Baton Blog Hop: My Writing Process by Beth Barany

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth Barany (Book 2, Five Kingdoms series)
Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth Barany (Book 2, Five Kingdoms series)

Fantasy author A. B. Harms passed me the baton on this blog hop. Thanks!

I love the topic: writing process.

What writer doesn’t like to talk about his or her writing process?

Do you enjoying hearing about how writers do their thing? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Topic: Writing Process

A. What are you working on?

Currently, I’m editing my newest paranormal romance. It takes place in Paris, France in the middle of a horrible rainstorm that is only getting worse as the story progresses. It’s a novella, so short. And I write sweet, meaning I close the door on sex. So there you go! I’m also writing tons of blog posts and marketing material (newsletters and emails) for my day job, that of an author’s coach for novelists.

Topic: Writing Process

A. What are you working on?

Currently, I’m editing my newest paranormal romance. It takes place in Paris, France in the middle of a horrible rainstorm that is only getting worse as the story progresses. It’s a novella, so short. And I write sweet, meaning I close the door on sex. So there you go! I’m also writing tons of blog posts and marketing material (newsletters and emails) for my day job, that of an author’s coach for novelists.

B. How does your work differ from others in this genre?

That’s hard for me to say, but readers have said that that my stories are creative and imaginative. Also, I think my stories walk that edge of paranormal and real in an interesting way. Also, for my fantasy — because I also write young adult fantasy — I’d say what’s different about my Henrietta stories are that my characters are distinct, funny, and appeal to people who don’t normally read fantasy.

C. Why do you write what you do?

This question is like asking why I like chocolate. I just do! I can point to my childhood, steeped in reading fairy tales and folktales, and having them read to me. I could point to my fascination with the study of folklore, archetypes, and the tarot. I could also point to my love of super hero stories and epics. Yes, to all that.

D. How does your writing process work?

I sit down. I write. I write some more. Then some more. Rinse, Repeat. Until the book is done. Then get lots of feedback. Lots of editing and rewriting. Lots more feedback, until deadline. Then I publish.

I’m passing the baton to:

Carol Malone: http://carolmalone.net/

For award winning author, Carol Malone, living with passion means discovering what you’re good at and doing what you love. Happiest when she’s painting word pictures, her passion is cranking out sweet, tender stories both in the contemporary and Noir genres.

==========
Angela Myron: http://www.angelamyron.com/news.html

She writes: “I’m a writer. Before I wrote novels, I wrote manuals and online help and crappy first drafts of novels that will never see the light of day. And before all of this, I wrote morning pages for years.

I hope someday to write stories that transform, touch hearts, open minds, and make things a bit more beautiful somehow. Until then, I write what I write.”

Look for their posts next week.

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Three Pitfalls To Avoid When Writing a Kickass Heroine by Tara Maya

TaraMayaBookI’m happy to welcome fellow fantasy, paranormal and science fiction writer, Tara Maya, author of The Unfinished Song, as she tell you how to correctly write stories with believable kickass heroines.

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In a piece in The New Statesman provocatively entitled “I Hate Strong Female Characters”, Sophia McDougall complains that male characters “get to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.”

McDougall has cinema in mind, where the ratio of male to female characters is 3:1 or worse. It’s hard on a female character when she’s the only female in sight and therefore represents All Womanhood for that piece. What about in literature, though, especially in genres like Urban Fantasy, where Kickass Heroines are Du Jure? The complaint has been made that for the UF Heroine, cussing and kicking are used in place of characterization. Epic Fantasy and Romance Heroines are accused of “Plucky Princess Syndrome.”

There are plenty of excellent stories with “strong heroines” whose strength is not only kicking butt. I’d also have to challenge the completely bizarre notion that male characters are not expected to be “Strong.” And by strong, meaning cussing and punching other dudes in the face. Particularly in certain genres. Because yes, YES, sorry, but YES that is the entire criteria for Manliness in several ENTIRE GENRES. Who punches more in The Avengers, the female superhero or every single male superhero in the film?

