K. Ceres Wright

The MICE Quotient

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Aug 1, 2019

Speculative fiction writer, Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), has also written how-to books on writing, including Characters and Viewpoint, and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In the latter book, Card outlines four elements that make up story structure: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event (MICE). A story will typically contain all four elements, but one will predominate, depending on the type of story the author wants to tell. Each element is described below:

Milieu

The milieu is the world in which a story takes place. Authors who love to world-build may choose this element to show off their skills. This type of story typically begins when the main character enters a new world, and ends when they leave (or the world leaves). The other elements should not stand out in any way to detract from the milieu. For example, the characters should be typical of their worlds, and events should either not overshadow the landscape, or should incorporate it into events, such as when Frodo and Sam have to slog through swamps and climb mountains to reach Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Or when Paul Atreides has to learn to cope with the harsh environment on the planet, Dune, in order to find his true self. In Arthur C. Clark’s Rendezvous with Rama, an alien ship enters our solar system, and a ship is sent to investigate. The story is about how the crew members explore the ship and what they find, and ends when the ship is flung into outer space.

Idea

In this story type, the main characters discover pieces of information to solve a puzzle or answer a question. The story is bookended by a question at the start, and the answer at the end. Mysteries are typical idea stories, for the question of who killed someone begins the tale, and the detective has to gather clues to find the killer in the end. In P. Djèlí Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo, Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, weaves her way through the city’s underside to put together the pieces that will solve the riddle of who killed a supposedly immortal djinn. In Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs has to find out why a rich man was found murdered hours after his last personality backup. And Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, begins with a monolith discovered by apes that lets out a strong radio signal. Why? We learn by the end that it was activated to inform the creator race that proto-humans were ready to move onto the next level in evolution.

Character

Character stories are about growth. What does the main character know, or can do, at the end that she or he could not at the beginning? In this type of story, the writer needs to fully flesh out the main characters and start near the point where the character decides she is unhappy with her life’s status and will work to change it. In Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed, Doro is the main antagonist, who can extend his life by simultaneously killing and possessing another person. He diligently conducts his pet project of breeding humans, all while eliminating those who refuse to kowtow to him—until he meets Anyanwu. She is an immortal healer and uses her powers to help others in her community. Doro latches onto her and tries to control her, incorporating her into his breeding project. She acquiesces for a time, but then threatens to commit suicide to stop Doro from creating new species. He agrees to compromise and they agree to work together on equal terms. In my book, Cog, the main character, Nicholle, grows from a once-failed intern at her family’s company to its savior.

Event

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force,” Obi-Wan once said. This discovery of an imbalance is the crux of an event story. In Star Wars, it was the Death Star coming online and fulfilling its purpose of blowing up planets. In Lord of the Rings, it was the revelation that Sauron was alive—in one form or another. In Blade Runner, it was the escape of four Nexus 6 replicants, who had come to Earth. Before the big reveal, however, the stories centered on the main characters in their world, which drew in the readers and viewers and made them care about the characters. Only then did the true adventure start. The story then ends when balance is restored, with either a new structure to the world, or a revival of the old structure.

Whichever type of story you decide to write, be sure to begin and end with the same type. Readers will be disappointed if they begin reading a science fiction story that promises to be about the discovery of a new world in an alternate universe, and then ends with the main character deciding to leave the adventure and go off to marry and settle down. They’ll be left with questions: What happened in the alt uni? Were there any new life forms? Be sure to satisfy your readers, and they’ll keep coming back.

Balticon 53

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May 23, 2019

I’ll be appearing on a few panels, conducting an interview, and helping to host a meet-and-greet for the writers support group, Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction at Balticon 53. Here’s my schedule:

Black Femininity in Afrofuturism: Saturday, May 25, 11:00 a.m.

African American women have been early adopters of national and international initiatives, such as abolitionism, civil rights, women’s rights, space travel, and hip hop—from Maria W. Stewart’s anti-slavery and women’s rights speeches in the 1830s, to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement in the 2000s. This panel will discuss the contributions of Black women to the progression of the underpinnings of Afrofuturism.

Representation vs. Tokenism: Saturday, May 25, Noon

There is a long tradition of including diversity for diversity’s sake without making it part of the story. What is the difference between shallow and real inclusion? Does it have to be integral to feel like it’s not tokenism? How does this play out in the far future, in the past, or in original worlds?

Cyberpunk Remastered: Saturday, May 25, 2:00 p.m.

With Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon and Pat Cadigan’s adaptation of the manga-turned-Hollywood-movie Alita: Battle Angel, cyberpunk is alive and well after having first been declared dead in the 90s. Elements of cyberpunk have been subsumed into pop culture and can be found everywhere now—movies, music videos, video games, and more. How have the older tropes evolved in the last few years and how do we expect to see them incorporated in future works?

Muse on This Podcast with Sue Baiman: Saturday, May 25, 4:00 p.m.

Muse On This is a podcast focusing on interviews with creative people, and their inspirations and thought processes. Sue Baiman asks the questions to find out what makes the creativity flow. Featuring author K. Ceres Wright.

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction Meet-and-Greet, Saturday, May 25, 5:00 p.m.

Come out and meet the members of Diverse Writers And Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF). Food, fun, and giveaways! There will also be a free screening of the award-winning short film, Rumination. The writer/director will be on hand to answer questions.

Writing Characters of Color

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May 23, 2019

by K. Ceres Wright

Introduction

As our world becomes more diverse, so must the pop culture and media that reflect it. But many writers who are not persons of color may ask how they can reflect diversity in their work without sounding as if they’re pandering to ethnic or minority audiences, or without using stereotypes.

First, writers must ask themselves whether they should add minority characters to their work. What’s your motivation? Just because? To make more money? Or are you truly committed to putting in the research and the work to make your diverse characters as rich and nuanced as the others. You want to create complex characters, no matter their background, who will draw you in, force you to accept their strengths and flaws, and still make you pull for them to win in the end—however winning looks—whether it’s realizing their own inner strength, or defeating the evil boss. Underneath, people are people, and their motivations should drive their actions more than their color.

As writers, we’re told to “show,” not “tell” … to let the reader “see” the characters more than be told the particulars. Let the reader use context clues to figure out that Christine is the daughter of a Japanese mother and African-American father, or that Trevor’s heritage is deeply embedded in the Caribbean. You want to give characters of color the same depth and humanity you give others. Don’t leverage cheap stereotypes and their prepackaged content. It’s lazy writing. Writing the other is harder, and it deserves particular attention as a result. Don’t do it unless you are willing to invest in a whole lot of time and commitment and get into some heavy conversation about what it is like to live our lives, deal with racism and micro-aggressions and fear and hate.

Reasons for Diversity

  • Kids need to see themselves represented in books, media, and pop culture in order to develop healthy self-images and feel comfortable with who they are. Teens, in particular, may struggle with accepting themselves. They may not see other folks like them in their hometown, and if they don’t see themselves in the media they consume, it may make them feel even more isolated. High suicide rates and internalized racial/gender oppression are real.
  • There are real-world implications of viewing people of color as less than, such as disparities in employment and pay rates, adverse perceptions by law enforcement, higher rates of harassment and profiling, and greater likelihood of being victim of mass shooter. Recent killer said, “Whites don’t kill whites.”
  • Some voices aren’t being heard, and that may make those voices feel invisible. Having nondiverse books reinforces feelings of being marginalized.
  • Diverse writing creates opportunities for others in the field…the demand for agents and editors who are familiar with themes in diverse books, and actors and actresses to play diverse roles.

Considerations

  • Default character: Readers not given a description or context of diversity will usually assume a character is a white cisgender heterosexual.
  • Research is key: Consult with writers and readers of color, websites, how-to books, and other resources.
  • Relationship to power: Include scenes that describe the challenges of not having the privilege or power of members of the dominant group. Example: A person of color may have additional hurdles to jump to get a bank loan.
  • Dialects and speech patterns: Not all members of a minority group will speak the same, whether it’s related to slang, speech patterns, or accent.
  • Skin Tone: It’s advised to not compare skin tone with food, as it is fetishizing and has links to colonialism. (What is the best way to show dominance? By eating someone – like in the animal kingdom.)
  • Stereotypes: As mentioned before, inserting a character of color that incorporates stereotypical elements is lazy writing.

Links

General blog with specific categories:

Arranging for a sensitivity reader:

Describing skin tones:

Learning about White privilege:

Using appropriate terminology for people with disabilities:

Using dialect:

Writing about slavery:

Get Ready, CyberFunkateers!

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Sep 25, 2015

TheCityCover

I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk since I first discovered it in 2003. Yeah, I was 20 years behind the times, but I didn’t care. I felt a new generation needed to know all about it, so I wrote a cyberpunk book, Cog. But I prefer the short story medium, and searched for a place that would welcome a cyberpunk story with Black characters.

