7 Great Indie Black Speculative Screenwriters You Should Know!

Drop Squad“Man, I loved the movie Drop Squad,” a friend told me. “The acting? Dope! The camera work? Top notch! But the screenplay? The screenplay was wack!”

I said “If you enjoy any film, that’s in large part due to the writing.”

“Bruh,” he sighed, shaking his head, pitying my ignorance. “A screenplay ain’t nothin’ but the dialogue. The Director is the one who makes a movie HOT!”

I asked him “How, then, did the silent film The Artist get nominated for an Oscar for its original screenplay?”

Now, before you call my friend an idiot, know that he holds a Master’s Degree in Anthropology and a PhD in Afrikan History and is a professor at a university in Georgia.

He is no idiot. He – like many others – believes the popular misconception that screenwriters are responsible only for writing a movie’s dialogue.

This is a major reason that screenwriting remains one of the most misunderstood and unsung aspects of filmmaking.

Screenwriters are overlooked by the press and all but forgotten when it is time for reviews and awards for films and independent screenwriters are lucky to receive half a hand clap.

However unrecognized they may be, screenwriters are a crucial part of a movie-making team. Every scene, from the characters, to the setting, to the dialogue to even when characters engage in those cool fight scenes we love so much is created by the screenwriter. The Director, Cinematographer, actors and the rest of the film’s production team then bring the screenwriter’s story to life on the big or small screen. It all begins with the screenwriter.

I would like to take this time to introduce you to 7 screenwriters of Afrikan descent who have written great indie screenplays in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Action-Adventure and who have created quite a buzz on the national and international film scenes.

I know that seven does not seem like many, but there aren’t many independent Black screenwriters out there and even fewer who write speculative fiction.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to one day join their ranks.

Barbara Marshall
Black ScreenwritersProbably the least “indie” out of all the writers listed here, Barbara Marshall’s first writing credit was an episode of Stargate SGU. After that she was hired as a staff writer on 2011’s Steven Spielberg produced Science Fiction television program, Terra Nova. In 2012, Marshall penned the virus thriller Peste, which details a young girl caught up in a quarantine with her family when a deadly virus outbreak occurs. The screenplay will be produced under the title Viral, with “Paranormal Activity” franchise directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman on board. Marshall’s most recent script, the supernatural thriller Exorcism Diaries, is being developed by Summit.

Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Black Screenwriters Barnes and Due co-wrote the short story Danger Word, which led to their two collaborative novels, Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls, both set in the same zombie-infested post-apocalyptic world.

The books became so popular, fans demanded a movie and Barnes and Due delivered with the short film, Danger Word. Danger Word has gone on to be popular and fans eagerly await more shorts and hopefully a feature film from this talented couple.

Steven Barnes, a veteran author, has published 28 novels and more than three million words of science fiction and fantasy. He has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Cable Ace awards. His television work includes The Twilight Zone, Stargate and Andromeda, and his A Stitch In Time episode of The Outer Limits won an Emmy Award for actress Amanda Plummer.

Tananarive Due has written a dozen supernatural suspense novels, including the African Immortals series that began with My Soul to Keep.  She won an American Book Award for her supernatural thriller The Living Blood, and she, with her husband, Barnes, won an NAACP Image Award for the mystery novel In the Night of the Heat, in collaboration with actor Blair Underwood.

Demetrius Angelo and La’Mard J. Wingster

Black Screenwriters This duo is a powerhouse writing and production team, who create, produce and distribute their own films as well as the films of others under their company, ASC/Troopers Touch Entertainment, a collaboration of Wingster’s Troopers Touch Films and Angelo’s Action Scene Combat Productions.

Troopers Touch Films was founded in the early 90s by Wingster out of his passion for the martial arts and action films. Wingster’s intent is to bring realism to action films combined with the soulful expressions of the 70s film era.

Action Scene Combat Productions was founded by Demetrius Angelo, a martial arts stuntman and fight choreographer for more than 20 years. Angelo’s passion for the martial arts and action film genre and seeing a void of ethnic action heroes in movies inspired him to begin making films in the late 90s and to found the NYC Action Actors Academy Screen Fighting Program.

Through the many excellent Action, Fantasy and Science Fiction films they have written, directed, produced and distributed, Angelo and Wingster bring us the beauty, talent, and vision of multicultural artists across various media.  

Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis

Black ScreenwritersBoth successful and popular authors of Sword and Soul, Steamfunk, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action-Adventure and Urban Fantasy novels, Ojetade and Davis decided to combine their creative talents and collaborate on live action and animated films and the production and facilitation of Science Fiction and Fantasy conferences, conventions and film festivals

They have collaborated on two successful anthologies, two short films, a feature film, a dozen wildly successful and popular events, the founding of a movement (Steamfunk) and the founding of Black Speculative Fiction Month.

Davis and Ojetade first met several years ago to discuss Ojetade, an experienced and talented screenwriter, developing Davis’ gritty Science Fiction / Martial Arts / Thriller, Ngolo, into a feature film.

Ojetade and Davis further developed Davis’ near-future world in which assassinations and assassins’ guilds, are legal and Ojetade transformed Davis’ incredible story into a unique, exciting and original script that won the coveted Urban Action Showcase and Expo 2014 award for Best Script.

Ojetade and Davis are weighing their options in regard to who they will work with to get the screenplay produced while working on Ngolo II.

They will premiere the long awaited Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage in 2015 and continue to write novels and work on animation projects.

Below is some of the work from the screenwriters you were just introduced to. Enjoy!

There’s No Such Thing as Black Reluctant Readers…Just Wack Writers!

“Daddy, can you take us to buy some more books!”

We need Diverse BooksThese words I have heard often, from each of my eight children, from preschool through college. They are divine words to my ears. All of my children are avid and voracious readers, from my oldest, who is twenty-eight years old, to my youngest, who is six and even my oldest grandchild, who turns three in a week.

They have all grown up seeing me read, being read to and learning about the importance and power of books and being able to read – and write – them.

But some children, even those with high intelligence and good grades, would rather do anything than read. Others have learning difficulties and find reading a struggle.

Reluctant ReaderOne of my closest friends is a so-called reluctant reader. He has been for as long as he can remember. He says that reading books gives him headaches. His nine year old son says the exact same thing. His son will burst into crocodile tears if he is given a book and told he must read just one chapter.

This might seem impossible to you, but his story is not unique, especially among our boys of Afrikan descent.

What can we do to encourage our children, now classified as reluctant readers, to pick up a book, read it and enjoy it?

First, I will boldly – and accurately – state that there are no reluctant readers. That label, like many forced upon us, is a lie.

We have been using the phrase ‘reluctant readers’ like mad. Hash-tagging about them; struggling to “save” them; lamenting for them…but the fact of the matter is all of our students read – they read all the time, in fact.

Need proof?

Ask your child if they text. Ask them if they tweet; if they “hit their friends up” on Instagram or write on their friends’ walls on Facebook.

We need Diverse BooksDo they read street lit, comic books, blogs, or the subtitles on The Raid or Kung Fu Hustle? Yep, thought so.

The only things our youth are “reluctant” to read is the stuff they find boring, which means we, as authors, have to write what appeals to them, not us.

We must also acknowledge that their “literatures” – no matter how low-brow we consider them—are legitimate forms of reading.

Comic books and graphic novels are proven to be the second most popular form of book for youth between the ages of 9 and 16.

