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Diversity in Fiction

Hey, everyone! I hope your weekend is going well.

So, as I slowly expand my writing platform and join other writing communities, I noticed the topic of diversity comes up, a lot. Of course, it totally makes sense why more readers and agents are requesting stories with diverse characters.

In our modern society, people from all different backgrounds live together, work together, and form relationships. This post isn’t about how to write a story with diversity, but its asking, do you include diversity in your stories?

When some people think of diversity, they think this:

diversity

(taken from https://giphy.com)

Recently, I started a post about this on another writing site, and someone made a good point. They said that diversity isn’t limited to skin color, but also includes personality.

Many of you already know this, but one of my goals as a writer is to write black female characters as the protagonists. I’ve already started that with Elena, and I have a new character, Jada.

First, I’m curious to know if you have any diverse characters in your story. Second, how do you feel about “forced diversity”? Another issue with diversity is forced diversity. To explain further, forced diversity has diverse characters just for the sake of it.

Many writers feel that forced diversity doesn’t work, but how do you feel?

When we write our stories, we need to consider the setting, timeline, and the theme we’re trying to show. For our work to be believable, we need to write it as realistic as possible. Of course, with fantasy, you have some more wiggle room, but you still want to consider your readers.

I think for diversity in stories, we also need to determine our audience. In the US, there’s a lot of room for diversity in stories, but can we really expect the same for countries outside of the western world? For example, think of Japan. Growing up and even now, I love anime, but alas, there aren’t many black female characters in their stories. But of course, that makes sense given the country. Should we hold other countries to the same diverse expectation?

I know this post is short for today, but I wanted to make this more of a discussion post. Personally, I didn’t want to do a post on how to write diverse characters, as I feel that’s understood. However, if anyone wants a post like that later, please let me know. From what I’ve seen, agents are looking for diverse books, at least on Twitter, anyway.

To get the discussion started, please post your answers to the questions below:

  •  Do you include diversity in your stories?

  • How do you feel about “forced diversity”?

  • Should we hold other countries to the same diverse expectation?

 

 

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Protecting Your Work Online

For today, let’s jump right into the topic and discussion. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been tweeting about plagiarism.

A close writer friend of mine had her concept stolen by another writer, a popular writer. She spoke to the website about it, but nothing was done on her behalf. After everything that happened, I was inspired to write this post about protecting your stories online. In the past, writers weren’t told they needed a “platform.” They didn’t need a bunch of readers following them, a Twitter following, website or blog following, they just needed to network in real life and submit their stories to publishers.

In our age of technology, more and more writers are posting their first drafts online for readers. As we all know, posting your work online is risky, and we need to learn how to protect our stories.

If you notice someone is copying your ideas, here are some things you can do:

  1. Confront them – if you feel the person won’t be too defensive and acknowledge what they did, then communicate with them.

    Note: You can contact the website you post on to see if they’ll remove the story, but based on my experience, that doesn’t do much. 

  2. Make your work private – let’s say you confront the individual and they don’t agree they copied your ideas. Or you still want feedback on your stories but don’t want to risk someone stealing it, then make your work private. On WordPress and other websites, you can make pages password protected. And better yet, use Google Docs.
  3.  Remove your work – ultimately, you may have to remove the story from online. If you have a large readership or a good number of writer friends, this will hurt. But, you need to decide what’s more important: readership or protecting your stories? By removing your work, you ensure no one can take your concepts and ideas.

While plagiarism is mostly the copy of work, not concepts and ideas, I feel concepts in the creative world is important. A concept, especially a good concept, can change the way we look at something.

For example, take Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Harry Potter is about a magical school. If J.K Rowling posted her work online and got popular, how many magical school stories do you think would pop up? A lot! Once her concept was copied, it would no longer be unique to her, thus she would have lost her idea.

Same with Game of Thrones – a vast world where different houses fight to control the whole realm. If the story was posted online first and then stolen, imagine that someone wrote close to the same story, but instead of the most powerful house being able to control dragons, it was mermaids. Same concepts, but only a few things are different.

Most YA dystopian novels are the same concepts, but different skin. The premise is always a teenager that’s different saves the world from the evil adults (bad society). Stories that follow this are:
Hunger Games
Red Queen (this also takes concepts from Game of Thrones with houses)
The Selection
The Maze Runner
Divergent

Honestly, there is a line between inspiration, taking concepts, and plagiarism, but I wonder, what’s that line? What do you think?

(warning: there are writers online that are known to steal concepts, so please protect your work.)

Saying Goodbye…

To 2017!!!
New Year

If you read the title and thought I was leaving, nope! I just wanted to post an overview of 2017 before I left today. For my birthday and new years, I’m heading to Disneyland! Strange place to go, right? Well, this year I didn’t go to a major theme park, so I figured before the year is done, I might as well go to Disney.

I wanted to thank everyone for a full, awesome year of following my blog, reading my posts, and for commenting! We’ve had some excellent discussions this year, and next year, I hope to bring more of that to this blog.

