Category Archives: badass

Guest Post: Heather Thurmeier, Escape to My Arms

I’m very honored to bring you a guest post from romance author, Heather Thurmeier. She has a new book debuting on April 16th called Escape to My Arms, A Prepper Romance. It’s a little different than her usual lighter contemporaries. This one is filled with adventure, danger and the peril of staying alive, but with her trademark humor. I’m so intrigued by this unique premise. The last thing we think of as a romantic setting is the end of the world, but in reality the continuation of the human race after an apocalypse demands that we get up close and personal with those alpha males who know how to survive. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those badass women who can hold their own along side them. Heather has written the love story of Sara and Dane who find the best in each other when the world is at its worst. She’s been kind enough to come up with valuable advice so that anyone can at least be a little prepared when that inevitable time comes.

Take it away, Heather:

Prepper Basics

Anyone can be a prepper. You don’t have to have a hidden bunker like Sara does in Escape to My Arms. She’s prepping for the end of the world as we know it! Her bunker has it all and then some. Maybe you don’t need to go all the way and become a hardcore prepper, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a few basic plans and preps in place. You just never know when something will happen that will cause you to evacuate or to shelter in place. Are you prepared for either? Here are a few of the basics you need to get prepared:

1. Water. Do you have a clean water source? If not, maybe it’s time to buy a filtering pump or build up storage of extra water.

2. Food. Do you have food to feed your family and your pets if you need it? I would recommend a stockpile of non-perishables that can last you at least 2 weeks for starters. Anything extra you can store is great. You can buy freeze-dried meals if you want, or simply store canned goods. Stock up when you see a sale at the grocery store! But remember to use, rotate and replace your stockpile regularly. You don’t want to need your food only to find out it’s all expired.

3. Heat. If you live in a location where the temperatures drop, then you need a plan for heat. How will you stay warm in your home? Make sure whatever you come up with is CLEAN heat. You don’t want to accidentally burn something that is toxic to stay warm.

4. An alternative. What will you do if you can’t make plan A happen? Have you prepared to shelter in place? What happens if you have to evacuate? Make an evacuation plan: Where will you go? How will you get there? How will you let others know where you are? And while you’re at it, pack a Go bag. That’s a backpack full of supplies like food, water, heat, first-aid etc that can last you at least 72 hours—long enough to get you to your meeting place!

If you can get the basics covered, you’ll be in a much better position to survive than someone who hasn’t prepared at all. And maybe you’ll like having the basics so much that you’ll expand your prepping into other areas that will help you survive for longer if ever needed. Maybe one day you’ll end up like Sara with a hidden bunker stockpile with every necessity imaginable! Or maybe you’ll be like me and just have a Go Bag in your car and a little extra food at home.

Happy prepping!

~Heather Thurmeier

http://heatherthurmeier.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherThurmeierAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hthurmeier

Escape-to-my-Arms300x450-1Escape to My Arms blurb:

Sara’s been preparing for this moment her whole life—she just never believed it would actually happen. With her bug-out bag and emergency food already in her truck, her only goal is to get to her family’s hidden bunker and wait out the pandemic that’s hit every major cruise ship port in the US. But her plan quickly falls apart. She’s out of gas, her route to the bunker is now a two-lane parking lot with no alternative in sight, and her only weapon is a pocketknife. For an experienced prepper, she’s made every rookie mistake.

Dane believes he’s safe in his cabin, off the beaten path and in the woods with his own source for water, electricity and an endless supply of food to hunt. After finding Sara stranded and alone, he’s suddenly not only providing for and protecting himself, but also the girl who wandered out of the woods and into his life. When looters come looking to take what he has, Sara and Dane’s only option is to make a run for their last hope—the bunker.

Can Sara and Dane find safety in each other’s arms and will they survive long enough to escape to a future together?

Excerpt:

Sara sipped her wine and nibbled on another square of chocolate. He was right. Again.

They didn’t know what would happen in the future. Hell, they didn’t even know if there was a future to look forward to at this point. So why shouldn’t they enjoy the moments like this one while they could? Moments when they were safe, warm, fed, and comfortable. They might not get many more nights like this if things kept getting worse, as they seemed to be. Best to savor the time while you had it instead of squandering it away with fights.

At this point, she didn’t even know what future awaited her at the bunker. Would she live with her family for the rest of their lives, never to interact with people from the outside world again? That’s sort of what they wanted, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that why they hadn’t told anyone about the bunker, because they couldn’t trust anyone?

What if this was her last night on her own? It might be her last night to live her life however she wanted to before she had to start making group decisions with her family.

“You’re right.” She polished off the last of her wine in a big gulp. Her head already swirled with the effects of the alcohol. She’d always been a lightweight when it came to getting drunk. Tonight would be no different. Good thing she’d planned to stop at one this evening. She had other plans for the rest of the night.

“Right about what exactly? I said a bunch of stuff.”

