His name was Triton

close up photo of bear chested man with tattoos posing by the beach

I met him under the sea—knocked unconscious by powerful waves. He swam me to shore.

He had a goatee thick like seaweed, long rope-like dreads, skin glistening like sand under the hot sun.

He said he was divorced, never considered finding love in a land walker until his youngest daughter married one.

He proposed with a conch shell. I brought it to my ear, and his voice drew me out to the ocean like the tide.

My family didn’t believe me when I said I was marrying a merman.

Not until I dipped my head underwater and never resurfaced.

© Nortina Simmons

#IWSG: The Reluctant Historical Fiction Writer

There are four genres of fiction that I have always hated…

Historical Fiction

Romance

Christian Fiction

Fantasy

Now regarding Fantasy, hate may be a strong word. My issue has always been lack of diversity, though that has been getting better in recent years—I love the Children of Blood and Bone series! However, I’m not the biggest fan of world building. If I have to learn a new language, new geography, new religion, new history, etc., plus 50 characters’ names, I check out.

I never got into Lord of the Rings, despite my dad “kidnapping” me and forcing me to watch the entire trilogy—I fell asleep 20 minutes into the first movie.

I also grew up a Church Girl, so books like Harry Potter were banned in my house!

(But I still managed to develop a secret vampire obsession. Hmm…)

As for the other three genres… Well, let’s just say I’ve read plenty of bad books in them, which makes my answer to today’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group question all the more ironic.

What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Today I write in all three of these genres. Well, maybe not so much Historical Fiction. Here’s the thing about Historical Fiction. You’ve got to do a ton of research to ensure that your depiction of the time period your story is set in is accurate…or at least believable. And I’ve read some books where it was obvious the author didn’t do that. On the other hand, I’ve read books where the author did too much research and spent so much time describing the time period, the setting, the people, etc., trying to convince us (the reader) that we were in, for example, 19th century New York that we lost the story.

I’m the type of reader (and author) who prefers that authors let the reader use their imagination to fill in the gaps. I don’t like reading heavy description and I don’t like writing it either. I don’t necessarily call this evasion being lazy; I just prefer to get to the story. That’s what we’re here for, right? That’s why we picked up the book. So there’s a delicate balance to writing Historical Fiction, at least for me, and I haven’t quite figured out where I draw the line as far as too much or too little research.

The funny thing is, though, I do want to tackle Historical Fiction at some point in my career and write a neo-slave narrative. Since my Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s Eve, I’ve had this story stuck in my head and I haven’t been able to shake it. You might compare it to Octavia Butler’s Kindred, but it’s actually inspired by Twilight Zone episode “100 Years Over the Rim,” which is about a leader of a wagon train traveling West who ventures off in search of water and medicine and stumbles into present-day New Mexico. My story has a similar premise: a runaway slave in pursuit of freedom stumbles into present day, where not only are Black people free, but they are also doctors, lawyers, businessmen, presidents! I watched a movie this spring that had a similar premise, only the twist wasn’t so much time travel as it was this idea of being frozen in time while the rest of the world progressed. It really inspired me to expand on my little flash fiction piece and turn it into a longer work.

I’ve spent the last several months brainstorming a plot, planning an outline in my head, thinking of a perfect conclusion to the story that doesn’t involve the main character going back to her enslaved past but still finding closure to that chapter of her life. And I want to incorporate Juneteenth into the story as well. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, it is an only recently recognized federal holiday (which falls on June 19) commemorating the emancipation of all slaves in the US after the Civil War. The reason why we choose Juneteenth as opposed to when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed is because there were still pockets of slaves in the deep, deep South who had no idea they had been freed. So this date marks the anniversary of when those slaves learned of their freedom. I feel my story juxtaposed to the story of Juneteenth would work really well in showcasing the theme of discovering one’s own freedom and autonomy, after so many years of it being denied or kept hidden.

The story in my head is pretty much done. I still have to fill in the blanks in the middle. But I have a beginning. I have an ending that I’m satisfied with. And I’m going to try to not let intimidation and my hatred (or fear) of writing Historical Fiction convince me that this is not a story that should be told.

But before I officially get started with writing, I may want to read a few books in the genre to get in that headspace of writing a neo-slave narrative. Obviously, Kindred will be one. There’s also the novel Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I read it in college and really enjoyed it and would love to read it again. If you have any other suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them!

I know I’ll have to do some research, unfortunately. With the Juneteenth background, I want to set the story in Galveston, Texas, a place I’ve never been, but maybe this will give me an excuse to travel!

And…as if a gift from the heavens, I just happened upon the article “Tips for Effective Research on Your Novel” by Nicholas C. Rossis while typing this post. Perfect timing! Armed with new tips, research doesn’t seem as daunting now. Well, it still does, but at least I’m don’t feel like I’m going about it blindly. I have a guide!

The Reluctant Christian Romance Writer

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Pexels.com

I realize this post is getting long, so in Part 2 of this series, I’ll talk about why my strong dislike for Christian Fiction and Romance has led to me becoming a not-so-reluctant Christian Romance writer. Stay tuned…

—Nortina


Sidenote: I am aware that because of my frequent impromptu and extended blogging hiatuses, I’m always missing the IWSG blog hops when they come around the first Wednesday of the month, and so my blog is repeatedly removed from the sign-up list. For this reason, I’m not going to add it back until I can participate in at least two more blog hops!

