Strong Female Characters for First Line Friday

Many readers buy a book based on the first line. Do you? These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. This first line Friday post features recent science fiction with strong female characters.

 Iron Widow is an example of science fiction with strong female characters. The cover shows a Chinese woman from the back, half turned back toward the viewier with what looks like gigantic feathers in front of and behind her.

The Hundruns were coming. A whole herd of them, rumbling across the wilds, stirring up a dark storm of dust through the night. 

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Claw Resurgence is an example of science fiction with strong female characters. The cover shows a pale blue background with claw marks ripping through the background and dripping blood.

Wind-driven snow skittered past the tall windows of the Lawless City Hall, rattling at its aged panes as if seeking entry.

CLAW Resurgence by Katie Berry

An example of Science fiction with strong female characters, the cover of They call me princess shows a possibly steam powered machine coming through waves toward a mace holding woman warrior with her back to us

If I had known the banana split would be my last ever. I might have savored it longer.

They Call Me Princess (The Fallen World Book 8) by J. P. Chandler

The Grace Year cover shows the profile of a young woman in shades of pink on a pink background with a white illustration of a flower that's barely visible, you just know this is science fiction with strong female characters.

No one speaks of the grace year.

It is forbidden.

The Grace Year by Kim Ligget

The bald guy at the front door was the least impressive of the guards. 

CARDINAL: Book One of The Citadel Series by Riley E. Smith

Bags open, people. Power’s down. We’re doing it the old-fashioned way.”

Drained by Marc Daniel Acriche

Kayla Covington had been here before, but this time she was determined no one would die.

The Dark Side of Angels by Steve Hadden

Space is cruel to the human body. 

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day

The six silver spheres atop their posts, one for each point on the hexagon that filled the center of the Arrival Room, spun with dizzying speed, and a bone-deep thrumming echoed throughout Earth’s Waystation.

Guardian of Shadows: A Nyx Fortuna Novel by Michelle Manus

The sun crested the horizon, and through the moist haze of early morning, crepuscular rays of light peeked around the silhouettes of massive stone pyramids and temples.

Sandstorm: The Legend of Adira by Monica Clare

Forgive me for a little self-promotion:

The giant bronze angel of death loomed over Miranda Clarke’s shoulder.

My Soul to Keep, The Fellowship Dystopia, Book One, by Lynette M. Burrows


There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page (except if you buy one of my books). Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Like Fiction with Strong Female Characters?

Your Opinion is Important

After you finish reading a book, consider giving the book a star rating where you bought the book or on your favorite book list site. A star rating a sentence or two about what you liked or didn’t like about the book makes a difference. It helps other readers decide if they want to read the book, too. It may also help the author decide how to improve their storytelling. Thank you for for your patronage and support of authors. It keeps authors like me working to write more and better stories for your enjoyment.

Want to Read More?

Check out previous First Line Fridays posts. 

Did you enjoy this list of science fiction with strong female characters? You’ll put another enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below—

Which of these first lines spoke to you? Did you buy the book?

Are You an Anti-Strong Female Protagonist Protester?

Have you read the protests? Did you nod your head and agree? Are you Anti-Strong Female Protagonist? You say you’re not against strong female characters, you’re against the label, the marketing term. Perhaps you’ve overlooked the reasons we need book and movie categories for strong female characters. Consider rethinking and rephrasing your argument.

Yes, there are reasons to wish we didn’t need this label and there are lots of books and movies that get the strong female character wrong. But not all women recognize a strong woman or know how to be one. For now, we need all the strong female protagonist examples we can get.

Drawing of non-gendered humans, one with a bull horn yelling at another one who wears a black tie and is jumping back, startled--the anti-strong female protagonist protesters yell, sometimes without examining what they really mean.

Where the Anti-Strong-Female-Protagonist Protesters Get it Wrong

It’s a sign of male oppression, so say the anti-strong-female character devotees. Yes and no. Yes, the patriarchal societies of the world often/usually/always suppress the females in their societies. That oppression is wrong-headed, but real. Like it or hate it, it still exists in far too much of the world.

“Male characters aren’t labeled that way so female characters shouldn’t be.” It would be a wonderful world if we all naturally understood that both males and females are powerful characters. Too bad that’s not reality.

To say that we shouldn’t have a label identifying strong female characters seems to imply that all females know they are strong therefore we shouldn’t need the label.

