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.

 

 

Friday’s Fearless Female is Alice

Friday’s Fearless Female is Alice

I want to introduce everyone this Friday to Alice. She is the definition of FEARLESS… Please leave a comment, I’m sure Kristen would love to show little Alice all the people who are rooting for her!

Cancer. It’s a word nobody ever wants to hear, but when a child is being diagnosed with cancer, life as you know it ceases to exist. It’s cruel. It’s unfair. Alice was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma one month after her 3rdbirthday. A persistent backache and a slight curve to her spine led to a CT scan where the doctors could clearly see the tumor at the top of her spine.

The doctors do not give parents time to digest the diagnosis. Treatment starts the very next day. In Alice’s case, she started her first of 6 rounds of harsh chemo the very next day. Her treatment consisted of chemo, an 8.5 hour surgery to remove the tumor, stem cell transplant, 40 rounds of proton radiation and antibody therapy.  All over the course of 16 months. While Alice’s friends were learning to write their names, she was learning the terms of the medical equipment in her hospital room. Her friends were busy playing at the park and Alice was building tents in the hospital hallway and riding in a wagon with Oscar (her IV pole) being pulled alongside her. Instead of vacations, family trips were to NYC for surgery, Minneapolis for transplant and Rochester, MN for proton radiation. 

When you think of a fearless woman, you think of strong, females who are challenging a system, fighting for what is right. They slay dragons without chipping a nail. They are the heroines of the story, able to face anything with strength and courage. At least that what I used to think, before March 5, 2015 when my only child was diagnosed with cancer. Now when I hear fearless I think of the children fighting cancer. We ask so much of them and we push them to their limits. We poison their bodies in hopes of killing the monster inside of them. We poke them, we cut them, and we beg them to eat or take their medicine. Yes, they may cry, but they are resilient, finding joy even in a hospital bed. They never feel sorry for themselves or their situation. These children who are so sick but they worry more for their family than themselves.

I think of my fellow mommy warriors. These women who didn’t ask for this, but from the second they hear that their child has cancer, they go to battle armed with just their love for their child. They become doctors and nurses. They provide support and encouragement to other moms, a sympathetic ear and advice. These moms fight to raise funding for research because the 4% our government spends on pediatric cancer research is not enough. They pray for all of the children with cancer and they mourn when another mom has to bury her child. They are the moms who hold their children and tell them it is ok to let go as their child takes their last breath.

Fearless also describes the family and friends, new and old, who stick by you. You’re friends who send you funny text messages to make you laugh or answer the phone at 2 am and let you cry. These are the women who show up at the hospital on the way to work with a much needed cup of coffee. They hold fundraisers and events to lighten the financial burden on your family and let you focus on your child. This life is not for the faint of heart and there are friends and family who walk away because this is so hard, but these women refuse to simply walk away. 

The most fearless person I know is Alice. She has been to hell and back. Alice loves slides and is the kindest mommy to her baby dolls. Some of the innocence of childhood has been lost, but at the end of the day, she is one of the funniest, sweetest, happiest kids I know. Alice is 2 months no evidence of disease. Remission is not a word that many use in the neuroblastoma world because relapse rates are just too high. I worry about her future and what all of these drugs and treatments will mean as she ages, but I know that no matter what happens, Alice will face it head on because she is fierce and strong.

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post Author Paige Prince

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post Author Paige Prince

momWhen Tigris asked me to write a post about Fearless Females, the first woman who came to mind was my mother. Probably cliché, since that’s what everyone tends to say when asked about who their hero or role model is, but it’s 100,000% true in my case.

My mom, Sandy, was a single mother to twin hellraisers. Yeah, I said it. I may have been a goody-goody, but combined with my twin brother, we kept Mom on her toes. And she did it all—kept us clothed, fed, housed, in school, in a comfy bed. We even had cable TV…most of the time. She worked more than any single mom ever should, but always made sure we knew exactly how much we were loved.

That isn’t to say she didn’t have her personal battles. Everyone does. Mom dealt with those the way she does everything else: head on and with fire in her eyes.

If anyone defines “Fearless” for me, it’s my mom. There’s a little bit of her in every heroine I write and I hope every time I look in the mirror. 

