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jimhines July 24 2014, 11:54

Sexual Harassment in Comics and Video Games

Related to the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in SF/F…

From Bitch Magazine, survey data about sexual harassment in comics:

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Out of all respondents, 59 percent said they felt sexual harassment was a problem in comics and 25 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the industry. The harassment varied: while in the workplace or at work events, respondents were more likely to suffer disparaging comments about their gender, sexual orientation, or race. At conventions, respondents were more likely to be photographed against their wishes. Thirteen percent reported having unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them at conventions—and eight percent of people of all genders reported they had been groped, assaulted, or raped at a comic convention.

The one weakness of the study that I can see is that respondents were self-selected, as opposed to this being a truly random sampling. It’s the same issue I ran into with my survey of first novel sales a few years back. But even taking that into consideration, if you can take 3600 fans and pros, and a quarter of them have experienced sexual harassment in the industry, then we have a huge problem here.


Game designer Brianna Wu wrote an article called “No Skin Thick Enough” about the daily harassment of women in video gaming. Warning: some of the examples and quotes in this article are truly abhorrent.

My name is Brianna Wu. I lead a development studio that makes games. Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me.

Wu provides four case studies illustrating the types of harassment women experience, and examining myths and realities about the gaming industry. Their stories are powerful, important, and eye-opening.

I strongly recommend reading both articles.


Related: Sexual Harassment in the Scientific Community

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

devonmonk July 23 2014, 16:42

Twitter Live Read

d2drdoneNext Tuesday, I am going to do a fun thing, an exciting thing, a READING thing. And you are invited to do that thing with me!

It all started with an idea: what if a few Deadline Dames read a book live together at the same time and post comments, funny observations and otherwise chat it up on Twitter?

The adventurous Rinda Elliott, offered up the first book in her new YA triliogy, FORETOLD, for the live read.  Her second book, FORECAST, comes out in August, so this is the perfect time to read book #1.

Karen Mahoney and I jumped on the chance to read it together along with Rinda, who might even offer up some behind-the-scenes secrets about writing the book.

There will be prizes! Oh, yes, there will.  Two $25 gift certificates to a favorite bookstore and two copies of FORECAST will be given to readers who re-tweet along with us.

So, next Tuesday, stay tuned for the very first Dame-to-Dame Read, live on Twitter.  Follow the hashtags: #d2dr or #Foretold to stay up with the fun. You can also follow along on the Deadline Dame web page if you don’t have a Twitter account. I’ll be posting my tweets to Facebook, so you can hear all about it there too.

And, hey…if you want to read along with us and offer up your comments and hang out with Rinda, (@rindaelliott)  Karen (@kazmahoney)  and me (@devonmonk), we would love to have you!

For more info, check out the Dame page here.


It is written that three Sisters of Fate have the power
to change the world’s destiny.
But only if they survive…
The Lockwood triplets have had the prophecy drummed into their heads since birth. Still, Raven, the eldest of the sisters, can’t believe it’s really happening. She’s the reincarnation of a Norse goddess? One of the sisters is destined to die? When it starts snowing in summer in Florida, the sisters fear the worst has come to pass. Ragnarok, the Norse end of the world, has begun.

Raven finds herself the secret protector of Vanir, a boy with two wolves, a knowledge of Norse magic and a sense of destiny he can’t quite explain. He’s intense, sexy and equally determined to save her when it becomes clear someone is endangering them. Raven doesn’t know if getting closer to him will make a difference in the coming battle, but her heart isn’t giving her a choice.

Ahead of the sisters is the possibility of death at the hand of a warrior, death by snow, death by water or death by fire.

Or even from something else…

Sisters of Fate
The prophecy doesn’t lie: one is doomed to die.

