Diversity – with Carmen Fox

Carmen Fox

REPRESENTATION MATTERS – Fiction without boundaries


I’m white, have no major disability to speak of, I don’t belong to any religion, and I’m as straight as a ruler. What do I know about diversity, right? I have never been stopped for driving while being black, haven’t had the indignity of being gawked at for wearing a hijab, and have been lucky not to have had a strain placed on my education by ADHD, dyslexia, or “learning while being transgender.” You’d think I’m the last person to have authority to speak on these issues.

But I do have a condition that I share with my non-white, disabled, religious and/or LGBT friends—we call it the human condition. Not only do I have the authority to speak, I have the moral obligation to do so. My family occasionally uses terms that make me cringe. They complain about the immigrant issue at home in Germany. My mother is fine with homosexuals “as long as they leave the kids alone.” My nan once tried to cure my depression with a heartfelt “buck up.” Many times we have argued about these matters, and just as many times did I stay silent only to preserve the peace. Every time I keep quiet, I feel crummy.

However, and without making excuses for their insensitive language, they have never treated anyone differently because of what they are. My uncle is gay and a welcome guest at home, my nan used to be very friendly with a Turkish lady, and a couple of years ago, my parents attended their first Muslim wedding.

Think Big

Rhetoric is important, and supporting representation of the whole spectrum on Facebook and in blogs is wonderful, but our words must be followed by action.

Sadly, I’m not much of campaigner. Who is nowadays? Just getting from my bed to my sofa takes days and a backpack full of provisions. But action doesn’t have to mean chaining yourself to police stations. Treat people fairly. If you don’t know something about being transgender or if you keep getting your terms mixed up, ask or hit the search engine. Teach your children kindness to all men, women and those you aren’t sure about. Expand your horizons every day of your life.

As for me, I’m a writer, and I express my wishes and hopes by way of the worlds I create. It doesn’t bother me that most of my main characters are white and straight. White and straight is what I know. But just as my reality is composed of more than just me, so are my worlds populated by more than carbon copies of myself. Most recently, I made the Grim Reaper black, gave his daughter her own novella, and have teamed up a wheelchair-bound woman with an alpha werewolf who loves to run.

So when, earlier this year, I was presented with the opportunity to take part in a box set to celebrate diversity, I immediately thought of Ali, an Indonesian-American gay werewolf I first conceived of more than ten years ago when I wrote Guarded. I’ve been itching to give him his own spotlight, not because he has proven such an electrifying character so far, but because I suspected a lot of confusion, humor and spunk under his tight, accountant-type demeanor.

Many more authors, including USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors, have bravely stepped up to the plate, and Sigils and Spells is the product of our efforts. These 24 stories are just as riveting as you should expect from such an illustrious ensemble of talent, and the characters as quirky, inspiring and exciting as you’d hope. Their journeys will have you at the edge of your seat and their issues will resonate with you, no matter what you are—because in the end, it’s about who you are.

You can pre-order SIGILS AND SPELLS now from the retailer of your choice. It’s only $0.99 (or equivalent). Disneyland wouldn’t give you a cold cup of coffee for that price, while SIGILS AND SPELLS offers you 24 thrilling adventure rides you can’t find anywhere else. One word of warning before the adrenaline kicks in: this is a limited edition boxed set, so buy now before you miss your chance.


ABOUT CARMEN

Carmen lives in the south of England with her beloved tea maker and a stuffed sheep called Fergus. An avid reader since childhood, she caught the writing bug when her Nana asked her to write a story. She also has a law degree, studied physics for a few years, dabbled in marketing and human resources, and speaks native-level German and fluent Geek. Her preferred niches of geekdom are tabletop games, comics, sci-fi and fantasy.

She writes about smart women with sassitude, about pretty cool guys too, and will chase that plot twist, no matter how elusive.

Expect to be kept guessing.

Find her online: Facebook | Twitter | Website


A dangerously beautiful vision of unique worlds that’s sure to leave its mark.

Cross through the looking glass into Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian realms where you’ll meet valiant heroes, kick-ass heroines, and dangerous creatures waiting to unveil the hidden corners of the universe.

