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Diversity Illusionist Part 2: What Not to Write

Growing up, I watched Golden Girls with my family. We enjoyed Sophia Petrillo’s sensibilities, her spunkiness, and her flashbacks that were framed with one of television’s best quotes:

Golden Girls_Sophia_Picture It

With that said, let’s picture a golden age of technology where people—young, old, rich, poor, (please insert whatever and whoever you are)—with a clickety-clack-click-clackety of their finicky fingertips possesses the power to order a pizza, incite wars, or (in the case of this blog post) generate energy (positive or negative) around an idea or a movement.

Or a book.

How about book burnings?

Well, you don’t have to picture it. It’s happening or has happened. And I’m not referring to Nazis Germany.

Book Burnings

And the latest outrage in the literary world has made major waves.

American Dirt Twitter Responses

I agree. We all need to multi-faceted representation, Vanessa. We need balance. Thank you! 🙂

Interesting, speaking of white privilege, one of my co-workers believes that white privilege doesn’t exist because if it did, he would be rich and not teaching for a living. I don’t understand that logic. I really don’t. Hmm. Interesting.

But I digress. Moving on.

I haven’t yet fully researched the controversy swirling around American Dirt as deeply as I would have liked, and I will say this: When you’re a person of color, you may be quick to often applaud anything that represents you with lightning-speed, especially when you learn about it from an allegedly trusted source. It’s a reflex response to hoot, holler, and cheer because you are so thirsty for representation, sometimes compromises will be made, and your guards lowered before you fully understand or have had the time to gather all the necessary information required for sound judgment. That aside, I have researched the controversy involving Courtney Milan and I believe and support her. I also believe that she is a victim of an unfair system where the guilty individuals, who are not only aware of this injustice, are fully complicit in maintaining such an imbalanced system for their own benefit and little do they know—their own detriment. It’s truly and shamefully dysfunctional.

And this isn’t the only dysfunction afflicting the writing community.

White People's Press

How is it destructive? Be specific.

White People's Press2_Hegelian Dialect

How has it failed? I demand receipts!

For the past several years, writers and readers have stabbed fingers at others, opened arms, held hands, dried tears, and taken up both picket signs, pitch forks, torches or tissues in response to each other in the Industry labeling those deemed offensive as racist, sexist, not woke, culturally insensitive, homophobic, transphobic, due to what the accused has said, written, or done. Allies on both sides clash, while bystanders munch on unlimited supplies of “Giffy” popcorn (the digital comment-reading kind, obviously – punny!).

Eating Popcorn Gif

For example, there was a huge uproar regarding a YA author whose work was flagged as racist because she had slavery in her novel. With such a wintry response, the book withered, froze, and died. Well, for a time. I won’t delve much deeper into that slice of drama pie in this post though. I will say this, I’m glad that her novel has arrived on this planet.

That way, other readers (including myself) can judge her work for themselves.

That aside, I do agree that if any form of median (visual or written word) is inappropriate or hurts a marginalized group (which inevitably hurts us all) then people should indeed speak out, provided that it comes from a genuine place I like to call “constructively good intentions” because as we know good intentions alone may lead us to places we would rather not go and have no desire to visit.

What Not to Write?

Diversity Illusionist often set the what-not-to-write parameters. I considered comparing them to the Neverending Story’s Sphinxes’ Gate, but not a fully operational one. In the movie, Atreyu must pass through the gate with confidence. The Sphinxes are gatekeepers, who block out those who are not worthy to enter due to an imperfection, such as a lack of confidence. Their closed eyes symbolize impartiality . . . or blindness. But that is a flawed analogy. I also thought to compare them to the Labyrinth’s Two-Door Riddle, but again this comparison doesn’t work.

Or perhaps the malignant Diversity Illusionist are like Lucy from Charlie Brown.

lucy-football-charlie-brown

Hmmm. Still not good enough of a comparison. And that’s fine because Diversity Illusionists are people, and it’s unfair to distill them into a meme, trope, or any other two-dimensional something or other. And I strongly believe that people as individuals have the ability to learn, improve, and persevere.

Remember that riveting reality television show where a dapper gent and a raven-haired beauty materialized looking like they just strolled off a catwalk or Hollywood red-carpet, before they abducted individuals whose friends and family sentenced these poor, fashionably challenged dears as tacky abominations? There are times when I would have easily qualified as a contestant on that series called, What Not to Wear. Why? Because I wholeheartedly enjoy the comfort of mumus, sweatpants, and oversized t-shirts opposed to the quasi-stylish attire (I’m no fashionista or diva, however, I have been mistaken for thus) you may witness me wearing in public. I occasionally “borrow” my husband’s boxers and masquerade them as shorts in the comfort and privacy of our home. 😊 Sorry, not sorry, I’m guilty as charged.

And there had been a time when one of my stories had been questioned for existing on the grounds that “. . . you’re not from that culture.” For instance, I wrote a short story centered around a young bi-ethnic girl (half-Black and half-Japanese) coming to terms with her dual heritage, due to her mother’s love for the Japanese tea ceremony. I had some of my Japanese friends read it to ensure that I was respectful and accurate about the culture. (“Tell me truth!” “It’s fine.” “Really?” “Yes.” “No! Tell me the truth! I can take it!” “You need to fix that. And that”. “Whew. Okay, thank you.”) Even though I speak Japanese, have lived and taught there, doesn’t mean that I will get everything right. I’m all about empathy and fairness.

I wasn’t literally told by anyone (yet) that I shouldn’t write this story, but it was implied. What I find strangely interesting (and unfair) is that there are presently a plethora of white authors that get a resounding “pass go and collect $$$” for writing these kinds of stories. And they’ve been bequeathed carte blanche-status to write them and profit from them for decades. The responses—both positive and negative—have little effect contrary to what detractors from this reality have argued or believed. Detractors imply that diversity has failed, and that white people are not able to write, produce, or direct works within the Industry.

When you're accustomed to privilege

Yes Shaun, I agree, and let’s pick up the momentum with the term Equity.

Consider this image:

equity-vs-equality

Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!

For some reason, the longer I analyzed these images the more they irritated me — especially the one for Equity. Why? Because of the damn wall! If equity is supposed to be better, then why is there still a wall?! I mean, sure the boxes do indeed help the littlest person to see over the wall, but why not get rid of the damn wall! Where’s a digital bulldozer when you need one? Where’s Wreck-It Ralph?

Wreck It, Ralph

It’s been argued that we are in a post-racial era. It’s been argued that those that bring up race are the real racists. These are fallacious arguments full of sound and fury . . . leaving people thirsty and angry. It’s like consuming a bag of Takis, which leaves your fingers covered in powdery spices and a great thirst for water that does nothing but spread the heat in your dry mouth.

