Writing Diversity: Character, Not Caricature

I worked with Mystery Writers of America Midwest’s Secretary, Mia Manansala (photo below), in Chicago to present a workshop/ practicum on how writers can develop characters in their books  that are different from them.  We shared information about avoiding stereotypes (pause to be aware of implicit biases or filters); cultivating inclusion (read #ownvoices); building cultural competence (it’s a course of action not a course of study); avoiding default characters (not everyone is white, middle-class, and straight) and bringing humility to the writing process.  The attendees participated in a few exercises, and attendees walked away with the beginnings of a character profile for their next (or first) diverse character, and a packet of further reading.

MWA-U presentation

Mr. Pilot

This guy is my “default” airline pilot.  Default characters are a no-no

GenderUnicorn

The Unicorn graph can help us understand the LGBTQ gender/identity/expression spectrum.

Thank you! to the MWAMidwest Board for the opportunity.

Mystery Review: Flesh and Gold by Ann Aptaker

Flesh and Gold (Cantor Gold Crime)Flesh and Gold by Ann Aptaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the writing in this series. It’s pithy, wise-cracking, noir talk crackling with wit, intelligence and magnificent metaphors. I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, especially the sparkling, exotic, forbidden Cuba of the 50’s and Flesh and Gold gave me more than I could have imagined. It’s all there: the pastel buildings, the formidable sun, the white-walled tires, the architecture, and the rum. And now I know about Cuba’s darkest side: sinister, sinful, and dangerous. I’ll still go to Cuba. But now I’ll avoid some of the backstreets. Great storytelling.

View all my reviews

Sister Crime Writers

From Cozies to Noir.  Here are a half-dozen mystery-writing friends whose work I adore.  Try them.  You’ll like them.  It would be a crime not to.

Gordon-Books-AD-No-Banner

Thanks to Alexia Gordon for the concept, and thanks to her designer, Leslie Lipps.

Bouchercon: Where Hard-Boiled, Noir and Cupcakes Converge in Crime

Logo Bouchercon was held in St. Petersburg, Florida this year.  More than a thousand mystery/crime authors, bloggers, publishers, bloggers, readers and others who love the genre come together to rekindle friendships, make new contacts, conduct business, teach/learn the craft and celebrate the best in crime fiction and non-fiction.

It was my very first Bouchercon, and I had a blast.  This conference is overwhelmingly immersive.  I was pleased to participate in an event on the first day of the conference called Coats of Many Colors where authors were tasked with sharing a name or two of other authors who Coat of many colorsdeserved more attention.  I listed Stefani Deoul (On a Larp); Stephen Mack Jones (August Snow) and Penny Mickelbury (The Gianna Magglione/Mimi Patterson mystery series).  Later that day, I was honored to be on a panel that discussed the tropes of the private investigator genre with five experienced practitioners of the craft.

On Saturday, I paired up with a DC area writer friend, John Copenhaver, to do the Author Speed Dating event.  John and I gave our two-minuteAuthor Speed Dating spiels to nearly 80 readers moving from table-to-table, while breakfast eaters munched on pastries and listened attentively.  It was exhausting and exhilarating.

The 3-day conference was filled with panels, presentations, interviews of celebrity crime writers, book signings….

and cupcakes.

cupcakes