Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolution or not?




2012 was an incredibly difficult year for me. There were times I was so discouraged about things I wondered why I even bothered. I won’t go into all the sordid details they aren’t really important. There were spots of sunshine and energy, but over all I allowed my life to come to a screeching halt, doing only what I had to do to get by. It is not something I am proud of, it simply happened

The crazy thing was, I could see what was happening, but I couldn’t stop it. I let my health go, my happiness go, and worst of all, I let my muses go. By the middle to the end of the year, I couldn’t write my way through a wet Kleenex.

But instead of forgiving myself for my moments of laziness, I did the opposite. I put so much pressure on myself it was impossible to get things done. Instead I found other ways to squander my time. Since I had not completed the task and I would get mad at myself for being a slacker which would only push me further into my self-made sink-hole.

But slowly, I have been coming out of it. I have finally admitted a few things to myself that I have always known but was reticent to admit. We can discuss some of those later. 

This year I begin anew. After all since we survived the Mayan doomsday thing it so seems fitting. I plan on doing things this year that I have wanted to do but was afraid to. And for the first time in many years, I have decided to make a resolution and here it is.

I resolve to forgive myself and move on. Whether it’s eating a second piece of chocolate cake or watching a movie instead of writing. I will acknowledge it happened, but not dwell on it. That's it. Not too earth shattering, but very important. 

I hope that everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s.

Blessing and light to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Guest Post: Author, Alison DeLuca



Allow me to introduce a wonderful author and friend Alison DeLuca. Alison writes YA Steampunk novels. Admittedly I knew very little about the genre, until I was told where it originated. But I won't bore you with my poor description. Instead, I'll let the professional tell you about it.  



 Of Airships and Automatons

Steampunk is a mutt, a hybrid. It is sci fi mixed with ersatz historical fiction: a strange monster indeed. Purebred genres have their good points, of course, but sometimes readers are looking for a place to escape to in a world tired of vampires.
Is it new? No. It’s been here, after all, since the days of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. It was resurrected in the late 80’s by the likes of William Gibson and James Blaylock. Perhaps those writers were tired of the slick, aseptic world of 2001 and wanted something grittier that was at once urban and urbane.
Over the past few years, however, steampunk has really taken off. It has been given new life in the publishing world as well as on programming like Fringe. It even appears in a Lady Gaga video.
There are amazing books that have recently come out in the genre; there are collections like Corsets and Clockwork, series like the Behemoth books, and stand-alone works like The Windup Girl. They are edgy; they are filled with cogs and wheels and drawing room manners; they are sexy, like The Girl in the Steel Corset.
Hang on – how about those corsets, though? I write Steampunk, but I write books for a YA audience. I have deliberately decided to keep my work G-rated. There are no corsets there, except for those well hidden under riding habits and tea gowns.
I’m an editor as well as a writer, so “Will it sell?” is a question I’m learning to ask. What is steampunk without the steam? Will a younger audience be interested in an antique world?
There are YA collections out there for kids and teens, the Nickie Nick vampire hunter novels by O. M. Grey, the Blackfeather Chronicles, and the Girl Genius series by the Foglios. There are stand-alone books like Beltbuckle and Flash Gold. How popular they will be, and whether they will remain on Barnes & Noble bookshelves remains to be seen.
It makes sense that some books about cogs, wheels, and automatons should cater to kids. After all, children and adolescents were Verne’s and Wells’s and Doyle’s main audiences. I do believe that there must be quality in the story, however.
Steampunk, in order to save it from becoming steampulp, needs to have the Victorian or Edwardian technology serve a purpose. The airships should be there for a reason, not just floating around in order to give the author an excuse to slap a steampunk genre sticker on her book.
The airships and automatons must be an integral part of the plot, adding to the action and even, if I dare, the character development. I believe that kids appreciate character as much as any group of readers; they are just as turned off by poorly written protagonists. The characters in the books must be real, with flaws to overcome and problems to solves, as well as human feelings and hopes and desires. They cannot, in other words, be corset-wearing automatons.
I firmly believe that we will continue to see amazing books in the genre for YA. As the interest grows (there are already Steampunk festivals and exhibits all over the world, after all,) more authors will discover the fascinating fantasy that comes from opening the door to the old factory and discovering the possibilities of the alien machinery that waits inside.



