Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert: a Joy and an Inspiration

Elizabeth Gilbert (left) and a very excited me

Elizabeth Gilbert (left) and a very excited me

I’m popping my head out of the research cave to share with you an amazing opportunity I got this past week. Last Tuesday, I had the good fortune to meet author Elizabeth Gilbert as part of her book tour for The Signature of All Things. (If you haven’t read it yet, go, go, go! It’s historical fiction that is so lush, you really feel like you’re there with the characters. Plus, it’s unique to all the other nineteenth century novels out there – I promise you’ve never seen these characters or settings before.)

I first encountered Elizabeth like so many of us, with Eat Pray Love, which had a profound effect on my life, albeit one I can’t really put into words. But how I really came to love her was through her TED talks on creativity. (Here’s are the first on creative genius and the second on success, failure and the drive to keep writing). Both of them made me cry, in a good way, out of pure joy at encountering someone who spoke directly to my artistic soul. Then I read The Signature of All Things (I’m about ¾ of the way through – had to give it back to the library, but now I own it!) and knew she was an author I’d stick with long into the future.

Elizabeth is no less wonderful in person than she is on the Internet. She has the rare gift of being both a fantastic writer and an inspiring, engaging and entertaining speaker. And she’s so human.  I found myself in tears (it had been a very trying day anyway) several times while she spoke, nodding my head, thinking, “Yes, yes. This confirms that I’m meant to be a writer.” I’ve included below a recording of her opening remarks and reading from The Signature of All Things. (Not sure why it didn’t give me a proper thumbnail. The video really is there, I promise. Sorry if the sound is low. This is the best I could do.)

 

Even if you don’t watch that, you may want to see her answer to a fan’s question about where she gets her inspiration. I missed the beginning of her answer, but she started with “Are you ready to get freaky?” and proceeded to explain how she believes ideas are always floating around looking for a home (which is my theory as well. I believe our stories choose us, not the other way around):

Other highlights of her talk/Q&A:

  • Even though Eat Pray Love was such a huge success, she was not an overnight phenomenon. She was three books into her career before she quit her day job.
  • She recommends writing every day and using a kitchen timer for whatever time you can allot yourself, even if it’s only 15 or 30 minutes. She doesn’t work based on word count because “you might right one word one day that’s a really important word, but a thousand the next and end up having to delete them all.”
  • She will be continuing in historical fiction (yay!). Her next book is set in the theatre world of 1940s New York. (Love that already!)
  • She is still in touch with everyone mentioned in Eat Pray Love, except for Richard from Texas, who passed away three years ago. But they were close friends to the end and she spoke at his funeral.
  • She talked about the word focus and that it comes from the Latin word for “fire.” The idea is that when people sit around a fire, they inevitably end up all staring into the fire. She emphasized the importance of making sure you have a fire at the center of your narrative to keep your reader’s attention.
  • Her biggest tip for anyone is to follow a path of curiosity, because that spark of questioning will lead you to your passion in life.
  • She also talked about how you can tell more truth in fiction than in memoir and many times you end up doing it without even realizing it. She said that while memoirs are true, they are a matter of “making a piece of art out of what happened,” rather than showing you a raw diary. They are by necessity, very polished versions of the truth. In fiction, you can let the more raw versions of yourself out.
  • Her sister is MG/YA author Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

IMG_0712When she was finished speaking, Elizabeth was kind enough to personalize the already autographed books and sign copies of other books people brought along. I had her sign my copy of Eat Pray Love as well. While she was doing that, I got to talk to her a bit about being a writer and she noticed my tattoos and wanted to see what they said. When it was my turn to get a picture taken, she put her arm around me and said, “oh, you!” in a favorite aunt sort of way. It was a wonderful, uplifting experience that went a long way toward refreshing my well of creativity and hope, which was running a bit dry.

I’m really amazed by the kindness and graciousness of the three authors I’ve been fortunate to meet so far (Alyson Noel, Deb Harkness and Elizabeth). They strong women in their own right and wonderful examples of how to interact with your fans. I hope that I’ve internalized what I’ve learned from them and will be just as pleasant to my fans someday as they are.

If nothing else, they’ve all taught me some important lessons: 1) success is possible, 2) don’t ever give up, 3) it may take time, but it will happen.