 

 

Paige Prince

Erotic Romance Author/Editor

Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Editing || Rhyann Harris

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post, Author Rachel Walker

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Post, Author Rachel Walker

Not every ‘Fearless Female’ wears a cape.

Not every ‘Fearless Female’ wears a cape.

Think on these questions and search your soul.

For what you see and believe may not be the whole.

Are you brave enough to live this life, as fully as you could?

Are you relentlessly battling evil, fighting for the good?

Can you forge a sound foundation that rises up from strife?

Even when those about you, take a different view of life?

Do you fight for what you believe in, when others look away?

Do you walk towards the exit when it’s easier just to stay?

Will your decisions to do the right thing be easier than the wrong choice?

Do your words carry wisdom and honesty fill your voice?

Would you set the world to rights and should you if you could?

Without those who are fearless would the need be understood?

Will you reach through the darkness to grasp at the light?

Will you walk bravely onwards, doing what is right?

These questions ask you plenty, not all you can dismiss.

So, think about the questions, while you consider this,

It takes those who fight the fight, to win our hearts and minds

It needs a world with differences, to show it takes all kinds

Everyone is fearless in their own unique way,

From picking up a spider to living day to day.

Many fold or give in, whilst others still persist.

Overcoming adversity simply to exist.

Do not sit in judgement for this you’ll not atone,

Remember, not all life’s battles can be seen, a man’s fight’s his alone.

 

This short story is fictional.  However, this fiction is founded in fact.  I’ve twisted what I was told, in confidence, to fit what I needed.  I hope I’ve managed to write a story that encompasses what I’ve heard and what I’ve come to understand.  To me, Rissa is the epitome of fearless but, I wonder, how you will feel about her.

Fearless, that’s what people called her.  Fearless, ha… The word was nothing but a label.  A label that described the opposite of what she actually was, what she felt.  Each day was a constant battle, to move, to get up, to do something, anything.  Each and every day she awoke. From the moment she opened her eyes to the moment the little pink tablet took effect she forced herself to function.  Aware of how her life had changed through one single unconscious action, one instinctual act, she lived day by day.  Even asleep she didn’t escape, couldn’t escape.  There was no escaping the dreams, nightmares really, but at least the Estazolam gave her a full night of rest.  Though trapped in a dark dreamscape of twisted images and imaginations she’d awake mentally exhausted but physically rested.  For now, it was enough.

Rissa shook herself into the present, away from her musings and worries.  Today would be different; already it felt different.  Determined now, she swung her legs to the ground and burrowed her toes into the deep pile of the rug beside the bed.  Grabbing her robe from the back of the door she tightened the belt at her waist with a double knot, pushing the cord left through right, then right over left, before she shuffled from the room.

Following her routine she began getting ready.  As though compelled, she moved stiffly from task to task, following the ordered sequence she always used.  Firstly she moved to brush her teeth, carefully squeezing the exact amount of paste onto her brush before working right to left, top then bottom, counting the brushstrokes.  Then, after using the toilet, she turned on the shower, folded her pyjamas and robe carefully and dropped them into the laundry basket.  Scrubbed raw she left the shower cubicle, wiping down the glass with a small clean towel before stepping out.  Flip, fold, fold, and the towel was added to the laundry. Reaching a clean towel from the shelving she wrapped it about her torso then returned to her bedroom and carefully selected her outfit for the day.  A hurried trip back to the bathroom and the towel was added to the steadily growing pile of laundry.

Makeup and hair were last in her routine, left until she was mentally prepared to begin her day.  Pale enhancements dusted her eyes and cheeks, her lips left naked of all cosmetics.  He preferred her to look natural, naturally perfect anyway.  Frowning she wiped her face and reapplied a lighter layer before she was satisfied.  More time was taken arranging her hair, checking and rechecking in the mirror that the feathered layers hung over her left cheek without blocking her vision.  Then, finally ready, Rissa took a deep fortifying breath and headed downstairs.

At the kitchen door she paused, one hand reaching, hovering indecisively over the wood. Straightening her shoulders, her lips curved into a practiced smile as she pushed the door inwards. Noise cascaded over her, drowning her nerves in the sheer volume as a barrage of shouted questions, arguments and demands pulled her forward.

