Category Archives: The Writer’s Board

#WeNeedDiverseBooks… And This Is What We Need To Do Next

 

For those of you who missed it, May 1st marked the kick off to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, voicing a demand that stories by and about people of colour, varying abilities and genders, and the LGBTQ community become more readily available to readers, particularly in children’s books and YA fiction.

Twitter and Tumblr users alike shared their reasons and support for diversity in literature, and the feeds are well worth checking out. They’ve also made an impact: The Book Con has finally added people of colour to their guest list.  Better very, very late than never, I suppose.

 So, what’s next?

What do we need to do now with all this feedback, not just at Sumbola as a start up publishing company, but as readers and writers?  After all, if feedback isn’t put to good use, well… it just isn’t useful.

For us, it comes down to empathy. We’re not here to lecture or patronize any reader, writer, or publisher, but what we want to advocate for is active consideration of others, particularly those of whom have experiences and perspectives that differ from our own. 

We believe that it is vital that every story teller and story lover place themselves in the shoes of the writers, and even the characters, with perspectives other than their own.  Secondly, we need to fully appreciate how important and wonderful it is to find ourselves and our loved ones in fiction, and everyone deserves this opportunity.

A little bit of empathy goes a long way; it leads to voting with our voices, voting with our dollars, doing the extra bit of research, and not accepting played-out ethnic or gender-based character tropes. It leads to a deeper understanding of literature (from comics to classics), and a better understanding of ourselves and the human condition. 

That’s it.  No six step guide, no infographic, no cartoons to help illustrate how to build a diverse bookshelf.  We’re just saying this: practice empathy, and keep on encouraging others to do the same.  Diverse and awesome stories will be the result.  

There is a fitting quote from Audre Lorde that encapsulates the importance and the blessing that diversity is:

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

This is why we need empathy.  This is why we need diverse books.

If you’re still looking for another reason, here are just a few of our favourites:

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks because it shouldn’t be easier to identify with a talking animal than with a human being who isn’t straight and white.

— Steve Foxe (@steve_foxe) May 1, 2014

 

Empathy.

So simple. So successful.

BREAKING NEWS: Articles Now Available

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Big and wonderful news everyone: Our tremendous and tireless technical team has added a brand new feature to Sumbola for writers and readers alike!  Now, Sumbola members can write and submit articles directly on to the site for others to browse through, read, comment and vote on.  It’s a big step in our efforts to allow you to self publish, and we can’t wait for you to test it out.

One of the biggest reasons we’re excited to launch our Sumbola Articles is that it gives a platform to both the casual and the consistent writer. If you maintain a blog elsewhere on the web with regular content, you’re free to copy and paste your own essays and articles from your site, exposing your work to a different viewing pool.  If you lack the time or desire to maintain your own blog to begin with, this is a great tool for you as well! You can post as frequently as you like, and your content can vary as much as you please.

An additional tool we’ve added to our Articles is the ability to attribute blog posts to content that is not your own.  This is a great way to share other perspectives and will link back to the original author or publisher’s site.  While it’s great in many ways, we do advise caution in what you link to: may sites will have strict rules about sharing their work even with attribution, and if not, it’s always polite to ask permission anyways.

If you have content that you’re ready to share, feel free to jump on in and start sharing- we would be delighted!  That being said, please check out and adhere to the Sumbola Terms of Service to know what types of content and activity is prohibited as well as our policy on copyrights.

While this is a big jump for us in terms in what we have offered so far, we are still looking to make this feature (and Sumbola as a whole) the very best it can be!  If you have ideas for new categories, we want to hear them! If something isn’t quite working for you, we want to fix it! Feel free to submit any and all feed back to us by commenting below, reaching us by our support email (support@sumbola.zendesk.com) or visiting our support desk!

Ready to start?  Great! Hop on over to Sumbola’s Articles Section to add your voice.

In related and also awesome news for all writers with books ready for publishing: we’re just about ready for you, so stay tuned for updates!