Not to mention The Action Hero of the Thriller, the Western, the Noir Detective, the male-hero Urban Fantasy is entirely about a dude who rejects help from anyone and solves problems by cussing and punching. Not ALL the time, but certainly not more than Spunky Princesses or Kickass Chicks. I’d say, in fact, that female leads still cuss and kick less than their male counterparts and the fact that it is annoying and often comes off as fake is…. well, because we all still have a double standard.

Yet, undeniably, there is more to writing a Strong Female Character than just showing her hit some guy in the face. There are three pitfalls in particular that less well written books fall into, that as writers, we need to try harder to avoid.

1. Badass Bitch vs Bitching Badly

One of McDougall’s main points is absolutely true: rudeness and brutality are turn-offs in any character. This is a problem for heroes too. The writer is trying so hard to show the hero is a badass that instead what we get is a Jerk. When the Heroine is rough, rude and boorish for the sake of it, she’s not a pleasant character to spend time with, unless she has a whole lot of other good qualities.

2. Gender Stereotype Swap

One trick to check out whether your character is trapped in a gender stereotype is to reverse the gender and see if the character still works. That’s one reason the Heroine of Aliens was so awesome. Her character was written as a standard Male Hero and switched to a female at the last minute. But there is one time this doesn’t work: when there is a romantic couple, and to be “progressive” one simply reverses each gender. The Princess rescues the swooning Prince…. ugh, the stereotype that physical strength is the only kind of strength is left intact, with just the assigned gender reversed. It’s better to show how they each save one another’s lives than to have strict roles of Rescuer and Rescued.

3. Rescued Anyway

Here’s the biggest mistake of all, and unfortunately, I see it all the time. The so-called Strong Female Character makes a huge fuss about how independent she is and how she doesn’t need to be rescued by the Hero. Only she gets herself (or, even worse, herself and those around her) into heaps of trouble by doing some Too Stupid To Live thing. Then the Hero has to rescue her after all. No, no, no, just no. Instead of showing an independent heroine, dear author, you are proving just the opposite: Women need to be rescued. The more they assert they don’t, the more they need to be slapped down by their own stupidity and shown how much they need a man to save them.

You know what would make a much better story arc? A heroine who starts out thinking she does need to be rescued, only to face circumstances where she has to save not only herself, but others. And then she rises to the occasion. Because that is what being a Hero is truly about, for boys and girls.

***

The Unfinished Song (Book 1) Initiate by Tara Maya

BLURB
DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL…
Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR…
Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

EXCERPT
Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn’t appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

“Join our circle, Dindi!” the fae voices gurgled under the water. “Dance with us forever!”

“No!” She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, “Dispel!” but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn’t be coming up again.

“Dispel!” It was a man’s voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

“Better?” he asked.

She nodded. He was young–only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

“Good.” He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi’s hand touched skin–he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

“It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that,” he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. “What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?”

***

TaraMayaHeadShotTara Maya has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She’s pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies.

Check out her site links:
Tara’s blog:  http://bit.ly/MtlSRJ
Tara’s Twitter:  http://bit.ly/162sCtE
The Unfinished Song on Facebook:  http://on.fb.me/1400mMq
Amazon:  http://amzn.to/15ciwYc
Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr
Kobo:  http://bit.ly/1aFhg1P
iTunes:  http://bit.ly/1baddhN
Smashwords:  http://bit.ly/17zK8Xn

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

 

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Free Review Copy Available! Henrietta and The Stone (Book 2)

Hello book bloggers and friends!

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth Barany (Book 2, Five Kingdoms series)
Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth Barany (Book 2, Five Kingdoms series)

Get your free review copy of Henrietta and The Dragon Stone (Book 2 in the Five Kingdom series) now, until April 30th, on Netgalley.com.

You just need to open an  account there and request a review copy now.

Act now because you have until April 30th to grab your review copy.

