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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Big Damn Heroines - Women Kicking Ass (#guestpost)

Hello, everyone! My name is K. Piet, and I'm the Marketing Director of Storm Moon Press, here today to tell you about our latest anthology release, which packs a proverbial punch.

Big Damn Heroines is an anthology that was very important to us at Storm Moon Press. When we were thinking up new anthology calls, the concept of a size-friendly anthology focusing on women kicking ass immediately came to mind. You see a lot of female protagonists in the realm of Fantasy & Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, from Buffy to Anita Blake to Kate Daniels to Jaenelle (The Black Jewels). Everyone wants to have the next amazing woman who is strong, kicking ass and taking names.

But how many of these badass women are ladies of size?

Well, of those listed above, the answer is zero. In fact, the majority of the time, the women who end up kicking ass are written as being smaller, skinnier, or shorter than average. I suppose it's in an unconscious effort to make the kicking ass part even more impressive. After all, the big baddies are seven-foot-tall monsters with incredible strength or magical powers that have been building over centuries, so of course we need another physical attribute to put the female protagonist at more of a disadvantage, right? (Can you detect my sarcasm?) But, when authors consistently portray badass women as exclusively slender, svelt, or smaller than average, you run into the problem of the take-away message becoming "Only women of X size are capable of kicking ass." Or should it be XS, as in extra-small?

See, that's where we at Storm Moon Press wanted to put our foot down. There's a misconception that in order to be healthy, athletic, or strong in any way, you have to be a certain weight. The stereotype in most popular fiction follows those lines, and the first thing we wanted to do with Big Damn Heroines was toss that out the window. In this anthology, we proclaim that size doesn't matter, that women can be large and in charge. Kicking ass and taking names is still possible when you're full-figured. Being physically larger than most of the female protagonists out there doesn't automatically relegate you to the role of comic relief, undesirable best friend, or just the background fat character placed there to make the MCs look better by comparison.

In real life, smaller and skinnier doesn't necessarily denote health. The average woman typically can't identify on the physical level with most of the female protagonists out there, so it just reinforces a negative perception of size. Whether it's intended or not in the books we read (not to mention other media), the portrayal of women as main characters does have an impact on the social definitions of what is acceptable or expected of women at a given size. Our message is that size isn't the factor that determines a woman's suitability as a main character and love interest. Ladies of size should be celebrated in fiction right alongside other women.

In short, the anthology delivers on its title; it's full of big damn heroines who not only get the chance to test their mettle, but also find love on their terms. I hope everyone enjoys the eclectic collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy stories in this anthology. Thank you so much for having me today on Beauty in Ruins!

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Big Damn Heroines is a celebration of the plus-sized woman. Specifically, the plus-sized woman kicking ass. The media perception of the strong female protagonist is almost invariably thin, but powerful women come in all shapes and sizes, and it's time that they had a chance to stand up and be recognized. The four stories in this anthology show that bigger women can be more than comic relief or the dumpy best friend. They can be a force to be reckoned with all on their own.

"Machine Gun" Mercy is a member of the Valkyries, an all-female squad of Roughnecks patrolling the outer solar system. When a distress call comes in from the penal colony on Titan, Mercy and the Valkyries descend to confront the Terror on Saturn VI. Porter has followed the career of vigilante superhero Firebird with great interest, if only because Firebird is actually Blaise, once her dearest friend. Firebird seems to be self-destructing, though, and though Porter tries to ignore it, she finds herself drawn into the Folie à Deux, a shared madness that threatens to swallow them both. The widening Distance of Memory following the recent death of their fourth member has left surviving bondmates Zaezon, Margellian, and Corynteea lost and uncertain. But when they come across evidence of a band of Renders attacking villages, they must find their way together as three in order to complete their mission. Finally, Cat, a Finder gifted with the ability to locate objects and people with preternatural ease, is contacted by former lover Mirsagh to help track down a merchant's son. As they follow the man's trail, old feelings—good and bad—resurface, and Cat is faced with the choice to let Mirsagh be the Finder's Keeper again.

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