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Strong Female Characters

I saw another post asking which stories could use strong female characters, and my answer probably wasn’t what they were looking for: None of them.

Now, before you get up in arms please hear me out, because I do have a reason behind it.

There are already a lot of wonderful books out there with strong female characters as the lead character. A short list:
Aurian by Maggie Furey
Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon
The Hallows Series by Kim Harrison
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Twenty Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet
The Little Flame Series by Melissa Lummis
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina
White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Several books in the Xanth Series by Piers Anthony
Anything by Anne McCaffery
Elvenbane by Andre Norton
Several books in the Wool Series by Hugh Howey
The Shambling Guides by Mur Lafferty
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hit Girls by Garrett Robinson
Anything from the Buffy the Vampire universe.
Harper Collelly series by Charaine Harris.

And these are just the books that I know of because I’ve personally read them (or watched the movie in the case of Hunger Games). There are over 6,000 books in this list with strong female lead characters, many of which have been on best seller lists, or made into movies. And this isn’t even counting all the strong, wonderful women that play secondary roles in books like Kitiara from Dragonlance Chronicles, Catti-brie from the Dritzzt series, or Hermione from Harry Potter. That’s not even getting into comic books. And I’m sure there are thousands more that aren’t even in that list.

All of the stories in my list are sci-fi and fantasy. That’s because I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also know a lot of strong female characters from paranormal romance. I also know of characters from other books, games, and films in many other genres that are strong female characters.

Am I saying we don’t need any more? Of course not, that would be like saying we don’t need more books. I really enjoy reading about strong women doing extraordinary things, and even wrote my own series of books with that in mind so I hope my favorite authors continue writing theirs. I also enjoy reading about mages that slowly go mad, or women who are hell cats and need to be tamed. There are all kinds of books out there, with all kinds of characters, because people come with different attitudes, desires, ideas, and personalities. But I would also encourage more authors to include strong female characters…IF they are a benefit to the story.

Not every story has a woman in it. What if you wrote a story about a man in a men’s shower room? Or a group of men going on a camping trip together? Or a father and son sharing a moment? Or a group of dwarves out to save their mountain? Not every story is going to have a strong female character in it. Not every story is going to have a woman in it. In fact when they added a strong female into The Hobbit some of the fans were less than thrilled with the addition.

A story isn’t always about sex, gender, political correctness, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just a story about a leaf blowing in the wind, or the history of salt, or vampire bunnies. And if a story doesn’t have a female character that doesn’t automatically make it anti-women. Hell, there could be a character in the story that is utterly sexist and the story still might not be about women.

My thought for those looking for strong female characters: Expand your reading list, because there are THOUSANDS of books out there with strong female characters, you just have to be open to finding them. And just so you know, MEN need strong male character role models, too. And both sexes need the ridiculously heroic characters, or the weak ones, or the the psychopathic murderous kings/queens to show them what not to be. It does not take away from your enjoyment of books/films/games/etc because the other sex also has what you are looking for.

And if you think any gender, or genderless, or gender fluid individual needs more characters like them out there: GO WRITE IT! That’s the beauty of the indy world. Anyone can make anything that they think should exist.

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Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Nerdiest convo at work ever.

A customer came in looking to pack his games and game consoles because he’s flying cross country. I suggested shipping as its safer and you can get insurance. He said it was cheaper to take it with him, but he’s worried about his consoles.

Me: see, that’s why all my games are on Steam. If my PC gets hurt I just re-download it to a new pc.

Him: ya, but I gotta have a controller.

Me: but you can use a controller, and there’s the Steam sales.

Him: ya, that’s the only thing that pisses me off. All the games I pay $60 you all get for 2.

Me, with two thumps up: yep, pc gaming all the way!

Him, laughing and smiling: ah, man, don’t give me any of that pc master race shit.

Truth be told I have a bunch of consoles too, and hundreds of games spread between them. But I love my pc. We had a great, if short, chat and I wished him good luck on getting his games across the country.

Mostly this was the geekyest convo I’ve had outside of a convention. I love games, and I wish I could talk about them all the time.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Almost done, and scared

I’m close to finishing book three in my Witch’s Trilogy. This has taken me almost a year and a half to complete. What started as a simple 80,000 word stand alone novel has become a 230,000 word trilogy, something I never thought I could write. I mean the first novel I wrote (which was terrible) took five years. This took 18 months for all three! That’s crazy.

