Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author Anne Conley

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author Anne Conley

The best protection any woman can have … is courage—Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony, and although less well-known, she still has a lot to say to modern women.

This quote resonates with me, especially because I am scared of everything.  I’m not an adrenaline junkie, storms terrify me, and if I could wrap my car in bubble wrap for all forays out of the house, I’d be much happier.

However, that just won’t do.

Life is about taking chances, especially in my chosen career—writing and publishing.  While I can happily live my life never getting on another airplane or motorcycle, I can’t not write.

And that requires courage of a different sort.

Good writing involves putting the characters in situations where they will grow. Finding some hidden truth inside themselves.  Not only that, but it’s necessary to take risks with plot and conflict, and that can be scary as an author.  The heroine is already in trouble?  Let’s throw something else in the mix to make it worse!  Depending on the trouble and the wrenches we throw into the mix, the characters we have birthed will suffer much more at our hands.  As much as we laugh and joke about that, it’s still guilt-inducing for me.  And readers get angry.  That’s a risk we have to take.

The entire act of indie publishing is a brave thing, as well.  I’ve already been rejected by the publishing houses who are supposed to know everything, right?  When I first began this journey, I felt like I was going over their head, so to speak, and publishing anyway, after they’d essentially told me I wasn’t worth it.  That’s ballsy too.

It took courage.  Courage I didn’t have.

And throughout this process, I have learned so much about myself.  I’ve learned I can truly do anything I set my mind to, something I assumed my parents just told me to make me feel better.  I’ve learned I can support my family through creative efforts.  I’ve learned I CAN touch people’s lives and make them better.  I’ve learned how to push through my failures.

And these things have made me even stronger.  And in that strength, I am protected by my courage to take risks.  Risks with my characters, the situations they find themselves in, and the other characters who help them discover their own inner strength.

So I project my insecurities on my characters in different ways—either by making them fraidy cats, like myself, or the fearless woman I wish I was.

And it’s cathartic in a way I can’t even explain.  But through this journey of writing and exploring different characters’ faults and foibles and helping them grow, I have found myself.

And I am a strong woman.

And so are you.  Just find your courage, and you’ll be protected.

 

Links:

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Find my books:  www.anneconley.com

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Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/anne-conley

 

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post Sylvain Reynard

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post Sylvain Reynard

It’s an honour to write about my favourite fearless female character. Thank you Tigris for the kind invitation.

 What makes a person fearless?  

 Some individuals are fearless because they have nothing to lose; others are fearless because they believe so strongly in something, they are willing to risk everything for it.

 The Raven by Sylvain ReynardRaven Wood, the heroine of my Florentine Series, works at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence restoring famous paintings.  She is fearless because of her belief in justice and compassion, as well as her conviction that a good person can’t witness a crime without getting involved. 

 Here is a scene from the first chapter of “The Raven”:

  “Angelo was a homeless man who spent his days and nights begging for coins. Raven passed him on her way to and from the Uffizi. She always stopped to greet him and give him money or some food. She felt a kinship with him since they both walked with a cane. Angelo was developmentally disabled, which only increased her compassion.

 As she walked, her gaze traveled from Angelo to the drunken gang and back again. A terrible feeling of dread passed over her.

 “Good evening, friends!” Angelo’s Italian pierced the rainy darkness. “A few coins, please.”

The cheerful hope in his voice caused Raven’s stomach to churn. She knew the cruel fate of hope when it was misdirected.

 She began limping faster, her eyes fixed on her friend, willing herself not to trip and fall. She was almost to the bridge when she saw Angelo lifting his hands and crying out.  

 The largest man was urinating on him. Angelo tried to move away, but the man followed.  The other men cheered.

 Raven felt shouts of protest bubble up in her throat. But she didn’t open her mouth.

 She should intervene. She knew it. Evil flourished when good people walked by and said nothing.

 The largest man finished urinating with a flourish, returning himself to the confines of his jeans. Without warning, he lifted a booted foot and kicked Angelo in the ribs. He cried out in pain slumping to the ground.

 “Stop!”

 The men stopped and stared in Raven’s direction.

 “Stop,” she repeated in a much quieter tone.

 The men exchanged glances and the largest one said something derisive to his companions. He stalked in her direction.

 As he approached, Raven could see he was broad shouldered and tall, his head shaven, his eyes dark. She resisted the urge to retreat.

