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How Many Years to Write?

Two Thousand Years Book Cover Two Thousand Years
The Empire Saga #1)
M. Dalto
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Independently published
Publication date: December 11th 2018

Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire’s torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice – or her fate – that determines how she survives the Empire’s rising conflicts.

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique? TWO THOUSAND YEARS was actually inspired by Billy Joel’s song of the same name. When I first heard the song many years ago, the lyrics themselves told a story that needed to be told. It referenced battles and true love, and my romantic, fantasy-loving mind started concocting a story all my own. In fact, the initial draft used song lyrics as its chapter titles.
  2. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time? TWO THOUSAND YEARS actually took me over 20 years to start writing. I had first heard the song when it was released in 1993 and didn’t sit down to draft the story until 2014. Otherwise I rarely plan out my stories- I start writing when the ideas come to me, which also means I have a lot of unfinished projects to juggle.
  3. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote? I confess that Google is my main source when it comes to research. I do consider what the internet provides me with a sound mind and a grain of salt, and if there’s more I need to know I’ll visit my local library.
  4. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted? In the months that I had queried it, TWO THOUSAND YEARS was sent out to 12 agents, and all agents rejected it. No requests for partials or the full manuscript- just flat out rejections, if I received a response at all. I gave it a break for a while until I had seen a friend have her book release with The Parliament House, so I reached out to her for her insight on the publisher and her process as a while. I think I submitted a week or so later, received a request for my full manuscript a month later, and a week after that received my contract.
  5. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up? Not an eBook as we know them on Amazon, no. I did have my work out there on Wattpad though. I felt having that exposure, building that following, and receiving that feedback was the most beneficial aspect to my publishing journey. You want to know, someway, somehow, if your work can be received by an audience. I chose to use Wattpad for that, and I know there are others who go the route of beta readers and critique partners. Whatever you choose, make sure a decent pool of readers have given you feedback on your work, and it will help make things more relatable when looking for a publisher.
  6. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist? If you can get yourself out there and build a following for yourself, do it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be self-publishing either. I, personally, had an audience on Wattpad before I began my publishing journey, and sometimes making your brand is as simple as joining the writing community on Twitter. But I definitely think it’s something that an aspiring novelist needs to do- it’s not easy, maintaining your presence before, during, or after you’ve been published. It takes effort, but it also pays off when you realize you have those fans and followers who want to know more about your work and continue to support you through the processes.
  7. What do you read when you are ill in bed? I actually read all the time, and though taking a sick day for myself is rare, I do read when in bed whenever I can. With my schedule, it’s really the only time I can find for myself to read.
  8. What is your favourite genre? Fantasy, for both writing and reading. I’ve always been a fan of using my imagination, and the Fantasy genre is the best outlet for that, at least for me.
  9. Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre? Recently I think it’s been Sarah J. Maas. Ever since I fell in love with her A Court of Thorns and Roses series, she has been an inspiration not only as an author, but for a fanbase. To affect so many people as she has through her writing alone is definitely something I hope to on day strive for.
  10. Do you have any pets? I do!

If so, what are they?  He’s an 11-year-old corgi

And what are they called?  His name is Loki

Do they help you write? If lying under my desk while I’m at my laptop constitutes as help, then sure!

What is the funniest thing they have done while you are writing? He’ll jump up on the edge of my chair and nudge my arm if he thinks I’ve been writing for too long, and/or believes he requires more attention than I’ve been giving him.

Do you want to add a photo of them to this Q&A? Sure!


Goodreads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37534507-two-thousand-years?ac=1&from_search=true
Purchase: https://amzn.to/2RxDUIbhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-thousand-years-m-dalto/1129581675?ean=2940156091058https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/two-thousand-years

AUTHOR BIO:

M. Dalto is a fiction author of adventurous romantic fantasy and her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, won one of Wattpad’s Watty Awards in 2016. She continues to volunteer her time as an Ambassador, where she hopes to engage and inspire new writers. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.
Author links:

 https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/https://www.facebook.com/MDalto/https://twitter.com/MDalto421https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17495218.M_Dalto





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Lucky Xmas through the author’s words






A Very Lucky Xmas Book Cover




A Very Lucky Xmas





Lilac Mills





Genre: Women’s Fiction




Canelo




Release Date: 20th August 2018

Things can't get worse for Daisy Jones... can they?

Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E!

Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck...and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process!

