Tag: strong women

Enter the Strong Women #Giveaway!


150 authors have come together to offer over $2,500 in prizes, including two grand prizes of $1,000 each. Umm, wow!

We’re celebrating strong women in fiction and also have lots of great books for you to choose from—from sweet contemporary romance to hot paranormals, all the way to mysteries and thrillers, we’ve got it all.

So what should you do to join in the fun?

➡ Make sure you entered phase 1 of the giveaway at www.bit.ly/StrongReaders.

➡ Answer the simple question below and enter your email to enter phase 2.

➡ Watch for a confirmation email with instructions on how you can up your chances by earning additional entries in this giveaway.

➡ Check out the sponsoring books and find something awesome to read at www.bit.ly/StrongBooks.

That’s it! This giveaway runs the entire month of August. Each week we’ll have a new $100 prize winner, which we’ll announce by email, and on September 1, we’ll announce the two grand prize winners—each of whom will suddenly find themselves $1,000 richer.

Good luck, and don’t forget to share!


“Simone is a strong woman in this book…. She doesn’t take shit and she doesn’t need saving, something I truly appreciate.” ~A Kiss at Midnight Reviews

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Why I wrote my first trashy romance

Update: the second edition of my first romance novel is being released tomorrow, so I’m reposting my reasons for writing it.


I found this comment on Amazon:

Tell Me You Want Me: “I really enjoyed this book. Kind of reminds me of the great love life I enjoyed as a youngin’. LOL I totally recommend this book.”

I didn’t have a great love life when I was young. It wasn’t allowed. I had sex for the first time at age 14 (that story is here), but it certainly wasn’t great. I had sexual experiences with my high school boyfriend, but they were riddled with guilt and shame. I never had the fun, innocent—natural—sexual exploration teens should be allowed to enjoy without bitterness and self-loathing.

I feel robbed, cheated, deceived.

So I write. Tell Me You Want Me’s heroine, Jane Elliot, is very much like me. She grew up with a strict, over-protective mother. She lived with a long list of Don’ts. Don’t do this, don’t do that and on and on. (When do I get the Do list?) Like me, Jane met a man who encouraged her to explore her sexual nature and enjoy it. No guilt, no shame. Just fun. (Love too but that’s a little spoiler. Shh, don’t tell. 😉 )

Tell Me was my first novel because I needed to tell Jane’s/my story. I needed to experience the happy exploration I missed out on. I like strong independent women, but smart women know when they need help. Jane and I were lucky enough to realize when we found someone who could help us overcome our restricted history and enjoy life, love and sex the way God intended. (Yes mom, I do believe God created sex for fun!) There’s no shame in sex for pleasure.

There’s no shame in writing about it either. 😉

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Are strong heroines really so rare?

I finally saw The Avengers last weekend. Great movie. Loved it. Joss Whedon does many things well: action, humor, villains, and heroes, but the one thing he does best is develop strong characters, especially women. Most of the characters in The Avengers are men, but the three main women: Black Widow, Agent Hill, and Pepper Potts all made an impact.

But as I read my Facebook timeline the next morning, I noticed a lot of posts with the same topic: where are all the strong heroines? Really? And what struck me as odd is that while we complain there are too few female heroes in fiction, we don’t give them enough attention when they do appear. Last summer I dedicated a whole blog week to my favorite kick-ass chicks, but it got very little action. If you take a look at my list, you’ll notice some of these ladies have been around for more than a decade.

The Avengers’ Black Widow is my newest favorite. She didn’t need a man to rescue her. She didn’t need anyone to rescue her. She fought off the Hulk, and (mild spoiler) she was the one who figured out how to save the world. Black Widow gets as much screen time as the male Avengers. Even Pepper Potts, who only had two short scenes, was established as a genius equal to Tony Stark with just a few telling details.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to watch TV or movies lately, so I’m not familiar with more recent heroines. Maybe they aren’t as common in current popular fiction, but if that’s the case, we have only ourselves to blame. Hollywood claims they produce what audiences want to see. If we don’t applaud stories with strong women, those stories won’t get told. So stop complaining about the strong heroines who don’t exist and celebrate the ones who do. Or create your own. 🙂

Who are your favorite kick-ass chicks? 

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Author Interview – Lisa Vaughn

Lisa Vaughn is the first non-fiction writer I’ve interviewed, but her memoir, The Gifted Ones, is no less compelling than many fiction stories. Conservatively raised Catholic, Lisa, at age thirteen, would suddenly find herself on a totally different path. Through an unlikely chance meeting of a fellow classmate, she would soon find herself innocently taking their relationship to a foreign level neither saw coming…finding out what they are made of as they face the consequences and struggles that come along with going against the grain.

Who are you and why are you here?

