Creative

Fantasy Film Casting for 'Calliope of Atalan: The American Dream'

BY: P. CURRY

 

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Pan

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When I was conceiving the character of Pan, I thought back to every film I had ever seen with a character who was an abusive father and/or husband. I gravitated towards Jacobs’s portrayal of Joe Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream. In a lot of ways, their characters are very similar in the sense that they both are shady, sleazy businessmen who are loathed by their children. The biggest difference is that Pan is more neglectful than physically abusive, but both of them are monsters, no matter how it’s sliced or diced. If Calliope of Atalan had actually been released in the 90’s, Jacobs would have fit the role to a T.


Loretta Devine as Demeter

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For Demeter’s character development, one of the tropes I delved into was that of a woman scorned. In regards to classic 90’s films, what better choice would there have been in that department than Waiting to Exhale? With Devine’s character, Gloria, being the most matronly of the bunch, I closed in on her in particular. After deciding to base Demeter off of Devine’s image in Waiting to Exhale, I looked at some of her other roles as well. Devine’s character in Dirty Laundry was very similar to Gloria aside from being much meaner, so that definitely gave Demeter a kick in the pants as I found my initial characterization of her to be “too nice.”


Marcello Thedford as Julius

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In just about everything I’ve seen him in, Thedford’s always been the big guy in the back. His characters are usually gentle giants with a good sense of humor, an attribute that fits Julius’s character very well.


Brutus

Brutus is such a unique character that I really couldn’t pick an actor to play him. Omar Gooding’s character from Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper shares a number of similarities with him personality-wise, but even then he’s far too nice. Dominic Santana (All Eyez On Me) is VERY close to what I would imagine Brutus looking like. And yet, his only notable role is as Suge Knight, but not even insufferable, hyper-masculine and oftentimes-bigoted Brutus is THAT much of an asshole. It’s honestly way too difficult for me to choose.


Keisha Knight-Pulliam as Isis

When thinking of Isis’s character description, Rudy Huxtable during the later seasons of The Cosby Show fits her to a T, even though Isis is much quieter, nicer and more even-tempered than Rudy ever was. But Pulliam has shown herself to be a versatile actress time and time again, so I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem had this been a movie or television series back in the 90’s.


Orlando Brown as Atum

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Most people may know him as Eddie from That’s So Raven, but before that, he was 3J on Family Matters. 3J was always a little jokester, so Brown would have definitely been a good fit for Atum.


Tyrin Turner as Herc

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Caine doesn’t have that much in common with Herc personality-wise, but Turner comes pretty close to my idea of Herc’s appearance.


Countess Vaughn as Bolina

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Bolina is a very minor and inconsequential character in the grand scheme of things, but I do imagine her being short with loudly colored hair and a high-pitched, squeaky voice, so Kim Parker definitely fits the bill.


Big Boi as Perseus

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Slurring, Southern-style drawl? Check. Floppy hair? Check. Pothead? Check. Basic sense of dress? Check. Laid-back demeanor? Check. Rapper? Check. Yeah, 1990’s-era Big Boi has Perseus written all over him.


Erika Alexander as Urania

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Urania is another character on the minor side of things, but I do have big plans for her. Being a career-oriented woman, in a lot of ways, she’s based on the image of Maxine Shaw from Living Single. The biggest difference is that she’s much more pleasant to be around.


David Alan Grier as Leto

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This may seem like a bizarre choice, but Grier is actually a very versatile actor. So no, Antoine Merriweather from “Men on Film” wasn’t what I had in mind. Joe from The Carmichael Show on the other hand is perfect. I think Grier could play a stern, ornery and old-fashioned paternal figure very well.


Harry Lennix as Zeu-se

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Remember Mo’ Money? His character, Tom Dilton, is exactly the sort of pompous, snobby and condescending elite I have in mind for the character of Zeu-se, even if he’s the complete opposite of Zeu-se appearance-wise. Samuel L. Jackson was another actor I considered - not only is he closer to the appearance, but he’s played quite a few characters with ruthless motivations over the years.


Jill Marie Jones as Hera

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Even though she hasn’t made an official appearance just yet, I already have a very thorough image in mind for Hera. As the wife of Zeu-se and matriarch of The House of Peloponnesian, I imagine a ridiculously self-absorbed and materialistic woman who has a taste for nothing but the finest things in life, dressed head to toe in a number of designer labels with a very aloof demeanor, bougie attitude and classist mindset to boot. For those who remember the series Girlfriends, each of those descriptors fit Toni Childs like a glove.


Joseph Gannascoli as Romulus

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When I first started this thing, the image I had in mind for Romulus was a slightly more sinister Danny DeVito. Upon watching a random episode of The Sopranos, I closed in on Gannascoli’s character, Vito Spatafore, and he just fits. Not only is he close in appearance to Romulus, but he’s also close in personality with a proper balance between his comedic moments and his threatening ones.