A heart-warming christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James

Lilac Mills tells us about Xmas

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Oh, I can mull something over for years before I bite the bullet. I’m currently just finishing up some edits for Canelo (the book is due to be published in the spring) on a story I first began about 13 years ago. I wrote about thirty-thousand words, then life got in the way and I did other stuff instead, but I always intended to come back to it, and when my lovely editor asked me if I had any ideas in the pipeline, it seemed an ideal time to develop and complete this poor little book-baby. The story has changed considerably from the very first half-draft, but then novels often tend to, but the concept is the same.

I also have an ideas folder, which I’m continually adding to, but what usually happens is that something will come to me which takes precedence over all of them, and I simply have to write it until the story is out of my system.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

It depends on the book, but so far not too long, because I’m writing about what I know or have experienced myself. A Very Lucky Christmas came about from my grandmother’s tradition of making her own Christmas pudding and putting a sixpence in it for luck. Unlike Daisy, no one in my family actually swallowed the darned thing, but there were a couple of near misses and one cracked tooth.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I was accepted by a publisher on the first submission, but that wasn’t just luck. I had invested a great deal of time in researching publishers, and I knew what Canelo was looking for, so my pitch to them was right, and I sent them the sort of novel I knew would fit in with other novels in their chick lit stable. Of course, there was always the possibility that they did not want to take on another author in my genre at the time I submitted to them and I was fully prepared for that, or that my writing wasn’t as good as I hoped it was!

 4. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Not necessarily, and many authors don’t. I just happened to think going down the self-publishing route was viable for me at the time. I’m quite impatient, and want my stories to be published as soon as they are ready, and not to have to wait to fit in with a publisher’s time-frame. Self-publishing has been a worthwhile experience though, as I have gained insights into marketing and advertising that I otherwise might not have done.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

My publisher liked the fact that I had an online presence and also liked that I had already published three books which were fairly well received by my target audience. It could very well have gone some way towards influencing Canelo to make me an offer. Self-publishing can be a risky business though and may backfire if you don’t do it right. Editing and proofreading is a must, as is a professional cover. The right marketing helps too, because no matter how slick and polished your novel might be, if readers aren’t aware of it, it’s not going to sell.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve only been writing chick lit for eighteen months, with four novels published so far. Unless I write something which catches the imagination of the public in a huge way, I think it will be a while yet before my income from writing matches my income from my day job. And even then, I’m not sure I’m prepared to give up my job. It’s steady income, I know what is going into my bank account at the end of every month. I can’t say that about my income from book sales.

  1. What do you read when you are ill in bed?

Nothing. I’m rarely ill, but when I am it tends to be the flu, and all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.

 8. What is your favourite genre?

It has to be chick lit, although I do like the occasional psychological thriller. Besides writing in the chick lit genre, it does help to read it too, to keep abreast of trends and to see what other authors are writing about.

  1. In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?

I’ve just read a book by Stephanie Dagg called Fa-La-Llama-La: Christmas at the Little French Llama Farm. It was hilarious. Her second in this series is due out soon, and I can’t wait to read it. There’s something about her dry humour that strikes a chord in me.

 10. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I didn’t write in school, apart from those things pupils were forced to write. I didn’t do any creative writing under my own steam. I don’t think I thought it was possible. To me, authors were magical beings, creating stories out of thin air. I didn’t ever believe I could join their ranks. I didn’t actually start writing until I was in my early forties, but I didn’t start with a short story, or a novella, or even a 100,000-word novel. Nope, I went for it big time, and produced a massive 320,000-word effort. Looking back, some bits of it weren’t too bad, a few bits were actually quite good, most of it was meh, and there were some parts which were pretty dire. It will never see the light of day, but I cut my authory teeth on it, so to speak. It’s hidden safely away in the depths of my laptop and there it will stay.

Authors’ bio

Previous Books: Summer on the Turquoise Coast, Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm and Love in the City by the Sea

Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.

Twitter: @LilacMills

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Daisy admits to liking Xmas treats!






Mistletoe & Mystery Book Cover




Mistletoe & Mystery




Paradise Cookery School #3





Author Name: Daisy James





Genre: Women’s Fiction, food, travel




Canelo




Release Date: 8th November 2018

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course...

Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan

If you loved Mistletoe & Mystery, why not read the first two stories in The Paradise Cookery School series? Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusions are both available now!

Mistletoe & Mystery – Daisy James

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it?