The most popular books – although their popularity has waned over the years among Black readers because, until recently, none of them featured a Black hero or shero – are gamebooks.

choose your own adventureThe Choose Your Own Adventure series of gamebooks is one of the most popular children’s book series of all time, with more than 250 million books printed in at least 38 languages. Each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character’s actions in response to the plot and its outcome. The series has been used in classrooms from elementary school to college and has been widely commended for its appeal to so-called reluctant readers.

Many children feel alienated from the reading process because they cannot relate to what they are asked to read.

For most youth, however, gamebooks make them part of the process by allowing them to make a choice for the main character.

Another reason our youth are reluctant to read a particular book is because the author’s writing fails to engage them in the story. When a reader cannot identify with a story or cannot relate to its characters, they quickly disengage.

Consistently not seeing ourselves represented in the reading material as a cool, kickass hero is a huge turn-off.

One of the most rewarding experiences for a reader is having the opportunity to create your own world. To actually be the hero. This engages us in the story and we become invested in the story because we become the hero and control the hero’s actions.

Once our youth are engaged, they will not only read but will want to read more and about different things, including other worlds and other heroes who they can relate to.

The KeysIn my gamebook, The Keys, the reader has the unique experience of choosing to be one of two heroes, the extreme journalist and martial artist, Terry De Fuego or the mathematical genius basketball phenom, Jordan Drummond who quest to awaken the ancient gods within them while battling the immortal sorcerer, Henry the Navigator and his horde of monstrous creations.

Every child, teen and adult who has read the book and given me feedback has mentioned how they loved being able to choose whether they wanted to be a young man or young woman with vastly different abilities, but both working to achieve similar goals. They also got a kick out of being able to control the hero’s actions and some even tried to make all the wrong choices just to find out how wild, scary or funny the story could be.

So, the next time you or your child is labeled as a reluctant reader, tell them you are reluctant…to read wack books. Then open up your copy of The Keys and enjoy!

BLACK HEROES OF PULP FICTION (and we don’t mean Samuel L. Jackson or Ving Rhames)

BLACK HEROES OF PULP FICTION (and we don’t mean Samuel L. Jackson or Ving Rhames)

Luke Cage Noir from Marvel Comics.

Luke Cage Noir from Marvel Comics.

Some of you are saying “If not the movie by Quentin Tarantino, then what the in the hell is Pulp?”

Is it that nasty, fibrous stuff I hate in my orange juice, but my wife always buys, because – for some odd reason – she loves it?

What is Pulp?

Is it that early 80s British alternative rock band who sounded like a hybrid of David Bowie and The Human League?

What is Pulp?

Think adventure, exotic settings, femme fatales and non-stop action. Think larger-than-life heroes, such as Doc Savage, The Shadow, Marv, from Sin City and Indiana Jones.

The genre gets its name from the adventure fiction magazines of the 1930s and 1940s.

Pulp includes Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Western, Fight Fiction and other genres, but what sets pulp apart are its aforementioned fast-pace, exotic locales, linear – but layered – plots, its two-fisted action….and those characters! As author Thaddeus Howze describes them: “I like the larger than life heroes of the pulp era, loud, bombastic, often arrogant, sexy, outrageous and oh so violent…”

The first pulps were published in the late 1800s and enjoyed a golden age in the 1930s and 1940s.

And – like most genre fiction of the day…and today – Black heroes were absent. Like most genre fiction of the day, if a Black person was found in pulp fiction at all, they were the noble savage…or just the savage.

Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones

Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones by artist Jim Rugg.

Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones by artist Jim Rugg.

However, in 1957, we saw our first Black pulp heroes with the duo of Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, violent and vicious Harlem police officers, who operated more like private detectives, often going beyond police protocol to solve their cases.

A true master of the pulp aesthetic, Chester Himes – an accomplished author and screenwriter before going to prison – discovered the work of popular pulp author Dashiell Hammett while serving eight years in an Ohio penitentiary for armed robbery. Himes vowed to write pulp books that would, in his words, “tell it like it is”.

Upon his release from prison, Himes moved to Paris and – true to his word – wrote a string of what he called “Harlem domestic detective stories”, all but one written in French and later translated into English.

His first novel, A Rage in Harlem (1957) – first published in French as La Reine des Pomme and also known as For Love of Imabelle – which won the prestigious French literature award, Grand Prix de la Litterature Policière, gave us our first taste of the fearsome Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.

Fans begged for more of these pulp bad boys and Himes delivered, with a total of seven more bestsellers and one unfinished novel that was published posthumously: The Crazy Kill (1959), The Real Cool Killers (1959), All Shot Up (1960), The Big Gold Dream (1960), Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965), The Heat’s On (aka Come Back, Charleston Blue)(1966), Blind Man With A Pistol (1969), Plan B (1993).

While the duo frequently uses physical brutality, psychological torture and intimidation to solve their cases, Gravedigger and Coffin Ed have deep and genuine sympathy for the innocent victims of crime. They frequently intervene – even putting their own reputations and lives on the line – to protect Black people from the vicious and truly pointless brutality of the white, openly racist police officers in their precinct. Jones and Johnson generally go easy on – and even tolerate – numbers runners, madames, prostitutes, junkies and gamblers; but they are extremely hostile to violent criminals, drug dealers, con artists and pimps.

It can be said that Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones were the darkest heroes in pulp…and not because they’re Black…well, that too.

Aubrey Knight

Black PulpThe next Black hero in pulp did not come on the scene until 1983. Who was he? Aubrey Knight, a lightning quick mountain of muscle, trained to be a Null Boxer who fights in brutal matches while locked in a zero-gravity bubble.

Aubrey Knight is the protagonist of Street Lethal (1983), a jaw dropping pulp thrill ride, penned masterfully by veteran science fiction, fantasy and horror author, Steven Barnes. Street Lethal is set in a near-future dystopian Los Angeles in which Aubrey Knight must battle genetically engineered New Men, drug kingpins, brutal prison guards, a ruthless femme fatale and brainwashing similar to the horrific Ludovico Technique from the classic novel A Clockwork Orange.

Street Lethal spawned two sequels starring the street-fighter, null-boxer and virtual superman: Gorgon Child (1989) and Firedance (1993).

Barnes, an accomplished martial artist himself, gives us a pulp hero who is one part Luke Cage Noir and two parts Iron Fist…only cooler, savvier and more…well, street lethal.

Damballa

Black PulpA classic costumed pulp hero, the black-hooded Damballa steps out of the forests of Africa and onto the streets of 1930s Harlem to battle Nazi’s bent on proving the superiority of the Aryan race.

Damballa (2011) is an incredible pulp adventure written by author Charles R. Saunders, the founder of the subgenre of Fantasy fiction called Sword and Soul and creator of the Fantasy icon Imaro. The action does not stop as the titular hero uses his vast knowledge of Western science, African science and martial arts to expose and neutralize the Nazi threat.

Set in 1938, Damballa is a shining example of what Pulp is when it is at its very best: thrilling, visceral, tightly-plotted, well-written, fast-paced fun.

And the hero Damballa is a shining example of what a pulp hero in the hands of a master can be: a hero the reader can actually stand up and cheer for; a hero with qualities and with a story other authors do their damndest to echo in their own creative and original ways.

Dillon

fight 9Equal parts James Bond, Indiana Jones, Doc Savage and The Saint, Dillon – by his creator Derrick Ferguson’s account – first came to attention of the world a decade ago, when he began hiring himself out as a soldier of fortune. Dillon possesses remarkable talents and gifts that make him respected and even feared in a world of mercenaries, spies, adventurers, powerful technology and mystic artifacts.

