Fear of Appropriation

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Happy Saturday, folks! Today I’m going to share a little about what I’ve been going through with my writing, and I would love some ideas, support, feedback, etc. Whatever you have, throw it at me. I am happy to learn!

So, here is what has been going on. About a year ago, after I released my first book, I started hearing the word cultural appropriation thrown around in terms of artists, etc. While it wasn’t about me or my work, I began to wonder if publishing my book, Vivir el Dream, was cultural appropriation. For those who aren’t aware of cultural appropriation, here is an interesting Wikipedia page about it. The first sentence of the article gives a pretty good explanation of its meaning: “Cultural appropriation is a concept in sociology dealing with the adoption of the elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. It is distinguished from equal cultural exchange due to the presence of a colonial element and imbalance of power.”

I am a member of the dominant culture writing about members of a minority culture in a country where there is an imbalance of power between dominant and minority cultures. And though I am married to someone from the culture I am writing about, have many friends and family from that culture, go to church almost exclusively with my brothers and sisters in Christ from that culture, work with people from that culture on a daily basis, am bilingual, and in my heart feel like that culture is part of me, I know that in the end, I am on the outside looking in. There are many things I can miss or won’t ever completely understand because I am not actually from that culture. Not to mention any unconscious bias that might be hiding inside me.

To complicate the matter, I was doing research for my current WIP by asking a friend about some cultural aspects of El Salvador that I was unfamiliar with: language and food questions, etc. During this conversation she wrote something along the lines of “Gringos, always trying to talk about things they don’t understand.” I got angry about it and then got worried about it and spoke with another friend who had been writing a lot about race and bias. Her reply, “Well, she’s not wrong.” This began a complete tailspin and an overwhelming fear of appropriation. I almost trashed my WIP and since have developed a giant case of writer’s block. It has shaken me to my core. Am I writing what God wants me to write? Should I be writing something completely different?

When I prayed about my WIP, God gave me more ideas to turn the book into a series. So I didn’t chuck it. Now even though I feel in my heart that God has led me to where I am with writing and I am writing what God wants me to write, fear is hindering me. I don’t want to appropriate culture. I don’t want to misrepresent. I just want to share God’s love and create understanding within our communities.

So, what’s a girl to do? Please comment below. Thoughts and advice appreciated!

Allison K. García

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New Year’s Resolutions!

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Happy Saturday, friends!

It’s 2018 for nearly a week now, so my question to you is…what are your resolutions/goals for this year and how are they going so far? Also, if you have “reading more” as one of your goals for this year, why not consider adding more diverse literature to your palate! 🙂

Comment below!

Open Discussion: Getting More Diverse Books in Your Local Libraries (and other ideas)

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Happy Saturday, folks!

In past posts, we’ve been talking about the importance of introducing more diverse fiction into Christian fiction, why we love reading diverse fiction, why it’s important, what some of the roadblocks have been, and sharing some of our own stories.

Today I’d like to focus on some things we can do to bring more diverse fiction to our own neighborhoods. Because there are many ways to give at Christmas time and sometimes that can be a few extra minutes of our time! So, here are some of the ways I thought of:

  1. Go to your local library once per month and request a new diverse book they don’t have yet.
  2. Go to your local (non-chain) bookstore and request a diverse book that you’ve read and loved but don’t see on their shelves.
  3. Have a church group or a book club? Invite your favorite author of diverse books to speak. You never know, they might say yes! It means more sales for them and more exposure, plus added knowledge for our churches and book clubs!
  4. Have connections at your local schools or universities? See about getting more diverse fiction on their shelves or about inviting your favorite author of diverse fiction for a speaking engagement.
  5. When you read diverse books, make sure to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This helps with sales and spreading the love!
  6. Consider writing diverse fiction, if you don’t already. Writing is sometimes as fun as reading (though it’s a bit more work). 🙂

What other ideas do you have about spreading the love of diverse fiction in your neck of the woods?

Comment below!

Book Spotlight: A Sidelined Christmas

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving we at Diversity Between the Pages are praying safe travels for you! If you need a book to read while on holiday, check out today’s newest book spotlight: A Sidelined Christmas by Toni Shiloh.


About the Book

The Blurb: Part of the Making Spirits Bright boxset collection.

“Sidelined with a career-ending injury, wide receiver Jahleel Walker is forced to return to his hometown of Peachwood Bay, Georgia to heal. Nothing shocks him more than running into his high-school sweetheart, Lucille “Bebe” Gordon.

Bebe Gordon returned to Peachwood Bay three years ago with a divorce certificate and her daughter, Hope. When Jahleel returns, all the memories of the past come rushing back. She can’t decide if he’s changed or if her heart is holding onto past hurts.