She put her wineglass on the floor and took his hand in hers. “You were right about enjoying this moment we have tonight since we don’t know what the future holds, or even if we have a future.”

“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” He smiled, squeezing her hand.

“Yes. And then some.”

Sara took the wineglass from his hand and set it down next to hers, then straddled his lap, resting her hands on his chest. She pressed her mouth to his, delighting in the surprise on his face.

She wasn’t a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of girl, but for once she was going to do just that, since she didn’t know if she’d have wind to be cautious of later on. Tonight, she’d live by her feelings. Tomorrow she’d go back to surviving.

Thank you so much for joining us, Heather, and showing us how with a little bit of foresight we all can be badass survivors of the apocalypse.

Pack a Go Bag and be prepped!

~Indigo

Wonder Woman

I’ve recently tapped into my ancient love of Wonder Woman. She was my hero, my goddess, my role-play when I was 8. I wanted to be her, look like her, run around and catch the bad guys with my lasso of truth. She was beautiful and strong and totally awesome. She flew an invisible plane for crying out loud. And Major Steve Trevor… sigh.

I’m not 8 anymore but she’s still a strong reference point for me. I look back to her as my first real role model of badass. However I do have to admit, that the rekindled love for Wonder Woman honestly is about her kickin’ bod. Truth be told. I’m on a fitness regime to whip my couch potato, laptop writing ass back into shape now that I’m technically “over 40”. 41 to be exact. I’m not sure I ever really looked like Wonder Woman even in my 20s. Well… maybe for a hot minute but it was short lived. Ah the good old days… Nevertheless, I’d give my right arm to look like her now. I’m kinda there, just not as sleek, or tall. I’ve been running again and I love it. And sometimes it’s good to set role model up for you to strive for both visually and psychologically.

 

All that is fun and in good humor. The truth is–– I run because I feel empowered when I do it, not really because I want a hot bod like Wonder Woman. That’s just a side-effect bonus. The running gives me a release from the tension, anger and frustration of the day. I’m not running from the problems, rather running through them. It affords me time to work things out in my mind. To plot, to scheme. To rage. It’s meditative. The footfalls, the pattern, the driving music behind me. My mind can elevate to a higher state of consciousness, which I always liken to something my 19th century Romantic Lit professor referenced as Wordsworth’s “Spots of time”. There are moments of clarity when an activity or a feeling is so perfect that the moment transcends reality. We are so in tune to what is occurring, the movement, the air, the feelings and emotions that we are elevated in, out and through the moment to almost hover above and look down on it with a sense of greater understanding. We are connected to it in a way that cannot happen when grounded corporeally. It is a state of mind that becomes physical and in essence heals.

There are in our existence spots of time,

That with distinct pre-eminence retain

A renovating virtue, whence-depressed

By false opinion and contentious thought,

Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,

In trivial occupations, and the round

Of ordinary, intercourse –– our minds

Are nourished and invisibly repaired;

A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,

That penetrates, enables us to mount,

When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

                                                                        ~The Prelude 12.208-218, Wordsworth

I find that this inner mediation helps drive me further. In my struggle to be as badass as I can be, I comprehend the world around me differently. I want control yet there are many things, most things actually, that I cannot control. Situations and circumstances that are beyond my scope of effectiveness. This frustration seeps into daily life if not expelled. The running is the release, the meditation on the aspect, the working through it in my mind and the physical release of endorphins that make me feel good about the decisions I’ve come to. In essence, I am a warrior in training. While I fight the good fight to stay true to my beliefs, I am on a path to make myself strong, both mentally and physically. I am in a constant journey of balance.

Sculpture or a Wounded Amazon Warrior, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sculpture or a Wounded Amazon Warrior, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I channel Wonder Woman’s strength, beauty and set her up as an icon––a goal to strive for and obtain. Wonder Woman was an Amazon. A Greek warrior goddess. Her creators at DC named her alter ego Diana. Make no mistake they chose that on purpose, Diana, Mother Earth, warrior goddess. The huntress. Amazons were bold, fierce warriors. They fought along side and against men, deeply committed to their tribe and society. They farmed, traded, studied and governed on their own as powerful women. They chose to be with men not because they needed them to provide, but because they wanted their companionship. When I said I’d give my right arm to look like Wonder Woman, it brings up an interesting piece of trivia. Amazons were reported to have cut off or even burned off their developing right breast before sexual maturity to strengthen the fighting arm and make it easier to shoot a bow. Now that is true commitment to the warrior sisterhood.

I am committed to this journey of both badassness and strength. It’s a mental and physical quest. As I regain my power, I can tackle things that are more difficult. I can perceive the world around me in a different light.  I can channel that into my writing and draw from that insight. These days I will slay with a pen and my fierce words. I will be the Amazon and huntress of my own world. And I will hold Wonder Woman up as the face of that.

Go forth and experience your own spot of time.

