Saturday, June 28, 2014

Is it really a “bad romance?”


As I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of feels about dismissal and derisive attitudes directed toward romance as a genre, or any romantic elements present in novels, particularly when those novels are written by women. Malinda Lo gave some important and insightful commentary about it in this post. I have some thoughts I wanted to share, as well.

Before I start, I just want to recognize that asexual and aromantic are legitimate ways for people to define their sexuality or attractions, and this post is not intended to crap on people who identify as such. I do not intend any belittling of those identities here, but if you feel like I’m screwing up in that regard, know that this blog is a safe space for you to call me on it.

So. Romance.

On my long-form blog, I recently posted something about how people are often “embarrassed” that they’ve read certain books, and those “embarrassing” books are far-and-away romances or erotica written by ladies that became bestsellers. If you want to read the whole post, it’s here, but in a nutshell it’s just me saying “why are you embarrassed to read a romance novel, but not embarrassed to read pulp thrillers or crime or whatever?”

Over and over again, I feel like I have this argument with people where I’m saying that there are about a million (probably literally) books written by men that feature romantic entanglements and sex, but very few people ever complain about it. Now, a lot of people will argue with me that it’s because the romance doesn’t “take over” the story, whereas books written by ladies always put the romance first to the detriment of the plot. Or something.

And what’s weird about that is that no one ever makes the connection that… a lot of hetero-romantic subplots in male-centric stories don’t take up much room because the women themselves don’t take up much room in the story. The love interest is there to be a pretty prop before she’s stolen away (or raped/murdered/vanished) to forward the “action” of the story. And if by some chance she actually ends up NOT murdered/vanished, the male MC often doesn’t think of her much unless they’re in a direct romantic/sexual encounter.

When the tables are turned, we have women and girls who actually think about their male love interest when they’re not with him; who consider what he thinks; the context of their relationship; how he makes them feel. We have male characters who are actually present in the story. Because dudes take up space in women’s minds. They are more than props. And it feels like we blame women for that.

The point regarding the lack of stories without romantic elements compared to male-centered stories and how that relates to patriarchy isn’t lost on me. There’s certainly a hesitancy for people to create (or rather, people to publish/buy) female-centered stories with sisters, friends, family, confidants. We’ll watch a “bromance” about 2+ men being friends/brothers, but when it’s women, it becomes too niche (“niche” being half the population). But again, I feel like we blame women for that, rather than a system that pushes the idea that our stories are nothing without male involvement or approval. Who kick such tales into the “chick lit/women’s fiction” section and wrap them in pink lace and illustrated coffee cups.

It’s almost like we feed women a constant narrative of needing a man in their life to feel whole, and then we sneer at them when their stories reflect that. Huh. Sounds kind of familiar.

Now, I’m not arguing that I haven’t read many books where I felt a romantic storyline was poorly handled, or that it felt like someone added in the rest of the plot as an afterthought, or whatever. It happens. But it sure does feel like people are SUPER quick to roll their eyes and cry foul the second a romantic storyline starts to poke its head out of the water. After a while, it starts to feel very much like a kneejerk reaction to girl cooties.

Before people hop on the “SO ANY CRITICISM OF YA/ROMANCE BY LADIES IS AUTOMATIC MISOGYNY AND THEREFORE NOT ALLOWED, IS THAT IT?” bandwagon, the answer is “obviously not.” Women can be and often are complicit in misogyny, rape culture, racism, cissexism, et cetera, ad nauseum, and those elements should abso-fucking-lutely by criticized and explored. I can talk about the misogyny present in the blanket criticism of romance while ALSO agreeing that many romance novels are problematic. Such things are possible!

I am not saying that everybody should like romance novels/plots and that if you don’t, it makes you sexist or a bad feminist or whatever. That’s ridiculous, though it’s a counter-argument I hear so often that it blows my mind. I absolutely agree that there should be more stories about WOMEN DOING THINGS, rather than one woman doing a thing until she meets a guy.

But I do think that many of us have developed an automatic aversion to lady-written romantic anything, and we think of it as stupid or boring or shameful or empty entertainment. I think that we’re too quick to go UGH NO THERE’S A ROMANTIC SUBPLOT, THE STORY IS *RUINED*.

A lot of romance tropes have problems. This is true, and it’s not a secret. We should talk about them. I just think we also need to explore deeper into why we have such visceral reactions to anything with even a whiff of “romance,” and we blame women for its existence/stupidity.

