Tag Archive | witch

Selene Grace Silver: The Binding of Adara

A Heroine’s Personal Journey to Claiming Her Power

by Selene Grace Silver

We know the negative stereotype well. The heroine:

  • appears dainty, freezes in the face of violence (interpretation: physically weak);
  • acts indecisive or uncertain, lets a man speak for her (interpretation: intellectually weak);
  • blushes and/or cries easily (interpretation: emotionally weak),

…and therefore, requires repeated rescuing by some self-appointed, protective masculine hero.

Modern readers of romance typically eschew this type of helpless heroine. They even have an acronym for her: TSTL or Too Stupid To Live.

With a history that stretches back to oral fairy tales about Cinderella, heroines of this ilk survived to flourish in the bodice-rippers of the 70s and 80s, and even into the more progressive 90s. It’s no surprise, considering that the readers and writers at that time had grown up in the idealized post-war 50s and early 60s when families lived comfortably on one income, allowing mothers to stay home and raise the children while the fathers ventured out into the harsh world to make money, an ugly business. It was an era in which the mystically handsome and politically powerful Kennedy family defined American strength and sophistication. Like the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, who embodied the perfect feminine ideal, women were expected to be elegant and completely focused on developing their femininity as a pleasing counterpart to their husband’s vigorous, aggressive masculinity.

Ironically, the late 70s and 80s also produced a second women’s rights movement. Women coming of age in the 70s and 80s were living with one foot in the past (their mothers’ world) and one foot in the future (their daughters’ world). Those women began life as young girls who were told that their greatest aspiration should be a good marriage with lots of children. But by the time they reached late adolescence, many had been introduced to feminist ideology through the media and friends. They attended college, where they traded home economics classes for courses in women’s studies, and they read the consciousness-raising magazine Ms. These feminists believed they could have careers and marry and raise families simultaneously, without giving up anything.

Many did it. They had careers, started companies, married, got pregnant, went back to work three weeks after delivery, kept the house clean, raised the children. They were the first superwomen.

Then their marriages suffered, often ending in divorce. They hit the glass ceiling. They felt exhausted all the time. After all, being everything to everyone is exhausting. The passive, approval-seeking heroines of their romance novels needed to evolve (as did the clueless, self-absorbed heroes). The new heroines of the books their daughters would read would have present heroines who were more self-sustaining, more pragmatic.

Out of those rocky social changes, fiction gained some wonderful heroines. Wonder Woman. The Bionic Woman. Charlie’s Angels. (Okay, maybe not Charlie’s Angels. But they could kick villain butt in their high heels and designer bikinis.) The main problem with these heroines is that they had no flaws. They were invincible. They were…not real women, or not completely real women. Their perfection was elusive and out of reach for most women living in the real world.

Eventually, we got iconic and amazing female characters whose stories were so complex that even men wanted to follow their stories—heroines like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Thank you, Joss Whedon.) She was powerful and independent, but she had flaws. We loved her. Hell, we still love her.

But does that mean that every strong heroine now has to be some copycat version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Does she have to be tough, skilled in the art of using wooden stakes, willing to shut down her feelings, give up someone she loves… in essence, be tough exactly in the (equally unfair) way society has always demanded of a traditional man—and all before she’s even a fully grown woman?

As writers, filmmakers, storytellers, we’d be crafting a disservice to women everywhere if the only alternative to the weak, clinging heroine of an earlier time had to now conform into a penis-less version of Rambo.

And how does a heroine develop into a powerful and wise woman anyway? Everyone is young and stupid at the start. Frankly, it’s rare to encounter women (or men) under 30 who never make mistakes or poor choices. I know I wasn’t one. I credit a lot of my strength today to surviving some pretty awful decisions and their consequences when I was in my late teens and twenties. (My friends acknowledge the same history so I know I’m not alone.) And since fiction is as much about showing us how to overcome the adversities of life as it is to provide us with inspiring role models, it’s appropriate, even desirable, for some stories to begin with heroines who might lack confidence or essential life skills, especially when those stories show the heroine growing and developing into a strong and confident woman by story’s end.

