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Guest Post: Why is a straight white middle-aged man writing about a mixed race lesbian teenager?

Guest Post: Why is a straight white middle-aged man writing about a mixed race lesbian teenager? published on

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A primary goal for me as a writer (and as a reader) is the inclusion of diversity in my books. I’ve written one book along those lines. At the time of writing this, I’m running a Kickstarter for its sequel. And for the foreseeable future, I plan on continuing to write and read those sorts of books. So I’d like to make a case for why this is important.

This is mainly targeted toward people in positions of privilege. The straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied, and/or male people who don’t think this is an issue. I could talk about hard numbers about how little diverse representation there is. I could make an emotional appeal about how valuable it is for people of marginalized groups to be able to see themselves in media. But other people have written about that much better than I could ever hope to do. So instead, I’m going to appeal to your own self-interest.

First, here’s a little bit about myself and how I got here.

Several years ago, I realized that many of the characters I wrote were very much like me: straight, white, cisgender, 30something men. And with that realization came another one: so are a lot of characters in fiction. “Straight white dude* saves the world” is hardly a novel narrative element.

If you don’t believe me, check out the movies showing at your local multi-cinema theater. I don’t mean your local arthouse theater that is doing a marathon of 60s Swedish New Wave Cinema (assuming that’s even a thing). No, I mean your mainstream theater with sixteen screens of whatever is big and popular. If you want to get really drunk, really fast, you can even make a drinking game out of it: for every movie poster, take a shot each time a character featured there is one of the following:

  • Straight
  • Cisgender
  • White
  • Male
  • Lacks visible disability

Growing up in predominantly white middle class suburbs, I didn’t question it for a long time. Because growing up in that environment, surrounded by it even at an early age, it was the only world I knew. And it became something of a default assumption for me. When you are so immersed in it, it’s hard to realize that there is any other way to look at it?

But when I decided to push my limits as a writer, and tried to find out how to not screw it up, I began to realize how pervasive and systemic the problem is. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more it is assumed to be a “default mode,” the more people base their media consumption off of that.

So why should you care? It’s like one of those two-dimensional optical illusions. So long as you only look at it from one point of view, it seems realistic. But as soon as you take a few steps away, the illusion falls apart. If you want to actually understand the world, instead of just some story you’ve grown up with, you need diverse media.

Straight white cisgender men only make up a third of the U.S. population, and a little more than a tenth of the world population. If you do not read authors different from yourself, especially if you are a straight white man, then you will not understand the world. You cannot understand the world through the lens of a single point of view. You’re the proverbial blind man groping an elephant. It’s great if you can find media that features diverse characters. It’s even better if you can find media created by diverse authors.

And this should be a sincere attempt to understand other points of view. Don’t half-ass it with something like “I read this one author and I hated it so I gave up after a chapter and never tried again” or “I read this one author that totally agrees with me so totally know what’s up.” Read someone you disagree with. Try to understand why they feel that way.

What’s in it for you? You will have a deeper understanding of the world. And if there’s more diverse media available, you have greater potential to understand it. We live in an amazing time where the Internet is breaking down barriers and allowing access to a wide range of media. And yet there are people who will still try to shut down voices different from their own.

If you choose to only surround yourself with the stories of people like you, then you are making a conscious choice to be ignorant of ninety percent of the world. You’re welcome to choose that, but you’ll put yourself at a disadvantage.

*I use “straight white dude” a lot in this because it’s short and punchy. It is not intended to exclude other marginalized groups. I hope you can forgive me this creative license.

Jeremy Zimmerman is the author of the young adult superhero novel, Kensei.

zimmermanwowThe Love of Danger is a sequel to Zimmerman’s first book, Kensei, and is active on Kickstarter until Friday, September 4th at 9:00 PM PDT. The Love of Danger will be delivered in November, 2015, while Kensei can be downloaded immediately.

These books feature Jamie Hattori, a teenage superhero who has the ability to talk to the spirits of items and places. It is set in the shared world setting of Cobalt City, created by Nathan Crowder.

Consider contributing to the project. Even the $3 pledge will get you an e-book copy of both Kensei and The Love of Danger. That’s a heck of a deal!

Of course, there are also numerous great items and perks further down that pledge tree.

Be sure to check out the updates for some inside information about the topic, including a fascinating look at the origins of the title The Love of Danger.