Here are some posts that highlight the year:
All the post below have the most comments (over 30 comments) and engagement from 2017.
Blog Tip Series: Being Active in the Community
Own Your Titles (For Writers)
Blog Tip Series: Responding to Comments
Measuring Accomplishments
Free Content and Readers (For Writers)
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Next year, I plan to get a full domain name, so that change will be coming. I also want to interact with everyone more, so I’ll be looking for bloggers to do guest posts.

Lastly, I always plan to keep this blog about writing, especially topics that affect the writing community. As I branch out from online writing communities and start going to more conferences, I plan to share that knowledge with everyone.

I’m a little sad to leave 2017 behind and get older, but I’m excited about what 2018 will bring. My primary focus for next year is my writing career, so we’ll see what happens.

What is one thing you accomplished this year, and what is one thing you hope to do in 2018?

I know some people don’t like setting goals, but maybe we can start with mentioning one thing. This year, I finished Clash of Tides, and next year, I hope to get an agent, but we’ll see.

Sharing a Post: The Truth About Wattpad Stars

Hey, everyone!

I’m sure based on the title, you’re wondering what today’s blog post is about. Well, the focus of today’s post isn’t about me, but it’s about one of my fellow writer friends and their experience with Wattpad as a company.

In the past, I’ve mentioned different writing websites: the good, the bad, and most certainly, the ugly. I know I may come off as “bashing” these sites, but I only want to share my experiences and prepare others for what to expect.

Of course, I know many writers like Wattpad, and please don’t let my experience stop you from using the website; however, just proceed with caution. If you are curious about Wattpad as a company and their Wattpad Stars program (a program where Wattpad selects writers to be published through their connections), then please see my friend’s post here: The Truth About Wattpad Stars.

I hope it will be enlightening and shed some light on how these online writing websites work. After hearing all the things she went through, and what some other writers have gone through, I couldn’t help but feel,

Truth

To new and experienced writers, especially those that want to publish, please don’t let anyone pressure you about your stories. If you don’t feel your story is ready for publication, don’t rush it. Publishing shouldn’t be a race, it should be a journey, and once you feel satisfied with your work, then share it with the world.

Remember, you don’t want to end up like this:

Race

If you want to discuss this topic here, then please, post your comments and let’s converse! Hmm, I guess I could ask questions about this.

After reading her blog post, what are your feelings about these online writing sites? Do you feel it’s better to traditionally publish, self-publish, or do a serial novel (using one of these online websites)?  If you had a chance to publish just your first draft, would you do it, or would you take the time to polish your story first?

Please let me know! And remember, no drama, please.

The Writer Within You

Today, I want to discuss something important. I want to talk about the writer inside you.

If you read one of my recent blog posts, then you know next year I want to focus purely on writing.

For too long, I stayed in the circle of my comfort zone, and I need to break away from its fence.

Comfort Zone

And if you also want to write, I challenge you to the same. Once I asked everyone want type of writer they want to be. Do you want to be the writer known for one major series like J.K. Rowling, or do you want to be a prolific writer like Stephen King?

Before, I said I want to be a prolific writer because I have too many story ideas. In fact, I read an article titled “What Does it Mean to Be a ‘Prolific’ Writer?” on HuffPost.

The article said, “what I believe is the deeper definition of “prolific,” that is, the author’s existential need to continuously create parallel worlds out of the raw material of his imagination.”

When I read that, I decided that’s what I want to do. Of course, being a full-time fiction writer is the dream, but it doesn’t pay bills, sadly. Well, it can, but it’s not easy. Until then, I’m going to work on being a Technical Writer and freelance when I can. I’ve already talked to the man in my life about this, and he agrees I need to make more time to write.

Sometimes, I wish I was a faster writer, like a writer who can turn out a book every 2-3 months, but then my stories may suffer.

For now, I’m going to keep moving towards this goal. I’ve outlined my writing plan, and so far I have seven books to write, including some short stories.

I was never that writer with over 1M reads online, I never got asked to turn my books into a comic, but I’m determined to keep traveling towards my end goal.

The protagonists of our stories need to step out their comfort zones, so maybe we should as well. Great people in history fought on, despite the odds around them, and you can, too.

As the great Lisa Nichols says,

77bd46a385ec78c0149e2b84a602b750--lisa-nichols-quotes-mentor-quotes

For those who don’t know who Lisa Nichols is, she is a motivational speaker who started off poor, on welfare as a single mom at twenty-seven. Now, she is a millionaire who travels all over the world and encourages people to follow their dreams.

The funny this is, in high school, her English teacher said her writing was so bad, she wouldn’t be able to get a job. Well, she proved that teacher wrong. She is a New York Times bestselling author of the book “No Matter What!: 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love.” 

Surprisingly, a teacher in high school said the same thing to me, and now look, I’m a writer trying to get an agent next year!

So, please remember, don’t let other people shape your life. For too long, I’ve let other people shape my decisions, and I can’t do it anymore.

If you write, and I mean love to write, you know there is a writer in you. Let that writer out so your creativity can shine =)

Freedom!!

To end this post, can you tell me what your writing goals for 2018 are? Are you going to step out of your comfort zone?

Also, I made this yesterday! I hope you like it =)  This is the best image I’ve made so far!

