How to be a Self-Rescuing Princess: Part 2

Greetings fellow princesses! Welcome to Part II of the Self-Rescuing Princess series. Earlier this week we learned about ways a self-rescuing princess can avoid situations a nefarious villain may use as an excuse to victimize her.

Now most of the stuff in Rule #1 is stuff your grandmother taught you. Grandma wasn’t an idiot! But modern princesses are not content to sit home and let an evil villain dictate where she can and cannot go. After all, you have a kingdom to run! So today’s post will build upon those lessons to help you be more self-aware when you go out into the big wide world.

Here are the steps to become a Self-Rescuing Princess:

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

Today we’ll cover Step Two of becoming a self-rescuing princess:

Rule #2: Beware ‘transition spaces.’

Sometimes, a princess has no choice but to tour the kingdom. Many of us know that a safe neighborhood is, well, safe, and that a bad neighborhood is dangerous and to be on high alert. But did you know most princesses get attacked in transition spaces? These are places between one relatively safe area to another relatively safe area, where the number of people around us who can help us suddenly diminishes.

Examples of ‘transition spaces’ are stairwells, elevators, parking garages, parking lots, the edge of parks or other public venues where the crowd suddenly thins out, gas stations, subway stations, bus stops, the hallway to your apartment complex or house, and a plethora of other places where your guard may be down, but an attacker can lay in wait.

Today we’ll talk about cultivating SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, a necessary skill in avoiding attack.

1. Always choose a throne that enables you to watch what is going on in the larger room.

In these days of suicide bombers and armed robberies, even a ‘safe’ venue can sometimes turn deadly. Whenever you go someplace where lots of people gather, always choose a throne that will enable you to watch what is going on in the larger room.

In a restaurant, this means choosing a throne where you can continuously scan the room, preferably in a corner with your back against the wall. This doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid as you talk to your fellow princesses. Just periodically scan the room, especially the exits, including the door to the kitchen, and the cash register. Who is that person who just walked in? Do they look dodgy? When you’re talking with your fellow princesses, just keep an eye on who else comes in. Don’t just bury your nose in your cell phone and answer text messages from retainers. Be aware…

In church, sports stadium or theater, this may mean taking a seat in the balcony or outer aisle so you can move quickly if something unsafe should happen. If you can’t escape, where can you duck for cover? Be aware…

Now what do you do if you can’t find an ideal seat? Just be aware of what’s going on around you. A quick-witted princess spots trouble as it’s still unwinding. A few seconds in reaction time may mean the difference between escape, or a bad guy walking off with your pretty crown.

 

2. Always know where the exits are.

Sometimes a self-rescuing princess will need to beat a hasty retreat. Whenever you move into an unfamiliar space, watch for the EXIT signs. How far aware are they? What obstacles stand between you and the exit? If there’s not an exit, is there a window large enough to crawl out of? If a mass shooter comes in, or if the power suddenly goes out, or the clock strikes midnight, or a mentally unbalanced warlock comes in and starts manhandling your loyal retainers, how quickly can you beat a quick retreat?

Most deaths in public fires occur, not because people burn to death, but because people instinctively stampede towards the front entrance instead of taking one of the open and clearly marked alternative exits. And in a mass shooter situation, people who bolt for the nearest exit are far less likely to be killed than people who hunker down and take cover.

A smart princess is just like a magician. Abracadabra! She knows how to disappear…

 

3. Be aware when you move from a safe area into a more vulnerable one.

Most princesses know to be on high alert when we walk through a shady neighborhood. So who’s a bad guy to rob if naïve princesses don’t regularly stumble into his lair? Nefarious villains like to lay in wait in ‘transition spaces,’ those neutral spaces between one safe venue and another.

What are examples of transition spaces where you need to be on high alert? The edge of a park or other venue, where the adoring crowd begins to thin out, public transportation, moving through the lobby or hall of somebody else’s castle, stepping into an elevator, in a parking lot just before you get into your coach, and when you are fumbling with your keys to get into your castle are all high-risk areas where the bad guy knows you are distracted.

Before you enter an elevator, assess who is in the elevator first. If somebody creepy enters, consider getting out.

As you move past buildings, stay away from shadowed entrances or places a highwayman can jump out at you from around a corner or between the cars.

Don’t stare at your cell phone as you move from one safe space to another. Be alert. Scan the surroundings for other people or shadows. Are you alone? Does that person walking towards you look dodgy? Don’t fumble through your purse, searching for your shopping list. If you need to dig out your keys, do it before you move into the transition space, while you are still in a safe space, get into your castle or car immediately and lock the door! Never get into your coach and start checking your messages. Lock the door first, and don’t open it if somebody pounds on your window.

Here’s a realistic demonstration by The Pretty Loaded about how easily an attacker can grab you in a parking lot and how to avoid them.

Tip: hold one of your keys between your thumb and index finger as you move through a transitional space so you can use it as a weapon. We’ll cover more about ‘found weapons’ in Rule #3 of this series, ‘use an equalizer.’

Like seating in a restaurant, forethought can often alleviate trouble. If you park your car in a parking lot or garage, park underneath a street light or as close as you can to a safer space. If you get onto a subway train or bus during an off-peak time, move up so you are seated immediately behind the driver. The goal is to move from one safe space to another as quickly as possible.

Here’s another excellent video with live video footage of a real-life ambush of a woman walking, along with an expert analysis of how it could have been avoided.

4. Make eye contact.

In a series of interviews of criminals who committed violent crimes, time and again they admitted they profiled victims who appeared to be distracted. When somebody moves towards you, always make eye contact and let them know you see them. You can give a friendly, princess-like smile, or simply give them a polite nod (the Queen of England has this down to an art form). You don’t have to be friendly, but simply acknowledge their presence. ‘I see you…’ Criminals prefer to attack a princess who is unaware.

 

5. Tell them to ‘back off.’

What do you do when your regal gaze isn’t a deterrent? If somebody continues to move towards you in a threatening manner, listen to your instincts. Don’t slough it off or let political correctness force you to overcome that small, quiet voice which wants you to survive. Is that man eyeballing you a little too intensely? Don’t like the way that person keeps following you? Is that man who just stepped out of the bushes coming at you a little too intentionally? Is that ‘nice’ person who keeps asking lots of questions setting off the wrong kind of alarms?

