Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Read Authors of Color - A Resource List

Need to find books written by Writers of Color and Native Authors? This is a set of resources for you!

Apologies in advance -- most of these links will be heavily weighted toward authors of YA / MG, because that is what I gravitate toward. However, I will keep expanding to include others! This is a work in progress and I'd love your input if you know of resources I've missed.

Also note that while I've tried to keep this collection as strictly focused on POC & Native Authors as possible, a few resources may also list a few books with POC / Native main characters too. I will try to note those.

Table of Contents
(Click to jump to a particular section)

General / Mixed Lists

African-American / Black Authors

Asian-American / Pacific Islander Authors

Latinx Authors

Muslim & Middle Eastern-American Authors

Native Authors


General / Mixed Authors of Color Lists:
(back to top)

New Releases by Writers of Color

Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Picture Book Authors of Color

Other / General Writers of Color Lists



Sci-Fi and Fantasy POC Authors 
African-American / Black Authors
(back to top)

New Releases by Black Authors

Young Adult & Middle Grade Black Authors

Adult Black Authors

PB & Children's Book Black Authors

Other Black Author Lists

Twinja's Black Book Bloggers List ||  Black Nerd Girls || African Book Addict ||



Asian-American / Asian / Pacific Islander Authors
(back to top)

East Asian / East Asian - American / Authors






Filipino, Malaysian & Other Southeast Asian Authors



Indian / Indian-American / Sri-Lankan Authors



Other Asian Author Lists

Native Hawaiian #Ownvoices -- Reading for SJ || Hapa Booklist || 8 Books for Asian-Pacific Heritage Month  - RichInColor || Asian-Australian Kidlit || Read Asian Oz ||

See also: #AsianLitChat and #AsianLitBingo and #ReadAsianOz



Latinx Authors
(back to top)

New Releases by Latinx Authors


Young Adult & Middle Grade Latinx Authors



Adult Latinx Authors


See also: @LatinxInPub


Muslim & Middle Eastern American Authors
(back to top)


See also: #RamadanReads#RamadanReadathon#ReadMuslimOz, #MuslimShelfSpace @TheMuslimSquad, @MuslimReadathon & @Salaam Reads


Native Authors
(back to top)



Reviewers of Racially Diverse Books
(back to top)



Bookstagrammers: @BooksBeforeBandaids ||

Book Clubs:  Mocha Girls Read || Diverse Study Group - WOCReads || Social Justice Book Club || The Latina Book Club || Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top Ten Underrated Books on Goodreads (under 2000 ratings)

So I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish in AGES, but I just had to jump in on this week's topic, which is:

Top 10 Books that have under 2000 ratings in Goodreads

If you'd like to participate in this bloghop, jump on over to The Broke and the Bookish and link up!


NOTE: Okay full disclosure, I may have cheated and a few of these have just slightly over 2K ratings, but not by much!

Also this is more like 20 books, but oh well!


Middle Grade

I have been on a middle grade kick lately. Anyone else know of some great underrated MG reads?


  
 




Words With Wings - Nikki Grimes
I loved this novella-in-verse so much that I had to name-drop it a few times in my latest WIP.  :oD

Heaven - Angela Johnson

Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond - Brenda Woods

Mia's Optiscope - Natalie Rose

Honorable Mentions  (these were "classics" in my house growing up):
The Fairy Rebel - Lynne Reid Banks
The Search for Delicious - Natalie Babbit



Memoir

For fans of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild: some people have normal "midlife crises" some might even might pick up a new hobby like sailing. Most people don't put their life on the line and their new hobby to the test by sailing halfway across the world! I loved this trans-Pacific sailing adventure complete with close-calls and bonus tropical marine biology tidbits for the marine bio geeks like me.

Call Me Captain - Susan Scott





Science Fiction

All of these are really gorgeous and thought-provoking and well, sci-fi FTW!


        

  
  

Ardulum - J.S. Fields
This is probably my favorite sci-fi book of all time! Neek is an exile from her home planet -- shunned because of her rejection of her people's religion. When she meets a child strangely reminiscent of her people's gods, her whole world (and the rest of the galaxy) is thrown into chaos.

