#SonOfAPitch: How to Sway My Vote

Hello, lovely #SonOfAPitch participants! I’m so incredibly happy and proud to be included as a judge in this contest. Writing competitions have helped me so much. I’ve gotten more than one contract offer through pitch parties like #PitMad, and the amount of advice, confidence, and support I’ve gotten in other contests like #PitchWars and #Pit2Pub, not to mention the invaluable critique partners I’ve met in the feeds, have made it possible for me to be where I am today. The opportunity to pay it forward a little bit has more significance for me than I have the skill to describe, but perhaps with help from these lovely online writing communities, I’ll gain that skill someday πŸ™‚

That being said, being a judge is just as difficult for me as judges and mentors in other contests have always said, in all those tweets I’ve hung upon and over-analyzed trying to discern whether they referred to my manuscript. It’s so cool to read all your entries, to have a small window into your brilliant and imaginative stories. And it’s doubly cool to see how the critiques some of you got in the first round have helped to sharpen and refine your pitches and beginnings. The ability to gracefully and skillfully accept and apply critique advice is a huge part of the craft of writing…and one of the hardest parts.

It’s SO cool to read your entries that, even though I’ve just gotten started, I can already tell that I’m going to have trouble choosing which entries to vote for…since I already have more than five on my list.

The wonderful Katie Teller has said that participants may try to sway the judges. Since I need some swaying, I thought I’d give you an idea of how to do that in my case.

Now, I’m not going to say that I don’t like interacting with y’all on the feed, because that’s one of my favorite parts of this contest. I’ve talked to some really nice, smart, interesting, and funny people, and the kindness you’ve shown me has been doubly nice, because of some stuff that’s gone down in my life this last week. I would like to think that people would want to talk to me whether I was a judge or not, though πŸ™‚ And, of course, I can’t just vote for people because they’re nice, because I don’t have enough votes to vote for all of you.

Similarly, even though I really hope you all like my writing enough to follow my blog and/or buy my book, it’d be pretty damned cheesy for me to vote for people just because they did. Gah. Even just thinking about doing that gave me the shudders.

So, what would help me make my decision is if you would tell me about the diversity in the manuscript you submitted. If there isn’t any (and it’s not a deal-breaker for me if there’s not – diversity is important to me, but plenty of my favorite books aren’t particularly diverse), then tell me about a diverse character you’ve written about in another manuscript, or plan on writing about someday. Alternatively, you can tell me about your own experiences as a diverse person, or about your favorite diverse character in someone else’s novel.

Now, to be clear: to me at least, diversity isn’t just racial, ethnic, or cultural, (although I do really enjoy those types). It can also be socioeconomic, religious, sexual identity, or neurodiversity (that last one you’ll know, if you’ve read many of my other blog posts, is the type that I’m most familiar with). The literary world is replete with books expressing the points of view of middle- or upper-class, straight, neurotypical white people (even a lot of books with diversity seem to be told from this point of view), and I think we’re finally starting to appreciate the immense value in seeing the world from other viewpoints, not just in nonfiction, literary fiction, and “issues” books, but in genre fiction of all types. I love novels that are just great stories that happen to be told from a diverse viewpoint.

I just want to get people thinking about this issue if they aren’t already. Seeing your thoughts on this subject could definitely sway my opinion when I’m teetering with indecision between two manuscripts. And, besides that, if I could ever claim the honor of having spurred someone to explore and write from a diverse viewpoint, or of giving someone encouragement to write about a character that shares their own diverse viewpoint (even though the writer may feel, like I do, that their own diverse viewpoint is pretty darned unpopular)…well, I’d be frigging happy as heck about that.

You can tweet your thoughts on this subject to me directly (I’m @Lidsrodney), with or without the #SonOfAPitch hashtag; or, if your thoughts don’t fit in 140 characters, you can leave a comment on this post. If you don’t want to post your thoughts publically, you can DM me on Twitter or email me (you can find my email on the “about” page on this blog).

Thank you all for participating, for reading, and for all your wonderful stories and thoughts. And good luck to each and every one of you in your writing careers.

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34 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch: How to Sway My Vote

  1. I want to start off talking about diversity in my book by focusing on the main character of SECOND-SELF, Rory Lyon. Rory is neuro-divergent. I love using this term because it makes her sound like a super-hero. If I don’t refer to her as neuro-divergent, I simply say she’s autistic. I hate using any other term, because many of the words come with judgement and create division in the autism community that shouldn’t be there.

    Rory is like all the Orphan Black clones smashed into one body. She has the intelligence, naivety, and anxiety of Meg Murphy in A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle). She is living proof that doctors need to stop diagnosing autism based on stereotypes. She’s actually hyper-empathetic, displaying a lot of Sentinel intelligence, rather than fitting the stereotype of a non-empathetic person with autism.

