Video

Book Contract! Plus: Stories, and a New Website

Recently, I signed a contract with Harvard Square Editions for my first novel, Hot Season. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement.

I’m thrilled. Stoked. Absolutely flippin’ twitterpated.

But in recent weeks, I’ve discovered an unfortunate fact: because I’m publishing my book with a small press, there’s no money for things like a book tour, a book publicist, or a book launch.

And as I contemplated the inanity of going into debt to promote a book that’s unlikely to repay that investment, it occurred to me that if I’m going to establish a career, I’m going to need more than a book anyway—I’m going to need real relationships with readers over the long term.

That’s why, in honor of the thirty years I’ve been writing fiction (really—since I was eight years old!), I’m going to be releasing one original short story each month exclusively to my subscribers, for as little as $1/month, through a crowdfunding platform for artists called Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/susandefreitas.

If you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance it’s because you subscribed to this blog.

Maybe you did that because you know me. Maybe you did it because you came across something I wrote on the web and thought, “There’s a voice I’d like to hear more from.”

Whatever your reason, I can honestly say that, as an emerging writer, it has meant SO MUCH to know that someone, anyone, is listening. Writing is such an incredibly solitary pursuit, with such a long apprenticeship period, and there are times when blogging can feel like shouting into the abyss.

So, first of all, thank you.

Now, I’d like to ask for your support as I move forward.

One dollar a month isn’t so much on your end—I’ll bet you lost more to your couch this month—but it will go a long way toward helping me fund my book tour, hire a publicist, and generally launch my debut novel in a way that gives it a fighting chance.

You can follow the link below and pledge $1/month (or more, if you feel so moved) as one of my patrons. The website bills your credit or debit card on the first of the month, and on the second, my latest short story arrives in your inbox.

Here’s the link: https://www.patreon.com/susandefreitas

The short stories you’ll receive will range from realist to speculative, which means that some of them take place in the real world, and some of them take place in a version of the world that’s slightly askew; they’ll all clock in between 2,000 and 5,000 words, which means you’ll always be able to read them in ten minutes to a half hour; and they’ll be accessible in both a text and audio format.

You can find out about some of the inspirations and influences behind these stories on the Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/susandefreitas

As ever, your support means everything. Please feel free to share this campaign with anyone who enjoys short fiction.

Thanks!

Susan

PS. I’ve also got a spanky new author website! Check it out: http://susandefreitas.com, and subscribe to my mailing list if you’d like to stay posted on the novel, upcoming events, and all things SD related.

Hearts for Charleston — Maggie’s for Rev. Daniel Simmons

Honored to have my tribute to Rev. Daniel Simmons posted here, as part of this beautiful collaborative quilt project in remembrance of the Charleston Nine. (Also, I’m a huge fan of Rhiannon Giddens, posted at the end.)❤

Dee Mallon and Cloth Company

“Although he died at the hands of hate, he lived in the hands of love.”

Artist and educator Maggie Rose of New Jersey made this heart in honor of Reverend Daniel Simmons.

This tribute written by Susan DeFreitas (published with her permission (find her blog here)) gives you some background on the pastor and expresses our collective grief:

Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart: Allen University, Phi Beta Sigma;
Master’s of Divinity; pastor; father, grandfather.
How many times did you wonder if today was the day
you would die? Some days last longer than others, we know,
and the world must have slowed in its rotation the hour
enemy fire found you, the young black soldier
in that green heat, when your bright blood
sought the earth. Did it return to you,
that green day, when enemy fire, as if traveling through time,
came to reclaim you? Those hours in the ambulance, the hospital,
the operating…

View original post 652 more words

The Long, Hot Summer of 2015

Children Play in Yard of Ruston Home, While Tacoma Smelter Stack Showers Area with Arsenic and Lead Residue, 08/1972. (Via Story Mag/US National Archives)

One day in the middle of June this summer, something ugly happened: a young white man walked into an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, joined a Wednesday night prayer group, and then opened fire on those gathered there to pray.

In the days following, it felt as if an old wound at the heart of this country had been ripped open, revealing the sickness within. In the days that followed, it seemed possible that wound would never heal.

One person filled with hate had done that.

For a few days around the end of July this summer, something beautiful happened: protesters dangling in harnesses from the St. John’s Bridge–and gathered in kayaks on the Willamette River below–stood in the way of Shell’s Fennica icebreaker. The ship was headed north to begin exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic in the midst of the hottest year on record.

This direct action protest actually managed to turn back the ship, albeit temporarily, and for a few wild, bright moments, it seemed possible that we might yet be able to turn back the disaster of even hotter years to come–the imminent threat to our children, to the web of life that supports us.

A few people filled with love had done that.

It’s not easy to watch from the sidelines, to swing between such emotional extremes over the course of a single season, even as the mercury soars. (Yesterday, it was nearly a hundred degrees in Portland.) But it’s easier, I imagine, than what it feels like to be a black American right now. It’s easier than what it feels like to be a farmer in California, in the midst of an extreme drought and brutal fire season.

More and more, I’m reminded of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sowerthe story of a black family pushed north from L.A. in the midst of a not-so-distant environmental collapse.

More and more, I feel called to action, both as a person and a writer.

More and more, I’m realizing that my undergraduate education helped to prepare me for all of this, long ago.

The poem in nine parts I wrote for the victims of the Charleston Massacre appeared first here and then on STIR Journal. Now Melanie Bishop, a former teacher of mine from Prescott College, has pulled them together in a single article she wrote for the Huffington Post, in which she called on me to keep writing poems like this.

Maybe it’s function of the kind of teachers I had at PC, the way they challenged and championed us–the way they saw the best in us and pushed us to confront the overwhelming challenges of our time. Whatever the reason, Melanie, I want you to know that I take that call seriously.

