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November 16, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Michelle Krys

Kate Hart
photo of michelle krys
If you ask me, nurses are superheroes. They study for years to work long hours on life-saving but thankless tasks, often disrespected both by patients and by doctors. Today's Badass Lady, Michelle Krys, works in one of the hardest nursing departments -- the NICU -- while also mothering two kids, writing books in her spare time, and being a really good friend. Scroll down for a chance to win a copy of DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY plus a poster!


cover of HEXED by Michelle KrysKate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Michelle: I’m the author of the young adult novels HEXED and CHARMED, which are urban fantasies following a popular cheerleader who discovers she may be a witch. My next book is a standalone contemporary thriller called DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, which follows a group of girls who receive anonymous invitations to join a high stakes game of dares, only the game isn’t all that it seems, and soon the promise of a prize is replaced by a fight to stay alive. It comes out this November. 9

I’m also a nurse, and I work in a busy NICU.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t actually give it a go until I was 25, on a year-long maternity leave. My baby slept through the night and napped 3+ hours during the day, and I suddenly found myself with all this time on my hands. I decided if I really wanted to write a book, I would never get a better chance. I spent my free time that year writing and editing my first novel (which I ended up trunking), but I’ve been writing ever since, around motherhood duties and 12-hour night shifts in the NICU.

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?

Michelle: Does watching Netflix count? Seriously though, I watch a lot of T.V. Besides being entertaining, T.V. really inspires me. And if it’s a teen television show, it counts as “research”.

I’m ashamed to admit I also spend a lot of time catching up on celebrity gossip. I am insanely well informed on the goings on of the celebrity world.

cover of CHARMED by Michelle KrysKate: What's your biggest challenge?

Michelle: Right now it’s finding the time to write. I just had another baby in April, and with nursing, meal prep, school and soccer practice it’s hard to carve out time for my own pursuits. And then when I do miraculously find time for myself, the challenge is to then spend it working instead of watching that Netflix I was talking about, which is infinitely easier than writing a book.

Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.
Just one time? In all seriousness, the first book I wrote was an epic failure. I’d spent every spare minute of my maternity leave writing it, only to have all 120 agents I queried (can’t say I didn’t try!) roundly reject it. It was demoralizing, to say the least. But I was committed to getting a book published, so I tried very hard to view it not as a failure but as a learning experience. I dug deeper, got involved in the online writing community, read craft book after craft book, and wrote a better novel. This turned out to be my debut novel, HEXED, which was bought by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. I’m so glad I didn’t let that failure get in the way of pursuing my dreams.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten? Or Tell us something that makes you proud.

Michelle: Someone recently told me that I’m a kind person. I’ve never thought of myself as a mean person, but to be told that and know that it was how another person viewed me was really nice.

cover of DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY by Michelle Krys
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work?

Michelle: I think, like a lot of young people, I didn’t always understand what feminism was. It shames me to admit it, but the word feminist used to put me in mind of a woman who just wanted to stir up trouble. I can’t remember exactly when this changed, but I know that it was a gradual eye-opening process, wherein I started to really see all the unfairness and injustice in the world—the unequal pay, the slut shaming, the rape culture—and then I found myself suddenly explaining to others that feminism isn’t “we’re against men” but “we’re for equal rights and opportunities for men and women”. Now the issue is very close to my heart. You don’t have to read too closely in any of my novels to see my female protagonists come to realize their power, both figuratively and literally.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Michelle: Women are constantly being pitted against each other, but we’re stronger together. Instead of judging and criticizing each other, lift women up. Celebrate women. Give women the benefit of the doubt.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Michelle: Stop comparing yourself to other people. Focus on how you can become the best version of yourself.


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badass ladies you should know log
Michelle Krys is the author of Hexed and Charmed. When she’s not writing books for teens, Michelle moonlights as a NICU nurse. She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, with her family. You can visit her online at

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November 10, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Julia Good Fox

Kate Hart
photo of Julia Good Fox
This week makes it hard to write a catchy tagline, much less hope for an article to get traction online, and I debated whether I should wait for a different time to post. But now more than ever, it's important to raise our voices and support badass women, especially women of color and other marginalized communities. This project will keep going, and I hope you will too.

