Youngblood Blog

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In Rough Seas We Need A Little Help From Our Friends

WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH, WRITERS GET TOUGHER
Monthly Tough-it-Out Corner for Insecure Writers

I like to think that we (Insecure) writers have a little extra ball of energy we hold in reserve for exactly that moment when the rest of our world is collapsing or about to do so.

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as  social ease

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as social ease


Now seems a good time to remind ourselves that, however insecure we may feel about the work we continually produce—the writing we LOVE—if we continue to brave it out through any storm, the rough seas will eventually bring calm.

And we may live through it!

ENTER GRACE—Or in Aegaean terms, THREE GRACES, daughters of ZEUS and EURYNOME

In Hellenist mythology Three Goddesses called the Graces represented grace, charm and beauty. Other qualities associated with them—
Aglaia represented elegance, brightness and splendor.
Thalia embodied youth, beauty and good cheer.
Euphrosyne encouraged mirth and joyfulness.

The KHARITES were conceived in Greek mythology as goddesses who brought festive joy and enhanced mortals’ love of life though their refinement and gentleness. Gracefulness and beauty in social intercourse are attributed to them. They are usually seen in the service or attendance of other divinities, as real joy exists only in circles where the individual gives up his own self and makes it his main object to afford pleasure to others.

“The less beauty is ambitious to rule, the greater is its victory”

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

Qualities embodied in the Kharites. Graces, are that the less homage beauty or grace demands, the more freely is it given.

Interestingly, these same traits were imported en masse into the Christian ethic and named Hope, Faith and Charity—from Gk.KHARITES—Catholicism in particular emphasizing ‘charity’.

I mention these lovely beauties at this time as, in the midst of world events where ladies’ sovreignty is paramount, it may be our GRACE which will see us through the storm.

Moving Beyond the Masque to Face Reality
Also, coincidentally in traditional Roman Catholic calendar—still calculated by the Moon—we have only just emerged from the Fire Festival of Fat Tuesday—Mardi Gras—Festern’s E’en. We are now entering a time of human restriction—in Church timing 40 days of Lent—where our resources and resourcefulness will be called on.

We IWSG-ers know how to pull in our belts, don’t we? If our Cap’n.Alex can do it, so can we.

Therefore, Angels of Grace, Beauty, Patience, bless you—we are calling for just a little help from our friends. Thank you for being here.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

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March 1, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, art, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, history, Muse, pre-Christian, ritual, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oster Toaster—Our Weather Woes Won’t Disappear

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS CATCH-UP CORNER or
Even Scatty Writers Plan Ahead

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”
Douglas Adams

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

With a whole *two month* chunk already bitten out of my twelve month schedule, planning ahead doesn’t always do the trick for me. But in a group of writers, where advice and help are freely given and nobody (hopefully) takes offense—our Insecure Writers Support Group I was thinking of specifically—there seems no place to cower in fear. We’re all encouraged to step up to the plate and at least try. With the third month of my year already begun, I’d better think of something.

Insecure Writers stick to the Grand Plan
Insecure Writers Support Group now has its own website, thanks to our Ninja Cap’n Alex who is always ahead of the game—comes of being constantly immersed in “future speak” and (successful) Space trilogies, ahem.

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

While 2016 may bring major change to us all—February has already broken historical temperature records worldwide—it’s sometimes comforting to believe we might all already be on a trajectory which could end on one of Alex’s famed remote star systems.
First we have the cyclical calendar anomaly—leap year adding a mandatory day to February or we’d all land back in the Middle Ages.

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Then there is the four-year culmination of super-athletes preparing for Olympic Games in Hispanic Heaven—Rio de Janeiro. You thought the Super Bowl was huge, set for the first time in the brand new Levi stadium, south of San Francisco. Brazil will pull out all the stops for August. They’ve already had a mammoth Carnival—their Fat Tuesday equivalent of Mardi Gras. This year they’re speaking of its continuing right through Easter—the German Oster of my title.