I’m offering this book on Netgalley because reviews are so helpful for an author’s career.

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Book Spotlight: Blood is Thicker with author Suz deMello

Blood is Thicker… by Suz deMello

I’m happy to welcoming my friend and fellow romance writer, Suz deMello. I meant Suz (or Sue, as I first knew her) many years ago when i first joined my local RWA chapter. Then I met up with her again at the Women’s Fiction Festival in Italy two years ago. Here’s a spotlight on her latest short story, Blood is Thicker…

Enjoy!

***

Blood is Thicker… a short story
(previously Immortal Hunters)

Genre: Paranormal action-adventure.

A century-old vampire, Rama is used to shadows and loneliness.

She uses the name Hestia White and lives in a coastal town working as a private investigator. If some bad guys disappear on her shift, no one cares…until John van Helsing shows up. Bearing the name of the vamps’ greatest foe, he interferes in her case and in her life.

Friend, lover or enemy?

Rama is a vampire who was turned as an innocent, impoverished teenager, with no knowledge of the world beyond her desert village.

Knowing that as a young vampire she could not stay there—nourishing herself would endanger her family and friends—she had to venture forth and make a life for herself.

After many adventures (not detailed in the short story) she has become a private investigator in a California coastal town, where she uses her kick-ass abilities and smarts honed from a century of survival to catch and kill bad guys.

Available here: http://www.ellorascave.com/blood-is-thicker.html

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several sub genres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com

Where to stalk Suz:

– For editing services, email her at suzswift@yahoo.com

– Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift, and visit her group page at  https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe

– She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun.

– Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/suzdemello/

– Goodreads: http://bit.ly/SuzATGoodreads

– Her blog is http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com

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What are Kick Ass Heroines made of? By Karyn Pearson

Inferno by Karyn Pearson

Today we welcome author Karyn Pearson on what kick ass heroines are made of. Enjoy!

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What are Kick Ass Heroines made of? What traits does a heroine need before she’s considered as a member of such ranks? At what point does she earn the right to rub shoulders with Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, and Annabeth Chase? Or with Lara Croft, Buffy Summers, and Xena?

A Kick Ass Heroine doesn’t need a hero. She’s her own savior. She stands tall on her own two feet and she’s not waiting around for the prince to save the kingdom. She’s out there in the thick of it, facing dragons, fighting wars, and she’s kicking ass and taking names. Did the princess get kidnapped? The heroine’s got this. Has a sinister villain begun to unveil their plans for world domination? The heroine’s got that too.

Charming, who? A Kick Ass Heroine doesn’t need a Prince Charming. She’s not getting herself sidetracked or caught up in the midst of a love triangle. She’s got far bigger fish to fry—like taking down the bad guy and saving the world. Romance is the least of her worries. But if she finds someone along the way, that’s fine too. She won’t let her love interest hold her back from accomplishing her goals. Evil isn’t going to take a break, so she can’t afford to take one either.

Everything is for the greater good. A heroine makes sacrifices. Sometimes, she often finds herself having to be willing to lose something important to her for the sake of saving others. A Kick Ass Heroine has a very clear sense of the “good of one vs. good of all” mentality. Every action she takes is for the greater good. She understands that even though she has to put the things she wants on hold, in the end, everything she’s done for the “good of all” will be worth it.

Tough as nails on the outside, a caring heart on the inside. While her rough exterior might make her seem aloof, a Kick Ass Heroine is anything but. She is strong, inside and out. She can take a few punches, whether they’re physical or emotional blows. If she’s knocked down she can dust herself off and get back up again. But all that toughness hides her compassionate heart, which will always compel her to come to the aid of those in need. She will use her strength to protect these people, especially the ones she cares about.

