Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 4/19/2016

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.

“‘You Will Be Tokenized’: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing” by Molly McCardle for Brooklyn Magazine

Publishing doesn’t exist in a bubble. Systemic and individual racism, misogyny, trans- and homophobia, ableism: these structure and surface in every American workplace. But publishing’s deadening sameness is unusual, and it makes for an unhealthy book culture. Of the 3,500 children’s books reviewed by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in 2014, only 400 were about indigenous peoples and people of color. Only 292 were written by an indigenous person or person of color. For every one indigenous writer or writer of color who was published, there were 12 white writers. This is the sort of staggering that makes you laugh-cry, or angry-cry, or angry-laugh. It is too big for just one emotion. It’s also unfair. Inequitable. Immoral. Bad business.

Native People Respond to Rowling by Deb Reese

But this short story? Their reaction to it was different. They read the first line, with its monolithic “The Native Americans” was bad, but each paragraph of that short story was laden with troubling misrepresentations of Native peoples.

Things I Wish I Knew: 5 Things To Know When Writing Diverse Characters by Dahlia Adler

If you’re writing outside your lane, deeply consider what already exists by creators of that group and how you can support them as well. Deeply consider why you have chosen this perspective, and why yours is a necessary voice on it.


Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 4/12/2016

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


The 2015 VIDA Count: The Year of Intersectional Thinking

Why would you consider such information? you might ask. VIDA has a history of advocating for women’s voices to be heard. An intersectional approach, such as looking at these demographic factors, is a natural development necessary to deepen the conversation. We want to take a closer look and identify what factors affect all women’s representation. This next step requires asking how those factors might affect certain populations of women writers when it comes to publication rates.

“Women built this castle”: An in-depth look at sexism in YA.

“This phenomenon of male writers being hailed as the ‘saviours’ of female-dominated genres can also be seen in the recent popularity of young adult author John Green, writer of The Fault in Our Stars. Young Adult fiction has been around since the 1980s, with females writing profusely in that genre for decades,” said Nudrat Kamal in her piece on sexism in literature for the Tribune, noting how many lady YA authors are “rankled” at the idea that it took a man writing YA to make YA a worthy career choice for a writer or a category of literature to consider seriously as a reader.

On Blindness and the Portrayal of Marie-Laure in All the Light We Cannot See

But I am not here to complain about misrepresentations of adaptive techniques or tired blindness stereotypes. I honestly don’t care if Marie-Laure counts her steps, reads braille with her thumbs, hears the ocean from her sixth-floor window, or can detect the scent of cedars from a quarter-mile away. The assault on the dignity of blind people is not that this character has strange adaptive techniques, or even that there are so many things she does not do for herself; it is that she is utterly without agency as a character.

(Not) Engaging with Disability: Convenient Approaches in SFF

It’s also important to consider that, instead of finding common limitations to the tools or treatments that exist in your world, you might not even need to. What if your character doesn’t use these options in the first place?

There are many reasons a workaround might not be accessible to your character. They might be incredibly expensive, or only available through specific providers. They might be rare, difficult to locate, or so brand-new it’s not even something they’ve considered. And on and on.

Think about reasons your character might choose not to adopt assistive tech, undergo a medical procedure, turn to magic as a cure, etc.

I Don’t Want Your Queer Tragedy: A Parable [Content note: mentions of physical and emotional violence.]

You fold your arms. “Let me guess,” you say, bitter, “it’s another queer tragedy. Because our suffering sells. Because that’s all you can see for us is coffins and mourning and broken hearts.”


Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 2/9/2016

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


“Diversity 101: An Intro to the Diversity Discussion” by Justina Ireland

So, I think we can all agree that it is incredibly frustrating to have the same conversation over and over.  At some point your eyes glaze over and you sigh and say “Never mind, don’t worry about it.”

This is what is happening with regards to conversations surrounding diversity.  The same three or four convos keep getting repeated over and over. So, as a timesaver, consider this your introductory course to the diversity discussion.  I doubt this will be the last entry, but it’s a good first step.

“Empathy Is Not A Disability” by Foz Meadows

The opposite of feeling instinctively “sorry” for a disabled person isn’t assuming they’re totally happy with their lot in life and the unique perspective it affords them, but is rather to treat them like a fucking person: that is, to not make judgements about how they might feel about themselves – or anything else, for that matter – on the basis of first appearances and their membership, visible or otherwise, of an enormously diverse group.

“A Brief Analysis of the Locus Recommended Reading List, 2011-2015” by Natalie Luhrs


“Assimilation: The Borg Must Like It When You Don’t Fight Back” by S.L. Huang

The Asian-American community has a long tradition of trading our own creativity and culture for “success.” A devil’s bargain: all the success you could ask for, and all it costs is your soul.

