Posts Tagged ‘sensitivity readers’

Some of you may remember that last year, I wrote a blog post about my fascination with Robert Johnson, an early blues singer whose music and mysterious life has led to all sorts of wild stories about him. Some even believe he sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads to receive his talent. At the time, I was trying to think up a decent story to wrap around Johnson, but hadn’t come up with anything yet.

Well, I did come up with something. However, I only decided to write it recently after I saw a call for an anthology based around a certain theme. A theme I felt the idea for my Johnson story fit very well. Thus, I ordered Up Jump the Devil, the best Robert Johnson biography out there, from the library for a quick reference guide. And after doing my research this afternoon, I spent this evening writing late into the night.

And what do you know? I finished it all in one sitting.

“Window Audience Blues” follows the famous singer around the time his first wife was pregnant with their first child, and what occurred to him while he was away from her. It was an important turning point in his life, and I thought it was the perfect time to tell this story. And I managed to tell it within thirty-six hundred words too. Not sure how I pulled that off, but I’m glad of it.

Now, as to whether or not it’s any good, I’m not sure. I like to think it’s at least entertaining, but I’m probably biased. In any case, I’ve already reached out on the Horror Writers Association Facebook page to see if anyone wants to beta read the story and let me know what they think. With any luck, I’ll get a few people who can give me some good feedback. Not to mention it’s probably going to need a sensitive reading. After all, Robert Johnson was black and I’m white. The last thing I want to do is to accidentally include something racist or otherwise offensive in the story, especially when I just want to tell an interesting story around a most mysterious and legendary singer.

Well, that’s all for now. It might be a while, but if “Window Audience Blues” gets accepted into the anthology I mentioned (or another publication if they don’t accept it), I’ll be sure to let you all know. In the meantime, it’s well past midnight and I need my sleep. I’m working on a mermaid horror story for another anthology (yes, you read that right), so I want to be well-rested for that.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and my favorite Robert Johnson song is “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.” Check it out if you’ve never given it a listen.

Well, I didn’t think I would get it done, and especially not today. But get it done, I did, and now it’s time for a blog post.

As you well know, earlier this month I started working on the second draft of River of Wrath, a novel about a small town in 1960s Mississippi whose dark history is dredged up when one of the circles of Hell described in Dante’s Inferno appears in the town. I’ve been meaning to get to this draft for forever, but the deaths of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury, among so many others, forced me to pull this one off the flash drive and get to work on it again. One of this story’s main themes is racism and racial violence, after all, so I can’t think of a better time to work on this story.

And I’m honestly amazed I got this story finished. For one thing, I didn’t think I’d get to keep to that goal of getting one story done a month, but I guess I did, after a fashion. And I didn’t think I’d finish it today. After all, I had about 75 pages left to edit when I got up this morning. However, a lot of work and I just kept going. Before I knew it, I only had 30 left, and I just couldn’t stop. Now it’s a bit after midnight and I’m done with the second draft. Imagine that.

On another note, this draft is now longer than the first draft! When I finished the story the first time around in October 2018, the novel was 192 pages (8.5 x 11 inches on MS Word, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font) and 60,059 words. The second draft…is 204 pages and 63,843 words! I added twelve pages and nearly four-thousand words! I’m not sure if most of those words came from adding more in-depth explanations about Dante’s Inferno, as one of my beta readers advised, but it’s quite an addition. One, hopefully, that’s well worth the work.

So what’s next, both for River of Wrath and for myself? Well, before I start a third draft of River, I’d like to get it looked at by some sensitivity readers. As I said, this story deals with racism, and I want to make sure it’s not accidentally hurtful to African-Americans despite my best intentions. Hopefully, they’ll give me some insight to improve the novel and make it so that the only people who find it offensive are people whose offense I don’t care about, aka white supremacists.

As for me, I’m going to take a break for a short while. You know, watch some movies, read some books, prepare for my upcoming trip to Iowa and South Carolina. However, I’m sure I’ll get in front of the keyboard and start banging out a new story soon enough. I have an idea that’s been rattling in my head for awhile now that I think I can do a lot with, so I’m looking forward to working on it.

But for now, it’s late and I need to sleep. Good night, my Followers of Fear. And until next time, stay safe, be kind, and pleasant nightmares!