Writing to the Non-Existing Audience

Originally published at Thagomizer

Recently I was having a conversation with a couple of friends and acquaintances regarding the release of my novel, Hollowstone. As I explained the premise behind the book, they expressed it was a novel they would be very interested in reading.

They then expressed that they don’t read books. As the conversation continued, they explained it was in large part to their horrors in school. Horror stories I was all too familiar with. The others elaborated that they hated being forced to read classic literature which usually translated works written by old dead white men and ergo deemed as the only type of “literature” worth reading.

Between having to read pretentious egregious tripe that was irrelevant to teens during their adolescence and mandatory reading during their summer vacations, once they graduated, they vowed never to pick up another book again.

The truth is they aren’t alone. The truth is that there are too many people who do not read for very valid reasons.

Continue reading

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Introducing: A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour

So last week I signed up for this most important event. Why is this important? Aarti explains why.

“I’ve spoken on this blog (and in other forums) about the lack of diversity in fantasy fiction, particularly fantasy fiction of the epic nature.  If epic fantasy has diversity, it is often present in a fashion that mirrors the stereotypes of Medieval Europe, with Viking-like invaders from the North and Infidels from the East and uneasy peaces and petty wars with those that look most like the heroes of the stories.  This is unfair for many reasons that I hope I don’t need to enumerate here.  And of course, there are absolutely amazing authors whose books are populated by characters of every size, shape, color, and species.  But it’s still difficult and frustrating to be a fantasy reader who comes up against the same tropes in every book.  Because while fantasy novels can be, well, fantastic, they can also be very repetitive and tell the same story with different character names.  And I can’t help but think that at least part of the reason is because of the lack of diversity in fantasy book authorship.  Because it is hard to break into the fantasy genre as a new author, generally.  And even more difficult if your book is about a person of color.  And most difficult of all if you yourself are a person of color writing stories about characters of color.

“Did you know that there are more books in publication about people of color that are by Caucasian authors than there are by people of color authors?!  That means that if you are white and write a book about an Indian girl named Aarti and her life in Chicago (and perhaps a fantastical journey to Fairyland) you are more likely than I am to get that book published.  That’s messed up.

“And so a small group of bloggers got together to create an event to fight this.  And, as bloggers do, we decided to organize a blog tour.  For one week in September (the week of the 23rd), we want ALL OF YOU fantasy/sci fi/magical realism readers (with blogs and without) to read a fantasy/sci fi/magical realism novel written by a person of color.  And to write a review of that book.  You know as well as I do that books succeed based on word of mouth and mentions and conversation, and this is where bloggers can help the MOST.  Just read one book.  And share your thoughts on that one book.

I know your TBR list is huge.  I know your commitments are many.  I know that there are so many things on which you must take a stand, and it can be exhausting to make reading a political activity.  But this is so important to me, and I really think it should be important to you, too.  None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please – participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life.”

So what can you do? A lot of things, in addition to boosting the signal on this excellent event,  you too can read a spec fic book written by a person of color and discuss it on your blog during the week of  Sept. 23.

Need recommendations? We got you covered:

Want to participate, but don’t want to commit to a full-length novel?  Here’s a list of short fiction.

Love YA fantasy?  (Who doesn’t?)  Here’s a list just for you.

Here’s a few more reading suggestions.

And a few more.

And don’t forget yours truly has a little novel entitled Hollowstone.

And like Aarti, ” I am so excited to see what you read and your reaction to it – have fun making a positive difference!”

Review: Corruption

Synopsis: Mahogany Carroll is a unrepentant cougar; Jordan Yoshito is a precocious cub. Jordan’s struggling with finding his way in the world, and Mahogany’s struggling with needing more than just great sex. Mahogany likes her men young and Jordan prefers his women experienced, thus the relationship they enter is supposed to be no more than temporary. But people have a way of leaving their mark on one another long after encounters have ceased, and these two are no exception.
One of the things I like about this story is that while this is a romance novel, the characters are real, flawed, complicated, and organic. Both Jordan and Mahogany are people who I would know in real life.
One thing I enjoyed about Mahogany was that she was a strong woman who never lost her strength or edge once she fell in love or had sex.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that trope played out with female characters, ie: they can’t handle their emotions or that other sexist bile.
Even later on in the story when she faced some serious challenges which would’ve broken most, she soldiered on and you couldn’t help but respect her.
Her relationship dynamic with Jordan was also refreshing and unique. Mahogany was the dominant one in the relationship and was still feminine without being emasculating or a ball buster or the other sexist pitfalls that happen to too many female characters. Jordan was the laid back one who was the beta in the relationship but he was still masculine and was his own man. In short, it was refreshing to see Mahogany portrayed as an unapologetic dominant powerful woman in a positive and respectful manner.
What’s more is that Radjani explains why both characters have the demeanors and outlook on life that they possess.
Another thing that was refreshing was that neither character was looking for a significant other to “complete” them or fix their flaws. Both had successful lives and were living them well and this is a story of how an unexpected encounter with two extraordinary individuals can enrich each other’s lives in a most profound manner when neither expect it.
One could argue age and socioeconomic status but I don’t think those were really factors. Both characters were strong enough in themselves not to allow themselves to be easily influenced by said factors.
Radjani also uses this novel to give a voice to black women as she tackles issues about what they want and what they’re looking for. Too often in the media, black women are on the receiving end of rebuke and denigration and everyone has an opinion and hardly anyone asks black women their thoughts on their lives and their existence.
In Corruption, Radjani makes no apologies in shattering myths about what black women (and for that matter women in general) want.
Women enjoy food. Women like to have sex. Women like to have a lot of sex (as the novel illustrated time and time and time again). Women like to play video games. Many women don’t want to get married. Some women want to get married. Some might be open given the right guy and the right circumstances. Some want kids. Some don’t want offspring under any circumstances. In short, what women want isn’t that different than from what men want.
I also love the escapism. It was nice to read a story about intelligent black women who are successful and prosperous and well cultured. And ultimately that’s not fiction. That’s reality. There are legions of beautiful successful black women who are rocking their careers and enjoying their lives.
While the ending was bittersweet, to me it was fitting and it made sense. I won’t give anything away but it went back to some of the other themes throughout the book: sex, food, love, relationships, romance, friendships, video games, the arts, career, the past, the future: LIFE.
Corruption was ultimately about life. Living it to the fullest, never taking a moment for granted and appreciating every moment of it.
Slim page count and a fast read, Corruption is definitely a novel worth checking out.

Banned Book Week

So it’s Banned Book Week. I was actually surprised at the number of books I’ve read from thisbanned/challenged list. There’s a number of titles I’ve been meaning to get around to reading which I should probably do.

Bold titles are the ones I’ve read.

Which ones have you read?

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
 (it’s strictly for research. shaddup)
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

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