I've long been inspired Haskell Indian Nations University Dean Julia Good Fox, and I'm honored to share her wisdom today.


Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Julia: I have been in academia for the past 16 years. I started off as faculty in Indigenous and American Indian Studies. About two years ago, I transitioned into administration. Currently, I am the Dean of Natural and Social Sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS. Prior to making the leap into higher ed, I worked as a programmer, as a manager in Public Health, and I also spent time in the mental health field. All of these careers have assisted me in my current role as Dean.

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Julia: I still see myself as a writer, even though my writing has slowed down since I went into administration. My public writings focus on cultural studies, politics, and pop culture reviews. My scholarly writings mostly discussed decolonization in Indian Country and the United States

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Julia: Currently, I am exploring relationships and identity—and how these intersect community. So this involves asking myself a lot of questions and doing intentional observation of others. What makes people happy? How do people define and work toward a quality of life that makes sense for them? Why do people engage in bullying? How is resiliency fostered? Empowerment? Much of my job involves “people-work” and so these questions assist me in the everyday challenge of promoting shared purpose. It’s interesting!

Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.

Julia: I have had struggles, especially when I was younger, with depression and anxiety and general low confidence in my abilities. Therapy helped! A personal break-through was when I was in my 20s and realized that I did not have to create my unhappy past—that I could move beyond being stuck in what’s called post-traumatic stress and other dysfunctions that can arise from a violent childhood. The great thing about growing older is that it is now easier for me to get past these moments when they occasionally pop up. Developing a sense of humor is key.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Julia: An immediate one that comes to my mind happened decades ago. I worked at a drug rehab when I was in my late teens and early twenties. One day, I was eating at a restaurant and when I went to pay my tab, the waitress gave me a note that said “You helped me when I was at my lowest. I’ve been in recovery for a year now. The least I can do is pay for your lunch.” That was so moving. It helped me to understand that words and actions do matter in our interactions with others.

Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Julia: Feminism is awesome! The stories of my Tribe are inspiring. My mother was influential in this regard, too. She was active in the ‘70s Feminism movement, bringing her Pawnee wisdom to the mainstream. I also was fortunate to have teachers, particularly during my elementary school days, who would loan me books about female leaders. They took the time to mentor me, a child at that time. To this day, I am a firm proponent of mentoring. Young women (and men) have so much to offer, and as a Tribal feminist, I believe it’s my responsibility to assist them as they’re charting their way to whatever is their goal.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Julia: Besides mentoring, friendship is instrumental. When I was growing up, there was so much anti-Indianism then as there is now that sometimes those close to me would engage in lateral violence. I do not want to recreate that. Finding my close circle of ride-or-die women friends has been a salvation. I’m grateful for their support. In return, I do my best to support women in their work and creativity. This can be in the form of a sincere compliment or other show of support, such as buying their books or art.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Julia: Believe in yourself! It was difficult growing up in Oklahoma because my circumstances were mired in by conformity, conservativism, and colonization. Sometimes my only solace was in music or the library, but I would seek it out because these activities would nourish me. I would like to tell all aspiring badasses that nothing is impossible for them to achieve. Just show up, attend to the day-to-day tasks that need to be done, and work to create your dream one step at a time.

Also, develop a thick skin.

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badass ladies you should know logo
Julia Good Fox is a citizen of the Pawnee Nation, and she was born in Oklahoma. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her family, two dogs (Sammie and Mrs. Beasley) and two cats (Joe and Bowie). She writes about culture, politics, Indian Country, and the list goes on. Also, she enjoys thinking and reading.

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November 2, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Dianne Bondy

Kate Hart
dianne bondy doing yoga ona beach
Today's Badass Lady doesn't need much introduction: You've already seen her featured in People Magazine, The Guardian, and Self, as well as in ads for the Penningtons clothing line. I'm so happy to share this interview with Dianne Bondy.


Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Dianne: I am a public speaker, educator, fat activist, yoga teacher, cultural shifter and over all disruptor. My mission is to shift culture and shape consciousness. I travel and teach workshops on personal empowerment and yoga for larger bodies, and I share my practice on, Yoga International and Gaiam.

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Dianne: I love doing research and studying human nature.

Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.

Dianne: I consider my journey from disordered eating to self- love a huge win. My attitude towards myself.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten? 

Dianne: Thanks for not being a fraud. Thank you for bringing your light to this community.

Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Dianne:The deeper I delve into my Yoga practice and the more I share the teaching, the more I understand myself. My practice has brought incredible feminist educators and critical thinker into my life, like Dr. Sabrina Strings, Dr. Sarah King, Dr Gail Parker, and Dr. Beth Berlia. These women teach critical thinking, gender studies, race, culture, and identity, which influences my work greatly

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Dianne: Show up for them. Listen and help selflessly when asked. As women we often spend time tearing each other down; it is time to lift each other up

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Dianne: Do you! “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business”


badass ladies you should know logo
Dianne Bondy is a celebrated yoga teacher, social justice activist and leading voice of the Yoga For All movement. Her inclusive view of yoga asana and philosophy inspires and empowers thousands of followers around the world - regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability.

She applies over 1000 hours of training to help her students find freedom, self-expression and radical self-love in their yoga practice. She shares her message and provides millions of followers with affordable access to online yoga classes, workshops and tutorials at her virtual studio: Dianne contributes to Yoga International, Yoga Journal, Do You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She is featured and profiled in International media outlets: The Guardian, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and more. She is a spokesperson for diversity in yoga and yoga for larger bodies, as seen in her work with Pennington’s, Gaiam, and the Yoga & Body Image Coalition. Her work is published in the books: Yoga and Body Image, and Yes Yoga Has Curves.  //  //
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October 26, 2016

BOOk! Pumpkins 2016

Kate Hart
pumpkins carved with covers from Veronica Roth's CARVE THE MARK, Ellen Oh's FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES, and Kate Hart's AFTER THE FALL
In 2011, I made book cover pumpkin patterns in response to talk of how dark and scary YA was getting. Years have passed and book challenges have come and gone, but the media continues to use kidlit fears as click bait, so here's another round of the most terrifying thing around this Halloween: children's books

AFTER THE FALL pumpkin glowing pinkish

This year I'm also offering a bonus treat: 
Since it's the first time I've gotten to include my own book in the patterns,
scroll down for a chance to win a signed ARC of AFTER THE FALL! 
(No pumpkin necessary! But they do get you an extra entry or four.)

and now, beware the....

Creepy Creatures

The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo; The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder
House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle; Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields

Treasure at Lure Lake by Shari L. Schwartz; In The Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

Badass Ladies
American Street by Ibi Zoboi; Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Into White by Randi Pink

Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh; Strings by Nikki Katz

Blue Is A Darkness Weakened By Light by Sarah McCarry; After the Fall by Kate Hart (hi!)

Exit, Pursued By a Bear by E. K. Johnston; Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol;
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

Sinister Symbolism
Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert; I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black; Flying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Oh, editor

Caraval by Stephanie Garber; Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth 
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth; This Above All by Lindsey Culli

LGBTQ Representation
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin; History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan; When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich; Bleeding Earth (paperback) by Kaitlin Ward


Macabre Middle Grade

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson; Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs


Don't see your favorites? 

Check the index or just browse year by year: 
2011  //  2012  //  2013  //  2014  //  2015

Win an ARC!

How to use these patterns: 

1. Click the image to expand, then right click and save to your computer. (You can also download from Google Docs here.)

2. Print at whatever size fits your pumpkin, then pin the pattern to it.

3. Use a toothpick or pushpin to poke holes around the edges of the design (more holes = easier to see the lines).

4. Remove the pattern and rub flour or powder over the holes to make them show up better.

5. Cut out the black sections. 

6. Take a picture and tweet it at me!

All content copyright Kate Hart 2016

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