Spark by Karyn Pearson

So where do my characters stand? How do they embody the characteristics of a Kick Ass Heroine? In the Hellfire Trilogy, my heroine, Ardentia, is a demon hunter living in the midst of a post-apocalyptic world where angels and demons are at war with one another. Over the course of the trilogy, Ardentia stands in the face of Hell and ultimately becomes their greatest threat. She chooses to take action instead of wait on saviors who might not succeed without her. While her skill set is squarely in her undeterred willingness to fight against the worst possible odds, it is enhanced by her courage not to back down when all others would have.

Ardentia easily falls into the characteristics I have outlined above. Thus far, her journey has pitted her against countless demons of Hell. She faced the Seven Deadly Sins, the Saligia, in Spark. In Inferno, she found herself facing Belial, a Crown Prince of Hell. Now, the journey that lies ahead will lead her to do battle with the most powerful, most dangerous of them all, Lucifer himself.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Karyn Pearson

Karyn Pearson is the author of Spark (Hellfire Trilogy #1) and Inferno (Hellfire Trilogy #2). Her upcoming projects include Embers (Hellfire Trilogy #3) and the first novel in her upcoming series, Arcturian Bloodlines. When she’s not writing, she can be found gaming, playing with her dogs, or reading.

Purchase Links:

Spark (Hellfire Trilogy #1) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E2SY4JY

Inferno (Hellfire Trilogy #2) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I52PMF8/

 

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BEWILDERED A Bewilderness Tale, Book One by A.B. Harms

 Angie Kwon, the illustrator of A. B. Harm's fantasy novel for kids, Bewildered
Angie Kwon, the illustrator of A. B. Harm’s fantasy novel for kids, Bewildered

Today we have the pleasure of meeting Angie Kwon, the illustrator who created all the wonderful art within the pages of A. B. Harm’s fantasy novel for kids, Bewildered. Be sure to scroll to the end of the special giveaway!

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Hi Angie! Thank you for participating in this interview and letting is nose in on your process and experience as the illustrator for Bewildered!

Us: Did you always want to be an artist?

Angie: Pretty much, yes. All I can really remember was constantly drawing as a kid and I had this one obsession of drawing Tweety the bird again and again until I had him perfectly drawn. I think he made me become an odd perfectionist.

Us: Can you tell us a little about the life of a freelance artist? How many jobs do you work at the same time? What is your favorite type of work to do? What’s the best part of the job? The worst?

Angie: I actually just started working as a freelancer and Bewildered was my second job as a freelancer :-) Now I work usually two to three jobs at the same time. My favorite part would have to be when I’m finalizing a sketch. The worst part, well I guess when my client is not satisfied with a certain sketch, and if I can’t produce something my client is in need of.

Us: Your work is very unique. Where do you turn for inspiration? Who are some of your favorite artists?

Angie: I have so many favorite artists and usually my top changes from time. But my favorite so far is Jason Freeny. He’s mostly known for his sculptures and vinyl/resin toys he’s just awesome. I don’t really know where my inspiration comes from… I guess everyday life can be inspiring. Haha!

Us: The cover of Bewildered is gorgeous! It really captures the whimsy, the mood, and the vibrant characters of the story. How did you come up with it? Did you have other drafts besides this one?

Angie: I sketched 3 illustrations and finalized a chosen sketch. The story of Bewildered itself has such vibrant characters and so many great descriptions—it helped me a lot to create a cover for this book.

Us: Do you have a favorite illustration from Bewildered? Which was the most fun to draw? Was there one that was especially challenging to get right?

Angie: They were really all fun to draw and complete. I’d have to say the cover was the most fun and challenging illustration. Challenging illustrations are also more fun to illustrate.

Us: Do you have a favorite character? Is there a scene that you especially liked? Tell us a little about your choices.

Angie: I really, really like the Fabrikator. I really don’t know why. I just loved how Fabrikator was described when Prudence first met her, how huge she was with fabrics all around her body with a ring with pins. Even her name is awesome, Fabrikator. Haha! Every character in the story develops or changes into something better, which always makes me want to read more and wonder what will happen next.