~Indigo

"Badass" International Women’s Day, March 8th

Considering that I celebrate and cherish badass female characters, I figured I should probably do my due diligence and write a post about International Women’s Day, March 8th. Of course I’m late to the party, but whatever. Every day is Women’s Day in my universe. Personally, I find it ridiculous that we even need to have an “official” day to acknowledge fantastic, intelligent, glorious women. Haven’t we grown past the ignorant beliefs of inequality for all people yet? Maybe not because there is still the mindset out there by many that women are less than <<insert a plethora of assumptions here>>. So yeah, maybe we need to stand up and recognize women in all their glory.

I decided to think on this a little before I wrote, which is sometimes a rarity for me because I tend to be very off the cuff about my observations. I didn’t want to sound like I was talking out of my ass, because really how badass would it be to go out there and spout wisdoms that make no sense? Not so much. As writer, I want strong female characters, not because they’re female, but because they’re interesting. They have flaws and make mistakes but persevere despite them and maybe because of them. Being a badass goes hand in hand with kicking ass and taking names, but it’s really about inner truth, inner strength to face what life offers us and making it through the challenges that are presented to us. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. There are real women out there doing it every day. Real women who know who they are, honor their inner demons and turn that adversity into power. I chose four women, both dead and alive, who I admire for a variety of reason but mostly because of their inner strength and they way they live/d their lives.

Four Real Life Badasses in no particular order:

Pat Summitt is the winningest female basketball coach of all time. She is Women’s Basketball Head Coach Emeritus for the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols program. Her challenging, “take no prisoners” and “give every ounce of your passion” style brought her teams and players to esteemed recognition at a time when women’s sports were in their infancy. She carried on a tradition of excellence that inspired female athletes to break barriers and look deep within themselves to find courage, strength and fortitude. After 38 years and numerous championships, wins and statistics, she retired and announced her beginning struggle with Alzheimers. It’s hard to not stand there and say what a tragedy it is that such a great mind, full of strategy and tough nurturing, will be lost to us. It’s hard to not feel like someone so influential will be taken from us when we need people like her to keep us going––to help us believe in our own strengths  But in truth, she’s already set the foundation. Her legacy lives on in the players’ lives she’s touched and the people like me, who’ve never played a sport, but know and admire her for the kind of person she is and all that she’s achieved.
http://www.utsports.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/summitt_pat00.html

Katherine Hepburn was a trailblazer in a time when beautiful women were looked at as soft sex symbols and an illusion of what women were supposed to be. She was brassy with her deep, gravelly voice, her beauty equally as seductive as Rita Hayworth’s, but she eschewed conventions. She wore trousers when all women were wearing nylons and skirts, she played men’s sports like golf, smoked cigars, said whatever she wanted and carried on the most famous extramarital affair in Hollywood history. For 26 years, she loved Spencer Tracy and hid it from the scrutiny of the world. They were deeply in love yet maintained separate houses and were very careful to not be seen in public together. She never pushed him for a divorce nor did she want to be married again. She was quoted in her biography saying that she “liked the idea of being my own single self”. In a time where women were supposed to be married and have a family, she remained fiercely independent. Even today, most women would classify her as a pariah and a home wrecker. She wasn’t. Tracy’s marriage had been a broken one for many, many years before he even met her. And seriously, if an independent woman can take care of herself and is strong in the notion of who she is, why be married to a man if it’s clear he loves you? Any woman who’s been married knows that having a husband around 24/7 is an issue unto itself. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, especially when he’s not under-feet and pissing you off. Kate knew that, understood that and lived her life as her life. She did what she wanted and didn’t care how she was perceived.

Hillary Rodham Clinton. In contrast to Hepburn, here is the most publicly “embarrassed”, cheated on woman of the late 20th century. Yet, she and Tammy Wynette, stood by their man. Valiant or stupid? Who cares. Hillary is a woman of resources, unending strength, determination and fortitude. Was a woman of her character and drive really going to let her horndog of a husband make her look like an idiot? No. I would bet dollars to doughnuts those two have some kind of ironclad agreement. Probably had for years before the whole BJ scandal happened. Of course that’s just my speculation, not anything steeped in fact. But, I believe that people of money and power live by a different set of values/beliefs/social mores. Whatever you want to call it, they conduct themselves, differently. She had a goal, a clear vision of where she wanted her life to go. She wanted it all and had the intelligence, ambition and wherewithal to do it. She was one of the three most powerful women of our lifetime, in esteemed company with Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice. As Secretary of State, she held the most powerful position in our government next to the President. She was the face of foreign affairs and a critical advisor to President Obama in a time where the Middle East, notorious for their debasement of women, was and still is in tumultuous upheaval. While the country may not have been ready for a woman to rule the world, in many ways she still made her mark on it in a powerful way. For thirty years, she’s been on our radar and a forerunner of change in politics  It is not the good ol’ boys club it used to be. One day there will be a female president, and she will have Hillary to thank for burning out the trail to get there.

