Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The role of women in fantasy and science fiction

Lately, I have read blogs and articles about the role of women in my chosen genre, fantasy and science fiction. This includes both the authors and the characters/tales.

For women authors, the genre is full of fabulous women. I do know there has been cases where women who submitted with a male name instead of a female have gotten better responses. This sucks, and needs to stop. It is not everywhere or everyone, but even a little bit of this attitude needs to stop...now. I command it. I am not sure why there is still a lingering attitude, but then the publishers are run on corporate ideals bot just or creative ideals. You can say the same for Hollywood. it is not whether the project is good or well cast, but how much money it will make. When I read an article about a female author who submitted to agents and was refused, but when she submitted the same material with a male name, she got good responses. Women have always suffered from the double standard. We need to keep fighting, channel our inner Xena or Buffy, and bust down the doors of stupid narrow-minded trolls and demand equal time.
 Image result for female fantasy authors

There have been incredible female authors in the genre and we must not forget about them. there are too many to list them all. Tanith Lee, Octavia Butler, Andre Norton, Ursula K. LeGuin,  Julie Czerneda, Naomi Novik , C.J. Cherryh, and many more. We are there. Some of us are very well known. Some are rising (I hope to be the princess royal of heroic fantasy). Prejudice is everywhere and in all businesses and all societies. We need to fight it. David Eddings Polgara the Sorceress is always a favorite.
For characters in fantasy and science fiction, it has been an evolutionary process. Stop and think about it. How things begin is based on who has control of the pen and the publishing. But things have changed and are ever changing. The shallow or vague concepts of female characters by authors like Tolkien and Robert E. Howard are products of the time. They have evolved. I adore Captain Kathryn Janeway and Deanna Troi form Star Trek shows. Buffy and Xena were revolutionary. In film, who can forget Sarah Connor, Princes Leia or Ripley? Early tough chicks we love. Yes, I used the word chick. It can be a strong positive term. I love it. Claim it.  Don't whine.

Image result for Sarah Connor Terminator 1984

The current rush of comic book films has many female characters in the fight, which is good. I do miss seeing fantasy and science fiction  away from the comic book genre though. I am looking forward to some upcoming BBC productions of War of the Worlds and His Dark Materials from the books.

We can rule this genre. We can have a voice. Until later, read more great female authors!

Verna McKinnon

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Myth of Strong Women in SFF...and Oreos

Hello Familiar Friends:

It has been a long time since I posted a blog. I have been very involved with a lot of things, mostly writing new tales and attempting to master social media to promote sales for my two books out there in the abyss of Amazon. I have wondered if it was worthwhile to continue blogging with the mass of social media swarming around us.  Plus social media platforms like Facebook and twitter have been a storm of political chaos, which had me in its grasp too. But, maybe it is?

I try to post interesting articles about my beloved fantasy and science fiction genre on Twitter and Facebook.  One article I ran across, which I shall not name, but a rather confusing article with a definite attitude about what strong women are and why aren't there any real strong women in science fiction and fantasy. There were other issued addressed in this person's blog-but first I want to address the point on strong women in fantasy and science fiction, or the lack thereof.

No strong women? Really? That sent me into tizzy as I gobbled some oreos and tried to understand this blogger's reasoning. I had trouble getting through the article to be honest. The author of this piece argued women as only being seen as strong if they kick butt, or they were submissive like Bella Swan. She made points about fantasy and science fiction being gender biased. There was a section on how common rape is overused in the SFF genre as a means to show women will never be equal with men.  There was much note about how it was "male genre. The blogger referred to characters as being either too strong or weak, with no balance in between. They long for more developed characters. I do not agree with this blog. Let me explain....

Any genre has issues, but I do not think this author is very well read in the SFF genres, at least in my personal opinion. Maybe they have seen too many comic book films, which are not the best examples for three dimensional characters male or female. The common bestsellers are not always the best example of any genre. Twilight set female characters back 50 years. Has this person read any Tanith Lee, Davis Eddings, Neal Gaiman, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Martha Wells, or even my work?? Yes, I name myself. Indie writers deserve attention too. Really-I have several strong female and male characters that are not black or white in development. There are tons of great books out there with fully developed female and male characters. If you want to talk TV, look at Babylon 5, X-Files, Stargate SG1, and Stargate Atlantis,  and even some Star Trek for good role models. Do not look to vampire TV unless it's Buffy. 

For myself, SFF in book or media form has had on opposite effect on my perspective. I treasure SFF because it showed women could do more than bake pies or be just the hero's girlfriend. We all have our opinion. This is mine.

More to come...in the meantime read more fantasy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book releases, new tales, and familiar chaos

Greetings Familiar Friends!

