De-Worse It Gets

Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

So, what was the last writer of color you read?

Hint, the answer is “whatever writer you read last, since I’ve still to find a single transparent writer.” Which is good, since it would be disturbing. And I hope one of the last you read is this chick Sarah A. Hoyt and her novel Deep Pink(which is profoundly weird, yes, but come on you guys, if you didn’t like weird, you wouldn’t hang out around here, would you?)

Anyvay….. I swear there are people who never read a book trying to dictate not just what the rest of us MUST write, but also what the rest of us must read.

I thought the “challenge to read writers of color” was stupid enough when I first heard of it 10 years ago, but it’s only gotten stupider. Now entire writers’ organizations (puts hat to chest and holds a minute of silence for RWA. I’d do it for SFWA but RWA was once far more useful including teaching and mentoring stuff SFWA never had. Besides SFWA is long dead and rotting, so I’m going to edge away from the coffin.) are falling into this insanity.  We’re hearing that BLIND-JUDGED-CONTESTS, where you can’t even guess at the name of the writer (and these days, honestly, it won’t help. I swear my kids, now mid to late twenties are the last properly spelled names in their generation.) are “racist.”

And we’re hearing that your novels must be “inclusive” and at the same time you can’t write anyone who isn’t exactly like you.

Seriously, how many cat-addicted Portuguese-born women can I write?  (The person who just muttered he or she is waiting for me to write ONE can go to the corner without dinner AND without a book to read. I’m not saying I’ll never write someone with my background, but she won’t be ME. Mary Sues fail to interest me.)

They also think writers read only about characters just like them. And that if you aren’t actively seeking out writers “of color” (Well, you must tell me, chilluns, where you find transparent readers. Because I’m curious.)  or giving awards to them, then you’re evil and racist.

This bullshit has gotten so bad that Stephen King himself has gotten out of his left-leaning tower that what matters, really, is the novel. Or the work of art. The actual writer is irrelevant.

He’s right you know? To this day it can’t be proven who Shakespeare was.  Me, who studied the era, think that the Oxford theory is a bunch of elitist codswallop and that the Anne Hathaway/Queen Elizabeth theory is a bunch of feminist nonsense, for the Marlowe theory to work the man would have needed massive doses of thorazine which they didn’t have, and…  But the truth is we don’t know. Was he actually gay and just married for show? We don’t know. Bisexual? Likely, but we don’t know. Did he identify as a winged dragon and an ornate building? We don’t know. Did he dress like a woman and hang out in bars? We don’t KNOW.

What we do know is that the characters and plots he created still speak to us across time and space and often in translation.  The art lives, as the artist lies moldering in his grave. Or rather (as someone who as a kid played in some ancient stone mausoleums (what? you know you only didn’t do it because you didn’t have them. Amazing places for hide and seek with a side of making your cousin pee himself when you jump out.) probably mostly some musty-smelling dust.)

This is how people read. We don’t care what the writer looks like. Actors are a little different and we DO care because we have to look at their mugs. (And no, I’m not watching any historical dramas set in Europe with prominent people played by black actors. No, it’s not racist. It’s the fact I know history. You want an historical drama with black people? Set it in Africa. There weren’t many white people around.) But writers? People could be purple with pokadots. I don’t CARE.

Sure, if you’re writing about a village populated by Zulus, I care that you know what you’re talking about. That has zero to do with your skin color, and everything to do with research and sometimes (but not always) life experience.

I know I could have got a lot more publicity and push in my trad career if I’d written about Portugal. Double if I could write about victimhood.

The problem is writing about the REAL Portugal doesn’t translate well. When you think you’re being pretty sympathetic but realistic, people tell you that you’re a narrow minded pain in the ass (a rejection I once got for a story set in Portugal. And Larry and I still get bitching about the Portuguese scenes. Some of it from Portuguese. Don’t ask.) Because you don’t fit the American head-picture of Portugal.

I actually had to learn to write Americans, because of that. Okay, my contemporary Americans are odd, as in, see Dyce Dare, but then all my characters are odd.

Anyway, the point is the many people who read Dyce Dare, not a single one — not even on finding out who I really am — has given a good g*ddamn that I didn’t grow up in Colorado, with crazy parents who own a bookstore. (One out of three isn’t bad.)

People read novels for novels. If you read people’s skin, you …. are in a completely different sort of hobby.

I won’t claim that I write what sells. Me and salesmanship are rarely in the same zipcode at the same time. heck, my garage sales usually give stuff away because I don’t know how to sell.

Mostly I write because a character shows up in my head and says “Hey toots,” (My characters are very rude. Also the last one to say so was a cat. Yeah, yeah. Look for The Protectors Series later this year.) “write my story.”  That’s it. And because I’m assured that if I let the books build up forever, they will drive me insane(r).

I write because I like telling stories. Which means… I don’t know. That I’m a traitor to my gender and skin color, not to mention genetic origin? Bah. I can’t betray things I have no allegiance for. Sure, all of them influenced who I am, and I’m assured my voice is unique (most used word in my reviews. It’s probably not a good thing.)

BUT most of all? I write because I must, and I hope people enjoy it.

I’m very proud of my award wins, mostly because neither award gives a flying flick about people’s skin color and orientation, age and nationality, or any of that.

For all of those clamoring that we must give awards “properly” by skin color and other characteristics that have bloody nothing to do with writing: I’m a first generation immigrant, a woman of (tan. The paintchip says spun gold) color, writing in my third language and from my own “unique” perspective.

What do I hear when people tell me one must read writers by color and other such characteristics, including but not limited to whom they sleep with?  What do I hear when I’m told we must give awards to more people like that? Even though NO ONE can tell the color of a writer unless they employ extraordinary effort and search engines?

I hear “You poor little thing. We know you’re not as capable as male, white people, and those who speak English natively.  And we want to give you an A for effort.”

My answer to such racist, sexist, demeaning bullsh*t is and will remain “Gaze upon my middle fingers. Behold! I have a matched set.”


295 thoughts on “De-Worse It Gets

    1. Is just a matter of which bit of spectrum you choose. Even X-rays will have some shadowing due to bone density and such. Perhaps something in radio? Though you have to have a wavelength that isn’t so big that the write simply cannot be acknowledged as even possibly existing. UHF might be something to consider.

        1. Depends on how your brain interprets it. Most of us can sense heat , and some of us can even differentiate where and how far the source is. But I don’t know of anyone who can actually pick out an image in heat, not that we exactly get much exposure to chances to do so.

          1. Although also funny, that’d mean that anybody who isn’t close enough for me to feel their body heat has no ‘color’ in that spectrum so they’re OK.

            1. LOL. If you’re close enough for me to feel your body heat, you’d better be okay. Unless you’re Pele; and in that case, I would feel you from across a very large parking lot.

        2. Blackbody radiation is the EM emitted by an object simply from being at a certain temperature. Tends to be in the infrared, but the peak famously moves to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and ultra violet as you heat things up.

        3. The actual wavelengths have no color. Color depends on the receptors. For example, infrared detectors, commonly used in night vision, display the objects radiating heat in a bright green.
          But, the actual wavelengths have no actual color. It’s just an artifact of the sensor display.
          My expertise? I’m a retired physics teacher.

          1. It isn’t even the sensor. Most infrared cameras (all that I’m aware of, except perhaps for some scientific ones) don’t discriminate by wavelength. They’re like a black and white camera with light of various wavelengths all exposing the film. There might be greater or lesser sensitivity to different wavelengths but that’s simply rendered as “brighter” or “less bright.” It’s the display that renders it green (usually) for reasons that have nothing to do with the IR itself.

            “Color” is simply the way human perception renders different wavelengths of light. In principle, IR (or UV or X/Gamma rays, or microwaves, radio, etc.) could have “color” to some creature capable of perceiving them and able to distinguish wavelengths. Humans can’t. We can feel heat, but we can’t distinguish 10.6 micron radiation from a CO2 laser from 800 nanometer near infrared. It’s all just “heat” to us experienced as the warming caused by energy absorbed through the skin. Some creature with visual percpetors sensitive to different wavelengths of IR (much like the cones in our eye are sensitive to different wavelengths of light) might experience that as “color” but it’s no something we humans can experience.

            The best we can do is create “false color” images translating things into analogs within the visible spectrum. Even that has limits as illustrated in Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, where Lazarus asks Minerva (then still a computer, or perhaps residing within a computer) about “her” visual range–5 octaves compared to the human just under one–and asks if she can see chords in those colors. She can. He: “Don’t bother trying to describe those extra colors to me” because he’s not equipped to perceive, and therefore to understand, them.

            1. “Don’t bother trying to describe those extra colors to me”

              I am fairly sure that one of those colours is octarine.

            2. There’s also a good question of whether any of us have a common perception of anything. We may both agree that a certain crayon is Forest Green, but do each of us perceive, that is interpret, that Forest Green the exact same way?

