Some writers get all the luck. Intisar Khanani has the luck of being given a magical name! Her name (pronounced just as it looks) is perfect for a fantasy writer. Intisar loves writing fantasy books with strong female leads. She had me at her name. Today she’s going to talk about mighty girls and I’m so here for this post!
You can read more about Intisar and her work here: http://booksbyintisar.com/
Look below this post for a prize!
Writing Mighty Girls
When I was a young teen, it was almost impossible to find stories in my chosen genre—fantasy—with strong female leads. When I stumbled across Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books, and Robin McKinley’s Damar books, it was like I had finally found stories that called to me. These were girls who stood up and fought for themselves, their people, and those they loved. I was over the moon, and continued to eat up stories of mighty girls as the years passed. I’m forty now, and YA fantasy is still my bread and jam: what I always come back to, and what I write.
But my conception of what makes a girl mighty has developed over the years, and in many ways departed from where it began. The idea of a girl being mighty because she excels in a man’s world by doing what a man would, only better, is one conception of mighty, and frankly, it’s needed. Absolutely women can kick butt as well as men, in pretty much any given sphere, whether it’s politics or sorcery or sword fighting (admittedly, if she’s of a smaller stature, the type of sword and her technique will differ).
The trouble is that we’re still playing by the male perspective; creating a valuation of “mighty” as excelling in a male-gendered conception of power. In such a world, being kind or compassionate or merciful are considered feminine and weak. And that does all of us a disservice, especially our young people. Why can’t you save the world, or yourself, through compassion? Through non-violent resistance and a nuanced understanding of mercy, rather than by the sword? Can’t both be considered mighty?
In my novel, Thorn, I have a young girl who must face both betrayal and a terrifyingly capable magical enemy without herself turning into a ninja or a sorceress. Instead, she must lean into her own personal strengths, and learn to carry the day through her courage, kindness, and intelligence. She is mighty, but not in the typical sense. And her story, I hope, will speak to all of us who can’t hope to win by turning into something we aren’t already.
As you go forward in your writing adventures, I urge you to consider writing mighty girls who are mighty in who they are—whatever that means for that particular character—gaining power and the ability to influence their story through the inherent might in being true to one’s best self. This is how we win each day, this is how we build better lives, this is how we change the world.
Let’s get writing!
Buy Intisar’s books:
For other links to Intisar’s Thorne and other books start here: http://booksbyintisar.com/books/
One lucky winner will get some website help from Dani Duck. I will review your current website and give you tips to make your site better. If you don’t have a website I’ll help you in setting one up! This includes a 1 hour zoom/email chat to set things up.*
Comment below: Let Intisar know about your favorite fictional (or non-fictional) mighty girls! Or comment on anything she’s written about in this post.
Also let me know that you want this prize!
*Prize must be claimed within 30 days of it’s announcement and used within 6 months.
Kaitlyn Sanchez is awesome and I’m so glad that she could be on my blog today! Kaitlyn wears many hats as a mother, math teacher, writer and most recently she has become a intern at Olswanger Literary! Soon she will be a fantastic agent (as she is already a fantastic intern) and be gathering all of the best stories to put in bookstores near you! I absolutely can not wait to see this happen.
Here is Kaitlyn’s website: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/
You can follow her updates there and see when Kaitlyn opens up to submissions! Look at the end of this post to see how you can enter to win a PRIZE from Kaitlyn. She’s offering a critique to one lucky winner!
Voice--How Do You Find That?
Voice. It’s one of the most important and most difficult things to understand in writing.
I think the only way to find your voice is to write. Most writers have tried many things before they find their niche, sometimes it’s different styles, sometimes it’s even different genres. I think many writers discover their voice when they find their niche. And for others it’s the opposite, their voice dictates their niche. Now, by niche, I don’t mean once you write funny, you have to always write funny, so to make this a bit more clear, let’s journey through my past.
When I started writing picture books, I began writing about math, in rhyme. When I realized I need to have more than one story to get my work out there, I tried to figure out this whole “character-driven” thing I kept reading about. So I thought of a character, my daughter, and wrote a story about her using imagination to make chores more fun. Next, I tried a story inspired by my students’ beautiful way of blending Spanish and English language when they talk and had to create a premise to fit. At this point I had no idea how to access the ideas side of my brain when it came to writing, so I only had these three stories.
Then, enter STORYSTORM! Reading all this advice of how to come up with ideas and and live in a way that keeps my mind open to story ideas, helped ideas come in left and right. The hard part was writing them down. Once I started writing more and getting feedback from my friends and from critiques I won (and competing in contests), I started realizing my voice is often enthusiastic with some humor added in–I love writing in the How To style with a comical narrator, I love rhyming, and I often have similar onomatopoeia and/or exclamations in my stories. Sometimes, I write stories that are more intense and serious, but I still tend to have at least one of these things–a part with humor, enthusiastic interjections, etc. Things that have always been a part of my life.
I believe my voice is my uninhibited self in a kid’s mind–often my mind as a kid. But to rediscover that child within me, I had to write…a lot! And read a lot: my critique partners’ stories, TONS of picture books from the library and local book stores, and I had to open my mind to ideas that would let that voice grow and speak to me.
So, when people ask you about your voice and you’re a new writer, you may still be searching for it. Your voice in writing isn’t one thing, it’s just what happens when you’re training, writing, idea-finding, reading, and writing some more. Are there people that just know their voice from the get go? Of course! You naturals rock so hard! We adore you! But, if you’re not sure of your voice, that’s okay too, just keep at it, keep writing, reading, and querying, you’ll find it in due time.
Now if you’re still wondering, what does voice really mean? I FINALLY got it when I read this post “Defining Voice” by Jessica Faust: http://bookendsliterary.com/
2019/01/10/defining-voice/ “Voice is the author’s style. It’s the way the author writes that is unique to that author–the way the author writes characters, plot, and dialogue.”
Please share what you think your voice is, or what you’d love your voice to be, or what you’re doing to find it.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, math teacher, picture book author, and intern at Olswanger Literary looking to sell her first manuscript.
She is also the co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest.
In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when her husband and daughter cozy up so they can all read together.
Prize!Kaitlyn is giving out a critique to one lucky person!To win this prize:Follow Kaitlyn on TwitterandComment below your answer to this: Please share what you think your voice is, or what you’d love your voice to be, or what you’re doing to find it.One lucky winner will be randomly chosen at the end of the event. Prize winners have 30 days to claim their prize.