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Hogwarts Is Here, And It’s The Most Magical Massive Open Online Course Ever.

Harry Potter Fans, being the wonderful but sightly intense creatures that they are, have done it again: they have found a new way to bring the magic a little closer to home.

A team of dedicated volunteers have designed and built a thoroughly imaginative and awesome MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, which is, according to the website,

“…Thanks to the efforts and resources (plus a little magic) from the Wizard-Muggle Integration Movement, … entirely free.”

Excuse us for a moment while we regather our composure.

That moment you heard JK Rowling questioning Hermione and Ron’s romance.

Ok. We’ve got it.

This is the perfect nine-week course for all of us who lived vicariously in the hallways of Hogwarts and dreamed of receiving our own magical letter. It is ideal for all those have debated anything about the Harry Potter Universe, from the logistics of the Ministry of Magic to the plumbing of the magical world. It’s also fantastic for writers in general, as a lot of the course content is based upon creative (but serious) essay writing.

Alex Heinbach, writer for Slate and now a Ravenclaw student, enrolled for the course and wrote a little about it here, but if you’re already sold on the idea, you can go to Hogwarts is Here to sign up.

It’s really too much fun not to.

Dumblin’.

Are you already a course member? What house did you enroll in?  Are you chillin’ in Slytherin? Learnin’ stuff in Hufflepuff? Let us know in the comments, or go ahead and just tweet at us!

Ho-Ho-Hope You’re Writing! 5 Writing Tips from Santa Himself

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credit: Eric Lanning

Seasons’ greetings, fellow writers.  It’s that time of year where the eggnog starts pouring and the coloured lights are a twinklin’.

The busyness of the last few weeks of the year can leave very little time for writing, but it bears saying:  write anyways.   Whether it’s just 15 minutes, 500 words, whatever your method for squeezing in some writing time, do it.

While the expertise of Father Christmas lies in the industry of distribution and holiday cheer, there are a few things we can learn from his gift giving strategy when it comes to the picking up that pen, or committing to some keyboard clatter:

 

1.  Not everyone will believe in you.

Let’s rip this bandage off quickly.  There are probably people in your life who don’t believe you are a writer, or don’t believe that the effort in pursuing the craft is worth your time.  These people might be bitter and malicious or they might be very well meaning.

You are still a writer.

 Don’t waste time feeling like you have to convince them otherwise.  Just because they aren’t putting out the writer’s equivalent of milk and cookies for you, doesn’t mean you don’t have a sack full of plot lines and protagonists in your sleigh– which brings us to our second tip:

2.  Deliver.  

Don’t be an aspiring writer.  Be a writer.  Write often, write purposefully, and write until you’ve finished something.  That big velvet bag full of description and literary devices that you’ve been telling people about?  You need wrap them up nicely so people can open up their browser,fire up their tablet, or crack open those pages and read them.

3.  Santa has a workshop.

Good ol’ St Nick has his work space well established, and while you don’t necessarily need an area the size of the north pole for writing, you do need a designated writing zone.    Someplace  to sit, or stand, something to support your writing devices (a computer, paper pad and or pen), and somewhere you can focus with relatively few distractions.

4.  Practice and Perfect.  

I don’t mean “practice makes perfect”. Santa has been doing this a long time, and we’ve heard enough wacky tales about his misadventures delivering goodies to know that he still hasn’t got it completely right.  But Santa sticks to it, even after the set backs.

Santa also evolves.  He’s tried new things for better results, and you can too!  Just think: what if one foggy Christmas eve, Santa didn’t add another reindeer to his team?

5.  Santa knows what’s up… and so should you.

Santa does his research.  He knows what his audience is looking for, though his means of acquiring such data is potentially questionable (He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…?).  Do you know who your audience is?  Do you know what they want to read about, or how to present it to them?

So here it is: Santa doesn’t execute his one night flight of gift giving with out a little bit of planning. He makes a list, and he checks it twice, so review this list: do you follow his advice?