Have you ever gotten to meet a famous author? If so, who? What was it like? If not, who do you want to meet?

Hungry Like the Wolf

I wrote this post about two weeks ago, but didn’t publish it because I thought it may come off as…I don’t know…self serving, obnoxious, something bad. But then last night I saw this blog on why it’s okay to want as long as you do something about it (she gets to the point about halfway through the post) and I figured I may as well put my honest feelings out there. Here goes nothin’…

hunger-for-success1I had one of those ah-ha moments this morning: I realized that I’m hungry to be a professional author. I always thought that phrase, “hungry,” was silly, especially when applied to the business world. It conjured up images of corporate executives on the rise who stabbed each other in the back on their way to the top. But now that I’ve experienced true artistic hunger, I get it. It’s not about stepping on others; it’s about being your best and constantly striving to raise the bar.

For me, this hunger is a type of driving ambition, a compelling force that makes me take on more in order to establish a career doing the thing I love. I’ve always known that I want to write for a living and how much I love it, but this is something more. My word for 2014 was “bloom,” and I’m ready to burst forth.

I know the only way to guarantee success (as much as one can) is to write great books. I hope I’m doing that. I’m devoting every spare moment to research for this new project that I’m really passionate about. In the process, I discovered another historical figure that it doesn’t look like much has been written about (she’s from a slightly later period than the Celts). Now I’m planning to write her story next year, along with another contemporary story and possibly a Celtic historical fiction.

I’m also planning my conference schedule for 2015. (In case you were wondering:  BEA in New York in May, the Historical Novel Society conference in Denver in June and possibly Sirens in Portland in October.) But I don’t just want to attend; I want to speak at these events, to share what I’ve learned with others. I want to get to know other authors and avid readers in person. I’m also considering applying for a two-week residency (the longest amount of vacation time I can get) at Hedgebrook (where I took classes with Deb Harkness earlier this year) for their 2015 or 2016. (Oh yeah, and I’m trying to save money to move to another city, but that’s a story for another day.)

In the midst of all this, I saw an announcement for a historical fiction book award. Obviously, I don’t qualify for that yet, but it’s on my dream list (with many others) for the future. I’ve always been award-happy (I blame it on the dance trophies when I was little), but it’s about more than pretty bauble or a fancy title; it’s about recognition by your peers. I want that. I want everything and I’m willing to work as hard as I have to in order to get it.

Yet, I know this hunger has a down side and I’m beginning to feel it. The danger in this is trying to do too much, especially too soon. So much of publishing is out of our hands as authors (as opposed to most of the writing part, save editing). All I can do right now is keep producing good work and believing things will break for me whenever they are supposed to. But in the meantime, I have to be careful to guard my health and not burn out. Thankfully, I have family and friends who are willing to tell me to take time off when I can’t see that I need it.

I’m not exactly sure why I felt that I should write about this. Maybe it was to share my experience, my joy in all the exhausting work I am doing. Maybe it’s to try to find others of like mind, to know I’m not alone in this obsessive need to write, to do more, to be more and better myself, even though very few people know who I am right now.

PS – You’re welcome for the Duran Duran earworm from the title of this post. :)

What are you hungry for? Have you ever had this experience? How did you handle it? How do you deal with your hunger?

Blog Tour: The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears

The Masked Songbird_FC (2)Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Emmie Mears, whose debut novel, The Masked Songbird (published by Harlequin) comes out this Tuesday, July 1. She’s in the middle of a whirlwind blog tour, but was kind enough to sit down with me to answer a few questions. She’s also provided an excerpt from her book (at the end of this post). You can preorder THE MASKED SONGBIRD at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK. Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4!  
 1. Your book has been billed as “Bridget Jones meets Spider-Man.” How does that work? What can readers expect?

A lot of the superheroes we see are born with their powers and responsibilities. I wanted to write a character from the other side of that. Peter Parker is one of the latter; he goes from a picked-on kid to a superhero, which is one of the reasons I think he’s been so relatable for so many people. I wanted to write a messy woman who doesn’t have her life together learning how to build her own strength when those around her would rather she be weak.