Let’s take a moment and agree that oppression of one gender by another, oppression of one race by another, and oppression of one religion or ethnicity by another, is wrong. Let’s be clear: all oppression of one set of people by another is wrong. Oppression exists on all kinds of levels. Pretending it doesn’t exist is also wrong. To pretend that we’ve overcome oppression is wrongheaded.

Let’s Rephrase It

When you read the posts by members of the anti-Strong-Female-Protagonists movement, they claim the label has somehow led to a proliferation of females with male characteristics. It is this that they contend is the problem. They believe that somehow authors have bought into the idea that to be strong, females must shoot and kill and “act like a man.”

Hopefully, they are not suggesting that it’s unrealistic for females to shoot or kill or “act like a man.”

When you examine their complaints, it appears the are talking about poorly developed characters. Characters who exist solely to forward the plot. Or characters with less than deep and believable motivations.

So instead of protesting the label because of poorly written characters, let’s rephrase and complain about flat characters. Flat characters are unsatisfying, especially when the flat character is a female.

Why the Label is a Good Thing

Few matriarchal or true egalitarian societies exist today. Many women from patriarchal societies or relationships have had no mentors to teach them how strong they are. Some need to learn how to be strong. They need mentors and examples in books, movies, and in real life. Some of those examples may not meet everyone’s definition of a strong female. That’s okay. The woman next to you may see herself in that character.

Despite more and more authors stepping up to portray female leads, stories with female protagonists remain a small percentage of all stories published. Some readers seek stories with female protagonists. The label “strong female” is a marketing tool that helps readers find these stories.

Needed: Strong Females 

Your mother, aunt, or grandmother may have been a self-actualized, powerful female and mentored you. That’s great. Not all of us are so fortunate. 

Some of us need print and movie examples. Many of us need to be shown all the ways we are strong. If you haven’t had the life experience to help you identify your own strengths, examples help. Giving the world lots of fictional examples, all kinds of strong females, allow girls and women to see and test what kind of strong female they want to be. Please, allow them that opportunity.

It would be ideal for every female to have examples of the perfect, self-actualizing females surrounding her. But then we’d have to all agree upon what the perfect self-actualized female looks and acts like. And that’s not respectful of the diversity of human society.

Why Not Strong?

Is it truly the word strong you are protesting? Would you prefer simply female protagonist? That’s not a very compelling label for marketing.

Perhaps you would prefer using the same labels used in stories with male protagonists. For example: action hero, dumb jock, rogue, strong and silent, etc. The list goes on.

How would you rephrase “strong female protagonist” so readers can find those stories?

Don’t Throw Out the Label, Yet

Are you a part of the anti-strong female protagonist movement? Please protest patriarchal oppression. And protest poorly written, flat characters. Don’t throw the label “strong female characters” out. Some day the label will have fulfilled its purpose. But not today. Today we need strong females–everywhere.

You Have to Do You

Continuing to celebrate Women’s History month, this week’s subject is an activist. She challenges stereotypes about Muslims, in particular Muslim women. And she not only says, you have to do you, she lives it. She is a Somalian-American, a poet, a rapper, a feminist, and so much more. She is Mona Haydar.

Photo of Mona Haydar in her hjabi, a strong woman who lives by the phrase you just have to do you
By Y3t4r5 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Women our future is winnable 

We gotta be indivisible.

Mona Haydar from  her song “Barbarian”

Early Life & Education

In 1971, her parents immigrated from Damascus, Syria to the United States. She was born in Flint, Michigan, in 1988, one of seven siblings.

She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint. Then in 2011, Haydar went to Damascus, Syria. She studied Islamic spirituality at Jami’ Abu-Noor. When the Syrian conflict erupted, she returned to the U.S.

In 2012, Haydar lost a close friend to suicide. This made Haydar question how she lived her own life. She left Flint where she had been working as a substitute teacher and moved to the Lama Foundation  in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. 

The Lama Foundation is an off grid, inter-spiritual community and retreat center. There she met her husband. They married and had their first child there.

She also lived in the Redwood forest of Northern California. Then she went to New York City, where she completed her Masters in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Theological Seminary in 2018. 

Developing Her Voice

Haydar started writing poetry as soon as she was old enough to write. According to her website, “I am mood. I am dude. I am Mona.” is from one of her first poems recorded in a kindergarten journal.

