Kickass Heroines Deserve a Cover Feature

We’re celebrating strong women here on See Jane Publish this month in honor of May being the month of Mother’s Day. I was privileged enough to have a very strong woman raise me, and have been mothered and mentored by other amazing women since then.

Because of those amazing role models, I’m drawn to kickass heroines in books I read and books I write. When I start a story, the female characters speak to me first. Sure, I love a sexy strong hero as much as any romance reader—but if I can’t relate or admire the heroine I stop reading. Romance reader questionnaires and sales figures show that most readers pay more attention to the hero of the novel. Books with males on the cover usually sell better (the exception is historical covers where it is all about the gorgeous gown). So, when I received the cover for the second book of my Viking Warriors series I was surprised and amazed and grateful to see that my publisher decided to put a woman on the cover.

I had a chance to chat with Sourcebook’s cover production manager Dawn Anderson at the RT conference in April and asked her about her cover model choice. Her reply was that because immortal Viking king Leif so rocked the cover of the first book, she needed someone who could hold their own against Leif. Enter Astrid, the Viking warrior Valkyrie who is the heroine of the second book.

I love, love, love this cover. It has elements of every fantasy and science fiction book I loved as a young reader. I devoured those books because when I grew up, those were the only genres where girls got to go on their own adventures and didn’t just trail behind the boys.

Here’s Astrid, the VIKING WARRIOR REBEL!   The book is available on October 4, but can be pre-ordered now from these online retailers:

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/0fx3ut
B&N: http://hyperurl.co/2ojqh6

Astrid

Strong Women: Love or Loathe?

Though See Jane Publish steers clear of politics, the other day I found myself in a line up (Portland is famous for long lines – from donuts to dive bars, there’s ALWAYS a line) discussing strong women in history. The usual suspects came up first: Maangela2rgaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany)angela, and Hillary Clinton.

angela3Blame it on the election year. The conversation with strangers made me think about other types of female empowerment… and realize a trend that’s been gaining ground in publishing:

THE ANTI-HEROINE.

Ever since Gone Girl and the Amazing Amy (capable of appalling feats that make readers love to hate her, and prompted almost 43,000 reader reviews on Amazon) publishers have been chasing those resilient bad girls. Is a new definition of a STRONG WOMAN emerging?

Fast forward to 2016. I just finished Maestra. A 27-year old art house assistant, Judith Rashleigh, wears an aspirational tweed suit as she plays by the rules in the art world she lives and breathes. When she takes on a second job in a champagne bar entertaining older men, her darker side emerges, and is later ignited when she is fired from her job.

Rage becomes her full time job as she plots her revenge. She becomes dangerous and glamorous. Manipulative and lonely. She is decades of complicated with an alcoholic mother and an obsession with 17th century artist Artemsia Gentileshci. I couldn’t help but like her (and Googled all the references to Gentileshci as I read). ArtemisiaGentileschi-Judith-Beheading-Holofernes-I-1612-13

Even as her scheming ramps up to murder, and she brutally slices the Achilles tendon of her victim before brutally butchering him to a slow death, I mentally cheered “Go Judith!”

Okay, so this is just fiction, not real life. Yet I have to wonder if the popularity of these heroines—or rather, anti-heroines—is a reflection of the strength many women seek?

I mean, we can’t all be serial killers, but we might occasionally play one in our imaginations, yes?

Or perhaps the conversation I had in line offered a glimpse of the future? Are we reverting back to Lizzy Borden, Lucrezia Borgia, and Marquise de Merteuil (Dangerous Liaisons)? If we are seeing a resurgence of the manipulative bad girl, we may want to take a very close look at who we’re voting for in the upcoming elections.

In honor of Mother’s Day

mutant-rose

Photo Credit: My neighbor, Deb H., who gave a loving home to my extra rose bush only to be rewarded by this mutant bloom

 

Since this is the month of Mother’s Day, here at See Jane Publish we thought we’d share some of the strong women in our lives. Here, strong women, have a pretty mutant rose! Mwah!

