I’ve been seeing a lot of discussions lately bemoaning the strong female character who really isn’t all that strong or independent.  So I thought I’d take a day to explore what I think makes a woman truly strong or independent.  Maybe someone will take something from what I have to say.

My Mom is the strongest, most independent person I know.

My Dad passed away almost 11 years ago.  He was sick for half of my life, diagnosed with cancer when I was seven, getting Hodgkin’s and Shingles, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a bone marrow transplant, two ruptured discs in his back, a heart attack, and ultimately succumbing, not to the cancer cured by the BMT, but to congestive heart failure of a heart damaged by too much chemotherapy and radiation and too little activity after rupturing the discs in his back.

Through those 8 years (he passed when I was 15), my Mom had to make a lot of decisions on her own, especially in the later years.  After he passed, everything fell on her shoulders.  They’d always made financial decisions together, big issues, all of that.  Now he’s not around.  She had two choices: shirk the decisions because they were too hard or step up to the plate and live life.

There have been times where I know she’s struggled.  Where she’s railed against what happened, wishing that my Dad were around.  *coughteachingmetodrivecough*  But then she’s picked up and made the decisions that needed making.

But she’s also always had help in quiet ways.  Talking to her parents, her Bishop, learning from those around her.

In many ways I’ve picked up this same independence and strength.  I can rely on myself to handle what life throws at me.  Sure sometimes I want to cry.  And I do.  But then I blow my nose and make a decision.

Often times, though, I have to ask for help.  I have to accept the fact that no one can get through this life completely on their own.  Part of strength and independence, to me, is knowing when to ask for help.  It’s hard, but it’s true.  It’s a lesson I’m taught nearly monthly sometimes it seems.

True independence and strength is knowing that you have the power to operate on your own but recognizing that you can’t always do so and need the support, help, and strength of others to get what you want or need in this life.

Maybe if we start thinking of it this way, our female characters won’t come off as total pains and alienate our readers.

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Today marks the 400th post here at Chronicles of a Novice Writer.  And to top it off, next Wednesday will be the unofficial 2-year anniversary of my blog.  I say unofficial because this blog was technically opened in October of 2008, but between then and June 1, 2009, there were maybe 3 posts.  June 1 was when I began to blog consistently and with a vague purpose in mind.  Over the years that purpose has shifted, as has the content, but I’m still here.  I’m still talking.  And maybe I’m talking to no one, but that’s okay I guess.

So, in honor of both of these milestones, I’m holding a contest.  The rules are simple: To be entered, simply tweet me your best mashup title between a classic and your favorite or least favorite book in the genre you read/write in the most.  My twitter handle is @StephanieLMcGee and please use the hashtag #400posts2yrsmashup

Only the first tweet will be entered in the contest but tweet as many as come to mind.  One title per tweet, please.

Don’t have a Twitter account?  (Get thee to Twitter!)  That’s okay.  Leave your best title mashup here in the comments and I’ll be sure you’re entered.

The contest will be open from the time of this post going live until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Tuesday, May 31.  I’ll announce the two winners (you read that right, two winners!) in my post on June 1.

What’s the prize?  Oh, I suppose I should tell you that if you really want to know.  I’ll be giving away two full manuscript critiques.  Two.  I’ll allow adult, YA, MG, or anything in-between.  Keep it clean and mild on the heat level.  Acceptable genres are steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.  If you really want the crit and you’re in a different genre, leave a comment and I’ll call it from there.