Tag Archives: writing

Guest Post: 10 Empowering Movies Every Girl Should See

Hello, everyone! Today I have a very special surprise for you: my very first guest post, by speculative fiction author and blogger, Christina “DZA” Marie. She can be found here, blogging about books, writing, and diversity and representation in the different kinds of media we consume.

Without further ado, I’ll let Christina take it from here!

First I want to thank Jessica for letting me post on her blog. Awesome writing buddies are awesome.

We found each other on Facebook while fangirling over one of our mutual fandoms. We both realized it’s tough trying to find empowering role models for your daughter, or finding a movie where you can root for the woman lead instead of rolling your eyes. This is especially tricky if you’re into speculative fiction: superheroes, fantasy, science fiction…It gets even harder if you want a good movie, one that isn’t over-the-top sappy, one where the director and producers actually tried.

Luckily there are geeks like me who watch a lot of movies who can help you narrow it down, and since I like everything from Disney to gore-filled horror movies there’s something here for all ages and tastes. The following movies are my top ten in regard to quality and amazing girl power. Go forth and conquer your television!


Can we just take a minute to appreciate the beauty of a Disney/Pixar film that centers on a girl and has absolutely no romance? These happen once every blue moon, and have started to become more frequent: Zootopia, Inside Out, Finding DoryBrave was the first. And it did a remarkable job of addressing gender roles and turning them on their head. And it’s hilarious. And you will cry, because it’s Pixar.


merida from brave



Also a platonic Disney film, Zootopia goes a step further than Brave and addresses several different layers of prejudice and privilege. Prey animals are the majority and therefore have more political power than predators. But predators are usually larger animals, and larger animals have access to better jobs and are taken more seriously than smaller animals. Rabbits and other small animals are heavily discouraged from jobs such as law enforcement. Foxes are hated by everyone.

It’s also a great buddy-cop movie. Judy and Nick are the best.


Can we just acknowledge the fact that Angelina Jolie’s favorite Disney character growing up was Maleficent? It explains a lot.

Disney gets props for having a grey character as the focus rather than a traditional hero. It’s made even better by the fact that it’s a woman who’s so morally ambiguous. Normally girls and women in movies are on one end of extremes, either all good and pure (and boring) or twisted and evil.

But more than that, they managed to make one of the most important scenes in the movie a metaphor for rape. In a kids’ movie. And they handled it beautifully. Maleficent doesn’t let her trauma destroy her. She owns it and refuses to let it stop her. Although the best part was how the curse was broken by “true love’s kiss” without involving the bumbling prince.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Classic monster reboots are always fun, but Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens is probably my favorite. Susan is hit by an alien meteor on the day of her wedding, grows to the size of a skyscraper, and becomes Ginormica. She and a team of other monsters have to fight aliens who want said meteor back.

Susan’s story is an oldy but a goodie: she has to go from scared, meek girl to a confident, capable woman. While that in and of itself is a great message to send to young girls, I love the way they handled her love life. Normally, when a female protagonist realizes the guy she’s dating is a total jerk, the movie ends with her replacing him with a much nicer, cuter guy. Susan doesn’t replace her ex. She breaks up with him and goes to Paris with her new friends to save the world again. But the message isn’t “Confident women can’t get a man.” It’s “Confident women won’t tolerate scumbags.” We know that Susan’s probably going to fall in love again but that’s not the focus of her story, and she’s not going to think about that right now when she has more important things to worry about. Like aliens.


Based on Neil Gaiman’s children’s book, Coraline is a creepy kids’ movie about a girl who discovers a doorway to a mirror universe in her new home. It has better versions of everything in the crappy apartment her family has moved into: an “Other” Mother, “Other” Father, “Other” neighbors, delicious food, a beautiful garden, etc. But it’s a trap, and Coraline has to rescue herself, her friends, and her parents from the Other Mother.

I could rave about the beautiful cinematography, haunting soundtrack, and genius of Gaiman for days. But I’ll keep it simple: Coraline as a character is a bit of a brat, but she’s a lovable brat. The story is incredible, the Other Mother is terrifying, and it’s a terrific family film.