I loved writing Mistletoe & Mystery, which is the third book in the Paradise Cookery School series. The story combines two things that really fire my imagination – and my taste buds! First of all, the story takes place in a fabulous country manor in the Cotswolds where the cookery school is based and is filled with a kaleidoscope of delicious recipes. Baking is one of my favourite things to do – I find it so relaxing and there’s usually something fabulous to eat at the end of it! Secondly, the story is set at Christmas and that gave me the chance to write about all the wonderful things we do to celebrate – not to mention all the foodie treats we associate with that time of year.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I always do a lot of research before I start writing a new novel. I really enjoy this part, and to be honest, I think I probably spend too much time on it. The first two books in the Paradise Cookery School series are set on the beautiful island of St Lucia, so I had an amazing few months taking virtual tours of the fabulous beaches, the lush rainforests, and the picturesque towns and markets all over the island. I listened to Caribbean music, learnt about the food and spices that are grown there, and tried out lots of amazing recipes. Cocoa beans are grown in St Lucia, so there had to be plenty of chocolate-filled desserts too.

Yes, I have a notebook where I jot down details that interest me, and I also have a collage of photographs and interesting articles that might come in useful for inspiration. I also always change my screensaver to a picture of the location I’m writing about.

  1. What resources do you use? In general, and for the last book that you wrote?

So far I’ve always set my books in places that I’ve visited, but then I make sure that I back my personal experience up with detailed research, either by borrowing books on the topic from the library or spending time on the internet. The book I’m writing at the moment is set in Tuscany, so I’ve been spending lots of time reading up on that area, especially the local cuisine – and of course sampling it!

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures, such as the police, when you say you want to write about them?

I write romantic comedy, so thankfully the police don’t make a regular appearance! But I agree with you, if I’m going to write about a particular profession it makes sense to approach someone who has in depth knowledge of the industry, such as the daily routine, the procedures they have to follow, what qualifications they need, or any quirks that readers would find interesting. The main character in my next book is an interior designer. I love interior design, and I actually have a qualification in it, but I also have friends who can help if I’ve got any questions. I hope it will add a level of authenticity.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I really enjoy doing blog tours. I’m always interested to hear what readers think of my books, but, of course, there’s always that little kernel of anxiety about how the story will resonate with people. In my experience, the book blogging community is a very friendly and generous community and I’ve had some fabulous comments and reviews over the years for which I’m very grateful. I can’t think of anything funny that has happened, or even that has gone wrong, but that’s probably because everyone has been so professional!

  1. What is your favourite genre?

My favourite genre to read is travel autobiographies. I love those stories of people who have undertaken amazing journeys around the world and come home to write about them. I’ve recently read books about two girls who drove a Tuk-Tuk from Thailand to London, a woman who cycled around the world, a guy who hitchhiked to Australia and back, and a folk band who drove a red double-decker bus around the world. I really enjoy Simon Reeve’s books, Levison Wood’s books, Patrick Leigh Fermor & Nick Hunt. One of my favourites is Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart – what a fabulous title – so evocative of the part of Spain where he lives.

  1. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I’ve always loved writing and started to scribble stories when I was about eight years old. I even illustrated them myself and glued them together like a real book. I really wish I still had them now. I do have my very first full-length novel – handwritten in five exercise books – which is still in a shoe box on top of my wardrobe. I doubt it will ever see the light of day, but I won’t throw it out. It took me three years to write and I learned loads – mainly what not to write!

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Author Bio:

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

 

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Teaching down south-west?






Cornish Village School: Second Chances Book Cover




Cornish Village School: Second Chances




Cornish Village School series Book 2





Kitty Wilson





contemporary fiction, romance, humour




Canelo Escape




4 Oct. 2018

Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the next village, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

 

The Author tells all:

Kitty Wilson tells us some secrets.

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I knew I wanted to write romantic comedy, it’s what I love to escape into and is what I found myself writing whenever I put pen to paper. No matter how seriously I would begin, a little bit of romance and my sense of humour would sneak in. So, with genre decided, I then had to choose the subject matter.

There is an old adage ‘write what you know’ and as a new writer I thought it was worth following. Up until very recently I was lucky enough to have lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years (the first and much of the second book in the series were written whilst I was still there) and when living there became a parent and a primary school teacher, teaching infants in a reception class. So, when it came to story ideas I had to think what do I know? And the answer was Cornwall, schools and small children.