              Some of the latest on brain-computer interfaces seems to indicate that we all perceive shapes in generally the same areas of the brain, with the same kind of receptors; and that artificial stimulation of those areas can reproduce the same shapes regardless of the person. There is a caveat that there is some training/adjustment required by either the person or the machine due to developmental and experiential differences. But people have been able to transmit an image to a machine and then have that image transmitted to a second individual. Very crude, very grainy, but you can see the images amid all the visual static.

            3. The shrimp mantis has 15 color receptors and can see into the deep ultraviolet to — well, red or infrared, the sources conflict.

      1. I suppose you could try neutrinos. Only the Sun and Jupiter would be plainly visible.

        1. This is a question where precise definitions matter, hence really fun.

          Color in the sense that the woke care about, it doesn’t really matter whether the bones are reflecting something, because bones might mostly reflect the same.

          Color more technically might be what is reflected (instead of being absorbed or passing through) when an object is illuminated. So, if your illumination is directional enough, you can pick up very low levels, if the amount emitted by the universe is low enough.

          Transparency? How much of what is reflected or absorbed compared to the illumination that passes through? Your lower limit is much higher, because the strength of the illumination might prevent a more sensitive instrument. Gamma rays come to mind for some reason.

          1. Even if they loved the colors as I do: Eyes deep pools of darkness, hair flashing like a raven’s wing, skin of antique gold…

            SHE’S GOT A MAGA HAT ON-?!

            Cue stabby mob action.

            They don’t give a rat’s shiny pink scabrous patootie for skin colour*. It’s purely secondary. Now that you’re part of the collective , then we rank you by palette for Pokemon intersectinal points.

            *I’ve been reading the Last Psychiatrist recently so pace him/her they only care about the colour they’re socially allowed, nay, praised for hating. Paging Shirley Jackson…

          2. Even if they loved colour as I do: Eyes pools of darkness, hair a flashing raven’s wing, skin like antique gold…

            It would not matter. Because until you are part of the Collective, you do not get to collect Pokemon intersectional colour badges.

    2. I am offended on behalf of ghost writers everywhere. Because clearly they need the assistance of the living to have their concerns heard. I shall speak for them!

      (Sorry, my brain went begging after my advancement exam this morning.)

      1. my brain went begging after my advancement exam this morning.

        I ask the standard question: Did you take the exam or did the exam take you?

    3. The problem is that that would not do the trick either. One can be as colorful as you please, and still be transparent as can be, because someone can see clearly through you.

    1. It SHOULD be. Is WordPress being a poopy face again? I’ll fix. I’m designing the blog anew tonight.
      And I’m sorry. I know you guys have got used to the frayed rugs and the broken sofas. BUT it’s time.

      1. Can you make the text area wider? I’ve got about 300 pixels of blank white space on either side of your web page, in a window about 1600 pixels wide.

        Deeply nested comments have about enough room for five words per line.

        Reading stuff
        when it looks
        like this is
        kind of a
        pain. 😀
        “You think you know pain? Try wearing a corset!”

        1. “You think you know pain? Try wearing a corset!”

          Try quoting that to a woman who wears period clothing. They can get quite passionate how absurd it is. Many full-figured women find them more comfortable than bras.

          1. A well fitted corset is a thing of beauty and functionality.

            Also if you have problems with menstrual cramps or anxiety a corset can help. I

            Also 2 if you are seeing this WordPress is no longer eating my comments.

            1. Ooooh yeah. I miss being able to use corsets (too bloody hot here in Australia) and I actually miss the bit about it being helpful to menstrual cramps. It was also fantastic for my back aches… *sigh* Someday again maybe. Once the pregnancy pounds have gone away.

              On the new theme, I rather miss being able to see the comment I reply to, versus being sent to the bottom of the comments at the bottom of the page.

                  1. Ah. That behavior may be related to the fact that I usually reply to comments with the Reply button in the e-mail.

                1. Today is the first time I’ve seen the new interface.

                  Regarding “Reply”. When replying from comment on page, the boxes are immediately below the comment replying to, both old & new view/interface. Replying from email, it comes under “it depends”. Once it starts going to the bottom on a specific blog, after that it always does it that way; it still goes to the correct place, if it isn’t going to delay the comment post (generally). However, if I search for the comment I want to respond to & hit reply, then boxes are immediately below comment.

                  As a programmer I so loved conditions that the response to “how do I reproduce the problem” answer is “depends”. Okay. Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, finally tracking & repeating the problem which equated to solving the problem was always a high. Tracking it down when you don’t know how to recreate problem? Not so much fun. From the other side, this is where you get: Programmer -> “It works. It isn’t broken.” User -> “It doesn’t work. Fix it.” Repeat loop.

          2. To be fair, they pulled Elizabeth Swann’s corset so tight she couldn’t breathe, and passed out.

            Then there’s Emily’s mother in The Corpse Bride: “Tighten her corset. She can talk without gasping!”

            Wow, corset jokes. Is that a thing?

      2. Meh. I am confident the new tiles will soon acquire a thin lacquer of grease and the Formica become chipped in all the old familiar ways. So long as the diner doesn’t alter its menu there’ll be few complaints.

      3. All good. Can’t be as bad as some of the stuff I’ve ghost edited, once upon a time when there *was* time.

        Bring on the change. We read SF. I think that leads to a measurable tolerance for such things.

  1. It’s ironic.

    If I said that I would only read books written by White Male American Baptists, I’d be called Racist, Sexist and a Religious Fanatic.

    But they want me to read non-White authors, non-cis-male authors & authors who oppose my religious views.

    I call them idiots & bigots because all I care about is “does the story pull me in”. IE Nothing about what “type” the author is.

    1. What I object to is having to go research the skin colour of the writers. The proper answer to “are you reading books written by Brown people” is “How the he’ll should I know?”

  2. The only visual awards ceremony I care about is the Tonys, and that is because they understand that their broadcast is A Big Damned Show and they are going to Broadway the heck out of it. The Oscars forgot that years if not decades ago, and I’m only interested in awards ceremonies if I’m a participant. (Not necessarily in the awards categories, more like helping it be put on.)

    1. Ida Know. The “Oh my gads what was she thinking?!?” dresses at the Oscars are fun, the way watching a trainwreck from upwind a few miles away is fun.

      1. The nice thing about modern technology is that you no longer have to actually watch those shows to get sources of “point and laugh” entertainment.

    2. Broadway understands that the Tonys are a giant commercial for Tourist America to come to NY and pay WAY above any reasonable ticket price to have their values and their lives insulted by people who hold them in contempt.

      Those awards are also essential to drive audiences in Middle America to pay merely exorbitant prices to see traveling road companies staging those shows.

      It is (for ticket buyers) the modern equivalent of the Burly-Que and Freak shows which once were staples of county fairs — a chance to gaze into the abyss.

      1. The Branson, Missouri Christmas TV special was more fun than the Tonys. Some of the singers and actors were darned good and some deeply mediocre, but they all entertained me.

      2. …. Opera is a crap shoot too more often than not.

        Do people really travel TO places like NYC for these shows, or is grabbing one of these shows (time and funds permitting) just one of the tourist options? I saw Mousetrap in London from the Oh-God -Oh-God-I’m-going-to-tip-over-and-fall-to-my-death section for that reason. It’s not like the story itself was a big draw.

        My gut says that these Broadway shows are by and for the oligarchy. Any trickle down effect on us proles is a bonus.

        1. Not so much travel to NYC to see the shows, but if they’re going to be in the Big Apple they want to be able to rub it in the faces of have something to boast about to the folks back home. It’s a status thing, and when you look at the hotel bill for a week’s stay it isn’t unreasonable to pay for a set of $100 tickets for a show folks have heard about.

          I gather the international tourism trade really likes to be able to say they’ve seen the shows.

          From such as I’ve read (e.g., NY Post theatre critic Mike Riedel’s history of Broadway from the Seventies through the Nineties, Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway*) it is mostly the tourist money driving those prices, with the locals sneering at the crap tourists will see. Cleaning up the theatre district turned the area into a money-making centre and seriously boosted the town.

          *eminently readable and informative

            1. I remembered one other, albeit critical, element of the book’s thesis: a major part of the rise in ticket prices was the theatre owners and show producers effort to capture the hidden market on ticket prices. Previously the tickets could only be sold at face value, were often bought in blocks by re-sellers (aka: eeeeeeevul speculators) who sold them at market rates, sometimes making more on a given night’s show than would the people putting on the show.

    3. The big problem that the Oscars have is that no one cares whether “some movie I’ve never seen” beats “some other movie I’ve never seen.” When the Oscar show was big, it was because everyone had seen most, if not all of the movies that had been nominated for the big awards (probably 4 of 5 for Best Picture), had opinions, and wanted to see if they were right.

      Now, most people have seen maybe one of the 10 BP nominees, and you know that it’s one that they threw on the list to make it seem like they cared about the movies people actually watch. There’s no reason to care. If Hollywood wants to turn the Oscars into the awards show for “twu awt,” rather than those annoying movies that pay the bills, that’s fine. However, there’s no reason for the rest of the country to care what they decide.

