Sunday, March 29, 2015

Afrocentric Books

I probably should have posted this sooner--marketing and all--but I have partnered with someone to bring Afrocentric Books to the world!

Now that I've said it, I think that sentence is a little misleading. So, instead, let me post the company's Mission.

People of African descent live and thrive all over the world. Yet, when it comes to the most popular literature, the settings and the characters are decidedly Eurocentric. We are here to change that. We are here to start a new movement. We are here to immerse you in the colors of the African diaspora.
If you immediately clicked on the above link, please bear with us. The website is in progress and we are toying around with the colors, fonts, and everything else.

As you can see from the mission statement, we are hoping to publish novels with an African twist. By African, we don't mean "bred in the Motherland", we simply mean that at least one main character is of African descent.

I am a HUGE fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy stories, but I have to admit that over the years, I've read less and less of them. Why? Because of the dearth of Black characters. My search for characters with whom I could relate took me further and further away from the traditional SciFi/Fantasy that has dominated the mainstream for so long. I no longer wanted to read about pasty white vampires or Saruman the White or good white elves and evil black elves.

I know that our preference towards stories featuring characters of African descent makes Afrocentric Books about as biased as the Big Houses who apparently think SFF is strictly white bread. Indeed our slogan is "Unapologetically Biased".

So how do we differ?

1) We are a tiny publishing company.

2) We don't give a shit about the status quo--White people aren't the only ones living on alien planets or facing down dragons with a sword in one hand and a flaming ball of magic in the other.

3) We haven't forgotten about the other people of color--the remaining characters can and should be diverse--Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Maori, whatever! Only one main character must be of African descent, and as you can see by our submission guidelines, that character doesn't necessarily have to be Black.

4) Afrocentric Books is but a single imprint of a larger company, a larger company with other imprints that do not require one main character to be of African descent.

If you're an author with a kick-ass story to tell, particularly if it is unconventional or non-mainstream, check us out.

Afrocentric Books's first novel is scheduled for release in May or June of this year. It is a work of Historical Fantasy, which takes place in medieval West Africa.  To be exact, it is a Fictional Autobiography with a dollop of Mythical Realism and a dash of Paranormal Romance.  Make what you will of that.

In the meantime, stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen!

My editor says that June is too optimistic a timeframe for the novel's release.  Boooo!  However, it will be released in 2015. There, I said it!  Now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Natural Hair Woes

Seriously, the Aundre Walker system of hair categorization is so very useless for me.  Granted I do have some 4b hair, but it's right at the back of my head.  Around the edges, I consider myself a mix of 4b and 4c.  But everywhere else is nothing short of 5b/5c.  That junk is ridiculous!

I have no coil pattern--except in the 4b/4c areas.  the rest is just hard, jagged zig-zags, all twisted up and higgeldy-piggeldy.  That's Category 5 if ever I saw it.  But the texture, in and of itself, isn't an issue.  I have such a tiny head that I can still style my hair with relative ease.  The problem for me is breakage.

In my natural hair journey, I've 'trimmed' my ends three times, cutting off 2 inches each time.  I stress that I have voluntarily cut off 6 inches of hair!  And each time, I thought that I was cutting off old, thin hair that had not quite grown in properly.  After my last trim, I noticed that the remaining hair was, in fact, beautiful, lustrous, and thick (relatively speaking).  At that time, my hair was 6-7 inches long.  My 'bangs' reached the tip of my nose.  Needless to say, after 18 months of natural living, I was rather pleased with my progress.

This was in January.  To avoid tampering with my lovely growth, I put my hair in braids for three weeks.

Just three weeks, y'all.

When I took my hair out during the first week of February, I noticed A LOT of shedding and hair fragments.  I thought to myself, "Three weeks worth of shedding would look like a lot, wouldn't it?"

I proceeded to wash/condition/oil my hair.  While I was oiling the hair, I noticed yet more fragments in my palms.  Finally, I combed it all out and was mortified to the verge of tears.  My hair was noticeably shorter than it was before the braids.  I had lost another 2 inches.  And this time, it was ALL involuntary.

It took a while to collect myself, but I eventually got it together.  After some thought and considerable gnashing of teeth, I came to the conclusion that the braids had not protected my hair because my locale had been unusually cold and dry in January.  Further conclusion: my hair could no longer be exposed to the elements. 

Since February, I have worn my hair under a headwrap at all times.  Almost all times.  I keep it covered even in the house, but do remove the covering occasionally.  Like to shower and/or wash my hair.

Initially, I worried that the constant headwrap would damage my extremely fine and fragile edges, as that has happened to me in the past.  However, I bought a satin scarf, which I wear as my base wrap before putting on a more 'ethnic' looking wrap, and it seems to be working (knock on wood). 

Because I am W. African by birth and upbringing, wearing a headwrap isn't particularly out of the ordinary for me.  Wearing a headwrap every single day is different, but not extraordinary.  Very rarely, I get odd looks from people.  And no one at work seems to mind, despite the fact that we have a policy against head coverings.

Since that day in February, when I relegated my hair to the warmth, humidity, and darkness of the headwrap, my hair has grown 3/4 of an inch.  That is 50% faster than average.  I've seen this sort of accelerated growth in the past, though infrequently, and I've never been able to pinpoint the reason for it.  This time, however, I'm pretty sure it's the 'green house effect'.  Here it is again.  And again.  And again.  Who knew this was a thing!  Am I sure it's the GHE?  Not really, but I can attest that my hair has ALWAYS grown better in the high humidity and warmth of summer, with growth all but stalling in winter.  So 3/4 of an inch in February is very, very unusual for me.

Although, I'm pleased with the growth, I'm not celebrating yet.  I'll wait for my hair to reach the 8-inch mark before I celebrate.  Provided my hair keeps up this growth rate, I should reach eight inches in four or five more months (depends on how much the stylist removes at the next trim).  I'll check back in a couple of months to update you on my progress.

For anyone else who's struggling with maintaining the natural lifestyle, as a good friend once said to me, "The devil is a lye!"

Hang in there ladies.  I think we might all be in this together.