Ember Days: Going Woke One YA Author at a Time

There is a new movement in the literary world, especially in the YA market, of authors cancelling books before their release. This just happened when author Alexandra Duncan cancelled the release of her novel Ember Days, which was set for release in March 2021. Why? Because she got cold feet after going woke. I’m sure the craziness of the world probably stoked some of that fear seeing as Marxist hate mobs roam the streets looting, tearing down monuments, and killing black cops in the name of social justice.

The author herself stated as much when she said this in a recent interview: “I definitely struggled with whether it was okay for me to write about a culture outside my own.”

But yet she wrote the book.

She got an agent.

She got a publisher.

The book was edited and a cover designed – the thing was ready for release, but she killed it. I’d also argue, the author probably killed her career in the process, because who in their right mind would want to invest anything on a gutless, spineless author who buckles under pressure and her own white guilt? If she was this concerned about exploring the Gullah Geechee culture – why write the book in the first place?

Later in the same article Duncan goes on to say: “Clearly, the fact that I did not see the signs of the problem with my book’s premise in my research or conversations about the book is evidence that I was not the right person to tell this story. I am deeply ashamed to have made a mistake of this magnitude and hope my actions will not negatively affect the cause of bringing greater diversity to children’s literature.”

How so?

First of all, how many people are bringing to light the Gullah Geechee culture? Not many, so the fact that author was even attempting to do this should be praised, because of her novel, people will learn something new about a rich culture heritage of the United States. Secondly, in her own statement, nobody around her seemed to see a problem with it – so why does she? Is it because she’s white and telling a story outside your lane is racist and will get her cancelled or attacked by the mob online?


She also stated she researched the Gullah Geechee culture, which is a good thing. There might be some issues with the book in terms of getting everything right, but in the world of fiction, that is okay – I mean this isn’t a non-fiction book after all. And if she wanted to make sure she captured it correctly, she could talk to people with a deeper understanding of the culture and make corrections. But to come out and cancel the project this close to release is unprofessional.

Finally, she talks about diversity in children’s literature – as if her actions make her some noble saint. How many authors out there are writing a story like the one you wrote? None, because its YOUR story. Nobody had the idea you had, nobody created the characters you did, or use the same plot or dialogue – nothing. You know what that means? You took nothing away from nobody, except yourself when you decided to cancel your own book.

This is starting to become a trend, especially in the YA world. I went to a writer’s conference with a panel of YA authors, including Scott Westerfeld – author of Uglies.  And I was shocked when he and the other panelist told authors not to write books with black protagonist or dealing with culture/races outside their own.


This form of literary discrimination is wrong and should be rebelled against at every level, because nobody is writing the story you are. I don’t remember people getting pissed that a woman wrote a story about a boy wizard or even Westerfeld writing about a female character. The idea we as authors must stay in our lane or else should inspire all of us creatives to take the challenge on and flip off the establishment in the process. We don’t need affirmative action in the art world, because in 2020 voices are no longer being censored, unless your white – if your white, nobody gives a shit about your work. But if your black or a transgender or gay or the holy trifecta as a black, transgender queer – your writing is in high demand.


Foreclosure of a Dream: the Death of the DFWCon

Every year in North Texas there is the DFWCon, which was voted best writing conference in the February 2019 edition of The Writer’s magazine. And all I want to know is where I can get the crack these people smoked, because this Con does not deserve that high level of praise. Then again, maybe that says a lot about the quality of writing cons in Texas.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that the DFWCon has declined in quality in recent years, and if you ask me, cancelling the Con in 2020 because of the Covid plague might have been the best thing that could have happened to it.

Now I was a regular attendee to the DFWCon. I loved going. I booked my tickets early and then spent the rest of the year counting down the days to the next one like a heroin addict does their next fix. The first one I went to was in 2016, which was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center. There were a ton of great speakers and classes that forever changed my writing. It was also the first time I ever pitched to an agent, which was probably the most horrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I nearly died in an elevator accident in Chicago!