The Craft

What happens when four teenagers become powerful witches? Nothing good. One, Sarah, manages to remain a good guy who recognizes her mistakes and tries to fix them, but the other three turn rotten to the core. Sarah has to battle not only her ex-coven, but also her own inner demons (she’s a suicide survivor).

This is one of the oldest movies on this list (1996, right after I was born), but it’s a classic. There’s also supposed to be a sequel in the works, but there’s been no word of that for over a year. Fingers crossed, though!

Any Star Wars movie with Leia, including Rogue One

So, everything but Episodes I-III.

Leia is just awesome overall in the classic trilogy: smart, charismatic, and courageous. Although it’s disappointing that the script writers tried to reduce her to little more than a love interest after Episode IV. Think about it: Darth Vader is her dad, too, but her narrative is centered around getting Han Solo’s attention rather than trying to reconcile the revelation of her family, like Luke. Still, she’s an excellent character in a great franchise.

While not the best Star Wars film, Rogue One was a good movie. Given the topic of this post, I should probably praise Jyn and how cool it was to see her plan trigger the classic trilogy, but honestly the best parts of the movie were Darth Vader’s fight scene at the end; and K-2SO, the smartass robot.

The Force Awakens was awesome. Yes, it was very similar to A New Hope, but that’s the point. It was basically washing the bad taste of Jar-Jar and Episodes I-III out of our mouths by rewriting a classic story starring Rey and Finn. I have high hopes for The Last Jedi, even though I’m 99% sure that Luke Skywalker’s going to die.

Mad Max: Fury Road

If someone had told me the phrase “feminist action movie” could ever be uttered in a non-sarcastic manner, I would’ve laughed in their face. Then they rebooted Mad Max.

While it certainly has a race problem (come to think of it, most of these movies are pretty darn white…) it has excellent gender representation. I don’t know what I like about it more: Charlize Theron’s Furiosa or the motorcycle-riding grannies. Nux’s narrative arc is probably my favorite. The guy goes from brainwashed minion to total BAMF. It’s supposed to show how young men are conditioned to believe sexist rhetoric but are fully capable of redeeming themselves, but the only thing I could think of in the theater was Flamethrower guitar? Cool!

mad max

furiosa from mad max: fury road

The Shallows

You’re going to think this is a Jaws rip-off. You would be correct. BUT, it’s a very good rip-off. The only major characters are the shark, a seagull, and Nancy the med student (played by the surprisingly talented Blake Lively). Nancy’s a surfer who gets chomped on by a shark and trapped on a rock island in the ocean. Unlike other blondes who star in horror films, she’s smart. After her leg gets nommed on by the shark, she stitches herself back together with her jewelry. Her jewelry!!! And then later, she swims through a field of jellyfish. Neither the med student or shark mess around in this film.

Don’t Breathe

Created by the same horror geniuses behind Evil Dead (both versions), Don’t Breathe is about a trio of thieves who break into an old blind veteran’s house to steal the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has in cash. The problem is he is a sociopath with several skeletons in his closet, and starts killing the would-be thieves one by one.

The star is Rocky, the only woman in the trio. She has a young daughter and lives with her extremely unpleasant mother in a Detroit ghetto. So while she’s certainly no angel, you do root for her, especially when you realize just how evil the blind man is. She doesn’t have a degree like Nancy in The Shallows, but she is smart, relentless, and an overall fantastic heroine.

Honorable Mentions:


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show, too!)


Practical Magic


The Hunger Games

Olive, the Other Reindeer


Wonder Woman

The Harry Potter Series




Evil Dead (2013 remake)

The Cabin in the Woods



The Princess and the Frog

Westworld (TV show)

Stranger Things (another TV show)

Thanks, Christina!

Here’s where you can find more from her on the web:





Christina is a great voice and advocate in the fiction community, so I highly recommend you check out her other work!

I hope to be bringing you more insights from other writers and creators this year, so if you’re ready for the ride and don’t want to miss a post, click the “Follow Me” button at the very bottom of this page or go like me on any social media outlet that floats your boat. 🙂

Until next time,


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Cover Reveal: The Littlest Dragon

After the busy blur that was my week at Tinker Mountain Writer’s Workshop, I almost forgot I had scheduled this cover reveal for today!

