geographical reach of black media, depending on where it is, is smaller. Further, the welcome mat doesn’t come easy and often expect to go unnoticed unless, of course, you already have the word celebrity attached to your name, or you know so and so at the corner store or church. There are exceptions.

So what advice is there for new black authors on the scene or for those interested in joining the long list of names already in the industry?

I’ve spent the past almost year writing my first novel, the first in a series, Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter” and opted to self publish after having a focus group of early readers review the final draft. Inspired by my own life surrounded by often tragic circumstances, the Diary received raving reviews. I’m also a marketing and branding professional by trade so I am fortunate to have skills to self promote. Yet, I’ve found that introducing myself to the fiction world isn’t easy.  So far, I’ve been met with resistance and the money train is nearing empty.

To get the credit we deserve? I guess I have to rethink what that means. Change my blueprint and adhere to my mission for this series, which is to “Give young black women a voice” and to keep the spotlight on violence against women.  Both are crucial causes worth fighting for. Hence, I don’t need credit for that but the drive to continue the movement. Onward to part two.

In truth,

Boss Amanishakhete, author and Word-Soul artist

Trailer:  Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s Daughter” by Boss Amanishakhete

Atlanta and Portland provide backdrops for a dynamic story about Latonya “Tippy” Ellis – 17 and black – who battles the pressures of drugs, alcohol and sex, while coming to grips with past family secrets. Through dealing with the trauma of murder and violence, Tippy learns to navigate the gauntlet of close friendships, love and life.

Diary of Tippy Ellis “Mama’s” Daughter” is currently on-line at Createspace.com and Amazon.com (paperback and kindle)

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