Warrior women and “likable” romance heroines: Sari in The Staff and the Blade #IrinChronicles

The good news is: I finished the first draft of The Staff and the Blade!!! The bad news is... There is no bad news right now. I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE STAFF AND THE BLADE!

But seriously, I always try to challenge myself with every book because I want to be a better writer. And this book has definitely challenged me from a plotting and planning perspective. Building a cohesive story with four novellas (each with their own plot arc) has been a huge challenge, but one that I'm glad I tried. Will I do it again?

I'll confess I have mixed feelings about this book, because it was hard to write. And I do worry how it will come across to readers. The structure is weird. It's an odd kind of love story where they get together, then fall apart, then get back together, then go fight bad guys. And they're never really EASY around each other because... that's just not who Damien and Sari are as characters. They're difficult people. Especially, I'm going to be perfectly honest, Sari.

We have this weird thing about our heroines in romance-land. We want them to be likable. They can be kickass action heroes, awkward geniuses, hardworking single parents, brilliantly talented artists, WHATEVER. But we want to like them. We want to relate to them and see ourselves reflected somehow in that character. And while I think a LOT about Sari is very, very relatable, I would not classify her as likable.


Sometimes I feel like Wash up there. Everyone who knows me and understands my obsession with Firefly knows that Zoe and Wash are my OTP forever and ever. I adore them. (I still resent Joss for... The Thing We Do Not Speak Of. I digress.) Can't we just hug it out? Can't there just be more kissing? No? Okay, then. I'll let you go fight and kill things together.

So clearly (because I'm Wash), I love warrior women characters. I love Sari. I just don't always like her. But that's okay. She doesn't have to be likable to be a great character. Could that make The Staff and the Blade a harder sell for some? Yep. But I refuse to change who a character is in order to sell more books. My pretend people are too important to me.

So I hope you enjoy the warrior woman I've written, even if you don't always like her. I think Sari is kind of amazing. I think she's a survivor who still manages to love fiercely, which is its own special kind of bravery. I think she makes bad decisions because of her emotions, which I can relate to. I think she's a protector who questions herself and the steps she's taken to survive. I think she's a woman who loves a man in spite of, and maybe even because of, his faults.

Sari is interesting and layered and real. And all those things are more important than being likable. So feel free to not like her, but I do hope you love her. Cause she's a big damn hero in my book.

Preorder links are here for The Staff and the Blade. Everything is set to release on July 12th, as planned, in paperback and e-book editions. Audiobook will come later and will depend on my audio publisher's schedule. (Though I've already talked to Zach Webber about narrating.)

Posted in Writing.


  1. Remember how worried you were about The Bronze Blade? I loved it, lots of people loved it – even though it was hard. I know I will love Sari. For me, your characters come in and weave themselves into my heart. They become family, and as I told my daughter just last night: “you may not always like your family, but you will always love them. You have no choice.”

    • I still worry about TBB. Every time someone tweets or emails that they’ve finished it I want to ask them if they’re okay, offer a tissue, a stiff drink, something… 😉

  2. I think my very favorite thing about your writing is the robust character development. Making characters relatable, realistic, and not too uniform is a great talent that few writers (especially among those who offer their books for free on kindle) seem to have. All too often, I’m left not caring what happens to a character because they are poorly introduced or constructed, or wondering why everybody in a story has the exact same character flaw. I’m really looking forward to Sari now!!

  3. I’m sure it will be wonderful and well loved by your fans. Also a huge fan of Firefly. Basically a Joss Whedon fan all around.

  4. I think you’ve already given us a sense the Sari is prickly, passionate and very singular of purpose. That’s who she is and, frankly, it’s what draws me (and Damien) to her. She is as much of a warrior as he is, and who she is makes her the other side of his coin. We know their relationship is atypical for the Irin and the Staff and the Blade is going to show us its origins. I can’t wait to read more. (Do you know The Beatles’ song, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me? That’s what I’m reminded of here.)

  5. You are stressing about nothing. Your books are always amazing . So are all of your chartaters not all are easy liked or loved at first but in the end we find ourselves in tears .
    So with that I’m excited and have pre-ordered. Thank you so much for this new journey you are taking us on . Until July, I’ll wait patiently.

  6. HUGE congratulations on the completion! And HUGE congratulations to us readers! I cannot wait until July! I pre-ordered for Kindle & the paperback. I am salivating for Damien & Sari’s story, as I have always thought that theirs’ was a …. shall we say…. “difficult” one? I find Sari hard to read,(no pun intended), as she has a suit of armor around her at all times. I love this in your characters, as it makes them so human. I am anxiously awaiting the story to explain to me where that armor comes from. Now, take a deep breath, hug the tall boy & relax! But only for a bit. There are more stories waiting to be told to all of us, your faithful readers!

  7. HEY! HEY! *raises hand and shakes it like an elementary student that knows the answer* I WANT TO BE AN ARC FOR YOU!!! Haha
    In all seriousness, I have loved your all your series, especially The Irin Chronicles. Each character has their own personality that I love. I’m excited to have pre-orderwd The Staff and Blade and am waiting as impatiently as I can. 🙂

  8. Thank you for all of your strong, headstrong heroines! They are brilliant! Sari is especially amazing! I love the strength and passion she radiates. She knows what she wants and feels and goes for it. Thank you! Now I begin the wait for more from my friends in the Elemental World!

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