Strong Women: Guest post by Meradeth Houston

Today, I’m delighted to welcome fellow Evernight Teen author, Meradeth Houston, to my blog. Meradeth is the author of AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT (scroll down for info about her book!). Meradeth and I have been chatting about strong female characters. Thanks for joining us, Meradeth!

Thanks so much for hosting me, and agreeing to swap blogs, Shari!! I love getting to wander around the web a bit and talk about book stuff. :)

So, we’re talking strong female characters, something that is near and dear to me. I will admit that I’ve put books aside when the main character comes across as too passive or weak. I don’t enjoy reading about someone who sits around waiting for someone else to save them, or who only manages to accomplish everything due to sheer dumb luck (something I sometimes call TDTSS: ‘too dumb to survive syndrome’—it’s deadly for a character!).

What makes a character, especially a female character, strong then? Well, honestly, I think that can vary a whole lot depending on the book and setting. There are some awesome examples of leading ladies who are completely capable of leading a revolution, fighting the enemy tooth and nail, and otherwise being strong physically and mentally.

But that’s not the only kind of strength.

Sometimes strength comes in the form of relying on other people, and I don’t have a problem with a character needing to do that (just maybe not all the time). Other times, strength comes in the form of kindness and forgiveness, especially when there’s been some serious harm done. And there are plenty of other ways to demonstrate strength without a gun/sword/ninja skills/fists of steel.

What I’m trying to say is that strength comes in many forms. We are rather familiar with the “kick butt and take names” form that we often see, but it’s not all that there is to strength. In order to form a really well balanced character, I think it’s important to express strength in a variety of forms. It lends humanity and makes the character identifiable for the reader, which is definitely something that you want. This is definitely something that I worked toward with Leah, the main character in An Absence of Light: while she’s able to kill the Shadows with the best of them, and has a brain to figure out new methods, she also has the strength to be flexible when she needs to. And oh does she need to in Absence! For me, that’s one of my favorite things about Leah and what I hope my readers enjoy, too!

What about you? What makes a character strong? Ever come across TDTSS?

the-absence-of-light3Blurb for AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT:

Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.

She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.

When Leah stumbled across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

MeradethHoustonBio:  Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

  • She’s a Northern California girl. And now is braving the cold winters in Montana.
  • When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
  • She’s also an anthropology professor and loves getting people interested in studying humans.
  • If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.


Find Meradeth Houston online at:

FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, Amazon, Goodreads, and of course her blog!

Find AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT on Amazon or Evernight Teen.

The Theme from Pitch Wars

No, not a revised version of the theme from Star Wars, although you know how much we writers like revising! ;) Nope, this theme song, created by Pitch Wars mentee Susan Gray Foster, is to the tune of Queen’s WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. I figured it works well for most writers, not only those in Pitch Wars, so I’m re-posting for your reading singing pleasure.

I’ve paid my dues
I’ve done my time
I’ve worked for years
Never making a dime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve told instead of shown and I’ve used lots of filter words too
(And I need to just write on and on and on and on)

We are Pitch Warriors, my friend
And we’ll keep on writing till the end
We are Pitch Warriors
We are Pitch Warriors
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the writers of the words!

I’ve been rejected
I’ve rewritten it all
But I’ve had CPs and my awesome mentor
I thank you all
Still it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole publishing world
And I ain’t gonna lose
(And I need to just write on and on and on and on)

We are Pitch Warriors, my friend
And we’ll keep on writing till the end
We are Pitch Warriors
We are Pitch Warriors
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the writers of the words!

Rock on, Warriors! Or…write on, at least.

Thanks so much for this, Susan!


Monday Miscellany: SiWC, books, & a call to CREATE

blog-MondayMiscellanyWow! What a weekend! I spent the last three & a half days at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (near Vancouver, BC). So much learning, inspiration, visiting, fangirling, and fun packed into one weekend! If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to this conference, definitely put it on your calendar for next year and try to attend.

Here are some Random Moments of SiWC Awesomeness (very random, compiled by yours truly during a time of significant sleep-deprivation…but you might still enjoy them!).

Yesterday, I shared my all-time favourite books (as well as some recent great reads) over on The Book Lover blog. Check it out if you’re curious.

Winner! The coffee-and-a-book giveaway winner is Chrissy M. Congrats, Chrissy! Check your email… ebooksbux giveaway winner

And finally, I love this call to create:create

Have a great week!

Peace… :)

Monday Miscellany: Interviews, Giveaways, & Excellent Weird Stuff

blog-MondayMiscellanyThis weekend it was all wind and rain and crashing waves here. Now, it’s calm, and the fog has rolled in. I’m getting ready to head out into the mist with my camera, but first, some links:

Interview and Giveaway: Jennifer Chen interviews yours truly on her blog today. Check out my tips for writers and see my list of recent fave YA reads! Also, enter to win an e-book, signed postcards, and a Starbucks gift card.

Blog Tour for FOLLOWING CHELSEA. Click the image below to see the tour schedule. I hope you can stop by and visit some of the tour sites this week! (And while you’re there, enter to win an e-book of FOLLOWING CHELSEA and a book of your choice from Book Depository! Yay, books!)

Following Chelsea Tour Banner


Conference! Later this week, I’m heading to the mainland for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference–a fantastic conference with an incredible lineup of presenters and keynote speakers, agents, editors, and hundreds of fellow writers. So much fun and learning! (Pre-registration is closed, but you can still register on-site. Visit for more info.)

And now for something completely different…

    1. Classic movie scenes recreated in LEGO, because why not?
    2. Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset. (Joss Whedon)
    3. A beginner’s guide to Doctor Who. (Sarah Bessey)
    4. Awesomely creepy Halloween makeup. I like the zipper face and the eye mouth. But not really. *shudders*
    5. And finally, on yet another completely different note, a shout-out to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre for the great work they do. And a special shout-out to the kind person there who took the time to help me with a research question for my “magic beachy book”. Thank you!

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Peace… :)


News! I’m delighted to tell you my young adult novel, FOLLOWING CHELSEA, is now available!


Here’s a little more about the story:

After her social life flatlines, seventeen-year-old Anna Richards wants nothing more than to lie low at her new school. But it seems Anna looks an awful lot like Chelsea, the sweet and popular girl who recently died, and Anna finds herself stepping into the void created by Chelsea’s absence.

Anna is determined to make the awkward situation work in her favor, because Chelsea didn’t just leave a spot open with the in-crowd; she also left a gorgeous—and now available—boyfriend. But it turns out that following Chelsea might be a lot more complicated than Anna expected.

FOLLOWING CHELSEA e-books are available from Evernight Teen (on sale this week!) and Amazon.

For those of you who prefer paperback over e-book, print copies are now available from Create Space, as well as from and

Paperback copies will soon be available at Coho Books in Campbell River, BC (hopefully sometime next week).

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve offered cheers, congrats, and virtual high-fives — you’re awesome! I hope you enjoy FOLLOWING CHELSEA! :D