Knowledge Lateef

Over the course of several years on Facebook, I’ve gathered 1,000+ friends, one of whom was Milton Davis. From the ATL. He was self-publishing African-themed books and anthologies on sword and soul and steampunk. Then one day, an idea came to him about a city where no one could leave. He posted his idea on Facebook in the State of Black Science Fiction, and a bunch of writers ran with it, posting snippets of stories in the thread, and linking characters, generating ideas. Then someone said we needed to publish an anthology of all the stories. Balogun Ojetade wrote the manifesto. An artist came along by the name of Natiq Jalil, and said he would illustrate it. A music aficionado named Otis Galloway volunteered to write sound tracks. And a multimedia, multisensory book of stories was born. The City. Cyberfunk.

What is The City?

The City began as a sentient organism living inside a large asteroid. For thousands of years, the organism used the asteroid’s gravity to intercept ships from various planets and galaxies, assimilating the crew and wiping their memories, and giving them new jobs, families, and experiences. No one knows why. It just does. The organism used the assimilated information to build The City and its environment. The first beings to be captured were crew on a Nigerian space vessel. Nigeria was the first to achieve intergalactic travel during the Great Race by the major countries of the planet Earth to be the first to venture outside of the Milky Way.

CityInteriorArt

And if you want to know more about Knowledge Lateef, Street Preacher; the Ooze; and the Tell, you’re going to have to read the book. It’s available on Amazon: http://ow.ly/SDUXc

CityInteriorArt2

We are the writers, and we call ourselves the Cityzens:

Jeff Carroll
Gerald Coleman
Milton Davis
Ray Dean
Malon Edwards
Ashtyn Foster
Otis Galloway
Keith Gaston
Chanel Harry
Natiq Jalil
Valjeanne Jeffers
Alan Jones
Brandee Laird
Kai Leakes
Edison Moody
B. Sharise Moore
Howard Night
Balogun Ojetade
Ced Pharoah
And Yours Truly, K. Ceres Wright

Confluence SF Convention

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Sep 4, 2015

I attended Confluence in Pittsburgh/Cranberry, PA, last month. Here’s a pic from a panel I was on, “Not Just Anglos,” and a picture with Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson of Dog Star Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Confluence

Confluence2

StarShipSofa Interview

by , on
May 4, 2015

Link to interview:

http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2013/09/11/starshipsofa-no-304-m-bennardo/

Guest Blog Post by Liz Coley: Just a Thriller—No Mere Mortal Can Resist

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Apr 29, 2015
    Liz Coley has a new YA thriller out titled, “Unleashed.” She asked me if she could guest blog. Heck yeah! So here is her exciting post about why she writes thrillers.

I’m just back from the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, where as an author, I sat on two “thriller” panels, where we debated, “Why do people like thrillers so much?”

One of the offered answers was that we chase an adrenalin rush of fear—people love to feel scared. As the other panelists talked about their love of horror movies and novels, I realized that wasn’t the case for me. If The Shining comes on the TV, I have to leave the room.

Another potential answer was that thrillers are a “worst case scenario survival handbook” for our minds, a vicarious way of planning for awful things that will never happen to us. Thriller writers are worriers with active imaginations, maybe even phobias, that they play out on the page like a therapeutic exercise. I have yet to write a runaway car scene, or a trapped in a sinking car scene, but those are recurring nightmares/worries for me. Still—I haven’t taken them to the page, maybe because they are too close for comfort.

Another suggested answer was almost the opposite—that thrillers are a great escape from day to day realities, a way of taking our minds on an adventure and leaving our bodies safely at home. In my writing, I suspect I’m the third kind of person. My heroes and heroines face odds and have adventures that I’m not up to in the flesh, but I can ride their story while I am writing it. For me, that is thrilling.

I think there’s a morsel of truth in each explanation, depending on the reader, depending on the writer.

My new heroine Tor Maddox is much taller, cooler, mouthier, and braver than I am. Here’s a sneak peek excerpt from her first book, Unleashed.

TorMaddox

    The black car lurked at the curb again, right in front of my house. Surveilling.

