Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wonder Woman: UnApologetically Woman

Wonder Woman. The movie? Amazing.

But why?

Well, duh, because Wonder Woman is bad-ass.

Except, we've had other movies featuring bad-ass women. So what's so special about this one?

Yeah, she's the main character. That makes a huge difference. But what else? I think it's because she's not only bad-ass, but she's unapologetically bad-ass. She's strong and her strength isn't merely in sex appeal, or twisted with evil intentions as most strong women are portrayed in movies. And her strength doesn't come from her similarities to men, or by her having traditionally male attributes. She's feminine and compassionate and uses her intuition (her belief or gut feeling).

She's unapologetically woman.

Where do you think she got these personal convictions, this way of being herself without apology, despite the men who say she can't do this or that throughout the movie?

Wonder Woman was raised in a matriarchal society.

According to Dr. Heide Goettner Abendroth matriarchal societies are not the opposite of patriarchal societies. They are not "Mother-ruled" like the patriarchal "Father-ruled." Rather, they are Mother-centered, which is vastly different. They are gender egalitarian and many are full egalitarian.

Diana (Wonder Woman) grew up without lies to put her in her place, without the shame of womanhood. She grew up listening to her intuition, even if that meant secretly training against her mother's wishes. Can you imagine how many personal hurdles she'd have to fight just to train as a warrior if she'd been told or led to believe that women couldn't fight? If she'd been taught that father knows best (males know best) do you think she would have stepped foot onto "No Man's Land"?

When girls are raised in a culture that deems them as the lesser sex by the laws passed, the school dress code enforced, the lack of layered female characters in movies, the pigeon-holed clothing options they're given, the accepted rape culture surrounding them, the disgust of menses displayed by their peers and adults, and so much more...they grow up inheriting a shit-ton of self-shame.

And self-shame weighs you down. A lot.

But in the movie Wonder Woman, Diana doesn't have to deal with that added self-shame on top of the weight of her dangerous mission. She's driven by compassion for humankind and won't let anyone lessen that conviction. If someone called her a "special snowflake" due to her activism, their words would mean nothing to her because she wasn't raised in a culture where war and power trump love and compassion. She didn't re-think her actions to help, or have second thoughts, because death and dominance weren't accepted norms for her. She respected life, which you often find in matriarchal cultures.

Like others, I cried during the fight scenes. Chills ran up and down my body throughout the movie. Viewing a little girl with dreams of learning to protect herself touched my heart. Everything about that movie resonated deeply with me because I've been studying matriarchal (and matrilineal) cultures and their spirituality for years. In almost every manuscript I've written, the main character is a girl/woman raised in a matriarchal family or society.

My current manuscript passion, Freyja's Daughter, follows a huldra raised in a matriarchal family, but governed by a dominating patriarchal establishment. Those who govern her insist that it's unsafe for her to use her huldra abilities, that if she does she'll become a danger to herself and to others. She's conflicted because her mother secretly taught the opposite. But the night her huldra takes over for self-preservation, her life is changed and her beliefs solidified.

In every story I write, my goal is to display and inspire unapologetic women.

The major response to the Wonder Woman movie has breathed new hope into me, as I'm sure it has for many others. The girl that I was, who asked lots of questions and was told men have always ruled and would always rule because that's how it's meant to be... Well, she's smiling. Because the public's response to Wonder Woman suggests that things, they are a changin'.

Want to know more about matriarchal societies? :)

Here's a video of Dr. Heide Goettner Abendroth teaching:

And of course I've got book recommendations for those interested. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Latest Researching Adventure: Reiki

I wrote a story called Freyja's Daughter that follows a huldra, Faline, as she tries to reestablish a disbanded secret society of folkloric women in an attempt to fight the big bad who's been oppressing them for generations. Of course each type of folkloric creature hates the others, so such a task is dangerous and nearly hopeless as her oppressors are always hot on her trail.

One group Faline must persuade are the succubae. Now, every one of my beta readers has a favorite group, and I love each group for their unique sub-culture and abilities, but you guys...the succubae were so much fun to write. Especially their leader, Marie.

According to myth, a succubus is a demonic female creature that is most often said to lure unsuspecting and innocent men into sexual relations. Sometimes this happens within the men's dreams. Sometimes, within their room. Always, they were "forced" by the succubus.