My name is Lisa Vaughn, and I am shamefully pimping my memoir, The Gifted Ones, as I am the biggest whore when it comes to free exposure.

Plug your book(s) in three sentences or less:

A coming-of-age tale that takes a glimpse inside the lives of two teens living against the grain of society in a small midwestern town in the seventies. Told in a raw, honest, non-traditional format, probing the question, ‘How can love ever be wrong?’

What genre(s) do you write in? Why did you choose it?

My genre is Non-Fiction/Memoir. And I didn’t really choose it, it chose me. This memoir actually started as a ‘healing tool’ after my mother’s death in 2005.

Do you use a pen name? Why/why not? How did you choose it?

No pen name – it’s all me baby! My naked soul exposed for the whole world to see! (Gulp) I believe – in my case – if I changed names or altered the truth in any manner, it would be sending a message that I was ashamed or embarrassed of my past, and my story – since mine is non-fiction. And that would be going against everything I believe in – being true to your authentic self. I truly loathe hypocrites.

Most writers are ‘different’ from the rest of the world in some way. What makes you different/odd/weird?

Well first and foremost, I’m an artist first, so if I had to pick only one (yes, I’m full of ‘oddities’) I’d say most authors probably don’t have their book title tattooed on their body. Well not the whole title…but I do have the word ‘gifted’ tattooed on the inside of my right wrist. It’s mainly there to remind me of my past and how it influenced me to become the person I am today. ‘Gifted’, meaning ‘Blessed’ – not necessarily smart! lol – Although I’m sure most people just think I’m a narcissist!

Where do you get your ideas? What motivates you?

Real life and living your truth – that’s what motivates me in my art and in my writing.

What do you like on your pizza?

Veg-head here, so it’s onion and black olive with tons of garlic for me!

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

I have a few of those too, as I don’t like to follow rules much.  My biggest is probably fleeing to the beach when I should be doing something a tad more productive. And the others are still illegal, so I won’t go into those. Wink wink.

What do you wear to bed?

Summer: Tank top, panties. Winter: Yoga pants/Sweats and Tee.  I know, I know…very unsexy! But it’s my mother’s fault for making me fear a fire in the middle of the night and having to run outside naked! True story.

What is your ideal vacation?

Key West, Florida…hands down – always a good time!

What’s the weirdest search term that led to your blog?

Geez, I have no idea. You know I’m not one to google myself or search out anything Lisa Vaughn related…that just scares the hell out of me! Hard telling what might come up! I’d rather not know.

And now for some either/or questions: Bath or shower?

Oh, shower for sure for cleanliness, Hot tub for fun.

Mayo or Miracle Whip

Miracle Whip for sure. Who doesn’t love that tangy goodness?

Cat person or dog person?

I’m a Leo…so no question, Cat! I have four, and hoping to be one in my next life.

Chocolate or vanilla?

I’d say both..but if I had to choose one, I’d say vanilla because I can mix other stuff in there to make it unique…remember I’m an artist! Mixing is my ‘thang’.

The book or the movie?

This one is tough because I love both!  Usually indies only for movies, nothing Hollywood or mainstream, and only non-fiction in books – memoir, biography or autobiography. But if I had to choose just one, I’d say movie due to time constraints.

Floss or brush?

I’m a stickler for brushing my teeth, as that’s one of my biggest fears (losing them) but embarrassed to say not much flossing…but I do have my own dental tools that I perform extensive cleanings on myself, so no flossing really necessary! Ha

Phone call or email?

Definitely email! Or text, twitter, facebook…anything but phone calls! I hate, hate, hate talking on the phone!

Bonus question: What is the airspeed velocity of a coconut-laden swallow?

WTF? Now why couldn’t you ask me about sea-gulls or pelicans? THAT I am familiar with! I don’t even like coconut, so that’s probably why I will have to take the penalty and pass on this question. 🙂

This has been a lot of fun! Thank you Amelia for amusing me on this laid-back afternoon!

Links to buy The Gifted Ones:

Amazon: Print & Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Gifted-Ones-Lisa-Vaughn/dp/1456506234/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317765323&sr=8-1

Smashwords: All Ebook Versions: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71414

Author Blog-Page: http://www.thegiftedonesmemoir.blogspot.com

Author Website: http://lisa-vaughn.webnode.com/

Author Bio:

Lisa Vaughn, a self-proclaimed ‘hippie-chick’ and freelance artist, has taken her creative voice to a whole new medium, with her memoir, The Gifted Ones. A true story of resilience that sends a strong message of acceptance and the power of love – told in a raw, honest format, much like talking to an old friend.

Everyone has a story…this just happens to be hers.

Lisa currently resides in Florida along with her loving husband and four cats, where she continues to create her visions of self-expression.