Steve Schirripa as Cicero

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I was never really into The Sopranos, so I’m not all that astute on the characters. However, Schirripa’s character, Bobby Baccalieri, was probably the nicest guy there. While Cicero is far from a nice guy, he’s shown to have a conscience and a soft side on a number of occasions, especially when it comes to his daughter. Baccalieri is also a big guy, refrains from getting his hands too dirty in Mafia business and isn’t taken seriously by the other Mafiosos, which are other attributes he shares with Cicero.


Bianca Santos as Fortuna

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While this deviates from the theme of actors from the 90’s, I really struggled to find any actresses from that time frame that fit into the image I had in mind for Fortuna.


Sharon Stone as Tyche

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Going back to the mob movies, I remember Stone playing the character of Ginger in the film Casino. Like Tyche, she is an abrasive and nagging alpha bitch who was prone to manipulation and, likewise, made for a horrible mother.


Diahann Carroll as Syne

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For some reason, Syne strikes me as an older version of Claudine - at least in a vastly different universe.


Kirstie Alley as Hestia

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One defining attribute of Hestia’s character is her fashion sense. Back in the 90’s, Kirstie Alley was widely thought of as being one of the most fashionable women around.


Dianne Wiest as Themis

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One of my all-time favorite movies is Edward Scissorhands, and Wiest’s character in the film, Peg Boggs, was an absolute hoot. She was stuck in the 50’s, and so naïve and oblivious just like Themis.


Kirsten Dunst as Eris

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In her younger days, Kirsten Dunst looked very close to how I imagine Eris would look, even though I don’t recall Dunst ever playing a character with a similar personality.


Lauren Ambrose as Moirai

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I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about her just strikes me as the type of girl whose nice face belies a mean, catty and judgmental personality underneath.


Omar Epps as Thespis

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Nia Long as Melpomene

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When it came to films with predominantly African-American casts in the 1990’s, I feel that they all pulled from a relatively small pool of talent. There were a number of actors who seemed to be in just about EVERY movie, Omar Epps and Nia Long being two examples. The whole idea I had for Thespis and Melpomene is to create a sort of running gag about that. There’s a scene where Calliope’s watching a movie which they star in, but all the details about said movie are so vague and generic, it creates the whole “another one of those movies” effect. While minor and inconsequential, I think the whole plot line surrounding nameless and faceless Thespis and Melpomene movies will make for a fun little easter egg in the background for those who get it. Not to shade Epps or Long at all, as I think both of them are wonderful actors, but due to appearing in so many of those “nameless and faceless” movies back then, they are woefully underappreciated, as are a number of other African-American actors regarded as relics of the 90’s.


Bumper Robinson as Troy

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Bumper Robinson is one of those actors who we’ve all seen in a number of films and shows, but we can never remember the guy’s name, if we ever even knew it in the first place (I had to do quite a bit of digging to find out what it was myself). Back in the 90’s, he was always that “dream guy” that girls took one look at and fell head over heels for. As Troy is a very suave young man who girls instantly feel smitten with, I think it’s a good fit.


Lester Speight as Pothos

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I was VERY close to picking Terry Crews for this role, but found that choice to be a bit too basic. When thinking about other actors who are large in build with intimidating, angry faces but are total goofballs in most of their roles and/or in real life, I thought back to Calvin from My Wife and Kids. Looking through Speight’s other roles, he’s usually playing a humorous character like Calvin or Terry Tate or some sort of security figure. All of it works really well for my idea of Pothos.


Michael Douglas as Hadrian

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He fits the physical profile of Hadrian very well. Of course, a large amount of his roles have been as shady businessmen or morally dubious political figures, so if he was Hadrian, I’d imagine he’d totally own the role.


Julia Roberts as Theia

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Given her background as a mistress to wealthy businessmen, for research purposes, I looked to the classic 90’s rom-com, Pretty Woman. I’m aware it’s not exactly the same, seeing that Roberts’s character in the film, Vivian, is a sex worker who has a much kinder attitude and warmer demeanor then the cold and slightly rude mayor’s wife who sleeps with other men on the side that is Theia, but there are a number of parallels in their narratives, which is why it’s easy for me to see Roberts as Theia.


Narcissus

Like Brutus, the image and character of Narcissus is so strong, she’s taken a life of her own. In my mind, everything about her is so distinctive I struggle to imagine her as any actress I personally know of (although, I will admit that a few of Kathy Bates’ roles did serve as an influence, especially Annie Wilkes from Misery and her depiction of Delphine LaLaurie in American Horror Story: Coven).


Chazz Palminteri as Remus

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As the other brother of Romulus and Cicero, Remus was the cold, humorless and most straightforward one of the three. Palminteri usually plays the “straight man” in mob movies, so he would do an exceptional job pulling off such a character.


Jada Pinkett-Smith as Pandora

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Before marrying The Fresh Prince, Jada was one of Black Hollywood’s ‘it’ girls. She was sexy and alluring with an air of mystery surrounding her - qualities very much in line with Pandora.


Eartha Kitt as The Oracle

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There’s a few characters whom I unintentionally dream-casted the moment I began to develop them - The Oracle is one of those characters. Although she doesn’t make an official appearance until the second book of this series, I already imagine her as a refined, sophisticated woman who holds strong political and feminist views that she isn’t afraid to share with the class, speaking with a cat-like purr all the while. She has Miss Eartha written all over her.


