Author experiences, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, History and culture, podcasts

What is authenticity in writing?

Hidden BrainI recently listened to an episode of the excellent podcast Hidden Brain by NPR,  hosted by Shankar Vedantam. This particular episode focused on the author Gail Shepherd (who sadly passed away in February this year) and her novel The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins.

Originally, Shepherd had written her main character as half-Vietnamese, based on the life of a very close friend who is half white and half Vietnamese. But after much research and talking with friends of different races, Shepherd decided to re-write her novel with a white protagonist. Despite already having her good friend’s “blessing” to write the story, Shepherd worried that critics would say she was appropriating another culture.

Listening to the podcast, I remembered that while in graduate school I had written two short stories with Chinese and half-Vietnamese main characters. I wrote the stories based on my own knowledge (my boyfriend and now-husband is Chinese-Vietnamese, and we’d traveled to Vietnam together). I also had Vietnamese friends, so I didn’t think too much about it.

Today, I’m more educated about and aware of white privilege. I understand Shepherd’s decision. She had to consider dynamics of the publishing world, her own feelings about cultural appropriation, and her readers’ feelings. I was pretty much oblivious to all that in graduate school!

But I also agree with a point that host Shankar Vedantam made — Shepherd’s original version of the novel included insights about race and growing up Asian in the American South. Possibly, some American-Asian girls could have benefited from reading this story. While Shepherd was not Asian, she knew her friend’s story very well. She was telling an authentic story. That version could have been very insightful.

Shepherd argued that while people of color are not fairly represented in the publishing world, she didn’t feel comfortable writing as a different race. But if her friend wasn’t a writer and couldn’t tell her story, wasn’t better that someone she loved and trusted did?

It’s the job of fiction writers to tell lies to describe truths about life. Of course, there are some stories we can’t write — I don’t know how to write from a Black character’s point of view. I feel okay about writing from a 3rd person perspective of an Asian American character — but maybe not as much as I used to. If we are creating from a place of honesty and empathy — NOT using cultural stereotypes — I think it can be useful to have these stories told, regardless of the writer’s race.

And as one of the guests on the podcast, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, said a person’s identity is not wholly their race. They are also parents, grandparents, teachers, artists, philosophers, plumbers, athletes, and a multitude of other roles and identities.

But I am a white person and, so, can only see through the lens of a white person. What do you think? Story tellers use their imaginations, but are there some things we just can’t imagine well enough to write about? 

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Conferences, Education, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Spring writers’ conferences in NC

With the weather heating up (at least in the southeastern USA!) and the flowers starting to bloom, it’s a great time to think about upcoming writers’ events! In North Carolina, we’re fortunate to have lots of creative writers — of both fiction and non-fiction — who are really motivated and ready to learn.

Please share any upcoming conferences you know of (wherever you live) in the comments section!

NC events coming up …

JoCo Writers Conference 2020

March 28 — the Johnston County Writers Workshop in Selma looks fun and very affordable! If you are in the area, I’m sure it will be well worth the visit — but sign up soon, as seating is limited!

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April 17 – 19 — Asheville Word Fest offers a whole weekend of speakers and workshops with a spiritual and cultural slant. Prices for tickets start at $25 and are based on what you can afford. Presenters get 80% of funds, so be generous if you can!

April 18Charlotte hosts the 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop, a full day of classes with the theme “How To Get Published.” Literary agents will be on-site! Seating is limited, so call head to make sure there are still places available.

April 27 — the NC Writers’ Network have their one-day spring conference at UNCG (Greensboro). I’ve been to this before, and their workshops are in-depth and focused on improving your creative writing. Limited scholarships are available.

May 2Write Now! is an excellent one-day conference hosted by the Triangle Association of Freelancers in Raleigh. I try to attend every year — the classes are very practical and are geared for writers who want to sell their articles and creative work.

So, that’s just a taste of upcoming events — there are sure to be many more! Keep writing and reading, y’all!

 

Embracing Creativity, Writing Tips

A repost: “I Thought” writing prompt…

I thought I would pull some weeds,But I didn’t.I thought I would cook healthy,But I didn’t.I thought I would keep in touch,But I didn’t.I thought I would write something new,And I did. Please use the open space below to share your first 50 words on the topic “I thought.”

via I Thought — First 50 Words – Prompts for Writing Practice

Author experiences, Book Reviews, Embracing Creativity, Health, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Writing and the Arts as Therapy — Women Writers, Women’s Books

A repost from the excellent blog “Women Writers, Women’s Books.” Marilyn Kay Hagar talks about how embracing creativity in your life — in any form — helps unearth the inner “wild” part of us that needs expression!

