What’s Wrong With Being Nice? The Likable Heroine Effect

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I’m happy to have Alesha Escobar, author of The Gray Tower Trilogy, back on my site. She is touring with the Addicted to Heroines Blog Tour (see the lovely badge in the margin) so I encourage you to take a gander and see who else is involved. This time Alesha tells us about the qualities of a likable heroine, and as usual, she’s got it spot on. Thanks Alesha for stopping by again!

HawkgirlCreative Commons License Wilton Taylor via Compfight

Do you remember the news story about women getting depressed using Facebook? Apparently some women would read up on others’ status updates filled with on-point hair days, perfect children, glamorous jobs, and unicorns–and log off feeling like crap.

I’m not surprised.

It’s inevitable to compare ourselves to others, and when we feel that a certain status or behavior is unattainable, it leaves us feeling something is lacking, or that we are lacking. The same goes for our fictional heroines–when we see the perfect Mary Sue, we sort of cringe and fail to relate. We’re not perfect, and when we pick up a book, we don’t want to encounter a heroine who’s going to get everything right all the time. Yet, I’m hesitant to throw in my towel and proclaim we need to start writing and reading crude, “unlikable” female heroes.

The idea of the likable heroine is one that rests on the expectation that a heroine be appropriate in her behavior, sweet, nice, or “the good girl.” She has to be likable…right? There’s no room to be depressed, selfish, a user, or a bitch.

For those who critique the “likable heroine” being placed on a pedestal, I agree with them that there’s a problem with this. Women are complex human beings, and we run the range of likable to unlikable. Why can’t our heroines reflect the same?

Still, a female version of a jerk anti-hero isn’t all too palatable either. So let’s strike some middle ground. It’s okay for our heroines to be “real,” to have flaws, and make mistakes. And it’s also okay for her to be noble, brave, and–gasp–kind.

We like heroines we can relate to, but many of us also like them to be the torchbearers of really cool qualities and personality traits. At least that’s what attracts me to a heroine. Give me the intelligent Elizabeth Bennets who find love, the Eowyns who refuse to be caged, or the fierce Britomarts who hold their heads high.

If I could be a heroine, I’d want to possess some of these traits. So what’s wrong with being nice or likable? Nothing at all. Just remember that there are deeper layers, desires, and qualities to the likable heroine, and instead of resting on simply one aspect, try exploring the whole person.

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The Ministry Blog Tour

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TheGrayTowerTrilogy

I am excited to be able to participate in The Ministry Blog Tour in celebration of the completion of the final book in Alesha Escobar‘s Gray Tower Trilogy, Circadian Circle. Congratulations Alesha! It’s phenomenal to be able to rub shoulders with such smart productive indie authors. It inspires me to work harder and to believe in my writing. Thanks Alesha for being an inspiration and for producing a quality piece of fantasy literature.

The Gray Tower Trilogy is a mash-up of magic and espionage, set in an alternate WWII era where the Nazis join with warlocks and vampires to gain the upper-hand, and the Allies employ wizards to stand in their way. The trilogy follows the exploits of Isabella George, an alchemist trained by the Gray Tower and hired as a spy by British intelligence. After losing friends and colleagues to the horrors of war, she’s ready to retire. However, a vampiric warlock stalking her, and a deadly secret from her past, only draw her further into a world of danger and deception.

If that doesn’t sound like a fun and interesting story line check out what others have to say about it:

“In addition to the variety of allies and enemies Isabella George encounters in the first book, an array of new characters and situations await a reader in Dark Rift. Some of the characters are warm while others are of a most sinister and evil nature. I even found myself having some difficulty falling asleep at night after one particular encounter. While I will not disclose any of the major plot elements, I will reveal that there are several plot twists for which there is little or no warning. While there might be extremely subtle hints, Alesha keeps her secrets well hidden.” (Goodreads Review)

“This is a fantastic finale to a series of espionage and fantasy woven into a complex plot with well-developed characters and intriguing story line. I could not put this book down! There was tension, suspense, magic, love, mystery, and more over an exciting conclusion. Circadian Circle gripped me to the very end.” (Samantha LaFantasie, Made To Forget)

Go for a chance to win some loot by signing up for the Ministry Raffle. Come on, you  know you want to! Have fun! And congrats again Alesha!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The-Towers-Alchemist-Kindle-cover-600x800-72dpi1The Tower’s Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1)

Dark-Rift-Cover-low-rez-singleDark Rift (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #2)

Circadian-Circle-CoverCircadian Circle (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #3)

NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop

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What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy.  On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to three other authors you can explore!