SIGILS & SPELLS includes more than twenty exclusive novels that roam the sands of Egypt, slip into the shadows of 1940s Los Angeles, voyage to the mystical land of Mabi, and dare to traverse the stars.

From the deserts of Africa to the streets of San Antonio, mythological adventurers strike out to discover brand new worlds and unravel the mysteries of Earth in a limited edition boxed set offering the diversity and originality you haven’t been able to find before now.

Including stories from…
Lori Titus
Kris Austen Radcliffe
USA Today bestselling authors Heather Marie Adkins and Alex Owens
Paul C Middleton and Lee Hayton
Rita Stradling
Eva Pohler
Lily Luchesi & Faith Marlow
M.R. Graham
Award-Winning author Carmen Fox
Tina Glasneck
Sedona Venez
J.N. Colon
Cheri Winters
USA Today bestselling author Katalina Leon
RJ Blain
USA Today bestselling author Cate Farren
Amy Evans
Catherine Banks
Award-Winning author V.A. Dold
Dylan Keefer
Award-Winning author Ali Cross
Michel Prince
Danny Bell
Tiana Laveen

Dare to enter forbidden realms of unexpected beauty and peril? Secure your copy of SIGILS & SPELLS today – before it disappears forever!

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Representation Matters.


Representation matters.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before, reader, whether the statement is personally meaningful to you or not.

If it is, please take this as an expression of solidarity. If it is not, please take this as a window into someone else’s reality.

This is going to be the main theme in the guest blogs you’ll be seeing here over the coming weeks. Why? Because, I’ll say again, it is important.

Representation matters to me. As someone with a good amount of weirdness, it matters to me as something I wish I had been allowed better access to growing up. As an educator and an anthropologist, it matters to me as a way to foster tolerance and understanding, to help human beings develop their identities free from artificial pressure and shame.

I’m a white woman. Mayonnaise is just a little bit whiter than me. I’ve never been on the receiving end of racial prejudice. But I have stood in front of a classroom of Mexican and Mexican-American students and asked them to name a Hispanic person or character they had seen on TV, then listened to every last one of them fumble for a moment before coming up with George Lopez. Of course there are others. But not enough others that thirty seventh-graders could name them on short notice. This was in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where local populations range from 90-97% Hispanic. A few more minutes of conversation circled around local news anchors. Someone mentioned Danny Trejo. But the consensus was that, outside of the telenovelas, pickings were sparse. One girl dug a copy of The Hunger Games out of her backpack and told me, very loudly and a little bitterly, that she was surprised they didn’t cast a Hispanic actress as Katniss, who is described as having straight black hair and dark skin. She said she felt like Katniss, sometimes, even though her own family worked in fields and not in a coal mine. She said she didn’t like the movie very much.

The Rio Grande Valley was an eye-opening experience. An incredibly brilliant boy, probably better read than me and only thirteen years old, told me he had read plenty of books that had Mexican characters. Often they were complimentary portrayals. Hard-working Mexicans, tough Mexicans, determined Mexicans. He told me he had never read a book that had a smart Mexican in it.

And I sympathized. YA and middle-grade were both much smaller categories when I was growing up, but it was never hard to find white girls in the fiction. Smart girls were another story. There were tough girls and hard-working girls, girls who learned to fight and dressed as boys and saved things, but almost none of them were defined by intellect. I devoured Nancy Drew, and I hated that Hermione Granger’s intelligence was portrayed as obnoxious. I found the Mary Russell books in fifth grade, and I clung tight to her because she was, first and foremost, a scholar. It was the first time I had seen that part of myself clearly in a character.

The litscape is improving all the time, but there are parts of me that I still can’t see in characters, and I know that whatever pain that gives me is far worse for many, many others. There are so many communities ignored or viciously stereotyped. I want autistic characters who aren’t just plot devices or comic relief. I want characters with invisible disabilities who don’t learn to “put mind over matter”. I want an asexual character who isn’t heartless or mentally ill or homicidal. (I do happen to be writing one of these currently. Keep you posted!) I want mental illness that isn’t always automatically violent or somehow cured by a romantic relationship.