Mirrored from Devon Monk.

lyda222 July 23 2014, 15:00

Podcast of Silliness

Yep, Mason and I are still at this... if you're interested in hearing the two of us talk about our favorite manga's current weekly chapters, check us out: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/you-are-my-sunshine-eighteen/

Also, I drew more Renji fan art: http://junko222.deviantart.com/art/Relaxing-in-the-Human-World-470045243

And now I have to run as I have many birthday presents to wrap for a certain manga podcast co-host who is turning 11 tomorrow.
jimhines July 23 2014, 01:06

WisCon, Harassment, and Rehabilitation

On Friday, WisCon posted a statement that read in part:

The WisCon committee has completed our harassment review process with regard to Jim Frenkel, who engaged in two reported violations of WisCon’s general and harassment policies at WisCon 37, in 2013 … WisCon will (provisionally) not allow Jim Frenkel to return for a period of four years (until after WisCon 42 in 2018). This is “provisional” because if Jim Frenkel chooses to present substantive, grounded evidence of behavioral and attitude improvement between the end of WisCon 39 in 2015 and the end of the four-year provisional period, WisCon will entertain that evidence. We will also take into account any reports of continued problematic behavior.

Natalie Luhrs has posted a roundup of some reactions. There’s a great deal of anger and frustration over poor communications, procedural failures, and more. I’m still reading, but my initial reaction is that the whole thing has been a mess that went rolling down a hill of mistakes, snowballing into a giant boulder of crap.

I’m still catching up on the conversation, and a lot of people have weighed in more thoughtfully and eloquently than I could. (See Natalie’s roundup for links.) One thing I wanted to talk about, however, was the “provisional” aspect of WisCon’s statement. Because my initial gut-level reaction was that it seemed reasonable to allow for the possibility of growth and change.

A little while back, I responded to an article titled, “The Naive Idiocy of Teaching Rapists Not to Rape.” The thing is, rapists can learn not to rape. People can and do change, especially when they’re confronted with consequences and forced to look at their own actions.

I’ve worked with college students, mostly men, in an early intervention program where we tried to help people recognize and change their own aggressive, boundary-crossing, harassing behaviors. I’ve sat in on batterer’s groups. I’ve spoken with pedophiles after their release from jail. My wife has designed and run domestic violence groups. My father spent much of his life working with juvenile offenders who had committed assault, robbery, rape, and more.

People can change. It’s kind of a no-brainer. Our behavior changes throughout our lifetime. We learn new habits, new values, and new choices. I’ve said and done things in the past that I wouldn’t dream of doing today, because I’ve learned better. We all have.

Does that mean all rapists and harassers will come to see the error of their ways if we only give them another chance? Of course not. Some people go right back to the same pattern of hostile behavior. But others can and do come to recognize the harm they’ve done to others, and find a new path.

I believe very strongly that there should be consequences for our actions. But I also believe in education and rehabilitation.

I don’t know if Jim Frenkel will ever truly accept responsibility for what he’s done, or if he’ll change a pattern of harassing behavior that goes back decades. He seemed genuinely remorseful when he spoke to me about this several years ago, but his behaviors didn’t change.

I hope this time is different. I hope the consequences of his loss of employment and being banned from his local convention force him to confront his choices, and that he comes out a better man.

The problem is when we choose to make his growth and change more important than the safety and security of his victims and potential victims.

When you’ve wronged someone and they throw you out of their life, you don’t get to force your way back in to prove that you’ve changed. You don’t get to violate their boundaries because you want to apologize. If the wronged party chooses to forgive and to allow you back into their lives, that’s one thing. If they choose not to, then you need to accept that loss as a consequence of your actions.

WisCon banned a known serial harasser on a relatively short-term “provisional” basis. While I share the same philosophical hope and belief for change, they’ve taken the choice away from his victims.

WisCon is not a judicial body. They are not a rehabilitation program. In my opinion, they are not qualified to judge the sincerity of serial harassers, many of whom have spent years or decades learning to hide their behavior behind the mask of the “nice guy.” Their job is to investigate complaints, and when those complaints are found to be valid, to take steps to protect their membership.