      1. I once paid for a Variety subscription for obscure reasons, so I still am on their email list, so I know there is an ongoing and vehement debate as to whether a movie being financially successful should disqualify that movie from any and all industry awards.

        So to quote Jar-jar, Meeza not watchin dat stuff aneez more.

            1. There’s a lot of FX, but I’m hard-pressed to find anything truly exceptional about apart from its quantity. Honestly, Marvel’s films are looking increasingly murky and samey in general.

      2. Oh, hell, the Oscars have been a crap shoot forever. They have awarded soooo much drivel, for one reason or another. Studio clout. The director (or special effects guy, or best boy) should have gotten the award for the last movie he made, but didn’t because reasons.

        The most meaningful fix possible would be if they started not giving awards in categories that were crap that year. Can you imagine the reaction if The Academy came right out and said “the category of Best Actor in a supporting role will not be awarded this year because all of you mailed it in.”?

        Schofield’s Law of Popular Culture; we remember the popular culture of eras past so fondly because, mercifully, we don’t actually remember that MUCH of it.

      3. Stopped watching award shows a long time ago because got tired of the shows being a bunch of people who despise everyone who doesn’t agree with the latest leftist orthodoxy and going on rants about how everyone they don’t like is eeeevilllll. F’em.

  3. A Delaney novel had me thinking him to be black, but that may be because most of my friends and coworkers at the time I read it were black.

    1. I firmly believed for much of my adult life that Ursula Le Guin was black. I have no idea why (well, I have, but it only makes any sense inside my brain) but remember being startled to see a photo of her on the internet, many years after reading her books, and realise that she wasn’t.

      The weird thing is I probably *had* seen pictures of her before, not least in the actual books I was reading, but evidently they weren’t (as I leafed past them to get to the actual story) enough to replace the image firmly embedded in my mind of what she looked like.

      Also for some reason used to think Tennessee Williams was a woman, maybe lack of familiarity with American naming conventions, maybe some weird conflation of author with a character…

      1. I had read only a very a little bit of Le Guin before I found out she was the daughter of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and psychologist Theodora Kroeber (hence Ursula’s her middle initial), which gave me the image of an ancient white female author, likely years in her grave. I was surprised not only that she was alive, but that she lived another decade after I realized it.

          1. Am I the only one who was bummed that when casting AWoE and “Huh. Not a lot of Maori and Tongan actors handy” they didn’t go full Hong Kong wire-fu.?

            I think this is why the multicultural thing got so much traction at first (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) because we thought it would broaden storytelling options. instead it was just “every century but ours and every country but our ow n”

            Old skool equal opportunity offendern

          2. That and Lathe of Heaven and the importance of race in that book. And yet, importance the modern idiots yelling about “we need race” could learn from.

            I’m not a huge fan of her fiction, but she did SJW themes better, and while still telling a story, 40 years ago than the “stunning and brave” women SJW writers of today do.

              1. Well, the 70s version was less annoying and at least tried to tell a story.

                She also didn’t act as though she invented sci-fi and fantasy and it was all ray guns and BEMs before her. She even argued writing bad Dunsany pastiche was a rite of passage for fantasy authors.

            1. she did SJW themes better, and while still telling a story, 40 years ago than the “stunning and brave” women SJW writers of today do.

              My oh my oh my. Talk about damning with faint praise. What next, “Her books are a better sleep-aid than having a #10 can of tomatoes fall on your head”?

              1. She won the Hugo and Nebula when they meant something, so that isn’t faint praise.

                She’s one of the reasons, although not the biggest, that I want to strangle a lot of the stunning and brave crowd who want to talk about women finally winning Hugos. Probably third in line behind Cherryh (who, as a lesbian should be one of their heroes by their own rules) and McCaffery, the first woman to do win either award, winning both in the same year.

                1. Herb, I wasn’t denigrating LeGuin, I was denigrating the idea that being called a better writer than these wokanatti constitutes praise. Hell, Kilgore Trout was a more entertaining writer of SF than those harpies.

    2. There’s an amusing story about someone trying to impersonate Mike Pondsmith (RPG game writer, and owner of R. Talsorian Games; also working with CD Projekt Red on that company’s next big video game release…) at a convention. However, the impersonator was apparently unaware that Mr. Pondsmith is black…

      1. Even if I was black I would try to impresonate Mr. Pondsmith for the same reason I can imagine calling him anything other than Mr. Pondsmith.

        That man is intimidating. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he is a pussycat one on one, but looks and speaming voice. Yeah, intimidating.

        1. “Maximum Mike” is his nickname. He seems like a pretty nice guy in the videos that have been posted related to the CDPR game.

          And I’m guessing that the guy impersonating him at the convention didn’t bother to find out any of his personal details beforehand.

      1. Amen to that! I’ll write because it’s what God put my on this Earth to do, but I also hope to make it my career. Write an entertaining enough story that people will pay greenbacks for it. Then write the next story. Then the next.

    1. Last writer of color I’ve read?

      DIIK … other than Sarah, but she refuses to count as one, being a white Mormon. I mean come on, I barely know the Author’s Name of most the books I read. Sure there are a few, because I follow author’s blogs, or they have a long running series. Even the latter I’m more likely to remember the name of the Series, not the author.

      1. Walter E. Williams is much the same.
        Why couldn’t either of them have been our first president of enhanced coloration?
        (I know . . . because we couldn’t make them do so at gun point)

        1. When Alan Keyes ran for the Presidential nomination in 2000, he actually came in first in our (all white attendees) Republican caucus gathering. But *all* Republicans are Rac/Sexist homophobes so I must be lying . . .

          1. Alan Keyes is not “authentically” Black and therefore not only doesn’t count but is proof of the White Man’s demands that African-Americans deny their heritage and conform to honky standards in order to be accepted.

    2. On further reflection, the last writer of color I’ve read was John D. McDonald: The Deep Blue Goodbye, The Green Ripper and others.

    3. Random comment spooky test. Sk—n colr doecan’t count because you do not get collect Pocket Monster int—rsction–l points until you are part of the Collctive.

  4. What, no transparent writers? Surely you’ve heard of that band of most prolific authors, the Ghost writers.
    And I’ll mention in passing that the use of nested parentheses in a blog is an indication of a troubled soul, one who most likely talks to herself and her cats, and probably gets answered back.
    Also, at least one of your awards is most definitely about orientation. It would be inconceivable (to me at least) to imagine any of the current woke crowd to ever write anything that deserved a Prometheus award. You on the other hand most certainly earned the bloody thing most properly with your insidious libertarian philosophies.
    Loves yah dear niece. Most delighted to see you well enough to be again creating such strangeness as Deep Pink. Cannot wait to see what comes next.

    1. What, no transparent writers? Surely you’ve heard of that band of most prolific authors, the Ghost writers.

      *snerk* Well played.

      1. Please, leave me with a few shreds of my delusions.
        Next I suppose you’ll try to tell me that Peter Grant is not a proud African American.

      2. Some years ago, Charles Stross wrote a blog post about the Beige Dictatorship (his version of Robert Michels’s Iron Law of Oligarchy) and how they ran things without any regard for the interests or concerns of actual voters. I thought it was actually an insightful diagnosis. He seemed to think that there was no chance that the Beige Dictators could ever be cast down. Then we had Brexit and Trump and he was really unhappy to see non-Beige people winning elections.

        1. Like I said in one of the several comments Word Press at e, the color does NOT matter. You don’t get to collect intersects Pokemon points if you are not part of the Collective.

    2. And I’ll mention in passing that the use of nested parentheses in a blog is an indication of a troubled soul, one who most likely talks to herself and her cats, and probably gets answered back.

      What, your cats ignore you?

            1. Fine. He’s in remission. He’s still taking chemo. He’s about to go on antibiotics because his white cell isn’t high enough. I love Dallas. We have a cancer center for dogs and cats. Just recently last year in fact, I found out that we have canine cardiologists here. Unfortunately when our last dog died they were only available once a month in College Station. When they weren’t doing cattle and horses.

            2. Actually, pretty well. He had his chemo last week and his follow-up cbc blood count on Tuesday. Got the results yesterday and the oncologist is cautiously pleased. When he gets the infusion followed by 4 days of oral it knocks his energy back a bit, but we seem to have found the proper anti-nausea regimen to keep him from having stomach troubles (both ends) for a day or so after. His hair has mostly grown back in, but instead of white it’s reddish brown.

              Otherwise, he’s his usual happy treat begging self. 😎

              1. Good.
                Today I discovered cat logic is like toddler logic but dumber.
                Yesterday as I was going to bed much too late, I found myself trying to figure out if I was awake enough to clean Euclid’s cage.
                Explanation: when he started pissing and pooping wherever he stood, we got him one of those cages vets use for boarding, with three “shelves.” He’s been peeing all over the lower shelf, and there was some last night. But I was at the “sleep or die” point, so I went “uh. Bed.”
                This morning he woke me up crying, so I came down.
                He had peed so much in the lower shelf he couldn’t go down to his box. Also, he’d peed on the bottom floor but not in the box. Also he’d washed his paws in the fountain till it was clogged.
                So I open the cage to clean his shelf (after cleaning the box area and the fountain) and the little *sshole tries to walk out. First time ever, mind you.
                And I said “No, you don’t get let out for such behavior.”
                It wasn’t till I was having coffee that it hit me: He pissed all over the big room (the house) and got put in the cage. So if he pisses all over the cage….
                Yeah, he’s 21 and crazy, but note he’s not STUPID.