    Many people say that autism looks different in girls than it does boys, but that is narrow-minded. It leads to the idea that you can judge a person’s sexuality/gender identity based on how their autism presents itself, which is ridiculous. Rory is not the stereotypical person with autism because the stereotypes are trash.

    I want to talk about another character in my book, in terms of diversity. Casper Ramsden is a young man with a First Nations father and an English (ancestry) mother. He’s struggling with his identity, after being estranged from his father. Casper is based on my fears as a mother, since he’s basically a projection of what I fear my daughters might go through when they are older. They are also estranged from their First Nations father, and the culture and language that comes from his side of the family. Since I am not First Nations myself, I tread a fine line to treat the subject of cultural disconnect with sensitivity. I’ve taught in several First Nations schools, and tried to keep all the youth I’ve met in mind when constructing Casper.

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    1. This is really cool. I hear you about autism stereotypes…(and I want to be clear here…I should have been more clear before: I don’t at all judge the use of the word “neurodivergent”. I just can’t use it myself, because of my silly inability to separate it from a series of books I don’t enjoy, lol. I know…I’m sort of immature that way sometimes, lol). Anyway, autism is one of those labels that has never made much sense to me. I’ve been close to a number of people with that diagnosis, and there are very few ways for me to group all of those people under one label…and I’m not entirely sure how it was done in a clinical sense. Also, the stereotypes about autism have in the last couple years, and last week especially, literally destroyed my life. Someone I’m very close to is undiagnosed autistic – I and others who know him are very, very sure of this. It wasn’t an issue until it caused a break in our relationship. His inability to understand social contexts – how his words hurt me, and how a lot of the assumptions he was operating under were not the same ones the rest of us were – became paramount. I very gently asked him to consider getting a test for autism, so he could have a professional talk to him and perhaps help us to work on communication issues (I mean, I have my own…being a very neurodiverse person myself…but I’m aware of it, and so can work with it). But he, though he’s a very intelligent and educated and otherwise open-minded man, associated “autistic” with – and this is HIS word – “retarded”. Ouch. No. Why does this stereotype even exist???? 😦 😦

      Also, I just finished a book with a Native American MC. I have Native family members, but am not myself…I was uncomfortable writing from this perspective at first, because usually my diverse characters I have a lot more experience with their diversity. It sounds like you are taking the subject seriously, though πŸ™‚ I’ll just bet that you treat it with insight. Do you have Native beta readers? I tried to hit up some of my Native peeps, but unfortunately none of them are big readers…

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      1. I posted that last reply before I saw your response. I understand what you’re saying about Neuro-divergent. Each term has it’s downfalls. Saying Aspergian brings to mind the associations to Nazi medical experiments with Hans Asperger. Saying High-Functioning Autism is simply repugnant to me, but calling myself autistic tends to offend parents of non-verbal autistic people. It’s tricky.

        As far as your friend, there is a belief among professionals that there is not such thing as an undiagnosed adult. They figure the person would’ve driven their family crazy and they’d have gotten diagnosed. There is resistance to diagnosis, because people believe the stigma will be terrilble. When you look at what happened to Kayden Clarke, you start to see why.

        Kayden Clarke was a trans man with autism. He was told he couldn’t start the transition process until his autism was “fixed”. The person might have meant certain aspects of it, such as anxiety and depression, but the result is the same. You can’t cure autism, so you can’t cure these aspects of it either. He became very depressed, and during a melt-down someone called the police to do a welfare check. They shot him in the stomach and killed him. In the day that followed, the media repeatedly used his dead name and called him female, and that’s because his family told them to. If he weren’t autistic, you can bet they wouldn’t let the family make these decisions. He’d made his wishes clear in repeated Youtube posts. If Kayden Clarke didn’t have that autism diagnosis, he might be alive. He might be happily in the process of transitioning. These are the things people fear.

        As far as the First Nations identity issues in my book, I take them very seriously. I studied as a double major of Native Studies and English in university, before I ever had First Nations children. I did have First Nations beta reader, and I hope to goodness I was as respectful as I tried to be.

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      2. Yes…there are undiagnosed adults. People like my friend (husband) who HAVE driven their family and friends “crazy”, but that associate the diagnosis with a very wrong stereotype, and so refuse to get diagnosed. He is divorcing me rather than explore it…I mean, I do have my own issues, and it’s of course more complicated than just that, but yeah. Also, he’s extremely introverted, to the point where I’m the only person in years he’s been close to, so he hasn’t had many people to drive crazy…though an ex girlfriend did repeatedly tell him to have a complete psychoanalysis, too. I know I’m not a professional, and I could be wrong about the diagnosis, but a few of my friends asked me whether he was autistic when they first met him, and after I did some research & got to know him better, I agreed, but kept mostly silent for years, because I didn’t care, until it became an issue in our relationship.