2. You’ve referred to Gwenllian, your main character, as Scotland’s first superhero.  Tell us a little about her.

I got beaten to the punch a bit with Saltire, a big blue superhero who debuted not long ago. :) Gwen Maule isn’t big OR blue, but she definitely packs a punch. Scotland is in a time of transition right now, and whether the Scots choose to forge their own nation apart from the UK or stay within the UK, and I wanted to write a character that reflected that transitional period. However Scotland votes, people across the country are in the process of making up their minds and learning about themselves and what they want for their country in the process.

3. Why as it important to you to create a female superhero, and in this particular location at this time in history?

To go with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks theme, I think having female superheroes (and superheroes of color with different ability levels and other qualities outside of a variation in 5 o’clock shadow) is important to show that you don’t have to share a gender with a superhero to find her relatable. Growing up female, I desperately wanted to see people like me doing awesome things and saving the world, but I also deeply identified with Peter Parker, Wolverine, and other male superheroes who were trying to find their way in the world. The more diverse stories that are out there, the more we can break down the walls for those who are accustomed to seeing their own demographic’s dominance and show them that they can find themselves in other stories as well.

4.  If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Teleportation. Hands down. Think Davy in Jumper more than Nightcrawler, though.

5.  I know you have a degree in history. If you could live in any other time period, what would it be and why?

The future. One of the reasons I write is to be able to imagine better worlds than the one we’ve inherited. I couldn’t imagine myself going back in time to be someone’s property, but I like to pretend I have hope for a better future.

6.   What’s next for you?

Next in the pipeline is the sequel to THE MASKED SONGBIRD as well as a little non-fiction debut, A GEEK GIRL’S GUIDE TO FANDOM, also from Harlequin. I’m thrilled to get the chance to work more with my editor, and I can’t wait to continue Gwen’s story. After that, I’ve got a few other secret projects in development.

The Masked Songbird blurb:

Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.

Excerpt from The Masked Songbird:

CHAPTER 1

Days Until Referendum: 24

POOF.

That’s the sound I imagine my boss’s head making when it explodes.

Or maybe BLAM. A comic book noise, written in all-caps in a jagged bubble at the top of the panel while I dance a jig and pick bits of her out of my hair. As Annamaria de Fournay speaks into her mobile, not facing me, the back of her head displays no outward indication of an imminent explosion.

She toys with a white card, eyes fixed on a bouquet of purple-blue flowers in a fluted white vase. “I appreciate the flowers,” she says without a hint of irony. “Interesting choice.”

I wait for her to notice me, but her gaze remains locked on the angular petals. After a beat, she goes on.

“The research has been completed? You’re certain, then.” She pauses, a hint of a smile hovering at the corner of her mouth. “You’ll have to work out what to put it in. Something sweet would work.” She turns her head away from the bouquet and starts, seeing me. The almost-smile vanishes. “I’ll ring you back.” She drops her mobile on the table and looks at me as if I’ve walked into the loo to find her on the toilet with her knickers around her ankles.

She says nothing for forty-seven seconds. I cough. “Ms de Fournay, you wanted to see me?”

“Took you long enough to get here.”

I’m not going to remind her that she was on the phone when I arrived. What research was she talking about? A momentary picture of de Fournay at a chemistry set blowing up beakers of bright green liquid intrudes, and I shake it away before I crack a smile. She’s probably just researching the top ten habits of highly effective arseholes.

The Queen swivels in her chair and turns her green eyes on me. I instantly pity the bouquet for having to endure forty-seven seconds of that stare.

Her hair falls in exquisite curls to her breasts, and her nose rises toward the ceiling when I fail to apologise at once, and I look at my hands where they sit clasped in my lap, focusing my gaze on the small ruby ring Mum gave me when I turned eighteen.

De Fournay laces her fingers on the table. Not one of her nails is smudged or chipped. Even if I made her salary, I don’t reckon I’d get a manicure every day. I refuse to accept that she keeps them so perfect without daily upkeep.

“The financial you ran on Francis Duck’s merger lacked any glaring errors. He was very pleased, and he requested that I tell you personally of his…esteem.” Annamaria de Fournay’s lip quirks as if someone has tugged at a marionette string.

I stare at her, waiting for her to continue. I don’t trust myself not to squeak or belch or scream if I open my mouth, so I nod with as much grace as I can muster.

“Additionally, he asked that you be responsible for his summaries for the foreseeable future. I trust you understand the value of his continued loyalty to our company and conduct yourself accordingly.”

