The New Content for Books

The new term is sensitivity, and we must content edit and write for sensitivity awareness.

HUH?

Yes. It’s the new thing, sort of like being politically correct but on steroids.  So what does this mean for the reader and the author.  It means stereotypes must be avoided all the time. If we create a character who is different from the hero and heroine in name or color and has any negative or apparently positive qualities, we’ve stereotyped.  What exactly does that mean? I’m not totally certain, but in theory I can’t create a homosexual male who loves to flame. (Is flame a universal term?) Because I’m stereotyping.

I was discussing this sensitivity issue with my friend who has taught college English in a predominately Black college.  She said if the character is well developed, the reader will accept almost anyone. But she did warn about doing certain things.  Not all cops are bad, not all Black boys play basketball, not all Asians eat rice, and list goes on.

Yes, but…

No buts. Can’t profile based on color, religion, clothing, etc.  And that discussion morphed into how we are dressed/look determines the way we are treated.  And that deteriorated into her rant about the way her aunt was treated at a local hospital.  Why? Because they figured this was just another dumb Black family. Wrong! There are more PhDs in that family than all my friends put together. There are medical doctors in that family, yet they were treated as though they didn’t have a brain cell.  So someone assumed, based on the color of their skin, that this was a poor, uneducated family.  (That’s not just being prejudice – it’s also stereotyping.) I guess by now you know my friend is Black.  I don’t think of her as being Black. She’s my friend. If you asked me to physically describe her, I’d probably say something along the lines that her skin is the color of black coffee. Her hair has those little braid-like things that are about five inches long and frame her face.

Her mom’s name is Mommy. And her dad is Dad, although most of the world refers to him as Doctor. I know her sister and her brother, her nephew, her niece, her daughter and her granddaughter.  I actually do know her dad’s first name but I have no idea what Mommy’s first name is.  But I do know that the family is loving, caring, gracious, and intelligent, and when I’m with them, I’m family. No one sees color. We see personalities. We see the people we are. We see love.

I know I often create characters who are not WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants).  Maybe I need to be very careful about my characters. I hope I never offend a reader. Maybe it does start in our writing. Maybe we need to be careful how we portray our characters.   Maybe we need to be more open and honest in our writing and make certain that we’ve created believable characters.  I don’t care what adult people do behind closed doors or who they worship. How they treat me means more to me than anything else. I’ve traveled the world and met all sorts of people. I’m no longer that little girl who was reprimanded by a stranger because I drank from the wrong water fountain. “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?” Maybe Shakespeare  was a few hundred years ahead of his time.

I asked my friend who reads all my books, if she had any issues with  my characters, and she said  no. But maybe after this sensitivity episode, I’ll be even more aware and careful with my characters. I want people to accept all people and to accept the characters that I create. I happen to believe that the world is a very colorful place and the differences between people make things more interesting. If we all ate the same foods, or acted the same way, life would be boring.  We need to celebrate the differences and learn to accept.  There really is no stereotype of person. We are all different.

Maybe I’m not comfortable with this new sensitivity content thing. If I want to create a despicable character, I will.  If I want to create a loving, wonderful character, I will. If I make them a certain color or a certain nationality or whatever, they just are.

If you are an author, do you write diverse characters into your books? If you are a reader do you like reading about characters who are different?

Thanksgiving – A Time for Giving

What are you thankful for?

I count my blessings every day. There have been too many to count or list. Whether large or small, they’re all important.

Thanksgiving is a special day to listen to my heart and be thankful for what God has given me. I’m thankful for everything, but most of all, for His love.

My family means the world to me. We’re a large family and sometimes there may be squabbles, misunderstandings and rifts. But in the long-run, those issues are worked out.

We’re family after all.

What family doesn’t have their problems? I don’t know of any that hasn’t had difficulties at one time or another. My family is no different.

When there are struggles to deal with and I have no answer, that’s when I have to let go of what I can’t control, because we can’t control other people. We can only be true to ourselves, forgive and forget.