Lifting Joe from the high chair Rissa carried him to where John sat tapping at his tablet.  Looking up as the baby landed in his lap, John sent a glaring glance that promises retribution her way, his only sign of annoyance.  Holding the baby without comment John accepted the bowl pushed in his direction, slowly lifting the mush into Joe’s gaping mouth.  No words of greeting passed his lips, his fingers still tapping at his tablet in between Joe’s mouthfuls.

The twins’ arguing quietened as Rissa looked in their direction.  Their bickering clearly caused by some miniscule misdemeanour that obviously wasn’t worth telling mum about.  Both girls turned to their breakfast and hurriedly filled their mouths, successfully halting any possible conversation.  Neither looked in Rissa’s direction as she moved to the sink and began her duties.  Eliminating the mess made before she’d even woken, she concentrated on one task at a time until almost everything was sorted.

“Mum, I want…”  Sarah didn’t complete the question before a drink found its way into her outstretched hand.

“What about mine?”  A second glass, ready and waiting, was placed silently into Melissa’s reaching hand.

Both girls accepted the glasses without thanks, their heads dropping back to their cereal.  With a frown Rissa watched the girls eat, worried she’d been too accepting for too long. Turning she faced the sink once more, wiped the counter and squeezed the sponge before turning to face the room.  “I’ve been invited to join Lisa’s birthday party.  I’ve said yes.”  She waited knowing that they’d all understand the impact of her statement, once they realised exactly what she’d said.  Once they realised she’d actually spoken.  Too used to them only hearing what they wanted to and ignoring what they didn’t want to hear, she waited and watched.

John’s head rose from his tablet, his gaze hitting hers like a blow.  “What do you mean, you said yes?”

“I mean that I said yes, that I agreed, that I acquiesced to her request.”  Rissa knew she was instigating an argument but this had taken a long time coming.  She’d built herself up so much that now everything was just ready to… well, spew over.

The baby continued to gurgle, blowing bubbles as three pairs of eyes, all identical in shape and shade, bore holes into her.  Melissa glanced to her sister for support before asking her question.  “You mean you’re going out?  Out, out?”

“I mean Lisa is my closest friend.”  Actually Lisa was her only friend but she shoved the thought aside and continued regardless.  “I’ve known Lisa forever and it’s her 40th birthday.  I mean I’m going away for the weekend.”  Rissa watched John’s face pale before it reddened in anger and she braced for what was to come.  Before the fire, her going away for a weekend wouldn’t have been a problem, now it would be, but she’d made her decision and she’d fight to keep it.

Lifting the baby, John passed him to Melissa and stepped towards her.  Rissa felt her neck strain as she looked up at him, and waited.  “When were you going to discuss this with me?”

Rissa turned away, giving him her back.  She was stronger with her back to him.  He wouldn’t hit her with the children close and she couldn’t see his anger so she’d be brave.  “I didn’t think we needed to discuss it.  You didn’t discuss the boy’s weekend, or that sailing with me.  I didn’t realise I had to ask for permission.”

“You don’t need to ask for permission.  Of course you don’t.”  She sensed his smile even though she refused to look.  “You’re not going.”  His footsteps sounded as he paced behind her.  “Who’s going to look after the kids?  For God’s sake, who’s going to cook and sort the house?”

Children or not, Rissa couldn’t let his comments pass. She was his wife, for goodness sake, not the maid. She hated to argue in front of the girls and Joe was getting old enough to repeat what he heard. He was already beginning to copy John. Still, she turned and stared at the man she’d once loved enough to risk herself.  Once, so long ago now, they’d been happy.  Now, since the fire, she wasn’t sure what happy was.  Shooting the girls a look, she jerked her chin towards the door then watched as they scurried from the room.

“You, John – you are going to look after the kids.”  His face heated more at her words but she continued regardless.  “You, are going to cook and you are going to clean.  It’s only two days, John.”  Rissa stepped close, peering up as she pushed herself further than she had before.  “You, need to grow a pair!” Her hand clasped her mouth trying to grab thee words back, but it was too late.