I write the stories I want to read. Many of my closest friends do the same. But there’s still nothing quite like finding that reflection of yourself in a book and knowing it came from another human being who understands you.

If even one person can read my books and see themselves, that’s a job well done.

The Siren takes place in San Antonio, which is a bit further north than the Rio Grande Valley but still more than half Hispanic, with the percentage increasing yearly. Sandie and Connie and Nacho were born several years before I met that girl who wished the Katniss on screen matched the Katniss in her head, but the day I had that talk with that class, I dedicated them to her and to every reader who is still searching.


A dangerously beautiful vision of unique worlds that’s sure to leave its mark.

Cross through the looking glass into Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian realms where you’ll meet valiant heroes, kick-ass heroines, and dangerous creatures waiting to unveil the hidden corners of the universe.

SIGILS & SPELLS includes more than twenty exclusive novels that roam the sands of Egypt, slip into the shadows of 1940s Los Angeles, voyage to the mystical land of Mabi, and dare to traverse the stars.

From the deserts of Africa to the streets of San Antonio, mythological adventurers strike out to discover brand new worlds and unravel the mysteries of Earth in a limited edition boxed set offering the diversity and originality you haven’t been able to find before now.

Including stories from…
Lori Titus
Kris Austen Radcliffe
USA Today bestselling authors Heather Marie Adkins and Alex Owens
Paul C Middleton and Lee Hayton
Rita Stradling
Eva Pohler
Lily Luchesi & Faith Marlow
M.R. Graham
Award-Winning author Carmen Fox
Tina Glasneck
Sedona Venez
J.N. Colon
Cheri Winters
USA Today bestselling author Katalina Leon
RJ Blain
USA Today bestselling author Cate Farren
Amy Evans
Catherine Banks
Award-Winning author V.A. Dold
Dylan Keefer
Award-Winning author Ali Cross
Michel Prince
Danny Bell
Tiana Laveen

Dare to enter forbidden realms of unexpected beauty and peril? Secure your copy of SIGILS & SPELLS today – before it disappears forever!

Incredible upcoming box set – FALL INTO MAGIC

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Fall into Magic with 20 Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Reads! 
 
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Prepare to be swept away by 20 paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales from today’s NY Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors! In this limited edition collection, you will find everything from witches to mages, shifters to vampires, demons, faeries, and much more!
 
Preorder for $0.99!
 
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Including:

NY Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton & USA Today bestselling author Conner Kressley
International bestselling author Lia Davis
USA Today bestselling author JC Andrijeski
USA Today bestselling author Rainy Kaye
NY Times bestselling author Laxmi Hariharan
USA Today bestselling author Joanne Wadsworth
USA Today bestselling author J.E. Taylor
NY Times bestselling author SC Green writing as Steffanie Holmes
USA Today bestselling author April Aasheim
NY Times bestselling author K. de Long
USA Today bestselling author L.B. Gilbert
NY Times bestselling author Susan Stec
USA Today bestselling author Noree Cosper
USA Today bestselling author Angela Fristoe
International bestselling author AR DeClerck
International bestselling authors Gina Kincade & Kiki Howell
USA Today bestselling author LJ Swallow
NY Times bestselling author Calinda B
Award Winning author Kristin D. Van Risseghem
USA Today bestselling author Angel Lawson

 

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8 Best Reads of 2015

Somehow, it has felt like a very long year, and that has been borne out by my reading log. I exceeded my reading goals by quite a bit this year and unearthed some real gems.

Edmund Persuader

What’s it about?
A younger son’s quest to find his place in the world, his doomed loves, and his struggle with faith and conscience.

Why should you read it?
I have to admit, at 1550 pages, it’s a weighty read – quite literally. But the prose is gorgeous, the concepts lofty, the characters rich, the settings flavorful. I would call it moral fiction, and this is a rare case where I mean that as a compliment, as it is genuinely moral, not preachy.

Dreaming Spies

What’s it about?
Oxford, Japan, old books, ninjas, emperors, Sherlock Holmes, and his partner, Mary Russell.

