Creating Diverse Characters

Next Class: Deep Dive Intensive on Creating Diverse Characters

It’s Writing the Other core class time again! I’m excited for this next one as it’s my favorite: Creating Diverse Characters. I teach this one with Nisi and Piper J. Drake, so you’ll get three deep perspectives on how to write characters different from yourself.

This year we’re doing a new class structure that’s shorter and less expensive. We wanted to make it more financially accessible to folks who may still be struggling to deal with pandemic-related budget issues. And if the price is still out of reach, we have scholarships.

When: June 12 – 20, 2021
Where: Online via Zoom or Asynchronous classroom, accessible at your own pace
Price: $200 – $300

There are two course options:

Option 1: Asynchronous ($200) — Writers who cannot join us for the live Weekend Intensive can chose this option. Starting June 12 you’ll have access to the private WordPress classroom where we will post lectures in text form and the recordings of the sessions. Starting on the 14th we’ll post readings, discussions, and more writing exercises (some of which instructors will offer feedback on). For this option you can log in at any time and participate on your schedule.

The time commitment for the Asynchronous portion of the class will depend on your level of participation. Discussions based on lectures, short readings, and writing exercises will take place during the week. Discussion threads tend to be wide-ranging, so students should try to check in at least once a day or every other day. You may manage your time as needed based on your own schedule.

Option 2: Weekend Intensive Plus ($300) — On Saturday and Sunday June 12 & 13 students will gather virtually on Zoom (see detailed schedule below) for lectures, Q&A, discussion, and writing exercises with live feedback. From Monday June 14 through Friday the 18th students can log in to a private WordPress forum for further discussions based on readings and more writing exercises. This section of the class is asynchronous, meaning you can log in at any time and participate on your schedule.

This option is limited to 25 students.

See all the details, schedule, and scholarship app info at WritingTheOther.com.

Amplify Black Stories Storyteller Cohort

Amplify Black Stories Storyteller Cohort 2021

This week The Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation announced the inaugural Storyteller Cohort for their Amplify Black Stories initiative. And if you look reeeaaallly close at the image there you’ll see me! In company with 23 other Black writers of kidlit! It’s a wall of Black Excellence! And I’m so honored to be part of it.

The program is focused on supporting Black storytellers, confronting industry challenges, and fostering change. In addition the work the storytellers are doing, the Brown Bookshelf and Highlights will be conducting seminars and talks with the publishers involved with the same goals. It’s really important that all the work isn’t put on authors since we’re not the ones with the marketing departments and ability to allocate marketing funds.

Continue reading “Amplify Black Stories Storyteller Cohort 2021”

Ignyte 2021 Header

I Am An IGNYTE Award Nominee!

Best birthday week news! FIYAHcon announced the IGNYTE Awards shortlist and I am a double nominee. WOOOOOOT

Writing the Other got a second Community Award nomination, an honor I’m sharing with the amazing Nisi Shawl. I’m also nominated for the Ember Award for unsung contributions to genre. EEEEEE

I’m so thrilled and humbled by this. Especially as I’m in categories with so many people and entities I admire and love. How can I deal with being in the same category as Michi Trota or Tananarive Due or Diana M. Pho or L.L. McKinney & Tochi Onyebuchi or or or? Just… this is 100% wonderful.

Beyond that, the entire ballot is fire and I don’t care if that’s an overused pun! hee. So much thoughtfulness went into all the categories so that they celebrate a myriad of important contributions to the genre. Fiction AND non-fiction AND thoughtful criticism/reviews AND media AND community.

Voting is now open to all. I highly suggest you go down the ballot and read, watch, or listen to the things you haven’t already. There’s stuff on here I haven’t gotten to yet. Once I do, I’m going to share what I intend to vote for.

And finally: thanks to the FIYAH team and folks on the selection committee for this honor. ??????????

I Am Not A Strong Black Woman

I Am Not A Strong Black Woman

This post was originally a Twitter thread. After this week’s events, I decided it needed to be a blog post, too.

Let’s start with this video by TikToker ebonie_qt/Cindy Noir:

Watch the whole thing before you continue (it’s a minute long and closed captioned).