In order for there to be true equality and equity, the wall must be destroyed, and until that happens boxes (opportunities) are needed.

In 2018, there was a white author complaining in the Twitterverse that the urban fantasy genre populated with the classically European vampires you may find sauntering in an Anita Blake setting, was no longer trending due to a major push for “own voices”. In turn, she felt as if she and writers like her were being pushed out. What she didn’t seem to realize is that the #OwnVoices movement, (coined by Corinne Duyvis, a white author who is all about authentic inclusion and identifies as disabled) would have little to no effect on the urban fantasy genre. Her argument that #Own Voices was taking away from her is fallacious at best, and ridiculous as heck. I will probably write more about this in a future post.

Let me be clear, of course I’m not entirely opposed to white people telling non-white stories. And if I were, would it change the status quo? Heck no! White authors just need to do it right. However, if they’ve been able to do so without pushback and the demand for more than mediocrity until recently, is there any incentive to up their game? During one of my author trips, I attended a workshop taught by Linda Sue Park, author of all things incredibly cool—especially this book:

A Long Walk to Water_Park

The workshop focuses on writing “the other” with empathy, compassion, and most of all real-life experiences. She beautifully calls this technique “A Seat at the Table”. She explained the reason she’s able to write about both the South Korean (her heritage) experience and white folks is because due to the fact that whites (primarily USA) is the “standard” that most people of all ethnic groups can write about whites. But the main reason she’s able to write about white people is because of her authentic and personal life experiences. The “white standard/baseline)  has been the status quo for a long, long, long time in the United States and around the world due to influences found in comic books, music, commercials, plenty of novels, documentaries, novels, and on and on ad nauseum.

White people everywhere

Now, regarding how to write nonwhite characters here’s the gist:

Basically, if your literary soul has been lit with an unquenchable fire to write, thus “giving a face” to the supposedly faceless (ha ha ha we’re really not faceless though) ask yourself, first and foremost:

  1. How do you qualify?
  2. Have you sat at the table with this group of people? How often? Your place? Their place? A public place?
    1. Not just calling them up or reaching out via Twitter, Facebook, etc. for sensitivity reading, dear. I mean really sat at the table, meaning your kitchen table? Were these dear people your friends BEFORE this fire was lit? Is this a cash crop where you picked up these people as friends because you want to appear “woke”, full of virtue, glory, and cookies?
  3. Have you researched? How much? What have you learned about the characters and the intended audience? What pushback and/or constructive criticism may come? How will you handle it?
  4. Finally, what more can you bring to this conversation that will indeed grow feet independent of you? Why are you even writing this?

If this non-exhaustive list of questions makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay. It’s better than okay. It’s good. Sometimes we have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s good for the soul and helps us to glow and grow.

Even people within their own ethnic groups aren’t immune to the “What Not to Write” category. Tyler Perry, who is a successful producer and writer has created a lot of content during 2019. One series in particular is called, Sistas, which is about “single black women navigat[ing] their complicated love lives, careers, and friendships”. Perry is what one could describe as “Black Excellence”. However, the criticism that he has received implies that he, too, needs to ask himself the above questions based on the responses from fans:

Tyler Perry-Sistas

Tyler Perry definitely shines with the luster of “star power”. So does Robert Downey, Jr.

Unfortunately, star power or quality isn’t always enough to bring in money . . . or amazing reviews. In my previous post, I used the Dr. Dolittle remake as an example for the Industry’s Make It Rain $ Playbook, and I’ve noticed the movie is not doing so well. In fact, it’s estimated to lose up to $100 million dollars. 😦 Some reasons for this could be is that audiences have known Robert as Iron Man for over a decade. Back in the 1990s, star power guaranteed a movie or a show’s success. Now, financial success seems to be more dependent on the script (writers) and the characters the actors portray rather than the actors themselves. That too is interesting.

Now, back to Tyler Perry. Hopefully if he brings in new writers that come from the demographic he’s writing (young, black millennial age range women) will most likely help to flesh out his characters, thus giving the show more depth and the audiences ability to effortlessly and effectively relate to his content in a more organic and authentic way.

For instance, I wrote and sold another short story, which I revised into a prose poem revolving around a black girl with albinism. I may be a Black woman, but I’m not a person with albinism. But I did my research, reached out to people, watched documentaries, listened to interviews to be as empathetic, accurate, and respectful as possible. I’m a writer. Words have great power. And with great power comes great . . .  (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you know) . . . say it with me:

Spider Man Responsiblity

Lol.

My teenaged students hate when someone does or says something that they deem as “old” or “that’s so 2010”. I think it’s an instance of what they consider clichéd. “Mrs. Desir,” they sometimes lament, “That dab he did is so old! Yuck!” “Well,” I reply with a sigh, “Hip Hop is considered old since it was around long before you were born, so is that old too and thus useless? If so,  I guess you can’t like that kind of music anymore. Too bad, eh?” A false equivalency, I suppose, but it does the job. 😊 Hee hee hee.

They often squirm, no longer comfortable with the logical question I posed. Some smile and say, “I still like it.”

I reply, “I’m glad you do.”

Conversation over. Comfort reigns yet again.

Hmmm. Speaking of comfort, it’s one of the main reasons why I think the Industry has been and continues to not only seem tone-deaf, but also what some could describe as “out of touch”. Both shortcomings are learned behavior, but when I say this it doesn’t mean that they’re acceptable behaviors because they can and must be unlearned. At times, insiders have even displayed their inability to accept change or even push for it when doing so benefits everyone. Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that change can be painful. Change can also be downright terrifying, but whether we like it or not, change often comes uninvited, unescapable, and rarely evanescent.

Likewise, if authors like Toni Morrison had invited comfort as a guest, books like The Bluest Eye and Beloved would never have existed. It couldn’t have. They’re incredibly uncomfortable works of literature, but the discomfort doesn’t diminish their impact and remarkability.

And speaking of remarkability, even the most uncomfortable books have that je ne sais quoi of marketability. One can liken them to an intolerably violent car accident . . . you want to avoid staring, fingers tightening around the steering wheel, head ducking as you crawl on in snail-paced traffic, but you just can’t . . .

Look Away

In my previous post, I discussed intertexuality. I miss watching The Golden Girls (four older women share a house in Miami beach) and in the 1990s when Living Single aired, I realized that what I loved about The Golden Girls I found in Living Single. The New York brownstone setting and the younger age of the main characters added a novel layer to a familiar tale, laced with relatable themes, realistic plot twists, logical and pleasurable expectations that resonated with a new generation.  Living Single was so amazing that it even inspired or as Erika Alexander commented, “invented the template” for Friends. Friends, some would argue, is an all-white rip-off of Living Single.

