Winner of the Stop The White-Out Giveaway

I want to thank everyone who commented on last week’s giveaway opportunity. I think it received the most comments I’ve ever seen on a single blog post over the last three years and it was all loving, supportive remarks.

And now to announce the winners!

The first name chosen by the Random number generator at random.org was Suzan Harden. The second name was Natalie Aguirre! Ladies, I will contact you privately to find out which books (The Dragon and the Pearl, Liar or The Silver Phoenix) you’d prefer. Thanks so much again to everyone interested in buying a book to support accurate depictions of race in literature.

Cover Art For Progress: Stop the White-Out

I read two truly moving blogs this week and I wanted to thank Ellen Oh for posting on the topic of anti-racism and Adam Heine for turning the topic into a contest. What better way to bring attention to the problem than to give stuff away in support of it?

I mentioned on Ellen’s blog that I have a Chinese daughter whom I love so much it hurts. It hurts even more when people comment on her appearance and how she can’t possibly be Chinese. You see, my daughter has a condition called Ocular Albinism. That’s not the white hair/red eyes version of Albinism. There are different kinds of conditions and hers means she has brown hair and brown eyes. She blends into mainstream America – in some ways a little too well. I’ve heard well-intentioned people claim: “She’s not Chinese!” Like hell she’s not. Why do people believe it’s detrimental to be of another race? Why do they want us to spend thousands on genetic testing to prove she’s not Chinese? I was tempted to do the testing to prove she IS.

I have a niece who also happens to be adopted. She’s from Russia, but her eyes have epicanthic folds because of where in Russia her ancestors came from. She went to the doctor’s office the other day and the NURSE repeatedly claimed that my niece must have Downe’s syndrome because of her eyes. This was an educated woman!

The whiting-out of America has got to stop. Two years ago the amazing Justine Larbalestier fought a battle with the publishers who tried to put a white girl on her book about an aboriginal teen. She won that battle, but the war looms large ahead of us. Our best line of defense is greater education, and what we need is more books. Books with covers that are diverse in their depiction of the human race.

To support that effort, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m buying a cover that has someone of a non-caucasian race on the cover. Seriously, folks, the publishers put whites on the cover because they believe people won’t buy anything else. How sick is that? Let’s prove otherwise. I will BUY and give away two books. Winners can choose, but I will give multiple choices:

Justine’s “Liar” with appropriate cover, thank you very much. Cindy Pon’s wonderful “Silver Phoenix” in the original, beautiful cover. (See image at the top of this page.) Or for the adult book reader who still wants to make a difference, Jeannie Lin’s “The Dragon And the Pearl” with its stunning cover. I will announce the winners on the 19th.

To win one of these excellent books, please post a link to Ellen Oh’s original post, which can be found here. I would love a link to this contest in order to draw more attention to the issue, or to Adam Heine’s page, (which does have a different book available to win), but I’m not doing this to promote me, him or even Ellen. I’m doing this to provide a few pennies in a bucket that’s never given a chance to fill.

Writers Conferences and Other Issues

My apologies for the late post! The whole of last weekend got away from me – then I intended to post yesterday and I just realized: it’s Thursday. Geesh.

In surreal news totally unrelated to anything I normally discuss here: Davy Jones is no more. I always loved watching the Monkees reruns as a teen and have most of their music in some way or another. I even got to see them in concert once. Rest In Peace, Davy.

And in other news: I may try to go to the Dallas/Fort Worth Writers Conference this year. Is anyone else going? The literary agent guest list looks like my spreadsheet of wish list agents, so that’s a huge deal. Also, this is the conference that started the Agent Gong Show. You know, where someone reads anonymous query letters to the agents and you as the author get to find out where the agent would stop reading your query. They’re also going to do Agent First Pages Gong Show. One Agent. One Page. One Gong. LOL It’s an expensive conference – much more than I normally pay, so that makes me flinch. I’ll also have to fly and there’s the cost of room/board and questions as to job stability. All these things have to be weighed. Sigh.