Beyond the Red - Ava Jae
(okay kind of cheating because it's a pretty new release, which would account for fewer ratings. But I'm putting it on there anyway because it's one of my favorite reads of 2016)

Bounders - Monica Tesler
(ditto above comment)

Starglass - Phoebe North

Salvage - Alexandra Duncan

Tin Star - Cecil Castelucci

The Galaxy Game - Karen Lord


Young Adult / New Adult  --- Fantasy & Realistic

Umm... so the only reason I can think that these don't have more ratings is that they are relatively new?? Here we have gorgeous historical of Malcolm X's days before the X, an incredibly immersive and artistic urban fantasy, a super hottt ballet/post-ballet story, a fantastically creepy yet fun Australian fantasy, a high fantasy with a beautifully wrought magic system, and a contemporary about a mixed-race school club that launches a movement.



     


X - Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon

Second Position - Katherine Locke

Shadowshaper - Daniel José Older

Isla's Inheritance - Cassandra Page

Magic's Stealing - Stephanie Flint

The Latte Rebellion - Sarah Jamila Stevenson


Terrifying Reads

Okay. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I am a COMPLETE scaredy-cat and I can't really handle books like this that are incredibly terrfying. BUT it was a really good book. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly:

Damage Done - Amanda Panitch







And a couple others in my Soon-To-Read Stack that I've heard GREAT things about but don't have many ratings yet:




This Side of Home - Renee Watson

All American Boys - Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely


What about you? What are some of your favorite, yet underrated books?





Sunday, June 19, 2016

Query Lab #3 - July Giveaway Window Closed

Query Lab #3 Giveaway Closed
image: holdentrils

In case you missed it, The Query Lab is a new monthly feature on my blog!

Each month, I'll open up a submissions window for those interested in receiving a Query & 1st 10 page critique from me. When the sub window closes, I'll randomly select winners and a runner up!

3 Winners will receive a private Query & 1st 10 page critique/consultation from me.
1 Runner-Up will receive a Query-only Critique from me that will be publicly posted on this blog.

      { What does a public crit from me look like?
         Check out my previous YA Query Crit
         & MG Query Crit }


I'm most experienced with YA and MG, as that's what I write. However, I can definitely help with other age categories as well. The only thing I wouldn't be a good fit for is erotica (sorry!!)

{ For more info on The Query Lab, please see the original information post here!
   And check out my Calendar of other opportunities for query critiques.}


The Query Lab

Query + 1st 10 Page Critique Giveaway

Query & 1st 10 Page Critique Winners:
Anonymous, KBarina, and Andrea Roach




>> Submission Window Now Closed <<

Note that The Query Lab will be on a hiatus during August
Please check back here in September
for the next session





How to Enter:

  • Meet the Monthly Focus Criteria:  
    Each month, I will focus on a particular type of submission. This will limit the types of authors and/or manuscripts that are eligible to enter each month. I decided to do this so that my query critiques will be of maximum help to writers preparing for upcoming contests that have a particular genre or focus!



Not sure this applies to you? Check out the #PitchAmérica Website for their guidelines.
And be sure to read more about their upcoming








  • Comment on this Post
        Please leave a comment on this post prior to June 25th 11:59pm Eastern with the following:

    • "Enter Me!"

    •  A way for me to contact you if you win
       (If you aren't signed in with your Google ID, maybe leave a Twitter handle or blog address, or check back here when the contest closes to see if you've won)

    •  IMPORTANT: Please state "Yes, Runner up Public Query crit is OK"
                                 OR "No Runner Up Public Query crit, thanks"
                                 
       Note that the Runner-Up will receive a PUBLIC query critique from me, posted on this blog
        Want to see what that looks like? Check out a Previous YA Fantasy Critique here,
        and an MG Fantasy Critique here.)



