Sensitivity Reading Services

Status: Currently open to requests for sensitivity reading services. Please read the entire page before submitting a request.

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According to Writing in the Margins, “a sensitivity reader reads through a manuscript for issues of representation and for instances of bias on the page.  The goal of a sensitivity reader isn’t to edit a manuscript clarity and logic, although that may be an additional service offered. A sensitivity reader reviews a manuscript for internalized bias and negatively charged language.  A sensitivity reader is there to help make sure you do not make a mistake, but they are also NOT a guarantee against making a mistake.”

Sensitivity reading is not the same as beta reading. A beta reader is a non-professional reader who offers critique on an unfinished manuscript, on aspects of the craft such as pacing, plot, character development, grammar, sentence structure, etc. I will not be providing any structural feedback of your work. 

I am a lifelong reader and have been blogging for the past year. I have come across and read several books with harmful representations of cultures, identities, and experiences, so I would like to offer my expertise gained from my life experiences to ensure that readers are not continually exposed to harmful and hurtful content. Books representing marginalized identities are often at risk, and though not all members of a community or culture might find an aspect of your book problematic, I will do my due diligence to ensure that there aren’t glaring misrepresentations in your work. 

Areas of Expertise:

  • South Asia, South Asian/diasporic characters, specifically India and Indian/diasporic characters.
  • Indian history, politics, culture, and social issues.
  • Hindu practices, traditions, festivals, mythology, etc. Generally Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and other religions as practiced in India.
  • Languages: Tamil (spoken and written), Hindi (spoken and written), Sanskrit (written). Including multilingualism and code-switching with English. 
  • Immigrant and expatriate experiences (any generation).
  • Mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety, neurodiversity/disability from a caregiver/professional POV. 
  • Chronic pain and chronic illness (specifically PCOS).
  • Fat characters and fat positivity. 
  • LGBTQIA+ representation, specifically gray/sapio/demi-ace, bi/pan/gray-aro, sexually fluid and genderfluid characters. Including characters that are still in the closet/not fully out/out to very specific audiences. 
  • Characters with complex relationships with parents and siblings.
  • Graduate school experiences in the US as an International student.

In addition to these specific areas, I can do a general sensitivity reading for harmful content like ableism, classism, sexism, misogyny, colorism, Islamophobia, anti-blackness (specifically in the South Asian community), etc. However, these will be solely from my perspective and not necessarily always from first-hand experiences. After receiving your request, we can discuss what specific elements I am comfortable providing feedback on and those for which I would suggest another sensitivity reader. 

Preferred genres:

  • Adult fiction: Literary fiction, historical fiction, urban fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, contemporary, humor, romance, and erotica.
  • YA/NA fiction: urban fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, romance, magical realism.
  • MG fiction: any genre

General Terms and Conditions: 

  • I do not guarantee the acceptance of every request. If I choose to reject your manuscript, I will provide you with the reason for my decision. A rejection is not a personal bias against you or your work. 
  • Once I accept your manuscript, we will discuss pricing and payment options and come to an agreement, upon which I will sign a non-disclosure agreement you provide that comply with the terms and conditions listed below. 
  • I will require at least 10 days to read your manuscript. I will read every word of your manuscript at least once, and provide a 1-3 page report with feedback on all the issues I noticed with quotations and explanations, as well as suggestions for how to fix it. 
  • If you require feedback on your manuscript within a specific time period, please provide that information along with your request. There may be an extra fee for a quicker turnaround, which will be discussed with you before I begin reading your manuscript. 
  • Following the completion of my sensitivity reading, you will be sent a feedback form to provide an honest evaluation of my services including constructive criticism, if any. There will also be an option to provide a testimonial of my work to be published on this blog.

Pricing: 

Writing In The Margins suggests that sensitivity readers be paid at least $250 for feedback on a full manuscript (60,000-100,000 words). The prices given below are starting rates and will be open to negotiation on a case-by-case basis. 

