Stephanie M.

Stephanie M.

I'm a content writer and novelist who loves books, writing, theater, and my cat. I have published two novels and traveled to London and Paris.

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    Latest Articles


    Latest Topics


    How the Rugrats Reboot Will Influnece Television

    On May 27, a Rugrats reboot featuring CGI animation, new character voices, and adventures with a distinct 21st-century flavor will premiere on Paramount Plus. Some fans of the original Rugrats are eager to experience the reboot and compare/contrast, while others are skeptical at best. No matter what side you’re on though, there’s no denying this reboot will influence how people see the Rugrats franchise and perhaps, associated television (e.g., Nickelodeon).

    Discuss questions such as how the Rugrats reboot will influence these spheres, as well as the potential positives and negatives of the reboot itself. For example, how will the reboot’s location on a streaming service change the viewing experience and relations to the characters and plots? Do you think kids or adults will be more invested in the reboot, and why? It seems many of the new adventures will take place in the babies’ imaginations; is this a positive or negative move?

    • I like this topic if possible, do you have a more narrowed scope for the article. For instance, in my experience Suzy played side character growing up and I look forward to perhaps seeing her in every episode. Are you looking to compare their general influence then and their possible contributions now? Just looking for clarity – CardinalRayPrints 3 months ago
    • Influence is a big part of it, yes. I like how you brought up Susie, because in this day and age, she needs to be more of a main character, which will impact the show's influence for the better. On the other hand, there are certain things that may make its influence negative. For instance, I grew up watching the show and having to wait for episodes. The instantaneous nature of a streaming service may mean the new version, all its updates notwithstanding, has less of an impact because the audience can so quickly move on to something else. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
    • Ah, I see thanks for providing that revision – CardinalRayPrints 3 months ago

    Are Readers Burned Out on YA Dystopia?

    Recently, talk among book enthusiasts has circulated that YA dystopia has burned out. The genre is certainly huge, but whether it’s burned out, cliched, or tired in any way depends on whose books you read. Are there certain authors who give YA dystopia a burned out feel? Are there authors, or characters, who have brought fresh situations or themes to the genre? And if the genre is burned out right now, how might it be "revived?" Discuss.

    • YA Dystopia used to be such a huge genre in the 2000's up to 2016, when Veronica Roth's 'Allegiant' was released in the theatres. I used to re-read Suzanne Collins' 'Hunger Games' and watch the movies. Until it sort of all became really boring. The action of the plot was there, and so were the likable characters. It began to feel really negative, since the entirety of Dystopia was that the world was inevitably ending in some horrible way. Or the world had already ended and the harsh new reality of the world to come was a dystopia in itself. Since I've found myself reading YA Fantasy and New Adult Fantasy recently, I haven't read any YA Dystopia books, but if there was to be a revival of the genre, it has to be reimagined. No more oppressive governments and fight to the death situations. Something unique but altogether terrifying if it were to happen. – talonsx 3 weeks ago

    The Rise and Fall of Zynga Facebook Games

    When Facebook first came out in 2007, social games came with it. Most of us played these games hoping to build connections with friends and improve our standing in fantasy worlds/virtual lives.

    One of the biggest provider of such games was Zynga. From Farmville to Cafe World to Hidden Chronicles, they churned out plenty of games with plenty of connections and worlds to explore. Yet in a few years, most of these games vanished. Hidden Chronicles, Cafe World, and others are now just Wikipedia pages, although you may find some Facebook groups still asking for the games to be brought back. Meanwhile, other games similar to these, such as Pearl’s Peril, are either floundering or closed.

    Examine some of these games and discuss why they didn’t last. Compare and contrast them to some games that are popular on social media now. Are the newer games easier? If yes, how? Are they more fun or satisfying? What problems might they still share with the old games? If older games were to return successfully, what improvements would they need to make?