Jane Austen was a trailblazer in her own right, in a time where women had no means to do anything. They were not citizens, had no say in the course of their lives and couldn’t own property. They were for all intents and purposes at the mercy of men. A young woman was expected to marry, birth children and take care of the household. Their morality was a reflection on their husband, their beauty a benefit to his wealth and her dowery, or rather what his financial gain from the marriage, a selling point in a union not based on love but monetary gain. How romantic. Yet, Austen wrote of love and passion hidden and buried deep within strict social customs and expectations. She was a great observer of the human condition, like Shakespeare before her. She understood her society with a clarity that set her apart from many of the women of her time. While her novels are mostly about young women and the men they fall in love with despite the challenges of their society and social levels, they celebrate women as passionately intelligent beings. Elizabeth Bennet and her outspoken demeanor, Elinor Dashwood and her steadfast determination to do the right thing, Fanny Price’s faithfulness to her beliefs and her love despite being dirt poor. While Austen herself never married and remained under the protection of her family, she continued to explore the possibilities of love conquering all. And in the long run, she did what hardly any young woman of her time did, she published actual books. Written tomes of beloved literature that transcend centuries of change yet still speak to the nature of the human mind and heart.

Every woman has the potential to be who and what they want to be. We are trained in society to believe certain things, thin=beauty, smart=agressive, independence=aloofness. The only way to break a mold is to shatter it, change the inner perception of what it means to be a woman. Take vulnerability and compassion and make that a strength. Use intellect and strategy to achieve a goal even if its only important to you. Love yourself in spite of your flaws, perceived or real. Be a badass and a master of your own path. We only have one life to live. Celebrate being a woman who deserves to live it.

Namaste,
~Indigo

Can men and women be just friends?

Can men and women be just friends?

Watson and Holmes

I was watching the latest episode of Elementary, the newest Sherlock Homes incarnation, and the “ship” didn’t just graze me, but hit me square on. The boat t-boned me, listed to the side and grounded like a Italian cruise liner in the Med, or the Gulf (anyone else afraid to take a cruise lately?). Let me refresh your  memory or explain for those who haven’t watched this episode. Oh and BTW, it took place on Valentine’s Day so read into that however your little shipper heart desires. Watson has been lying to Sherlock and pretending she is still under the employ of Sherlock’s father as his sober-companion. Well, Sherlock found out. Was she foolish enough to think the master investigator wasn’t going to? Dumbass. But what she doesn’t get is that the truth is: he doesn’t want her to go. So he’s challenged her with staying on as his partner, his companion, as his protégé of sorts. It was a scene full of subtle, raw emotion excellently played by both Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller. Fantastic and it got my heart a twitter. Who knows if it was intentional, it probably is, because as we all know there can never be a purely platonic friendship between a man and a woman on a television show. And not like I’m really going out on a limb here, but there can never be a purely platonic friendship between a man and a woman in real life either. Unless one is gay or ugly. Can I get an Amen?

Shipper Royalty: Scully and Mulder

Shipper Royalty: Scully and Mulder

This is a theme that has fascinated me forever. Friendship between men and women. And more specifically love that grows from a deep friendship and understanding between men and women. I’ve loved it in numerous television shows over the last twenty years and it’s what I explore in my own writing. It’s the foundation of the ‘ship’ for me, more so than the unresolved sexual tension. Carter and O’Neill–Stargate, Mac and Harm–Jag, Picard and Dr. Crusher, Star Trek: TNG, and let us not forget the king of them all, Scully and Mulder–The X-files. Even more recent: Mary and Marshall, In Plain Sight. They however  didn’t fall prey to the trope. But there’s been a trend of late––the ‘Hey, let’s fight the Moonlighting curse and actually get them together’: Brennan and Boothe–Bones, Olivia and Peter–Fringe, Annie and Auggie–Covert Affairs (I don’t agree with that one. I ship for Eyal, so I’m really pissed that she left him in Amsterdam to go home and kiss Auggie because she’s a big fat chicken and needs a security blanket, but I digress.) There are tons more that I’m forgetting and you get the idea. One of the things that drove many episodes and story arcs of those great shows revolved around the sexual tension between the Male and Female leads. It is an epidemic.

Why?

Because it’s interesting and titillating and we can’t help but feel the same way or wish that it was happening to us. Fiction needs to reflect life for it to be relevant  I would venture to say that most people have at some point or another been friends with a member of the opposite sex and had some kind of tingle in the heart and/or nether regions for them. It’s nature, an unwritten law of the universe, there is no way around it. Because it comes down to psychology (emotions) and science (pheromones). Friendships are based on common ground, a sense of camaraderie  and above all trust. Good love relationships are also based on those same principles with the complication of sex thrown in. When we have trust, we feel close to that person and when we feel close to that person we share things that are intimate and private, whether it’s secrets, feelings, truths or sex.