Actually, Dillon first came to our attention in the Pulp fiction masterpiece, Dillon and the Voice of Odin (2003).

Dillon’s actual age is unknown, but what is known is that he was born on the technologically advanced, doomed island of Usimi Dero.  After the Destruction of his home, twelve year old Dillon and his mother fled to  Shamballah, a monastery hidden in the Himalayas.  Dillon was adopted by Shamballa’s Warmasters of Liguria, who spent the next seven years training him in various martial arts and other physical and mental disciplines.  After those seven years, Dillon elected to leave Shamballah and return to the world.

Once back in the world, Dillon wandered, learning various skills that would help him in his chosen profession as an adventurer and seeking out those who destroyed his homeland.

This adventurer is the hero of four of his own books – the aforementioned Dillon and the Voice of Odin; Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell (2010); Four Bullets for Dillon (2011) and Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira (2012) – and appears in the anthology Black Pulp (2013).

Ezekiel Cross

Black PulpThe retired master assassin and man out of time, Ezekiel Cross first appeared in Redeemer (2012) and returned in 2015 in a big way in Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles.

Ezekiel Cross is handsome, strong, intelligent…and a cold blooded killer.

For most of his life, Ezekiel has been a professional assassin, trained from a young age by the world’s masters of dealing death to enforce the whims of his boss. But Ezekiel is tired – tired of the lies to his wife, Mali; tired of not having the normal life he craves. He longs for the day that he can hang up his guns and live a normal life with Mali. So he decides to end his career as a professional assassin; to hang up his guns and raise a family.

RedeemerBut the life of a killer is never his own. Ezekiel is called to do one last hit, but instead of closing the deal he finds himself a target. He’s sent back in time in what is meant as an experiment as well as punishment.

Initially distraught, he decides to change his fate by saving himself and his family from the events that led him to a lifetime of crime. Along the way, he meets some of the coolest, sexiest, deadliest and craziest characters to ever grace the pages of a book and ultimately finds himself in a situation that could change his life forever…or end it.

Ezekiel is driven by a need for family; for peace and he will commit terrible acts of violence to attain and maintain it.

Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles includes the alternate story, Redeemer: Glitch, in which Ezekiel’s actions bring him into direct conflict with the Grandfather Paradox, a powerful, brutal entity that exists to set time right when it has been thrown out of balance.

Ezekiel combines his exceptional skills with his knowledge of the present, which is his past, to save himself and those he loves.

Taurus Moon

Artwork by Winston Blakely.

Artwork by Winston Blakely.

First seen in the often hilarious and always exciting, Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter (2011), returning in the equally exciting sequel, Taurus Moon: Magic and Mayhem (2013) and again, in the recently released, Taurus Moon: Scorched Earth (2014). Taurus moon is a complex Pulp hero who walks a complex world of mythic creatures, gangsters and even mythic gangsters and gangling creatures.

The morally conflicted hero, Taurus Moon is often compared to another famed relic hunter, Indiana Jones. Unlike popular relic hunter Indiana Jones, however, the artifacts Taurus Moon hunts are not found in the deserts of Iskenderun Hatay, or in the tropical rainforests of Brazil. Taurus Moon’s quests take him through the grittier parts of urbanized cities; settings where Indiana Jones would get that whip and fedora shoved up his…well, you get the picture. Also unlike Indiana Jones, Taurus Moon’s clientele includes vampire crime bosses and other individuals of ill-repute.

Taurus Moon is straight up mercenary, motivated by money; yet he is imbued with nobility, which keeps him from being completely amoral.

If Indiana Jones and Blade had a clone created from both their DNA strains, with a dash of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford sprinkled in, that little GMO fella would be Taurus Moon.

2014 saw the premiere of three more pulp heroes:

SiafuCover Balogun CoverIn early 2014, the character Nick ‘New Breed’ Steed, the indigenous Afrikan martial arts expert turned MMA fighter entered the world with a bang in the novella, Fist of Africa. A second novella starring Nick Steed, Circle of Blood, is likely to follow shortly behind it.

2014 saw another MMA fighter, Remi Swan, a strong, fierce and courageous woman, battle men and women fighters – and her inner demons – on her quest to defeat the MMA champion who brutally assaulted her seven years in her past in the Pulp action novel, A Single Link.

Link Front Cover 2SCYTHE COVER IMAGE HI RESIn A Single Link’s sequel, Wrath of the Siafu, Remi grows from hero to superhero when she is infected with the AMVO virus after she is imprisoned for injuring a police officer who murders a child.

The AMVO virus changes Remi, granting her incredible – and frightening – abilities that she uses to battle the unjust prison system and murderous law-enforcement.

Finally, we have the Pulp hero The Scythe, the resurrected Dr. A.C. Jackson, who was murdered in the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 and returns to wreak vengeance upon his murderers and their kin.

Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk and Dieselfunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch. Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world. Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

What other Black Pulp heroes and sheroes do you know of? What Pulp heroes or sheroes are you in the process of developing or creating?

WE’RE HERE II: Black Creators of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in Film & Fiction

In my last post, I provided a listing of popular fandom events with a major Black presence.

I now offer you We’re Here, part II.

Coincidentally (?),  friend and fellow speculative fiction author, SR Torris, asked me, shortly after I scheduled this article to post, to check out a video in which the narrator launched a scathing attack on Black writers for our “lack of a literary capacity or intellectual competence to write such stories [Science Fiction and Fantasy]” and “Because most Black writers have no knowledge of anything other than pimping hoes and hearing women complain about not being able to find a man.”

As I have said before, I do not believe in coincidence; I know this post is right on time and much needed.

The lack of knowledge of the existence of great Black writers of speculative fiction by the narrator of that video – and, more importantly, by many, if not most, people of Afrikan descent – proves that.

As it is our responsibility as authors and publishers to make ourselves known, I would like to introduce you to just a few of the people who – at present – are on the cutting edge of creating works that attract fans from throughout the geekosphere and who are regular guests of honor, vendors and panelists at fan conventions, festivals and symposiums around the globe, or regular bloggers on all things Black and Nerdy.

We’re here, y’all.

We’re here.

Here is my list. There are many more great Black authors and filmmakers out there. Please, feel free to suggest others.

Charles R. Saunders

Charles 2Born in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, in 1946, but living in Canada since 1969, this brilliant African American author and journalist has, during his long career, written everything from novels to screenplays and radio plays to magazine articles on boxing.

Charles is also the founder and father of Sword & Soul – African-inspired epic and heroic fantasy.

I first read a work by Charles in 1987 in Dragon Magazine #122, entitled Out of Africa. Unaware that Charles was Black at the time I said “This white guy got it right, but one day, I’ll do better. As a brother, I have to!”

Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth.

Of course, by the time I discovered Charles – who is now at the top of the list of my favorite authors – he had already published his first Imaro story over a decade earlier and had released the first Sword & Soul novel, Imaro, six years before that Dragon Magazine article.

In addition to the mega-popular Imaro series of books, Charles is also the author of the Dossouye series of novels about the adventures of the titular woman-warrior and Damballa – a pulp novel about a scientist / shaman / warrior who fights against Nazis in 1930s Harlem.

His short story, “Mtimu”, can be read in the anthology Black Pulp and Book 1 in his long awaited Epic Fantasy series, Abengoni released October, 2014.

Reginald Hudlin

here 5A pioneer of the modern black film movement, creating such successful and influential movies as House PartyBoomerang and the animated Bebe’s Kids, Reginald Hudlin is unique in the entertainment business because of his success as a writer, producer, director and executive.