        The wholesale slaughter of non-neurotypical people by police is a HUGE trigger for me…huge. It’s almost happened a number of times to my best friend (who is schizophrenic, but not at all violent or dangerous). I’ve intervened before…I will not always be able to be there. It is just sickening, too, how even people who know us are like, “But the police are just doing what they think is best.” No. That is not best. That is never best…I’m sorry, I can’t even really talk about this right now without getting emotionally incoherent. But it’s something I’ve talked about in past blog posts and short stories.

        And yeah, society’s idea that people can be “cured” of their neurodiversity…there’s a lot of problems with that. One, usually that’s not even possible. But two, and more important, it shouldn’t be something you WANT to be cured of, or that others should want you cured of. Even when it causes problems…even in my husband’s case, I’d never want him “cured”. I do want him to be less depressed, etc., but mostly I want him to understand himself so that he can understand ME and what I – and others – are trying to communicate to him, and also so we can all learn to understand each other, because the way I’ve misunderstood some of his words and actions has caused huge problems between us…and his inability to talk about it has made it worse. But none of us should have to change – we should just learn to understand and accept one another for who we are.

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      3. Oh no. I’m giving you a virtual hug, which is the perfect kind for me because I’m not so big on real hugs. I hope making a judge cry doesn’t represent losing a vote. You are absolutely right about the problems with how police are trained to deal with people who have mental illness. You’re also correct about being comfortable with who we are. I talk about the problems created by the cure mentality created by Autism Speaks, and by talk I mean that I write long diatribes against the organization on my blog. If you’ve never come across any of my articles, my blog can be found on racheldrainey.blogspot.com

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      4. Thank you for your virtual hugs πŸ™‚ and no, making me cry absolutely doesn’t translate to losing my vote…I mean, to be honest, I burst in to tears this morning because the fiddleheads were blooming…long story…

        I subscribed to your blog, and I’ll read your back posts. I wanted to say one more thing, regarding what you said about using certain terms like “neurodiverse” and “neurodivergent”, and how our language causes so much in-fighting…I wrote a blog post on this, though It’d have to be a million words long to have all my thoughts. I understand how important language is…I do. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that ends up insulting people when I TRULY don’t mean to, which I was afraid I would have done with my “divergent” comment…which was thoughtless, because I was just being silly, really. But I do have one thing to say about this…while I understand how important it is to try to use the most apt word to describe things, it’s almost impossible to do so, because of all the different connotations people have with certain words (like “divergent”, lol). And I do get very frustrated and hurt by those who wish to “kick people out” of certain labels like “neurodiverse”: the whole point of the word, I thought, was to UNITE us. To show us that we are all more alike than we thought – that we’re all human and not “ill” or “crazy” or the even more hurtful things that people say. Labels like “mentally-ill” aren’t correct for a lot of DSM diagnoses – precisely because there IS NO CURE nor should we look for one. Yes, we should always look for ways to make people’s quality of life better, by trying to improve understanding, and sometimes treatments, education, and medication, because yeah…no matter how much I love myself, or my husband, or my best friend, and how much I wouldn’t want to make any of us neurotypical ( I like to lump us all under the “neurodiverse” label, since it makes sense to me…) I *don’t* like the toxic and abusive relationship situations that have arisen…the threats of suicide and self-harm…the bouts of severe anxiety and psychosis that all of us sometimes suffer (my husband doesn’t have frank psychosis, but he has…it’s hard to describe. I can only say I’d call it schizo-affective) and those things can get better, without “curing” the person of their very wonderful personality.

        But, sorry, I’m rambling…what I was getting to is that I’ve gotten hell of a lot of pushback for calling myself and my best friend neurodiverse. (Not from you…if you don’t like it, you can tell me, because I think you wouldn’t be confrontational or cruel, and everyone has the right to their opinion πŸ™‚ ). And I just don’t like this movement to separate us when I thought the goal was to unite us.

        That is all πŸ™‚ Sorry. I need to stop ranting at people today. As if my reputation weren’t bad enough already…I hope I haven’t alienated you/hurt your feelings or any of that….

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      5. You didn’t upset me at all. I love the term “neuro-diverse” and I’d love the focus to be on relief, rather than curing. There are aspects of being neuro-diverse I’d love relief from, like crippling anxiety. I don’t resent anyone for their desires, because that’s about them. I have a problem with things being pushed on people, but that’s more about loss of autonomy. It’s been great talking to you. I’ve also subscribed to your blog. We seem to have a lot in common, which is kind of cool.