I nod again, not sure if de Fournay just praised me or if I fell through my mirror this morning into Wonderland. Or Bizarroworld.

For one shining moment, I think she’s going to let me go without a thrashing.

Instead her lips, top and bottom, as even and calculated as the rest of her, flatten into a line. She gestures to the chair across from her, dropping a folder on the table.

I sit, cupping the arms of my chair with both hands and trying to absorb the coolness of the plastic as a buffer against the verbal flamethrower she secrets away behind those lips. Her eyes are stony jade, her chin high, her skin smooth as a morning loch.

One immaculate French-manicured fingernail lands on the file folder that bridges the mahogany conference table between us. The white crescent of the nail’s tip reflects the fluorescent light from the ceiling, and as she leans forward, I smell the rosewater she dabs at her temples every day at two-thirty.

It might be a friendly gesture if I hadn’t seen it every day for three years. In spite of the compliment she just paid me, something in that file is my fault, and those even lips are about to part in a searing tirade against my character, my work ethic, my mum’s Welshness, my parochial highland crofter upbringing and the ethical conundrum of Mum allowing me to live past birth. Most days, Annamaria de Fournay believes my mother ought to have shrouded me in white linen and fed me to the selkies.

She opens the folder. A rush of rose scent crests over the table like a breaking wave. Pushing one sheet of paper toward me, her lips manage to stay in formation even as she speaks.

Miraculous.

“Do read this date for me.”

I blink, following the line of her finger down to its gleaming, polished end and read aloud. “Nineteenth of August.”

“Do you not find that curious?”

I find her accent obnoxious, but the date looks mundane enough to me.

Annamaria de Fournay came to Edinburgh from Cambridge, but if you ask her about it, you’d think she came straight from Buckingham Palace. While I don’t doubt that she’s English, the way she pushes every vowel out through the bridge of her nose makes it sound as though she’s thanking her subjects in St James’s Court rather than pointing out a discrepancy in an accounting report.

I shift my shoulders in response to her question.

 “This report was due the ninth of August, Ms Maule. Not the nineteenth, though I see how someone who squints as much as you do could imagine a one in front of the nine.”

Och, aye. That. Truth is, the report was turned in on the eighth of the month, but telling her would just make her set me aflame.

My eyesight is fine. I squint because her rosewater makes my eyes burn.

I used to try to argue my case with her. At least until it resulted in her dragging me into her office every day to flay me with words. Bringing up Francis Duck’s account will only make her angrier. Now I shut up, try to tune her out, and hope she’ll let me return to my blissfully unscented office.

I settle in, painting my face with an expression I hope radiates contrition and humility. I likely just look constipated, but she prattles on, and I wait for her mobile to beep for her next meeting. Two-thirty, rosewater scratch and sniff. Three o’clock, humiliate Gwenllian Maule. Three-thirty, fawn over clients and water them with expensive single malt.

I’m a part of her schedule now, as surely as the rosewater.

 “We are Edinburgh’s finest accountancy firm, and the go-to resource for businesses in the northern United Kingdom. Our clients expect more than a crofter’s level of professionalism, Ms Maule. Sheep and accountancy are not bedfellows. You will submit a revised report by Friday. And,” she continues with no change in tone, “I will not tolerate any more careless mistakes of this nature. Do it again and I won’t wait for your annual review to fire you—and no number of compliments from Francis Duck will keep you in this office.”

Fired. I can almost see bills popping up above my head in bubbles. Rent. Mobile. The university loans I make just enough to pay monthly. Credit cards. Car repayment for a car that doesn’t even run. My shoulders curl in, and the air I draw into my lungs feels thick, heavy. I’m glad I’m already sitting down, because I feel wobbly and lightheaded. My annual review is coming up in a couple short weeks. The review is just the excuse she needs to get rid of me, contract or no contract.

De Fournay waits for my response, her eyes trained on my face.

My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I force the words out so she’ll stop looking at me. “It won’t happen again, Ms de Fournay.”

I almost sound sure of it.

Just my luck. One of our best clients picks me to do his reports, and she still finds a way to remind me that nothing I ever do here is good enough.

