MARCH

TIPS FOR WRITING AUTHENTIC

DIVERSE CHARACTERS


03-23-19 – Paty Jager – All Feelings Are Universal


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Stopping Time...

Don't we all wish that one time or another that we could stop time? To take a moment longer to enjoy something?

One way I do that is with a time capsule journal. 
Time capsule journals can be used to capture daily life... I do weekly ones - here is one from from last summer and last week.
As with any journal, there are no rules. I like to keep mine a ‘surface’ recap. I ‘work-out’ my personal ‘issues’ in a personal  journal.
A one all purpose journal doesn’t work for me. I took me years to figure that out… I know a little slow. Journaling is personal and so you need to do it the best way it fits you. It's a way of stopping time. Of capturing a moment.
Back from the rabbit hole. My weekly recaps vary as you can see. Sometimes there are lots of pictures…sometimes memorable from events… whatever reflects what I want to highlight for the week.
My aim for my time capsule journal is to keep record of the what was going on around me. I include family members but only worldly events that touched me personally. I know that may sound selfish but I can research what happened world wide but that won’t have the fact I spent time building a leprechaun trap with my 7 year old.
The time capsule journal is by far the most undefined and open for personal definition. I've helped friends set them for weddings, births, and a kidney transplant. It's a journal meant to stop time. 
What types of journals do you keep? I'd love to hear about your journal(s). Have a great month and see you in April!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

If I Could Turn Back Time ...

I am a self-confessed genre-hopper  and have more than one historical story brewing. Obviously this requires a degree of research, not only because I don't know much about whatever period I'm writing about, but also to ensure a reasonable amount of accuracy. Research lets me immerse myself in that period (the research rabbit hole is very seductive).

One of my WIPs (Sophronia) stemmed from my love of photography and fascination with the sensuality of  'French postcards' from the Belle Epoch era. It was a short period (1871 - 1914) with my story is set around 1912 which would have been a fascinating period to be a woman.

It was a time of change in the strictures of society and clothing. Fashion was changing from a tightly corseted waist to a more cylindrical look. Yes, corsets were still required, but they were now long-line rather than the breath-stealing, waist-cinching corsets of previous fashion trends.

While good old Google is fabulous for research, there is nothing like the real thing, and I was lucky enough this week to go to a free fashion exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in my hometown of Melbourne. My researchers heart did a little jump for joy when I spotted a few original examples of dresses from the Belle Epoch.

Now, when my heroine is at a formal dinner and meets the hero for the first time, I can describe in perfect detail the French gown she excitedly bought on her last shopping expedition.  She can be as taken as I was with the fine detailing and delicate fabrics.

The suffragette movement kicked into high gear around this time, when women fought for the right to vote into their own hands and showed men that would no longer be quiet home-bodies. That many of them, out of necessity, were now a part of the workforce and were entitled to divorce a drunken husband and keep custody of their children).  While my heroine is from the upper class of society, so many of those women of privilege were very vocal in their support of their fellow females. I can now picture Sophronia in her striped day dress, with a purple, green and white sash over one shoulder, in defiance of her horrified parents.

I'm pretty sure I would have been a supporter of the movement, although I doubt I could have gone to the extremes of going on a hunger strike in jail and being force-fed, or throwing myself in front of a barrage of galloping horses at Ascot. I would love to have been Sophronia's friend and be in the privileged position of having a comfortable life and beautiful clothes, of meeting her sexy hero who discovers her secret life as a French postcard model but supports her desire to assert her independence.

While I love the times we live in today, and I'd be extremely reluctant to not have the luxuries, conveniences and freedoms we have - it would be kinda fun to (temporarily) immerse myself in the time that was the birth of a lot of what we take for granted today.

Catch up on all Andra's writing news in her bi-monthly newsletter 'The Naughty Corner' (and get an exclusive copy of 'The Biker and the Ballerina'). Subscribe here.





Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"If I Could Live for a Week in Any Time Period" by Delsora Lowe


When I was thirty-five, I finally graduated from college. I had an Associate Degree, earned at age nineteen, but then I went on to get married and have children. I was old enough to know what I wanted when I worked on obtaining a Bachelor Degree to finish my last two years of college, while holding down four part-time jobs and raising two young teens.
Margaret Sanger 1922


I fought with the administration of the college, and finally won the right to declare an independent major in Women’s Studies. My thesis was on women’s roles in history and sociology (my loosely-based minors to shore up my self-designed major) using, in part, my grandmother’s work with Margaret Sanger in New York City for my final thesis. I can’t remember how old my grandmother was during her time in NYC, but I will guess 20-25, so she would have been doing this work in around 1915-20.