In these days of political correctness, well-meaning people have taught polite princesses to silence our inner survival instincts. While it’s unfortunate to believe ‘X-race  in my kingdom are troublemakers,’ it’s even more foolish to ignore quantifiable crime statistics which indicate one particular type of person may be more inclined to commit crime than another. Always listen to your gut! Often, subconsciously, we pick up on deceptive body language that our ‘polite’ conscious mind refuses to acknowledge. Criminals often ‘interview’ a potential victim before they attack. It your gut whispers ‘danger’ it is probably right.

Who are the thugs in your kingdom? Do they look a certain way? Walk a certain way? Dress a certain way? Talk a certain way? Do they wear tattoos or a certain hairstyle or clothing? Gangs, especially, tend to display their thuggery by openly wearing certain brands or colors of clothing. It’s one thing to be fair when conducting a job interview to dispense your queenly duties or helping a retainer, another entirely to remain deliberately clueless when walking through a transition space and your stereotypical thug crashes out of the shadows and makes a beeline for your royal self.

If the person continues toward you in a manner you consider threatening, raise your hands and shout ‘back off’ in your firmest, most assertive royal voice. You are under NO obligation to ‘be nice’ to a potential assailant! Smart princesses realize that, to rule a kingdom, sometimes you just have to be mean!

This Finnish anti-rape video has been mocked as ineffective because it’s the only technique Finnish law allows (i.e., you can go to jail for carrying pepper spray), but insofar as basic technique for dealing with a garden-variety jerk, the woman does a good job of demonstrating an INITIAL response.

Back Off Video –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkLbKcarg40

Yeah … if the guy’s determined that’s not going to do much. But it’s a start. For a run-of-the-mill creeper scoping out an easy target, this communicates you aren’t easy. We’ll cover what to do if he doesn’t back off in later segments of the Self-Rescuing Princess series.

 

Article: Own Your Ground: SA, proxemics and personal security

6. Be aware of your Zone of Safety.

Most princesses become uncomfortable when a man moves into close proximity to our royal persona. But were you aware there’s a continuum of areas you should always be scanning? Most of us become nervous when a scary looking roughneck moves into our personal space, but zone of safety works in a continuum. Especially when you are in a space where, not only do you fear getting grabbed, but possibly a gunman, or even a drunk driver or suicide bomber, may move close enough to hurt you.

Basically you have four zones of safety:

Intimate space – this is within 1.5 feet / 1 meter of your body, about the distance of your hoop skirt. This person is a serious threat and already too close for you to proactively act.

Personal space – this is where somebody is within your royal sword reach, usually within .5 to 1.2 meters / 18″ to 4 feet of where you are standing. This person is already too close should they choose to become a threat for you to react.

Social space – this is how far people who trust one another normally stand while talking, holding court, or doing tasks together, normally within 1.2 to 3.6 meters (4-12 feet). They can close that distance quickly, but you may have a millisecond to react.

Public space – this is when you have the best opportunity to assess whether somebody is a threat. Normally within 3.6 to 7.0 meters (12-25 feet). You may have several seconds to react if a bad guy suddenly turns threatening.

Now in a crowded city, subway station, or other venue, a princess may find people pushing into her personal space which is why we often find our selves tense and physically exhausted after being forced into a crowd. Many of us have been trained to turn off that survival instinct. When commuting to work, we may not have a choice. But do not turn off that small, quiet voice. Always be aware when somebody moves towards you so you have time to react.

This tutorial on Zones of Safety is from a military point of view, but an excellent writeup on the subject, with pictures and videos.

7. Retreat!

A smart princess’ first line of defense should always be to retreat! If possible, move back into a safe space where the presence of other people will discourage the attacker. This isn’t foolproof. ‘Bystander effect’ is where people stand around, catching violence on their camera phones but not actually doing anything to help.

If they want to steal your purse or wallet, throw it several feet away from you, and when he goes to pick it up, run like hell. Even if you’re a princess with a blackbelt, nothing you carry with you is worth the risk of being seriously injured or killed.

“He that fights and runs away,
May turn and fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Will never rise to fight again.”

–Tacitus

8. Never, ever go with an attacker.

If you go with an attacker, you have a statistically higher chance of being raped, brutalized, tortured, ransomed and killed. That is why he’s trying to get you away from other people. Fight for your life while you still have a chance to summon help because, once he has you where he wants you, you are done.

 

9. In an active shooter situation, your first line of defense is to get away!

When police analyzed the kill pattern of the Columbine School Massacre, they discovered body counts were highest where students obeyed the teacher’s advice to ‘duck and cover’ instead of evacuating the building. Since then, police departments around the country have begun to roll out ‘evacuation drills’ instead of the old duck-and-cover training. But many princesses have been brainwashed by 12 years of primary school to duck-and-cover. That advice can get a princess killed!

Since I’ve never been in an active shooter situation myself, I shall defer to the experts and suggest you watch this video by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about what to do. It’s in many languages. Share it with your family members who might not speak English as their first language.

English – RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event 

Español – Correr. Esconderse. Lucha. Edición Española

Francés – Ejecutar. Hide. Lucha. Sobrevivir a Shooter Evento Activo – Francés

Portuguese – Execute. Esconder. Luta. Sobrevivendo à Shooter Evento Ativo – Português

Chinese – 运行。隐藏。战斗。幸存的主动射击事件 – 中国

Vietnamese – Chạy. Ẩn. Chiến đấu. Sống sót Active Shooter Sự kiện – Việt

Self-Rescuing Princess Summary: Part 2 – Beware Transition Spaces

It isn’t easy being a self-rescuing princess. In Part I, we learned how the advice our grandmothers always gave us to avoid trouble is a good first-step to becoming a self-rescuing princess. Today we learned to take it to the next step. We’ve gone from a prim and proper princess, cautious to go out into the whole wide world, to a self-rescuing princess who is aware of the risks and proactive about recognizing a potential threat when she tours her kingdom.

