Friday, December 09, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the heroine tourney

As some of you know, Aura from my Shade series is in the Tournament of Heroines over at YA Sisterhood's blog. Which I was kinda psyched about, despite the fact that I have a looming January 3 deadline for Lust for Life and shouldn't even be thinking about the Shade characters, much less figuring out incentives and gathering votes--FUN THOUGH IT MAY BE.

But here it is almost 4am, and I'm thinking about this tournament. Why?

The tenor of some of the heroine posts (especially the "How is your girl better than her opponent?" section), and the ensuing discussion in the twitter-sphere, have me a little worried, and almost wishing Aura hadn't made it.

I think the question, "What makes a heroine?" is an extremely important discussion to have. Some people, including Aura's opponent's advocate, have very strong feelings about what a heroine is and isn't. And we should examine society's beliefs and preconceptions critically.

But when thrown into the cauldron of competition, those opinions can turn nasty. Part of me is dreading next Wednesday, when Aura's fans and I will have to hear all about what's wrong with her. She's not your typical kickass swashbuckling heroine. She's never killed or even punched anyone (um, yet--she still has one book to go). She's never saved a life (yet) or led a revolution (yet). She's just a girl who is herself.

Women can be extremely harsh when they talk about other women. This happens in real life, of course, and it really pervades reader reactions to female characters--especially online where we don't see each other face-to-face. Men can get away with all sorts of scurrilous behavior, and they are called "rogues" and "alpha males" and "bad boys." They are swooned over, more often than not.

But if a woman's actions hurt someone, she's a "bitch." And God forbid she is involved with more than one guy--then she's a "slut" or considered "weak" and "indecisive." It's okay for boys to play the field, but not girls. Girls have to be perfect.

But wait--not too perfect, because then they're "Mary Sues" and are clearly a manifestation of the author's deepest fantasies. (It's only female authors accused of playing out emotional issues through their stories.)

It's not just on blogs. I could fill a book with all the mean things people sitting next to me on convention panels have said about Laurell K. Hamilton or Stephenie Meyer. This doesn't happen to male authors. Not in public, at least. We afford men, both real and fictional, a different level of respect.

For instance, I can't think of any advocate post in the YA Crush Tournament that "dissed" a character. The "worst thing" anyone ever said about Zachary was that he wore a skirt, which I thought was hilarious. It never got personal.

Why do women hold women to a higher standard of morality and behavior? Why are female characters judged so harshly? Is it because we want every female to be a positive role model? Why can't they just be real people, with faults and weaknesses like the rest of us? Boys and men can be well-balanced characters because they have nothing to live up to. They don't represent their gender the way girls women do.

Why do guys get to be human, while girls have to be superhuman?

It's the same for people of color, or non-heterosexual characters. They're scrutinized against a very narrow standard--a character can't be "too black" or "too gay," because that's stereotyping. But if they're not "black enough" or "gay enough," then they're being whitewashed (or straight-washed--is that a word? It is now.).

So because straight white males are society's default, by virtue of their position of power, those are the only characters who get to be themselves and not a representative of their group.

Getting back to the tournament: I'm not suggesting we shouldn't argue about the value of heroic deeds, or that we should "all play nice" and walk on eggshells. I merely ask that everyone show the same respect for the characters (and authors and fans) that they did during the YA Crush Tournament.

  • My plea to advocates: defend your heroine without diminishing your opponent.
  • My plea to spectators: appreciate the advocates' hard work and keep discussions amicable.
  • My plea to voters: reward those who run positive campaigns.

Today's competition features two strong but friendly defenses of fascinating, complex characters, Luna from Harry Potter and Sophie from Hex Hall. The posts celebrate the wonders of these extraordinary girls without slamming the other. I hope more advocates follow these examples.

Many new friendships came out of the YA Crush Tournament last summer. I will always cherish those memories and the folks who supported Zachary, most of whom I "speak" to online on at least a weekly basis. Let's not let this heroine tournament harm those friendships.

It's not my place to defend Aura--Brooke of Brooke Reports will do a fantastic job herself. But I will say this: I never set out to write a heroine. I set out to write a real person, with real conflicts and feelings that people could relate to. She is not Everygirl, representing her entire gender. She's not Wonder Woman, a superhero saving the world. Aura's just herself, and I love her.