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  2. And this is where I realize I can’t list out all the Keepers on Twitter, lol. These are the heroes from my book, the Quester. The Keepers all have a power unique to themselves. No spoilers :). I try to craft basic personality outlines for characters and then allow them to take shape on their own. And this is what’s resulted over time.

    Andrew – Origins: New Mexico – Keeper of plants. Able to control plants, make them grow, and gains instant knowledge from touching them. His powers will expand more as time goes on. His dad (as I mentioned in the tweet) is from Mexico. His mom is.. well, I need to get in there and decide.

    Bringer – Origins: Egypt – Keeper of fire. Dead currently, but I’m hitting very strongly at a relationship between him and Raptor. He was killed by Venom.

    Godlin – Origins: Nigeria, moved to England at a young age. Keeper of earth. He and Walker are an item, but they keep it to themselves, because both of them are very reserved. As far as Keepers go, he’s physically the strongest, though Dynamos comes in a close second.

    Tran – Origins: Germany – Keeper of Questers – a little harder power to explain. Basically, he’s able to become other people, assume their identity. His main power is to translate other languages, including most alien ones. He and Tech are best buddies to the point of maybe it being more, but I haven’t decided and wanted to see if that kind of a thing develops organically through storytelling rather than forcing it.

    Raptor – Origins: Central US (Irish ethnicity) – Keeper of animals. Leader of the Keepers. Able to shape-shift into other animals. She’s not the strongest or the most powerful Keeper, but she can fight. Her, Godlin, and Tech very often face off vs one another. Venom thinks she’s in love with him, but she’s not. She wants nothing to do with Venom. Her relationship with Bringer was going somewhere before he died, but they didn’t get much past good friends stage.

    Mouse – Origins: China (maybe North Korea – I need to do more research on this) – Keeper of computers/math. He’s the theoretical side of math. Where Gadget is the practical. They aren’t together, but they work together well.

    Venom – Origins: Norway – Former Keeper of plants. Currently the main villain in all this, he killed Bringer and thinks he’s in love with Raptor, but Raptor does not and will never return that. However, he will be putting together his own unique team of people to face off vs the Keepers. I’ve started crafting them, but not all of them are finalized and they too will pick up a diverse cast.

    Selena – Origins: Native American (I am leaving out exactly were from at this time until I am able to really do the research for this. I imagine her being from Canada). – Keeper of water. Probably the most powerful Keeper there is. Though she doesn’t get a lot of face time in this first book, I really want her to take on a key role later. She’s got a lot of backstory I don’t want to spoil.

    Dynamos – Origins: Samoan – Keeper of chemistry. He specializes in making bombs and is very careful with this power too. He and Gadget are good friends and often work together, but it’s not anything more than that. He’s almost as strong physically as Godlin, but doesn’t have the heart for violence. Precision is how he achieves destructive results without causing unintended harm.

    Tech – Origins: Western US (european ethnicity) – Keeper of weapons. Basically, he’s the gun expert. He’s from CA, probably from LA. He and Tran work together very well. They keep a balance on one another’s worst tendencies (Tran being a coward and Tech being cocky). And tend to bring out the better in each other. Tech has an overbearing personality, but he has to work on not being a bully and Tran helps with that.

    Gadget – Origins: Mexico – Keeper of mechanics/math. She’s the opposite of Mouse. The practical side of math and an inventor. She puts together and maintains all of the Keeper’s equipment, including their spaceplanes. She and Mouse are probably the smartest of the Keepers and often square off in battles of wit.

    Aerion – Origins: Spain – Keeper of Air. Formally from a rather wealthy family. Where Gadget builds the planes, Aerion can fly them. Her powers are varied with control of air, but she’s able to tip chance in her favor. She’s not really one for relationships.

    Walker – Origins: India – Keeper of dimensions. She’s able to jump to other dimension and can navigate them as well. Her powers allow her a lot of versatility, but she’s shy and reserved. Godlin and her are together, but like I said, they keep it to themselves.

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  3. I’m seeing more and more of a call for diversity from a POC POV and as a burgeoning Puerto Rican writer, this makes me sublimely happy. While attempting to break into mainstream publishing many of my characters are white but I also like to sprinkle POC in my stories and often at least one main character is a POC. My latest work, Darkest Rendezvous, is a paranormal romance set in 19th century NY (think House of Mirth, Age of Innocence etc.) but features a love triangle between a zombie, a vampire, a werewolf with hints of Native American folklore, and a ghoul. One of the zombie’s best friends is a Calaca, or animated skeletons best known for their representation of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. She’s incredibly spirited and doesn’t so much have issue with trying to conform but an unwillingness to and she loves to tweak the nose of the zombie’s other best friend, straight laced ghoul Emaline.