Meantime loads of attention will be focused next week—particularly in sea-level-rising Indonesia—where they will have an uninterrupted total solar eclipse March 9th, that will effectively black out the entire Pacific Ocean—for a moment of cosmic time—four minutes totality at zenith. Sadly it reaches mainland U.S. at dusk, and therefore we miss it. But writers in Alaska will be fortunate to see it as partial.
.
Only by cosmic accident do we hear that Alaska is importing snow for its famous dog-sled Iditarod race

The Irish Input
Amid all these cosmic happenings, does it seem a little tame of me to mention the second annual Dublin Writers’ Conference June 24-26, 2016? Judging by last year’s sell-out crowd—it has some kind of Irish spell it casts on us pen-wielders, because when we get together, all kinds of literary explosions are possible. My rationale for bringing up the June date now is that many U.S. IWSGer travelers make plans for Europe months ahead of time when airline deals can still be made. Just sayin’.

St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, will be here in two weeks to remind us!

Dublin was home to James Joyce and still holds the treasured Book of Kells at Trinity College.

Meantime the plethora of Space movies which began with Ridley Scott’s The Martian, continues in remakes—don’t you adore Superman vs. Batman?—and as yet unreleased alien adventures even Mr Spock might show emotion for.

March came in like a Lion in my part of the world. Weather patterns influenced by a strong El Niño produced the hottest February since historical records began.

Climate will no doubt be the focus for 2016, if we can all think simple earth thoughts in between our rages and/or love affair with our Muse. Whichever takes root in our consciousness, I suspect we IWSGers will still find a bolt hole here—along with a phalanx of other Insecure companions.

May we survive the Ides of March, the heat of Equinox and the onset of an early spring with typical writerly calm. It is, after all, our metier, our trade, and it should remind us that, even if/when our world changes beyond recognition, our Muse, our inner writerly urge will still be there to pick up the pieces…

…And put them down on the next available sheet of paper 😉 No wonder writers alone understand writers. How boring we can seem to the rest of humanity.

All the more reason to keep it coming.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

March 2, 2016 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, festivals, fiction, Muse, publishing, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking the Summer (S)Train—Leaving July to its Own Fine Madness

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS‘ CRY~~LeavME.BE~~
or Leaving on the Next Train

“From all I’ve learned, there’s no religious revelation more satisfying than hard-won food of simple understanding—no liberation compares with seeing oneself as the illusions/delusions of the Age we live in.”
Terence McKenna b. November 16, 1946, Paonia, CO. d. April 03, 2000, San Rafael, CA
R.I.P. SweetSpirit

1959783_859329230761341_1448992354_nFifteen years after the death of ‘Altered Statesman’—colleague and ethnobotanist partner in triumvirate of Berkeley LSD scientists—of whom only Baba Ram Dass survives, Terence McKenna progressed Timothy Leary’s ‘sixties psychedelic débût by experiencing 15 years as an Amazon Ayahuasca Shaman.

Finally he planted his own Hawaiian paradise, where his life cycle terminated.

Living in a Time-Wobble
McKenna was convinced that Western society lives in a kind of a time-wobble. With fantasy worlds available via Internet and Cell 24/7, we have essentially relinquished control over what our subconscious has already (collectively) devised for us.

“Time and our consciousness are speeding up. We are being drawn closer to the Attractor at the End of Time”

He called this our Eschaton.

Media-eye-view of the World

Media-eye-view of the World

Add to such real human identity crisis the madness of July, revved up by today’s SuperMedia as three continents celebrate historical nationalism—French Bastille Day, U.S. Independence fireworks, Vedic Purva Ashadha.

If we are already in the thrall of a winking blinking (fantasy-internet-Muse) light at the end of a metaphorical Tunnel, the only antidote for these Cosmic surprises is laughter.

Thunder Moon Jupiter-Venus Conjunction
Before we get to the funnies, however, let’s take a quick look at how indigenous cultures in the Americas call on ancestral Spirits, to aid them through each Moon’s wax-wane cycle.

