Tag Archives: About Writing

Favorite Tropes #2: Badass and Child

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about some of my favorite tropes. Sure, people might not like them, but try as I may, I love some common archetypes in literature and film. That being said, there are far and few that can really beat one of my all time favorites, Bad Ass with a Baby.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with this character duo, let me quote TVtropes.com:

“The Badass and Child Duo in its purest form, occurs when a (usually) male badass takes it upon himself, out of goodness, interest, or circumstances beyond his control, to protect an orphaned, unrelated young (usually) girl.”

Over the years, this trope is one of the ones I notice popping up in my own writing. Even if my protagonist isn’t a “badass” in a physical sense, I find many of my characters who are strong in their field have a younger, inexperienced character they have to protect.

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Why do I like this trope so much?

While this can be characters from the same family, generally this is the perfect example of characters finding a family or someone to care for, without having to be related. There’s something about a love between two people that isn’t romantic or familial that I find beautiful. Often times there’s a sense of obligation to love family or significant others in books and movies, regardless of how they act toward the protagonist. But the bond between true friends, or between two people who have to trust each other completely feels more real to me.

The Badass, usually someone who has given up on finding anything good in the world, needs to have a “child” in their life to teach them there’s something worth living for, and the child also learns how to be strong from their care taker. One is learning strength while the other is learning something gentler, and both walk away better off (when both parties survive that is).

Often times, this relationship can evolve into mentor/student, which I still enjoy either way.

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Favorite Examples in ….

Books

A Song of Ice and Fire – Sandor + Arya

Mercy Thompson series – Mercy + Jesse (eventually becomes family, but still sweet)

Inkheart – Dustfinger + Meggie

 

Movies & Television

(I’m not counting The Professional in this, even though tvtropes does, simply because of the romantic undertones that I don’t feel like fits the trope. Great movie, just not one I would consider in this category.) 

Logan – Logan + Laura

Terminator 2 – T800 + John Connor

Aliens – Ripley + Newt

The Walking Dead – Daryl + Sophie // (later Judith)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Scar + Mai

 

What’s your favorite example of this trope? Do you find it popping up in your writing? Let me know below!

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WRiTE FIGHT CLUB

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One of my “life changes” for 2018 was to take more risks with my writing. For some reason, submitting to contests has always made me more nervous than submitting to agents. I’m sure there’s a reason why I feel this way, but I try not to over think it.

It wasn’t until I started looking for writing conferences did I find a contest that seemed perfect for my nervousness when it comes to submitting to smaller submission slush piles.

WRiTE CLUB. Thirty writers enter the final fight, one writer leaves. On a less cheesy note, anyone from any genre can enter, so I figured, why not take a crack at it?

Even if you can’t go to the writing conference, if you’re a writer looking for an anonymous contest with little to no risk to you, you should check it out.

 

Are you going to any conferences or jumping into any contests? Let me know below!

Author Interview #10 – K Kibbee

If there’s one author on Twitter that’s stood out above others, it’s K (Kristine) Kibbee. When I first got involved with the #amwriting crowd, her work in progress bits caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to interview her for my blog.

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After reading one of her books, I finally was able to reach out to her! Enjoy.

Q. To start out, tell us a little bit about what project you’re currently working on. What part of the writing process are you in?

  • Goodness gracious, it’d be easier to tell you what I’m NOT working on! I’m presently launching book three in the Forests of the Fae series (Lang’s Labyrinth), prepping book #2 in my Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore series (The Tale of Robin Hound) AND working on a new, hush-hush project that I hope will be the biggest yet!

 


Q. I’ve only read one of your books, Devlin’s Door: Forests of the Fae, and I love the use of the Pacific Northwest mixed with fairies. What was your biggest influences for your Forests of the Fae series?

  • Interesting you should ask, m’dear! I was inspired to write FotF after reading about an old, abandoned ghost town across the bay from Astoria. The city, named Frankfort, was left for dead back in the 60’s and has become an inhabitable, unreachable place overtaken by the wilds of the Northwest. It provided fodder a’plenty for this ole’ writer brain to get going, and my childhood fascination with Faeries took over from there! I’ve long been a fan of all things Faerie (think Brian Froud, Jim Henson, etc.), particularly the darker ilk. 😉

 

Q. If you could have dinner with any of your antagonists which one would it be?

  • Wow, that’s an excellent question! I think I’d love to have dinner with Aunt Claudia…just to see the glower on her face.