Calliope

Suffice to say, with Calliope I suffered the same problem I did with Brutus and Narcissus. While I wouldn’t quite say she took a life of her own, the image I have in mind for her is very hard to pin down. I thought of Brandy, Aaliyah, Taral Hicks and even one of the Mowry twins, but alas, none of them really fit. In some ways, I guess that could be the beauty of it. The majority of the tale is told from a first-person perspective after all. When you think about it, that makes you, the reader, Calliope Thessaly. As you take the journey, you are tracing her footsteps. It is rare that you will ever know something she doesn’t know.


Calliope of Atalan: The American Dream will release on November 23.

Fantasy Film Casting for 'Summer Camp Is Cancelled'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Belita Moreno as Grandma Raquel

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As a kid, I grew up watching George Lopez. I loved Belita’s character, even though she was actually much meaner than Grandma Raquel. Belita was always a sassy, no-nonsense person in her portrayal of George’s mother. But, she was also very harsh at times, so if she were to play Grandma Raquel, she’d have to turn down her harshness just a smidge.


Javier Bardem as Father González

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Who else could play Father González BUT Javier Bardem? Javier usually plays a villain and why wouldn’t he? He can speak death using only his eyes and face. He scared the hell out of me when he played Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Javier is 100% perfect to play Lyndon’s strict priest and I know he’d do a marvelous job.


Ardal O’Hanlon as Father O’Brien

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In the 90s, Hat Trick Productions made the show Father Ted, a hilarious comedy based in a fictional part of Ireland. The show surrounds the daily life of a Catholic priest, Father Ted, and his co-father, Father Dougal, who was played by Ardal. Ardal’s character was goofy, kind, and gentle, just like Father O’Brien. Since Ardal has experience portraying a funny priest, he would adapt to Father O’Brien’s role very easily.


Horatio Sanz as Uncle Manny

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I remember seeing Horatio on Saturday Night Live back when I was in junior high and thinking he was the funniest cast member of the lineup. He’s extremely talented at doing impersonations and exaggerating his facial features to get a laugh from his audience. If anyone can do an awesome job playing the most annoying character in SCIC, it’s definitely him.


Eva Longoria as Mrs. Donna Pérez

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Not only is Eva Longoria an excellent actress, but she’s also a huge philanthropist for children’s causes. Because of her generous history, I know she’d play a great mom to Lyndon. Additionally, she is also a Texan and since Summer Camp is Cancelled is rich in both Mexican and Texan culture, she would know exactly what to do for her role.


Jaime Camil as Mr. Edgar Pérez

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Jaime Camil has been in both Mexican and American productions. He was the voice actor for Miguel’s father in Coco and he’s also been on Jane the Virgin as well as other comedy shows. His background in making people laugh is perfect for playing Edgar.


Last, but not least – who would play Lyndon Baines Juan Pérez?

This is a hard question because I really don’t know! Lyndon is such a sweet boy and he has strong beliefs in friendship and how others should be treated. Whoever plays his character should have similar personal beliefs.


You can pre-order Summer Camp Is Cancelled by clicking here.

 

Yellow

BY: Q. VERGARA


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There's something about an overcast windy rainy day that completes me. The whites blending with the grays and blues. The smudged sky made my heart smile. The whistling of the wind in the palm trees as the voluptuous clouds lollygag by, pulls my mind to wander. I can't help but listen to Coldplay's first album on repeat. The cold air kisses my cheek through the window trying to lure me out.

 "I miss you," she whispers before building up her might and billowing a hard gust of her breath through the trees and she leaves. My eyes try to follow her long flowing invisible silhouette but I only catch the train of her gown and the damage left in her wake. Before long, the trees and plants fall back to their resting positions and sway as if they had never been touched. I can't be certain if it's her lulling them as her breathing swells or Coldplay's melodies and lyrics serenading the leafs.

 

And on and on from the moment I wake

To the moment I sleep

I'll be there by your side

Just you try and stop me

I'll be waiting in line

Just to see if you can

 

Coldplay's words always held a special meaning to me. The melodies felt like a familiar embrace, like a familiar scent on familiar clothes. I could close my eyes and feel your breath on my ear. It's been 15 years since I've touched you. Why do days like today remind me of you? The song ended leaving me a moment with the cold realization that I may never go back home. Coldplay spoke to me as the Wind teased me to come outside for a hug. Her breath was intoxicating. The moisture in the air teased a light rain fall.

 

I awake to find no peace of mind

I said how do you live as a fugitive

Down here where I cannot see so clear

I said, what do I know

 

I felt like a fugitive unable to relax until I made my way back to you. I was born with your soil and roots beneath my feet. We came from the same dust. But here where loyalties lie and citizenships brand, I wait and long for you through the cold murmurings of the wind. Sparks was one of my favorite songs on this album. I couldn't help but sing along in a wispy low voice. The sun reflected light off the clouds in a way to almost make them look like they were satin and glimmering--winking at me. My face broke into a gentle smile.