Why should you read it?
In this recommendation, this book stands in for an entire series, which begins with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I recommend this series right and left, which is a bit dangerous, as it seems to be extremely polarizing. Those who dislike it hate it, apparently because it’s ridiculous to think that a woman might be as clever as Sherlock Holmes. (Competence is the trait of a Mary Sue, you know.)
If you do enjoy pastiche, though, this one is an excellent insight into the thought process behind the deduction. The series swoops through such fabulously-described settings as Japan, India, Palestine, and Morocco, as well as the more familiar environs of London and Sussex. It’s also worth noting that Russell was my first exposure to the concept of the intelligent female protagonist and will forever hold a very special place in my heart.

How to be a Victorian

What’s it about?
Well… how to be a Victorian. It’s a walk through daily life with description of the habits, processes, and objects that would have been familiar to a resident of the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Why should you read it?
Incredibly informative, it’s a great comprehensive resource for the historian and writer and provides any number of tantalizing hints to inspire further research.

Collected Folk Tales

What’s it about?
Exactly as the title indicates, it is a collection of folk-tales from around the world.

Why should you read it?
Unlike some collections, this one is very well balanced, representing European, African, Asian, and North and South American cultures. Those that required translation are translated beautifully, in evocative, fluid prose.
And, come on, you know you can’t go wrong with a book that begins “There was a hill that ate people.”

The Case of the Missing Marquess

What’s it about?
Enola, the much, much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, is left alone when her mother disappears without warning. Threatened with boarding school by her insensitive brothers, she has no choice but to run away.

Why should you read it?
This recommendation also stands in for the entire series. There are six books at present, and the promise of more in the future.
This is marketed as a middle-grade book, though I would call it teen. It’s a series of charming adventures, featuring disguise, code-breaking, ciphers, danger, and a ferociously independent young woman.

Death Cloud

What’s it about?
Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is removed from boarding school and placed unexpectedly with his aunt and uncle in Farnham, where he befriends a young orphan. But a mysterious dark cloud is killing people, and the plague seems to be spreading!

Why should you read it?
This one also stands in for an entire series. The Young Sherlock series so far boasts eight volumes and a short story, each one tracking a boy’s growth into the man of Watson’s chronicles. These are more adventures than mysteries. There is some clue-finding, but the bulk of each story is a lot of danger, running, fighting, and hiding from bizarre and sinister villains. They’re not too terribly thought-provoking, but they are extremely entertaining.

A Monster’s Coming of Age Story

What’s it about?
Young Babette Varanus is tiny, rich, and bookish, which has always alienated her from the upper echelons of French society. Of course, she also comes from a family of monsters. Let’s proceed now through love, treachery, war, and… vampires.

Why should you read it?
Because it’s an epic. The series is ongoing and promises to span centuries. (Another series. Are you noticing a trend?)
It wasn’t until most of the way through the second book that I realized that I was reading an incredibly unique take on the old vampires vs. werewolves trope. Think that’s trite and overused? So did I, until I started on the Ouroboros Cycle. It’s not often that a book promising different vampires actually delivers.
Also, some of you may have noticed that I have a thing for academic vampires. Hoo, yes.

A Dose of Brimstone

What’s it about?
Demons, an immortal hunter, van Helsings, and a terrifying supernatural drug spreading through the underworld of New York City.

Why should you read it?
One more series! This one begins with A Prescription for Delirium, in which demons have overrun a small town in Texas and Gabriella di Luca and the van Helsing brothers combat the raging madness.
The writing is fresh, the plot gritty, and I absolutely love the characters. The interactions between them are captivating, humorous, and sometimes wrenching. I am very much looking forward to the next volume in the series.

Go grab the Goodreads pages and add them to your reading lists!

The books are back!

For a while, I played with Amazon exclusivity, and I concluded that I’d rather have them absolutely everywhere. So here they are! The exclusivity period is up, and everything is back where it belongs. If you’re a Nooker or an iPadian or a Koboite, or if you’ve got a Scribd subscription, you can find my work there now – and, in fact, they have all been slightly updated, correcting for some earlier formatting issues.

The Siren and Versos will be spreading around the internet soon, as well.