Monday, June 9, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014 Thursday, April 17, 2014

(Source: cinnamonseries)

Saturday, April 12, 2014
I love books. I love that moment when you open one and sink into it you can escape from the world, into a story that’s way more interesting than yours will ever be. Elizabeth Scott (via writingquotes)
Thursday, March 27, 2014 Thursday, February 27, 2014



YA Retellings brought to you by Epic Reads - Fairy Tale Retellings:

Beauty and the Beast: East by Edith Pattou / Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George / Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley / Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge / Spirited by Nancy Holder / Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier / The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison / Stung by Bethany Wiggins / The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle / Beastly by Alex Flinn / Beauty by Robin McKinley / Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

The Little Mermaid: September Girls by Bennett Madison / Fathomless by Jackson Pearce / Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama / Midnight Pearls by Cameron Dokey / Mermaid: A Twist on a Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

Cinderella: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix / Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine / Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George / Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas / If I have A Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor / Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge / Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott / Cinder by Marissa Meyer / Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey / Ash by Malinda Lo

Rumpelstiltskin: A Curse As Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce / Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli / The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn

The Frog Prince: Cloaked by Alex Flinn / Enchanted by Alethea Kontis / The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley / Water Song by Suzanne Weyn

The Snow Queen: Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce / Winter’s Child by Cameron Dokey / Stork by Wendy Delsol

Little Red Riding Hood: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright / Scarlet by Marissa Meyer / The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly / Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce / Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguié / Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Twelve Dancing Princesses: Entwined by Heather Dixon / The Phoenix Dance by Dia Calhoun / The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn / Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George / Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Hansel and Gretel: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce / Bewitching by Alex Flinn / Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs

Rapunzel: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth / Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett / Towering by Alex Flinn / Cress by Marissa Meyer / Golden by Cameron Dokey / Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

Snow White: Beauty by Nancy Ohlin / Snow by Tracy Lynn / The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman / The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block / The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey / Nameless by Lili St. Crow / Fairest by Gail Carson Levine / Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (*this is actually a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red”) / Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Sleeping Beauty: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn / Briar Rose by Jane Yolen / Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey / Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay / The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson / Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley / Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross / A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

I love that all of the Cameron Dokey novels are on this list because they are A+ (and the best ones in the Once Upon a Time Fairytale series). Her retellings for Sharazad and Mulan are also really good.

It does not however have Sleeping Helena by Erzebet Yellowboy, The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy (which are two of my favorite retellings).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I party every day. How ‘bout you?


I party every day. How ‘bout you?


I admit it freely and willfully. Card carrying member of the club, and all that.


I admit it freely and willfully. Card carrying member of the club, and all that.

(Source: readdreamwrite)

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Absolutely amazing polymer clay journals by © Anna Kolesnikova (Mandarin Duck). Take a look at her portfolio, it’s really something.

You can look around in her Etsy shop here.

Also she has a very cool YouTube channel filled with tutorials and all kinds of crafty videos.

Become a fan of her on Facebook here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms. Angela Carter (via quotesandnonsense)
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Friday, December 20, 2013



Ok tumblr, I know the power of the internet so just hear me out right quick as I ask for a simple favor. See those cereal boxes up there? If you buy any Kellogg’s product with that Free Book logo on it there is a 16 digit code inside your box of cereal. Now, when you get three of those codes together you submit them online and they will send you a free Scholastic book. Now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m bringing it up, so here goes.

I teach first grade at a school where the kids have little to nothing. Through generous donations (government, three square, various community partners, etc.) the kids get backpacks, clothes, shoes, free breakfast/lunch, and some school supplies. The school is not in the best part of town. I’ve had students who live with grandparents because their own parents are in jail, kids who have parents that don’t have custody over them for various reasons, and so on and so forth. Now I am trying to get my kids to read books, but they literally don’t have any books at home that they can use to practice their reading. Sure they get a library book from the school library but it’s not the same, you know? They don’t own the book, it’s not theirs. 

Here’s where you come in. If you happen to buy one of these specially marked boxes and don’t plan on using the code please send me that code through my ask box. If 60 people on here send me a code I’ll be able to get 20 books, which will easily allow me to get each of my students a brand new book of their own. I used the Fly Guy books above because my kids are currently obsessed with the character and the book has sight words that we’re working on in class. Even if you have no codes, I’d appreciate the signal boost as well.

So, if you happen to get a code please send it my way. I would appreciate it and so would my kids. Heck, if I get 60 codes, that would give me enough to give each of my students a book and I will gladly take a picture to show you how excited they are to get a book. If more codes keep coming, I’ll post up their thank you notes. They’re seven so expect something awesome. Thanks in advance.

So here’s something amazing you can do for a teacher in need. What’s she’s asking for are the promo codes for Kellogg’s free book promotion to give her students books to practice reading. If you get any of these cereals and have no need for the code yourself, please consider sending it to the OP via askbox.  This is an ingenius idea from someone who’s obviously very dedicated to her job. 

Friday, December 13, 2013


Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to ask Ellen Oh a few questions about her books Prophecy and its sequel Warrior. Prophecy is a fantastic Korean-inspired fantasy with an awesome female heroine. Warrior will be released on December 31st, 2013.

What inspired you to write a Korean style fantasy?

It started with Genghis Khan. Back in the year 2000, Genghis Khan was named Man of the Millennium by Time magazine. I remember buying that issue and reading all about him and thinking how cool it was that an Asian man was considered the most influential man of the millennium. So I went and bought a bunch of biographies on Genghis and I just fell in love with all the Asian history I learned. It made me crave more information. But it was actually really hard to find a lot of books on ancient Korea. And there was hardly any fiction novels at all other than Linda Sue Park’s classic novel A Single Shard. This is really the reason I began writing again (I hadn’t written creatively since college.) I just felt that all these amazing historical facts would make for a great novel…

Read the rest of the interview at Rich in Color!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013



Sad how long that took me, too.  :P




Sad how long that took me, too.  :P