I was mopping (a rare event, believe me—I am definitely not a woman of the 50s—but someone has to clean the floors at least once a year) and daydreaming about nothing in particular when the image of a stunning young woman, naked and bound to a platform, appeared in my mind’s eye. She was pale with long black hair, and she was surrounded by a crowd of people whose faces were obscured by shadowy darkness. The scene was contradictorily frightening and sensual at the same moment. It made such an impression on me that I couldn’t shake it. I felt in my bones that she hadn’t wanted to end up on that stage, that situation, yet there she was.

As a writer, I respond to such visions by wanting to shape a narrative. So I sat down to craft the girl’s story. I discovered that her name was Adara and that she was a naïve but resilient young woman. I knew that she was not going to be able to leave that stage until after the ceremony was concluded. I knew she was going to have nonconsensual sex.

Most rape victims are not raped by strangers in dark alleys. They are raped by seemingly regular guys whom they thought were trustworthy but turned out to be something else—their girlfriend’s brother whom they encountered in the family’s downstairs laundry room next the bathroom, a frat brother on a college campus in a house full of other partying students, the church pastor’s cousin who chased them teasingly into the long grass during the summer picnic as the sun set.

Most people become victims because they trust someone who appears on the surface to be like lots of other people they have trusted in the past and, therefore, have no reason to distrust.

This tendency of the young to trust lands Adara in her serious predicament: on that stage where she is about to lose her virginity as part of an ancient pagan ritual. Sure, some characters, say Buffy, would have drop-kicked and karate-chopped their way out of the scene. I am woman! Hear me roar!

But Adara is not Buffy. Buffy would never have ended up tied to a platform about to be sacrificed against her will in the first place. Adara does.

Adara is the character who appeared in my mind’s eye demanding her story be written—the story of a heroine’s journey, from fool to wise woman, from beginner to virtuoso. Adara begins her story an innocent in nearly every way. She is a virgin. She’s relatively uneducated. She doesn’t know what she wants in life. She doesn’t even know she has special powers. Only through adversity does she progress towards understanding, towards laying claim to that power. The strength she develops through the course of the story is less “external master swordswoman” and more “inner spine of steel.” Sort of the way it is for most women in the world.

About The Binding of Adara: Book Two of the Witches and Warlocks of Los Angeles

The Binding of Adara Final Cover half size copyCursed to bear 12 sets of twins in 12 years by 12 different men? That is twenty-year-old innocent Adara Lane’s terrible fate until a reluctant warlock steps in, altering one significant part of the spell, thus creating a new destiny for both of them. Like the heroic knight from her childhood fairy tales, he rescues her at the moment the spell is manifested. While she’s grateful for his help, being bound to an overbearing, controlling, potentially violent man who may never love her, who despises what she is? Well…forgive Adara if she believes she would be better off had he just minded his own business and left the rescuing to someone else. But, this troubled knight-in-tarnished armor seems to need Adara as much as she needs him.
Bowie Marston knows he’s damaged goods. Home from a tour of duty in Vietnam, suffering shell shock, the young man discovers his family destroyed because he wasn’t in L.A. to protect them. After witnessing the senseless deaths of his comrades overseas, the death of his parents only deepens his disenchantment with the world. Blaming his parents’ murder-suicide on their involvement in magick, Bo vows to never use his own latent powers. It’s too late to rescue his family. On the other hand, it’s not too late to rescue a beautiful, young woman caught up in a web of danger. Knowing what he does about witchcraft, can he involve himself in a spell that spans a lifetime, a spell that ties him evermore to a powerful witch…and all her bless’ed offspring? Can he resist?

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SUSANA SAYS: Sensual and compelling story guaranteed to bewitch: 5/5 stars

The setting: Los Angeles, 1970’s

SusanaSays3Alone in the world after her grandmother’s death, Adara finds herself drawn into a cult ritual of witches and warlocks on the eve of Samhain, where, as it turns out, she is fated to be the main attraction in an orgiastic mating ceremony.

A reluctant warlock, Bowie is a Vietnam vet who attends the ceremony only to protect his sister. He thinks! What but how can he stand by when the pretty girl who’s intrigued him all evening finds herself in danger

Adara and Bowie, along with Bowie’s sister Brianna and her cop lover, find themselves facing a nameless group of unscrupulous cult members seeking to use them to accomplish their evil plans. What to do? Who to trust? How does Adara’s mysterious past fit into this scenario? And is this attraction between Adara and Bo real or the result of a Halloween night spell?