    3. >> “And I’ll mention in passing that the use of nested parentheses in a blog is an indication of a troubled soul”

      I don’t know about that, but I will note that the use of nested and/or overly-long parentheticals can make a paragraph harder to parse.

      1. I will note that the use of nested and/or overly-long parentheticals can make a paragraph harder to parse.

        How did I know math formula or code or written thoughts are too complicated? When lines are too long, and too many nested parentheses … also when I got too many, not, not this. Do not have to worry about coding, not anymore. But writing & speaking my thoughts? Most definitely. Granted it is a lot easier to censor or rewrite written miscommunication. Verbal, that is hubby, or my sisters or mom, saying “what????” Everyone else is too polite; they just ignore me. What can I say? It is a gift.

        1. It’s easier to follow nesting in code, though, since you use indentation to visually break up the different levels. But I doubt Sarah’s going to start writing her blog posts in that style.

          And, frankly, I’m not sure I want her to start thinking like a programmer anyway. I could just see her pulling crap like this:

          1. Yesss. There’s evil code that warrants a dark-alley design review, then there’s *fun* evil code.

    4. WRT the current Woke crowd and the Prometheus Award, I briefly entertained the idea of chaining them to rocks, having eagles eat their livers each day, then regenerating their livers overnight, so that the cycle could indefinitely continue. “Lather, rinse and repeat.*”

      But that would be wrong.

      *A programmer once told me that “lather, rinse and repeat” is a death sentence for programmers, since it doesn’t include an exit command from the loop.

      1. “But that would be wrong.”

        It certainly would! The idea of it, mistreating eagles that way.

      2. Yeah, I heard that joke too. Funny no one tells it about robots, where it would make sense; deducing and breaking those loops is part of the job.

  5. Writing myself would be pretty depressing.

    Amnesiac immortal vikings (with other assorted strangeness) in modern society are much more interesting. So is the story of the battlecarrier Elysium. And so on and so forth. The fact is, the only reason why someone would want to read me as I am right now is because they inexplicably felt that they were too chipper, and wanted to be depressed.

    But I don’t think people want to read about that. Nor do I particularly want the black mood that would develop as I wrote it. So for the time being, I’m sticking with the amnesiac immortal viking, thank you very much.

    1. they inexplicably felt that they were too chipper, and wanted to be depressed.

      Ahh, yes, the Ibsen fan base.

    2. If the viking is amnesiac how does he* know he is immortal?

      For that matter, do not most fourteen-year-old boys believe themselves immortal? Of a certainty, nearly all toddlers believe as much.

      *Male pronoun employed as convenience, as referenced vikings were so callous as to not state pronoun preferences. And because, as an avowed conservative, I can adhere to traditional rules of grammar without being triggered. If you feel triggered by that please feel free to blow your brains out; a .22 round would likely suffice.

      1. He doesn’t at the start of the first novel.

        But that’s the thing about amnesiacs – if you’re careful, you can have all sorts of fun as they gradually find out about what they no longer remember.

  6. See, I thought you were going to go for the “of color” >>>> deep PINK >>>> pink is a color >>>> have a carp thing.

  7. The colors (in html syntax) of the last three authors whose books I have read are (as near as I can get from photos I have found) are
    I greatly enjoyed the writing of all three and would like more, but Amazon doesn’t come up with any results at all when I try to search for authors of those colors.
    I guess Amazon isn’t as woke as we thought…

  8. The whole “you are limited by your color/sex/ethnic background by what you can read and write” is just unutterably depressing. So is the “anything you write in your books or approve of on social media will be held against you” metric.
    Amnesiac immortal Vikings, huh? Kind of like Casca in space, perhaps?

    1. Casca?

      /looks up Casca and comes back

      Now *that* looks interesting.

      Not like that. And modern, not space. There’s more. But spoilers and stuff.

      Battlecarrier Elysium is an unrelated idea I’ve had kicking around for a while.

  9. “Don’t praggle me, boy; I’ll quang you proper. Shakespeare and I never let grammar interfere with expressing ourselves. Why, he said to me once—”

    “Oh, stop it! He died three centuries before you were born.”

    “He did, huh? They opened his grave once and found it empty. The fact is, he was a half brother of Queen Elizabeth and dyed his hair to make the truth less obvious. The other fact is that they were closing in on him, so he switched. I’ve died that way several times. Ira, his will left his ‘second-best bed’ to his wife. Look up who got his best bed and you’ll begin to figure out what really happened.”

    1. Now, after I translate the Complete Works of William Shakespeare into Sumerian and reverse all the words and translate them into their Hebrew numerical equivalents, I can show how the Rosicrucians and Knights Templar encoded their secrets in his plays . . .

      1. That reminds me, I need to see how the project to translate Shakespeare’s works into Klingon is coming along…

          1. I really wish someone could convince the Trek license holders to allow a Klingon translation of “Merchant of Venice” with Shylock as a Ferengi.

        1. I am pretty sure that my-uncle-the-bard had the complete works in ’99, and was halfway to being able to pronounce them by ’05.

        1. Oh, I got the implication that Will was a member of the Howard Families.

          Of course Woody Smith was known to occasionally embellish his tales.

          1. embellish his tales

            I’d put that he didn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. 😉

            Of course, in one case his listener could be said to not be concerned if he was telling the truth (and may have known that he was “shading” the truth) but was more concerned about keeping Woody alive. 😀

  10. The deal with King is sort of illustrative.

    Remember when they said that it was wrong and horrible and bad-bad to point out that exclusively praising the author’s gender or ethnicity implied that the award was based on gender or ethnicity?

    “No, no! Not true. The story is the best ever, we’re just talking about race because we’re happy that X person had the best story.”

    So King says that art is the most important part and people lose their bananas. He can have a reputation as a far left kook-ball but he says that art is about the art and it doesn’t matter how dedicated he is to inclusion or how loudly he affirms that every single person deserves the same fair shot.

    How has the implicit message that diverse artists create less than excellent art and are being awarded for their gender and ethnicity managed to become an explicit message without more people waking up to the express insult and racism of that?

    I can see no rational reason to think for even a moment that any person’s talent or potential to create incredible art that appeals to the universal human condition depends on their genetics or circumstances. We can talk about access (as King does!) but when someone decides to denigrate ability and potential, they’re the one insisting on racist systems.

    I get enough of the little-lady feminist let-me-help-you bullship to wonder why a single person puts up with the ethnic versions for even a moment.

    1. Also, all they know how to do is lose bananas
      Even if everything was as they wish, they would have to find new and innovative things to lose their plantains about.

      1. Yes, we have no bananas
        We have no bananas today
        We’ve short stories, and novels
        Eddas, and sagas,
        And all sorts of macabre and say
        We have an old fashioned mystery
        A convoluted history
        But yes, we have no bananas
        We have no bananas today

        I beg your pardon, but it needed to be said.

  11. I have never once thumbed through a book, then looked at the author’s name and portrait and gone, “Well, crap. The story’s good, and the character’s intriguing. If only it wasn’t written by a woman!” or whatever. All I care about is a good story, with neat characters doing cool things. That’s what I read, and that’s what I write. The only time I take consideration into whether or not I want to read a particular author has largely to do with how the authors handle themselves, either with fans or with their colleagues. When I see Larry Correia getting dumped on and lied about by other authors, it makes me think twice about reading those authors. It’s one thing to have disagreements and diametrically opposed opinions. It’s another thing entirely when you make it a goal to destroy your opposition. I don’t have to support that, and I won’t.

  12. You know, I wouldn’t care if Dyce was of African, Asian, Australian, Native American, or European origin. Frankly, I can’t see it making any difference in her stories even when I flip her race around in my head. Athena could be the same way. Of course your Shakespearean stories do kind of require Will and Co. to be English folk and rather melanin-deficient. But the only people who would care then would be those revisionist nutcases.

    1. It can make a difference in what should be mentioned. I’m writing about a couple from China in January, and the thought suddenly occurred to me that there’s a big holiday that month that should be at least mentioned once or twice. But outside of the attendant cultural baggage, I wouldn’t imagine that most here would care about a character’s ethnicity.

      1. Seriously? Columbus? The man’s such a pariah on the left these days that I’m surprised that people would try to claim he’s black.

        1. It’s sort of like how 9/11 was simultaneously a great triumph of the Islamic world over the Infidels and an inside job where Mossad framed a bunch of innocent Muslims.

          1. Well yes, because we are at war with Eastasia…or is it Eurasia? The party line changes so fast it is hard to keep up.

        2. Oh, but for the LOLz, Portuguese also do this, and they’re all convinced that Shakespeare was Portuguese. Don’t go there. Don’t even go near it. Contains life bobcat.

