J. Zachary Pike's

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Indie Publishing

Leading Ladies and Personal Growth

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Please note: The Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle is no longer available. But hey! You can still check out great new bundles on Storybundle.com, or get Orconomics for your favorite reading device online.

Storybundle recently launched the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle, a collection of works curated by Charlotte E. English and selected for their interesting female characters. If you’ll indulge me for a moment of personal introspection, I have to confess that I was somewhat shocked when Charlotte reached out to me to see if I’d be willing to participate in the bundle. Pleasantly so, to be sure, but I never expected my work to be included in a bundle with a feminist theme.

I was an awkward teenager, with a temperament that veered wildly between crippling shyness and boldly, obliviously dorkiness. I don’t want to say I was a geek before being a geek was cool (mostly because to do so would make ma a hipster after being a hipster was cool), but in the 90’s Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering didn’t carry even the limited sex appeal that they do today. Sufficed to say, I didn’t have many interactions with girls, and those I did have were horribly discolored by the ridiculous portrayal of women in 90’s comics and games.

I’ll spare myself the embarrassing details of my misconceptions. Let’s just say I was ignorant on this subject, among others.

It is not an easy journey to realize you have been an ass your entire life, but I’ve made it often enough to recognize that it isn’t done alone. My wife and daughters have certainly changed my perspective on things. My sister has been a bigger help than I’ll admit to her face. And there have been hundreds of smaller, less impactful interactions with people I’m grateful to and people I don’t even remember that led me to a try to write female characters who were active participants in a story rather than the hero’s objective in them.

(Even then, my little sister / most critical beta reader helped me make my female characters more interesting. She deserves a lot of credit for any understanding of the female perspective in Orconomics, and it really is a shame that I’ll absolutely never give her the satisfaction of saying as much in her presence.)

Believe me, I’m not fishing for credit for behaving in a way that I should have been behaving all along. And I certainly have far too much room to grow to pretend that I’ve arrived. But progress is made with a lot of effort, and from time to time it’s worth acknowledging the distance you’ve come. And so when Charlotte reached out to say that she liked my female characters enough to include Orconomics in a group of works specifically selected for their interesting women, it meant a lot to me. It was more than a signal that some readers enjoy my work. It was a reminder that I have, in fact, grown a bit as a person.

It’s nice to see that all the hard work is, to some degree or another, paying off.

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