Protection for Frenkel came in the form of WisCon’s investigation process. I believe every complaint should be investigated and decided based on evidence and testimony. In this case, there have been multiple people reporting incidents, with multiple witnesses backing them up. According to the WisCon Harassment Policy, Frenkel also has the right to appeal the decision. Again, I think that’s reasonable.

But throughout this process, despite what I believe to be the best of intentions in a difficult and ugly situation, WisCon has failed to protect its members.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

cscole July 22 2014, 21:19

More Yard Work.

Over the past weekend, the man and I spent one day surviving his 24-hour funk mood and the next working to exhaustion out on the various yard projects. Since his exhaustion level peaks at thirty minutes, it's important to make the most of his time. That is, if that's what he wants. Always. Call it a personality quirk or whatever. It's always been about what he wants, even before his MS.

So, he had decided that one of the large, hard wood maple stumps (one of five) that I need removed in phase one of the hot patio project (estimated finish time: Summer 2015) was coming out Sunday. Within thirty minutes, he had cut through all the large root arteries, and cut those well under the desired, end-result soil level, and pried that maple stump out in one huge mass. Bravo! One down, four to go... but those are for another day.More about that boring yard workCollapse )

Four inches through this material, the wire mesh that protected anything from getting under the house was intact and sound. Protected from anything but water as I soon found out after digging away the mounded soil and bark mulch and cleaning out the vents. That's when I discovered a second problem that moved the 2015-slated project to the forefront.
lyda222 July 22 2014, 17:52

Tool-using corvids...

So, the newest installment of my work-in-progress is up on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/61180773-unjust-cause-part-17-the-cleverness-of-birds in which tool-welding corvids stage a jail break.

I've veered off outline for these last couple of installments, but I think I'm pushing my way back toward the outline.  Wish me luck.

Also, I need to make time tonight to keep working on the e-book version of this.  Of course, being me, things are changing fairly significantly as I do revision.  This was bound to happen.  Ask anyone in my writers' group.
lyda222 July 21 2014, 14:28

My Thoughts on WisCON

I missed a lot of the excitement this weekend over WisCON's harassment subcommittee's decision because we were in a small, resort town in Wisconsin enjoying our friends' cabin at Crooked Lake.  I took some awesome photos, but the uploading thingie here on LJ is still being stubborn so I may have to point interested parties to another site.  The lake was ice cold, but Mason, being Mason, braved it anyway.  I ended up in the water, too, though initially under much duress.

But, because we were away from Twitterverse and the rest over the weekend, a lot of what needs saying abut WisCON's decision has already been said.  I have to admit that I'm far less invested in this, despite knowing Jim personally (he was my agent), because I haven't been a regular attendee at WisCON for nearly a decade.  It used to be one of my favorite cons.  The ratio of writer-to-fan was skewed heavily toward the writer end of the scale and, at a certain point in my career, WisCON was the place for me to meet colleagues, agents, and editors in a relaxed setting.  I suspect that's probably still true, but when I switched to being a romance writer I felt less welcome, though never explicitly so.

So, everything I have to say about this is as a complete outsider. My only point is one of comparison. This year at CONvergence, I had a programming issue come up.  I felt it was handled so professionally and swiftly that I don't even feel the need to rehash the details here, except to say that I wish that WisCON could learn and take notes.  The programming head responded to my complaint within hours of my issuing it (even though it was the day after the con and everyone had every right to be off-the-clock, as it were.)  Not only that, but they had a very clear and firm policy that was expressed in unambiguous language to all parties involved.  There was a clear electronic "paper trail." When it seemed we'd reached an understanding, the programming person basically said to me, "I feel from your previous communication that you consider this resolved, but please let me know if there is any part of this issue that you feel is not resolved.  If you feel it is resolved, we will consider this matter closed."