At 14, she performed spoken word poetry at open mikes and poetry shows in downtown Flint. She credits African-American women in the Flint hip-hop community who mentored for helping her to develop her sound. They taught her to use her voice to oppose white supremacy and Western culture. Her sound “is deeply rooted in her intersectional identity and sensibilities.” She transitioned to rap in 2015.

You can’t be afraid of breaking out. You just have to do you and people will catch up.

Mona Haydar,

Early Career

Her first flirt with fame happened in 2015. She didn’t understand why people didn’t ask Muslims about their religion. Haydar and her husband, Sebastian, set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They invited people to “Talk to a Muslim.” They offered coffee, donuts, and flowers and answers to “replace trauma with love.” Her social media post about that project went viral, and their efforts reached an international audience.

She stood with the indigenous peoples of the U.S. In 2016 at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. She was 6 months pregnant with her second child. That year she also appeared in the 2016 Microsoft holiday campaign “#SpreadHarmony”, shot by Jake Scott. She and her work have appeared in diverse places like Glamour and BBC, and Psychology Today and People Magazine.

Debut Song 

In 2017, Haydar’s debut song went viral.Billboard named “Hjabi (Wrap My Hijab)” one of “The 20 Best Protest Songs of 2017” and one of the “Top 25 Feminist Anthems.” Her debut song dispels myths and stereotypes about women who choose to wear a hjabi. Haydar sees her practice of wearing a hijab as an expression of feminism and independence.

Her Music

Suicide Doors

Haydar doesn’t shy from tough topics in her music. Her single, “Suicide Doors,” opens discussions of mental health. The song is a tribute to the friend she lost to suicide and an expression of her grief. It acknowledges that suicide and mental health issues aren’t just a “white” problem.


When I was sitting in the class, we were studying what it is to be barbaric, a barbarian … and at the same time, I’m studying The New Testament, I’m studying the words of Paul, I’m studying what it is to be ‘other’ inside of the Roman Empire…Doing all that work while the current sitting president was making comments about Mexicans, comments about Muslims, comments about trans people, I felt like if there was ever a moment to speak love into the universe, it was here.”

Mona Haydar from

 in 2018, Mona and her family moved to Marrakech, Morocco.

Strong Women

Mona Haydar is a strong woman. So are real life women: Molly Brant, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, and Dr. Patricia Bath. There are strong fictional women too. Like Miranda and Beryl in My Soul to Keep. Please celebrate women’s history month with me. Leave a comment below about a strong woman you know or know about. Fictional or Real-Life doesn’t matter. It takes all kinds of role-models to help us develop our own version of strong.

You Have to Do You

In the current fear-heavy world of corona virus self-isolation, Hadar’s messages are especially relevant. We can be afraid and be strong women. As she said, “our future is winnable.” Believe that.

Hadar’s music and life exemplifies a strong Muslim woman. She raps about complex issues with respect and love. She is a role model and mentor for us all. You just have to do you.

Progress Report One: Book 2 of The Fellowship Dystopia

I’m really enjoying the writing right now. It’s fun to “play” in a world already populated with strong female characters on both sides of good and evil. What am I working on, you ask? The second book in the Fellowship Dystopia series. This is the first official progress report for that book.

Book Two

Currently titled, If I Should Die, continues the story of Miranda and Beryl about two years after the first novel, My Soul to Keep. The story sentence is

A peace-loving woman caught in a civil war must resort to violence to save lives or stick to her principles and sacrifice many.

My first draft is currently a little more than 38,000 words in length. Which is about 4/10ths of the estimated length of 100,000 words. Some characters from the first novel reappear and there are new characters to meet. Visit my Pinterest page for a sneak peek at inspirations for the characters and locations.


My recent Character Reveal posts featured characters I’ve developed for this novel. 


Not only am I writing the first draft, I’m researching cover design and cover designers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my cover for My Soul to Keep. But it’s not selling very many books. So I’m researching to see if I can keep that cover or if I need to have it re-designed. I have to make a decision soon if I want to have the cover done soon enough to publish in the late fall this year.

What do you think? 

Since life is challenging me with new responsibilities, I wanted to give you a Progress Report. Do you like this kind of Progress Report? Would you enjoy a once a month or once every two or three months progress report? Would you prefer a progress bar on my website? If you were me would you change the cover for My Soul to Keep? So many decisions! Help me out in the comments please.