We’re seeking women writers of colour!

The publishing industry has been abuzz again after this article about sexism in the publishing industry. A woman author tells us how she received considerably more replies to her book pitches when she signed with a male pseudonym instead of her own name.

This story is depressing, but we know this unconscious bias is far from the only bias in the industry: Authors of colour have a harder time getting represented, published and reviewed. Stories with queer or trans characters or characters with disabilities are far less likely to be published.

At Ink & Locket, our only goals are to increase representation in literature, and to amplify voices that aren’t so widely heard. We are therefore happy to announce our next project, SHADES, which will open for submissions on October 1st.

SHADES is a project specifically formed to present women* writers of colour**.

We seek women of colour who have a story they want to tell. It can be fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, a collection of essays and articles, short stories, a novel, or something else completely. If you are a strong writer with something to say; we want to provide a way for people to listen.

We will be kickstarting this project, and we will publish as many voices we can afford throughout 2016, in individual of approximately 25-50 000 words. We know October 1st is ages away (let us keep believing that please), but you can help us find the best possible candidates now! There are a wealth of ways you can support the project:

– If you would like to write for the project, feel free to send us an email right away, and ask us any questions you might have
– Tell us if you know of interesting voices you would love to hear more from
– Then tell them about us
– Let us know if you would like to contribute to the project in other ways
– Consider backing the kickstarter when it goes up, and spread the word about our campaign however you can

We are excited! Are you?

* Anyone who identifies as woman
** This term is difficult to define, but for the sake of simplicity we will say: anyone of a race or ethnicity which historically has been considered “other” to those of white European descent.

Presenting: Our Diversity Panel!

Here is our wonderful panel of diversity consultants. These guys keep their watchful eyes on our activities, keep us on our toes, double check our posts, and make sure we don’t exclude anyone through our word choices or representation.

doraDora – 22
Gay – She/They
I’m a woman, Chinese, and a lesbian – like a triple-threat, ha! Growing up in Northern Ireland, I was quite literally the only ethnic kid around. Though I didn’t know it then, I would really have loved to see a Chinese (or other Asian) character in mainstream media that wasn’t there as just the foreigner, the exotic love interest, the martial artist, or the monk. I was always okay with my sexuality, but there definitely was (and is) a struggle to bring that in harmony with the values and expectations that were expected of me – so here I am, hoping to make it easier for kids after me!

linsdayLindsay – 23
Gay/queer – She/Her
I am an artist and storyteller passionate about kid-friendly LGBTQ+ content. There aren’t enough inclusive stories out there for young people, and I want to help make them by any means possible: theatre, YouTube, blogs, even books! Follow me on twitter @thelamerest and keep up to date with my other projects on my website lindsayamer.com.

sarahSarah – 22
Straight – She/Her
I am a recent graduate and decided to join this panel because diversity can only make the world a better and more tolerant place, and where better to start than in literature? I’m especially keen to see mental health discussed more openly as despite 1/5 people suffering ill mental health at some point in their lives this is still a very taboo subject.

isabelIsa – 22
Queer – She/Her
I recently graduated from a liberal arts school in the Twin Cities with an American Studies degree, which is an interdisciplinary field that critically examines the United States through an intersectional lens. I identify as Latina, queer, working-class, and mentally disabled. The majority of my activist work focuses on disability justice, prison abolition, educational reform for undocumented people and decolonizing borders. My love affair with books has led me to have a deep passion for diversity in literature. I am tired of the limitations that mainstream media has put upon the imagination of readers by not providing mirrors of characters and books that reflect our beauty and complexity as humans.

iramIram – 22
Queer – She/Her
I’m a student living in London who is very interested in diversity in the media and within literature. As a queer South Asian woman, I never saw anyone like me in the media I consumed as a child (and to this day I still don’t), so I’m glad to be a part of something that aims to bring more diversity into literature.