 “Go.” The man waved at her dismissively.

 Raven’s green eyes darted behind him to where the homeless man was lying, curled into a ball.

 “Let me help him. He’s bleeding.”

 The bald man looked over his shoulder to his companions. As if in defiance, one of them kicked Angelo in the stomach. 

 With a predatory smile, the bald man turned back to Raven. He pointed in the direction from which she’d approached.

 “Run,” he hissed…

 As you can see in this scene, Raven isn’t entirely fearless. She has a healthy sense of danger and realizes that by coming to the homeless man’s defense, she is putting herself at risk. She is walking home, alone, and the streets of Florence are almost empty.  Her personal risk is even greater given the fact she is physically disabled and walks with a cane. 

 But her belief in the homeless man’s dignity and his right to live without intimidation or abuse trumps her concern for herself. Her commitment to justice and compassion makes her set aside her fear.

 Raven’s decision to intervene on the homeless man’s behalf has consequences. I won’t spoil the story by telling you what they are, but I can reveal that there are both positive and negative consequences. One of the most positive consequences is that because of her actions she meets her soul mate, William, grows to love her deeply, especially because of her fierce and protective nature.

Later in the novel, William asks Raven why she risked her safety and even her life to defend the homeless man. 

 Raven replied that she couldn’t stand there and do nothing. By this she means that she couldn’t live with herself if she walked away from the homeless man’s suffering.

 It’s this realization that makes Raven fearless – not her physical strength, or her power, or her situation. Her convictions and her courage motivated her to do what is right, despite the risk. 

 I admire her character very much and enjoyed writing her. Readers in the Spanish speaking community have started a #YoSoyRaven campaign to express their solidarity with her and her bravery.

 Raven’s story, which is told in “The Raven” and “The Shadow, comes to a conclusion with the final book of The Florentine Series, “The Roman,” which releases December 6th.

 Thank you for reading.

 -SR

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Late Night Friday Fearless Female: Sierra & Whitney Cartwright on The Black Widow

Late Night Friday Fearless Female: Sierra & Whitney Cartwright on The Black Widow

It’s a bit late tonight for Friday’s Fearless Female, I know. I got home and totally crashed… But here they are… Whitney and Sierra!

Whitney:

A few years back, my son and I went to visit Sierra. She still lived in Colorado at the time, and, it was perpetual winter. After a long debate at Redbox, we decided we were going to watch “The Avengers.” Sierra was less than impressed, and certainly not excited about it. If I recall her words were, “I think I’ll go to bed.”

Kiddo and I, we smirked and let her have her opinion and popped in the DVD, and told her to “give it ten minutes.”

About the time Natalia Romanova, Black Widow comes on the screen tied up, playing the damsel in distress Sierra gets up from the couch. “Oh please, I’m not watching this.”

I smirked again and said, “Just wait. Two more minutes, then you can go to bed.”  With great and obvious reluctance, including some heavy sighs and watch-checking, Sierra agreed.

After the movie was over I asked her if it was all that awful. I think, she’s actually a Marvel fan, now. So, Sierra, what exactly changed your mind?

Sierra:

I don’t recall the story happening this way. At all. I fell in love with the Avengers the first time I saw Iron Man. I loved the backstory. Seeing Tony Stark, lying on the ground, dazed, broken, then looking around and focusing on a missile with “Stark Industries” on the side gave me the chills.

So I’m sure it was my idea to rent the Avengers movie. (I dislike a lot of things. Being wrong is one of them. So I will rewrite history when necessary.)
Whitney:

I’m not saying you’re wrong Sierra… I’m just saying you fell in love with Tony Stark when you made me bring Iron Man over AFTER watching “comic book characters” in the Avengers. 😉 Please, continue…

Sierra:

I’ve always had an aversion to “damsel in distress” type of storylines. Like many people, I had a rough upbringing. While parts of my childhood were sunshine, there were unspeakable rough patches. From many years of therapy followed by a divorce I never wanted, I learned to toughen up.

And it was important to me to instill a sense of resourcefulness in the women around me. I don’t believe that Prince Charming is necessarily coming to save us. And so, in my books, my heroines tend to be strong, clever, determined women.