Now many years later, my mind is foggy on the details and I cannot find the tape recording I made as my grandmother related her experiences, nor can I find my thesis (I think they are in a box in the basement somewhere). But one thing I do remember is my grandmother’s interview and her shrugging and stating her experience was no big deal. To me, a feminist and a student of women’s history, it was the biggest deal ever to know my grandmother, Dolly, was a huge part of the women’s movement history in our country.

My Grandmother "Dolly,"
Charlotte More Meloney, around 1915-20
So, as someone who has never claimed to be brave, I would love to not only put on my brave face but be able to follow my grandmother around for one week during that part of her life. She was a dynamic and brave woman, a huge role model in the way she led her life. I remember when I interviewed her, how she told me when she died and came back in another form, she hoped to be a nurse in Appalachia, riding horseback through the mountains to care for people. She would never marry. I told her that now she could be a doctor, the dream she gave up, and be married too. She shook her head and vowed to stick to her first plan of reincarnation.


My grandmother had attended college as a pre-med student, one of eight women in the course. Four went on to med school. Four married and raised families. My grandmother was in the latter group. She divorced when my mother was twenty-five. My grandfather went on to marry three more times. In Dolly’s mind, and in line with the era in which she lived, she had to make choices.


To me, going back in time and living that one week alongside my grandmother, would be an exhilarating adventure. I can’t imagine the hard work, the stress, the fear of doing work that was considered illegal at the time, all to help give women a choice in what they did with their own bodies. But I know in my heart, I could not stand up to the work and dedication shown by women like Margaret Sanger and my grandmother. Maybe it is my own fear to go out on a limb. Maybe in my younger days, I may have been that brave. I’d like to think so.

Suffragist March, 1913, Washington, DC.

I recently read a romance, Escape to the Biltmore, by Patricia Riddle Gaddis, based in the era during the time my grandmother was probably weighing her college and work options. The story is about two doctors who meet and end up working together. The heroine, an unmarried female who knew
By Patricia Riddle Gaddis
her choice to become a doctor precluded her from ever marrying. The hero, a doctor who was a product of his environment and the era in which he lived. It’s a romance, as I said, so you can guess what happens in the end. But up until then, Gaddis does a magnificent job of portraying how each character handles the life they have chosen and the societal parameters imposed on each.

Reading this novel, brought back all the memories of my grandmother’s stories. I wish she were still here today, to see that she could have had both—a career she was passionate about that would meld with the chance to include having love and a family.


Here’s to my grandmother and all the women who paved the way. And here is to generations of women who follow my generation, who will continue to work and love hard, as they make this world a better place in which to live. And here’s a salute to Women’s History Month.


P.S. Next time we have this topic, remind me to tell you about my actress aunt turned military pilot during WWII. Another brave and inspiring woman.



Delsora Lowe writes small town sweet romances and contemporary westerns from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Maine

~ cottages to cabins ~ 
~ keep the home fires burning ~



Lowe’s family visits to Colorado are the inspiration for an upcoming contemporary western series, Cowboys of Mineral Springs, book one to be released in April 2019. And her daughter’s wedding and her son’s home, both on the coast of Maine, provided plentiful ideas for the Starlight Grille series (released in 2017 and 2018).

LINKS:
Delsora Lowe FB Page: fb.me/delsoraloweauthor
Delsora Lowe Website: www.delsoralowe.com
Delsora Lowe Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2nRx1Bs 
Delsora Lowe Books2Read Author Page: https://www.books2read.com/ap/8GWm98/Delsora-Lowe
Delsora Lowe Author Newsletter signup (only sent out when there is news): http://www.delsoralowe.com/contact.html
Delsora Lowe Author Blog; http://www.delsoralowe.com/blog
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16045986.Delsora_Lowe

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/3829267554
Escape to the Biltmore -Buy on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Biltmore-Patricia-Riddle-Gaddis-book/dp/B07FWDFQHV/



Photo Credits: 
Margaret Sanger 1922: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MargaretSanger-Underwood.LOC.jpg; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division, reproduction number LC-USZ62-29808.
Suffragist March in Washington DC 1913, Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson (center on Horseback) U.S. Capitol in background (Library of Congress)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Celebrating A New Release by Kristin Wallace



I’m excited to give you a glimpse of my new book SECOND CHANCE HERO, which will be out March 26. It’s part of a new trilogy in the Palm Cove Tales.

