Don’t Ditch Emotion in Pursuit Of ‘Strength’

The saying goes that boys don’t cry, and a lot can be said about toxic masculinity and its impact on boys as they grown up, especially if they don’t fit the mold of what it “means” to be a “proper” man — showing too much emotion or pursuing certain interests, for instance. This is crops up in fiction with male characters, some of whom seem almost divorced of certain emotions. It can lead to some very uncomfortable situations frankly as characters fail to, well, be human. Continue reading


Reflecting A Real World

I’d briefly mentioned the importance of offering a diverse cast of women in the post about “agency,” and now, we are going to explore that thought in depth. Diversity is an important component to include in any story — and not just with female characters, of course — because it is good for the reader and it is good for the writer.

For readers, diversity offers a greater possibility that they will develop a personal connection with at least one character — and through that connection, the story becomes more personal. It is also a way to introduce readers to walks of life they might not be familiar with. As for writers, it stretches the creative writing muscles and allows us to step into an infinite supply of new shoes, as it were. I also believe a diverse cast opens the way to a more interesting story that sometimes takes writers down paths we might not have considered for the plot beforehand. It also opens the opportunity to shine the light on women who aren’t always portrayed in fiction — or positively portrayed.

Often times, women in fiction get pigeon-holed into set molds, particularly as damsels, femme fatales, or the unfleshed out “strong” woman (just check out for the basic feminity tropes).  Women in real-life are a full spectrum with different interests, goals, physiques, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and personalities. By showcasing those differences in fiction, a layer of realism is added.

A multitude of different women can also reduce the “wedge” effect discussed in Monday’s blog post. By having women that a FMC can relate to, get along with, or simply work with, it lessens the starkness of the only other woman within the covers of the book being viewed so poorly by the FMC as she has other women in her life that she likes and/or values. Of course, there is no excuse for not fleshing out that antagonistic character or villanizing them without supporting actions within the narrative’s framing.

Diverse female casts allow for the exploration of various relationships and how people from varying walks of life might interact with each other. There is also the opportunity to further explore different choices and how characters have a right to their choices even if others wouldn’t necessarily arrive at the same choice or even agree with them. It can make for interesting drama (not the junior high type of drama) and a chance to really push readers’ (or even the writer’s) own understandings.

For some reason, women characters have picked up a reputation for being hard to write — not everyone is of this opinion, of course. Really all it takes is pausing, looking at all the women in your life, or going to a coffee shop or some other public space, and actually watching and listening. Or as Campbell Soup would say, reflect the “real, real life” happening in front of your eyes on the page.

Women’s History Month Writing Prompt: Galentine’s Day

In the spirit of Leslie Knope, our Patron Saint of Waffles, throw a Galentine's Day celebration. It might not be Feb. 13, but this is the perfect opportunity to explore your fictional women's relationships.

In the spirit of Leslie Knope, our Patron Saint of Waffles, throw a Galentine’s Day celebration. It might not be Feb. 13, but this is the perfect opportunity to explore your fictional women’s relationships.

I’m a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, and while it is March and not Feb. 13, I felt Leslie Knope’s Galentine’s Day would make a great foundation for “Women in Fiction” Week’s writing prompt.

The Prompt

You will be gathering your fictional women (from one book/story or across a collection of your works) for a Galentine’s Day celebration. They will talk with each and interact with each other, for better or for worse depending on their relationships. Conversations should pass the Bechdel Test, or not center around the men in their lives (Brief mentions are OK). Use this prompt as a means to explore character relationships and, of course, have fun! If you choose to share your response to the prompt on your blog, please share a link in the comments below — I’d love to see them.

Agency, Why It Matters

Agency header

No matter if they’re slaying goblins, concocting the medicines of the future, or staying at home with the kids while also exploring their passions, I prefer my FMCs to have agency over their own stories. (Background image

A lot has been made of strong women lately in literature. It’s a trend I like, but sometimes, I think it pigeonholes female characters into one mold — we will get into that during a future post this week where we dive into diverse fictional women.  Rather than using the term strong women in my wish list, all I really want are women who have agency.