You don't have to love her, or agree with all her choices or the way she makes them. But I do ask that you respect her. And that you respect Bella. And Nora. And Luce. And Clary and Tessa and all the other fabulous girls who are loved so fiercely by their readers and their authors.

Now take it, Aretha!

Labels: , ,


Point well said. :)

Posted by: Blogger Carrie Clevenger at 12/09/2011 6:41 AM

I <3 this.
Let's celebrate heroines of all kinds.

It's corny, but it's honor just to have made it to the voting round and it's because someone saw that character as a heroine in their eyes. Let's not knock each other down over our choices.

Posted by: Blogger Karen at 12/09/2011 8:50 AM

I think part of the problem is people are so hyperaware of the lack of GBLT, POC, or female characters that we tend to overcompensate and be more critical of them. The sheer number of white male characters out there protects them, while a female, GBLT, or POC stands out and so gets more scrutiny.

Just like I want a job on my own merits, not because I'm a woman, I read books about interesting characters, not a character type.

Posted by: Blogger midnightblooms at 12/09/2011 9:45 AM

I've been guilty of this myself with the heroine tourney and not voting for certain girls because I haven't considered them a heroine but that doesn't mean that to someone (or lots of someones) that she's not and I shouldn't diminish or judge them just because they like a female character I don't (or don't agree with). My favorite thing about the crush tourney was the people I met (you!!) and friendships that were made and I hope that that same camaraderie and respect we all had for each other comes out of this one. You can disagree with a character or with a defense but it should still be respectful and we should all support each other as women and as human beings. Thanks for writing this and opening my eyes! (And while in the crush tourney I may have said that real men wear pants we all know that sexy men wear kilts!)

Posted by: Blogger Deanne at 12/09/2011 10:59 AM

Carrie: Thanks! :)

Karen: I think it's great that there's such an interesting mix of girls in the tournament. It's not all fighters. And I feel bad for the advocates (and fans) of characters like Bella. Besides, if people have a problem with Bella's romantic ideals and situation, maybe they should look at her as a victim, not as a horrible person. Because she's actually a very good person, however much I disagree with some of her choices (*sniffle* Jacob!).

midnightblooms: I think that's definitely the case for people of color and LGBT characters--there simply still aren't enough. But YA is full of female leads. In fact, many people say there aren't enough boy protagonists. And I agree about reading for the characters, not the group they belong to.

Deanne: I thought the Real Men Wear Pants line was hilarious! (I went back and edited the post to clarify my point, that it never got personal.) And I think it's one thing to vote for or against your favorite/least favorite girl, it's another thing to openly campaign against them.

But hey, free speech. People have a right to voice their opinions, and we all want to see a "just" result according to our own preferences. I would merely prefer that it be done respectfully.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 11:15 AM

Good post! I don't think there's ever any need to slam other girls/characters and I think it's in bad taste when when someone does it. We should all respect each other and the hard work everyone puts into the portrayal of all of these great female characters!

Posted by: Blogger Mary at 12/09/2011 11:35 AM

Great post Jerri! Just wanted to let you know that we screen all the posts in the tournament. And, the advocates have been warned several times if they bash the character, we will make them rewrite it or find another advocate. We give them strict boundaries and sometimes advocates toe those boundaries, but we never let it go outside of those lines. Our boundaries might differ from others, but all the advocates are held to those expectections. We did ask several advocates last summer to rewrite some of their defenses. Also, their blogs have been screened before they were ever chosen to be advocates. We can't control what they write on twitter, but its our hope that regardless of what is said, people are reading these books! This summer many people were introduced to new books, and its our hope that-that continues to happen in all our tournaments! Thanks for always taking such a great role in these tourneys! It's always good to be reminded that there are real people behind these books!

Posted by: Blogger AmyG@YA-Sisterhood at 12/09/2011 11:54 AM

@YA Sisterhood I'm so glad you guys work so hard to make sure that everything stays nice and bashing doesn't occur. So as a fan, thank you!!

Posted by: Blogger Deanne at 12/09/2011 12:30 PM

I was so disappointed when I saw the advocates have to state what makes their heroine better than their opponent.
I do not think you have to be a ninja to be a heroine. Would Aura be more worthy if she'd bitch-slapped Becca into next week for that phone call? No!
I happen to (gasp) love Bella & Luce, warts & all. Real characters, real people make dumb choices. Their ability to make it through to the other side, to follow through & set things right is what makes them a heroine.
Sorry for the rambling. I was so happy to see this post. Go Aura.
Btw, if there was ever an adult heroine tourney, Ciara woukd kick ass.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 12/09/2011 12:39 PM

This comment has been removed by the author.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 12/09/2011 12:39 PM

This comment has been removed by the author.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 12/09/2011 12:39 PM

I loved our discussion yesterday on Twitter!

