Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To dream of rainbows

Please let me dream of rainbows, the child she said to me.
I want to dream of rainbows, and castles by the sea.
I need to dream of rainbows, fairies dance there in its light.
I have to dream of rainbows, there witches have no fright.
For you see, to dream of rainbows, is to dream of fantastical lands,
what is to be, my friend you’ll see, lives inside those colored bands.
So let me dream of rainbows, where winged horses take to flight.
I want to dream of rainbows, even pirates in the night.
I need to dream of rainbows, and see what I can see.
I have to dream of rainbows, to be who I’m meant to be.

It has been many weeks, actually months, since I sat down to write anything, and in fact, I almost put it off again tonight. It has also been more years than I can think since I have written a poem of any kind. So you might say I found it odd when the first line to the above poem stuck in my head at 12:30 am.

I tried to put it out of my mind, and tell myself that I would get to it in the morning, after I had a full nights rest, or any rest for that matter. You see I have been battling bronchitis for the past four or five days, and staying awake to write a poem was not something I had in mind. Yet, there it was and before I had even gotten out of bed, the poem had written itself inside my head and would not rest until I put it down on paper.

So what does it mean? It means I want to dream of rainbows, or anything for that matter. I’m not talking about the dreams you have when you lay down to sleep at night. (That’s where I get my character ideas from. Can’t wait for you guys to meet Clio the Centaur.) I’m talking about daydreaming. About making up a story, any story, and fleshing it out inside your head. It is something we were champs at doing as children and have since learned to royally screw-up as we become adults.

I know to hear me say I want to dream seems odd considering a spend a great deal of time with imaginary characters. In fact as I strolled through the French Quarter the other day, I took two of my characters along with me. Luckily, in New Orleans, people talking to themselves is not unusual and I blended in with all the other eccentrics.

But daydreaming about who and what you are, who and what you want to become, that is a different thing all together. I catch glimpses of that ability ever so often, but not for nearly long enough. There seem to be too many demands on me and my day. To even get five minutes alone is a miracle, and even when I am alone, my mind won’t stop thinking of the 452 things I HAVE to get done.

I read a blog by Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob) the other day in which he talked about becoming a director. He kept talking about wanting TO BE a director, until one day, his sister told him to quit saying he wanted TO BE a director. That he already was a director. He simply hadn’t directed a movie yet. He needed to stop trying to be and simply be. He had to act like a director and continually think like a director, and that got me thinking.

I want TO BE a writer. The one thing I have on Kevin is that I actually have written a novel. Two in fact, and am working (I use that term loosely) on the sequel to the second one. So, I am a writer, I just haven’t published my first novel yet.

So maybe to become published I need to go back to the philosophy of “think-ology.” Just like the kids in the Music Man who taught themselves to play musical instruments without ever actually playing a note, I can think or daydream my novel into being published. After all, isn’t that really what the premise of the books The Secret and the Law of Attraction is about when you boil it down - “think-ology”. If you built it they will come and all that?

I know it’s early, but I have made my New Years Resolution. It is to dream of rainbows, to be who I’m meant to be. I will probably throw in a shape-shifter or two and an elf assassin. I can’t help it. Those guys are really fun to hang out with.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

If I were Queen of the Forrest

Below is a list of things that are pet peeves of mine. If I had my way, and were actually the Queen of the Forrest, I would work to change them. This list is in no particular order since, depending on the day, one could irritate me more than the other.

1) Girls will cover up their stomachs, rear-ends and thighs. I know that you are are proud of your belly-rings, tramp-stamps and thongs. I am not. I do not care. In fact most of the population does not care, nor do they want to see it. I know that you think guys will see you and think it is sexy or hot. News flash they don’t. Just they think you’re a slut. Sorry, but someone has to tell you the truth.

2) Guys must pull their pants up. I guess it could be worse. I should be happy you at least wear underwear, but I don’t care that you have Tommy Hilfiger boxers. It doesn’t matter how cool or thug you think you look. You don’t. You just look stupid. So pull your darn pants up!

3) Mumblers! Sometimes I feel like Willy Wonka and I want to yell “MUMBLER” as loud as I can and move on. I know, I’re gonna tell me that some people have a disability that would cause them not to speak plainly. I can believe that with about 1-2 percent of the population. The rest of you are just lazy. Move your lips, jaw and tongue and speak where someone can understand you.

4) If I were Queen, along with your high school proficiency test, (which, by the way are as useless as teets on a bull and measure absolutely nothing more than if the teachers can teach you to regurgitate facts) students would be forced to pass a common sense test. If you cannot figure out how to work your way out of a paper bag, change a light-bulb and come in out of the rain, you do not pass. You do not get your Common Sense License and you can not hold a job in which you deal with the public.