 

Who inspired you the most in your writing life?

  • I suppose that my Mom was my biggest inspiration. Ironically, she’s also been my loudest critic . . . but it’s ultimately made me a better writer.

 

Q. You’re extremely active online, and participate in numerous hashtag games. What advice would you give to people who are trying to build their online presence?

  • Another well-timed question on your part! I actually just participated in a podcast/Skype-style interview that is geared towards up-and-coming writers who are seeking to gain a foothold in the literary community. As my portion of the presentation, I offered a 30-minute “Tweetorial,” which will be available online next month! I don’t have a link at present, but Sage Adderly, with “Sage’s Blog Tours,” is the driving force and should be posting it in the coming weeks.

 

Q. What writer do you look up to? Do you find yourself emulating their writing style?

  • If I were to pick a recognizable face to look up to, it would probably be J.K. Rowling’s. I’m sure this is an answer often given by indie authors, but I suspect my reasoning is different. I fancy Rowling for her activism and for what she’s done to improve the writing world (and the world at large!) with her sizable royalty checks. I do, also, admittedly, admire her dedication to research and world building… although I don’t find myself emulating her work.

 

Q. I noticed you went to college at Washington State University. Were there any professors who influenced your writing or inspired you on your journey?

  • Honestly, my memory has the consistency of Swiss cheese. Unless you’d reminded me that I went to WSU, I’d have plum forgotten! So…that’s a hard no. I can’t even remember my professors’ names!

 

Q. When writing Devlin’s Door, was the main character, Anne, inspired by anyone in your life?

  • Anne was more inspired by everyone than anyone. I tried to make Anne your ordinary, everyday girl. She has no magical powers . . . no royal ancestry . . . she’s just a girl with pluck, cleverness, and an enduring spirit.

 

Q. What was the first writing project you worked on and what did you learn from it?

  • Again with the Swiss cheese memory! I could no sooner tell you how many bottles my Mom typically gave me in a day! I do recall piecing together little stories about dogs, using clippings from various magazines I had laying about. I was young enough . . . the most I learned from that experience was probably not to eat glue.

 

Q. What’s your favorite thing about writing for the Middle Grade age group?

  • I feel like MG readers still have enough youthful innocence that their imaginations are malleable, and willing to stretch a bit further than those of older readers.

 

Q. E.L. Doctorow once said, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” What have you learned from the past few books you’ve worked on?

  • I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts in the writing world. I think everyone wants to be this overnight sensation. They imagine the Hollywood version of a writer–where a book deal is lain your lap by some publisher heralding your praises. If you believe that, I’ve got some magic beans to sell you! This is W-O-R-K…a mountain of it. So much, in fact, that no sane person would ever seek it out.

 

Q. If there was one fairy tale you’d like to rewrite for a modern audience, which one would it be, and how would you write it?

  • I guess the idea of rewriting turns my stomach a bit. It makes me ill to see things copied over and over and over and over again. There are so many amazing, creative new ideas. Why do we keep rehashing the old ones? Naw, my mind wants to create something new. I have far too much imagination to mimic someone else.

 

Q. Everyone always goes on about what they love about writing. What do you dislike about writing, and how do you overcome this?

  • I’ve come across it a few different times and can’t tell you who the original author was/is….but the quote that comes to mind is, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That’s me, in a nutshell. It’s always difficult to get myself to just SIT DOWN AND WRITE. But when I do, I always walk away feeling immensely satisfied. There’s nothing like it. Well, short of cake. 😉

(edit – Thank you to alamlovespoetry via twitter, for letting us know that Dorothy Parker is the source to this quote)

 

Q. Are there other art forms you find yourself taking part in?

  • I do a bit of sculpting, but the kiln keeps blowing my stuff to bits. I feel like someone is trying to give me a hint.

 

Q. Writing is an exhausting process, and it’s always good to take a step back before attacking the page again. What helps you the most when it comes to taking a break from writing?

  • I do a lot of walking. A LOT. 10 miles a day. It’s very therapeutic and meditative.

