POC in Pub Presents: Diversity in Design


Last month, People of Color in Publishing organized a "Diversity in Design" event at Penguin Random House. Aimed at recent graduates and junior/senior art students of color, the event had me equal parts excited and nervous. While I already have some design experience in publishing, I knew this would be another great opportunity to network and hear from professionals.

Views from Penguin Random House
We have all heard the phrase "(Insert any industry) is so white," and the design/publishing industry is no different. Walking into the room of the event and seeing people of so many different races and ethnicities was welcoming and hopeful. As I looked around and saw my peers carrying their backpacks and portfolios, I realized this was the next generation of designers who would change the status quo.

After checking in and piling food on our plates, the event kicked off with a panel of Penguin Random House designers. The speakers included a junior designer, creative director, assistant director (digital campaigns & media planning), senior designer, junior art director, and marketing manager. They spoke about their paths to design as well as to their current position, being the only POC in the room, and how being a POC can consciously or subconsciously affect our perspectives. Furthermore, they showed a sampling of their design work (aka book covers).

In the next portion of the event, a different set of speakers presented best practices and tips for resume, cover letter, website, and portfolio. They showed examples of such from applicants and people who were subsequently hired. Lastly, we had the opportunity for a designer to review our portfolio and have an intimate conversation. I spoke with an art director and we discussed my portfolio, my future goals as a designer, and how it is possible to integrate your personal passion projects into your work career.

Thank you to People of Color in Publishing for setting up this wonderful event and the Penguin Random House employees who shared their time and experience with us! I recommend visiting People Of Color in Publishing's website if you are a person of color wanting to pursue a career in publishing.



A shelfie at Penguin Random House :)
A grassroots organization created by book publishing professionals dedicated to supporting, empowering, and uplifting racially and ethnically marginalized members throughout the industry, we seek to create a safe and inclusive space celebrating and promoting diversity.

Through a planning committee and network of chaired subcommittees, we advocate and foster career development and advancement of people of color (including Native/Indigenous) professionals’ and writers’ work.

This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni | Author Interview

Title: This Book Is Not Yet Rated
Author: Peter Bognanni
Pages: 336 pages
Source: Hardcover from publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it's because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it's because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it's a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it's structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don't understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it's up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema--Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as "Wendy," the leader of these Lost Boys--to save the place they love.

It's going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan's oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she's been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren't always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he's not been ready to say.

Out now! 
I am so excited to be apart of this tour and to present an interview with the brilliant Peter Bognanni. Peter is actually a professor at the college I attend, and I sat in on one of his creative classes when I was a prospective student. it brings me great joy to support the work and creativity of my profs who love what they do and enjoy teaching their craft with students who aspire to do the same. So without further ado, I asked Peter some questions about his writing process and his teachings.

Q: This novel is a lot different than your previous Young Adult novel, Things I'm Seeing Without You. How do you decide the subject matter of your books before you write them?

Usually I realize I have a book idea if there’s an obsession that I just can’t let go of. In the case of Things I’m Seeing Without You, it was the idea of digital grief and mourning someone you only knew on the internet. For this book, it was the idea of finding your first work family. I kept coming back to these ideas and taking notes. Then I took notes on the notes. Before too long, I had the beginnings of a book.

Q: What inspired the story of This Book Is Not Yet Rated? Are there going to be movie references scattered throughout the book?

I grew up watching a lot of movies. My dad was a film buff and we used to go to the movies almost every Saturday when I was growing up. Later I worked at a small movie theater in Minneapolis called the Oak Street Cinema. Then, my first book was made into a movie and I got a chance to see what things were like on that side of things. All of these experiences cohered into book about the movies, family relationships, and a friendship between a theater worker and an actress. Oh, and yes, lots of film references!

Q: So not only are you an established Young Adult author, but you're also a professor of Creative Writing. What experiences have you gained as an author that you feel are valuable to share with your students?

I mostly teach the craft of writing, so branching out from adult to young adult has opened up another avenue for classes. I taught a YA literature course at Macalester for the first time last year, and the student work was amazing. I always start with the art of telling a good story, making a narrative work, creating tension and urgency, making the reader care. From there, I move to the smaller, fancier things like lyricism, psychic distance, and point of view.


