Stop Giving Me ‘Strong’ Female Characters

I’ve been seeing more female characters lately, which one would think is a good thing. Unfortunately, female characters don’t mean much when they’re barely characters. Instead, they’re often one-dimensional props. You know the type I’m thinking of. Extremely sexy clothing & figure, sarcastic, literally kick ass aaaaaaaand . . . not much else. Deep background? Nuanced characterization? Complexities? Almost nonexistent.

In my experience, this doesn’t pertain as much to books, but then again I tend to mostly read books by female authors who aren’t as guilty of this (because women are *gasp* people!) That’s not to say this isn’t an issue, though. Because it certainly is.

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Damn it, Tifa. You better be glad I love Final Fantasy so much.

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It doesn’t help that Abrams straight-up admitted this scene was solely for the male viewership.

I don’t mind sexy, slim women. Truly I don’t. Physically fit and empowered women are by far my favorite characters to write, and are even inspiring in a way, but women are more than that. They are their backstories, their emotions, their inner conflicts. Instead of saying “okay, we have a walking pair of boobs that throws punches; diversity, check” and stopping there (please, please do not stop there–don’t even go there to begin with), instead give me more Furiosas, more Dana Scullys, more Marthas, and more Eowyns. (Also pls give me more PoC and LGBT+ characters thx.)

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I want women who are developed, fully dimensional characters, with flaws, backstories, and who’s importance isn’t relegated solely to her beauty or sexual prowess.

In short, don’t give me a female character who can throw punches, is therefore considered progressive, and stop there. Don’t give me a physically strong female character, give me a female who has strong characterization. That’s what makes all the difference.

Who are your favorite female characters? What do you like best about them?

THE FINAL ADVENT Release!

After years of drafting, editing, rewriting, and (of course) more editing, THE FINAL ADVENT has officially been published! Go pick up your copy today of the final installment in the NO ANGELS trilogy, where action, adventure, and intrigue abound. (Only available in eBook format for the time being. It should be available in paperback soon!)

Also, for those of you on Goodreads, add it to your list here!

Getting to this point has been such an incredibly long, toiling, and rewarding journey. Without the support of all those I know and love, never in my wildest dreams would this have been possible. Each and every one of you–yes, YOU reading this right now–have been invaluable to me, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ll cut the sentiments short for now (that’s for a whole different post), but be warned: they’re coming for you!

Thank you so much for following me on my adventures thus far. With the No Angels trilogy wrapped up, it’s time that we take the next steps out into an even bigger, if mysterious, world.

Until next time!

Cover & Blurb Reveal: The Final Advent (No Angels #3)

At long last, I’m proud to finally reveal the cover and blurb for The Final Advent! It’s been a long journey in getting here, but well worth it.

The Final Advent is the third and last installment in the No Angels trilogy, one that I’ve been working on for a long time now. In the days leading up to the release date (soft date is January 5th), I’ll be publishing some posts on my journey up to this point, what I’ve learned, and so on.

For the time being, check out The Final Advent‘s cover and blurb below!

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Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

Find the rest of the trilogy below:

No Angels

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Thoughts? Predictions? I hope you’re just as excited for this book’s release as I am. Comment below!

Back and Better Than Ever: Key of Amatahns (#1)

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Do you like fantasy? Action? Adventure? (Of course you do!) In that case, Elisabeth Wheatley’s The Key of Amatahns is right up your alley, and I’ve got some good news for you. Not only does it have a gorgeous new cover, it’s also re-edited and more wondrous than ever.

“In a land where those with magic are esteemed and revered, Janir guards a secret that would send her to the headsman’s block at a word. As one of the reviled Argetallams, she has the power to destroy enchantments and steal others’ magic—an ability that has caused bloodshed for generations.

Raised as the illegitimate daughter of an influential lord, she was determined to turn her back on her heritage, but when her power manifests, leaving a nobleman dead, she has no choice but to flee her adoptive home. In exile with the help of a fearless young enchanter and an elf sworn to protect her, she finds herself entangled in a quest to hide an ancient artifact from the kingdom’s enemies.

But they are not the only ones after the relic and soon their paths cross with a rival from Janir’s distant childhood. With no hope of help or rescue, the fate of nations will depend on a fifteen year old girl and her mastery of powers she doesn’t understand.”Goodreads

I wanted to get in Wheatley’s head and pick her brain regarding her editing process. Every author has different goals and approaches, so read below to find out hers!