The new novel in my series, Tree of Bones, A Familiar's Tale, Book 2 (published by the fantastic Sky Warrior Books)  is available on Kindle and through all the normal channels. I have only one review so far (but it is 5 stars-thank you.)

If anyone has read and liked my novel, please post a review on Amazon. It is the kindest thing you can do for an author.

Am deep in the creation process on other projects. One of which is a heroic fantasy where the heroine is the core focus of core. Heroines rules my words. I cannot reveal much about the novel of course, but the lead character's name is Sabine Fable.

I have submitted my final book in the Familiar's Tale trilogy to my publisher (Fires of Rapiveshta). It is odd to have the tale completed. I will miss my characters.

More exciting is on the horizon as I hear about release dates for my other books. Until then...read more fantasy!


Verna McKinnon

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tree of Bones release date and preorder!!!!

Hello Familiar Friends!
Tree of Bones, A Familiar's Tale, Book 2, is available for pre-order from my publisher, Sky Warrior Books at Amazon!! Happy dance.
I want to thank all my friends and fans for their patience in the release of my second opus in my trilogy. This is the wonderful cover art.
This is the wonderful link to pre-order my novel!
More to come. Hugs and chocolate for all!
Verna McKinnon

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fires of Rapiveshta done and other insanity.

Greetings familiar friends and readers!

Just a quick update about Fires of Rapiveshta, the 3rd and final novel in my Familiar's  Tale series. It is done. Complete at 104,000 words and submitted to my overworked publisher at Sky Warrior Books. I finished in early June, but my brain was so spongy after months of intense writing, which was made easier by a friend who is a darn good editor with a practical eye.

I am looking forward to the release of Tree of Bones, the 2nd novel in the series. I have seen the preliminary cover art and am excited.

Currently, I am recovering and organizing my next writing projects. I have several in mind. Until then, read more fantasy!


Verna McKinnon

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Write, write, write.

I have reached the 50,000 word mark in Fires of Rapiveshta. Am on a roll and need to keep the momentum cranked up. I am about halfway through novel. So I will not be posting for at least 2 weeks. Think of me as I feverishly type the fates of my characters in final book of the Familiar's Tale trilogy. I will also be off social media for 2 weeks. Can I survive?

I will be living on coffee and chocolate. And mashed potatoes. Sorry, but I am hungry and it's lunch time. I love this stage of writing. It is a mad rush as it all flows. I try to imagine I look like this:

But I am more like this:

More to come. Stay tuned. Until then, read more fantasy!


Verna McKinnon

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Heroine Julian Crane of "The Man in the High Castle"


As I write about heroines and their importance, it is worthwhile to point out someone new and exciting. The character of Julian Crane in the series, The Man In The High Castle, is definitely worth noting. I have watched the 2 seasons on Amazon, and am thrilled it has been renewed for a third season.

The series (based on the science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick) is set in 1962 in an alternative timeline where the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy, won World War II. Life in this America is not pleasant or safe, no matter where you live. The west coast is controlled by Japan, the east coast Nazi Germany, and there is a neutral zone in the middle.

Juliana Crane is a heroine of great substance, though not in the usual tough girl format. Wonderfully played by Alexa Davalos, she is a soft spoken woman who loves her family. She is trying to survive in a world where life is cruel and can be snuffed out on a whim. When her sister goes missing, she does everything to find out what happened to her, connecting her with dangerous people. It send her on a deadly path where even the so-called good guys (resistance fighters) cannot be trusted. Juliana makes mistakes along the way. She wanted to find her sister and give her justice, which doomed her to be used. She does not actively betray anyone, but her compassion and mercy endanger her.

That's the thing. Her compassion is what makes her a great heroine. Not her fighting prowess or if she can shoot or blow things up. She wants freedom, but is not willing to do anything or hurt anyone to achieve it. People hated and judged her for it. The man in the high castle (the one behind the Resistance & the films) did not want her killed when she failed to kill a target, but the hotheads who had her in custody were just as bloodthirsty as their oppressors. They try to kill her, but her fortitude and drive save her. She escapes to Nazi America with both Resistance and Imperial Japan in pursuit, trying to survive again, and being used by the Resistance-again. She does not like the Nazi's anymore than her life in San Francisco. The Resistance use her but do not forgive. There are people who knew her and loved her too, who see her gentle strength as something great.  But they cannot help her. She mus save herself.

"The man in the high castle," an enigmatic man with control of the strange films people covet (will not explain here-watch the show) understands her importance.  He has seen her impact in every version of the world and knows why. Her compassion makes her special. She is the hope that binds in the mysterious films. Her kindness is not only the hope of the world, but an change the fate of the world.

More heroines and writing news to come.