The Medium
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Scribd

The Mora
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Scribd

In the Shadow of the Mountains
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Scribd

The Wailing
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Scribd

WriMo is Coming.

[Insert Dramatic Sean Bean Here.]

I’m doing it, friends. The plan is to have two complete drafts of two different books by the end of 2015.

I am working now on something very close to me, something that has been in the works for approximately four fifths of my life, now, if not a little longer. Agonizing to write, because it must be perfect. Not just solid, not just plot-hole-free, not just well edited and well structured, but perfect. (If I vanish abruptly and am never heard from again, you may assume that it sucked me in and didn’t let go and I have been subsumed into my own fiction. Rather a romantic concept, if only I could escape the fact that, in practical terms, this would probably involve a padded cell.)

November, however, will be set aside for The Mage. We’re getting there. I’m expecting this to be the halfway point of the Liminality series. In Book One, Lenny the Medium started things in motion. In Book Two, Jadwiga the Mora returned to the world of the living. Book Three, as the title may suggest, sees Kim the Mage come into her own at long last.

But, dear reader, the Shadows are closing in.

I’m expecting to have The Mage ready in late April or early May of 2016. It may interest you to know that my working title for Book Four is The Martyr.

I believe “Bwahaha” is the appropriate phrase.

The Self-Congratulatory Photopalooza — Scifi Edition

It’s that time again, dear readers! You should all be expecting it, by now, as it is tradition. And for The Siren, the traditional hat is back. This time, it’s a Harris tweed construction, souvenir of my recent sojourn in London (of which there shall soon be a full recounting and further photopalooza).

So, first I was like… “Dignity. Always dignity.”

Then I was like… “Okay, yes, I’ll admit it’s pretty brilliant.”

Then I was inordinately pleased with myself…

And all was right with the world.

The volume itself, in all its perfection:

Summertime releases!

As the academic year is winding down, my writing year is heating up.The two volumes that have been in the works for so long, creeping along at a snail’s pace, are finally ready and on their way.

versos poetry First, on May 31 (my birthday!), my poetic ethnography will be released.

What is a poetic ethnography, exactly? I realize I haven’t really explained that adequately. An ethnography is a written record of a culture – its values, daily habits, artifacts, rituals, beliefs, preferences, taboos, collective history, and the ways it has changed and is changing.

What is this poetic ethnography about? The Rio Grande Valley, where I moved a few years ago, and which I have been studying since. This place is very different from anywhere else I have ever lived. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s unique on the face of the planet. The culture here is a very specific, utterly unique blend of USA and Mexico. At the same time, it’s not so much a mix as a product, much as two chemical reagents do not combine and produce a blend of the two, but something different. Or perhaps a better analogy would be that of two parents producing a unique individual, rather than a halfway point between themselves.

Why is it poetic? Well, what better way to address one tiny element of something than with a tiny, elemental verse?

You can click on the cover on the left to be taken to the Amazon preorder page.

The Siren

the siren scifi book coverSecondly, The Siren will be coming on June 30. It’s been sitting in my “Works in Progress” page for far too long, which is a little misleading, because for a very long time, it wasn’t really progressing at all.

Well, it’s done, now, and it’s coming.

What’s it about?

“There was a dead body on Sandie’s back porch, and it was trying to get in.”

But this is no zombie; something stranger is hiding inside the rotting shell. What do you do when you meet an injured alien spirit that feeds on emotion and can play human feelings like a violin? Name it John Doe, give it a guitar, and move heaven and earth to help it get home, if Sandie has her way. She doesn’t realize that babysitting an alien could result in such a weird collision of music, emotion, and faith.
And Sandie must tread with care, because this thing has the power to manipulate minds, and even the creature itself doesn’t know what will happen when it finally heals.

Click on the image to go to the Amazon preorder page. (And please do preorder; I haven’t used that feature before, and I’m curious to see whether there are any particular differences.)

Up Next

The writing list groweth ever longer, but for the moment, I’m focusing on The Eye of the Crow and the next Liminality book, which will be called The Mage. I’m shooting for mid-2016 with the first, and late 2016 with the second.

Later, gators. I must get started!