Then we can move forward.

It’s a special time to remember loved ones who are no longer with us, and be thankful we were blessed to have them for the time we did. Those memories will last a lifetime.

Here are a few things I’m also thankful for.

Tough upbringing, because it made me strong
Hugs when my heart was weary
Angels to watch over me
Nonstop faith
Kindhearted, because kindness builds up others
Freedom of worship
Unbelievable blessings
Loving family

I wish you and your family the best. That you have wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your loved ones on this  special day. 

My Geometry Lesson

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

I remember this lesson, but I don’t always follow it when I should. I don’t mind taking the scenic route when there’s time, but those leisurely “Sunday drives” down back streets and past horse farms aren’t for deadlines and time crunches. They’re supposed to be used when there is no hurry. Unfortunately, we may use these pretty distractions when we need to complete a project and then have difficulty getting back on the main road.  (Ex. What starts as video research for a book turns into a night of binging on sitcoms.)

We fall behind and end up scrambling to try to make up for lost time. It doesn’t always work. Think about the speedsters who pass you to weave in and out of cars only to end up stopped in traffic beside you. You can’t get back 15 minutes by shaving 25 seconds off your drive down the street. The simplest way to prevent the possibility of that problem would be to leave ahead of the time you estimate is necessary to get to your location. However, in order to do that, you must plan ahead (even if you’re a “pantser”).

That brings me back to my geometry lesson. As much as I loved math, I struggled to last through that course. It felt like every other class was straightforward, but geometry had me going through mazes just to move forward five feet. It was like a pottery session on my brain every week. I didn’t know what shape it would be when we finished. But…for all the struggle I went through, my logic and problem-solving skills increased.

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” It sounds simple enough, right? Point A ___________ Point B. It’s direct.

student and ruler

One of the things I learned from all my rules, theorems, and proofs was how plan my trip from Point A to Point B. I know where I’m starting, and I know where I want to go. The only thing I need to do is figure out the most direct route, which should (depending on other variables like traffic) get me to my destination in the quickest time.

We can apply this lesson to other areas of life. I remember challenging my kids once with this idea. I said, “I have hidden a white barrette somewhere in this room. You may ask me any five questions you want, and I will answer truthfully. You job is to find the barrette.”

One child asked a couple of questions and looked around the room. The other child stayed in one general spot and waited. After a moment, I heard the golden question, “Where’d you put the barrette?” Bingo! I held out my hand to show her that I had been holding it the entire time.

We can make our lives unnecessarily complicated by doing all the work, trying to examine 5,000 possibilities, or even avoiding the obvious because it seems too simple. But simple may be the only thing required…and less stressful. (Independent doesn’t mean you have to do any and everything by yourself.) So, the next time you’re facing a project and aren’t sure where to start, start with the simplest thing and what you know.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

NaNo November, and Writing

tough writingWriting is hard. At least it’s hard for me. I love the flow of it, once I get there. I love going where the characters lead – especially when I don’t know that the path I’ve set them on is the right one.

Invariably (so far) I have to rewrite my first few chapters. Rarely am I right about what makes an amorphous story idea great at the beginning of the first draft.

deadlinesDeadlines help. They help me get out of my head and just write. That’s when the magic happens. Words get written. Stories evolve.

I am a better writer when I write every day – even if what I’ve written is only one page. I don’t know why that’s true – maybe because the story stays alive inside me when i write each day.

However you write, whatever your process, it’s the writing and the resulting story that matter.

NaNo write MoI’m thankful for NaNo. Not because I follow the rules, I don’t, but because it forces me to just sit and write.

Happy writing. Happy Thanksgiving

May your November be filled with joy, productivity, and writing (or reading or both).

Leigh

A Journey of Reading

Keeping with the unintentional theme of experiences for this month’s blog, I thought I would share my memory of the first time I was able to read and how it has shaped me.

