Mwanamke Tembo (The Elephant Woman) Part I

This is an excerpt from my latest Changa prequel story. I hope you enjoy it!

For three months of the year Kiswhahili, Arab and Indian dhows  sailed west with the monsoons, t pregnant with goods with goods from East Africa. Three months later they returned, their African bounty exchanged for eastern luxuries. Belay played both sides of the coin like most Mombassan merchants, providing African goods to his eastern clients and eastern goods to his clients in the interior. One particular item whose value spread beyond Africa was ivory. The tusks of the massive tembos (elephants) were prized throughout the trade lands for their beauty and versatility. It was a common item of trade, its value fluctuating with supply and demand. This particular season it was invaluable for it was nowhere to be found.

Changa  was assisting the bahari repairing  Belay’s dhows when the ragged boy found him. The boy trembled as took in the imposing presence that was Changa Diop, former pit fighter and now merchant apprentice.

“Bwana Diop,” the boy stammered. “You must come quickly. Your friend Yusef is in trouble!”

Changa smirked as he reached for his shirt. “If I know Yusef it’s most likely the other way around.”

Changa stretched, his hard muscles shimmering with sweat. He wiped his hands on his cotton pants and pulled his shirt over his head. ” Take me to him.”

Changa and the boy ran from the docks to the marketplace. A crowd gathered at the center stalls,  cursing and shouting at the object of their interest. Changa shoved his way through and emerged into a familiar scene.  Yusef towered shirtless with his scimitar drawn surrounded by five men holding swords and daggers. There was no telling what the hulking Yao had done to set the men off, but Changa was sure it involved palm wine and insults of stature and manhood. Whatever the reason, Changa could not let his friend stand alone. He crept behind the man closest to him and grabbed his shoulders. He spun the man around, punched him across the jaw then caught his sword and dagger as he collapsed. Changa strode through the others before they could react and stood by Yusef.

“Kibwana (little man)!” Yusef bellowed. “What brings you here?”

“It seems you need my help,” Changa replied.

“Hah! This is nothing. There were ten of them a minute ago.”

Changa was in no mood for a fight. He stepped before Yusef and his eyes hardened.

“If you know who I am then you know how this will end. I suggest you go to your friends and forget whatever insults this man threw at you. It’s not worth your lives…”

Read the rest of the story here:

African Cities and Towns Before The European Conquest by Richard Hull

In African Cities, Richard Hull takes us across the continent  describing in great detail the cities and towns that existed in Africa before the European incursion. Hull supplies a large number of photographs and illustrations depicting the similarities and differences of African cities and town based on the particular region. He describes how weather, lineage, status and lifestyle influenced not only the structure of homes but also the layout of cites and towns. This book is a great reference for anyone wishing to add authenticity to their Sword and Soul world. It also give us a true vision of Africa before colonization, one vastly different from the images implanted by 19th century revisionist history. Be sure to add this book to your collection.

March Madness

Well, not exactly. Compared to last month March is a lamb, but compared to March last year it’s great. I’ve actually sold more books on the internet, which is not a complement, really. I’m still trying to discover that magic spell that will make my online sales explode. What I realize is that it takes a lot of networking, blogging and threading to make it. My time to do so is limited, though I probably could take it up a notch. I’ll see what I can do next month.

Meji by Thomas Richard Davis, III

Meji continues to sell and get great reviews from readers. It’s been a while since I found a review in print. I do a search every now and then to see if anyone has anything new to say. I try to respond when I can. Speaking of Meji, Thomas Davis, my cousin and cover artist for Book One and Two, will do an acrylic portrait of the twins for the upcoming Onyx Con gallery. He promises to make improvements on the original drawing for Book One which I’m looking forward to see. For those who are really interested the final piece might be on sale. I haven’t decided yet. We’re also thinking about a painting of the Book Two cover. We’ll see how everything goes.

Attention  all you Amazon folks! The story of the twins should be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online by the end of April.  I’m signing on to the Lightning Source distribution program.  I’m very interested in seeing how this will affect my online sales. Of course I make more money if you buy books directly  on my site, but I understand the convenience of Amazon and the other big book stores.  Meji will also be available through Ingram distribution at that time, so if your a book store owner you’ll have access as well.

Rogue Entertainment Logo

A couple bits of good news on the short story front. My story ‘Bigger‘ was accepted for the Black Faery anthology. It’s a fantasy story set in southwest Georgia about a young boy who wants to be bigger.  Also, my story Mbogo Returns, a Changa prequel story, was accepted to appear in the Roar of The Crowd anthology to be published by Rogue Entertainment. I’m proud of both accomplishments and I hope my stories adds positively to each project.