Vedic Ganesh holds tonight's July 1st Full Moon between his Tusks, shines Light of Clarity into Waters of our Soul

Vedic Ganesh holds tonight’s July 1st Full Moon between his Tusks, shines Light of Clarity into Waters of our Soul

A clustering of Native American Tribal Full Moons—Algonquin, Chickasaw, Okanagan/Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota, Hupa, Yurok, Chumash, Hawaiian, Lucayan, Modoc and Tsurai—share similar Devic angelic view

January: Wolf Moon (end December) Old Moon
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon
March: Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sap Moon, Lenten Moon
April: Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Goose Egg Moon, Fish Moon
May: Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Corn-Planting Moon
June: Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Thunder Moon
July: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon
August: Corn Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
September: Harvest Moon, Full Corn Moon
October: Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon
November: Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon
December: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Nights’ Moon

Alternate Avenues through Muse Moodswings
When all else fails, #Humor never fails to do the trick. Even the saddest, most died-in-the-wool ‘LeaveMeAlone~I’m going away to eat Worms’ Muse-abandoned writer—the Mole—cannot fail to pause—if only for a blogging millisecond—and let out a chuckle.

If this apology for a monthly moan will suffice, dear Reader, and dear Cap’n-@our-Ninja-helm, Alex J. Cavanaugh 😉
then let me regale you with an Alternative Alphabet, conceived somewhere along those truly ephemeral airwaves our war-torn parents/grandparents constructed to amuse themselves, after a hard day’s work.

In their precious evenings, RADIO sprang to life. All kinds of fantasies might be fulfilled, all sounds and frequencies attempted.

Fantastical ‘Forties Fantasies over the R.A.D.I.O
For my sins, I grew up in a ‘Forties household, shielded from The Woah by a protective parent who—child polio victim, unable to serve—made all broadcasts [aka News] top priority. It became evening entertainment for the whole family—as there was only one radio!
Among a plethora of sounds emanating from the small walnut-cased glowing-dial box in the corner of the sitting room, after homework was done, we were allowed to hear a few tidbits.

One of these—probably altered beyond reasonable comprehension, to any but a native Scot—a rare glimpse into a smattering of hilarious popular culture of the time, a mingled brew—indiscriminate. But it has to make you laugh.

Give me this. You will at least allow yourself a giggle.

And, with all the crazies going on out there—Full Moon tonight, Jupiter and Venus in close conjunction, solar flares mixed in with Fourth of July weekend yet to come—you know it’s the best medicine~lol

‘FORTIES FORTITUDE: Adversity Kindling the Common Heart
Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right.

“Yet, from it all I have learned that there is no religious revelation more satisfying than the hard-won food of simple understanding.”

Om, Omega, Oversoul

VERSOUL: that Unity within which every man’s Being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart

ALTERNATIVE ALPHABET
A is 4 ‘orses
Beefor Mutton
C For Th Highlanders
Deef or Dumb
Eve or Adam
F for Vescence
Geoffery Farnol
H for Scratch
Ivor Novello
Jefferson Airplane*
Kay Fr-ancis
L for Leather
M for a Pie (Dundee accent, pie=peh)
N for a Pint (probably home brew: post-War booze was in short supply)
O fer the Sea to Skye
P fer Sninks ???

At anchor in Dundee, HMS Discovery, flagship of Robert Falcon Scott's tragic Antarctic expedition, 1910—symbol of Brit fortitude/failure against all odds

At anchor in Dundee, HMS Discovery, flagship of Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition, 1910—symbol of Brit fortitude/failure against all odds


Q fer the ‘tippenies’ (cheap tuppenny seats Saturday matinée local cinema)
Rfur Askey
S for Williams
Tea for Two
U for me
V for Victory—this WAS the ‘Forties
W for Quits
X for Breakfast
Y for No?
Z for the Abbulance [nasal voice]

*[inserted by TimeMaster Alien, ‘cos.I can’t remember 1940s’ original]

I dare some Elder from the Olde Countree of Great Memory NOT to remember at least some of these [North-of-the-Border] Vaudeville gems.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

July 1, 2015 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, culture, festivals, fiction, Muse, New Age, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Muse on Strike? Branch out into Art

MONTHLY IWSG CORNER: Art as an Alternative to Pacify the Muse

Prehistoric tattoo inspires modern body art

Prehistoric tattoo inspires modern body art

Few of us writers survive the pressures of a deadline, without stress. Summer may be on our doorstep—temperatures world-wide hastening the season—but we still feel like dragging our feet. Sound familiar?

Miraculously, we can sometimes soothe the savage breast—unfortunately standard accoutrement of our battle-ax Muse masquerading as our Ninja Captain Alex—to take a break. Or better still: think laterally—move sideways.