We have about 30 minutes left of the day, so without any further ado…dun dun dun…here it is:

Cover TLD

Isn’t Bimnid just the most precious little dragon you’ve ever seen??!! 🙂

And the synopsis:

Bimnid is the puniest dragon on the Island of Bones. Not only is he tiny, but he does not have the shiniest scales, or the sharpest teeth, or the loudest roar. When the island is threatened by dragon-hunters, Bimnid looks to the other dragons for help, only to discover that everyone – even the fiercest – is afraid.

Can Bimnid find the courage to save his horde and earn his name?

I can’t end this post without sending out a HUGE THANK YOU to my wonderful illustrator, Sarah Waterfield. Without her, there would be no Bimnid and Co.

You can find Sarah online at her website and on Facebook, if you want to check out more of her wonderful art.

The Littlest Dragon with be available to purchase in hardback and paperback very soon; stay tuned for the official release date!

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2016: A Year in Review

Hello everyone!

So, I’m only a couple of days late with this post, and for that I am very proud of myself. Since we’ve dived joyously into 2017, now is a good time to reflect over the past year and talk about some goals moving forward.

I don’t think I have to address what a dumpster fire 2016 was, so I’m going to move right into the good stuff.

2016 was both a successful year and a not-so-successful year for me, writing-wise. In February, I was accepted into a MFA program (hooray!) but I seriously underestimated how much time I was going to have to devote to writing and reading for class. This time came right out of the extra time I would have used working on my personal writing. But, I did finish several short stories, one of which is currently out on submission, so yay for small victories! I never really found a balance between grad school, work, life, and writing in 2016, so that’s going to be something I work on this year.

Umm…what else did I do this year (checks Instagram)…oh yeah. Saw a lot of ‘rasslin shows, celebrated my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary, took a visit to my alma mater, saw a good friend get married, revealed the official title for #codenamehotprieststory (The Girls of Fall), buzzed both sides of my head, won first place in a Halloween costume contest, got two promotions at my day job (huzzah!), attempted NaNoWriMo, bought new floors for my condo, turned 28 and wore a mermaid princess crown. Shew. I guess my year was pretty busy after all, when you put it that way. 🙂

I’ve spent the last few days planning out what I’d like to accomplish in 2017 and going journalahead and writing things down in my planner. If a thing is written down, I’m more likely to actually do the thing. I bought a brand new notebook — the Leuchtturm 1917 — to use as a project journal and keep better track of all my writing projects — progress and notes.

If you’re following me on Instagram, you might have already seen some of my 2017 goals and resolutions, but I’ve added even more goals since that post, so let’s break them down here as well.

  • Complete second draft of The Girls of Fall by 3/1 — this one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m about exactly halfway through the second draft and I’ve calculated how many words I will have to write each day/week to meet this goal, and it’s very achievable!goals
  • Establish and protect a writing time — I need to write when I sit down and say I’m going to write. Whether that’s a few hours each night, or a big chunk of time on the weekend.
  • Read 30 books — This was my goal number for 2016, and I fell short by about 6 books. Going for 30 again this year!
  • Do Zumba two times per week — gotta go shake that booty.
  • No soda, coke, sweet tea, etc. — I’ve made a spot in my planner to check off the days I’ve been soda-free…only one check mark so far…WHOOPS.
  • Pack lunch for work — saving $$ plus eating healthy.
  • Temper phone time/social media time — I’m still ironing out the details of this one, but I would like to stop using my phone an hour or two before bed and use that time to read instead. And then go straight to bed, not spend another 45 minuets aimlessly scrolling through Instagram.
  • Send a quarterly author newsletter — Subscribers, you’re guaranteed to hear from me at least 4 times a year!
  • Attend a writing conference — I’ve already got one picked out, so now I just need to register.
  • Get all A’s in classes — Ugh, I’ve gotten all A’s and B’s so far, but I want those A’s, dagnabbit!
  • Do a quarterly review of goals — Each quarter, I’d like to sit down with myself and review the goals I’ve outlined here, maybe make some new ones, and just evaluate how the year is going overall.

