Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Multi-cultural Romance... Or Does Color Matter Non-Scientific but Fun Poll

Here's the skinny on this:

I come from a multicultural family. I have biracial in-laws. A son-in-law whose family emigrated from Ecuador, so he's Hispanic and Mayan? Incan? They're not sure. He's cute, he loves God  and he works hard and that's all we care about. A grandson adopted from Ethiopia. A biracial nephew and three bi-racial great nieces/nephew, and one who is deceased, gunned down by a pair of thugs as he ended his first year at Tuskegee University thirteen years ago... The thugs happened to be Caucasian and druggies... they didn't see color. They saw a college kid who might have change in his pocket, and he did because his dad had just sent him $40 to get food to last the final few days of freshman year. He was gunned down between the college and the convenience store. Gone. Just like that.

I don't see color. It means nothing to me. If you're being loud or raucous and obnoxious in public... (raises hand because she may or may not have been guilty of this a time or two!) I really wish you'd stop, and that's got nothing to do with color and everything to do with manners...

This poll didn't surprise me at all because it seemed like a no-brainer, and I'm so happy to say the results bore that out.

When I first started writing I was told (by authors of both races) that I couldn't write stories with mixed races because I'd offend the black community and what did a white woman know about black romance?


Heath Caufield, Lizzie Fitzgerald and Zeke Caufield... and a puppy!
#mustlovecowboys    #mustlovedogs

If you keep it a "human" level and not a color issue, then you can write Southern... Australian... British.... Biblical.... Frontier Western.... Colonial.... Scottish..... Regency..... Mixed Race.... Renaissance....  And so much more!

We write characters with disabilities.... characters with children... characters who care for sick parents, not necessarily because we've lived it... but we've researched it. 

This takes me back to "I don't see color" I see story. I see travesty. I see anguish and sadness and joy and the miracle of birth and the grief of death. None of that sees color. It sees and seeks human emotion. The kind of stuff we are all made of, the good, the bad and the ugly... and don't folks of all colors deserve stories of faith, hope and love, reflecting them? 

HECK, YEAH!!!! 

So my upcoming mixed race/ethnicity Shepherd's Crossing series is SO MUCH FUN and so wonderful to write because I can take my early experiences of being in a city at war for civil rights (Rochester, New York) and blend them with my experiences across the Northeast with college kids, seeing all kinds of mixed couples who didn't see color! Asian, African, Irish, German, Native American, Indian... No color lines. So hooray for all of us, raising so many color-blind kids!

When I gather eggs, they come in lots of colors. 



When you crack them to make a cake, they're... eggs. People are like that, just like Mandisa's new hit single "We All Bleed the Same". 

As authors we need to look beyond the average and go for the higher expectation so when I did this poll, I wasn't worried about the results because even if they didn't match my goals, I'd run with them and I'd still write my stories.

Here is the intro on super-scientific facebook!!!


A Saturday poll for you and your answers will help me to shape a late-month Seekerville blog... I like diversity in my stories. My life is FULL of people of all races, creeds and ethnicities... I don't see color, I see characters, and I love, love, love writing diverse stories... So what say you, my friends? Let's talk about the beauty of realism and color in stories... while keeping the romance at the heart of the story!


1. Let me escape into the story, but give me a real story. That's what I'm after.  (39 Votes)

2. Diversity is fine with me. I just want to love the characters.  (34 Votes)

3. I like stories about real people, it's all about the story! (20 Votes)

4. I don't have to be a person of color to love stories with all kinds of people.  (15 Votes)

5. Bring  it!  (7 Votes)

First, people want great story. So don't water it down, but don't belabor the downsides of life... we all have 'em, no one wants to live on the dark side of the moon but they'll acknowledge its existence.

You probably noticed I didn't include a "No diversity" choice. There was a good reason for that. First, who's going to admit that on facebook? (Ruthy is making a face right now) In a group forum?