The article is entitled Helpless in the Face of Senseless Violence, and you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-bishop/nine-livesnine-eulogies-1_b_7804956.html

Years ago, in a class I had with another teacher at PC, I discovered flash fiction, and I wrote the first draft of something I called The Terrible Child. But it was so raw and intense, so hot to the touch, that though I sent it out time and again, no one would publish it. It wasn’t until I came to Portland that I found the distance, the stance, that rendered it cool enough to touch.

Story Magazine held the piece for nearly a year before they decided to publish it, but publish it they did–and I’d like to dedicate it, here and now, to those terrible children, those rainbow warriors, those fabulous fools, who dared to turn back an icebreaker in the midst of our hottest summer yet.

You can read The Terrible Child here: http://www.storymagazine.org/2015/08/03/the-terrible-child/

Publication Round Up, Summer Edition

Friends, thanks so much for the kind words about my series of poems over these last few weeks. I’m pleased to say that STIR Journal has picked them up for publication. If these poems have meant something to you in the wake of the Charleston Massacre, I encourage you to share them with others via STIR, which will be posting one poem a day from the series during this week and next.

I also have new work online from VoiceCatcher, Portland’s journal of women’s voices, alongside some fine local writers. The story featured there, “Concentric,” is actually something I drafted as an undergraduate student, though it’s about a woman the age that I am now.

The ecological issues addressed in that original draft, circa 1999, aren’t any less pressing now, though many of them seem dwarfed by the issues that have since emerged. I certainly found it harder to connect with the quasi-mytical revelations arising from form and pattern in nature that the narrator of this story (and, by extension, my twenty-year-old self) was experiencing. But at the same time, this time capsule of a story reminds me not to forget how mysterious the world really is, and at what a great scale it operates.

Also, for those of you in the Portland area, I will be reading at the end of the month with VoiceCatcher at Ford Food and Drink on July 31st at 7pm. Please do stop in! I would be absolutely delighted to see you.

July-31-flyer

 

Eulogy: For Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor

depayne

 

 

 

 

 

My beautiful songbird

She’s going to be missed in church, in school, everywhere

Always a warm and enthusiastic leader

A gracious person who always had time for people

When people said ‘pray for me,’ she would stop and pray right there

She prayed for that young man

Faced with that danger, she gave praise

We know she did

We know where she is

Columbia College, BA in biology;

Southern Wesleyan University, master’s in management;

Community Development Block Grant Program, director;

Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, minister; choir member; mother

of four. You were planning to take your daughter to basketball practice.

You were planning to study for the AME ministry, like your father

before. You were planning on ushering kids into college–

you’d just taken that job in admissions, after years of writing grants.

What are applications but supplications?

What are grants but prayers on paper?

You always placed yourself, it seems, at the gates of a dream.

You understood that if you want something, you must ask for it, clearly,

and your family has asked this, clearly, of us–

that we move away from the sidelines and unite,

regardless of faith, to seek an end to hatred;

that we remove the Confederate flag

from the statehouse grounds;

that we recognize the connection

between racism, hate crimes, and racialized policing;

that we see see this attack on their family

as an attack on ours. Let these prayers come to pass,

on earth as it is in heaven, and as we approach the gates,

Reverend Doctor,

let our actions speak louder than words.

 

The massacre of nine people on Wednesday, June 17th at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a tragedy of national proportions. I feel strongly that this is a time for all Americans to act in whatever way we can to address the racial hatred that lives on in our country in ways both great and small. This is the ninth and final poem of a series honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.

The words that open this poem are those of Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor’s friends, family, and coworkers. The details of her life and professional career are from an article by the Charleston Post and Courier and a statement from Southern Wesleyan University, where Doctor had recently taken a job as an admissions counselor, and which officials recently announced will offer full four-year scholarships to each of DePayne’s children. The words that conclude this poem are paraphrased from a powerful statement issued by Middleton Doctor’s family following her death. I encourage you to read the rest of it here.

Eulogy: For Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr.

Rev. Simmons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A gentle man with an easy smile

Dependable, an excellent administrator

He had a very good sense of humor

This man baptized me, married my parents, and eulogized my granny

A distinguished man who served his God, country, and community well

Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart: Allen University, Phi Beta Sigma;

Master’s of Divinity; pastor; father, grandfather.

How many times did you wonder if today was the day

you would die? Some days last longer than others, we know,

and the world must have slowed in its rotation the hour

enemy fire found you, the young black soldier

in that green heat, when your bright blood 

sought the earth. Did it return to you,

that green day, when enemy fire, as if traveling through time,

came to reclaim you? Those hours in the ambulance, the hospital,

the operating room must have been some of the longest

in recorded history. They draped the American flag over your casket

as your children and grandchildren lifted you up

in song, and it seemed as if the country itself, some essential part,

would descend into the earth that day. But you did not die young

unlike so many others whose names the nation

has lately learned to mourn. You died at seventy-four,

after three decades of saving souls; your children, grandchildren

are beautiful; and all the days you did not die can never now be

taken from you. Your family, not the enemy, had the final word:

“Although he died at the hands of hate,

he lived in the hands of love.”

 

The massacre of nine people on Wednesday, June 17th at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a tragedy of national proportions. I feel strongly that this is a time for all Americans to act in whatever way we can to address the racial hatred that lives on in our country in ways both great and small. This is the eighth of a series of poems honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.

The words that open this poem are those of people who knew Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. Many of the details included in the second part are based on an article from Charleston’s Post and Courier, which noted that Rev. Simmons was the only victim of the Charleston massacre who survived long enough to be taken to the hospital, where he died on the operating table. The words that close this poem are from a statement issued by Reverend Simmons’s family.