This isn’t true for all Asian-Americans, of course. But to some degree, at least, it’s true for me.

I wonder if I don’t write more Chinese characters because my father achieved his goal too well. Despite all my best efforts to reclaim my heritage, maybe all I have is an empty space I’ll always be chasing, like a gerbil spinning on a wheel.

Or maybe, despite all my anger, I myself am subconsciously following the very same path I’ve criticized my father for laying down: ducking my head and not being too Asian, because I want to be seen as a Real American Writer.

“You Don’t Have to Write Autobiography” by Ken Liu

So I wrote “The Paper Menagerie,” a magic realist tale that meditates upon our shifting attitudes toward our parents as we come of age; it also obliquely critiques the dominant mode of popular, assimilationist immigrant narratives. As a story that literalizes complicated metaphors, it can, and has been, read in multiple ways with various levels of textual support.

But the one reading it cannot support is autobiographical. The protagonist’s life bears almost no resemblance to my own. I am an immigrant; he is not. Both my parents are Chinese; his are not.

Yet, more than a few readers insisted on reading it as autobiography—and even as non-fiction. Many wrote to me to berate me for how I “treated my mother,” and others wrote to me to say they were moved by my “personal experiences.” Plenty of reviews speculated about my own childhood based on the story. When I gently explained that the story was pure fiction, at least one reader told me that he no longer found it moving as a result.

“This Is What Happens to Us” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

So, this is what happens to us. SF lovers visit the white-only SF section and pick out titles from their favorite white authors. Lovers of mainstream African fiction visit the African Fiction section, gloss over the SF books presented there, then move on because, “Weird is not really our thing.”

“White Bread, Brown Toast” by Indrapramit Das

It wasn’t until I was on a campus in the middle of Pennsylvanian Amish country, surrounded by young white undergrad creative writing students in a workshop class taught by a white professor, that I realized I mostly wrote white protagonists. I’d never felt less white, which made the repeated pallor of my protagonists blaze like a thousand suns.

“Intergalactic Collard Greens” by Troy L. Wiggins

Mainstream science fiction also seemed to possess a set of very scientific rules regarding what happened when one encountered blacks:

  1. There were never more than three black people in any respective galaxy, except for random planets somehow chock-full of blacks who were unable to progress their culture past iron spears and loincloths.

  2. Blacks were not allowed to interact with each other. Instead they were required to float alone and lonely through their respective spaces like lumbering chocolatey gas giants.

  3. If someone absolutely had to die in order to move the plot forward or gird the loins of the hero, it would be someone who looked like the black consumer, or the black consumer’s sister, or the black consumer’s best friend, or the black consumer’s black next-door neighbor

“On Falling In and Out of Love with Science Fiction” by Julie M. Rodriguez

Still, there was something missing. I don’t think it was until my twenties that I realized I couldn’t remember seeing any Spanish names in the genre fiction aisle at my local bookstore. I could only recall a handful of Latino characters in any of the SF books I’d read or films I’d seen. I’d discovered a deep and diverse well of talent in the genre fiction community—so why couldn’t I find any other Latino writers?

“We Were Always Here” by Mark Oshiro

It’s relevant because as much as people want to imagine that non-white fans are just showing up, we’ve been here all along. We watched the Blade films. We celebrated the Star Wars trilogies, both the original and the prequels. We wrote fanfiction, we cosplayed, we wrote our own works.

“The People Men Don’t See” by Nisi Shawl

Let’s tell our own stories and insist we’ve got them right. Let’s keep on writing what needs to be written. Eventually it will be of no real consequence that there are people men don’t see. Our actions will speak for us. Our words will make our worlds known.



Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 2/2/2015

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


Moar from the POCs Destroy SFF Lightspeed Kickstarter
“We’re Going Places” by Jeremy Szal

Diversity cannot exist if it exists solely within America and is dominated by American terms. So how do we do that? How do we move past that singular ideal?

“Dancing in the Margins” by An Owomoyela

I want to write because it’s important to me to see writing into the edge cases. Because those edge cases, and the ways in which race/ethnicity/color/call-it-what-you-want is defined, is manifested, in different places, at different times, is a huge part of the mess about what it means to be white or not in our community—this community that I live in and write in, and which affects me, day to day.

“On Destruction” by Naru Dames Sundar

In “destroying” SF, we are in fact rebuilding it, we are taking all that it was and adding to it. There are many voices out there, voices of different races, cultures, backgrounds. Voices that carry an authentic understanding of the things that underpin their histories, their people’s histories. I want to see their histories extrapolated into that unknown future. I want to see the stories that come out of their unique and incredible experiences.