Second, did I need it? No, because I think we've got a nice sampling here with people not voting for the blanket "BRING IT" as much as affirming that it's all about the story and the characters.

No matter what you're writing, gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) realism should be our guide. You're going to make the characters suffer, right?

So do their outward appearances really matter? 

No. A Hostess cupcake is only better for that white cream in the middle. Our peanut butter Whoopie Pies on the farm are best when sandwiched with my homemade chocolate frosting.... and who doesn't love a chocolate frosted white or yellow cake?

Sure, that sounds silly... but then, so does separatist writing!

Let me know what you think, and do you have a mix of people in your stories? Have you thought about it? Let's talk.


With over 40 novels and novellas published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York where the Blodgett family happily grows pumpkins of many colors and sells to people of the same! She lives with critters and little people and some big people and windows that always need washing, but that's okay. She loves washing windows! Ruthy says windows bring light to the soul... and she's got the Windex to prove it. Friend her on facebook, follow her on Twitter and she loves when folks visit her website ruthloganherne.com. 




58 comments:

  1. Hi Ruth:

    While you may not see color when writing, many readers will. Some readers want realism and confirmation of their belief systems. Others want to escape into a bubble bath, tension relieving, HEA dream world.

    Therefore, whatever you are writing, play fair with your reader. Place the type of story it is visually on the cover art. If you have kids, show kids, a biracial couple, show that, pets, put them on the cover too.

    Above all, don't preach and don't try to trick people into reading books they won't like...even if it is for their own good.

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  2. Vince, such sage advice, as always! I agree wholeheartedly. And that's why different books appeal to different audiences.

    Now you know that we don't choose cover art for our traditionally published stories.... but I love this cover, the beautiful reunion of two long-lost lovers and his biracial son... and a bonus puppy on the ranch! :)

    They did a great job.

    You know, my second book was a biracial romance... but we didn't make the book about color because it was a non-issue. "Waiting Out the Storm" had a Caucasian hero and a Native American/African American/Caucasian heroine caring for three angry kids... and it sold out. So even back then the audience was there and loved the story... and they put little Skeeter on the cover, the naughty, angry little girl...

    But folks loved it because I think it's crucial to give readers credit, don't you? They love good stories! And sure, some will want the feel good lighter stuff... and some will search out more realism... which makes it nice that the stable of authors is so large and far-reaching. But when an author makes it a non-issue, most readers will do the same.

    I'll try not to preach, LOL! I think if you read the stories you'll be pleasantly surprised because once again... it's all about the story. And I look at "Her Cowboy Reunion" and I hope folks sigh, just like I did... Same as "Her Secret Daughter" and "The Lawman's Yuletide Baby"... and the Christmas novella from this series...

    Interesting point about covers. I've got kids on the covers of my three upcoming indie releases, originally published by the good folks at Franciscan... they're bowing out (so sad about that...) and I will re-release the stories and I wanted kids on the covers to represent that these are stories of faith, hope, love and family... We'll see how that goes because they're not traditional stories... or romance-style covers... but I love them, Vince, even before I had your wonderful advice.

    I'm so glad you stopped by!

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    1. Hi Ruth:

      You wrote:

      "…it's all about the story."

      I think you're spot on with this statement and I also believe there is a test for this that you'd pass with flying colors.

      Ask someone months or years later, "What was the story about?" If they say it was about race or sex preference, then that book was about that for that reader.

      If someone asked me what kind of books you write, (lets just consider the LIs here because I've read all of them), I say something like: "Well there's death and dying, hospice, cancer, double mastectomies, unwed mothers during the 1940's, beautiful locations, cute kids, animals, and really strong heroes."

      I'd also say for sure that you don't preach. I did not even remember that "Waiting out the Storm" had a biracial component. In fact, I would have called it your sheep book.

      I also remember your book about the cookie store owner heroine who just swore off having anything to do with men ever again but who then delivers cookies to welcome the new male next door neighbor. Great heroine, that's what I remember about that book.

