I have often found that even the hearing person with the best intentions does not truly grasp what it means to be deaf or hard of hearing. My focus here is going to be on hard of hearing, on those who communicate in verbal language. Because even if we can use auditory senses to understand verbal language, it’s not easy. The result is daily frustration.
This frustration point is key, because I’ve found that when we express that frustration, we are brushed aside. Or the hearing person gets frustrated repeating themselves, when we’ve dealt with much more than they have. Or we are told to calm down and not be upset when, let me be clear, we have every right to be.
There’s another element to this, one that I am often aware of as a writer. Not hearing things, missing things, needing clarification is such a normal part of our lives. I’ve been hard of hearing since birth, this is how my world has always been. Therefore I don’t often think about the amount of times I’ve misheard something, because I’m always missing something. And even then, it’s a slow simmering, because even if I’m not thinking about it, it’s there.
This isn’t something easy to put into my novels, and it’ll be clear soon how disruptive it would be to show authentically. I also wanted to do this for myself as a reminder, because it’s much easier to write smooth dialog, then the stop and go dialog of reality.
Therefore I decided to take one day out of my life and chronicle every interaction where I missed something. And I want hearing people to look this over and really consider it. This isn’t an odd day, or a “bad” day. This is a very normal day in my life. This is my everyday occurrence.
A note before I begin: I have a mild/moderate loss in one ear, and moderate/profound loss in the other. I’m essentially deaf in that ear, and considering I don’t always wear that hearing aid (and didn’t on the day in question) you can take this example as that ear being deaf, meaning no adequate sound coming through. On this day I was working from home, and kid was on school vacation. A typical pandemic stay home day, so the only people I needed to interact with were my family members (so we’re not getting into masks and public spaces, which would be an additional challenge).
A second note: hearing aids aren’t worn to sleep, and they can’t get wet (most of them), so I don’t put mine on until after I shower, and on this testing day I had a lazy start and began work first.
A third note: it’s highly possible I have a processing disorder which might compound listening and comprehension.
5am: Wake up. Unsure if I woke up due to a sound or not, but shortly after I hear something. I’m not sure what it is, but in a house with three cats anything is possible. It takes a bit, but I realize someone is in the bathroom and that must be the sound.
9:30am: I’m now awake, no hearing aids on. Husband is working from home and I needed him to repeat twice and needed time to put words together. He talks as I’m walking away and I have to return back to him to hear.
9:50am: Realize I have tinnitus ringing in both ears. This is the kind of realization where it’s probably always there, just at times louder than others.
9:55am: Another conversation with husband, missed a few things but able to follow by using cues and filling in the gaps.
10:20am: Needed a third repetition to follow something.
10:22am: Hear a human voice and can’t follow it, turns out husband is talking to one of the cats.
10:23am: Cat meows but I can’t hear it, only know she meowed because I saw her mouth move.
10:30am: Needed another repetition.
10:40am: Husband is on a phone call and while I can hear his voice, I cannot understand most of his end. I talk to him afterwards and need three more repetitions.
10:50am: Hearing something, not sure what. I go to investigate and then needed repetition to follow the answer.
11:00am: Need repetition twice.
11:30am: Miss multiple things and need a repetition.
12:30pm: Hearing aids are now on, need tween to repeat.
12:57pm: Hear something, keep checking on kitten, ensuring she’s not getting into trouble, sound isn’t from her. No clue what it was.
1:40pm: Tween is chatting with friends through headset. I tried to understand but can’t, only catch a few words here and there.
2:20pm: Tried to listen to kid talking to friends again, still mostly not understanding.
6pm: Need several repetitions during dinner.
7:30pm: Need kid to repeat when he talked as I walked away.
9pm: Hearing aids are now off, can no longer hear kittens mewls. Needing husband to repeat double, and again, and again multiple times. Ears and brain may now be tired, making communication more difficult. Husband claims he should have noticed I couldn’t follow at one point and move closer/talk louder.
9:25pm: All communication at this point is needing at least one repetition.
10:14pm: Same thought as above, decide to stop marking down as conversations are coming faster and all need repetition.