5) Lastly, men of my choosing will be made to wear knee-boots and Pirate shirts. Why, you may ask? Simple. Unlike tramp-stamps, muffin-tops and boxer shorts, knee boots and puffy shirts on the right man IS sexy.

Hey, I’m the Queen. It’s what I want. At least I’m not asking for double-time march.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday in the kitchen with Julian

I read cookbooks like most people read novels. In fact in the past few days, I have probably perused at least five cookbooks, not to mention multiple online recipes sources. So this morning, when I was rummaging through a cookbook that had been hidden back in the dark recesses of my kitchen cabinet, I realized this could mean only one thing. Julian, my culinary muse, wanted to play.

I must admit it has been quite a while since he and I had a tryst in the kitchen. With the start of football season, the thought of cooking has just been too daunting. It is much easier to open a can of soup or stop at Sonic than actually prepare my own food.

However, Julian can be quite persuasive, or it could be I can’t say no to his deep indigo eyes. (Yes, I know what color my muse's eyes are, doesn’t everyone?) Julian promised me a day spent with him in the kitchen will be both relaxing and enjoyable. Once I agreed to join him, we picked out a recipe and plodded off to the store for supplies. I was actually a bit excited about the proposition of using my kitchen for more than a place to toss the mail and feed the dog.

Let me interject here that if I wasn’t in a bad mood before I went to the store, I definitely was after I left the store. Since I am limited on shopping choices, I must spend my grocery shopping time at a certain discount superstore. To say that place puts my knickers in a twist is an understatement, but I digress. I shall save that rant for a later date.

However, I come home grouchy as a bear, haul in all the groceries, yell at the cat that decided to run outside for no good reason other than she is as old as dirt and thinks she can do whatever she wants. Then, before I can even start cooking I have to put the food away, step over the dog fifteen or so times (because she has to lay right where I walk), clean the kitchen, and give both the cat and the dog a snack so they will quit staring at me. So much for enjoyable.

With all that out of the way I can finally begin my relaxing Sunday of cooking. So, I chop carrots, celery and onions and prepare the stew meat. All the while Julian stands by supervising my chopping prowess and measuring to see if my “finely chopped” onions are indeed “finely chopped”. Once they pass his inspection, I throw it all in the stew pot, cover it with chicken broth and it's on its way to becoming dinner.

Next, Julian decides it would be a good idea to roast two hen. Why two you may ask? Simple. It’s as easy to roast two as it is one, and I have to admit the has a point. So, I wash and prepare two whole chickens, fill them with aromatics and plop them in the oven to roast while the stew is cooking, and at the present time, the house smells incredible.

Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy cooking, and I need Julian to remind. For me it is the sense of pride in accomplishment when I fix something I know my family will enjoy. Maybe it is my Southern upbringing, but I believe you can taste when food is made with love. It’s one of those magical things that has no quantifiable measurement. In my world, food equals love. So, if I ever cook for you, know it means I love you.

Julian was right. A day in the kitchen with him was enjoyable and relaxing. I can’t wait to try the stew tonight. Now...if I could just teach him to clean the kitchen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Great Cupcake Fiasco of '09

I must confess, I am a chocolate fiend. I have tried to deny my baser instincts when it comes to the sweet luscious darkness that lays wrapped beneath festive foil wrappers. Santas, Easter Bunnies, and Eggs - OH MY! Chocolate makes me weak. There I said it and I will be starting a twelve step program next week.

Due to my openly admitted weakness,I was delighted I received an e-mail from a friend with a recipe for chocolate cake. Not just any chocolate cake, a special chocolate cake made in a coffee cup and cooked in the microwave in 5 MINUTES! (I will not divulge the enabler's name. They know who they are.)

Now some of you know that I am an avid cook, especially of deserts. I am the person who reads a recipe, tries it, tweaks it, and tries it again. I will even go so far as to research the recipe, read blogs, etc. So the thought of a 5 minute microwave chocolate cake gave me shivers and I do not mean the good kind.

For months I have put off trying this recipe. My ESP told me that no good could come of such a union as chocolate cake and a coffee cup, but tonight I pushed aside my foodie instincts. No matter how loudly my culinary muse, Julian, yelled at me, I ignored him and forged ahead. (Yes, my culinary muse is a man. In fact all my muses are men.) I took the time and researched this recipe and read what everyone had to say about it. There were mixed reviews, but I am a professional. Where others have failed-I shall be triumphant! (Insert Julian, standing by with his arms crossed over his chest, shaking his head.)

So I measured and I mixed. Sure I was a little leery of the three tablespoons of oil required, but hey...who am I to mess with a recipe that was given five stars by someone whose screen name was dreadloxx? After all they heralded the little cakes as AWESOME when you have the munchies. What better endorsement does one need?