Watch the videos and articles I linked to. Really. You’ll learn some really cool stuff. Learn to spot the bad guys coming and get a rough idea about how you can extricate yourself from a situation before it turns bad.

Stay tuned for Part Three of the Self-Rescuing Princess series: Equalizers

So what do you do if the situation does turn bad? And the  nefarious villain is bigger, stronger, or scarier than you are? Come back in a few days when I post Part III of the Self-Rescuing Princess Series: Always Carry an Equalizer.

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

Be epic!
Anna Erishkigal

 

P.S. – read about my latest self-rescuing princess, Eisa McCarthy, a sixteen-year-old Muslim-American girl trapped in post-apocalyptic, ISIS-controlled Washington DC. Inspired by the real-life Yazidi and Kurdish women in Iraq and Syria. Watch her go from burqa to soldier.


Amazon

GooglePlay

iBooks

Kobo

Paperback & Worldwide Links

How to be a Self-Rescuing Princess: Part 1

by Anna Erishkigal

Many people know me as an author who writes about kick-ass heroines who start out as victims, but who take their destiny into their own hands. What many of you don’t know is that once upon a time, I was the victim of a psychotic stalker. What began as a casual relationship turned frightening when the guy became overbearing. One day the guy grabbed me by the throat and tried to drag me into his house, saying I couldn’t break up with him unless he gave me permission.

Yes, I knew how to shoot a gun, but I didn’t have it on me at the time I was attacked because I live in a ‘shall-retreat’ state. I knew ONE self-defense move, taught by my best friend back in high school. I used it to get away, but that wasn’t the end of my nightmare. The guy continued to stalk and harass me for the next three years, through seven address changes, two states, three name changes, two restraining orders, criminal assault charges, 3 arrests, 54 trips to court, a trial, and a trip to the mental hospital (for him).

Fast forward to 2017…

I am now a black belt in karate…

Anna and Sensei Donna sparring. Don’t let her petite size fool you. She can lay me out on the floor.

I keep reading about the ‘rape culture’ which seems to be on the increase in many cities around the world. For some of you, this is the way things have always been. For others, a confluence of geopolitical events paired by breathtakingly naive actions on the part of our elected officials [*cough, refugee crisis, cough*] have put many women back into the cross-hairs of danger.

As a black belt in karate with knowledge of both primitive weapons and firearms, who also has been the victim of crime myself, I have some tips for those of you who would like to take a more proactive stance. It’s not enough to stand at the window of your tower and sing ‘someday my prince will come’ or pray a knight on a white horse will ride in to save the day. You have to know how to handle yourself in any situation.

You have to become a self-rescuing princess…

Since this topic is too lengthy to put in a single blog-post, over the next several days I’ll be posting the following steps to become your very own self-rescuing princess.

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

Today we’ll cover step one of becoming a self-rescuing princess.

Rule #1: AVOID TROUBLE

In a perfect world, women should be allowed to go wherever they wish and wear whatever they like. But how we wish the world is different than acknowledging how the world really is, especially in places where virulent misogyny is on the riseYes, we need to lobby our elected officials to shape a better world, but in the meantime, it is breathtakingly stupid and naive to pretend the world isn’t an ugly place.

Self-rescuing princesses always hope for the best, but PLAN FOR THE WORST.

1.        Avoid places where bad elements congregate.

Self-rescuing princesses tend to avoid the bad parts of town, not because they are cowards, but because busy princesses have more important things to do than crack skulls. Whenever you can, avoid places where gangs congregate, the area is poorly policed, nightclubs that don’t employ enough bouncers to keep their female patrons safe, and drunken crowds filled with people you don’t know.

Now sometimes you don’t have a choice. You have to walk through a bad neighborhood on the way to work or visit family, you are a visitor to an area and suddenly find yourself in an unfamiliar part of town, you may need to make an emergency pharmacy run in the middle of the night to buy medicine for a sick child, or for some other reason you find yourself in a frightening situation. Once you are in this type of situation, it may be minutes, or even hours, before help arrives. No matter how kick-ass you are, if a group of drunks want to play Taharrush (the rape game), even if there are other people about, they may not be in a position to help you.

We’ll cover self-defense in case you ever do find yourself in this situation in later posts. But smart princesses don’t smite evil unless they can do it on their terms, not the bad guy’s.

2.        Don’t walk around staring at your smartphone.

These days princesses are terribly busy. We have to juggle family, friends and work, along with our retainers (husbands and children), dozens of volunteer responsibilities and our children’s sports. It’s all too tempting to use that ‘wasted’ time getting from point A to point B to catch up on email or surf the web for what takeaway we want to order for supper.

Now let’s look at it from the point of view of a villain? Who would you rather attack? An alert princess who looks like she knows exactly where she is going? Or a distracted princess who appears more interested in Facebook than what is going on around you. It screams ‘easy target’ when you are oblivious to lurking danger.

Funny (but not funny) video: Walking while texting

Criminals move quickly. The only thing which can save you is your ability to see them coming and react. Smart princesses run their kingdoms from a safe area where they’ll be safe from attack.

3.        Don’t wear headphones and listen to music when moving about.

A smart princess never covers both of her ears unless she is someplace absolutely safe. Hearing is one of our most important survival tools, which is why we have two eyes in front of our heads to see trouble coming, but ears on the side of our heads to sense what is sneaking up behind us. That is why it’s illegal in most countries to wear head phones and drive.

Here’s an excellent video by The Pretty Shooter which demonstrates how quickly an attacker can move out of the shadows and ambush you when you’re distracted.

Now this may be difficult for princesses who like to listen to music while they walk to work or jog, but learn to listen to Mother Nature. She will warn you when a bad guy falls into step behind you, whereas if you block your ears, you’re an easy target.

4.        When you go out at night, travel in a ‘pack.’

Self-rescuing princesses need to stick together and watch out for other princesses, especially when they find themselves in questionable situations. In most countries, simply sticking beside your ‘bestie’ will be enough to deter a potential creeper. More princesses means more noise, more people to run for help, more witnesses to testify against the bad guy, and these days, more kick-ass princesses who actually know how to fight.