Living Single_Erika Alexander

Intertexuality? Or something insidious? Hmmm. What do you think? Sound off in the comments.

Regarding ratings, Living Single was indeed popular, but it in no way matched the viewership of Friends.

Living Single-Lack of Funding

An instance of Equity vs Equality?

Perhaps the Warner Bros. marketing peeps assumed that because Living Single had a majority all-black cast that it wasn’t for white people. If that’s the case, what about A Different World, which served as both a doorway and a window to American families all over the United States? This reminds me of instances of when white romance readers won’t pick up a romance novel with a black couple on it. Or, they’ll buy it for their “black friend” because it’s “not for them”. Huh? Love is love is love, n’est pas? Shake my head.

A Different World

As a writer, I noticed that The Golden Girls most likely inspired (not copied) Living Single. And I’ve realized something else . . . I miss watching both shows, and have enjoyed re-watching them as they were on Hulu. I don’t necessarily need reboots and I’d love watching something that is unabashedly inspired by them in the future.

So, to answer the question “what not to write?”

That depends on you as a whole, which includes (but not limited to) your experiences, your intentions, and your willingness to let your guard down.

Happy Writing!

 

 

Diversity Illusionist Part 1: Mirrors, Windows, and Other Worlds

First things first.

I tried to be succinct! Epic Fail. Apologies! So, what started as a quick response, ended up being almost 2200 words. And then that rolled over into more. Part 2 will be available in a couple of days.

*********

Earlier this month another blogger, Raimey Gallant, discussed a not so Happily-Ever-After episode churning in the literary world of Romancelandia involving Courtney Milan, whom I support. You may want to check that out before reading my take on this disconcerting topic.

Rainey explained that there are two kinds of diversity advocates.

1. Full-Equity Diversity Advocates: those publishing stakeholders, whether they be authors, critics, literary agents, editors, etc., who advocate for equity no matter how much space and power they have to give up in the process.
2. Fair-Weather Diversity Advocates: these are publishing stakeholders who say, “Yes, come in, but stop when we reach our quota” or, “Do come in, but that’s far enough,” or, “Welcome, so long as you’re the kinds of diversity we like.”

I agree with her, and I fear that there may be a third kind that does more harm than the second type.

Before I dive into my take on this nightmare sh!tefest of f#ckery, let’s stretch our limbs into the warm, nurturing sunlight of background knowledge . . .

Analyze this image and consider the messages and conclusions:

Mirror_Diversity in Children's Books 2015

WTF? 12.5%? If it wasn’t for Scooby-Doo and those meddling kids, too! 😉

Now, let’s consider this beautifully bejewelled quote:

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real
or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.

-Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990

And this:

Books Transmit Values

It’s truly amazing how powerful and timeless words are. It’s also amazing how different people can come to similar conclusions about books and their impact on people. I’m a Myers fan and I’m so glad I found Bishop’s quote during my research for this post. In a previous post, I shared my experiences as a budding writer and ravenous reader.

With headlines like these, who dares for diversity and inclusion?

Marvel Executives Cry Baa Baa Baa

No, Marvel Executives. It’s not that we don’t want diversity, we just want it done right! We also don’t want or need fake allies pretending to help when they only want to harm genuine efforts toward progress! 😦

I’m tired of seeing harmful stereotypes and tropes weaponized against Black woman and girls in the form of:

  1. The Mammy
  2. The Jezebel
  3. The Masculinized Warrior

We, too are multifaceted, and need a balance in representation!

For example, in the middle-grade novel that it is on the Florida’s ELA curriculum reading list, a little Black girl is used as a Magical Negro to teach and guide a little white boy in quasi-desegregated Georgia. In one unbelievable scene, Frita, punches a white boy that is bullying Gabriel. This little girl sacrifices her safety, compromises her father’s teachings (he’s a strong church leader in his community), and her family’s safety (KKK is you know, a thing) . . . for what though?

Blurb_Liberation of Gabriel King

If I didn’t witness on a daily basis how books, social media, movies, and music have the power to transmit values often in a negative way for Black girls, I wouldn’t possess the understanding as to why this seemingly innocuous novel has a negative effect on children when taught in an empathy-lacking vacuum. After all, the themes found in between the covers sing of friendship, fear can enslave you, liberate yourself with bravery, have the ability to teach important lessons, but at what cost? Unfortunately, not all values transmitted through books are noble. For example, a lot of the black girls (including myself) that I knew growing up believed that we had to defend and cape not just for ourselves, but for others. We were everyone’s Super Hero, but it was a rare occurrence when someone would come along to protect and defend us. If you’re struggling to understand this reality, please visit these YouTubers and learn:

YouTube_Chrissie TVYouTube_RashidaYouTube_For Harriet

 

The Liberation of Gabriel King

My primary purpose for writing this post is to shine a spotlight on another kind of Diversity Advocate. And as my thinking matures or evolves, the conclusions I’ve drawn may further develop, cement, or crystallize. Regardless, I love making sense of things. Let’s collaborate.

So . . .

mario-here-we-go

Twilight of the Diversity Illusionist

You’ve most likely heard of the term Social Justice Warrior. This term has been hijacked and bastardized from its original meaning:

Social Justice Definition

Social Justice Warrior

In the 2006 romantic mystery movie starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel, The Illusionist, “nothing is what it seems”.

The same can be said about diversity, inclusion, the movers, shakers, players, and what’s at stake.

So, I had to coin the term #DiversityIllusionist to refocus the narrative.

Based on my observations, Diversity Illusionists are Industry stakeholders that appear to understand and/or superficially desire diversity to thrive and be successful, due to their ignorance and inexperience.

Keeping up appearances is everything with these kinds of folks. They use the proper hashtags, they support the “correct” on-going movements. They “like”, retweet, and share, and take all the right photos. They speak oh-so-very well about diversity and inclusion that it seems oh-so genuine.

If only . . .

When my oldest son was little, he loved the Little Miss and Mr. Men picture book series by Roger Hargreaves. One of our favorites was Little Miss Helpful.

Little Miss Helpful

Like the character teaser states above, Little Miss Helpful’s help is tragically not helpful. It’s downright destructive or comically problematic.

She reminds me of the Diversity Illusionist that hear the “masses” crying for diversity and inclusion and then they come running to help, but unfortunately they often only make things more worse. These kind of Diversity Illusionist are benign. They’re for the most part what one could call “tone-deaf” or they can’t read the room. And because of their ignorance, discord ensues, thus impeding progress.

