Planning

Real Characters: She Can’t Be That!

Allison, the fell warrior-princess, drew her sword and advanced on the band of ragged louts confronting her. “You’ll soon feel the fiery claw that is ‘The Tigress’, you cowards.”

The men laughed and doubled-over. “You can’t hurt us!”

Her faced scrunched and a flush rose on her cheeks. “I can’t.”

The leader stepped forward with a grin. “You don’t know how to use that. You can’t be a warrior.”

“I can’t?”

“No you’re just here, well, for the women to identify with.”

Allison scratched the back of her head. “I am?”

“Sure, now run along and sew or something but try to be serious and well-respected.”

Joan of ArcThe other ruffians guffawed. “Yeah! And try to look beautiful while you’re at it.”

Allison walked away shaking her head. “I don’t understand, I trained an everything.”

You’ve read it. I’ve read it. It’s a common complaint on internet discussion threads; the female warrior is overdone and become farce. Such characters are written merely to gain and keep women readers but they aren’t realistic – not a reflection of reality in the real world so they can’t be in the fictional world. The complaints go on and often twirl into other complaints about overdone tropes of various sorts. Frequently, one wonders if these people are just tired of the grand trope of fantasy altogether (and my advice would be to read some other genres for a while – or better yet some non-fiction).

But I say, the woman-warrior is welcome in fantasy and should even be celebrated! Why? Well lets examine some of the reasons.

She’s been there all along

Now I’ve heard some people complain that female characters should be a warrior and domestic – it would be unique. Others retort that it’s not realistic and can’t be done. Well, it has been done and it is realistic.

The best example is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Eowyn is a princess of Rohan who has taken care of her king in his magical dotage. We meet just after she has cared for her brother as he died. When trouble comes, Eowyn is called upon to lead her people while the men go off to war. But, being wearied of her life and finding trouble in her back yard she chooses to take up the sword. And it’s a good thing she does so, because she does what no man can do – kill the Lord of the Nazgul. Tolkien has been accused for years for his sexism in not having more women in the story as well as implying that women shouldn’t fight. But he places Eowyn right in line of danger, giving her, arguably one of the best scenes in the whole trilogy – not to mention a great line. It translated to the big screen well.

But that’s not realistic

What’s that? Still arguing about this trope? It can’t happen? Do you think women can’t and won’t take up the sword when necessary, even coming from a domestic background? Think again because history provides us with a singularly excellent example: Joan of Arc. She was a farm-girl and you can imagine what that life was like – very farm and domestic-like. But after seeing a vision she heads off to volunteer to save France from the English. It’s the stuff of a great fantasy tale. Somehow, my character, Limbreth in The Bow of Destiny, even picked up a few similarities with Joan of Arc.

What’s that? It’s only one example? Wrong again – what about the Amazons (check the part about Sarmatian burials). They’re just a myth? Well, think about that again. Secrets of the Dead had an episode where Amazons were examined as historically real. Apparently they lived in that area of the world and later migrated across the Russian steppes.

VikingStill not satisfied? According to a recent archaeological study, women may have make up almost half of Viking warrior burials. Yep, that’s right, almost half. All those Vikings storming the shores of Europe to raid villages and towns had plenty of women in the fray and pillaging. Surprised? I’m not. While woman often have domestic duties in most cultures throughout history, they too need to be momma-bears when necessary. Regardless, there are multiple cultures which recounted tales of the Shieldmaiden.

As for the princess idea, lets put that to rest as well. Ever heard of Boudica? She was a Celtic queen who led an uprising against the Romans. Before the “rebellion” was put down she and her people won several battles against the formidable Roman legions.

So take a deep breath and let’s not get worked up about the trope and whether aspects of how female warriors are portrayed are possible. They are indeed possible, however the character, like all, should be presented authentically as possible.

Authenticity

So there can be shown that women were part of many tales about heroic feats.While the female warrior is historically present in many accounts all the sexy depictions are not. Many of the tales recount that Amazons and Shieldmaidens were dressed as men. What does this mean? Those hot-looking breastplates are not accurate. In fact, breast bulges would not even be structurally sound defensive accoutrements.

