BHM Series 2023 (28 Days, 28 Stories) – Week 1

My 2023 February Black History Month series is (unlike previous years when I mostly showcased books by other writers) spotlighting stories by me which have appeared in journals or other serialized publications. I hit on this idea when I realized while doing some housekeeping in other publications, updating the poetry section, that there have been 28 journaled short stories and February is typically 28 days (28 days, 28 stories). I worried and still do about keeping up with a daily upload schedule. So to incentivize myself and make it not feel like a totally indulgent exercise, decided to create a companion project; every time I post, I’ve got to work on my short story collection in progress (short story in, short story out) with the goal of concluding by the end of this month (because there is some foot dragging at this point). This provides a bit of cheerleading/encouragement to that process and represents a commitment/rhythm to the writing and revision process. Due to time constraints (and the tedium of editing), the video readings uploaded to a playlist on my Antiguan Writer YouTube channel, and shared across my social media, are only one minute long. Nothing fancy – just my voice and the journal cover, if I have it. Some of the stories are freely available in full online and some are not; some of the journals can be ordered. If there’s a story you’d like to read in full which isn’t linked through my page of journaled fiction, ask and I’ll think about posting it at some point.

I, of course, hope you’ll follow or subscribe to continue to receive updates in this daily series of one minute reads; even if you’ve read my books, hopefully it will show more of my range, and if you haven’t, it will be an introduction to my fiction. I appreciate you taking the journey with me; feel free to share your comments on any of the stories you read or listen to…and hopefully this journey will result in more published stories to read sooner rather than later.

Each day’s blog posting related to this series is linked below and below that I’ve shared some notes on how they got published (which aspiring writers may or may not find useful):

February 1st – “Bitter Memories”, published in Collective Soul, 1998

February 2nd – “Martin, Dorie, and Luis: A Love Story”, published in Jamaica’s Sunday Observer Literary Arts, 2004

February 3rd – “Rhythms”, published in The Caribbean Writer Volume 18, 2004

February 4th – “Soca Night”, published in the Daily Observer 50th anniversary of Carnival arts supplement, Carnival Is All We Know, 2007

February 5th – “Friday Night Fish Fry”, published in the Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings, 2008

You can listen to my full reading of this one at the 2008 Breadloaf Writers Conference, at which I was an international fellow, here.

How did I get published –

“Bitter Memories” – I was asked to contribute to this by a local writers’ group, which was, at the time, hosting poetry readings; it was 1998 and I was not yet published but I was working in media, so I was on the scene. How did I get published? By connecting with the local writing community.

“Martin, Dorie, and Luis: A Love Story” – This was during a period when I was actively looking for regional publishing opportunities (which, with no easily searchable engine, would have been more challenging then – scrolling the backs of literary journals for publishing credits is a hack). This may have been my first creative writing cheque too. How did I get published? By tapping regional markets.

“Rhythms” – While scouting, I would become aware of other publications and continue submitting, six rounds of submissions in the case of this journal, on the boundary of regional and international (being located in the US Virgin Islands). The challenge here was to keep submitting after each rejection. How did I get published? Persistence.

“Soca Night” – I was freelancing by this point, a period during which I continue to learn what I can do, and this was a case of me, as someone both passionate about Carnival and the arts in gene,ral, mindful of milestones (it being the 50th anniversary of Carnival), pitching a publication I worked with to edit a Carnival arts supplement. My priority was featuring other artists but I was an artist too. How did I get published? Creating my own opportunities.

“Friday Night Fish Fry” – In one of the aforementioned publications, I came across a writer whose writing I liked and whom I reached out to. When she was editing (guest editing, I think) the journal she reached out and I seized the opportunity. How did I get published? Networking and responding when opportunity came knocking.

Only one of these was a paying market but each had value to me (as I tried to make my way in to the canon), and, reflecting on the path to publication, I note that I started local and kept widening the circle. I hope that insight proves useful to any writer needing to get started or (myself included) keep going – write, do not be discouraged, scope for opportunities, and embrace them when they come.

This is my Sunday post.

4 thoughts on “BHM Series 2023 (28 Days, 28 Stories) – Week 1

  1. I finished reading and reviewing Black Cake, about a Jamaican woman and her family. I wondered if people in the other islands also make the black pudding cake we inherited from the British. Have a great week.

    • I haven’t read Black Cake – so I’m not sure what it specifically refers to but fruitcake soaked in rum is a Christmas favourite and what we call rice pudding in Antigua (also known as black pudding, similar to the Scottish black or blood pudding) is not a cake (more like a sausage); that’s popular year round (esp. Saturdays as street food). A great week to you as well.

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