 

Look at the stars

Look how they shine for you

And everything you do

Yeah they were all yellow

 

Yellow. This was the epitome of my love for Coldplay and cold days like this. I was fixated looking out the window at the branches dancing to Chris Martin sing. I knew they were dancing for me. The California Hills laid at my feet in comfort of this moment, blowing kisses back to Saudi. Cold days like this have always been my favorite. I used to miss home in a way that pained my soul but now, I miss it on my favorite days.

When I met Saudi, without the American Narrative, I was in 7th grade. He stood misunderstood with a sparkling smile.

 

Your skin

Oh yeah, your skin and bones

Turn into something beautiful

You know, you know I love you so

You know I love you so

 

I fell in love with his traditions and ideas--the way he spoke and how he laughed from the middle of himself. He was eager to learn how I lived and how I didn't judge him for his hard consonants. He loved me beyond the way people talked. He loved me the way a child loves with every ounce and fiber of his being. Saudi loved me in a way that I longed for on these cold days. Saudi's love gave me warm pillows and heated fluffy blankets filled with memories and smiles. His love grew my virtues, and when America tried to teach me how to think, He reminded me to lead with love.

Bildungsroman

BY: gsoell


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I am the fool that

lost my fiberglass insulation and

grew so sad that I

decidedneeded to seek my fortune,

find the answers to questions

I didn’t want to ask.

I found a woodsman

that knew jackshit about the woods

and an enchanted shield

that wasn’t really enchanted at all but

I’m no longer the fool.

 

The golden hours are dimming.

Magic no longer happens here.

I am at the end of my journey,

the curve of the mobius in sight when

 

I am the fool that

lost my golden apples and

I am sad again.


gsoell is currently working on her first book of poetry, Small Nights Gospel.

Problems and good sex

BY: gsoell


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Is sometimes all we have.

Sometimes that’s enough

I romanticize the “bohemian” lifestyle

(actually, we’re broke as a fucking joke),

the bad times,

the hot rages,

the breakdowns.

 

We were taught to

walk off the scrapes,

laugh away the bruises,

to get over it.

But we’re tired of that bullshit,

have been for years.

 

We are aqueous.


gsoell is currently working on her first book of poetry, Small Nights Gospel.

5 Writers Who Started From The Bottom

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Writing, like many careers, has its risks. There is no guarantee a writer will be a bestseller or have their story made into a movie. However, many writers did not go into this field for fame and money – they write because it is their passion. While writing carries its risks, it is not impossible to become a successful writer over time. Here are five writers who started from humbled beginnings.


Sandra Cisneros

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You may know Cisneros from her novel The House on Mango Street. In addition to this novel, Cisneros is the author of many books as well as a past winner of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and the Texas Medal of Arts. Cisneros’ childhood was not an easy one. She grew up in poverty, constantly relocated, and with six brothers, she often felt isolated in her own home. It was this isolation that led Cisneros to writing and she composed her first poem at just ten years old. When one of her high school teachers encouraged her to keep writing, Cisneros took the advice and was later admitted into the Iowa Writers Workshop. It was at this workshop that Cisneros discovered her writing voice. She is now considered one of the most influential writers of this generation.


Stephen King

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Best known for his horror stories, Stephen King’s works have become synonymous with terror and fright. He is known for several novels including Carrie, It, and The Shining. Before King became the writer he is today, he had a difficult childhood. His father left the family when King was only two years old, making King’s mother the sole provider for him and his brother David. When King grew up, he was barely able to support himself and his wife Tabitha due to unemployment. He made some income by selling short stories to magazines, but it was not enough. It was around this time that King began drafting Carrie. He became so frustrated with the novel that he initially threw it away in the garbage, but Tabitha encouraged him to finish it. Carrie proved to be King’s big break, thanks to his wife!


Gabriel García Márquez

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García Márquez is best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. However, like many writers, García Márquez’s past was a struggle. Before he started writing One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez had the idea for the novel, but he was unsure of how to write it down. One day, García Márquez was driving his wife and children to Acapulco for vacation, the first line popped into his head and he immediately turned the car around to head home and write the first draft. To make ends meet, García Márquez sold the family car and his wife Mercedes persuaded the local butcher, baker, and their landlord to grant them a line of credit until García Márquez finished his latest book. When One Hundred Years of Solitude was finally released, it became an international success and García Márquez officially became a respected voice in literature.


Toni Morrison

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Morrison is a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. She is famous for her novel Song of Solomon. As a child, Morrison grew up in a difficult time. When she was around two years old, her family’s landlord set fire to their home since they had been unable to pay the rent, leaving them with nothing. Morrison’s father worked several odd jobs to support the family. Later in life, Morrison married and had two sons, but divorced soon after, leaving her to care for her two young sons all by herself. When she began writing her first novel, The Bluest Eye, she woke up each morning at 4 AM to write as her sons slept. It was Song of Solomon that gave Morrison her biggest acclaim, and with this, her writing career kicked off to a supreme start.