    The heroine of my first book, another Fantasy Romance called Conquest of a Queen, is a young Puerto Rican chef who was raised by a single mother when her dad took off one day and later finds him in a parallel universe where the story takes place. One of the main characters also becomes blind from injuries during an attack and learns how to cope with and rise above his disability so that it doesn’t define him.

    The book I’m working on now I’ve lovingly dubbed A Nuyorican in King Arthur’s Court and I’m having a blast putting it together πŸ™‚ I grew up in a diverse neighborhood and interacting with people of all faiths, nationalities and colors is more of a norm to me than not. It’s my hope that through my writing, I can bring that experience to my readers and help them to be able to identify with the experiences of others while relating to their own.

    PS Sorry for the wall o’ text πŸ™‚

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    1. Oh wow, your books sound amazing πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ And while it pisses me off a lot that you’re having to write white characters in order to break in, that is (in effect) sort of what I did. I mean, the MC in Love or Money is Mexican-American, bisexual, and an ex-con, I specifically wrote a novel with toned-down characters and more marketable elements in order to “break in”, since the other novels I was pitching were about addicts, the homeless, and the neurodiverse (as well as a lot of racially-diverse characters) and I was getting a lot of comments about my characters being “unlikeable” and “hard to identify with”. But, after I got Love or Money published and did some more editing to ease people into the worlds of my other MCs more gently, I got more publishing contracts…so, unsavory as that method is, it seems to work πŸ™‚

      I love your wall of text πŸ™‚

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  4. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on all our entries. Much appreciated.

    Since I hail from India, my fantasy story is set in a land where different states have different cultures, religions and languages. I have used the emergence of magic as a backdrop for my four MC’s to reassess their understanding of the world and other people around them based on a shift of power, culture and even their very lifestyle. I show the clash between three diverse sets of religious beliefs (one god, no god and multiple gods), with an overarch that there is a challenge to all those beliefs with the coming of magic and how different people react differently to situations based on their own culture and heritage.

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  5. I have to confess, I don’t deliberately do diversity. I leave it to the characters to decide who and what they are within the parameters of their settings. So, I’ll be writing along and they’ll be like “You do know I’m having a bit of a fling with OtherSupportingCharacter?” “Right… Will this affect the plot?” “I don’t see why it should, we’re trying to be discreet, but it does explain *this*.” “So it does.”

    It’s more interesting that way, and gives them more autonomy. It’s tough being an imaginary person, you know πŸ™‚ I think it’d be difficult to not have diverse characters. When I first start writing something, I have these blobs with names, and I need to start seeing them as different so I can write them. Height, colour & sex only gets you so many distinctive combinations. Diversity gives a bigger palette to play with. I have noticed though, that my science fiction & otherworld fantasy has much more diversity than my historical fiction. The settings for the later were dominated by white British settlers & their offspring, and while they were much more diverse than most people realise, the roles are limited. (Although current WIP takes a small dip into the “gay culture” of early Australia, of which next to nothing has been written about, at least for the free population, so I’m mining late 18th C England for ideas.

    What’s pulling at my writing at the moment though, is– well I used to read a lot of fantasy of the epic type and write it, and associated with similar writers, and that’s all about the ruling classes. written by people who aren’t. After a while it just seemed a bit… odd, and I got tired of it. I want to write about “ordinary” people. The ones whose deaths were written up in the newspaper as “the tragic accident that befall Mr Smith’s servant”, when they get noticed at all. Labourers & navvies & their families, and people who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from (the SOAP entry) or who get anxious with no money in their pocket (current WIP). I guess that’s socioeconomic diversity πŸ™‚ It’s also the people that most interest me in the primary sources.

    I should mention the neurodiversity thing, I guess. I’ve had one POV characters who was “openly” on the autistic spectrum but mostly I don’t it. Although my main characters do tend to have “have traits”. I don’t really want to write about people like me. Why would I? It’s boring (for me). I also believe many writers are actually autistic, it’s part of the creative/thinking differently thing . Most of the people I deal with regularly (at work, friends, family) are either diagnosed with Asperger’s/autism or could be. So it’s sort of situation normal & not that unusual. It is easy to forget that “we” are apparently a minority. But *for me* writing a deliberately autistic character feels…. like jumping on a bandwagon. Rather, I just let them be their odd little selves, and if readers identify with them, that’s good and if it’s not obviously noticeable, that’s good too.