I do admit I have an opinion on what I think fits the definition of heroine, though I don't know that I would say my opinions are very strong. They're just opinions. I tend to have a lot of those. :)

Of course the problem with this particular tournament is that it is asking for something different for the girls than it did for the boys. The boys tournament was about boys we have crushes on. This meant they didn't have to be nice or perfect or heroes, it just meant that they were crushworthy.

Maybe that should have been the Tournament of Heroes, in which case I would have felt equally as opinionated about what boys were heroes as I do for the heroines. I'm not using a different standard here for the girls. It's simply that the tournament isn't about crushes or awesome female main characters, but heroines specifically.

Which I guess you could say by the very nature of this particular event is holding girls to a higher standard than boys.

Though I do agree that female character do get put up to a different standard than their male counterparts.

The Crush Tournament did have some slamming going on, but not nearly as much as in the girl's tournament and that is sad.

But, while I don't believe all the characters meet my definition of heroine, I don't believe in slamming any of them or calling them derogatory names. For example, I love Luce as a character and if this was a tournament about lovable female main characters, Luce would be right up there on my list.

Sadly, it's not.

I hope no one slams Aura. I can't imagine anyone doing that and certainly don't hope you think I would! Or Avery, Tessa's advocate, which Aura would face when history repeats and Aura goes up against her in round two.

Of course if that is the case, you KNOW I'm backing Aura with everything I have! I'm still Team Underdog.

But I have listened in on a panel at a convention and heard just how different the standard is for female and male characters and it is unfortunate. But maybe that's just YA?

I love the strong female main characters in Rachel Vincent's new Blood Bound series, and I imagine there are many strong female heroines in those adult-aged paranormal series, like yours, where strong personalities aren't cast in the same negative light like they are in YA.

Good luck in the tournament! And I hope no one bashes Aura. I know my defense won't!

Also, if you look at the definition that I believe to fit the standard of heroine, it includes "achievements and qualities" to be emulated, so it does not require sword wielding! And Aura has many admirable qualities worth emulating. Many "real" characters do! Just not all.

Posted by: Blogger Fiktshun at 12/09/2011 12:40 PM

Mary: Exactly! :)

Amy: I think you guys do an *outstanding* job of keeping things friendly. Your integrity is really above reproach. In the adult book-blogging world, many bloggers court controversy because it results in more hits (I've heard there are YA blogs like this, too, though none of the ones I read). And of course you can't control what people write on blogs and on Twitter/Facebook. You've done everything you can to foster a positive environment. I do sort of wish there wasn't the "How is your girl better than the other girl?" question, but at some point a comparison has to come up, I suppose. Thank you so much for holding these tournaments so that people can discover new books!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 1:20 PM

Andrea: Ha! I kinda love the thought of Aura bitch-slapping Becca into next week. But she'd get her ass kicked in a heartbeat. ;) And Ciara is another one who fights with her brains instead of her fists, so I don't know how far she'd make it in a heroine tournament. But thank you!

Fiktshun: If anything I think the standards for adult female characters are even worse. Flighty or questionable behavior can be written off in a teen to inexperience, but somehow turning 21 is supposed to make every woman instantly wise.

Having come from the adult world, I think of "heroine" as another word for "female protagonist." In romance, there's the hero and the heroine (or H/H, in shorthand). But this tournament has framed the word to mean something more specific, so you are right about that.

You say, "when history repeats itself and Aura goes up against [Tessa] in round two." Please stop claiming that Kaylee is the underdog, LOL! Soul Screamers series has ten times as many readers as SHADE, you are an excellent advocate, and Rachel is not only a phenomenal author, but equally as involved as I am in the tournaments. If anything, Aura is the underdog, despite her slightly higher ranking.

And if Team Kaylee votes the way Team Tod did throughout the crush tourney, you will be literally unbeatable, am I right? ;)

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 1:36 PM

Thanks for this post! I agree with you 100%!!! I love all of the Heroines...that I know that participated! So I couldn't bring myself to say something bad about Luna!

