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Many of you may know that this past August I finally became a published author. When I finally decided to pursue my dream of being a writer 3 years ago, my intention was to be traditionally published. That goal changed and I will tell you why. But first, let me explain what “Indie” authors and self-published authors are.

The term “Indie” stands for independent. This means that the author is not published by traditional publishing companies like Penguin/Random House or Simon and Schuster.

Independently and self-published are also used interchangeably, which can make things confusing. An author can be published by an independent publishing house and thus is called independently published, or they can publish their own book and thus are called self-published. …

Sword & Soul. You may be wondering what this is. I was, too. So I decided to do a little research on it. Sword & Soul is like sword and sorcery, but with, well, soul. According to Milton Davis, an author in the field, it is defined as “heroic fiction and epic fantasy based on African traditions, cultures, and history.”

That’s pretty damn fabulous! It truly warms my heart to see Black people as the main characters in the speculative fiction genres of fantasy and science fiction. And apparently, it isn’t something new! …

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Happy October!!

This is the month of Halloween and spooky stories!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on Black authors in the Horror genre and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are way more out there than I thought there were.

For the month of October, I am featuring Black authors in the horror genre and calling it Blacktober.

Some Black people look at me sideways when I talk about reading horror as if my soul is destined for some special place in hell, or I’m demon-possessed.

But let’s think about it for a moment. Black people live in a proverbial horror novel every single day. We are being targeted daily and go through each day fully understanding that at any moment we can be thrown into a potentially deadly encounter with a police officer or a white supremacist. …

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Front cover of my debut novel, Blood Land

The year 2020 has been nothing short of unbelievable for us all. It has been full of so much bad news, including this global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on every aspect of our lives.

Despite all the tragedy, I have managed to accomplish my life’s dream. On August 29th, I not only turned FIFTY, but I became a published author!

The book, as you can see from the photo, is entitled Blood Land. It is a paranormal suspense novel about an African American couple, Paul and Theresa, who are the new owners of a former plantation in Maryland. They feel proud to have taken back some of the lands where Africans and Blacks were enslaved. However, the historic property is a little more than they bargained for: it is haunted by the ghost of an enslaved girl who was kidnapped during the height of the Haitian Revolution, brought to Maryland, and enslaved on the former plantation they now call home. …

Four hundred years. Four hundred years of opportunities to make it right. Four centuries of begging, pleading, praying, yelling, marching, uprisings. But you just let the wound of our anger, our outrage, our moans of grief, fester and ooze and become a puss-filled infected sore. You let it grow.

You tried to force a scab over it with the scraps of empty promises you threw to us, hoping it would pacify our bruised spirits, but another black life taken at your hands ripped the scab off the wound. …

Disingenuous. This is a word that is knocking around in my brain a lot lately. The Webster’s Dictionary defines it as not candid or sincere. Since George Floyd was brutally lynched in the street by a white supremacist who just happened to be a cop, I have seen so many companies post online and send emails saying they stand with people of color.

There are two things wrong with this sentiment. First, do not lump BLACK people with other people of color. NO OTHER RACE has been owned as chattel. Please spare me the ‘white people were slaves, too’ rhetoric. White people were INDENTURED SERVANTS and were not kidnapped from their land, brought here in chains in the bowels of slave ships, and ripped from their families. Nor were white people bred like animals on breeding plantations only to have their children sold from them. Nor were white people completely stripped of their family names and cultures. White people can trace their lineage back beyond the ocean to their lands of origin. Black people can only trace our lineage to a bill of sale. BLACK people need to be recognized as the ones being systemically and deliberately and cruelly oppressed by white people. …

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I remember the first time I was introduced to his words. My parents decided to put me in an all black private school in third grade. When I walked into Mr. Dunbar’s class, they were reciting, in unison, one of Mr. Hughes’ poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

My self-esteem was at an all time low because of teachers and their prejudices at my previous school. But the way Mr. Dunbar had these kids shouting that poem went straight to the core of my young, bruised beautiful blackness and healed it. The thunder of Mr. …

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I have had four of Alice Walker’s books sitting on my bookshelf for YEARS and never opened them. I often collect the works of black authors and wait for the book to find its way into my mind to read. That happened with this book.

I was cleaning off my bookshelves and getting rid of a lot of books I knew I would never read. When I read the back of this one, I decided to give it a try.

At first, I couldn’t stand it. I found myself shifting in my seat and my spirit unsettled as I read of the cruelties (to say the least) both Brownfield and Grange inflicted upon their wives. My desire to take this book, and the others by Alice Walker, and donate them grew very strong. I stepped away from the book for a day or two. …

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Happy new decade, everyone!

I hope you brought in the new year however you wanted to. As for me, I did what I do every year: slept until 11:45 then got up and watched the ball drop with hubby and went back to bed. I know. Boring. But I’m more of an early morning person, not a night owl. Anywho (see what I did there?) I’ve got some exciting news to share!

But first I have to tell you how the idea came to be.

Writers read a lot. We also support other authors by buying and reading their books because getting published is one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome. …

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Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash


Was your first reaction when you read those words positive or negative?

This subject evokes a lot of emotions. You can ask 20 different people about it and they would each give you a long list of reasons why they are for or against it.

Self-publishing used to have the stigma that the only people who went this route were those who had no talent for writing (which, by the way isn’t true. Ask Charles Dickens).

With the creation of the Internet and technology changing by leaps and bounds from month to month, self-publishing is no longer taboo. It has gone from “self-publishing,” to “independent publishing,” to “indie publishing,” in a very short period of time. …


Audra Russell

Writer. Blogger. Native Jersey girl in a Maryland world. Come visit me at

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