At bed time notice tinnitus again.
A few takeaways from this: There were some conversations in the middle of the day, when I had my hearing aids on that I did not need repetition for. There were NO conversations without my hearing aids that did not need repetition. None. When I am not wearing my hearing aids I make sure to get close to the person I’m talking to, and angle my non-deaf ear toward them. This is not something that a hearing person reciprocates.
So this is a normal day in my life as a hard of hearing person. I am writing this on another day when I’m not wearing my hearing aids. Tinnitus is raging, kid is talking to friends and except for being loud and annoying (I’m sound sensitive, yeah make sense of that) I can’t tell you what he’s saying, though I did catch something as I walked near.
These repetitions are an increase from my memories. Now, my deaf ear wasn’t always deaf, and I used to get some comprehension from there, hearing aids or not. My hard of hearing ear might be blocked with wax or going through some changes of her own, I’ll figure that out eventually (note, this is not a point to have sympathy for me, it is an is, it is my life, whether my ears stay consistent or move closer to deaf, I'm happy with them, and no, they will never become more hearing). Even if that ear is blocked in a way that can be fixed, we are not talking about chopping that list in half, we’re talking about removing a few instances, that’s it.
A little estimated math: I miss something 100% of the time without my hearing aids on. Sometimes that means I’m asking for repetition, other times that means I miss a word or two but can still figure out what’s being said. Verbal language is a lot of guessing and missing pieces. When I do have my hearing aids on, I’d venture that drops down to 70%. Put it all together and I’m missing something 85% of the time.
That’s 85% of my conversations every single day.
Tell me, have I earned my frustration?
I am so excited to be a part of the Salt + Stilettos blog tour!
Sweet Home Alabama meets Top Chef when Miami’s most determined image consultant
clashes with Samoa’s most uncooperative chef in a race to rebrand him as South
Beach’s newest star.
Brett Fontaine learned early that appearance matters and not to count on anyone but yourself.
Trading her red-dirt roots for the title of Miami’s go-to image consultant, she refuses to let
anything jeopardize her new life.
Not an influential client-turned-stalker who’s up for parole.
Not post-kidnapping panic attacks.
Certainly not the stubborn, attention-phobic chef she’s challenged to transform into a celeb in
Will Te’o can almost taste the dream he sacrificed American Samoa, culture, and
cherished family ties for—opening a four star restaurant in the most cut-throat culinary
location in North America.
Unfortunately, that requires navigating it’s equally cut-throat social scene. When his first
public performance ends in a social media spectacle, his only option is turning to the stiletto-
wearing nemesis who’s invaded his kitchen.
Neither expected to share anything but barbs, yet somewhere between accidentally bonding
over comfort food and office-wrecking sex, they’re named South Beach’s hottest pairing.
Until Brett’s stalker engineers a reputation-shattering reveal. She may be going down, but
she’s not taking Will’s dreams with her. Now Will’s pulling out all his new skills and
cooking up a last-ditch event. He’ll prove to Brett that relying on the right person makes for
the perfect recipe—or be left heartbroken in the spotlight.
Ebook and paperback: April 21 st from City Owl Press
Good Reads | Amazon
Click the link to enter this amazing giveaway! -- http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9751c04228/
About the Author:
Janet Walden-West lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and
a husband who didn’t read the fine print. A member of the East Tennessee Creative
Writers Alliance, she is also a founding member of The Million Words craft blog. She
pens diverse Urban Fantasy and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary
A 2X PitchWars alum, 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor, and Golden Heart® finalist, her debut
multicultural Contemporary Romance, SALT+STILETTOS, is due out April 21st 2020
from City Owl Press. She is represented by Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary Agency.
Find her at:
This is going to be a bittersweet week for me. I’ve decided to remove my first book from publication. There are many reasons for this decision, but before I go there I want to talk a bit about what this book means to me.
I started it when I was 21, a recent college graduate. I had hit that pivotal moment of, “I’ve graduated. Now what?” I started writing this before I landed my first post college job, before I moved out of my parents’ house. I started because I had been writing fan fiction in college and I really enjoyed writing and wanted to try my hand at a full-fledged book. I took my favorite fan fiction piece, removed the fan part of it, and got to work.