  • Check out my past Query Advice:
    Okay, so technically you don't
    have to do this before you enter. BUT I do highly recommend you browse my query tips and apply those that seem relevant before subbing ... because why enter to "win" advice from me that I'm already giving away to everyone??  ;oD

    You'll get better, more tailored tips from me if you're already applying some of the things I mention in the posts below!
     (keep in mind all queries/stories are different so your mileage may vary with some of the advice)



  • Want to know more about The Query Lab, or the upcoming submission theme/focus schedule? Check out the original post here.

    Got a question? Feel free to drop me a line on Twitter!  ( @carissaataylor )

    Thursday, June 9, 2016

    Query Lab #2: MG Fantasy Query Critique

    Query Lab #2 : MG Query
    Public Critique

    image: holdentrils
    Welcome to The Query Lab!

    The Query Lab is a new feature on my blog. Each month, I host a giveaway and three winners receive a private query & 1st 10 page critique/consultation from me, while one victim lucky runner-up receives a PUBLIC query critique posted right here on my blog!


        {  Watch this space for future giveaway windows. 

            The next giveaway will open June 20  }

    Today's lovely subject guest has a Middle Grade query up for critique. The author said they would love any feedback you guys have to offer as well, so please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the query. 

    Now, without further ado ... the query critique!

    As I mentioned last time, I do tend to go a bit comment-wild when I crit, so just warning you in advance: be prepared to grab a cup of tea and settle in for awhile! ;o)


    Title: MUCH ADO ABOUT MAGIC

    Genre/Age: Middle Grade Fantasy


    ----- ORIGINAL QUERY -----


    Dear XXX,

    Tiffany has been slaving away all year at the high-pressure middle school her parents chose for her, and now that summer vacation is here, all she wants to do is relax. So when her parents pack her off to stay with her aunt, who runs some stupid Shakespeare festival, Tiffany is furious—until she finds a magical jester's staff with the power to whisk her into Shakespeare’s plays. Soon, she’s stealing Romeo’s heart, falling into Macbeth’s clutches, and playing Scrabble with the Princes in the Tower.

    But when Tiffany and her new festival friends accidentally break the staff, the Shakespeare festival is cursed. Its rehearsals fall into chaos, and its main donor walks out, threatening the festival’s very existence. And Tiffany seems cursed too. Her parents call to tell her they’re enrolling her in an even tougher school program for seventh grade—another step along a narrow path to success that she doesn’t want to be on.

    When the children are pulled into one final adventure inside an unfinished play the festival has commissioned, it’s Tiffany’s chance to save the festival—and unexpectedly, it’s also a chance for her to learn how to stand up to her parents and start shaping her own life.

    MUCH ADO ABOUT MAGIC is a complete, 79,000-word middle grade novel, aimed at the kind of confident reader who would happily dive into a book like The Mysterious Benedict Society.



    ----- "FIRST IMPRESSIONS" FEEDBACK -----


    Overall this is working pretty well for me! One initial hiccup is that I feel a bit uncertain what Tiffany wants. It's mentioned several times that she doesn't want what her parents want ... but it also doesn't seem like she's very much into theater. What does she want? It's not something that necessarily needs to come into play in the query, but it was something that was nagging me a bit regarding that thread.

    For me, the "hook" in this query -- the thing that'd make me say "pages please!!!" -- is definitely the whole idea of being able to travel into plays, and interact with the characters there. Too fun! That concept isn't taking up a ton of space within the query though, and I'm wondering if there's a bit of a missed opportunity there to really excite the imagination around that idea.

    I like that the query is leaving me with questions like "Ooh, how does she escape Macbeth's clutches? Who wins the Scrabble game?" and "How is she going to pull through in her last adventure in play-land?" But there are some questions that I'm left with that I wish I had a little more tangible handle on regarding details. For example: "What IS that last play about? What kind of adventure do they have? What does solving a problem in play-land have to do with standing up to her parents?"