It was amazing.  It was so professionally handled that I almost wondered if the folks at CONvergence were all required to take conflict management courses.

Having a clear, unambiguous policy was paramount to my feeling satisfied by the concom's response to my issue.  The programming head was able to say, "CONvergence expects x of this kind of panel" and there was no, "but we will review this if y or z is involved."  The hammer came down hard.  In fact, it was so intense I was like, "Uh, I'm not sure..." to which I was given a polite, but firm, "Understood, but these are the rules and we're clear about them, full stop."

Granted, this is an entirely different issue than harassment. But, the fact that this was how a relatively minor programming issue was dealt with, it gives me the sense there are even more clear and firm policies in place for other infractions.  They have a well-thoughtout harassment policy written in their souvenir program, for instance, though I'm not sure how well it would work for WisCON's clientele.  That aside, JUST the way this was dealt with could be a lesson for the WisCON folks, you know?

CONvergence is much, much larger than WisCON.  Not only is it on a significantly larger scale, but CONvergence's mission is very different from that of WisCON.  However, I think that WisCON could take note.  If they survive this particular misstep (and I do have to wonder if they will), I think it could behoove them to talk to bigger, more professionally run cons.  I'm sure a con like CONvergence has to deal with police calls and all sorts of things that a small con might never have to, but I would think that, if anything, this whole sexual harassment issue should show WisCON that maybe being prepared for all future contingencies might be a plan, so that there are clear rules and consequences from the start... for the next problem that comes up, because there will be one.

So, that's my two cents.  There are a myriad of other issues involved that I'm not going to comment on because I'm very much removed from the WisCON community.

With luck, I can get some photos of our trip up somewhere.  
jimhines July 21 2014, 13:31

Detcon1 Pics

Detcon1 was tremendous fun. The volunteers who spent the past two years working to make this happen have a lot to be proud of.

I hope to have some thoughts and write-up once my brain wakes up, but in the meantime, I’ve posted some of my photos from the weekend. I was lugging the camera around pretty much everywhere, and while not all of my shots turned out, I’m rather happy with some of them.

Folks who were on the other end of my lens — that sounds odd — might note that I haven’t posted a certain set of pics yet. I’m hoping to do something a little different with those.

Detcon 1 Photos on Flickr

Here are a few of my favorites:

I took a selfie at opening ceremonies. Author GoH Steven Barnes YA Author GoH Nnedi Okorafor Tobias Buckell and I were having a moment. Detroit at night, viewed from my hotel room.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

stephanieburgis July 21 2014, 12:39

The return of an old friend, chocolate bribes and reading recs

It's just over 3 weeks until "Courting Magic" will come out, so here's the second teaser! The return of an old friend... :)


Did you guys guess that Lucy (from Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks) would return? I hope that at least some readers will be happy to have her back - I loved getting to write her all grown up!

I am SO looking forward to sharing this story with you guys! And in perfect timing, we're busy packing for our American trip, so I'm afraid all of my American family members will be forced to scour the manuscript for typos over the next couple of weeks...hmm, maybe I should pack some chocolate bribes, now that I come to think of it! ;)

I'm also packing a few pieces of Kat-themed jewelry to bring along to my event at the East Lansing library next Wednesday. I'll have to think of a good way to give them away there!

Now it's time for a last local library visit with my kids - and then maybe a sneak-writing session later on. Nearly finished with another chapter of Family Magic!

I hope you guys are all having a good week. And I'd love to hear about any American books you've read recently and LOVED, so that I can look for them myself while I'm there!
cscole July 20 2014, 01:56

Still Digging.

Still working on digging out next year’s patio area. I figure maybe 50-60 wheelbarrows full of dirt, decayed bark (same as dirt), and tree roots to go. And when I wasn’t busting my back hacking through that near-cement-like ground, I was creating ‘white space’ elsewhere by pulling up all the volunteer, evergreen ferns that, while lovely, just won’t do where they think they should live out a long and happy life. I’d like very much to see my big-ass fountain, but not through your long and lovely fronds.