That being said, in some countries it’s not even safe for princesses traveling in a group. While, in a perfect world, a princess should be able to travel where she wants, if there have been news reports of unsavory elements attacking women, or you live in a country where a recent upsurge in migrants has resulted in things like Taharrush (the rape game), don’t ignore those reports. Play it safe. A smart princess lobbies her minions (elected officials and police) to do their jobs, not put herself in danger in the meantime.

5.        Don’t drink too much or use any substance that will impair your judgment or reaction time.

An important part of being a princess is to socialize with like-minded princesses. Unfortunately, in any group setting, there are always predators out on the prowl to take advantage of an impaired princess to get her to do things she would not do while sober, or to compromise the princess themselves using a ‘date rape’ drug such as Ecstasy, Rohypnol or Ketamine. Not only can this can happen at a nightclub, but it often happens at private parties where a sexual predator will lure a victim into a secluded room.

Does this mean a princess can never have fun? No. It just means you should exercise some common sense safety measures. Watch this video to see how easy it is to slip a drug into your drink. Never set your drink down where you can’t watch it while you dance or go to the bathroom. Alternate each mixed drink with several non-alcoholic sodas. And watch out for one another. If you see something suspicious, alert your fellow princess their drink may be drugged.

6.        Dress conservatively.

How you dress is never an excuse for attack. A smart princess, however, recognizes the world as it -is-, not just how we wish it to be. This means, not only ‘don’t flash your bobbies and butt,’ but to always wear conservative attire whenever you go out in public. That means different things in different countries. Here on Cape Cod (the beach), it’s perfectly acceptable for somebody to roam around in a bikini, but in another country, that could get you raped or killed.

If you are on your way to someplace where you’re expected to wear something more revealing, wear an overcoat or other means to cover up until you get there. A self-rescuing princess arrives with her ball gown intact and not all mussed up because she had to kick some dirty groper’s butt.

7.        Always wear sensible shoes!

Coup d’etat’s are common when a princess travels. A self-rescuing princess is always prepared to kick some nefarious highwayman in the nether regions and then run away.

In a cool climate, that means sensible flat-heeled shoes with a closed back, such as loafers or laced shoes, never heels. In a warm climate, you want flat-heeled sandals that strap securely to your feet, such as Teva sandals, not strappy sandals or flip-flops. In the winter, this means stylish ‘equestrian’ style flats with a bit of traction, not high-heeled dress boots.

If you work or are traveling someplace where you’re expected to wear something dressier, put them into a travel bag and change into them at your destination.

8.        Wear clothing that allows you to move.

While tight jeans and pencil skirts may be all the rage for fashionable peasants, a self-rescuing princess is always prepared to move like a warrior in case somebody tries to grab her. Now this doesn’t mean a princess can’t wear fashionable clothing (after all, a princess likes to look her best). But be mindful of ways your clothing might hinder your mobility. Thanks to wonderful fabrics such as knit and Lycra, it is now possible to wear clothing that appears constricting, but is not.

There’s a hilarious clip at the end of the new Wonder Woman trailer where she tries on Victorian clothing and says ‘how can a woman possibly fight in this’ and does a splendid martial arts kick.

Self-Rescuing Princess Summary: Part 1 – Avoid Trouble

Despite your best efforts, sometimes bad things will happen. If it does, never place blame on the princess for the actual crime. The blame always lays with the attacker. But -do- acknowledge that you are not completely helpless to avoid making the same mistake again. There is much a smart princess can do to become a self-rescuing princess in the future.

Looking back at my own scary situation, I allowed other people who knew and liked the guy to shame me into silencing that small, silent voice. I can’t go back and change my own naivety, but I can speak up and educate others about how I went from meek little mouse to a Self-Rescuing Princess who can drop-kick a man to his knees and rip his testicles out.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the Self-Rescuing Princess series:

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

If you fill your name in on the little box to the right, not only will you get a notice in your email (I promise to never be spammy), but you’ll also get a free copy of my novella ‘The Watchmaker’ about a very timid young woman who breaks almost every rule I just lay out above, but at the end… [*no spoilers … sign up and find out!*].

Be epic!

Anna Erishkigal

 

P.S. – read about my latest self-rescuing princess, Eisa McCarthy, a sixteen-year-old Muslim-American girl trapped in post-apocalyptic, ISIS-controlled Washington DC. Inspired by the real-life Yazidi and Kurdish women in Iraq and Syria. Watch her go from burqa to soldier.

Amazon

GooglePlay

iBooks

Kobo

Paperback & Worldwide Links

What if ISIS controlled America?

While researching a novel where my hero journeys across a vast, arid stretch of the  Iraq-Syrian desert in 3,500 B.C.I plotted his path by starting in the ancient city-state of Assur (halfway between modern Tikrit and Mosul, Iraq) and plotting a semi-straight line to the ancient city-state of Ugarit (in modern Syria) following the known oasis, which in the modern era happen to now be tiny little villages. I cut-and-paste these Arab village names into Google and, Lo! All information about that village popped up at my fingertips.

sex-slave-protestInstead of pictures of dusty little mud-brick houses surrounded by camels, I kept pulling up graphic pictures of rapes, beheadings, immolations and executions. Brothers killing brothers as one sided with ISIS and the other didn’t. Fathers and husbands and brothers tucked their tails between their legs and abandoned their wives, their sisters, their mothers and daughters to deal with ISIS while they ran away to Europe. Sunni killed Shiite. Live beheadings filmed like the latest episode of The Walking Dead are ignored by the media. Desperate photos taken by camera-phones all have the same desperate message.

Help us! Our men abandoned us to be taken as sex slaves!

Unfortunately, what has been seen can never be unseen. No matter how much I wish I could simply bleach out my eyeballs and forget, those images haunt me. It bothers me that in the current political narrative, the politicians and the media want to gloss over the evil I witnessed while, ironically, researching the Archangel Michael’s journey to go defeat the devil. I finished the book. My hero crossed the desert and made it to Ugarit. But what I inadvertently learned about the nature of evil has left me with two conflicting emotions.