Strong women are very much in the news lately, both in story news and in the rest of the wider world. (Which apparently exists outside books? Who knew?) From the discussion of “strong female characters” in the movies to the role of more women in Hollywood in general, from the power (and lack thereof) of women in politics to the very personal (like, in-your-pants personal) definition of what it means to be a woman. It’s an interesting time to be a woman, and I think we’ve come a long way, baby!

But we still have a way to go and there’s still a lot to learn, so I want to share a few lady resources that have made me think and laugh lately.

N.K. Jemisin

I stumbled upon her book The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (run go get it and her newest too) back when it was released. Blew my mind, man. I started following her and have since absorbed so many smart essays I would’ve never otherwise found. Her speculative worlds opened up my REAL world, which I think is pretty freaking cool.

Alisha Rai

It’s not often you find a romance heroine in real life, but look — here’s Alisha Rai! Not only is her Glutton for Pleasure a guilt-free pleasure, but she knows all sorts of interesting people (click on Meljean Brooks’ link for a book-related workout) which makes following her a two-fer. (Note: Glutton also has two-fer heroes so there’s that. See why I follow her!)

Reductress

For quick snippets of female fun and fury (because both those are good) I recently found “the feminist Onion”. Just a quick peek at their headlines should be enough to convince you:

  • 5 Granola Bars That Will Make You Want to Scale a Fucking Mountain With Your Boyfriend
  • Beautiful! This Woman Embraced Her Boring Natural Hair Color
  • 5 Hand Placements on Your Boyfriend’s Stomach To Make Sure Everyone Knows You Own Him

I hope you have a strong woman in your life to celebrate with mutant flowers, a gift (maybe a book!) or a shared laugh. Or maybe YOU are that strong woman! If so, Happy Day to you!

Checking in with My Goals: The Debra Elise Edition

Hi everyone, Debra Elise here. I write contemporary and romantic suspense and my debut novel, Saving Maverick, a sports romance, just released on April 4th. (pssst, there’s a giveaway link at the end of this post in celebration of its debut.) My good friend, Asa Maria Bradley, Ms. Double Rita Nominee, and my favorite Viking Warrior author, is taking this month off to concentrate on her hand waving and acceptance speech writing. She graciously offered me her spot on SJP this month. Who was I to turn her down? Thank you, Asa!

So, I love this month’s topic, Re-vamping your New Year’s Resolution(s): Checking in with your goals, because really I love setting goals, making awesome graphics to go along with them (see below) and then forgetting them until five, six months down the road when I suddenly remember oh yeah, I should have added this or that or, how could I have forgotten about wanting to try pilates?

2016 GOALS

However, since I’ve been pursuing a writing career, I’ve been a bit better at the follow through. But, and this is a BIG but, this year I didn’t put in anything pertaining to my non-writing life on my list of goals. And I should have. Not the usual you know loose ten pounds in a month or learn a foreign language; although I’d love to do both. No, what I should have been paying attention to all along—balance. Specifically, how I was going to achieve it in all areas of my life.

Home and work balance may be easy for some, but when your home is also where you work, the logistics become wonky. For me I was comfortable in my many hats, wife, mom, chef, laundress, dog walker, chauffer, chief bottle washer and monster-under-the-bed-catcher, and be able to have a clear goal in mind for each. But this new hat, the one where I’m an honest-to-goodness professional writer who now has contracts and deadlines; now that’s tricky.

I’d somehow fooled myself into thinking working from home would be a piece of cake (or a sour cream lemon pie-yum). This year what I failed to take into account was that in order to achieve the goals I’d set for myself as a writer, it would be next to impossible if I didn’t draw a line in the sand, hallway or door to my office and not let my “home” life intrude.

I wish I’d been better at structuring my time between work and non-work time and giving myself a break, figuratively. I now have to choose between time with family, friends and dedicate time to my job. It also became harder to view my writing as a job when I could wear yoga pants, go without makeup and walk twenty feet from the coffee pot to my office chair. Lines blurred, doors remained opened and children didn’t see me as anything other than a food source and stain-getter-outer.

A vector superhero mom concept

A mere two months into 2016 push came to shove and my well thought out work goals became unattainable. I’d begun to put my writing second and sometimes third in line on a daily basis thinking that I could somehow make that lost time up. But what happened in the end was that I had to scramble to finish my second book to meet my deadline. I’d once had ample time to work on it had I not treated it like a hobby instead of my career and hopefully one day, a college tuition revenue stream.