The next year in 2017 I went again at the Sheraton Dallas. This was the first time I noticed the event’s polish begin to wane. The quality of the venue wasn’t as good, the agent list not as impressive, and the events offerings were a shadow of their former glory. In 2016 I literally struggled trying to decide which class to take, because so many good ones were happening at the same time – but in 2017 there were hours of down time where I didn’t actually care about any of the offerings. The second big issue I noticed was most of the speakers and topics were exactly the same as last  year’s event. Though not entirely disappointed, I wasn’t happy with the event – but that didn’t stop me from booking tickets for the 2018 con.

This one killed it for me.

Since the organizers of the event mostly live in North Texas – they decided to move the event to the shitty Hurst Conference Center. If you look up the DFWCon on Wikipedia, which I’m doing to help remind me of past locations, it says this about the 2018 location:

“After three years of trying different venues, the conference returned to the Hurst Conference Center, a move that proved popular with attendees.”


I think its because most of the people who run the event live in that area and got sick of driving such long distances preparing the events. I can understand that, but to say it proved popular to attendees is like a fifteen year old boy trying to suck his own dick and then brag to his friends he got a blowjob.

Comparing it to the other locations, this one was the worst. In 2016 and 2017 – the event felt big in those luxury halls. Even as a poor, struggling author I felt like a superstar. The classrooms were big and modern and nice – but the Hurst Conference Center was a step down in quality from previous events. It felt dated.

One of the main reasons you go to these is to pitch to an agent. At the previous years event, the pitch session was reserved in a nice hall. 2018, you were on a crowded balcony with tables inches apart, which means when you tried to pitch to the agent sitting across from you – you had to shout. And even then they couldn’t hear you, because everyone else up there was shouting too. On top of that, the classes at this event were terrible.

Now here’s a little insight – if you join the DFW Writer’s Group, which sponsors the DFWCon – you can host a class. Some of the writers from the group run amazing classes, don’t get me wrong, but most are pretty amateur, poorly organized, and downright suck. There were so many classes I attended that just bored me to tears and made me question both my time and my investment in attending.

And that was before I attended the race bating classes, ran by university professors who were incredibly racist, close minded, and extraordinarily cocky. I went to two of these offerings not knowing any better. One was ran by this Latino author who attacked white writers for most of the class, talking down to us from his shit covered ivory tower called Virtue. It pissed me off so badly, I stormed out of the room.

I took a panel class with a couple of sci-fi writers, because my newest book is in that genre. And here they are trying to tell me NOT to write anything outside of my race. Don’t write a book with a black protagonist (I’m white – though that shouldn’t matter), don’t write a book about a female – because I’m stealing someone else’s story. I couldn’t believe the bullshit I was listening too – not just listening too, but actually paying for. These tickets aren’t cheap either – I think I paid about 349 dollars for my tickets.

The entire event was a waste of time. Horrible classes, bad teachers and again – the same ol’ topics! What was the point of attending these things if they have the same people teaching the same damn thing? It was a rip off.

In 2019 I saw the list of speakers – with the main being Chuck Wendig, the crazy guy who got fired off Star Wars because he told Republicans to lick his shit covered boots. What a great choice to be the face of your con –  an asshole. A quick look at the classes and teachers finalized my decision not to go – and this really broke my heart, because I loved going to these things for the most part. It was also held at the same shitty center, so thanks but no thanks – I’d rather spend my money and time somewhere else.

So why am I telling you this?

Because if you are going to invest the time and energy attending one of these cons – do some research first, and never believe the hype. The DFWCon was once a diamond in North Dallas, but now its just a turd collecting dust. I don’t know if I’ll try the 2021 event once things return to normal, but the chance is slim. I do not recommend the DFWCon and would highly recommend you attend a different con, because this one is on life support. If they keep promoting leftist views, don’t change up speakers and improve the content – it will eventually perish.