Some of us are naturally cheery types for whom spreading holiday cheer is natural and easy.

Then there are the rest of us. The more cynically inclined. Because sure, the lights are pretty, but the traffic! The parties! The rampant consumerism! Ugh!

For those of you who are like me, and your Christmas comes with a grudging but well-intentioned eye-roll, let's celebrate the holiday with a very snarky ranking of insults from "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

Check out the ranking in my Book Riot post.

P.S. -- Don't forget to enter to win this awesome collection of 12 speculative fiction books.

Share this post!

Happy holidays readers! We're officially in the season.

To celebrate, a group of 12  authors have banded together to give you a truly awesome collection of speculative fiction novels. Over the next 12 days leading up to Christmas Eve, we'll all be offering you ways to enter to win them!

An official unveiling of the complete 12-book giveaway collection will be coming soon (one of them is my own debut novel, the award-winning Mud: Chronicles of the Third Realm War).

But for now, go ahead and enter to win! You can start by joining my email list.

Then, check out the other participating authors for even more ways to enter! Here is the full list of authors:

Charles Cornell

Danielle DeVor

Louann Carroll

Connor Drexler

Jeff Elkins

M. G. Herron

Sharon Johnston

Jade Kerrion

R. Perez de Pereda

Brian Rella

Antonio Simon, Jr.

E. J. Wenstrom

Share this post!

ejwenstrom

Fall is here! Once you've consumed all things pumpkin-flavored, it's time to start looking to Halloween.

I love Halloween. It's a time when all the monsters and other strange creatures I adore are celebrated, and we can explore our darker sides a bit.

So to help us all get into the spirit, I created this like of 5 Graphic Novels to Read to Get Spooked. Enjoy!

What are your favorite Halloween reads? 

Share this post!

6

ejwenstrom

Antiheroines have been on my mind a lot the last few weeks. Because Nia, the protagonist of my new release RAIN, is one.

And she is not an antihero in the vein of Adem (MUD), where he tries his earnest best, and he simply can’t seem to get it right.

Nia is bad. She starts out lonely and sad at the beginning of RAIN, but in her fight to protect herself from these things, she gets downright devious and selfish.

My editor even warned me: You are aware of how terrible Nia is, right? You did this on purpose? Just checking.

ejwenstrom

Did I do this on purpose?

Um, kind of?

As I wrote her, I was well aware of how terrible Nia was becoming. And I kept writing her that way anyway.

But … well. I am not one to blame my character for what I write about them—after all in my story world, all is whatever I say it is. But let’s just say that as the plot developed, terrible was the only appropriate direction for Nia’s character to go.

And while I stand by the story that is RAIN, I was nervous about releasing Nia to the world. In particular, I was nervous about making Nia my first impression to readers by giving her away to my newbies for free.

If people found this particularly unlikeable character, erm, unlikeable, would they find the novella as a whole unlikeable? Would they find me as an author unlikeable, or worse, unreadable?

ejwenstrom

Personally, I adore an antihero. I think Amazing Amy from Gone Girl is badass and important. I think Annie from Family Fang is a glorious, beautiful mess. Characters like Katniss, who start out innocent and clean but end up grim and terribly broken—that resonates for me.

(What does this say about me? I do not know.)

ejwenstrom

But our society does not do well—yet—with women who don’t stay in their tidy little boxes. We find them cute as children (Eloise, Ramona, Matilda) but when girls grow up, we expect them to put on a nice dress, cross their legs, and straighten the heck out.

Even though Amazing Amy was the villain in Gone Girl, and even though Nick was also unlikeable, readers criticized the book for Amy’s unlikeability. Other female antiheroes have gotten similar backlash.

Put otherwise: While male characters are expected only to be interesting, people want to be friends with female characters. (And I would not recommend being friends with Nia, even before her descent.)

ejwenstrom

But the antiheroine is important. The antiheroine is messy. The antiheroine pushes back on society’s expectations. Perhaps most important, the antiheroine is true.