It’s a rare talent for an author to create alpha males as well as strong females who can not only manage them, but also combine with them to make one powerful duo. And that’s what Ms. Silver has done here, not only with Adara and Bo, but also with Brianna and Jack from Brianna’s Bewitching.

The sexual attraction between them is immediate and compelling, but the emotional angle requires trust, and that’s not so easy when you’re suddenly thrust into a dangerous world of magick and goddesses and hidden agendas. A happy ending is an exception rather than the rule in this paranormal world, and while they are allies now, there’s no guarantee they’ll be together in the end.

About the Author

Selene believes in two true things: love and the power of stories. Everything else is up for debate.

SeleneBorder-150x150First and foremost, she’s been an avid reader her entire life. True story. In high school, her English teacher told Selene that she was also going to be a high school English teacher (probably because she actually read the assigned novels). Horrified by this prediction (think about it–eternity in high school?!), she fled home for university. She did her best to make it a permanent stay–changing majors back and forth multiple times, completing classes that had nothing to do with any of those majors, transferring to new colleges several times–eventually earning more than double the credits required for a BA in English. She promptly enrolled in grad school, where she managed to stretch a two-year masters program into a four-year MA in Creative Writing. Then, her beloved university life kicked her to the metaphorical street and told her to GET A REAL JOB!

Selene currently teaches English to the brightest public high school honors students in the land. Mrs. Unkenholz was right.

Oh yeah, and Selene writes. Romances to be specific.

Like the HEAs of her novels, her love life has a happy ending. She’s married to a seriously romantic guy (he’s Scottish, folks), travels abroad every summer, and drives a reliable American-built foreign car. The family cats keep the mice away. Life is simple, but good.

She lives in sunny Southern California, but remains a snowy Midwestern girl at heart.

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See also Brianna’s Bewitching: Book One of the Witches and Warlocks of Los Angeles

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Selene Grace Silver: Warlocks: The Classic Archetype of the Intellectual Bad Boys

selenegracesilversmThe following is a companion piece to Witches: The Classic Archetype of Feminine Power, which was written for the Happy Endings Blog Hop last month. I hope you enjoy Selene’s analyses of these paranormal character archetypes as much as I do!

Warlocks:

The Classic Archetype of the Intellectual Bad Boys

By Selene Grace Silver

Fictional bad boy heroes come in lots of archetypal flavors: brooding poet-musicians, violent warrior-berserkers, sensual Don Juans, opportunistic pirates, ruthless mercenaries, blood-sucking vampires, and fickle, thrill-seeking bronco riders. But for the romance reader attracted to a more cerebral hero, the warlock may be the most alluring bad boy of them all. Meld arrogance, ambition, and power to a superior intellect (and a wee bit of wickedness), and a brainy girl is sure to swoon.

The attractions of a warlock hero are many. First and foremost, he is difficult to fool or outwit. His impressive mental capabilities give him supremacy over most situations. Trained to be an eternal scholar of the world, he persistently masters the knowledge and skills needed to deal with both dangerous antagonists and wily, reluctant heroines. He naturally rises to a challenge and takes pride dominating and succeeding. No other hero has the ability to observe, organize, plan, and orchestrate as well as the intellectually-bent, educated hero. Resourceful, he can research necessary information and required tools, design and engineer everything from machines to schemes, and efficiently, effectively eliminate hurdles in his path to success. If a heroine must take on a stalking murderer or financial ruin or a giant ogre, or any other desperate situation, who better to help her than the smartest man in the story?

Last year, I only survived the termination of Stargate Universe and the loss of my weekly dose of wonderfully warlockish scientist-engineer Dr. Nicholas Rush because Robert Carlyle was resurrected on television as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, a real warlock, in Once Upon a Time. It’s true that Rumplestiltskin appears as a shriveled fairy-tale warlock (with a weird glittery face), but as this-world Mr. Gold, Carlyle is a lean, hard man with a keen intelligence and a satisfyingly bitter sense of humor. When true danger lurks, the residents of Storybrook inevitably turn to Gold for help.

