Jaime Lee Moyer, Patrice Sarath, Rhiannon Frater, Chloe Neill, Michael Bracken and Katherine Eliska Kimbriel at the "Writing Strong Female Characters" panel. I came in at the point where Rhiannon Frater brought up an interesting thought, that mothers in fiction are typically portrayed as weak characters, though in reality mothers defending their children can be fierce and heroic. A bit of discussion revolved around whether male writers can write believable female characters. Michael Bracken says he's pretty sure he can, as he had plenty of strong women in his family. Also, a woman protagonist, even without physical strength, can be strong intellectually and emotionally, using her wits. We also discussed the damaging nature of cliche that kick-ass women protagonists are lone wolves with no female friends.
There was also some question of what exactly is a strong *male* character. Rhiannon Frater said that some guys who read her fiction said her male characters sound like normal guys one would like a barbecue with, but the men in her critique group criticized her male characters for not being a Rambo. So strength is often viewed in a cliche kind of way even in male characters.
Read more about ArmadilloCon in my blog posts, especially about the ever-popular What You Should Have Read panel, where our well-read panelists recommend the year's best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.