Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here's to strong, smart women

Here’s to strong smart women. Especially those who fly under the radar.
Amateur sleuths, particularly women amateur sleuths, often don’t seem all that strong or all that smart at first blush. But they are, aren’t they? 

Whether they’re preschool teachers like Lizzie Brown in Angie Fox’s hilarious Demon-Slayer novels or shoe designers, like Gemma Halliday’s killer funny, Maddie Springer. Or for that matter they may be like, pet therapist, Caro Lamont and pet boutique owner, Melinda Langston, in our Pampered Pets mystery series.

Whatever their regular every day job…these women are strong. They are smart. They may seem ordinary, but they’re definitely not. 

We love writing (and reading) these seemingly ordinary women because they’re often underestimated. Whether their special powers are supernatural like Ophelia’s and Lizzie’s or part of their vocation like Caro’s and Mel’s, these ladies can take care of themselves and anyone else who needs it. 

Writing a strong heroine can be tricky. It’s a balancing act. You see a strong woman isn’t just a guy named Lance who’s been given some curves and renamed Linda.  A strong heroine is a multi-faceted person with feelings and flaws. She understands her weaknesses, learns from her mistakes and draws on her strengths to face what she needs to face. She’s loyal and fierce and believes in fighting the good fight not only for herself but for others who can’t fight. She may get knocked down, but she always gets up. 

You’ve probably seen this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt before, “Women are like teabags. We don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water.” 

Isn’t that the truth?

We believe part of the fascination with strong, smart women who fly under the radar is that they are going along, leading ordinary lives, and suddenly they must rise to the occasion when faced with extraordinary circumstances. In our books, it’s almost always a murder. But the murder isn’t really the call to action for Caro and Mel. It’s the injustice. Someone is falsely accused. Someone is in danger. Someone has been wronged. 

And don’t we all hope that if we were placed in a situation that called for it we’d put on our big girl capes and perform extraordinary feats. 

So here’s to us -  the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends who fight the good fight. Even if sometimes we have to save the world between grocery shopping and endless meetings. 

Here’s to you - may your battles be small and your superpowers sufficient to the challenge before you.
Sparkle & Abbey

What are your thoughts? What makes a great strong female character for you?
Do you have a favorite strong, smart female character in a book or movie?

Please post a comment and get your name in the drawing for free books. We’ll be giving away some copies of Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy. One Amazon reviewer recently posted, “A really fun read. Think Gemma Halliday's high heel mysteries only with pets instead of high heels…” Needless to say we were honored and blown away by that!

Also, just an FYI, Get Fluffy is currently an Amazon Big Deal and being offered on Kindle for $1.99 until December 22.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter who co-write the Pampered Pets Mystery Series featuring feuding former Texas beauty queen cousins Caro Lamont and Melinda Langston who are strong enough and smart enough to solve crimes that have stumped the police in posh pet-friendly community of Laguna Beach, California. 

Book One: Desperate Housedogs
Book Two: Get Fluffy
Book Three: Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (coming soon)
Book Four: Yip/Tuck (2013)


Sparkle Abbey said...

Happy 12-12-12 to you all! What are your thougths? Do you have some favorite strong, smart female characters?

All commentors will go in a drawing for free copies of Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy!

Cheryl S. said...

A female character who perseveres, who rises to the challenge in spite of herself or of circumstances is always appealing. They're also a role model for we gals who need some inspiration in tough times. This brings to mind Katharine Hepburn. Strong, witty, stylish, independent, and getting the job done.

traveler said...

What a great post. Women have to have that added strength which enables them to triumph over illness, difficulties and hardship. this year I beat breast cancer.

Unknown said...

Great topic. When we read a book, especially a great book, we live vicariously through the characters and don't we all wish we were the strong, smart woman who can handle anything? Solve everything. As young girls we all read Nancy Drew and it was us solving those mysteries. Now that we've grown up, that hasn't changed. Fiesty, smart, beautiful, always have the wittiest comebacks (don't I wish!). Caro and Mel are the perfect examples. May the mysteries never cease and the fun never stop!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

I love this post, Sparkle Abbey, and thanks for the heads up that Get Fluffy is on special. Heading over after I shoot of my opinionated mouth . I saw a great quote the other day...."How come you never see me and Wonder Woman in the same room?" -- Just sayin' :)

That's pretty typical of most women. You don't know what you're capable of until you're put in a hopeless position.

You two are amazing storytellers. Here's to your success!

Cheryl St.John said...

I love that ER quote. :-)

Strong heroines are my faves. I like those who have vulnerabilities, but don't let on. These heroines work for historicals, too, like those who strike out on their own in a man's world fraught with danger and hardships.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Cheryl S - Love the Katharine Hepburn reference! Definitely known for her independence. :-)

Sparkle Abbey said...

traveler - Hugs and cheers to you! You are one strong woman. Congratulations on winning a tough battle! :-)

Sparkle Abbey said...

Tami - Fun! We do have witty comebacks but always after the fact...that's why we write...

Sparkle Abbey said...

Hey Donnell - Thanks for stopping by! Come to think of it, we never see Wonder Woman and you in the same room. Hmmm....

Sparkle Abbey said...

Cheryl St. John - That's the great thing. Strong women work in historicals, mysteries, steam-punk, or whatever. You write amazing strong women! We know everyone probably has their favorite but Thea's in Land of Dreams the one that stays with me.

catslady said...

Any book with animals is something I would enjoy!I want my heroines to be everything I'm not and more!

Sparkle Abbey said...

LOL catslady! We always say Caro & Mel are nothing like us. They're much taller...and braver!!

Kristi said...

A strong woman to me is someone who keeps going even when things are tough and doesn't give up. She might break down in tears once in a while, but keepps going.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Kristi - So right. She keeps going. She may be down, but she gets up.

Love this Washington Irving quote about tears: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”

Sparkle Abbey said...

It's been fun hanging out with you all! Thanks for your great comments and insights.

traveler, catslady, and Kristi - Sparkle, the cat, picked your names out of the hat so you win some free books! Just drop a note to us at with your mailing information so we can get them out to you.

Thanks again!
ML & Anita aka Sparkle Abbey