Cool title huh?
LOL, I thought so.
So here’s the scoop, folks. If you’re here then you’ve discovered my new website. YAY! Isn’t it pretty? *twirls*
I thought about doing a formal announcement to let everyone know that after being lax for two years, I finally hired someone to build me a profesh website. I feel like an adult now. A legitimate writer, if you will! I’m blogging. I am a blogger. A long winded blogger but whatevz. Woooo!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been on a social media hiatus since Feb 2. It had to happen. The election, the purging of the friends list, the nonsense of waking up daily to read awful headlines was all too much. My psychological well-being was taking uppercuts like Ronda Rousey in a UFC match. Not a pretty sight.
So I’ve tuned out. I won’t be returning to social media until March 1, but even then, my approach to social media will be different.
When I first started this author gig, I was super friendly. I’d friend any- and everyone. If I did a takeover, I’d encourage people to friend me. If I had a cover reveal or a blog tour, I’d encourage people to friend me. If folks followed me on Twitter, I automatically followed them back. BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW ALL THE PEOPLE. Damn social butterfly tendencies. I also wanted to be liked. Who doesn’t? When you’re a new author trying to establish a reader base, it’s best to cast your net wide. I don’t inundate people with promo advertisements (okay, I do when I have a new release, but we all do it). I don’t shove my books down people’s throats. I prefer they get to know me. If they get to know me then maybe they’ll be interested in what I write. If someone likes what you’ve written, you can only hope that they share their like (or dislike, because bad publicity is still publicity) of your work. And so on and so on. Word of mouth is the best marketing for an author.
The downside of likability is when you accept everyone into your world, you also get insight into the not-so-nice aspects of their personalities. Things were better when I lived in my bubble of EVERYONE IS WONDERFUL AND INCLUSIVE AND BUBBLEGUM SKITTLES GOODNESS. But sadly, those days are over. I’ve seen some nasty things shared in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I’ve seen people defend reprehensible things. And I decided enough is enough.
Moral character matters to me. I don’t write for a living (not yet anyway), so I get that not everyone can voice their dissent regarding what’s happening in our world. Authors have this fear that they’ll offend readers. You know what’s offensive to me? Wanting to deny someone’s basic civil rights.
- Health care is not a privilege; it is a right. Pre-existing conditions be damned. Class be damned. We are all entitled to adequate and equitable health care.
- The ability to marry the person you love should not be a privilege afforded to certain people, but a right. Love is love. You don’t agree with how someone chooses to live their life? Good! Because you don’t have to agree. That’s why we all get to exist in this world as individuals. Crazy concept, right?
- The freedom to practice the religion of the god(s) you follow should not be a privilege, but a right. You don’t have to agree with the god(s) someone chooses to worship, but you do have to respect their choice. You cannot judge the actions of a few and apply them to the many. If that were the case … Christianity, I’m looking at you, you deserve a time out! For centuries, religion has been used as a tool to justify heinous acts.
- The right to speak up and protest social injustices should not be afforded only when you agree with an issue. Our Constitution allows for peaceful assembly.
Speaking to my last point, while people may not enjoy KKK rallies happening in their cities, those involved in the KKK have the right to hold a march. If they have the proper permits, then march on.
If Black Lives Matter protesters hold rallies that highlight police brutality, that is their right, so march on.
Freedom of speech is a cool thing. People have the right to say whatever it is they want, but I also have the right to remove negativity from my life. But please, dear reader, understand that if an author you enjoy is outspoken and goes against the grain by saying something you find highly offensive, then you absolutely have the right to remove them from your life. You control the content you wish to view. You control who you want to read. You control who you allow into your life.
Social media does not change this.
A person should never feel obligated to remain where they don’t feel welcome or wanted. With that said, my circle has become a little smaller, and my readership has likely lessened. I’m holding things closer to the vest. And you know what? I think I’m going to be all right.
Authors get a bad rap when they speak out on social media. Let me rephrase that, authors get a bad rap when they talk about inclusiveness on social media. Too much “race talk” can be damaging to your brand. Too much “feminism” can be viewed as divisive. Somehow it’s now seen as a bad thing to defend civil liberties and promote equality. You’re automatically perceived as being “too liberal.” Wanting everyone to have a seat at the table is being too liberal? Being a decent human being is viewed as too liberal?