The second half of the third kind of Diversity Advocate slink in the shadows, planting pieces of their contempt, hatred, stereotypes, bigotry, sexism, elitism, and venom like Voldemort plants horcruxes, as they poison the waters. I dub them the malignant Diversity Illusionist. They proclaim to be all about diversity and inclusion; however, their real purpose is to undermine the cause and to cry and beat their chest when things go sideways, “See! It didn’t work! It doesn’t sell! Diversity is a lie!”

For example, you may get re-makings and rabid reactions like this from either the benign or malignant ones:

Ariel Shouldn't Be Black

The argument above that people had a right to be angry regarding Ariel being “re-imagined” as a Black girl is a false equivalency. Ariel is a mermaid (an obviously humanoid creature) that chooses to be human for the sake of love. Comparing this “re-make” to the species swaps of dogs and anthropomorphic hot dog eating, faster than the speed of sound hedgehogs is marked with ignorance and reeks of oversimplification. It’s also insulting. Nonwhite people, in this case a Black actress, are not animals that will be immune and oblivious to the angry outcry of “reverse-racism” criers.

Little Mermaid Ariel

Disclaimer: Let it be understood that I’m not for or against Ariel being re-imagined as a gorgeous Black young lady. I have a different argument altogether: What bothers me is why are those with so much power behind what gets produced crying and whining when critics (both black, white, and every other shade in between) throw righteous shade at their mediocre efforts: “See,” Power Keepers whine, “we’re being more inclusive. We’re being diverse! Look what we’ve done! We made Ariel Black! See what we’ve done! Praise us! Praise us! Only the racist and sexist are mad, mad, mad at the sacrifices we’ve made on the Diversity Pyre!” when they could actually do real work by looking at the already huge treasure trove of African-American, African, Asian, Caribbean, Pacific Island myths and inviting writers from those groups (Moana anyone, and yet) instead of taking already established fairy tale characters, and then just slapping a new brown face on it. This is not what I or others are asking for, and why should we settle for less?

Are Black characters and stories so undesirable, unnecessary, and so un-inspirationally (is this a word? Uh, it is now!) “other” that we have to be fronted by a white and already established face and story? If so, have those that have chosen this route unaware of how demoralizing this is? Do they even care?

Dillon-MaryBelleAndTheMermaid-sj

This gorgeous painting is from Virginia Hamilton’s “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales” (1995). Proud owner of the book! 🙂

Regardless, this is no longer the time for laziness, myopia (this is 2020 and the vision must be clear, after all), or apathy! 🙂

Words like virtue-signaling, cancel culture, and battle cries such as “go woke or go broke” have been over 9000 Super-Saiyan-screamed all over digital spaces, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lines have been drawn with permanent marker, arrangements made to improve inclusive numbers, but how come there hasn’t been much progress?

No, really . . . why hasn’t there been much real progress?

To speak up about the need for diversity is one thing, but to actually go about filling that need is another thing entirely.

Torture Porn? No thank you.

I agree that books can be a mirror, window, or door to other peoples or places; however, not every window is meant to be peeked into. That’s why the term Peeping Tom deserves its negative connotation. The same goes for voyeurs of the sadistic kind. When Black people are brutalized in films, there’s no doubt in my mind that it pleases those that consider us less than human or a blight on the planet. While watching these scenes which are created to garner empathy, none will be found for those that watch to smile and cheer at the inhumanity done to other humans.

I won’t deny that there has been an increase in movies with non-white characters or even movies and series written by Black writers and producers. Oh, there most definitely have been. That’s fantastic. And there have been disgruntled reactionary rumblings in the Black spaces and groups and channels I frequently visit. Two primary laments that repeatedly come up are:

“We don’t need or want another slave movie”

“We don’t need to see another murdered-by-the-police story”.

And more:

“Is it too much to ask to see a healthy, Black couple just living their lives?” or “I’d love to see more Black people in horror–you know, not dying within the first scene . . . or an other-ised monstrosity?”

But asking does not mean you shall receive.

So then when we end up getting “movies” like this:

When what we really wanted was something more like these:

makes me wonder what the heck is going on. 😐

Disclaimer1

These are my opinions. I do not speak for all Black people.

B-b-but It’s Not About Race . . . aka It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby!

Believe it or not . . . money and race are not exclusionary. Both can simultaneously exist and not cancel each other out. For those that argue diversity is failing or that it doesn’t work because audiences won’t spend money on it is a false conclusion. Furthermore, just because something is lucrative does not equate its level of value or worth.

That aside, there have been a lot of remakes!

Some call this rehashing of old ideas and nostalgia-bathing intertextuality. And believe me, there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia.

Intertextuality is an idea that any text has been influenced and shaped by texts that have preceded it. Thus, no film exists on its own and consciously or unconsciously all films borrow ideas from other films, past or present. In other words, there is nothing new under the sun. Needless to say, my take on Little Red Riding Hood will still be unique because it comes from my own personal experiences and idiosyncrasies that make me moi.

Intertextuality is now a bankable thing, but I go for the head and will also call this phenomenon Lucrative Ego-Tripping.

Tony Stark Make it Rain

Dr. Dolittle Remake

Color me surprised . . . another remake! ::gasp::

Basically, the latest movies from both the DCU, MCU, and even the beloved Disney live-action remakes are sometimes regurgitated “goodness”, sure to sell, and sell oh-so-very well, which poses the rhetorical question: why try something new when the old guarantees overflowing coffers?

Diversity and Inclusion

To the naysayers, fakers (looking at you, Diversity Illusionist!), and haters diversity and inclusion isn’t going away. It is not a trend. It is not the latest fashion. It is not charity work done by well-meaning and sometimes mealy-mouthed people looking to get a pat on the head paired with a glass of milk and a cookie.

It is the way of the world.

And the world is a beautifully diverse place.

So, books in all shapes and forms should reflect this reality.

After all, books are the conduit to all that and more.

A Reader lives_Martin

Consider and reflect on where you stand . . . happy reading and writing!

 

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 27

Song

John Rollin Ridge1827 – 1867

I saw her once—her eye’s deep light
Fell on my spirit’s deeper night,
The only beam that e’er illumed
Its shadows drear. The glance was slight,
But oh, what softness it assumed!

I saw her twice—her glance again
Lit up its fire within my brain;
My thoughts leaped up, like lightning warm,
And felt a sweetness mixed with pain,
While gath’ring wildly round her form.

