Debut YA Fantasy “The Sound of the Stones”- Why a Strong Female Protagonist Matters

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Give me a strong woman protagonist, one that doesn’t sit around lamenting about the tragedies that befall her. Can she be sad once in a while, frustrated, weak? Yes, but please don’t take me on a journey with a woman who wallows in self-doubt, who spends the entire book incessantly needing reassurance and clamoring for a man’s attention. *Slaps the female character that bases self worth on a man’s opinion*

Give me a woman protagonist I can relate to, one who isn’t the most graceful, beautiful woman that ever walked the earth. Can she be beautiful? Yes, but don’t dwell on her beauty, elevating it as the first thing every other character notices.

E.g. “She had the grace of a willow. Hair like gold glittered in the sun as it draped around her heart-shaped face. Her eyes shone like emeralds and her lips made even the sweetest berry envious for their pink fullness.” <- *Gags and sings, “camp town ladies sing that song, doo-dah, doo-dah” to remove that visual* I wrote that sappy quote just now. It hurt. It hurt so bad that I momentarily lost the ability to distinguish audio vs. visual stimulation.  See?

Give me a woman protagonist whose inner dialogue reflects moxie. I like a little sarcasm in my coffee thank you very much. Does she need to be harsh and cynical at all times? No. That would get boring and certainly doesn’t reflect the woman’s mind, the one’s I know anyway. Let me clarify just a bit lest you think I mean a woman protagonist needs to be a loud mouth. Quiet woman can be strong as well. It is often in the still silence that strength is borne. <- Oh, I like that Beth. *Glares at screen* Yes, I talk to myself. And yes, I can feel you silently judging me.

Give me a woman protagonist…who is real. Real women are strong even if at times they are weak. Now there’s a brilliant statement Beth. Contradiction much? They are fierce, intelligent, sarcastic, defiant. They are complex humans capable of greatness. It is through the multi-facets of women’s personalities that great female characters come to life.

“Don’t write what you think will sell. Write what you want to read.” – Beth Hammond

Ok Beth, why on earth did you just quote yourself? Well, I’ll tell me why. Because that quote embodies the reason I wrote “The Sound of the Stones”. I wanted to read a fantasy that had romance but didn’t use it as the main focus. I wanted to read a fantasy with a main female character that felt real. I wanted to read a fantasy that had humor sprinkled in as a spice to liven up the darkness. This is that book:

The Sound of the Stones

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The ancient book about the past holds the future. Frankie is the key. She doesn’t remember stopping at the used bookstore, but there she stands as if drawn by an unseen force. Anticipation wraps around her like a cocoon. When she opens the door, the wind nudges her through, and expectancy turns to purpose. The man inside, and the book he offers, changes everything. Unusual things happen when she begins to read:

In a time long forgotten, people are held captive by half human creatures. Ashra holds a secret close to her heart, and must discover the purpose of her gift before the oppressed human race is destroyed. An unlikely ally comes to her aid. Strangers bring her a message from a far off land. Ashra and her band of misfits set off in search of answers. Together, they find love, uncover mysteries from the past, face ever-present danger, and hone powers they never knew they had.

Frankie and Ashra are separated by millennia, by fiction and reality, but in the end the barrier shatters.

“The set of her jaw said angry, and her eyes spoke of fear. But behind the fear, pulsing from within and reflected in the way she held her shoulders, lived strength.” – The Sound of the Stones

http://bethhammond.com/published-work/

If you have made it this far into the post, I thank you. Bless your heart for letting me prattle on about what I want. I really hope you want it too. If you want perfection, I’m not your girl. If you want a sappy love story, move along and I wish you well. But if you’re looking for a fantasy that tells a tale reminiscent of classics like “The Never Ending Story” then we might be twins. Wait, what color shirt are you wearing?

Oh, and one more thing, if ridiculous humor thrown in at the most awkward moments makes you roll your eyes, don’t read this book. You’re welcome.

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Beth Hammond is an author/illustrator who writes anything from YA fantasy to children’s picture books. She is a wife, mother, and lover of life. Her early years were spent serving in the military, middle years spent raising babies, and figuring out her place in the world. Her later years are yet to come, and filled with hopes and endless dreams. She spends her days creating worlds through words and illustration.

bethhammond.com

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Anniversary Giveaway: The Winners!

Can you believe that it’s been a full year since my first novel, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, was published? I still can’t believe it- even though I’ve already even finished the second and have everything set for a summer publication.

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1114 people entered my anniversary Goodreads giveaway- that’s about twice as many people who entered my first giveaway more than a year ago! If you had told the me then that more than a thousand people would be requesting something I wrote, I would have laughed you off.

I’d like to take this moment to thank all of my supporters and fans for one heck of a year. It’s been exciting, jumping headfirst into this whole authoring thing- but  I wouldn’t have the strength or the will to keep pushing myself to become a better author, producing better stories for you, if I didn’t have such a wonderful network of encouragement and kindness.