    Particularly in the last paragraph things are starting to read a little more generic. It's mentioned that Tiffany and her friends are pulled into another play, but the moment falls a little flat for me because it's summarized as an 'adventure' without giving any details about the play, or the antics they get up to within it. It'd be great to have even one or two "tangibles" to really re-ground us in the fantastical aspects of the story as the query comes to a close! (in my opinion) :oD

    Relatedly, I thought there was some great 'voice' in the second half of the first paragraph and I loved the peek that gave of attitude & personality of the MC, but in the latter two paragraphs, I wasn't picking up on a lot of Tiffany-isms. It's not a huge huge deal, but I do feel that especially in Middle Grade queries, it can be a really good idea to showcase voice -- if not of your MC, then the overall tone of the novel.

    ----- QUERY WITH FEEDBACK -----

    Edits in orange. Rework suggestions in blue. Comments in purple.


    Dear XXX, Dear XXX:

    Not a big deal, but some agents do prefer a formal, business-letter type greeting. For that reason, I typically recommend sticking to the formal greeting ( Dear Ms./Mr. Surname: ) -- using the colon to close instead of a comma.

    Tiffany has been slaving away [ insert specific &/or voicey bit ] all year at the high-pressure middle school her parents chose for her [ insert specific &/or voicey bit ], and now that summer vacation is here, all she wants to do is relax [ insert specific &/or voicey bit ].

    I think this works okay as a first sentence in terms of setting up the story, but I think it might be a bit of a missed opportunity to reveal more about Tiffany. I'm not getting a strong sense of her voice here, or the specifics about her everyday life and what really she really wishes she could be doing. What does 'relaxing' look like to her? What's her voice like? Is she snarky? Funny? Spunky? Quirky? Prone to exaggeration? Wistful? Sensitive? Sad? If you can use her voice to hint at her unique reaction the high-pressure school and the summer-situation I think you could really make this sentence pop, and help us connect to Tiffany from the get-go! 

    For example, instead of "Tiffany has been slaving away at the high-pressure middle school" maybe something that uses a few voicey-phrases like: "Thirteen-year-old Tiffany's totally done with her snob-school and the 24-7 homework that comes with it."  (I realize her voice might not sound anything like this, but you get the picture, heheh!) And instead of "all she wants to do is relax" maybe something specific like "all she wants is a long summer lounging in the backyard with her books."  [Sidenote: I generally recommend moving away from words like 'slave' employed casually as much as possible, because using them in everyday speech kind of diminishes the horrific reality of those things.

    So when her parents pack her off to stay with her aunt, who runs some stupid Shakespeare festival, Tiffany is furious—until she finds a magical jester's staff with the power to whisk her into Shakespeare’s plays. Soon, she’s stealing Romeo’s heart, falling into Macbeth’s clutches, and playing Scrabble with the Princes in the Tower.

    This is my favorite part of the whole query for sure! I'm loving the voice in the phrase "some stupid Shakespeare festival," and the whole idea of this jester's staff that teleports her into Shakespeare plays. Awesome hook.

    The only slight hiccup for me here was that the Romeo line made me wonder how much of a role the "stealing Romeo's heart" aspect plays into the novel. It makes me question a little whether or not this story would fit firmly into the MG category, or if the romance aspect will make it read more YA. It's not something that I personally would be overly concerned about if I were the agent reading, but for some agents, especially if they were on the fence about things it *might* be a bit of a red flag. If true to the story, you might think about tweaking the wording a bit to something to show what Romeo and Tiffany actually do together ("sneaking around Verona" etc) rather than focusing on the romance aspect.

    But when Tiffany and her new festival friends accidentally break the staff, the Shakespeare festival is cursed. Its rehearsals fall into chaos, and its main donor walks out, threatening the festival’s very existence. And Tiffany seems cursed too. Her parents call to tell her they’re enrolling her in an even tougher school program for seventh grade—another step along a narrow path to success that she doesn’t want to be on.

    I think this works pretty well, but again, I'm feeling like it wouldn't hurt to have a bit more voice here, particularly in the last line. Phrases like "threatening the festival's very existence" and "along a narrow path to success" sound a little more formal than I'd expect from a contemporary Middle Grade. If your MC *is* pretty formal/old-fashioned sounding in her speech, that's totally fine too but in that case I'd maybe run with that a little more -- amping it up to the next level of formality throughout the query so that we can see that it IS the MC's voice, if that makes sense?