      When it comes to a great story, I don't think anything beats, "The Lawman's Second Chance." My memory of that book is how wonderful it made me feel. BTW: A new mass market paper back is on sale at Amazon at $54.32 but there are only 3 left! I think a lot of people loved that story.

      _______________

      Bottom Line: Keep doing what you're doing but remember who brought you to the dance. ;)

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    2. Oh, now that's my Vince!!!! I love that story, too... The Lawman's Second Chance, dedicated to my beautiful friend Lisa who is still doing well nearly six years after diagnosis.... and I love working with Love Inspired, Vince. They've been good to me, we work well together. Sometimes it's just got to be a the right match!

      I love the big books, too. But if you asked if I have a favorite I'd say whatever I'm working on right now... Wishing Bridge is drawing in a new big readership, and I'm so glad folks love the story and are looking forward to the next book. That means so much to authors.

      Thank you, Vince!

      And I have KILLED a great many people.

      We should do a count some time!!! :)

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  3. Ruthy, that needed to be said.
    I was brought up in New Hampshire in the 1950s and there was basically only one race. Went to Boston in the early 70s and got my eyes opened. I don't think I was ever a bigot, I wasn't raised that way, but it just wasn't something we ever thought of because we didn't have to. Raised my children differently, my husband and I were involved in the missions program in our denomination and exposed them to different cultures, plus it was a different world that they grew up in. And an even more different world now. Dave and I recently saw "A Wrinkle In Time" and applauded the triracial Murry family and the triracial Celestial Beings (though there were a lot of other things we didn't like, WHERE was the star-watching rock and WHY was Calvin included, he didn't have that much to do, but what ever).
    I have a black family in the sequel to my Oregon Trail story and wrote several chapters from the wife's POV. It will probably get cut when the book's accepted, but may spin it off into something else.
    The THIRD book in the Oregon Trail series has a white heroine and a Native American hero, Jenny and White Bear. They have issues but end up together. And for the third book in my Post World War I series, I really wanted to do something with the Harlem Renaissance. But we'll see.
    This is an encouraging post. I was nervous about some of the far-right wings of Christianity, but hey, they don't have to buy the book.
    Belle Calhoune does biracial well.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, we've seen a lot of good change, haven't we? And long overdue!

      I love writing life as is. And "The First Gift" got such wonderful reviews that I knew I had an audience for writing people of all colors and ethnicities... and while we all agree people are people, it's important for us to recognize cultural differences... and either write characters with them or purposely without them. Because both can work to the betterment of the story.

      And yes, Belle writes beautiful stories! :) I'll tell her you gave her a shout out!

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    2. Aww, thanks Kaybee for the sweet compliment. I try to write what I know. And since I'm a mixture of many things...African, Irish, West Indian, European, I try to infuse multiculturalism into my books to accurately portray the world I inhabit. I think it makes everything richer! It's exciting to see things moving forward in this area in the publishing arena.

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    3. Thanks, Ruth. And congratulations on your diverse series. It sounds great!

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  4. I love everything you have to say in this post Ruthy!
    I'm old enough to remember when schools were segregated and being "bused" to my first mixed school. As a kid I didn't understand what all the hoopla was about. My mama took us to church and "Jesus Loves the Little Children, red and yellow black and white" was the theme of the day so I just didn't get it. Racisim is taught, we have only to watch as little children interact with each other to realize it's the adults with the problem.

    Later as an young adult I remember thinking how merciful God is to let us have our sight, because without it we would only know people for how they talked and acted with us, not by appearance.

    I'm sorry about the lose of your young relative, really sorry.
    I'm also really proud of you for blazing the trail into new territory! I'm looking forward to Her Cowboy Reunion!

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    1. I agree, Tracey. Racism is taught. And that's a crying shame.

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    2. Tracey, such wise words... and so true. And yes, when Canon was killed, it was a heartbreaker. His parents... I can't even imagine what they went through. My nephew's family lives in California and his son, his namesake, was one of those kids that was used as an example... there he was, smart and funny, successfully completing his first year of college... and then gone.