Watched? Okay let’s go.

Like Cindy Noir, I am also NOT a strong Black woman.

Continue reading “I Am Not A Strong Black Woman”

Black famous

Big Names, Anthology Covers, and Being “Black Famous”

Do you know about the concept of “Black Famous”? One of my favorite TikTokers, @Straw_Hat_Goofy, did an awesome video series on Black actors that are very well-known within the Black community even if they aren’t so much in the mainstream. They’re known to us through TV shows and movies made for Black folks. Sometimes an actor who is Black Famous becomes mainstream famous, but us Black folk will always hold them dear cuz we knew and loved them back when.

There are tons of Black Famous actors that white folks have no idea about or maybe saw them in a thing once. White folks don’t necessarily see these actors as famous, and probably wouldn’t name them as being important. However, put that actor in something? Black folks will watch.

I’m sure every marginalized community has some version of this. It’s not limited to actors. It goes for music, dance, poetry, and (most importantly to this post), fiction. There are Black authors Black readers know and love that white folks have little to no clue about.

Continue reading “Big Names, Anthology Covers, and Being “Black Famous””

Tempest and Sheree Renée Thomas

Listen to me on the Glitchy Pancakes podcast

The folks at Glitchy Pancakes invited me and Sheree Renée Thomas on to talk about #OwnVoices fiction. Not just what it is, but also some of the complexity behind how people wield that label in writing and reading discourse online. It was a great conversation and I always love talking to Sheree cuz she’s amazing.

Click here to listen and I highly suggest you subscribe as well!

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Next Writing the Other Webinar: Are You My Ally?

Yes, I do intend to have a very busy May :D In addition to the Rekindle Unworkshop I’m also co-leading a webinar on allyship for creative folks.

Got privilege? Want to know what it’s good for? Want to make use of your advantages without insulting those who may not share them? There are so many ways creative people can help each other. With suggestions ranging from practical tips to aspirational dreams, this seminar empowers would-be allies to support BIPOC and other marginalized creatives and #ownvoices work while boosting the presence of marginalized genius.

When: May 1, 2021, 10AM – 1PM Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $20 – $30 or Whatever You Can Afford

Visit the Writing the Other website for for further details or to register.

Rekindle header

Rekindle Your Will To Write | A Writing Unworkshop

If you fell off the writing wagon or constantly feel blocked due to stress, uncertainty, or just not wanting to due to *gesturesAll This and ready to try and get back to it, this unworkshop is for you. Play a no-pressure writing game with me and author Alethea Kontis to spark your imagination and get words on paper again.

We’ll be playing Sugar, Porridge, Spoons, a game for writers designed to push past your internal editor and get you creating weird and wonderful stuff without the pressure of trying to produce something specific.

We’ll meet on Zoom for live virtual game sessions on:

  • Saturday May 1 | 5PM – 7PM eastern
  • Sunday May 2 | 4PM – 6PM eastern
  • Wednesday May 5 | 4PM – 6PM eastern
  • Saturday May 8 | 5PM – 7PM eastern
  • Sunday May 9 | 4PM – 6PM eastern

Click here to convert to your time zone

All sessions are optional. If you can make some but not others, that’s fine. Participants will have access to videos of each session afterward.

You’ll also be invited to a private Discord server where you can discuss the outcome of each game session.

This unworkshop costs $40 and is open to writers ages 14 to 114 years old. There are scholarships available.

Click Here For Details or to Register

Scholarships

There are 4 scholarships available to writers who cannot afford the registration fee for class. Half are specifically for Black, Indigenous, and other Writers of Color, half are available to any writer from any identity background.

To apply, fill out this form. You’ll be asked to provide a personal statement (up to 500 words) and a statement of financial need (300 words). Please Note: I define financial need broadly, from those who absolutely can’t pay to those who may have the money but can’t set it aside for a writing course. Don’t self reject!

Application Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific April 21, 2021.

Tell Donald I want Him to know it was me

It’s on you (yes, YOU) to change this country, culture, and society for the better. Here’s how.