So you see why I’ve decided to tune out? I feel like I’m living in the upside down (Shout-out to Stranger Things).
To me, inclusiveness builds a better brand. You know why? Because it shows that every reader has the potential to be YOUR reader. You’re not targeting only a particular demographic. You’re casting a wide net that shows you understand our society is changing and you want to welcome everyone into the fold.
I need to keep reminding myself that it’s a good thing, because if you turn on the news nowadays, it becomes difficult to decipher what it takes to be considered “likable.” Is it being able to relate to a wide range of people? Or is it being exclusionary and targeting only a specific sect of the population to sell yourself?
Things that make you go hmm.
Don’t worry, while I’m tuning out I’m wrapping up manuscripts because I HAZ NEW RELEASES COMING SOON. I’ll be making appearances at conferences within the next few months, so I must be prepared to share new material. And swag. Oh, swag cometh.
By the time you read this post we will be a few weeks into 2017. Ah, the beauty of backlogging blog posts!
Goal 1: Read 50 Books
Outcome: Goal Obliterated
I wanted to recap my year by exclaiming my biggest accomplishment. I read 182 books in 2016!!!!!!!!! Yes. 182. Like a motherfucking boss! I’d never done the Goodreads Challenge before, so I was nervous about signing up. How could I possibly find the time to read? I signed up for 50 and figured if I read a bunch of books in January and February then it wouldn’t be too difficult to knock out the rest during the year. Well, LOL, I was right about that. I exceeded my goal and then some.
One thing I hated while publishing my first book was my inability to read. I was so busy promoting, networking, and writing I had no time for reading. 2014 was an exhausting year, and 2015 was just as crazy as I published three short stories. Short stories are not easy to write. It may seem like it, but trust me, they’re not. When you have insight into the behind-the-scenes aspects of self-publishing you quickly find out the “mundane” things you perceived as easy before becoming an author, actually involve a shit-ton of work.
I also made a discovery. When I cannot read, I am one cranky chick. I get stabby. It’s not pretty.
How did I go about solving my reading issue? Giving myself two months to pack in as many books as possible. That was one solution, but I also discovered that when I write, I need to read. It helps my creative process, and it’s relaxing. So I’d read during my commute to work, I’d read on the way home, and I’d read before bed. Squeezing in reading time throughout my day helped me achieve a good balance and it also helped me kick my Goodreads Challenge’s ass. I think 50 is a safe enough number and I’ll try to do it again in 2017. Will I surpass 182? I have a lot of research to do so it’s possible.
Goal 2: Publish an M/M romance
I started penning Complexity in August of 2015 during a business trip to Utah. I wrote half of the story on my flights. I took a break to read a highly anticipated release I was jonesin’ for, and boy was that a mistake for me. The book I read was by an author I adore, but it absolutely messed with my writing mojo. I was afraid people would make comparisons (aren’t most authors afraid of this?) “That Harper is totally biting X author’s style.” Yeah … no. DO NOT WANT.
After whining to my editor and crying drunkenly over phone calls and texts with author friends and my cover artist, I scrapped everything I had written and left the story alone. I was super depressed about it. It was the first time I let an outside force influence my writing. I took a break from the story to focus on my characters. I kept reading more books in the M/M genre hoping that it would help recapture my voice. Taking a step back from the manuscript was smart. It took some time, but I got my mojo back.
I think also worrying about how readers would perceive my story added to my anxiety. I was fully aware I’d lose some readership because a lot of M/F readers aren’t into crossing over into M/M romance and vice versa. There are some individuals who will read a story regardless of the protagonist’s sexuality, but I went into Complexity with eyes wide open. I couldn’t let others dictate what’s acceptable to write. When I have a vision, I’m going to see it through. In the process, I gained new readers. Yep! I gained readers who have since asked me if I intend to write more in the genre. That meant so much to me. So, so, so much. Manny wasn’t a well liked character, but I knew that’d be the case going in. People either loved him or hated him. A lot of that had to do with narrative. The story was written with Manny’s voice in mind, and that within itself was a potential turn off. LOL I don’t like to follow rules. One thing I can’t ever see myself doing is caving into pressure of how I should write characters because of the romance formula. I go where my muse takes me and hope people are on board to take the journey with me.