    Two Men in Black got out. No, I’m not kidding—they were really men in black. Black suits. Impenetrable black glasses. Big black bulges under their black jackets. They walked to the front door and rang the bell. Surprising. I had expected them to kick it down. I froze behind the door, peering through the peephole. They rang again. One of them dragged his hands through his thinning hair. The other one gave a visible sigh. He leaned his face right up to the peephole so that it became huge and distorted. He backed off and pointed at the hole. Spit. He knew I was watching. He reached into his coat, and I closed my eyes tight. I braced myself. I took a final breath. This was the perfect end to a miserable day. I prepared myself to die.

    Yet I still had so many unanswered questions. Was there an afterlife? Would I meet God? What would my parents think? How would bullets feel drilling into me after they used up their energy penetrating a door. Would it be over quickly? What was taking so long?

    What was taking so damned long?

    I exhaled, opened my eyes, and peered out again. One of the men was holding up an embossed gold badge to the peephole, too distorted to read. The other one knocked twice.

    Fine. I opened the door. “You can’t come in,” I said firmly. “My parents aren’t home.”

    The guy with the badge folded it away into his coat and extended his hand. “Ms. Maddox? I’m Agent Turner. This is my partner.”

    “I’m Solly,” his partner said.

    “Seriously? You’re sorry? I’m sorry I ever got up this morning. What do you want?”

    The agent muttered back “I didn’t say I was sorry.”

    “Well, you ought to be,” I said. “Scaring the spit out of a teenage girl. Harassing and following me. Breaking into my house.”

    “We’re not in your house,” Agent Turner pointed out.

    “Right,” I said. “And stay out.” I slammed the door, barely missing the hand he was still holding out to me. I put my eye to the peephole.

    Solly ran his hands through his hair again. If he did that all the time, no wonder it was thinning. Turner rang the bell.

    I opened the door four inches. “What?”

    A well-shined shoe slid into the opening. “Ms. Maddox,” Turner said through the gap. “We really don’t mean to alarm you. You’re not in trouble. We just need to ask you a couple of questions.”

    Great. I’d given him a literal foot in the door. If I slammed it now, I’d be assaulting a Federal Agent. Most likely.

    I opened to slightly more than a B-width shoe to size them up. “Are you guys Federal Agents?” I asked, just to be clear on my risk here.

    “Yes, ma’am,” Solly said.

    “What’s the penalty for assaulting you?”

    A slow smile spread across Turner’s face.

    That made me mad. Totally mad. So mad I flung open the door, reached down deep, and found my dormant rough, tough, screaming, kicking chick and woke her up. “Heeeeey yaaaah!” I yelled as I dropped into a back stance, ready to let loose with a powerful side kick.

    Solly stepped forward, in front of Turner. “Now sweetheart, don’t be—”

    “Sweetheart? I’m not your sweetheart, you balding male chauvinist swine!” My foot flew up as if it had a mind of its own, planted one dirty sneaker in the middle of Solly’s chest, and sent him sprawling across the sidewalk. He rolled and came up in a crouch, a menacing black gun pointed straight at me. I lunged forward, ready to deliver a breaking kick to his gun hand and felt myself pulled back abruptly. Turner had my arms twisted behind me in a full Nelson, and I couldn’t get a leg into position to break his knees.

    “Calm down, Ms. Maddox,” he said with a soft, silky voice in my right ear while I struggled helplessly. His breath smelled like peppermint. “In answer to your prior question, right now, you’re looking at under a year. But if you do serious harm to my partner there, we’re talking ten to thirty.”

    I glared at Solly. He stood and holstered his gun. He smoothed down his coat and raised his hands to his head. I just couldn’t help myself. “Stop it,” I yelled. “You’re pulling all your hair out with that stupid habit.”

    Turner shrugged. “She’s right, you know. Now, young lady. Let’s take this off the street and inside where we can have a quiet, civilized chat.” He relaxed his grip and set me loose.

    “I know how you guys do this. I have your number. I watch TV. Are you supposed to be the good cop? You know the good cop doesn’t wrench the victim’s shoulders out of their sockets.” I rubbed my shoulders for good measure.

    “I’m sorry,” Turner said.

    “I thought he was Solly,” I said, recovering my wittitude. “Okay. You can come in and wait. But I’m not saying anything till my parents get home. I’m a minor.”

    “You may be a minor, but you’re a major pain,” Solly grumped.

    “Ha, ha. Wait till your boss finds out you pulled a gun on a fifteen-year-old girl.”

    “Aw, crap. Fifteen? Really?” Solly rubbed the sore spot on his chest.

    Turner chuckled quietly, a nice laugh. He let me go and patted me on the shoulder. “Hey. Sorry about your shoulders. I didn’t want you leaping down the barrel of Solly’s gun. It might have gone off, and then where would we be?”