I was approaching the end of first grade and there was a strong chance I was going to fail. No matter how hard my mother and teacher tried to explain it, I couldn’t even read a simple two-word sentence. I wish I could express to you how difficult it was for me, but since I was six, I don’t really remember.

What I do remember is that just when we were about to give up, I got a phone call from my father, whom I hadn’t seen often since my parents divorced when I was two. He had just moved to VA, and I was back in CA where I had been born. That long distance call from one side of the United States to the other was what I needed. I distinctly remember sitting on the toilet while I read to him The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein without making a single mistake. It was one of the proudest moments of my childhood.

My mother was, of course, a bit bruised that my father got me to do something with one phone call that she couldn’t with months of hard work and coaching. I’m still not sure how my father calling me helped either since the conversation did not include him encouraging me. I had actually asked if I could read him a story, and he said he would love it. I recently mentioned the memory to my father, and he informed me that he hadn’t realized how big of an accomplishment it had been at the time. But with every book I pick up, I’m reminded of that moment. Maybe all that was holding me back was stubbornness, at least that’s what my mother thinks.

Three years later, my mother remarried and we moved to AL. I was in fourth grade, and my reading teacher was named Ms. Swann. Having read The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B White, I loved the name. Her class was my favorite too, and she encouraged me to read anything I wanted. I’m not sure how many can say this, but Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (apparently a 7th grade level book) got me kicked out of her class and sent to an Advanced Reading one. There, another teacher informed me that ‘the author of a story I can’t even remember made the curtains blue to express the character’s depression.’ I, for one, have never colored a scene to suit my character’s emotions. Maybe their personality, but that isn’t the same.

Despite my lack of interest in breaking down stories to find a hidden meaning where there isn’t one, I kept reading “advanced” books and eventually stumbled across The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. My mother had found them in a stack of used paperbacks the library was selling and bought them for a cheap price since the covers were coming off.

These books shaped my love for fantasy and made me want to write my own stories. I was captivated by the way her heroes weren’t completely good and how they were constantly mistaken for being the enemy. The female was not a damsel in need of saving from a strong man either. She was a powerful adversary who would not allow anyone to harm those she cared about.

 My current taste in books can be generously described as eclectic and I often re-read The Black Jewels Trilogy, which has expanded beyond the original three books. I read almost anything and have difficulty not buying a book when I walk into a bookstore. The smell of paper and coffee just might be my weakness.

It never fails to amaze me how a good book can make the reader feel as if they are with the characters. My ultimate goal as a writer is to touch upon this phenomenon. I don’t expect to become famous or make millions, but if my books can touch a person’s life and transport them, even for a moment, I will be happy.

Last year, my seven year old son discovered a passion for reading, and I’m proud to say I am raising a bookworm who would rather buy a book than something else. For his birthday, he received some spending money to buy anything he wanted, so I took him to Walmart. He quickly found a Pokemon towel and said he would get it since he had enough. Before we left, we went to the book isle where he found a book he had been wanting. After some adding, he realized he could only buy one, and I watched him debate over the choice between the towel and the book. It must have been difficult for him, but his response warmed my heart.

“I’m going to get the book since I have lots of towels, but I don’t have this book.”

Every time I catch my son with his nose in the latest book, I’m reminded of The Giving Tree and how it started my own path in reading. Isn’t it amazing how a story can shape you?

Christmas Contest

Christmas Box set

Help me tell the world about my new release and enter to win a KINDLE FIRE!

There are a bunch of ways to win. You need to REPLY to THIS email with what you did. I’ll count all the entries and draw a winner at midnight EST November 30th!

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KristyTateNovelist/ (1 point)

Follow me on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kristy-tate (1 point)

Buy or download in KU – The Christmas Collection: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Collection-Th…/…/B07ZJVQDQ4 (10 points)

Leave a review on any of my books: https://www.amazon.com/Kristy-Tate/e/B005YF4ODA (10 points extra 5 points if it’s on my Christmas Collection. https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Collection-Th…/…/B07ZJVQDQ4 You don’t have to read all three books to leave a review, just mention it’s on your favorite.) Post a link to the review.