Second Chance Hero is the follow-up to The Heiress Games trilogy, featuring Serena Douglas, who not only lost the Armington fortune, but also managed to escape the competition without falling in love. Or so she thought…

After losing the Heiress Games, Serena Douglas, has been reduced to living off the largess of a pampered pig and the benevolent graces of her childhood nemesis, Eve Bennett. Then Serena learns she has a chance to win a fortune of her own. Deceased heiress, Victoria Armington, has arranged for the other Armington descendants to secure a $10 million trust, including Serena’s sister Isabella. The catch? In order to gain control of the trusts, they must all be gainfully employed. Serena is determined to get her hands on the trust. Not for herself, but for the sake of Isabella, who needs the money to fight leukemia. All she has to do is convince someone to hire a former heiress with no job skills. Her search leads to Damon Grant, the man she’s been trying to forget since she was a teenager. All she has to do is convince him she can help protect a bald show cat.

Security expert, Damon Grant, nearly lost his life when a bereaved mother tried to take out the participants of the Heiress Games. He’s been stuck in Palm Cove trying to recover. Just when he’s finally ready to escape, Damon finds himself agreeing to protect a Sphynx cat named King Tut, who’s been threatened if his owner doesn’t remove him from a prestigious cat show. Damon never figured on hiring an assistant for the job, and certainly not pampered princess, Serena Douglas. She’s been an enticing thorn in his side since he was a teenager. By rights he should hate her. She’s spoiled, arrogant, and she used to torment his best friend, Eve Bennett. Still, that’s never stopped him from wanting Serena, or saving her, even when it cost him everything.

As Serena and Damon work together to uncover the villain threatening King Tut, they’re also working overtime to resist an attraction that’s been simmering for decades. Can they overcome past pain, and Serena’s past behavior, to find a second chance at love? 

Here's an Excerpt:

Serena grabbed a glass of champagne and swallowed the contents in a few gulps. 
“Easy there, Your Highness,” a deep, masculine voice drawled in her ear.
Serena choked, nearly spitting out the last sip of champagne. Damon Grant smacked her
gently on the back, and she almost jumped out of her skin as his touch burned through her silk top like a cattle brand. 
She took a strategic step back. “What are you doing here?”
“I was invited.”
“Why?” 
Serena knew the question was unforgivably rude, but she was in a pretty unforgiving mood. How dare he show up and make her relive those moments in the grand salon? And how dare he look so delicious? Damon had red hairfor heaven’s sake, which wasn’t supposed to be sexy on a man. Okay, his hair was more of a dark brown burnished with deep auburn. Not like his cousins, Chloe and Mia, who both had flaming red locks. Plus, his eyes were strange. Saved from ordinary brown by a touch of gold, like an Old Spanish coin. 
One rust-colored brow arched as Damon regarded her with barely disguised amusement. “Maybe because I helped save Matilda’s life?”
helped save Matilda’s life,” she groused. “I stood between Matilda and Mrs. Palmer’s gun.”
“I know.” Damon gazed at her for a long moment. “You nearly got yourself killed, Your Highness.”
“So did you.” Her eyes automatically swept downward. Somewhere under his black, button-down shirt, a bullet wound marred his chest. 
“I’m okay.” His tone went soft and gentle. Or as gentle as a man like him could be. 
Shuddering, she lifted her gaze back to meet his. Why did he have to look at her like that? Like he saw past the mask she carefully kept in place? “When did you get out of the hospital?”
He seemed willing to go along with the new direction. “Last week.” He looked across the pool deck to where his cousin stood with Eve Bennett. “I’ve been laid up in Chloe’s apartment above the bakery.”
“She’s taking good care of you?” 
“Chloe’s been stuffing me full of pastries.” Damon chuckled, a sound that seemed to sweep right down her spine, like it always had. “If I don’t get out of there soon, I’ll end up weighing three hundred pounds.”
“I don’t think you’ll ever be out of shape,” Serena said, trying to ignore the sizzle that warmed her veins as she took him in. Damon was built like fortress, with muscles decorating his muscles. He towered over just about everyone here, except for Killian, but with even more bulk. Killian had a quarterback’s sleek build. Damon looked like someone who could tear you apart with his bare hands…and smile while he did it.
Still, Damon wasn’t invincible. He hadn’t been immune the effects of a bullet, in the end. He’d almost been killed. Saving her. 
Without thinking, Serena put her hand on the place where the bullet had entered his chest. “Did I ever say thank you?”
Under her palm, his muscles tensed. “For what?”
“If you hadn’t pushed me out of the way—”
“—If you hadn’t jumped in front of Mrs. Palmer’s gun.” Damon placed a hand over hers, trapping her fingers tight against his shirt. The warmth of his skin burned through the cotton fabric. 
For a moment, the sounds of the party receded. She and Damon might have been alone on the patio. “I guess we both did something stupid.”
“Saving you was not stupid.” His words were sharp, firm, and definite.
Her lips curved in a sardonic smile. “There aren’t many people who would agree with you.”
“There aren’t many people who know your true worth, Serena.” He stepped closer, until he was an inch away. “They don’t know what you hide under that glamorous shell.” 
Her entire body seemed to flutter. “What do you think I hide?”
“A heart.”
            “Take that back.” The words came out breathy, rather than resolute, which she blamed entirely on the fact that he was standing so close. Damon had always caused her brain to short circuit, and it was as dangerous now as it had been all those years ago.