Octavia E. Butler

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Butler is best known for her science fiction Patternist series and the Xenogenesis series. Before she became a writer, she too came from humbled beginnings. Her father died when she was only seven years old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother in a very strict household. Butler’s mother was a maid and sometimes she accompanied her to work where they witnessed and experienced racial segregation. Butler was also extremely shy and was diagnosed with dyslexia and often bullied at school. She took comfort in reading books and when she was ten years old, she begged her mother to buy her a typewriter so she could begin writing her own books. As an adult, Butler worked several jobs to support herself and woke up every morning at 2 AM to write before a long day of work. Butler would later win the MacArthur Fellowship, becoming the first science fiction writer in history to hold this award. She would go on to win many more awards for her influential science fiction works.


Yes, writing has its risks, but sometimes risks are worth taking. To writers who are just getting started, remember that you are just getting started and the future holds completed dreams. These five writers got their breakthroughs despite the odds and you can, too!

Darlene Campos Shares Dedication from 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

To my great grandfather, Jose Alcides Martinez Tobar (1903-1994), who would wake up in the middle of the night to write and drive my great grandmother, America Isidora Villamar Naranjo de Martinez (1920-1988), crazy every time he did so. Thank you for passing on your talents and determination. Thank you, great grandmother America, for always being his inspiration and making his written works possible.

To my mother, Tammy Yasmin Martinez, who has supported my writing journey since the day it began. Thank you for all the home-cooked meals, the prayers, the ridiculous jokes, and your nonsensical quirks which have appeared in every single story I have written. My love for you is so deep, there will never be a tool long enough to measure it.

To my boyfriend, David Noé Alcalá, who lets me write without any interruptions or distractions. Thank you for always boosting my mood, your hugs and kisses, and all the surprise “I Love You” text messages. I cannot wait until you are officially my husband. You make me feel emotions I did not know I had. I might be a writer, but I could have never written the love story you show me every single day. I love you, teddy bear.

To my good friend, Javier Andres Pritchard, who read the first (and terrible) drafts of Behind Mount Rushmore. I am so lucky to have had you as a reader during my early writing days. You always told me one day I would have a book published and now, here it is. Thank you for your suggestions, your encouragement, and your open ears whenever I need a friend to talk to.  

To all the creative writing/English professors and classmates I had over the years – this book would not be possible without you. Special gratitude goes out to Jessica Paige Wilson, Anthea Ara Rafique, Bertram Allan Mullin, Carla Erizbett Arellano, Donna Dennis Muñoz, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Bruce James Martin, Laurie Clements Lambeth, and Aaron Reynolds. Go Coogs! Picks Up, Miners!

To all of the wonderful English teachers I had in public school, but especially to Carol Thielemann, my second grade reading and writing teacher, Terri Cyphers, my sixth grade English teacher, Laurie Wilmoth, my seventh grade English teacher, and Carolyn Giannantonio, my ninth grade English teacher. I owe the strength of my writing skills to you. Thank you for being my foundation. A big shout out goes to Meadow Wood Elementary, Spring Forest Middle School, and Stratford High School!

To every literary journal that has published my work – thank you kindly for giving me the opportunity to share my words with your readers.

Last, but certainly not least, to Jennifer Snider-Batula. Thank you for your homemade cookies, the coupon booklets, and your wise insight on this adventure called life. You are the best co-worker and neighbor anyone could ever imagine. When Fred Rogers talked about good neighbors, he was talking about you.

The following stories were previously published in slightly different form:

  • “The Friend” was previously published by The Gap Toothed Madness
  • “The Dance” was previously published by RiverBabble
  • “The Funeral” was previously published by Word Riot
  • “The Cigarette” was previously published by Alfie Dog Limited
  • “The Burst” was previously published by Connotation Press
  • “The Crush” was previously published by Forever! Onward
  • “Lost Angeles” was previously published by The Aletheia
  • “The Fork” was the 2013 prose winner of Glass Mountain’s poetry and prose contest, previously published by The Writing Disorder and featured in Plain China’s Best Undergraduate Fiction Writing of 2013 anthology
  • “The Return” was previously published by Bartleby Snopes
  • “The Wedding” was previously published by Red Fez
  • “The Bullet” was previously published by Elohi Gadugi and was the winner of the 2013 Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize, awarded by the University of Houston
 

Fantasy Film Casting for 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Charlie Hill as Jay Eagle Thunderclap

Unfortunately, Mr. Hill passed away in 2013. He was a fantastic Native American stand-up comedian and actor. In fact, he appears in the Roseanne episode “The Last Thursday in November” as D.J. Conner’s teacher. He was also a guest on The Richard Pryor Show as well as The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman. His humor definitely fits the bill for Jay Eagle’s character.


Irene Bedard as Josephine Thunderclap

Ms. Bedard was phenomenal in the movie Smoke Signals. There is a scene in the movie when she tells Victor the real story of a house fire his father was involved in. Her delivery is spot-on and most of all, her acting makes you feel like you’re in the movie with her. She is outstanding on the big screen! I can’t imagine anyone else playing Josephine other than Irene Bedard.


