Let's get down to the nitty gritty of this post and the method to my madness for bringing it up. Take a look at the book cover for my debut middle grade novel and then look at the title. What is the first thought(s) that came to your mind? Did you judge my book by its cover? Did you judge my book by its title? If you answer yes, that's okay. I think the majority of readers do.
I'll start with the cover itself. The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies is about four physically challenged kids and the bullying they face due to their disability. Their adventure takes place inside an abandoned Coal Mine and the entire story takes place in a town called Murray City, Ohio. At one time, Murray City was the largest Coal Mining town in the United States. The title of my book is about a stereotype and the damage it can cause. My title is controversial. I know that. If you look up the definition of a redneck on Wikipedia, the first thing you see is the defamatory description. Over the years, society has taken something good, something to be respected, and turned it into something ugly. Jeff Foxworthy made millions of dollars from doing it. I'm hoping to change that. So, I'm going to give you the definition of the word and its origin.
"The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) and other miner's unions assigned both the term redneck and its symbol, the red bandana, in order to build multiracial unions of white, black, and immigrant miners in the strike-ridden coalfields of northern and central Appalachia between 1912 and 1936. The use of redneck to designate "a union member" was especially popular during the 1920s and 1930s in the coal-producing regions of southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania where the word came to be specifically applied to a miner who belonged to a union or a striking coal miner. It is almost a given that the word "redneck" originated in strike-ridden coalfields to mean "union miner" independently of its use in the deep south. Clearly, the best explanation of redneck to mean "union man" is that the word refers to the red handkerchiefs that striking union coal miners in both southern West Virginia and southern Colorado often wore around their necks or arms as a part of their informal uniform."
Okay, so there you have it. The bottom line is: I am a proud Appalachian Redneck and my next to the oldest brother worked in the Blue Diamond Coal Mine in Kentucky. When I use the term redneck, it is used with the utmost respect for a designated group of people who worked hard, and more often than not, sacrificed their own lives in order to provide for their families. There is absolutely no shame in that.
As you can imagine, the title of my book has incited quite a few debates with my friends as well as author peers, and some of those conversations got a little heated. I was told that readers will be turned off by the title and walk right by my book in the bookstore. I was told that it is a derogatory word and that I shouldn't use it. I had a woman state that if she saw my book in a store, she would not even look at it because it has the word "redneck" in the title. I've had several people tell me that I need to change my title. I am not a followerer and I never have been. I've never given in to peer pressure, and I'm not going to start now. Those close-minded comments that I listed above are the exact reason I wrote this book and that is why I will not change the title.
I'm going to paste the blurb for my book below. Please read it and afterward, you be the judge. In parting: If you judge a book or a person by their cover, and in my case the title, you just may be missing out on something really special and that is the real shame.
The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies -
Ten years ago, Arthur “Southpaw” Alexander feared for his granddaughter’s safety when he used magic to hide a mysterious silver case inside the #7 Coal Mine. The events surrounding that fateful day will be revealed on his granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday and he is powerless to stop it.
Joee Alexander, Stump, Wheels, and Sarah are physically challenged and that’s not all the four best friends have in common. They’re bullied on a daily basis, they’ve unknowingly been linked to each other since birth, and they all possess magic abilities they don’t know they have.
Over the course of five days, their lives are changed forever and it all begins when they find an old map, which reveals a maze of secret tunnels, leading to the #7 Coal Mine. Unable to resist an adventure, they join forces to find what they think is hidden treasure.
As the days fly by and the clues unfold, they learn the truth about the mysterious case and their magic powers along with a prophetic destiny that will pit them against a town full of bullies, a corrupt banker who isn’t what he seems, and Maulick, a man so evil, he cannot possibly be from their world.
The Little Rednecks is about the difficulties physically challenged children face. It highlights the problem with stereotypes and shows bullying at its worst. It is a story about heart and dedication, and the friendship, dreams, and hopes of four physically challenged kids who prove that they really are like every other kid their age.
To review the full document on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redneck