I saw her thrice—she was alone,
And her deep glance more deeply shone
Upon my heart with rapture chained,
The thrill was a meteor thrown
Athwart some sky where darkness reigned!

I saw her yet again—and clear,
But low, her rich tones met my ear;
They wandered thro’ my bosom sad,
As waters thro’ a woodland sere,
That make decay itself seem glad.

The fifth time I saw her—and still
She taught my quiv’ring heart to thrill,
Like some wild hand upon a lyre,
That’s borne along, without its will,
Across the strings of magic fire!

I saw her oft again—, each hour
Enhanced o’er me her conquering power;
Her image in my thought became
A spirit-planted, fadeless flower;
And all my music was her name!

I loved the earth on which she trod—
More beautiful than if a God
Had placed immortal foot-prints there!
I loved the world, though dark its load
Of ills, because she breathed its air!

I loved her slightest careless word—
More sweet than matin of the bird
That scales the Heaven on mounting wing!
It through my maddened pulses stirred,
As though it were a living thing.

Oh, that ’rapt heart’s forever gone,
That boweth once to Beauty’s throne,
And feels the bliss her looks inspire;
For, oh, the seeds of death are sown,
When love assumes its mad empire!

 

This poem is in the public domain.

The War of the Genres and Why Fantasy Writing isn’t for Everyone! (I Feel Your Pain, George R.R. Martin)!

I love reading all kinds of genres. Whether it be poems, song lyrics, autobiographies, recipes, etc. I’m not a picky reader. In this post, I’ll discuss something few talk about.

The War of the Genres!

Publish America and the Hasty Generalization That Pissed Off the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community

Almost twenty years ago, a company called PublishAmerica asserted SF/F authors, “have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home,” are “not ashamed to be seen as literary parasites and plagiarists,” and believe that their preferred genres liberate them from such concepts as “believable storylines” or “believable every-day characters.”

not-sure-if-i-should-be-laughing-or-thems-fightin-words

Needless to say, this feud started by PublishAmerica’s needless criticisms of the science fiction and fantasy world didn’t end well for the company. Don’t they know this rule: when reputation is on the line NEVER, EVER go against a group of people that plays god for a living by weaving words into worlds.

Inconceivable_Princess Bride

A group of renowned authors got together and created a sting operation to show the world that PublishAmerica was indeed (at worst) a scam and (at best) a vanity press swindling naive writers out of their money while pretending to be a traditional publisher. They created an unpublishable and unreadable book called, “Atlanta Nights”. PublishAmerica being who PublishAmerica was or is (hey, is this company even around anymore?) published the book. You can read more about all of those juicy bits here.

On a personal note, I had almost fallen for the PublishAmerica scam. At that time, I may have been a teenager, but I sensed a disturbance in the force and stayed away. 🙂

I find it interesting that the way the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre has flowed in so many amazing directions that the hate would go away. Unfortunately, someone had posted this question on Quora: “What are the fatal flaws in writing fantasy?”

The responder, (whose name I won’t post) has his own opinions that for the most part I don’t agree with, but this gem . . . oh boy, this gem I found to be so untrue:

Fantasy for many writers is just a decoration. They don’t really need anything “fantastic” in their story, but they like it. It’s easier to write fantasy because it doesn’t really take that much research and you can explain a lot of things by how “this world is made”.

First of all, in order for fantasy writing to work, there needs to be the spirit of realism that not only breathes life into the author’s fantastically amazing world (setting), but also connects the reader so that the reader can then make connections. Second, fantasy does indeed take a heck of a lot of research. For instance, let’s say that your main character is a farm girl, and you, the darling author, know nothing about this profession. Well, you better start researching on agriculture. How are crops irrigated? What crops does your main character grow? You know, simple stuff like that to infuse realism into the story. Now, let’s say that your main character farm girl needs to travel for miles to reach the next plot point — how long will it take? How many hours are even in a day of this fantastical and fictitious world? Is she using a horse? Traveling by boat? How many miles? What, we don’t use miles in this world? Well, what are they even EQUIVALENT to?Oh Lord — bring forth the calculator!

We Need to Use . . . MATH

Here are some basic questions most fantasy writers know to ask themselves when planning their worlds:

GEOGRAPHY

  • Do you know the general layout of your world? Do you have some sort of loose map of it in your head? Where do different places lie in relation to others?
  • How does the location of different landmarks and countries influence their trade?
  • How does the climate and terrain differ in different regions of your world?
  • What are the weather patterns like? Are certain locations more vulnerable to certain elements of nature?
  • What plants grow in which areas? Do any of them have any special properties?
  • What wildlife is common in which areas?

NAMES

  • Are your names based upon certain cultures?
  • Do they translate to something?
  • Does the name fit the world and cultures you’ve built into it, or will it your reader find it jarring?

MILITARY

  • How are troops obtained? Through conscription or voluntary enlistment?
  • Who are the country’s allies? Why are they allied with them? Are the allies happy with the arrangement?
  • Is the country at war, or close to it? Why? With who?
  • What are the key military fighting techniques?
  • Are there any noteworthy weapons or transports?
  • What branch of the military excels? Do they have a particularly strong army, navy, etc.?
  • What about previous wars, alliances, and treaties? What prompted them? How did they influence interacting cultures, countries, and warfare?

EDUCATION

  • Is there any sort of public education, or is schooling reserved for the wealthy?
  • How about books? Do “peasants” and the middle-class have access to them, or are they solely in libraries– at schools and in wealthy estates?
  • Is it common to know how to read?
  • What are the basic tasks and facts people learn as children? Does it differ between genders? How about between social classes?
  • Are studies valued, or looked down upon culturally (generally speaking)?

GOVERNMENT

  • Is the government a monarchy? A democracy? A republic?
  • Who are some past noteworthy rulers or government officials? Who do the citizens remember now? And why are they remembered?
  • Is there an essential governing document (like the U.S.’s Constitution)?
  • Is it largely a patriarchal or matriarchal society? Or does it attempt equality?
  • What’s the currency?
  • How is incarceration determined? Is there any sort of court system?
  • What about capital punishment? Are people regularly executed– and what are the capital crimes? How about the method of execution?
  • What are the most important laws of the land? What laws are particularly unique to your world?

RELIGION

  • Related to the above topic of government, does religion have a place in the government or is there a separation between the two entities?
  • Are religious practices mandated by the state? Do those who don’t comply– or those who have a different belief system– face persecution?
  • What do people believe in this religion? What myths surround it?
  • Is the religion monotheistic? Polytheistic?
  • Are there holy texts? Scriptures?
  • What practices or services do worshippers attend? What’s entailed in them?
  • Who are the religious officials?
  • Are there particular holy days to note?