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Foxglove Killings

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Foxglove Killings published on 1 Comment on Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Foxglove Killings



The Foxglove
Killings

by Tara
Kelly
 
Release Date: 09/01/15
Entangled Teen
Summary from Goodreads:

Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet,
something bad was coming. And the
crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started
with the murdered deer in the playground with
the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in
the dying boondock town of Emerald
Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps’s diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich
kids who vacation here―make our
lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person
who gets me. Only Alex has changed.
He’s almost like a stranger now. I can’t figure it out.
..or why I’m having distinctly more-than-
friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn’t be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.



When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a
rumor goes around that Alex was
the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes
it. Well, everyone except my worst
enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it’s up to us to
prove his innocence and uncover
the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything
I’ve ever known about myself—and
Alex.


About the Author
Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She’s an author,
one-girl-band, graphic designer, editor, and
photographer. She lives in Sin City with her beloved guitars,
sound design master husband, and a
fluffy cat named Maestro.
Author Links:

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GIVEAWAY:

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Book Gossip: Volume One

Book Gossip: Volume One published on 6 Comments on Book Gossip: Volume One

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The last book in Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel trilogy, Poison Fruit, came out last fall. So what has she been working on? Two projects, it turns out. The first is a novella, “One Hundred Ablutions”, which will be published in Yanni Kuznia’s Fantasy Medley 3. It will tell the tale of Dala – a young woman chosen by her people’s overlords to be a slave among slaves, and will include themes of ritual and redemption. The anthology will also include novellas from Kevin Hearne, Laura Bickle, and Aliette de Bodard.

Carey’s next novel will be a dark retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and will chronicle the lives of the titular characters Miranda and Caliban. It will be published in July 2016. I am still hoping that this is a code, and what it really means is that she is writing a new trilogy set in Terre D’Ange, but that hope is dwindling fast.

Seth Skorkowsky will be publishing a new collection of Black Raven stories in October, and is also hard at work on the third book in his wonderful Valducan series: Ibenus. He gave us a brief teaser of the plot, and it looks fantastic. Don’t believe us? Read it for yourself.

After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search of answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice. As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an Internet group intent on exposing them. Victoria, who belongs this group, must desperately play both sides to not only protect herself, but Allan whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans.

Back in April, Guy Gavriel Kay announced his new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, which will be published in spring 2016. This will, of course, be one of his lyrical and thoughtful fantasies in which he reveals a culture that has its roots in our world, but is obscured by a fantastical lens.

In The Children of Earth and Sky Kay returns to the familiar territory established in several earlier works, a reimagining of the melting pot of the medieval Mediterranean. In his hands well-known places and events are transformed into the wonderful and strange through the lens of fantasy, and brought to life with brilliantly drawn characters and the most graceful of styles, which will seduce his many fans and new readers alike.

Isn't this a beautiful cover?

The interesting bit about this is that in February of last year, he sold not one, but two books. Could Children of Earth and Sky be the first in a duology like the Sarantine Mosaic or Under Heaven and River of Stars? It’s a wonderful notion – how many of us wish Tigana had been the first of two (or, maybe, seventeen) books?

Perhaps he could take a page from Robin Hobb? Her Realm of the Elderlings series is made up of sixteen novels.

robin hobb

Assassin’s Fate, the book every single one of her fans longs for, yet are terrified by, is the culminating novel. It is sure to be wonderful and bittersweet at the same time, especially since she allows her story to take her to dark places. I can’t say that she ever simply “kills off” characters for the fun of it (or to add some drama), but she is devoted to the story she wishes to tell. No one is safe. No one is safe from having to wait, either. Typically, Hobb has a publishing schedule that has a book by her out every year. To my deepest sorrow, it looks like we will have to wait until spring 2017. It will be worth it. The best things are worth waiting for.

Fortunately, sometimes patience wins the day! Our wait for Grim Oak Press’s Unbound is nearly over, however. Shawn Speakman, expert author wrangler and talented writer, has put together another anthology that is… bound… to be a fantastic read. A lot of anthologies celebrate a particular theme, or joke, or location. Unbound is a compilation of stories that the authors just wanted to write. The Table of Contents is impressive, with Kristen Britain, Tim Marquitz, Terry Brooks, Shawn Speakman, and Jim Butcher. (Yes, the Butcher story will involve our first glimpse of Harry Dresden post-Skin Game). Speakman prizes collectibles, and knows exactly what book lovers want. Follow the link to Grim Oak Press to purchase limited editions and ARCs.

In other news:
1. The first book in Tad Williams’s new Osten Ard trilogy has been delayed by one full year due to publishing shenanigans.
2. Christopher Moore is working on a book called Noire, set in 1947 San Francisco. Will the Author Guy never cease to surprise us?
3. Ernest Cline, author of Armada and Ready Player One, has signed another contract for a science fiction novel to be delivered at a later date.
4. Jeff Vandermeer spent the month of August away from social media, and came away 100,000 words richer. He is working on not one but two new novels for us.