      Over drugs and money. And he'd run out of money, so he'd called his dad and asked him to send him just enough to buy food for the last few days of classes and then he'd be going home.

      Only he went home to Jesus.

      You know I love romance... and forgiveness and healing and second chances...

      so writing these stories and tucking folks into their right spots is an absolute blessing.

      God bless Love Inspired!

      And Franciscan Media because they blazed my way openly with "The First Gift".

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    3. This breaks my heart. Sunday our pastor asked a series of rhetorical questions, one of which was "what does our world need most today?" I kept thinking love. Love. It's so simple, yet so difficult in our society...but oh the problems it would solve.

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    4. Karen, yes! It's so simple. Kick greed and power and avarice and jealousy and envy to the curb and just love on everyone.

      What a beautiful and simple formula!

      There was a one moment thing on K-Love and the musician said he was blown away when his pastor asked "If all the prayers you've been praying were suddenly granted, would they benefit anyone other than yourself?" And he said it was a major wake-up call.

      Loving one another. I think the Sisters of St. Joseph taught me that by word and example when I was young and I've never forgotten the lesson. Thank you, Karen!

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  5. Ruthy, diversity is what made this nation great. And now I see diversity being used to tear us apart. No matter what color our skin is, we, as you said, still bleed red. We feel pain and heartache.

    I think your new series is going to be great. You'll tell those stories with the same love and truth components that are in all of your books. Yeah, and I bet you're going to make me cry again. Brat.

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    1. Mindy... I think I will. I cried writing the first one and I've already cried with the second one. And the novella, although I went lighter with that (well, lighter for me, right???) because it's a beautiful Christmas story. With death and betrayal and grief... oh good heavens, what is the matter with me???? :)

      I think you'll love this series. I sure hope you do!

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  6. I love the way you approach this issue. The stories diffuse it until it becomes a non-issue, which it should be. Because people are people no matter what they look like on the outside. We have different back-stories, of course, that our looks can play into. But we're all people.

    When I think of a family of children who stole my heart a couple years ago, I weep for how their parents have chosen crime and drugs over their own children, and I weep for how their extended family has abandoned them. I get angry at a system that causes children to fall through the cracks because they slip outside of the policies that someone, somewhere, wrote to "help" these kids.

    But I don't think about the fact that they are Lakota. They are lovely children with their own personalities, wants, needs, dreams. And I pray for them every day.

    Love crosses lines every day. And that's what we can show in our stories.

    But I don't have many opportunities to do that in my books. I write historical Amish stories, and I do what I can with the historical realities that are in place. I won't bend the facts to create non-Swiss/German Amish characters. If I ever write contemporary stories, then that would change things. :-)

    Great post, Ruthy, and a great idea to poll the readers!

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    1. You know, my heroine in the Christmas novella married a Lakota who wanted to help change things on that very troubled area of the South Dakota/Nebraska border... but he went overboard wanting her (she's part Native American, Eastern tribe) to join the fight only she saw the negativity for their baby daughter... and when he died she had to fight for the right to take her daughter to Idaho...

      So there's good and bad in all of us, in so many situations, but it's not about color.

      It's about choice.

      Jan, you're right, yours has strict parameters. That would be weird!

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  7. Ruthy, I love, love, LOVE this post! Thanks for addressing this. As always - you're our heroine.

    Folks don't ever think about this...until THEY are forced to think about it. Hurrah for the turning tide!

    We have diversity in our family, as well. I have to say, though, race, ethnicity, diversity, etc. was a non-issue for me long before our two beautiful nieces from China came to the states. At nine and six, they'd endured a lot. And where others saw differences (AND even had the audacity to comment on them TO us and even in FRONT of the girls), we saw beauty. We saw silky black hair, gorgeous, almond-shaped eyes, and hearts full of hope. We saw love beneath the pain. We saw resilient spirits and arms ready to hug. It was love at first site - for our entire family. We immediately embraced our nieces, and they, us.