Epcot - 30th Celebration FinaleI send my thanks, admiration and gratitude to fellow indie authors Melanie Edmonds and Matthew Williams for inviting me to participate in this event.  I found Melanie online a few years ago when I stumbled upon her serial called Starwalker.  I was immediately impressed by the quality of her writing and her very presence.  I’m still impressed.  Since then she and I have become great colleagues and co-contributors of Yuva, an anthology about space travel and colonization that Matthew Williams and I conceived of several months ago.

Matthew “Awesome Sauce” Williams is the most wickedly prolific author/bloggers I’ve ever known.  I envy his verve and talent.  He is an absolute inspiration and the the person I look to when I need a little push to keep writing.  We are currently co-editors and co-contributors of the Yuva Anthology.  More to come on that later.

In this blog hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek).  We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write: the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book? 

My novel is entitled An Unproductive Woman.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

You know what?  I don’t know the answer to that.  At the time that I wrote An Unproductive Woman I’d been watching a lot of Nigerian dramas most of which (at the time) typically centered very dramatically around family and marriage matters.

3. What genre does your book come under?

Hmm.  I can think of three that fit An Unproductive Woman perfectly: Women’s Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love that question and it is very difficult to answer.  Let’s see… hmm… well…

I see Adam, the man most people hate but end up rooting for by the end, played by maybe Keith David or Delroy Lindo.

Asabe, is a bit more difficult.  Perhaps Theresa Randall (15 years younger) or Sharon Leal.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One man’s failed faith and secret quest to right old wrongs threatens to destroy his life but instead brings him full circle.

Sheesh, I’m out of breath saying that.  How about you?

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

An Unproductive Woman is self published and is currently available through Amazon or CreateSpace.  For the record, starting today and for the next two weeks you can sign up to win a signed copy of An Unproductive Woman over at Good reads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

An Unproductive Woman by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

An Unproductive Woman

by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Giveaway ends April 17, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m not certain how long it took me to write the first draft, it being so long ago, but from start to finish including editing it took me about two years.  Then after about a year of trying to get a publisher, An Unproductive Woman sat in a box for about ten years before I finally decided to do something with it.

Am I aging myself?

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Honestly I can’t make any good comparisons, but I have found my book on this list on Goodreads.  I am in the company of some great cultural reads such as Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Khaled Housseni’s The Kite Runner and another of his books, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I’ve read Housseini and I think he is a genius.  I’d never compare myself to him, but I am definitely honored to be on that list among some literary heavy hitters.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

What I can say for certain is that at the time when I wrote An Unproductive Woman I was working out a lot of internal demons in terms of my family and also spiritually.  Writing An Unproductive Woman was cathartic and odd as it may sound, I gleaned a lot of strength from the titular character Asabe, and I learned loads about forgiveness by taking Adam through the paces.  I was emotionally invested in each of the characters even when they were behaving badly.

10: Are you writing anything else that people might be interested in?

I’ve hinted that I wrote An Unproductive Woman several years ago, at least fifteen.  While I feel that the story is timeless, I’m not.  Ha!  Today I am working on a project called The Hinterland Chronicles.  I am  unsure how many installments there will be, but I am planning on at least three short novels (about 75,000 words each) all taking place in the same “world”.  The Hinterland Chronicles, or some version of it has been with me for at least five years and has come to me in disconnected bits and pieces here and there.  Only recently did any of it make sense to me and I recently stated committing words to paper.  Drop back by here sometime to check out the progress meter over in the right hand margin.  I also plan to post shorts from this WIP on occasion to keep appetites whet.  The Hinterland Chronicles will be an entirely different genre than An Unproductive Woman and is best characterized at this time as dystopian SF.

Who’s next on the NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP?

So glad you asked! Below you will find authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on Works in Progress and New Releases! Happy writing and reading!

Alesha Escobar – She is the talented author of the Gray Tower Trilogy.  The Tower’s Alchemist, which is the first book in the trilogy is currently available for free on Amazon.  Check it out if you like fun, adventure and historical fantasy.

Courtney Worth Young – She writes YA paranormal fantasy, is a coffee aficionado, geek, and voice actress.  Hmm.  Voice actress.  Her novel After the Woods will debut in May 2013, so keep your eyes wide open and mark your calendars.

Nadine Ducca – She went from medical translation to writing.  That makes sense to me.  And it’s a good thing.  Nadine is the author of Serving Time which will soon be available.  The cover reveal was just a few days ago so hop on over to her site to see what it looks like.  Should be exciting, yeah?

Sallie Lundy-Frommer – Sallie is a co-poetess and author of the paranormal romance Yesterday’s Daughter.  Check her out if you dare.