So what about you? When was your last conference? Will you go again?

Fear Is the Mindkiller

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past
I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

I feel like saying “Amen” to this. Yes, I’m admitting two things in this post: 1. I’m a Dune fan and by that, I mean I’ve read the first book in the series and have to be one of the few people on the planet who enjoys the movie despite its flaws.
2. I am afraid.

Not of admitting that I like the Dune movie, though that may bring down derision on my head. No, I’m afraid of many things, actually.

I’m afraid that my writing will never take off the way I want it to.

I’m afraid that, if that is so, I will never be able to work full-time as a writer, which I want so badly it hurts. I’m afraid of the consequences of jumping into such a situation: losing my home, losing my change-adverse daughter’s school, etc. I’m afraid of losing the respect of my friends and family for causing these chain reactions.

Yet I heard the most magnificent message from God yesterday. (Yes, I am a practicing Christian despite the Buddha image on the screen. That’s simply there to provide setting for the Asian theme, though I am NOT a militant Christian and have no problems with other beliefs.) God asked me why I’m so fearful. Don’t I believe in him? Yes, I do. But I also know He put His followers through trials and such trials are not something I desire.

Yes, I know, beyond all question, that God will take care of me and my family in the coming days. He promises such care if we face our afflictions “even unto death.” It’s the “even unto” part that worries me. The part where I lose my family’s and friends’ respect because of my actions.

So what about you? What are you afraid of?

Emma Straub’s How To Be an Indie Bookseller’s Dream

Emma Straub has worked for independent booksellers for three years and in a recent Wall Street Journal article brings home some hard cold facts on what to do at your authorial appearances:

1. Try not to read your material, or at least not much of it. What? This is your chance to share with the world! Yes, you might have hours to fill, depending on what you’ve been allowed to schedule, but if people wanted their first impression of your book to be that of someone reading it aloud, they’d buy or rent the audio book. So unless your book is hysterically funny or you have it memorized and are prepared to act out scenes, keep reading time limited to 10 to 30 minutes. And if you’re going to read aloud for thirty minutes, have it be your most exciting scene ever or you’ll look up at the end to a slumber party. One neat idea I’ve heard for reading from your work without spoon feeding the audience something you want them to buy is to read a scene you’ve cut. Remember all those beautiful darlings? Find the very best, polish them and read them. Then you can have a question and answer as to why you cut them.

2. Fill up the rest of your time talking about things related to your book. For instance, I will probably discuss history, martial arts, research and possibly computer game and movie versions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, since that’s what my book is based on. I hope to also do some talks demonstrating self defense simply because it’s an active, audience-participation-based thing to do and has value to them. I have one friend who comes to her talks dressed in the period costume she made. She talks about the wool industry and how it changed the English countryside and how that shaped the making of her book. Her talks are informative and interesting and bring out details in the book you wouldn’t otherwise catch.

3. Come prepared to be outlandishly helpful to the booksellers. These are the people you want on your side, suggesting your book. Bring treats (if possible, ones related to your topic) and share with the booksellers and the crowd. (I plan on bringing Chinese sweets mentioned in one of my scenes.) Write down the booksellers’ names, complete with correct spellings and send them individualized Thank You notes after the event. If possible, remind them of a specific thing you’re thankful to each person for. Yes, I’m terrible at Thank You notes, too.

4. After you’ve sent your Thank You notes, do NOT forget about these places, though they be across the country. No. You tweet them. You friend/like redirect buyers to them. You continue to care about them and send all those new friends in the city (where you met and made friends, right?) to the bookstore with gift certificates.

So even if you’re unprepared for publication right now, think about how you might promote yourself and drive business to your friends, the local indies. What are you planning to do? Whatever it is, just remember, keep your audience involved or you might as well bring out the pillows and blankets.