    Oh, yes - bring on diversity, in all its marvelous shades!

    Amen and amen.

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    1. ...AND I just linked this post to my author FB page and I also used it as a springboard for my "question of the day." Thanks for kick-starting this conversation.

      Also, I wanted to add - I'm deeply, deeply sorry for the loss of your nephew. xx

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    2. Oh, Cynthia, I agree so much. I look at these precious children... I remember when I told a church-goer that my daughter and son-in-law were adopting from Ethiopia she said... "Well, that is one lucky child..."

      And I said... "Oh gosh, no! We're the lucky ones, blessed that he's going to be ours!"

      I never once thought of it the other way because the gift of a child is the greatest gift of all.

      I love the story of your nieces, oh my stars, that's beautiful. And thank you for the kind words. No heroine here... just a bossy gal who loves people. And God. And thinks that's the best coupling there is!

      Thank you for the links, Cynthia! You're such a blessing.

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    3. Thank you, too, Ruthy! AND we heard that same comment (among many) about our nieces being such "lucky girls." And we, too, responded the same way. We are the blessed ones! Sometimes, people are well-meaning...and then, sometimes...they are painfully ignorant. I better leave it at that. ;)

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    4. You know you're right... the idea that we were doing the boy a favor was so far removed from our way of thinking... but I think it was well-meaning. Most of the time! :)

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  8. This is awesome, Ruthy! And so timely. I love to see interracial couples. You know why? Because LOVE was GREATER than RACE or any kind of prejudice that they may have encountered from their friends and family or strangers.
    We had a couple of great sessions on this at the day conference before the Christy Awards last November. People are so much more WELCOMING to this now, and I'm talking about Christian publishers, too, than they were just ten years ago. I'm very happy about that. I have a biracial couple who are secondary characters in the book that I'm hoping to self publish. (Some people had suggested that maybe that was why it never sold to a publisher ten years ago. Who knows?)
    I hated that I could never have much, if any, racial diversity in my Medieval novels or my Regencies, for historical accuracy reasons, but I finally found a way! I did an Aladdin story in which the hero is Middle Eastern and has much darker skin than the heroine's, and she loves his dark skin BTW. :-) And I'm finishing up a Mulan story in which the heroine is half Asian. So many feels! I love it.
    And I saved this for last, but Ruthy, I am so, so very sorry about what happened to your nephew. I feel even worse that it happened in my state. Tuskegee University is a great school, having been graced with the great scientific mind of George Washington Carver, and I have two new friends who just graduated from there and are aerospace engineers working for NASA, awesome women who are in my Bible study group. I am so sorry that happened. So much progress has been made in Alabama in my lifetime, it's unreal, truly the hand of God.
    I could go on and on, but you are talking about diversity in novels! I love it, and I hope there is more and more of it. I believe there will be.

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    1. You know, I had the job of going into the city and telling my sister what happened. She was teaching pre-school at the City School District in Rochester and she needed to know what happened...

      And her face.

      Oh, I can still see her face. They took the children away so I could see her in private, or they called her away... and this was after a little four-year-old boy told me that he got scared when his daddy banged hard on his door at night.... and the aide said that dad was in prison for murder now....

      And then I had to tell her about her lost grandson.

      Heartbreak knows no color. It's trans-everything.

      So maybe for me this subject holds a special place of why not us? Why not now?

      But I'm so glad that folks are not only talking about breaking some very silly barriers... and just telling stories.

      Melanie, thank you for your kind words and your love. And Canon's murder wasn't race-related. It was stupid drugs, kids wanting something, anything he had to get their fix...

      But when one of the three mentioned the other thug's name, he said "Well now I have to kill him."

      And he did.

      When I write stories with dark sides and the beautiful light God shines for us to grasp and grab it's because for so many people, regardless of color or creed, there is darkness lurking... I'd rather kick that devil-darkness to the curb and help bring people to the light. That light of Christ is such an amazing thing. We are so blessed.