Once the big, bright light bulb went off, I set myself some new goals and scheduled sanity breaks and a concrete writing schedule to follow. Meaning my home office is where I work. From ten am until I pick up the kids in the afternoon, and if I had to step away from it, I would still need to meet my daily word count after the kids were in bed. And I need to do all the other life stuff, outside of work hours. Just like I did when I had an office across town to go to. So far it’s worked; for one week (last week). This week I’m on a business trip. And next week? My planner is all set with clear goals for each day. Balance scheduled—work and non-work hours.

How have YOU been doing with your 2016 goals? Good, not so good, or I never set goals because they drive me crazy?

Thank you for reading!

Debra

PS – Be sure to visit me on my website and check out the giveaway page (I’m giving away a Kindle Fire as well as other great prizes) and/or sign up for my newsletter.

 

saving maverick coverSAVING MAVERICK by Debra Elise (The Outlaws of Baseball, Book One)

Maverick Jansen and Kelsey Sullivan fall into a complicated game of PR strategy by day and searing passion by night where they both find a new meaning to fast and hard.

He needs someone like her …

Rand ‘Maverick’ Jansen has what it takes to be the star pitcher of the Idaho Outlaws—talent, talent and more talent. Trouble is, since his younger brother’s death in a car wreck, a mysterious ‘injury’ to Mav’s throwing arm has him sidelined. And trying to find solace in a series of all-too public drunken parties isn’t aiding his cause with the league, or the team’s owner. If Mav doesn’t accept help to work out his grief and repair his reputation, he may end up in the dugout for good. He just didn’t expect that help to come from a gorgeous little spitfire in sexy stiletto heels.

She needs to stay far away from guys like him …

Kelsey Sullivan is a publicist, and a good one. She’s not a big fan of bad boy baseball players. But when the owner of the Outlaws, a close friend, asks her to take his star pitcher from media strike out to home run, she has to say yes. But she’d rather eat her favorite Chanel purse. Mav Jansen is everything she’s spent her adult life staying far, far away from—a sports celebrity who seems to consider the world his personal playground. She just didn’t expect him to be quite so gorgeous and irresistible.

When life throws them a curve ball, is it too late to learn that love can save them both?

Saving Maverick is available at these retailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Re486Y
Nook: http://bit.ly/1UVOwLZ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1YhkZe3
iBooks: http://apple.co/23fsitA

Debra EliseDebra Elise lives with her husband and their two sons in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves to read, nap, write, and watches entirely too much T.V. (Blacklist and Mr. Robot are two of her current obsessions). She also enjoys hanging out with other author-type individuals and teasing her three ‘boys’ into displaying their killer smiles. Most days find her carpooling, avoiding laundry and daydreaming about her characters and how to make them come alive for her readers.

 

Resolution Recap 2016

The older I get, the faster time flies by. Thankfully, this post isn’t about bygone years, plans, and everything I haven’t yet done. It’s about my resolutions for 2016. This brand new year of … oh what the hell… three and a half months have passed and I’m still not setting the world on fire with ambition.

Which is okay. I’m doing abundance resolutions this year: actions that bring me joy.

  1. Drink coffee from a rainbow unicorn mug every morning (Elwood!). CHECK.elwood
  2. Send GREAT cards. Not just birthdays, all occasions. E-cards, mailed cards, handmade cards, this year I’ve resolved to show others how much I care for them. With cards. CHECK.cards
  3. Sip exquisite tea every day. Chocolate mints, jasmines, bergamots and chamomiles. I began the year with an excellent stash and found some new ones along the way, too. Yet the daily ritual of tea I started back in January has slipped to every few days, or once a week. The tea resolution is going the way of an abandoned gym membership. UH-OH.tea

Simple goals, not necessarily creative ones. Unlike other years, 2016 is not a year of high individual creativity. It’s about a community effort and using the storytelling skills I’ve been working on for the last 15 years in a new form. In the meantime, I raise my rainbow unicorn mug (filled with tea maybe?) to all who are tackling their 2016 resolutions with gusto. When you arrive, let me know. I’d love to send you a congratulatory card!

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