  1. What made you decide to re-edit The Key of Amatahns?
When I started wanting to shield the book’s very existence from the world, I realized I had to do something. There’s always things I want to change post publication (in every single thing I’ve published ever), but not as badly as this. And because I’m self-published now, I could do so something about it. Ha!
  1. What sort of changes did you make this time around?
There were lots of changes. LOTS. The basic storyline is still the same, but a few characters were cut and other characters who were originally killed off were spared long enough to fulfill their parts (and then I killed them all over again). There were some forms of address that were changed, plenty of scenes that were completely rewritten, and details of the world that were overhauled.
One thing that was very important to me in the rewriting process was to show a more balanced distribution of bad and good between the Brevian/Stlavish “sides.” I aimed for that before, but I tried even harder this time around.
  1. I’ve noticed TKoA has a gorgeous new cover! What led you to seek that out and will any of your other books be getting new covers?
TKoA was given a facelift for the same reason I carved out a new book—I wanted to be proud of it. The old one just sort of felt blah and I wanted something ooh. And yes! I have actually picked out the model and images for the rest of the series and we should be getting matching new faces for them, too, as well as the future installments!
  1. What process did you use to edit TKoA this time, and (considering it was released once before) was it any different from how you’ve edited books in the past?
Actually, it wasn’t that different from how I usually edit a first draft. I opened it up and read through, fighting back the urge to vomit as I went and making up a laundry list of things that would be mercilessly altered. I had plenty of moments where I wanted to shoot my computer, my manuscript, or perhaps myself, but we got through (computer, manuscript, and all) and I think it was definitely worth it.
  1. What was it like re-editing TKoA? Nostalgic? Frustrating beyond belief? Something else?
Most of re-editing involved me sitting before my computer and screeching to the heavens in a mournful wail. “What was I thinking?” echoed frequently from my room during this process. In some ways, it was nostalgic as I recalled what had been going on in my life as I had originally written this or that, but the warm fuzzy feelings were usually short lived. For the most part, I was trying to figure out how 15-year-old me could have thought that thing was ready to meet planet Earth.
  1. As someone who is also re-editing an already released novel, I’ve had to come to the realization that a book will never really be “done,” but that we as authors will have to concede at some point and say we’re finished with it. On this project, how and when did you decide on that point for yourself and how do you feel?
The “give it up” point for me was hard to reach. I gave myself a deadline of January, but didn’t let go of the story and hit publish until halfway through March. I wrestled with this and tussled with that, but in the end, I had no choice but to let it go after the third overhaul. I was going to go crazy if I didn’t and my family had been through enough tribulation and wailing as it was.
I’d like to thank Ms. Wheatley for her time, (and for her highly enjoyable series). Go check out Key of Amatahns now!
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To find Elisabeth Wheatley at her respective sites, follow the links below!

Author Interview: Elisabeth Wheatley

5139754Elisabeth and I have known one another for a few years now. We met at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, exchanged info, and have been reading each other’s books since! And on the book front, Wheatley is a machine. She’s written over 400,000 words this past year alone. She’s published five books in less than four years, – but what’s more is that they’re amazing. Anyone can throw down words on paper, but to make them quality? That’s a whole different ball game, and one she routinely conquers.

So, let’s take a look at the mind behind the work!

First off, here’s a look at her official bio: “Elisabeth Wheatley began what would be her first novel at eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, and/or hot guys in armor, she can be found wasting time on the internet, fangirling over her latest obsession, and pretending to be a functional citizen.”

So, what got you into writing?

Well, at first it was the desire to create my own world. Then I started really getting into it and realizing how happy it made me, and now I can’t seem to quit.

How long have you been writing?

Oh, I would say about twelve years if you count all those “books” seven year old me scribbled on copy paper.

What process do you use to write? Do you use an outline, or just sort of wing it?

In truth, I have a “living” outline in my head that grows and changes as I explore the story. I once tried writing outlines, but I never stuck to the plan and eventually gave up.

Regarding the above process (or lack of), why do you prefer that method?

Like I said, I write largely for the joy of it. That’s why I prefer not to stress myself with an outline. I usually have an idea of where the story will go and how it will end, but I do enjoy letting the characters surprise me.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I love drafting—that’s when I’m first discovering all the characters and their plans and roles in the particular story. I loathe editing with the fiery intensity of a thousand bursting supernovas—it’s a slow form of torment; going back and tightening up the story, the dialogue, proofreading, making sure there are no plot holes, on and on and on.

