Sorry, but I’m Perfectly Happy if my Daughter is a Girly Girl

Princess Crown

“Don’t let your daughter be a girly girl.”

This is something that multiple people have told me. I’ve been warned not to let my daughter dress in pink, not to show her Disney Princess movies, and to generally shelter her from the things that modern society associates with femininity. And while I can see good intentions behind that thinking, I disagree with it.

I recently wrote a novel called Conquest of Greystone Valley, which is targeted toward young adult girls. It’s a sequel to my previous novel, Greystone Valley, which I wrote before I started giving any thought toward gender politics in fiction. This time around, I started thinking about the girly girl conundrum, so to speak.

I hadn’t written Greystone Valley with gender in mind, but I was happy in retrospect that it had several strong role-models for girls. As an author, that’s a good thing – I’ve written stories that don’t pass basics like the Bechdel Test, and it’s kind of a lousy feeling to have that be your blind spot.

However, one thing I did notice about my story is that the protagonist, Sarah, was very much a tomboy. And actually, the most common way that writers make a “strong” female character is to make her more masculine. A good example in Disney films would be Merida and Mulan.

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Conquest of Greystone Valley is Available to Pre-Order!

Conquest of Greystone Valley“Quick! Everybody count your fingers and toes!”

Halloween seems like a long way off, but in less than three months Conquest of Greystone Valley will be on the shelves! The sequel to Greystone Valley, this novel takes Sarah back to the world between worlds, where she and her friends must face a new villain who now rules the valley with an iron fist.

Conquest of Greystone Valley is now available for pre-order through Grey Gecko Press! To see what Sarah and the gang are up to, click the link below and reserve your copy!

Preorder Now:


Image: Jessica von Braun

Conquest of Greystone Valley: Coming Halloween 2016!

Conquest of Greystone Valley

Another bolt of lightning struck Sarah. It tickled this time.

With cover art by the amazing Jessica von Braun and the help of a terrific editorial team at Grey Gecko Press, Conquest of Greystone Valley will soon be on the shelves!

A mysterious new villain has conquered Greystone Valley and done her best to keep Sarah from returning. But armed with friends old and new, she’s ready to enter the world between worlds once again!

Conquest of Greystone Valley will be available for sale on October 31st. In the meantime, keep an eye over at the Grey Gecko Press store, where you’ll have a chance to preorder it soon!


Image: Jessica von Braun

3 Great Novels that Helped Shape Conquest of Greystone Valley

Greystone ValleyThe original Greystone Valley drew inspiration from a wide range of fantasy classics, including The Book of Three, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. As we start to make the transition toward the upcoming sequel, Conquest of Greystone Valley, those influences remain in place. However, there are also a few new additions to the roster of inspirational reading. Here are three books that greatly influenced the direction of the first Greystone Valley sequel. Continue reading

Catch the Greystone Valley Sale!

Greystone Valley

Greystone Valley is a featured deal on BookBub starting today! That means that for a limited time, you can pick up a copy of the eBook through your favorite online retailer for only 99 cents!

You can take advantage of this deal through any of the retailers below. Check out the novel and let people know what you think by writing a review!

Absent Parents, Fantasy Literature, and Conquest of Greystone Valley

Magic ElfinWarning: Spoilers for Greystone Valley below.

Kid heroes are a staple of fantasy fiction. It’s part of the wish fulfillment of the genre – many of us fall into fantasy tales when we’re children, imagining ourselves taking on our greatest fears and earning the fame and fortune that are normally reserved only for adults. But where are those kids’ parents? Continue reading

Batman versus the Blues Brothers: What Makes a Good Sequel?

Parcel and BookConquest of Greystone Valley will be coming out midway through 2016, and will be my first published sequel novel. In writing it, I spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a good sequel. Novels seem to have a higher success rate than films, but both media have challenges when writing a follow-up story.

Novels and movies have different challenges, but a lot of similar lessons can be learned between the two. In thinking about what I wanted in Conquest, my mind continually gravitated to the best and worst movie sequels I could think of – specifically, The Dark Knight and Blues Brothers 2000. Continue reading

Greystone Valley: Pan


At first, Sarah assumed the creature next to Keeley was one of the beast-men. He had hairy legs and hooves, but his head was human – save for a small pair of goat horns that protruded from his forehead. He wore a crown of leaves, colored with the many bright colors of autumn foliage. When he saw Sarah looking at him, he got out of his throne of brambles and called for the other creatures in the forest to be quiet.

A jaded trickster, Pan is recognizable to most people even if they don’t come from Greystone Valley. As far back as the days of ancient Greece, tales have been told about the goat-legged man who lures men and women alike into the forest for feasting and celebration. Some of the legends paint him as more dangerous than that, but at his core Pan is a person who lives for the thrill of a celebration – or at least he used to.

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Conquest of Greystone Valley Confirmed for 2016!

Flower and Book

In Greystone Valley, a girl named Sarah found herself whisked away to a magical world where she teamed with a mouse-sized dragon, a depressed warrior, and a bumbling wizard to defeat a dangerous warlord. Sarah’s adventures in the valley are far from over, and she will team up with new friends and old in Conquest of Greystone Valley, which will go on sale in 2016.

There will be previews and information about this sequel in the coming months, so check back here. To whet the appetite, here are a few tidbits of information about Sarah’s new adventure. Continue reading

When War Comes to Greystone Valley

Knight Statue“He and his army come and go as they please in the valley, but they never get too greedy. He sends his troops on missions, and they keep to their task. Even the more stubborn beast-men know that they can’t just kill and plunder as the wish. If they did, the folk of the valley would finally join together and raise an army of their own. Even the greatest warlord in the land can’t afford to fight everybody.”

“Why don’t they raise the army anyway?” Sarah stepped carefully through the streets, avoiding sharp rocks that could cut into her bare feet. “These people can’t enjoy having an entire army tromping through their village at the drop of a hat.”

“What land do you come from?”

“Me? Um…America.”

“And does everyone get along in this America of yours?”

“Of course!” Sarah immediately felt foolish for blurting out the poorly thought-out answer. “Well…not really. It’s complicated.”

“It’s complicated here, too. The valley hasn’t had a king in over fifty years. It’s mostly just tiny villages like this one. Each town has its own way of doing things, and none of them likes having someone else telling them what to do. When people can’t even agree on what side of bread to butter in the morning, how are they supposed to cooperate on something more important?”

Greystone Valley is no stranger to conflict, but it rarely has full-scale wars. Even the greediest of warlords tends to realize that the land is too small and isolated to make a true conquest worthwhile. That doesn’t mean that war never comes to Greystone Valley. History tells of the three great wars and the effects they have left upon the land.

Continue reading