While ART covers a multitude of creative activities these days, it is truly refreshing sometimes to ignore the harridan shouting in your left ear; set down the pen. And take a look around.

Left Hemisphere—Literate, Analytical Right Hemisphere—Color, Number, Spatial

Artists Dee Hemingway, left, phenomenal voice captured on canvas by Westhaven's Toni Magyar

Artists Dee Hemingway, left, captured on canvas by Westhaven’s Toni Magyar


We are surrounded by Art—from simplest woven baskets to multi-faceted jewelry to cave painting c.2015. Yet writers prefer to keep nose to grindstone, in the fond belief that we may never need to explore that other hemisphere.

Artists, I am told, spend half their time trying to work out where their filing system is—any filing system—because they are continually having to feel their way through a “mess of space”, according to one art therapist.

Hanging out in our Right Hemisphere is good for us.

Making A Wish in Westhaven show

Making A Wish in Westhaven show

As luck would have it, my local art venue—Westhaven Center for the Arts—aren’t I fortunate?—just opened its Membership Show. It runs through June 30th, 2015.

What is inspiring to a cranky writer with an even crankier Muse at her elbow, is that many artists admit their Muse is just as difficult to please.

Pen Mightier than the Sword
The pen, traditionally, allowed Man to elevate himself from prehistoric tattooing through medieval wars to a philosophical level of wisdom. Surprisingly, the paintbrush, the weaver’s loom, the gouache splash are far more effective therapy, according to art gurus.

None of the above may be much consolation, mid-writer’s block.

But there is something about an eclectic mix of art in Northern Humboldt that I wish Alex and all you Back Easters could hop over here and see. If nothing else, getting out of our rut—and ignoring Muse-girl for twenty-four hours—is sure-fire way of getting her back in harness.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

May 6, 2015 Posted by | art, authors, blogging, culture, fiction, Muse, popular, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A NewYear [2015] Epiphany of Mind

INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP—IWSG January—Catchup Corner

Our star at perihelion, opposite full Cancer Moon

Our star at perihelion, opposite full Cancer Moon

IWSG FLYING the FLAG in 2015
January can often tax the kindest of our good intentions. Plus—forgive me for mentioning—an almost-75% landmass of the Northern hemisphere—E.United States hardest hit—is suffering blizzard conditions; a so-called mini-Ice Age.

NAKED IN SPACE—Comet Lovejoy in our Skies
Any emotional burdens which add to our New Year resolutions tend to throw our resolve out the window. But in the first week of the new year we are regaled by a delightful naked-eye object, to give our spirits a lift. Comet Lovejoy demands attention this week, drawing our sight heavenward. This is never a bad thing. By lifting our eyes from the computer, balance sheet, diaper drier, our thoughts get a chance to lie still for a moment. Instead, we can direct our attention to other—more dreaming musings—future successes—family changes—fame—whatever floats our boat. Our inner secrets revealed.

With our (astroLOGICAL) lives held in a 30-year Saturnine cycle, it’s nice to have a few little trifles to cheer us up when we get low: on motivation, NewYear rez—y’know—THAT time.

The Way Forward

But, thanks, as ever, to our fearless leader, Alex, who encourages us all by his supreme example: that abundance doesn’t need to mean hard slog!

Living in Present/Presence
Forget Auld Lang Syne: it’s all according to how we/you live now.

To plan y/our way forward, in life and in our day-to-day rhythm, we need to get comfortable first.

Any dream is gud! —more fabulous the better tku Aesop & all who Rock

Any dream is gud!
—more fabulous the better tku Aesop & all who Rock

Or, as the youth of 2015 constantly remind us:
NOW is where it’s at.

Within our little writerly IWSG community, fostered so well by our Ninja Cap’n Alex, I believe we writers have surfaced enough times here as a group, to understand our ‘other’ writerly silences. It goes with the territory.

I also believe, as fearless Alex constantly (gently) encourages us, that we are being asked—not just as a comfort-zone monthly moan-sharing group of Dreamweavers to open our own minds to what we can do. But to open our hearts as well.

Because soul-to-soul, we help each other connect to what really motivates us, just by holding each others’ hands through yet another (30-year wake-up call) Saturn Return.