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

Posted by: Blogger Bookluvr Mindy at 12/09/2011 2:24 PM

Great post and I refuse to talk down about an opponant because in my mind they are all strong and to be in a round against other strong female characters.
Being negative is its own reward :(

Posted by: Blogger Julie@My5monkeys at 12/09/2011 2:34 PM

Well said. Too bad it wasn't called the "Female Faves Tourney" because then all YA girl characters would be included for their personality traits which may or may not fit the heroine model.

Heroines (as they are being defined) are great, but not the only type of female character I want to read about. Girls who don't fit that mold can still make excellent story leads.

Oh, and straight-washed made me laugh out loud. Definitely a word now!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 12/09/2011 3:22 PM

Yes, that section where you have to say why your heroine is better is always a rough one. We debated long & hard about putting that in there. However, if we took it out, it defeats the whole idea of a tournament. But I don't really like the term "better", this discussion has caused me to think, we might need to reword it. We put that section in there to limit the time they spend on it also. If not, we might have 5 paragraphs on that instead of 1 section. Obviously if these characters are even in the tournament, they are true heroines, and to distinguish them to the point of choosing which One deserves our vote can sometimes lead to nitpicking. I love this, it urges us on to make our tournaments better!

Posted by: Blogger AmyG@YA-Sisterhood at 12/09/2011 3:37 PM

I will say, we are at no end of tournament ideas now! The heroine part wasn't intentional, we were just looking for another word other than girl! After our Villains Tourney, I guess we might need to do a a Female Favs or who would be your BFF tourney! We'll need a tournament of tourneys to decide!

Posted by: Blogger AmyG@YA-Sisterhood at 12/09/2011 3:43 PM

It's funny (funny-coicidental not funny-ha-ha) that I was just having this conversation with someone about authors playing out their fantasies. The other person brought up Stephenie Meyer as an example, but I said something to the effect of "Oh, come on. Have you never read Raymond Feist's MAGICIAN series?" That man deserves just as much, if not more, scrutiny than any female writer I can think of for doing that!

Posted by: Blogger Heather at 12/09/2011 3:49 PM

Sorry to troll the comments but this is such a great discussion!

@Jeri - I had no idea things were worse in adult fiction. I've read very few PNR novels where lead female characters were in their 20-30s. I would have assumed there was less nitpicking since readers themselves were adult women and can appreciate a strong female main who knows their mind and sympathize with one who is less sure of her path in life.

Though I can say, IRL, I'm beyond 21 and by no means wise. So I guess there is a much higher standard for our fictional "heroines" than our real life women?

Yes, I got the impression that "heroines" in this tourney were to be more than just that second definition, which is as you pointed out, an equally correct term. But because of the way this tournament was framed, I didn't see any "evil" or "wicked" girls making the list. Because by that other definition there are some amazingly wonderful and evil female MC's that would deserve to be here!

And one of my favorite YA heroines who's very, very real, and flawed but amazing is Samantha Kingston from Before I Fall.

Juliette was another, who sadly didn't win her round. She didn't exhibit those "kick-a" powers in book one, but had strength of character and kindness and vulnerability, which I guess wasn't quite enough.

I'm not claiming Kaylee is the underdog to Aura, though. I just think it will be a tight race that will be won or lost at the end and since you have those early morning fans, you might edge her out. And this go-round I have huge deadlines at work and can't afford to stay up 24 hours championing my girl.

I do, however, think they're BOTH underdogs to Tessa!

I think Aura and Kaylee are equally matched. It's a shame they had to meet so soon, but that's because their nomination votes were so close.

And there are far fewer Kaylee fans than there are Tod fans. As I'm sure is true with Aura versus Zach. Sadly in YA it's the boys that tend to get the vote.... Just look at how many votes Jace got compared with Clary.

Again, that's an entirely OTHER discussion.

@Amy - I love the idea of a BFF tourney. Oh and for Villains you may want to make sure to specify they can be female villains as I immediately thought only of the men. Bad me! There are so many amazing female villains!

Posted by: Blogger Fiktshun at 12/09/2011 4:30 PM

Mindy, your advocacy was wonderful! Definitely made me bump HEX HALL up my list of TBR books. :-)

Julie: "Being negative is its own reward." Ooh, I like that.