Will Jahleel and Bebe take a chance on love or let life sidelined them at Christmas?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

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.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, BookBub

Open Discussion – NaNoWriMo

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Happy Saturday, folks! We’ve had several discussions about our favorite diverse Christian reads and why it is so important to have more diverse Christian fiction out there. So, today’s blog is both a discussion and a call-to-action!

Are you tired of people writing characters from your culture the wrong way? Or not seeing anyone from your culture represented in Christian fiction? Well, there’s a sure-fire way to fix it. Write a book yourself!

November is National Novel Writing Month! It is where all over the world thousands (maybe millions) of people have taken up the torch to write a book in a month (50,000 words in 30 days). There are tons of supportive people out there to help you both online and in person. Find where your home region is on the NaNoWriMo website.

Personally, I have fallen in love with NaNo. Prior to NaNo, it took me 3+ years to write a book. Since starting NaNo 5 years ago, I have written 10 books. And my first published book, Vivir el Dream, was actually written during NaNo.

NaNo is just a big ball of awesomeness. There are so many people that have said, “Wow, you write books? I always wanted to do that.” If you’re one of those people, that could be the Holy Spirit nudging you. Does God want you to write a book? If so, don’t be like Jonah and go the other direction. Let NaNo swallow you up and bring you to authorship! (Okay, I had a bit of fun with that analogy).

Here’s the discussion part…Do you write books? Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Have you ever considered writing a book? Are you interested in trying out NaNo this year and want more info?

Remember: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. 🙂 Have a blessed Saturday!

Open Discussion: What Diverse Books Have You Read Lately?

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Hello, fellow diverse book readers! Happy Saturday! Summer is officially over and fall has begun. The perfect time to curl up with a diverse read and drink a mug of hot chocolate or spiced cider or pumpkin spice coffee. 🙂

The question of the day is: what have you read lately in diverse fiction? And/or what’s on your reading list? We want to grow our list of diverse fiction and the only way that works is hearing from others about what they have read or have heard is awesome!

Comment below with your recent diverse reads.

Book Review: If I Believe

Happy Friday, Diverse Reader Friends!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Sometimes the biggest risk is daring to hope.

Cinda Ellis doesn’t dare to dream. Life has dealt too many blows, and she’s come to expect disappointment. But then a lifelong dream is realized—meeting her dad—and Cinda’s life is finally turning . . . until reality crashes in once again. On the verge of despair, Cinda finds connection with a group of women from Living Hope Church—and an unlikely connection with one of Hollywood’s hottest stars. Her life just might be turning again. But will she only suffer disappointment once more?

Alonzo Coles is living the life of his dreams. On the heels of his first Academy Award nomination, people are already buzzing about his next film. But his choices—from his career to his exploits with women—are starting to bother him. And he’s reminded of a connection he’d made—to Jesus. His quest for answers—about who he is and what he’s called to do—leads him to the pastor of Living Hope Church . . . and a woman unlike any he’s encountered.

Treva Alexander is embracing her new season. A widow turned newlywed, she’s enjoying new love in a new city, in her new role as pastor’s wife. But she’s suddenly challenged when God begins to shake things up. What will she do when her faith is tested like never before?

Faith Langston is on hiatus—from life. An unexpected pregnancy has made her a new mom at twenty. Now, instead of doing big things for God as she’d hoped—or at least working toward her degree—she’s sidelined at home. And though she’d thought she and the baby’s father would rekindle a relationship, she now wonders if she’s even on his mind—or on God’s mind. Has she forfeited the plans He had for her?

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


Review

I absolutely adored this book. A modern Cinderella tale? Yes, please. If I Believe pulled me into the stories of Cinda, Alonzo, Treva, and Faith. Treva and Faith were in Though I Stumble, book 1 in the Promises of God series, so I was thrilled to see them again. And the magic of Cinda’s story made me think of dancing, and love that sparks under the moonlight.

Of course, it could be because I’m slightly obsessed with Cinderella and Ms. Tate brought that story alive and sprinkled the grace of God on it. Seriously, what could be better than a romance that shows Christ’s love?!

Faith and Treva also had their own issues to go through and I loved how Ms. Tate handled them. There were moments where I felt like I was in church and being ministered to. There were moments where I had to sigh, and moments where I felt like shouting “Amen.” This book has it all so run out and get your copy or beg your local library like I did. 🙂


About the Author

KIM CASH TATE is the author of several books, including Cling (2017) and If I Believe (2017). A former practicing attorney, she is also a Bible teacher and is currently doing a study on First Samuel on YouTube. She’s been married to her husband Bill for more than two decades, and they live in St. Louis with their two young adult children. You can find Kim online at kimcashtate.com and on social media @kimcashtate.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube


Review posted by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion – Christian Diverse Fiction Touching on Contemporary Issues

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Happy Saturday, everyone! Lately with all the chatter about race and diversity in the news, it reminds me of the continued importance of not only having diverse characters in Christian fiction but also in responding to racism and other contemporary issues through a Christian lens.