’Nuff said.

Don’t do what I say. Do what Alex does!
Happy Epiphany & many 2015 Revelations.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

January 8, 2015 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fiction, Muse, New Age, novel, publishing, seasonal, sun, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

June—Too Soon to Worry—IWSG-No-Moan-WednesDay

MONTHLY 1st WEDNESDAYS InsecureWritersSupportGroup CORNER

Cyborg-human mindbender Odyssey goes where no gender has gone before...

Cyborg-human mindbender Odyssey goes where no gender has gone before…

A baby cried, a world began.
“Heart action dropping!”
‘Jake, Eunice?’
‘Here, Boss. Grab on. There, we got you.’
‘Is it a boy or a girl?’
‘Who cares, Johann—it’s a baby—one for all and all for one!’
An old world vanished and then there was none.
Robert Heinlein, I Will Fear No Evil, ©1970

Our revered leader, Alex Cavanaugh, would be proud of us minions in the writerly field— mini-minions, even, when it comes to major Sci-fi like current faves, Her, and Gravity—for even attempting to put together occasional works of fiction of the far-out genre. My own passion is cyber-warp-time-differential stuff, with a dishy captain at the helm, of course!

So it will come as only a mild surprise to him that this month I cannot—rather will not—raise my head above the parapet—of other #Iamwriting labors—to complain.

The weather outside is too wonderful, the view of the ocean—when I have the sense to raise my sights and gaze—to die for; and life in general is giving me abundance.

When June brings such a vista, all cares vanish—

When June brings such a vista, all cares vanish—

Will my Wunderkinder colleagues therefore forgive me for not moaning this time around?

It’s June, after all. Let’s relax and enjoy life a little.

If I have to squeeze in a tweak of intellect in an otherwise cerebrally-challenged month, I might suggest that both Her, the cyber-cross-human sex movie with dishy Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg; and blockbuster Sci-fi future classic Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, are gorgeous to look at, but Her is technically based on several previous scripts: Robert Heinlein’s, top; with the lovely Samantha created from the ancient Greek-Sanskrit myth-legend of Persas, that imported Persian harlot vampire who emerged from the ocean and devoured her lovers.

But who’s doing heavy research when the scenes are so vivid and sensually surreal? 🙂

When our hero—and Alex’s—Robert Heinlein—use the vampire lady in his seminal—and imho under-read classic, top, I Will Fear NO Evil, his words are more relevant today than 40 years ago.

So, all that leaves me is to say thank you to our planetary host, and our mentors-in-spirit—Wells, Heinlein and Bradbury, RIP—and, of course, the legendary PERSAS for her guest appearance. And may we all continue to have mythological creatures from the deep to inspire our writing.
©2014 Marian Youngblood

June 4, 2014 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, fiction, Muse, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Procrastinators? Moaning Minnies? Not us IWSGers

Monthly IWSG Corner

I wrote SHASTA: Critical Mass (forthcoming) while still in Scotland

I wrote SHASTA: Critical Mass (forthcoming) while still in Scotland; now what?

I woke up and realized it was IWSG time, with no blog up on the net, and Wednesday already half over in New Hampshire, New Jersey and New Brunswick; banks and all sleepyheads dead to the world in Europe, and who knows how many early birds up-‘n’-at-em in the Orient, Singapore, and at least three-quarters of Australia. So that makes me the late bird, with very few worms to catch.

A big ‘thank you’ to those lovelies on this great Alex-led circuit who read my last post and shared their thoughts. As a peripheral here—until my wifi and life rearrange themselves—I do appreciate input from other writers who have gone through major change. Helps to know I may still be on some kind of writing track—though some days I wonder…

One blogger bravely pointed out that living in the Pacific-NW’s beauty is a major issue in her writing. I agree. Ocean vistas squeeze into our awareness amazingly dauntingly stunningly grandiose dreams and thoughts, into a space where they don’t seem like dreams any more: it’s more like manifestation-in-process, where previously ‘stuck’ items start to feel less part of the procrastination process, more physically do-able.

That doesn’t mean I can balance my books or keep track of stuff in the ‘real’ world—I had to be told about soaring Alaskan temperatures, San Francisco gridlock—but I feel more comfortable in my skin, less ‘on the road’ gypsy. If my Muse will just let down her hair a little, then maybe my writing will, too.