Among the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions for “agency,” No. 3 fits what I’m looking for: a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved. The female main character needs to have some exertion of power over her story, whether through strength, wits, dogged determination, etc. Often times this agency is lost to the male characters within the story, and everything the FMC does is based on what the male characters want or are doing. Continue reading

Women Don’t Need To Be Wedges To Each Other’s Happiness

Header photo of a wedge being driven in

This rant is a long time in coming. You’ve probably seen the trope yourself: Two women — sometimes the only two in the entire book — one is our heroine, the other, well, she’s mostly a four- or five-letter word . . . you know the words I’m talking about. The latter usually earns this title for flimsy reasons and because of her proximity to the female lead’s love interest. The narrative itself often offers very little reason for why readers should hate this other female character.

Continue reading

Farewell February Freebie!

"Acceptance" will be free until 11:59 p.m. PST Feb. 28.

“Acceptance” will be free until 11:59 p.m. PST Feb. 28.

From now until 11:59 p.m. PST Feb. 28, I’m offering Acceptance as a free e-book to celebrate the end of February and the approach of spring! If you are a fan of sword and sorcery or darker fantasy stories, definitely check out this piece. The Augur’s Rose Series #2 will be out some point this summer.

Don’t mess with the dead. Pure common sense. Necromancy gets messy — yet when pitted against Berit Gyllen . . . something or other . . . Svein is the only one wallowing in the filth when his artifact retrieval mission for the Mothers goes sideways. Perhaps he should have listened when that blasted bird told him to run.

Fun Facts About The Augur’s Rose Series

If you missed out on the Acceptance release party on Facebook, here are a few fun fact in regards to The Augur’s Rose Series.

FACT #1: I originally started Acceptance for a contest but didn’t finish it in time. It was also a more experimental piece that has morphed and expanded into what it is now. I loved the character of Svein so much that I decided I wanted to revisit him, and that is how it became an ongoing serial. It’s serial nature also led me to pursue self-publishing.

FACT #2: The Augur’s Rose Series combines Roman and Scandinavian lore and history. Svein’s name is Norwegian and comes from the old Norse for “boy.” Ironically, Vidar’s (Svein’s hooded crow companion) name means “warrior.”

FACT #3: Vidar is a hooded crow, which resides all over Europe and parts of the Middle East. They are different than carrion crows in that they are gray and black rather than straight black. Vidar shares his name with one of Odin’s sons in Norse mythology. Odin, of course, was known for his connection to ravens. Funny enough in Faroese folklore, a maiden would go out on Candlemas morn and throw a stone, then a bone, then a clump of turf at a hooded crow – if it flew over the sea, her husband would be a foreigner; if it landed on a farm or house, she would marry a man from there, but if it stayed put, she would remain unmarried.

FACT #4: I love reading a variety of magazines and online articles. When doing so, sometimes inspiration strikes — such was the case when I stumbled across this article from the Smithsonian magazine about Catholicism’s martyred saints, which are kept on eternal display. Paul Koudounaris, who is a member of The Order of the Good Death alongside Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician), authored a book on these saints. This inspiration can be seen early on in Acceptance.…/meet-the-fantastically-be…/

Fact #5: If you don’t know what an augur is, please visit my original post on the subject at It involves forecasting the future and sacred chickens! And yes, there will be sacred chickens in The Augur’s Rose Series future.

What Writers Can Learn From The KonMari Method

Letting go good characters and clutter words header

When I’m sleep deprived, I spew out random things, and sometimes, just sometimes, they stick. In this case, a friend, while talking about reaching the end of her series, noted how sad she’d be to let go of those characters and their world. My response (knowing she’d also read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) was to say that she needed to KonMari her characters.  Namely, thank them for the time they’d spent together and the joy they’d sparked inside of her, and then let them go, making room for new stories and characters that will bring her just as much joy. Continue reading