    Where indeed? I’d be lying in a pool of my own blood and Turner would be trying to revive me and then my parents would come home. Dad would see this stranger with his face all over me and then he’d go all Rambo on him. Awful. Time to step it down a notch.

    “Fine. Apology sort of accepted,” I said. “But the door stays open.”

    So these two Federal Agents followed me into the kitchen and sat down at our table. Where I eat breakfast. Where I do my homework. Where I watch CNN. It was a bit surreal.

    We stared at each other. I broke first. “You guys want coffee?”

Blog Hop: The Liebster Award OR Ten Questions on my Work in Progress (WIP)

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Jan 28, 2015

Michael Mehalek of Writing is Tricky tagged me in a ten-question blog hop called the Liebster award. So here goes…

1. Where did the idea for your current Work-in-Progress (WIP) come from?

I had seen several news stories about China investing in Africa and did some further research. I discovered that the Guangzhou area of China was known as Chocolate City because of all the African businessmen that had come there for import/export opportunities. Many had married Chinese women to help them in their business, and I wondered what China would be like when these couples’ children grew up.

2. Quote a favorite line from one of your favorite books.

“Really bad media can exorcise your semiotic ghosts. If it keeps the saucer people off my back, it can keep these Art Deco futuroids off yours.” ~ William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum (short story)

3. Now quote your favorite lines from your current WIP

The scent of stale Tsingtao and rancid urine forced Bo to crank open an eye in half-hearted reconnaissance. Iron-framed lanterns hanging overhead told him he had fallen asleep on the living room couch, confirmed by the twinge in his back caused by the second-hand temperfoam. Memories flitted across his mental landscape—a big project with a big percentage, hence the big party. Data display in his periphery blinked a 63.5 percent chance of getting back together with Mei, based upon last night’s conversations and pheromone output. A higher than usual chance, he thought. He winked off the display, anything beyond offstream proving to be information overload.

A hangover nagged at the edge of his consciousness, a feeling quite familiar. He rolled off the couch and onto his knees, letting the vague pain take center stage before clawing his way to vertical.

4. What unique challenges has your current WIP had that your previous ones did not?

Since the story takes place in China, I have to do a lot of research on the country. My last book took place in the Washington, D.C., area, where I’ve lived for the past 30 years. I’m also using more themes, which I have to try to figure out how to tie together.

5. If you saw your main character at a party, how would you react?

I would sit quietly in a corner and observe him, and see what I got right and what I got wrong.

6. Who would play your main protagonist/antagonist if your current WIP were made into a movie?

Bo would be played by Will Demps

will-demps-300x425

Hao would be played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary+Hiroyuki+Tagawa

Mei would be played by Amandla Stenberg (in a few years)

amandla-stenberg

7. What are your biggest inspirations for writing?

To inspire Black filmmakers to create visual media to reflect the diversity we see in the world today, which, in turn, will inspire the children of today to bring about a better tomorrow

8. Summarize your WIP as a haiku.

Guangzhou future days
Taiwan nuclear danger
Programmers save world

9. What role does music play in your writing?

Not that much. I can only listen to classical music when I’m writing, which doesn’t exactly evoke visions of the future, and I’m not good at predicting music trends, so I don’t know what popular music will sound like 65 years from now.

10. What’s one thing you’ve learned about the craft that you wish you had learned earlier?

I need deadlines to help me write, to give me a sense of urgency. Oh, and don’t use filtering. Here’s a great article on it: http://www.scribophile.com/academy/an-introduction-to-filtering

Now I get to tag some other writers and get them to answer 10 questions. I tag Milton Davis, Kai Leakes, and Balogun Ojetade.

1. Tell us about your work in progress (WIP)
2. How is your WIP different from your prior work?
3. How has writing changed your life?
4. What inspired you to start writing?
5. Who is your favorite character from all your works?
6. Do you like to write villains?
7. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve learned?
8. How have you grown as a writer?
9. What’s your favorite line from your WIP?
10. Do you like dragons?

Diversity in Fantasy

by , on
Jan 28, 2015

I attended the World Fantasy Convention during the weekend of November 7–9, 2014, and was honored to serve on the panel, “Everybody was There: Diversity in Fantasy.” I learned much from my esteemed fellow panelists: Sarah Pinsker (moderator), Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kit Reed, and S. M. Stirling. I didn’t get a chance to touch on everything I wanted to say, so I’ll include it in this post.

