With guest blogger Toni Shiloh!
Y’all, I can’t believe I’m here on Seekerville. I’m so excited to be rubbing virtual elbows with some great authors. Thank you, Ruth for inviting me here to speak.
When I got the invitation, I immediately began to wonder what on earth I’d talk about. It’s a little intimidating when you know so many people will be popping in to say hi. So after praying and talking to some trusted friends, I decided to go with what’s been on my heart: diversity.
In my journey of bringing more diversity, I’ve had many Caucasian authors come up to me and ask if they’re qualified to write a novel with a poc hero/heroine when they aren’t one. I know that fear can debilitate a person and bring on the dreaded writer’s block, but writer friends, 9 times out of 10, you don’t even have the same occupation as your hero/heroine.
As we do with anything, we must do our research. But when it comes to writing a poc hero/heroine, I would caution you. Not about researching, for it is best to use sensitivity readers (readers who are same race as your hero/heroine to ensure no offense is made), walk in the shoes of your reader, etc. But if you aren’t friends with a diverse group of friends, how can your work reflect that?
Now I know it’s hard if you live in a town that has a low percentage of ethnic diversity, but that’s what the internet is for! I’ve met many writer friends around the world who don’t look like me. What was an initial meeting of like-minded individuals has turned into a friendship I treasure. As believers, we have an even greater call to unite with our fellow man. So please, find a friend who’s not like you. Do life with people who aren’t in the same station as you. Your world will grow organically and automatically flow into your writing.
Now for my reader friends, I’ve heard so many of you ask where are the diverse characters? Why can’t I find them? I’m so glad you ask! It does my heart good to know you want the stories so many authors are putting out. Unfortunately, not all Christian fiction is labeled as such when it comes to the bookstores or even the library. Often times, when a book is featuring a poc, the book is labeled under that ethnicity. It can be difficult to weed through the sections in brick-and-mortar stores trying to find that inspirational book written by a poc or featuring a poc, but never fear.
I do have some tips.
1. Do an internet search. A quick search will pull up the bestseller lists from your eBook retailers, giving you a starting point for names.
2. Ask an author. I love helping readers find new authors and other authors do as well. We are aware you read faster than we can publish, so you need to have other authors to read. We’ll happily connect you with other authors. It’s no different when you’re searching for diversity.
3. Ask a librarian. This is especially helpful. Librarians are aware of what books cross labels, like which poc writes Christian fiction or other inspirational reads.
4. Ask a friend. If you’re friends with an poc avid reader, ask them! Find out who they’re reading and why. Not only will you get a recommendation, but this is a perfect opportunity to open the flow of conversation. Sometimes we’re not aware of what’s going on in the background.
So now that you know how to find them, I feel it’s important for you to know how to support authors. Not just the authors of color who are writing hero/heroines of the same vein, but for those writers stepping outside their race lines and bringing diversity to the forefront. Again, I have some tips. J
1. Review. Beth Erin did an excellent post on do or don’ts for reviewing. I’m sure you remember how helpful it was, so I won’t say more.
2. Request. Request your local book store to purchase the books. Request your library to buy these books. Request your friends and family. Get the word out so that publishers and others will join the boat.
3. Follow. Please follow the authors who are bringing you diverse reads. We need the support so much! When we’re down and wondering why are we writing, a like, comment, or message from you bolsters us and keeps our eyes on the prize: readers.
4. Read. Perhaps the best and most enjoyable tip yet. Read our books. Knowing readers are picking our books up from the massive selection that is out there is the best thing you could ever do. Because our hope is you will become a fan for life.
Bio: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.
She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.
You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.