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Author Topic: What to put in those opening pages  (Read 15279 times)
slightlysmall
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« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2018, 10:10:16 AM »

TigerLily and Next chapter, thank you for the kind words!

I do truly believe that if a Hispanic author has written a similar story, they deserve the shelf space over me. But I am still proud of that book.

Working on a new project now, though: a Beauty and the Beast prequel focused on the enchantress's downfall that I'm also excited about and I'll be doing Camp NaNo to finish it. As much as I'd love a home for Blackberry Jam, I'm doing all an aspiring author can do. Writing another book.

As to what's happening in the industry, I think it's a product of a majority-white industry trying to become more inclusive with no idea how to do it. I've loved the diversity of books we've been seeing, and my reader self is certainly pleased. My TBR is waaay too long, and YA has become a place of not only racial but plot diversity at least in part I think due to this switch.
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Vortigern
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« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2018, 10:03:39 PM »


It all comes down to how narrowly you define a person. I am a white, straight female born in the 1950's. Now who's going to want to read about that character? No one. I am writing middle grade, and the main characters are 10, 11 or 12 years old. Some of the other characters are POC, Asian, gay and male. I'm basing them on actual people whom I know well enough to include them as characters. And I am not simply trying to jump on the diversity bandwagon. My choice of characters influences the plot.

Slightlysmall, I am disheartened that your manuscript has not found an agent yet. Persevere!

Wow! I didn't even know there was a diversity bandwagon. In some ways, I'm glad I found this discussion topic because it's opened my eyes. In other ways, I'm so frustrated because I don't know what this means for my project of four years. Mind you, I understand that there are probably some others out there who have spent even longer on their own story/stories only to find this is an issue for them - writing POC characters when your of another ethnicity - but I've got some seriously extensive time and research into this. Like 4 years times 8-12 hrs a day, including weekends. Easy. Cause when the spouse and kids go down I'm at the laptop writing, researching, writing, reading up on better ways to write, going on ride-along's with personnel with the Sheriff's Dept., shadowing lawyers, doctor's and firemen, hired on with local dispatch for two months, allowed myself to get pulled into jury duty for the third time, extensively interviewed a private detective, allowed my spouse to "stalk" me for three annoying months in order to get into a character's POV, and after all that, wrote some more after. (And I know that "stalking" part probably sounds weird but it REALLY helped me get into a mindset with that particular character, whereas before, I'd struggled.)

My huge concern right now though? I write from the POV of BOTH male and female characters who are POC's, either full blooded or mixed. My very first three novels I ever wrote and self-published were about a white male who married a full blooded Mandin Indian woman who then had six children by him. All those children, now adults, are in relationships with varying POC's. Either, they be Mixed/Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. My protagonist is African American, simply because the name I came up with for the character just happens to fit better then if I were to give it to a white man. This means that nearly every story is written with a main POV being of a POC, whether mixed or full blooded.

ALL of my stories off-shoot from the original in some way. I have 5 total series I'm writing right now encompassing a total of 26 novels, all in varying stages. Six novels are for sure complete, simply needing possible adjustments to first chapters/first sentence-paragraph. Three more are done but they need some re-vamping. I was told I'd started in the middle of my project and needed to get my series re-aligned properly. So, I pulled everything from Amazon for now, only for this purpose, and with the thought I might - once correcting these issues - see if I could get an actual publisher and agent cause I simply can't keep up with both writing and attempting to market them all by myself. (I just need a little help.) Nearly every last one of the novels are from the POV of a POC. I'd say I have only a few characters who are considered just white. Shoot, the origin story series begins with an aristocratic Scottish male marrying a Gypsy woman in the 1950's.

I really had hoped to get a publisher/agent. But it almost sounds like if I make the attempt to...

-Regardless of whether its exceptionally well written, that the research has been done, and the stories have been passed successfully through the hands of sensitivity readers, it almost sounds like I'm liable to not get anywhere with them. Am I better off just continuing self-publishing?

It never occurred to me to write mostly in just a Caucasian's POV. From my perspective it seems awfully narrow-minded to do that. I am an introvert with the capacity to be able to view the world and people in a way that others sometimes can't. I am capable of not only seeing, but understanding the viewpoint of others on a level that many most often can't. I don't think in terms of race, ethnicity or color. I simply see people. I don't know how to write from only one POV. I'm literally incapable. I've tried.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 11:03:16 PM by Vortigern » Logged

Inspiring Imagination Between Two Worlds
Rachael846
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« Reply #32 on: May 22, 2018, 05:22:39 AM »

As someone who's half Mexican-American and half white, I find the terms "mixed" and "full blooded" pretty gross. (Full blooded especially.) It makes humans sound like dog breeds.