And yet as I get closer to the end I find myself getting scared. Scared to finish. Scared to succeed. But mostly terrified that it will fail. It makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I do it anyway. A few words here, a few sentences there, trying to get to the end even though a big part of me is afraid of doing so. And I know it’s stupid to be afraid.

For the last couple of years I’ve made some great friends, watched them write novels and make a small (or sometimes big) following for themselves. And they’ve done well. I’m happy for them, and I’ve tried to learn from their examples but it all seems to come back to “write more good books. Eventually something will get through.”

Oh, they do other things like ads on facebook and book bub, but mostly they just write good books and keep putting them out there. No wonder they have lots of readers.

So I’ve been telling myself that with the third book I can finally have a trilogy out, three complete novels, and I might be able to do a bit of advertising. But as the time gets closer I realize that… it doesn’t work like that. Oh sure, I could do some advertising (and I will) but really, in the end it might not even matter. Sometimes getting people to pay attention to what you made is just a matter of the right time at the right place.

So I’m afraid that I’ll put up the third book and I won’t sell a single copy. I shouldn’t be afraid of that, not if I really just want to write. But there it is. That gnawing fear.

Here’s the truth: whether I sell a thousand books, or one, or even zero…I’m going to keep writing. I love telling stories, and building worlds. I love seeing what happens to my characters. So I know I shouldn’t care if this book sells anything since I’m going to keep doing it anyway.

But I also know it’s nice to have some validation that what I say matters to someone. And I don’t know where to get that validation. I suppose I should figure that out soon, because it probably won’t come from sales any time soon.

After this last book in the trilogy I’m going to go back to making my own covers, and probably shorter works because editing can get expensive, but I will continue to write. And I won’t feel the pressure to finish them like I do with this one because I won’t have invested so much money into them… just time, and me. I think I’d rather invest myself in my books then money anyway.

Anyway, time to get back to the writing. Fear or not, I want to finish it. Even if no one ever reads it I need to say that I finished it.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Are My Little Pony’s for girls?

thingIf I said “Transformers and Superheroes are for boys and your little girl is weird if she watches it” you’d probably be pissed. I know I would. As a little girl I watched tons of X-men, Batman, Spiderman, and Transformers. Heck, anything with a -man at the end was okay with me. I also watched some She-ra and a few other cartoons that were specifically for girls and the boys would shun. But not a lot of them.

Honestly, I have to admit that a part of me thought “if this isn’t good enough for boys then why am I watching it. They think it’s gross, so maybe it is.” Even today there is a small hint of shame when I say I liked She-ra as a little girl.

The dilemma: Programs are still marketed for girls or boys. They still encourage a specific gender norm. Boys like cars and superheroes. Girls like make up and fashion. But what if they don’t? Is that wrong?

I could care less about fashion and makeup, the things that are marketed to girls. I like the way I look without those things, and I buy my clothes off the discount racks because I’m not spending $300 for a pair of shoes or a dress. I like to look pretty like any other girl, but I don’t like wasting my money on “fashion”. Does that make me less of a woman? Hell no!

Society won’t tell a girl that she is wrong for watching superheroes, but they will definitely tell a boy he is wrong for watching My Little Pony’s. Why? My Little Pony’s has catchy music, nice animation style, good morals and themes, and most of all it focuses on how important friendship is. Something many children have problems with add they are distanced from one another with computers and tech. And for boys who learn that showing emotions is “girly” and makes you weak this is even better. Finally they have a role model that lets them know it’s okay to tell people what you’re really thinking/feeling.

I think the stereotype of what girls and boys like (or rather what can be sold to their parents) has been shifting for a while, and toy companies are slowly being dragged along kicking and screaming. Take the #wheresrey hashtag that’s been going around since the release of “Force Awakens”. People were PISSED that the main character of the show was no where to be seen in any of the merchandise. Because Hasbro, who had the contact for merch on Star Wars, believes that little girls don’t buy merchandise, and little boys don’t buy toys with girl dolls in them, she was no where to be seen. And it wasn’t the first time they did this. They also left out Black Widow from the Avengers set, and Gamora was left out of the Guardians of the Galaxy set and t-shirts. The Black Widow issue is so annoying they have a whole tumbler for it.