And he’s fallen in love with a girl-next-door type who is sweet, loyal, self-effacing, and willing to be corrupted, but much more likely to rein in his bad boy tendencies. She’s like a younger, prettier version of me! Really. That fact raises another aspect of an intelligent bad boy. He recognizes and appreciates a woman who might not have a perfect exterior but whose interior is perfectly desirable. He’s attracted to a woman’s mind that matches, complements his own weighty cerebrum, and is capable of bettering his on occasion.

Traces of the medieval warlock imbue the Victorian alchemist and magician, the timeless visionary, and the modern inventor. The contemporary incarnation of the warlock is the scientist-engineer, who studies and calculates how to manipulate the natural world to his advantage. His passion and interest in nature’s potential drive his imagination and ambitions. Particularly in the West, he is consumed with a desire to master and control—to discover and take what he wants for his own needs and purposes. Often introverted, isolated (by choice) from socially-centered activities, sometimes a selfish, emotionally-distant loner, the bad boy warlock wanders the world seeking something—or someone—to make sense of life, of his raison d’être. What girl wouldn’t want to be his ultimate answer?

I’ve personally never been able to resist a super smart man. They’re easy to fall in lust with (as I did with SU’s Dr. Rush) because most of modern life is experienced through the mind and the imagination, rather than on some warring battlefield. Frankly, everyday life is much easier to navigate if one’s prospective partner is able to fix broken-down equipment like the clothes dryer, wire and hang oversized ceiling light fixtures to code (that their wives tote home from the local DIY store), manage the family financial investments for a comfortable retirement later, program the new media equipment and computer network, and bring home impressively large professional paychecks. Best of all, peace reigns in a house where arguments end quickly because logic prevails over emotion, except for that one week of the month when he’s wise enough to let me win debates sans reason—another aspect of his being smart. He knows which battles to pick when.

In contemporary romance fiction, where heroes are often portrayed as six-foot-tall fighting machines, with multi-packed abs, truck-wide shoulders and the ability to eagle-eye sniper kill an enemy from a mile away after swimming hours in the pitch-black night, it might seem a stretch to propose that a 5’9” leanly-sculpted actor with a spare frame like Carlyle’s is damned sexy. Until one considers his characters’ vast intellects and the way they wield and whip their electrical dendrites and synapses across those immodestly large lobes to outsmart and outperform hunkier guys with more brawn than brain. It can be more tense and exciting than watching a wild West gun fight at noon.

We have to keep in mind something especially important as well: his over-sized imagination alone is bound to make midnight interludes in bed magically memorable.

BINDINGsm*Selene Grace Silver’s debut paranormal series concerns a family of witches and warlocks. Watch for the upcoming release of her first novel, The Binding of Adara. The first chapter is available to readers at selenegracesilver.com.

About the Author

Selene Grace Silver is a woman writer who traces her appreciation for powerful and protective men to having been born and raised in the harsh winters of the upper Midwest where the only thing as hearty as a man’s physical strength is his woman’s spirit, intellect and home-cooking. Therefore, give her a stoic, bowlegged cowboy, a fierce Scottish warrior, or an ambitious, multinational CEO any day over the modern metro-sexual. These classic male archetypes make life more interesting (even a little challenging). If life hasn’t provide you with a real one, Selene’s fiction will deliver (and without the dirty socks on the floor to pick up after).

Selene’s contemporary releases include:

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Selene Grace Silver Welcomes the Happy Endings Giveaway Hop!

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Hello and welcome to the Happy Endings Giveaway Hop. 

Susana’s Morning Room is offering two giveaways for participants of this hop:

  • One lucky commenter will win a free e-copy of Selene Grace Silver’s short story The Swing of Her Hips. (Be sure to answer the commenter question and include your email address in the comment.)
  • Click on the Treasuring Theresa cover at right and enter the Rafflecopter contest for a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

When you’re ready to move on, click either the Happy Endings image in this post or the link at the bottom of the post to go back to the main  giveaway page.

About The Swing of Her Hips

Duncan is a Scotsman whose past experiences have soured him on long-term relationships. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the alluring hips of the attractive redhead in the audience of his software presentation.