What is the most difficult thing, (whether conveying a certain emotion, writing love scenes, specific settings, etc.), for you to adequately transfer from your mind to paper?

When it comes to romantic scenes, I usually spend about an hour on a single page, trying to make it sound right. Most the time, I feel weird writing that sort of thing, worried it sounds corny or stupid. I suppose it’s that I’m not comfortable with them yet.

What is the process of editing generally like for you? (In terms of ease, the number of rewrites, beta editors used, etc.)

Editing for me is like shoveling mud with a spoon. I stress out a lot because there’s all the pressure to get the story right and I rely heavily on a few beta readers to tell me when I need to change something. Depending on the manuscript, I may go through 30+ “drafts”. It just depends.

Are there some different genres you see yourself pursuing in the future?

I think I would like to explore more paranormal romance and maybe sci-fi. I have a few story ideas in those genres and I think they would be fun.

What genres do you never see yourself writing in?

Well, certainly never erotica. Aside from that, I think I’ll always have an attachment to the paranormal. It’s hard to picture myself writing anything that didn’t have some degree of fantasy in it, I simply lack an affinity for the “real” world.

What keeps you motivated to write?

Pathological ambition, that’s the best answer I have. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t not write and still be happy with myself. My family can tell you all about it.

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And there you have it! A glimpse into the mind of an imaginative powerhouse. For an even further look, check out her books, and sign up for her mailing list for news and exclusive content!

Book Review: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

16084685Title: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

Author: T. F. Shreffler

Publisher: The Runaway Pen

Release Date: November 20, 2013

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary: “A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace…. Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life. But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her?” – Goodreads

I have a weird relationship with this book. My affection for it is split along a very clear divide. There’s the first 80% of the book, which I’ll review in one chunk, and then the remaining 20%, which I will also review in its own separate chunk.

So, let’s take a look at the first 80%.

For the first 80% of the book I really wasn’t feeling it. It read more like a middle grade book to me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with middle grade, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t feel a huge connection with the characters, nor was I super interested in their dynamic with one another. (I did however like all the bits with Dorian though. He’s such a darling.) The writing was just okay at this point. It wasn’t anything spectacular, and to be honest a little cheesy in parts. The pacing had a major lull in the middle, as is sort of common in fantasy novels. Also common is the fantasy formula for generating plot which is “don’t know what to do next with your characters? Have them get attacked by a crazy monster!”. This gets very old vey fast when used in abundance, as it is here.

Now, the remaining 20%.

You may be wondering, then why the high rating? You see, I have no idea what happened in the last bit of the book, but the writing suddenly took on a new, astonishing quality. The pace was perfection. The character dynamics showed multiple layers, tantalizing and rich. The characters were infused with an indescribable vitality. I have to be honest, if I’d only read the first 80% I wouldn’t have been interested in reading the next book. The last 20% changed everything, and I’m very excited to read book number two!

In conclusion, I would recommend this book. While I initially didn’t care for it, the ending part was just too compelling, too awesome to ignore. It has the promise of an exciting world to explore, authentic characters, and a plot that draws you in.  If you’re a fan of fantasy far and wide, this is most definitely the book for you!

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Oh, and by the way . . . Sora’s Quest is permanently FREE on Amazon!

Freebie Friday: NO ANGELS, newly revised!

As many of you know, the newly revised edition of my novel No Angels is back on the market!

Woohoo! Books!

Woohoo! Books!

But as a special treat to further celebrate its re-release, No Angels will be free all of today and tomorrow! (January 30th – January 31st)

Have you not yet read my book? Well, now that it’s free you have nothing to lose! Check out my summary of it below and follow the link to get it (again, FOR FREE!) on Amazon!

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Click here to find No Angels on Amazon! 

12949450“Liz Patrona never expected to lose her normal life completely. She never expected that people’s memories of her would vanish, or that all records of her existence would disappear. She never expected to be stolen away to a city beneath the desert. And she definitely never expected to be told she was the God-chosen barrier between the common man and paranormal threats.

Liz is a teenager perfectly happy with her mediocrity, that is, before she’s taken by a peculiar group of people and forced into a role she never imagined, – and definitely doesn’t want. Distinguishing illusion from reality, realizing her abilities as a pyrokinetic, and keeping other-worldly objects from the hands of normal folk are only some of the things that await her. Prepared for this by her new mentor, a rude, possibly sadistic, but oddly attracting man, Liz braces herself for what is to come. But many an unknown thing lurks here, and what she doesn’t know may just kill her.”

Click here to find No Angels on Amazon!