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

AMAZON    /   APPLE BOOKS    /    BARNES & NOBLE    /   KOBO

GIVEAWAY! COMMENT and SHARE this post for a chance to WIN an ebook copy of SECOND CHANCE HERO!!

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. SECOND CHANCE HERO will launch March 26th. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Market Correction, part 2

Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 

This is part 2 of a two-part post on Diverse Writing, how authrs can withstand those market corrections. (You can find Market Correction Part 1 here)
The world of writers, editors and agents prized the importance of a unique Voice as an author’s strongest asset. I’ve attended a host of seminars that stressed voice as something innate in an author. The sum of his or her life experience emerging in the way an author crafts their story.

“We can’t describe Voice, but we know it when we see it,” I heard editors on one panel say. They unanimously called Voice more important to their selection decisions than plot. As one agent told a class a few years ago, “I can teach authors how to plot. I don’t know how to teach Voice.”

The cry for diversity in books seemed to change the discussion from Voice to "I have a right to write anything I want." Say “ownvoices” in a group of mainstream authors (white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, middle to upper class), and you may need to duck. Many voice concerns that the demand for diversity and #ownvoices is pushing them out of contention with publishers.

Statistics paint a different picture. While I only have statistics about children’s books (I am a children's book author), there is no reason to believe the adult numbers will be very different. For 2018, only 21% of children’s books published in the US, (778 out of 3703) were written by non-white authors, either African American, Latino, Native American or Asian Pacific. (This is up from 15% in 2017.) Mainstream authors still own 79% of the publishing market. (https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp#USonly)

A mainstream writer's main competition remains other mainstream voices. Voices that have  overdone the "jive talking best friend of color." Ditto the sympathetic gay character who gives the cis heroine fashion tips or the asexual person with a disability. And the character whose function is to help the white character see the error in their thinking while having no real character arc of their own, or perhaps heroically dying to reinforce the message. Readers have already seen numerous poorly represented diverse characters.

Mainstream authors may not be able to give the same level of authenticity to a marginalized person or culture that an #ownvoice can. But that does not mean they cannot, or should not, strive to represent these people to readers.

Here are some tips for efforts to write about marginalized groups.

#1

Realize that if you are writing outside your group, there are truths you were not exposed to in your life, and that are not part of your voice. That it will be difficult for you to expunge the beliefs set deep inside your brain. You cannot succeed by pretending that your lack of exposure does not affect your voice. Instead, try this exercise:  On a piece of paper, label the following rows:

Add in any other group you want to write about, for example, Disabled, Jews, Lesbian, Bi-sexual,  Atheists or people of mixed race.