      And yay for sessions at the Christy Awards! YES!

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    2. I'm a church hopper, like to visit different churches, and it makes me sad to walk into a church that's all white. I love attending with all types of people, all races and walks of life. I don't want to go to a church that's all one anything, because that's not what heaven is gonna be like! LOL!

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  9. I love diversity because it's real life...or should be. My kids go to a much more racially diverse school than I ever experienced and I LOVE it! I love that that is their norm.

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    1. Beth, hey! We just got the go ahead on "Refuge of the Heart", partner! I'm SO EXCITED!!!!! :) And I am in love with that cover, Bethy!

      Okay, yes, I agree... I love Archangel School and the fact that it's got such a great mix of kids. That's marvelous, isn't it? Thanks for stopping over today!

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    2. Woo Hoo! Can't wait for the relaunch of Refuge of the Heart!

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    1. Right? Me, too! And Carrie my thought is if it's done naturally (like in "Waiting Out the Storm" and "The First Gift" not as the drama... but just as a part of the story like red hair and green eyes.

      Big deal!

      I love that people are people!

      And I love Mandisa. I work out to Overcomer and Good Morning and Toby Mac all the time. :)

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  11. I really struggle with the notion of "I don't see color".
    Here's a good article on why:
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/roni-faida/why-i-hate-the-phrase-i-d_b_9341762.html

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    1. Great article! I'm glad you posted it. It's good to discuss these things, and I like knowing what people of color think! I want to know how you feel. When I was growing up, it was almost taboo to talk about color and race and how to be more sensitive and united. I'm so glad we can talk about them more openly now.

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    2. Interesting point of view here... and not one I'm unfamiliar with. And Roni's blog post made a good point that of course, if we're sighted people, we see color.

      But that brings me back to the phrase.

      Maybe it should be "I don't care what color your (skin/hair/eyes/dress/necklace/freckles) are because I prefer to see you. The person."

      You're not a brown.

      Or a black.

      I'm not a white.

      I'm a person with lots of freckles and some new age spots and it's all on a fairly pasty Irish/German/English skin... Genetics.

      Those don't define me.

      They don't define you unless you choose for them to do so.

      I really dislike it when people say "if you saw a black guy with a hoodie on, coming your way with the hood pulled up, what would you do? Of course you'd notice he was black"...

      Okay, so substitute white/ivory/tan for the initial color and I'll react in a similar fashion because young people hunched into hoodies, acting furtively, can be unnerving no matter what their color.

      Actions speak louder than words.

      Actions speak louder than colors.

      With a bunch of years on the planet, I'm glad that I've learned to look above and beyond the accidents of melanin to the substance of character.

      But I'm also instinctive enough to sense danger in certain situations. I don't think that's bad. I think self-preservation is part of what have kept us on the planet this long.

      I'm glad you stopped by... and I understand the concern. Even though I am limited in my experience to color, I'm not limited to experience in life.

      So maybe it should be "I don't see ONLY color. I hope I see the beautiful soul the good Lord above bestowed upon you and within you... because you are who you are by God's grace and your choices. Let's have a cuppa and get to know each other."

      And if I were in a real place with the coffee pot or tea kettle brewing, we could have the cup. Or a Coke. And cookies. Because nothing is made worse by good cookies.

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    3. That's a fantastic article! And this closing line -- "What I want you to say is, “I see your color. And it’s beautiful.” That sums up what I want to see in my fiction. An explosion of color and culture that lets me view the world from a different perspective.

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  12. hi Ruthy
    I just like good stories, with characters with whom I can relate. I don't really think about skin color of the characters when I'm immersed in the story. When something occurs that makes it clearer that the characters are of an ethnicity other than mine it's usually me going "oh yeah... I forgot about that..." and I keep reading.
    A good story well told is the bottom line... well, for me anyway.
    I'm hoping that the Gupster will be color-blind in his encounters with others. So far... so good...

