This week's Fiction Friday is an example of Twitter fiction - innovative storytelling done through Twitter in 140-character segments.

This particular story, written by Andrea Corbin, follows a "spacewitch" named Em in a short, fantastical journey. The prose is sharp, succinct, and evocative - really a treat to read. It's quite surprising how effectively this medium works to convey the story, working with and around the boundaries of typical writing pieces.

I feel there's no need for the excerpt I typically include, as the whole thing (having been Storified) is embedded below:

Hopefully you enjoyed that little bit of your Friday, and maybe... maybe you'll be trying some Twitter fiction of your own soon? (I know I want to.)

- Christina
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A quick note of credit before we begin - this Fiction Friday pick was generously recommended by the lovely Kim Karalius, who is, incidentally, an amazing writer herself., where this week's story was published, is one of the most highly regarded speculative short fiction markets out there. I've read and enjoyed some stories on the site in the past (some of which will probably pop up on future Fiction Fridays).

This gorgeous illustration for the story was done by Lars Leetaru.

Written by Maria Dahvana Headley, "The Tallest Doll in New York City" is a quirky, cute, magical story about what happens when the Chrysler Building, tired of admiring the Empire State from afar, decides to pay him a little visit on Valentine's Day. The narration is full of personality - I could almost say spunky - and it's richly flecked with details of the time period and setting. The writing style itself, despite being in first-person, is sort of cinematic, so it feels like you're reading the sweeping climax of a film. And the tiny threads of subplots are wonderfully woven in, making sure that everything is a backdrop for everything else, and every part of the story coexists with every other one, just like it does in a real city.

But really, don't take my word for it. Here's the requisite excerpt:
We joke about working in the body of the best broad in New York City, but no one on the waitstaff ever thinks that the Chrysler might have a will of her own. She’s beautiful, what with her multistory crown, her skin pale blue in daylight and rose-colored with city lights at night. Her gown’s printed with arcs and swoops, and beaded with tiny drops of General Electric.
"The Tallest Doll in New York City" is available to read here.

Despite the fact that I discovered it over three months late (it was a Valentine's Day story, after all), it's still a great story to read any time, and I do hope it makes your heart soar as much as it did for mine. Happy reading and happy Friday!

- Christina
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The Diversity in Books Series, or DIBS, is my resolution and effort to add my voice to those who are spearheading the effort to diversify the publishing world. I may not know everything there is to know about this topic, but hopefully I can provide an introduction to the issue for readers and others who are interested and broaden everyone's horizons!

So today you might ask, why this new blog series? Why should you care about it?

Why is diversity in books important?

Here's your short answer: because people are still feeling compelled to write posts and articles like these. Frankly, that's kind of an embarrassment to the publishing industry.

Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that. It's an issue that has spanned generations of both little and large examples of struggle in our society, and most of all, it's an issue that needs to be talked about in this field and numerous others.

This post will cover diversity as a personal issue - I'm hoping to cover statistics in more detailed, specific posts in the future. Additionally, it's an issue that I can ramble about for a while, so bear with me.

First, let's define diversity as it's being used here. Diversity is the inclusion of elements, particularly characters, from different backgrounds - whether that means disabilities (I loathe that word, by the way), different races, different sexual orientations, different body types, or anything that I've missed, it denotes anything that's different from what's considered "mainstream". It also includes authors and settings that are diverse.

No, scratch that. I think a better definition of diversity is anything that seeks to eliminate the concept of "mainstream" by celebrating differences.

I'm Korean, and as a girl of color growing up in the United States with an unending love for literature, it's such a source of joy to me whenever I come across a new book with a Korean protagonist - or even a Korean side character. Stories like Slant by Laura E. Williams make my day pretty much because I can finally read about a Korean girl like me. Finding out about authors like Ellen Oh is unbelievably cool, because I have a precedent who tells me that I can be an author, too. I feel lucky just to have one character or author once in a while who is of my racial background. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who feels this way, and I'm definitely not the only one who feels this is unfair to minority readers. It's a feeling that's very difficult to articulate in this almost-xenophobic literary environment, especially for young people like me.

I understand that I'm lucky. I live in a neighborhood with a fairly high Asian population, so racist comments certainly aren't as severe as they might be in other places. I can honestly say that I've never wanted to be anything other than Korean. I love being bilingual, celebrating the holidays of my culture, and being proud about my country. But I've never been able to shake the lingering feeling that even books, some of my favorite parts of life, are biased against me.

That needs to change. I can't stress it enough. Readers can't stress it enough.

The thing is, the landscape of the book world is lagging pretty far behind that of the wider one. I hate to say it. Shocker - the world has been changing very, very fast. And a significant part of a generation is growing up thinking that stories should only revolve around one or two types of people. Thankfully, with these rapid changes, it's becoming more and more okay to be vocal about issues people are passionate about.

Lately, there's been a lot of positive discussion on how Caucasian, cisgender, heterosexual, etc. etc. characters are dominating literature, especially young adult fiction. We're starting to face the fact that we live in a world with people of all forms, and books that only portray a small fraction of those forms are a disservice to that world. This certainly isn't a new topic of debate, but it's finally being recognized, bit by bit, by mainstream outlets, and that's a wonderful start.

The recent #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, which you may have spotted around social media, brought what is hopefully a powerful spotlight on diverse literature and authors. Please see what that was all about here, because although the social medial campaign may be over, the discussion is most definitely not.

In the coming weeks, I hope to spread awareness about the issue even further with the DIBS initiative. Please don't hesitate to correct me or share your thoughts (kindly, though), because this is an endeavor to support anyone and everyone.

And remember:

What are books if not a reflection of reality?

What is our reality if our books marginalize diverse people?

And, really, is that a reality we want to live in?
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(I know it's Saturday, but please do bear with me. You won't be sorry, I promise.)

Flavorwire has just announced their 2014 Short Fiction Contest, and I'm planning on entering. In preparation, I read the 2013 winner, and dang, it's awesome.

"The Art and Science of Growing Back Your Arm", by Kim Winternheimer, is a powerful, haunting short story that puts a speculative twist on what you think might be reality. The premise is just strange enough to make you look twice at it, but not overbearing. The writing style is deceptively simple yet meaningful - sort of like the best contemporary novels. And the ending - I won't give anything away, but it hit me like a punch to the gut.

Here's an excerpt, because I might as well let the prose speak for itself:
I think about the world pockmarked with kids who have growth problems I won’t ever see. I think about the boy in our building at home, who cries and wails even though he’s easily two years older than me, and the girl on the news who cut up a bunch of animals in our neighborhood. Is that something they could grow into fixing? Or is it worse than that? I wonder if we all have a little bit of growing to do on the inside and why there aren’t any adults at camp doing any growing. I wonder what Mr. Bobby would say my mother needs to grow back, or if she’s fully whole, and why, to me, that seems so much more difficult to understand.
"The Art and Science of Growing Back Your Arm" is available to read here.

You're welcome for the link (if you haven't clicked it yet go go go), and happy not-really-Friday!

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