That’s it until next time! Feel free to share in the comments any juicy book-related gossip.

Cover Reveal: Cursed by Christina Bauer

Cover Reveal: Cursed by Christina Bauer published on

CursedFront

Cursed by Christina Bauer
(Beholder, #1)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Although Elea’s the most powerful necromancer in history, she’s spent most of her nineteen years imprisoned in the Midnight Cloisters. Enchanted manacles keep her unique brand of soul magick in check. While the guards and initiates seem contented to torment her, the Cloister’s Mother Superior is obsessed with finding a safe way to destroy Elea, both body and soul.

Escape seems impossible until a handsome hunter named Asher offers to help. Elea takes a chance and soon develops feelings for the mysterious stranger. However, Asher may not be who he claims. Then again, Elea may not be, either…

Pre-orders are now live at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

 

ChristinaAUTHOR BIO:

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English as well as Television, Radio, and Film Production. Her day job is in marketing for companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Brainshark. Back in the go-go 90′s, she founded her own software start-up, Mindful Technologies. Christina believes that, upon close examination of Tolkien’s text, it’s entirely possible that the Balrog was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.

Author links:

http://inkmonster.net/authors/cbauer

Follow her on Twitter! Good Reads! and Facebook!

 

 

2015: Q4 Most Wanted

2015: Q4 Most Wanted published on 1 Comment on 2015: Q4 Most Wanted


Sometimes I get access to books from publishers in return for (probably) writing a review. Sometimes writers or their agents give me books to read in the hope that I will review or otherwise help promote the book. Sometimes I buy the books myself. But sometimes I just don’t have access to a copy of a book that I want to read, and that can be pretty devastating. Sometimes I haven’t been approved by the publisher, sometimes finances are too tight to buy a new book.

I’m going to call this 2015: Q4 Most Wanted. It’s slightly a misnomer, as I’ll be reaching out of the quarter a bit into August and September. I’ll create another one of these again in December, and I’ll stick with the proper quarter parameters then. Probably. Or I’ll post the books by their zodiac signs. Do we include Ophiuchus? Only time can tell.

Here are, in no particular order, the 2015 fourth quarter books I’m lusting after the most. At least at the moment.

Italics demonstrate my own opinions and perspectives.

The boxed descriptions are the same as you’ll find at places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

 

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THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT by Seth Dickinson. From Tom Doherty Associates. Publishes 9/15/2015.

I’m intrigued by this debut novel. The opportunity to discover and amplify new voices is a part of why I created this blog. As often as I can, I’ll press to share new works and new perspectives. What I’ve seen of this book has drawn me in, and when I get my hands on it, I’ll certainly give a review.

In Seth Dickinson’s highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

 

radiance

RADIANCE by Catherynne M. Valente published by Tor Books October 20, 2015.

I’ve read Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland books, so I’m excited to read one of her adult novels. The description of this book as a “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery” pretty much sells the book single-handedly. Read more

Dresden Files Analysis: Introduction

Dresden Files Analysis: Introduction published on 4 Comments on Dresden Files Analysis: Introduction
I read these books anytime, anywhere.
I read these books anytime, anywhere.

The very first time I read a Dresden File, I was twenty years old, and the middle of a Maryland winter. I was serving in the Navy at the time, and about twice a year, the stars would align poorly, and we would be forced to survive three weekends on one paycheck. That third weekend saw me cooped up in the barracks, eating galley food, and in desperate need of something new to read. My friend tossed me a paperback, and told me to go away and read it, he was working on some coding. I used the last of my cash to buy a bottle of Sutter Home Moscato (priorities), and settled down to read.

Storm Front

That was Storm Front. The next day, I went and borrowed Fool Moon and Grave Peril, read them both in about five hours, then went back to poor Miller’s door. “This is the last one I have, another friend’s got the next two,” he told me, and handed me Summer Knight. It was this book that had me fall in love with the series. If I’d never read it, I would have counted the first three as a pretty decent way to pass the time until I had money again, and could spend it to buy books I am too ashamed to admit here. But I read Summer Knight, and realized that what Jim Butcher was doing was pretty extraordinary.

I read it in a marathon session – think Bob with the latest Harlequin Blaze. I finished it a little after eleven, and did not even think of waiting until the next day (and a more appropriate hour). Instead, I put on my shoes, neglected a coat, and headed out the door toward the Marine Corps barracks. Read more

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