Black Authors

Can you name one fantasy book written by a black author?

Don’t feel bad if the answer is no because I (a black aspiring fantasy author) can’t name a single one. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I can’t name a black author who has written something that was outside the realm of African American fiction or nonfiction. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who is like this, regardless of their race.

As an aspiring author and a black person, the question is always lurking in the back of my mind: Do I have to write about African American subjects to be a notable author?

Think about some of the great black writers. Maya Angelou wrote about black issues. Toni Morrison wrote about black issues. Ralph Ellison wrote about black issues. They wrote about other topics, but they are known for what they wrote about black culture.

I’m certainly not condemning them for writing what they did because the world needed to be exposed to the subjects they wrote about. However, I don’t just want to write about black culture! I have definitely written short stories about being black, and I do plan on getting them published some day. But my favorite genre to write about is the fantasy genre.

As crazy as it seems in the 21st century, if I or some other black author writes a great fantasy book that people love, we won’t be just another talented writer. We’ll be that black fantasy writer. We won’t be known for how good our book is as much as we’ll be known for how we broke racial barriers in fiction writing.

Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be just an author. There will always be “black” attached to anything I write.

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2015 Goals

Photo courtesy of: http://www.happynew-year.com/
Photo courtesy of: http://www.happynew-year.com/

Yes I’m doing the whole resolution thing. I don’t think it’s as cliche as everyone thinks. I know for a fact that I will not be able to complete all of my resolutions, but I think it’s nice to have something to strive for. Of course, I have more goals for the new year besides writing and reading, but I won’t bother listing them here. Here are five things I would like to accomplish this year:

  1. Submit my book to a literary agent. (Yes, I still haven’t done this yet.)
  2. Get a short story published in a literary magazine.
  3. Improve my freelancing career. (It’s looking promising already!)
  4. Read at least one book a month. (It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have a pretty demanding schedule.)
  5. Gain new blog followers. (This will probably happen when I start blogging more regularly.)

There are probably other things I could put down, but those actually seem feasible. The first two will take the most work, but looking back on 2014, I know that a lot can happen in a year. Who knows? Maybe this time next year, this will be the blog of a published author! 🙂

Good luck on your goals for the next year! Don’t be afraid to dream big. As the great philosopher Drake would say, “YOLO.”

What’s wrong with Ebooks?

So can somebody please tell me why we are debating about whether ebooks or real books are better? My “hipster” friends on social media sites have decided to put down ebooks, and I have no idea why.

Why the Kindle hate? (Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com)
Why the Kindle hate?
(Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com)

For one thing, the whole “real book” label is problematic in itself. If I read my paperback copy of To Kill A Mockingbird and then switch to reading it on my Kindle, did the words change? What makes my ebook copy less “real” than my physical copy?

Plus, aren’t ebooks more fitting with the times anyway? The younger generations love gadgets (as part of a young generation, I should know). More importantly than that, we love immediacy. Why should I wait to get a physical copy of a book when I can immediately download it on my Kindle?

To be fair, if I really love a book, I will get a physical copy. I do agree with the picture floating around that a physical library is more impressive than an elibrary, a least in terms of looks. Plus, it’s harder to lend a really great book to someone if I only have the ebook.

But that’s not the point. Why is one form of reading better than another? Shouldn’t we be rejoicing that people are actually reading, that despite all of the other gadgets and distractions, people are choosing to also get books electronically? Isn’t it a great thing that while my physical library is pretty small, my elibrary is bursting with books?

The fact is, people aren’t reading as much as they used to. There are so many other things to occupy our time now, and if ebooks are the way to get people reading again, then who am I to stand in their way?

Self Publishing?

This post is one big question that I’m hoping people can answer for me. Here’s the question: What is so great about self publishing?

To me, it seems that it is a good way to get your work published without going through an agency or a publishing company. However, doesn’t self publishing devalue an author’s work? I don’t think I would want to read a book that has been self published because it doesn’t have the backing of a publishing company. Publishing companies add a stamp of approval to an author’s work. Without it, I would have no idea if the book is even worth reading.

I know there are cases where self-published works get really popular. Eragon comes to mind, but even then, I didn’t know about that book until it got picked up by Random House. To me, self publishing feels like posting a really long political rant on Facebook and expecting everyone to treat it like an article in the New York Times.

Maybe it’s just because of my background. As a journalism major, it was so frustrating when people wouldn’t get their news from my carefully researched articles; they would get it from Twitter or Facebook. Self publishing rubs me the wrong way because I feel like if you’re good enough to be picked up by an agent and a publishing company, then your work deserves to be read. If not, then why bother publishing in the first place?

Feel free to respond. I am a novice to all sorts of publishing, so I really would like to hear from people who have gone through the self-publishing process. I’m sure I’m only looking at one side of the story.