It is scary, as an author, to put an antiheroine out the world. But, I think they’re important. Necessary, even. Not just because they challenge societal bounds put on women, but because it is honest about the human condition.

And as authors, if we’re not doing that, then what the hell are we doing?

Some great articles about the importance of antiheroines:

What do you think about antiheroines? Who are your favorites?

Share this post!

A Wrinkle in Time is an incredible book, a Newbery Award-winner, and a staple from my childhood bookshelf.

It is one of the first books I remember reading that I specifically understood in terms of it representing the speculative fiction genre, and as my awareness of the genre grew and I re-read it, it introduced me to the idea that fantasy and science can be mixed. Madeline L'Engle was a true visionary.

It's a book that has stuck with me even in adulthood, and very few years, I re-read it again. It challenges me to imagine bigger.

In particular, there is a stunning creature in the second book of the series, A Wind in the Door, that always stood out in my memory: Proginoskes, a quite snippy cherubim who, as Charles Wallaces describes him, looks like "a drive of dragons."

proginsokes

Incredible, yes? Also, an excellent choice for a tattoo, in my opinion (don't steal it, I call dibs).

And let's not forget to pay tribute to this books amazing heroine, Meg: math genius, klutz, and the most very loyal of friends. She is the original Strong Female Protagonist, and the ultimate underdog.

I love everything about her, and I appreciate L'Engle even more for making her hero 1) a young girl, 2) is an absolute genius, but 3) just can't seem to make it click at school. Especially in my high school years, this resonated so much for me (sans the "genius" part. I was pretty darn good at math, but definitely not genius).

For obvious reasons (longstanding popularity, incredible visuals) there have been repeated rumors of A Wrinkle in Time movie adaptation over the years. One adaptation made it to TV screens in 2003 and won the Toronto Children's Film Festival's Best Feature Film Award, but didn't make much of a splash (as far as I remember) with broader audiences.

Enter Disney

Which is why it's so exciting to see the buzz around Disney's new adaptation effort, especially as the rumors actually have started to materialize into a cast. So exciting!

Intriguingly, the first characters to be cast were not the leads, but some key supporting cast: the Mrs. Who, Which and Whatsit.

Mrs. Who: Mindy Kaling

mindy

Mrs. Which:  Reese Witherspoon

reese

Mrs. Whatsit: Oprah

oprah

Discussion Time

First off, I am ALWAYS an advocate for diverse casting choices. Yes, yes, yes! Let's stop assuming non-specified race means "white." All about this.

But these particular ladies give a very different interpretation of the Ms. W's than I took from the book.

To me, the W's have gravitas. They are wisdom. They are mystery. They are as close to omniscience as this story gets. In my imagination, I behold them as akin to the depths of wonder--like guardian angels, or something.

This posse, however, is more of a comedic matchup (at least, Kaling and Witherspoon).

Which challenged how I think about the Ms. W's. Because my interpretation ignores a key trait of these characters. They are also quirky oddballs, who clearly struggle to fit into modern society on Earth, which manifests in some very humorous ways. And these ladies are going to nail that. Oprah is likely to keep a little gravitas present, as well.

One additional factor here is that the Ms. W's in the books are said to be quite old. The ladies cast for these roles, however, are not old. And I am really quite fed up with women over 30 being cast as "old" in Hollywood terms.

But ... I'm not sure that's what they're doing here. It's possible--and I hope against hope this is true--that they are intentionally making the W's younger for the movies. This certainly would match the acting style and vivacity of their casting choices.

A Knock-Out Team

Beyond the casting so far, they have made some really interesting choices with the crew. Jennifer Lee is the writer adapting the script--the co-writer of Frozen. So she definitely has my trust when it come to creating compelling female characters for the big screen. The team also features Ava DuVernay as its director, who is known for films including Selma.

Looking at early cast calls for the story's young main characters, it's clear that the Ms. W's diversity is no accident. Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin are all specified as mixed-race.

High fives all around, people. Can't wait to watch this.

excited

What do you think about the new A Wrinkle in Time adaptation?

 

Share this post!