It’s officially my book birthday again! Weee! The Fling hits shelves nation/internet wide today. Here are the other titles Bold Strokes Books is putting out today, all available in print and ebook. I’ve highlighted the titles I’ve read so far and both were excellent.
Burgundy Betrayal by Sheri Lewis-Wohl – Paranormal Lesbian Romance
LoveLife by Rachel Spangler – Contemporary Lesbian Romance
Ill Will by Jean Redmann – Mystery (lesbian)
Buccaneer Island by J.P. Beausejour – Gay Pirate Erotica
Twelve O’Clock Tales by Felice Picano – Collection of Short Stories
Murder in Rue St Chartres by Greg Herren – Mystery (gay)
This video has nothing to do with anything, but I love this song. Usher’s new “jam” Climax.
Fellow author Rachel Spangler does occassional blog posts where she shares the search terms that have brought people to her site. I usually share mine with her, but now I’ll share them with you. Here are the results for the last 30 days.
rebekah weatherspoon – this makes complete sense
rapunzel boobs – posted one picture from Tangled and her boobs were not out.
oksana – i wonder if people were searching for pornstars or figure skaters of the same name
annie adderall - were they looking for a girl who deals Rx’s named Annie
butters love – again one picture of Butters and here we are.
cute innocent brunette white guys – i love that someone is looking for this in general, but they didn’t find it here
el mac – i worship the man and he’s hyperlinked on my Extra’s page so this makes sense.
looking for my childhood bedtime story book from 50′s or 60′s big red book – o_O
my little pony friendship is magic rainbow – we all know what this is about.
rebekah weatherspoon author – another no brainer.
A few months ago I had several searches for boob related topics. these seem a little boring.
And for no reason at all, here is my take on HBO’s new show, Girls. I posted this on my tumblr yesterday, but I’m sharing it here to keep from driving people unnecessarily toward tons of nude photos.
I thought I posted this, but I didn’t. I did an interview with the awesome Carsen Taite while we were in Palm Springs. I talk about The Fling and Better Off Red a little. Good times.
The Fling is available now. Scoop it up. Tell your mom.
Day 632: Today, I’m talking about race. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but that’s just what I do around here.
Here is my disclaimer: I am about to address the INCLUSION of People of Color. NOT, I REPEAT, NOT the exclusion of white people. INCLUSION!
So you might be wondering why I’m talking about race. This isn’t about Trayvon Martin, though I’ll get back to him. I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now, but yesterday I was pushed to it. I was in a chat on twitter and there was talk about writing characters of color/non-white characters. I did not start this discussion. And the general response was “I, as an author, do not write characters of color because I am afraid of presenting a racial stereotypes that people will find offensive.” This is not the first time I have heard this response.
Okay. Valid argument. No one wants to offend people, most of the time. And yes there are portrayal of people of color out there, but I am terrified to think that Tyler Perry speaks for me and it makes me sick to my stomach to think that Kathryn Stockett speaks for my grandmothers. So what are we left with if not the stereotypes? Omission. Here’s the problem with complete omission, when you leave characters of color out (the same can be said of gay and lesbian characters, characters of varying gender identities, etc.), they no longer exist in your world. When they don’t exist in your world, they don’t exist in the reader’s world. This is dangerous, especially for people who are only exposed to diversity through books, film and television. Just as dangerous as the stereotypes and in cases, more harmful.
Now when the reader sees themselves on the page, there is an instant connection to that character. Other people see me. Other people acknowledge that I exist, that I have thoughts and feelings and value. I loved She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb because he wrote about an overweight girl in an honest, real way. BTW Wally Lamb has never been an overweight girl. He took the time to write how difficult it is to be overweight and how one may find themselves overweight in the first place. He nailed it.
The current standard is the brunette, doe eyed, young white female between the ages of 15 and 26 who seems to be the focus of EVERY book, movie and television show. I have nothing against this, but I am against every other girl being left out. I am against the only portrayal of African American youth in the last five years being the drug dealing kids of The Wire, the kind of portrayal that leads to deaths like Trayvon’s. I’m against Amber Riley having to play the teenage version of the fat, sassy black woman.
I was raised in a very warm, two parent home in Southern New Hampshire. Both of my parents are well educated, community minded people. My father, in particular raised me, not to be color blind, but to be kind and respectful of all people. As a kid I watched as he spoke with strangers and neighbors, and you know what, my father treated everyone the same. Teenagers, children, the elderly, his peers, even people who annoyed the hell out of him (I know his “I’m pissed off” face though others don’t) with the same respect. A lot, and I mean A LOT, of people love my father. The things I’ve heard said about him would bring most people to movie of the week tears. As a father to four black children in a white town he NEVER made race an issue. He taught us to behave as any parent should. He taught us the importance of studying hard and in a timely fashion, even though this message didn’t really sink in for me until I hit college. He took us to James Taylor concerts.