They do become better people once they learn to love, as do my heroes. But you won’t generally find my heroines tied to the railroad track with a train bearing down on them, screaming helplessly while waiting for the hero to rescue the at the very last second.

So when a movie opens with a helpless-appearing female character, I start to twitch. I especially don’t want to waste my time when I could be snuggled under the comforter and dreaming up new storylines.

And then… And then… And then magic happens. Black Widow is no victim. She’s no helpless female just hoping her man shows up in the nick of time.

She is a heroine in her own right. A wicked, gorgeous, clever, kick ass heroine, capable of saving her own life and those around her, while dealing out her own form of justice.

Whitney and kiddo knew all along that I would fall in love with Black Widow and that it would lead to a scorching affair with Thor, Hawkeye, Captain America, and oh-me-oh-my, Iron Man. (Hulk? Not so much. He’s too much effort for me. If I have PMS and no chocolate, I can match his mood in an instant.)

Beyond Black Widow’s general kick-asseryness, I adore the humor that runs though the movies. That’s another thing all my books have to have…a chance to breathe through humor.

Long live brave, competent heroines. And to borrow from a famous phrase, may we be them, may we inspire them, may we raise them.

 

 Sierra Cartwright Website:

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Friday’s Fearless Female: Guest Author Crystal Perkins + Cover Reveal for the latest Society Girls Series!

Friday’s Fearless Female: Guest Author Crystal Perkins + Cover Reveal for the latest Society Girls Series!

Finding My Voice

 

I speak my mind. A lot. People tell me they admire me for being a straight-shooter, or standing up for things and people. What most of them don’t realize is that it took me literally decades to get to the point where I could speak up for myself, let alone others. When my good friend, Tigris, asked me to be part of her Friday’s Fearless Female, I knew I had to share this little bit about me.

I “knew” lots of people in high school, but I never belonged. My parents were older, and had long since retired, before I entered high school, and simply put, I was awkward. We didn’t acknowledge social awkwardness back in the 1980s, I just wasn’t “cool.” That’s not to say I’m cool now, but I am at least unafraid to be myself.

It was only a handful of years ago that I stopped worrying so much about pleasing everyone, and realized I needed to just be true to myself. I had always been socially aware, and had raised my daughters to look at the world around them, and show compassion, but I never wanted to offend anyone. I don’t really want to offend anyone now, but I find it hard to stay quiet, when I know I have the power to speak out.

That doesn’t mean I’ve changed who I am, just that I’ve evolved in some ways. I’m still the girl who would rather be home reading, but I’m also the person who can speak in front of hundreds of people without freaking out. I can talk to almost anyone, but if it’s not for work, I have to force myself out of the house. I’m not afraid, or uncomfortable since I’ve accepted myself, flaws and all, but I would still rather be with a book than out with a crowd.

Being fearless for me has meant accepting who I am, both inside and out. I’m not the rail thin girl I was a couple of decades ago, and I’m also not the one who was scared to walk up to an actor at Old Tucson 30 years ago. It means I’ll defend my friends to the end of the world, and I’ll speak up about what I believe in. Sometimes that on social media, but it’s also in the books I write. Every one of my books has a strong female main character—most of them are much stronger than I’ll ever be—and themes of loyalty, and social justice. I couldn’t write them any other way.

I found my voice around the time I turned 40, and yes, sometimes I wish I’d been able to do it earlier in my life. Then again, I probably wasn’t ready to be this fearless when I was younger. My time is now, and my voice is only getting stronger.

Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL: Blurb Coming Soon…

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post: Rebecca Poole

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post: Rebecca Poole

Fearless.  That’s a pretty big word, in my opinion.  The definition is lacking fear.  After a week of struggling to write this post, starting and stopping, typing a line or paragraph, only to erase it, I’ve realized something.

I don’t know any fearless females.

I do however, have the honor of being surrounded by friends who despite their fear, carry on and conquer.  Authors who write and lift a middle finger to those who judge them for their choice of genre.  Artists who struggle to make their world just a little more beautiful and get criticized for not doing it just so. I have friends who are single mothers, who have ‘traditional families’, and friends who are happily single.

They make no apologies for being who they are, and while sometimes they make scary-to-them choices, try to take over the world.

The strength that these women give me to push through another day is everything to me. I look up to these women, these Fearful but Don’t Give a Shit Females, and am awestruck.  I hope to one day inspire someone else the way they have all inspired me.