Hudlin is also the executive producer and writer of the Black Panther animated series and was executive producer of The Boondocks.

Hudlin received an Oscar nomination as Producer on the blockbuster film, Django Unchained, which also won two Golden Globes, two NAACP Image Awards and is writer / director Quentin Tarantino’s most profitable film and one of most successful westerns ever made.

In addition to his success in films and animation, Hudlin has found much success on the “small screen” as an executive producer of the 2013 NAACP Image Awards, which aired on NBC. The broadcast got the highest ratings for the show since 2009.

Other works in television include his directing the pilot of the hit series Everybody Hates Chris and his work as producer and director of The Bernie Mac Show. Hudlin has also directed episodes of Modern FamilyThe OfficeThe Middle, and Psych.

During his tenure as the first President of Entertainment for Black Entertainment Television, Hudlin created some of the most successful shows in the history of the network including the award-winning reality show, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is; American Gangster; and Sunday Best.  He created the BET Hip Hop Awards and the BET Honors.

Reginald is also one of the most successful Black writers in the field of comics, writing award winning runs of Spider Man and Black Panther for Marvel Comics. He adapted Quentin Tarantino’s original screenplay for Django Unchained into a six issue limited series for DC/Vertigo Comics and co-authored the intelligent, witty and moving graphic novel Birth of a Nation.

Milton Davis

MiltonA self described “chemist by day and writer by night”, Milton has proven to be that and so much more.

A friend, writing partner, filmmaking partner and jegna (“mentor”) of mine, Milton has been a strong influence on my work.

Together, Milton and I produced the successful Mahogany Masquerade: An evening of Steamfunk and Film, the Black Science Fiction and Fantasy Youth Symposium and the Black Science Fiction Film Festival, now both annual events.

He is the author of two Sword & Soul series, Changa’s Safari and Meji (Books I & II) and he, together with the Father and Founder of Sword & Soul, Fantasy fiction pioneer, Charles R. Saunders, is the Co-Editor of Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griots: Sisters of the Spear – definitive works of Sword & Soul, each featuring stories from fourteen different Black writers. Milton published these masterpiece through his multimedia company, MVmedia, a micro-publisher and film production company dedicated to bringing diversity to the science-fiction and fantasy fields.

Milton is also Co-Editor, with Balogun Ojetade, of the Sword and Soul anthology Ki-Khanga –which is an introduction to the world in which the table-top role-playing game of the same name they created is set – and the wildly popular Steamfunk!, an anthology featuring twelve masterfully crafted stories of Steampunk, told from an African / African-American perspective.

Milton is also publisher of Balogun’s Sword and Soul novel, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, the co-creator of the graphic novel, The Blood Seekers, with artist Kristopher Mosby and is also author of the popular Sword and Soul novel, Woman of the Woods and the Urban Fantasy Middle Grade novel, Amber and the Hidden City.

Milton is also co-producer and executive producer of the Steamfunk short film, Rite of Passage: Initiation and co-producer and executive producer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage.

Balogun Ojetade

Balogun Ojetade

Balogun is the author of the bestselling The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible and Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster.

He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Fantasy saga, Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, three Urban Fantasy / New Pulp novellas – A Single Link, Wrath of the Siafu (A Single Link 2) and Fist of Afrika, the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.

Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.

You can reach him on Facebook, on Twitter and on Tumblr and you can find his books on Amazon and on his Roaring Lions Productions website.

Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

AE2Dynamic Duo…Wonder Twins…Mr. and Mrs. Smith…these descriptors do not begin to describe this epitome of the definition of “power couple”.

The First Family of Speculative Fiction, these authors and filmmakers are movements by themselves and forces of nature together.

Steven Barnes has written several episodes of The Outer Limits and Baywatch. He also wrote the episode “Brief Candle” for Stargate SG-1 and the “The Sum of Its Parts” an episode of Andromeda.

Barnes’ first published piece of fiction, the 1979 novelette The Locusts, was written with Larry Niven, and was a Hugo Award nominee.

Barnes has gone on to author nearly thirty great novels, including the speculative fiction novels, Street Lethal, Lion’s Blood, Zulu Heart and with Tananarive Due, the Tennyson Hardwick mystery novel series.

The first person of African descent to find success as an author of horror fiction, Tananarive Due is an icon, a living legend and immensely popular worldwide.

Beginning with the scary-as-hell, The Between, in 1995, Due followed up with the equally frightening The Good House, a book that gave my wife nightmares every night she perused its pages and still gives her goose-bumps whenever the book is mentioned. After that came Joplin’s Ghost, and then the African Immortals series – my favorite – then, the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series with her husband, Steven Barnes in partnership with the actor, Blair Underwood.

Recently, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due have teamed up to create the “zombie” YA novel series, which includes Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls.

This series inspired the horror short film, Danger Word, which Barnes and Due wrote and produced.

R.L. Scott

here 6R.L. wrote, produced and directed his first short film at the age of seventeen. He has since gone on to involvement in over fifty short and feature films in many capacities including writing, directing, fight choreography, cinematography, post production work, and editing.

In 2006, R.L. wrote, directed, produced and choreographed the fan film Black Panther: Blood Ties, a film I, my wife and several of my students had the pleasure of acting and performing stunts in.

In 2007 R.L. brought us Champion Road, a popular martial arts / fantasy feature film he wrote, directed, choreographed and produced and in 2008, took on the same roles for its sequel, Champion Road: Arena.

Full disclosure: I play the heroic hermit / martial arts master, Soleem, in both films.

In 2012, R.L. began choreographing the fight scenes for his feature film entitled Call Me King, which stars international superstar Bai Ling (Red Corner). Call Me King is scheduled to be released September 4, 2015.

Recently, R.L. acquired the film rights to the Street Team brand of indie graphic novels, which feature street-level (think Wolverine and Batman) superheroes of African descent.

Valjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne JeffersValjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College and North Carolina Central University and a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective.

Valjeanne is the author of the SF/fantasy books: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, the Steamfunk novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds, The Switch II: Clockwork (includes books 1 and 2) and Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and the science fiction novel, Colony: Ascension.

Valjeanne’s fiction has appeared in Steamfunk!, Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, LuneWing, PurpleMag, Genesis Science Fiction Magazine, Pembroke Magazine, Possibilities, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, and Griots: Sisters of the Spear.

She has been published under both Valjeanne Jeffers and Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson. Her writing has appeared in: The Obamas: Portrait of America’s New First Family, from the Editors of Essence, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Pembroke Magazine, Revelry, Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary, and Liberated Muse: How I Freed My Soul Vol. I. She was also semi-finalist for the 2007 Rita Dove Poetry Award. She works as editor and co-owner of Q & V Affordable editing.

Black Tribbles

here 1Black Tribbles is a radio show about geek culture and media in which five people of African American descent engage in thought-provoking conversation and provide critical insight into a culture that is often devoid of a Black influence. The show is witty, irreverent and informative, simultaneously entertaining as it educates.

Every Thursday night, the Tribbles – Jason “Spider Tribble” Richardson; producer, Len “Bat Tribble Webb; co-producer, Kennedy “Storm Tribble” Allen; Erik “Master Tribble” Darden; and Randy “Super Tribble” Green – gather in the radio studio to banter about the nerdy things that excite them, from comic books and fantasy movies to science, history and ancient mythology.

Recently, they hosted a special show – Octavia City – in which original tales of afrofuturism from some of science fiction and fantasy’s upcoming and brightest stars were performed live.

Of course, this list could be expanded to include many more Black men and women who are doing great things in speculative fiction and film. If you would like more authors and filmmakers featured, please, let me know and I will be glad to introduce you to others.