Now, I am no pyschologist, just an observer and explorer of the human condition. But I extrapolate a lot from my own life experience  I have had no less than 5 best friends who are male through the course of my adult life, not including the two men that I married. I have had sex with none of them, but I loved 3 of them, one of which was gay so that statement above of one being ugly or gay doesn’t always apply. (That’s a whole other psychology). One of them, no, not the gay one, I completely misread the signals and had my heart broken. Though I still would bet even odds that he was full of shit and just freaked out that the situation actually presented itself and just couldn’t handle it. He made me unable to read any kind of signal from a man. Radar is broken.

O'Neill and Carter

O’Neill and Carter

So why then does this intrigue me? I’ve tried to look at the answers over the course of my life and the mistakes that I’ve made. And boy I’ve made a few. But, through analyzing my past friendships, I think it comes down to one thing. I think women just want men to talk with them as equals and understand them. We feel empowered when a man understands us––like we’ve been privy to the key to a really secret club. We should hope that this comes from our spouse or significant other. But sometimes it doesn’t. Me, I’ve been very lucky. This time around the marriage arena, I’ve struck gold and he understands me perfectly clear. However, doesn’t mean that I still don’t relish in the understanding I get from my significant male friends.

The Dear Husband jokes that I have a stable of men. And maybe I do, some infinitely more important than others. Would any of them lead to an affair? Hah, in a perfect world with no consequences… where jealousy and territorial boundaries didn’t exist… then it wouldn’t be an affair, more a simple understanding that fundamentally human beings don’t mate for life. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe this.

Humans do not mate for life.

The idea of soul mates is fantastic and romantic. And yes we can meet our perfect other half. However, what is never discussed is that as we grow and change through our life, we often take a different shape and need a different perfect other half. Why? Because we don’t mate for life. Why else do you think that Ménage à trois books and the alternative lifestyle of swinging is coming to the forefront? It’s not just about sex with someone else. It’s about loving more than one person, sometimes at the same time.

Their heads make a heart. Seriously? Stop mocking us.

We are not swans, gibbons, wolves, bald eagles, turtle doves or albatrosses. What is it with birds and the pledge of undying love, huh? Do they understand something that we don’t? Not really. They are animals that aren’t driven by emotional connections. We try to be dedicated to our one and only. But, in my whole life, I have only ever met one couple who were in complete and everlasting love until one of them died after nearly forty years together. And I’ll give you a hint––they never had children. It was just them. (Again, a whole other psychology to explain that one). More than fifteen years after her death, he was still deeply in love with her. Like George Burns and Gracie Allen. It was sweet. And completely unnatural.

George and Gracie

George and Gracie

Now that doesn’t make me a cynic, just a realist. I am a dyed in the wool romantic. I love the idea of deep, soul crushing love. It’s why I write romances. But I do believe that we can find that love multiple times in our life, if we’re lucky and connect with the right people. Different people come into our life at times for different reasons. If we think of life as a predestined path, we meet people along that path who are there for certain reasons, many of which are unknown to us at the time. They are there to help us, guide us, teach us, and share parts of ourselves that others don’t have the wherewithal, means or connection to do so.

How does this relate to the concept that men and women cannot be platonic friends? Well, if there is truth to the fact that we don’t mate for life, we seek out or discover connections to others to fill something in ourselves. Sometimes is starts as a friendship and then it morphs into something deeper. Sometimes it starts as an attraction and then morphs into a friendship.  Depends on the pheromones and the boundaries or emotional state/needs of those involved. The pure fact that we can’t have a television show where the male and female lead aren’t flirting gratuitously, the sexual tension crackling on the screen is testament to that. We are excited by emotional connection. We love the build up and the evolution of a relationship, that ebb and flow of tension and release, the dreaded ‘C’ word–– Conflict. Relationships in books and television/movies without conflict, that fundamental something that keeps them apart, lack sizzle and the taboo of the ‘want’ and the ‘need’. We strive for the ease of connection in our own lives because living in a state of continuous conflict is tiring and stressful. But we crave it in our entertainment because it’s exciting and we flirt with it in our daily lives to make ourselves feel alive.

Mary and Marshall, BFFs for life

Mary and Marshall, BFFs for life

Do I want Sherlock and Watson to get naked and bump uglies? The jury is still out on that for me. He’s a tough character to fall in love with. Yeah, I fell head of heals in love with House because of his complexities and vulnerabilities that he denied,  no doubt. He had infinite depth. Sherlock, the template for House, even in this modern incarnation, is fundamentally the same. Is he capable of loving someone who doesn’t fill some sort of purpose for him? Is Watson his other half? She certainly balances him and like all good functional/dysfunctional relationships, they feed off of each other’s needs. I’d love it if they explored it. But I’d also be thrilled if they took the trope and spun it on its head like they did in In Plain Sight with Mary and Marshall. Have the balls to do it differently. But then again, my little shipper heart wanted Marshall to pledge his undying love for her too and for her to accept it. He ultimately did, but not in the romantic way. It was quite beautiful.  It’s still early for Sherlock and Watson. Elementary is sowing the seeds, that fabulous awkward confession was perfect fertilizer. The rest remains to be seen. 

