10 Points!

I have, for the first time in ages, finished a fiction piece. I attribute this to a change in attitude and also a reformulating of my brain shall we say? Also, I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener and I swear it’s like magic!

I’m really proud of this story. My first few short stories were choppy and lacked structure. My middle ones were written better but again lacked structure. This is the first one I’ve written after intensely studying different writing methods related to plot and structure. Right now I am trying to figure out the one that works best for me, but perhaps I should think of it as what works best for the story.

I Live for the Thrill of Challenges

I never thought of myself as competitive, but I suppose I do have a competitive streak in me somewhere. I always feel the need to prove myself. For this reason, I love challenges especially when they relate to writing. I recently rejoined a writing community on Livejournal called Writerverse. It’s a neat community where you get sorted into two separate teams and you earn points for your team by writing. The aspect I like the most though is that it pushes me outside of my regular comfort writing zone. I love the challenge for February. Here is my Table of Doom. We have to pick ONE musician and choose fifteen of their lyrics and write a minimum of 400 words. I can’t wait! I choose Coldplay. I was going to pick Lana del Rey, but I decided to use them instead. I don’t know exactly why yet, but I look forward to finding out!

Here are the lyrics I chose along with their songs.

1. Just a puppet on a lonely string (Viva La Vida)
2. If you love me, won’t you let me know? (Violet Hill)
3. My nerves are poles that unfroze (Violet Hill)
4. There’s a cold war coming (Life in Technicolor II)
5. Now my feet won’t touch the ground (Life in Technicolor II)
6. Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry (The Scientist)
7. I’m going back to the start (The Scientist)
8. Crossed lines I shouldn’t have crossed (In My Place)
9. How long must you wait for it? (In My Place)
10. Oh brother, I can’t get through (Talk)
11. Do you feel like a puzzle? You can’t find your missing piece? (Talk)
12. I feel like they’re talking in a language I don’t speak/And they’re talking it to me (Talk)
13. Lights will guide you home (Fix You)
14. And birds go flying at the speed of sound (Speed of Sound)
15. Life’s a drink and love’s a drug (Hymn for the Weekend)

Mammy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: On Writing Black Historical Romance Heroines

Image for Mammy Blog Post

Head of a Mulatto Woman by Joanna Mary Boyce

Credit: freeparking on Flickr

I’ve had quite a few existential crises in my short time here on Earth, least of which, is the handwringing over how to reconcile my love of  historical romance novels with the lack of representation for women like myself in them.

It wasn’t something I noticed at first until I gradually became as some would say ‘woke’, but once I awakened from my beauty sleep, I realized that none of the people in my favorite genre looked like me. The exception to this seemed to be Addy from the American Girl books that I read when I was a preteen and those weren’t exactly historical romances know what I mean?

Which brings me to my next point and another case of handwringing. How do I as an author write about women like myself (for the record African American) with our history? Now at the time,  I was thinking about writing lighthearted Regencies and I thought to myself: Destiny, you can’t write lighthearted books about slave women. There’s no way!

So that was another reason I put off writing historical romance.

  1. I couldn’t write about women like me
  2. And if I did they would be doomed to suffer!

Now in my defense, I wasn’t quite aware at the time of free people of color and authors like Beverly Jenkins. And it hadn’t crossed my mind that like other authors I could write about black women from different countries in different time periods.

No, I gave up the fight.

But something deep inside me still wanted to write a historical romance and it was important to me that the heroine be like me and, in this case, I meant a Southern-bred African American woman.

And wouldn’t you know some kind of epiphany came over me. If anyone needed love and affection in their life, it was the slave woman and suddenly it didn’t seem so hard to write about.

I’m currently working on a story, which while not taking place in the South (or on Earth for that matter) has most of the trappings of the historical romance genre and the heroine is a black woman. A book that I loved, Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan, showed me that there was a place for women like me in historicals. I was so enraptured when I first read that book. I literally read it within the hour while waiting in the student building for my bus to come. I liked it that much. It showed me that it was possible that a black woman could be the heroine too.

One of the beautiful things about being a black woman is that there is such a variety of us. We are not carbon copies. We cannot be fit into molds and neither can our ancestors. So the sky is the limit as far as what I can write about and goddess knows I’ll have fun researching!