Guest Post: On Inclusion and Representation by Ariel Kalati

NOTE: Hey everyone! As I buckle down to try to finish final papers, I've got a special guest post for you guise from Ariel Kalati, of the Ch1Con and Ch21Con convention team! It's a great annual convention I absolutely encourage you to consider, and this year they'll have speakers including Karuna Riazi, Amanda Foody, and Christine Herman, which is pretty cool! Hope you enjoy the guest post!

Hi, I’m Ariel Kalati, and I do want to talk to you all about Ch1Con and Ch21Con. First off, though, I’ve promised some insightful publishing thoughts. Over the last few years of being part of publishing Twitter, I have met so many amazing people and seen so many organizations working towards diversifying publishing. What particularly intrigues me is the need for #OwnVoices work- not just representation of marginalized groups, but the presence of marginalized people in all parts of the publishing process.

The need for #OwnVoices is there for many reasons: more accurate representation, providing income for marginalized people, and ideally one day, a shift in the power dynamics of the publishing world. However, I’ve noticed a reason that is more personal and emotional in nature, but not any less important. Being surrounded entirely by people who don’t understand your identity and your struggles can be scary. Even with allies, it can be alienating. And seeing books that are only published by privileged authors can cause that same sense of alienation.

Panels and attendees at publishing conferences can be just as important. To create a truly effective and open publishing community, you need all sorts of voices. Groups like We Need Diverse Books have been calling out whitewashed panels for years now. But smaller organizations and individuals can also work to ensure a diversity of voices. At Chapter One Events, for example, one of our foremost goals is to make sure that every young writer who attends feels safe and feels that their individual voice can be heard. A major way to ensure that is to support all kinds of marginalized identities, in places like our author panels and speaker lists, and by using our online presence to support #OwnVoices books.

I don’t think we’re a perfect organization in this regard yet. But I think that moving towards diversity is about wanting to help alleviate that sense of alienation for marginalized people. And creating a safe space for young writers to congregate and learn about their craft goes hand in hand with that goal. I hope that Chapter One Events follows in the footsteps of other great nonprofits and writing organizations in creating safety and community for all voices.

Make sure you check out Ch1Con and Ch21Con! 

How to Revise a Book

Photo credit: on Flickr
  1. Get your edit letter from your critique partner.
  2. Go over everything you need to fix.
  3. Wallow in the enormity of what you have to do.
  4. Eat your feelings in ice cream.
  5. Look at that edit letter again, this time while taking deep breaths.
  6. Translate your edit letter into actionable checklists.
  7. Figure out a solution for each issue you need to tackle.
  8. Make some tea.
  9. Tweet that you're in your revision cave for the foreseeable future.
  10. Put on your noise-cancelling headphones and favorite playlist.
  11. Revise.
  12. Keep revising until you're too tired to continue.
  13. Rinse and repeat the next day.
  14. And the next.
  15. And the next.
  16. Until
  17. revisions
  18. are
  19. done.

How do you revise your books?

Vlog: On Dealing with Writerly Struggles

Today I'm answering another question from Ask Me Anything week! This time about dealing with writerly struggles—because they do not go away.


What writing struggles have you dealt with?

Twitter-sized bite:
How do you deal with writing struggles? @Ava_Jae talks about their own struggles—and how they never really go away. (Click to tweet)

I Have Been Terrible at Reading

Photo credit: malias on Flickr
It's April and I've only read ten books so far this year. And I feel bad about it. It's not as if I have a shortage of books I have access to—I'm fortunate enough to both generally be able to buy books when I want them and also often have access to free ARCs or final review copies from my grad school program and day job.

So what this means is I actually own a lot of books I want to read—my physical TBR shelf is nothing to scoff at. But what I have an abundance of in books I lack in time and energy.

I try to cut myself some slack. I know I have approximately a million things going on right now—grad school, part time job, book edits, my social life, etc. So it makes sense that I might find it slightly difficult to squeeze time in there to read, but that doesn't stop the part of my brain that makes it clear in no uncertain terms that my reading lag is some kind of personal failure. 

Granted, I know that's not true, but it still feels not great to not be reading much when you're fully aware of how important reading is in your field and also you want to. 

Anyway, sometimes schedules don't line up the way we'd like and make reading more difficult—and I'd like to acknowledge that, because I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm hopeful things will be easier on the other side of book deadlines and finals but...we'll see. 

Do you ever struggle to squeeze reading into your schedules?

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you ever struggle to squeeze reading into your schedule? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: You Asked, I Answered!

Last week you asked me many, many questions! And while I can't answer all of them, I am answering some of the most popular ones in this slightly longer vlog. Enjoy!


Twitter-sized bite:
How do you come up with titles? What are signs your writing is close to publishable? @Ava_Jae answers these writing Qs & more in today's vlog. (Click to tweet)

On Revising with Flashcards

Photo credit: on Flickr
While working on The Rising Gold revisions, as you all know I am doing, I decided to try something a little different. I was going to do my revising in passes method, as I usually do, but I wanted something a little more concrete than my usual Evernote list to help guide me through the different issues I had to focus on.

So I pulled out my flashcards.

On each flashcard, I wrote down the main issue I needed to fix, then the way(s) I intended to fix it. So, for example, one flashcard might say:


  • Fix scene A by xyz
  • Add scene B where abc
  • Cut mentions of THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE

Except, you know, with specifics to the manuscript and what, exactly, I'm fixing. 

Once I had a stack, I organized them by difficulty. So the most difficult issues I needed to fix—the ones that required multiple steps to fix—I put up top to tackle first, and the easy issues I put at the bottom. How you prioritize is up to you—sometimes I like to put easy ones first to ease myself into the revisions—but this time I wanted to get the more difficult things over with so they weren't hanging over my head as I worked. 

As I made adjustments, I'd check off each bullet point, and eventually when I'm completely done tackling the issue I'll check off the whole card and start a done pile. Then I'll get to watch my issues pile shrink while my progress pile grows, which I think will be nicely gratifying. 

I haven't used flashcards like this before, but I like it so far. It was the extra little something I needed to visualize my revisions and feel prepared enough to dive into the work.

Have you ever used flashcards for revisions in a similar way? 

Twitter-sized bites:
Not sure where to start with revisions? @Ava_Jae suggests planning with flashcards. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Ask Me Anything (About Writing)!

Have writing, publishing, or book questions? I have answers! Ask your questions in the YouTube comments—and vote for your favorite questions. I'll pick some to answer in upcoming vlogs!

Twitter-sized bite:
Have a writing or publishing question? Author & freelance editor @Ava_Jae is taking questions to answer in AMA-style vlogs! (Click to tweet)
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