ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a great essay about diversity in publishing, especially young adult books. My favorite quote: “The publishing industry looks a lot like these best-selling teenage dystopias: white and full of people destroying each other to survive.” Wowch, nailed it.

There's a problem when an industry lacks diversity: “None of these agents look like me,” she said, “and they don’t represent anyone that looks like me.” ... “What if they don’t get what I’m doing?” While it's possible for people to reach understanding across cultural lines, it is much easier for people to understand each other when they share a lot of common ground. Lack of diversity among gatekeepers (agents and editors) therefore undermines access and representation.

Now here are two quotes from advantaged people in the industry: "I think the change is going to have to come from within those who are affected,” and Another agent, when asked why less than 1% of her submissions were from people of color, captured what seems to be the publishing industry’s general attitude in just 10 words: “This seems like a question for an author to answer.” Both of those are right. In order to work, social change must incorporate the views and needs of the people affected; top-down solutions tend to be offensive and ineffective.

However, that doesn't mean everyone else can just abdicate all responsibility. You have to look for the part of the problem that lies within YOUR reach. In this case, it means engaging a conversation about unmet needs. The industry should be asking, "If people of color don't read or buy books, why not?" (They have less access to education, fewer books starring characters like them, less disposable income, etc.) And then ask, "What would help fix that?" If a question is for authors to answer, then agents and editors should in fact be asking authors that question, and listening to the answers.

And here it is in the essay: The question industry professionals need to ask themselves is: “How can I use my position to help create a literary world that is diverse, equitable, and doesn’t just represent the same segment of society it always has since its inception? What concrete actions can I take to make actual change and move beyond the tired conversation we’ve been having for decades?”

Of course, there are many issues in publishing, as in society. Most people will pick one or two favorites to focus on. Maybe they want to deal with sexism or classism rather than racism. Maybe they want to focus on books that will hook people who rarely read. Everybody doesn't have to deal with every problem, but every problem should have somebody working on it.

Me, I'm weird as usual; I'm the one waving a broom and shouting, "Fight ALL the oppressions!"  What am I doing?  Sure, I write characters from all different cultures, because I'm a mix.  But I also promote  projects by a wide range of creators.  Word of mouth advertising is really, really important.  I may not have a lot of money but I make one hell of a barker.

This is an area where crowdfunding can help.  You can support creative people of color.  You can ask for ethnic characters or plot structures.  You can look for projects to fund a book for distribution.  Yes, there's a filter, but we don't have to go through that bottleneck anymore.  We can go somewhere else.  The market is a lot more diverse than the dinosaurs believe.  They're standing in the breach?  Fine.  Let them have it.  Go somewhere else, go where there are people, and get their attention.  There are niches with almost no representation and therefore minimal competition.  Go fill them.  People are starving for stories about characters similar to themselves.  Feed a cat, gain a cat.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem came out of the March 18, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock. It has been sponsored by an anonymous donor. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Heroes Still Living"


Hail heroes still living,
Heroes in each lineage!
Roundly we remember
Rare tales told of valor.
Wound-wands and words rally,
Wielded with all honor.
Might beyond men granted,
Makes some feed the ravens.

Hail too, fine foes, fiercest
Fighters gifted greatly!
Without you, no worthy
Warrior knows purpose.
Bring your wood-bane fingers;
Breathe airs of tree-breaking.
Power that passed mortals
Pours forth at your saying.

God-given gifts linger,
Growing great in story!
Be as in old battles,
Bid good against evil.
Spear-din speaks our summons:
Speed onward in answer.
Tell a tale of talents
Taut against each other.

* * *

Notes:

The requested form was a drottkvaett, a type of alliterative verse.  This isn't quite perfect, but it comes close.

Lineage is a form of family reckoning.  Some superpowers run in families.

Kennings are metaphors used in Celtic and Norse tradition.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This story was inspired by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer who sponsored the "teaching / learning" square on my 3-30-14 card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. It belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project, taking place shortly after the unaired episode "Why Pat's Not at Work."

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Holler Me

Apr. 6th, 2014 12:48 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Recently I said "Holler me if you need the dishrack put away," and for no particular reason other than I am a hobby-linguist, I got to thinking about the subtle distinctions of this term.

"Holler" means to call loudly, often across a house or yard.  It also tends to convey a higher level of urgency.  

"Holler me" is a combination of "tell me" and "summon me."  It includes a stipulation that if you notify me of a previously agreed upon condition, I will follow through with the promised response.  This is the same as "tell" but allows a higher volume and demand for attention.  You don't have to raise your voice if you don't need to, but you're allowed to, and it's taken as a summons not a scold.