      2. The hell. he might have been from a crypto Jewish family (I don’t know how the DNA tests came out) but black he WASN’T anymore than a mediterranean person who works outside.

        1. (Let’s hope this gets put in the right spot.) Yes, obviously. But do a search for ‘Columbus was black’ and there’s people who take it seriously. Part of a community dedicated to the idea that black people did everything before whitey whitewashed history.

          As nuts as flat-earthers, lunar-landing deniers, or ordering Manchester police to find grooming gangs that aren’t ‘asian’, but there you go.


          1. I read an essay once, extensively debunking the idea that Cleopatra was black. It came down to, ‘Rome hated Cleopatra, was violently xenophobic, and wrote reams of scurrilous drivel about her. If she had been black they would have mentioned it.”

            I doubt it made much impression.


          2. While the teachings of Nation of Islam aren’t exactly the same, the basic idda behind them (that black people used to be great, but literally evil whitey appeared and messed it all up) is pretty similar. It’s a rather silly idea with pernicious results that has unfortunately taken root with far too many.

    2. It is wrong un-good for a series of novels about an English school boy and his friends’ adventures to have been written not just by a woman but by a muggle!

    3. This kinda hits on something I was talking about last night.

      The good witch chick in the Witcher WAS a red-head. Now she’s a brown haired black lady.

      If they’d just made her have red hair– totally not funky for a freaking MAGIC PERSON in the show– while being black, would’ve worked.

      But they did that lame standard of “hey, she’s a red head, let’s make the character black” and it’s distracting.

      You establish a big thing, like “RED HAIR,” go with it. Skin tans, unless she’s ghost white folks will roll with it.
      But when geek-boy’s only complaint is “they made her not have red hair,” you got issues.

      1. Wish I could find the meme … it was the “They took our jerbs!” meme from South Park, but above it was five or six black actress in roles written or originally cast for red heads. Ariel from Disney’s Little Mermaid, Annie from Annie, Pepper from Good Omens, Heimdall from the Thor comics, Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl, Mary Jane in Spiderman, Iris West in the Flash … it’s really getting ridiculous.

        Though I guess it says very good things about the destruction about anti-Irish bigotry that gingers just considered “white” and so their affirmative action slot can be filled by someone else.

      2. I haven’t seen the series. However, in ILOH’s Facebook thread about the series, iirc someone mentioned that Triss is a brunette in the original novels. That would suggest that CDPR decided to change her hair color to red.

        1. Out of some 20-some folks I know who are Witchers fanbois, nobody I know is into the novels.
          I think Suburbanbanshee is a novel fan? Maybe? Or maybe Mary?
          But overwhelmingly, video game fans (digression, the remake yourself dude is the most awesome video game port I’ve ever seen, and there is no original) are the ones looking at this, and they go “wait, what?”

          It’s like giving the Witcher red hair.

          1. Yup. But the series is based off of the novels, and not the games.

            Also, if she really was a brunette in the novels, then given the author’s attitude toward the games, the brunette hair might also be a way to keep him happy.

            (For those unaware – CDPR offered the author a chouce of a flat fee for the license, or a percentage of profits. The author was dismissive of video games, and opted for the flat fee. Oops.

            He later tried to get the deal changed to the percentage option. CDPR refused, though I think they did end up giving him more money anyway just to be nice).

      3. I heard that the red hair was something that the games pulled out of nowhere. Although the books are in my ‘to be read’ list, so I could be misremembering.

        That said, Hollywood has accumulated a history of replacing redheads with other minorities.


        1. Reluctant as I am to defend Hollywood’s practices, it occurs to me that there may be simple, pragmatic reasons Hollywood eschews redheads. There may be technical reasons, such as the lighting and film stock preventing cameras from capturing the full lustrous glory of the true auburn thatch, or perhaps the lighting needed for that washes out all colour from a red-head’s face, leaving her (him, too, I suppose, but the problem seems mainly focused on gals) look like a three-day corpse.

          I keep in mind an observation made by Robert Mitchum (one of those TCM time fillers, not in the included clip, alas) regarding Marilyn Monroe: Even in B&W her skin looked like real skin. That would be a valid reason to recast actors, but it would be nice if they admitted that instead of proclaiming themselves “Woke, wokier and wokiest.”

          1. But in order to make black characters good, on film and under lights – you have to go with a more reddish and orange tint to the gels … found this out in the last years of doing video for military video productions. The usual blue-white lights flatter the skin tones of Caucasians. For POC, break out the warm-tinted gels.
            So, really – IIRC my ventures into video-production – subbing a black actor/actress for a ginger would make the lighting a bit more complicated.

          2. There have been a number of on-screen red-heads. Both Jean Grey actresses in the X-Men movies. Lita Alexander in Babylon 5. Natasha Romanov in the Avengers movies.

            I don’t think there’s a technical reason for it.

            1. All the films you mention are recent.  The nature and capabilities of film stock — where it is even used in this digital age — has changed over the years.  What was once more difficult to capture is no longer such a challenge.  In the early years certain colors were a challenge. 

              For whatever reasons red headed women had gained a negative reputation with the American public.  Old ingrained habits die hard.  Most American natural red heads in the forties and fifties went blond. 

              Due to recent fashion trends the public not only accepts red heads, but also embraced the look of reds more obviously augmented by or the result of dye.  To my mind Scarlett Johansson’s really did rock those red locks as Romanov.  (Recently released footage for the upcoming Black Widow film indicates that this time it will be more orange … I’m not so sure about that …) 

          3. Adhering to the Gemini Privilege of self-refutation … I submit a counter-argument.

            Of course, when you’ve got John Ford (with Winton C. Hoch directing the cameras) and Maureen O’Hara, some things come more easily.

  13. Back when I was first starting in this professional writing gig, for long before that, and for many years after as well, the only thing an editor knew about the writer in most cases was the words on the paper, the content of the story–plus whatever the writer might say in a cover letter (and generally less was best, a listing or summary of previous relevant publications, and maybe title, genre, and length of the submission and that’s it) and there was no guarantee that was at all accurate–was all the editor knew about the writer. That’s it. That’s all the editor had to go on to make the decision.

    If you didn’t sell it wasn’t because of your skin’s melanin content, the texture and curliness of your hair, she shape of your facial features, whether you’re an “innie” or an “outie”, or how you prefer to connect up various protrusions and orifices. It was the story if your name was known (to the publisher if you’d sold stories before or to the public if you were a celebrity).

    Online interaction was just starting to become a thing (with SFWAs then official presence on the GEnie online service) and even that was limited to text so we still didn’t know what people looked like for the most part.

    The words on the page. That was pretty much it.

    1. There is an argument for greater cultural diversity in editors and agents, if gatekeepers there must be. Taste isn’t ethnically or culturally determined, but someone reading submissions able to recognize references and allusions that are not from the dominant culture could, theoretically, yield a greater breadth of stories that everyone could enjoy.

      That’s not really what they’re advocating for, though, and they seem to be making the argument that taste IS ethnically determined, which is utter nonsense. Also that all members of an ethnic or cultural group share the same perspective, which is even more ridiculous.

  14. I’ve never cared – or even speculated – what colour or national background an author might have. One or two have been open and shared those (yes Sarah, I’m including you in that group) but others? All I care about is a good story with believable characters. OK, I do sometimes mutter to myself about the way many writers base their ‘space warfare’ stories around obvious versions of the USMC and/or USN that even use the current rank structures, but that’s only because I think they’re too lazy to create other foundations. But even they don’t, in most cases, give any indication of skin colour unless they introduce aliens of non-human appearance or have a character who meets colour or culture discrimination – and those are almost always shown sympathetically.

  15. A reader went to the library one dark and windy day
    Upon a bench he rested as he went along his way
    When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed progs he saw
    A-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw

    Their hands were still on fire and their shoes were made of steel
    Their fangs were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
    A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
    For he saw the Writers coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

    Yippie yi yaaaay
    Yippie yi ohhhhh

    Ghost Writers in the sky

    Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
    They’s writing hard to stop that herd, but they ain’t stopped ’em yet
    ‘Cause they’ve got to write forever on that range up in the sky
    On chairs and snorting fire
    “Keep Reading!” you hear them cry

    As the writers loped on by him he heard one call his name
    If you want to save your soul from Hell, come reading on our range
    And reader, change your ways today or with us you will ride
    Trying to catch the Devil’s Progs, across these endless skies

    Yippie yi yaaaay
    Yippie yi ohhhhh

    Ghost Writers in the sky
    Ghost Writers in the sky
    Ghost Writers in the sky

    (Okay, not the best filk in the world.)

      1. Second on the nicely done. I need to find an instrumental of that song to play in the background as I read it again.

        1. I move a third on that motion. There are cemeteries overflowing with Hillary’s ghost writers but not much chance of scanning that into the song.

          1. And the inimitable Mr. Cash on vocal if I”m not mistaken.
            May he rest in peace. Got to meet him once, even more impressive in person than on screen.