  1. Why isn’t anybody helping these people?
  2. Why aren’t these people doing more to help themselves?

kurdish-ypj-fighterThere is a single ray of light in all this real-life carnage. Brave Kurdish women helped push back ISIS after the Sinjar massacre by freeing their Yazidi sisters and taught them how to fight. It’s the ultimate irony that it’s not the men who are picking up a gun to wage this war against radical Islam, but the women? What strikes me the most is how incredibly young most of these female freedom fighters are, some as young as thirteen years old.

And then I thought of a terrifying question? What if ISIS follows through on their threat? What if they use the flow of refugees to infiltrate the United States? What if ISIS came here? What if what is happening over there was to happen in the United States?

yazidi-girlThus Eisa McCarthy was born, a devout Muslim girl born to an American / Roman Catholic / Air Force father and a Syrian / Muslim / physician mother during the Third Gulf War which ends with ISIS seizing control of the United State’s nuclear arsenal.

I brought what is happening ‘over there’ to the streets of Washington, D.C. and the Heartland so people will think about what it might be like if evil ever gets the upper hand. And then, since I know so much Middle Eastern history and mythology, I subtly wove some Islamic apocalyptic prophecies, along with pre-Islamic myth about Allah’s three daughters who were wiped from history by Muhammad (the so-called ‘Satanic verses’), into the story.

Since I don’t wish to write a xenophobic war-invasion book (ugh! Red Dawn, anyone?), the story opens seven years after it happened. The United States has lost. We are now the seat of the new, worldwide Caliphate. Everybody is Muslim. Billions are dead. The Middle East and much of Europe is now a nuclear wasteland. The last vestiges of the former United States rebellion teeters at the brink of extinction. And the entire world quakes under the threat of the ICBM long-range nuclear missiles the Ghuraba (the Strangers) have seized.

What would that be like?

What would it be like if ISIS controlled America…

Here’s the opening chapter of my new book, The Caliphate:

**********************************************

The sound of automatic weapons blends with the call to prayers. The pre-dawn adhan rises and falls along with the gunfire, carried by the loudspeakers which run throughout the city. I throw back my covers and slip across the narrow aisle which separates my bed from my little sister’s.

“Nasirah!” I shake her. “Wake up!”

My little sister murmurs, a thin red book still clutched to her chest. Thin, grey stripes of light stream through the window-boards to reveal the title: Lozen: A Princess of the Plains.

2-5x3-5-120dpi-the-caliphate-front-cover“Nasirah!” I shake her frantically.

The gunfire comes closer.

Nasirah opens her eyes.

“Eisa?” she smiles. “Is it time to pray?”

“Yes.”

I half-drag her down into the aisle between our beds. The brick will protect us from bullets, but the window is vulnerable. I glance up at one of the small, black holes in the plaster. That one tore a hole in the fabric in my hijab.

Shouts erupt outside our window, along with engines in pursuit. The pre-dawn adhan provides a wailing, surrealistic backdrop to the crack of gunpowder and screams of men as they die.

Nasirah slips the book underneath her mattress. I pull up her hijab. In me, the gesture is instinctive, to cover up your bosom. But Nasirah is only nine. She doesn’t understand the hijab keeps her safe.

I fumble on the nightstand for my prayer beads, bits of black tektite which fell from the heavens. They are strung into a misbaha of thirty-three small beads, a large bead which connects them, and three silver discs engraved with birds.

Behind them sits a photograph of me, Nasirah and our brother from the time before the Ghuraba. It seems like a dream, me in my pretty pink party dress, Nasirah’s golden baby curls, Adnan smiling, and Mama wearing her flowered hijab and white doctor’s coat, holding an award for furthering public health. Papa stands between us, his arms stretched wide to encompass all of us, wearing a crisp dress blue uniform with five golden stars.

A prolonged gunfight erupts outside our window. Plink! A bullet flies through the boards and covers us with shattered glass.

“Eisa!” Nasirah screams.

I shove her head down to the floor.

“Pray!”

I clutch my misbaha, praying with all of my might as the call to prayers drones on. I picture Him fervently, standing there between us and the window.

“Oh, Allah, we ask You to restrain them by their necks and we seek refuge in You from their evil…”

Nasirah clings to me as I recite the dua’a for protection. We shake as the voices stop right outside our window.

The gunfire stops just as the morning call to prayer ceases wailing.

Men shout.

One voice speaks, chilling and ominous. A voice I have heard a million times, on the radio, on the television.

In my nightmares…

I know what’s coming, but I still weep when the man begins to scream. It goes on and on, rising and falling like the pre-dawn call to prayer. At last it dies down into a sickening gurgle.

And then there is silence…

I clamp a hand over Nasirah’s mouth so she doesn’t cry out. I want no reason to draw their attention.

The Ghuraba laugh as they get into their trucks and leave.

Tears stream down Nasirah’s cheeks.

“Do you think they killed him?”

I get up and peek through the slats in the window boards as the sun finishes rising over Caliphate City.

“No,” I lie.

I do not tell her about the blood which mars the snow.

Find WORLDWIDE links for ‘The Caliphate’ here.

blood-in-the-snow

I’m live on MyKitaab India podcast!

Greetings friends!

cropped-about-mykitaab-e1471240709670I had the privilege of being interviewed this month on the MYKITAAB INDIA podcast with Amar Vyas.  It’s a publishing-related podcast, but Amar asked lots of questions about how I got into writing, the inspiration behind my Sword of the Gods series, some of the sordid real-life legal cases that inspired me to go write about an archangel who smites bad guys, and my favorite epic mythological inspirations (including the Bhagavad Gita), all stuff that might be of interest to people.

amar-vyas-220x162Amar has been a wonderful friend and resource as I’ve begun to translate my books into other languages and expand my reach worldwide, so we had a great time! He’s co-founder of Kamakshi Media, a dog lover (you can hear his dog on the interview) and also author of the Amol Dixit series of books (if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can grab his children’s book ‘NRI: Now Returned to India’ free at Amazon). I hope you enjoy the interview and can LISTEN at:

www.mykitaab.in/anna

You can also listen at:

iTunes: www.smarturl.it/mykitaab
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mykitaabcast
Stitcher: www.smarturl.it/mykitaabcast

Please <3 or LIKE or FAVORITE the MyKitaab podcast show when you’re done so Amar’s show can be featured more prominently in the vendors. He’s currently the #1 Podcast in iTunes India!

