The Strong Female Character, con’t

Fact of life: when women assert themselves in Real Life, we generally do *not* look like this.

Fact of life: with rare exceptions, when women assert themselves in Real Life, we don’t look *anything* like this.

Writing in The New Statesman, author Sophia McDougall makes some interesting observations about “The Strong Female Character:” that what passes for strength, on the movie screen at least, is often an act of unjustified (or barely justified) physical violence:

[T]here are characters who’ve clearly been written with SFC-compatibility in mind, who nevertheless come at least halfway to life.  Captain America’s Peggy Carter, along with Iron Man’s Pepper Potts, are much the best of the Marvel love interests. Peggy shoots Nazis. She never has to be rescued or protected by Captain America or anyone else. She has a decent amount of screentime. Her interesting status as a female British soldier in World War Two is not actually explored, but implies a compelling back story and an impressive depth of conviction and resilience, and her romance with Captain America is never allowed to undermine this. While her role is clearly ancillary to the male hero, it’s not so much so that she feels defined by his presence; it’s possible to imagine a film about her – a woman determined to overcome everything in her path to fight the evils of Nazism. Most importantly to the character’s success, she’s played by the superb Hayley Atwell.

She’s introduced briefing a number of potential recruits to the super soldier programme. This is the scene clearly written to establish Peggy’s SFC cred, and it unfolds like this: One of the recruits immediately starts mouthing off at her, first insulting her accent and then, when she calls him out of the line-up, making sexist, suggestive remarks.
She punches him to the ground.

McDougall also points out that male protagonists don’t have to be “strong.” (She offers Sherlock Holmes as an example: his “physical strength is often unreliable… His mental and emotional resources also fluctuate. An addict and a depressive, he claims even his crime-fighting is a form of self-medication. Viewed this way, his willingness to place himself in physical danger might not be “strength” at all – it might be another form of self-destructiveness.”)

She concludes her piece by calling for

. . . a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative.

I suppose you know where I’m going next: right back to my experience with poor Libby: a woman who spends an entire novel putting up with others’ . . . stuff.

Here’s part of the comment I left on McDougall’s article:

I happen to think that putting a hapless character in a situation where he/she is overwhelmed by outside circumstances makes for humorous situations. A great example most of us can relate to is Hugh Grant’s character in Four Weddings & a Funeral. He was funny and loveable in his haplessness. He “got the girl” in the end only because his brother stood up for him.

But swap genders and make Grant a woman, and you’ll earn the Wrath of the Mob.

I know firsthand. I pubbed a novel with a woman who gets pushed around by family members and strangers.

I thought it was comic that she did things like sneak out of a window of her own house to avoid people who were camping on her yard.

My readers were not amused . . .

The fact is this: it’s complicated.

The Strong Female Character is something of a sacred figure. It may not be conscious, but writers use her because they know she is what readers/movie goers want and expect.

She’s also a SAFE figure.

Take that. And that.

Take that. And that.

It’s also likely that readers — and by this I mean female readers — want SFC because of their own ambiguity about strength and power.

In our personal lives, power is a double-edged sword. As a rather simplistic example: a woman who asserts herself can easily be perceived as unattractive. We’d like to think we can be powerful in the overt,  masculine sense and come across as sexy at the same time, but in reality, that’s not so easy to pull off.

In movies/novels, otoh, the SFC does pull it off. And guess what: readers want that.

One of Libby’s 1-star reviewers wrote:

[I]f I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be reading this book.


People read novels and go to movies to escape from “real life.”

They don’t want characters who mirror life’s uneasy ambiguities.

They don’t want books that are realistic about the trade-offs we all have to make between being loved and being powerful . . .

Posted in Pop Culture, Writing | Comments Off on The Strong Female Character, con’t

Thanks, you guys!

My short story, BJs on the Roof, has ranked in the Top 100 in Amazon’s free “Humor category.”

Thank you so much, all, for downloading your copy!!!

Posted in BJs on the Roof, Writing | Comments Off on Thanks, you guys!

Dark Chemistry

Dark Chemistry by Kirsten Mortensen

Makes you want to read the novel, doesn’t it?

I’m still here! Just heads down working on the next novel, Dark Chemistry.

I’m working with my cover designer, Derek Murphy, on a cover (the one pictured left is a possibility!) [EDIT: Updated to display the final cover!]

And here’s my current teaser copy. What do you think?

It’s bad enough that her mother has fallen for a new boy toy.

There goes her mother’s money.

Then Haley Dubose learns that her father is dead–and to inherit his fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California for a little backwater town in Upstate New York.