I worked on that book over the next twelve years. That book was with me when I moved in with my boyfriend, changed jobs, bought a home, got married, adopted a cat, lost a cat, adopted three more cats, and had my son. That book would lay dormant for years, collect dust, then be brushed off and worked on again. That book was with me when I finally took that step from “I want to write a book” to “I’m really going to make this a reality.”
That book also very much represented who I was at 21, not who I was twelve years later when I finally clicked publish.
These characters are a part of me. I know them well, loved them for years. I had a full series planned out, a second book drafted, a third book started. But something happened along the way: I started reading more. I decided to write a new novel, a different novel, a full-fledged contemporary romance. My voice changed.
These first few changes become more changes. My craft grew by leaps and bounds, to the point where this first book doesn’t match my other books. And I fear if readers of my other books were to pick it up, they’d only be disappointed.
Therefore it is time to put this book back on the shelf. One day I could dust it off and rework it to match where my craft has grown. But I don’t have plans for it just yet.
I learned so much with this story, started meeting my first fellow authors, found the start of my voice. So even though I know this is the right decision for my brand and my career, I’m still sad.
Writing is personal but publishing is business. And the business side of me knows it’s time. Therefore at the end of this week I’ll be removing Lila’s Choice from publication. My intention is not to erase it, one really can’t in today’s day and age, but to continue moving forward. It will always have a spot of my physical shelf at home, and a place in my heart.
I can't believe that A Perfect Mistake publishes today! Back in 2013 I first sat down to write this novel, my first contemporary romance, with a social worker character based on my former career. This novel has been through it all: so many changes and revisions and rejection. There was a time where I wasn't sure if it would ever find its way to readers.
As of today people can read this forbidden romance, read these two main characters, Nica and Cam, that I've come to know so well. I've planned out their future, down to the names of their future children. Maybe one day I'll share those tidbits with you. But first, you need to read their story.
This story has heart, heat, romance, and will tug at your heart strings just a bit. Or a lot. My hero is Deaf and, fun fact, he didn't start off that way. In the first draft I only had his grandmother as Deaf, and in a revision light bulb moment, realized he should be Deaf as well. And as I fixed the manuscript I realized he was always meant to be.
Cam does lipread in the novel, so let me be perfectly clear: lipreading is very hard and largely a guessing game. Only 20% of sounds are visible on the lips, the rest comes from inside the mouth. For most of us, lipreading is not a viable option for communication. But some deaf individuals do manage to lipread with decent accuracy. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of practice, which Cam was forced into as a child. So, yes, he does lipread more than most of us, but he also struggles with it.
I needed to get laid. At least, that’s what my amber cocktail made me think—correction, my third amber cocktail. If the first two hadn’t murdered my inhibition, the third managed to land the final blow.
Minus my usual filter, my eyes wandered around the room, hunting for a man to prey on. The bar was packed for a Tuesday night. Waves of chatter encompassed me, creating a low hum in my ears. But I didn’t care about the noise, not when a particular delicious specimen held me captivated, with hair the hue of rich caramel sticking out in different directions. He sat at the bar, hunched over his drink. A brunette with boobs practically spilling out of her top tried to speak to him, but he shook his head and tapped in front of his ear twice, before turning back to his drink.
She may have slinked back to her friend, but I bit my lip, taming down the grin threatening to split my face. Perfect. My fingers itched to communicate, or smooth down his messy hair.
Before I could make up my mind, his broad shoulders stiffened and he turned. My alcohol-induced bravado vanished, and I tried to wrench my gaze away. Except, I didn’t move. Not an inch. Total disconnect from cranial activity to body movement. Damn fruity drinks. A pair of brown eyes locked with mine. Crap. I knew better than to be rude and stare.
Quick, sign something, I willed my hands, anything.
About to attempt a feeble fingerspelled “Hi,” I was rendered incapacitated when he sent me a nipple-hardening, throw-out-the-vibrator kind of grin.
