Jilly: Girl With Sword

Michaeline and I both found ourselves captivated by the same snippet of news this weekend: the story of Saga, an eight year-old Swedish girl who found an authentic 1,500 year-old sword while playing by a lake.

Click here to read Michaeline’s post, which includes links to news articles as well as one of the best Monty Python sketches ever. Micki also points out that last summer a seven year-old girl found a sword in an English lake associated with Excalibur, King Arthur’s legendary blade. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Micki is, and she’s developed a Theory. Check out her post to find out more 🙂 .

My response is simpler than Michaeline’s. I just love, love, love the Girl With Sword trope (must add it to my Id List), and judging by the number of GWS Fantasy and Urban Fantasy book covers currently gracing the Zon, I am not alone. I added a few examples to this post, so those of you who don’t read fantasy can see what I mean.

I hadn’t really thought about it until this weekend, but swords are special, right?

These images are about more than seeing a strong, powerful heroine defend her community or embrace her destiny. I don’t think I’d respond the same way to Girl With Crossbow or Tomahawk, and I’m really not keen on Girl With Gun.

I think there are three main reasons I’m all over Girl With Sword:

1. Swords have the weight of history behind them. According to Wikipedia, renowned swords appear in the folklore of every nation that used swords. The Vikings, Maori, Samurai; Parsifal, Charlemagne, Beowulf, Arthur… Give your heroine a sword, especially one with a name, and you’re placing her in the pantheon of legends. Continue reading

Jilly: A Snippet and a Question

How likeable do you like your main characters? Will you take strong, interesting and flawed, especially if they grow and change during the story, or do you prefer them sympathetic from the start?

And do you think readers set the bar higher for heroines than heroes?

In the recent Duke University romance forum, Ilona Andrews said that in her experience, romance readers are more forgiving of male characters than female ones. A male character can do appalling things but with the careful application of a little tragic backstory, he can still become a hero. A heroine, not so much.

That set me to wondering about one of my favorite contemporary characters, a super-rich bitch called Sasha Montgomery. She’s on ice for now, but not forgotten. She’s not a nice woman, but I love her a lot and I’d always planned to turn her into a heroine one day. Now I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

Below is a snippet from the life of Unredeemed Sasha. She definitely has a challenging backstory. I’d be very curious to know whether you think she could be turned around.

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Jilly: Read a Great Book Lately? Pass It On!

Read a Great Book? Pass It On!Have you read anything amazing recently? I’m looking for recommendations to help me recharge my creative batteries over the next couple of weeks – stories of any genre so long as they’re fun, positive, uplifting and full of energy.

I think my productivity plan for the remainder of 2015 (Season of Fruitfulness) must have annoyed the universe, because the day after my post Life happened to me. Nothing bad, and entirely my choice, but some good friends needed help that I was qualified to give, and since then it’s taken all my time, and all my mental energy as well. I haven’t added a single word to my WIP and I didn’t participate in either of the workshops I signed up for, because I’ve been using every ounce of my creative wherewithal to solve their problem. Fortunately the Girls came up with a smart solution, so I reckon another week (maybe two) should put this thing to bed. If all goes to plan, by mid-October at the latest my friends will be in good shape, and I plan to celebrate by plunging back into Cam and Mary’s story.

I don’t want to power through the next couple of weeks and then get back to normal, turn on my laptop and find that my tanks are empty. When I don’t have the juice Continue reading

Jilly: Story Essential – A Proactive Heroine

A Proactive ProtagonistI’m finally feeling happy with my heroine, Rose, which is a huge relief. She’s the most important person in my book (it’s her story) and she’s been trouble right from the start. In the early days it was my fault – I wrapped her up in cotton wool when I should have put her through hell – but even when I’d fixed that she still wasn’t quite right. Now, thanks to Michaeline and Kay, she’s getting close to where I want her to be.

Rose hasn’t changed much since I first imagined her. She’s small, about five feet tall, 25 years old, with pale skin, cropped, spiky, white-blonde hair and gray eyes, and she lives in jeans, t-shirts and Dr Marten boots. If it moves she’ll paint it, draw it, or embroider it, and she’s been that way since she was a child. She takes after her father and doesn’t gel with her mother and stepfather – they love her but want her to grow up and conform. The story starts Continue reading