Dark Waterfall

(note: images used in this post are not mine. I don’t own any of the stocks)

Supporting Fellow Writers and Updates

Longtimenosee

How is everyone doing?! I know it’s been a while since I posted a real discussion, but I’m back! Real quick, I want to give you some updates on what I’ve been working on.

  1. Preparing for my trip to Tokyo this month. I leave at the end of the month, so I’m practicing my Japanese^^
  2. There have been many changes at work, so that’s been bothering me. I don’t know what will happen, but I’ll take it one day at a time.
  3. I’m trying to get a full-time writing job. Yes, I’m working on a career change right now to be a full-time Technical Writing until I get an agent, so I’ve been working on that.
  4. Writing and preparing my stories for submission. This is an ongoing process and takes time. I’ll be submitting Clash of Tides next year, and hopefully, 9/Nine Realms, too.
  5. Working on my artwork. I would love to make a comic for Clash of Tides^^
  6. Lots and lots of beta reading! I’m doing manuscript reviews right now, so that’s also taking my time.
  7. Lastly, I’m taking classes to learn web development: HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. Basically, I’m trying to switch careers into something new, and I want more skills. What I do now isn’t a career, it’s horrible, so I want a change.

Whew…so, that was a lot. Now since you all know what I’ve been doing, let’s discuss today’s topic. So recently, I asked a writing and art community how they felt about supporting a fellow artist. For example, let’s say you enjoy a writer’s work, follow them and read their stories. Would you want that writer to also read your stuff?

Well, the responses were a little shocking, and the conclusion was that most writers wouldn’t support a fellow writer. Well, unless they liked that fellow writer’s work. Honestly, it makes sense, but I’ve always supported my fellow writers whether I liked their work or not.

For me, even if I don’t like the other writer’s work, I can at least provide some feedback on why I didn’t like it.

I know everyone doesn’t have time to support their fellow writers. So if you are a new writer starting out, don’t expect anyone – least of all other writers – to support you. Most likely, they won’t.

Honestly, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions on this, and I would love to get everyone’s thoughts.

Question: Do you think writers should support each other? If yes, please tell me why. If no, please explain.

Lastly, what are you working on right now?

Thanks for reading

(all gifs are from https://giphy.com)

Building Yourself Up (For Writers)

Hey, everyone! Before we begin, I want to say,

Winter is here

Just kidding! But I am excited about Game of Thrones tomorrow, but no, I really wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog post. The amount of support and advice I got was overwhelming. I feel much better about my decision to try and get traditional published or even self-publish, so instead of anxiety now, I can focus on finalizing Clash of Tides for querying.

So, today I wanted to discuss building yourself up. As writers, we are always trying to improve our skills, grow our readership, and just maintain a presence online.

We already know how the greats did it: Stephen King, J K Rowling, and many other authors. However, in today’s world, lots of people are building up their brand.

Of course, as writers, it makes us feel better when we read about other writers getting rejected and still succeeding. But what about business owners, musicians, and other artists that start from nothing? Well, there are plenty of stories about them. During the last few days, I’ve researched people that are inspiring, who help me to keep moving and not give up.

So today, I want to talk about a company that changed how we read, buy books, and even look at publishing: Amazon.

I’m not sure if any of you know this, but Jeffrey P. Bezos started Amazon out of his garage at 30 years old. Yes, out of his garage at only 30 years old.

This information is taken from http://www.fundable.com:

 1994: Jeff Bezos quits his job and launches Amazon out of his garage.
Within 30 Days, it is doing $20,000 per week in sales.

1995: Bezos raises an $8 Million round of funding from Kleiner Perkins.

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 per share.

1999: Bezos is named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for popularizing online shopping.

2009: Bezos acquires Tony Tsieh’s Zappos through a stock swap.

2013: Bezos acquires the Washington Post.

If we look at these dates, it took Jeffery 4 years before he really got noticed for Amazon. Along the way, it wasn’t always an easy journey. Think about it, if he gave up on starting Amazon, where would we be today? Of course, I’m sure someone else may have made self-publishing a thing, but Amazon is now a legend in the online world. Honestly, I feel that’s how it is with writing. It’s a long, never ending road of working hard and waiting for our stuff to get noticed.

Growing your readership and improving your craft takes time. So please, to new and old writers (and this may sound strange coming from me), please don’t get discouraged. For new writers, at a minimum give yourself 1-2 years to build up your craft and presence online. Seriously, don’t rush the process like I did. If you ever need someone to beta read for you or help you with your stories, I’m just an email away. I started this blog to help other writers, that’s what I want to do. If another writer offers to help you, take them up on that offer. Really, you have nothing to lose.

The most that will happen is they won’t get back to you, but if they do, that could be some valuable feedback. I started this blog to help other writers, so I’m here if you need me.

Lastly, I’ve almost reached 1500 followers! Once I do, I plan to hold a writing contest! The prize will probably be a $25 Amazon gift card, but hey, that is some free books. More details to come.

Question: How long did it take you to build up your craft and presence online? From what I’ve noticed, it takes about 1-2 years to build up a readership.

(I haven’t forgotten about the comments. I will respond to you.)