    • I imagine the disappearance of these games has been largely due to the rise of mobile games and steam. I couldn't imagine people playing Facebook games when their out as they have their game on the phone. And when their home on the PC I imagine free to play games like Apex, Valorant, and league which are pretty easy to run on most PC's are more favorable choices. Just speculation as I have not done research on this topic. – Blackcat130 3 months ago

    Children's Historical Literature in a Cancel Culture World

    This week,’s parenting column, Care and Feeding, ran a letter from the concerned parent of a school-age child. The child’s majority-white class, led by a white teacher, had been reading Bound for Oregon as part of an Oregon Trail unit. This book, written in the ’90s, contains the N word. (From all indications, the parent and student are white, also).

    The parent expressed concern because when they went to the teacher, she simply said she told the students the N word "is not a nice word," they did not have to say it (when reading aloud in small groups), and the class would discuss the word "later." However, the discussion had not happened, and the parent wondered whether to pull the child out of the class/school over the teacher’s response.

    Unfortunately, Bound for Oregon is not the first historical kids’ or YA book to contain this word or other slurs, nor is it the first kids may be required to read in school. In 2020, what is the best way to handle this? Is there any historical kids’ and YA lit that stays true to its historical background without using slurs or outdated attitudes? Are those attitudes "necessary" or "object lessons"–in other words, would "cancelling" them deprive kids of so-called classics or needed info? Does the classroom makeup–the race of the students or teacher, orientations, ability levels, etc.–make a difference? If it does, at what point should related literature be introduced or handled (e.g., how should we handle Holocaust literature when the majority of a class is practicing Jewish? Should able-bodied students be required to read literature about disabled characters, when their school has a segregated special ed program)? Discuss.

    • Is it possible to get a link to this article? – DancingKomodos 3 months ago

    Should What Not to Wear Reemerge from Television's Closet?

    In 2019, rumors circulated that the 12-season TLC hit What Not to Wear would get a reboot. As with many projects or rumored projects, this stalled during the pandemic, but now that the world is opening up again, the WNTW reboot might be a possibility.

    Some fans, and even Stacy London, have questioned how successful a 2020s reboot would be, though. Especially after a global pandemic, style seems more relative and fluid than it did in 2003 or 2013. The work-at-home phenomenon may mean the idea of "appropriateness for the workplace" has evolved or does not exist. Or on the other side of the coin, the pandemic’s isolation and the changing face of style may mean people are actually more eager to be and feel "stylish" or "put together" again.

    What would, or should, a What Not to Wear reboot look like? Discuss what issues it should focus on, who might be good candidates for a new show, and whether it should stick with the old format or some aspects, such as "rules" for appropriate clothing, should be retooled.

    • Okay first off, loved this show so much and had no idea they were discussing a reboot. I think if you were going to write an article about a contemporary reboot, it would be interesting to bring in a discussion of class. I recall the original show mostly restyling people who fit into very distinct visual aesthetics like punk, etc. to fit into a mainstream "look." Today, if we assume that mainstream looks are informed by celebrity style, the desired fashion is WAY out of budget for most people. Even fashion influencers online are constantly doing $500 Shein hauls, something that just wouldn't be sustainable for most people. Could WNTW navigate this? Or would everyone styled on the show be given style criteria that they couldn't fulfill on their own budget? – Sophia 1 week ago
    • The monetary issue is a big one for sure. It kind of reminds me of the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, where Rebecca Bloomwood is offered the chance to write a magazine column called "Affordable Fashion." The irony is, the magazine she writes for promotes a style that has women dressing in clothing whose cost could probably feed a developing nation. And no, I don't think WNTW was ever held accountable for recommending out-of-budget styling, nor would they navigate it well now. The argument there is, "Well, the contributors get $5000, so they don't have to worry about budget/once they buy these 'good' clothes, they'll never have to shop again." Which, one, what a laugh. And two, that brings up the question of who was or is "worthy" to appear on WNTW and have those budget constraints lifted from them, even if only a little. In a 21st-century world, I'm not sure I like that message. – Stephanie M. 1 week ago

    The Portrayal of Young Black Women in YA Literature

    Young adult literature has seen a needed explosion of Black protagonists lately, and particularly Black females. Many of these new protagonists are also involved in Black Lives Matter or similar, sometimes fictionalized, organizations. They may be involved with other fictionalized organizations like Innocence X (The Innocence Project), seeking justice for incarcerated loved ones. Some Black female protagonists also rap, blog, or otherwise create to have their voices heard, and face both support and backlash.