Luckily these are three things that I don’t just know but am passionate about. All three things make my soul sing loud. I’m hoping that is what makes my books slightly different, especially with so much women’s fiction set in Cornwall, the fact that I really know the county and love it, inside out.

The setting allowed me to create a fictional village where I could write about a strong sense of community, something that is very true of the Cornish. They look after each other. Community is important to me and although my books are light-hearted feelgood fiction, having a strong community around my characters allows me to explore the fact that all humans, no matter how lovely their life appears, have difficult things to deal with. And it is frequently the support of others that help us navigate the trickier times.

Having been both sides of the school door, as parent and teacher gives me insight, I hope, into how school communities work. As supportive as communities are I used to be amazed at how the playground can often be fiercely competitive, with parental games of one-upmanship and I wanted to write about this, but in a gently comedic way. I remember one mother used to quiz all the parent volunteers on their qualifications because she wanted to make sure they were people she deemed suitable for sitting and reading with her child!

I hope that my passion for the setting, the subject matter and the themes of each book come through to provide happy, escapist and reassuring reads.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I have lost count of how many rejections I had before I got the first book in this series published. I had written a romcom before The Cornish Village School which I loved, it was based around an old stately home, a reality show and a new age guru and I naively assumed it would get published as soon as it was finished. I sent it everywhere and had rejection after rejection after rejection. This served the very useful purpose of forcing me to develop a thick skin and accept that getting published was a process and that each rejection was a step along the way. It also taught me the importance of editing my work. Whilst I may have thought a polished first draft was the finished article, all my rejections taught me that there was usually a lot more work to do and that work is best done with a fresh eye. The well-known suggestion to put your work away and then look at it again with an editing hat on is very sage advice, if time constraints allow.

I think tenacity is a vital quality for any wannabe author to have, most of us are going to be rejected time and time again before we get accepted and the one thing that is sure is that if you give up you’re never going to see that book in print.

3. What is your favourite genre?

I write romcom and I love to read it. I love being able to curl up with a book and lose myself in the romance of the will they, won’t they (when we know they will) of the genre. If it makes me giggle as well as sigh with the romanticism of it all, then I am very happy indeed. However, I like to mix up my reading so don’t just stick to one genre. I’m an avid devourer of historical fiction as well, and love a saga. I occasionally like to read literary fiction, have read a huge range of classics albeit in my teens and twenties and have recently dipped a toe into the murky world of crime (reading it, not doing it!). As long as it’s well written and pacy then I’m going to be a fan!

  1. Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?

When I was eight years old I snuck one of my mother’s Jilly Cooper books out of the bookshelf and smuggled it upstairs. I read five chapters before I reluctantly accepted I didn’t understand a word and popped it back again. However, as a worldly-wise adolescent I gobbled them up. I had always been an avid reader but Jilly Cooper introduced me to romance as opposed to the derring-do of adventure. I was hooked. Not only did she write romance, she wrote it with humour. So, by introducing me to the genre, she had a huge influence. 

  1. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I am a shocking squirrel, I struggle to throw anything out. Much to the children’s disgust I still have all their teeth and I have even kept the bunk-bed screws from when my mother finally dismantled it (I loved that bed). This means that I have everything I have ever written. More or less.

I moved house earlier in the year and going through the attic I realised I had kept everything, all my exercise books from primary and secondary school, even my rough notes for essays. I’ve also kept every single silly scribbled note that you pass between your friends when you supposed to be doing geography. So, all the writing I did in school can be guaranteed to be in the attic, in fact I read a fair amount of it as I was having my clear out. Will any of it be re-jigged to try and get it to publishable standard? I think not. But if nothing else the poems of my tortured teens gave me a jolly good laugh all these years on.

 

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Author Bio: Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

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A blitz of a book!








If She Were Blind




The After Twelve, #1





Laney Wylde





Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Thriller




Crimson Tree Publishing




October 22nd 2018

Not everyone can get justice the traditional way—that’s where Estlyn Collins comes in. A young lawyer in Santa Monica, her “legal” service, After Twelve, works outside the courtroom to tip the scales when the justice system has failed.

For a price.

Thanks to her powerful underground network, Estlyn’s success rate is stellar, and her inbox stays filled with inquires from the desperate and vengeful. But when one of those names is a ghost from her past seeking vengeance against her, she’s shaken to her core. Off balance and scared to be alone, she makes an impulsive move for a guy. He’s a complication she doesn’t have time for, but it turns out he may also be an unlikely—if unwitting—asset.