Also eliminated from the garden: one scrawny variegated boxwood, two ancient daylilies, one mostly dead evergreen huckleberry that was anything but evergreen, two over-prolific ornamental grasses, a volunteer foxglove, and assorted volunteer columbine seedlings. Once I feel I’m again making significant progress on next year’s patio dig, and the yard debris bin has been emptied, other eliminations will include three more scrawny variegated boxwoods, two hellebores that look ugly all the time, and four more volunteer evergreen ferns that I’ll need to take the Sawzall to because their root balls are massive and deep.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I don’t need the same plants planted in multiple places around the yard. Just because plant X puts out the cutest baby X doesn’t mean it gets to live. This is a big deal for me who hates killing anything but had ended up with an over-stuffed yard filled with the same boring things here, there, everywhere.

Speaking of killing things, I’ve finished my second of five writing classes as of this week. The teacher is good, personable, and makes a lot of sense in a non-threatening way. I get the sense there are a few people in class that the non-threatening part might be best for. Then again, I’ve taken a writing class or two that made me think about slicing my wrists afterward. This one is refreshing. Yet, I’m still looking forward to the end. I don’t like giving up my summer… even though I don’t do a thing other than yard work. It’s complicated.

Not going to the big, rolling, all day, all night car show in town today. It’ll be the first time I’ve missed it since it began five years ago. Just not into that whole thing this year. And the complications it brings up after I come home aren’t worth the trouble.
cscole July 19 2014, 01:34

Thank you.

Thank you for emailing or commenting asking how you might help me get around. I truly appreciate that, and I may take you up on those offers some time in the future. For the time being, thank you for allowing me my voice. That helps more than anything else during this difficult time learning to live with my husband's disease.
jimhines July 18 2014, 13:31

Cool Stuff Friday

Greetings from Detcon1! Have some links!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

stephanieburgis July 18 2014, 10:05

Milestones, Bagels and More

A year ago from this week, I went to the hospital at 7:30 a.m. in the middle of a heatwave so bad, the operating theater kept getting shut down because the temperatures couldn't be controlled. Patrick and I waited in a stuffy, hot room without a window or a fan throughout a loooooong morning and early afternoon, through delay after delay (as emergency operations took precedence). At 1:30, a doctor finally came in and said, "It's time! Let's do this."

At 2:15, I heard Baby X's cry behind the operating curtain, and I knew that he was okay. And immediately everything was worth it.

Steph and Baby 2

This week Baby X chased his birthday balloons all around the living room floor, played with his big brother, and grinned as he created mischief of all sorts. Oh, Baby X, we are so happy to have you!


This week, I've also spent a ridiculous number of hours on the phone trying to work out all the administrative details of our big trip to America. The phone calls sucked, but the trip - hooray! And I was sent a photo of this fabulous flyer for my upcoming library event in East Lansing, Michigan:


There will be bagels supplied by the lovely local Panera, and I'd love to see any of you guys there! As I said before, there's no pressure to buy a book - this is a library event, after all! - but I'm happy to sign copies of any books that are brought along, and Schuler Books will also be supplying copies of my books for sale at the event, in case you want to pick any up while there.

Now Baby X is sleeping on my lap, and it's time to go back to work on my packing list. It's a good chore to have!
lyda222 July 17 2014, 23:10

Female Thor and Other Thoughts

If you've been awake these last few days (and hang out in fannish circles on the Internet), you probably heard that Marvel is introducing a new Thor, a female Thor.  She looks pretty awesome to me, so I'm not quite sure what has certain fans in an uproar.  As a long time Thor reader, there is one single qualification in my mind to be Thor.  You must be worthy of Mjolnir.