“Blue-Shifted Futures” by Vajra Chandrasekera

No, Zhemais just referenced it because Colombo was the nearest major port to his fictional island. The funny part is that I noticed it so intensely, this one throwaway line, that I remember it to this day. It was the first time I’d read a science fiction novel showing a future that included my city in it, and it didn’t even need to be on fire.

“The Amazing Authentically Authentic Latina Author!” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Doesn’t ring true generally means people expect you to bring in the exotic. They’ll be like, “I once went to Acapulco so this gives me super great knowledge about your country and therefore this is not exotic enough.” Awesome. They want you to show a sarape, bring out the donkey. Check out the rooster in The Three Caballeros. That’s the sense of place you should aim for.

“On the Topic of Erasure” by Z.M. Quỳnh

I write so that I can become whole, so that we may become whole once more. I write so that my stories will be real again, so that my people’s stories will become our own.

“Unlearning Erasure” by Julia Rios

When I was much older, I had a conversation with my sister in which we both discovered that we had found the show I Love Lucy comforting as children. It was the only thing on TV that showed a family with a white mom and a Latino dad who shouted a lot and also liked to sing. The conversation made me realize how much seeing ourselves represented in fiction had meant to us. How much erasing ourselves from the default narrative was damaging. I thought again about all the books and movies my father had introduced me to, and I wondered how that sense of self-erasure had damaged him.




Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 1/26/2016

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


About that Clarion Tweet
Ann Leckie, Blog Post (1/19/2016)

Now, Gaiman has no obligation to worry about the emotional states of every new or struggling writer. He can quite easily ignore a day’s cloudburst on twitter. But a lot of struggling or aspiring writers? Can’t ignore him as easily. And by speaking, they send a message to other, silent folks on the sidelines–don’t let this stop you, do your best to put this tweet in your Insignificant bin, keep writing.

“Do We Count As Real Writers, Too? (AKA That Thing About Clarion. That. Thing.)” by JY Yang

The point of this post– if it were to have a point, and not merely be a rambling collection of thoughts– is not that workshops are necessary to become a serious writer. The point is that for people who don’t have easy access to a support system, it feels like it’s necessary in order to break into the global SFF scene. And it shouldn’t be.

“How Can SFF De-Expensify Itself? Lotteries! Lotteries! Lots and Lots of Lotteries!” by Jo Walton

And science fiction and fantasy is incredibly expensive.

Because it’s expensive, it’s elitist.

It directly selects against those on low incomes. It directly selects against those living in countries with comparatively weak currencies. It indirectly selects against those groups who tend to have low incomes, or who live in such countries.


Personal Essays from POCs Destroy SFF Kickstarter
“Pushing Back Against The Wall” by Aliette De Bodard

I get up in the morning, and the same things keep happening with clockwork regularity. I see people who don’t understand how hurtful it is for minorities that writers take viscerally painful subjects and mine them for shiny elements that can be put into a story—how gut-wrenching it is when someone takes your wars and your oppression and makes them into bowdlerised theme parks that readers can dip into for a moment’s entertainment—when this watering-down becomes a lauded, awards-garlanded reference, and everything else is inauthentic, or unnecessarily grim, or too political by comparison to it.

“I’m a Big Black Man Who Writes Science Fiction” by Malon Edwards

I don’t remember the first book I grabbed. Probably Dune. The Bene Gesserit fascinated me. I—now a little eight-year-old black boy on the South Side of Chicago—wanted to be one of them. When my sister came home from college, I told her. We talked science fiction for days. Even today, we still do.

“Spoiler Alert: The Future? Yeah, I’m in It” by Yash Kesanakurthy

Science fiction is often futuristic but, to me, it’s kind of the opposite. To me, it’s about addressing the past. It is about looking at the present and thinking, “How did it come to this?” It is about looking at the page and thinking, “Where will it go from here?”

“I Have a Few Demands” by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

No. Miniscule increments aren’t enough. I demand more diversity in the genre I love most. I demand that more POC who write science fiction are given the opportunity to expose the wider world to their genius. I demand that science fiction incorporate more substantive characters of color. I demand these things because I don’t want my children and future grandchildren to ever feel like mere spectators to the genre I have taught them to love.

“Thirsty for New” by Malka Older

Give me characters that represent me, when you can, but also give me characters that are completely, mind-openingly other. Other does not mean just those that are not me, but also those that are not the fingernail-thin sliver of humanity depicted in the vast majority of mass culture.

“My Life as an Alien-American” by Arthur Chu

“Asians are aliens and aliens are Asians,” he said, and it was like I felt a light switch flipping on inside my brain, whole seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces from my life snapping neatly into one big picture.




Disrupting Publishing: 1/20/2015

“Race, Publishing, and H.P. Lovecraft: A Conversation with Daniel Jose Older and Victor LaValle” at Tor.com

Older took the idea in a fascinating direction: “I believe in the revolutionary power of happy endings. Especially when you’re dealing with marginalized people… we need to see that there’s hope.”