Alison DeLuca grew up on an organic farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her parents were British, so in the summers she went to stay with her grandparents near Dublin.

There was no stereo or TV there, so Alison, her sister, and her cousins spent the summer inventing stories and plays for each other.  “This gave me the ability to entertain myself with my own imagination in any situation,” she says. “We used to be taken to tea with great-aunts, and we were expected to sit on an uncomfortable couch and not move or say a word.  It was possible to endure it because I was watching my own little stories play out in my mind.”

After graduating from West Chester University, Alison became a teacher of English and Spanish, teaching students from kindergarten up to college level. She loved teaching, and it was with reluctance that she left the classroom to be a fulltime mom when her daughter was born.

While she was teaching and raising her daughter, Alison took every free minute she had to write.  The Crown Phoenix Series was the result.

She is currently working on the final book in the series, as well as several other projects.
 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

We Are Not A-Muse-d!




Apollo and his Muses

I am pleased to offer you guys a guest post today by a wonderful writer, Carlie Cullen. I asked Carlie if she would tackle a subject that is near and dear to the heart of  artist everywhere. 

How do you handle your Muse?


Those of us who have a Muse to help and guide us in our creative endeavours are truly blessed. They feed our minds with inspiration, help our imagination to take flight and soar unbound and then help us translate it to words on a page or screen.

The one problem is we have no control over when our Muse will pop something into our heads or babble in our ears and leave us with the strong desire to abandon our tasks and pound the keyboard. They seem to have no concept of time and the appropriateness of feeding our fertile imaginations with something wonderful which we yearn to explore; they don’t see or will ignore the fact that there are certain periods when we can’t act on it.

So how do we deal with it?

Picture the scene. You’re at work, perhaps in a meeting, and your Muse suddenly dives in with a brilliant idea for your current W.I.P., a tasty twist for the plot and here’s you surrounded by people and trying to concentrate on the business at hand. Talk about inconvenient! You can’t get up from the table and excuse yourself and you’re unable to answer. You also don’t want to send your Muse away for a while – they don’t like that – they take umbrage and sulk for a few days before coming back to see you again. So now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I’ve had this happen to me a few times and I try to compromise with a placebo. I sure as heck don’t want my Muse to disappear on me for any length of time – that doesn’t bear thinking about. The way I’ve dealt with it in the past has been quite effective for me and my Muse hasn’t left me in a strop. I always carry a notebook with me, no matter where I go, to make notes in for whenever my Muse starts to chatter in my ear, or I see something inspiring, or I overhear a snatch of cool dialogue. Obviously I couldn’t take that particular notebook into business meetings, but I always had a pad and pen of some description.

What I’ve done is thank my Muse for the wonderful idea and jotted a couple of key words down in the margin in a way in which I can instantly recall the premise of the idea, but which wouldn’t mean anything to anyone looking over my shoulder. They would be just random words on sight, but the important thing is I would know what they meant. The idea wouldn’t get lost or clouded by the business matters as I had a note of it (I’ve even been known to write on my palm). I would also gently explain to my Muse that whilst I loved the idea, I was unable to respond because of the people around me and ask if we could talk about it as soon as I was free. This seems to work. My Muse doesn’t take offence at my inability to act on the spot and hovers until I go back to her and ask her more about the idea, which I always do as soon as I’m able. It has been known for me to make a rush trip to the ladies room as soon as a meeting is over just to placate my Muse and allow her to have her say.

Now I have to admit, it hasn’t always worked. There have been times when she’s got so carried away I couldn’t get a word in edgeways to stop her. Again I’ve made a couple of notes and at the first opportunity I’ve gone back to her and asked her to explain it again. I hear a sigh and a “weren’t you paying attention?”, but she almost always tells me again so I’m able to make notes or she’ll wait until I’m home and working on my latest project then guides my writing where she wants it to go.