For those of you just tuning in, comic book fans will happily explain that Thor not being Thor is so yesterday.  We've had a horse-faced space alien (a fan favorite, in fact,) Beta Ray Bill.  We've had, I kid you not, a frog.  All of those who welded Mjolnir before were WORTHY.  So long as this person is, I could care less.

Different people take on iconic hero titles all the time.  Do you even know how many Captain Americas we've had? At least one of them was insane, another had been a recently brainwashed super-assassin for the Russians.  So, you know, in the average life of a Marvel fan, this kind of thing is very ho-hum.

I was particularly struck by what it means (to me, at least,) to be a Marvel fan as I was finally reading through the Entertainment Weekly article about the new Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.  The article laid out the reason why the movie writers of the script decided not to make Henry Pym the inventor of Ultron.  I read that and thought, like a Marvel fan does, "Huh.  Okay, why not?"

"Huh.  Okay, why not?" could be a Marvel fan's mantra.

How about we reboot the entire mutant franchise when a villain goes back in time to kill Professor X? Huh.  Okay, why not?  (The Age of Apocalypse is still one of my favorite canon AUs.)

How about we replace a ton of your favorite superheroes with Skrull?  Huh.  Okay, why not?  (Secret Invasion. I  was less sold, but you know what, this is Marvel.)

How about the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a super-villain?  Huh.  Okay, why not? (Dark Reign.  Didn't read it, but am planning to try to collect it.)

The list goes on and on and on, and two thirds of my above examples are actually fairly recent developments, and don't even get me started on the whole Ultimates concept.  (For those of you who aren't comic book fans, Ultimates is like Marvel said, I wish we could re-write some stuff, and the PtB said, you can!  We'll just make it an AU fic, but because we're the bosses, it'll be canon because we can just make up a whole new set of titles for you!)

You know, it's like I tell new Attack on Titan fans--don't get too attached and roll with the punches.  Most of the time, the story carries you through all your fears.  Sure, sometimes it's stupid.  But, Marvel has, what now?  At LEAST 60 years of canon, some titles running weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly without interruption in all that times.  There's got to be some stupid given the sheer vastness of canon.  And, writers and artists can change mid-storyline, so Marvel fans have learned to cope in MULTIPLE ways.  I mean, I'll be honest, for me, I've been known not to finish a story because there's been a major writer shake up (still don't know how everything worked out after Straczynski left Amazing Spider-Man).

My friend empty_mirrors asked me how does Marvel deal with people getting older, and I said, "They don't."  Given the mess of the above, there's really no reason to.  Readers have learned to say, "Huh.  Okay, why not?" when confronted by the fact that Reed Richards is stated in canon to have fought in WWII.  Writers tend not to bring that up.  Or, when they do, they get points for coming up with clever work arounds.  Honestly, a lot of us long-time fans appreciate when writers like Bendis slide in a line for Peter Parker like, "Look, how weird can it be?  I once had four arms!"

Because, yes, yes he did.

And that's the other thing Marvel comics are made for readers to come and go from it.  New readers can pick up a title at any point and go from there.  I've done it when I've come back to story lines.  But fans drop out, new fans come in, old fans return, etc., etc.

And sometimes Thor is a woman.
lyda222 July 16 2014, 14:09

MangaKast Madness

As I said, our MangaKast came out early because most of the weeklies did, too. http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/seventeen-came-early/

In it, there is a lot of silliness, accidental poetry, singing, and many, many spoilers (for Bleach 589, Toriko 285, and Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist 58, which I keep saying was 54.  There are also random Yowadepa references.)  Mason cries some real tears of feels.

So, check it out, if you wish.  Mason and I continue to have far too much fun with this.  
lyda222 July 15 2014, 16:08

Tuesdays with Tate

Yep, it's that time again. There's another short adventure for you to enjoy up on Wattpad:


There's a lot of magic happening in this bit, as Alex finds herself arrested for assault and tossed into a holding cell that seems to have been built to hold a very specific thing....


