Heroines of Fantasy: Miss June

Welcome to our sixth installment of this series where I feature kick-ass heroines from the fantasy genre. This month I have a slightly different type of heroine for you. Meet Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. (For the sake of this post, I’ll be referring to the movie, as the movie and book take completely different plot turns.)


Sophie is a hat maker. She’s 18, but has taken over her father’s shop so her younger sister can be free to do what she wants. Sophie is responsible, hard working, and plucky when she has a mind to be. She also has very low self-esteem. In fact, she thinks she’s so ugly, that not even the dreaded wizard Howl would deign to eat her heart.

At this point you might be exchanging wary glances with each other. Sophie is our heroine? This mouse of a girl who lives a boring life while her sister goes out and has all the fun? Well now, the story gets better. Or worse, for Sophie.

Grandma SophieThe wicked Witch of the Waste comes to visit Sophie’s shop, and in a rare moment of Sophie showing some of that pluck, she shows the sleazy witch the door. Oops, don’t piss off a mean old witch. Sophie is then cursed and transformed into an old woman. Horrified, she quickly leaves town and heads into the wild. It’s a slow journey, as her bones creak and she gets tired easily.

You’re still wondering why I picked her as our monthly heroine? Okay, here’s the deal. Sophie may not be a vampire or demon slaying chick who wields swords or guns, but she’s got brains. She finds the wizard Howl’s castle and makes a pact with the fire demon inside to help break each other’s curses. And when Howl shows up wanting to know who she is, she claims she’s the new cleaning lady.

Even in an old woman’s body, Sophie still battles traps by the Witch of the Waste, evil sorcerers, and encroaching war. But here’s what I think truly makes her a heroine worthy of our feature—sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome is ourselves. Sophie may not think she has much to offer the world or anyone, but in the end, she doesn’t need to be saved by a dashing hero. She can save herself. And him. 😉


I hope you enjoyed your visit and come back for more!  You can subscribe using RSSTwitter, or Facebook.  And if you want to ensure you don’t miss any new releases, sign up for the newsletter!

Free Smiles with Validation

Has anyone seen this short film, “Validation,” starring T.J. Thyne (Bones) on the magic of free parking?  I have to warn you, it’s 16 minutes, but if you don’t have time to watch it now, come back later to take a look.  It’s a cute film.

It truly is magic when you think about it, how the smallest compliment can brighten the rest of a person’s day.  It takes ten seconds to give, but the effects last for hours.  I remember one time I had just come from lunch with someone who made me feel really down about myself.  A young guy stopped me in the parking lot–granted, he was asking for money–but even after I declined with an apology, he said, “Do me a favor, stay beautiful.”

You can laugh at the cheesiness, heck, I did.  But in that moment, man how I needed to hear that.  I was smiling all the way back to my car and the drive home.

It’s easy to get hung up on one perspective of validation.  We seek it in certain areas: work, writing, family, relationships.  And when we don’t get it, we start to feel down, and that feeling bleeds into other areas of our lives.  We begin to doubt everything about ourselves.  We come to rely on validation for our self-worth.

I often think of validation as confirmation that I have it all together, or I’m perfect.  Well, that’s an illusion right there, and certainly not what validation means.  So many facets make up my person.  And when I get validation in one small part, it catches fire like a trail of gunpowder, igniting and inspiring the rest of me.

This does bring up one issue, which some of you might share–I don’t always do well at accepting compliments.   I’m not saying I don’t love them!  Seriously, hearing someone say they loved my book sends me over the moon!  I just try to hide it.  Call it embarrassment, or dislike of attention, or humility.


Check out this post by Jenny Hansen on Marcia Richards’s blog: Is it really better to give than to receive?  Maybe we need to start opening ourselves up more to receiving.  Words, acts of service, gifts–all of these are ways to communicate love and validation.  I bet you’re all great at giving it.  Now it’s your turn to receive some.  🙂

So I leave you with these: You are awesome.  You work so hard and have accomplished so much.  People may not tell you very often, but you are a solid rock in their lives, without which the wheels would come off the train.  You are beautiful.

Love Yourself, Not Your Flaws

Hey guys, it’s Move Me Monday and I’m thinking about self-esteem.

Who’s seen TLC’s What Not to Wear?  I love this show.  People nominate their fashion-challenged friends to get a makeover and new wardrobe from two of the fashion industry’s leading experts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly.

The show starts off with what can be interpreted as belittling and teasing as Stacy and Clinton make the contestants step into a 360 degree mirror so all the flaws of their current wardrobe can be pointed out.  The intent is not to beat someone’s self-esteem down, however, but to point out why a certain type of clothing does not flatter their body type.  The contestants are then shown alternatives that will work well for them (and most of their current wardrobe is dumped in a garbage bin).

Stacy and Clinton are not about promoting zero size, Barbie figures.  They are about positive self-body image regardless of how many curves one may have.  It’s all about loving yourself and dressing in a way that proclaims to the world, “I do love myself for who I am–all of me.”

My favorite episodes show women with horrible self-esteem issues undergoing a transformation that leaves them learning to love themselves for who they are and how they look.  Often they’re worried about drawing attention and their jeans and t-shirts are an effort to be invisible.  But, as Stacy and Clinton point out, no one else is judging your flaws; they’re too busy worrying about their own!

So, is it vanity to dress in a way that flatters yourself?  I don’t think so.  It all comes down to your motivation.  How do you present yourself to the world?  Why?  Are you compensating?  Hiding?  Do you just enjoy life?

Do you love yourself?  How do you show it?  Do you dress in a way that says, “I feel good”?  Are you too busy taking care of other people that you neglect yourself?  I love hearing from you!

You can also find me on Mistress Suzie’s blog today for another flash fiction episode of The Adventures of Teagan.