It’s now been a bit more than two months since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took office and almost that much time since I stopped feeling a daily sense of dread about everything. I’m sure others have been experiencing the same. Now that we’ve had some time to breathe and come down a little from the stress, it’s time to re-energize for the long fight ahead. Y’all do know that we can’t kick back and relax for the next four years and expect all the many things wrong with this country to be magically fixed, right?

You probably answered: “Of course I don’t think that! It’ll be hard work to undo the damage done.”

Yes, that’s right. And YOU have to do some of it. More of it than you probably know.

As important as it is that we have people we like or can at least deal with in the White House and Congress, those people cannot do everything and the things they can do they might have to be leaned on to do. That’s where the rest of us come in.

Every single person who cares about progressive ideals and values needs to be pushing for or contributing to change and betterment all the time. What that looks like will be different for different people and that’s fine. No matter what, you need to be doing it.

That all sounds vague, so here are my more concrete suggestions.

First: Pick One Cause To Prioritize

Yes, one. Why one? Because this work can tire you out. Because every person cannot do every thing. Because if a ton of people choose at least one then we have a ton of people putting their energy into positive change, which will proliferate.

Pick a cause that you’ve very passionate about and know at least a little about the activists, organizations, and movements involved in it. That will help with the next step.

Second: Do Your Research

You want to make sure that the organizations or movements attached to the cause are legit. So do some Googling on them and the coverage they get, especially from blogs, newsletters, social media accounts, etc. that are sympathetic to the cause.

A key element to this is not just knowing the problem, but also knowing the solutions to it. What solutions are these groups or individuals suggesting and/or trying to implement? Do they align with what you know and understand? These questions should be part of research, too.

Third: Decide How You Will Contribute

If you only have the time and energy to set up recurring donations or something along those lines and you have the budget to do so, that is okay! Money helps and is often key to getting an issue in front of people who can make change happen.

If you have time or energy for more, look to see if there are already calls to actions or a list of what volunteers/supporters can do. Maybe it’s helping to plan meetings or rallies, or organizing text/phone banking or letter writing, or making lots of social media posts, or something else entirely. If you don’t find a list of helpful actions, contact the orgs or movement leaders or whoever to ask for one.

One action you need to have on your list (unless there’s a specific reason not to) is contacting your elected officials about this cause. Sending letters and other communications to elected officials is one of the best ways to get them to pay attention to the wants and needs of their constituents.

I know some people really don’t like communicating face-to-face (such as at town hall meetings) or over the phone (just in case you don’t get the voicemail). There are other things you can do. I love the tool ResistBot because it makes it very easy to send a letter/message to your elected officials right from your phone in the form of texts. All you have to do is provide your zip code and the bot knows who all your electeds are and will make it easy to connect with them.

Fourth: Keep At It

It’s easy to get fired up and want to help and then have stuff slip from your mind or get shoved back in priority because of stuff going on in you life. That’s why it’s good to assess how much energy you can put into this cause and what is most helpful when you have to pull back. Even if you do, try to keep up with the latest news and developments through newsletters or social media and other communications from the orgs or activists. There may be times when they need more help (a bill is coming up for a vote, a measure is on the ballot) and that coincides with a time you have more energy or space.

Creating positive change is a long haul, not a quick fix.

What cause are you going to pick? I’d be interested to know in the comments! And if you already know which orgs, groups, etc. you plan to work with or donate to, please drop those links in there as well.

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft

Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and Me

I knew this news was dropping today. What I didn’t know was that Polygon was gonna namecheck me as one of the contributors! EeeEEEeeEEeeeEEE

I’m super proud to be part of the team that created the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons 5E Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft book. I’m in such amazing company; Ajit George, The Strix, Molly Ostertag, Cassandra Khaw, Jessica Price, and many others contributed. Working with F. Wesley Schneider, the design lead, was a great experience. Everyone involved gave me support and wonderful feedback and I loved every minute.

I cannot wait for folks to start playing the adventures in this book (I wanna hear about it!). It comes out in May and is up for pre-order now. You can find more preview information over at Inverse as well as on the DnD site.