 

Drabble: A Preference for Imaginary Friends

stock image licensed from Deposit Photos
stock image licensed from Deposit Photos

I was organizing my notebook from a writer’s conference I went to last summer and, lo! Here’s a cute little drabble I wrote for one of their writing exercises. I can’t remember what the writing prompt was for this, I think I was supposed to NOT use something, but darned if I can’t remember what. When The Dark Lord’s Vessel is finished, you’ll see some of this drabble incorporated into one of the chapters. 🙂  Just for fun…

****

“Mo-om!”

I pull out my noise-cancelling headphones. “What?”

Victoria stands before me, wielding a rubber spatula like a weapon. “Catherine ate all the chocolate chips!”

I sighed. “What do you want me to do about it?”

“Make her give them back!”

I sigh, and then give her a mischievous grin. “She already ate them?”

“Yes.”

“And you want them back?”

“Yes.”

“Then I suggest you go into the bathroom and wait for them to reappear.”

Confusion crosses her face which, despite her father’s broad nose, promises to transform some day into a great beauty. It takes a moment before she wrinkles up her nose.

“Eeew!!!”

I laugh at her revulsion. My husband says I’m a bad influence, always cracking slightly-inappropriate jokes, playing the stereo too loud, or encouraging them to dress up in costumes and pretend to be somebody else, but sometimes I enjoy being the bad parent. Why do they always get to be naughty, play with dolls, and run around? Sometimes want to be the naughty one.

“I’ll talk to her.” I rise from my chair and place the headphones next to my keyboard. In her long, blonde hair, I spy a partially melted smear of brown. “I thought you said she ate all the chocolate chips?”

“Yes! She ate them! Catherine always eats everything when I cook!”

I pick the chocolate chip out of her hair. “What about this?”

Victoria’s face drops.

“I only ate half,” she says. “I needed the other half to make the cookies.”

With a sigh, I turn back to my keyboard and put the noise cancelling headphones back on to drown out her cries of being victimized. And people wonder why I prefer my imaginary friends?

By the light of the moon

11817154_10207310820789609_5809735683298028245_n

Welcome Fellow Broads!

(As in Broad Universe ‘broads,’ an organization devoted to the advancement of women science fiction, fantasy and horror writers, whose patron-saint is Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein).

When you live at the edge of a salt marsh, two times each day the tide rises up and reminds you of how much power the moon holds over our lives. In the summer, a lush green grass hides pungent channels filled with mud large enough to swallow a horse. But come the autumn, when the marsh grass begins to die down, you can see the ocean flow in and out and marvel at the seabirds who follow the fishes inland.

Most people these days associate the moon with a modern lunar goddess such as Artermis or Arianhrod, but in Ancient Mesopotamia (where I set many of my stories), they believed the moon was ruled by a god, Sin, who oversaw the monthly turn of the waxing and waning light. Considered a fertility god just like his female counterparts, not only did he rule over the seasonal flooding of the sacred rivers and estuaries, but also the ancient astrological calendars which told them when to plant and breed their cattle. Sin was believed to be a wise god; his name was invoked at all major legal affairs and treaties. His worship was especially popular among the cattle herders who drove their herds along the salty estuaries south of his capital city Ur.

Khashkhamer_seal_moon_worship_of_Sin

Moon worship persisted in the fertile crescent and the Arabian peninsula through semi-modern times–scholars believe the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, the Kabah, worshipped Hubal, a lunar god, whose honorific ‘Allah’ simply meant ‘Father.’ We can still see remnants of the moon god’s popularity in the region today by the crescent moon symbol we now associate as a symbol of Islam.

Kaba tribe symbol for their god
Kabah tribe symbol for Hubal, their lunar god

So when the moon tugs at the tides within your body, acknowledge that for as long as people have existed, there has always been respect for just how powerful a force the moon exerts over our lives. I hope you found this little mini history lesson interesting!

Be epic!

Anna Erishkigal

P.S. – in honor of Halloween, I’m giving away a free copies of Angel of Death: A Love Story! Just fill out the little email form underneath the scary death-angel book cover to your right (bottom of the page if you’re using mobile), confirm your email subscription, and it should come to you promptly in your email.

And be sure to visit our fellow Broads Blogs and see what other little interesting tidbits they decided to cull from their work and goodies they want to give away.

The main Broad Universe Blog Tour starts HERE: http://broaduniverse.org/blog/2015/10/25/full-moon-blog-tour/

Or if this is just a stop along your way, click the link on the linky-thingy below to visit the next awesome ‘Broad’ to get some more goodies 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Addictive Reads Halloween Favorites Event & Giveaway

IMG_6023-002
My kids, following in my footsteps 3:-)

Halloween has always been my favorite time of year. When you’re into geeky things like superheroes, steampunk, and LARP’ing, any excuse to dress up in the costumes you’ve spent dozens of hours putting together is a good excuse. My love of costumes stretches all the way back to childhood, back before they had the nice pre-made costumes in the stores. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so we would scrounge through whatever we had in our closets. Pirate is a good costume in a pinch. A bandana, a flowy shirt, an old vest, some baggy pants and of course you need some pirate-like boots.

Of course, when you’re a pirate, you have to focus on getting lots of loot! Yea! Candy! Our family was too poor to afford candy in our budget, so we used to ‘bury’ our treasure in our bedrooms and make it last for months. We pursued our candy acquisition with single-minded determination. We would start trick-or-treating the moment the sky began to go dim and walk for miles until people stopped answering their doors and yelled at us to go away.

Not all of the kids who lived in our neighborhood were nice. The Cawthorn boys used to egg houses and load them up with toilet paper on Halloween, and then, because nobody would give them any candy, they would knock down the younger kids and steal their candy. Avoiding the –real- candy pirates was something you always had to worry about. Luckily the Cawthorn boys were too lazy to walk for miles, so you were usually pretty safe until you tried to come back into our neighborhood, which only had one road coming into it because it had the river on one side and this enormous swamp on the other.

