In Midnight Burning, the main character, Solina Mundy, and her best friend, Skyla Ramirez, make a formidable team of female might. Together they struggle to stay alive while trying defeat an ancient evil that strives to destroy the world. I love stories of strong women, both in fiction and in the real world. Here’s a list of my top ten favorite kickass women who inspire me to achieve my goals and overcome my weaknesses.
10: Regina Mills—Once Upon a Time
In the beginning Regina was motivated by revenge, but when she showed her capacity for devotion, love, and mercy, I fell for her. She’s strong and powerful, but still knows failure and heartbreak. It’s those flaws that make her realistic and sympathetic. She’s the epitome of: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Selene can tear apart a werewolf by hand and look sexy as hell while she does it. When she finds evidence of a betrayal within her inner circle and family, she breaks the rules and risks the possible retribution of her father figure to find the truth. She trusts her instincts even when everyone doubts her. She always stays true to herself.
8: Scarlett O’Hara—Gone with the Wind
Scarlett is selfish, spoiled, sly, and devious, but I wonder if she would have had to resort to such manipulations, if she had been a man. Not many women could have done what she was willing to do to survive during and after the devastation of the Civil War. Her stubborn determination saved lives and made her into a successful business woman despite societal restrictions on women at that time. She’s a hero I love to hate and hate to love.
7: Rey—Star Wars The Force Awakens
When The Force Awakens premiered, I wanted to yell from the mountaintops, proclaiming my joy. For once, Hollywood has created a capable, smart, fierce female action star, and they let her be good at solving problems, hold her own among a cast of strong men, and retain her well-defined identity. But she is still clearly a woman (not just a man with boobs) with fears, weaknesses, and personal demons to overcome. The little girl inside me wants to be Rey for Halloween.
6: Carol and Michonne—The Walking Dead
Carol has evolved in ways I never expected from season one, when she was a meek victim of spousal abuse. Instead of giving up after a series of horrible personal losses, Carol’s purpose clarified and sharpened, but her moral compass is less than steady; she’ll do anything, at any cost, to survive and protect the people she cares about. Michonne and Carol are opposite sides of the same Walking Dead coin. Michonne shows up as a mysterious figure carrying a katana and two zombies on leashes. In the beginning she’s cold, distant, and hard. In the following seasons, she opens up, learns to trust, makes friends, and protects those she cares about. Where Carol has grown a thicker exterior, Michonne has shed some of her protective layers. Although they tend to be opposites, they are both fierce, lethal, and loyal. I want them both on my zombie apocalypse team.
5: Katie Daniels—Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Kate doesn’t just defeat terrible monsters and bad guys with her awesome fighting skills, she also makes the pivotal decisions and retains a strong identity separate from the male characters. In some urban fantasy novels, the female lead could disappear, and the story could still go on without her, but not so with Kate. I keep her in mind as a standard whenever I’m writing.
4: Rhonda Rousey—UFC Mixed Martial Arts Champion
Rousey’s not perfect—she’s said some controversial things in the past. She’s also been recently defeated in an embarrassing loss in a title fight. But, again, it’s her flaws that make her human and relatable. In my mind, she’s one of the first women to become a household name in a professional sport historically dominated by men. I can’t help admiring her.
3: Melissa McCarthy—Comedian
Have you seen her in Spy? If you haven’t, then finish reading this blog post and run out and see it. Spy breaks molds and stereotypes and does the unexpected. No fat jokes. No damsel in distress. Just a capable woman overcoming her own self-doubts. Melissa has been doing amazing things for comedic women in Hollywood and finding massive success in a field typically dominated by men. I adore her, and I can’t wait to see her kicking butt in Ghostbusters.
2: Agent Peggy Carter—Marvel Comic Book Character
Almost every enemy is bigger and stronger than Peggy, but she never lets her lack of laser-beam vision or bulletproof skin stop her, and she does it without ever compromising her values. She also demonstrates a compassion and grace missing from so many of her male counterparts. Some of those men would be more complex and well developed characters if they had Peggy’s heart mixed in with their brawn.
