Giving Up On Romance?

*Heavy sigh* Recently, (as I’m working, teaching as a volunteer, dealing with life in general, writing fan fiction and crit fiction, and continuing to attempt to finish novels like Oracle) I read about five romance stories available on Amazon for my Kindle. All of them were by white writers and half of them were historical romances. At the behest of my friend, I also started reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. But for right now I want to talk about the romances I read.

I’m glad I didn’t pay for four of them. The fact that four of them were offered for free has no reflection on their quality. The fault lies in the genre of romance and the publishing market itself.

Romance, as much as I love it, appears to be a pitiful genre. A pitiful genre fluffed with toxic disappointments and ignorant white fantasies. I mean, J.R. Ward pretty much destroyed my desire to read anything for almost ten years. That’s not an exaggeration. I literally never wanted to pick up another book again, especially not a romance. It wasn’t just because of what Ward chooses to write in her books (and what she actively chooses to exclude), its because I lost all faith her as a writer because of things she posted on her blog and her cloud of brainwashed flunky readers backing up her every word. I lost faith in all authors at that point. Even myself.

With the extreme deficit of general love in my life, I’m not sure my brain is wired to want literature devoid of that sweet pulsing vein of erotic, romantic passion. As long as writers are pandering to a specific pattern, a marketable trend, romance can never be what I need it to be. And I’ll never be satisfied with the way things are.

Faced with an impossible choice: Ween myself off romance and find something more fulfilling? Or have faith that underneath all the crap there’s a few shining jewels of romantic literature worth the time its taking to find them?

Where These Conversations Are

“Fiction by Black Writers: Who Are the Readers?” was held on February 21st by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Eventbrite publicizes the event as–

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi…some of today’s biggest names in fiction are black writers, and yet a predominantly white publishing industry maintains the assumption that black literature lacks marketability. Join writer and distinguished academic Dr. Elizabeth Nunez for a panel discussion challenging this assumption, with Essence Magazine book editor Patrik Henry Bass, Vice President, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Random House’s One World Chris Jackson, President of the Authors’ Guild Roxana Robinson, and editorial director at Akashic Books Ibrahim Ahmad.

My friend sent me the Eventbrite link to check out some of the authors whose names got dropped in this description. After about a ten-year drought because I was sick to death of white-dominated narratives and formulaic genre crap getting shoved under my nose, I am ready to indulge my love of reading again and pick a new book and a new author to devote some of my time to. Preferably, a Black author who writes Black main characters that I haven’t yet discovered.

But when I clicked on the link in my friend’s e-mail and read the description, I was more interested in attending the even itself to hear to from the speakers. Black FICTION writers? BLACK? People actually talking about the predominantly white publishing industry (read: admitting that the publishing industry is predominantly white)? And likely talking about its assumption that Black fiction writers do not exist or “lack marketability”?

Awww shoot! DANG, I gotta hear this, is what I thought. Tell me the state of the things! For my own validation/affirmation as a Black writer if nothing else. More times than not, this truth about publishing and television is an unspoken truth. It just goes without saying to those People of Color who see it for what it is.

I really, really wanted to hear what other people have to say about this topic. But I’m not just broke, man. No matter how badly I wanted to fly across the country and attend this event, I couldn’t go on February 21st and I still can’t go even if they held the event in New York again.

My head isn’t filled with academic articles from credible sources and published intellectuals on what other people have to say about the topic of Black writers and their marketability (or lack thereof) to white publishers. Nor is my knowledge condensed into a perfectly pitch-able nonfiction volume you can pick up at the bookstore or sample from in your undergrad and masters courses. But I know what I observe when I watch television. What I see when I go into a store and look at their paperbacks. What I’ve read since I first discovered of my love of words and books. I know what I experienced as a little Black girl who grew up on welfare in the U.S. The situation surrounding the marketability and visibility of Black authors deeper than just the publishing industry. The problem is rooted in the core of what readers are exposed to, beginning arguably even as early as the womb. The problem lies in what readers choose to believe and the writers, histories, and narratives they choose to exclude from their bookshelves and consciousness.