Us: Is this the first book you have illustrated? Tell us about your experience. Do you see yourself seeking out more books to illustrate in the future? (Other than the future Bewilderness Tales, that is!)

Angie: This is my first official book illustration and it was so much fun! I think being able to bring a visual image to a story book is always fun to do. I would defiantly seek out more books to illustrate in the future.

Us: What do you think readers will enjoy most about BEWILDERED?

Angie: EVERYTHING. But I have to say all the characters are so great. I can’t specifically just pick a certain part because everything was such a fun ride to be on.

Us: For those readers who want to become an illustrator or freelance artist, do you have any advice?

Angie: Learn as many different types of mediums as you can and never limit yourself. Have confidence in what you do.

Us: Last question, what is your favorite imaginary creature?

Angie: Cyclops. 

Us: Awesome!

***

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bewildered by A.B. Harms

Prudence Parks is perfect. At twelve-years old, she has the world in her pocket. No messy friends. No silly games. Everything is just right—until her father leaves her an orphan.

When she tumbles into a bizarre realm known as Bewilderness, nothing is as it should be. Insects talk, pirate ships sail on sand, and plants are just plain evil. After she’s banished for claiming to be human, she thinks the worst is behind her. She’s wrong. The Match King, posing as an ally, promises to send her home if she can find the Paper Heart, an ancient treasure. Battling her sense of logic all the while, she meets a living ragdoll and her father’s doppelganger, who melts her icy heart and—to her regret—gives the Match King perfect collateral to ensure she follows through.

Prudence realizes the Match King’s plan to erase Bewilderness from existence, but now she must choose: save the world she has come to love, or find her way home.

BEWILDERED is a middle grade fantasy novel geared toward children ages 9-12. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Miracle on 34th Street. Set once upon a time in a land far, far away, this story illustrates the importance of friendship, courage, and proves believing isn’t always seeing.

Purchase it online at your favorite retailer, or visit your local bookstore!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Smashwords | IndieBound | The Book Depository | Books-a-Million

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A.B. Harms, Author

About the Author

A. B. Harms was born a writer. From a young age, she made her own picture books with crayons and a stapler. As a teenager, she won essay contests. Yet, when she began her career, being an author was the last thing she considered. Finally, after working every job imaginable from waitress to social worker and earning her degree in Psychology, she realized what she was always meant to do–write!

A. B. is from Missouri, has gone around the world and back again, and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family, a pet sloth, who resembles a Great Dane, and a black cat, who moonlights as an assassin. No matter where she hangs her hat, she finds herself at home down the rabbit hole.

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The Delicate Balance of a Lovable Kick-Ass Heroine by Amy Sumida

Godhunter by Amy Sumida

This week we have YA fantasy author, Amy Sumida, share about the delicate balance of a lovable kick-ass heroine.

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Oh how we love her, the kick-ass heroine. She doesn’t back down, she mouths off to villains, and she faces danger with a lifted chin.

She makes us feel stronger just by reading her words. She inspires us to do better, to live better, and to refuse to take crap from anyone.

The difficulty as a writer portraying a tough female character is in keeping her soft enough for us less kick-ass women to relate to. I believe there needs to be a balance of strength and weakness.

In my Godhunter Series, my main character is a witch named Vervain (it’s an herb). She’s sassy, fierce, and always has a come-back but you can also feel her vulnerability.

Her bravery in going up against gods with phenomenal amounts of power is tempered by the fear she hides behind a mask of snarky comments.

She has insecurities and issues that interfere with her love life and no matter how powerful she gets, she never loses those human traits.

I think Laurell K. Hamilton does this very well in the early books of her Anita Blake series. Anita experiences trauma that allows us to relate to her but when Anita starts gaining power in the later books, Ms. Hamilton loses me. Anita fails to hold onto the issues I loved her for, she loses the human frailties that made her strength seem all the more impressive.

So the balance, the delicacy, lies in finding a combination of traits that are both inspiring and vulnerable.