Until then, happy reading and watching!

here 4

AFROFUTURISM-PRESENTISM-PASTISM: Catching up with time in Black Science Fiction!

AFROFUTURISM-PRESENTISM-PASTISM: Catching up with time in Black Science Fiction!

time 1What if you could travel back into your past and alter something that would change you in the present? Would you do it?

Or what if you could travel forward into your future and alter your present? Would you?

Most Westerners speak of time travel in science fiction in terms of forward in time or backward in time. In the Western view, an event is a component of time – that time exists as an entity in itself, and it moves. The movement of time is forward, coming from behind us. As time moves, you must use it or lose it.  If you do not use it, it is gone.

In the traditional African view of time, one might say that time flows backwards.  It flows toward you from the future, and the more or faster the activity, the faster time flows.  Time is created, in a sense.

Time is not something in itself.  Life is made up of events, defined by relationships.  Time is a component of the event.

In the African view, your activity really determines the amount of time that passes.  Thus the faster you work, the more time you use.  Time is not actually passing; it is simply waiting for you to catch up.

In the traditional Asian view of time, it is believed that what we call the past, present and future are mere illusions – fabrics of space and time, in which all exist seamlessly together. In this view, the future and the past are not any different.

Recent research suggests that, in fact, the present can change the past and the future can change the present. This is known as retrocausality.

Retrocausality has powerful and interesting implications for your life. The opportunity to change something about your present life that was originally set in motion in your past – or, the ability to use the future, even though it hasn’t “happened” yet, from your time-frame, to change something in the present – is a powerful thing. In effect, the results of your choice can be seen before you’ve even made it.

Seeing time, however, from the perspective of retrocausality is helpful with many people in need of psychotherapy and with those who feel “stuck” and unable to change or grow.

If it is, indeed, true that what we label past, present and future are all one, an event in either the past or the future could alter the one we call “the present.” Suppose, then, that you could shift something that occurred in your past, which created your future – which is now the present. Similarly, if you saw your future, based upon what you’re doing right now, and altered that, could it also transform your present?

These topics have been explored, in depth, in many movies, including the Back to the Future trilogy, the four Terminator films and in the hilarious Hot Tub Time Machine.

Time and time travel have also been explored in science fiction and fantasy.

AfrofuturismIn my novel, Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles, the hero, Ezekiel Cross is – as author D.K. Gaston described him – “literally a man running out of time”.

Sent nearly thirty years into the past as an unwilling subject in a time travel experiment, he must save his younger self from the deadly path that forged him into the ruthless killer he now is.

Described as an Urban Fantasy thriller, Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles is both gangster saga and science fiction epic.

Retrocausality…explored and experienced on the mean streets of the past, present and future.

Ezekiel uses retrocausality in an attempt to change his condition in both the past and the future. Let’s hop into Ezekiel’s shoes for a bit and experience a bit of retrocausality ourselves.

How?

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Identify a meaningful turning point or event in your life in which you made a decision or were moved by circumstances to go in one direction vs. another, and that you know forged a path in your life that you wish it hadn’t. It might have concerned a feature of your personality that became reinforced through your behavior, associations, or personal values. Perhaps particular interests that grew or an educational choice you made. Or a relationship you began or committed to.

2.  Write down what you wish you had known then and how you would have liked to act differently, in that turning point. Then, envision inhabiting the person you were at that earlier time. Show your earlier self what he/she needs to know or do, right now, in order to shift direction or change in some way. Do this exercise during meditation or a period of quite reflection.

3.  Now, envision that you have actually become the person who could have emerged from that earlier shift. Imagine incorporating the emotions, state of mind and capacities that would have resulted.  Envision that you are that person you might have been. Reflect on how you can integrate the results of the past you have “changed” into your life in the present. What new intentions or emotions arise within you and what can you do with them? Remember, your experience of reality is constructed within your head, your consciousness. That experience can change by “changing” your past.

4.  Next flip this around: Teleport yourself into the future that you desire. Use your imagination to envision the person you would like to be in your future; the person who is already there.  From within that person, speak to who you are right now.  Tell your present self what you need to alter, change or develop from this immediate moment forward, in order to be pulled to that future version of yourself that you want to become.  Doing this reminds you of the vast power – and importance – of having an ideal: a positive vision of something that constantly beckons you and keeps pulling you along the path towards it, as it tells you that it’s already there – or could be.

Upon your return from this jaunt, studies have shown that, to avoid “time-lag”, you should pick up your copy of Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles and treat yourself to a great read!

Happy travelling!

time 2

WHEN KEEPIN’ IT REAL GOES WRONG: Is Fiction More Powerful than Nonfiction?

WHEN KEEPIN’ IT REAL GOES WRONG: Is Fiction More Powerful than Nonfiction?

I am a “Conscious Brother”.

What is that, you ask?

“A Conscious Brother” is a Black man who possesses a knowledge of – and love for – his history, culture and people. He knows that, because of the color of his skin, he is – by law, or tradition – politically, economically and socially discriminated against and he works – in a myriad of ways – to fight against said discrimination. Of course, there are also “Conscious Sisters”.

I hang out with Brothers and Sisters who are both “conscious” and not-so-“conscious”.

Now, talk to most “conscious” people and they are intelligent and very well read. Most of us can quote Chancellor Williams’ Destruction of Black Civilization from cover-to-cover. I have read everything from Soledad Brother to Flash of the Spirit. Our shelves are filled with great works of nonfiction.

I love to read nonfiction. Hell, I even wrote two popular nonfiction books – Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible.

I also love to read – and write – fiction.

After forty five years of voracious reading and after nearly three decades of studying the workings of the brain and the mind, I have come to the realization that fiction is a more powerful tool – for learning and delivering truth; for shaping opinions and for affecting change – than nonfiction.

Recently, I asked one of my “conscious” friends why – out of over a thousand books he owns – not one is a work of fiction and why he doesn’t allow his children to read fiction.

His answer?

“All that Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Steamfunk shit ain’t real, bruh. I keeps it real, son…for myself and definitely for my seeds (“children”). I got no interest in those ‘escapist’ hobbies, yo.”

Sadly, many Black people – particularly those who consider themselves to be “conscious” –  feel that Science Fiction, Fantasy and role-playing games are pointless; useless; a waste of time; and maybe even harmful. 

But they’re wrong.

My time spent playing role-playing games, reading comic books and storytelling during my childhood and teen years were crucial, formative experiences that were as real and memorable as my time spent running track, competing in the Academic Olympics or grappling on the sparring mat.

Once an event has passed into memory, it is the feeling of accomplishment, reward, mutual achievement and victory that is important. How I feel these feelings is irrelevant. The triggering event does not matter.

To fully understand this, let’s examine what the brain is – and how it functions – a bit deeper.

The Human Brain is the Most Complex Entity in the Known Universe

Our brains are organs of staggering complexity, having approximately 100,000 miles of capillaries…and it can grow more.  Your brain has 100,000,000,000 cells.  It also has 100,000,000,000,000 to 500,000,000,000,000 connections between those cells and no matter where you are at in your own brain development, you do not even use a fraction of 1% of your brain’s capacity.

Your Non-Conscious Thinking is 5 Times Stronger Than Your Conscious Thinking

Your brain thinks in six different areas at the same time.  You have six parallel processes going on at once.  Only one of these is your conscious process.  The other areas of your brain are not accessible by your conscious brain.  You have a different set of neurons that comprise your conscious thinking and you cannot directly access your non-conscious thoughts.