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    1. Deb, hi! How is the big move? Do you have a "Rocky Mountain High", sweet thing??? :)

      Deb, that's an interesting point. If we're engaged in the story, then the rest kind of just is.... but if the differences or the color or the religious strife is part of the story, then we'd pay attention.

      So much of it comes down to does the color or ethnicity matter?

      Or is it incidental?

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    2. I'm exactly the opposite. I do pay attention the physical details of each character because when I read, I see the scenes playing out like a movie in my mind. I need to be straight on hair colour and eye colour and yes, even skin colour.I want details!!!!! Intentional details. And I want the cover to be an honest reflection of the characters.

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    3. Kav, that's funny because a lot of readers go the other way and want to imagine the person in their own head... that's why you started seeing so many disembodied front models on covers. I know I've been told by multiple publishers that the cover is simply a representation... not necessarily THE PEOPLE... but that's a tough sell if they're totally off-base, right?

      I've been blessed with great covers. No complaints here. And we had to have new covers designed for the re-release of the beautiful Franciscan books, so that was fun... and we decided to make sure the kids were on the cover because each book revolves around some sweet small person! :)

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  13. I'm an Army brat. We never thought about color or race or whatever. We were all kids whose dads were in the Army. No prejudice. It was all good! :)

    Yes, I have a mix of races in my stories...especially in my military series.

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    1. Deb, I'm so glad you stopped by! And I've read all those military books and they were wonderful!

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  14. Thanks for putting this topic on the table. I have a biracial daughter and granddaughters--and often have wondered if I'm "allowed" to write anything but my own race. This has gotten to be such a hot button lately. I'm also glad to see that publishing companies are more open to voices from other cultures and ethnic backgrounds. That's what makes our world rich.

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    1. I'm so happy that the publishers are realizing that people are people... and that authors can tell a great story no matter what the ethnic make-up is. Like you, I can finally use my own family (both sides) for examples, good and bad... and for consultation. But mostly it's just fun to not have to pigeonhole everything! Yay!

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  15. I didn't put much thought to the colors of my characters when I first started writing. They were who they were and since the majority of people I knew were white like me- that's what color they were. It's only when I started getting to know more people of different ethnicity or watching more movies or reading more books with them that they started showing up in my writing.

    I'd say that League of Thieves has probably my most diverse cast. It takes place in a fantasy world but I based it off of history so I've got some Greek, nomadic peoples, desert peoples, Egyptians, African's from farther inland... and only one Caucasian who doesn't know where he's from which is a bit of a mystery because blonde people aren't all that common in that world.

    And in A Certain Sort of Madness, my hero Dante is Italian American.

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    1. Nicki, you showed the proof in the pudding with your comment. You wrote what you knew initially... and then what you learned.

      And you've applied that to your work.

      I think that's wonderful, and I love fantasy with roots in history!

      Keep working, my talented friend!

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  16. Ruthy, I love your honesty and your perceptiveness. I always value reading your viewpoint because your perspective is real and relatable. As a writer, I do try to think about how I can incorporate diversity, especially if I have scenes in the workplace.

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    1. Tanya, what a nice thing to say. Thank you. My children would argue the point, but then that's because they're my children! :)

      I think you made a good point. I bet most of us can spot a set up whenever...

      The token black kid in a group of friends representing 7% of the population.

      Smart Asian kid in a group of friends representing 4% of the population... and always smart.

      Token nerdy looking Jewish guy who worries too much.

      Like you indicated, thinking how to make things naturally diverse is part of the job.

      I like to think that as I develop characters (who are much more solid the second time around... and the third, LOL) I begin to "see" them more clearly. Corrie, the nanny/step-in mother to three motherless rich girls is a self-sacrificing, smart, tough woman... She stands her ground and everything she does is in the best interests of those women... even leaving Kentucky's warmth for the rigors of Western Idaho mountains. She didn't have to give birth to these girls to mother them... and they love her fiercely.