    Anyway, short version, there’s not much diversity in my SOAP entry. It’s about a young white guy & his two friends. So he has a few odd traits, and one of the friends has a Black mother, and they’re about as far from middle-class as you can get, but that’s about it. And I guess one of the female supporting characters does have a bad leg, but it doesn’t affect anything much, even if it’s the reason she’s not married. (It seems being crippled is a good way to discourage suitors don’t care for and push them onto your sisters instead, but that’s just backstory.)

    (This is typed on a keyboard with a dodgy space bar & overly sensitive touch pages. It makes it hard to type generally because I am concentrating on hitting the space bar & cursor is flying all over the place. I might have missed some typos.)

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    1. I can’t say I deliberately do diversity, either. A little like you, maybe, my characters just appear, and are who they are. Racial diversity happens in my books the way it happens in real life. I’ve never gone out and researched any particular diverse group , per se . I write, for the most part, what I know -the stories that captivate me.

      However, when I started querying my novels, I realized that a lot of the things I know – abuse, addiction, psychosis, prison gang and drug culture – isn’t what most agents and editors relate to – it isn’t what *they* know. Most books written about the worlds I’ve lived in and the things I’ve experienced are written from an outside viewpoint, because people like me don’t often write books. I had the advantage of also having a leg up, a foot in “mainstream” culture, because one half of my family had money, and made sure I went to college.

      It was only after the fact – after I’d written a lot of these “diverse” stories – that I realized the lack of, and need for, more diversity in literature. It hurt, how many times I was told my characters were “unrelatable” and “unlikable”. It sucked how much harder I felt like I had to try to bring readers into my characters’ worlds. It pissed me off how many times betas and critiquers would tell me things like, “Cops wouldn’t treat people like that,” “If you want a better idea what prison culture is like, watch Orange is the New Black,” and “No one wants to read about characters like these.” They had no clue. But, it wasn’t up to them to get one: it was up to me to GIVE them one. I had to make them care and understand characters like these. So no, deliberately adding diversity in order to sell books is NOT the right thing to do, in my opinion. But books with diversity – of all types – are extremely important to the growth of our culture.

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  6. Until I read this post I had no idea what a divers book really included. I was aware of some aspects, like LGBT but the broad range of books the title includes is amazing to me and eye opening as well. Thanks for the lesson today.

    I’ve been outlining a future manuscript from the point of view of an autistic boy who is bullied in school, but is taken under wing by an eccentric young girl who stands up for him. Its based on my son who is eight and having struggles in school. He is super smart, but is bullied on a daily basis because he’s a little different.

    My son loves to read my books and one day I want to write one just for him. One that he can read and say “This boy is just like me and he’s OK.” I want him to know that he will be OK too. I want other kids to know that its OK to be a little different and its how you handle your differences that make you strong. One day I will write that book for my son.

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    1. Yes – diversity is more of a catch-all term than one would think.

      I’m glad you’re writing a book for your son πŸ™‚ It is so important to read about characters like ourselves – see them as heroes of their own story.

      I wrote a book once…I never write a book for anyone, really, but as I was struggling with editing etc. I realized the same thing – that I wanted my schizophrenic best friend to read it and see a main character with schizophrenia who is the hero of his own story. Not someone trying to defeat his diagnosis, or being defeated by it, but someone who is just living their lives, with all that entails. I had the utter joy a few weeks ago of writing that dedication: To Phoenix. I’ll be able to put it in his hands soon πŸ™‚ It is a wonderful feeling, and I can’t wait until you experience it.

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  7. I am really happy diverse books are getting the attention they deserve. I read all the posts above.It makes me glad I am writing a diverse book in such times. Since I come from a undrepresented section of the writing community and a POC myself I would like to say thank you to everybody out there making diversity in books possible.

    My MC is Krishna Covalho,she is of Indian descent (half Bengali and half Goanese)living in America. I am Bengali myself and no we all dont always eat sweet rosogullas. Krishna is trying to overcome cultural differences between her country and where her parents come from along with the pain and confusion of losing a friend.

    Another major character is going through the same confusion but about her sexuality.Teen years are a very important part of who we grow up to be. And I know the world would be a better place with diverse books in it πŸ™‚

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  8. I am really happy diverse books are getting the attention they deserve. I read all the posts above.It makes me glad I am writing a diverse book in such times. Since I come from a undrepresented section of the writing community and a POC myself I would like to say thank you to everybody out there making diversity in books possible.

    My MC is Krishna Covalho,she is of Indian descent (half Bengali and half Goanese)living in America. I am Bengali myself and no we all dont always eat sweet rosogullas. Krishna is trying to overcome cultural differences between her country and where her parents come from along with the pain and confusion of losing a friend.