“Nica, what have you found?” my friend Lexie Edwards squealed, then let out a soft growl. “Yummy! Veronica, go get him.”
At the sound of my full name, I found the will to tear my eyes away from the man. I turned to Lexie, with every intention of telling her no and finding a cab home but “I need to get laid” popped out. And my inhibitions really were toast, because instead of warmth spreading over my cheeks, it spread in a decidedly lower area. Not able to look at Lexie, possibly ever again, I clunked my head down on the table.
“I’ve been telling you that for years. Does your body even know what to do anymore?” Lexie brushed my wild mass of hair off the table, probably littered with crumbs. Crumbs I could handle. Words, not so much.
I raised my head, wobbling like a bobble head. Lexie didn’t have the same problem—we’d had the same amount to drink and she didn’t appear affected at all. Her silky hair flowed to her shoulders like a hot fudge waterfall, not a strand out of place, unlike my unruly curls. It wasn’t fair, perfect hair and a tolerance for alcohol that resembled a frat brother.
“I didn’t mean to say that.”
“Yeah, you did.” Lexie glanced in the direction of Sexy Caramel Hair. “I think you should go for it.”
“You always think that.”
“Yeah, but this guy agrees with me.”
I'm so excited to share this cover with you all! A PERFECT MISTAKE, my forbidden romance/social worker romance, is a story near and dear to my heart. For over a decade I worked in social work, and while I never found myself in a situation like my main character, Nica, I enjoyed bringing a part of my former life to the page.
So, without further ado, here's the cover!
Don't you just love it?
Oh, wait, you want to see it? Okay...
Falling for the forbidden has never felt so right…
When social worker Nica Anders indulges in one night of sexual passion with delicious Deaf man Cam Thompson, the last thing she expects is to see him the next day while visiting her dying client. He’s Cassie’s grandson, and caregiver, the one treat she shouldn’t have tasted. Her job is now on the line, demanding she stay away, but their attraction builds like a raging inferno and Nica can’t help but get burned.
Cam Thompson’s life is a mess. He’s losing his grandmother, the one and only person who’s supported him his whole life, and her dying wish is for him to settle down with a good woman—specifically her social worker Nica Anders. Despite his family’s interference and Nica trying to hold tight to her ethics, Cam’s about to risk further heartbreak. He’s falling hard and fast. Only his grandmother isn’t the only matchmaker in the family, and someone will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
Steamy, touching, heart-warming. A much-needed #OwnVoices romance to go perfectly with that plate of chocolate brownies and glass of wine!
Pitch Wars is a mentor program where agented/published authors, editors, or industry interns choose a mentee to help them revise their novel and bring it to the next level for three months, ending with an Agent Showcase in February, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.
Hey Pitch Wars hopefuls, and other curious people! I’m thrilled to be back as an Adult Mentor for my fourth (!) year. There will be gifs below, so if you are not in a gif friendly environment, come back later to check me out! I’m flying solo this year, and while some of my wish list items might be the same, there will also be changes, so be sure to read on! I’ve had a soft spot for Pitch Wars since before I’ve had the honor of being a mentor, so let me say a few things first: this contest provides a wealth of information. Just by participating, by reading the mentor bios, by hanging out on the hashtag and making friends, you will learn so much. Trust me. I owe a lot of my success to participating in contests, and I’ve never been a mentee.
Before we get into what you really want to know (what’s on your wishlist!) let me tell you a bit about me: I write Contemporary Romance and have two NA books out with Avon, Signs of Attraction and Friend (With Benefits) Zone. I have an adult contemporary romance publishing in November with Lakewater Press, A PERFECT MISTAKE, and a rom-com coming next year with Entangled, MATZAH BALL SURPRISE. I’m represented by Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency. I also offer some editing services, including sensitivity reads.
Beyond the professional stuff, I live with my husband, son, and two cats in Massachusetts. By day I work in the family window treatment business, squeezing in my writing anywhere I can. I’m Hard of Hearing, and neuro-diverse, a big supporter of disabilities.