Sorry I've been absent from here. There's been a lot going on, and, for some reason, I was having a lot of trouble uploading pictures lately. I really wanted to show off some more cool con photos I took as well as me in my fancy new Renji shirt. Plus, this morning I was thrown for a loop as Bleach came out early and so I've been rolling around in the aftermath of that... like you do.

(Yeah, I just tried uploading again and got the same problem. It seems to say its uploaded 100%, but then never finishes the process so I can actually put the image in. Very weird and irritating.  I had this problem previously, fixed it by moving things to dropbox and going from there, but then it fixed itself.  I'm kind of being lazy about Dropbox because, honestly, I think I may have filled my free capacity and, I never remember my password....)

ANYWAY, enjoy the Tate thing.  I'll be back with more tomorrow.  Mason and I are going to record our podcast tonight, so I might put that up immediately after its done or first thing in the morning tomorrow.  Thing is, when you're doing this kind of immediate commentary, it can get stale if you don't post ASAP.  And there's a LOT to talk about with this week's Bleach as well as the new Ao no Exorcist (which you should be reading, if you're not.)
jimhines July 15 2014, 13:31

A Barricade in Hell, by Jaime Lee Moyer

A Barricade in Hell [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is the sequel to Jaime Lee Moyer‘s debut novel Delia’s Shadow. I enjoyed the first book enough to blurb it. (And that blurb appears on the cover of the second book, which is awesome!) I’m happy to say Barricade was just as enjoyable.

From the publisher:

Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it’s 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?

Like the first book, this one invites us into a believable San Francisco of the early 20th century, with characters who are likable, strong in their own ways, flawed, and at times both larger than life (or death) and all too vulnerable and human. Delia has been learning about her gifts, working with a more experienced and tremendously entertaining medium named Dora. Delia’s more comfortable with what she can do, and one of the payoffs of the book is seeing her partnership with her husband Gabe. They work as equals, and come across as a team, though each has their own partner. Both Delia and Gabe recognize their own limits and trust one another to do what they do best…though they both love and worry about the other.

There are a number of things going on in the book–the scope of the story is bigger, and there are more characters this time around, which makes sense for a second book, but resulted in a few speed bumps and loose ends along the way. But these are minor complaints, some of which I’m hoping will get developed in future books.

Evangelist Effie Fontaine made a good villain, for the most part. Smart, confident, powerful, and nasty. My only complaint was that certain developments near the end of the book felt like they undercut her character. I don’t know how to explain it without spoilers, and it certainly worked as an ending. I just found myself wishing the book had gone in a slightly different direction there.

Overall, these are good books, richly detailed, with enjoyable characters. I raced through them both, and look forward to the next. Recommended.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

jimhines July 14 2014, 22:23

Detcon1 Schedule

This weekend I’ll be joining the amazing filker and all-around fun person Tom Smith as co-Toastmasters of the North American Science Fiction Convention, aka Detcon1 here in Detroit.

I’m really excited about this one. There’s going to be a ton of great people, and from what I’ve seen, the convention staff have been doing some incredible work. I’m getting preemptively bummed because I know I won’t have time to see and hang out with everyone. Too many cool people, too little time…

This is what the weekend currently looks like:


  • 8 pm: Opening Ceremonies, Ambassador Salon 1


  • 1 pm: Writing Humor and Comedy in SFF, Ambassador Salon 2
  • 3 pm: Fanzines and Professional Writing, Mackinac West
  • 6 pm: Gender Roles in Genre Fiction, Ambassador Salon 1
  • 8 pm: Mass Autographing Session, Ambassador Salons 1&2


  • 11 am: Reading, Joliet A
  • 4 pm: Kaffeeklatsch with Jim C. Hines, Kaffeeklatsch 1
  • 8 pm: Extravaganza – Masquerade & Literary Awards, Ambassador Salon 2


  • 2 pm: Closing Ceremonies, Ambassador Salon 1

For the reading on Saturday, I’m torn between reading my story for the next Chicks in Chainmail anthology, or an excerpt from Unbound. Any preferences?

