Here’s To You Bonnie Bennett

Last night The Vampire Diaries came to an end after eight seasons. In saying farewell to the gang from Mystic Falls, it seemed only right to take this opportunity and give the spotlight to the series’ most valuable player.

You guessed it, Bonnie Bennett, played flawlessly by the beautiful and immensely talented Kat Graham.

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KidLit: Recommended Reading on Justice and Understanding

Originally posted at The Writer’s Block

At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.

This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: Another Tim Burton Borefest

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the YA/action adventure film directed by the master of macabre, Tim Burton. This is the live-action adaptation of the book by author Ransom Riggs. Rumor has it that the books have potential and are engaging. That’s too bad because the movie isn’t any of those things. This painfully slow adaptation isn’t a return to form for Burton. It’s the same old hokey filmmaking, but time actress Eva Green is the victim! He really wants to show the audience that he still has that Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks charm. He wants you to know that his version of what is weird is acceptable. In a time where weirdness, geekiness, is the new norm, his message, and Miss Peregrine seem 10-years too late.

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Heroine Complex is the Asian American Superhero Story We Need AND Deserve

In the less than a week, superhero stories will feel less #whitewashedOUT when author Sarah Kuhn’s newest novel, Heroine Complex, hits bookshelves — digital and otherwise — all across the country. Telling the story of superhero “Aveda Jupiter” and her put upon personal assistant Evie, Heroine Complex brings something to the superhero genre that it could always use more of: interesting, multi-dimensional women of color. Continue reading Heroine Complex is the Asian American Superhero Story We Need AND Deserve”

West of Sunset: My Love Letter To Black Women

Originally published on Black Girl Nerds

When my debut novel, Hollowstone, was released a few years back, I had no idea how far the rabbit hole would go. What began as me publishing a YA novel that I completed during my inaugural NaNoWriMo challenge has resulted in endless opportunities (such as writing for Black Girl Nerds). It’s also sparked some most excellent discussions on diversity: race, LGBTQ, and gender.

I couldn’t be more humbled and honored.

Looking back, there was one thing I found to be a bit unsettling. Whenever white feminists commented on the female players of Hollowstone, they discussed (and praised) Neely at length. Understandable, given that she was a universal fan-favorite. While Abigail and Brianna were examined, I noticed Cassidy and Ruby were ignored. This bothered me. Brianna was only in the first half of the novel as opposed to Cass and Ruby who were main players that appear throughout the entire novel.

The difference is that both Cassidy and Ruby are Black women.

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Ink and Ashes and Tu Books’ New Visions Award for YA Writers

This week we’re excited about two things: one is a book, the other an awesome opportunity.

ink_and_ashes_smallFor us readers: Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani came out this week. As a lover of mysteries as a child, I can’t wait to crack into this one!

And for us writers: the award that got Maetani published — The New Visions Award from Tu Books — also opens submissions this week! Tu Books is dedicated to diversity in genre fiction for young people and is under the banner of Lee and Low books, which publishes children’s books by authors of color. We definitely need more publishers with that goal in mind!

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Putting Faith to Purpose: An Origin Story

A great visionary by the name of Cindi Mayweather once said, “Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness.”

My name is Dennis R. Upkins. I’m a speculative fiction author who writes urban fantasy, YA, and superhero fantasy. Storytelling has always been my calling, but sometimes fate has to put you on the path. The key is to be astute when the signs present themselves.

It was two years ago and I had a homecoming of sorts as I was back in Atlanta for Gaylaxicon/Outlantacon. The con was a smashing success but that was to be expected. What wasn’t expected however was the revelation I would receive repeatedly throughout the weekend.

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The Double Standard of Diversity

A satirist by the name of Jon Stewart once said, “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values, they’re hobbies.” I love the work I do. However, in the last year or two I’ve experienced pangs of resentment at the burden of being a gay author of color. I knew what I was signing up for when I entered the industry. Penning stories that features a diverse cast (being a minority writer myself), I was all but committing career Seppuku. No this resentment was something else. Something I couldn’t quite shake. Continue reading “The Double Standard of Diversity”

Why I Hate All Things Mockingjay

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

While the book Mockingjay was released in 2010, this is your spoiler alert for both the book in its completion and the movie, Mockingjay: Part 1.

Several years ago I was introduced to The Hunger Games, a new book gaining popularity as a young adult dystopian novel featuring a female lead. I borrowed a copy from the library and was introduced to Katniss Everdeen from District 12, and she was everything I wanted her to be. Clever, bold, and independent, The Hunger Games’ leading lady was instantly a crowd favorite, and the world of Panem made for a breezy thrill ride as I sped through it in 3 days of subway rides and bedtime reading. When the second book came out, Catching Fire expanded the world from the Battle Royale of the games, to the larger theme of dystopia and revolution. “Tread carefully,” I remember thinking. But most of my thoughts were still preoccupied with wishing Katniss would finally leave Peeta to die and ride out with Team Gale, so I was still a fan, to say the least. Before the first movie was even announced I tried to pre-order tickets by holding my Fandango app in my hands and concentrating really hard.

All of that ignores the existence of Mockingjay.

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