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Writing diversity: sensitivity readers

23 May

Originally posted to the Literature forum at MyMedia. I have imported a few
of those posts here under the Publishing tag, if you are interested.

While it may seem, particularly when reading the “classics”¹ and the ‘great literary fiction masters’¹ that there is a default in characterization (heroes are straight able bodied white cis males, and most often, of Anglo Saxon descent), the reality is that people come in many more flavors than that.

In the past few years, readers who do not fit this ‘universal’ characterization, have started seeing themselves represented in the fiction they pay good money to read, in still small but increasing percentages.

All good, right?

Except, not all representation is good representation.

If the one homosexual/non-binary/non-gender conforming character in the work is written as a deviant.
If the one person of color is either a criminal or a victim.
If the one immigrant speaks broken or no English.
If the one female character with speaking lines is there exclusively to either be killed or rescued.
If the one neuro atypical person is either a savant or an idiot.

In short: if whatever diversity is there, consists of clichés, that representation is more harmful than the outright absence of anyone who doesn’t conform to the white, straight, male characters of yore.

Enter sensitivity readers.

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Class action against ARe and Lori James

14 Jan

I just learned, though an update at Writer Beware’s blog, that a class action has been filed against All Romance eBooks and Lori James, in Florida (where the company is/was registered).

In layman’s terms (sorta–IANAL, after all), the point here is that when a business closes its doors with barely four days notice, and basically refuses to disburse commission monies (royalties) for products it sold, this breach of contract is grounds for legal action–and, with any luck, a criminal investigation may follow.

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All Romance eBooks

30 Dec

Update at the bottom

This year, ye gods!

I wrote about this retailer sudden and (so far) unexplained closure at Karen Scott’s blog, but I’ve been keeping an eye out for more information.

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Ellora’s Cave sued again, this time by Fifth Third Bank.

21 Dec

A while back, Christina Brashear of Samhain, sued Ellora’s Cave, including Tina Engler and her mother, because something didn’t smell very fresh with their accounts.

After the defendants dragged their asses for years, the presiding judge handed down an epic slap,¹ and ruled for the plaintiff. (Whether or not Brashear ever saw a penny is unknown).

This time, Fifth Third Bank is suing them, apparently over the infamous, gaudily decorated bus used at conventions.

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Ellora’s Cave: last gasp?

4 Oct

(See updates at end)

It’s been just over two years since Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author and Jane Litte/Jen Frederick, over “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave.”

For those not in the know, that piece was based mostly (I’d say, 90 to 95%), on public records–from liens placed on the company by Ohio/Akron, to published pieces on traditional media, to the CEO’s own communications with authors, editors, and other employees, and with Jane Litte/Jen Frederick herself.

Still, Jaid Black/Tina Engler didn’t much like what the piece said about her, and so, a lawsuit for defamation was filed in late September 2014.

Between then and now, shit happened. And more shit happened. And then the suit was settled.

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On language, and why it matters.

17 May

Yesterday, over at Karen Knows Best, I blogged about yet another Ellora’s Cave author who is asking her readers not to purchase the books she still has with that publisher, because she hopes to get the rights to her work back.

In her post she tells her story with this oh so shitty publisher–all without mentioning them by name, which kind of leaves me pondering¹–and then posts all her Ellora’s Cave’s covers.

So far, I’m nodding my head–good for her, finally speaking up for herself, and good luck on that.

Until I read the paragraph right below the covers.

Then, I saw red:

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Shame on you, NPR

11 Apr

Just over a year ago, I mentioned (in passing) the flap over a couple of white women writing a BDSM/romance fanfic about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.

For those of you who need to ask why the flap, allow me to sum up:

Thomas Jefferson was a white, wealthy slave owner.¹ Sally Hemmings was one of his slaves, also his wife’s half-sister, also his mistress for oh, about forty years–and also, it wasn’t until after his death that his heirs freed Sally Hemmings and her children; her children, who, in case you lost track, were Jefferson’s children too.

So, why am I bringing this up again?

Because, apparently, someone else decided that it was a good idea to write a novel that, again, presents continued sexual abuse of a child of color (Sally Hemmings was 14 when Jefferson first raped her), as a ‘relationship of equals.’

And someone at NPR decided to publish a pretty gushing review of it.²

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