My 2014 Blogging Year In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. It’s pretty straight-forward and probably only fascinating for me to see, but I’m sharing it anyway.

One thing I will say: I’m not surprised my post on Ryker got the most comments – he’s awesome, casting posts are always fun, and Nathan Owens is hot, hot, hot.

Anyway, take a peek if you want otherwise, I’ll be back to posting more often as soon as I finish Book III: The Prophecy. It’s so close – I can practically taste the end…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I’ve Got A Name

I know I’m supposed to be finishing Book III in The Sanctum Trilogy, putting an end to Dev and Wyatt’s saga, and I am…kind of.

At least I know their end.

Putting it all down on paper is taking a little longer than expected and I’ve taken advantage of every procrastination tool I’ve acquired over my forty three years of walking this planet. And one of those tools is thinking ahead to my next project.

Which began as just a story and has now morphed into a trilogy.

Yea! because this bitch loves a good trilogy. I would hate to write just one book devoted to my cast of characters. Perhaps that’s thinking a bit too highly of the folks I create, but so be it. Someone’s gotta love them.

So this new story comes to me in starts and fits and when it does, I just have to go with it. Yesterday, as I was driving from my old neighborhood back to my new one, singing along to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” – …

…which I love. It’s so good, no? But I seem to love everything he sings – cruising down the highway at speeds one should definitely not cruise, letting The Husband’s driving machine breathe a little at 90 miles per hour, it hit me: I have a name for my male main character.

He’s a nasty piece of work, angry, brutal, and unloved. Disabled from birth, forgotten among his brothers, an embarrassment to his father. Loved only by his mother who died when he was young, he’s the holder of a great secret and tremendous power, how he will use them remains to be seen.

And his name is

DUTCH.

I #SupportWNDB – The Series: EVOLUTION OF A WRITER

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Evolution of a Diverse Books Writer

Rebecca White

Evolution of a Diverse Books Writer or How I Went From, ‘Why Not Have a Dark-Skinned Character?’ to ‘Everything I Write for the Rest of My Life Will Include Diversity for the Sake of My Son and the Rest of the Non-White and Disabled People on Earth’.

Step One: Why Not? It was 2003, and I wanted to write a book. I’d had ideas developing in my mind for years, and it was finally time to put them down on paper, so to speak. The book’s largest theme would be the injustice and loss that follow nationalism, shown in a story about a girl who escapes one kind of inequality only to find herself in a country where she’s not only a minority, but a minority from a much hated race. The girl’s adventure, relationships, and character development would keep people reading.

It wasn’t until I started pounding out the first scene that I realized I needed to know what the girl looked like. As I sat there in the college library, trying not to listen to the conversations of some un-conscientious types, I decided that in order to move the plot properly, I needed my two nations to look very different from each other. Because of the world’s geography it made more sense to give my protagonist darker skin, so I wrote a brown-skinned protagonist, and that was that.

Step Two: White People Need to Get Over it. Almost ten years after I began writing my first novel, Kergulen, I had given up on traditional agents and publishers and gone indie. (I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing, but that’s another blog post for another time.) When I started passing around the cover art/font for feedback, I was ASTOUNDED to hear that ‘people won’t buy a book with a picture of a black girl on it’. I heard this from light and dark-skinned people alike, and I just couldn’t believe it, naïve me. My response was to be stubborn and insist that there is no reason why white people shouldn’t read books about non-white characters. It’s ridiculous. If my son (who is black) can be expected to read books about white people, why can’t white people read about people of color? They need to get over it.

Step Three: What? Almost All Books Are About White People? Being a European-American, I had never thought about it before. I only became aware of the issue when I finally started looking for markets that might be more open to the book I’d published and the sequel I had in the works. I learned that there are LOTS of people craving a good, non-white lead to read because they just can’t get their hands on enough of them. I began looking at diversity as something we need, not just something white people needed to accept. Many of the characters in my second book, Kings of the Red Shell, are various shades of brown and tan. The heroine is no longer a minority.

Step Four: My Son Could Use a Hero. Our son has diverse role models in real life, but it finally sunk in that he might very well want to read about characters who look like him when he gets older. They should be powerful, believable characters who overcome struggles and still embrace life with gusto. In Kings of the Red Shell, my main character has grown much stronger, more confident, and pro-active. She still has doubts and things to work through, of course, but she’s more courageous and selfless than ever. She’s the kind of character we wouldn’t mind our young people emulating.

Step Five: Huh. Disability is Part of Diversity. My son has a severe physical disability that renders him ventilator dependent when he’s sick or sleeping. A condition like that would be hard to reproduce in a fantasy, electricity-free world, but other disabilities could easily work. And that is why one of my more interesting secondary characters was dealt a disabling blow near the end of book two. Despite being an amputee, he’ll return as an important character in book four. I’ve also been thinking over other ways to incorporate disabilities without making the stories about disability any more than they’re about diversity. In the future, I also intend to include adoption.