Congratulations to the five winners of the giveaway:

JC Tenney

Candace Banning

Sharon Powell

Caryn Landreth

and

Paige Bryant!

 

Your signed copies of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls will be shipping out to you this week! For those of you who entered and didn’t win, you can still get your copies at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, through the Book Bar or requesting a copy from your local independent bookstore. If you’d like a signed copy, always feel free to contact me personally through my contact form here!

2014 Resolutions!

This year brings with it a lot of big changes (being out of school for the first time in almost two decades, beginning work, getting serious about my writing career, etc) and with that, I would like to hold myself to a couple of writing-related resolutions that I think will help keep me on track.

1) Blog no less than twice a month on the Once Upon a Reality blog

2) Write small reviews of every book I read on my Goodreads account to serve a dual purpose: 1) to help me consciously make better stylistic choices in my own writing by writing out what does and does not work for me in my own recreational reading and 2) to help my readers get to know me better through my reading choices

3) Dedicate one day a week to contributing more actively on the social media sites I’m on- LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc- and become a more active member of the author-reader community online. This includes listening and promoting the works/essays/thoughts of others as much as it includes contributing.

4) Finish Painting the Roses Red and start The Thing About Apples. Write for at least an hour every weekday. Try to keep a strict schedule for writing now that I’ve lost much of the schedule that I’ve kept during my academic career.

5) Keep myself in shape- mentally, physically, spiritually. Can’t be much of a good writer if I’m not being a good person, and I can’t be a good person if I’m not taking care of myself!

Hopefully I’ll be able to look at this list happily by the time 2015 rolls around!

Story Out: To Love a Forest Fire

My short story, ‘To Love a Forest Fire‘, is now up on Issue 88 of Crack the Spine. The story explores the friendship of Tobias Berry and Rebecca as Tobias stops over for a visit while on leave from the Air Force and asks the question of just how much you need to know someone in order to love them.

The title comes from a Good Omens quote about the avatar of War- “She was beautiful in the way that a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close”.

Don’t forget to comment on the story if you like it- Crack the Spine publishes several ‘Best of’ print anthologies, and my chances of being included go up if people comment on the story saying that they like it!

Follow-Up Interview

As I prepare for a couple of interesting opportunities in the next couple of weeks (discussing my short stories with local high schools and a radio interview), I was asked back to the Cult of Me blog for a follow up interview. Click here to see what I’ve been up to since I last chatted with author Michael Brookes, what wisdom I’ve learnt since the release of my first novel, and what I’m working on at the moment.

Things That Excite Me: Local Bookstores (And Wine!)

logo   As of today, the Bookbar in Denver (off of wonderful Tennyson street) now carries ‘Till the Last Petal Falls as part of its local authors showcase. Considering the fact that this store is quickly becoming my own favorite (it’s a bookstore and a wine lounge, how much classier can you get?) I am beyond ecstatic for the opportunity to have my own work on their shelves. Stay tuned for an author event, tentatively to be scheduled in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the meantime, why not support a new author, battered women’s shelters in Denver, and an innovative independent bookstore all at once and get your copy from the Bookbar?  I’m sure the staff there would love to see all of your bright, shining faces (they are very friendly, I often just stop in to chat- they have a lot of good recommendations, and don’t mind if you just come in for a glass of wine and bring your own book!). There’s even a Little Free Library outside their doors that’s always worth checking out, as well as the paired Wine and Book of the month!

A Gripping Tale of Ancient Disease in Modern Africa

The first review of my first published short story, Wanakufa, is a five star! Here is what Frank Kryza, author of The Race for Timbuktu: In Search of Africa’s City of Gold, has to say about it:

 

Elizabeth Rose has written a riveting, if stomach tightening, account of a young American missionary’s encounter with third-world health problems in Kakamega, Kenya. Mirrored (I’m guessing) on Elizabeth Rose’s personal experiences in East Africa, the fictional heroine, Julia, is an outgoing, pretty, talented, and very giving high school senior who has journeyed to Kenya to improve the lives of her fellow Roman Catholics living there in near-squalor.

Though she expected (and finds!) all manner of inconvenience and hardship, she did not expect to encounter typhoid, an ancient killer so foreign to the developed world that few, if any, cases are reported in North America today. Whether Elizabeth Rose has taken a ride on this scary roller coaster herself, or whether she has merely done very excellent research, is immaterial. Her narrative grabs you in the first few paragraphs and won’t let you down until the very end.

Having spent five years in Kenya myself, I can attest to the authenticity of Elizabeth Rose’s evocation of that country. Her vision of East Africa, told in clear, tight sentences, rang true to me.
This is fabulous early work by a gifted and promising young writer. Highly recommended. Let’s hope we soon see more from her.

 

Thank you so much, Mr. Kryza! I can answer that the story does in fact mirror my own experiences in the summer of 2010. It means a lot to have the story read and enjoyed by someone else who has witnessed firsthand the beauty of Kenya for themselves.