That’s why there is a difference between dolls and action figures even if they look the same. An action figure of She-ra is a doll. A doll of GI Joe is still an action figure, even if it looks a lot like a Ken doll in camos. Girls get dolls, boys get action figures, right? That’s been how it was for decades, but we’re also breaking down that stereotype. My son had a baby doll when he was two years old. He carted it around all over the place, and he loved it. I had no issues with it. I’ve seen other little boys holding dolls as well, and there are some great reasons to let kids, boys and girls, play with baby dolls. Why wouldn’t you want a boy to grow up thinking that it’s okay for him to hold a baby? Or would you rather stick with the idea that it’s “women’s work” to take care of babies?

The biggest problem is that cartoons are made to sell merchandise, not to get kids to watch them. When the creators of My Little Pony came to Hasbro with the new format (which was geared to a more modern and slightly older generation) Hasbro would not give them the go ahead unless they made the show about fashion and makeup, two things that weren’t suppose to be in the show at all when first developed. They had to make Rarity a pony with her own fashion studio to satisfy the requirements. So imagine their surprise when teen boys became their biggest demographic.

Trying to perpetuate age old stereotypes has not helped the toy industry, which is sad. The movie industry is starting to break free with movies like Frozen and Force Awakens with women playing prominent, strong roles. Why shouldn’t it be the same for boys who are allowed to watch My Little Pony’s?

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Adaptation

Gregg is asleep on the couch behind me, and Raymond is bed. I’m sitting here at my computer trying to clear my thoughts so I can write a little more before bed.

Some days are like today. My brain starts racing, filled with all the things I need and want to do, unable to focus on one thing. Unable to decide what the best course of action is to take. So I came here to talk a bit, and try to order my thoughts.

Gregg calls it my “Rapunzel syndrome.” (Don’t look that up, the actual Rapunzel syndrome isn’t pretty, and google has pictures. I made that mistake.)

He calls it that because for the majority of my life I was, for all intense and purposes, locked in a tower. As a child we lived thirty miles from town and I only had my siblings to hang out with. I chose not to spend time with them usually because we didn’t get along, so I would spend hours each day high up in a tree, or out wandering in the woods. At school I’d retreat to the library during every recess and break to read, or browse the books. Even in high school when I did have a few friends they were sure to point out when I made social fopas. I spent most of my teens not speaking because I knew if I asked a question, or said something it would revival how inept I was.

Then I got married and of the fifteen years I was married I spent the majority of it at home with the kids. I did go out much, and if I did it was usually with the husband and the kids to go shopping. I went to church for a year or two, but only to sit in a pew and listen to the sermon, then run back home to care for the children.

Want an example. In ninth grade I was sitting with my friends eating lunch when a girl came over to sit with us. I didn’t know her, no one seemed inclined to introduce us, so I just asked “what’s your name?” Everyone else was mortified. I just wanted to know the name of the girl I was talking to, but apparently I said it in the wrong way. Years later when my husband would take me places he NEVER introduced me to anyone, and I would mostly not say anything because I just didn’t know what I was suppose to say. How did you introduce yourself to someone you didn’t know? I would try now and then, but usually without success. One time he took me over to his sisters (a sister he hadn’t seen in a decade, and I never met) and sat there and talked with her for thirty minutes without acknowledging my existence. I finally said “You must be (name), I’m Crissy.” She gave me a cold look and said “No, my name is (X).” and she hated me ever since. The name I said was only slightly different than her actual name, but apparently some people get really offended if you get their name wrong. Or maybe she was just looking for a reason to hate me. Doesn’t matter. The point is I’m awkward, and I know it.

My social experience is…almost nonexistent. I didn’t start feeling like I could handle actual conversations, especially with strangers, until I got my first “real” job. I was 30 years old. And even then it took months for me to finally get to the point where I thought I could have a conversation without blushing, fumbling, or saying something completely stupid. (I still say stupid stuff now but I no longer care, so that’s a plus.)

So, basically locked in a tower for thirty years of my life. I didn’t grow up learning to deal with everyday things like other people. I don’t know basic social ques, or have the ability to filter out multiple imputes like other people. I don’t even understand half the things going on when I’m in a large crowd of people.

Gregg called it my Rapunzel Syndrome, and explained it beautifully to me a couple days ago.

When I get into a situation that has a lot of new input (a new store, lots of new people, a new event) my brain goes into sensory overload and I don’t know where to focus my attention, or what to do. Other people do this without thinking, and don’t understand my dilemma, so it causes some social awkwardness. The easiest solution for me to fix this is to focus on one thing. Usually that one thing is Gregg. I go to him, put my hand in his, lean against him, listen to the sound of his voice, and it usually calms the circuits in my brain that are on overload and I’m able to try again.