We need to not only be able to cheer when this character kicks ass but cry when she fails.

It’s the journey I love, the growth of the character through the trials she experiences and the strength she shows in how she deals with them.

Personally, I enjoy a character who stands up for herself, who can fight her own battles and yet doesn’t feel the need to emasculate men. She shouldn’t have to, she’s kick-ass, right?

That’s another point where Ms. Hamilton lost me with Anita Blake — her men start becoming subservient.

I can’t see how that would be attractive to a kick-ass woman. Wouldn’t she find that annoying? It’s like a man who loves cats, he’s secure enough in his manhood to acknowledge the beauty of felines. The kick-ass woman should be similar, secure enough in her strength to not need to make others feel weak. She should be able to fight her demons (literal and figurative), then come home and snuggle in the arms of her lover.

Of course, I feel that issues with allowing men to fight her battles  or perhaps comfort her, are appropriate and can be used effectively to show a character’s growth. This could be something she needs to work through but eventually she shouldn’t feel threatened by a strong man.

Also important to a great kick-ass heroine (in my opinion) is a sense of humor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself getting annoyed with a heroine because she just won’t lighten up. You can only be sad for so long, right?

Well you can only be morose for so long, too. After awhile that strong and stoic attitude starts to bug me. She doesn’t have to be a comedian, but I have no desire to see a female kick-ass version of Eyore either. Every book needs some comic relief and I think the cool kick-ass heroine should be able to appreciate that.

So there you go, she needs to be strong yet vulnerable. Respectful of herself without belittling others, and have a sense of humor.

That’s my ideal kick-ass heroine but she may not be yours, and I’m okay with that because I’ve learned enough from the great kick-ass heroines I’ve read about to know how to respect the opinions of others.

***

Amy Sumida lives on a little island in the middle of the Pacific ocean with her two gravity-defying felines. She sleeps in a fairy bed, lifted high in the air, and upon waking, she enjoys stabbing people with tiny needles, over and over, under the guise of making pretty pictures on their skin. She paints dark images on canvases in a cave-like studio carved out of the side of a cliff, and beautiful murals on the walls of her home directly above. She’s happiest with her nose buried in a book or in her laptop as she writes her novels.

She’s the author of several books, including the Godhunter series, Feeding the Lwas, The Magic of Fabric, Enchantress, and Bargains of the Heart.

The first book in her Godhunter series is free on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E9HY740

You can follow both her and her main character, Vervain, on their twitter accounts and blogs.

Amy’s Twitter handle is: @Ashstarte

Vervain’s handle is: @VervainLavine

Amy’s blog can be found on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7200339.Amy_Sumida

Vervain’s is on Tumblr: http://vervainlavine.tumblr.com/

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Let’s Challenge the Media’s Misrepresentation of Women

woman-rhythm-n-blues-wallpaper-calendar-for-june-2010-by nevil zaveri-creative-commons-license

Let’s Challenge the Media’s Misrepresentation of Women

Join me, will you?!

Take Action: Pledge

I’m inspired by the Representation Project and by this article in TakePart: Rated W: This New Ratings System Tests Films on How They Depict Women.

I agree with the author’s assertion that you can’t manage (or change) what you don’t measure.

So let’s call out especially TV and movies that don’t represent women fully.

And, I’m doing my part as an author to represent women as strong, empowered, concerned with having a full life that includes love, adventure, and whatever ambitions I can dream up.

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Kick-Ass Heroines or Empowered Women Characters By Janie Franz

Please welcome Janie Franz as she shares about kick-ass heroines and empowered women characters.

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Strong women certainly appear in my books. In fact, I’ve branded my work as having what I call Empowered Women Characters. Each series or stand alone book has a woman who discovers strength deep within to handle a particular life hurdle.

In the contemporary romance, The Premier, a South Dakota housewife, who writes under the name Susan Davyss, attends the Hollywood premier of a film made from her bestselling novel. She recognizes a buried trouble in her marriage because of her success,  faces Hollywood temptation, and discovers confidence and strength she didn’t know she had.