The batter was ready, the microwave was ready, and I was ready. My Julian however, was busy sulking in the corner and calling the other muses to come watch what he assured them was "Joan's greatest culinary failure since the Chinese incident of 2002."

I was fearless. I was undaunted. I was really, really stupid. Somewhere around minute two of the cooking cycle I thought "is cake supposed to smell like that?" Point # 1) If you question the smell of something you are cooking, that is NOT a good sign. Soon the microwave dinged and I eagerly retrieved my cup of chocolaty goodness. It was still hot and sizzling. Point # 2) Cakes should never, ever sizzle. If a cake sizzles, that is NOT a good sign. But I had come this far so why stop now?

I flipped the cup over and the cake plopped onto the saucer. As all good chefs do, I poked the CUPCAKE with a fork. The fork bounced back. Point # 3) Forks should not bounce off cakes. If a fork bounces off a cake, it is not a cake, it is a sponge. Point #4) If it looks like a sponge,take my word for it, it will taste like a sponge. (Of course I had to taste it. The muses dared me.)

So what have I learned from all this? Well two things #1) To never take cooking advice from anyone who calls themselves dreadloxx and #2) To never doubt my culinary Muse again. Well at least he has something new to talk about.

Originally written February 2009

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And here's the pitch....

So last time I was here, I posted an "interview" with one of the characters from my new book The Last Guardian. Since many of you unaware I am a budding author, I thought it might be a good idea to post the pitch/blurb for this book.

So without further adieu: The Last Guardian

CJ Carson believes she is slightly mad. For more than 30 years she has imagined the same voice inside her head comforting her and keeping her from harm. She has no idea the voice belongs to a shape-shifter named Mika Elkhart. For that matter, she has no idea that shape-shifters actually exist or that she was born to be their guardian and protector.

Mika Elkhart is a 150 year-old shape-shifter. It has been his duty and honor to watch over CJ for most of her life and it is his voice she hears rattling about her brain. When the last Guardian is murdered, Mika is forced to reveal who and what he is in hopes of convincing CJ to take her rightful place within the preternatural community.

But before CJ has a chance to accept Mika's offer, her soul is kidnapped and cast into Hell. Now Mika must descend into the world of lost souls, find a way to retrieve the soul of the woman he loves and safely return it to her body; for without a Guardian, the time of shape-shifters will come to an end.

All right guys. That's it. I would love to know what you think, so please don't be bashful because you know I'm not.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interview with Fergus Wolfe

I thought it might be good (or at least interesting) to let you guys meet the men I spend so much of my time with. So over the next few posts I will be conducting interviews with the characters from my new book The Last Guardian. So lets start off with the leader of the pack, Fergus Wolfe.

Q: Where and when were you born?
A: I was born about 1720, give or take 20 years, in the Irish countryside, which makes me approximately 300 years old.

Q: What brought you to the Theriontrope Foundation and Haven?
A: I came to the Theriontrope upon the death of my parents. I took my brother Aiden, who we now call Saint, when he was only a few days old and hiked to the nearest village where there was a Theriontrope Overseer.

Q: How long did that take?
A: The journey took about three days. Had I been older it would not have taken so long. However, I was barely 20, which is still considered a child in the shifter world. I had only begun the process of shifting form a few month before and had very little control over my abilities.

I would have made better time as a wolf, but I ran the risk of getting killed. You see, since the 13th Century there had been a blanket edict that all wolves were to be exterminated, but obviously I made it because here I am.

Q: Why did you leave your pack?
A: I had no pack to turn to because, did I not tell you? My brother and I are the only survivors of our species. English wolves were hunted to extinction. My father was presumably the last. He was poisoned with a silver arrow and then killed. At the time, my mother was pregnant with my Saint. After his birth, my she mourned herself to death.

Q: If you could go back in time and change anything what would it be?
A: I cannot change what is or what was nor would I want to. I can only move forward.

Q: Is there anything about Shape-shifters that you would like to clear up?
A: Not really. The less a human knows about us, the safer my race will be.

Q: Can you at least clear up the silver thing? Can it actually kill you if you touch it?
A: No. Silver does not kill us if we touch it. However, it is poisonous to us, if ingested or dispersed into our blood streams. If touching it were deadly then Mika Elkhart would not still live.

Q: Do you have a goal? Something you wish to accomplish?
A: A goal? No, I do not have one. Least not one that I can put my paw on. I have mastered every weapon that I have tried. Not to brag, but I am an expert marksman with both bullet and arrow.

Q: What is your favorite weapon?
A: Is that what you really wanted to ask or is your real question what is my preferred method of killing? If I am in human form, my choice would be knives. Silent, accurate, personal. As a wolf, I will rip out your throat as quickly as possible.

Q: Is there anything about you that my readers might find shocking?
A: Probably that I am a cellist and I am quite good. After all, I have had 200 years to perfect my technique. The cello strikes a chord in me, no pun intended. Sad yet beautiful like the mournful bay of the wolf.