Okay, I think I’m finished for now, whew!

I’m participating in an author life photo challenge on Instagram this month, so if you want to know more about me and how I’m tackling the new year, head on over and check out the hashtag, #IGAuthorLifeJan.

Happy New Year!

P.S. If anyone has any tips on how to manage your social media time more efficiently/effectively, let me know!

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NaNoWriMo 2016

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and seeing as I’m currently procrastinating, I figured this was a good time to give y’all a little update.

I’m going to be taking a little break from The Girls of Fall during the month of November, also affectionately known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. While this is a little short for a novel these days it’s the perfect size for a rough draft. I wrote a big chunk of Stones and Finger Bones in a NaNo years ago, so I feel like the frantic energy of the month will be good for me.
What am I working on, you ask? It’s going to be a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast, tentatively titled As the Sun Will Rise. Space! Aliens! Huzzah!

I’ve always wanted to write a B&B retelling, but wasn’t sure what new ideas I was going to bring to the classic fairy tale. Then I wrote a sci-fi short story for one of my MFA workshops, fell in love with that idea and decided I wanted to expand it into a novel, and then had a brilliant epiphany to merge the two concepts. I guess we will see how brilliant it really is once I get to writing! I’m really excited about this idea, which should help sustain my momentum through November.

I’ve gotten off to a slow start, though. It’s already day 5 and I think we’re supposed to have a little over 8,000 words by now, while I’m currently sitting at only 2,521. Still, that’s 2,521 words I didn’t have on this project 5 days ago, so I’m not going to get discouraged! I plan to work some more tonight, since we get to gain an hour, and I’m going to keep truckin’ even if I never manage to catch up.

P.S. Don’t judge my cover! I made it myself and I’m most definitely not a designer. I know the rose is cliché but it was the only image I found that I was able to tweak to my satisfaction. 🙂

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Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

This is some scary stuff, but very important for indie authors to be aware of. While most of my sales come from Amazon, I chose not to enroll in KU, mainly because I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket!

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is — the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate…

View original post 1,085 more words

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So, I’ve finally discovered Canva. If you don’t have any design skills, like me, it’s a great resource for making your own graphics. One less thing I have to outsource and pay $$$ for someone else to do!

I’ve made my first teaser and thought I’d share — every where — because I’m super proud of myself. 😄

Here it is:


Eventually, I’ll be revealing an actual title. That will come soon!

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A Very Merry Bookiversary!

*peaks out from under rock*

Oh, hai.

Well, I’m not dead! Just been busy working, writing, worry about working, worrying about writing, struggling to make ends meet, making big life decisions – you know, all that adult-related nonsense we have to put up with. So I just stopped by to check in with y’all and bring you a giveaway! That’s right folks. To celebrate the 6 month-ish bookiversary of Stones and Finger Bones, I’m giving away two signed copies over on Goodreads! Sincerest apologies to all my out-of-country peeps, but this author is on a budget so I could only open the giveaway to the US.

*hides in shame*

Anyway, if you’re currently residing in the states and want to get in on the action, head on over to the giveaway now!

Since we’re about half-way done with the year (how’d did that happen?!?) I thought this would be a good post to do a goal check-in and see where I’m at. In the spirit of brevity and clarity, I’m just going to copy/paste my 2015 goals and make notations about where I’m at. This was actually a good refresher for me, because I actually forgot about some of these – especially the writing ones. Oops.

Overall Heath & Wellness:

  • Continue making better food choices (Successful and ongoing! I’m actually doing a good job at tracking what I eat and making conscious better choices.)
  • Choose and start taking a vitamin D supplement (Sporadic. I forgot this was a goal.)
  • Stop tolerating sucky people (Doing pretty well here! I don’t voluntarily hang out with toxic people anymore and my social life drama is very minimal.)
  • Stop vehemently loathing work (yes, it takes away valuable time that could be used for writing or trolling the internet, but I have a mortgage to pay) (Still working on this one…)

Home Improvements:

  • Paint master bedroom and bath (Done and done!)
  • Find a bookshelf for room (Does pinning ideas count?)
  • Bring all books from home to new home (Not done, not started.)