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author M.L. Olson

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author M.L. Olson

EllysWhen Tigris asked me if I wanted to be a part of her Fearless Female lineup, I immediately said yes, and then freaked because I had no idea who I was going to write about. I mean, I’m a bibliophile AND I read for a living, my days are filled with kickass heroines and women who overcome adversity and their fatal flaws. Plus, I’ve personally battled multiple types of cancer and more, my mom had a hard life, my friends kick their own personal demons to the curb daily. My life is FULL of fearless females. So who in the world was I going to write about? And then it hit me…I would write about someone that only I (and Tigris) have met. At least…yet.

 

Now, she’s not your typical leather-bustier-wearing, Glock-9-toting, mixed-martial-arts-mastering fantasy heroine. Her strength comes from a different place. A deeper place. A place borne of loss and betrayal and self-discovery. Who am I talking about? Ellys Merveille of our Curiosity Chronicles series, of course (for those of you who don’t know, The Curiosity Chronicles is the Dark Fantasy series that Tigris and I will be writing as Chelle Eden. Book #1, Ellys in Faeryland, will be available for your reading pleasure in 2017).

 

O.K, so, Ellys… Her very name means “wonder.” At least her surname. But while she did use her imagination to escape at times, she preferred to face things head-on. Though not always well.

 

As an infant, she was abandoned. Cast aside by those who should have loved her. She never knew her family. She was raised in the system and while it wasn’t as bad as it was for some, she didn’t have it easy. She was shuffled around from home to home, and the only thing she had as a somewhat constant, was her best friend Madison Cape. Madi. Luckily, no matter where the State sent her, somehow, he was always either there ahead of her or soon to follow. She learned not to question the hows or whys, to just grasp it with both hands and not let go. Madi was her rock. He stability. Despite the fact that he was probably the weirdest boy she had ever met.

 

As the years progressed, she changed so many times she could have given someone whiplash. But she really had no idea who she was. And sometimes, the hardest demons to battle are those in your own mind, those that whisper that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not “right” for the world around you. So when she had those doubts, she simply donned a new veneer and tried that one out on the world. Madi learned to take it in stride, and usually spurred her on by giving her some pop culture reference that she could use to merge into her look of the week. But through it all, she still felt as if she had this hole inside her. Something that could never be filled.

 

When she turned sixteen, her life was turned upside down again. Madi aged out of the system and was forced to leave her.  For just shy of two years, she shuffled through each day in a fog, her one tether to the real world having been stripped from her, leaving her bloody and raw on the inside. But still she battled through. She faced each day, never giving up, knowing that she would one day, hopefully, find him again.

 

When she turned eighteen, she was shoved out the door into a world she had never experienced. Never knew. Like so many of the other children at the home who didn’t adapt well, she was homeschooled, never allowed to attend a public school or interact with children not in the home. Her sheltered upbringing lent to her higher than average intellect but her social skills were virtually non-existent. And she learned, with startling quickness and vicious clarity the reality that is human nature in the “real world.” Too overcome, she changed yet again. And all the while, she searched for her dear friend, Madi. For years this went on…

 

When she finally found him, she discovered he was literally living his dream—owner of his own tattoo shop at a young age and one of the most sought after artists in the city. And she faced yet another obstacle. Jealousy. The green-eyed monster is one that can eat you alive and leave you nothing more than metaphorical chewed up pieces spit out on a dirty and trodden path.  She didn’t want to feel the things she did, especially not about Madi, but she couldn’t help herself. And add in to the mix the fact that he gave her a job at the shop and she couldn’t help but shake the feeling that he’d done it out of pity, and she was in a bad spot. Again.

 

But the strongest people are those that realize that the smallest things in life are a gift. Those who look each bad situation in the face and laugh—sometimes literally. Those who take every bad thing that happens in their life and use it as a way to grow, to persevere. And Ellys was one of those people. She realized that without everything that had happened in her life, she wouldn’t be who she was. Even if she didn’t always know exactly who that was.

 

When things in Ellys’s life got really crazy and she ended up going through a portal into a world she’d thought only existed in her imagination, she had to adapt once more. This time, taking on the persona of explorer, adventurer, and warrior.  The only hope for some, the downfall of others. And still she embraced it. Because Ellys Merveille is a fearless female, and she can overcome anything.