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Do Kick Butt Heroines Really Need to Kick Butt? A guest post by author Dawn Metcalf

Strong female protagonists: we love them, we admire them, and we want more of them! Give us more Buffys and Xenas, more Katsas and Katnisses, more Trises and Tallys, and more like our beloved Keladrys of Mindelan. We want our girls to be active, fighting for their lives and the lives of their friends, to be leaders, just and savvy, cool and smart, taking down governments and taking names! And while I am as much of a fan of these stories as the next rabid bookavore, I begin to worry—as a reader and a writer—whether “sharp, pointy stick” has become shorthand for “strong.”
            While there are many strengths in the world, the flashy ones like sword fighting, magic and kung fu action get all the press. Don’t get me wrong—most of my favorite stories (and favorite pastimes) feature that kind of strength, but when characters like Tally Youngblood and Beatrice “Tris” Prior begin to depend on their mental strengths alongside their physical ones, that’s when things get interesting! Subtly strong characters like Cammie Morgan and Frankie Landau-Banks use brains over brawn to subvert the Old Boy networks, and while Katniss Everdeen and Lena Duchannes both wield serious power, it is their love for others that makes them true heroines, showing us how strong they really are.
            Me, I love strong female protagonists! That’s why I wrote INDELIBLE.
Indelible, The Twixt book 1 by Dawn Metcalf
Coming in September 2013 from Harlequin Teen

Joy Malone is strong. An Olympic hopeful in Level 9 gymnastics, she left that world after her mother left the family and hasn’t been training in over a year. Friends, career, clear purpose and happy family: gone. Now Joy cares most about her best friend, Monica, her older brother, Stef, and her depressed father—votes are still out about how she feels about Mom—and is struggling to make this year better than the last while also trying to keep some things safely the same. So when Joy is accidentally pulled into a magical world of monsters and intrigue, immortal honor and revenge, she doesn’t let it take over her life, she meets it head-on, willing to risk anything to keep her family and friends safe. She may not have a pointy stick, but she has her wits, her resourcefulness, and her heart—along with a(n un)healthy dose of wariness and cynicism, deeply afraid of making mistakes.

And this is why Joy makes a lot of mistakes.
Yet making mistakes is where strength is truly tested.
Joy makes mistakes. Indelible Ink makes mistakes. Invisible Inq and Kurt and Graus Claude make mistakes. In fact, everyone in INDELIBLE makes some sort of mistake and Joy is the one I’m most proud of because she admits when she’s screwed up, she speaks up, and that’s one of the strongest things that anyone can do. There’s strength in that vulnerability when you admit that you were wrong, that you don’t know the right answer, and that you don’t know what to do. She’s scared sometimes and wrong sometimes and suspicious and angry and cruel sometimes—all those not-so-heroic things that real heroes feel—and she deals with it. And, sometimes, she even asks for help. That’s what makes Joy stronger when everyone else is throwing around magic and knucklebones and straight razor blades. She trusts herself enough to get over herself, learning to trust others because sometimes, being strong isn’t what’s best. Leaning on friends isn’t a weakness. Admitting fears isn’t a crime. And when she’s held answerable for her actions, she accepts it and does something about it. INDELIBLE is written for strong girls who might not know how strong they really are.
And that’s a strength I admire, no pointy sticks necessary.
INDELIBLE by Dawn Metcalf is due out by Harlequin Teen July 30, 2013.

Once Upon A Time…
…there was a headstrong fairy princess and a frog with an axe. But that’s another story.
My name is Dawn Metcalf and I write dark, quirky, and sometimes humorous speculative fiction. My debut novel, LUMINOUS, is a YA paranormal fantasy by Dutton Books and my next novel, INDELIBLE, is due out summer of 2013 by Harlequin Teen.

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