Pricing brackets are as follows: (All prices will be rounded to the nearest whole cent, in USD):

  • 5000 words or less: $50 flat rate
  • 5001 to 10,000: $50 +(# words) x ($0.005 per word)
  • 10,001 to 50,000 words: $150+(# words) x ($0.002 per word)
  • 50,0001 and over: $200 +(# words) x ($0.001 per word)

Payment Terms and Conditions:

  • Payment will be accepted via Paypal or an Amazon e-gift card
  • Full payment is expected prior to the rendering of services.
  • If you have financial difficulties and are unable to make the full payment at a time (due to being a student, unemployment, etc.), we can come up with a payment schedule (that will include specific deadlines) to better suit your needs. This is again negotiable and on a case-by-case basis. 
  • The sensitivity reading time-period will begin as soon as I receive the base rate (or other agreed upon amount).
  • Payment is nonrefundable.
  • If I am unable to complete reading your manuscript and providing you feedback, then I will refund you the money for the number of words that I have not finished reading based on the price bracket that your manuscript falls under. The base rate will not be refunded under any circumstances. 

Privacy Terms and Conditions:

  • Formal non-disclosure agreements prior to the rendering of services that comply with my terms and conditions are preferred. 
  • If I agree to be a sensitivity reader for your manuscript, I will not disclose any information regarding your manuscript to anyone other than pre-approved parties prior to publication. I reserve the right as a reader and reviewer to critique the text of the finished copy.
  • If your manuscript requires me to consult with another person for a second opinion, such as a family member or other known persons with expertise related to the subject matter in your manuscript, I will only do so after obtaining explicit, written permission from you, and will not disclose your identity to them. 
  • My service as a sensitivity reader for your manuscript does not automatically mean an endorsement of your work, a defense against criticism from other parties, or a guarantee that your work is free of any and all problematic content. You may not misuse my name in such contexts.
  • If your manuscript is published, you may include my name (with no other identifying information) in the relevant section of your work.  

Please email me at theshrinkette@gmail.com, if you have any further questions or require clarification of information. If you’re ready to submit a request, please fill out this form.

February 20th, 2017: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Did I call it or what? I only finished Runtime and The Souls of Black Folk from my planned TBR for the past week, and kept getting distracted by other books. I devoured The Boss and The Girlfriend by Abigail Barnette, as well as Sarah Nicole Lemon’s debut YA novel Done Dirt Cheap, which I also enjoyed. I’m woefully behind on my #SJBookClub reading, so that’s going to be my focus this week:

Honestly, it’s getting a little painful that I’ve been in the middle of these books for as long as I have.

On the blogging front, success! I managed to squeeze in a second review yesterday, thereby honoring my commitment for the week (I’m telling you, the public shaming thing works). Committing to three posts this week (with one post being a review of a book with problematic representation) as well. Turns out I err on the side of caution when it comes to blogging. 

Related, I’ve been considering offering up sensitivity reading services, specifically for South Asian, Hindu, chronic pain, Ace-spectrum, and immigrant/expat rep. It’s super intimidating and definitely a lot of work, but I’ve been looking at the sheer number of problematic books that are being published and it sounds like the push for sensitivity reading is more than necessary. Thoughts?

Also, after a LOT of deliberation, I’ve set up a ko-fi link. I still feel super iffy about it, but it’s there for anyone that wants to buy me a coffee because of blog things or twitter things. (I’m cringing at that last sentence but don’t know how else to phrase it, sorry!) No pressure whatsoever. If I continue feeling shitty about it I’ll probably take it down. 

Aaaaaaannyyway, talk to me about books! What are you reading this week?

-J

 

 

Review: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

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When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Pub. date: October 4th, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: Digital
ISBN: 9781250058669
Source: Chicago Public Library via Overdrive
Purchase links: Amazon| Barnes & Noble| Indiebound|Book Depository

 

 

Miel is the girl that emerged from a water tower one night when she was little, and Sam is the boy who paints paper moons and hangs them up on trees. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and not much is known about either her past or Sam’s. Their friendship finds common ground in their weirdness and secrets, and in their teens, blossoms into a lot more. The only people that the townsfolk choose to keep even further distance from tare he Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. The sisters believe that the scent of the roses growing from Miel’s wrist could make anyone fall in love and they are willing  to spills the secrets they have on Miel and Sam in order to obtain them. 