Cyndi: Good point! I like to read about different kinds of, well, heroines, lol. And glad you liked the word I made up at 4:30am! :-)

Amy: You're right about the fact that it's a tournament. It's modeled on March Madness, which is a sporting event, and sports analysts always talk in terms of who's better at which aspects of the game. But with sports, it never gets personal (although with certain rivalries *cough*SteelersRavens*cough* the trash-talking gets just as much attention as the athletics themselves). It seems almost impossible to answer the question, "Who makes a better heroine?" without bringing the other person down, because heroic is inherently good. You almost have to name a character flaw to answer the question, or just avoid it altogether.

But that's a very good point--if you didn't limit it to that one question, advocates might spend the entire post on it. Dilemma! :)

How about a sidekicks tournament? Sort of like BFF but more broad? I could see lots of possibilities, like Grimalkin from THE IRON FEY series. I would vote for him until the end of time!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 4:46 PM

Heather: Hmm, I haven't read that series. I am intrigued! :)

Fiktshun: Actually the voting runs midnight to midnight for this tournament, so the early morning folks won't be there at the end.

I have this enormous book deadline that for some reason isn't getting any farther away, no matter how much I try not to think about it, lol, so I will need sleep, too. I really hope the voting won't be as frenetic as it was during the last two rounds of the Crush Tournament. That was exhausting. All of Zach's contests were very close and came down to the last hour, but at least for most of them I got to sleep a full night. :)

I don't know that there are necessarily fewer supporters for the girls than the boys. Maybe it's more the time of year--people are doing holiday stuff and finals.

Then again, the boys do inspire a certain, um, passion among fans. I think Katniss is the exception--the Hunger Games books are all about her, and Peeta/Gale are secondary.

Anyway, I think the variety is really nice--can't wait for a villains tournament, especially since I can just be a spectator for that one, not having particularly nasty folks in my books (well, maybe Becca).

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 5:00 PM

I totally agree. We're all different and need different heroines we relate to. Thank goodness they're not all the same--or that we're not all the same. How boring would that be? Love the girl power and respect message.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 12/09/2011 6:36 PM

I don't usually chime in on these because I'm very shy and reserved...but... I kinda like the sales pitch. I love to hear someone say, "I love this character because: (and then proceeds to tell me why she kicks ass or is amazing or is adorable or is brave or is so cool or is like someone she knows.) I like when she sells me on that person. I like when she can convince me that this character rocks by showing me this character rocks. Honestly, I want to know what makes either competitor great and then make the choice - especially if I have not read the book.

I don't like when someone rips the other candidate. This is how it sounds:

FOR: "She's done triathlons, run marathons and cycled in hundred mile bike races. Kick ass. Vote for her."

AGAINST: "Yeah, but she has heart problems so she's not too dependable. You know, she could off any minute. Are you sure you want to have a heroine like that?"

See how that sounds when it's said like that? Oh, that would be if I were the heroine being voted on. (p.s. I'd still kick ass even with the risk of off'ing myself at any minute)

Moral of the story? I don't even have to say it.

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 12/09/2011 7:10 PM

Dunno even know what tourney you're talking about and I agree.

Honestly, IMO, I think YOU oughta be in the heroine tourney, because this is what a heroine needs to be. Honest, respectful, and decent. We're not always perfect, we shouldn't have to be and we shouldn't be cruel to each other when we aren't.

Now ...can my 12 year old read your book, because I think you probably have awesome messages. ;)

Posted by: Blogger Shiloh Walker at 12/09/2011 7:16 PM

Amen to this. Hopefully most people will continue to be positive and will defend their favourite characters without tearing down the others.

I've noticed it, though... how with the guys it seemed like (mostly) just a fun competition, but with the girls it's just had this cut-throat aspect to it where cattiness is perfectly acceptable and it's okay to diss the girls you don't like.

Obviously it's a societal problem and not unique to this tourney, but it's sad how horrible girls are to each other.

It also reminds me of the old timey Mean Girls meme graphic thing (err whatever they're called) I saw today:

Posted by: Blogger Ashley @ Book Labyrinth at 12/09/2011 7:22 PM

Cindi: Thanks! Yeah, ya really can't go wrong with Aretha. ;)

Lavender Writer: *snorts* Yep, shy and reserved. That's a great illustration of the difference between positive and negative campaigning. We get enough of that in our politicians. (Unfortunately, negative campaigns seem to work in real-life politics.)