Graham Greene as Mr. Wayne Graywolf

I’m a huge fan of Graham Greene. He plays Mogie in the movie Skins which is based on the novel of the same name by Adrian C. Louis. If you’ve read Skins, it’s impossible to imagine another actor playing Mogie. He’s charming, funny, and can adapt easily to any role he’s given. If anyone should play Mr. Graywolf, it’s him.


Sacheen Littlefeather as Sequoia Red Cloud

If you’ve heard of Marlon Brando, chances are you’ve heard of the time he refused to accept an Academy Award for Best Actor in The Godfather. Brando sent Littlefeather in his place to decline the award as a form of protest for the unjust misrepresentation of Native Americans in the film and television industry. I admire Littlefeather for her bravery in speaking up. If you look up her speech on YouTube, she was met with some applause, but also a lot of booing. Despite this, she kept on speaking. While Sequoia might not be the most likeable character among people, she holds her beliefs true to her heart, no matter what anyone thinks. Littlefeather would be perfect for this role.


Geri Keams as Yolanda Running Bear

Keams is an incredible storyteller, though she has appeared on several television movies and shows. I love how engaging she is when she tells a story. You can find her telling stories on YouTube if you just search her name. Ms. Running Bear is known for being a quirky science teacher, so I believe Geri Keams would fit this role just right.


Gary Farmer as Ray Firebird

This role is a big role. Gary Farmer stars alongside with Graham Greene in Skins as Mogie’s friend, Weasel Tail, which is where I first discovered his acting. He’s been in Smoke Signals and Powwow Highway where he is just as mesmerizing. Ray Firebird is a major character in Behind Mount Rushmore and only a major guy can play him. Gary Farmer is that major guy!


Eric Schweig as Gray Mountain Thunderclap

Like with Graham Greene, I’m a big fan of Mr. Schweig. He usually plays a tough guy, but a tough guy with a big heart. He plays Graham Greene’s brother in Skins and he does a fantastic job at this role. He’s flawed, but honestly, he’s an excellent brother in this film. He’s best known for being Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans, but this movie does him no justice. He is seriously underrated in the industry. He’s a perfect match for Gray Mountain Thunderclap.


Michael Peña as John David Gutierrez

Who knows where Nimo would be without John David? This role requires an outspoken nature, strength, friendship, and most of all, a smart mouth. John David doesn’t hold back and for this reason, I’d pick Michael Peña to take on this role. Peña played Cesar Chavez in the film of the same name and he was Sal Castro in Walkout. In these roles, Peña gave his all to stand up for what he believed in and never backed down. Peña has just what it takes to be John David.


Elaine Miles as Mrs. Rebecca Graywolf

Elaine Miles is probably best known for her work in the television series, Northern Exposure. She also starred in Smoke Signals and Skins as well. However, I first stumbled upon her acting in the mini-series The Rez in which she plays Mad Etta in the second season. She’s hilarious and unique not only as an actress but as a person, too. Mrs. Graywolf is a role she could master right away.


Last, but not least – who would play Nimo Thunderclap?

This is kind of a funny story. About a year ago, I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant here in Houston with my boyfriend. After dinner, we needed to get a few things from the grocery store down the road from the restaurant. Once we were inside, I noticed a young man, an employee specifically, who was the EXACT description of Nimo. I mean exact as in if I could make Nimo come alive from the novel, he’d look exactly like that employee. For privacy purposes, I won’t tell you the employee’s name, but I did ask him for helping locating an item I needed. He spoke just like Nimo and had his gestures. If there’s ever a movie or TV series based on Behind Mount Rushmore, I want to find this employee and ask him he’d like another job!


You can pre-order Behind Mount Rushmore by clicking here.

 

Darlene Campos Releases New Poem "Welcome To Houston"

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

We love Houston the way a mother loves her child,

more than the mother who stuffed

her dead daughter in the fridge to keep

collecting the girl’s social security check.

 

In Hermann Park, Sam Houston’s statue stands high

above everyone else. He faces children playing Frisbee

and sick people lingering to the Texas Medical Center.

At Buffalo Bayou, a man lies by the water

with a sack for a blanket while Joel Osteen

preaches prosperity.

 

We love Houston the way a car loves to speed,

more than the man who raced past a house

with his gun, splitting the

skulls of two kid brothers.

 

Jensen Drive is where sleazy men go

for a good time. If caught, they go

downtown to the jail on Bagby Street

where they can see the Aquarium from their cells.

The sharks wiggle around in their too small tank

as a child points up at their jaws. His mother pulls

him close, closer than Andrea Yates who drowned

her five kids in a bathtub.

 

Yet we love Houston the way mosquitoes

love sucking on our skin, the way the big oil

tycoons love their mansions in River Oaks.

 

Southwest is the place where it can be scary

to sleep at night and even drive through during

the day, but if you keep going, you will

end up in the Museum District where

Mr. Sam Houston will greet you again.

 

We love Houston the way a con artist

loves counting money.

 

We love Houston the way a wife loves her husband

that she’s been married to for over twenty years.

She looks at him with squinted eyes, remembering

a time when he was younger, thinner, and stronger.

She loves him just the same today as she will tomorrow.

