Strong Female Characters and the Women Behind Them

I am very fortunate in that I was raised by a strong woman with the support of a family that included the women who helped my mother grow into the strong woman that she is. It’s something that I was reflecting on today as I am writing a scene where my female lead is calling her Mom. Her world has fallen apart and who does she want around most when that happens? Her mom, of course.

My Grandmother is one of the most amazing women that I know. She lived through the Depression, a World War and several smaller skirmishes. She watched the country go to Hell in a Hand Basket and claw its way back out. She took care of her own mother through end of life and her own husband when cancer took him too early. She’s lost sisters and friends and, I swear to God, she can make me laugh my ass off.

She has this uncanny knack of putting things into perspective. We had a play date at her house with all of the under 10 children we could gather. My cousin, sister, and sister-in-law were there, as well as my mother and myself. Informational purposes, I remain childless and am the Amazing Aunt A.K. (I doubt that part needs further explanation because, hey, I’m awesome). The adult women were chatting in the living room and my cousin was talking about how busy they had been since the children and how they no longer would fly off impulsively to Las Vegas to catch dinner and a show. Most of us commiserated. How could we not? It’s true life changes and we don’t get to do many things we once did.

My grandmother slaps her knee, says, “I just don’t know about you girls,” and promptly reminds us that, once upon a time, girls were lucky if they could sit on their front porch with a date, much less fly off to another state. Before marriage, I might add. She didn’t say date on a porch but she got that idea across and it was a nice reminder that her grandchildren are mired in First World Problems.

She started college at the usual age and she took classes throughout her life. She graduated from a Community College with a degree and had the opportunity to walk down the Graduation Aisle with a young man 1/5 her age. She joined the online community when most of her friends were spending time at the Bingo hall (she plays Bingo and slots online, sh!) and she’s very active with her community today.

She’s very independent and creative and she’s my hero.

My mother has taken that and advanced it. Let’s call it evolution because that word is so controversial. Divorced with three young children at home she managed to improve her career, raised us not to be criminals, and learned how to fix things around the house. The woman wields a hammer like I wield a keyboard.

While running her own business of an online bookstore she needed shelves. Did she run to the store and plop down a very pretty penny so she could have rows and rows of stacks in her basement or spare room similar to a library? Hell no. She bought wood and nails and brackets. She designed her own shelves across the walls and managed two things at once: a place to organize her inventory and she hid the ugly ass wallpaper. Brilliant, I tell you.

My cousin with the impulsive spouse is one of my favorite people. I don’t mention this to her because I’d rather Blog Bomb her on a random Monday. A few summers ago we had yet another play date. This time it was at her house because they had a lake and a boat and a beach. My sister-in-law, brother, their three kids and I went over and had a great day.

At one point we were on the ski boat and we’re pulling her spouse on a wake board. We are hauling booty and he got air like you wouldn’t believe! First run of the season made him feel a little ambitious, I believe. He came crashing down. Hard. He limp/swam his way into the boat and the first thing he says is, “Don’t tell your cousin. There’s no sympathy for self-inflicted wounds in our house.”

Now, I’m a firm believer in this sentiment but I had never put it into words before. Therefore I’m going to type it out again.

There’s no sympathy for self-inflicted wounds.


That’s become a mantra around our home and several others that I know.

These are the women I have been influenced by my entire life. So now I’m “of an age” and I’m pushing my own version of children out there. While I’m concentrating on Romantic Suspense as a genre one of my running commentaries on my characters is this: each character should be strong on their own and make a dynamic team when together.

When they make stupid mistakes they have to pay the price. You know, like real people. When they’re in trouble they need to find a way out. Like real people. And no one likes a whiner.

It’s nice to appreciate the people who have helped and hindered us in the past. Today I share my gratitude for the many women in my life, those mentioned and the ones not, who taught me everything I ever needed to know about strong female characters.

I’m looking at you, Sharkie.

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