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.

authoralesha Twit­ter

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Ama­zon

A “Friendly” Undeserved Rating

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Shining StarLate­ly sales have been close to nonex­is­tent. Eh, I wish I could say oth­er­wise but that’s the way it is. I’m still in the process of extri­cat­ing myself from Xlib­ris but once that’s done and set­tled I will reeval­u­ate whether or not I want to sign back up for Amazon’s KDP pro­gram.

Of late, my atten­tion has been on my WIP, hence pub­li­ciz­ing AUW has tak­en a far back seat in the clut­ter and lack of time that is my life. Despite this, and lag­ging sales, from time to time I check out how my title is rank­ing on Ama­zon and also to see if I have any new reviews. I also occa­sion­al­ly check to see if AUW has any new reviews on Goodreads.

Today I noticed some­thing very curi­ous. At some point in the recent past I was award­ed a five star rat­ing, sans review, from one of my Goodreads “friends”. Said “friend” will remain name­less. I found this curi­ous because although I don’t real­ly know this per­son, I am fair­ly cer­tain this per­son has NEVER read AUW. In fact, if I was the gam­bling type, I’d bet every­thing I own that this is the case.

So, why would this per­son, my “friend”, give me a five star rat­ing?

I think I know why. A cou­ple of months ago this “friend” pub­lished a book and dove full steam into a pub­lic­i­ty blitz that includ­ed mass friend­ing on Goodreads, form emails offer­ing a favor if and when the need arose (we’re talk­ing Goodreads friends, not life­long since we were wee pups in the cra­dle friends, so it seemed kind of icky weird), a free eBook down­load of the new­ly pub­lished nov­el, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to win a free auto­graphed copy, among oth­er things. The email was, well, kind of weird, most­ly because I don’t know this per­son, and also because who offers strangers online an any­time favor? But I saw it for what it was, an attempt to gain expo­sure and to sell books. I didn’t respond and I sort of for­got about it until today.

I’m of the opin­ion that my five star rat­ing was one of those self­less favors meant to, at the very least, endear me to the author and at most, oblige me to rec­i­p­ro­cate.

I can not.

I tried to read this person’s book a while back but couldn’t com­plete it. I just couldn’t. The writ­ing was, well, suf­fice it to say, 4% was all I could take. If I can’t turn off my inter­nal edi­tor when I am read­ing a book then that’s a sure sign its chock full of writ­ing flubs, gram­mar errors, incon­sis­ten­cies, edit­ing night­mares, and plain old WTHs. Despite the major issues with the writ­ing, this book has a num­ber of very impres­sive reviews on both Ama­zon and Goodreads, so per­haps I’m wrong or being too harsh a crit­ic.

In light of my unde­served five star rat­ing from this author/“friend”, I won­der how many of this author’s five star reviews were because the author is a good writer with a com­pelling sto­ry as opposed to a self­less “friend” will­ing to do favors. Of note, the author has also rat­ed their own book. Want to take a guess?

My per­son­al opin­ion of self rat­ing is that it should not be done. Besides tacky it is whol­ly unbi­ased.

My opin­ion on “friend­ly” rat­ings based on any­thing oth­er than the opin­ion of one per­son who has actu­al­ly read my book, is that I don’t need them nor do I want them. It lacks integri­ty. It makes me feel like a cheat.

I don’t need friends or rat­ings like that.

An Interview With Alesha Escobar About The Gray Towers Trilogy

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I am delight­ed to wel­come Ale­sha Esco­bar back to my site, this time for an inter­view about  the sec­ond book in The Gray Tow­er series.  If you haven’t read the first book, The Tower’s Alchemist, then get on it.  You’re miss­ing out on action packed read­ing.

1. The Tower’s Alchemist is a lux­u­ri­ous mish­mash of ideas.  We have Nazis, witch­es and war­locks, vam­pires, mag­ic, spies, and decep­tion, not to men­tion lots of action.  Can you give us a lit­tle back­ground about the basic plot of the Tower’s Alchemist?

It’s about a very dif­fer­ent World War II, where mag­ic exists in the world and Hitler’s obses­sion with the occult has led to him mak­ing a pact with war­locks. Of course the Allies won’t be out­done, and so they recruit wiz­ards trained by the benev­o­lent yet aloof insti­tu­tion known as the Gray Tow­er. My pro­tag­o­nist, Isabel­la George, is a Tow­er-trained alchemist work­ing for British intel­li­gence and spy­ing in Nazi-occu­pied France. How­ev­er we meet her at a point in her career when she wants to retire and set­tle down before she ends up dead–or worse, in an exper­i­men­tal lab.

She agrees to go on one final mis­sion, but things end up get­ting complicated–both in her pro­fes­sion­al life and her pri­vate life, and she dis­cov­ers that she has hid­den ene­mies, even in the Gray Tow­er.

2.  The Tower’s Alchemist is an awe­some mix of tra­di­tion­al gen­res and tropes in an orig­i­nal pack­age.  What was the gen­e­sis for the sto­ry?

My hus­band came up with the idea of a female pro­tag­o­nist who’s a wiz­ard spy­ing in WWII–sort of a Hell­boy meets Har­ry Dres­den meets spy type sto­ry. I loved the con­cept and start­ed flesh­ing every­thing out, and after a cou­ple of drafts The Tower’s Alchemist was born.

3.  The sec­ond book in this series is Dark Rift.  How does this sto­ry pick up where the first one left off?  What did you hope to achieve in terms of the plot and char­ac­ter growth with the sec­ond book?

Dark Rift picks up a week or two after the end­ing of Tower’s Alchemist. Isabel­la vis­its a gyp­sy woman to have her mind sealed so that a men­tal­ist wiz­ard can’t read her thoughts or mem­o­ries. Then she does one of the things she’s been desir­ing to do for a long time–go home to her fam­i­ly. Of course she finds that trou­ble won’t wait on her, and the plot takes not only inter­est­ing twists, but also answers sev­er­al burn­ing ques­tions from The Tower’s Alchemist. You’ll see Isabel­la grow, both as a char­ac­ter and in mag­i­cal pow­er, and at the same time she’s going to be forced to face her demons.

4.  Both books are part of the Gray Tow­er Tril­o­gy, which means there will be a third book at some point.  Do you already know the direc­tion this last sto­ry will take or will it be a sur­prise to you as you write?  Have you start­ed writ­ing it yet and/or is there a pub­li­ca­tion date?

My hus­band almost fell out of his chair when I told him I (at first) wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Yes, I am one of those writ­ers. Haha! All I have to say is thank good­ness for Dra­mat­i­ca Pro because those out­lines helped me immense­ly. I’ve actu­al­ly start­ed writ­ing the third book and I know how it will all end. My pro­ject­ed pub­li­ca­tion date is Sum­mer 2013, but if I can com­plete it ear­li­er, you know I will!

5.  Who is your favorite char­ac­ter is and why?  If that char­ac­ter could share one thing about him or her­self, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. I’ve fall­en in love with so many char­ac­ters in the sto­ry. I’ll pick my two favorites–Isabella and Neal. Isabel­la, because of the heart she has, and her will­ing­ness to fight for what she believes is right. Her sar­casm doesn’t hurt, either. If she could share one thing about her­self, it would be that her sec­ond career choice would’ve been teach­ing. Neal War­ren appears at the end of Tower’s Alchemist, but plays a much larg­er role in Dark Rift. He’s a Philoso­pher, which means he’s Sher­lock Holmes on crack with a bit of mag­i­cal enchant­ment pow­ers mixed in. He’s a bit mys­te­ri­ous, he’s a lot of fun, and fierce­ly loy­al to the Gray Tow­er. If he could share one thing about him­self, it would prob­a­bly be that he only uses half the stuff he pur­chas­es from the black mar­ket.

Enter to win a free elec­tron­ic copy of The Dark Rift for your Kin­dle.  Email me at [email protected] between 11/30/12 and 12/07/12 to enter the draw­ing.  Good luck!  Good read­ing!

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Ale­sha Esco­bar

Ale­sha Esco­bar writes fan­ta­sy and urban fan­ta­sy sto­ries to sup­port her choco­late habit. She earned a B.A. in Eng­lish Writ­ing and a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Edu­ca­tion, and has enjoyed both teach­ing writ­ing and being a writer. Her hob­bies include read­ing, watch­ing movies, and mak­ing crafts. She is cur­rent­ly work­ing on the final install­ment of The Gray Tow­er Tril­o­gy.

Find Ale­sha online at these venues:

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