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My favorite kick-ass chicks

I’m not a girly-girl. I never have been. My best girlfriend was a long distance phone call from me, and the closest mall was two hours away. My dad raised me to appreciate sports and the outdoors. I grew up playing in the woods and swimming in a river with crayfish and rocks. I kill spiders myself (just this morning, as a matter of fact). I admire women who take care of themselves and the people they love. Here are a few kick-ass chicks who have inspired me:

Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She saved the world – a lot. She’s the most girly on my list, but her slayer skills more than make up for it. The girl can take a beating, give it right back, and she comes out on top. Who can forget her bringing-down-the-house (literally) love scene with Spike? Wow.

Aeryn Sun – Farscape. A member of the feared Peacekeepers, Officer Aeryn Sun possesses determination, strength, and fierce loyalty. I love this woman so much I named my daughter after her.

Susan Ivanova – Babylon 5. One of my favorite sci-fi series. Commander Susan Ivanova makes me laugh and gives me the chills.


Female cast of Firefly/Serenity: First Mate Zoe, engineer Kaylee (“Hell with this, I wanna live!”) and mysterious River are fighters, but sensual Inara, the companion (prostitute), is especially interesting. Mal openly condemns her, but he wants her. Kaylee admires her. It appears the Firefly society accepts and even respects Inara’s profession, but thanks to Fox’s lack of patience, we’ll never know the whole story.

There are a lot of strong women in sci-fi and fantasy. Maybe I watch too much sci-fi and fantasy, so here are a few more realistic women.

Mary Shannon/Sheppard – In Plain Sight. There’s no one less girly than Mary. She’s a U.S. Marshal who carries a gun (or two) and a sharp tongue. Not sure which one is more dangerous. I have a little crush on her.

Phoebe Bouffay – Friends. Not your typical kick-ass chick, but Phoebe isn’t your typical anything. The thing I admire most about Phoebe is that she’s never afraid to be herself, no matter how weird she gets. I like weirdness.

Alex (Drew Barrymore) – Charlie’s Angels. The movie was as cheesy as they come, but watching the angels fight, especially Alex, inspired me to take karate. Don’t mess with me unless you want to see the lawnmower pull.

Kick-ass she-villains: Callisto – Xena, Hercules, and Drusilla – Buffy, Angel. I like my villains scary. Psycho scary. Callisto has no fear, no mercy and a terrifying snarl. Drusilla was just nuts and that alone scared me.

Who did I forget?

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Excerpt – There is no future with him

In one swift move, Austin pulled Jane’s shirt down and threw a blanket over her as Sara opened the front door.

Her eyes narrowed when she looked at Austin. “What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing home?” Jane countered, zipping up her jeans.

“My sister and her husband had a fight so they came home early. I didn’t feel like staying there while they were arguing, so I said goodnight to the kids and left.” She looked at Austin and snarled. “If I’d known you’d be here, I would’ve stayed far away.”

Austin took a step back, pulling Jane close as if he needed protection. Or was he trying to protect her?

“Austin, this is my roommate, Sara.” Jane did her best to maintain some civility, but the other girl wasn’t cooperating. “Sara, this is…. Apparently, you know who Austin is.”


“What did I do to deserve this?” Austin frowned. “Have we met?”

“Seriously?” Sara gasped, then turned on Jane. “I told you going out with him again was a bad idea.”

“But I like bad ideas.”

Jane sighed, and Austin laughed.

“I’m glad you think this is funny,” Sara shot at him. “I’ll be the one picking up the pieces when you’re gone.”

“Who says I’m gonna leave her?”

“Back off, Sara.” Jane stepped between them. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you Austin was coming over tonight, but he’s here now, so let’s just try to be nice to each other.”

“He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Wow.” Austin took a step toward the door. “I know when I’m not welcome.” He reached for Jane and took her hands. “I’d better say goodnight.”

“No.” Her body still throbbed. He had to be feeling it too.

“I’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll make other plans.” He held her face in his hands and kissed her. “Thank you for dinner. It was delicious.” He pulled her close and pressed his lips to her ear. “And so was dessert.”

She answered him with a smile.

“Sara, I’d like to say it was nice meeting you, but….” Austin winced.

Jane followed him to the door, whispered “Sweet dreams,” and closed it behind him.

“Good night and good riddance,” Sara growled. “I hope you’re not planning on—”

“Don’t you ever treat one of my friends that way again!” Jane advanced on Sara, her voice low. “Do you understand me?”

“So he’s a friend now?”

“He’s a better one than you are tonight.”

“I’m trying to protect you.”

“From what? From having a good time? From laughing, from kissing, from possibly having the best sex of my life?”

“From getting your heart broken.”