 

She loves him the way a Houstonian loves Houston.

 

The Day Before Thanksgiving The Habitual Wordsmith Gives Us An Early Helping Of Food With "A Long Walk"

BY: T.J. LOVE

These feet aren't mine

I didn't craft them
Nor do I pay rent for them
They were borrowed

Used
Blisters
Corns
And all
Irregularly shaped toes
Overgrown nails
Crackling skin
But they carry me
As far as my anxiety will allow

I listen to "Wet Sand"
To drown out the sounds
Of my own self-doubt

I hate wallowing in pity
I'd rather suffocate
Smother myself in the
Smoldering remains
The embers of my fiery passion
Flicker and fizzle out

I found that this took a dark turn
As I look around
And forget where I am
Time to turn back

I'm black in a foreign suburban land
And we all know what that entails

I hesitate
The end of summer air
Dares me to continue
But despite barely existing
I do enjoy having an existence
To whine about
I prefer my chest,
As heavy and nervous as it is,
To remain hole-free

I have enough lead in my blood, officer
I won't be needing anymore
Thank you though

Cars are skating past me now
Little lives in transit
En route
I wonder where they're off to
And I begin to feel offended
Because I wasn't invited

I was never cool enough
Sometimes I was too cool
Too morose
Too intelligent
Too standoffish
To become someone's next regret

I'm at a point in my life
Where my thoughts no longer
Bear repeating

So I'm hoping this breeze
Caught all that
I was singing
Barely audibly
Before I paused my lips

Kids are on the court
With their grandfather
Playing basketball at 10:30
Always thought the park
Closed at 10

White privilege
Wish I was white enough for a game
I immediately see myself
Crossing grandpa while
The spawn of his spawn watch
I would abuse those replaced knees
I would spot him ten
Then give him eleven straight
Maybe push it sixteen
Depends on my cardio
I fell all the way off
And full court is no longer
An option

Nah, son.
Can't do it

Cops have a sixth sense
And this is Minority Report
And I'm a minority
And I pose a minor threat
As a former English Major

So I pass
Grandpa
And his manhood
And his knees
Are spared

The house is no longer
Out of sight
Out of mind

What was once a mirage
Is now a green garage
Whatever I'm feeling
Needs to be dislodged
Tucked away

Appearances must be kept
Deadlines must be met
Fabricated smiles
Muted minds
I must remain professional
And smile
Genetically modified lips
Pursed into processed curves

My headphones are now off

I enter the door
The dogs assault me
My girl questions my sanity
In the shape of
"Feeling better?"
Nah, son.

But it's showtime
My public awaits

"Figment" Proves T.J. Love Has A Way With Words

BY: T.J. LOVE

She is the vaccination
Required reading for
Science-fiction fascination

She is a figment of my imagination

Living in her pigment
Is living proof that we can survive anything
If magic made it
Because she is prestidigitation

She is a breath of fresh living wages
She is an antique library with sticking pages
And I sit encapsulated
In the worlds her words have created

She is the free activation
The free nighttime minutes
I don't have to wait till after 8
No longer afraid of past mistakes
I consulted with God to see
What He had to say
He said "Homie, she's the real deal
No fabrication
When I made her, 
I threw the batch away
Because she was so immaculate
Even I had to step back and be like
'Damn I'm great'"

And after that, we sat our craft beers down
Of course I had to pay
I thanked Him immensely
As He took the cab away

She is the magistrate
Judge
Jury
Executioner
Every night a mattress slain

Don't mind me y'all

But she's my technicolor future
When the past was gray
I had to starve my fears
They start their fast today

She is my skeleton twin
Our melanin wins the master race
I mean, shit was a light jog
What more do I have to say?

D.A. Alston Selects Her Fantasy Cast For YA Novel

BY: STAFF

It's no secret that books are often turned into movies. Keeping that in mind, we asked D.A. Alston who she'd select to be a part of the cast if given the opportunity to turn her book into a feature film.

 

Skai Jackson as Janais Wright

Skai Jackson starred as the adorable "Zuri Ross" on the Disney Channel sitcoms Jessie (2011) and Bunk'd (2015). Before that, she featured in small roles on Boardwalk Empire (2010), Royal Pains (2009) and The Smurfs (2011).


Syeda Mahpara as Adeema Hatem

Syeda Mahpara Shahid Bukhari, known as Syeda Mahpara or Mahpara Shahid is an international footballer from Pakistan and the current goalkeeper for the national team.


Emma Kenney as Libby Gray Dawson

Emma Kenney is known for her roles in Shameless (2011), Epic (2013) and Bittersweet (2008).


Kayla Maisonet as Kenzie Vega

Kayla Maisonet has been featured on Dog With A BlogHaunted Hathaways and made a guest appearance in the NBC comedy sitcom Mulaney.


The Unlikely Tale Of The Royal Elite Squad is available now on Amazon, Kindle, B&N and Vital Narrative.