In conclusion, I gained new readers. I gained new author friends who were awesome during my research process. My confidence got a boost because a really cool thing happened from me publishing Complexity. I’ll talk more about that later. Maybe. Okay, I’m lying, I won’t talk about it at all. The suspense will just have to slowly kill you. Or not. Don’t die. Really, don’t, but I promise in the long run it will be worth the wait. Pinky swear.
Goal 3: Find My People
Outcome: A work in progress but it’s been very positive thus far
I entered this journey with a boatload of authors friends I knew prior to self-pubbing. I was either a fan of their work or had met them through my stint as an admin/PA for two indie authors. So I thought, what better way to gain insight into the book world than to tell people your plans and hope for the best. Many were eager to share their knowledge, read ARCs of my work, and spread the word about lil ole me via their social media channels. I can tell you that two years into this journey I don’t correspond with half of the authors I previously read and/or shot the shit with. This business changes people.
Just when you think you’ve found your tribe, you’re sorely mistaken. I had some rude awakenings in 2016. I understand why some people become standoffish in this business. People will use you if you let them. People will be petty if you let them. People will be hurtful if you let them. I won’t let them. The election also contributed to the thinning of the herd. When author buds/bloggers you held in high regard support an oppressive regime, there is no nice way to say “So um, yeah, you don’t think people of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA folks, and women should have basic human rights? Perhaps we shouldn’t be friends.” You just unfriend/unfollow, and in some cases, block and move on. There’s no differing of opinions or debating the issue. You move on. Full stop.
From the ashes of dead friendships, I found pieces of a tribe. I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in March and met some of the nicest authors ever. It’s crazy when you fangirl over people whose books you have on your Kindle, and you finally get to meet them in person. I legit squealed! Some of those authors have been doing this publishing thing for some years. They were/are kind enough to share their knowledge. We’re still friends online, and I can easily send a message and ask for advice when I’m freaking out. They take the time out of their hectic writing schedules to respond. They support me. Both as a new indie author and as a woman of color author. I can’t wait to attend the 2017 conference in March and give all the hugs for being genuine champions for diverse voices. In 2016 I also joined the NYC Chapter of RWA, and I’m slowly adding more people to my tribe. Joining RWA has been amazing for me as a writer which brings me to my next goal/accomplishment.
Goal 4: Complete NaNoWriMo (someday)
Outcome: Crushed it
I had no intention of signing up for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t think I was ready. I didn’t think I had the mental capacity, but my RWA chapter helped me with that. Super duper shout-out to Alexis Daria and Kate McMurray. I planned to release two short stories at the end of the 2016, but LOL, that plan was quickly scrapped once I decided to do NaNoWriMo after our chapter meeting. NaNo was the most amazing experience ever. Well it was, until November 9th. The day after the election sucked out every single drop of my writing mojo. I could barely write 80 words a day when prior to the election I was completing between 2000-2300 words daily. I wasn’t about to give up, but writing was a struggle. How could I create a happily ever after for my characters when my future was uncertain? Good thing I don’t like losing. I was determined to cross the finish line, and I did it! The thing about NaNoWriMo is you have to write a story you want to write not a story you have to write. It makes the process go by so much faster when you’re giddy over your project and there’s no pressure to make sure you hit deadlines outside of the 30 days. I hit a little over 50,000 words, but my manuscript isn’t finished. I’ll finish the second half during CampNaNo in April. This project is near and dear to me, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
That’s about it for my 2016. The year was filled with unexpected mishaps, but I managed to recover. I can only hope that 2017 brings many more wonderful things. My plans are yuge. Yuge, I say. It’s going to be my year.
Things you should know before you begin reading this post:
It’s long as fuck.A couple of necessary terms will come up in the discussion: Hotep and misogynoir.What is a Hotep? Men who claim to be in touch with mother Africa and all things black but really represent hate in the form of misogynistic and homophobic views. In many many many cases black women are often the targets of this “woke” set of men’s ire.What is Misogynoir? Racialized sexism black women face. It is a term coined by queer black feminist Dr. Moya Bailey Ph.D., in which race and gender play into bias.This post is a response to hate and idiocy. Some foolishness was spread about me using my promotional materials and here’s what I have to say about it.A few months ago I checked my “Other” folder on Facebook and found some ridiculous ranting message calling me ‘disgusting’ and telling me I should be ashamed. The sender said I was a sellout, and a whole heap of other shit I didn’t care to read. I promptly deleted the nonsense, blocked the fool, and went on about my business.