“Grow a pair!”  He pressed his body close, looming over her, intimidating.  It had worked before but she wouldn’t let it work this time.  This time she’d earn what came.  This time she was ready.  She dropped her hand to her side and stood tall.  Then, Rissa nodded.

Even expected, the slap shocked her.  It always did, even after all the times it happened.  Every time it happened she’d gotten an apology and for a while things got better, but it never lasted.  “I have a pair already, thank you.”  He grabbed his crotch lewdly before another slap followed the words.  “You’ll call Lisa and cancel.”

“No, I won’t!”  Rissa braced but was still propelled backwards with the next hit, this one made with clenched fist.

“You’ll call, if you know what’s good for you.”  His voice was a mere whisper of sound.  The words still strong enough to cause her to shiver.

Lifting her eyes she stared into his as she repeated, “No, I won’t.”  Then, Rissa closed her eyes.  It would hurt, she knew it would.  The blows rained down, her stomach clenching as bile rose along with the pain.  Collapsing to the floor she bit her lip.  She’d not cried out since the first time he’d hit her just after she’d been released from the hospital.  She’d thought it was her.  She’d thought she’d been wrong, about something, everything. Not since that first time had she shown him her pain, accepting the blame, and she refused to cry out now. As the blows eased, Rissa she dared to look up.  Above her John stood, his anger clear to see as his fists clenched by his sides.

“I want the man back I fell in love with, John.  I want the happiness we haven’t had since before the fire.  I want lots of things that I probably won’t ever get, but I will get this time away.  I need it.  I’m going, John.  I’m going even if I’m bruised from head to foot.”  Pushing herself to her hands and knees Rissa met his gaze.  “I’m going!”  The last words almost grated her throat as she screamed them in his face.

The thump of his fist caused the world to dim and she wondered if it was all over, finally.  His feet disappeared from sight and again the silence reigned. Dragging herself upright she used the table to hold her weight as she gulped mouthfuls of air into her lungs, almost making herself sick.  Tears long held at bay rose to the surface only to be willed back.

Looking down at herself she frowned at her disarray, straightening her shirt. Calming, she began the rest of her day.  Grabbing the dishes she gathered her wits whilst tidying, an autopilot reaction she’d come to rely on.  She needed the order, the routine and the solitude to calm her.  She needed the automated sequences of events to be able to process.

With nothing else to do to stall her, Rissa left the kitchen.  Pausing she glanced at the framed newspaper cutting on the hall wall.  Reading the heading ‘Fearless Woman Goes Back into Fire to Save Husband’ she sighed.  She’d become some sort of overnight sensation when she’d rushed into her burning home to pull John free.  Sometimes, now, she wished she hadn’t.  Since the fire everything had changed, especially John.

Rissa touched the rigid welts of the burn that covered her cheek before smoothing her hair into place.  She’d been lucky, she knew that, but she still wished.  Wished things could have been different.

Careful not to pull on her aching ribs as she walked, Rissa headed to the stairs, calling the girls as she went.  School would start in thirty minutes and the twins needed to head out soon or they’d be late. The cacophony of sound, like a herd of stampeding elephants, signalled their movement before they ran towards her. Accepting Joe from Sarah, Rissa handed each girl their school bag and waved them off.  Neither spoke, both ignoring her wave as they hurried out.  She could hear John moving about upstairs as she eased up the steps.

In her arms, Joe whinged his annoyance at the girls leaving.  His little fists banged against her shoulder and neck with each mew of annoyance.  Pausing she looked at her youngest child, the one she hoped to save by this act of rebellion.  Her children had to come first, whether they appreciated that or not.

Rissa winced as she gently stopped Joe’s fists, his shriek of anger at her actions further evidence that things needed to change quickly. The other times she’d spoken out, the times she’d not carried through on her threat to leave them alone, didn’t count. This time the need of her children outweighed her needs.  This weekend away was to get her ready to fight for her family, whoever that consisted of. She could live without John if he couldn’t or wouldn’t change.  She sighed.  John may not be part of her future but he’d always be the father of her children.

Determinedly she hummed as she changed Joe, then sent a text to Lisa letting her know she’d be there at the weekend.  Step one down, on to the next part of getting her life back.

Maybe she was fearless after all.

***

I’ve read and reread what I’ve written and hope I’ve written the piece in such a way that the reader pauses and thinks, ‘yes, I understand’.