Killer
<3 Killer, I miss you <3

One year we decided to dress our dog ‘Killer’ up as a pirate’s horse (yes, I know pirates don’t have horses, but we were kids!). We ‘borrowed’ my father’s big leather saddlebags off the side of his Harley Davidson motorcycle to be his packs and decked him out with a red bandana and my brother’s pirate hat. He was a good, right pirate’s mate. As we ran from house to house, every so often we’d upend our pillow cases and stuff them into Killer’s saddle bag. Looking back I realize that was kinda mean, but he was a good dog, and we were just kids and didn’t know any better. After filling the saddlebags as well as both our pillow cases with enough candy to last us until Valentine’s Day, it was time to make our way back home.

swamp
The swamp of despair! Don’t let the green color fool you, that’s duckweed. It’s all thick, black mud and leeches!

The Cawthorn boys used to wait for the kids who’d come back from trick-or-treating , so we cut through somebody’s back yard along the edge of the swamp. By this point Killer was good and tired of being our saddle pony, so being a dog who couldn’t resist a good stinky wallow in the mud, he ran into the swamp and dumped my father’s leather saddlebags full of Halloween candy in the middle.

Now if you know anything about leather Harley Davidson saddlebags, you know they’re darned expensive, and we did not have my father’s permission to swipe them and put them on the dog. So it was either go into that swamp at nine o’clock at night on a cold October evening and fish them out, or pay the price when we got home. My brother couldn’t swim, so it was up to me to wade into thigh-deep mud filled with leeches and snakes and slime to retrieve them.

Ugh! It was cold. And wet. And at one point I slipped and fell into the thick, black mud and had to dig for one of my shoes. When I came out I was covered in thick, black mud from head to foot and had these long green slime stringy-things called hornwort stuck to my pirate’s costume made me look like the creature from the black lagoon. The dog was even muddier than I was, so I slung my father’s leather saddlebags over my shoulders and we went back to the street to go the rest of the way home. At this point we figured our candy was ruined, so we just took the street.

swamp thing
Swamp Thing

Sure as sin, we found the Cawthorn boys rolling a couple of other kids and taking their candy. The dog did what he always did, ran up to them and barked, but we could never get Killer to bite them because he was a good-natured dog and they weren’t afraid of him. But then –I- came into the light, all covered with black mud and hornwort and these huge, black leather saddlebags that made it look like I had these huge football-player shoulders.

The Cawthorn boys screamed like they were little girls and ran away. It was wicked funny, but the kids we’d saved were so grateful they gave us half their candy, so we made it home with a decent amount of candy and hid the saddlebags until I could rinse them off and dry them the next day.

Saddlebags
Harley Davidson leather saddlebags, good for motorcycles … and dogs.

I never did tell my father what we did to his saddlebags. But ever since then, when I go LARP’ing, I like to play a ghoul or a goblin and jump out of the woods with my bopher-sword and shout ‘Boo!’

Happy Halloween!

Anna Erishkigal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP.S. – Sign up for my NEWSLETTER and get a *FREE* electronic copy of Angel of Death: A Love Story. Learn what happens when the angel of death falls in love with a mortal. In a warzone. With evil bad guys crawling around. Yeah, there’s a bit of blood. And death. And lots of great scenes with military trauma nurses busting the chops of the enlisted grunts. But there’s also true love which stretches from lifetime to lifetime. No swamp things, but you’ll find out what Azrael hides beneath his infamous black cloak and why he hides himself from the view of mortals.

And be sure to visit the rest of the Addictive Reads blogs and enter to get whatever goodies the individual authors are giving away and enter the raffle to win the $50, $25 and $10 gift cards.

10453338_10153181328399562_1299027283139954127_n-1

START THE RAFFLECOPTER *HERE* TO WIN GREAT STUFF

And here’s the rest of my author-friends blog posts to grab additional goodies:



Culloden Battlefield and the Unfortunate, Ill-Fated Battle

Greetings!

My husband and I recently returned from Scotland, where we got to tour the Highlands where my ancestors were born, including Mount Cuillin on Skye, several standing stones, and the Culloden Battlefield just outside of Inverness.  What was interesting was to find out that my Campbell ancestry, which in the United States is viewed with much pride due to their powerful clan-association with the Blackwatch and the Queen’s Guard, are not very well-liked in northern Scotland, while the MacLean side of my family, of which I know very little, are viewed as heroes and everywhere I mentioned them I was greeted warmly and told interesting stories.

culloden-battleIt was with some awe I walked upon the Colloden Battlefield where the crown crushed the clans who supported the Jacobite Rebellion, all because they followed a young king who viewed his armies as little more than toy soldiers.  I photographed two carved granite stones with the word MacLean written on them before I realized the long, slender grass mound I stood upon was the actual mass-grave of the clan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shiver…

I wonder if I was related to any of them?  I left the battlefield with a feeling of awe, determined to delve a little deeper into that side of my ancestry and find out what drove them from their homeland.

prince_charlieI don’t think I’ll write a Scottish history time-travel novel as Diana Gabaldon has already done that to death, but perhaps I’ll re-enact that battle somewhere in deep space?  With a different outcome?  One where the boy-king is made to understand he shouldn’t pit his ‘toy soldiers’ against the might of a conventional army, but let them retreat to the hills where they can wage a guerrilla war?

Gustave Dore, Lucifer cast outLucifer reminds me a bit of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in thinking he can just pit a few factions against the might of the Eternal Emperor.  We all know what happens at the end of the story.  Lucifer gets cast down and ends up on Earth.  It is written thus in the bible.  But how much misery will it bring upon those who follow him? How much will the Fallen suffer?  And where will they be forced to go?

So that’s my musing for today!  I hoped you enjoyed this little summary of my trip. And if you do ever get to travel to the Highlands of Scotland, be sure to roam around Skye and visit the Fairy Pools at the foot of Mount Cuillan.  I’d heard my ancestors came from that area. I don’t know if that’s true, but it was an awesome place to visit and, well off the beaten track, there were lots of handsome Highland guys who looked as though they’d just stepped off the pages of a Highland Romance novel, and plenty of no-nonsense lassies who looked like they could keep their big-tall Highlanders in line!

fairy-pools-mount-cuillan-skye

So that’s it for now, although perhaps once I get the rest of the pictures off my camera I’ll write about all our visits to the standing stones, the Pictish tower, and an awesome yarn shop overlooking the ocean where I learned how to dye natural tartan-dyes and got to pat the sheep who grew my new black sweater!

