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My YA Steampunk Novel, Chains of Silver, is Published!

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My YA Steampunk Novel, Chains of Silver, is Published!

The Newest Addition to YA Steampunk Is Here!

It’s been four years in the making, but I’m now officially an indie author! My first indie book, a YA steampunk novel, Chains of Silver, is now available as an e-book. And don’t worry–my next book will not take four years. Or even four months. I’m hard at work on the second Alchemy Empire book, Claws of Brass. I can’t wait to introduce it to you later this summer.

YA Steampunk for Theater Nerds (And All Geeks–Because You’re Awesome)

All the Alchemy Empire books are set in a world of theater. My fondest memories from college were of being part of the theater group there. I’ve wanted for years to write a novel that combines my love of fantasy and my love of theater. And who could resist theater-themed steampunk?


If all the world’s a stage, then I am utterly screwn…

In the high-stakes world of the theater, stage fright can seriously crank your career, so apprentice Minx Mellor hides her phobia, studying as a technomancer to create fantastic, steam-powered devices.

But when the mysterious serial killer known as The Peacock targets one of their own, Minx can hide no longer. To save the life of the woman she loves like a mother, she teams up with her sworn enemy and a dashing young director whose powerful magic wakes the nightmares she’s kept secret for years.

When disaster strikes, Minx must face the horrors of her past and find the courage to do what she vowed she’d never do again.

Even if it means risking her life as bait to trap a murderer.

From the shadows of cobblestoned alleys and the glittering steampunk world of an aristocracy gone mad for theater comes the first book in a brand new young adult fantasy series about love, the power of creativity, and the resiliency of the human spirit.


Find out more about what YA Steampunk is and about the series and books. If you want to skip right to links to buy Chains of Silver, here you go:

Want Your Own Copy? Pick your retailer below:

YA Steampunk Novel Chains of Silver book cover

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Is This the "Best" Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Have to Offer?

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Is This the "Best" Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Have to Offer?

NPR’s “Best” Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels–Dated and Sexist

I just read this interesting article in The New Statesman written by avid science fiction and fantasy reader, Liz Lutgendorff, who decided to read all 100 of NPR’s list of “best” science fiction and fantasy novels.

She writes in the article’s opening:

When it comes to the best of anything, what do you expect? If it’s science fiction and fantasy novels you want epic adventures and getting out of impossible situations. But what you often get is barely disguised sexism and inability to imagine any world where women are involved in the derring-do.

She goes on to detail some of the worst offenders on the list, both for science fiction and fantasy. From ubiquitous rape with no consequences to utter passivity to a lack of genuine emotions or relevance to the plot, the faults of these novels in their representation of women are numerous and sobering. She describes the disgust she felt by the time she finished the list and how it almost ruined her favorite genres for her.

It raised some questions for me:

  1. Who at NPR compiled this list and what criteria did they use? Did they think about the representation of women and minority groups? Or did they just go by “common wisdom” or nostalgia?
  2. Why are these novels considered the “best”? Lutgendorff mentions that several were considered ground-breaking or progressive for their times. In what way? Who decided that? How did they define “ground-breaking”?
  3. Along with that, why are there few recent books on the list? Have there been no ground-breaking science fiction or fantasy novels in the last fifteen years?

There isn’t just one definition of “best.” And that’s the biggest problem with NPR’s list. Along with that, NPR is hampered by their reputation of being a bit more high-brow than the general masses. One reason they probably didn’t include more recent books on the list is because science fiction and fantasy are popular fiction genres–meaning they aren’t seen as “literary” by academic or critical circles–the circles that are an important part of the NPR audience. NPR would face scorn if they placed current popular fiction on that list. The older books can be pointed to as “classic” now, which gives them a more refined sheen. They are less likely to be in the hands of teenagers or have movie adaptations or anything else that would point to widespread pop culture acceptance. So it’s more acceptable to put them on a “best” list.

But in terms of representation, there are far more ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy novels now than ever before. I would like to see “best” explored in more depth. What does it mean to be “best”–by whose criteria? A novel might be “best” in one area and utter rubbish in another. There are recent novels that most people generally agree are badly written but whose impact and reach are undeniable. There are others that are beautifully written and ground-breaking, but hardly anyone has heard of them. Fifty years from now, there will be science fiction and fantasy books from 2015 that will be considered classics. That won’t mean they were the “best”–it only means they managed to survive longer than other books that may have been equally good.

This is why, in spite of some of the things I really dislike about GoodReads, I love Goodreads Listopia. So what if Goodreads doesn’t have the literary snob appeal of NPR? (And I love NPR, for the record, okay? But let’s face it–literary snob appeal abounds.) Any list, anywhere, compiled by a wider array of readers will have a better chance of providing fairer representation than a list compiled by one (or even a few) people at an organization that has a high-brow reputation to uphold.