    When the children Tiffany and her friends are pulled into one final adventure inside an unfinished play the festival has commissioned, it’s Tiffany’s chance to save the festival—and unexpectedly, it’s also a chance for her to learn how to stand up to her parents and start shaping her own life.

    For streamlining purposes, I think you could probably afford to ditch the "the festival has commissioned" line. Nothing wrong with it, but I'm not sure it adds much to the query. It might be more meaningful and add more flavor if instead you mentioned the theme of the play.

    I'd love to get a better sense of what you mean by "final adventure" here. I think if you're going to go the optimistic/upbeat route for the last line of the paragraph (see below), you may want to think about revealing the specific goal of this final mission/adventure in play-land. We do have a bit of a taste of what's at stake, which is good (future of the festival, and Tiffany's life), but what does Tiffany have to do to "succeed" on this new adventure? Adding even just a word or two to hint at the plot or what they end up doing in the play would be a nice tangible thing to leave readers with. That is, if you can do it concisely :o)

    I'm a bit on the fence about the last line. It ends on a hopeful/upbeat note, and that's not something you see queries doing super often. More often, there's an ominous "MC must or else" or a "now the MC must choose between X and Y" sort of darker feel to the end. I do think going the hopeful route for the last line fits okay here because it helps complete the arc of Tiffany's character journey, which is nice. But I wonder if it could be a bit punchier. As it stands it's a little vague. How does it help her learn to stand up to her parents? Is there a specific choice she has to make? A skill she learns in play-land that she can translate back to the real world? Is what's happening in play-land somehow influencing the real world?

    MUCH ADO ABOUT MAGIC is a complete, 79,000-word middle grade fantasy novel, aimed at the kind of confident reader who would happily dive into a book like The Mysterious Benedict Society.

    So the word count here is pretty high for a Middle Grade debut, and that might make some agents a bit leery. It is Fantasy, so you have a bit more leeway there than you would with a realistic Contemporary or Historical novel, but if you can get it under 70,000 words or close to that, you might be doing yourself a big favor in the query trenches. I always like to point people toward agent Jennifer Laughran's post on the topic: Wordcount Dracula.  Also, you may or may have not seen, but I recently did a blog post of "successful queries" (queries that resulted in agent offers) and some of their "stats" in a spreadsheet. Of the 16 middle grade sci-fi/fantasy queries I found, the average (median) word count was about 50,000, with the highest being 70,000. It's a small subset of data, and also not to say that agents won't sign things outside the 'norm'  ... but it's something worth considering, as word count can definitely play a big factor for many agents. You'll have the best odds in the query trenches if your manuscript is kicking around within the typical word-count range.

    The middle chunk that I've highlighted orange above is a little bit wordy and unclear. Instead of "aimed at the kind of confident reader," it's clearer and more concise to just say "upper middle grade" in place of "middle grade" earlier on. I also wasn't super clear as to the connection between your book and The Mysterious Benedict Society. The way this is worded, it almost sounds like the main link is the reading level. That's fine if true, but *if* there are other reasons you chose this comp title, you might want to lay those out instead, since you can get across the reading level info more succinctly. Are there similarities in tone/style? Plot? Themes? 

    Effectively, maybe this final "housekeeping details" paragraph could look something like this:

    MUCH ADO ABOUT MAGIC is a complete, 79,000-word upper middle grade fantasy novel. It should appeal to readers who enjoy fantastical and theatrical mysteries in the vein of The Mysterious Benedict Society.


    CLOSING THOUGHTS:

    Like I mentioned earlier on, overall this is working pretty well for me! I do think it could be a bit "hookier" with a little more voice added and few more specifics so we delve deeper into Tiffany's character in the query. I also there's some missed opportunity to delve into the specifics of their last mission/adventure. But if I were an agent, I'd definitely be requesting to see pages!


    Readers: What do you think of the query? Please leave your comments or suggestions below!

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