Meet Thalya by Laverne Thompson

BLACK WOMEN

Meet Thalya the heroine.

 

My name is Thalya.

I was born at the birthplace of time. I have no clear memory of my beginning only that I was and I am. I am a soulless one. My kind have no soul thus feel no emotion. Not hate not love nor even heat or cold. But we do have a driving need to feel.

 

I seek above all else this compulsion to fill that void deep inside where a soul should reside with emotion. For when I do, for a brief moment, I can feel what another does. I travel the earth searching for depression, my emotion of choice. With but a kiss I drain depression from unsuspecting humans. But I do not kill them or harm them in any way. There is no need.

 

However, some soulless choose to feed off other types of energies, such as fear, even death and in other less benign ways. They kill those they feed from. I am not one such. But there are humans who are aware of our existence and they hunt us…all of my kind. Not differentiating from those who kill and those who don’t. And they know how to destroy us.

 

So while I sate my blinding hunger it is never quite satisfied…until Samuel. The leader of those who hunt my kind. For the first time in my consciousness I feel when I am with him, my own emotions not just stolen from him. So I cannot stay away. Even when it means his death or my own.

 

To read Thalya’s and the other stories visit the When Black Women Fall site at whenblackwomenfall.com.

 

The Unwashed Cover by L Penelope

BLACK WOMEN

I recently read this story about how bestselling middle-grade author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) had no recourse when several of his international publishers whitewashed the covers of his books and portrayed a black character as white. He complained but even for an author of his stature and sales, the correction took far too long.

 

A day or two later an author in a Facebook group lamented that her cover was whitewashed by her small press. This is in no ways new and it never stops being infuriating.

 

I turned on the TV yesterday and caught a clip of some movie where Blaire Underwood was being beaten by the police for literally no reason. The movie was set in the 1950s. My husband and I just looked at one another — no words needed to be said. It seems we’re still fighting the same battles over and over.

 

I’ve been told that I was very “courageous” for putting black faces on the covers of my books. This made me indescribably sad. Will white readers feel like my books aren’t “for them” because they don’t feature people who look like them on the covers? Have I ever felt like a book wasn’t for me because of the lack of diversity on the cover? That I wouldn’t be able to relate or enjoy it? Of course not. And my philosophy is to start as you mean to go forward. As an artist (and a control freak) I want to create and through my work begin reshaping the world in the way I want it to be.

 

I made decisions regarding my covers that many believe will impact sales for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I just like seeing black people on my covers. And having my covers represent the characters in my books. To quote a Twitter poster “the melanin is winning.” And since I self publish, I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to shout into the void and not be heard like Riordan or Ursula LeGuin or the many other authors whose books have been whitewashed over the years and continue to be so.

 

One day representing my reality the way I live and perceive it will stop being “courageous” and just be normal. Until then, I’ll put whoever I want on my covers and be grateful I have the freedom to do so.

 

To turn the cover and read a great love story, check out L. Penelope’s “Angelborn” on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at whenblackwomenfall.com .

 

 

The Education of a Black Heroine by Piper Huguley

BLACK WOMEN

When The Preacher’s Promise was first put forward to the public in the quarterfinal phase of the final Amazon Breakthrough Contest, some people began to question the history of my story in their reviews. They had never known of the possibility of an educated Black woman who traveled on her own to the southern states to teach. But I knew that this ignorance developed out of the lies that history tells us. We hear a lot about the brave white Christians who went to the southern states right after the Civil War, but we hear nothing of the Black people who went to help. This is one of the reasons why I wrote The Preacher’s Promise, so that the historical lie of omission could be exposed. My heroine, Amanda Stewart, was based on the real-life exploits of two Black women, Mary Patterson and Mary Peake.

Mary Jane Patterson is the first black woman who is credited with having earned a B.A. degree from Oberlin College, one of a handful of schools before the Civil War who were willing to give Black people a chance at higher education. She graduated from Oberlin in 1862. A historian of Oberlin College, Robert Fletcher, says that she taught school in Philadelphia, and later became a principal of a preparatory high school for Black students in Washington.

My heroine, Amanda, arrives in Milford, Georgia after the Civil War, just after her graduation in 1866 from Oberlin. Some real-life African American teachers were willing to take their lives and liberty into their own hands to teach the still enslaved populations how to read and write before the war ended. One of these brave people was Mary Peake.

Born of a free mother and an Englishman, Peake started a school in her own home state of Virginia on the grounds of what is now Hampton University. She started the school in 1861 after her own home had been burned by Confederate forces. Finding herself displaced, she taught the enslaved people who had gathered at Fort Monroe. She had taught out of her home for years and now brought those skills to this new endeavor with purpose. The population of the school went from six to fifty within a matter of days. Remarkably, Peake was also working as a married woman, having married Thomas Peake, one of the formerly enslaved.

Unfortunately, the next year, Peake caught tuberculosis and died. Her endeavor may not have lasted long, but Peake’s school planted the seed of an idea that spread and motivated many others to leave the comfort of their lives and homes to help the enslaved. So the provenance for an Amanda Stewart is certainly there. And the American Missionary Society, who built up several schools for the enslaved in the South, documented many more men and women of color who came south to each the recently enslaved. Novels are written about the uncommon and the exceptional. We may not know these Marys by name, but they were certainly exceptional. Their accomplishments should be remembered, and my Amanda Stewart is my way of commemorating these women who paved the way for many.

To experience Amanda’s story yourself, pick your copy of “The Preacher’s Promise” today! You can find this and other romance novels featuring black heroines on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at whenblackwomenfall.com.

Dumplings 101

"Wish You Happy Every Day": An Expat's Life in China

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! I’m always grateful for a second chance to celebrate the New Year, especially because I was trapped in bed with the flu the first time around.

We stayed up all night watching Chinese news–exciting fluff about people celebrating the New Year, soldiers sending video messages back home, etc.–and made it through half of Chun Wan before falling asleep. Chun Wan is four-hour live show of skits, comedy acts, dancing, singing–the Chinese version of SNL, essentially, and a treasured tradition of modern Chinese. 

By 8am San Francisco time, the New Year had begun. We woke up, said Happy New Year, and went back to sleep.

Later, we got a big group of people together for a New Year’s dinner at a Sichuan restaurant. This has become a tradition for us . . . even though the more Chinese thing to do is to eat dumplings.

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At…

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