But Gregg isn’t always there. In fact this anxiety has made it difficult for me to do new things, go new places, try new experiences because I know with new things there comes the overwhelming anxiety that makes me want to run back to my car. My car is safe, familiar, and I can turn the music on and focus on it. But then I’m in the car and not in the event.

So two days ago Gregg tells me his new theory on why my brain short circuits when we go out some times and he says “take out your phone and start looking at Reddit.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to be on Reddit while I’m shopping.”

“Trust me,” he said.

So I did it. I pulled out my phone, slid open the screen, and tapped the Reddit app. Less than a minute later the racing thoughts in my head were dulled by the funny GIF, and the interesting news article on the front page of Reddit. I was safe, I was home.

And I felt a little sick of myself. After all, I was trying to have  a nice outing with my boyfriend and there I was reading Reddit to keep my brain from overloading. Couldn’t I even go Christmas shopping without having a melt down? Horsefeathers!

But he was right. I needed something new to help order my thoughts, something that would give me a little freedom from the house so that I could go new places and try new things. And apparently my phone is it. It’s sad to say that I am more addicted to my phone than I ever was before, but at the same time my phone gives me freedom from my underdeveloped mind that I never had.

Anxiety sucks. Being the closest thing to a shut in without being a shut in SUCKS! For a few years all I did was go to work, go home, go to sleep, then go back to work. If it wasn’t for Gregg I’d probably still be doing that. But at least now I have a little adventure, and I try a little more each day.

Maybe that’s why I love to write fantasy so much. For those brief moments I get to go anywhere I want, and see anything I can imagine. I fly on the backs of Griffins, and dive deep into the sea with mermaids. There are airships, and castles floating above the clouds. And all of it is right in my mind.

I hope to keep growing, and be a little less like Rapunzel every day.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Commentary, Personal Notes

 

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My Brain is Mush

sunshortI’ve been making a lot of youtube videos this last week. It’s turning my brain to mush.

I am really enjoying all the videos, and the community around booktube. It gives me something to post to my youtube, and I love learning about new books. But I think I dove into a little fast. I keep thinking I need to write today and my brain keeps saying “but we already did the thinking for today, lets rest.”

Am I going to take a break from the videos? Heck no. I am, however, going to work a little smarter. I will be doing some batch videos (as in recording several of them all at one time) and uploading them to the youtube scheduler. I’m trying to keep it to four short (under 10 min) videos a week. That seems doable, for both me and the those of you who might watch.

I’ve also met some really fantastic book tubers like Books with B, Book Babble, and Call me Tea. Let’s not forget Richard Denney (there should be more men in the Booktube space.)

I also joined a couple goodreads communities, and have been watching videos from people within those communities to see what everyone is up to.

Let’s be honest, it’s a lot to take in.

I think Thursday will be a day for catching up on everything. Make some videos, send off some mail, and write write WRITE!

But for all the added stress I’ve given myself Booktube has given me a great gift. The gift of learning to talk to the camera without fear. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable in front of the camera and enjoying all the parts of my youtube channel. I’m even doing a little editing. (Now if I can just find a way to add an overlay to the videos.)

Tomorrow I will be putting up my “Wednesday Top 5” list on banned books that I loved. Look for that.

And have a wonderful week everyone.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Commentary, Updates

 

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Thrift Shop Band

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Gregg and I like going to thrift sites to find interesting and random things. I’ve found some really cool statutes, and really crazy masks. It’s fun, and relaxing, and occasionally we bring home good books, or useful items.

Yesterday we found ourselves in yet another isle in yet another thrift shop. We found a couple rain sticks, and every time I found a new one I picked it up to listen to the rain. In this Isle I picked one up, listened to it, then walked a couple get to find another. As I picked it up a girl at the other end picked up the one I found earlier.

“Oh look, we can start a band,” I said, and we both made it rain.

Her friend giggle, then I handed her a minny thumb drum and said “you shouldn’t be left out.”

“One more instrument and we can have a four man band,” said the first girl with the rain stick.

I obliged and handed Gregg a maraca.

There, in the middle of the thrift store Isle, we played a little ditty. It was terrible, but it was fun.

You’re never too old to have fun.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Commentary

 

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