Queen Bees

Women and girls have unique social structures. The concept of “mean girls” is well documented in tweens and teens. In middle school there were the popular girls that rejected anyone that was not pretty and thin as if crooked teeth or acne were contagious. A similar group of girls became the cheerleaders and cool kids in high school and college. Unfortunately, many of those girls never outgrow those tendencies. Those women go on to infiltrate PTA’s, church committees, and work places. I’ve encountered the queen bee and her minions. This is the woman that everyone else defers to. She may not be nominally in charge of a committee or civic group but she is definitely in charge. She is a bully that doesn’t physically dominate people. She bullies people by making them feel excluded and denigrated. Her minions are kept in line out of fear of being thrown out of the group. Thankfully, this social structure is becoming less prevalent as parents are becoming better informed and girls are exposed to more avenues of healthy competition. Still, the rate of change is glacial in the arenas of friendships and bullying. Adult female cliques is one of the themes I addressed in Overlook.

When I was initially conceiving the world of Overlook, I envisioned the local queen bee as  an antagonist. Bullies make good antagonists; they are easy to despise and many of us have been victims of bullying. They can also be cliche. The more I got to know the character of Stacia Curran, the more I came to love her. She is a terror that rules her little fiefdom with an iron fist, but she is also benevolent. She quietly helps the other members of The Lookers when she can and is motivated by guilt more than malice.

If you’d like to read more about queen bees, Rosalind Wiseman wrote the excellent Queen Bees and Wannabes, as well as the follow-up Queen Bees Moms and King Pin Dads.

WORDCOUNT BLOGATHON

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Hello. I’m excited to participate in the Wordcount Blogathon this year. I’m not really sure what to expect, but I will post something every day. Since my book Overlook is now available as a Kindle ebook and will be released as a paperback in September, I plan to discuss some of the themes of the book as well as some other random interesting things. I hope this blogathon will force me out of my comfort zone and get me to try a few new things.

Secondary Characters Blog Hop

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Theresa PaoloKelley LynnJessica SalyerJenny Morris and Suzi Retzlaff
are cohosting a fun bloghop about secondary characters to celebrate the release of their book  of Secondary Characters on May 28th.

 When I sat down to think about secondary characters, my mind immediately went to Charles Dickens.  I read everything Dickens wrote in one fell swoop the summer of 1983. I don’t remember many details about the main characters in those books, but some of the secondary characters remain vivid in my mind.

harry-furniss-miss-havisham-illustration-from-great-expectations_i-G-40-4009-PCIWF00Z Miss Havisham in Great Expectations is the personification of embitterment. She was left at the alter as a young woman, so she stopped all the clocks and lived the rest of her miserable life in her wedding gown.  Rather than moving on with her life, she adopts a young girl and molds her into a hard, spiteful woman who can’t be touched by love.

Uriah Heep in David Copperfield – When I think about

55445_oa hypocrite, I think about Uriah Heep. He is a creepy young guy with long legs and spidery fingers that is always going on about how humble he is and faking appreciation of his employer. All while stabbing people in the back.  Even though David Copperfield was written in the 1850’s, Uriah Heep is a  character you could encounter today. He’s that waiter you don’t want touching your food or that greasy-haired check-out guy whose line you avoid.

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Smike in Nicholas Nickleby  still breaks my heart.  He is a young mentally and physically disabled man that was abused his entire life. All we wanted in life was love and connection. As soon as he found love, he died. I still tear up when I think about him. I don’t remember what Nicholas Nickleby was about, but I certainly remember Smike.

I wonder if Charles Dickens enjoyed creating his secondary characters as I did when I was writing Overlook. My favorite is the main character’s hard drinking little sister, Rose McSweeney. She can be a bit larger-than-life because she doesn’t need to carry the whole plot.