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 urge other folkloric women to band together and fight the big bag 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 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. They'd never do that.

The succubae in my story 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."

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?