    Examine the voice and portrayal of the young Black woman in today’s YA literature. Who is she? Is her representation fair and nuanced, or do a lot of her incarnations look the same (and why is that)? If you choose to discuss historical Black females, how are current fictional protagonists different from those written in past decades? What do Black female characters have in common, and how do they differ from each other as well as other races? Who are some of your favorites, and/or whose stories do you think today’s young adults should read first if they’re trying to gain an understanding of Black, female personhood?

    • I highly recommend reviewing Chapter 2: "African American Young Adult Literature and Black Adolescent Identity Developing a Sense of Self and Society through Narrative" in Janet Alsup's Young Adult Literature and Adolescent Identity Across Cultures and Classrooms: Contexts for the Literary Lives of Teens (2010). I think anyone who chooses to write on this topic will find excellent insights in that textbook. – Felipe Rodriguez 3 months ago

    Apocalyptic and "Rapture" Fiction for Kids

    In the late ’90s, Harry Potter burst onto the literary scene amid controversy. Many parents, Christians in particular, would not let their children read Harry Potter because of witchcraft motifs. However, when asked to provide alternative choices and reading assignments for their kids, some Christian parents advocated that they read series like Left Behind: The Kids.

    This caused confusion for teachers, administrators, and some other parents because Left Behind: The Kids runs on the premise that a group of teens must live on their own and survive a totalitarian, one-world government after their parents and younger family members disappeared with no explanation. Such a premise was deemed much scarier and sometimes more inappropriate than Harry Potter or similar books like Lord of the Rings, particularly because the teens were "left behind" due to a lack of religious belief (or the right kind of religious belief, as in, they knew *about* Christ but made no personal commitment to Him).

    Discuss how and when apocalyptic or "rapture" fiction is appropriate for kids. How young is too young? How should writers handle, or not handle, the content? How might religious writers in particular get their message across without resorting to scare tactics and leaving possible conversion as a free choice? And, why do you think some parents or teachers are eager to let kids/students read this kind of fiction, but remain so cagey about magic-based fiction/fiction in that neighborhood?


      Children's Animation and "Bad Behavior"

      A recent social media meme reads, "I heard a woman say she won’t let her kids watch Peppa Pig because it encourages bad behavior like jumping in puddles. I saw Road Runner and haven’t blown up anyone yet."

      Laughs aside, and whether the account is true or not, this does bring up how concerned adults have become about children’s behavior, where that concern is coming from, and when that concern is or isn’t justified. For instance, there are parents who sincerely believe Peppa Pig is a bad influence. Others have excoriated every series from Caillou (whiny, bratty behavior) to Fancy Nancy (melodrama) to Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, and The Lion Guard (too much emphasis on royalty, princess mentality).

      Is children’s animation actually encouraging bad behavior, or do adult audiences focus too much on instances of normal childlike actions? Do any of today’s animated shows have good messages, about behavior or anything else, and what are they? Which animations are the best and worst when it comes to presenting characters and behavior kids should emulate? Discuss.

      • This is an interesting topic for discussion. In my experience, it's not so much the television shows themselves that are the problem, as that parents aren't doing the nurturing and moralizing that they used to. If parents aren't there to provide their kids with a value system, the kids turn to media, including television, to make sense of the world. Ultimately this creates a feedback loop, where the TV programs pander to what they think the children will like in order to make money, and therefore cut them off from their parents' values even more. – Debs 3 months ago
      • In absence of a role model, with absent parental figures, children look at the next best things and absorb "the babysitter." Jim Carrey's character in the titular Cable Guy seems less fiction and more reality with all the avenues the younger generations are inundated with messages and values. What is worse than clashing with the values of a family, is the lack of any role model at all and adopting whatever flips up on a screen. I grew up watching everything from Loony Toons, Saturday morning cartoons, Toonami, animé, etc., but my parents were there to decompile the content instead of letting it ferment in my spongy prepubescent brain. I have a feeling that there is a similar vein here as in the "videogames make people violent" where accountability is placed on environment and OTHER people, never the individual's personal agency in internalizing and later acting on values. – DancingKomodos 3 months ago

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      Latest Comments

      Stephanie M.