(I'd like to add here that many of our well-known myths have a patriarchal bent to them. It is my goal, within my writing, to take those myths and iron that patriarchal shit out.)

So in Freyja's Daughter, the succubae are not demons--they've just been given a bad stigma because they're powerful women. And no, they don't force anyone to have sex with them. There's more pleasure in the willing.

The succubae in Freyja's Daughter can control and manipulate energy.

Because I plan to continue writing in this Wild Women world in the form a series, I also plan to delve deeper into each group's sub-culture. The next book in the series will shine a spotlight on the succubae group. And last week I attended an energy-healing class as part of my research.

There's lots of different types of classes that teach energy work, but one I've been hearing a lot about lately is called reiki. Even my massage therapist swears by it. So I signed up and went in with an open mind.

As part of the class materials I was given a laminated chakra chart and a book called The Reiki Manual: A Training Guide for Reiki Students, Practitioners, and Masters by Penelope Quest. According to this manual, reiki is a holistic healing method using energy. The practitioner uses life force or universal energy to clear energy blockages in their clients. From the manual: "Reiki (pronounced RAY KEE) is a Japanese word which is most often translated as 'universal life-force energy."

Buy here
I love researching and experiencing new things, so I really enjoyed this class. I got to experience what it feels like to get a reiki treatment, which was highly relaxing. (I'll definitely use that sensation in my next Wild Women book.) The instructor said many of her clients fall asleep during their reiki treatments and I could definitely see why. And the explanation of reiki energy, its history, and how it's used gave me some story fodder. Personally, I don't plan on becoming a reiki practitioner or anything like that. But it was a fun class and the concepts introduced gave me lots to chew on and certainly more than a couple ideas for use in future stories.

What's up next for me in the name of story research? Well, I'm planning a trip to Oregon to visit the Portland underground, which I'll use in the second Wild Women book. :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Equinox

If you're ready for the new growth of spring, take heart, spring equinox is just around the corner.

This year's spring equinox is March 20th. What does that mean, exactly? Well, according to "The March equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator -- the imaginary line in the sky above the earth's equator -- from south to north and vise versa in September."

But if you're a nature-lover like me, spring equinox means so much more. Our days are getting longer. Trees leaves are unfolding from buds on bare branches. The biting cold in the air is dulling to a smooth breeze. It's a time to celebrate the sprouting personal growth within our own lives, amplifying the light and love we hope to share with others.

In the winter, most plants go within themselves. They're no longer "on show" for the world to see, looking outward, but rather down deep, looking inward. I imagine many of us do the same thing that time of year. We self-actualize in the quiet moments spent curled under a blanket, hiding from the freezing outdoor temperatures. We review our life and decisions in December and create or tweak new life goals in January. We're given a few months to try these new goals on for size, to work out the early kinks of our yearly plan. Maybe a daily visit to the gym isn't realistic. Maybe yoga fits your body better than Pilates. Maybe the once-a-month date with your partner needs to be doubled to twice a month...

Come March we begin crawling away from our fireplaces and heated blankets to look outward again, to display to the world the beautiful new aspects we've created within ourselves over the winter. We unfurl our petals with confidence, with the knowing that in the next few months our roots will only grow deeper, our leaves will only stretch out further.

Spring equinox embodies the hope of old traditions and the new growth they celebrate. How do you celebrate spring?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Feminist Fiction

Yesterday, while at work (the library) a co-worker asked me what I write, exactly. Normally, when someone asks me this, I say, "Urban fantasy," or I explain the plot of my newest manuscript. But yesterday I said, "I write feminist urban fantasy."

"I take it you're a feminist, then?" he responded.

"I am," I said with a smile.

"What does feminism mean to you?" he asked, which I inwardly applauded his question.

"It means equality," I answered. "I aspire to live in an egalitarian society."

He nodded, explained that he too believes in an egalitarian society, and then asked what makes my urban fantasy feminist. He got the short answer because we had a bunch of books that weren't going to shelve themselves. But today I'm blogging about the long answer.

