- Is My Character “Black Enough”? Advice on Writing Cross-Culturally – I waffled on linking this because it appears to be written by a white woman, but the advice seemed solid and she does include other people’s answers at the end. YMMV
To answer your other questions: it’s always possible that someone will be offended by a white person writing about a person of color, but generally, most readers I’ve talked to who care about diversity in fantasy and science fiction want that diversity to come from everyone, not just writers of color. This is why I emphasized alpha readers—it’s important to make sure that if you’re not from that background, you do your research (which it sounds like you have) and then run it past someone other than yourself who understands that culture or background (in this case, you’ve got two cultures going on: African American and military, particularly Air Force, which has a completely different culture than Army).
A few someones is even better, to ensure that you get different points of view and can mesh that feedback into something that works for your particular character, who will be an individual in his own right and not a representative of a group that plays into a stereotype.
- Race, Gender and Comics… Oh My! – Comics writer Jacques Nyemb talks about representation in comics then lists some reading suggestions at the end of the article.
Comics, when I grew up, made it the norm to think that minorities and women could not be realistic characters in their books. Women had to be objects of affections and minorities, comic relief or athletic angry men. But somehow I stuck on and consumed these stories. As time grew I found myself indoctrinated and normalized the very thing that alienated me when I was younger.
Subconsciously, I defaulted everything to be white males. Because it was all I saw in the comic world. From Asterix and Obelix, to most of DC’s lineups. All of the characters worth caring about where white and male. That does something to a kid’s brain.
- When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White – Rebekah linked this Code Switch post on Twitter, I think, and I thought it was pretty cool. Not sure how to describe it, though.
So how did vanilla become a kind of cultural metaphor for whiteness? It’s not too far of a stretch to say that we’ve seen this SAT-ish synonym match in real-life: vanilla is to whiteness :: chocolate is to blackness.
Metaphors like this don’t work in isolation, says Harryette Mullen, a poet and professor who teaches English and African-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Think about the expression “plain vanilla,” she tells me. When you consider that phrase, you’re probably thinking of something that lacks other flavors.
Whiteness has always, always been defined in proximity to blackness.
- Reading and reviewing, then and now – Sunita has a great post about the current state of reviewing in Romanceland and it spawned a vigorous discussion with lots of insightful comments.
I worry that general interest review sites just aren’t worth the trouble anymore. However much bloggers have ambitions to be “influencers,” as the horrible online vocabulary terms them, blogs are still a lot of work.* The newer blogs I’ve seen that aren’t intentionally limited in their scope tend to be cheerleading blogs. I find this intensely depressing.
To me, the fact that the hole Wave left hasn’t been filled, and the fact that DA and SB (and others such as Bookpushers and SmexyBooks) are still the main players speaks to the change many of us are afraid is happening. There has been churn and movement in romance reviewing for nearly two decades that I know of. Now many of the new blogs are tied to publishers or function as venues for author publicity. Those aren’t the same kind of public good providers. And yes, blogs do provide public goods. You don’t pay to access the content and you don’t have to be anyone in particular to lurk or comment. You don’t even have to give your real name and email at DA.
- Nearly 4,000 first world war diaries made available online – What a time to be alive. The amount of information out there in easily accessible online databases is enormous and just keeps growing.
First-hand accounts of trench warfare, gas attacks and battles involving horses and machine guns, are contained in nearly 4,000 diaries released online on Thursday to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 world war.
The diaries, digitised by the National Archives in a joint project with the Imperial War Museum, reveal the sheer stoicism and black humour that helped troops – on both sides – survive the slaughter in Belgium and northern France. They include accounts of the battle of Loos in September 1915, a notoriously unsuccessful and bloody offensive in which the British army used poison gas for the first time and suffered more than 60,000 casualties in less than a month.
- Sex and the Romance Novel: Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry – I don’t usually link to reviews for whatever reason but I really liked what Brie had to say about a book that finds the cure for a heroine who’s never had an orgasm is PIV sex with the right guy.
Romland is filled with sex talk, but the conversation is monotonous and not as critical as it could be. When we defend the genre to outsiders, we usually say that it allows women to explore and express desires, fantasies, and sex. But can we talk about a true exploration when the sex always reaches the same tired conclusion? Where is the variety? When are we going to take a closer, critical look at the message we send when we constantly portray PIV sex and multiple vaginal orgasms as being inexorably linked to romance, love and happiness? Is there no happiness to be found in other types of sexual relationships? Is there no satisfaction outside of an orgasm? Just as sex is a key element of the genre, critical discourse is fundamental for the growth of the community, so I hope books like Satisfaction encourage more discussions.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.