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I Want to Hear Your Story: Joy McCullough on Publishing Her Novel, BLOOD WATER PAINT in Today’s Landscape


When it came time to decide on the dedication for my debut novel, Blood Water Paint, there was never really any question. The book was for my daughter.

I was given slight pause, though, since I have two children. I didn’t want my son to feel left out. (I’ve never quite gotten over when my dad named his sailboat the Jennifer Lee – my sister’s name – rather than the Jennifer Joy.)

But this book about the stories women pass down to one another as a roadmap to life as a woman was no sailboat. It had to be for my daughter.

In Blood Water Paint, Artemisia’s mother dies when she is twelve—my daughter’s age—from complications after childbirth. Historically, we don’t know for sure how Prudentia Montone died, but signs point to puerperal fever. In the 1600’s, this uterine infection was generally accepted as a regular consequence of childbirth and motherhood.

Part of being a woman.

Like walking down a street with the sharp edges of our keys sticking through our fingers. Shrugging off “locker room talk.” Having our bodies legislated by a group of old white men. Part of being a woman.

When Prudentia died, Artemisia was left alone as the only woman in her family. Her father might have sent her to a convent, since as a struggling artist he would not have had the means to make her a marriage match. But her brothers didn’t show the same skills she did as a painting apprentice, and so he kept her on instead.

This rare invitation into the Roman art world gave Artemisia opportunities very few young women of her day ever did. But it also brought her into yet another realm where she was the only woman.

And so, isolated by her circumstances, Artemisia Gentileschi conjured the women she needed. She conjured the women who would teach her how to fight, how to find her voice and use it, how to hold her keys and how to watch her drink and how to smash the fucking patriarchy.

And in an extra bit of poetic justice, she conjured these women from the same stories men had been telling —and painting —forever but always failing to understand. Because as a young female painter, Artemisia had a different perspective on the story of Susanna, leered at as she bathes in her private garden.  She had a different perspective on Judith, who put her body and her life on the line to save her people. She saw so much more than beauty for consumption.

Artemisia’s circumstances denied her the women she deserved, and so she willed them into existence, formed of pigment, sweat, and rage.

This International Women’s Day, watch @penguinteen’s Instagram Stories for Artemisia’s powerful paintings of these women who were her lifeline, as Artemisia has been mine. I hope my daughter never needs such a lifeline. But if she does, my book will be there. It has always been for her.



Joy McCullough is the author of Blood Water Painta powerful novel-in-verse about Artemisia Gentileschi that came out this week. You can read more and get your copy here!












Fall Into Fantasy: The Epic Readathon Wrap-Up

Fall Into Fantasy was the readathon of a lifetime. Books were read, tweets were twittered, caffeine was consumed, and tbh tears were shed (some books just kick you right in the feels, ya know?). ANYWAY, we just want to say THANK YOU to all of our amazing hosts and readers who participated! If you missed … Continued
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Here’s What Book You Should Read Based on Your Favorite Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Character

Raise your hand if you, like us, are now obsessed with Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. via GIPHY   Raise your hand if you, like us, binged the whole series over the weekend and now have to wait way too long for the next season. via GIPHY It’s okay, this is a safe, witchy space, … Continued
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When Your Book Becomes a TV Show! Stephanie Oakes Tells All

We had to know, what’s it like when your book becomes a TV show? Stephanie Oakes‘ 2015 cult instant classic The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly was picked up by Facebook Watch and tonight Sacred Lies ends an absolute terrifically haunting first season – which you can watch at anytime right HERE. We had Stephanie look … Continued
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The Lies You Never Told Me paperback is here and it’s GORGEOUS

Looking for your next twisty, unputdownable thriller to read with a cup of hot cocoa and a blanket (while pretending it’s not really really cold outside)? We got you. Just in case you missed out the first time around, Lies You Never Told Me follows four teens with dangerous secrets caught in the midst of scandal, shocking twists, … Continued
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Fall Into Fantasy Readathon HQ

Everything You Need To Know!   The Fall Into Fantasy Readathon will take place from November 18th – 25th, with the goal of reading at least four fantasy books off your to be read (TBR) pile! Not sure what to read? No worries, we’ve come up with eight reading challenges to help you build your … Continued
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Book Recommendations for every Crazy Rich Asians movie character

It’s been the box office smash of the late summer and we can’t get enough of Crazy Rich Asians either! Of course, we’re fans of anything based on a good book series, but what if your favorite characters need a book recommendation? And a YA book rec at that? Like Rachel figuring out her way in … Continued
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First Exclusive Excerpt of The Dark Days Deceit!

The jaw-dropping conclusion to Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days series is almost here and we’ve got the inside scoop. If you’ve been keeping up to date with all the epic monster hunting shenanigans, you know we’ve been through a lot with our favorite demon hunter, Lady Helen. In fact, you’d think she’d be able to take a nice little break … Continued
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John Green just announced the Looking for Alaska cast!

It’s been in development for YEARS but finally thanks to Hulu TV, John Green’s Looking for Alaska is making its way to the small screen! John himself tweeted how exciting it was to see the adaptation that has been 13 years in the making, take the next steps and that includes the MASSIVE announcement that … Continued
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4 Books to Read if You’re Stoked for the Dumplin’ Movie

In case you haven’t heard, Netflix just dropped the trailer for the adaptation of Julie Murphy’s beloved, contemporary YA novel, Dumplin’!   So now the internet is getting all: I AM READY — (@faeszn) November 14, 2018 and Jennifer Aniston + Dove Cameron? I will stay up until this movie is released — rosé (@rosaisela028) November 14, … Continued
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7 Spooky Books to Read if You’re PSYCHED About Netflix’s Sabrina Reboot

Something crazy is happening this month   No, we don’t mean the whole “Dunkin’ is dropping ‘Donuts’ from their name” thing. (But we’re pretty shook about that too.)   We mean the Netflix. Reboot. Of. SABRINA.    Sabrina the Teenage Witch is getting a killer (literally) reboot and we are living for it. Firstly, they’ve added Chilling to … Continued
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