CULTURE

  • What denotes status in this world?
  • How does courting work?
  • What traditions are there surrounding life milestones (birthdays, weddings, births, deaths…)?
  • Are there particular superstitions?
  • What are the fashions like? The trends? What influences (modesty, climate, status) does it have?
  • What’s the architecture like?
  • What’s the food and drink like?
  • Are there any special festivals that people attend?
  • What are the typical gathering places for inhabitants of the world when they have spare time?

And that’s just scratching the surface! Click on this link (information provided by SFWA — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) to see how deeper one can go when they’re seriously planning their fantasy world. The above questions were provided by Jennifer Elision.

Here’s a diagram of what we readers experience as we (automatically — this skill sometimes has to be taught to young readers) interact with the text:

Connections Readers Make to Text

Text to Self=connection between yourself and the book you’re reading. Text to Text= connecting characters, setting, or events from one book to another. Text to World= connecting the story to world history and events.

Most importantly, these three connections keep readers engaged from the beginning to the ending of a good book.

The Tortoise and the Hare

tortoise-hare-1

When you were little, you may have heard this fable and learned that the moral to the story is “slow and steady wins the race”, but I’m going to have to go with what Jacob Davenport deduced instead:

Success depends on using your talents, not just having them.

And when it comes to being slow, I mean reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy slow, three incredibly talented and fantastic authors come to mind and they’re making their fans lose their minds:

jim butcher

patrick rothfuss

george rr martin

My husband introduced me to Jim Butcher and Patrick Rothfuss. My oldest brother introduced me to George R.R. Martin. These three amigos are talented authors and I hope to meet them someday at conventions. Not to bask in their glory, but to soak up their great literary wizardry through osmosis.

But I digress. Apologies.

The simplest conclusion one could come to is that authors like Butcher, Rothfuss, and Martin aren’t doing their jobs because books are taking too long to “come out”. But again, like I said, it’s the simplest conclusion that doesn’t take much thought or consideration for the fact that these authors are also people with lives other than their books. Lives that include families, hobbies, and other personal attributes that may get in the way of their writing. In one interview, Rothfuss mentioned that he hadn’t finished the third book in the KingKiller Chronicles because he had to deconstruct it first. He also expressed that he wanted it to be just right. You know, he cares about impressing his fans.

Jim Butcher has endured a lot lately: divorce, death of his beloved dog, and I’m sure a lot more that the public doesn’t need to know about.

Nevertheless, some George R.R. Martin fans be like: “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, return to your Cave of Ordeals and complete the final book and kill off another beloved character so that we may cry!”

George be like:

george rr martin gives impatient fans the finger

Binders Full of Research

I’m reading 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. The first day, I was able to crank out 1,964 words. I noticed that if I had all of my plans more detailed I could have written more. But every once in a while, I had to flip back to my notes, maps, character goals, fears, and so forth . . . or sometimes, I was quite naughty and chose to just keep writing even though I knew I’d have to go back and fix those wobbly bits during revision time.

Fantasy writers have so much to keep track of! In an interview, George R.R. Martin explained that he’s unable to write while he’s traveling to conventions and attending other meetings. He feels most comfortable at his home where he can easily access his notes.

I get it! Oh, do I get it and I empathize with both the readers that want the next book in the series, but I also understand how writers feel about the book being “just so”. After all, we are creating worlds from scratch. Now, I don’t personally know about other fantasy writers (besides those who have based their works off of medieval Europe), but I often base my worlds off of historical and current events that I find interesting. I even look to the geography and customs of real-life cultures and languages for inspiration. Not only am I learning more about the world I live in, but I’m able to create great plot twists and character sketches based off of historical places and people. Now, just because I may think that fantasy writers have it harder than a strictly mainstream fiction writer doesn’t mean that I have to demonize said mainstream fiction writers in order to lift up or edify the trials and tribulations of the fantasy genre. Unfortunately, writers of different genres sometimes treat one another poorly (even writers that belong in the same genre group — read about the sad puppies and rabid puppies to get an idea of what has happened and is still happening in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community).

“My Genre Brings All the Readers to the Checkout”

In Kelise’s Hip Hop R&B song, Milkshake she sings in a taunting and sensuous voice, “my milk shake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, ‘it’s better than yours’. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I can teach you, but I have to charge.” If the word milkshake is metaphorical for sex appeal, then when it comes to writers and their “literary appeal” it’s all about how well we craft words (and often worlds) in order to keep our readers spellbound page by page. There are so many different flavors of books! When I teach genre writing, I often compare the different genres to actual tastes. It’s like Baskin Robbins with all of those glorious 31 flavors. In other words, horror doesn’t have the same flavor to me as a space opera. Don’t ask me why, but horror stories have a medium-rare cheeseburger-ish quality to me while space operas make me think of popcorn and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and a side of pickles. Can’t forget the pickles.

darth_pickle_by_star_wars_fan_club

See, I’m not the only one.

kwei quartey_author

Kwei Quartey

baskin robbins flavors

Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors. Gimme! Gimme them all!

 

 

 

 

Even when you’ve read a mystery novel, one book differs from another. Obviously because they’re written by two different people.

charlain harris_author

Charlaine Harris

For example, The Julius House, by Charlaine Harris in comparison to Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods are worlds apart — not necessarily because one is a Caucasian-American woman and the other is an African man (he was born in Ghana) will be exceptionally different. Most importantly due to the settings. Quartey’s crime novel takes place in Ghana while Harris’ cozy mystery takes place in Georgia. Sometimes the settings of any good book (regardless of genre) becomes a character all on its own.

Now, back to the main debate. Critics of genre fiction, more specifically Science Fiction and Fantasy, believe that literary fiction is better because readers get a sense of “accomplishment” and “fulfillment” when they finish reading a book by authors like Haruki Murakami or Zadie Smith. While on the other hand, Science Fiction and Fantasy books are solely meant for escapism and entertainment.

grumpy cat disagrees

Yes, Science Fiction and Fantasy stories can also be a commentary on society and a way of seeing the world and understanding it. Not escaping.

lloyd-alexander-quote-fantasy

A fantastic example of an author writing stories that transcended this Tolkien idea of fantasy as a “glorious escape” is two-time Hugo Award Winner, N.K. Jemisin Her novel, The Fifth Season left me crying — not only because I wanted to read more — but because the book was so emotionally gripping! Before the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy even begins, Jemisin dedicates the book like this:

“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”

Chills. 