“Unearthing the Sea Witch” by Nicole Pasulka and Brian Ferree for Hazlitt

In the film, Ursula is a fat villain who preys on a skinny heroine. Her largeness is presented as evidence of her evil nature. But in this case, that evil nature is also liberating. The character is an inversion. Someone who made something we thought was impossible—a mermaid walking on land, for example—possible. In treading the fine line between homage and mockery (not to mention between male and female), a drag queen does this too.

“Buzzword” by Alyssa Wong for Lightspeed‘s POC’s Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter*

The more you read, the more you realize the truth. These posts were never about you as a writer, or even as a person. They’re about what you represent. They’re about white supremacy and yellow peril, a majority’s fear of growing irrelevant and being displaced. It’s about hating you for taking up space they believe they deserve.

Tess Sharpe on Quiltbag YA

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>There is a lot of coded language you are subjected to, as a QUILTBAG writer, in publishing. You're told you're a &quot;hard sell&quot;</p>&mdash; Tess Sharpe (@sharpegirl) <a href=”https://twitter.com/sharpegirl/status/676455891462283264″>December 14, 2015</a></blockquote>



2015: Year in Review (Thoughts & Such)

All things considered, I had a pretty good year writing-wise. Here are some highlights:

Ariah got published.
This was my book, you know? I’d worked on it forever, subbed it forever, and then it was out there.

I learned so much about book marketing on the fly with Ariah. I sent so many review requests. I did at least twenty guest spots on far-flung blogs (anywhere that would have me). I ran a ton of giveaways. Ultimately, I think, it’s mostly about getting a book in the hands of the right reviewer at the right time.

Really, for indie books (and I think even for traditionally published books) the strongest marketing tool is word of mouth. Patience has been my biggest obstacle, honestly, but I’m slowly gaining a readership.

I broke out of my shell as a writer and made some lovely writer friends.
I started using Twitter in earnest this year, and it was a great decision for me. Twitter, plus blogging, means a ton of connection to other writers. And I went to my very first con this year–Sirens was awesome! I got to meet some writer friends in the flesh, which was so cool!

I tend to write in isolation, but I still need a community. I love to talk about process and books and technique and what I’m writing and why I’m writing it. My partners quickly get fatigued on my subjects, so twitter is an excellent outlet for this.

I got vocal about diversity in publishing.
It was inevitable. I’ve always been passionate about social justice, so the intersection between writing and social justice was bound to pop up at some point. I think about this stuff a lot, in both my own writing and in others, and doing the disrupting publishing roundups every week or so has been eye-opening and informative.

This year I’ve also been explicitly reading and reviewing books with an eye towards diversity (you can see notes on diversity in the book reviews here and a call for diverse books in my review policy here). This, too, has been eye-opening and informative. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year thinking about what I can do, as a person with multiple privileges and marginalizations, to make publishing more diverse from within. What is it ethical for me to be writing about? When should I step back and simply promote voices? When am I taking up space inadvertently? Heavy, important questions.

Disrupting Publishing: 12/15/2015

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.

“Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Nine: Interview with Constance Burris” 

Right now, I feel like the message for diverse books is being misinterpreted. Some of the people who hear the call for diverse books are feeling like they should be the ones writing diverse books. But some of these people should just be uplifting and promoting the works of diverse authors who write diverse books.

Some folks are try their best to write to the trends but sometimes we need to take a step back. For example, I am intrigued by reading stories where the lead is gay. But that doesn’t mean I should write a story with a gay main character. It also doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I just need to check my motives.


“Why I Chose To Write Publicly About Anxiety” by Kameron Hurley

All this said, and as much as I want to encourage others to take care of themselves, it also struck me how much of a privilege mental health is. The reality is that even with insurance, the costs of monthly meds on top of the actual drugs I need to stay alive is not very cheap. If I’d done this ten years ago, it would have been seriously financially difficult. Not to mention getting the time off to go to appointments, and actually getting in to see a doctor (I had to wait three months! Fuck). I’ve harped on our broken healthcare industry before, but if we want to have a sane and compassionate society, we must have equal access to care for people no matter their financial situation, and that’s still not possible in this country. It’s no wonder so many with anxiety just pick up cheap liquor instead.


“A Pledge for SF/F Conventions Accessibility” by Lynne, Michael, and Caitlin at Uncanny Magazine

Accessibility is not PC Bullshit. It is the law in the United States, and it has been for 25 years.

We can and should do better.

All members of a convention should be treated with dignity.


“The Writing Class” by Jaswinder Bolina for The Poetry Foundation

Graduate school endorses the idea that we are rare and recruited for our talents, but the more accurate statement might be that we are rare only because we have access to graduate school.