Like all insecure and nervous writers (i.e. all writers), I eagerly awaited feedback on my new novel, The Dog Thief. I received a thoughtful message praising the novel with one little comment: the single African-American character in the book knows about the drug business in the local town, fitting the stereotype. Like all insecure and nervous writers, I immediately became defensive.

I responded that drug business and drug use are common in my fictional town. The reader had said that it was his issue, of importance only to him, and that resonated with me because I have oh so many issues, things that annoy and/or anger me yet seem inconsequential to others. One of these issues is the representation of Latinos in the media. Latinos are highly underrepresented in the media compared to our actual percentage of the population. And when you see a Latina, she's generally a maid, a housewife, the mother/wife/sister of a drug dealing criminal. She's slotted into a narrow category that's easy for the screenwriters to imagine because they never look into the actual world they inhabit.

The character in question, my character, was inspired by the young men I know. They've lived in my house, had dinners at my table, jammed in the garage, raised their voices in joy, and shared their sorrows. This was a multiracial group, all friends, all bright and beautiful guys. Because I'm a suburban wife/mother, I was not privvy to all aspects of their lives, but I occasionally got glimpses.

So that was the inspiration of my character. But readers don't know that. Readers only see that the one African-American male character in the novel knows a lot about the drug business. It's irrelevant that other characters are connected or involved or knowledgeable about the illicit activity. Because they're the majority. When there's only one, that one has out-size impact and significance.

Like when there's only one Latina in a movie and she's a maid or the wife/sister/mother of a criminal.

"Snowflake" has become a pejorative term to describe someone too sensitive to a perceived offense. But perhaps the real snowflake is the person who reacts defensively and will not consider that he or she is being thoughtless or unkind or oblivious or insulting or any combination of the aforementioned.

I'm going to try to listen a little before becoming defensive. Being defensive is as easy as breathing; listening takes effort, so it will be a struggle.

One great thing about publishing as an indie author is that I could go to my novel and make a small revision that addresses the problematic bit. A bonus was that I discovered a typo and fixed it, too.

Friends gave me a mug that says, "Revise. You know you want to." Yes, I really wanted to.

If you have a website or blog and would like to review The Dog Thief or any of my other novels, please send a message!