You have a powerful friend or foe in your non-conscious brain.  It is 5/6 of your thinking power.  Because you cannot directly control or access your non-conscious brain, you have to work at some techniques that will help you control it.

Your Non-Conscious Brain Sees, Hears, Smells, and Touches.

I am sure you have all heard of subliminal pictures.  Your conscious mind cannot perceive a picture that lasts for less than about 1/50,000 of a second.  However it is proven that your non-conscious brain does see and remember it.  Scientists monitoring your brain activity can tell what picture your non-conscious brain saw by observing the firing patterns in your brain when one of these pictures is flashed in front of you. Your non-conscious brain is aware of everything that is going on around you.  It is drinking in the world to a much higher degree than your conscious mind.  Just because you are not aware of it at the conscious level, does not mean that you are not thinking about – and reacting to – it.

Your Non-Conscious Brain Treats Everything as Real

Notice how when you are watching a scary movie, you actually get scared?  You react emotionally even though your conscious brain knows it is not real.  The same thing is true for fiction. 

You experience fear, happiness, sadness and other emotions when you watch a movie or read a book because your non-conscious brain is watching the movie too and it does not know the difference between fantasy and reality.

Your non-conscious brain believes that everything it thinks, sees, hears and feels is real.  It cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy or between the truth and a lie.

The Power of Fiction

Is fiction good for us? We spend huge chunks of our lives immersed in novels, films, TV shows, comic books and other forms of fiction. Some see this as a positive thing, arguing that imaginative stories cultivate our mental and moral development. However, others argue that fiction is mentally and ethically corrosive. That it is a bundle of lies, while nonfiction is the truth.

This controversy has been flaring up ever since Plato tried to ban fiction from his ideal republic.

In 1961, FCC chairman Newton Minow said that television was not working in “the public interest” because its “formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons” amounted to a “vast wasteland.”

What Minow said of television has also been said – over the centuries – of novels, theater, comic books, and films: They are not in the public interest.

Fiction does, indeed, mold us. The more deeply we get into a story, the more potent its influence.

In fact, fiction is more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally and this makes us malleable – easy to shape.

Fiction enhances our ability to understand other people; it promotes a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds. More peculiarly, fiction’s happy endings make us believe that the world can be more just than it is right now.

Fiction giving birth to the belief that a better world is attainable may even help explain why humans tell stories in the first place.

As the psychologist Raymond Mar writes, “Researchers have repeatedly found that reader attitudes shift to become more congruent with the ideas expressed in a [fictional] narrative.” For example, studies reliably show that when we read a book that treats white men as the default heroes, our own views on white men are likely to move in the same direction – we view them as heroes. History, too, reveals fiction’s ability to change our values at the societal level, for better and worse. For example, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped bring about the Civil War by convincing huge numbers of Americans that Black people are…people, and that enslaving us is a crime against God and man. On the other hand, the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation inflamed racist sentiments and helped resurrect an all but defunct Ku Klux Klan.

Fiction can, indeed be dangerous in the wrong hands because it has the power to modify the principles of individuals and whole societies.

However, virtually all storytelling, regardless of genre, increases society’s empathy and reinforces an ethic of decency that is deeper than politics.

Psychologists have found that heavy fiction readers outperform heavy nonfiction readers on tests of empathy, even after the psychologists controlled for the possibility that people who already had high empathy might naturally gravitate to fiction.

One study showed that children ages 4-6, who were exposed to a large number of children’s books and films, had a significantly stronger ability to read the mental and emotional states of other people. Similarly, psychologists recently had people read a short story that was specifically written to induce compassion in the reader. They wanted to see not only if fiction increased empathy, but whether it would lead to actual helping behavior. They found that the more absorbed subjects were in the story, the more empathy they felt, and the more empathy they felt, the more likely the subjects were to help when the experimenters “accidentally” dropped a handful of pens.  Highly absorbed readers were twice as likely to help out.

It appears that ‘curling up with a good book’ may do more than provide relaxation and entertainment. Reading fiction allows us to learn about our social world and as a result fosters empathic growth and appropriate social behavior.

While fiction sometimes dwells on lewdness, depravity, and simple selfishness, storytellers virtually always put us in a position to judge wrongdoing. More often than not, goodness is endorsed and rewarded and badness is condemned and punished. Fiction generally teaches us that it is profitable to be good.

Furthermore, traditional tales – from heroic epics to sacred myths – perform the essential work of defining group identity and reinforcing cultural values, acting as a kind of social glue that binds fractious individuals together around common values.

On the continent of Afrika, history, culture, the sciences, social norms and religious practices are imparted through storytelling and the storytellers – Nganga, Babalawo, Iyanifa, Sanusi, Djeli – are held in the highest regard and are figures of great power, authority and respect.

The traditional Afrikan man and woman have long understood the workings of the brain. Indeed, the study, state and function of the three levels of the brain and mind – or “Ori” – are of the utmost importance in traditional Yoruba society. The more stories – called Ese (sounds, ironically, like “essay”) – a Yoruba knows, the more knowledgeable, wise and understanding he or she is considered to be.

The Yoruba “keeps it real, son.”

And so should you.

Read your nonfiction…then get “real” and pick up a novel.

Preferably, one written by me (just keeping it real).

Blacktastic Books! 10 Urban Fantasy Novels By and About Black People

A couple of years ago, I penned an article entitled IT’S STILL DARK AT TWILIGHT: Scrubbing off the Whitewash of Urban Fantasy. In it, I explored the common practice of whitewashing – taking a character who is originally of color in literature and film and replacing them with a white character, actor, or model, or a person who looks “more white”, in order to appeal to the white masses – across genres and, especially, in the popular genre of Urban Fantasy.

This practice continues today. However, more Black authors are producing great works of Urban Fantasy with Black main characters and are gaining recognition and earning Black readership.

Yesterday, however, a sister lamented on Goodreads that the only Urban Fantasy with a Black hero that she knew of was the Vampire Huntress series by the late, great L.A. Banks. That tells me I – and other Black authors of real Urban Fantasy have a lot more work to do.

It is with that in mind that I share with you this list of Urban Fantasy books by and about Black / Afrikan people:

Amber and the Hidden City by Milton Davis

Amber

Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. 

Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leave only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber! But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. 

Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali. It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

Knights of Breton Court (series) by Maurice Broaddus

Urban Fantasy

The knights of Breton Court is an Urban fantasy series written by Maurice Broaddus and features a modern interpretation of the legend of King Arthur, set amongst rival street organizations in the American city of Indianapolis.

With the legends of the Green Knight, Red Knight, and Black Knight (in each of the books, respectively), Tristan and Isolde, trolls, zombies, a dragon, elven assassins, Red Caps, griffins, gangstas, and thug life tossed in, Broaddus puts the “urban” in urban fantasy.

Brookwater’s Curse (series) by Steven Van Patten

Urban Fantasy

 

Christian Brookwater is a former Georgia plantation slave who became a vampire during the 1860s. His long, tumultuous life takes a complicated turn when he is forced to travel to modern-day Senegal to rescue a child from a vengeful werewolf prince. It is here that Christian uncovers a plot that would throw the entire vampire nation into a civil war. To stop this, Christian must betray his best friend and mentor, an influential Italian vampire who nurtured him during his vampiric infancy.

Christian also suffers from a rare condition that makes intercourse with human females especially dangerous.

In the 2nd novel in the series, the civil war Christian Brookwater sought to prevent has become a harsh reality.

