Melinda’s Summer Plans (a snippet from Valentine 5)

Melinda St.James, one of the younger (and more innocent) characters from the Valentine series, has decided on what she wants to do, when summer arrives. Here’s a snippet from the upcoming Valentine 5, which features a conversation between Melinda and Jo Fuentes. Enjoy!



“Hey, I know what I want to do this summer,” Melinda said. “I heard someone at school talking about the Pride Parade in June. I wanna go!”

Veronica, Val and Jo all turned to her in surprise. “The Pride Parade?” Val asked.

Melinda set her bowl on the coffee table and nodded enthusiastically. “Yes!” she said. “Can we go this year?”

“Uh, sweetie, do you know what the Pride Parade is for?” Jo asked.

“Sure,” Melinda said. “It’s about celebrating who you are, and being proud of yourself and your friends.”

Jo turned to Val and Victoria and smiled. “She’s so innocent, it’s too adorable,” she said. She turned back to Melinda, and said, “Well, you’re not wrong. Pride celebrates the LGBTQ community. It reminds people to be tolerant and open-minded, and embrace everyone’s differences. It helps the community be more aware of people like me.”

Melinda blinked at her in surprise. “What, do you mean, like, other Marines?”

Jo raised her eyebrows. “You’re really adorable, do you know that?”

Melinda beamed, and picked up her bowl of cereal. “Thank you.” Victoria leaned over and whispered something into Melinda’s ear.

Jo smiled at Val and Veronica. “This year, she should lead the Pride Parade.”



Lola, Jo, and the Badass Girls of “Valentine”

Val, Veronica & Lola

The other day, someone asked me if I considered my self to be a feminist writer. I hadn’t thought about that, until that moment. I considered my style of writing, and the characters and stories I’ve created over the years, and realized, YES, I suppose I am a feminist writer. The majority of my characters a female, and they’re not the “damsel in distress” type. Take the “Valentine” series, for example. The first book starts out with 19-year-old Val Entienne (aka, Valentine) driving from Chicago to L.A. to find her father. She’s a young woman, armed with a pair of handguns, and a serious “can-do-will-do” attitude. She knows the trip is dangerous, but she’s willing to risk her safety to find her father. Throughout the rest of the series, Val does several things that art generally not associated with her gender. Aside from knowing how to shoot (and being a very good shot, I may add) she knows a lot about cars and how to fix them. She has no problem stepping into the role of “leader” of her family. She’ll do anything to protect the people she cares about. All in all, Val is a badass.

But she’s not the only one. The “Valentine” series is full of strong female characters. Two of them, just appeared in their own books. Lola Vencent, John Rafferty’s former valkyrie, and Jo Fuentes, have their own back-stories.  Both Lola and Jo are hit-women, and both are extremely skilled and good at their jobs. Aside from being a hit-woman, Jo is also a United States Marine (extra street credit there).

Val’s cousin Veronica is another force to be reckoned with. If Val needs someone to back her up, Veronica is right there. She comes off as the voice of reason in the Entienne family, but she can be tough when she needs to be. At one point, she even pulls a gun on Rafferty.

I’ve been inspired by strong women most of my life. My primary source of inspiration, is my mother.  She raised me single-handedly, and she has always been my rock. There’s a little bit of her, in all of my female characters.

Feminism in W.E. Books

                         Haverdy  Oyama , Val Entienne &   Amy Edwards


Thinking about W.E.’s 22 anniversary, I can’t help but think about the primary part of W.E., which is the books. Thinking about the books, led me to think about the characters in them. When I was a child, I gravitated towards books with stories about female characters who weren’t afraid to do whatever the male characters did. I was never a big fan of stories about princesses. I was a bit of a tomboy, so stories about ultra-girly characters didn’t interest me.  When I started writing, my female characters were bold, brave, and they weren’t afraid to do any of the things the male characters would do.  The definition of feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.  I didn’t want to create female characters who were “damsels in distress”.


Take Haverdy Oyama of Fortune’s Wing, for example. Haverdy is a tomboy, through and through.  She wears her hair short, like a boy, and she even wears the boy’s uniform to school. When her brother and his friends find themselves fighting monsters created by the Winged Seven, Haverdy has no problem picking up a sword and running head-first into danger.

Val Entienne of Valentine is equally as brave.  Despite her pink hair, when her father needs help, she’s a regular “ride or die” kind of girl. She arms herself with a pair of handguns and drives all the way to California to rescue him. She gets caught in a gunfight on more than one occasion, but she doesn’t run and hide.

Even when some of the guys in her life doubt her abilities and her talent, Amy of Our Lady of Righteous Rage learns to play the guitar and become a rock star.  She’s also a firm believer in the idea that girls can do anything boys can do.  And the person behind the concept for the retail store in the series, the “Urban Collective”, is Vanessa, another female character.

Should the sword-wielding hero always be a boy? Certainly not.  What about the gun-toting Patron Saint? The badass guitarist? I enjoy creating female characters who succeed in male-dominated situations. In Fortune’s Wing, all of the girls are ready to stand with Fortune and fight. In Valentine, it’s Val the members of the Syndicate are afraid of.  The female characters in the W.E. books have demonstrated the meaning of feminism and redefined what it means to be in a “woman’s place”.