As I’ve said before it’s unnecessary to denigrate one group in order to protect and uplift another. We don’t need to demonize one to uplift the other. Whether you like Genre fiction or Literary fiction there’s plenty of room for both. 🙂 Or even better . . . a hybrid of the two.

nk jemisin

N.K. Jemisin

the_fifth_season_by_n_k_jemisin

Racism? You Don’t Say?

A discussion came up on Facebook regarding the apparent lack of diversity in publishing when Martha Boss, book blogger, educator, and model shared her opinion regarding the lack of diversity at book events. She explained that she had no desire to attend any literary events that didn’t have authors from all walks of life. And in the United States of America in 2017, one would think that such an opinion would be positively acknowledged and celebrated. Unfortunately, an uproar of finger-pointing and finger-wagging ensued by some disgruntled readers of her post. On a positive note, the conversation inspired me to write this post.

Before I delve into where I stand on this matter, I will first give some background knowledge and context.

Most of you may know that my husband is white. I bring up his skin color because of the nature of this post. You see, some time ago Marvel was relaunching Spiderman and making the hero that followed in Peter Parker’s steps a young man named Miles Morales, who is  half-Black and half-Hispanic.

spider-man-miles-morales-peter-parker

I was okay with this change. And as an advocate for diversity, I’m all about the inclusion of more and more people of color in all social constructs. On the other hand, my husband was concerned about this change. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Spiderman, he’s a young man named Peter Parker who happens to be white, like most of the comic book characters that have become not only popular, but also who have become mainstream due to aggressive marketing and appearances in movies (Batman, Deadpool, Superman, ad nauseum). All alternate personas of these heroes are white males. And all but two of them are filthy rich (yes, looking at you, Deadpool and Mr. Kent.)

Hardcore fans are all about staying true to the “canon”. And there are laws that must never be broken.

Two main “no-no’s” are:

THOU SHALT NOT CHANGE THE COLOR OF THE CHARACTER.

THOU SHALT NOT CHANGE THE GENDER OF THE CHARACTER.

My husband was concerned that the writers weren’t staying true to the canon by changing Spiderman’s ethnicity. My husband’s argument was logical especially when he supported it with this gold nugget: “The market should be actively looking for writers with new fresh faces and cultures to add to the Marvel or DC universe. Peter Parker should keep on being Spiderman.”

I agreed with my husband that the Industry or Market should be looking for new material from different perspectives instead of rehashing the same tripe year after year.  Moreover, consumers need to do their job by demanding what they want and if the Market isn’t giving it to them? Well, now. There’s this powerful principle called supply and demand and it’s a beautiful thing. If I don’t like a show, I won’t watch it. If I don’t like a restaurant, I won’t eat there. For example, even if McDonald’s were the last restaurant on the planet I REFUSE TO EAT THERE!

A few months after my husband and I had our third child, he turned to me and said, “I get what you’re saying. You know, about seeing more characters that are people of color. I don’t want our sons growing up not seeing that they’re important. That they exist.”

we need diverse books3

BINGO!

And the cry for diverse books wasn’t enough because then you fall into the bait-and-switch trap that it’s okay for white authors to write books that star nonwhites as the characters. Then, the #ownvoices movement was ushered in to stress how important it is for people of color to tell their own stories in their own voices and not having to fear that they needed to pander to or patronize a white audience or any audience (regardless of color) that didn’t understand where they were coming from.

Too bad these movements aren’t making waves on television. Yet. You see, over the past several months, my husband and I observed a disturbing trend regarding television shows for children. I’ll most likely go into more detail about that in a future post. 🙂

The conversation that my husband and I shared regarding the necessity for diversity in books and comics inspired me to reflect on my childhood as a reader and where I am now as an author and reader. My reflection motivated me to write this blog post.

Now, back to the main topic.

In one of my previous blog posts I discussed the deathtrap of stereotypes.  A common stereotype regarding Black people is that we don’t like to read. It was also one of the arguments that excuses the cold, hard fact that 88% of books reviewed by the New York Times are written by white authors. So, one could ignorantly draw the conclusion that Black people don’t like to write either. Or that they don’t know how to write. But, if they do like to write, they’re not very good at it because they don’t like to read and thus there’s no market for them. And that’s just the way it is.

Uh, no. Just no.

weneeddiversebooksbecause

Yes, indeed. 🙂

When I purchase books for my classroom I choose them very carefully. I want books that will not only keep my students engaged, but appeal to their gender, not only relate to their own experiences, but challenge, and build onto this foundation. My Black students, as well as White, Asian, and Latino students love reading a good book regardless of what color the main characters are . . . or whether or not the main characters are even human. However, there comes a time when nonwhite students wonder WHY their experiences, their truths, their very essence isn’t proudly shown on the cover of a book or even within its pages. I know because I was once their age and wondered these thoughts: Am I not worth writing about? Are people like me not worth reading about? (Well, unless you’re a slave getting the crap beat out of them). By the way, what is the USA’s morbid obsession with Black pathology? Yuck.)

We Need Diverse Authors

About eight years ago, libraries (some may still practice this, but I’m pleased to say my local library DOES NOT) shelved books based on genre in an obsessive compulsive way that would impress even this guy:

monk-logo

Back then, there were no cross-genres.

mixedupauthor

Dear heart, weep not. Tis 2017 and we live and breathe for literary mashups such as yours. 🙂

No, no, no. Every little book went into its own boxed off little shelfie-welfie corner. Oh yes, yes, yes.

So books like this:

black romance

 

 

 

or this . . . romance_black

 

 

 

 

 

 

wouldn’t appear in the general romance aisle, but be ghettoized or segregated from that oh-so lucrative and coveted section and placed in the African-American books, Street Lit, Urban Lit, or wherever library’s chose to place books with dark brown to light brown faces on the cover. Think about your local grocery store and how soy sauce, butter chicken, and curry are cordoned off in their own aisle labeled “multicultural or ethnic” away from the other condiments. Even poor sauerkraut and gelfilte fish has its place there. If I hadn’t watched the Food Channel or binge watched “Great Eats Around the World” I would remain culinarily (made that word up) ignorant! Now, regarding the segregated books: Was this practice intentionally racist? *Shrugs shoulders*. Not sure. But, one could see how this limits authors of color from being discovered from readers regardless of their color even though it fit in the “general genre”.

A couple of weeks ago while visiting my local library I noticed a lot of newer authors I had never seen before. I was so impressed that the library had become “integrated” that I had to take a picture of it!

libraryintegration

A Japanese author, a Black author, a White author, and even a Native American author all on one shelf! 😀 And all different genres! Ha! Impressive. 

Clearly, people and books don’t belong in boxes. Well, unless you’re dead and boxed in a coffin. Sorry, I digress.