Now write at least five characteristics that come to mind for each. Write quickly and do not self-censor. Put whatever pops into your head on the paper. Then examine your result. Think how that might show through in your writer's voice.  (In my diverse writing class I have students symbolically burn the paper to remind them to let go of those beliefs before they write.) Acknowledging these stereotypes and problem tropes residing inside your head helps you notice, and eliminate them, when they try to emerge in your writer’s Voice.

#2

Be observant. “I don’t see color” is not a good approach to take when preparing to write characters of color. Ditto for avoiding or pretending not to notice people with disabilities, a practice we routinely begin doing in childhood.

See the diversity, or lack of it, in your critique groups and beta readers. Recognize what that could mean when everyone in those groups loves the way you handle your diverse characters.

Notice this picture used by the Red Cross in 2014 to illustrate pool safety. If you are observant, you will note that none of the kids of color earn the "Cool" rating.


People who see the real world of color easily noticed it. The same things happens when they read a book or story. They notice who isn't present in your world, and who isn't "cool."

#3

Find friends in the group you want to write about. Not just people you nod to in passing, or know from work. Make friends, the kind you invite to dinner and they, in turn, ask you to "come to the cookout." This is not seeking out someone you can ply with a list of questions. That can be offensive and ruin the budding friendship before it actually begins. Nothing is worse than beginning with a question like "tell me about you people." That will not build the kind of connection that could add layers to your writer’s voice.

Perhaps this should really be tip #1. Because unless you do know members of the group in intimate detail, most of what you end up writing will be the product of what you don’t know.

An author I know wanted to set her story in Pakistan, but could not afford to make a first-hand field trip. She had friends from Pakistan (because America is a melting pot if you just look around). She went to their homes to talk about everything, including the water, how the air smelled, what languages were spoken, if a woman could wear a robe in the house, and even what's for breakfast. She also got details of how women and men share public displays of affection during a crisis. She ate Pakistani food, went to community events, and even attended a wedding.

The result: After her story was published she received emails about all the things she got right.

#4

No one is saying mainstream authors can't write about marginalized groups, but they should get their research hat on for MONTHS, if not YEARS before they start. Understanding does not come from a quick Internet search, or throwing out a few questions to whomever might toss back an answer. (Take a look at the research claims from anti-vaxxers to see where that can lead.)
    Try this exercise you can try. After spending time doing traditional research,  try to be one of them. Look in a mirror, and see a member of a marginalized group staring back. Don't think about how he or she could change themselves to make life better or easier; just be them.
      Be a Muslim and pray five times a day. Wear a headscarf and observe how others react. Or go to a nurses closet and borrow a wheelchair and try negotiating those pesky cracks in the sidewalk, or the broken glass that gets in your tire when you are try to turn the wheels by hand. Be the person surrounded by people who regard your differences as suspicious or wrong, or think you invisible.
        Spending even one day like that could change your writer's voice, at least a little.

        Final thoughts:

        Anyone gets angry when they see their religion, culture or background being trampled. If aren’t old enough to personally remember the controversy over the cross floating in urine, check out a 2014 Huffington Post story (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/13/piss-christ-sale_n_5317545.html) or ask your angriest and oldest neighbor. You also know the on-going backlash that occurs every time someone takes a knee during the national anthem. I am sure you can think of other examples where you felt something important to you was being mocked in the name of art or freedom of speech or a desire to exercise their right to do what they wanted.

        If a writer's voice is the sum of everything they have experienced in life, so is the readers. The market adjustment in terms of books involves readers being mindful of the things that can needlessly harm others. If you get a culture wrong, or reuse a tired caricature, or problem trope, today's market will call you out. This doesn't mean don't write diverse characters and cultures. It does mean be careful. If you make a careless or unknowing mistake, expect readers to use their collective voices and inform the market via social media. The market for books and stories has it's own voice. They are learning that using their own voices has power.

        Additional Study/References

        Visit me at http://www.babinns.com/spice-class/,
        Check out sources like http://writingtheother.com/ and https://bookriot.com/2018/02/05/casually-racist-things-that-white-authors-do/

        See some of the problems you want to avoid at the microaggressions project - http://www.microaggressions.com/


        Friday, March 15, 2019

        Revisiting The Past #timetravel #romance

        Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of SciFi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. Today I'm travelling back in time to a post from 2016 on my favourite time periods. Slightly depressing to discover Brexit was still top of my thoughts even that far back. Eep! Still, the rest of the post remains true...