In the meantime, I will continue to explore this concept with my own characters. The Overwatch series is steeped in the idea of a man and a woman as best friends who fall in love. Their issues keeping them apart stem from the concept of ‘duty over self’. In my upcoming sci-fi romance series, I will examine the concept again between a man and a woman who’ve fought a war together for years when suddenly they realize the other person is and has been their significant other the entire time, that their strength comes from within themselves, but is compounded by the support and love from the other. And in the continuation of the Overwatch series, I’m going to flip the concept inside out and take a look at what happens when you can’t be with the one you love most. How do you reconcile that your other half has found their other half and it isn’t you?

So may ideas, so many men, so little time…
Story of my life.
Namaste,
~Indigo

**All images are not mine and belong to others.

Overwatch Update

For like the two of you who have been waiting with bated breath about the status of Overwatch, you’re gonna have to wait a little while longer. Book 1: Proving Ground is essentially done. Yay, but Book 2: Exfil Point, ooofah… It’s in a major rewrite.

Nooooo!

Yup.

Exfil Point, after the mandatory fermenting period, SUCKS FESTERING MONEKY ASS. It needs a complete overhaul. I guess that’s what happens when you try to splice two attempts to start a book into one mash-up and fingers crossed, hope it works out. The only, and I mean ONLY, people who are good at mash-ups are the song stylists at Glee. They are the masters of it. Me? Not so much. While it seemed like it was a good plan and that things flowed while in the midst of a summer induced haze of long days of just writing and drinking and more writing, it didn’t fit together as much as I had thought. So it’s back to the drawing board for me.

I axed almost 10k words from the end. Shaved it off like a Russian woman’s armpits. The emotional content was limp, trite and I had already addressed the issues in it with a whole chapter insert about 6k words before. So chop went the blade. Then I reread it again from the beginning. And started hacking away at the stuff that sounded good but again wound up being forced and trite. Chop, chop. Pretty soon this thing started to look like an anorexic supermodel with a bad hair day. Good thing though? It had a great bone structure. The elements were there. Girl’s living in Boy’s house, pretending they don’t want to just sleep with each other and abstaining for the greater good of the world. They have a deep understanding and friendship that gets tested when they open Pandora’s box. (That Bitch Pandora should just keep her damn legs closed and save everyone from the trouble of her minefield of a box! and if you’re not getting the box reference, please go check it out at urbandictionary.com) Things gets dicey in relation to their relations and decisions are made that effect the incidents in Book 3: Cold War. The romance stuff I had all down. I knew where I wanted to go, knew how I wanted it to end, shocked myself a little bit with how far I went with it, but it’s good. Now that it’s bald and a skeleton.

What it needs is some meat. The meat of the Mission that is – they are Spec Ops soldiers and spies after all. Enter the action plot. Oh the goddamn mission… Bane of my existence. And I kick myself all the time for wanting to write love stories about awesome action figure super spies and soldiers because seriously, who gives a shit about them if we never see them at work? Otherwise they should be dog groomers and let call it a day. So I struggle…

I’m not sure if it’s because I live a ‘do unto others’ kind of existence. I try to live fair and equitable and don’t treat people cruelly  but I have a really hard time coming up with motives for bad guys to do bad things with. If I have a beef with someone who wronged me, I cut you off my Christmas card list and de-friend you on Facebook while you’re not looking. I don’t plot world domination and human traffic your sister and her best-friend’s cousin to get back at you. Therefore, I struggle with believable plots that would bring my sexy heroes and heroines out into the big bad world. Because again, who wants to read about kick ass spies if we neve see them at work?

How have a I fixed this problem? Ugh. I’m reading news articles and blogs from around the troubled hotspots of the world. Very depressing, man’s inhumanity to man. We are a disgusting species. The Earth has every right to rebel and get us fuckers off the planet. I’ve found some pretty disturbing things with regards to the undercurrent of terrorism and the battle to establish a foothold in Africa.

But you know what else this whole devastation of the horrid mash-up has done to me? I’ve become a plotster. Gasp! Swoon and sigh. I never used to have to plan. WTF? I used to pull rainbows and sunshine out of my ass and it was fabulous. Yeah, well that was fanfiction. And fanfiction while a great proving ground for confidence that maybe your ability to write doesn’t suck that bad after all, it’s not all that intolerant of dangling plot threads and meandering experiments with slice of life prose. It’s shit we wish we saw on our favorite television shows, but just didn’t make the cannon cut. In publishable fiction, it’s unacceptable to not have a plan. To not have a mid-point that doesn’t sag, and a dark moment that doesn’t actually give you the feeling that all will never be right again. Who am I using these terms? It’s like the moment you realize you have to actually send 95% of your paycheck to pay bills and that you’ve become a grown up. For the most part I’ve done this instinctually. But now, with these freaking missions… instinct isn’t going to cut it anymore.