Here’s the thing, my father could have made race an issue. He grew up during the 50′s and 60′s. He lived through segregation. His parents and his grandmother who had a hand in raising him, lived through worse. But not once did I ever see any sort of angry black man chip on my father’s shoulder. He’s the same way to this day and I think, even better because age has just made him wiser and even more understanding of the world around him and yes, people continue to love him.
This was my spring board. When I hit elementary school, I went out into the world with this mentality: treat people the same. And I did. I bounced between different social groups right up to college and in that time, I dealt with racism from another kid exactly once. He dropped the N bomb and I let him know about himself, but that’s another story. I had a friend ask me some silly things about my hair, but it was innocent ignorance and I love her dearly.
I did, however, face racism from adults. I’ve had adults and, yes they were white, pull my hair as they asked me what it felt like. And yes this is racist. Treating little black girl the way you would treat dog is racist. I have had a girl tell me her mother didn’t think she should use our toilet because she would get AIDS. I’ll let you marinate on that for a moment. There were countless other instances that don’t need to be rehashed, but it was the adults in my life who exhibited the most ignorant, racist behavior. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that racism is taught. It trickles down. I have seen it with my own eyes. How do we change this? We work from the bottom up. Now I’m not stupid enough to think that racism will ever disappear completely. It’s a global issue. People thrive of superiority and separation. But things can be made better and we start with the images we show our children.
When I was a kid I was most often compared to Missy Elliot. She was big and black. I was big and black. Beyond that, I have no clue if I have anything in common with Missy Elliot. I don’t know her, but at the time she was the only woman of color my friends could identify with and that’s a shame, but the entertainment community wasn’t thinking about me. They didn’t think I needed to see my image reflected in the media. I’m sure Missy Elliot wasn’t thinking about me either. These days the defaults are Oprah and Beyonce, again two woman that I’m not sure I share all that much in common with. I would kill to be compared to Octavia Butler. Oh man. But let me get back to my main point.
I gave up expecting to see myself anywhere after The Cosby Show went off the air and that sucks. It sucks that I’m a little shocked to see an Asian/White couple in a VW commercial. It sucks that I know that commercial is not being played in parts of the country.
The main praise I have received for Better Off Red is that I have included a diverse cast of characters. As it stands, I have women who are Japanese, African-American, Puerto Rican, Bajan, Native American, Russian, British, and Scots-Mexican. I touch on their history, but I’m writing about vampires. I need to focus on them being vampires and what issues that presents. Moving forward, that I see, all of my romances will feature interracial couples. I had another author ask, with some shock (and a little disgust maybe, she seemed to be against this idea, like I was trying too hard) why I would do this. I think she was wondering why I wouldn’t just write black couple or white couples. Why? Because people ask me all the time to recommend romances with people of color or for romances with mixed couples. All the time. Because I don’t live in an all white world. I live in Koreatown. If anything I should be writing about Korean couples. I’m not in an all black relationship. Because my best friends here in LA are Latina and Korean. When we walk into a room, INSTANT DIVERSITY! Why? Because I am afrai
d to leave it up to other authors to do it for me.When people take to screen and page the default is white. Tell me I’m wrong and I will laugh in your face.
|see, bestie and i being diverse.|
When you say, and by you I mean the fifty or so writers I have heard say this since I’ve entered the game, when you say you are afraid to write stereotypes, you are saying that stereotypes would be your approach. I have stopped reading authors who latch on to the stereotypes. Native Americans being the most recent and horrifying portrayal. Here’s the thing about stereotypes in fiction, no matter how true you feel they are in real life, they actually don’t translate well to the page or the screen at all. If your main characters is a dumb blonde with no personality, your reader will not be interested. That’s a stereotype right? But why the hell would you write it? Exactly. Here’s a tip: don’t write them. If you want to write about an Asian character, give them an interesting journey. If you base the journey around a math competition, well… If you are writing about D
I’m reporting back to say that I made it through all of my readings over the weekend without passing out or puking all over myself.
Seriously though, the 6th Annual Bold Strokes Books LGBT Book Festival was wonderful. I read selections from Better Off Red and The Fling and I think I did all right. And I think I made my mom proud by wearing a dress.
|courtesy of Angie Williams.|
I look hot mid-sentence. I received excellent feedback on Better Off Red and The Fling. I signed some books. It was all very exciting.
In other news, Blacker Than Blue is off to my editor and I must say I am VERY happy with it. Moving forward, I have two books and two shorts in the pipeline and I plan on cleaning up a screenplay. We’ll see how all of that gooes.