Q: So beneath the warriors breast beats the heart of a romantic?
A: laugh Please forgive my laughter. No I am far from romantic. That adjective will find better use hung upon Saint or Ghost, not me.

Q: In 300 years you’ve never dated or been in love?
A: I have been with women. Been in love? That is all together different. I have never fallen in love nor do I intend to. It was love that killed my mother and left Saint and I alone. I refuse to allow another to have that much power over me. May we change the subject please? I do not wish to discuss this.

Q: There are those in your pack that refer to you as their savior. What do you think of that?
A: I am no one’s savior. I do only what needs to be done. No more, no less.

Q: Describe your brothers in one sentence.
A: Saint: His name implies it all.
Mika: He’s a good kid, but still a kid.
Ghost: A royal pain in my arse.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks for helping me remember

I have been waiting on Stephanos to earn his keep as my muse and give me some idea of what to write my next blog on. However, I realize that he and Gordon are probably off somewhere, downing a pint of Stout and plotting new ways to torment me. It seems they have enjoy zinging me with "divine inspiration" at the most inopportune moments, such as when I am standing in the deli line at the grocery store. So since my muses seemed to have abandoned me momentarily, I must forge ahead on my own.

This past week I was given the privilege of teaching voice lessons at the International Community Theatre Festival in Venice Florida, and I must say it was glorious. Never before have I seen or done anything like this. Community Theaters from around the world were there including Denmark, Australia, and Russia to name only a few. It truly was an incredible experience.

But I have to admit the show that touched me the most was a musical review from the Loveland Center, a non-profit corporation that provides various services for adults with developmental disabilities. The Loveland Performers are a wonderful and remarkable group of people. From the moment these guys began to sing, I began to cry. As a teacher of voice and music it gave my heart great joy to see people who actually performed for the sheer joy and love of performing.

As performers, we have a tendency of getting in our own way. Intellectually I know why it happens. We worry too much about how we look, how we sound, or what others will think of us. We go through the litany of questions such as: what if my voice cracks? What if I forget the words? What if... What if... The list goes on and on, and I see it all to frequently in my students.

But here is my question. What does it matter? I know. I know. Performing is personal. It is not only about the song or the dance or the monologue. It is, metaphorically speaking, putting yourself out there naked for all the world to see. To make a mistake can be devastating, because, God forbid, you might get laughed at, and no one likes to be laughed at unless you are Larry the Cable Guy.

The pressure of perfection is enough to drive you crazy. In many instances this leads to performance anxiety so debilitating, we stop performing and doing what we love. But isn't that what being in this world is about? Are we not here to experience the things we love and enjoy solely for joy's sake?

So, where am I going in all this? First: I am reminding myself that although performing is personal, I should not allow myself to get too caught up in me, and to stop listening to the critics inside my brain. Second: I want to thank the beautiful Loveland Center Performers. If it hadn't been for them, I might never have remembered the overwhelming beauty and joy of performing with abandon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Trouble With Muses

I believe we all have muses. Only we don't all listen to them. Most people believe they only have one muse and that may be true for them, but not for me. I happen to have multiple muses and unlike the ones that are found in Greek Mythology mine are not waif-like beauties draped in gossamer fabric. Nope not mine. All my muses happen to be men, and rather smug ones at that. And before you ask, yes, they all have names.

I am a rather good cook (if I do say so myself.) So of course I have a muse in the kitchen. His name is Julian. I think that is a play on Julia Child, but he chose it so who am I to argue. One day when I am feeling like humiliating myself, I will tell you of the great cupcake fiasco of 2009. Julian was especially funny that night and enjoyed calling for the others to watch so there would be witnesses.

But the two muses that I spend the bulk of my time with are Stephanos and Gordon. Stephanos was actually the first muse that I met and the one responsible for starting me on my journey of becoming a writer. He is the one that wakes me up at 4am asking why I'm wasting time sleeping when there are stories to be written.

Stephanos' comrade in arms is Gordon. The best way to describe Gordon is to say he is my grammar muse. Yes. I said grammar. Quite frequently he stands over my shoulder and says things like--"You call that an action verb?" or "Too many adverbs. No one needs that many adverbs." He is well intentioned, but rather irritating from time to time. There are a couple of others, but these are the ones that I seem to hear on a daily if not hourly basis. In fact, Gordon is looking over my shoulder at this very moment making sure that I do not use too many adverbs.

People have asked me where the ideas for my manuscripts come from. In truth, I don't know. I only know that they do come and I am grateful for that. I only wish the guys would get their act together and pop in when I actually have the means to write down or record what they are telling me. Because let me tell you, they have a knack for picking the worst times to make suggestions. Luckily for me, my guys are used to me yelling at them to come back later.