This stretches my timeline out exponentially. I’ve got other series in the works that are begging to be written, one of which is a sequel series to Overwatch, another is a Sci-Fi Romance series. Not that I want to say goodbye to David and Jillie, but I want to publish this bitch and move on. Patience is not always my strong suit.

Alas, I will endeavor to try.

~Indigo

Irish Chic with a Chip on Her Shoulder

Ok it’s been a while since I’ve submitted another entry into the badass database but I was seriously lacking inspiration with the poor selection of badass women out there on television lately. But now that Burn Notice is back from its fall hiatus, I am once again inspired by the incomparable Fiona Glenanne.

She is the woman every girl dreams she can be: equal parts super hero, sassy, sexy, say anything, blow up things when you’re pissed off complete badass chic.

Since the very beginning of the guilty pleasure that Burn Notice is, Fiona has been once kick ass first and take names later kinda gal. She shoots from the hip, knows her way around household chemicals – not to clean the kitchen floor but to make a bomb that can clean your clock better than a small pack of C4. And lets face it, she’s a fashion plate. Half the outfits she runs around in make you wonder if they have to duct tape it to her body so those flimsy little shirts stay on. Nevertheless, her long flowing hair and her high-heeled wedges makes her one sexy babe.

One of the things I totally love about her is that she’s no spring chicken. Gabrielle Anwar is 42 and a mother of three. I don’t think I had abs like hers when I was 8 let alone after kids.  Even though she’s a tiny little thing, she’s a brick shithouse. She is rock-solid lean muscle, golden tan skin and lithe like a panther. She carries herself with such confidence that you can’t help but believe that her character used to be part of the IRA when she met the love of her life, undercover CIA agent, Michael Weston.

The best parts about Fiona is that she’s a maniac. She is a great foil for Michael in the sense that she adds a level of crazy to the already insane things they undertake in the name of justice. Michael’s crazy, there’s no doubt. Sam’s his crazy sidekick and now Jesse has an element of loco to him that adds comic relief to an already balls-to-the-wall funfest. The boys come up with some wild plans but Fiona’s often the one that wants to go in guns-a-blazing, hell on wheels, collateral damage be damned. The guys are the ones that have to rein her in. She’s an explosives expert. Knows her guns like she knows her shoes, maybe better. And has no problem walking right in a punching a guy in the nose to cause a diversion. She uses her sexuality as just another tool in her arsenal and wields it like a weapon. Heaven help the bastard who crosses her path.

Her greatest vulnerability is Michael. She’s loved him since he broke her heart in Ireland. She’s only ever wanted to be with him yet he frustrates her beyond belief. His greatest desire is to find out who burned him. He never expects her to come along for the ride but she refuses to let him do it alone, no matter how much she tries to talk him out of it. He never sees her side and does what he wants anyway but her loyalty to him makes her follow him because if he died without her, she would never be able to live with herself. As the seasons progress, she matures a little, settles into her life in Miami and with Michael. She’s come to terms with her role in his life. It also helps that Michael’s finally realized he can’t live with out her and they are now in an official relationship. She’s even earned an upgrade in the teaser voice over from “trigger-happy ex-girlfriend” to “trigger-happy girlfriend”. Things are looking up in her world.

I think her letter to Michael as she turns herself into the authorities at the end of Season 5 sums up how she perceives their relationship best:

“I loved you. Before I should have, I trusted you. Because I’ve always known your heart. You do what’s right no matter the cost to you. And I’ve learned that when you love a spy, you have to be willing to make that sacrifice too. At times your job has made it hard to be with you, but it’s never shaken my faith in you.”

It’s beautiful and poignant and heartbreaking. The anguish in Michael’s face as he realizes she’s sacrificed herself for him yet again. I think it’s a turning point for him. He’s finally faced with just how much he’s taken her for granted and how much he needs her to be complete. Now that he’s rescued her in season 6, he’s still driven by the need to avenge, but he does it with her as his partner. He consults her and considers her family. She feels accepted and while she’s come to terms with his career she still hopes for a life without it.

While she’s clearly the love-interest-eye-candy to that hunk of man in the testosterone fest, Fiona’s a great example of a woman who can hold her own with the men, do it while still looking like a hottie, and not break a nail as she cocks her shotgun before she blasts you away. She’s a woman you want on your side in an argument, because you don’t want to be on the wrong end of her Irish temper. You might get a spark plug projectile in the eye.

~Namaste.

Guest Post: Stella MT

Here’s a guest post from my friend and sometimes critique partner (when she’s not working on her doctoral program – sheesh, can’t she just find a few hours to squeeze little old me in?) Stella MT from The Great Big Jump. She’s been a great supporter of this blog and has some wise “You go girl” insights. I’m honored that she wanted to dabble in the badassery and examine when some femme characters fall short of that right. But, she changed her mind midstream and this is what she came up with. Please enjoy!


