July Book of the Month: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

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The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

American Street is a book everyone needs to read ASAP. A look into the life of an immigrant as Americans fight themselves to realize the real life struggles immigrants face every day. This book is a great look into a life few of us know or understand. It is great for proponents of immigration acceptance and those who have yet to see the hardships of immigration.

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#BlackGirlMagic in Publishing

blackgirlmagicFirst off, there is so much #blackgirlmagic happening in publishing write now. Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, Dhonielle Clayton. It is beautiful to finally see more black women making it in publishing. In theaters now is Everything, Everything, a YA romance based off of a book written by a wonderful black woman, Nicola Yoon. I get so excited seeing the opportunities black women are finally being afforded in this often sexist and racist industry.

I went to a writing retreat back in March about diversity in writing. It was wonderful and I got to meet some of my favorite authors (including Nicola), but the thing I most took away from the retreat was a sense of community. While at the retreat I got to meet so many different people from different walks of life, but the thing that impacted me the most didn’t happen until the night before we were all to leave and on the ride home.

That night a big snow storm was predicted to hit Chicago. During the retreat, I’d met three women, Rena, Nia, and Ronni. All three of them would be impacted by the storm. Nia had already ridden up with me from Atlanta and was going to ride back down, but I mentioned off handedly, that there was room in my car for two more. They took me up on my offer and it was set that they would ride back to Atlanta with me and stay there with family they had until they could fly back out.

That ride was the most magical thing I had ever experienced. I got to connect with three wonderful women and since then have talked to them almost every day. They are my writing community. We are able to lean on each other for support and bounce ideas off of each other and rant about the industry in privacy.

There have been times I was close to giving up and times I needed advice and they are always there for me. I like to think that I am there for them too. We have big plans with each other and supporting one another is just the beginning.

Summer of Color

Recently looking at my bookshelf, I realized that there was something missing. This was emphasized more when my friends would talk about various authors of whom I had never read. As much as I preach about the beauty of people of color, and especially women of color, they were missing from much of my reading.

Part of this is because publishing still has issues where the cis white male is held up as the gold standard and women of color often have problems breaking the barriers that keep them out of publishing. This is even more true for the two genres I spend most of my time reading in, romance and fantasy. But to be honest with myself, these are just excuses. If I want to read books by people that look like me, I can put in the effort to find them.

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It was with this in mind that I promised myself that over the summer I would only read books by women of color. Sure that means missing out on new releases I’ve been looking forward to, but those books will still be around in fall. The summer is for my ladies that don’t get the marketing they deserve. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

From the beginning of June to the end of August it is going to be all women of color all the time. A few weeks ago I put out a call on Twitter for suggestions of authors and books I should check out and got amazing responses, but I am always happy to get more recs. There is no such thing as too many book recommendations and even if I don’t finish them all this summer, there is nothing stopping me from reading them after. So in the comments, if you have a book or author I should check out, let me know. I would love to add to my list.

This is just a peek at some of the books I plan to read.

May Check-In

I totally forgot I was going to update every month on my writing progress for the year. As a reminder, I am aiming to write 200,000 words this year and was trying to do 85,000 words between January and March. Well, I am doing amazing at that first goal, but kind of bombed at the second lol.

So here are my stats for May and hopefully I will actually remember to update this every month.

85k90: Over and did 55,471 out of 85,000 words total. Maybe next year

GYWO: 17,085 out of 25,000

 

Projects-

Star of Xianu: 2,987 out of 15,000 (59, 920 out of 70,000 total)

JAFF Novel: 13,087 out of 50,000

Blog posts: 1,011 words

 

To date:

85k90: 55,471 out of 85,000

GYWO: 102,604 out of 200,000

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Thoughts: Though I did not make the total word count for 85k90, I am doing very well and am tens of thousands of word ahead of schedule for GYWO. The beginning of the month was a bit tough for me, barely getting 500 words a day, but as time went on, things got better. I still didn’t reach my word goal. It doesn’t help that new words come slow when you are in revisions, as I am with Star of Xianu. Plus, I took a week off of writing hen I was starting to feel a little burnt out. I’ve done a lot of writing this year. Next month is really going to be interesting when I start plotting/outlining my first comedy script, plot my next novel, while continuing revisions and the JAFF project.