And she has to run the chemical manufacturing company he founded–for two whole years.

You couldn’t get further away from beaches, clubs, and upscale malls.

But Haley soon wishes her only problems were of the spoiled-rich-girl variety: she finds herself entangled in a web of evil, spun by men who use powerful, synthetic chemicals to manipulate people. They can drive their enemies insane. They can use them sexually.

They can even kill.

And they are preparing to enslave the world.

Will Haley be able to free herself?

Will she realize—before it’s too late—that the price of her freedom may be greater than life itself?

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Loose Dogs in the Apple Store

How do you like them Apple ebooks?

How do you like them Apple ebooks?

If your e-reader of choice is an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks — or if you download ebooks onto your computer via iTunes, you’re in luck! My novels are available through the Apple store.

Here’s Loose Dogs. My other novels and short stories are listed as well — see the left hand sidebar at the link.

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Thanks all who stopped by!

I’ve closed the chat room.

It went . . . okay. I will do it again, in fact — when I’ve worked out a few kinks. Including the one where the chat room plug-in assigned and re-assigned random numbers to people . . . lol

In the meantime, please drop a comment if you need any info on how to claim your free copy of the book!

Take care!

Posted in Writing | 4 Comments

Loose Dogs, On Sale Now! $3.99!

Loose Dogs by Kirsten MortensenVery excited here — today’s the big day!

The ebook version of Loose Dogs is officially available from:



Barnes & Noble


 Looking to save a couple dollars?

I don’t blame you!

Sign up for my e-newsletter and later today, I’ll email you a $2.00 Smashwords coupon :-)

(On Smashwords, you can download e-books for all major e-readers.)

Subscribe to my mailing list!

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Posted in Books, by Kirsten Mortensen, ebooks, Loose Dogs, Loose Dogs by Kirsten Mortensen, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Tweaking the Loose Dogs teaser copy

Loose Dogs by Kirsten MortensenI actually like doing this — but at the same time it’s a bit harrowing.

Need to get it right. Need to come up with copy that makes people really really want to read the book.

Here’s where it is right now:

Animal Control Officer Paige Newbury doesn’t know what’s worse.

Her man problems.

Or her dog problems.

She opens a package and finds The Ring—which means the guy she can’t get over is about to walk back into her life.

Then she stumbles on evidence of a criminal dog fighting ring—which means a gorgeous pit bull she tried to save is doomed to suffer . . . or maybe even die.

She’s sure she can seal the deal with her boyfriend with a little help from sexy lawyer Larry Crawford.

But she’ll soon need another scheme—this time, to save her life.

Loose Dogs.

Unconventional romance.

Thrilling twist.

What do you think?

Would you buy it?

Posted in Loose Dogs by Kirsten Mortensen | 2 Comments

Amazon Gift Cards: Giveaway to Celebrate Loose Dog Launch!

My way of saying "THANK YOU" to my readers!

My way of saying “THANK YOU” to my readers!

Look what I made :-)

My very own customized Loose Dogs Amazon gift cards!

I’ve bought three $10 cards — and I’ll be giving them away next Saturday, March 23, to celebrate the launch of the book.

Click to read about the other prize giveaways!

Want to join the fun?

There are two ways.

  1. You can mark your calendar and stop back on the site on March 23, 2013, between 7 and 8 pm eastern time, or
  2. You can subscribe to my e-newsletter list (form below). I’ll email a party reminder that day. And by subscribing to the list, you’ll automatically be entered in drawings for party presents.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks.

And see you on March 23!

Subscribe to my mailing list!

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Writing, Dreams, and Consciousness

New book on one of my fave topics :-)

New book on one of my fave topics :-)


I took a break from fiction to finalize a non-fiction piece that’s been almost-completed for months now.

It’s on one of my favorite topics: the relationship between writing, dreams, and states of consciousness :-)

Yeah, I know, dorky!!! :-D

It’s available now for 99 cents as an ebook on Smashwords. (If you’ve never used Smashwords: it’s a distributor that offers ebooks in multiple formats–so you can buy books there for readers including Kindle, Nook, and iPad.)

It’s not particularly long–about 9000 words altogether.

It includes a copy of my short story, Ribbon, because I describe my experience writing the story to illustrate some of the ideas I explore.

In a day or so the book will be on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well.

If you grab a copy, be sure to let me know what you think!

Posted in and Consciousness, Books, ebooks | Comments Off on Writing, Dreams, and Consciousness

Can Job on Youtube :-)

I played around a bit on PowToon today. What do you think?


Posted in Books, Can Job | Comments Off on Can Job on Youtube :-)