Forward this email to your holiday romance loving friends. (1 point for every friend.)

Tell me the title of your holiday movie (1 point)

Tell me your who’s your best book boyfriend! I like Atticus Finch, Gilbert Blythe, Rhett Butler, Mr. Darcy (1 point)
https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Collection-Th…/…/B07ZJVQDQ4

Thank a Teacher

Writing is something I’ve always done. I could write my way out of a paper bag or so I was told as kid. Essay questions on tests meant I’d get an A.

Once I started working, I wrote. Often they were business letters. I had to write reports and other notes. Things change. Today my handwriting looks like slop. I never write by hand anymore and rarely write a check. Everything is electronic. At least I know how to form the letters, but I’m messy.  I didn’t used to be.  And I’ve always hated a typewriter. I use about six fingers when I type, but I managed to teach my daughters to type properly. Today the one daughter types like the wind and the other types like I do. She makes me laugh when I watch her typing. How did she manage to digress that much?

Yet my career means I must type on a computer. The keyboard on a computer is better than that typewriter that had to have each key pressed all the way down. So it’s easier, and it’s become the norm for me to use the keyboard.

I wasn’t always typing the next book. I’ve done newspaper articles on gardening. I’ve done articles in various gardening magazines. My daughter has a subscription to a particular bird and garden magazine. She was all excited to show me this great magazine subscription her mother-in-law gave her as a gift. I said, yes, I know about them. I used to write for them. My daughter looked at me as though I’d lost my mind. What did she think I was doing at the computer all the time? She didn’t care about gardening or feeding the birds when she was younger. She wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. I haven’t written for a magazine in ages. I’m also not in the garden anymore.

I like writing fiction. I love developing characters and bringing them to life in a story. There’s satisfaction in the creative process. The progression from writing essays for school, working on the school newspaper, and being part of the literary club was only a beginning. It was the foundation. Having the opportunity to excel and be rewarded spurred me onward. Writing articles for the newspaper was discipline. It was every week and I had a deadline. Now I write something that I love. I write the stories that I want to read. The fact that I can share them with the world is exciting.

This is to every teacher who has encouraged a child when the child shows interest or a gift. To every teacher who has taught a child to read and praised each new vocabulary word, you’ve given the child something very special that will last a lifetime. I was the math major, who would have thought I would have wound up writing books? Maybe Miss Crow knew I’d wind up writing in spite of my major. I can still remember her telling me that a soliloquy I had written was phenomenal and begged me to switch majors. She said I was a born writer. I laughed and thought writing was fun, like a hobby. Mathematics was serious, and I was a serious student. Coughing up a poem or a story was child’s play. Well, it’s not anymore. Writing is serious, and I love doing it.

Today, I use the calculator on my phone to figure out my gas mileage when I fill my car’s tank. Sorry, Prof. Braun, you trained me to do that simple stuff in my head, but I don’t have to think as hard when I use the calculator. Actually, I don’t have to think about it beyond miles divided by gallons. It’s so easy.

I saw writing as tool that got me through school with flying colors and also made me a valuable employee. Reading was a solitary pleasure that I craved. I still enjoy a really good book. Now I get to write books, and that is something I never thought would happen. That was something real authors did. Well, I guess I’m a real author. I’ve been on the best-seller lists in several countries and in the top 25 on Amazon.com with my name up there with those big name authors like Rowling, King, Patterson, Grisham, and Steel.

Miss Crow, I never changed my major, but I did wind up writing for a living. Thanks for having such faith in me and in my writing. Maybe someday, I’ll figure out how to use all the proper punctuation and that past perfect tense. In spite of my grammatical shortcomings, you’d be proud of me.  Thank you for being a great teacher!

Do you have a teacher who has made an impact on your life?  Someone you can thank?