The morning after

After a night of lovemaking, I awake to the empty space next to me.

Where have you wandered off to, my love?

I sniff your pillow and like a desperate foxhound, follow the scent of shea butter and hibiscus to the veranda.

You commune with the plants a level below. You’re wearing my T-shirt. I call your name, and my voice carries in the wind as you curl a loc behind your ear just in time to hear it.

“Be right up.”

How I want to kiss that mouth, unbutton that shirt, consume you again.

You take my breath away.

The photo shoot

He first saw her in a dream and never believed she could be real until he tilted the camera up and snapped her photo.

He waits for her outside the changing room and thinks to ask her out. But what would he say? “You could be the girl of my dreams”? Beautiful as she is, she’s probably heard that line a million times.

When she steps out, the doorknob hits his hand. He fumbles with the camera before it crashes to the floor, the film popping out.

She cringes. “I’m so sorry!”

“Should we schedule another shoot?”

“It’s a date.”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 19 | Mr. Right

It’s 3AM when I finish my character profile for Mr. Right. I’m terribly tired, can barely keep my eyes open. I’m three weeks behind, and my publisher’s already sent several emails about the status of the manuscript. I’m afraid to tell them I’ve barely got an outline formed.

The motivation just isn’t there. Once you’ve done one romance novel, you’ve written them all. Not much room for diversity in the plot, so the focus must be shifted to the characters.

Instead of tall, dark, and handsome, I write my Mr. Right as brown and exotic. He speaks with an accent whose origin you can’t quite identify. He has eyes the shape of Medjool dates and loosely curled hair the falls over his face. He’s not tall, but just tall enough to press his chin against his beloved’s forehead as he holds her and sways to the music he hums. And to kiss him, she must forage through the foliage of his beard to find his lips.

That is where I will pick up, after my nap. Just a quick one, three or four hours. I’ll start again with the sun—after, I hope, a story comes to me in a dream.

Instead arrives a mystery, because when the sun breaks through the blinds of my window and I roll over for an extra hour’s snooze, lying next to me in my bed is Mr. Right, staring at me with those intense deep brown eyes.

“No more procrastinating, dear.” His beard lifts to indicate a smile, though I can’t see his lips.

I try to scream, but he quickly covers my mouth. “Please, meri jaan. Not again.”

I slap his hand away. “You have five seconds to get out of my house, or I’m calling the cops.”

“Do you really not recognize me?”

“No!” Because that would mean admitting he’s a figment of my imagination. A manifestation of my broken mind, brought on by the unyielding symptoms of imposter syndrome, a diet of coffee and sugar, and a lack of sleep.

“You do this every time. You write me. And then you erase me. For once let me be permanent in your life.”

“You’re crazy!” I say. I dial 9-1-1 and lock myself in the bathroom.

When the police arrive, I point to my intruder. “I don’t know how he broke in. He won’t leave. Arrest him!”

They exchange looks at the door. Then one side-steps me and approaches him. “Everything alright here?”

“You’re asking the criminal!”

“I’m sorry, officers. She’s having another one of her episodes.”

Episodes! I could haul off and slap him if it didn’t mean I’d be put in handcuffs in my own house. First he breaks in. Then he makes me think I’m losing my mind. Now he’s stealing my agency! Oh, if he was afraid I would delete him before, just wait!

Even saying that sounds preposterous.

He comes up behind me, puts his arms around my shoulders, plants his chin on the crown of my head, and rocks me back and forth.

“Stop it.”

“Easy.” He nods to the officers for them to leave.

“Y’all try to have a nice day.”

“Wait! You’re not going to arrest him!”

“Shhh,” he coos. “Dekho. Look at the fireplace. Let it calm you.”

He turns my body, but instead my eyes are drawn to the mantel and the giant framed portrait that is atop it. The two of us, adorned in Eastern wedding attire—I’m in a red veil, gold bangles on my wrists, henna on my hands and feet. He holds me as he does his beloved in my profile.

“We’re…married?”

“Mmhmm. Now, do you really want to throw this away, hai na?”

I think I found my story.


Being an author is so cool! Look at what we bring to life! This story was brought to you by Twilight Zone episode “A World of His Own.”

The new year is quickly approaching! Only six more hours!

Realities of Long Distance

Weekend parents can’t raise kids.

And a weekend lover can’t fix a marriage.

Maybe it’s my unresolved daddy issues that’s kept me in this relationship three years with a man who barely pays attention.

“I know I said I was coming—I’ll make it up to you.”

“You haven’t even made up for the first, or second…”

Or third or fourth…

Fifth.

“But you understand I have work.”

I’ve reached my wits’ end, and I doubt he knows. No matter how many times I complain, nothing changes. I still feel neglected.

“I promise.”

Empty words. Broken promises.

I hang up.

A Kiss in Your Pocket (Bonus Post): Nude (#AtoZChallenge #LovePoetry)

Love Tanka #10

Show me everything,
baby, and I’ll remove my clothes—
tonight we’ll learn all
there is of one another,
from our heads to our toes

2019© Nortina Simmons


Here’s another bonus post for the A to Z Challenge, this one inspired by the “M” and “N” sedoka pair. Again, this isn’t necessarily part of my A Kiss in Your Pocket theme, but the muse has definitely been talkative since I started this project, so I’m letting her take over and guide my pen…err…fingers. 🙂