As tired as I am of “politics” and navigating a STILL white-dominated media, I feel like conversations like “Fiction by Black Authors” put on by organizations like BSU and the Brooklyn Historical regarding Black and of Color authors specifically aren’t happening as often as they should. Maybe its because I now live in a near-dead, somewhat backwards city. Can’t really say for sure.

NaNoWriMo ’16–final day @ 68,362 words

I officially reached over 50,000 words on November 23rd and have continued writing. Since I finished on the same day last year, it seems that’s how long it takes me to write that much with everything else going on.

I have seen people’s avatars on the NaNo forums who reached 100,000 words before I even finished. -__- Sorrow and jealousy. But regardless, the goal I set for myself last year is 70,000 words. In a few hours, I will reach that goal.

Its been a challenge. There’s always some mess or other going on in the background and distracting me. The good news is I did it. The even better news is I only have about five major scenes left in Oracle before I’m finished writing the novel. (The first draft or whatever you prefer to call it.) This is the first time I’ve ever written a full-length novel in six months. The bad and good news is I’m not done yet and the story is getting too big and too long for my head so I’ve decided to write it in three books. Originally, I had intended for it to be a much shorter project than it is. I’ll let the muse continue to carry me until I reach the intended and anticipated end of Oracle.

I’m going to finish Nation Novel Writing Month 2016…then I’m going to take a long nap. *sigh*

NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month is nigh!

This will be my seventh NaNoWriMo and I was introduced to it in college. I never go into it without plans to “win”, and by “win” I mean reach the 50,000 word goal of this yearly event. My intention is to finish as much of whatever stories and writings I’ve got that has an ending.

My primary project this month is Oracle, which I started writing back in June. I took October for hiatus on the novel to rest my brain since it’s been at the forefront of my thoughts since I started it. The story is over 50,000 words and I’ve been trying to decide whether to write one long novel or split it into two or three book. Splitting it into books doesn’t change the fact that it continues where some readers would like to stop reading and/or start a new book. I can’t guesstimate how long Oracle is going to be and I don’t really want to. I just want to be true to my story, let it do what it do, and hope people enjoy it.

Though I have never committed to it before and have mixed feelings on the topic, I’m also writing a fanfiction based on a manga/anime that I recently discovered and really like. My fanfic is an estimated novella to light novel length (40,000 to 50,000 words apprx). It seems I’m incapable of writing anything too short, I’m too detail-oriented I guess.

That’s what I’m up to. I hope I can finish Oracle, my fanfiction, and a couple of short stories this coming month. I shouldn’t even be writing this post since I’m supposed to be resting up for NaNo ’16 for ! -__-

Still alive

1

Hey, hey, hey there.

I didn’t “win” 1888’s 2016 Summer Writing Project, not at all unexpected, but I am still working to finish my novel, Oracle, serialized on Jukepop. Usually, I’d really be down about this kind of thing after putting myself out there but I’m managing the mantle of disappointment and suspicions of inferiority pretty well.

I appreciate the recognition of 1888, everyone who voted for me on Jukepop, and the grace of entering the Top 25 in the writing project. And believe me, I thirsted for the rewards and further recognition of winning this competition. I’m not sure how I should or should have used the opportunity so it’s now time to move on, I guess. Time to get back to the heart of this story…ME. Though I really wanted my novel to win, I started writing Oracle as a gift to myself for my birthday, to write a story I (in the precarious state of both reader and writer) want to read–not for a competition or for votes or to participate in the virtual Hunger Games that is literary/publishing world.

Oracle is going on its 37th and likely 38th chapter this week. I look forward to seeing its journey though.

There are so many stories yet trying to get out of my head. Because I feel it’s unwise to divide my energy and attention, I don’t usually work on more than one book or short story at a time. I’ll be an old lady before most of them get squeezed out. -__-

 

Why I’m Not All That Interested in Rowling’s ‘Cursed Child’

Got this jacket from Hot Topic and I wore it religiously in high school.