      So I kind of borrowed that from The Help...

      A mixed bag of history settled the West, so the Middleton family was one of the original settlers in Shepherd's Crossing... They rose up with the land, with the towns, with the ranches/farms.... The original Middleton served in the Civil War, then worked cattle drives north, out of Texas. I borrowed a little from Centennial and Lonesome Dove for that...

      I wish people getting along and not being judgmental was more the norm. The world would be a much better place.

      But folks are folks and man is as inclined to sin as the sparks to fly upward... Silly human condition! :)

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  17. Sorry I missed this post yesterday!

    Love this!

    My vote is a good story. About people.

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    1. I agree with your vote! Wholeheartedly!!!

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  18. It's funny that I found this article today in my email box. I spent much of yesterday going over a chapter I'm writing for a Christian Fiction Writing book (with other Christian authors from this site,in fact). My chapter is on writing "colorful" characters. The last section is to encourage authors to write more multi-cultural casts. From a story standpoint, it brings more texture to the tale. For me, it's about writing what I see in my world. I live in the Balt-Wash area in a very multi-cultural community. I love that about it.

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    1. Connie, how perfectly timed is that? And yes, the D.C./Baltimore beltway area is such a fun mix of all kinds of people! Reality is its own special texture, isn't it? Hey, best wishes on your book, Connie!

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  19. I'm a day late but wanted to say what a wonderful post AND message here, Ruthy. I try to view people as Jesus would, and He loves all people, so I should too. :) Of course being human, I am a work in progress. But as far as stories go, I love a good story--regardless of the outward appearance of the characters! Thanks for sharing this post! Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Patti Jo, that being a work in progress is fundamental, isn't it? But if we keep moving forward, hey... that's the best way to move! I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  20. I'm late but i had to weigh in. I grew up in a rural county in Kentucky and we were segregated until September 1960. A new elementary school opened and black students started attending with us. I was almost 10 years old so I never think about a time when I didn't have black classmates and black friends. My husband grew up in an area away from town and his first experience was when he began high school as a freshman. Our daughter attended his school and she didn't have black classmates until middle school, simply because there were no families living in our small community. I don't see color and I don't judge worth by color. God's Creation includes many different colors and many different faiths and He made us all pure at birth. He also made our salvation possible because of Grace and not our color. So, yes,I want a good story, I want to love the characters and I don't care about their bloodlines.

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    1. Connie, you've got such a wonderful way with words. I'm so glad you came over. We are such a sum of our experiences. And I can't look at an African American and say 'Gosh, I know what it's like' because I sure don't. Pasty white girls don't tend to draw suspicious looks or have people turn their backs or cross the street to walk on the other side. So I can't say "I understand growing up black or brown" because I don't.

      I understand growing up in a hovel. In a horrible situation. I understand going without and being the poor kid in class.

      So those differences are part of us and everyone.

      I think if we take those experiences as people and try to make things better, try to help others, try to be the good example of Christ's hands and feet on earth, we'd all be better off.

      Thank you for your input, your story. It means a lot to read it, Connie.

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  21. Life is full of variety. So glad that our books can finally reflect our world's cultural diversity. Go Ruthy!

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    1. Bettie, agreed! Thank you and thank you for stopping over!

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  22. Ruthy, appreciate this post so much. When I first began writing my novel for middle grade readers on the Tuskegee Airmen, I was told by multiple writing professionals I couldn't write the story because I'm not African American. Well. In my mind, what's important is telling a great story with great characters. The book's written. Still waiting for a publisher. :)

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  23. I loved this post Ruthy! First, thank you for the link to Mandisa's video for "We All Bleed the Same" I loved it, I love her and it was so well done. As far as characters in books, I just want to love them and get to know them...to feel their hurt and pain and love. It doesn't matter what their color of nationality it, they are all God's children. Sometimes I wish God had made us all color blind, but then we wouldn't be able to see all the beautiful colors He has blessed us with.

    Thank you for this post Ruthy!

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