And here’s a song by one of my favorite Scottish folk-singers, Rebsie Fairholm, called MacCrimmon’s Lament, entirely in the Gaelic.  ‘Dh’ iadh ceo nan stuc mu eudann Chuilinn’ means ‘on Cuillan’s face’ which is the mountain you see a bit of in the picture above.  Enjoy!

MacCrimmon’s Lament (click to listen)

MacCRIMMON’S LAMENT — CUMHA MHIC CRIOMAIN

1. Dh’ iadh ceo nan stuc mu eudann Chuilinn,
Us sheinn ’bhean-shith a torman mulaid,
Gorm shuilean ciuin ’san Dun a sileadh,
O’n thriall thu uainn ’s nach till thu tuille.

CHORUS: Cha till, cha till, cha till Mac Criomain,
An cogadh no sith cha till e tuille;
Le airgiod no ni cha till Mac Criomain,
Cha till e gu brath gu la na cruinne.

2. Tha osag nam beann gu fann ag imeachd,
Gach sruthan ’s gach allt gu mall le bruthach;
Tha ealtainn nan speur feadh gheugan dubhach,
A’ caoidh gu ’n d’ fhalbh ’s nach till thu tuille. CHORUS

3. Tha ’n fhairge fa-dheoigh lan broin ’us mulaid,
Tha ’m bata fo sheol, ach dhiult i siubhal;
Tha gairich nan tonn le fuaim neo-shubhach,
Ag radh gun d’ fhalbh ’s nach till thu tuille. CHORUS

4. Cha chluinnear do cheol ’san Dun mu fheasgar,
’S mac-talla nam mur le muirn ’ga fhreagairt;
Gach fleasgach ’us oigh gun cheol, gun bheadradh,
O’n thriall thu uainn ’s nach till thu tuille. CHORUS

Be epic!

Anna Erishkigal

P.S. – visit  Rebsie Fairholm’s website to listen to her other songs, some in English, some in Gaelic. The Cursing Song is one of my favorites because it ties into a bit of Scottish mythology related to me by my grandfather. When somebody was wronged, especially by a laird upon who they had little recourse, the wronged would compose a ‘cursing song’ highlighting what the dirty rat had done to wrong them, and then walk though the village, singing the song until other people began to pick up the tune. If the cursing song was catchy enough, it acted like a modern-day ‘jingle’ that would get stuck in people’s heads until the next thing you know, the entire village would be singing it and the laird would be shamed into making right by the peasant and reforming their ways. And if the laird didn’t reform, if the person laying the curse was gifted, legend said it would attract the attention of the fairies, who would make things go wrong until the laird made the victim whole.

Vote for Agents of Ki as Best High Fantasy Novel of 2015!!!

Vote for Agents of Ki

Yay!  Agents of Ki made FINALIST in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards contest for Best High Fantasy Novel of 2015.  The first three stages were nomination and curated examination by the eFestival of Words judges.  Hundreds of fantasy novels were whittled down to a Final Seven.

The final stage, however, is by popular vote.  To win, Agents of Ki must get more votes than the other six fantasy novels, every one of them a fine work of art.  Most of the other books are by authors with much more established readerships than I have, so I need every vote I can get!

cat begging
Cute cat-meme of author begging….

Please mosey on over to the eFestival of Words website to give Agents of Ki a vote!  You need to sign up first so they can make sure nobody tries to cheat by stuffing the ballot-box.  To entice you to hop on over, I wrote a little blurb there in the thread beneath the ballot box about how the cover art for Agents of Ki came into being, including the symbols and inspirations included in the image.

VOTE HERE:  http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-high-fantasy-sword-sorcery-finalists-t601.html

Thanks so much for voting!!!

Anna Erishkigal

What if you could do it over again?

P.S. – and as a bribe thank you gift for taking the time to vote, ‘here’s a *FREE* download of my novelette The Watchmaker, a time travel story about a girl who wins a chance to relive a single hour of her life.  Just click on the format logo you need below and the Kindle and .epub editions will instantly download to the ‘downloads’ folder of your device, where you will need to manually side-load it onto your e-reader.   The .pdf version will open up in a new window, which you can then download.  If you have any problems getting your thank you gift, feel free to CONTACT ME and I’ll see if we can’t get it straightened out?

~Ask how you can win an hour in time…~

Kindle Button ePub Button .pdf Button

REGISTRATION INFO:  When you first click-through, it will bring you to a blank page.  Click ‘register’ in the top toolbar (just beneath the logo) and it will bring you to a registration page.  At the bottom of that page is a little video CAPTCHA that’s a short advertisement from Citizen’s Bank and a couple of other sponsors (as eFestival of Words is non-profit).  When you click ‘play’ a message that says ‘Please Enter: XXX’ will show up in the black bar at the bottom of the video.  Type that in as your CAPTCHA and then click enter.  The ad pays for eFestival to keep up their website for the coming year, nothing more.  Otherwise they never email you except to invite you to nominate books in early spring, vote come July, and then announce the winners in August. Just click the link above a second time and it will bring you to the High Fantasy voting page.

P.P.S. – please consider voting for my friends in some of the other author sub-categories?

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK – A Secret In Time (Big Honey Dog Mysteries) by H.y. Hanna (Wisheart Press) – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-children-s-book-finalists-t598.html

BEST MYSTERY/SUSPENSE NOVEL – Deadly Betrayal (Deadly Vices Book 3) by Kristine Cayne – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-mystery-suspense-finalists-t605.html

BEST SHORT STORY – Romeo Down by Dale Amidei – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-short-story-finalists-t592.html

BEST THRILLER – Absinthe and Chocolate by Dale Amidei – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-thriller-finalists-t608.html

BEST SCIENCE FICTION – Dakiti by E.J. Fisch – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-science-fiction-finalists-t607.html

BEST ANTHOLOGY –  Wicked Seasons: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, Volume II – http://www.efestivalofwords.com/2015-best-anthology-finalists-t589.html

 

I put my heroes through hell…