Harry Potter’s at it again, this time with three kids of his own in tow in this…stage production, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, now being called Book 8 in the series. Now, here’s the thing:

  1. At first they were saying Cursed Child wasn’t a continuation of the series, its a play written by somebody else. Now they’re saying it is a continuation of the series in the form of a script for the stage.
  2. I didn’t like the way Harry Potter ended in the first place. I deeply felt that Rowling excused Slytherin House’s legacy of hatred, elitism, racism, warmongering, and violence through Harry’s words to his son at the end of Book 7. And the fact that he names his son after Albus Dumbledore (don’t get me started) and Severus Snape, who is the architect of his own misfortunes with Lily Evans and, though he is a complicated character, he is certainly not someone I would name my child after.
  3. I don’t want to read about Harry’s angsty son and his heavy destiny. I’d rather be writing heartfelt, bad ass magical girl characters of my own than reading another story about another boy living in daddy’s shadow, or whatever the case is.

Every time a Harry Potter book came out, I was there. I pre-ordered my book and I was at the book release of the closest Borders Bookstore (before they shut down). I put on my Gryffindor tie and I would go to the midnight book release. After standing in line for hours,  I would promptly leave the store instead of participating in party activities so I could start reading in the car by book light on the way home. I wouldn’t stop reading until I was finished, only pausing to eat, use the bathroom, and sleep until I was awake again, then I’d rub the crust out of my eyes, crack the book open, and keep reading.  My room was virtually plastered in Potter paraphernalia. No one better dare say I wasn’t a fan.

At this point, I still can’t even accept the Book 7 ending and that’s why I won’t read or fangirl any further. I loved the structure of Rowling’s world, the fantastical and the norm all rubbing elbows and whatnot. But maybe I’ve outgrown the entire thing.

Thinking about wearing it today…but its probably hot…

Myth: “It’s just fiction”

No, its not just fiction. The art is NOT separate from the artist. Every writer, everywhere, is responsible for what they put out into the world. As a reader, you should imagine what the author who wrote this book is like and why they wrote it.

I decided to take a chance and be a good community member on JukePop and read from my fellow authors. One of the JukePop 30 authors, B.B. Edmunds, has a serial there called Deathless. Within the first 500 words of this story, the main character is pilfering corpses and standing over a dead, raped woman while essentially saying, “I would’ve raped her, too, but been nicer about it”. The first chapter is over 8000 words long. Why would I want to read this? To add to this already mountainous-in-quality bullshit, Edmunds responds to my comment by saying he defends this character. I was really shaken and admittedly annoyed by Edmunds’ defensiveness and his desire to have the last word until I stated my point and opted not to respond to him anymore. Then he gets his feelings hurts and continues to argue with me about my position on Deathless. B.B. Edmunds didn’t get the takeaway, which is

  1. You are responsible for what you justify and what you write
  2. Readers will drop your book because your main character sucks
  3. Everything you write says something about you
  4. Yes, your book will be judged by the first 500 words, that’s all it takes sometimes.
  5. In getting criticized, don’t keep arguing with your reader.

I learned about JukePop through National Novel Writing Month. I’ve always found JukePop’s use of “reader analytics” and votes to be suspicious at best. Which is why I had hesitated to publish anything there since The Taker a few years ago. Its not my style, I just find parts of the platform to be helpful. But if this is what it means to be a JukePop 30 author, I can live without it.

I really feel that I need to be honest: What I’ve found in my quest for good serials on this website is that a lot of authors have great ideas but not enough skill, experience, or style to carry the great ideas. I’ve come across typos and perspective issues, for example; I’m not an editor or a proofreader and even I can see them.

Writers like Edmunds have skill and style but are writing stories I don’t want to read (because of their unnecessarily violent, trendy, or pretentiously gritty elements). I really hope this is not all there is to JukePop. More reading investigation is required.

It would be nice to surrounded by writers and readers who are aware of what they’re doing and supporting.