Her eyes drop back to the desk, and I uncurl my shoulders, waiting for the air in the room to thin without her unblinking gaze to thicken it. Her fingernail scans across the report like a heat-seeking missile, searching for more mistakes she can throw in my face. Finding none, she returns to the subject of my idiocy.

I stop listening and watch Annamaria de Fournay’s head, looking for signs of it going POOF. If only I could press a red button and make it so.

About Emmie Mears:

Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears and join her on Facebook!

Please leave your comments for Emmie below. She’ll be around to answer them.

We’re Three Today!

Photo courtesy of Tiiu Roiser - www.freetiiupix.cwahi.com

Photo courtesy of Tiiu Roiser – http://www.freetiiupix.cwahi.com

Happy Blogiversary! Can you believe it’s been three years since I started this blog? Wow, time really does fly. Thank you all for being here and supporting me in my writing and research. I love hearing from all of you. As always, if you have any suggestions about what you want to read about here, let me know, either in the comments or by email. I’m happy to take requests.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of Roman Britain and Early England: 55BC – AD 871 by Peter Hunter Blair. I thought that was only appropriate given how much we talk about Celtic history around here. If you’re interested, please let me know in the comments and leave your email address so I know how to contact you. I’ll select one winner at random on Saturday, June 21 (which just happens to be Midsummer).

I also wanted to take a minute to let you know that I may not be blogging quite as often for the next month or so. I’m going to try to maintain the weekly schedule, but I’m working very hard on a project I can’t talk about yet and it’s taking up most of my non-work hours. It’s something I’m really enjoying and I think you’ll be excited about it, too. I just wanted you to know why you may not be hearing from me quite as much.

Love to all of you!

Hell Yes, We Need Strong Female Characters

joss-whedon-strong-female-charactersThere’s seems to be a lot of rumbling lately over whether or not female characters – both in books and movies – should be labeled “strong.” Some authors have come out in vehement abhorrence of the term. But I think it’s not only needed, it’s necessary. Here’s why.

As women in the 21st century, we live in an in-between time. Our mothers and grandmothers paved the way for the rights we enjoy today with the feminist revolution. Thanks to them, we are accepted (mostly) in the workplace, have sexual harassment laws in place (that protect us some of the time) and are on our way toward shattering the glass ceiling. But that doesn’t mean we’re there yet. We still don’t have equal pay, are still objectified by the media (see the arguments about how women are portrayed in video games and comic books if you want examples) and are still “slut shamed” in cases of rape and sometimes just for being female (see the #yesallwomen Twitter hashtag), just to name a few. And that’s only here in America. Around the world women have much worse laws and traditional viewpoints to live under. We and our children and grandchildren will be the ones to finally bring about equality.

That is the point at which the word “strong” will no longer be needed. I agree with authors who say strong women should be the default portrayal and we shouldn’t need to call it out. But we’re not there yet. For every one She-ra or Buffy there are a dozen Bellas, good little women content to play the traditional subservient role. Until that mindset ends, we need the distinction because it helps women, especially young, impressionable girls, see and internalize the difference.

Part of the debate is semantics. By strong, do we mean physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually or something else entirely? When I use the term, I mean all of the above. To me, “strong” is about sovereignty and agency – the ability as a woman to take your life into your own hands and make your own choices (or the development thereof, if you don’t start out in a position of strength).

Last week, an article appeared in the Huffington Post asking if Katniss Everdeen is really a strong female character. While the article was good, to me, it posed one of the dumbest questions ever. Of course she is. Even if you only look at the physical aspect, Katniss won the Games. Mentally? Yep. She started a revolution by nearly ending her own life in order not to give in to the rules of the Games, which she felt were wrong. Emotionally, she has to be strong to endure all she does in the trilogy without losing her mind.

Yes, Hollywood is obsessed with physical strength. They are obsessed with physical everything, and that is due in part to the nature of film: it’s a visual medium. Physical strength is much easier to show in a movie, so that’s what they focus on. Mental, emotional and especially spiritual strength is much more subtle. We have only a few actresses with the talent to portray those roles.

But I think the bigger issue is that roles embodying these less obvious types of strength aren’t being sold (note I didn’t say they weren’t being written) to major production houses because Hollywood doesn’t trust that people will go to see them. Sex, violence and things that go boom are (or at least seem to be) what draw people to theaters. Until that changes, we aren’t likely to see many women who embody strength that isn’t, to quote Natalie Portman, “macho.”