 

Q. Which character of yours do you find yourself thinking of more than others?

  • Curiously, I think about the animal characters. It’s so difficult to interpret what animals are thinking, because they can’t tell you. I always worry that I’m not portraying them correctly.

 

Q. Lastly, where do you see your writing career taking you in five years?

  • I’d love to say that I see myself skyrocketing to the top of the NYT Best Seller list, but if my past 15 plus years are any indication . . . I’ll just be slogging along, as per usual . . . sharing my work and trying to bring a bit of magic into this oft-dull world.

 

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Want more of K Kibbee? Find her here! 

http://www.Goodreads.com/KKibbee
http://www.Facebook.com/KKibbeewrites
http://www.Amazon.com/author/KKibbee
http://www.Incorgnitobooks.com/authors/K-Kibbee
Twitter @K_Kibbee

7 Ways to Write an Introverted Protagonist

Thanks to a poll on Twitter, this week’s Writing Wednesday is going to be all about writing the introverted protagonist (MC).

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I’m not a psychologist, and I know the science behind this post isn’t exact. These are just my observations when it comes to writing an introverted main character. It’s not the “right” or only way, but it’s worked for me.

It’s important to first point out being introverted doesn’t always mean being shy or antisocial. While yes, some introverts have both these traits, this isn’t a be all end all way to describe them. Instead, the way I like to say they get energy from being alone vs. being around others.

Better yet, here’s what vocabulary.com had to say about introverts.

Introvert comes from Latin intro-, “inward,” and vertere, “turning.” It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone.”

So how do you apply this to a character without making them come off as cold, distant, or friendless?

1. Master the art of internal conversation.
Because introverts are more likely to rely on personal experiences to make decisions, writers creating an introvert should learn how to write believable internal monologues. This shows the MC doesn’t voice their need for the opinions of others, but works through what they know to solve a problem. It’s easier said than done. You have to find a balance between the MC working out ideas, and talking to themselves way too much. If you need a place to start, however, look at times in your manuscript when your MC relies too heavily on the input of others, and instead let them look inward on how they’ve solved problems in the past.

2. Have other characters be understanding when your MC excuses themselves from the group.
One of my least favorite friend character trope in movies or books is the “Why don’t you get out more?” friend. This is the side character who’s only purpose is to encourage your MC to declare their feelings to the love interest, or punch their boss in the face, or something equally as outlandish to an introvert. They’re constantly trying to fix their friend, but in real life, when an introvert is friends with this type of person, it often times has a toxic effect. They’re not friends, the introvert is a project for the extrovert, instead of an equal.

Instead, have some of your side characters not see the MC as a pet, but as a human being who has different interests. This not only provides a healthy relationship between the two, but it shows the readers that your introvert is comfortable being alone and also having friends who understand them.

3. Avoid “longing looks” into crowds.
Most introverts will tell you they don’t want to be extroverts. I’ve never met an introverted person who went home and cried about how upset they were because they didn’t enjoy an overly populated outing. I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t found them yet. It would be better to have your MC celebrate their introversion. Show them relaxed and grateful when they get away from a situation they find draining. Maybe even have them be a little prideful about the fact that they like being alone. Hell, I know that’s how I get sometimes.

4. Write an introvert who takes charge.
Introverts can in fact be in charge, and some people even claim they’re better suited for the role than extroverts. That being said, leadership isn’t just being the boss, it’s guiding your team to success. Just because they prefer a small get together verses a huge party doesn’t mean they can’t also step up and take their coworkers, friends, and/or love interests on a wild ride to solve your novel’s crisis. Let your introvert lead, instead of being too timid to do so.

5. Learn more about the Myers Briggs introverts.
This shows the varying degrees of introverts. Some, like the INTJ are distant and often times come off as too calculating to befriend, while others like the INFP are eager to let their strong moral compass guide them in making decisions. You don’t have to base every character you have off this system, but it’s a good place to start to see the differences between introverts.

6. Show don’t tell. 
I know people have mixed opinions on this, but hear me out. If you only say “my character is an introvert”, or “they don’t like social situations”, but your character never actually acts on these things, it doesn’t make your character an introvert. Instead of saying, “She didn’t like people, but was forced to be around them everyday for work.” you could just show your audience how much she hates being surrounded by customers, or how she finds sanctuary in her home after a long busy day. That way, it’s not just talk, there’s some action there, too.