“Okay. I get that. If I’m making a mistake, if I end up getting hurt, so be it. I can take care of myself.”

“But you’re not thinking straight. You’re not thinking about the future. There is no future with him.”

Tell Me You Want Me – available now on Kindle, Nook, Bookie Jar and Smashwords. Also available in paperback


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Trashy’s women…or trashy women?

I’m the first to admit when I read a romance novel; I read it for the men. I love reading about men who are dark and a little bit dangerous, charming with a naughty streak; men who love women and aren’t ashamed of it; men who feel no guilt about pleasure. Mmmm…. Men turn me on and I won’t deny it. When I write, I write for the men too. I love my male characters with all their faults. When I start writing new characters, it’s always the guys who inspire me first.

Romance heroines range from the classic damsel in distress to the tough-as-nails bitch who doesn’t need a man.  I cannot stand a whiny heroine who can’t take care of herself. One of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Halloween episode where the residents of Sunnydale get turned into their costumes. The usually confident Buffy becomes a simpering pansy no one likes, especially Angel. Buffy Summers is one of my favorite kick-ass chicks, along with Aeryn Sun from Farscape. (I named my daughter after her.) I could go on, but that’s the subject for another post.

My heroines fall somewhere in between. Jane, Sara, and the ladies of Devil are all strong, smart women who know what they want, and if they don’t, they find out how to get it. They have no issues or shame about sex. But it takes me a while to get to know them. I don’t have a lot of female friends. I have more in common with men than women, so I have to study the women in my family and in fiction to find models for my heroines. If I dig deep enough, I can find qualities in me worthy of a good romance novel heroine.

I’ve told you all about the men I love/lust for, so this week, I’m giving love to my heroines and the women who inspired them. Trashy’s women aren’t afraid to be trashy women when they choose.

What qualities do you look for in a heroine? What do you like/dislike?

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My mother told me to be a good girl

…but she never told me why.  All my life, I’ve always done what I’ve been told. Do your homework, Jane. Get good grades, Jane. Stay away from boys, Jane. 

Today I met this guy…Austin Sinclair.  I know who he is—campus heartbreaker, troublemaker—all around bad boy. He doesn’t know me, of course.  Why does that bug me?  It’s not like I’m looking for a guy.  It’s my senior year, and I’m focused on my career. I have no time and no need for men.
So why can’t I stop thinking about him?  He called me baby, sweetheart. God, that made me feel….  Anyway, I told him I wouldn’t go out with him unless he found out my name. I have nothing to worry about. He won’t bother.  Guys don’t chase after a girl like me.  I’m boring.  I’m plain. I’m a good girl.
But I don’t want to be good anymore. When Austin pressed his body up against mine (wow) I wanted to be bad—really bad—and somewhere, deep inside me, a bad girl came to life. Even if I never see Austin again, I’d like to know that bad girl better. But you know…I keep hoping he will find out my name. I’d love to see what happens then.
Meet Jane Elliot’s bad girl in Tell Me You Want Me available now on Kindle and Nook.        
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Romance novels are good for women

I was reading various blogs yesterday and I came across a humor blog that showed a romance novel cover with questionable images.  I skimmed through the comments and found several disparaging the romance writing genre. Aren’t they just porn for women? Romance novels are trash/bad for women—the same BS I heard growing up.  That’s when I jumped on my sex-is-a-good thing band wagon (and ended up having a very interesting email conversation with another author, but I’ll keep that to myself).  I started thinking (I do that too much) and I realized it wasn’t just sex that has a bad image (depending on who you ask), but romance novels too (again, you gotta consider your audience).

So today I’m on my romance-novels-are-good-for-you! bandwagon.  I started writing the stories in The Devil Made Me Do It when I was in my 30s. Even though I was never taught sex was bad, I somehow thought it was, and the idea behind those stories is that I need someone else to blame (i.e. the ‘devil’), so I wasn’t responsible when I liked sex or wanted to explore my sexual nature. Today’s romance novels show women who have a healthy interest in sex and they’re not afraid to enjoy it or express it. This is especially true of Sara Jensen, my heroine in Secret Storm (shameless plug). Sara and Jack have some issues in their relationship, but sex isn’t one of them. 
I’ve been addicted to romance novels since puberty, and I couldn’t give them up even when I tried.  They provided a place for me to explore my sexuality when I had nowhere else to turn, no one to talk to.  Sometimes I call them mindless escapism, but even more than that, romance novels are my refuge.
These two blogs make my point better than I do:
Being a feminist romance reader I sent this one to my mother-in-law and she said it confirmed her position that intelligent women read romance.
Okay, I hope I’m done thinking now.  I gotta get some work done!

How do you feel about romance novels? Are they just mindless porn or have you learned something from them?

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