Kallie is a divorcée with a challenging teaching job and lots of friends. She’s enjoying her independence and sees no need for a man in her life. Except that…the charming Scotsman seems to find her attractive and she can’t stop thinking about him, even after the conference when it appears the opportunity was lost.

But fate intervenes and Kallie and Duncan embark on a romantic summer fling. But what happens at the end of summer? Will they part and be left with nothing but memories, or is there a chance for a true happy ending for this pair?

Moving on to the main course…

Check out the newest installment in our Paranormal series. Guest Author Selene Grace Silver discusses the modern image of the young, feminine, empowered good witch in paranormal romances.

Witches: The Classic Archetype of Feminine Power

By Selene Grace Silver

When we think of a witch, the image of the old crone, the wizened woman of the female trilogy, manifests directly in our mind’s eye. We rarely think first of young, blonde witches like Samantha in Bewitched or Glinda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Nope.

We see the evil queen carrying her basket of poisoned apples to innocent Snow White. We see the Wicked Witch of the West flying on her broomstick, with her winged monkeys, chasing Dorothy and her friends, Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and little Toto. We see the squinty-eyed old woman of “Hansel and Gretel” heating up her black oven, preparing to eat the candy-fattened children.

We see the negative, desperate, rejected vision of how a woman can end up: ugly, lonely, bitter. These images of the witch, multiplied and repeated from fairy tales to children’s animated movies are a warning to girls: don’t cultivate and express your individual power or this is what you will become.

The patriarchal world seems to have always been afraid of this classic archetype of feminine power. Synonyms for witch include other less-than-flattering terms: hag, old bat, fury, gorgon, harridan, ogress, harpy, shrew, nag and bitch. But a witch doesn’t erupt from her witchy-mother’s womb already 100-years-old. While society likes to portray the witch that way, her power diminished by age, warts, and dementia, the more dangerous version of her is an earlier incarnation: the maiden witch. Words we associate with this witch include sorceress, enchantress, vixen, gypsy, and hellcat.

The young witch is first and foremost a sensual, sexual creature, her power centered directly in her femininity. She is beautiful, self-assured, powerful. She knows how to “bewitch” and seduce men. A siren, her feminine allure is more powerful than the strongest man’s fist. She can tame the wild man, like Circe does in The Odyssey, turning the Greek hero’s men into swine—beasts who are easily controlled. She can tempt, beguile and “charm” with her pretty face, her scantily-clad, curvaceous body, her tender touch, her soft voice. Her body and voice are her weapons and men are powerless to resist her.

What woman wouldn’t admire the maiden witch? Most women are born physically weaker than men, with less upper body strength and shorter legs. Before the invention of birth control, we spent a large portion of our adult lives physically-dependent on men during our many months of pregnancy (both of my great-grandmothers gave birth to more than a dozen children and had even more pregnancies!). In a basic physical challenge between a man and a woman, the man holds most of the power.

I remember learning that fact of life when I was nineteen, after spending my childhood and teen years being as tough as the boys. Heading back to the dorms from a college hockey game one cold January night, I got held down in the freezing snow, along with another woman, during a rowdy snow fight. One guy against two girls, and he won, handily. My girlfriend and I had snow stuffed down every piece of clothing we wore. And I was doing only one thing during the attack—trying with all my might to escape. I couldn’t. I remember thinking, “Crap! When did the boys get so much stronger than the girls?”

That’s when I learned as a woman, that the playing field between men and women is best leveled psychologically and emotionally, rather than physically. Over thousands of years, woman has long managed her relationship with man through her mastery of words and body language. Spells and chants are but the bows and arrows a woman carries from the boardroom to the bedroom.

Mastering the power of language’s effects on emotions, along with enhancing our physical appeal to men, or in other words, empowering our inner maiden witch, empowers us as women. I am a woman, I want to wield my own power among men, and therefore I am necessarily a witch.selenegracesilversm

Now if only I could wiggle my nose and the house would be clean, I’d really be happy.

What witch-heroines in paranormals do you admire? Who are your favorite authors?

*Selene Grace Silver’s debut paranormal series concerns a family of witches and warlocks. Watch for the upcoming release of the first novel, The Binding of Adara. The first chapter is available to readers at selenegracesilver.com.

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