In more other news, if you don’t follow me on twitter, you haven’t seen this little beauty. Fangdangler finished reading Better Off Red and found himself inspired to draw Ginger and Camila. To say I love it would be an understatement. He also has some great adventure time fanart on his deviant art page.
|featuring my short story, Study Break|
I have a short story and a book creeping up on me here and I haven’t been talking about them at all. WHY??? Because I’m behind the eight ball like a motherfucker on Blacker Than Blue: VSS Book 2 and it’s due in three weeks. The day the manuscript is due I have to appear in Palm Springs for a four day event where I will be reading three times. I hate reading out loud in public. I hate reading out loud when it’s just me and my cats, but I’ll have to do it three times in front of friends and other people I respect. Throw in the huge shitshow with the RWI/RWA contest (I’m not going to rehash it, but here are the details.) and the subsequent interview I was asked to give and you’ll get one strained Bekah. My stress levels are at an eleven right now. Any time I spend on the internet I use to take away the pain of being on level eleven. I don’t want to talk shop. But that’s only half of the problem.
See here’s the thing, I’ve had a really traumatic relationship with The Fling, which will be out April 16th. click this preorder it. Now that it’s done and my editor helped me give it the tweeks it needed, I am very happy with the finished product. I LOVE the characters. Love them. I want to marry at least four of them and spend forever in their loving embrace, but getting to this point was trying and that’s putting it lightly.
I started writing this book at a really bad point in my life. I was leaving a job, suffering from a really intense back pain, a good friend of mine died in a car accident and I won’t lie, I was suicidal. I didn’t try anything, but I made plans. And guess what, that shit showed up in my writing. Oksana, who is a character I’m very happy with, got all of my sads. Luckily my mental state improved. I left the horrid job and the horrid boss. I got to spend time with my family. I sulked to my mom. I reconnected with an amazing friend. WE GOT KITTENS! I brought more positive into my life and my moods started to stabilize. Thank god for my boyfriend who held my hand for that time.
But let’s back up. So this is all going on and then I hit that horrid sophomore slump. Better Off Red walked out of my brain with its bags packed and was just waiting for a cab to the airport. I had to drag The Fling out kicking and screaming even though I was trying to send it on a nice vacation. I had the whole story outlined to death, but my stupid, crazy, depressed brain and my busted back were making it so very difficult to get the thing down on paper and then I would get bummed that it was taking me so long and then I had to do final edits on Better Off Red and then I was bummed again. It was a mess.
|Oksana looks like Amber Rose in my imagination.|
Anyway when I got The Fling back from my editor her notes basically said “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED!” Emotionally, I was trying to kill Oksana and every thing I did to her was in complete contrast with how awesome she is. Seriously bro, she’s a sexy biracial Russian chick who lives with her grandma. Those of you who’ve read Better Off Red know I try to incorporate a nice bit of humor into my writing. It’s there in The Fling. I’ve given myself a few chuckles rereading the final product (not out loud of course), but with as much humor as there was I loaded Oksana down with emo. It wasn’t working. Editor and I talked. We fixed it. Oksana is not crazy anymore and I am very happy with the final story, but see I don’t want to talk about it because every time I look at that book, I think about how depressed I was while I was trying to write it. I think about how painful the process was and I just don’t want to go back there. But I have to suck it up.I have to tell you people all about it.
I’ve learned a lot writing and editing The Fling. I learned what I need to do complete a project with my sanity intact and as a result working on Blacker Than Blue has been a much smoother process. Even though I’m a little behind, I know I’ll finish on time. I’ve even LOST weight while writing it. I know, I’m shocked too.
So my point is, I have another book coming out in April. I’m really happy with it. You should by it. I can’t wait for you to meet Annie and Oksana. If you’d like to have a look at them go here. Warning: some of the Annie pics show boobies. If you’ve read Better Off Red you should DEFINITELY pick up Women of the Dark Streets. I’m calling Study Break VSS 1.5. It gives you a look into Benny and Cleo and leads perfectly into Blacker than Blue. It’s also busting with great shorts from some great authors. I’ve sneaked a peek.
P.S. I know talking about depression and suicide makes some people really uncomfortable, but some times talking about it saves lives.
I know some people come to my blog through avenues other than twitter so here’s the skinny on the up-down (I know that made no sense). I’m guest blogging today over at Babbling About Books and More on why I write lesbian romance and more importantly, why I write ethnically diverse lesbian romance. Do check it out.
|the awkward teenager i reference in this guest post|
And in response to the recent rash of writer on reviewer crimes, here’s my personal stance. I read reviews, but I know they aren’t for me. They are for other readers. As a writer it is not my place to attack reviewers for their opinions. I am psyched that people have read my work and that’s that. To the authors attacking reviewers for posting reviews OF YOUR BOOK, not your looks, or your mom, or your kids, please chill out. You’re making the rest of us look crazy. Smoochies!