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Published in Romance University, July 2015

I was sixteen when I was introduced to "self-defense" and began a lifelong road that has kept me safe. I took class after class through college and private organizations. Eventually I escalated into martial arts. I never got my black belt due to health reasons, but really, please don't sneak up on me.

There was an incident that happened while I was at UCLA. A girl was on the jogging path when a car with four guys pulled up beside her, aimed a gun and told her to get in. She told them to "F*** off" and went back to jogging.

They shot her in the back, hitting her shoulder and then sped away.

True story.

And a really good one because, yeah, she was shot. She was also alive because I can guarantee you that four guys in a car with gun demanding you get in, are not taking you on a shopping spree on Rodeo.

She would have died. Horribly.

Self-defense is an ingrained part of who I am. And though I have carried knives, the only person I ever used one on was an Amazon box where it slipped and I had to get nine stitches.

Ninety percent of self-defense whether it is me at a Safeway parking lot at 10:00p.m. or my heroine, is presentation. "Do I look like a target to you? Really? You think so? Let's see …"

Head up, no slouch, gaze scanning cars, between cars. Walk with confidence because that is scary as hell to anyone watching you. You do not want to look like potential victim. You are aware of every person around you, you know where their hands are because hands hold things like weapons.

I don't want to become a statistic. I know my heroine doesn't either. The hero, it's generally a given they can kick ass. But the heroine…

…that's where you got me. I write heroines who just might take out the villain while the hero is stuck in traffic.

There is an art to writing this kind of book because a lot of people are intimated by touch chicks. Tough chick does not mean bitch. That is a complete fallacy. And she doesn't have to be a cop, or CIA.

A tough chick heroine is a woman who is willing to do anything necessary to protect the people she loves, even kill or die for them.

Ellen Ripley, in the Aliens film, is by far my favorite touch chick. Maybe you have seen or not. But in it (spoiler) she was falling in love with Hicks. She had defiantly already adopted the little Newt as her own. And the three of them, they painted this incredible picture of what they would do for one another to survive.

Having a reason to fight is huge in becoming tough.

Having a man beside you who is willing to be second chair, that is equally as important. There can't arrogance in him arriving five minutes after the villain is dead to say "I was going to do that." No, he needs to be there for her, for what she just went through, because even a tough chick can need to use the bathroom to throw-up after putting four into a guys chest.

Villains are an equally important component to the novel.

They have to have motive which is going to challenge the hero and heroine. In reality, one hundred percent of villains, even in crimes we don't understand, have a reason, even if it's only in their mind. Bank robberies: money; rapist: power; serial killers: usually more power.

You have to have motivation behind what these bad guys are doing so the heroine has an adversary worth fighting.

And my villain in the upcoming DEAD MEN SEAL THE DEAL? It's a she out with specific plans and willing to kill everything in her path to get it. Gender of the evil characters can go either way as long as they are twisted and pose a threat to the cast.

The fighting they will do, whether it is with the heroine or with the hero, has to show reality. Are there three hands on her body? Or just the usual two? Choreographing a fight scene is very much like choreographing a sex scene, with different results. You need to be aware as the writer of what you are saying: what fist hits what cheek? What kick landed where? If you are using a weapon (gun, knife, spray bottle of Pam) is it aimed in the right direction to hit the right spot (Pam in eyes –works). My hero was left handed in my last book. Made a difference in positioning weapon use.

You don't have to be especially detailed either as long as you convey the feel for the situation and the destruction your characters are creating.

“Jason stood by on a hair trigger. The command came down and he moved. Two swipes of the knife with his body moving in fluid motion and the other guy hit the ground, clutching his throat.”

Do not have the heroine go for the kitchen knife. Besides being cliché, it doesn't work. He will know she is on her way and he will take it from her. And unless she's had four years of knife defense, there isn't a whole lot she can do with it.

Almost all my characters are trained in guns as they are cops or spies. I don't actually care for guns and do not keep them in my house so that is never a way I would go. I would probably go for a three finger punch to the throat. Takes little strength but you have to get close for it and close to the scary bad guy, even for the heroine.

There was a time a few decades back where heroines were meeker. I remember one book in the eighties where the hero believed the rumors about the heroine so he raped her. At the end of book he said "About what I did …" and she waved her hand and said "Forget about it … "

Ah huh.

My response on all accounts would have different. And a heroine I write…yeah. So would hers.

It's not hard to write a tough heroine. If you take into account her character, her hero and what they are striving for. Give a woman a child, put that child in danger and mother bears have nothing on us.

To get more information on this subject do net searches on techniques and weapons. Call a local gun person (store/range) and talk to someone. Take a self-defense class from a reputable source…and I mean that as a writer and a person. Everyone should have a basic knowledge of self-defense. Consider it an investment in your future.

Discussion question: Your heroine is in bed late at night. She hears a window break in the living room. She is now down to seconds before she finds out why. What does she do?




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