In the 3rd novel, Christian Brookwater has spent the last four years helping to cure the werewolves of their insatiable bloodlust. The only problem is that his funding is coming from vampire taxes. Christian is about to be called on the mat for it and must defend himself on national vampire television!

Personal drama also unfolds as Christian and his second in command, Helen, each find themselves embroiled in separate but equally volatile love triangles. Secret alliances will be revealed, deals will be brokered, villains will emerge and heroes will rise. Most shocking of all, Christian Brookwater will come to learn that he is, and always has been, more than just a vampire!

A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu by Balogun Ojetade (the WERK series)

Urban Fantasy

“A Single Link NEVER Breaks!” 

In the first book, after suffering a brutal assault at the hands of a martial arts champion, Remi “Ray” Swan decides that, to gain closure and empowerment, she must face her attacker in the first professional fight between a man and a woman.

Join Ray in this powerful, two-fisted adventure as she fights, not just for herself, but for all who have suffered at the cruel hands of those who would wreak pain, oppression, injustice and death!

Step into the cage, where action, adventure and bone shattering fights await you!

The two-fisted adventures of Remi continue in Wrath of the Siafu:

The near future…

A young genius is gunned down brutally by the police. Remi Swan – our hero from the hard-hitting Action-Adventure novella, A SINGLE LINK – fights to defend the little boy and herself. She is arrested, imprisoned, forced to fight and infected with an experimental virus that turns women into raging monsters…or worse.

Possessed with incredible – and scary – new abilities, Remi sets off a war against a system that has long brutalized Black people. A war that, alone, she might not be able to fight, but now she is backed by an army…a powerful and deadly force of her own making.

Now, that brutal system will suffer the…WRATH OF THE SIAFU!

Take this amazing journey with Remi from Victim to Hero to Superhero!

Immortal (series) by Valjeanne Jeffers

Urban Fantasy

In the first book in this Urban Fantasy series, we meet Karla and Joseph, lovers who have been separated by time and space. Karla and Joseph are werewolves empowered to protect their world from a powerful evil that has been unleashed.

The first novel builds the groundwork for the communes of supernatural beings, good and evil, that make their appearance throughout the series.

In the second book, we meet Karla and Joseph’s kindred, who are also the saviors of the world.

In the third book, another key player emerges: Annabelle, a vampire with her own agenda and her own stake in the planet’s survival. 

In the fourth book, the characters find themselves in a sinister, Steampunk realm without their memories.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Urban Fantasy

Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring is set in 21st century Toronto, which has been barricaded behind roadblocks, abandoned by its rich, predominantly white, residents and left to crumble.

The inner city has to rediscover the old ways – farming, barter, herb lore. But now the wealthy need a harvest of bodies, so they prey upon the helpless of the streets.

With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

Taurus Moon (series) by D.K. (Keith) Gaston

Urban Fantasy

Taurus Moon is a relic hunter, who will work for pretty much anyone if they can afford him.

He’s financially strapped most of the time, lives in a run-down apartment in Detroit and always seems to be in trouble.

The artifacts he searches for aren’t found in the jungles of the Yucatan or the deserts of Egypt. He searches for lost supernatural artifacts that may or may not be located on Earth, with his quests often taking him through the grittier parts of urbanized cities where even the toughest of thugs fear to tread. Forgotten relics once thought of as only myths and legends can be found, if you know where to look, and have the guts to go searching into dark and deadly places; Taurus Moon has such guts and knows exactly where to look.

The Taurus Moon novels blend action, fantasy, science fiction and humor. Fairy tales, mythologies, and legends are not stories to Taurus Moon, but his reality.

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne

Urban Fantasy

ADVENTURE… just got 35% cooler! Milo Jetstream. Ramses Jetstream. Coming to save the world one last damn time against the False Prophet Buford in the battle to save the Earth, preserve the soul, and make sure folks get home in one piece… 

Secret cabals; Fae folk in Walmart; and a psychic whale that was poured into the oceans when the world first cooled from creation. 

This is the stuff of the amazing…the life transforming Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan!

Adventure doesn’t need a new name. It needs a vacation!

Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles by Balogun Ojetade

Redeemer

Ezekiel Cross is handsome, strong, intelligent and a cold blooded killer.

For most of his life, Ezekiel has been a killer, trained to enforce the whims of his boss. But Ezekiel is tired – tired of the lies to his wife, Mali; tired of not having the normal life he craves. He longs for the day that he can hang up his guns and live a normal life with his wife Mali. So he decides to end his career as a professional assassin; to hang up his guns and raise a family.

But the life of a killer is never his own. Ezekiel is called to do one last hit, but instead of closing the deal he finds himself a target. He’s sent back in time in what is meant as an experiment as well as punishment.

Initially distraught, he decides to change his fate by saving himself and his family from the events that led him to a lifetime of crime. Along the way, he meets some of the coolest, sexiest, deadliest and craziest characters to ever grace the pages of a book and ultimately finds himself in a situation that could change his life forever…or end it.

Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles includes the expanded alternate story, Redeemer: Glitch.

ARE YOU A WARRIOR, OR A WORRIER? – Overcoming “Fear”

OVERCOMING FEAR

Most people of Afrikan descent (i.e. Black folks) aren’t as successful as we could be, simply because fear is keeping us from taking action.

Whether it’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of our own people, fear of other people, or even fear of success, the end result is the same: we don’t take the risks necessary to make ourselves successful.

In actuality, this isn’t fear at all; it’s worry.

Fear is a natural signal that warns of impending great bodily harm or death. Fear is productive and life-saving. True fear is a gift that signals us in the presence of danger; and it is involuntary; it will come and get our attention if necessary.

Worry is the fear we manufacture; it is a choice. Worry is not a precaution; it is the opposite because it delays and discourages constructive action.

True fear and worry (unwarranted fears) may, at times, feel the same, but you can tell them apart. True fear is a gift that signals us in the presence of danger; thus, it will be based upon something you perceive in your environment or your circumstance. Unwarranted fear or worry will always be based upon something in your imagination or your memory.

There are five basic ways to overcome worry:

1. Increase Your Familiarity

The more you do something that scares you, the easier it becomes.  Take, for example, the common worry for writers: selling.  The only way to overcome this is to get out there and sell. Accept the fact that you will receive some rejections – maybe a lot of rejections before you get a sale; but how many sales will you make if you don’t get out there at all?

2. Rehearse Courage Mentally

When it comes to feelings, including worry, your brain cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imaginary. If you repeatedly rehearse something in your mind, while at the same time visualizing yourself as being calm, confident and collected, your behavior in the real world will imitate your imagination.

3. Reframe the Worry

Create a comparison in your mind that makes your worry seem trivial. For example: There are hundreds, maybe thousands of authors with half your talent and skill selling their books. Against that perspective, what have you got to be afraid of?

4. Reassociate the Worry

Have you ever been to an amusement park? If so, you probably paid a fair amount of money … for the privilege of being frightened out of your wits! Taking risks in business is, in fact, a lot like riding a roller coaster – except that you get to do some steering, so you’re actually a lot more in control. It turns out that worry you’re feeling isn’t really worry at all; it’s excitement! 

5. Make the Worry Useful

Although worry can be debilitating – when viewed from the right perspective – worry is actually just a call to action. If you’re afraid to ask for someone’s business, for example, it’s just your subconscious mind telling you that it’s getting close to the point where you need to ask for their business. Feel the worry, and then do it anyway.

Put the above techniques in your mental bag of tricks, and your worries – no matter what they are – will stop holding you back.