Back in December, an article was brought to my attention by an author friend. After reading it, I laughed while simultaneously rolling my eyes at the ignorance on my screen. Upon some discussion with my editor, it was decided that it was okay for me to respond. You see, my first inclination was to bring out a can of virtual whoop ass, but I must remain professional. curtsey
Had the blogger approached me in a cordial manner and asked why I choose to pen Interracial Erotica/Erotic Romance, I would have been more than happy to field his questioning, but from his posting (and the vitriolic Facebook message), it’s clear that there is an agenda. An agenda that does not include intelligent, logical, and thought provoking dialogue. Since I was attacked instead of invited to have a conversation, and I’m a writer who’s more than willing to ride the wave of opportunity when it presents itself, I’ll use my own platform to clear up misconceptions and respond adequately to ‘he who shall not be named.’
He opened the floor for discussion. Shall we dance?
If you’re a voracious reader who happens to peruse categories on Amazon before your One-Click finger is activated, chances are you have noticed Interracial stories are divided into two different categories.
“Interracial Erotica” often houses the fetishy stuff. You know, stories with no real plot and involve BBC (that’s big black cock for the uninitiated) and cuckold fantasies, in addition to slave master/mistress plantation fantasies. Either the mandingo is front and center or the slave girl, or some equally appalling pairing. Those are a big ole nuh uh for me. The authors who write these tales have every right to pen what their heart desires, but my consumer logic tends to bypass these types of stories. I’m as kinky as they come, but these tales are not what tickles my reader or writer love button.
And trust me, I read some out there stuff if you follow me on Goodreads.
Then you have “Interracial Romance.” These are stories that involve people of color finding love. This category is not limited to a person of color finding love only with someone white, but that particular pairing seems to heavily saturate interracial romance. “Interracial Romance” often is attached to the “Multicultural Romance” tag. Authors who write in the genre mix and match keywords in order to reach their target audience, and multiracial and interracial usually accompany each other when it comes to keywords. Not always, but this is true a good portion of the time.
My stories fit in the middle. I call myself an Erotica/Erotic Romance author. I usually categorize my stories as “Interracial Erotica” because they cover sex that’s not exactly vanilla. My protagonists have varying sexual interests, as well as varying sexualities. “Erotica” is the category that tends to encompass everything under the sexual umbrella; however, I also believe my work fits into “Interracial Romance” as my heroes and heroines always get their happily ever after/happy for now endings. Oh, and did I mention I write stories with plots? No porn on the page here. Well, I lie. They’re classy-ish pornos (with plots).
“Urban Fiction” tends to encompass stories that usually feature black characters who deal with hardships in their lives. Could be drugs, could be prison, could be gang violence, could be baby mama/baby daddy drama, backstabbing girlfriends/boyfriends, family drama, and the ins and outs regarding the hustle of urban living. Stories of survival and getting by. They may feature characters who are self-professed thugs. Think gritty turned up to 100. There’s a huge market for ”Urban Fiction.” It sells well, and the demand is there. I don’t read the genre, but I don’t knock people who read it or write it. There’s an audience for everything. Just as there are some people who choose not to read interracial stories because they prefer their protagonists to be of the same race.
There’s your quick introduction to Amazon categories in all its confusing and boring glory.
I was a reader of Interracial Romance for two years prior to publishing. I wrote a short story on a whim as part of a writing challenge, but the characters kept talking to me long after I was done. The story that played out in my head was something I hadn’t seen in the interracial/multicultural genre; a BDSM relationship involving an interracial couple where the relationship wasn’t heavily focused on sex and fetishization, but a mutual respect for each other instead and the ins and outs of maintaining a relationship that includes D/s. I could go on a whole other tangent about misconceptions involving black people and BDSM, but that’s another post for another day.