With something like Goodreads, I can narrow down how I’m defining “best” for my purposes. “Best Fantasy Books With Gay Main Characters” or “Non-Caucasian Protagonists In Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance” or “Best Strong Female Fantasy Novels” or “Best Steampunk Books.” These lists are moderated, but anyone can add to them, so there’s a better chance of a wide variety of reader perspectives being included. I may not agree with every inclusion on the list, but at least I know many voices–instead of only one or two–are being heard. And I know what criteria is being applied to define “best.”

I think the difference is in purpose. NPR’s list’s purpose seems to be for honor and recognition of science fiction and fantasy books they deemed to have made an important contribution to the genres–mainly in the past. I suppose that is a fine purpose, though it seems to be largely ignoring contributions made by women and minority writers. Goodreads’ Listopia purpose seems to be to connect readers with books they will have a good chance of enjoying right now–whether or not those books are considered classics fifty years from now.

As a reader, I know which list I’d rather try. As a writer, I’d love to find myself on an NPR list someday–it’s definitely an honor, but I’d much rather have my books on a Goodreads list where readers who will enjoy them can find them.

Source: I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive

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Tracy M. Joyce Interviewed Me!

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Tracy M. Joyce Interviewed Me!

Author Interviews Are Fun!

Hey everyone! One of the fun parts about being an author is getting to do interviews with bloggers, readers, and other authors. One of my Wattpad author friends, Tracy M. Joyce, has a terrific blog, and she was nice enough to ask me to do an interview for it. We’ve split it into two parts. This first one is on my books, and part two is the down-low on Wattpad.

So if you want to find out things like…

  • My current TV obsessions
  • The “underground” research I did for the book
  • And a hint about what I’m writing now

 

…check out the interview on Tracy’s blog!

Part 1 of interview with Meredith Rose author of Chains of Silver

Source: Views & Reviews: Author Interviews, Books, Film, TV….whatever!

Part 2 coming soon!!!

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I've Been Tagged in a Wattpad Meme!

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I've Been Tagged in a Wattpad Meme!

This morning, my friend and fellow writer, Mark Leslie (author of the upcoming novel I, Death, which he is serializing on Wattpad), tagged me for the following Wattpad meme, asking for me to talk about my book, Chains of Silver, which I am also serializing on Wattpad at the moment:

1) When and Where is the story set?

Chains of Silver is set in an alternate steampunk world, in the Mercian Empire. It has a lot of flavor of Victorian England, circa 1898 or so, but in many ways it has a very modern feel as well. Some people in this world have magic abilities that let them make extraordinary steam-powered gadgets and technology. Most of the story takes place in the Alchemy Empire Theater, one of the top theaters in the empire, and revolves around the apprentice program there. Some of the theater people have magical abilities that make the theatrical productions feel real to the audience, and that makes theater and other performances extremely popular and addictive forms of entertainment.

2) What can you say about the main characters?

Minx Mellor is the heroine. She’s almost 18 and in her final year as an apprentice. She’s been through some pretty traumatic stuff when she was younger. She has performance magic and technologic, but because of her past, she has a severe phobia of being on stage and being around guys. She’s broken in a lot of ways, but very brave and a brilliant inventor. She hides her weaknesses by being flirtatious and witty. Only very few people, like her best friends, Thea and Raymond, have any idea how much she is hurting. Her nemesis is Delphine Birdwell, who is also in her final apprentice year, and is a gifted acting apprentice. She’s also a bit of a diva and likes to bully other apprentices. Delphine hates Minx, but Minx isn’t sure all the reasons why. But when Delphine decides to try to get the new director of the apprentice company fired, Minx intervenes, making Delphine hate her even more. The new director is Dietrich Wolff. He is only 20 years old, but very talented and has powerful directing magic, which is the key ingredient to making performance magic work. He’s elegant, smart, and seems to see the hearts of everyone around him. Minx thinks he’s extremely sexy, but his magic reminds her of her terrifying past, and so she is scared of him. He’s very kind and gentle toward her, and is also attracted to her.

3) What is the Main Conflict?

There is a serial killer the press has dubbed “The Peacock” who is murdering theater celebrities across the city. When Delphine and Minx find out that their beloved mentor and the lead actress at the theater, Nadine Fairchild, is the Peacock’s next target, they have to set aside their own hatred of each other and work together to try to save Nadine. They end up bringing Dietrich Wolff into the scheme as well. This forces Minx to confront the terrors of her past and risk trust and even love in order to save the woman she loves like a mother.

The Infectious Phase:

Here are three other Wattpad writers with serialized novels that you really should check out: 1) Tracy M. Joyce, author of Altaica. 2) Denise Grover Swank, my friend and fellow YA author of Here 3) Josh Townley, author of The Scroll of Life Thanks, Mark, this was fun!

