I’ve just finished all the illustrations for The Book of Foxes! Since the writing was done already, and I’ve put them together, that means it is FINISHED! At least this draft! Huzzah!

Indulge me while I practice summarizing the story. I’ll reward you with a picture afterward.

The book is the journal of our protagonist, Hoshi, a fourteen-year-old girl whose mother hasn’t been seen for ten years – until today, when Hoshi is waiting for her dad to pick her up from school, and a car pulls up with her mother in it. Only Hoshi soon finds this isn’t her mom, but a shapeshifting tanuki – a trickster spirit – named Kichi, who claims to be her mom’s friend. Hoshi’s mother was kidnapped all those years ago, and now the kidnappers have taken her father, too. These aren’t ransom-demanding criminals: they’re the unpredictable kitsune, trickster fox spirits. When they struck ten years ago, taking Hoshi’s mom as well as Kichi’s tanuki beloved, the kitsune left no trace, but this time, they’ve made mistakes. Which means that Hoshi and Kichi – along with the secretive Alex, a boy with a mission of his own – are coming to the rescue. In a day, Hoshi goes from a regular teen to a girl who rides dragons (as a passenger on Tatsu Air), hides out at the bottom of Lake Michigan (as a guest of its little-known guardian, Mishipeshu), and searches the largest bookstore in America for the one book that could hold the key to beating the kitsune and putting her family back together. That’s a lot to deal with, so Hoshi sorts things out by writing and drawing in her math-notebook-turned-journal.

Right! Picture time. Here’s what the main characters look like in the style of Hoshi’s illustrations.

Florida and Massachusetts

No Flying No Tights has posted my review for Troublemaker, books one and two, by Janet Evanovich and her daughter. Fun story set in Florida. Where, by coincidence, I currently am, vacationing with my family.

When we get back from vacation, I’m headed north to Massachusetts, where I’ll be starting a fantastic job! I will be the Teen Services Librarian at the Brewster Ladies’ Library. Planning and running teen programs, collection development, and making and distributing promotional material – woo! I’m all kinds of excited.

In the meantime, continuing to work on Looking Like Lani, and life is just generally snazzy.

Not Everyone Screws it Up

Recently, there’s been stuff said about the treatment of women in DC comics. Stuff that seems to have some real truth behind it, and for that reason is quite depressing.

For example, female characters whose creators call them “liberated” but who are shown acting – and perhaps more obviously, posing – in ways that seem much more about the straight male readers’ gaze than about what the character would want, as if they were porn stars rather than superheroines. (I suppose gay and bi women could be gazing this gaze, too, but I’d hope that most of them would feel more dismay at the women of superherodom being turned into pretty props. But then, I’d kind of hope everyone would feel more dismay about that.) Female characters who used to have substance being “rebooted” into sexy scenery. Superheroines whose roles in the new comics can be described in words like these, from a seven-year-old girl who was a fan of this character in a previous series and is now seeing the reboot:“Well she is on the beach in her bikini. But . . . she’s not relaxing or swimming. She’s just posing a lot. . . . she’s not fighting anyone. And not talking to anyone really. She’s just almost naked and posing.” And so on.

But! I am here today to talk about Darcy Lewis.

This is not because we apparently share a surname. (I didn’t realize this until I went on IMDB. It’s cool, though, isn’t it?)

Darcy Lewis is a supporting character in the recent Thor movie. A minor character, really. But she’s funny, and she’s a woman of action – hard to argue otherwise about the person who tases the god of thunder. And, importantly, she’s a female character whose role in the story is not defined by her gender. She’s not female because our heteronormative culture dictates that she has to be, as with Thor’s love interest, or because she physically has to be, as with Thor’s mom (although read some Nordic myths, and you’ll see some really interesting parentage going on). Nor is her sex, her sexuality, or her sexiness an Issue. Don’t get me wrong, Sif’s cool, but she kind of screams “token girl” – an impression reinforced by her back-and-forth with Thor to the effect that she had to prove that “a maid” could be as good a warrior as the others in Asgard.

Darcy, though, is not someone’s romantic interest, someone’s mom, or the leather-clad Team Chick who’s Just as Bad as the Boys. She’s not even blatant eye candy – she’s cute, but not flashy or fanservicey. Darcy is female because sometimes people are female. About half the population, in fact.