It is my desire, through my fiction, to level the playing field. My 5th grade teacher loved Greek mythology. And as a child sitting in her class, listening to her tell the tales, I remember wondering why the men seemed so much stronger--in mind, heart, and body--then the women. I realize that's not always the case. The goddess Diana is incredibly capable according to the myths. But when we're talking about Greek mythology, it's certainly not a level playing field. In fact, when we're talking about most mythology it's not a level playing field.

But, if you dig--and I mean really dig--you'll find a treasure trove of pre-patriarchal mythology. Some of the names of the gods and goddesses will be similar, if not the same, but their roles were vastly different than the mythology we know today. The pre-patriarchal mythology shows a more level playing field.

Before I wrote my Wild Women series I researched folkloric female monsters from across the globe. Why monsters? Because I'd noticed that the strong, heroic females in the pre-patriarchal myths transformed into either weaklings who needed protection, or evil, manipulative women--sometimes seductive and sometimes old and haggard--in the myths we know today. This led me to assume that those once powerful guardians of the forest were turned into seductive man-eaters who lived in trees. That the once nurturing healers were turned into haggard old witches who mixed potions and created spells to kill crops.


So I compiled a list of these fabulous female folkloric monsters and set to finding out their pre-patriarchal roots. The first book in the Wild Women series, Freyja's Daughter, shows these female monsters learning about themselves what I'd learned about them--that they weren't monsters at all. This, of course, birthed a whole series of books about these folkloric women coming together from all over the world and changing their circumstances.

Just talking about the series excites me, stokes my fire to work toward a world of equality. I hope it does the same for my readers.

Because as far as I'm concerned, a level playing field benefits everyone.      

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Month of (Book) Love

Happy February--the month of love!

And what better way to celebrate love than to talk about book love? Either a book you're writing or one you're reading.

I've just started a rewrite for Deadly Splendor, but recently put the polishing touches on Freyja's Daughter, so let's talk about that one.

Freyja's Daughter is about a huldra, Faline, who's reality is flipped upside down when her sister is abducted by her protectors. To get her sister back, Faline seeks the help of her ex-fling, Officer Garcia, and her mortal enemies--the succubae, mermaids, rusalki, and harpies.  

You can browse through my Freyja's Daughter Pinterest board here.

How about you? Experiencing any book love this month?

Monday, June 27, 2016


I have this weird thing about me. I like critiquing queries, and I'm good at it too, so that helps. I've wanted to offer a critique giveaway for a while, but have been too busy to actually do it.

But guess what? The time has come. :)

I am now writing full time and couldn't be more thrilled. To share in my excitement, I'd love to help you polish your work for upcoming contests or querying, or both. 'Tis the contest season, right?

I'll pick five entries to critique their query and first five pages of the manuscript. I'm open to all fiction as I have experience writing and critiquing MG, YA, and Adult fiction.

It's easy to enter. In the comments below, just leave:

-Your name
-Your Twitter handle
-The genre and category of your manuscript
-A sentence or two about your manuscript
-The first sentence of your manuscript

It'll look something like this:

-Rachel Pudelek
-Adult Urban Fantasy
-When huldra Allura's sister is abducted, she recruits the help of her enemies--the succubi, harpies, mermaids, and rusalki--to rescue her sister and destroy the organization responsible.
-My prey, a five foot-ten Caucasian male, ordered a double shot pumpkin spiced latte as he tapped his pointer finger on the counter. 

I can't wait to read what you all are working on! Good luck!

(Offer ends 12:00 am on June 28th, PST.) 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Adult Paranormal/ Urban Fantasy Novels Coming 2016

I am a huge fan of urban fantasy and paranormal books, television shows, and movies. So far my favorite books are the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs and the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. And I am loving the new show, Lucifer! But I've been on the look-out for adult urban fantasy and paranormal books that either released in 2015 or are set to release this year by debut authors. So much so, that I've decided to create a list. And if you know of any that I haven't listed, definitely share the info. (This list is traditionally published books only. I'll create another separate list for indie pub'd books because there's WAY MORE paranormal/UF books in the indie world.) Click under the cover for the link to Amazon.