Who else is going to be there?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

stephanieburgis July 14 2014, 07:15

Starring Kitty: An Interview with Keris Stainton

Today I'm really happy to be hosting Keris Stainton on my blog for an interview about her new MG book, Starring Kitty. On a personal level, Keris is one of the warmest and most generous writers I know, and professionally, she's a guiding force in current UK kids' literature. Not only has she published several YA novels (most recently, Emma Hearts LA), but she teaches YA writing, she advocates for it publicly, and she was one of the two organizers of last year's Authors for the Philippines auction.

Here's the blurb for her new book, Starring Kitty:

Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes…

Kitty's keeping secrets. Like how she's struggling to cope with her mum's illness. And how she's falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair... A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty's secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?

Starring Kitty is the first in a new series about first love and friendship by much-loved teen author Keris Stainton

You can read what I wrote about the book on Goodreads when I had a chance to read an early ARC of it. (Spoiler: I highly recommended it. :) )

And here's my interview with Keris!

1. Can you tell the story of how this book came about? I have a vague memory of seeing on your blog beforehand that you’d gone to London to have a conversation with editors...expand, please?

I'd planned a third book in the Hearts series with a girl/girl romance, but my publishers weren't interested. I wrote a blog post about it for Jim at YA Contemporary and the same day it went up, Non Pratt, who was an editor at Catnip at the time, tweeted that she was looking for a gay YA romance, so I sent her the link and she asked me to come and have a chat. I went down to London to meet her and we talked about that idea and also about a trilogy I had in mind about three friends...and that ended up becoming the Reel Friends series!

2. What was it like to switch to writing for younger readers after writing three YA novels in a row? And why did you decide to make that shift?

I don't think this book is actually that much younger than the last two really - they were definitely at the younger end of YA. But my editor and I talked about the grey area between MG and YA - 10-13-ish - and how there weren't so many books for that age group and certainly very few with same sex relationships.

3. What’s your favourite thing about Starring Kitty, from a totally personal, subjective perspective?

I love the seaside setting. I've only just realised that I've set quite a few books at the seaside now. It's just so much fun to write about beaches and piers and fairgrounds!

4. And if this hasn’t already been covered by that last question: what was the most fun part to write?

There's a scene where Kitty's helping Dylan with her homework that I really enjoyed writing. There's a conversation about Twilight and Disney Princesses and I also got to wander around on Google Maps on Kitty and Dylan's behalf and I always enjoy doing that. Plus there's a very slightly rude joke :)

5. What kind of research did you do for the book?

I don't usually do much research for the first draft - I just try to get the story down, making everything up. Then I do the research and have to go back and fix all the stuff I made up. Probably not the most efficient way to work… So then for the second draft I spoke to a couple of Muslim friends to make sure I got Sunny right (and they both read the next draft and gave me feedback). My mum had MS so I wrote Kitty's mum's bits from my own experience, but then I ran it past a friend with MS and found the prognosis is actually slightly better than when my mum was diagnosed, which was good to learn. I could keep researching forever though. I was on the beach recently and started making notes in my head about smells and sounds and the texture of the stones... and then realised it was too late.

6. Can you give us a hint of how the rest of the series will go?

I'm close to finishing the first draft of the second book, Spotlight on Sunny (the first chapter is going up online when Starring Kitty comes out). All I can really say is that the girls are in London and there's a cute boy, a (possibly) mean girl and a fairground. All I know about Hannah's book is that she's going to get in trouble…

Thanks so much to Keris for letting me be part of her blog tour! Starring Kitty will come out in the UK on the 24th of July (and if you're in the US, you can order it from The Book Depository with free international shipping).

You can find out more about Keris and her books on her website, and if you want to keep following along with her blog tour, tomorrow she'll be at Peter Jones's blog!

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