That’s it for now. I’ll speak on Changa’s Safari progress in my next blog. Take care!

February Recap

February was a busy and rewarding month. It began with a visit to Towns Elementary in Atlanta, GA. I met with the 5th graders where I discussed my writing, African history and gave them hints on writing fiction. Later I met with their advanced readers book club. The book club was reading Meji with their teachers and had asked if I would come speak to them, which I gladlydid. It was a great time. The kids had good questions and illustrations from scenes in the book. I also sold a few books to the teachers.

Later that month I had a book signing at my favorite bookstore, Nubian Books at Southlake Mall. I love working with Marcus, the owner of Nubian. He’s a very supportive brother and goes out of his way to help local writers succeed. His information and support was very instrumental to getting Meji off the ground and he continues to support my efforts by letting me sign books when the schedule permits.

I ended the month with a reading and signing at The Grounds Coffeehouse. It went very well; I got to fellowship with some BSFS members and won a few new readers for Sword and Soul. Saira, the owner, was pleased with the results and has asked me to come again. I can’t wait.

Progess was made creatively as well. My story ‘Bigger’ was accepted for the Black Faery anthology under development by a fellow BSFSer, Purple Zoe. I also have a story under consideration for another anthology, but I won’t say which one unless it’s accepted. Last but not least Chase Conley finally completed my Sadatina commission.  I also recieved the painted version of Shange from Kris Mosby.

Young Sadatina by Chase Conley

Sadatina began as an opportunity. She’s one of  the lead characters of my upcoming novel, The Face In The Temple. Last year I saw some artwork by Chase Conley and Iwas very impressed. I went to his deviantart site and discovered he was running a special on commision so I quickly contacted him. After a number of starts he finally came up with this final image. It wasn’t what I expected but it was exactly what I wanted. His Sadatina was younger and more confident than I imagined, which sparked a prequel idea for her character. Once I get my current projects settled I’ll begin on that story, tentatively titled ‘Woman of The Woods.’
Shange and Mijoga by Kris Mosby

Shange and Mijoga came as a pleasant surprise. Kris sent me this image one day as his contribution to Sword and Soul. He had also sent me an earlier image that is just as exciting. I decided to write a story based on both images that evolved into a Changa prequel, Mwanamke Tembo, Swahili for ‘Elephant Woman.’ I’m featuring the story this month as part of my Changa’s Safari build up.

 As you can see, February’s been busy. I’m looking to make March just as rewarding. Stay tuned.

Reading At The Grounds

Last Saturday (February 27, 2010) I had the opportunity to do a reading and book sale at The Grounds Coffeehouse, a cool venue located in the West End section of Atlanta. ( When I first visited this establishment and met the owner Saira I had a good feeling about doing a reading there and I wasn’t wrong. In addition to my lovely wife, my equally attractive sister and her friend I was happy to see a few of my Black Science Fiction Society friends in attendance (  We were late, a vice common among writers doing book signings. It was actually a first for me because  I hate being late. I’m usually early because it gives me time to mingle with folks and get the interest of those just hanging around for coffee and conversation.  I brought my son’s video camera in hopes of posting the reading on Youtube but I overestimated the lighting. I looked like a talking shadow throughout the thing. Vickie took some great pictures which made up for the video debacle.  I did get a chance to talk to a

few brothers and sisters before we began and convinced a few to stay and take a listen.By the time we set up we had a good crowd.

Quite a few of the patrons gathered to hear me read excerpts from Meji Book One. A lively discussion followed, instigated by Jali, one of my BSFS friends.  We discussed sources of  the Afterwards I read a short story, Bigger, which everyone seemed to enjoy. There were more questions and then we got down to the business of selling and signing books.

I personally think  the most important relationship in writing is that between the writer and the reader. Everything else is a distraction. That’s why I love to do readings and signings. It gives me a chance to present my stories the way I wrote them, to be read aloud for the listeners enjoyment. The Grounds Coffeehouse was a great venue for such an experience. Saira and her staff were gracious and attentive and the patrons were interesting, interested and generous. I’m looking forward to doing more readings at The Grounds; as a matter of fact I might see if Saira will allow me to use it as an official launch spot for my future books. I can’t think of a better place, except Oprah. 🙂