IMG_2357

For more in-depth study on Warrior principles, strategies and methodologies, read The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible.


7 Books for the Afrikan Warrior!

“Politics is war without bloodshed; War is politics WITH bloodshed.” – Chairman Fred Hampton

War is considered by many to be humanity at its worst. Some consider war to not be human, or even humane. Paradoxically, it is in war that many of us show the very best of ourselves.

War is often the result of greed, stupidity, or depravity. But in war is truth; in war, the character of men and women shines brightest.

I am not a soldier. I was once, but no longer. I am, however, a warrior – always have been; always will. As a warrior, I have studied the strategies, tactics and methodologies of war for a long time. I am not alone in this.

The greats have been telling stories, writing and reading about war – its causes, its effects, its heroes, its victims – since the dawn of woman and man. Some of our most powerful literature is either overtly about war or profoundly influenced by it.

The study of war is the study of life, because war is life in its rawest sense. It is death, fear, power, love, adrenaline, sacrifice, glory, and the will to survive.

As we say at the Afrikan Martial Arts Institute: “The mat is the truth and the sword decides all.” We must learn the strategies, the motivations, the offenses and the defenses of war. We must understand and respect the light and the darkness; the rewards and the consequences.

Here, I give you 7 books about war and warriors that you should read if you consider yourself a warrior. And that you should read to your children if they are very young, or have them read to themselves to help them become the warriors they were born to be.

Seven books is certainly not a comprehensive list – I chose seven books because 7 is the number sacred to Ogun, the Orisa “Force of Nature”) of Iron and War in the spiritual tradition of Ifa (pronounced ee-FAH). I am sure I will miss some great books you love, so please, suggest them in the comments.

The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible by Balogun Ojetade

The Afrikan Warriors' Bible

The long-awaited sequel to Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within

While a stand-alone book, The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible expands on the first, teaching the reader advanced techniques and principles that aid in the awakening and discovery of their Warrior within. 

This book applies the FTP/RBG Codes of Conduct to the lives and methods of REAL Afrikan Warriors and Revolutionaries. 
If you consider yourself a Warrior, read this book

And remember: Revolutionary WILL, without Revolutionary SKILL, will get a Revolutionary KILLED!

Message to the Warriors by Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti

Afrikan Warriors

Message to the Warriors is a nationalist’s handbook, a warrior’s workbook, a nation-builder’s manual on the basics of how to develop the base for a strong, righteous character, knowing vision and uncompromising, enduring personal power.

All of these attributes are necessary if the Warrior is to fulfill his or her natural purpose in life – to assess, pursue and fulfill the interests and sovereignty of Afrikan people.

Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. by Chancellor Williams

Afrikan Warriors

The Destruction of Black Civilization took Chancellor Williams sixteen years of research and field study to compile. It was written at a time when many Black students, educators, and scholars were starting to piece together the connection between the way our history is taught and the way we are perceived by others and by ourselves.

Williams’ extensive study and research led him to the contention that many elements – nature, imperialism, and stolen legacies – have aided in the destruction of Black civilization. The Destruction of Black Civilization is revelatory and revolutionary because it offers a new approach to the research, teaching, and study of Afrikan history by shifting the main focus from the history of Arabs and Europeans in Afrika to the Afrikans themselves, offering, as Chancellor Williams said, “a history of Blacks that is a history of Blacks because only from history can we learn what our strengths were and, especially, in what particular aspect we are weak and vulnerable.”

Fist of Africa by Balogun Ojetade

Afrikan Warriors

Nigeria 2004…Nicholas ‘New Breed’ Steed, a tough teen from the mean streets of Chicago, is sent to his mother’s homeland – a tiny village in Nigeria – to avoid trouble with the law. Unknown to Nick, the tiny village is actually a compound where some of the best fighters in the world are trained. Nick is teased, bullied and subjected to torturous training in a culture so very different from the world where he grew up.

Atlanta 2014…After a decade of training in Nigeria, a tragedy brings Nick back to America. Believing the disaffected youth in his home town sorely need the same self-discipline and strength of character training in the Afrikan martial arts gave him, Nick opens an Academy. While the youth are disinterested in the fighting style of the cultural heritage Nick offers, they are enamored with mixed martial arts. Nick decides to enter the world of mixed martial arts to make the world aware of the effectiveness and efficiency of the martial arts of Afrika. Pursuing a professional career in MMA, Nick moves to Atlanta, Georgia, where he runs into his old nemesis – Rico Stokes, the organized crime boss who once employed Nick’s father, wants Nick to replace his father in the Stokes’ protection racket. Will New Breed Steed claim the Light Heavyweight title … Or will the streets of Atlanta claim him?

Yoruba Warlords of the Nineteenth Century by Toyin Falola and Dare Oguntomisin

Afrikan Warriors

This is a pioneer book on the Yoruba military generals of the 19th century, covering their individual careers, military alliances and the consequences of their actions on the society.

This book is divided into two parts. The first examines the life histories of the most distinguished among the Yoruba warriors. In the second section, the authors examine some of the Yoruba warlords’ strategies and the enduring consequences of their actions.

A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu by Balogun Ojetade

Afrikan Warriors

I put these books together because, while standing alone each book is a great action-packed story of triumph, determination and the warrior’s spirit, together, they are a powerhouse rarely seen in fiction.

A Single Link NEVER Breaks!” 

After suffering a brutal assault at the hands of a martial arts champion, Remi “Ray” Swan decides that, to gain closure and empowerment, she must face her attacker in the first professional fight between a man and a woman. 

Join Ray in this powerful, two-fisted adventure as she fights, not just for herself, but for all who have suffered at the cruel hands of those who would wreak pain, oppression, injustice and death! 

Step into the cage, where action, adventure, bone shattering fights, and even an examination of violence and how to handle it await you!

In Wrath of the Siafu, we discover the story is actually set in the very near future…

A young genius is gunned down brutally by the police. Remi Swan – our hero A Single Link – fights the police to avenge the little boy and herself. She is arrested, imprisoned, forced to fight and infected with an experimental virus that turns people into raging monsters…or worse.

Possessed with incredible – and frightening – new abilities, Remi sets off a war against a system that has long brutalized Black people; a war that, alone, she might not be able to fight. But now she is backed by an army…a powerful and deadly force of her own making.

Now, that brutal system will suffer the… WRATH OF THE SIAFU!

How to Build a People’s Army by Kalonji Changa

Afrikan Warriors

How to Build a People s Army is a guide to successful community organizing on a basic and practical level.

Over the years, the overall art of grassroots organizing has been lost. The failure of intergenerational communication, technological weapons of mass distraction and overly exasperated grand illusions of capitalism have sent our future towards a downward spiral.

Protocol, discipline, political education, loyalty and respect are absent from today’s liberation struggle.

How to Build a People’s Army breathes life back into the asphyxiating Black Movement. It is a basic training manual of sorts, filled with effective, tested and proven strategies and principles that “Arm the Masses” with proper information.

With How to Build a People’s Army in hand, without a doubt, victory is inevitable!

The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible is here!

The long-awaited sequel to Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within!

The Afrikan Warriors' BibleThe Afrikan Warriors’ Bible expands on the first book, teaching the reader advanced techniques and principles that aid in the awakening and discovery of their Warrior within.

The Afrikan Warriors’ Bible applies the FTP/RBG Codes of Conduct to the lives and methods of REAL Afrikan Warriors and Revolutionaries.

If you consider yourself a Warrior, read this book!

And remember: Revolutionary WILL, without Revolutionary SKILL, will get a Revolutionary KILLED!