Would you like to get involved? As you can see, we are somewhat heavy on the women’s front, we don’t have any trans people, we need more people with disabilities, and people from different religious and cultural backgrounds. The job is important, and you get paid in books! If you think you could help advise us on questions of representation – please get in touch at contact [at] inkandlocket.com

Diversity shouldn’t be plot, just reality!

This the tagline of our themed projects, the first of which is now in its call for submissions phase. But what do we mean by this? Let’s break it down:

We believe that children’s literature should reflect the world around us. Heroes can live with single parents, same-sex parents, grandparents, in foster care, in families of all skin colours, in multicultural families, in families with strong religious practices (regardless of their own religion) – as well as the “classic” children’s book family of two white adults, and 2.4 kids.

Heroes can be in wheelchairs, on crutches, need a guide dog, be somewhere on the autism spectrum, have anxiety and panic attacks, have a chronic disease, dyslexia or other challenges that real-life kids struggle with and overcome every day.

We believe in girls wearing overalls and tool-belts, and boys wearing tutus and thimbles. We believe that gender identity is complicated, non-binary, and not important for your level of heroism.

Shouldn’t be plot:
But! Just as these aspects don’t define everything about a person in real life, neither should they in children’s books. Far too many diverse children’s books centre around the diversity. Some of these are informational, and that’s great, but some forget that children are still children, even if something in their lives falls outside the box labelled “normal”.

We want to see heroes in wheelchairs fighting dragons, and children of same-sex parents going out and solving their own mysteries. Not a bad word from us about Heather has two Mommies, but we think it’s time for Heather to move on from drawing her family in playgroup, and go out into the world to have adventures with Gingersnap and Midnight.

And if a main character is in a wheelchair, we know that doesn’t mean that all they can contribute to the cause are two wheels and an aptitude for getting down hills quickly.

Just reality: 
This is what life is supposed to be. Your body, family structure, identity, sexuality or gender shouldn’t define what life you lead, and neither should it decide whether or not you can find heroes to relate to. These things are backdrops; the real action is your own.

And those who are used to seeing themselves in every hero could probably do with a reminder: others are heroes too.

HELP! We need diversity consultants!

Do you have a lot to say about diversity? Are you focused on inclusive language? 
We may need your help! 

A big part of our mission is to write diverse children’s literature where children—regardless of their background, health, family situation or personality—can find heroes to identify with. We want heroes in wheelchairs, heroes with same-sex parents, heroes with trans* parents, heroic boys in tutus and heroic girls in tool belts.

But! We need help understanding the areas of diversity where we ourselves don’t have any first-hand experience. We want to make a small group of “consultants”—people who love literature and who happen to fit within one or more of these identities:

  • trans* people
  • people with chronic illnesses
  • people with disabilities
  • gay men
  • gay non-binary people
  • people with non-binary gender identities
  • people with strong religious beliefs
  • people of color
  • bisexual people
  • you, if you feel you can add something to our understanding of diversity that we do not yet understand that we need!

What we imagine is having you as a sort of consultancy panel—we will run our campaigns and wordings through you, and ask for your feedback. We want you to keep us on our toes and make sure we use inclusive and non-offensive language.

We have no money to offer (new start-up and mostly volunteer-run), but we can offer free books in some system we will work out. Books from the projects you work on? Books for a certain value each year? One book of every title we publish? This will be the first thing we need your input on. What would be fair?

If this sounds like something you would like to help us with, send an email to contact@inkandlocket.com with some information about yourself, and some input in regards to book payments =)

Even if this isn’t for you, please share this post so we get the best people possible, to make the best diverse literature possible!

We need you super soon! Ideally, we would like most of our group gathered before 15 June! Spread the word, and send us an email ❤

Amelia & Nica
Ink & Locket

We’re almost ready!

Only weeks left before we finally open our call for submissions! Are you excited? We are very excited. In the following days, more information will be added to this page. You will be able to find all the information you could possibly want about us, our philosophy, and our upcoming projects.

Stay tuned!