The issue looming over the convention was the World Fantasy Award and whether the board would decide to keep the caricature bust of H. P. Lovecraft or scrap it. Lovecraft made significant contributions to fantasy, but was also known for his racist views toward African Americans, Asians, Jews, and just about everyone who wasn’t White. But what do we owe Lovecraft and his literary contributions?

I think you have to assess a book by both past and current standards in order to see how societal views have changed over time, and ultimately, why societal views have changed. To me, it’s not owing the past anything or forgiving the past, it’s understanding how historical events have molded world views. It’s good to have a holistic overview of the era in which the book was written, rather than taking views out of context.

I think we acknowledge Lovecraft’s contribution to the fantasy genre, but we also recognize his flaws, as with any writer. It makes them more human in our eyes. However, we, in 2014, are not beholden to Lovecraft. If handing an award with his likeness to people makes them uncomfortable because of his racist views, then I think the award needs to be changed.

Change is the nature of our society. As far as fantasy is concerned, I think we’re starting to see more change in YA fantasy, because I think younger people are more willing to entertain change. They’re growing up in a more diverse culture and open to seeing that diversity reflected in their media. However, I think a major problem is that children are not usually taught history from the person of color’s point of view. I was grown before I knew about Alessandro de’Medici, the Duke of Florence; Saint Maurice of Switzerland; or Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. By the time kids are grown, they believe they know exactly what shaped Western culture, and when they find out that yes, Blacks and Asians and women and others besides white males also played prominent roles in history, it upsets their world view. And people are loathe to change. They don’t like it.

I think that diverse books will allow readers with different abilities, backgrounds, and cultures, to see themselves reflected in the books they read. And diverse authors may encourage them to aspire to become writers of diverse books themselves. I know some writers may be hesitant to write about other cultures for fear of offending someone, but if one intends to become a serious writer, one has to learn how to research other cultures and incorporate that knowledge, in some way, into one’s writing. For example, don’t assume that the same standards of beauty cut across all cultures. I have a cousin who’s 6’3” and model thin, and felt she was discriminated against in the Bahamas because she was not overweight. I watched a documentary of an African man who wanted his wife to weigh 200 pounds for their wedding, so she sat in a hut and drank goat’s milk for weeks.

The incorporation of research makes for richer prose. If you’re worried about offending someone of a particular group, get on the Internet and ask someone to read some of your work and offer advice. Read the works of other writers of color, or women, or those who are differently abled to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Also, read “Writing the Other” by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

I know it’s all about money in the world of publishing. But a recent Pew study showed that the most likely reader was a college-educated Black woman. I think there needs to be a paradigm shift across the industry, from the CEO, to the acquisitions editor, to the copy editor, to the book store owner. New audiences may require new marketing methods, but as I said before, change is the nature of our society.

One way to help bring about positive change surrounding diversity in fantasy is for editors of anthologies and magazines to solicit stories from diverse authors to let readers know about the existence of writers from different cultures and backgrounds. I think the traditional publishers aren’t taking risks as they would during flush economic times, so people looking for something different are starting to turn to small, independent, and self-publishers.

And if you want some recommendations, try Abengoni: First Calling, by Charles Saunders, who has been writing diverse fantasy since the seventies. There’s also the Constant Tower by Carole McDonnell, Changa’s Safari by Milton Davis, Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective by Valjeanne Jeffers, Taurus Moon: Magic and Mayhem by D. K. Gaston, Ghosts of Koa by Colby R. Rice, Sacrifices by Alan D. Jones, the Scythe by Balogun Ojetade, Sineaters by Kai Leakes, the Seedbearing Prince by Davaun Sanders, and Neon Lights by Zig Zag Claybourne.

If you find a diverse book you like, call or write the publisher and let them know you appreciate their efforts, and tell them you’ll purchase more books like that.

As Barbara Deming once said, “The longer we listen to one another—with real attention—the more commonality we will find in all our lives.”

World Fantasy Convention 2014 Photos

by , on
Nov 12, 2014

Here are some photos from the World Fantasy Convention:

Panel on diversity in fantasy
WFC-Diversity-Panel

At the mass book signing with Lyle Blake Smythers and John Edward Lawson
WFC-Book-Signing

At Heidi Ruby Miller’s reading with Tom Connair
WFC-Heidi-Reading

With Maria Alexander at the Raw Dog Screaming Press party
WFC-Maria-Alexander