7. Show the downsides to being an introvert.
I know I started this by saying, “Don’t just make them shy or antisocial”, but the reason why this is often times the only way people write introverts is because people perceive them this way. Being uncomfortable in a crowded place, getting worn out with too much interaction, and getting stressed when they don’t get some alone time are all some downsides for your character to experience.

Here are some other negative sides to introverted characters
– They can get so caught up in their thoughts that they overthink situations and cause more problems than they originally had.
– Because it takes time for them to make friends, when they make one, they could put that friend on a pedestal, giving the side character a place to fall from.
– They’re misunderstood by others because they turn down people’s offers to hangout, which can lead to comical misunderstandings.
– Being shy, or “afraid of social judgement” as Susan Cain puts it at TED2012, but only because they never learned how to navigate in social situations, as opposed to just being afraid of people.
– Some introverts aren’t risk takers, because they judge experiences based off of past events. If they took a risk in the past, and it turned out poorly, they might be more hesitant in the future.

 

I’ll do another blog post later about my favorite introverted protagonists as part of my “Favorite Trope” series. I go over some that fall into common character archetypes and how you can use those types in your own writing. 

For now I hope this helps! If you have any tips please feel free to share them below.

 

Beginner Tips for Building Your Writer Platform

Ah, the writer platform. Something I didn’t think I needed until someone said to me, “I don’t know who you are, so why should I pick up your work?”. Since then, I’ve been on a mission. Take precious time away from my novel and put it toward making a name for myself.

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Since I’m in the “building your online presence” part in my writer platform journey, most of these tips have to do with social media. There are many other sides to being a writer, so if you’re looking for a more detailed read, I recommend checking out Create Your Writer Platform, by Chuck Sambuchino.

  1. At first you are going to fail.
    • I don’t mean this in a bad way, in fact failure is great! It gives you only one direction to go, up. You’re going to make grammar mistakes, embarrass yourself in online circles, and delete a few posts that you should’ve put more time into. But then eventually the tiny failures will come fewer and farther in between. You’ll start to get little victories, and over time, forget how you failed when you first started.
  2. Know that success doesn’t happen overnight.
    • I hate this. I’m the type of person who likes instant results, damn it! I expect to have some interaction with people online regardless of how long I’ve been here! Sadly, this isn’t the case. No, you don’t get famous overnight, or even put on the radar for that matter. You have to be patient, interactive, and above all, entertaining to your target audience. Just having a social media account doesn’t mean people will line up to follow you.
  3. Key word in “social media” is social.
    • I tried to interact in small doses at first. It didn’t work. Instead, I found actually talking to people helped build my platform in the writing community. Comment on other people’s works, share what you’re reading or working on, or just talk to people in general. You don’t have to jump up and down for attention, but actually being social helps boost your popularity as a writer.
  4. Be real.
    • Don’t follow someone just to get a follow back. When you comment on stuff, try to post more than an emoji. Show people who you are, not just a shadow of yourself. And above all things, do not, do NOT send automatic DMs (direct messages). This is so impersonal, and many people will just unfollow you.
  5. Diversify your platform, while still staying with your target audience.
    • I have an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Deviant Art account. Why? Because that’s where my readers are. I draw my characters, and I have some fans of my sketches, so I post on DA as a way to reach out to other artists. Find out what makes your platform unique and add that to your foundation.
  6. Don’t take all the advice given to you.
    • Hannah Heath wrote a great article about this, and I highly recommend you read it. In a nutshell, don’t take all the advice you get from other writers, especially not when it comes to creating your platform. What works for one writer might not work for you. Try to go at your own pace, and don’t feel like you need to take all the advice out there.
  7. Play games.
    • This is a big one. I didn’t know how to jump in when I first started out online, but hashtag games were a great place to start. I was able to see what other people were working on, and could interact with them on a creative level. There are hashtag games on Twitter that I would definitely check out if you’ve never done them before.
  8. And finally schedule your posts out.
    • I know I already said don’t auto DM, but definitely do get an app that can schedule posts. You’re going to burn yourself out if you try to stay up to date on all your social media. It’s best to save some of it for later, and post things up a little at a time, instead of all at once. Facebook and WordPress has it’s own scheduling system, but I use Hootsuite for things like Twitter and Instagram.