The importance to understand is that heroic female characters do belong but should not be cast as sex symbols because those easily become unrealistic. In this case, Martin’s female knight, Brienne, is both realistic and authentic. So I say, “Long live the trope!” But only as long as it fits and is presented well which is what all readers ask of any story.

What fantasy tropes bother you and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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Fun Friday! What’s New for 2018 Part 2: Writing Goals

With 2017 soundly in the rear-view mirror, I turn in earnest toward 2018 and begin work on the next steps. Yesterday, I discussed my blogging goals among others so today I turn to writing goals. I’m slightly behind in posting this goals/resolutions/business plan but I’ve been under the weather some for over a week. I’ve also taken my time to assess the past year and take a long look at where I’m going as a fiction author.

As I mentioned previously, 2017 was both a good and bad year. I spent most of the year out of work – you know, the kind you don’t quit just to write. But the job quit me and I filled-in with writing until now. It was a good thing I had the writing. I managed to complete the last two books of The Bow of Hart SagaAn Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow, respectively – and begin penning the first books of two new series.

  

Along the way in 2017, I ended up signing with an agent which was a thrill and another goal accomplished for the year. I had several other related goals that did not pan out – at least not yet. However, when my agent first spoke with me on the phone last February, she asked me to pitch some ideas so she could get a grasp of my writing career beyond The Bow of Destiny and the following two books. I gladly obliged with ad hoc pitches and my agent latched onto two ideas, requesting sample material and proposals for them. At the point where she had a good feel for my writing and how to place these proposed books, I was offered an agency contract.

Signing with the agent was the good news but I was then hooked to the plow for these books. Around completing the other two books, I dutifully went to work on my new projects, alternating with them and The White Arrow over the summer months. With the publication of The White Arrow, it’s been mostly work on these two projects for my agent while they are proposed to publishers.

So, I begin 2018 with two projects underway which is encouraging since I’m not sitting around trying to figure out what I should be writing. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are several other projects that need my attention. With the agent also came a few unexpected opportunities for submission of other fiction projects that are under consideration. If these work out, I’ll pause my work on the two aforementioned books to complete these. But these submissions are shorter projects by far and should not take up too much of my time.

Prioritizing my efforts is the most important part of approaching my 2018 planning. I’m making more concerted efforts with marketing but writing is the foundation of my plans for the year. So, I’m working on my current books until the rough drafts are completed – hopefully the first quarter of 2018. I won’t be done with them since they both need some significant background development but I’ll been in a good position to self-publish them should they be rejected entirely. That places both of these book solidly on deck for publication no sooner than late in 2018 – October or after. That’s good but I don’t want to wait too long for actually publishing a book this year and, if I sign with a publisher, they definitely won’t be out this year.

I don’t want to go the entire year without a book published. With that in mind, I’m slating two shorter projects for development and writing as side-efforts which I intend to begin sooner rather than later. I suppose completing the rough drafts of the novels should receive my full energy as much as possible so I can put my full energy into these other projects very soon.

One of the short projects is a parallel novella series of The Bow of Hart Saga which I’ve shared previously as what got cut from The Bow of Destiny. I like the sub-plot enough to develop it for a shorter series under the working title of The Goddess Veil. If all goes well, I should be able to develop the first novella rather quickly for editing.

Another project on my mind is another one I’ve also shared about in my Fun Friday posts, The Broken Shield Chronicles. This is intended to be a series of books, shorter in design, a bit gritty and based on the sole-surviving member of an elite company of knights after a coup in the kingdom he served. I like the story-line and even have some of it written. I plan to develop the plot of the first book so it can be written and edited this year so it can be ready for publication as needed.

Along the way, I have a few plans for The Bow of Hart Saga. It’s no surprise I’ve been angling toward print publication of the series. I’ve had a number of inquiries about print so it’s definitely in my plans. The print formatted version has been completed as has the cover art. My only hold-up has been the cost of publication due to being out of full-time work. That’s about to change, so I’m likely going to release the print version in short order – hopefully this month. I’d like to spend a bit of time re-releasing the entire book, including e-book just to add a bit of traction.

An Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow will take a bit longer since I’ll have more work to do and more money to spend on artwork. However, I hope to release both by June, also using the print releases to do a general re-release of each book. The set-up for re-release may cause me to take more time with the print versions.

There’s another consideration around these re-releases: audio. I’m intent on releasing audio versions of each book this year. I’m in talks about it with a publisher and considering my other alternatives too. So, audio may be worth delaying print for each book. I’ll make a decision within a few weeks and make an announcement but the plan to move to print and audio this year with a re-release of each book.

All these projects and plans will make for a busy 2018. After last year, I’m more determined than ever to make a go of being an author. I’m not willing to rest on my proverbial laurels. I love writing and engaging with readers so I’m pressing forward with all the projects I have and I’ll play the year by ear somewhat as things develop over the first quarter. My exact plans will solidify as I know more from publishers, but I’ll target publishing at least 1-2 books minimum this year and see where the rest leads me. Here’s to a fun, busy year of writing. Thanks for coming on the ride as I hope to share progress on everything as the year progresses.

Thanks for reading along today. Please leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can. Also, if you would be interested in joining my groups on Goodreads or Facebook please leave a comment or contact me otherwise about your interest. I’ll have the links for these announced soon. In the meantime, please visit with me in my Goodreads Q&A group and leave a question or comment if you have the time.

What’s New for 2018 Part 1: This Site and New Groups

I’ve been taking my time assessing last year and planning for this year, partly because I’ve been sick but also because I’ve been assessing what directions I need to focus my efforts for 2018. Today, I’m addressing changes to my website/blog and tomorrow, I’ll get more detailed about my writing plans for the year than I did in my previous post.

Site Plans for 2018

I have a number of goals with this site that I’d like to address this year. I have previously posted a lot about Scrivener on my blog which has been great. However, since I’m contributing over on Story Empire with similar content, I’m going to post most of my new Scrivener tips there, leaving my site for more content around fiction – mine and whatever I run across.

As far as the site, I think I’ve outgrown the current free-hosted model so, as the year progresses, I’ll likely migrate toward a self-hosted site. I simply need the ability to do more with this site than in previous years which requires the flexibility to work with more plug-ins and widgets than currently available. WordPress’s free-hosted model has been an incredible help for almost 4 years now but it’s time to grow and develop the site further.

Regarding content, my plan is to offer more news about my writing as I have several projects in the works (more about them tomorrow). Additionally, I want to post more commentaries about my published books and other fun tidbits around them. I plan to post these types of blogs on Thursdays much like this one though with some variety. Also look for plenty of posts from my feature, “Fantasy Authors Unplugged” as I am able to find guest posts or interviews from other authors or people related to speculative fiction. I hope to have a few starting this month as time allows.

On Tuesdays, I want to take some of my short stories and post them as serials for readers to enjoy. I have a number of stories just lying around doing nothing and gathering digital dust so they may as well be brushed up and posted to be read which is what was intended for them. Look for one to begin next Tuesday.

I’ll continue post the Fun Friday feature where I’ll mix in some polls, writing ideas and a few, fun oddball notions otherwise.

Other Developments

Also this year, I’m starting a couple of groups for readers to join for preview content of books and even some ARC opportunities. One group is under development on Facebook. I’ll announce that as soon as I have it ready to go.

The other group is underway as a Q&A group on Goodreads which I posted about last week. This is a place where anyone can join and ask me questions about The Bow of Hart Saga. I’ll host Q&A’s several times this year as there are new developments with books and releases. If you are interested in the current on just click the button on the right for more information.

Additionally, I may host a more private group on Goodreads like the one on Facebook where readers can enjoy alpha/beta content, provide feedback and receive ARCs and other freebies.

Overall, the year should be busy and fun with a number of new developments with my website, blog and groups. Join me tomorrow as I reveal my specific writing plans for the year. Thanks for reading today. Feel free to leave you questions and thoughts in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.