      “Mental preparation.” That’s it in a nutshell, I think. And because dystopian literature tends to present the worst-case scenario, I think we comfort ourselves with the idea bad things can happen, but not *that.*

      Why Is Utopian Literature Less Popular Than Dystopian Literature?
      Stephanie M.

      I love Elle Woods and love finding her here! And you’re right…characters like her are sadly lacking. I guess the saying might be, in a world of Cadys and Karens, be an Elle? I also love your analysis of femininity and how/why it gets treated like a negative concept.

      Elle Woods for the defence (of femininity)
      Stephanie M.


      The Baby-Sitters Club: Classic, Problematic, or Both?
      Stephanie M.

      I’d recommend the older novels (non-graphic) if you can find them. Nothing wrong with graphic novels, but I personally find the format distracting at times. Then again, I didn’t grow up with it. The movie was one of my favorites as a kid. Not so much now, but it’s worth a watch.

      The Baby-Sitters Club: Classic, Problematic, or Both?
      Stephanie M.

      Oh, egads! I completely forgot about that one! I remember even as a kid thinking, “Okay, NOT reading that one” (it was previewed in another book). And you’re right. There’s a whole host of problems with that book. Not only the ones I mentioned in terms of disability in general, but:
      (1. The implications that people with disabilities can have non-disabled friends only in a “caregiver” context/not really friends
      (2. The PWDs are too dumb or innocent to know the difference, until it becomes obvious or somebody slips and says something
      (3. If the PWD gets upset, they have no right to be, because at least that person was kind to them/”being a friend”
      (4. Just the implication that the parent of a child with a disability would do something like what Whitney’s parents did. It shows they don’t believe in their child, and that they think she’s so “other,” she can’t possibly do what others do or have what others have.

      Again, egads.

      The Baby-Sitters Club: Classic, Problematic, or Both?
      Stephanie M.

      Congratulations on such a thorough analysis of one character’s merit and arc, especially a lesser-known character (to some of us, anyway. My English classes didn’t focus a lot on mythology, although I wish they had).

      The Ambiguous Morality of Œdipus Rex’s Iocastê
      Stephanie M.

      Glad to see this published! Thanks for letting me help with the revisions as well.

      The Storytelling Layers of Literary Merit
      Stephanie M.

      Well hello there, kindred spirit! I’m still a practicing Christian. My parents weren’t (aren’t) rabid fundamentalists or anything, but I did grow up in the Bible Belt, so there were varying levels of strictness when it came to Biblical interpretation/interpretations of holy living.

      So basically, the kid version of me was a voracious bookworm, who was also a Christian who took her faith seriously, and even if she hadn’t, was not allowed to partake in some of the things kids her age did (I didn’t read HP until adulthood).

      To top it off, I *also* had cerebral palsy and was physically limited in what I could do…in a rural community where the major activities for kids and adults alike were very physical, nature-oriented, etc. I was called a prude, stuck up, lazy, defiant, manipulative, etc. Teachers said I lied about my intelligence and needed to be placed in special ed or treated for behavior problems. I was also criticized for my weight (not grossly overweight, but still), and threatened with medical procedures, doctor visits, etc. I got threatened with group/nursing home placement, sterilization, or placement in inpatient physical therapy programs.

      So, take all that, and on top of it, put a church and parents who were very well-meaning, but as you see, fell back on a lot of negative reinforcement of one type or another, explicit and implicit. Remember, I was undiagnosed because back then, everybody thought “autistic” meant “incapable of doing anything.” I used to think, “What’s so wrong with me? Other kids with CP have friends. The other girls in youth group have friends and boyfriends. They can pretend to be interested when they’re not. They can pretend things are fun when they’re not. They always know what to say and what to do. So what’s wrong with me?” I honestly thought that, IQ or not, I was cognitively defective and people saw me as such (because all the other disabled kids I saw at school were cognitively disabled and segregated/had to be coached on basic acceptable behavior).

      All that to say, thank you for the reminder that I’m not crazy, and that yes, Christians can be neurodivergent, also. I wish I could go back and talk to that little girl and tell her that somehow, things were gonna be okay.

      Autism in Media: Progressing, Yet Stuck