There are other people who have great tips about this, and who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. This is just what I learned as a novice in the writer platform potion of my writing journey. I’m still a beginner, but I hope what I learned over the past year helps you!

What part of your building process are you in? What tips can you give to the people who are just a step under you? Share below and let me know! 

Writer on the Road – Day 4

We’re back in civilization tonight and had Whataburger for dinner for the first time in almost 6 months. For those of you who know what that is, you know how fantastic I found my meal after being away from it for so long.

We left Utah today and made it into New Mexico. With only two days of driving left, I spent a lot of time today thinking about writing and what I want for my life. 

When I first started writing, I had no intention of ever being published. I liked to write because it helped me escape from reality but it wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared with my friends, and while they enjoyed it, I never thought I’d one day try to sell my work. 

I kept up the work, even when I didn’t think I’d make it a career, until about three years ago I realized it’s what I want to do with my life. That being said, I’ve never been published. I’m not writing to pay the bills yet, I’m writing still out of passion, so I don’t have to worry yet about the career side of the writing world. 

As I realized this, I had to ask myself, do I really want a career as a writer? Do I want the work as well as the play? Why not just be a hobbiest, why do I want to be recognized as an author?

Being a hobbiest and being a professional are two totally different animals. There’s nothing wrong with either of these, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. 
Everyone has to answer that question to themselves. For me, I decided on day four of my drive that I wanted to be a writer, not because of the romance, but because I like the work. I like the hours bent over a manuscript. I love the feeling of starting a new idea. And as much as I complain, I even enjoy the editing. 

Work isn’t some four letter word to me as so many creative types make it out to be. It’s something I find myself embracing. Writing is as much of a career choice as it is a way to share my love of stories with others, and that’s why I’m perusing a job as a writer.

It was a nice realization and it’s fueling my fire as I keep on writing this November. I love the work that gets put into books, and I can’t wait to jump into the career side.

I don’t know why you write, but please let me be clear. Everyone’s reason is a valid one. If you want a career as a professional writer, you go after it with all the fire you’ve got. Everyone has their drive, tell me yours below and let’s share the love of the job! 

Finding Time to Write

As I hammer through some suggested edits, I’ve been talking more with others about writing and the most common thing I hear is “I could write a book, if only I had the time!”

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Truth be told, I didn’t and still don’t have enough time. When I finished my manuscript for Flightless, I was in the middle of a military move, driving an hour and a half every for work every day, and trying to cram in as much family time before I left Texas. It’s a year later, and I’m trying to get through ANOTHER military move (this time mostly by myself because of my husband’s work schedule), finish my last month at my job, and still sight see around the Pacific Northwest. I was supposed to be here for another two years, and instead, I have a month left.

All that being said, I still believe in making time to write. So where do I make time, and how can you?

Lunch breaks –
I get a thirty minute lunch break, and 20 of those minutes are spent working on my book. It might not be my longest writing time, but it’s 20 minutes I can spend getting work done.

Wake up early –
I don’t do this one often, just because I’m a night owl, but sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, working on editing is the first thing I do.

While cooking dinner –
Most of my dinners are made one of two ways. Out of a box or time consuming with lots of prep. Either way I have to wait while it’s in the oven, so instead of doing chores, I write. Sure my house doesn’t stay ridiculously clean, but it gets the job done.

When someone else is driving – 
My husband usually is the one who drives when we’re traveling around together, so I take that time it takes to get from point A to point B to hammer out a few hundred words. Even if it’s just a trip to the store, and I’m jotting down ideas and changes on my phone, it still helps.

At night –
This is my favorite time to write. Everyone’s asleep, no one’s asking anything from me, and I can get a lot hammered out.

How do you make time?

Start to notice when you’re wasting it. Did you binge watch an entire season of whatever newest thing came out recently? Do you really think some of those episodes couldn’t have waited while you worked on one chapter?

If you’re really not sure how to make time, start writing an hour by hour list of things you did in a day and find out where there’s some wiggle room. This is what helps me every once in a while when I start to fall off the tracks. Not only does it show where your writing time is, but it also shows how much you spend on things that might not be as important as that book you want to write.