But, enough about me, you want to know what I’m looking for this year, right? You’ve probably guessed by now the main element I want: Romance! What does that mean? I want a novel that has a heavy dose of romance, complete with HEA (Happy Ever After) or HFN (Happy For Now) and all the swoony feels. Yes, there are some exceptions to that list, and I’ll get to those below. Your novel has to have an obvious romantic plot for me, so if the romance doesn’t naturally work into your query, I might not be the mentor for you.
I’m open to New Adult novels, but like you’ll see others mention, it will probably have to be aged up or aged down. I love NA, I write NA, but the market isn’t giving NA a clear home. So send your swoony NA my way, just be prepared to have a chat about how to alter things.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or scrolled to, it’s cool if you have, just scroll back up at the end and read more, okay?), my specific wish list:
There are certain tropes and themes that I tend to shy away from as a reader. This by no means they are on my no list, I've read plenty of books with these areas and loved them, but it does mean that it needs to have other elements from my list in order to be a good match. With that said, I might not the best match for sports or horse related stories.
Things I am not a good match for:
So why should you choose me? I will praise you as much, if not more, than I will point out areas to fix. I’m a firm believer of the compliment sandwich. I’m a plot hunter. I love nothing more than to find plot issues and point them out. Developmental edits are kinda my jam. And I will go back and forth happily over issues until they shine! I love seeing how things can be made better and stronger. I’m a revision nut. Some of my best work has come from revisions and I’m not afraid to rip things apart and put them back together. I have a soft spot for kick-ass romance black moments. I may have also developed a fondness for torturing characters.
I communicate mostly via email or messaging due to my hearing loss. However, I’m happy to work with what form is best for you!
Some of my favorite stuff, to help give you an idea of what I like. I love to watch romantic comedies (While You Were Sleeping, Stardust, Penelope, Sweet Home Alabama) and a romantic plot or subplot has addicted me to more than one television series (Frasier, How I Met Your Mother, Coupling (British version, American doesn’t exist), Once Upon A Time).
My favorite author list ranges from those I’ve followed for a long time, to those I’ve recently discovered and can’t get enough of: Jennifer Crusie, Jill Shalvis, Nora Roberts, Tracey Livesay, Naima Simone, Alishia Rai, Alyssa Cole. I’m currently devouring the Stiletto and Oxford series by Lauren Layne, around other books on my way too long TBR list!
I'm always happy to chat or answer questions if I can! You can post a comment below, find me on twitter, or check me out at my AMA on the Pitch Wars Pro Boards. Happy mentor hunting! And be sure to check below for other mentor wishlists! You can also find the main Pitch Wars blog post here.
Pitch Wars 2019 Adult Mentors' Wish Lists
If you follow me on social media, you’ll notice I’ve started to do an #ASLSignOfTheDay, and have been surprised by the amount of interest it has received! A big thanks to everyone who is supporting me, and coming back to learn more and more signs.
But, in light of all of that, especially since I speak in the videos, I want to make a few things clear: ASL (American Sign Language) is its own language, with a different grammatical structure. It is not a word for word translation of English. It's not an universal sign language, different countries have their own. You can learn vocabulary by watching my videos, but not how to use it correctly.
The best way to learn ASL is with a Deaf teacher! Because job discrimination is so high for those of us with hearing loss, it’s highly frowned upon for a hearing person to take that job, especially as a non-native signer (I’m Hard of Hearing and didn't start learning ASL until I was 18). If you want to learn, I suggest checking to see if there are any classes with Deaf teachers near you. I know from experience that hearing teachers don’t always teach the language correctly, and some people that I know who’ve taken those classes come out with some funky looking signs. We can spot you.
ASL has regional varieties! So note that I’m from New England, some of my signs will differ from those on the west coast, or in the south.
There are some signs I probably won’t be able to show in my videos, as ASL has this amazing thing called classifiers. Simply put, classifiers are ways of expressing thoughts in a 3D space. My fellow authors will understand this as the difference between show and tell. With a classifier I can show that something is just a little bit away, or a very long way away, all by using the same sign, just differing how it’s performed.