    Another major character is going through the same confusion but about her sexuality.Teen years are a very important part of who we grow up to be. And I know the world would be a better place with diverse books in it.

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    1. It’s late, so I will keep this short. My novel, Soul Gifter, is diverse in many ways: racial, ethnic, LGBT, social, species, etc. I am East Indian which stemmed my MC to also be a first generation East Indian. There are ‘species’ diversity as well since this novel is a paranormal romance between a human with the power to gift souls to the soulless, as well as the ‘Elites’, which are supernatural beings such as witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, etc. I toss in an Indian wedding blessing (as weddings and all of our celebrations are very colorful), and a few cultural differences, traditions.

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  9. It’s late, so I will keep this short. My novel, Soul Gifter, is diverse in many ways: racial, ethnic, LGBT, social, species, etc. I am East Indian which stemmed my MC to also be a first generation East Indian. There are ‘species’ diversity as well since this novel is a paranormal romance between a human with the power to gift souls to the soulless, as well as the ‘Elites’, which are supernatural beings such as witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, etc. I toss in an Indian wedding blessing (as weddings and all of our celebrations are very colorful), and a few cultural differences, traditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a fabulous idea! I hope these comments help you make a choice!

    I don’t want to overwhelm you with a long drawn out story, so I’ll just tell you briefly about the MS I’ve submitted to Son of a Pitch (The Aldar Dominion). The main character is half Filipino. There are several other main characters who are biracial, and where as this is a book set far into the future, people of all colours are accepted, though there are three different factions (natural-born humans, aliens and clones). The Aldar Dominion deals with racism, especially when it comes to humans and clones. Humans see clones as wrong, and dangerous, whereas the clones are actually generally fine people. The villains in the story actually come from all across the board, some being clone, some being alien, etc, in an attempt to show that where you come from has no consequence on whether you are evil or not, that simply depends on the person you are.

    I hope this helps you make a decision, and have a lovely day Elizabeth!

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    1. I really love your story, your use of diversity, and you exploration of the things that divide us and connect us. I’m also a HUGE fan of sci-fi and fantasy stories where there is a broad range of personalities amongst the different races of creatures, which makes for even more interesting and complicated dynamics when the races try to live alongside one another. Thank you for your comment πŸ™‚ Making these choices is hard, and I need all the help I can get.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds like it! Reading through all the other entries, there are some AMAZING stories! I do not envy you and the other judges having to pick through these entries!

        And thank you so much for the lovely compliment πŸ™‚ I’m really glad you like it, and grasp what I was trying to accomplish with the race/species diversity!

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  11. When I began this novel, the very last thing I wanted to do was be exclusive. Within this book, the race of only two characters is made clear: the MC, who is white, and a female Marine sniper, who is 100% Choctaw. What is left unsaid is the race, economic standing or education of any other character. That is for the reader to decide. I do, however, play a few minor tricks during the book, because if the reader is thinking of a given character as being a particular race, and they wind up being wrong, I hope this leads to them examining their own ingrained biases.

    The second in command of my brigade, and the best friend of my MC, is black. In fact, when I write him I think of Dennis Haysbert. The setup of the novel is that corrupt politicians and their wealthy benefactors will once again have the common man carve out a kingdom for them, by fighting and dying, and they will then come in and rule with an iron fist.

    Standing in their way is one man, my MC. From the very start of writing this book, I knew that the only thing that mattered in his command was merit.

    In book two, the Choctaw sniper saves the brigade single handed, winning the Congressional Medal of Honor. On the other battlefront, a female tank commander insert herself and her tank, which has 2 other female crew members, between the enemy and a horde of defenseless civilians, almost dying in th process.

    I have made a conscious effort to portray both covert and overt diversity within my book. I hope this is the type of writing that we see more of in the future.

    @jointhebrigade1
    William Alan Webb

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    1. Thank you for your comment, and for your thoughtful use of diversity.

      About ingrained biases: there is one time that I found myself a little caught off-guard when I found out a character’s race – Serge Storms from Tim Dorsey’s novels. I didn’t read the series in order, and when I finally read the first one I found out he was…this is how much his race isn’t an issue, because I can’t remember for sure, but I think he’s Cuban-American. For Serge, his personality is so….so VERY diverse…that his race doesn’t have time to become part of the equation at all. The only reason it bothered me to find out his race is that I had such a clear picture of him in my head, and I had to work very hard after that to modify it somewhat.