        Until recently, I loved the place that I lived. Brexit and the hideous aftermath that seems set to get much worse before any possibility of it getting better has had me looking longingly at vague plans I started making for a possible move to New Zealand.

        But if I'm honest, I would rather travel in time than space. Maybe it's because of being a lifelong Whovian. I have two specific time periods I would like to visit, though I'm not sure the reality might live up to my expectations and be somewhere I'd want to stay indefinitely.
        Firstly the medieval period. I love the castles, the clothing, the weapons. I'm a big fan of the Ellis Peters books following the investigations of a medieval Welsh monk, Cadfael, and we go to the local medieval fairs and jousts. But I'm not sure I could put up with the lack of hygiene, medical care, or the loss of my beloved smartphone.
        I would also love to visit the future, to see the human race set foot on Mars, or perhaps even farther afield.

        Most of all I'd love to see my rather dystopian view of our future proved wrong. We are capable of so much more, and yet our main achievement appears to be an irresistible desire for self destruction. We seem to find it so much easier to destroy and to hate than create and love. Maybe in the future we could find a way to eliminate the darker, more negative side of our psyches. I would like to see us achieve that, rather than something like this:
        But some days I feel like a nice solitary cave somewhere might suit me best. I'm a bit of a hermit by nature even before I became an author.

        How I ended up with a husband and three monsters, I'm not quite sure. But I'd have to go home to them at some point because I could never leave them behind forever. ^_^
        Instead, I get to explore past and future, and other planets in my books instead. Want to join me?

        Want to chat? Find me on Twitter as @pippajaygreen or at my website http://pippajay.co.uk
        (Images courtesy of pixabay.com)

        Thursday, March 14, 2019

        Time Travel, Anyone? by Lynn Lovegreen


        If I could live for a week in any time period, I would choose a dynamic time one—an era that has interesting things to see and experience. When I was younger, and someone asked me that question, I would say the English Renaissance. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and Elizabeth I? Then I learned more about history  and started adding, “as a rich man.” With the health, sanitation, and other challenges, Renaissance life was actually pretty tough!

        When I started writing fiction, I got deep into the late 1800s. The Alaska Gold Rush was dynamic too, with lots of adventures, more opportunities for women, and characters like Soapy Smith and Wyatt Earp to hang out with. But there were still difficult conditions in that time…

        Now, with my current writing project, I spend lots of time in the 1940s. Health and sanitation were better, women had even more choices, and there were great movies, Big Band music and jitterbugging! But of course, the war was awful. I wouldn’t want to live through that, or make others go through it with me, either.

        I’m beginning to think there are drawbacks to every time period. But if I can manage to live in any time period for a week, maybe I can just pick and choose the good parts, too? ;-) That would be more fun!

         Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for about fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest. 

        Wednesday, March 13, 2019

        Market Correction

        Hi everyone! 

        I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 


        This is part 1 of a two-part post on Diverse Writing.  You can read part 2, with tips for writing diverse characters and cultures, by clicking HERE

        This month, Romancing The Genres will present tips for writing authentic diverse characters on weekends. In fact, I will be doing a post this Saturday, March 16. Currently, social media is operating in viral mode about a resent YA book involving the intersection of several layers of diversity. Some are calling the viral Twitter messages a mob attack that all authors should fear.

        If you don't know, author Kosoko Jackson wrote a book called, A Place For Wolves. The book was scheduled to be published later this month. Instead, he and the publisher, Sourcebooks, have decided to withdraw it following diversity related attacks by what is being called YA Twitter.

        Mr. Jackson is an #ownvoice, black, gay, and his book has a black, gay, non-Muslim American teen as the  protagonist.

        This pre-publication withdrawal follows similar actions taken with two earlier books: Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao, and A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library by Jack Gantos.  Blood Heir includes a racially insensitive portrayal of slavery, including the sacrifice of a black character to save a white. A Suicide Bomber Sits In The Library repeats the way overused caricature of a Muslim suicide bomber preparing to set off a bomb in the US.