 Even if you wonder why I wrote this, I hope it makes you think of how you’d cope.  I’d always thought I’d hit back, that I’d leave and make my own way.  The more I wondered the greater my understanding that I’d probably try to fix the damage, or stay thinking things would change, get better.  Changes are never easy, even when they’re for the better.  Sometimes the groove you’ve made, the bed you lie in, feels the safest. 

 

 

RACHEL WALKER

 

RachelHaving my first work published in 2014 was a direct result of being inspired by talent such as Tigris.  It’s amazing how influential the written word can be.  From histories passed orally to the tomes illustrated so beautifully by religious orders, books have been treasured. 

I was awestruck when approached to explain what I think of when given the words ‘Fearless Female’.  Yes, I think of Wonder Woman, Storm and Dark Angel’s Max.  I think of characters such as Jes in Shadow Unit, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games and even Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  All address the need to fight for what they believe is right.  Then I thought deeply of other women who fought fear every day.  Was I over thinking this?  Possibly, but still I refused to follow what I thought of as expected.  What I arrived at was a written piece based on the life of a friend.  This friend is strong; she’s needed to be strong.  Sometimes the fearless route is the one that others may see as nothing more than doing what should be done.  But, then… Isn’t that exactly what a super hero does?

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author Ty Langston 

Friday Fearless Female: Guest Author Ty Langston 


Fearlessly MeWhat does being fearless mean to me? Lately, a whole lot.  

Recently, I looked at the calendar and realized that I haven’t published anything in two years. Two years! During this time, I’ve had enough personal struggles that would most likely warrant a book than blog post, but that’s a whole other story.  

I was always one to grapple with self-doubt. “Am I good enough? Will I ever be good enough? I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough.”

I would hear these voices constantly and up until the middle of last year, those voices became louder. In fact, they got so loud that they crippled me as a person physically and emotionally.

I could barely work or write. In fact, I haven’t had book published in two years.  

So, I began the process looking at myself.  

I’m a pretty creative person. I like to write, take photos, read and dance. In my heart, I’m a story teller. So one of the things I started to do was to write my down my own story o change the voices that I was hearing in my head.

One of the ways, I did that was to write in a journal each day. Every day for a few minutes, I put my thoughts to paper. Whether my day was good or bad, I did this. I still do this. It helps me clear my head and keeps me focused.  

I also try to do something each day for myself. To be honest, you can’t help and be there for others if you aren’t helping yourself. Sometimes, that something could be even helping another person, a charity or even getting your nails done. I try not to feel guilty about that, but it’s also something that should be done.

My last thing was the most difficult thing that I have ever done. I quit my job.

Yep. Call me crazy, but I quit a job that I had for 15 years to embark on a new adventure…journalism. I had a degree in journalism that I wasn’t using and it bugged me for a long time. In fact, the last two years at my day job, I was worried that I was going to be doing the same thing forever and that prospect was something that I couldn’t deal with. One day after a regular evaluation, I decided that for me, my self worth was more important than hearing people yell and belittle me for hours for trivial nonsense and only getting a 10 cent raise for my trouble.  

So for the past year, I’ve been a freelance journalist. It’s scary, super fun, but it’s something I’ll never regret doing.  

I’m also writing fictional stories again, slow and at my own pace.

What is fearless to me? Taking a risk, finding your worth and believing in yourself. Just remember, to love yourself first!

website

As a child, Best-selling author, Ty Langston (Michele Villery) loved to read about dragons and knights so much that one day, her grandmother told her to “just write about them.” 

So she did. 

From that day forward, she never left home without her pen, a notebook, and some kind of music playing in the background. Her love of reading expanded from fantasy into science fiction, and eventually into paranormal romance and erotica.

She enjoys different works from George Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Stephen King, and Jackie Collins. But some of Ty’s favorite writers are from the world of TV and film: namely, Tudors creator Michael Hirst, and the late John Hughes.

Ty has a certificate in Broadcast Journalism along with a degree in Business Administration.  

She’s also the co-host of The Indy Geek, a weekly podcast on pop culture on Thursdays at 8 pm EST on Spreaker, itunes, Stitcher and more.