"Holler for  me" means that I will come when you call, but when I get there, we'll have a discussion about what you want.  It only includes answering the summons, not meeting another request.

That kind of subtlety appears in many Southern dialects of English, where prepositions do work that Northern speakers don't notice.  (Northern dialects have their own bells and whistles, as does everyone's.)  Southerners are often told to omit prepositions in certain phrases, which is aggravating, because most people don't have the linguistic expertise to explain what the darn thing does.  But if you take it out, to a Southerner, there's a wobble there, like a chair with one leg a hair shorter; it's annoying and it can cause misunderstandings.  Of course, these subtle distinctions are lost anyhow on someone who speaks a different dialect, but it makes a difference to the speaker.

I grew up in the Midwest but have Southern relatives, so my accent is bifocal.  In Illinois, I sound mostly Midwestern.  On a visit to Tennessee, I have a Southern accent as thick as molasses -- and oddly enough, it is also keyed by time and topic.  Talking about certain parts of my childhood or activities such as fishing will turn it on.  Just in case you were curious.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was fascinated by this article about rats and racism.  First, it examines an interesting issue of altruism.  Second, it's about a series  of studies in which the first results were disappointing, so people looked deeper and devised ways of testing different possibilities.  Some of the best science involves digging down to core concepts like this, not accepting the first answer just because it meets somebody's expectation.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Imagine a black superhero movie, using African Diaspora culture as inspiration.  This is Oya: Rise of the Orishas, and the link includes a trailer.  So. Much. WIN.  This is the kind of entertainment I want to see.  MOAR PLZ!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I read a post about representation and pressure in writing/reading, which is unfortunately locked so I can't cite it.

My advice (as a reader, writer, reviewer, editor, and scholar) includes:

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a terrific infographic about how privilege works and how to work around it.   My thoughts ...

1) Almost everyone inhabits a mix of privileged and disadvantaged groups.  By examining the areas in which you have or do not have privilege, you can extrapolate how to treat people gently.  

2) The more privilege or other power you have, the greater your responsibility to use it kindly instead of cruelly.  Just because you could  hurt people and get away with it, does not make that okay.

3) Most of the good things in life are not particularly limited in supply, and many of them are more enjoyable when shared.  So when you get some, turn around and hold the door for someone else.


For me, there's a lot of shear between how I appear and how I really am.  Passing privilege has its perks, but can create great friction when I respond to things in ways that people do not expect or accept.  Frex, I have mixed heritage, but it doesn't show unless you look very closely.  This can shock people when I respond to certain types of attack in similar ways to folks who look very different from me.  I have a lot of ancestors; I can choose to identify with the ones who are not bigoted assholes.  For a lot of people, there is shear somewhere in their identity matrix, and it often takes decades to figure out how to handle that -- especially when society is screaming at you to do one thing and your conscience cricket is whispering something else.

Another factor that resonates for me is the matter of voice.  As a wordsmith, I occupy many positions where what I say holds more influence than average.  On a global scale, it's not so much; but within certain subcultures, it's a lot stronger, and it can have quite a potent effect on individuals.  So I try to pay attention to what I say, that it may do the most good and the least harm.  I look for ways to support other voices, especially in underrepresented areas.  While I can't fix the whole world, I can work on making my little corner of it more representative.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an analysis of the diversity in a list of best Young Adult books. When checking for diversity in such a list, I like to compare the percentage of books to the percentage of population ...

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (neutral)

This poem is spillover from the January 21, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] rhodielady_47 and [livejournal.com profile] baaing_tree.  It also fills the "FREE SPACE: parade" square on my 10-6-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] janetmiles.  It belongs to the series Walking the Beat.



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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (neutral)
The half-price sale is now SOLD OUT.  Thank you for your support!

This week the unsold contents of Walking the Beat are on sale for half price, running February 17-23. If you can't afford to sponsor a whole poem, remember that epic poems (anything over 60 lines) can be funded at $.25/line. This series is contemporary lesbian romance.  It features themes of family, community, love and friendship, life changes, disability and ability, ethnic cultures, and local color from Jamaica Plain.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
This is the freebie for the February 2014 Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ellenmillion. It also fills the "Case/Mission Fic" square in my 12-8-13 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Nepantla  will be a journal specializing in queer poets of color.  See the IndieGoGo campaign to support it.  Queer!  Chromatic!  Poetry!  I am filled with all the squee.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

This poem came out of the February 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] janetmiles and [livejournal.com profile] baaing_tree.  It also fills the "storytelling" square in my 2-1-14 card for the Cotton Candy Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Clay of Life, which you can read via the Serial Poetry page.

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