One last thing. Don’t write in a room with a TV, and shut off the internet.

For those of you who know how to work a tv/internet connection without getting distracted, bravo! For the rest of us? TURN IT OFF. Find ten minutes at a minimum and try to write as much as you can with everything shut down. Music is fine, but try to play it without needing the internet.

 

From The Roots of The Family Tree – A writing exercise

It’s always surprising to me when I talk to writers and they know next to nothing about their character’s family history. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because I can’t get through writing my novel if I don’t come up with a few family dynamics for my main characters.

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This sort of thing helps me come up with everything from the character’s name to how they respond in social situations. Here’s a quick checklist I use when creating my character’s family history.

Who were their parental figures?: Not every character has to have a living parent, but everyone, whether they realize it or not, puts someone in that parental role. Who shaped your character’s life as a parent?
Why did their parents name them what they did?: This is by far my favorite way to name characters, because let’s face it, we have no control over what our names are, unless we change them. Which brings me to my next point – Why did they change their birth name if they no longer go by what their parents called them?
What philosophy or religion were they raised under?: While their parents might not have said “We’re raising you to be a stoic!” they very well could’ve kept a “tight upper lip” policy in the house. If you’re uncertain, here’s a huge list of philosophies and religions to research.
What’s their relationship with their siblings?: Or cousins, depending on if they have siblings or not. If they don’t have siblings, why don’t they have siblings, and how do they feel about being an only child?
Is the family a matriachy or a patriarchy?: Who’s more respected and looked up to in the family? A grand/mother or grand/father figure?
Who was the comforter and who was the teacher in the family?: Who did the character go to when they needed support, and who did they go to when they needed to be taught a life lesson?
How important was education, money and politics in the house?: Usually, this will be a basis for how your character acts towards society and the political sciences. While it might have nothing to do with your book, it does help build how they react to the world around them.
Do they still keep in touch with family members today?: Again, if your character doesn’t have any blood relatives, do they keep in touch with people they assigned the “family role”?

How do you build your character? Do you start from the family tree and move on, or do you have a different method?

Let me know if this sheet helps, and feel free to share with others.

Things to Do While Waiting for Agent Responses

I started submitting my first novel, Flightless, to agents this month, and one thing’s been made clear to me. I am NOT a patient person. The people who really know me will be shaking their heads right now, because they know this already, but to everyone who’s learning about me through my blog will quickly find out waiting is not my strong suit.

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To fill the time, I’ve come up with little ways to keep my mind off of the waiting game that is, “Will this agent like my work or not?”. Hopefully this will help anyone else who’s waiting, or at the very least make you feel less alone.
Start my next novel.
With Flightless over with, and three more books planned in the series, I’ve decided to take a little brake from my world of winged people and step into something a little bit darker. Wake the Dead is my next big project, and damn I am doing a lot of research. I’m creating my own magical system that revolves around life and death, and I’m learning all about alchemy, European magical societies, and high magical practices. It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get the project under way.

Play video games.
I don’t claim to be a “gamer girl” by any means, and really, I could only tell you about a few games I enjoy playing. I pass the time with things like Portal, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Fable, or when I’m feeling nostalgic, Super Mario World. Diving into someone else’s story, in a different medium other than writing, helps me take my mind off work and lets me focus on the important things in life, like killing darkspawn and smashing koopas.

Read a new book, outside my genre.
I’m a fantasy/sci-fi girl at heart, but what do I really love to read? Crime and suspense! Give me a murder scene over a ride through a magical kingdom, or a daring detective over a knight in shining armor any day. Right now, I’m reading Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox and let me tell you, this author doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already breezed through Hades, ordered Eden, and pre-ordered Fall, when she offered to send me Crimson Lake after a book review. Now, all things are on hold while I finish this intense crime novel and her work helps me keep my mind off the “will they, won’t they” of my agent/author relationship.

Get off social media.
I’ll admit it. I’ve followed every agent I’ve queried, or want to query, just to keep up with them. I look into what conferences they’re going to, what online chats they might be participating in, or just generally what they’re looking for in an author. While I’ve been told this is a good strategy, this also means I’m not exactly taking my mind off all those queries floating around. So I started spending time away from social media to keep my mind off things. This has been the most useful technique thus far.