1 Captain Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver—US Army Ranger School’s first female graduates.
I suspect these two women didn’t only have to survive the program’s grueling physical demands. The psychological demands must have been exhausting as well. How many times did others tell them they couldn’t do it, or that women shouldn’t be there, doing a “man’s job”? How many times did they doubt themselves? Yet they overcame and succeeded. They are real life super heroes.
The Norse Chronicles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Date of Publication: July 7, 2015
Number of pages: 278
Word Count: About 95K
Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics
Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night she suffers a nightmare of a vicious wolf devouring her twin brother, Mani, who lives in Alaska. When Solina learns her dream was real, she journeys to the Land of the Midnight Sun to search for answers.
Solina soon suspects Mani’s friends are more than they seem, and she’s certain they know more than they’ve admitted to the police. Val and Thorin resist and elude Solina’s efforts, but Skyla, an ex-Marine, joins her crusade for the truth.
As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina learns her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his murder, and the fate of the entire world. She must learn to control her newfound gifts and keep everyone safe because, if she fails, a long-lost dominion of gods and monsters will rise, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.
Excerpt – Chapter One
My brother, Mani, once told me Alaska was the first place he had ever travelled where he knew he was somewhere different—somewhere decidedly not home—before he ever set foot on the ground. I didn’t understand what he meant until now. Outside my airplane window, the glassy waters of Cook Inlet reflected a bright blue late-summer sky. Dark and looming, the Chugach Mountains encroached from the east. Far to the north, the ghostly, snow-crusted visage of Mount McKinley rose above the landscape, an ancient king, high on his dais, surveying his kingdom.
By comparison, Mani and I had been raised somewhere a little more commonplace. Home was a small town in the foothills of North Carolina, over three thousand miles away. And this was the first time I had ever left it. I probably should have eased into long-distance travel in the same way I eased into a cold swimming pool—one toe at a time. A trip over the border into Gatlinburg. A weekend visit to D.C. But no, I had taken a plunge from the high dive instead, and boy, was I in over my head.
The captain’s calm and assuring voice spilled across the cabin, announcing our approach and descent into Anchorage. Seatbelt signs chimed and flashed. A pair of flight attendants swept down the aisles, collecting trash and reminding passengers to raise seat backs and lock away tray tables. I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath, and urged my heart to return to its regular pitter-patter pace, but it refused to obey.
I breathed in again and trapped the breath in my lungs. Chill, Solina, I told myself. It’s only a week. I could survive anything for one week, right? And I wouldn’t be on my own. My brother’s best friend, Val Wotan, was at the airport waiting for me. Val had texted me a dozen times to make sure I hadn’t missed my connecting flights or fallen out of the plane somewhere over Canada. Val was expecting me, and I was a glutton for fulfilling others’ expectations. I also owed this trip to my brother, to the honor of his memory. How could I ever look myself in the eye again if I gave in to my doubts? If I didn't give Mani my absolute commitment?
Val deserved my loyalty, too. In the few years I'd known him, Val had risen from casual acquaintance to something I wasn't quite ready to label, but just thinking of him made my heart beat a little faster, my breath come a little quicker. Val had earned my regard by being the sibling I couldn't be for Mani after he’d left home. He had watched Mani's back, made him welcome and comfortable in a strange and foreign place. He had even saved my brother’s life once.
I chuckled, remembering how Mani had loved to recount the story of the raging bull moose—deep in a rutting frenzy and crazed by the need to mate with anything female and fight anything that wasn’t. Not long after Mani had first arrived in Alaska, he and Val had gone off on a backpacking trip. They came upon the moose on the edge of a meadow and caught it off guard.
The moose turned its hostile gaze on Mani, lowered its rack, and charged. Stunned and uncertain how to react, Mani stood frozen in place and watched his life pass before his eyes. Meanwhile, Val calmly drew a .44 Magnum from the side pocket of his backpack and fired off a warning shot. The moose reconsidered his challenge and lumbered away into the woods.
If only Val and his gun had been there the night my brother died. Then I might have been coming to Alaska for an entirely different set of reasons.
About the Author:
Some of Karissa Laurel’s favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between.
Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin or go hunting for rusty old relics at flea-markets. Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie.
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