Seven Fictional Women Who Influenced Me

little womenI saw an interesting post by Katy Perry in Glamour magazine about ten women who changed her life, which started me thinking that I should write a similar post for the blog. Only when I started making the list, I kept thinking about the women in various books who had an influence on me instead! Me as a person, not just me as a writer…So, here’s that post…in no particular order.

1. Jo in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – our next door neighbor in upstate New York gave me her copy to read when I was maybe seven or eight. This book was the first time I had the concept that you could make money by being a writer. (And I wrote my first ‘book’ at age seven although no one will ever pay me any money for that one LOL.) Other things I gleaned from this were the idea you don’t always get what you want, or at least not easily, but you should never give up. And the guy who seems like The One may not be (Laurie). And when you do find The One, he may not make sense to anyone but you. (Professor Bhaer didn’t appeal to me as a seven year old but he has grown on me.) And scarlet fever can kill you, which terrified me when I actually got scarlet fever, but of course we have antibiotics nowadays.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Mara_Daughter_of_the_Nile2. Mara in Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – I’ve spoken of this book many times. It was the moment I realized you could write your own stories set in the mysterious ancient world. I admired Mara’s spirit, her smarts and her bravery, and I thoroughly approved of the dashing Count Seftu.

3. Trixie Belden by various – oh my, let me count the ways I loved this girl. I wanted to BETrixie this girl. I coveted her friends and her family and Jim (had a big book crush on Jim), and all her adventures. She lived in Upstate NY like I did, which was another bond. I learned from her that adventure is all around you, and to pay attention to details and clues that others might miss.I started reading these books when I was younger than the characters, so they seemed SO grown-up to me…

4. Lessa of Pern, Dragonriders by Anne McCaffrey – smart, tenacious, brave, able to speak to any dragon, rider of Ramoth, the Queen dragon, fiercely self sufficient….running a Weyr, fighting Thread….oh, and then there’s F’lar…

ripley hicks5. Ripley of the Alien movie series – she’s probably my ultimate science fiction movie heroine, although I think she needs more romance (I totally ship Ripley and Hicks). But talk about being in charge, never giving up and  smart…fierce maternal instincts…

6. Sarah Connor of the Terminator series – a close second to Ripley…her world changes in an instant and she rolls right with it, becomes a fighter and a fierce mother…

7. Gillian of Year of the Unicorn by Andre Norton – she saw a chance to help someone else and to perchance better her own life circumstances and she went for it, then never gave up through all the obstacles until the HEA with Herrel. I still reread this one periodically and sigh. I always want there to be more. (Plus Andre Norton’s books were such a huge influence on me that she HAS to be included in this list.)

Thinking it over, I believe the common theme here is that these women never gave up, they took chances, they thought out of the box (whatever box they were in, from Pern to ancient Egypt) and they found romance. (OK, I’ll grant you that Ripley’s Happy For Now moment is a stretch but work with me here.) They were loyal friends and comrades to those around them…some of them were excellent mothers or mother figures…

Do you have fictional women who influenced you along the way?

And since Katy Perry started this, here’s my favorite music video from her:


Five Favorite Books

871147_98968988I was asked my friend Teresa Cypher to play in the “Five Favorite Books” meme and I’m always game for a challenge so I said yes. Of course the problem immediately becomes HOW do you pick only five books??? (When you look at her post, you’ll see she gracefully “bent the rules” a bit LOL.) I decided for today I’d just take the first five that float up into my consciousness because there must be something especially wonderful about them, for my busy brain to offer them immediately.

Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. This YA story of a slave girl who got caught up in the intrigues at Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s court, fell in love with the dashing spy who recruited her, endured hardship, found her courage, has a Happily Ever After ending….all set in Ancient Egypt, with a faint touch of the gods looking on – WOW. I’ve said before that this book was a huge inspiration to me, both in developing a love for ancient history and as a writer.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer. This was my first ever Regency and it took me three tries to read it, because I was totally new to the ???????????????????????????????language, the pacing, the humor…but once I “got it” – I was hooked. I LOVED Alverstoke. Watching him become unstuffy – if only for Frederica and her engaging family – was hilarious and wonderful. The whole Baluchistan Hound escapade made me laugh out loud…I’ve read ALL her other Regencies (wish there were MOAR of them), and many by other people as well! Cotillion, Talisman Ring, Unknown Ajax…ummm, ok, I’ll stop…but These Old Shades is actually my favorite. I WANT to marry Justin Duke of Avon. One waltz with him will NOT be enough.

The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky. I can’t say I completely relate to the heroine BUT I have relatives living on an island off the coast of Maine and the setting of this book, and the characters completely drew me in and I could not put it down. I go back and reread parts of it fairly often. Her Three Wishes reduces me to tears every time (and I normally NEVER put myself in a position to be made to cry so the fact I do reread this one tells you how much I love it).

Restoree by Anne McCaffrey. Of course I love her Dragonriders of PERN series with a love brighter than the sun but this older, single title remains one of my favorites. I always wish there was more to the book, a sequel….but I’ve worn out multiple copies of this and have it on my kindle. I so enjoy the relationship between Sara and Harlan…

Wicked Ways by Cynthia Eden. This one is actually a novella and it’s on my list today because I was reading this when the light dawned for me that I was NOT a writer of technical science fiction (which trust me, I wasn’t good at but that’s what I thought I had to write, very long story, not for today)…I was a writer of paranormals and science fiction romance. OK, it’s hard to explain, even to myself, but you know how sometimes a light bulb just goes off in your head and you have some self realization you needed? Well, I had it that day. I immediately sat down and wrote the easiest 40,000 words I EVER put on paper (which means into the computer) of the WORST paranormal romance you ever read (still unpublished & probably always will remain so). It was amazing, it was FREEING and I kept working at it, improved my skills, wrote my paranormal novella Priestess of the Nile, which Carina Press bought…and went on from there. It was a happy day for me when I was able to tell Cynthia Eden what her story had done for me.

So there’s my list of Five for today (it might change tomorrow LOL) and here are five of my friends who I hope will play along and share their five:

Susanna Fraser

Brighton Walsh

Bev Diehl

Steve Vera

Angela Campbell