Treading the rapidly thinning line between personal and professional, Estlyn pursues her target while outrunning the one on her own back—only to find she may be running into a lot more than she bargained for

IF SHE WERE BLIND is the first book in the engaging New Adult series AFTER TWELVE by author Laney Wylde. Perfect for fans of the television shows REVENGE, SCANDAL, and VERONICA MARS, the AFTER TWELVE Series is a gritty social-issue drama that delivers steamy romance, intrigue, and the most bittersweet revenge plots. Estlyn’s determination to right every wrong is sure to quench your thirst for justice, yet leave you wanting more.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40866623-if-she-were-blind

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-she-were-blind-laney-wylde/1129186876?ean=9781634223386

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“The Privilege to Write About Race”

I was eighteen the first time someone made me feel shitty about the color of my skin.

It was my sophomore year at Biola University, a Christian college in Los Angeles County committed to racial reconciliation. That fall, at our annual Torrey Bible Conference, to which attendance was required, a black speaker addressed the topic of racial injustice. At least, that’s what I think he talked about. I stopped listening after he told the gym full of mostly pale students that white people were racists.

I couldn’t believe it. He listed half a dozen races, victimizing each one for the challenges they faced. I waited for him to say something about whites. We were the last he mentioned, saying we simply didn’t understand what black people endured.

How dare he, I thought. How dare he assume that because my ancestors were from Europe that I held a hatred toward people who look like him. How dare he presume to know anything about me. Because he didn’t. He didn’t know that some of the most influential women of my adolescent years were black, that one of my exboyfriends was Mexican, that I had friends of all colors and shapes and sizes.

It’s funny now to reflect on that rage I felt. I made it to eighteen before someone stigmatized my race. I doubt the speaker had made it that long.

Fast forward six years. My husband and I were watching a documentary on Netflix called 13th about mass incarceration in the United States. Several men and women, white and black, were interviewed. Whenever a white person spoke about institutionalized racism black people still face in the United States, I listened. When a black person did, I did my best not to roll my eyes.

That’s white privilege.

Privilege is an insidious force. It was invisible to me, because, like many others, I just didn’t know any different. I was raised to be colorblind, and consequently never attributed injustice to race. In fact, calling out the police or politicians or the church or any individual on anything less than involvement in the KKK was unfair.

Because if a cop shot a black man, it was because he wasn’t compliant, because he was running, because he deserved it. If he was in prison for life, it was because he broke a law that warranted that kind of sentence. If he was poor, it was because he didn’t work hard enough.

Black people told me otherwise. They protested through tears. They shared stories of the sons they lost to police brutality. They voiced the pain of being stereotyped as criminals. But I didn’t listen.

Until a white person said something.

I’m not proud of this. But I think it’s important to admit, to say out loud that I had and still have blindspots because of my privileged skin. Because maybe other people with skin light as mine will feel free to say the same, and start asking questions they once thought they had the answers to.

So many of us are afraid to say that we’re ignorant, that we just don’t know. But, guess what: when I approached my black friends with questions about what it’s like to be them, they answered. Happily. They assured me that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing. There’s only something wrong with refusing to learn.

When I started writing If She Were Blind, the first installment of the After Twelve series, I wanted to explore racial issues by writing from the perspective of characters of color. I wrote these characters in first person so I could feel the fear, the indigence, the often futile fight against a false inferiority placed on them.

It was the first time I wept for the people whose stories I had once refused to hear.

So, I wrote If She Were Blind not only to revolutionize my own perspective, but for everyone else like me––those who need someone who looks like them to validate the stories of those who don’t.

Because privilege is only insidious if you never use it to speak for those who don’t have it.

Author Bio

Laney Wylde is enamored with all things southern California–the traffic, smog, surprise earthquakes, and nonindigenous palm trees. Consequently, it’s the landscape her strong and sometimes lovable female leads paint their stories on. Her New Adult novels Never Touched and the After Twelve series are bright with provocative themes, steamy romance, and inappropriately timed humor.

When Laney isn’t writing, she’s singing Taylor Swift with her little boy or asking her husband not to tell her about his work as a surgical resident while she’s eating. She daydreams about using her math degree to get into law school, then realizes that would be too much work and that she should just play pretend court on paper instead. While she loves a good book, nothing beats 30 Rock with a bag of popcorn and M&Ms.

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