Our question for today is: What are the pros and cons of touching on contemporary issues through diverse Christian fiction? Where have you seen it done well (please name books/authors)? What contemporary issues would you like to see covered in Christian fiction?

We very much appreciate hearing from you! Please comment below!

Interview with Terri J. Haynes

Happy Monday, Diverse Reader Friends!

Today I’m interviewing one of our co-contributors, Terri J. Haynes. We’re talking about her novel, Love Simplified. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: Tempest Day is an expert on helping others find love through her Connection Parties matchmaking service and the methods outlined in her bestselling book, Love Simplified. She’s one step away from becoming a celebrity matchmaker, the pinnacle of her career dreams.

But when a seemingly simple interview on the nation’s most popular daytime television show takes an ugly turn, Tempest is forced to admit a secret she’s carried for years: She’s never been in love. The fallout is immediate and severe. So severe that the only way to fix the damage is to use her own methods on a reality TV show.

Tempest soon discovers that love is anything but simple. The show and its cranky but handsome associate producer, Lance Moretti, challenges all that Tempest thought she knew about relationships, even her relationship with God. What starts as a desperate attempt to repair her reputation turns into Tempest’s biggest love connection ever.

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. I absolutely adore the blurb for Love Simplified. Where did the idea come from?

Terri: Watching late night TV, something I rarely do. I was watching a reality TV show about a self-help guru helping others with their relationships. As I watched, I started to wonder what would happen if the guru had the same problem as the people she’s supposed to help. I imagined someone who could say all the right things but didn’t actually do them. I was fascinated by that irony.

Toni: That’s what interested me in the blurb! Tempest is African American but Lance is Italian. Was it hard to write a story with an interracial relationship?

Terri: Not really because my marriage is cross-cultural. My husband is originally from Barbados. I know what it’s like to fall for someone who was raised in a different culture. Even more than that, I know what it’s like to bridge the gap between cultures. Interracial relationship was a small jump in my imagination.

Toni: Love it when life’s experiences help us in our writing. Here at Diversity, we hope to bring more diverse Christian fiction to the readers. Our world is diverse, so are books should be as well. But I wonder, do you think too much emphasis is placed on ethnic backgrounds?

Terri: Actually, I don’t think there is enough emphasis on ethic backgrounds. One of the key pieces of good fiction is characters, their background, how they were shaped and their fears. A truly moving story can’t be told without considering someone’s ethnic background. If we take away the emphasis on ethnic backgrounds, we will have the same stories told by the same characters.

Toni: Yes! I completely agree. How about some easy questions? What are you currently reading?

Terri: Yeah…I read 3-5 books at a time! I’m reading a book to write a review and I’m a sensitivity reader for another. I’m really excited about that one. In my devotional time, I’m reading Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby. I’m also reading The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I just finished Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and A Shattered Tree by Charles Todd. I’m about to start In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear.

Toni: Wow! That’s a lot of reading! Skittles or M&Ms?

Terri: Both depending on my mood.

Toni: I hear ya! Rain or sunshine?

Terri: Sunshine. Rain and bad weather often triggers migraines so I sometimes dread rain.

Toni: Boo. I love a great rainstorm, but having your health react is no fun. Flip flops or sandals?

Terri: Either. I love shoes so I’m take pumps, boots and espadrilles, too.

Toni: Lol. Summer or Winter?

Terri: Winter! I love blizzards and have been known to swoon when the forecasters call for thundersnow. Every time there is a heavy snow that shuts the DC metro down for a few days, I watch the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Toni: Blech! You lost me with that one. I lost my mind during the last blizzard in DC metro area. No more! Last but not least, how can readers help support you in your writing journey?

Terri: Pray. Pray and pray hard. I am facing some hard circumstances with it comes to my writing. First, I have many manuscripts in many differ genres. I read broadly so my ideas are all over the place. I don’t quite know if I want to brand myself or write whatever I want. Second, traditionally published diverse Christian fiction has been slow to materialize. Although there is a lot of talk about diversity, I’m not sure I see in fruit of that yet (but I do have hope). Third, Love Simplified is self-published, so I have that option and do plan to self-publish more. It is hard to decide what direction to take, but God knows where I need to go next. He’ll open the door and I trust Him to do just that.

Toni: You have our prayers! Blessings to you! Readers, do you have any questions for Terri?


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh


About the Author

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband). She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As she grew, her love for writing grew as she tried her hand at poetry, articles, speeches and fiction. She is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and a certificate in creative writing and graphic design, meeting the minimal requirements of being a geek. She and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader.

Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill of their favorite characters.

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