And gy*** is a slur.

That's not to say anything against your writing. I have no idea who you are nor have I read your books...just pointing out some things you've missed in your research.

Also, from a completely publishing profession angle, you'll have better luck getting an agent or publisher with something brand new. Most of them don't want anything even related to something that has already been self published.
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Munley
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« Reply #33 on: May 22, 2018, 05:56:21 AM »

Vortigern,
 
While no one can be an absolute mind-reader, I believe you that you have a level of empathy that allows you to observe and discern quite a bit about people who are not in the same "category" as yourself, as well as learn from what you are told by them. And, being in the same human race, it's possible to recognize parallel bad experiences, and feel for that other person, even though the outer circumstances and trappings might look quite different.

I remember hearing a black man describe noticing a white woman on an elevator suddenly clutch her purse to her stomach when he stepped in. He didn't need to be a white person or a female to get inside her head. Pretty much anyone who observed her reaction could discern how distrustful she felt and how anxious she was to make it "safely" off that elevator. This doesn't mean he could automatically guess everything about her or account for her whole life and entire attitude. Novels are made up of discrete moments and interactions that add up to a full portrait, and I think the most profound writers shed assumptions as they discover more and more about their characters.

I don't know whether she noticed her affect on him, or, if she did, whether she gave a damn. But, in fiction, as in life, there are so many ways that this could play out. She could be someone who actively advocates for equal rights for all and finds herself appalled by her automatic response to the sight of a black man. Or maybe she tells herself that he eyed her purse (even though he didn't until she clutched it), so no wonder she reacted that way. There are lots of possibilities. From what you say about your writing, I can imagine you imagining many, for both the woman and the man in that elevator.

Trust in yourself. I do think that the publishing industry needs to take deliberate care to include the talents of all people. It's apparent that you recognize that, but simply don't want to be automatically excluded now because you are not a certain colour or gender, any more than a person wants to be denied access to a certain seat on a bus or in a movie theatre simply because of how they look. There are probably agents out there who intend to offer opportunities for all, which is long overdue. Those who would summarily exclude a writer who is not the same gender or race as the main characters is probably someone who has little notice or appreciation for characters of depth no matter who creates them.
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Tigerlily1066
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« Reply #34 on: May 22, 2018, 08:19:08 AM »

No one is saying that Caucasian authors can't write POC characters. I write plenty of them. My books are dual-narrated, and one of the narrators is a man who identifies both as white/Caucasian and as Latino because he has parents of different ethnic backgrounds. No one has shown up to put me in writer handcuffs because I'm a white woman writing a POC male POV. His racial background helps inform who he is, but it does not define who he is. He's also an adoptee, a father, a fastidious person, an excellent cook, a piano player, a finder of lost things (and people), a justice seeker, and someone who was raised with money and thus is somewhat blind to its privileges. In short, he's a person.

I have a diverse team of beta readers which includes people of color, men and women, parents and child-free folks, people who were adopted and who have adopted children of a different race than they are, gay, trans, straight, and from different parts of the USA. I rely on them to check me when I get stuff wrong.

Vortigern, I share Rachael's concerns about some of the language in your post and wonder if it's a red flag for other ill-thought-out aspects to handling POC storylines. I also think, "I don't see color" is a very white person thing to say. I know because I used to take pride in saying it. I thought it meant that I believed all people are equal regardless of skin color, which indeed I do. But the reality is that we do see color, and in the USA, non-white people don't have the luxury of denying its existence. Also, if you really don't see color, then you can't really write about it?

There was recently an eye-opening discussion about Harlequin and its treatment of authors of color. They have largely relegated non-white authors off into their own line of books (which they have recently discontinued) even when the authors would like the opportunity to write for other Harlequin lines like romantic suspense, etc. Harlequin has lately shuffled off most of their authors of color as they've discontinued the specific "non-white" line, but they offered some authors the opportunity to stay on as consultants to help white authors create more authentic POC characters. Excuse me? What kind of complete bs is this?? As long as this gross disrespect and unequal opportunity persist in publishing, I think its more than fine for agents or editors to say, "You know what? If this is a book largely about the black experience, I would like to see it written by a black author." #ownvoices is about creating opportunities for people who have lived these experiences to be able to tell their stories, because they have traditionally been shut out in favor of white, (male), straight, able-bodied authors writing their stories for them.