You can order it here.
Where the fairy tale ends, destiny begins.
Elizabeth Tanner is no Tinkerbell, and her life is no fairy tale. Broke and drowning in student loans, the one thing she wants more than anything is a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation. But after the ancient Irish text she's studying turns out to be more than just a book, she becomes their prisoner instead. And when Trinity reveals Elizabeth is half-Fae, she finds herself at the center of a plot to save the magical races of Ireland from a brutal civil war.
As Commander of Trinity's elite warriors, Finn O'Connell isn't used to having his authority challenged. He doesn't know whether to punish or protect the infuriating young woman in his custody. When he discovers the Dark Fae want to use Elizabeth's abilities to control the source of all power in the universe, he'll risk everything to help her.
At the mercy of Trinity and enslaved to the Dark Fae, Elizabeth finds herself alone on the wrong side of an Irish myth thousands of years in the making. Refusing to be a pawn in their game, Elizabeth has to fight her way back to the man she loves, but to do so, she must wage her own war against the magic that binds her.

You can order it here.
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school. 

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can only be hunted with the help of magically-mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all of these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons? 

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

Order the US version here
When we first meet Kit, she's a fox.
Nineteen-year-old Kit works for the research department of Shen Corporation as a phenomenaut. She's been “jumping”--projecting her consciousness, through a neurological interface--into the bodies of lab-grown animals made for the purpose of research for seven years, which is longer than anyone else at ShenCorp, and longer than any of the scientists thought possible. She experiences a multitude of other lives--fighting and fleeing as predator and prey, as mammal, bird, and reptile--in the hope that her work will help humans better understand the other species living alongside them.
Her closest friend is Buckley, her Neuro--the computer engineer who guides a phenomenaut through consciousness projection. His is the voice, therefore, that's always in Kit's head and is the thread of continuity that connects her to the human world when she's an animal. But when ShenCorp's mission takes a more commercial--and ominous--turn, Kit is no longer sure of her safety. Propelling the reader into the bodies of the other creatures that share our world, The Many Selves of Katherine North takes place in the near future but shows us a dazzling world far, far from the realm of our experience.

These aren't by debut authors, but they are stand-alones or the first in a series, being released this year:

You can order it here.
Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest secret comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right...or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Order the international version here
Vintage Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish's The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner...

For starters, she's only twenty-seven. Then there's the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she's broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker--who happens to be Kincaid's on-again, off-again roommate. 
     Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he's tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle's infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City's oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She's broke, but she's not stupid.
And then she becomes the target... As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

Oder it here
Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.
When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.
During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.
From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

Order it here
Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancĂ©, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.
Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancĂ©’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

Order it here
From New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn comes an all-new series set in the realm of her Otherworld novels.

I’m Shimmer, a blue dragon shifter. Thanks to a mistake, I was exiled from the Dragon Reaches and sentenced to work for Alex Radcliffe, a vampire who owns the Fly by Night Magical Investigations Agency. Now, not only do I have to adapt to Earthside culture, but every time I turn around, somebody’s trying to kill us. And worse, Alex is as gorgeous as he is exasperating. But you know what they say: All’s fair in love and bounty hunting…

When an old friend of Alex contacts him about a haunting at the High Tide Bed & Breakfast in Port Townsend, Washington, we think we’re on a simple ghost hunt. But our investigation quickly transforms into a deadly fight as we uncover an eighty-year-old murder, a cursed house, and a dark force trapping the spirits within. To stop impending disaster we must break the curse and lay the angry spirits to rest.

Order it here.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series and the Remy Chandler series, a new dark fantasy series filled with demons, exorcisms, and the fight against the worst that hell has to offer...

There is more to our world than meets the eye—darker things, crueler things. Exorcist John Fogg and his wife, psychic medium Theodora Knight, know what lurks in the shadows. But even they’re not prepared for the worst Hell has to offer...

It was supposed to be a simple exorcism, a publicity stunt to firmly establish John and Theodora’s thriving paranormal investigation empire in the public eye. But something went wrong, leading to an on-air massacre that unleashed a malicious host of demons and left Theodora catatonic, possessed by countless spirits.

John sets out on a desperate quest to find a cure for his wife, but his obsession brings him face-to-face with an even more terrifying problem: Theodora’s possession is only one piece of a deadly plot that is threatening the entire world. Because an ancient evil is about to make Earth its battlefield—and without John and Theodora’s intervention, there is no chance for salvation...