Word association is also a good method of trying to remember what nuggets of gold your Muse has tried to impart, assuming you’re in a position where you can’t make notes (i.e. if you’re driving and yes that’s happened to me too). When I was writing my novel, I was driving to see my sister when up pops you-know-who and she started excitedly telling me about a plot twist she’d devised. She gave me the name of the character and then proceeded to give me all the details. I was trying not to become the jam in a lorry sandwich so couldn’t take it all in, but the name she came up with resonated and there was something on the back seat of my car which would be the perfect reminder. I used ‘dancing’ as the association word for Liam’s story in the book. Now I can see you scratching your heads trying to figure out the connection – allow me to enlighten you. At the time I was a professional dance teacher and one of my longest-standing pupils had a son, Liam, who I’d also taught. Now can you see where I’m heading?

I’m lucky! My Muse is understanding and doesn’t take offence easily. Not everyone is that fortunate. Some writers have a Muse who is curmudgeonly, others have one who take the slightest wrong word as a personal attack and have a fit of pique and then there are Muses who are like old-fashioned school teachers walking around with a cane they tap on their hands, who want nothing more than to whip you into shape, literally. If your Muse falls into any of the less ‘understanding’ categories, my advice to you is; be prepared to apologise, treat them with respect and don’t, whatever you do, upset them too much. They’ll always come back, but boy can they make you suffer!

So the next time your Muse starts to twitter away at an inopportune moment, stay calm, make a note or word association and be prepared to grovel later.



Thanks so much for you insight, Carlie. I don't know how many times I have been in shower and had my muse started talking to me. If only someone would invent a pad and pen that can be used in water. 

To learn more about Carlie and her works you can find her at: http://carliemacullen.com 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin, Cranberry, Cinnamon and Cloves

Right now I could be singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of The Year! Not because it is getting close to Christmas, but because it is October and there is a nip in the air. This is when I love to get in the kitchen and whip up something. In fact, I have some chili doing its thing in the crock-pot as I write.

Today I thought I would share on of my most favorite fall/winter recipes with you. If you are a fan of spiced tea, you should love this.

 

Russian Tea

1 and 1/2 cups sugar                                   
2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 tablespoons lemon juice                         
2 sticks cinnamon
12oz can frozen orange juice                    
4 regular sized tea bags
1 cup pineapple juice                               
4 cups water


Boil water with cloves and cinnamon for 4 or 5 minutes. Put tea bags in for in for 4 minutes. Pour over sugar. Add all other ingredients and enough water to make one gallon. Serve hot.


I have made this many times over the years but only in the fall and at Christmas. The one suggestion I have is to either get a large mesh tea ball or some cheese cloth to put the cloves and cinnamon in for easy removal. Other wise you will be trying to fish them out with a strainer. Been there, done that.

I hope you guys give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do.

Light and love to all.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Excerpt from Heart Search: Lost


Earlier this week a posted an interview from fellow writer Carlie Cullen.Now for your enjoyment I give you an excerpt from her new novel.


I was strolling down a tree-lined lane and as I rounded a bend, there was a tunnel in front of me. As I continued to move closer to it, I noticed a man standing by the entrance; he looked rather familiar, but I was too far away to see him clearly. Something from the depths of my soul resonated and I knew I had to go to him; I quickened my pace. About 80 yards away, I realised it was Joshua and started running towards him screaming out his name, but he was moving backwards into the tunnel. I started sprinting trying desperately to catch up to him, but no matter how fast I ran he still appeared as far away. I could feel despair mounting along with the physical agony of pushing my legs to their limits; tears coursed down my cheeks in frustration and my throat burned from yelling his name.
I was surrounded by shadows which appeared to be closing in on me as I pelted on towards him and fear began to ripple through me like a major earth tremor. Abruptly, I collapsed on to my knees, my poor tired legs unable to sustain the extreme effort any longer; I started to sob and extended a hand forward to him, but he was still too distant. I cried his name again and again; a mantra I hoped would bring him back to me . . .

Through the pain of my dream I became aware of another’s angst and was shocked to discover it was Becky. At first I couldn’t understand where her pain came from and then it seemed to meld with mine; we shared each other’s pain and it was difficult to distinguish where mine ended and hers began.

 







 To learn more about Carlie and her novels visit her at  http://carliemacullen.com  
or follow her on twitter http://twitter.com/carlie2011c