Finally, the biggest hurdle I see for you is the fact that you have twenty-six related books on your slate. If you even hint such a thing, the agents will run for the hills. They want you to come with your ONE stand-alone story. If it has series potential, that's fine to mention, but I wouldn't mention twenty-six titles in the works. Trad-pubbed authors are lucky to a see a three-book deal. Twenty-six books is like a complete career.
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Vortigern
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« Reply #35 on: May 22, 2018, 04:41:34 PM »

As someone who's half Mexican-American and half white, I find the terms "mixed" and "full blooded" pretty gross. (Full blooded especially.) It makes humans sound like dog breeds.
And gy*** is a slur.

Rachael 846, I did not mean any offense and did miss in my research that gy*** was a slur? I had read it was a term used for Romani's or Romany, descendants from Northern India who are related to the Dom people, as well as many other fascinating details which no doubt will likely bore the rest of you. LOL But I did not see that it was considered derogatory. I will refer to my research again just to be sure. As careful as I'm sure we all try to be in our research I'm sure even the best of us miss things on occasion. Albeit this was a biggie if this is the case.

As to your comment about "mixed" and "full blooded." Recently I've been reading Spirits of the Earth, A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies written by Bobby Lake Thom, who on page 16 refers to his father, Charles "Red Hawk" Thom as full-blooded Karuk Indian. (sigh) I'm not going to apologize for the terminology. I AM sorry if you were offended but I'm pretty sure this Native American man does not believe his father is a dog as he speaks of him in the highest esteem. And he refers to himself as "mixed" since he is part Cherokee, part Karuk. It would be impossible to try to make everyone happy where terminology is concerned and I do try but... There's just no way to make everyone happy.

My story has characters who are part Scottish, part Mandin Indian. Every book I've read so far with regards to Native American Indians references this language when describing intermarriages and their offspring whether by the person writing it as well as the individual in question. I don't think its a far stretch to utilize this terminology.

I am a mix of Scottish, Irish, and German. Yet, I am considered Caucasian regardless because my skin is white. But I'm not going to get into a debate on this here. It's not the right forum.

Vortigern, I share Rachael's concerns about some of the language in your post and wonder if it's a red flag for other ill-thought-out aspects to handling POC storylines. I also think, "I don't see color" is a very white person thing to say. I know because I used to take pride in saying it. I thought it meant that I believed all people are equal regardless of skin color, which indeed I do. But the reality is that we do see color, and in the USA, non-white people don't have the luxury of denying its existence. Also, if you really don't see color, then you can't really write about it?

Of course it was ill thought out. It wasn't even a thought. It never occurred to me that writing from a POV of a POC would even be an issue until I found this forum. Clearly I am entirely green on this subject and many others. I've no clue what I'm doing, cause after all, I was under the misconception that a publisher might actually pick up my previously self-published works.

And maybe most people see in color but I literally don't. I'm color blind. I see only in white, black and shades of grey. (Or, more accurately, I have what is called monochromatic vision.) You are correct though, Tigerlilly1066, "non-white people" don't have the luxury of denying its existence.

As to the the last part, "Also, if you really don't see color, then you can't really write about it?"

I'm not writing about color. I'm writing a story about good versus evil. I'm writing about a family with supernatural abilities who struggle to keep their gifts a secret from the rest of the world. they just happen to have a mixed background and an extremely unfortunate and long lineage.

I really didn't mean to open a can of worms here. Sorry all.

Oh, and I almost forgot, Thanks Munley for your words. I'm trying to have some hope. LOL I wouldn't presume to claim I could possibly know all about what everyone goes through and feels, of course. There's no way I can possibly know that. It wasn't what I was meaning, which I think you gathered. But I have been told by many over the years that I have the somewhat eerie capacity to be ultra sensitive to other people in what they go through. A trait I often wish I was never "blessed" with.

Plus, Tigerlilly1066, thank you for your advice regarding my mention of the 26 books. I will keep that under my hat as another forum today on a different site made a similar mention. I don't want to freak anyone out, especially a prospective agent or publisher. LOL. And bear in mind, all 26 are not the same series. They are different ones. A total of five series, three are spin-offs. One is totally separate. I think I am going to have to re-think how I was going to do some of them though, since some were previously self-published. I didn't know publishers wouldn't pick those up. I thought they did sometimes.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 08:53:37 PM by Vortigern » Logged

Inspiring Imagination Between Two Worlds
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