        School Library Journal considered A Place For Wolves a starred book. Nevertheless, the historical thriller was pulled last month  following a negative Goodreads review that led to a barrage of twitter attacks. Mr. Jackson and his book had received starred reviews from major reviewers. Interestingly, Mr. Jackson was a well-known and respected sensitivity reader. The reviewer who read a pre-release arc claimed – “I’ve never been so disgusted in my life.” She went on to detail issues with the importance of the plight of the Americans over the genocide of Muslim Albanians and placing one of those Muslim men as the stories terrorist villain.

        Commenters on Twitter and Facebook discuss the possible harm this book could do to real people. The book is set in the Kosovo war in the 1990’s. It focuses on the suffering and fear of two non-Muslim American boys with little regard for the genocide suffered by the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo. And it makes a Albanian Muslim the terrorist villain.

        The author apologized, stating
        I failed to fully understand the people and the conflict that I set around my characters.
        I call that the issue. Not the power of twitter, but the failure to understand. Without that, there would never have been a mob. Some have called the attack on this book a witch hunt. I think it's a sign that no one is immune from backlash if they use problem tropes and engage in cultural appropriation.

        Of course people make mistakes. I almost made one myself, was on the verge of creating a stereotypical womanizing, hard drinking black male. Thank God for critique partners, since all I really wanted was for my protagonist to have a relative who drank too much and not be a caricature. I was able to catch the issue in time and re-write before arcs went out and reviewers got their hands on the book.

        Many authors view are viewing this action with fear.  Especially while writing the story of his or her heart. They want the "exotic" character or culture without having to think about the implications that may have to readers. Existing groups and cultures have exiting human being who are part of it, and who may be hurt if the facts of that culture are misused. In this day of social media, those readers have the ability to voice their displeasure.

        I called this post Market Correction for a reason. Some writers are running cared, fearing the comments on Social Media and calling this "censorship." Had this book been published, and then the government told the publisher/author to withdraw it because of concerns about the depiction of Muslim-American relationships, I would agree that that was censorship. But in this case, it was the market itself that spoke up and issued a correction. Just like an overvalued stock may decline after investors realize there are reasons to withdraw their money. In this case readers and their followers voiced their displeasure and were heard. I don't feel scared about that.

        Note, on Saturday I will be back to provide some tips to help authors avoid these kinds of problems in the first place.  For now, feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will look at including those in the March 16th post.

        PS - here is a link to the apology Kosoko Jackson posted on twitter when he removed A Place For Wolves from publication:

        Tuesday, March 12, 2019

        Barbie Turned 60 on March 9

        by Madelle Morgan


        Prince William & Kate Middleton
        Raise your hand if you owned a Barbie doll.

        Keep your hand up if you dreamed about someday wearing fabulous outfits like Barbie's.

        Barbie Dolls Were All About Romance

        If you have your hand up, would I be wrong in suggesting you are a romantic at heart? Playing with Barbies was all about imagining a romantic fantasy life.

        Did your preteen hours fly by in creative play with Barbie, Ken, Midge, Skipper and friends? It was a fun way to daydream about boys, dates, clothes, a wedding, adventures, and exciting careers.

        It isn't a leap to speculate that many future romance authors and readers spent rainy weekend afternoons hooking up Barbie and Ken on exciting dates that ended in a proposal and wedding before dinner. The Bachelor, anyone?

        In my childhood during the 60s, Barbies were the only dolls on the market that looked vaguely like real teens and adults. I hear you sputter. I used the word vaguely. No real human was that skinny and buxom. At least not naturally. Mattel has come a long way in that regard, no question.

        Over the decades, Mattel's iconic doll, while still a clothes horse, started to represent diversity. The company tapped into feminist teen interests, designing outfits for many hobbies and careers. Apparently Barbie has had over 200 careers!

        Nathalie Atkinson writes in her March 2 article in the Globe and Mail, "As Barbie turns 60, she's become more than a toy, but a symbol of what girls can be." Barbie didn't have a professional engineer outfit back then (or ever), but that didn't stop me from becoming one. Engineers can wear ball gowns too!

        Barbie Haute Couture Exhibit

        As a lover of Barbie dolls and fashion, you can imagine how excited I was to visit Barbie Expo in Montreal, Canada. It is the largest permanent exhibit of Barbie dolls in the world.

