NaNoWriMo is here! You ready or Nah?

It’s that time of the year were we writers decide to isolate ourselves from the world to get as many words, stories, outlines, edits and thoughts out in the name of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – like we really need another excuse to get lost in our word counts.

Since I learned that November was the designated month for such an audacious yet exciting event, I’ve tried to join in on the festivities and this year is no different.

With the a plan to knock out my 2020 self-pub piece, I’ve identified all the weapons (or tools for you non-warriors), tricks and hints that I could find starting with my own version of Popeye’s spinach – wine!

On my YouTube channel (say what, you haven’t subscribed…what are you waiting on?), I take you through my thoughts on my first wine subscription that started with a simple wine tasting.

While you’re there on my channel–after you subscribe–make sure to check out my NaNoWriMo playlist to find other tips and hints to surviving and smashing your goals throughout the entire month of November. I’ll continue to do videos thought the month to share my own progess too.

Got some tips of your own? Share away folks. Drop your tips in the comments below so we can all do this right. It’s a writing community thang so let help each other out.

Hard Facts about Being an African American Romance Writer

I read an article today that resonates so well with my writing journey that I have to share it, vlog it, and just sit on it for a moment.

It’s a #Longread from the Guardian title “Fifty Shade of White: the long fight against racism in romance novels“. The writer of this piece, Lois Beckett, dives right into the past and current issues with romance writers of color; it’s hard to break through when the industry is slow to see that change it needs.

As it stands, when it comes to the Rita Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the romance industry given by RWA (Romance Writers of America), there has never been a black winner, like ever. The first official RWA meeting occurred Dec. 1980 – yep not one winner for the past 40 years. But to be honest, as a black woman, I’m not shocked. I grew up watching black romance books being separated from all the others to fall into an Urban Romance category. Segregation comes in many forms, and that my friend, is one of them. I remember never being able to find them, they were always tucked somewhere in the back, as if a white woman with a flowing dress falling off of her shoulders with a guy raising her leg was so much more sophisticated than a black woman’s eyes or lips.

It was then that I picked up my first Zane book and got lost between the pages. Her words reminded me that the black POV of love and lust were different but still viable for all that read it. Zane inspired me to write my own romance stories, using imagery and words that resonated with my generation and my friends. She gave me the courage to go about this writing journey in my own way.

Fast forward to now, as I continue to push my own voice through my writing and pitch an African American romance, women’s fiction, upmarket/commercial erotic fiction book (it may fall into to some other categories but I didn’t want to go overboard), I’m wondering if there will be a delay in understanding the worth and message behind my words. My romance looks and reads differently, but it feels as good as other romance stories. Can a predominately white industry recognize its value? It’s in Beckett’s article that I find some hope that it will. I just pray that it’s sooner than later…I’m so ready to take this passion on full-time.

Here’s an excerpt from Beckett’s article:

For all this diversity of genre, the romance industry itself has remained overwhelming white, as have the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Ritas, which are presented each year by the RWA. Just like the Oscars in film, a Rita award is the highest honour a romance author can receive, and winning can mean not only higher sales, but also lasting recognition from peers. And just like the Oscars, the Ritas have become the centre of controversy over unacknowledged racism and bias in the judging process.

Last year, however, many observers felt that this was sure to change. One of the standout novels of 2017 had been Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union, an interracial romance set during the civil war. The book had already won a number of awards and made multiple best-of-the-year lists.

When the Rita awards finalists were announced in March 2018, An Extraordinary Union was nowhere to be seen. A novel rated exceptional by critics had been not even been deemed as noteworthy by an anonymous judging panel of Cole’s fellow romance writers. The books that had beat Cole as finalists in the best short historical romance category were all by white women, all but one set in 19th-century Britain, featuring white women who fall in love with aristocrats. The heroes were, respectively, one “rogue”, two dukes, two lords and an earl.

What followed, on Twitter, was an outpouring of grief and frustration from black authors and other authors of colour, describing the racism they had faced again and again in the romance industry. They talked about white editors assuming black writers were aspiring authors, even after they had published dozens of books; about white authors getting up from a table at the annual conference when a black author came to sit down; about constant questions from editors and agents about whether black or Asian or Spanish-speaking characters could really be “relatable” enough.

Then, of course, there were the readers. “People say: ‘Well, I can’t relate,’” Jenkins told NPR a few years ago, after watching white readers simply walk past her table at a book signing. “You can relate to shapeshifters, you can relate to vampires, you can relate to werewolves, but you can’t relate to a story written by and about black Americans?”

Read the full article.

 

#writerslife Working on My Ship

There are so many moments in life where we lose ourselves in the world’s chaos. Moments where our roles overlap so much that we lose sight of how valuable it is to give each responsibility their necessary nurturing.

That has happened to me over, and over, and over again. And, I understand that will continue to happen again and again if I don’t openly receive the messages, signs, or green lights that God has put so masterfully in front of me.
Where is this thought coming from or going? Let me share…

I’m in editing mode of my next book. The book that I want to pitch to agents and publishing houses. A book that I know tells a story that is new, sexy and introspective. Hence, my due diligence to get it right.

But trying to get it right has been muddled with so many other existing priorities that I’m trying to juggle at the same time; each losing steam because honestly, my brain is exhausted.

So, I come into work today, thinking solely about how to prioritize my work for the day, and notice a uniquely shaped purple package on my desk.

Befuddled by this object, I open it before sitting down to find out that it’s a card, pens and an angel.

Two pens exclaim the message “Tell Your Story” and “Writing Is My Happy Place”. Then tears began to fill up my eyes because it is true. Writing IS my happy place because it lets me tell my story.

The Angel has “Joy” etched in her robe, with an open embrace to the sky.
The card, well the card says more than I want to share in this post because of its personal message and now its home in my heart. However, I’ll sum it up like this:

Sometimes, we don’t know how our actions or words influence the world that we live in. Sometimes we only notice how chaotic it truly is and how we just need to stay afloat. But sometimes, we need a reminder that our purpose is not to “just stay afloat” but to build a ship that helps the world around us, guiding it in a direction we have been entrusted to go.

writinggift3

 

The mom of one of my close friends reminded me of that. She gave me words and gifts that woke my spirit back up to complete this book, and the others that will soon follow, to keep blogging and sharing these moments because they are truths in many ways, and can empower those who may not feel that they can also “build a ship”.

 

“…empower those who may not feel that they can also ‘build a ship’.”

Have you started working on your “ship” yet? You definitely should. I’ll continue to work on mine too.

Stay passionate!
DNC