        2. Searching for instrumentals brings up a lot of versions.

          I kind of like Los Baby’s version, as well as this one from the Ventures:

          Looks like it’s a tune that a lot of guitarists have had a lot of fun with.

  16. “Sure, if you’re writing about a village populated by Zulus, I care that you know what you’re talking about. That has zero to do with your skin color, and everything to do with research and sometimes (but not always) life experience.”

    The first and inextricable peeve I had with the Black Panther movie was the non-homogeneity of its cast: sure, everyone but the Two Tolkien White Guys was black, and there were several Big Name Actors, but the casting department apparently didn’t do diddly squat to find out what a “small nation hidden for centuries in Densest Africa” might plausibly LOOK like. High-tech? I dig it. Super-minerals and enlightenedly-progressive culture, with some groovy tribal trappings? Sure. We’re watching a comic-book. But it breaks it’s own internal premises not to at least pick actors who look distantly related. Skin tones and body types and facial-bone shapes all over the Sub-Saharan map. Or rather, all over the map of Atlanta, GA or wherever they sent out the casting call, because there’s NO place that small in Africa with that “Diverse” a swath in the native population.

    Oy. Soapbox over. You may carry on with your carrying on. Thank you.

    1. If you’re going to worry about that, how do you deal with television show siblings?

      (Oh, okay, the TV siblings thing bugs the heck out of me, but there’s nothing that can be done about it, so?)

      1. I love the story about why Niles is in Frasier. The producer looked at David Hyde Pierce, decided he looked like Kelsey Grammar, and wrote in the role of Niles.

        1. That’s funny.

          TV siblings usually look like not only did they each have a different father, but they had different mothers, too. Which, well, is completely true so that makes sense.

          Real families can have a lot of variety too, even without step-sibs. But some families have a “look”. I was looking up one of my Dad’s second cousins who’d written a book or two and had a real common name and I knew when I found him because his picture looked Just Like My Dad. Second Cousins!

          1. In the family book of Norwegian ancestors is an early photo of g-g-g-great-grandmother Kvale (pronounced approximately “quail”). Former VP Dan Quayle is her spitting image. If we’re not related, I’ll eat a bug.

      2. Most TV-show siblings are A) slightly more alike than any two given Wakandans, B) auditioned from a much broader gene pool (American population, or U.K., not some shot-glass microstate surrounded by jungles and hidden from the world), and C) completely off my radar, since I don’t watch that kind of shows much.

    2. Re the cultural non homogeneity in Black Panther – At least some of it was deliberate artistic choice – the five subtribes was each based upon a different African tribal group.

      The ones with the blankets was based upon the Basotho from Lesotho. One of the others (with the very curved swords – Shotel iirc) was based upon a tribe from Ethiopia, and I forget what the rest was based upon.

      Some of the dialog was also in Zulu.

      The desire behind this was not to be tied to any one area in Africa, but to make use of elements from all over Africa.

    3. I’m not very visual. I was more bothered by the language having clicks, even though they were a LONG way from southern Africa, and not especially close to the one small area in northern Africa that (I learned) also has a click language.

      But, you know, I read a scholarly study of nineteenth-century works set in exotic places (such as Egypt or New Zealand), and Black Panther was very much like exoticizing works of that era. Funny thing that it wasn’t denounced.

  17. I see that, for a change, the book side-barred as your latest work actually is your most recent publication. And the side bar listings have otherwise been updated?

    Good Lord, Woman – What’s gotten into you!

    If you keep up this sort of thing people are likely to mistake you for somebody seriously interested in flogging her merchandise!

  18. “Did he identify as a winged dragon and an ornate building? We don’t know. Did he dress like a woman and hang out in bars? We don’t KNOW.”
    I want this Monty Python skit, now! Palin as Billy boy in a suspendies and a brar, quoting Hamlet.

  19. The answer to the question is Thomas Sowell (nonfiction) and either Chinua Achebe or Leslie Marmon Silko (fiction). Well, that I know of, anyway. (I would count our hostess or Larry Correia, depending on which definition of white we’re using this month, but I have it on good authority that they’re both white Mormons.)

    The deal is this: The vast majority of my fiction reading is SF/F, and what little isn’t is in the vein of “go foreign places and have interesting things happen to you.” Reading science fiction and fantasy has always been more of a middle-class thing, and usually writers come from readers. As a result, the demographics of SF/F authors don’t align with the demographics of the US. To make matters worse, thanks to the political tendencies of the publishing industry, those SF/F writers who are from racial minorities are almost always some of the most obnoxiously leftist ones, and I got my fill of being insulted by my reading by the time I was in undergrad.

    Meanwhile, in the world of “realistic” fiction, minority writers tend to get stuck in literary fiction, which I have no interest in whatsoever, or in the “urban fiction” subgenre, which I also have no interest in whatsoever.

    In summary: hey, guess what? It takes time for marginalized groups to become fully integrated into society, and that’s just how it is. Deal with it.

  20. “Mostly I write because a character shows up in my head and says “Hey toots, write my story.””

    Yep. Characters can be awfully rude and insistent that way…

  21. My attitudes on race were implanted very early. I was 4, in 1953, and my Mom and Dad and me and my brother were on vacation somewhere in the deep South – Alabama, Mississippi, like that. Miles of two lane blacktop and scrub pine. And we are lost. Mom and Dad consult, and decide to stop at the next likely looking restaurant, get dinner, directions, get a motel room and a fresh start in the morning. Pull in to at nice looking little diner, go in, sit down at a booth. We have by far the worst suntan in the room. (For reference, my Dad, myself and all the men in the family have or had reddish blonde hair and can sunburn on a cloudy day in December, with Hagar the Horrible style builds. Mom is one of the original “Black Irish” with pale skin and jet black hair.) A little old man with curly white hair and masses of wrinkles on his dark face comes out from around the counter. “Suh, I am verry sorry to have to tell you, but I am only allowed to serve colored heah.” My Mom looks at my Dad, he looks at her, and they both look at me. I am about to cry, because I am not sure what is going on, but it seems I might not be getting dinner,, and I am hungry. Dad speaks up. “But we are colored, look, pink!”
    (With an almost concealed grin) “Ah still cants sells you a meal, but Ah doubt if anyone would care if in Christian charity I fed you and your family”
    We ate, Dad left a $20 bill under the plate (about 4 times the cost of the meal in that time and place) and we left with directions to the “white” motel. All the way there, my Dad Ranted. “Colored, White Black, Red, Yellow. Damn it! every human being I ever met was some shade of Brown. We’re pale beige, most of the those people were chocolate brown, American Indians are reddish brown, Chinese are yellowish brown, All this damn fuss over shades of a color!” I have never seen any reason to argue with him.

  22. Easy.  This past fall I read several of the Harlem Detective series by Chester Himes.  Not because of his color, although that certainly effected his particular writing.

    1. I haven’t read the books but I recalls the movie …

      “How the hell did he get a permit for this?”

  23. What we do know is that the characters and plots [Shakespeare] created still speak to us across time and space and often in translation.

    Hell, we don’t even know how he spelled his name.

    It now is widely acknowledged that his Richard III was gay.

  24. Tell you what, I’ll identify as a black lesbian tomboy Buddhist Wiccan Jewish Muslim the day I publish, that ought to fill in enough of the lowerarchy bingo card boxes for everyone.


    1. These days, claiming to be Jewish might very well get your books burned by the same people that claim to be most interested in “diversity”.

  25. Sure, if you’re writing about a village populated by Zulus, I care that you know what you’re talking about.

    Back when I studied Anthropology, forty years ago (who knows what mushrooms the field has consumed in the interim; they were already picking peyote buds even then), it was a basic premise that Culture was largely unseen, so greatly permeating community life that occupants were blithely unaware of their culture, its deepest premises buried in the subconscious.

    The only way to truly see a culture was to approach it as an Outsider, as one to whom the arrangements of table cutlery were not handed down from great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma.

    As anyone who has married knows, the most important things in cultures, in families, are taken for granted until confronted by difference. Open presents Christmas Eve, Christmas Morn, Christmas Day after church? Ham for Christmas Dinner, or fish? Or is it goose? Is that dinner served at noon or six PM? You never know what about your culture is odd (which is why children are so susceptible to abuse) until an outsider shines light upon it.

    So no, you do not have to be “of” a culture to write of it. Rather the opposite, I think.

    1. Open presents Christmas Eve, Christmas Morn, Christmas Day after church? Ham for Christmas Dinner, or fish? Or is it goose? Is that dinner served at noon or six PM?

      FWIW – All of the above … Christmas for us, at least growing up, until recently (too many people in retail recently), Christmas was 24 – 26th. Just saying.

      What got me with the in-laws, Christmas was only the 25th. Well, okay, I guess. But only them, their kids & grandchildren … uh, um, wait? What? Granted the entire 3 days wasn’t “everybody at once”, and once the gathering got over 100 people, things rearranged somewhat. But until then there was no “which grandparents for Christmas”, which set of cousins? It was whichever side could make it because of road conditions. Not only that it often included cousins “other grandparents”, more than a few of their cousins.