Shiloh: Oh, you are sow sweet! No, I'm definitely no heroine--I can barely manage to brush my teeth twice a day, lol. The SHADE books are for 14 and up, but you might enjoy them, and then in two years you can share them with your daughter. :)

Ashley: I was hoping I was the only one who perceived it this way, that maybe it was a result of sleep deprivation. ;) But several people have told me this tourney feels different. I know I was mortified when I found out we had to go up against Kaylee in Round 1. It feels like just yesterday we were up against Team Tod in the Final Four. It's hard because Rachel and I are friends and we share so many readers who are genuinely torn between the two characters. It's like a civil war or something, and we're just trying to keep it civil, literally. (Ha! Get it? OK, I'm definitely sleep deprived now.)

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/09/2011 11:38 PM

Awesome, awesome post!! I toally agree with you. There is a double standard. We're definitely harder on women than we are boys. I find myself doing in sometimes too, not even realizing it!

Also, from one of your comments. I started out writing and reading adult too and we used the word heroine as "the female protag" as well. It didn't mean she had to be the dictionary definition of heroine... it just meant the female main character. I use the word when I'm talking about YA too (oops, others don't do this?). I always call the female lead the heroine of the book.

Posted by: Blogger Kelley Vitollo at 12/10/2011 12:19 AM

If I don't believe a girl fits into the category of Heroine the worst thing I'm going to do is not vote for her. I don't want to get all negative and say way I don't feel someone doesn't qualify or why I think my person is better.

I don't think there is any reason to go negative. It's a tournament about fictional characters that we enjoy so we should make sure the experience doesn't turn into something we don't want to be involved in again.

Posted by: Blogger The More the Merrier at 12/10/2011 5:20 AM

This post is perfect. For today, especially.

People stereotype so much, it breaks my heart. I'm Chinese and... well... you know what they say. We're "good at math" (though I'd like to think I am), "extremely smart" (that's my reputation, but I believe that everyone is smart--some people just choose to use their intelligence for something not as intelligent), "wears glasses" (NOT. TRUE.), and, oh, "speaks bad English." (I got a perfect score on my CST for English--higher than my math score--after 3 years in the U.S. So--not true, at all!!)

Now, onto the women note: I feel like women are treated this way because especially of the modern way many represent themselves. People wear... um, eccentric clothing (or lack thereof *cough* Lady Gaga *cough*), and then there's people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. They don't really set up a good imagery for women. But then same thing with men... which makes your point truly fascinating because of its truth. I think that this may or may not have to do with the fact that women are often regarded as "weak", and require a "knight-in-shining-armor." Yet so many of these beliefs have been controversial and completely flipped-flopped over time (pink used to be "too strong" for girls). So maybe it's because of the diversity and unpredictability of women that we have to take away credits to keep our own feelings in check, but I feel like maybe what's really the issue here is that we are given, upon birth, too little of a space to grow in. We have boundaries and things we can and cannot do, but when we do break those walls and become known, it's incredibly notorious. People like Marie Curie.. well, half of my science class doesn't know who she is, which is just crazy! Yet everyone knows who Paris Hilton is.

So, in a nutshell: There are prejudices, and there are assumptions. Our role in society is a bit of both: because we can be extremely weak or extremely strong, because we last on all sides of the spectrum, others might feel the need to categorize us to make things more convenient for them.


Posted by: Blogger Diana Julianna at 12/11/2011 12:35 AM

Kelley: I think that's how it started out, as a tourney for female protagonists. But heroine means something more specific to a lot of people, so it's morphed into that.

Nicole: Exactly! I think it'll be more fun and enjoyable from now on. I wonder if part of it isn't because the crush tourney became so huge that people are feeling more competitive this time around and taking it more seriously. Which is a shame--it's not life and death or even sports, it's just a fun thing meant to let people share the books they love.

Julianna: Wow, your comment is very astute! People do find it easier to categorize, at the cost of all the wonderful nuances that make up who we are.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 12/13/2011 7:35 PM

Post a Comment


This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation, Jeri's new contemporary YA novel!

Now available in hardcover and ebook.

“A smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self.” —Booklist, **Starred Review**


Order from Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, or



"Shattered," a Shade novella!

Available here on this website as a free download in all major ebook formats, as well as a printable PDF (now with photos!).

More about "Shattered"

About the author

Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

Learn more about Jeri...

Photo © Geoffrey C. Baker

Sign up for Jeri's newsletter

  • First draft of secret new project

Current Reads