It’s clear the blogger never read The Sweetest Taboo, if he had the majority of his ranting would be null and void. I don’t even know where to begin to dissect his post. It hurts my head just scanning the paragraphs upon paragraphs of garbage, but the reason I wanted to write this post was to talk about intraracial hate which coincides with misogynoir. There is a sect of black men who hate black women. Yes, I said it. It’s there it’s out in the open. This exceeds misogyny. They have grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, daughters, goddaughters, stepdaughters, nieces in their lives who are black, but that doesn’t stop the disdain. They hate these women because they’re black. Self-hate is some serious shit. These men blame their failures in life on black women. Not individual black women who may have had a hand in their demise, but black women as a whole. We are responsible for each and every fuck up in our community. Did you get that? Each. And. Every. One. Didn’t get the job you wanted because someone else was more qualified? It’s the black woman’s fault. Motherfucking Hoteps, man.
What makes this so incredibly sad is if a black woman is doing well for herself, instead of being a champion for her, Hoteps will do everything under the sun to curse her name. According to them, a woman should know her place. A black woman should undoubtedly know her place. Misogynoir.
God forbid she chooses to date outside her race and happens to find love. Oh, the comments on Twitter when Serena Williams’ engagement news made the rounds. Hotep heads exploded. A successful black woman finds love with an equally successful non-black man? UNACCEPTABLE. SHE’S SELLOUT FOR NOT WAITING ON A BLACK MAN. Nevermind the black men Serena dated in the past and had relationships with but didn’t work out. No matter. It was her duty to make it work. She was supposed to accept what was being offered regardless.
Taking Serena out of the equation, say your everyday black woman’s dating prospects have been men who are non-black. These are the only men who approach her, these are the only men who tend to ask to take her out, these are the only men who are respectful. Hoteps would prefer she remains single until the end of her days ONLY because a black man hasn’t approached her. No other man matters. Are you getting this?
Die single while waiting on the non-existent perfect black man. However, if the shoe were on the other foot and the only prospects who approached said man were women who were non-black, Hoteps jump on the opportunity like a buzzard on a carcass in the desert. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ tends to be their philosophy. The blogger falls into this category. His sense of history is distorted. Black women can only be “sidepieces” or “sex slaves.” We’re all bed wenches! But a black man who dates a non-black woman? He’s a king. He’s smart. He’s someone who upgraded.
See the abundance of issues here?
Below is a quote taken from the blog post that appears a few paragraphs underneath my promo for The Sweetest Taboo:
“The books that you see above are a reflection of the modern-day black woman and her disjointed mindset. As can clearly be seen, the black woman’s first choice is a white male, however failing this she will settle for a thug type Negro. Good black men are completely excluded from being selectable, that is until Tyrone leaves her with a number of children en tow or she passes her expiry because of her irresponsible choices of the past deciding to spend her prime years chasing after and having sex with no good men.”
I was going to be much more classy about my response to all the verbal diarrhea in the post, but all I can muster is “Shut the fuck up.”
Guess me being professional went out the window.
And really who still used the term “Negro” in 2016? The Census has been updated. We’re no longer called “colored” or “Negro,” I’m assuming the memo missed this guy. We use “black” now, dude, but if that’s too risqué, “African American.”
I can’t speak for the authors mentioned alongside me. I can only speak for myself and the genre I write and why I choose to write what I do.
Simple answer: Because I want to. If you have a problem with it, oh well. The earth will continue to revolve, I will continue to breathe, the sky will remain blue. Life will go on. My heart will go on. Shout-out to Celine Dion
All women, including black women, deserve love and if love comes in the form of a non-black man, a woman, or a non-binary person, that’s that individual black woman’s decision. Funny how that works, people doing what works best for them. Super crazy concept!
I’ve been asked why I write interracial stories with black heroines, and Hoteps is only one of the reasons why. Black women are considered undesirable even by some of our men. We’re too bossy, too dark, too light, too attitudinal, too demanding, too high maintenance, too (insert other BS stereotype here).
We’re never passionate, we’re never intelligent, we’re never hardworking, we’re never admirable, we’re never beautiful.
Finding love with someone who doesn’t fit the mold of the perfect black man means we’re traitors, we’re brainwashed, we’re all hypnotized by white dick or the ThugLife. RIP 2Pac
Does that not sound like the most absurd gobbledygook?
Hoteps step off your soapboxes. #aintnobodygottimeforthat
Methinks dude doth protest too much. Don’t push your inferiority complex onto us. Didn’t you know, black girls and women are magic?