If this seems like a lot of picky stuff to apply to female characters, think about how many of the male characters in the movie meet these criteria – basically, the criteria that they could have been either sex without it making a real difference. True, Thor is limited by the fact that it’s working with characters from existing canon – canons, actually, as there’s the comic canon and the original mythology. Still, most of the male characters are just people, while most of the female characters fall into roles that must be female, such as “mother” and “the one girl warrior” – as if the only reason you would make a character female is that you have to. Darcy’s “cool character who happens to be female” status is so unusual that it actually stood out enough for me to write this whole blog post, for crying out loud.

Naturally, there’s room in movies for characters who are basically someone’s mom (though it’s a little sad to compare the movie’s portrayal of Odin, with his lines, action, and importance, to that of Thor’s Mom, She Who Doesn’t Get a Name in the Movie). But there’s only room for those characters when there are also strong female characters – and I think Jane’s actually a pretty good one in Thor, though it’s hard to argue she’s not basically a romantic interest when you look at whose name is in the title – and female characters, like Darcy, whose femaleness is not the point, as I would venture to say is the case for most actual women.

I have no intention of knocking Thor. I love Thor. I’ve seen it three times and I own the DVD. But, no lie, part of the reason I love it is because of Darcy. I know Thor is Marvel, and I’ve always been a DC loyalist – indoctrination by my dad plus a very early crush on Batman. (Oh come on, like you didn’t have one.) But maybe this is a movie the DC peeps should take a good hard look at next time they’re creating – or rebooting – female superheroes.


A week or so ago, I applied to be a reviewer for the website No Flying No Tights, which reviews graphic novels with an angle of helping librarians choose for their collections. And I’m in! (The site will be re-launching soon with new content, including my first review for them.) It’s a super-cool website, and is also somewhat of a Big Deal in the realm of online resources for librarians. (It’s even mentioned in the textbook for the Young Adult Lit class I took two semesters ago.) I’m thrilled about this. Woohoo!

In other news, am continuing to make progress on The Book of Foxes. I’m still going through the completed text and creating the illustrations to go with it, and it’s exciting to see the scroll bar sliding lower and lower on the document.

2:30 a.m. Delirium


(Why does this always happen in the small hours of the morning?)

This is just the draft of the writing. The illustrations, on which I’ve been working slowly but steadily, are only done up to Chapter Five, and some of them will have to be redone because I’ve changed my approach to doing them – not my style for the characters, but my medium (slightly).

BUT! Very exciting! Huzzah huzzah!

Storyage; also, Technology Edits For You!

The first issue of Othergate is up now, including my short story, “Chasing Cars.”

I’ve heard some good suggestions for overused and/or weak words and phrases for which you might use the Search feature when you’re editing. This article mentions a few; although they don’t specifically say it, you can use Search on #2 as well by looking for “It” and checking the “case sensitive” box.

I’ve also heard of using a Wordle to look for repetition. I suspect this is not all that helpful, as it will probably bring up mostly words you can’t avoid repeating a lot, such as characters’ names. Its true appeal may be more in the inherent neatness of Wordles, which seem to be everywhere lately. I’ve never made one, but I do stare at them, much the way I stare at pretty fish in aquariums.



*Wordles Rabbit and Cougar*

Okay, what I said about this not being helpful? Do not listen to foolish, five-minutes-ago Nic. This is the coolest thing ever. I’m not going to post it because, impossible as it might seem, it actually contains at least one spoiler, but I am impressed. Naturally, the biggest things are the major characters’ names (and I’m happy to see that “Rabbit” and “Cougar” are about the same size), and the smaller words include such things as “Rabbit’s” and “Cougar’s,” as well as the names of almost every other named character. They also include a lot of prepositions like “around” and “toward.” (Thankfully, unless you tell it to do otherwise, Wordle takes out “common English words,” so no “the” or “a.”) It’s fascinating to look at some of the other words and think of the phrases I use that would put them into the Wordle. “Bit,” for example, is in there, probably due to my addiction to love affair with appreciation for the phrase “a bit.” There’s also “moment,” courtesy of my desire to show time without using minutes or seconds. Then words that pertain to the setting, like “trees” and “dragon.” And, unexpectedly, “name,” which pleases me greatly because it’s a small thing that’s very important to the story.

Infuriating Mechanics Errors Made Cute and Fuzzy

Out of a healthy respect for my blood pressure, I try not to freak out too much over people’s mechanics errors. This is especially important online, where such errors swarm across pages, knocking out capital letters and doing cruel things to apostrophes. Like many writers, though, I have at least one pet peeve: “alot.”

Or at least I did, until I learned that what these people are actually talking about is the Alot, an adorable and highly talented creature. Ah, that’s much better.