And even if physically strong female characters isn’t the right definition of “strong,” it’s a darn good start. Humans are imitative creatures; it’s how we learn. So what if our girls want to be like these women? We have an obesity epidemic in this country; girls being more active can only help their health. Plus, women who can defend themselves are less likely to be victims of physical or sexual abuse. If you need another reason, studies about body image have shown over and over that when women feel good about their bodies, their overall confidence increases. That can lead positive changes in the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of life. Having a kick-ass woman as a role model is certainly much healthier than watching one who succumbs to or tolerates various types of abuse.

One of the other things I often see cited in this argument about strong female characters is that a female main character can’t be strong if she’s part of a love triangle. There was one in The Hunger Games (even though I never felt like Gale stood a chance). There’s one in all of my books. So what? Life is full of them. Competing for a mate is in our animalistic human nature. If the story was reversed, would it make a man any less macho to have two women fighting over him? Nope. Actually, it would have the opposite effect.

In a previous Spellbound Scribes post, I said I was going to get this tattoo to remind me I'm a strong woman and have a duty to create strong female characters, and I did! http://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/we-are-all-the-dragons-daughters-what-a-got-video-taught-me-about-strong-women/

In a previous Spellbound Scribes post, I said I was going to get this tattoo to remind me I’m a strong woman and have a duty to create strong female characters, and I did! http://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/we-are-all-the-dragons-daughters-what-a-got-video-taught-me-about-strong-women/

And God forbid a female character wants to be part of the love triangle (with at least one of the men). Then she’s seen as traditional and weak. If she wants to get married and have kids, forget it – she’s a pariah in some feminist circles. Since when did wanting love, romance, family and companionship become equated with being not strong? Somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten this warped mindset that occasionally needing help or wanting a partner to share the burdens of life with is a bad thing if you want to be seen as strong. That’s crap. We all need help. And you know what? Sometimes we do need rescuing, just as men do. We’re meant to be there for one another, not push each other way. Love is something we all desire. It’s great for a woman to be independent, but no one can get through life alone. As long as she stands up for what she believes in, is true to herself and doesn’t rely on a man to save her, then a woman is strong.

I hope I live to see the day when the phrase “strong female character” is replaced with “female character.” But until then, I’m going to do everything I can to create characters who are strong in every way. In my Arthurian books, Guinevere is physically strong, but she’s also resourceful. She doesn’t sit around waiting for her champion to get her out of jams; she comes up with her own escape plans. Isolde, on the other hand, has no fighting skills, but she’ll talk circles around any man because she is smart and clever.  In He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Annabeth wants to find her other half, to fall in love and have a family, but that doesn’t make her weak. She stands up for the principles she believes in, refuses to be dominated by those who try (both male and female), and takes her fate into her own hands. And there are many more characters where they came from. I just haven’t gotten them down on paper yet.

Just as there are many personalities in the world, there are many types of strength. And there’s room on the bookshelf for all of them – the courageous ovarian cancer patient, the female survivor of war, the aspiring mom-to-be who refuses to settle in her choice of a husband, the ambitious female college student who dreams of being CEO, and even the fantasy superhero. We need all of these examples so that every woman has a strong hero to look up to, no matter where her life and her dreams may take her.

What do you think about the phrase “strong female character?” Is it necessary? Who are some of your favorite “strong” book heroines? Is there one that has changed your life or to whom you especially relate? Please share your stories below.

Seven Tips for Finding More Time to Do What You Love

Originally posted on Spellbound Scribes:

I mentioned I;m German, right? Therefore, I get to use a cuckoo clock. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I mentioned I’m German, right? Therefore, I get to use a cuckoo clock. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve had a few people tell me in the last few days that my drive and ambition in writing are impressive. This got me to wondering what makes me any different from anyone else. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that I choose to focus the vast majority of my free time on something that I love and am trying to build into a full-time career.

To give you some perspective, here’s my world: I work a full-time job (which involves a lot of writing and creative thinking), write (and research) historical fiction (and some women’s fiction), write book reviews for three organizations on a volunteer basis, blog on two sites, read, do social media (mostly Pinterest, and Twitter, but I’m getting better with Facebook) and am in bed…

View original 979 more words