Im contrast in my book Sugar Magnolia, music journalist/artist Shivaun Corbin draws from her vast inner strength while on assignment at charismatic rocker Daniel Madux’s mansion. She discovers dark secrets and hidden passion as she avoids Madux’s advances and ferrets out a musical mystery. She is a woman who knows herself and her abilities.

Then there is archaeology grad student Kate Ferguson in the Ruins trilogy. Readers see her grow into a woman of power, claiming her psychic abilities, and battling tribal thugs, international smugglers, and cherubic assassins. She is strong, gutsy, and troubled by her gifts. In the last book, Legacy, (which I’m writing currently) her courage and faith are sorely tried and her abilities are further honed.

But I think the epitome of kick-butt heroines are found in the Bowdancer Saga. These six books follow the life of Jan-nell, who was trained as her village’s bowdancer, an office that is a combination of healer, teacher, historian, and spiritual leader with a bit of entertainer tossed in. Though she has gentleness, she is a strong woman who deals gracefully with change and hurt. She opens her mind and heart to town folk on her travels as well as exotic cultures and strange customs. And she can bust a head with her staff, a reminder of the great long bow she used to wield in her duties as bowdancer.

Among those she meets are the famed Warrior Women who live apart on a great mountain. These tall, powerful women need no man, except those to help them conceive. Their independence and strength influence and enhance Jan-nell’s own abilities that are vastly different. Chandro, the master trackfinder, is beset with jealousies and her own doubts about traveling the wide world, but she masters those and opens her heart to her lost sisters as she brings them home.

Then there is master hunter Bekar. She is by far my favorite kiss-ass heroine. She is strong, resourceful, wise, and wounded. Holding her own as she trains with the muscular sword dancers who are royal bodyguards, she earns their respect and she extends her trust to men who become her brothers. She and Jan-nell are foils for each other, highlighting their different abilities while illustrating just how well those qualities fit together—the gentle and wise against the tough and skilled.

I have to also include Mira-nell, Jan-nell’s daughter, in my kick-ass heroines. Even as a wee thing of three summers, she shows precocious insights into human nature. When readers encounter her later, they see that her body has grown into her wisdom and knowledge, but her experiences of life are limited. Even so, she has confidence and owns her own power.

Though all of these kick-ass heroines walk across the pages of my books, many are based on women I’ve encountered in my life. Some are enhancements of those remarkable ladies. Some are composites of the qualities of one or two. And some….well…perhaps they are wishful creations.

We all should have heroes…or heroines….to admire. And I admire all of these empowered women characters.

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Your books sound enchanting, lovely, and empowering, Janie! Thanks for sharing a bit about your Empowered Women Characters with us!

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ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR: Janie Franz comes from a long line of liars and storytellers with roots deep in east Tennessee. Honed by the frigid Northern Plains and the high desert of New Mexico, as well as a degree in anthropology, her writing skill and curiosity generated thousands of feature and cover articles over a vast range of topics for more than a hundred regional, national, and international publications.

She co-wrote two books with Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox (The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book), and self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid!

She is a professional speaker and occasionally reviews books, CDs, and concerts. Previously, she ran her own online music publication, Refrain Magazine, and was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.

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Last Day to Enter Giveaway for Henrietta and the Dragon Stone

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth Barany As you may know, Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, Book 2 in the Five Kingdoms series, was years in the making. I’m so glad it’s finally published! I am super proud of it and have already started on Book 3. (More on that later.)

Please share with your friends and fans of YA adventure fantasy about this book and this fun and special giveaway. Today is the last day.

This giveaway ends March 1, 2014, 12midnight Pacific.

Special book release giveaway for Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (book 2)

Enter to win a signed copy of Henrietta and the Dragon Stone; a $25 Amazon gift card; or a jumbo tote bag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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