This book made me realize I truly do love magical realism. I enjoy the flowery prose, characters with mysterious backgrounds that only come forth as you progress through the book, and the mystical components, especially in book filled with such multicultural elements. Miel is Latina, Sam is Pakistani-American, the book references brujeria and bacha posh, and has a central trans character whose exploration of sexual and gender identity is unlike any I’ve seen in a YA book. 

I read the author’s debut novel The Weight In Feathers sometime before this book came out and instantly fell in love with her prose. Her writing is gorgeous. For example:

They would remember only that Miel and Sam had been called Honey and Moon, a girl and boy woven into the folklore of this place.

and

She was a place whose darkness held not fear, but the promise of stars.

*Cue swooning*

I mean, her writing allows the reader’s imagination to explode. It is truly a sensory experience, with descriptions of smells, tastes, and visuals. Whether it’s a field of glass pumpkins, or the smells of the spices used in Miel’s house, or the sound of the river. The love between Miel and Sam literally feels like a slow burn of heightened teenage emotions. 

The book is character-driven over plot, and McLemore gives her characters such nuance. Sam coming into his identity doesn’t necessarily happen throughout the book, but the story is deftly built up to that moment. It is far from a perfect moment, and McLemore’s storytelling prowess in exploring the messiness of teenage emotions shines through. The same can be said for Miel exploring her identity and finding out about her past and how she ended up in this town. The author lends complexity to the Bonner sisters as well, they aren’t your straight up villainous cliquey white sisters. Layers, layers everywhere. 

I’ve said this about other books and I’ll say it again: books like this one are the reason there’s such a push for diversity in publishing. Teenagers exploring their sexual and gender identities on the page is so crucial. Teens having sex and not being punished for it is almost revolutionary. Queer teens of color reconciling their identity with their cultural backgrounds is so needed. Also important, queer kids having stories with happy endings. I guarantee you there are Pakistani-American trans kids out there who will benefit from seeing a character looking like them and sharing their cultural identity undergoing similar struggles. 

This book is evidently a deeply personal one for McLemore, whose husband is trans. It is clear that an immense amount of research has gone into the writing of this book, both for the trans rep and the cultural practices described, for which I’m truly grateful. Do not miss reading the author’s note. With vivid prose and an ethereal narrative, McLemore has my heart once and for all. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver

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Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver

Pub. date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (2nd edition)
Format: Digital
ASIN: B01LW0O7KJ
Source: FYeahAsexual 

 

 

 

The city of Parole has been quarantined from the mainland, because it’s burning. Literally, people have been cut off and left to die on a land with an open flame directly under it.There’s a police force called Eye In The Sky that ensures that nobody leaves. Meanwhile, the city is also populated with a bunch of superhumans who have fantastic abilities and are keeping the city from completely wiping out. One of them, Regan (with snake eyes and a lizard tail), suffers from years of anxiety and PTSD, and needs to escape. He can’t, because Hans (a little shit of a ghost), knows how to help him, in exchange for Regan committing a murder.

Regan fails, loses his memory, and ends up running into Evelyn (singer by night, superhero by day). Regan joins her in hopes to piece his story together and escape from Parole. Here we meet the rest of the cast of characters: Danae, who can bring machines to life, Rose, who has healing thorns and vines growing out of her body, Zilch, who is made up of other dead people, and Finn, a lovable taxi driver who causes explosions when he’s feeling anything but happy. Together, they work to uncover the secret behind why Parole is burning, while trying to survive imminent annihilation.       