        Scroll down for the photos I took of custom dolls wearing beautiful miniature designer dresses representing fashion from the late 1800s through the 1900s. (Please excuse the lights reflected by the glass cases.)














        Is it any wonder that my romance novel Seduced by the Screenwriter features a heroine who dresses up in costumes to role-play in romantic scenes....

        Which Barbie outfit is/was your favorite?

        Madelle


        Madelle's Books 

        BORROW Caught on Camera and Seduced by the Screenwriter from your library via Overdrive.



        BUY LINKS
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        BUY LINKS
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        Madelle's romantic thriller DiamondHunter is a free read in Kindle Unlimited.

        Follow Madelle on  TwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterest, and Wattpad. For giveaways and new releases, subscribe to Madelle’s blog at www.MadelleMorgan.com.


        Monday, March 11, 2019

        The Twenties Roared !













        By: Marcia King-Gamble
        www.lovemarcia.com


        I thought about this one long and hard. If I had a choice of time and place, where would I want to live?

        Crazy as it may seem, I would choose this era, because of the many opportunities that women fought for and finally achieved.




        I don’t mean to come off as some strident woman’s libber. Though I will proudly admit I am a huge supporter of women’s rights, and a staunch believer in women having control of their own bodies, and having the right to equal pay.    



        That said, the Roaring Twenties would be the era that mostly piques my interest. I could never exist in the Victorian era with its horrible double standard, and a prudery and snobbishness that would probably have gotten me jailed.

        Why the Roaring Twenties then? 

        It was a time of  great economic prosperity, and boy did we need it. Flappers were coming on the scene and women were coming into their own. Females were becoming independent and "girls" were making an impact on the ‘Good ole boys Club.”  So, where would I like to “Roar?’’ certainly not in this country, but in Paris, where people of color were accepted, respected, and revered for their talent, at least more so than in the United States.




        In fairness, in 1920, the USA was slowly coming into its own. There was an artistic explosion in Harlem; a renaissance it was called.  Zeta Phi Beta, an African-American sorority was founded at Howard University. The following month, The Negro National Baseball League got its start, and that summer, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote, although African-American women living down south, would tell you otherwise. They faced enough restrictions to make voting impossible thanks to poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses. It just wasn't easy.




        Yes, off to Paris I would go.  Women had started earning salaries which meant they had choices. The Suffragettes emerged and so did the Flapper.  It was a fascinating time in history, especially after the austerity and bloodshed of World War I, the joy and light-heartedness of this era was a welcomed change. New lifestyles and technologies made for exciting times. Les Années Folles had roared in with a vengeance. The mad years some called it.  Automobiles were being produced in record numbers, mass production now making them more affordable. As more and more cars appeared on the roads, many were driven by these  young “Flapper” women. As a result,  city living received a huge boom, and strides in birth control made women sexually freer.  Silent movies played in picture houses, and radios appeared in homes. This was the era of jazz, and over the top entertainment. Patrons flocked to musical halls and speakeasies and talent like Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier  found a home.




        Oh, yes Paris was the beating heart. In Paris, you drank freely.  Fashion was in vogue, and new artist got  to showcase their talent. Architecture and design thrived, and the movers and inspirational thinkers of the day, drew from cubism, modernism and neoclassicism creating what is known today as art deco.



        In Paris, struggling artists and writers found acceptance and appreciation. Women could walk arm in arm with each other without someone batting an eye.  Paris was where American expat, Gertrude Stein, opened her house to the 'Lost Generation' of American literati, courting talent like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso and Matisse. So huge was the impact of these artists, that Left Bank cafés still live off their legacy today.

        Until then, women had been considered no better than chattel; creatures to be quickly married off to a handler/caretaker. Yes, we have a lot to thank the Twenties for.  While I still think there is no better era to live in than the here and  now, had it not been for this light-hearted time in history, women would probably still have jobs, and not careers, and we still  wouldn't be heard.  Today, politicians court women for our votes, and because we are well paid, we can walk away from abusive partners and buy homes. 



        As women, we have come a long way.    

        About Marcia King-Gamble

        Marcia King-Gamble is a best selling author of over 40 novels and novellas. She is primarily known for her multi-cultural novels set in exotic parts of the world.  You can find her on Facebook or  at www.lovemarcia.com.  Magnolia Moments is her latest full length novel.