The Habitual Wordsmith Waxes Poetic On the Beauty of Black Women With "Pas De Noire"

BY: T.J. LOVE

Beautiful onyx goddess

Who convinced you that your
Bronzed lips weren't hypnotic?
Intoxicating sun-kissed skin
Wasn't melodic?
Symphonic
In its infinite composition
Magnum opus

Hair like magic
No hocus-pocus
Just a crown that most peasants say won't fit

But you are a descendant of
Every ebony thing that comprises
The skies and the sun that rises

You are the embodiment of
A mother's cries through
Labor pains
As she presses out another diamond
To be mined by undeserving eyes
They'll try and tell you that you are wholesale
No real value
Costume jewelry
When truthfully
You are crystallization of civilization
No appraisal can ever convey your true value

Thick thighs and hips incapable of lies
Your shape they emulate
Through engineered attempts
But can never multiply
So they try to euthanize you
With European myths of beauty
When you transcend standards

You ARE the standard

The flag bearer
The mast on the ship
That they need to sink for their own validation
But goddess
You
Are
Unsinkable

Those jeans you can't quite pull up easily
That blouse you pour out of
Every broken bra strap
Every shown curve
Dips in hips
Are overtures
The religion of your thickness
Dipped in holy words
Embrace every nap and snag
That your coarse hair brings
Because they are parables
Fables for the gilded throne
From which your blackness swings

I loved you without knowing you
I bow in your invisible presence
I exalt you
I speak your name in hushed tones
So as not to besmirch it

But none of that matters
If the reflection in the mirror doesn't
Remind you that "she's worth it"
She deserves this pedestal
The gates of heaven all envy you
No mere mortal title
Can espouse how immortal your body is

My chocolate goddess is
As much god as God is
Because He made you in His likeness
So how can you NOT win?

T.J. Love Drops Off "Menthol"

BY: T.J. LOVE

I've grown to detest the stench of menthol
The fumes rising from my chest and neck
Invoke memories of mentholated cigarettes
And medical final resting places
Where the elderly exist in the exiting throes
Of their numbered days—

I smell very sanitary right now.
Even with my nose knowing no surcease
From perpetual blockage
I have reason to believe that it is 5:01
And I am dead.

I've always hated being ill
Even in complimentary street form
Where brothers on the block would hear
A hot sixteen
And fiend for a beat with my lyrics permeating
The track
They'd rub my words on their gums
Attach their tongue to every single syllable
But once the masquerade of mass-consumed
Hip-hop hit its stop
So too did the belief in me

Therefore,
I have reason to believe that it is now 5:04
And I died.
Head cold
Coughing, sneezing
Koffing
Weezing
Nothing showing up on my Pokemon Go radar
Sitting in this lawn chair with no lawn
Pondering the sounds of early morning
Wilderness
And how much I hate crickets—

(Both the insect and the phone company)

Contemplating the quickest distance
Between sleep heaven
And anxiety hell
Wanting to clock out from this cold and
Go grab lunch
Stay way past the designated time punch
Maybe head home
Who needs to be ungainfully employed anyway?

Many thanks to the red underline
Undermining my verbal authority and
Informing me that "ungainfully" isn't actually
A real word
Android apparently doesn't believe in it

And I have reason to believe
That it is now 5:09
And my phone
Is
Dead.

 

The Habitual Wordsmith Addresses Police Brutality With "Test Your Might"

BY: T.J. LOVE

I was shot by a black police officer
I wanted to see what would cross the road first
The tint of his skin
Or the dye in his uniform

I saw past the gilded badge
Scratched the painted surface off and
Saw that the badge was in fact
White

On my dying breath,
I asked him if his parents were proud
He responded that he was raised by Lady Liberty
And Uncle Sam


He said he wanted to make a difference

I said you don't subtract black youths
Take away their lives
Minus their existences
And call the result a difference
What kind of math involves a bloodbath

Who are you to bathe in the skin
Of gods and empresses
Only to represent the new true blue supremacists
Who would rather see you dead with us
Than standing with them?

How many innocent microaggressive jokes did you clench your teeth at around the water cooler when your brothers-in-arms bragged about harming your kind? 

We live in a post-racial society
Where racism goes viral in each and every single post
And cops like you shoot guns to shoot videos and watermark Worldstar on the bottom of the screen

There is no applause for my destruction
But when you killed yourself to become this badge
You were met with
Uproarious praise and swore to love, honor and obey your master
As you traded your black for blue
You bruise brothers
And accuse mothers of not raising their children right
As you play judge jury and executionHER

Name stained with the grand larceny of the life you've stolen
Standard-issue bullets riddle frames and autopsy photos with your imprinted fingerprints tattooed permanent ink on holsters
You who are the prime suspect
Protected by the civil servant veneer
Sterling silver reputation among your peers

Because when Alton Sterling was murdered, you cheered

One day
Your duty will call to the house you grew up in
How the neighborhhood has changed
There's a Starbucks where the corner store used to be
You'll receive a report that said the suspect is black whose hue looks just like you
And is impersonating an officer
And is considered armed and dangerous
And you'll shoot to kill
You won't ask questions
You'll just fire

And let the red tape bury the context
And then you'll be buried next to me
Because you
Were the prime suspect