In 2015, Lee & Low, a publishing house that prides itself on finding new authors of color shared the results of the Diversity Baseline Survey, which revealed that overall the Industry is predominantly white and female. Bet you weren’t expecting THAT revelation. But, it’s true. And when I say overall we’re talking about all levels:

  • Executive Level
  • Editorial Dept.
  • Sales Dept.
  • Marketing & Publicity Dept.
  • Book Reviewers

Is this predominantly female white status quo deliberate and thus, racist? Well, if you consider the data . . . the other question is will it be kept this way and by design?

While I hunted for facts regarding the struggle many writers of color — Asian, Caribbean, African, South American — experience trying to get published, I encountered similar stories:

  • Mira Jacob, young author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, shared a powerful speech about her struggles as an (East) Indian woman dealing with ignorance and prejudice in the publishing industry. A MUST READ!
  • Jenny Zhang shares how a white poet, Michael Derrick Hudson, used a Chinese pen name, Yi Fen Chou.
  • Paul Langan, a white novelist writes popular series about Black students growing up in an Urban setting.
  • Brandon Tensley discusses America’s Problem With Writers of Color.
  • PP Wong, author and editor shares how many times her novel was rejected. One of the reasons is really, really, really stupid. And clandestinely racist.
  • Phenderson Clark, speculative fiction writer of Afro-Caribbean descent draws back the curtain regarding racism against fellow Black authors (and the lack of characters) in the science fiction and fantasy community.

To piggy-back on the final bullet regarding the science fiction and fantasy genre that I write and adore I come to a fork in the road. Lately, several of the Big Five publishers that are located in New York are requesting romance novels from Black authors. I don’t know how to write strictly Romance. I mean, doesn’t it entail, you know, like a “formula” where handsome guy meets gorgeous lady and they don’t like each other at first until he or she does something and then the tide is turned and then they like each other, but not like that and then they fight and break up and then you know — heck, I DON’T KNOW! So, my point that I’m trying to make is do I just “sell out” and go to the “Crimson Wine and Chocolate Covered Cherries Side” of Le Force and write Romance because it’s popular and I’m more than likely to succeed since there’s an open call for it?

Like I said before, I don’t know how to write strictly Romance. I need creepy scenes, an occasional vampire or demon to slay. I need undiscovered elements on the periodic table. I need a nod to the current status quo and how to change it. I need to believe that there are dragons to slay whether they be literal or figurative. I need to hope for windows, doors, closets, basements, or even dreams that lead to alternate dimensions.

I may not write Romance yet, but I could learn, if I feel so inclined, and not because it’s what a publisher wants of me to selfishly benefit themselves.  In other words, why should writers of color pigeonhole themselves? We should be able to write what we want.

This scenario brings this excerpt from Rachel Deahl’s Publisher Weekly’s article, “Why Publishing is So White”:

So how does the industry move forward and do better? Right now, publishing seems to be struggling with the difference between words and actions. Take, for example, a situation a publisher at a reputable Midwestern press recounted. Claiming he is “always trying to diversify our staff,” he brought up a recent editorial assistant search that initially yielded 250 applicants. The press narrowed its options down to eight finalists, five of whom were white and three of whom were people of color. Although all the finalists were “excellent” in his estimation, the position went to a white woman. The reason? “There’s no room for tokenism at [our press].”

Dude, there’s no need for tokenism! What a cop out!

There’s always going to be a first and you don’t have to stop there. A first — if that’s the intended direction you want to go — will lead to a second and a third.

It only takes one to turn the tide.

The need for diverse books from diverse authors with different stories to tell isn’t a trend and never will be.

I'mnotatrend

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir

 

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 24

Octavia Butler has been called the Queen of Sci-Fi and with the worlds, themes, and characters she has created and written about, the title is well-deserved. She unfortunately died on February 24, 2006. Due to the white male dominated world of science-fiction I had recently learned of her existence a few years ago. A few years too late.

My first taste of Butler was “Wild Seed”, a unique science-fiction novel about two shapeshifters — Doro and Anyanwu — who are drawn to one another in a bizarre dance of love, desire, and fear. I relished in the descriptions, the characters, and the settings (African jungle and United States of America).

I’m grieved with her loss and wonder what she would be creating and writing today at the age of 70.

Now that she is gone, perhaps the gatekeepers sense a giant, yawning vacuum hungry for a replacement. Unfortunately, genius such as Butler’s is irreplaceable. But, the gatekeepers can only try. After all, the science fiction genre is still dominated by white men. Yes, there are authors such as: Le Guin, Doris Lessing, C.L. Moore, Zenna Henderson, Madeleine L’Engle, and C.J. Cherryh. Alas, this list doesn’t deserve a tally mark ( maybe a brownie point) when these authors are also all white regardless of their gender.

Recently, authors like N.K. Jemisin (and I’m certain several others who I haven’t learned of yet) have earned top awards and made it to the nation’s best-seller lists in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

nkjemisin

N.K. Jemisin

Butler’s genius and success in a male dominated genre is inspirational. But, I’ll take her advice below and follow her where it truly counts:

Quote #24

OctaviaButler

Quotes to Write By – Day 13 . . . with a BONUS!

I have two quotes today from two different authors: Daniel José Older and Ray Bradbury.

daniel jose older

Older

From a superficial perspective, it appears that these men don’t have much in common. However, both Older and

ray bradbury

Bradbury

Bradbury are exceptionally talented writers. Yes, are. Even though Ray Bradbury has died, his stories are still read and discussed today. For example, Fahrenheit 451 was one of the first-ever dystopian novels! Bradbury was also a screenwriter and he worked in many different genres: fantasy, science-fiction, horror, mystery. Likewise, Older is not only a talented writer that writes in different genres. He is also a composer and an editor. I first learned about him over a year ago when I saw a copy of his fantasy novel, Shadowshaperat my local library.

Shadowshaper_cover-

Sierra, the protagonist, in all of her glory!

I had to read the book. Needed to. I don’t recall ever reading a book that spotlighted an Afro-Latina as the lead! (Review will be coming soon). Older is an expert at stringing words together without too much flowery description. The dialogue and setting is realistic. The characters are relatable!

I aspire to be like the authors Bradbury and Older by writing more and dabbling in different genres and medians to stretch, tighten, and polish my author’s voice. Why? Because I’ve got to be better than I was the day before. After all, readers of all ages and colors are relying on writers for more “honest literature”! 🙂 There’s much work to do.

 

Quote #13

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

Ray Bradbury

BONUS QUOTE

daniel jose older_quotes

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir