Friday, February 7, 2014

Writing the kick-butt heroine


Congratulations to "Laurie I", the winner of Donnell's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I write romantic suspense, and as such I need a heroine who is feisty, larger than life, and able to take care of herself.  You know, someone who isn’t like me.
  
All right, I can take care of myself.  Now.  But it took training and some undoing of my pleaser personality.  During a Full Power course when I was participating in the Victims Advocacy and our instructors were teaching assertiveness training, my instructor, a burly deputy dressed up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, shouted at me, “You’re such a girl!”

I was supposed to attack him, and I wasn’t, you see.  Girls don’t hit.  But after a while, he produced the desired effects and I pounced on that overgrown muffin.

I learned from Full Power, first and foremost to be aware of my surroundings, to not put myself in a position where I needed help in the first place. I did a ride along yesterday with a female patrol cop –who said, “If I find myself on the ground and in a fight, I’ve already lost.  Because now,” she added, “I have to get myself out of it and I got myself into that situation in the first place.”

Here’s what I’ve learned from Full Power, ridealongs, Citizens Academies and more.  The real life kick-butt heroines, still look like women.  They are also highly professional – they have to be – or they’re out of a long fought-for career.  They don’t talk like sailors – they’re several steps ahead of their male counterparts (again, if they plan to advance in their careers.)

They can, of course be vulnerable and therefore deserving of a happily-ever-after.  In Betrayed, my newest release from Bell Bridge Books, I write two kick-butt heroines.  It’s a mother/daughter reunion story of a child stolen at birth.  Irene Turner is a trapshooting champion, a marksman.  Her daughter is an Olympic soccer champion.  Their drive and ambition are part of their genetic makeup.  But they’re also victims when the story starts out and they’re vulnerable.  I can’t change the human condition.  We all will be vulnerable at times in our life.  But I can promise you at the end of BETRAYED, neither will be victims.  Thought you might like to read an excerpt from BETRAYED.   

From Betrayed ~ November 2013
Expecting the nurse, and so very tired, Irene prepared to tell the hospital employee these constant interruptions were overkill.  But a man clearing his throat had Irene sitting upright.  
“Mrs. Turner?”

Lieutenant Montoya stood in the doorway.

“Lieutenant.”

He eased farther into the room.  “My men tell me you’ve been through the ringer in the last ten hours.  I’m sorry about your husband.”  

“Thank you.  But from our first meeting, I think you know there was no love lost between Stephen and me.  We’d been living together yet separately for years.”  

The lieutenant held papers and a small package in his hand.  

“What’s that?” 

“When was the last time you washed your hands?”

“The staff ordered me not to.”  Irene shuddered.  “Rather odd request in a hospital, don’t you think?”

His mouth curved upward.  Not for the first time, she noticed his smile.  Too bad he didn’t do it often.  “This is a gunshot residue kit, Mrs. Turner.  Sorry to delay your personal hygiene, but I asked that you not wash your hands until I had time to execute a warrant.”
She sucked in air.

“We’ve determined that the weapon used to kill Stephen Turner was a .38 projectile.”

Her heart commenced beating like a war drum.  Damn this fight or flight response handed down from our ancestors.  “I did not kill my husband.”

Lieutenant Montoya moved closer to the bed.  “My detectives are inclined to believe you.  Your department store receipts, that nasty blow to your head.  The test I’d like to perform is one more test to prove your innocence.  When was the last time you fired your .38?”

“Months,” Irene said.  “The last time I fired it was at the club during target practice.”  She swallowed and her throat felt like sandpaper.  “I have asked for and been denied a phone.  I’m ready to call a lawyer.”

“And that’s your prerogative.  But first, you should know we’ve already tested your clothes.  We found zero traces of gun powder.”  He held up a box.  “One more test should prove it.”  
Her heart rate decreased slightly.  “Is this where the bad cop pretends to be a good cop and takes the poor innocent suspect into his confidence?”

The lieutenant lifted a brow and gave her another one of those smiles.  “Mind if I use your restroom, poor innocent suspect?”

Sucker.  “Suit yourself.”  

“I won’t be long.  I’m just going to wash my hands.”

She scowled at him.
***
I love smart women.  Women who refuse to be victims, and they’re who I write.  If you like women, who against all odds use their wits despite any challenge, I hope you’ll check out my books. 

Giveaway:
I’m curious.  What do you think makes a good heroine?   I’m entering all comments into a drawing to win BETRAYED.  

Donnell Ann Bell is the author of three romantic suspense novels from Bell Bridge Books. Her first two books have been Amazon bestsellers, The Past Came Hunting reaching #6 overall, Deadly Recall, hitting #1 overall.  Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or contact her via her webpage at www.donnellannbell.com 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Feb. 8th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustRomanticSuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

33 comments:

  1. A heroine has to seem "Real". Show flaws and weakness as well as strength of character too. A reader connects with a character if they show heart, spirit and an understanding that is the same as the reader's would be.

    A true heroine admits her weaknesses and draws strength from them.

    Thanks for the giveaway!! x

    {My email is ~ lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk }

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  2. Well said, Lucinda. I love your definition. Well said. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  3. Donnell, I love your kick-butt heroines! I think a good heroine is one that readers can connect to. However, that said, everyone has different tastes and what one reader will connect with is often what turns another reader off. We have to remember that we're never going to please every reader.

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    1. Excellent point, Lois! Thank you, and thanks for the compliments on my heroines!

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  4. Donnell, I love your writing.

    I think a good heroine possesses inner strength even if she has physical strength as well. She is intelligent, resourceful, has a boyfriend/husband who sees and treats her as an equal, and has a heart of gold.

    mjdiodati@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you, Marijane, and you being such an avid follower and reader of romantic suspense, that is an extreme compliment. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Oh, please tell me you told the dough-boy he was wrong -- you are a woman. And if he was a real man, he would have noticed!

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  7. Susan, I owe that dough boy everything. A woman needs to learn to handle herself in a dangerous situation. If an an attacker came at me in real life, I wouldn't have known how to one defend myself, and, two, to alert any bystanders that there was a problem. Now I would raise my voice and shout at the top of my lungs, I don't know you, get away from me! Plus, have the self-defense training to help myself. That's the whole purpose of what he was trying to instill in me and I'm grateful!

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  8. Hey Donnell,

    I'm a fan of your writing! And I definitely like to read about kick-butt heroines. My preference is for there to be something very girly about this tough woman. Maybe she has an unusual pet or likes pink socks, some quirk that lets me the reader know she has a tender, more vulnerable side as well as the tough side.

    Maggie

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    1. Maggie, thank you so much! I'm with you. The character I'm writing now is a police officer and her baggage is pretty significant. We'll find out who she is as the story develops and comes to terms with her past. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. What makes a good heroine? One that shows me her personality... her flaws and strengths. Loved your other books... thanks for the chance to win Betrayed!

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    1. Thank you, Colleen C. I think we agree that we don't want a perfect heroine. Thanks for the nice compliments on my books!

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  10. Your book sounds great!! I'd love an opportunity to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I think a good heroine has the ability to make decisions based on sound reasoning and not what her heart dictates. She is intelligent, feisty and strong willed, yet still feminine. She doesn't hold grudges and she endures under difficult circumstances.

    Liglesias3 [at] gmail [dot] com

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    1. Hi, Laurie! Great to see you here. Wow, what a great comment -- doesn't hold grudges. I like your thinking. People who hold grudges only hurt themselves, and do we really want to read about a hero or heroine who holds one?

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  11. like smart and strong heroines

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hi, Bn100, me too! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I like heroines who can take care of themselves but are strong enough to ask for help. Love your books and thanks for the giveaway.
    jaclynlavigne@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi, Jacklyn, well said. That vulnerability makes our characters human. So important! Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comments about my books!

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  13. Hi Donnell,
    I like a heroine that's strong yet vulnerable, intuitive and a great sense of humour.
    And I look forward to reading your new book. Congratulations!
    You always have such wonderful covers!
    Jan

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    1. Oops...my address

      janet_kerr@msn.com

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    2. Thanks, Janet, great to see you here. Debra Dixon does the best covers! Thank you! I'm glad you like humor too. Sometimes you just have to lighten the moment, ya know?

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  14. I think a heroine needs to be smart, loyal, honest and sassy. Sometimes that sassy side can come in handy. :) Great post, your books sound wonderful.

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

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  15. Hi, Brooke, thank you so much! Sassy, huh? Me too! Love the traits you want in a heroine. Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. That is so funny. Someone once said that to me that I was such a girl. I got sarcastic and answered right back "Wait... I am a girl." He did rubbed me the wrong way while I was having a bad day.

    A heroine needs to be sassy and willing to risk what is important to her.

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  17. I forgot my email.. kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  18. A good heroine is intelligent & a touch feisty.

    Such a great excerpt.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  19. A sense of humor, compassion, strength of character ,back bone, and gentleness.

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  20. Joyce M. sounds like my kind of heroine. Thanks for commenting!

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  21. A good heroine has to be a chameleon. She needs to know when to strike and when to submit.

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  22. ooooh, Susan Alexander, I love the way you think! Stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by!

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  23. I think a good heroine should be strong and confident and have a sense of humor.

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  24. Me, too, Rachel B. did you hear the one about.... :) just kidding. Thanks for stopping by!

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