Step Six: Everything I Write for the Rest of My Life Will Include Diversity for the Sake of My Son and the Rest of the Non-White and Disabled People on Earth. This statement is only partly true. Everything I write will include diversity, but not just for the sake of the non-white and disabled. All of this evolution has brought me back to the beginning, the belief that diversity is good for everyone. Maybe if we produce quality diverse content, diversity will become the norm. Then my original motivation for writing a non-white heroine would be sufficient. Why not?

Please consider assisting our efforts to diversify everyone’s bookshelf by checking out the We Need Diverse Books website and seeing how you can help. It’s super easy, just click —> HERE – it’s vital, folks.

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Straws

R.A. White grew up in the Pocono Mountains, sharing her childhood with as many as six siblings and foster siblings at any given time. In her early adult years, she spent two years living in Moscow, Russia. More recently, she and her husband, both white Americans, adopted an African American child. Growing up in a racially diverse family, living as a foreigner, and raising a child through trans-racial adoption all make her well suited to write novels about the complexities of multiracial communities. A lifelong love of the fantasy genre led her to set her story in an imaginary world.

Want a little more Rebecca? You can find her in all these places:

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I #SupportWNDB – The Series: Diversity Now

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Diversity Now

Zoraida Cordova

 

Diversity Now

Or, a call for authors to write more diverse characters.

In a recent Guardian article the question is “are diverse characters only OK as long as they’re not too diverse?”

I personally think that nuanced diversity is a good thing. When the chat over #WeNeedDiverseBooks started in May, a friend asked me “so then you want to take away what makes a character different and then just white wash them?”

Again, no.

When you spend so much time being singled out as being different, sometimes you just want to fit in. What the hell do I mean by this? I’m not talking about denying who you are as a person. I’m talking about being a teenager in popular culture. For me, I grew up in a working class family and neighborhood in Queens, NY. I was born in Ecuador, but I started my American education in first grade. In that sense, I assimilated right away. I remember when I started not just speaking English, but exclusively thinking in English. It’s so totally weird to think of your brain just switching languages. But anyway, my assimilation happened.

In school we were given books like HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS, and THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET and all I wanted to read were vampire books. My being Ecuadorian doesn’t affect my day to day life. I’m not Catholic. I don’t cook. I live alone. But when I’m with my family, I enjoy Ecuadorian food and speaking in broken Spanish. In fact, I worried less about my Ecuadorian-ness in high school, than I do now when people point it out the most.

This is why I think it’s important for kids to see themselves in stories that right now don’t represent diversity in leading roles. I want a brown Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a mixed Bella Swan just because. You don’t have to whitewash a POC in order for them to be a leading character of a “non-issue” book. Not everyone has a problem with their race. The problem is society.

Look, I know that there are still kids assimilating, and not all third generation kids ignore their roots. But if we don’t write them, then you can’t hope that someone else is going to.

To play devil’s advocate, maybe changing the ethnicity of a character wouldn’t make a title an astronomical seller. Would The Fault In Our Stars have been the same if Agustus was a Black urban teen and Hazel was Asian-American? If Katniss has been portrayed by an “olive skinned” actress like the books describe her as opposed to J Law, would it be a #1 movie?

Right now, we don’t know because over and over the leading ladies can be portrayed by the same girl. And book covers are whitewashed, ambiguous, and silhouetted.

In a world where people don’t understand the importance of race in cases like Mike Brown vs America, how do we even begin to place diversity in books just because? Where white people think Latinos are dangerous? How do we begin to accept casually placing POC in “regular” roles?

I don’t have the answer. Except, maybe, write my own.

The fundraising campaign for We Need Diverse Books is closed but there are still plenty of ways to work to diversify our bookshelves. Please visit their site and see how you can contribute to making the stories out there ALL of our stories by clicking –> HERE – it’s vital, folks.

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unnamed

 

Zoraida Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she learned to speak English by watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker on repeat. She studied English Lit at Hunter College, and The University of Montana before finding a home for herself in the (kinda) glittering world of New York City’s nightlife. She prefers her whiskey neat, her bacon crispy, and her men with a side of chivalry. She is the author of The Vicious Deep Trilogy (YA) and the On the Verge Series (NA). Visit her at www.zoraidacordova.com

You can find her here:

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Zoraida is the author of

THE VICIOUS DEEP (YA Fantasy)
THE SAVAGE BLUE (YA Fantasy)
THE VAST & BRUTAL SEA (YA Fantasy)
LUCK ON THE LINE (Contemporary Romance)
LOVE ON THE LEDGE (Contemporary Romance) Coming 5/5/15
LIFE ON THE LEVEL (Contemporary Romance) Coming 9/8/15
ENCANTRIX (YA Fantasy) Coming Fall 2015