      I always have a clear picture in my head of what my own characters look like -even very minor ones – though I won’t always be entirely sure what their race/cultural heritage are, if they’re very minor characters or their paternity is in question. Likewise, I have a lot of neurodiverse characters, but sometimes – even with major characters – I won’t say what their diagnosis is (and I might not even know it for sure myself, though I’ll make guesses). However, with most characters, the fact of their diversity will be obvious. This is mostly because I tend to write contemporary novels (whether fantasy or not), and so their race/heritage is a big part of how they view themselves, and how others act towards them. With the neurodiversity, it’s just their personality, so that’s a slightly different dynamic.

      I think of it this way: I’ve grown up, and still currently live, in an area with a HUGE (in some areas over 50%) Hispanic population – mostly Mexican-American. Their heritage tends to be a gigantic part of who they are – it affects how they speak, dress, and think about the world; what they like to eat; what music they listen to; their moral values. And it DEFINITELY affects how others relate to them. Out of the hundreds of Hispanic people I’ve been friends, family, or casual acquaintances with, I can count three of them who, were I to make them into characters, you wouldn’t know straight off they were of Hispanic heritage – they don’t speak Spanish, and the way they dress and act etc. shows so little of their heritage that the way people relate to them is not as blatantly racist and/or overtly conscious of their race. However, if I made them into characters, you still wouldn’t make it very far before their race became an issue…because it affects the way they think about themselves. They often feel the need to apologize for not speaking Spanish, or make fun of themselves for “being too white”. The unfortunate fact is, race is still a huge, huge issue in our society. That doesn’t manifest uniformly across all groups, of course, but no matter where you’re standing, it’s still an issue. Same with socioeconomic status. That I have a lot of “white trash” in me is something I’m alternately mortified by, and feel the need to defend.

      These are all complicated issues to discuss and write about, and I’m glad there are other writers like you who are dedicated to the task πŸ™‚

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  12. I read through your post a few days ago and thought hmmm.. must comment on this soon. I am a very forgetful person!

    THE TIME SLAVE was actually born out of the want for a diverse book. In the beginning drafting stages, the book was not intended to be sci-fi, it was contemporary, but it started off with my main character, Sahar Ihsan. Sahar (the girl who is targeted to be kidnapped) is an Afghan-American Muslim. In the original draft, there were heavy Islamic themes and Farsi (Persian) word usage. As the story progressed, Liam popped up and demanded a changed in genre. His character, while white, changed the game by being a part of an oppressed population of people hidden beneath the city. It’s almost like power struggle reversal with the minorities being the ruling class, per se.

    Cutting back on the direct Islamic references to Sahars portion of the story, I peppered in the culture and religious views in subtle ways. For example, Sahars biggest coping mechanism with living in a community that values culture, appearances, and strict religious rules, creates personas (personalities she wish she could be) to deal with the culture clash. It’s never explicitly stated, but shown through her experiences and mindset the struggles of being a first generation American and unknowingly also being the heiress to a multi-billion dollar genetics and research company.

    I’ve wanted to change the perception of the Muslim world through writing, hence my original idea. But, alas, characters become unstoppable forces and the story turned out the way it was always going to turn out. With the light Islamic and Afghan cultural themes in my first book, I’m hoping to write many more featuring Muslim characters, struggling through keeping their family’s cultural identity while finding themselves too. MY WIP, set in 1930’s Uzbekistan is exactly that and reads much like any Khaled Hosseini book. It spans a decade of time in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and England. I’m very excited because it’s bold and different and terrifying and real to me.

    Growing up as a first generation Afghan-American-Uzbek has it’s challenges and all my fictional writing is heavily influenced by the clashes I faced on a daily basis growing up. Hopefully, if I get your vote (but even if I don’t), someone will one day pick up my books and think “Thank you for understanding.”

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    1. I am so sorry that I didn’t see this comment until now! You made it into the final round, though, and I’m very glad of that – plus you’ve gotten 3 requests. πŸ™‚ I’m really happy to hear you’re writing about Muslim characters. I’ve been reduced to tears of anger by people’s misconceptions about Islam in America…when I lived in Seattle, there were huge Islamic populations – mostly Egyptian and Somalian – and so when I hear people rail about how “they all want to destroy God and America” it just seems so crazy…not only cruel and misguided, but illogical. If I were personally versed in the religion and any of the Islamic cultures enough, I would hope I’d have a Muslim character that would talk to me…perhaps one day, that will happen naturally, though I certainly have my own fish to fry, and there are plenty of lovely writers like yourself, and like my fellow Limitless author Theresa McClinton, who are doing a better job of it than I ever could anyway, which makes me very happy πŸ™‚ I hope you get an offer you’re happy with from #SonOfAPitch. Please keep me informed of your progress.

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