Q: What's the most important writing tip you give to your students who are aspiring writers?

When you’re young, you just have to keep working. You wrote something good? Great, get back to work. Something bad? Make more work. It takes a while to find your own truth and the style that makes it unique. And most problems along the way can be solved by just writing your way through them. The rest of the answers are in books. So read lots of those.




Author Info
Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 


















Wildcard by Marie Lu

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: September 18th, 2019
Pages: 352 pages 
Source: Hardcover 
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side. Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price. Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?
Get it now! 
Marie Lu has done it again,

Whenever I begin a new book by Marie Lu, I clear out my day’s schedule and prepare myself for the rush of adrenaline that’s sure to follow, because I already know that it’s going to be out of this world. It’s sort of like getting ready for a special occasion. I started and finished Wildcard in a little over a day and good gracious, even my dreams started happening in Warcross.

The characters in Wildcard are as witty and as clever as they were in Warcross, and the world building was just phenomenal. In this duology, Marie Lu has not only triumphantly constructed an incredibly vibrant game universe--that is easily accessible--but has also reimagined a mystical future. Marie’s descriptions of the Warcross realm are detailed enough that the foundations feel sturdy, yet also loose enough that it allows for the reader to cultivate their own interpretation of the game’s many details.

Going back to the cast, I felt that all of the characters’ arcs grew tremendously throughout this finale. There were so many motives and faces to Marie’s characters, that I was constantly torn between whose side to choose. Ultimately, it took getting through a good chunk of the novel to realize who the true villain was--and what a classic plot twist! We learn so much more about Hideo’s backstory in this sequel, which almost made this story feel more like Hideo’s than Emika’s. I loved (almost) all of the new characters whom we were introduced to and despite the book being of an average novel length, I felt that the character descriptions were sufficient enough to provide a solid understanding of even the newest characters.

This conclusion packed so much emotional torment and adrenaline into 300-some pages that I didn’t regret losing sleep to finish it. As much as it took out of me to read Wildcard, every minute that I spent with this book was totally worth it. I loved Wildcard way more than Warcross, because it was so much more emotional with twists that no one could have predicted. Although I was left satisfied with the ending, I was certainly also left wanting more of the story, more of Emika and Hideo, and more details regarding the technologies.

Every time I read a new Marie Lu book, my expectations are that this new read could not possibly top the last one. And every time, I’m left with a new favorite. Marie Lu’s stories are always filled with incredible amounts of fine details and creative plots. Her characters are dimensional and their personalities are easily relatable. After Wildcard, I simply cannot wait for what Marie Lu has in store for us next.



BLOG TOUR: Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye | Transforming Into a Taiga

Title: Circle of Shadows
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 400 pages
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
Source: Hardcover from the publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Get it now! 
Welcome to the last stop of the Circle of Shadows blog tour!! In a new fantasy world crafted by Evelyn Skye, there are gifted individuals known as Taigas who were blessed with magic from the gods and swore an oath to protect Kichona. The magic system of this book is really what gives it flare. I enjoyed reading about the magic and how it manifested throughout the story depending on who wielded it. In this world, your magic is a reflection of your personality. Taigas are assigned a name when they become taiga's apprentice. I found these names to be super unique to each character. Our main characters Sora and Daemon are named Spirit and Wolf. Sora named Spirit for her untamed and reckless spirit. She has a knack for not listening to authority and causing trouble. Daemon is named Wolf because of how his brute physical fighting skills outweigh his ability to perform magic. After immersing myself into this world for a good few days, it got me thinking...


What if I was a taiga in this world? 


If I was a taiga, my name would probably be Sea. My taiga name is supposed to be a reflection of myself, and I believe like the sea, I am free and also it's related to my love for marine biology and the ocean. If I could only conjure up one word to describe me, it would be Sea.

As for powers, Katara's water-bending skills immediately come to mind. I've always wanted the power to control water and possibly transform myself into marine creatures. Some people want to fly and some want to read minds, but I would like to have the ability to shape water and throw it at people. I would also totally love the ability to breathe underwater for hours on one breath. 

Now for the giveaway... 

The giveaway is opened internationally: one winner will get a hardcover of the book along with the designed tote bag (below). 


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