ASL uses a dominant hand. No, you don’t need to all make it your right. If you happen to be left handed, go ahead and use your left hand. Just be consistent. A common newbie mistake is to switch back and forth. I did it at first, but I’m also slightly ambidextrous, so I took some time to figure out which hand I wanted to be my dominant.
ASL involves facial expressions! You won’t catch it in many of my videos, as I’m showing a word not a sentence, but eyebrows and mouth positions can be part of the grammar.
Two handed signs can be done one handed! In the real world sometimes a person has an injury, or a disability, or happens to be holding something. In those cases the signs can be performed one handed, or use an arm or a nearby object as a prop. It’s pretty cool.
Because of the different grammatical structure, there are some English words that are not found in ASL (the is a prime example), and others are used in different context. Another cool thing? While ASL does have some gendered signs, it doesn't have pronouns like he or she. We essentially use they.
A few resources beyond my daily videos to help out those that want to learn:
Dictionaries: Handspeak, Signing Savvy, Sign ASL.
Try this link for some app suggestions! Or this link!
I also love Sign with Robert on giphy!
Questions? Ask below and I'll do my best to answer!
Publishing is an amazing world, full of luck, opportunity, and so much talent. Authors, agents, and editors share quite a bit about the process, and aspiring folks learn a lot through those facts. But publishing also has a lot of secrets, a lot items we don’t talk about.
Going through more than one agent is one of those topics.
In my newbie days, before I landed my first agent, I thought of the agent/author relationship as a magical and special unicorn that would last a real long time. And for some, they do. But once I “crossed over” so to speak, and got to interact with agented and published authors, I learned a very common fact somehow missed my attention: most authors have multiple agents over the course of their career.
The reasons are vast, but the ultimate bottom line is this: writing is a business. An agent/author relationship is a business one, and anyone who’s held a job knows that there are many reasons why they might leave that job: unhappy working conditions, better opportunities, business closes down, etc, etc.
I was thinking of all this as I landed my second agent, and thought about the fun blog post I had made when I landed my first, full of fresh eyed innocence and GIFS and excitement for the future. And I knew I could write a post again, my split with my first agent was amicable and I have nothing negative to write. And yet, I hesitated.
This is an area we don’t talk much about. We don’t talk about all the reasons why an author leaves an agent, or an agent drops an author. And I realized I wanted to collect some data, confidentially, so that the results wouldn’t link back to any author or agent.
So that is what I did. I collected data from 27 authors who have had more than one agent (or at least left their first agent). I don’t know who filled out the questionnaire, I can’t match up any responses. The goal being to create a safe space to share some details that previously might not be shared.
Below are the results:
Why did you split with your first (or any previous) agent(s)?
Four responders mentioned their agent quit the business, one had two agents quit, another had an agent retire. The rest are below:
I also asked if there was a specific event that triggered the separation. A few indicated there were, but weren’t comfortable in sharing. The rest are below:
How long did it take to land your next agent?
Did you find querying to be harder or easier the second (or third, etc) time around?
Any negative experiences, or warnings, you'd like to share?
Any positive experiences to share?
Anything else you'd like to add?
I want to thank all the authors who participated. To anyone out there who is finding themselves between agents, or unsure if their current match is the right one, I hope this helps give you some hope and guidance. This is all a normal part of the business.
As for me, I happily have my second agent and I'm excited to see where our relationship goes. My journey in between was on the longer side of those surveyed above, which is daunting and full of stress. But I knew more about what matched me as an author and what I needed and that helped me search for the right potential matches. And it was just as GIF worthy when the offer came around!
Ultimately, we each never know what the future will hold, but we all deserve to have a good agent/author relationship.
Over the holiday break I found myself at my local Barnes and Noble with money to spend. I happily made my way to the romance section, eager to pick up a book or two on my list.
I walked out with nothing. I first looked up an author whose series I’d been following. I found only one of her books, and I already owned that one. The little romance corner consisted mostly of a few very popular authors, and very little diversity.
I paused to wonder why and the answer came to me immediately: eBooks. Many romance readers predominately buy ebooks, so the buying trends change the dynamics, which leads to me finding a diminished selection.