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

YA Fiction: All the Boys are HOT

In the Guardian today is this interesting article: Is teen romantic fiction bad for boys? | Childrens books | theguardian.com

Boy with glassesThe gorgeous guys of young adult romantic fiction do a disservice to real life teen boys, with their acne and braces, says blogger Millie Woodrow-Hill

I have to admit–I can see the author’s point. YA fiction is full of hot boys, bad boys, impossibly-mature-for-their-age boys. Girls love it (and what’s not to love?), but it does send the message to boys that hotness is to be found in one’s muscles, dreamy eyes, low voice, beautiful face, and rebel devil-may-care attitude. Is this unfair or damaging to boys who don’t fit the criteria?

Boy with red hairMaybe. And maybe it’s damaging to girls, too, who could possibly overlook wonderful, but not hot boys who haven’t filled out yet, or who have bad skin and high voices.

On the other hand, Ms. Woodrow-Hill should remember that every time we are in the point of view of a book character, that person is an “unreliable narrator.” We only see the story from their perspective–and so we are fenced in by their biases, their personal tastes, their thoughts, their interests, and their desires.

And when it comes to romance, finding the other person incredibly attractive is kind of key, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be a romance if the heroine thought, “Gee, this guy is nice, but butt-ugly and I can’t imagine ever wanting to kiss him.” Maybe she might start out feeling that way, but there’s going to be something about the boy that makes her change her mind. Otherwise, we might have an amazing story, but it’s not going to be a romance. The literary genre “romance” always includes physical attraction in addition to the growth of a romantic relationship.

Boy with capSo of course our unreliable (i.e. biased) heroine is going to find her hero attractive. And in YA fiction, those feelings are always heightened, as they tend to be for teens and young adults. So the boy is not just “attractive,” he is insanely hot–to that particular character. 

Could we write more stories where the heroine finds a conventionally-unattractive boy hot? Probably. Would readers accept it? I don’t know.

But there’s another element to this–the imagination of the reader. When the heroine says “this boy is hot” the reader creates an image in their own minds of what that means. It may be influenced somewhat by the description in the book, but I guarantee that the reader’s own mental picture is going to outweigh even the book description. The reader is going to create that character into what the reader finds hot, and that will be quite different for each reader.

Boy 4So there’s a lot going on here–experiencing a story is a joint effort between the author and the reader. And I will be the first to admit that as authors, we need to try to bring more diversity into YA fiction. It’s not just not-so-hot boys being left out of our stories. What about gay teens, or disabled characters, or main characters that aren’t Caucasian? The people we present as interesting story characters are very limited, and I do think we can and should do better on this.

I do disagree with the author of the article when she suggests that YA fiction heroines are generally “awkward,” “clumsy,” or “out-of-place.” YA fiction heroines tend to fit conventional ideas of beauty and they always discover that they have amazing skills or talents they never dreamed of.

What Ms. Woodrow-Hill is forgetting is that concept of the “unreliable narrator” again. The heroine of YA fiction may see herself as clumsy or awkward or unattractive. But that usually turns out to be a matter of her own warped self-image and not actually the unbiased truth about her.

Boy kissing girlAnd I think that’s the point of a lot of YA fiction and why it is so popular with girls. Being a teenager (of any gender) is hell on the self-image. The appeal of these books is not so much the hot boys, though hot boys are fun. It’s the idea that no matter how insecure and doubtful I feel about myself, something is going to happen to prove me wrong, something that will show me that I am desirable, that I have potential, that I am so much more than I thought I could ever be.

I highly doubt that YA romance is causing vast numbers of young girls to expect fantasy hot boys instead of real-life flawed boys. Girls already do that, with or without books, just as boys do. We are all shaped by our culture’s definitions of beauty and attractiveness. Those expectations leave scars on our self-image, no matter what gender we are.

People have expressed the same fear about adult romance warping women’s views of men. But the vast majority of women are perfectly able to separate fantasy and reality, and that goes for young women as well.

I think a more important question to ask is whether our emphasis on hot boys is showing that women still have a tendency to measure their own value by the cultural value of the man they are with. If the point of most YA fiction is the heroine discovering her own true value and self-worth, are we saying that happens because a hot boy falls for her? Would she still have incredible value and importance if the boy who loves her was unattractive?

Or maybe we’re just overanalyzing all this. Maybe it’s as simple as this: teen girls have strong sex drives and vivid sexual fantasies, just like boys do. They are fully as capable of objectifying boys’ bodies as boys are of girls’ bodies. And while part of growing up and becoming mature is the ability to love and appreciate another person in spite of their imperfections, the fun of a good novel is the chance to indulge in a wildly unattainable fantasy.

Boy sitting

 

 

 

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