Reading, Writing, & Publishing:

  • Finish 25 books. I know this might seem like a low number to some, but I’ve been really slacking on my reading habits. I don’t think I even finished 10 this year, which is terrible! (Very much on track to complete this goal!)
  • Do a better job of tracking these books, probably utilizing Goodreads (Success!)
  • Choose these books from the collection I already own and make list (Eh, not so much. A lot of the books I’ve read this year have been on my Kindle.)
  • Write at least 5,000 new words per month. I think this goal will complement my writing style better than daily or weekly goals, since I tend to write in fits and starts, and some days are more productive than others. (Nope…)
  • Outline book 2 of the Black Towers sequence (I think I need to be more diligent with outlining this one to make sure threads are being resolved, tangled, or cut as appropriate) (Double nope…)
  • Draft a Black Towers novella (Triple nope…)
  • Participate in bloggy activities. Blog more in general. Let’s aim for at least twice a month! (Hahahahahaha, nope.)

Well, I apparently still have some work to do before the year ends!

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The Key of Amatahns — Debut Novel Blog Hop

debut novel blog hop banner03

To celebrate the re-release of The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley, Inkspelled Faery is hosting ten days of visiting your favorite authors as they talk about their very first novels, topped off by an all-day Facebook party with fun, games, and giveaways. Check out the full line up of authors and don’t forget to join the Facebook party on the 25th!

Cover Design by Ravven

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.

And if necessary, to destroy her.

Barnes and Noble

To start us off, can you sum up your first novel in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Magic! Mayhem! Kissing! Handsome rogues! Narcissistic sociopaths!

What are you most proud of in this title?

I’m going to have to go with my characters. I worked very very very hard to make sure that no one was wholly good or wholly evil…that everyone was capable of performing “evil” deeds. Making sacrifices. There is no black and white morality here!

Do you think your writing has changed since your debut? In what way?

Hmm…this is an interesting one, because I just made my debut a few months ago. I know my writing has changed and evolved since I first started writing the story. And now that I’ve been through the editing meat grinder, I know where my weak spots are and how to fix them so hopefully book 2 is stronger from the get-go.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were writing your first book, what would it be?

Write a shitty first draft! I spent a lot of valuable time agonizing over whether the scenes were perfect or the words were right, when I could have been using that time to polish a written draft. You can’t edit a blank page!

Worst piece of writing advice anyone’s given you?

Write every day. Yes, I know this is very popular writing advice, but it was horrible for me. I also spent a lot of time during the writing of Stones thinking that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t write every day or meet daily word count goals. That’s just not how my creative brain works. Giving myself permission to write my way, and coming to the realization that every person’s writing process is different, was a huge relief! I don’t think I would have ever reached The End if I didn’t have this epiphany along the way.

If you thought this was fun, drop by the Facebook party going down on the 25th for more interviews with your favorite fantasy authors as well as games and goodies galore!

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NaPoWriMo: Day 12


I am the boatman

Dear traveler, waylaid
On your journey,
Step up, step up
Take my hand

I am the boatman

Wrapped in rags
Of sorrow,
Eyes of gelid fire
Limbs of sinewy ropes

An obol for the boatman

One more coin to
Toss into the river
Plucked from the mouth of
Another soul

I am the boatman

Cursed by fate
To pole the dead
Across the dark river
Made of their ephemeral brethren

I am the boatman

Never to gain either shore
Or the fields of torment
Or the halls of pleasure
Ever drifting

I am the boatman

Do not fear, errant
Travelers of
Flesh, blood, and bone,
When you meet the boatman

You’re already gone.

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NaPoWriMo: Day 6


i wore

the shirt you left

or did i take it?

borrowed, only borrowed

a relic

a symbol

a souvenir

you know i hate this part

the waking from you

the stumbling

the retreating darkness

the crust of mascara around morning eyes

what sweet relief to slip back into your bed

under your arm

to feel the crushing weight of your strength

to have cold toes

warmed by the furnace of your body

you stir only to squeeze tighter

to run a calloused hand across my stomach

what sweet relief

to realize it is not yet Monday

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