I remember the day in eighth grade when our teacher, Mr. Johnson, stood in front of the class and called us to attention. “This is the best piece of student writing I have come across in my twenty-two years of teaching,” he told us. Our homework that night was to write an essay. What he…

via Writing and the Arts as Therapy — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Fiction, Getting Published, Writing Tips

Happy Halloween! Editing discount for writers — Kendra Olson

This is a re-post. My fellow writer-friend Kendra Olson is offering an editing Halloween special! Hurry, don’t miss it!

This post originally appeared on my editing website: https://kendraolsoneditorial.com/blog/ Have you written a mystery/suspense, dark fantasy or ghost story? If you have and you’re in need of developmental editing, then you could be in luck. To celebrate Halloween, I’m offering a limited discount on my editing services for writers of mysteries/suspense, dark fantasy and ghost […]

via Happy Halloween! Editing discount for writers — Kendra Olson

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Embracing Creativity, employment, Job search, podcasts

Patreon for creative types…

Have you heard of Patreon? I started hearing about it a year ago during my favorite podcasts. They would say something like, “Please support us on Patreon.” So, I checked it out, and it’s pretty cool.

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Basically, it’s a website that lets you collect donations for your creative work. It’s kind of like crowdfunding, but I like Patreon better because you offer “rewards” for your subscribers. For example, if you donate $2/month to your favorite podcast, they might give you access to ALL their episodes, rather than just a few.

Or your favorite YouTuber might reward a $5/month subscription with behind-the-scenes videos that only patrons can see. You set up your own subscription rates and your own rewards. I’ve seen Patreon sites for writers, podcasters, illustrators, people who create video games… there’s seems to be no limit!

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I recently set up a Patreon page for my kids’ magazine, JUMP! My goal is to raise enough money to print out lots of copies for children in Alamance County, NC. My mag is tiny — more of a newsletter — but I pack pictures, book reviews, craft ideas, science stuff, and much more in there. I’d like kids (and their guardians) anywhere in the county to be able to pick up a copy for free from the library or their doctor’s office. The overall goal is to promote learning in a fun way!

If you’re a writer or other creative type who needs to raise funds for a project, you might want to have a look at Patreon and see if it’s right for you. I’ll keep you posted on how my page does!

 

Author experiences, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, Health, Writing Tips

When Your Brain is the Enemy: Life as a Writer with ADHD — Women Writers, Women’s Books

This is a re-post from the excellent site booksbywomen.org. Are you a writer who struggles with health issues that make writing harder? What strategies do you find helpful to keep on task?

Writing and publishing a novel is an accomplishment few achieve, and those who do know how much work it is to make it to ‘the end.’ Countless hours of inspiration, plotting, writing, editing, re-editing, pulling one’s hair out, self-doubt, critique, and finally—finally—something ready to send out into the world. Now imagine doing all that when…

via When Your Brain is the Enemy: Life as a Writer with ADHD — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Book Reviews, Education, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Last day for our freebie!

Today’s the last day to get a free copy of Make It Happen: The No-nonsense Guide to Publishing and Marketing Your Ebook!

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It’s a short, handy guide with all the fundamentals you’ll need to publish your book online — from setting up a clickable Table of Contents to choosing an editor to writing press releases.

So, give it a try, and if you find it useful, please leave us a review on Amazon!

Author experiences, Fiction, Writing Tips

Dealing with Scene-Stealing Secondary Characters — Southern Writers – Suite T (via Roger Johns)

This is another re-post because I think it’s a valuable article for lots of writers. One of my writer friends has said that she worries about her secondary characters seeming more interesting than her main characters!

I think this happens a lot, especially on T.V. dramas, where the main character’s friend or sidekick feels more sympathetic and relatable than the over-achieving main character. (No one can quite live up to Sherlock Holmes!)

By Roger Johns

In the early days of my writing journey, I was repeatedly cautioned to restrain my secondary characters because they had a tendency to upstage my principals. I tried, but soon became convinced the greater danger came from underutilized secondary characters that didn’t sufficiently challenge my main character, leaving her less realized and less…

via How I Deal With Scene-Stealing Secondary Characters — Southern Writers – Suite T

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

EMBRACE THOSE REJECTIONS — Southern Writers – Suite T

This is a re-post from the excellent website Southern writers – Suite T.

By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers MagazineOn May 2 on the Suite T blog, I wrote about the children’s writer Madeleine L’engle, author of the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time; how she kept writing after rejections because she couldn’t stop. Most of you know that A Wrinkle in Time, a young adult novel in…

via EMBRACE THOSE REJECTIONS — Southern Writers – Suite T