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy at the end of a dystopian fantasy novel. No, really. This book comes with a lot of hope, and it’s really hard not to love any of the characters (well, maybe not Hans. In case you couldn’t tell, I really don’t like Hans, the conniving little piece of- you get my drift). I loved reading the story from multiple POVs, because the entire premise of Regan losing his memory allowed for the story to unravel and give us context, as he was piecing his life together. This plot point also made it super easy to follow the other characters’ POV. There is a romance ARC, and a fully fleshed out secondary romance narrative as well, which is quite lovely. Not gushy, not out of place, it just flows naturally with the rest of the story (while casually tugging at your heart). 

I can’t talk about this book without talking about it’s inclusiveness. Oh man, I want to shake my fists and shove this book in the faces of people who are all “ugh it’s not always about a diverse cast, can’t we just love the book” and other bullshit because HOLY COW this book is as diverse as it is good. I’m talking trans rep, ace rep, polyamorous rep, mental illness rep, etc. If you’re white/cis-straight/able and are eye-rolling, I challenge you not to fall in love with these characters. Not only is it inclusive, but my most favorite part of the book is all the conversations surrounding these representations. Not in a “let’s center this aspect of your character and make you one-dimensional” kind of way, but in a way that completely fit into the scene. These conversations are so important, so vital, and even when we see diverse representations we don’t often see such nuanced conversations. Those scenes validated me and my experiences. That these characters were still struggling with some parts of their identity and hadn’t quite worked it out, without reducing the plot to their flawed identity situations; I didn’t realize how much I wanted to see that on the page till I actually saw it on the page. 

The book is basically made up of several tiny pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that’s fun to piece together, while being enveloped in inclusion and validation. I absolutely loved it (in case that wasn’t already clear). I’m so glad I chose to participate in #AceBookClub because there was no other way this book would ever have made it into my radar, and I’m really looking forward to the sequel. Please, please read this book. 

-J

 

February 13th, 2017: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

So last week I committed to two additional posts, with at least one of them being a review. Well, I did get in that review, so baby steps? I’m going to use my Monday posts to continue publicly committing to what I want my blogging will look like for the rest of the week, because it isn’t lack of time necessarily that’s preventing me from honoring these commitments. 

On the other hand I think I’m finally getting my reading groove back. I finished up Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Chameleon Moon for #AceBookClub (which is so good I’m definitely going to review that soon), read and reviewed The Refugees (which also is so, so good). I finished listening to Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, and I definitely recommend the audio version. The library did me a solid yesterday and my hold on When The Moon Was Ours came through, so naturally I dropped everything else to read it in one sitting. I. LOVED. IT. This is the most I’ve read in weeks, so I was really happy about that. 

Naturally, as a result of this bump in my pace, I’m back to my overambitious reading goals this week:

Oh man, throw in some contemporary romance or smut and some literary fiction into this collage and this would be the most accurate summary of my wheelhouse. 

This week’s commitment: Post one review and one other post. (Maybe publicly shaming myself will push me, who knows.)

Drop me a line and let me know what you’re reading!

-J

ARC Review: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

30358505-_sy180_The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

Pub. date: February 7th, 2017
Publisher: Grove Press
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9780802125392 
Source: Edelweiss

Thanks so much to Grove Press and Edelweiss for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

I have two confessions: I haven’t finished reading The Sympathiser yet (not because I didn’t like it, I set it down months ago because of life and more urgent reads in my TBR and haven’t picked it up since), and my knowledge of the Vietnam war is pretty insignificant. I requested this book anyway because I figured there would less pressure to love it than its Pulitzer-winning predecessor. Turns out I didn’t need to be that cautious because I’m officially now a member of the Viet Thanh Nguyen fan club. 

As the title indicates, this collection of previously-published pieces revolves around the experiences of refugees from the Vietnam War. In just eight stories, set in America as well as Vietnam, Nguyen manages to capture and share a plethora of viewpoints and characters. He starts off strong with ” Black Eyed Women”, where we meet a ghostwriter, a Vietnamese-American refugee who is the middle of working on a very traumatic memoir when she’s visited by the ghost of her brother who died when they were fleeing Communist Vietnam. Nguyen conveys a powerful message with simple sentences. For example, when the narrator asks him why he’s wearing the same clothes as the day he died: 

“The dead move on,” he had said, coiled in his armchair, hands between his thighs. “But the living, we just stay here.”