Watch a movie/tv show you know is bad.
My best friend “Alaska” will tell you, I have the worse taste in movies and TV shows. I don’t know what it is about cheesy, over the top action flicks or predictable television, but I find it hilarious and enjoyable. That’s not to say I don’t like “critically acclaimed” works out there, I’m just more likely to watch “Chronicles of Riddick” over “Annie Hall” when I want to be distracted. These sort of things are brain cotton candy for me, and it’s a great way to stop thinking about something serious and just have a good time.

And lastly, clean the house.
This is when I get really desperate, and we’re not just talking about doing dishes, or other piddily chores. No, I’m talking a top to bottom, dust the corners of the ceiling, take things out of closets, and run all the junk to Goodwill that I’ve been meaning to get rid of for months. Cleaning was always my mother’s way of keeping her world organized, and I think I picked this up from her. It gives you that little bit of control when you feel like you don’t have any. It helps, even if it does leave me exhausted by the end of the day.

Looking for other things to do to get your mind off waiting for an agent yes or no?

  • Visit a place you’ve been meaning to go but have been putting off.
  • Join a writing group to hear how other writers wait for the yes or no.
  • Take up another artistic outlet, or learn a craft you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Invite some friends over for a game night.
  • Work out.
  • Play a mindless phone game.
  • Write a letter to a teacher or adult who inspired you to write. Even if you don’t send it, it’ll help remind you of people who encouraged you in your life.
  • Take yourself out on a date. Go to the movies, see a play, eat at a nice place just to try it.

What helps you keep your mind off the waiting game? Are any of these suggestions one you’ve tried or are wanting to try?

Writing Female Characters: Physical Strength vs. Actual Strength

Say it with me.

“A physically strong female character doesn’t automatically mean a well written character.”

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Too many times, when a writer of any genre or media type wants to create a “strong” character, they make them physically strong.  Unfortunately, this is often done to females. We now live in a world where some writers rebelled so violently against the damsel in distress stereotype, we have many female characters that kick ass but who lack any real story or substance.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we can’t have female characters who can physically hold their own, but if the only thing a female character is good for is coming in, beating up everyone and then leaving, she’s no better than the underdeveloped “sexy lamp”.

So how do you write a strong female character?

1. Get rid of the words “strong”. If that’s the only adverb you can use to describe a character, she’s underdeveloped. What else is there to her besides her ability to kick ass? What is she passionate about? What is she skilled at that makes her more than just an action figure? 

2. And now that I mention it, stop saying your character is skilled, talented or extremely amazing at something and show it. I remember reading a YA book in my most recent brush with a writer’s group where the protagonist was supposed to be a great mountain climber who could hold her own on the roughest terrain. The character talked about it enough, but there was one problem, we never saw it. Even when it was a crucial part of a story, she’d only say she could handle it, and then she was never given a chance to shine.

Sure, a female lead can say all day long she’s fantastic, but tell the reader what she’s good at when you can show them? Let her share her knowledge instead of insisting she has it. Talk is cheap and if your character does nothing but brag, she loses her credibility. 

3. Create characters who can’t physically kick ass and who have real flaws. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s work, and in her Alpha and Omega series, the protagonist Anna spends less time relying on her ability to beat someone up and more on her gift of creating peace. She starts out as a quiet, scared little thing and grows into an emotional rock for not only her family, but for herself. She’s the only one who can stand up to even the most bad asses of men all because she’s comfortable with who she is as a person. 

We need more characters like this. We need characters that don’t say to the female audience, “You’re only strong if you can punch someone’s teeth in”. If a character is a great mother, we should celebrate that. If a protagonist is an introvert, we shouldn’t try to fix her. She doesn’t have to be physically strong or violent to be well written. Even if you’re writing a thriller, a superhero novel, or something where a female does need to be physically strong, that shouldn’t be the one thing that defines her. 

The world could use less female characters who are only put in place for kicking ass, and more female characters that are developed and hold their own in any situation.

What female characters do you feel like meet this standard? Which one showed you that it doesn’t take physical strength to be a strong person?

Also, if you’ve written a novel with a female character who’s more than just a one trick pony, lay it on me. I’m always looking for a new read to add to my pile.