Stella MT’s Post:
Originally, I had set out to write a funny article about network TV procedurals and their lack of convincingly bad-ass female characters, which could be attributed to several different factors that affect TV and film writing in general. I had it all planned out: who to snark on, who to blame, what could have been.

Then the news of Nora Ephron’s death broke out all over the Internet.

I admit that, outside of her most popular movies (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, even You’ve Got Mail and Julie and Julia), I’ve never really considered Nora Ephron as a “girl power” icon; all I know is that she’s a superb writer with a lifetime’s worth of snappy anecdotes to share, and I wish I had been able to truly develop my appreciation of her work before she passed away.

And yet, as the news of her passing flooded my timeline on Twitter, I found myself reading Ephron’s commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1996, where she spoke as an alumna of the school:

Many of my classmates did exactly what they were supposed to when they graduated from Wellesley, and some of them, by the way, lived happily ever after. But many of them didn’t. All sorts of things happened that no one expected. […] The women’s movement came along and made harsh value judgments about their lives—judgments that caught them by surprise, because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, weren’t they? The rules had changed, they were caught in some kind of strange time warp. They had never intended to be the heroines of their own lives, they’d intended to be—what?—First Ladies, I guess, first ladies in the lives of big men. They ended up feeling like victims. They ended up, and this is really sad, thinking that their years in college were the best years of their lives.




What does this passage have to do with good writing? 

Put it simply, a good story often begins with the choice that must be made by a character in response to an unexpected and difficult situation.  In the case of most female protagonists, the “unexpected” could be as simple as a bad breakup (see: Rachel Green in Friends and Jess Day in New Girl) or as overwhelming as working for an office that might as well be a frat house (see also: Brenda Lee Johnson in The Closer and Ziva David in NCIS).  These moments are filled with the realization that things will never be the way it used to be: all of the sudden, there’s no going back to the old house, the previous branch, the trust that was broken by that lying piece of shit.  Survival, in one form or another, becomes the name of the game.


And yet, not all female protagonists get to become heroines in their own stories.

I look again at all the characters I set out to mock, and it becomes clear to me that they were intended to be strong and sexy in their own way: handy with a gun, easy on the eyes, tough enough to turn the tables on a perp yet sensitive enough to do everything they can for the ones they truly love, be it their messed-up families or the team of crime-fighters in their squad. Yet, as time went on, I found that they’ve only become less compelling as time went on: sure, it may be “realistic” to show our heroines not getting their way, but does it always have to happen on a regular basis? It’s already bad enough to be stonewalled by bureaucrats and left in the dark by lovers and family members… but do they also have to be tortured by psychos every other season, too?


It’s as if the creators of their respective shows are trying to tell us, over and over again, that any woman who chooses to take the bad guys down has chosen a life of martyrdom. Choose that journey, they say, and you will be doomed to a lifetime of trust issues, bad sex, substance abuse, and abandonment from nearly every single person that you’ve ever loved. You may be strong enough for this, they’ll say, but you’ll never be a hero… not even to your own self.

 

In a way, characters like these are marks of lazy storytelling – and the writers are partly at fault for the inconsistency – but, from my point of view, the repercussions may be more serious than we think. At a time when the entertainment industry has gone completely global, these shows are now shown all over the world, in different cycles, and in every possible language. And not only that, but there is a major chance that these shows – and stories – are being watched, right now, by viewers in countries where women don’t have the same rights and privileges that we have in our comfortable corners of the world.

Is this the message we want to send to the rest of the world: that, even in a democracy, there is no point for an educated woman to stand up and lead the charge against injustice? Is it fair for everyone else to think that the only stories we have to tell about our women – all women – are the ones where they have to do only what is expected, if they want to survive without being victimized?

http://kidculture.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/the-best-countries-for-women-girls/

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that a true heroine would never choose to live her life like this.


A true heroine, in my opinion, does not need to blame “the system” for her lack of initiative. She doesn’t have to dress up and go to work: she chooses to dress up and go to work, every day, because choosing otherwise would only make her more restless. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she takes responsibility for all of them, and finds a little humor in every situation. She may have to work a little harder to get some respect, but she will earn it – win or lose – and the guys in the office better recognize if they knew what’s best for them. 
And while it may be possible for her to “have it all” – good looks, great job, wicked skills, maybe a family and/or a nice house – a true heroine knows where the reallines are drawn in the first place. Cute shoes are a luxury, the right connections are a privilege… but truth, love, justice, peace of mind? Those are non-negotiable rights, and our heroine will fight for them, to the bitter end.

Which then brings us, once again, to Nora Ephron, and her message to the Class of ’96 at Wellesley:

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had—this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: Unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. […] Did I say it was hard? Yes, but let me say it again so that none of you can ever say the words, nobody said it was so hard. But it’s also incredibly interesting. You are so lucky to have that life as an option.


Right or wrong – and regardless of who gets to run “the show” – a true heroine gets to choose her own destiny. And that is always a story worth telling, for all time. 

~Stella