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Badass Goddesses: the book



I recently embarked on a journey of self-publishing, much of which I owe to my friend and fellow podcaster Alison Price at Starzology, who encouraged me and recommended a platform (Kindle Direct self-publishing). She has published an astonishing 40-some odd books over the years, although she tells me only three or four of them actually generate much revenue, but that's a hell of a lot more than most people can say! When she recommended it, at first I found the idea extraordinarily daunting and procrastinated looking into it for what felt to me like a long time, but in reality, it was probably only a week or so. This coincided with the start of the new year and I made it one of my goals for the new year to look into self-publishing.


It turns out it's actually not that hard but, unfortunately for me, the formats are very much geared towards (not surprisingly) text-based books, not art books. Which isn't to say you can't publish an art book but the size and page layout formats are all portrait versus landscape, which was a surprising limitation. It doesn't seem like it would be that much harder to print in landscape than portrait. All of my artwork is landscape because it comes from my printed calendars, which I've done for several years through a variety of publishing mechanisms, first Zazzle and finally, my wonderful local printers, MinuteMan Press.


So I went through all my previously published calendar art and chose my favorites, which is to say, I weeded out a handful that I was never really happy with, which left me with 45 full color pages of goddesses, and their 45 corresponding myths on facing pages, for a total of 91 pages including “acknowledgements.” Fleshing out their stories was probably the easiest part. I've always been very conscious of wanting to include a variety of myths from every part of the world. When I plan a calendar, I actually map them out to make sure I have representation from every populated continent.




Some mythologies are obviously more well-known than others. Everyone can probably name at least a half dozen Greek goddesses, maybe one or two from the Norse or Celtic pantheons. But every population has its myths and legends, so I made a point of mining the internet for a wide variety of stories, always focusing on the "badass,"be they goddesses, demonesses, shapeshifters, sirens, gorgons, or snow vampires as the case may be. "Badass" to me means anything from goddesses of war, death and the Underworld to goddesses like Venus and Inanna, who we think of as being associated with love and beauty, but when you read the actual myths, their stories are way more complicated, a spectrum of everything from genocidal rampages, capricious violence against mortals and other deities, to petty vindictiveness, jealousy, rage and other bad behavior.



I always knew I didn't want to be positioning myself as some kind of authority on mythology, so researching brief descriptions and making sure they were referenced in at least a couple of online sources was plenty of due diligence as far as I was concerned. Focusing on the art and making their stories concise and engaging is where my expertise lies anyway.


A lot of the original source material and inspiration came from Godchecker.com, where you can search all the world’s mythologies by nation, continent, keyword and gender. Wikipedia was always a good second opinion, and whenever possible I sought out third sources just to make sure I wasn’t quoting something sketchy. I first started doing my calendars in 2018, and the internet is an exponentially growing resource, so it seems like there are more sources and outlets for these kinds of stories cropping up every day. In rare cases, there wasn't a lot to go on. Some of that is because the myths of certain cultures are based on oral traditions so there’s very limited source material online. To be fair, I didn't go to the library or consult any mythology professors or scholars of comparative religion, but again, I’m an artist not a mythologian.




One interesting case involved an African goddess named Watamaraka, whose story I originally found on Godchecker and struggled to find any corroborating evidence. One of them eventually turned out to be from a potentially problematic source. As I read through one of the only search results, I quickly became aware that the writer was a white South African, and clearly racist. He was quoting a book of myths that was printed in the 1950s, which was available as a scanned PDF, but no other original sources seemed to exist. As I read the quoted chapter, I found myself cringing at language we would never see in print these days. Her story was so interesting though, and I had already created what is one of my favorite images based on her story, so it was unthinkable not to include her. Instead, I incorporated another myth from the same book, which focuses on a different goddess, in which Watamaraka appears as a supporting character. That story is what appears in the final print.


As soon as I finished the self-publishing process, I ordered a review copy of the paperback. While it's awesome to see all these images in full color, I'm still struggling with the format and the inability to print it in landscape. I’ll probably research other self-publishing options in the future but for now it’s a journey and a work in progress.


Badass Goddesses is available in paperback, hardback and Kindle/tablet editions from Amazon.com.

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