It’s more than just romance. I headed over to the fiction area and still couldn’t easily find my diverse authors. Young Adult was fortunately different, and I was thrilled to see a “recommended by Angie Thomas” display featuring other authors of color. While my local store might be failing the adults on diversity, it did a better job on the young adults.
Still, I would have liked to see a better selection. Heck, a day later I was at a movies/music/books store that had new and second hand options and not only found a few of my diverse friends, but I also found two books, at a great deal, to purchase.
Whether this is a shifting of trends or not, it would be great to see more diverse romances given shelf space. Let readers find us! Sure, we all want to check out the latest from A list author, but we also need new voices to read. The same old same old left me walking out empty handed, knowing I could go to my TBR list and order a bunch of ebooks.
Perhaps we’ll see more change soon. Perhaps this is just the start of limited options with the digital phase of publishing growing stronger. Especially in romance.
I still dream of finding my books on the shelves, and my friends books on the shelves. I love a good paperback. But I, too, predominately buy digital. It’s easier on storage and my budget. I find perks to both methods of reading. Doesn’t change the desire to see many diverse titles in the fresh new book smelling store.
In 2018 I stopped giving myself reading goals, with a few small exceptions, because it created added stress that I didn’t need. Add to that a great deal of the books I read are unpublished, and therefore harder to count and track on a place like Goodreads, and it made more sense to simply keep track on my own.
So what did I make a goal out of? Not number of books or pages or anything like that. My goal was to have half the books I read be diverse stories. Ultimately I prefer diverse stories written by diverse authors, but that’s not always something easily visible. For my own notes I mark down when I know it to be ownvoices, beyond that I simply enjoy.
Why only half? The answer is simple: I already follow a lot of non-diverse authors and have those books in my collection, waiting to be read. I am also building my list of diverse authors to read and follow, because unless one is actively seeking out diverse voices, it’s too easy to overlook them.
So how did I do with that goal? Out of 29 books I read 15 diverse novels. Not bad. And out of those 15 I suspect 12 are ownvoices, or at least a diverse author writing diverse characters. I think it’s important to read when the ownvoice status is known, to help identify potential bad rep when it’s not. No one wants bad rep out there!
Now, 29 books is on the small side, I know. I did also read 6 full length books from my critique partners, beta reads, and contest submissions, along with who knows how many chapters and pages. The 29 is low for one simple reason: my mental health. It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with this, to the point where I’m pretty darn proud of those 29. For me, the hardest part of a book is the beginning. I need something to really grab me and pull me in. There are two I did not finish on my list, but the other 27 I enjoyed quite thoroughly, and those special words were a great help in lifting me out of my funk.
I’m not going to list all of the books I read, but I will mention my favorites, let me see how long this list becomes:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Hard Pursuit by Sheryl Nantus
Reality Wedding by Laura Heffernan
Toxic Desire and Captive Desire by Robin Lovett
A Lady’s Honor by A.S. Fenichel
Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward
Forbidden Hearts Series by Alisha Rai
Only For A Night and Only For Your Touch by Naima Simone
Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
R is for Rebel by Megan Mulry
Acting on Impulse and Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa
A Princess in Theory and a Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
Scoring the Player’s Baby and Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone
West Coast Love by Tif Marcelo
Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
That “short” list of favorites turned out to be 22 out of those 29 books read, and 27 finished. I’m not able to pick just one favorite, don’t make me! Quite a few of those authors are ones I’ve read before and keep going back for more of their lovely words. And, writer bonus, I know a few of them! It’s a special writerly honor to know people with such talent, and extra special when gobbling up their words.
In case it’s not obvious, I highly recommend those authors and books above. Many of them are diverse, so check them out!
For 2019 I only have two small goals: continue ensuring diverse authors are in my list, and maybe read 30+ if I’m able. That’s it. Life comes with enough stressors, reading should not be one of them. Heck, I actually let go of the diverse goal at one point this year, but since I make a point of out searching for these voices, I still got them in without trying.
I hope your own 2018 read list contains many wonderful treasures in them. And may 2019 bring more!
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