This sentiment is echoed in “The War Years”, where the narrator recalls an incident from his childhood about a woman who approaches his mother seeking donations for an anti-Communist guerillas back in Vietnam, yet cannot come to terms with the disappearance (potential death) of her husband and son who were both guerilla soldiers. 

“While some people are haunted by the dead, others are haunted by the living.”

The stories also represent so much internal conflict that can be seen among several characters. Whether it is the young refugee who is deeply attracted to one of his hosts, or the wife of a professor who is struggling with her husband’s deteriorating memory and saving face in front of her own children, the man who let’s his dad take revenge on his own ex-wife merely out of spite, regardless of his complicated relationship with the man, or two sisters, one American and one Vietnamese, and their complex relationship. 

My favorite story of the collection is “The Americans”, in which Nguyen tells the story of a man who was an American pilot during the war, and is visiting his daughter in Vietnam who works there as a teacher in a rural part of the country. The father is haunted by memories of the war, which are further aggravated by his daughter’s insistence that her move to Vietnam is permanent. When her mother attempts to diffuse an argument on the subject with her father, the daughter says:

“I am home, Mom. It sounds strange. I don’t know how to put it, but I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I have a Vietnamese soul.”

I’m a sucker for stories that revolves around tensions between parents and their children, especially in the Asian community where such conflicts are further complicated by a culture that has always emphasised children respecting their parents wishes no matter age or life choice. Yes, they make me feel validated, because this is something I struggle with a lot, and I can relate to this particular story especially as the child of expatriates. For parents and children, coexisting without severing ties despite having polar opposite views on nearly everything is increasingly common among the present generation. 

It’s pretty hard to pinpoint any weak links in this collection. Even though they’ve been published separately before, and despite the variety of experiences, they all echo fear, love, loss, and internal struggles. The fear that refugees and immigrants experience as depicted in these stories feel very authentic; that inclination to be contained, subservient, and to assimilate, such that any contrasting behavior, especially from the younger generations, feels like a shock to the system. The stories themselves don’t come with surprises, extreme plot twists, or sensationalized details. Rather, the simple writing conveys raw feelings of displacement that are in tandem with these experiences. This is a very timely book with unforgettable characters, so I urge you to pick this up soon. 

-J

 

 

February 6th, 2017: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Hey pals,

Unrelated to everything on this blog, I have cried laughing over Melissa McCarthy’s guest appearance on SNL approximately 8 times yesterday. Comedy can be so cathartic, especially when it’s so well done. 

Meanwhile my last week was wildly busy so I didn’t get a chance to read much. I did however finish Redefining Realness by Janet Mock on audio, and it is a spectacular memoir. I caught up with all my issues of Narrative of Sojourner Truth on Serial Reader and I think I’m about 3 issues away from being done with my first ever pick on Serial. 

Currently reading: 

Ooh here’s a list of bookish activities I’m participating in this month: 

  1. Social Justice Book Club is back again this month and we’re reading The AutoBiography of Malcolm X in honor of Black History Month.
  2. Bina is hosting a Diverse Study Group to discuss nonfiction, specifically academic texts and the like. We’re reading a few chapters on intersectional feminism and will be discussing over on Slack at the end of the month.  
  3. @Ambrosnazzy over on Litsy is hosting a #LitsyPartyofOne on Feb 10th! A virtual reading party for all the introverted bookworms around the world. 
  4. @FYeahAsexual is currently hosting #AceBookClub, where we’re reading Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver until Feb. 12th and Runtime by the same author from Feb 12-17th.
  5. Book Riot is hosting a super casual Instagram challenge during the month of February. Check out the #RiotGrams tag for deets on the prompts if you’re interested in playing.

That’s all I got, kids. Here’s me committing to at least two more posts this week, with at least one of them being a review. 

Talk to me about what you’re reading! 

-J