      Experiencing it from my husband view – how is XYZ related again? Oh XYZ is ABC’s cousin on dad’s side, ABC is my cousin. Sometimes I didn’t even know. FWIW, hubby gave up. AND this wasn’t just Christmas, could be Easter & Thanksgiving too. Now 4th of July, Labor Day, & Memorial day, that was fishing season & nothing interfered with that, family wanted to gather? Fine. Join us and the mosquitoes.

    2. *big eyed hopeful*

      Someone else does Christmas Eve gifts?

      Note, we wait until dusk, so the next day is on– just like Saturday Mass.

      But someone else does it?!?!?

      1. Wasn’t until I moved to the city that I learnt people did it different. *shrugs* I just thought everybody did it that way, until I learned we were in the minority.

          1. Exactly! Pigs and chickens want feeding no matter what day it is. And can be rather insistent on that fact, no matter how crappy you feel. *chuckle*

        1. I once encountered a person who thought “everybody” drank wine for Thanksgiving. 😀

          I guess my family wasn’t part of “everybody”. 😉

      2. We always did Christmas Eve gifts. And we never pretended that Santa brought them.

        I wonder how that would track with people who say supper for the evening meal instead of dinner.

        Maybe that’s an odd connection to make, but I wonder. We ate supper.

        1. Dinner was the Big Meal of the day.

          On Sunday, it was the Noon Meal (after Church).

          Week-days (and to a degree Saturday), it was the Evening Meal.

          Note, often Saturday meals were “make it your self” (when us kids were older).

          1. Yes. Christmas morning was “Santa”.

            Christmas Eve was extended family gift exchange.

            Adults, both sides, drew names. When grandchildren hit 18, were added to the adult name pool. One side cousins drew names. Other side kids got present from each aunt/uncle pair, as well as grandparents. As each of us got married, our spouses were added to the pool. (The gift exchange tapered off as everyone realized we were drawing names for people we didn’t even know, just because they were family.)

            It was also interesting to unwrap gifts at in-laws because we waited until Christmas day to open them. Only took once doing that and deciding “Nope. Will open before or after but not there.” His family had/has no concept of close extended family ties.

      3. CINCHOUSE has us do it that way. Christmas day presents at her parents house.

        Growing up it was:

        1. Christmas eve at local grandparents to open their presents

        2. Christmas morning at our house opening “Santa’s presents”, then

        3. Drive 3 hours or so to other grandparents (or wait for them to show up some years) and open their presents. That trip was sometimes delayed a day or so pending Iowa/Illinois weather, especially as we usually drove back that evening after dinner.

        1. When we were stationed far, far away from family and kin, I let the Daughter Unit open ONE present, of her choice, from under the Christmas tree on Christmas eve. The presents in the stocking (which came from Santa, of course) and the rest of the presents under the tree had to wait until Christmas morning.

      4. My immediate family did Christmas morning (firm orders to wait until 8AM to wake Mom and Dad) until one or both older brothers moved out. We did Christmas eve for a few of years.

        Extended family celebrations were always Christmas Day. If conditions permitted, one family (Mom’s kid sister) would make it in from Michigan, while the other (middle sister) would come in from NW of Chicago. Dad’s brother & family, we’d visit a few days later.

        Slightly off topic, my favorite Christmas fruit is on the You Better Not list. Alas, lingonberry is is the same category as cranberry for messing up clotting times. (They both enhance the effects of warfarin, at least according to the current published info.)

        1. As kids we had the 8 AM, no earlier, edict too. IDK what middle sister did. Younger sister had a slight variation. Santa always left something at the foot of the kids beds. That they could open first thing. Anything else waited until mom & dad were ready, after 8 AM.

          I remember my first 5 AM Christmas morning wake up. It was our 3rd Christmas together. We were at the in-laws. SIL & her kids spent Christmas Eve night. When the squeals let out. Both hubby & I covered our heads with our pillows … even my *GSD was “WTH????” Hubby & I got it together to get up. The dog? The traitor, crawled up into bed under the covers, & stayed there.

          *GSD – German Shepard Dog

    3. I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone worried about culture gaps when they get married that it’s not the ones you know to expect that are going to be a problem for you. You expect them. You can talk about them. You can deal with it.

      It’s the ones you can’t see because they’re at the family level and he didn’t grow up in your family but he lived down the road and the miscues make no sense, they can’t always be identified or talked about, and it’s *hard*.

      1. Nod on that sort of “culture gaps”.

        My parents never had strong “discussions” in front of me and my sister.

        They always went into their bed-room to discuss important matters.

        Well, my sister had problems (early in her marriage) because her husband was used to hearing strong “discussions” between his parents.

        She wasn’t sure how to handle him “shouting” at her. Note, while I don’t know the details of their strong “discussions”, I really doubt violence was part of it. She didn’t talk with me about this but I know she talk with our parents and no way would our parents condone violence from him.

        Final note, those “discussions” were decades ago. They raised four children who are now adults. He has passed away (expected due to his illness) the end of last December.

  26. I won’t claim that I write what sells.

    Given the length of time required to bring a book from concept to printed (even with today’s digital books) and the speed with which the public “flavor-of-the-moment” change, writing what sells would be very, very challenging. Sort of like hunting quail by shooting at where the fowl was three minutes ago instead of where it will be in ten seconds.

  27. If nobody can write except from their own background, does it not follow that readers cannot process anything except from their own backgrounds?

    Buy me enough beer and I will expound for you, in polysyllabic mania, as to how reading books (or viewing art) from any background other than your own is an act of attempted cultural appropriation.

  28. Actually reading authors? You silly things, the point is to be seen with the Right Sorts of Books by the Approved Authors.
    The important thing is that you have them in obvious places- hip coffee shops, your instagram feed (carefully and artistically arranged), and similar.

    But nobody actually reads those people, and certainly not for fun. One should look at it as more of a demi-religious sacrament, a slightly easier form of flagellation.

    1. There’s an amusing game called “use the Amazon review to figure out where the reviewer stopped reading”. It involves finding the parts of the review that describe events in the book, and figuring out which event is the furthest into the book. The idea is that when you’re dealing with a book by someone like HRC, it’s more important that people know you’ve read it than whether you’ve actually read it. So if you think the book is complete drivel, you read what you think is far enough, and then post a glowing review that mentions the last thing you read. If someone challenges whether you actually read the book, you point to your book review and the description of an actual passage from the book as your proof that you read it.

  29. Did he identify as a winged dragon and an ornate building?

    You know, an alternate history where Shakespeare was a shape-shifting dragon might make a pretty cool novel. Just saying.

    It’s a pity that there’s no one around here who writes a series of novels about shapeshifters, including dragons…

    1. Zsuzsa, to catch up I need to write 30 novels this year, and I don’t even know if I can. And that’s for started/plotted/all written in my head novels only, not ideas. Stop poking the crazy writer….

  30. I only found out a few years ago that Spider Robinson isn’t black. I got it into my head after reading him in Analog in the late 70’s/early 80’s, not as anything that mattered but simply a data point, sort of like Harlan Ellison was a jerk, it didn’t keep me from reading either ones stories.

    I had a suspicion that S.M. Stirling was female for some reason until I read someone (David Drake I think) refer to him as Steve. Again, a non-issue.

    Heck, I don’t even mind that Eric Flint’s personal politics seem to be bat-guano crazy barbarism, because he writes a good yarn and doesn’t use them to preach (other than having some of his characters share his view points), so I keep him ensnared in the evil capitalist system by buying his stuff.

    In some ways I think the ease of searching someone up on the internet is contributing a lot to this identity nonsense. It was never worth my time to find out if any of the ideas about these authors, or any author, were correct, because only the stories mattered. Now that it takes so little effort (or intelligence) to research stuff like this it’s easy for those with no actual lives of any consequence to obsess over trivia.

    Still working through my favorite white Mormon man’s (Larry C.) latest before reading the latest from my favorite white Mormon man with a great rack.

    1. ….I just realized I thought “Spider Robinson” was female.

      Note that I use the specific limitation of female, not lady. And that’s not a nice thing in my culture, along the lines of “male” vs a man much less gentleman …but I enjoy Spider’s writing at least sometimes, so why not.

      Just the… obnoxious quirks… lined up on “female” to me, not “male.” Beyond that, who cares?

  31. Based on a DNA test my dad took, I’m at least 3 percent West African. Nigerian, to be specific. Since that would be more than enough by the one-drop rule and also makes me more black than Elizabeth Warren is Native American, do I care if I’m considered a “writer of color” or anything?

    Not really. I just want people to buy my books so I can write fiction all day.

    1. By that rule, I’m a black Latin. I think my percentage is 6% (not absolutely sure. It’s been a while. Also, it’s all in the nose. Congo. They actually pinpointed it.)

    2. The rule is, if you have the proper credentials and political views, it counts. Especially if you are aiming at an affirmative action gig such as becoming the first Native American Professor at Harvard.
      But, if you don’t have the right credentials, and if your political views are slightly to the right of Pol Pot, then you are one of those evil privileged white people. Even if you grew up in a dilapidated single wide in the Appalachians in utter poverty.

  32. My first thought was, “there’s writers, and they have colors?” Mostly I either get sucked in to the book and use “author” as a tag to search for more like what I liked. Occasionally, very occasionally, I’ve met the actual people who put vritual pen to page. But for the most part? I just read, and get carried away with it, if it’s any good.

    This going on about colors seems to be a very poor way for writers to get free press when their work doesn’t merit it. The story is the thing, folks. Get out of the way of the story. That’s why people read fiction. Anything else is extra, and sometimes we learn nifty things. But it all has to be born of the back of a good tale well told.

    If your story isn’t more entertaining to your readers than the same amount in beer money (or sportsball tickets, or the like), what you’ve got is small potatoes vanity press. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t go thinking people aren’t reading you because they looked up your farcebook page and decided they didn’t like the looks of you.

  33. The funny thing is that if even you check the right boxes, you can still get things so very wrong. I have read my share of literature in which it’s obvious that the writer is an upperclass, educated Hispanic who is writing noble stereotypes of “the help.”

    Personally, I think if people really want to read a “writer of color,” they start with classic authors like Ann Petry or Zora Neale Hurston, writers who really knew how to write and tell a good story. And wrote before checkboxes were a thing.

    1. I suspect that what the woke white literati want is not so much a truly authentic voice of the marginalized, but an affirmation of their supercool white wokeness by minorities.
      And while it seems counter-intuitive, racist anti-white screeds count as an affirmation, because the woke tell themselves that they aren’t included in the diatribe. Even if they specifically are.

      1. Well, some of the Nazis genuinely liked art and music. That’s why they made concentration camp inmates play for them.

        In their gulags, the Wokies do not plan to let us sing.

        1. Don’t think I’ll survive to make it to a woke gulag. Get shot or perhaps bombed as a sign of their hatred of Dallas.

    1. The really hilarious thing is that all the “fat-positive” activist types are exactly the people who dislike big tenors and big sopranos. Nor do they emulate the kindliness of opera costuming, when they draw chubby folks whom we are supposed to admire as heroes.

  34. They don’t care at all if the work is any good just if it fits the current party line. I have never seen a more henpecked husband than Prince Harry.

  35. Is the “Schrodinger’s Path” image supposed to be clickable? It does nothing when I click on it, and I don’t see any other way to sign up for the newsletter.

    1. Yes, it is, but this site is hosted by WordPress, which means it has some issues with some links.
      At any rate, I’m not ready for sign in yet, though I was willing to have SOME. I’ll go through, make sure it’s ticky boo, and do a post about it probably early next week.

      1. … this site is hosted by WordPress, which means it has some issues with some links. is utter crap, redeemable only in that it is not quite as bad as the other crap available.

        Fixed it for you.

  36. “So, what was the last writer of color you read?”

    Wait, they come in colours now? How can you tell what colour the author is from the book? Because I’d like a blue one, please. I mean, if they come in blue. Or maybe a nice turquoise. ~:D

  37. Day Late, dollar short: Us, the Borg, and porn viz Mrs. Hoyt’s salient comments on false flags and “trolls” several posts back.

    I support Social Galactic 2 “Clean speech not free speech” wholeheartedly, not least because Freedom of Association matters. Bonus: If it delivers you have a smut-free training wheels site for teens and social media. I dinged Monster Hunters 1 in my review for its casual acceptance of fornication. Anti-porn bonafides accepted?

    Mrs. Hoyt was right. Mr. Cole confirms why: 1A and 2A MUST die at any cost. If Satan needs to temporarily sacrifice easy access to porn to get us to fit ourselves with chains, eh. No biggie. Yes, the vast pervertarian alliance used our free speech principles to sucker-punch us on accepting porn standards as social norms. This is the same deal, but flipped, social for legal.

    The best anti-porn campaigns are cultural anyway, and if the censors win, shutting up those voices is easy. Not even an inconvenience.

  38. All my authors come in one color.


    Namely, the money I pay to read their product. Their other qualifications are highly variable, but my money is an equal opportunity buyer.

  39. The problem is writing about the REAL Portugal doesn’t translate well.

    Dear Mrs. Hoyt

    You keep writing this. Are you quite sure you are not creating a self-fufilling prophecy? Only a lunatic would expect you to write about ALL PORTUGAL. But your corner of it? Don Camillo captivated the world. You are every bit as good as he is at capturing a sense of place.

    The number of readers who, like me, specifically read for sense of place are rare (See Nancy Pearl, access points for readers advisory) The downside is, with the blossoming of Indy, I’ll never read Mr. Frank’s Westerns (Deserts. Yuck!) The upside is, we can spot someone with the ability to transport us to another place and make it real to us.

    I’m not a mystery buff, but if the only way to get to Goldport is via Miz Dyce, I’m all in (you also rock characterisation, but you knew that),

    Please reconsider giving us *your* corner of Portugal. Unless it’s too painful, in which case never mind. Readers can be greedy.

    1. My corner of Portugal no longer exists, and my memory is faulty.
      But that’s not the point. the point is that people don’t perceive it as the “real” Portugal.

        1. I got really tired of being told I was xenophobic for describing things as they were.
          I can tell you the feminists would accuse me of maligning Brave Latins. Because of course, the US is the most sexist, etc. (Rolls eyes.)

            1. “The real world is both terrible and beautiful, stupid, exasperating and hilarious.”

              It is, so it is – and the stuff that has really happened is sometimes so bizarre that one couldn’t possibly have made it up!

  40. Note on redesign: Gravitars are only being posted on the top of threads, at least in Safari an my iPad. Makes it that little bit harder to find where I was the last time I dropped in.

    1. Yeah, other people have complained.
      They don’t tell you that in the description. In fact, they don’t tell you much about the comments.
      And they lied in the preview, in various ways.
      SO. I’ll be changing again tonight.

  41. Pingback: AND RELATED TO THAT LAST ITEM:  De-Worse It Gets…. – The usa report
  42. I think for some people, NOT knowing anything about an author is better. I don’t seem to have this problem, but then I threw out the idea a long time ago that things like race, gender, hair/eye/skin color etc. were useful indicators of… well… anything (yes, I know how “racist” the Left says that attitude is, but I can’t not be me.)

    As I’ve said before, I’m an aspiring author (isn’t everyone?). I have this problem with my one (relatively) reliable alpha/beta reader. She has trouble separating ME from the main viewpoint character. When I write a male character, she imagines me when she reads, regardless of who/what I write. She has actually said she had a problem with a story because she couldn’t imagine ME acting like that (talking about things the main character did in the story). It’s like she’s one of those people who can’t separate an actor from the character. It really becomes a problem when I write a story with a female viewpoint character. I’ve had to stop sending those to her because it has become apparent that it throws her out of the story any time the female character does anything “female (putting on lipstick, braiding hair, saying something about a dress… anything).

    Sadly, while I’ve had a number of people OFFER to beta read, so far only this one person actually reads what I send, let alone tries to give feedback. Does anyone else have problems finding Alpha/beta readers?

    1. If it makes you feel better, I have same problem with beta readers. Many are called, etc.
      Are you on the FB diner? Do you want me to put a call for readers in a blog post?
      The thing is SOME writers are like that. They use, if not themselves, people they know.
      I used aspects of people I knew in the Dyce Dare mysteries, simply because I was not “hearing” it in the first book, but normally they show up fully formed.
      Attempting to collaborate with Eric Flint that was one of the sticking points. He wanted to know on WHOM I’d based the characters. Uh…. no one. Themselves.

      1. At least it’s not just me. 🙂

        I’m not on FB. I know it means I miss out on good stuff, but I don’t have the energy to put up with the drama.

        I’m kind of in a writing desert right now, stress from projects at work have pretty much shut writing down for the last few months. So right now I don’t have anything together to send to readers. My one reader has been complaining about it since the last think I gave her was around the first quarter of what I was working on at the time, but I haven’t gotten back to it since then. It is nice to know she liked it enough to ask for more though.

        I know what you mean about people trying to figure out who your characters are based on. Mine grow from my imagination like I’ve sewn dragon’s teeth in my brain, and they grow with the story they are in until they start telling ME what to write rather than me writing them. I’ve tried basing characters on actual people, but it never worked for me because those characters never came to life. They just stayed (bad) caricatures of the people they were based upon. Still, I’ve had people read my stories and insist that a character was based on them. They weren’t, I don’t do that. Hopefully it means that they were engaged and saw something of themselves in the characters, rather than meaning they think I was making fun. Since nobody has seemed to be mad about it, I’m going to pretend it was the former and not worry about it.

        If you ever need readers, I humbly offer to be one. 🙂

    2. The real advantage is that sometimes when you know the author you learn their opinions, and sometimes that makes it harder to read the fiction based on them — ignorance is bliss.

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