With such new energy comes Schadenfreude, though: the Germanic bipolar word for ‘happy-sadness’, some say a longing, for what we left behind. All writers know what I’m talking about. Stressed, hyper, or super-relaxed and cool, we get to write about what moves us. And who could not be blessed by an ocean which stretches half way across the planet and brings new ideas/inspiration each day? But oh, those little whispers of past times, of places been to in a previous existence. Are they to become part of the next novel, perhaps?

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Mary changes with Nature and seasons

Mary changes with Nature and seasons

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row
Traditional

Contrarily, I wrote ‘SHASTA: Critical Mass‘—forthcoming from AllThingsThatMatter Press—mostly while I lived in Scotland, with occasional visits to California. Now, one of that state’s 38 million residents, does that give me license to wax eloquent on my Caledonian heritage, or, as Mary might suggest, branch out like Alex and… project myself into space? Always a sci-fi addict, I am seriously tempted.

But it seems I have work to do first. And not the fun stuff—the other.

My wonderful editor who held my hand throughout 2012 during ‘Shasta‘ line edits and finals, house move crazies, etc., signed me off while surrounded by packing cases; so I blessed my good fortune and got on with house repair and plumbing permits—wipes brow. Now, several months down the line, it seems my publisher and editor weren’t totally on the same page… Guess who now has to find not only the will but the way to switch back into chop-and-slice mode, instead of what I really want to do, which is WRITE?

Schadenfreude must also mean no rest for the wicked. That, too, has a contrary feel to it. I remind myself that ‘wicked’ in trendy Brit-speak actually means ‘have fun’.

Wish me luck.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

July 3, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, consciousness, environment, fiction, Muse, nature, publishing | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Late is Relative: Faux-Wednesday IWSG

Monthly IWSG Corner

I'm late, I'm late ... but am I Alice or the White Rabbit?

I’m late, I’m late … but am I Alice or the White Rabbit?

“I’m Late, I’m Late
For a Very Important Date…
No Time to say ‘Hello’; Goodbye.
I’m Late, I’m Late, I’m Late”
White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland

Put it down to being on another planet for the last month—California is another time zone—but truly it can also be a whole ‘nother world… 🙂

And, apologies to our Ninja captain Alex for transposing the first Wednesday of the month and attempting to re-create it as faux. I couldn’t miss you guys altogether. It’s just that my schedules and my life have taken a slight detour in the interim…

Mostly, sorry for being absent—moving house-life-continents can be rather demanding 😦
and, for similar reasons, for this month’s brief contribution. It’s not really a moan at all—more a hi to all of you/Alex’s brave stalwarts out there —including his new lady co-hosts !! wow !! Livia and Tasha. Thanks to you all for still keeping us with the pen on the page; the book launch in sharp focus, the literary nose to the grindstone…

New Meaning to the Word ‘Wireless’
To be honest, the last month has been an exercise in experiencing and cherishing the wonder of electronic connection. Most of us don’t give it a second thought, unless there is a solar X-flare surge in our local electricitiy supply or a city power outage: usually, grateful for our cozy office or window view and a computer… we stress instead about not communicating with our Muse… or other lovely literary languishing.

But without internet—or wi-fi in some form—the Western World, our current little chats, frivolous interplay and supportive commentary—wouldn’t have a platform; wouldn’t exist on any plane whatsoever.

Basic intercontinental travel is only half the issue: we have all probably experienced the vagueries of wi-fi in big airports: the smaller the airport, the less likelihood of a reliable connection. Been there, done that. Now, several weeks, and a hinterland later, I am graced with sporadic wireless when the Universe—and the current 2000-foot mountain range—allow.

Like General MacArthur: I shall return; but in the meantime, guys, thanks for listening, hang in there, pray for no more solar X-flares, and other delights the Universe might throw at us in the rest of 2012 … and enjoy the season and the runup to Solstice 2012.

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh, Walt Disney.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

December 6, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, Muse, popular, writing | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Journey Out and In

Monthly IWSG Corner

SHASTA: CRITICAL MASS, soon to be released through All Things That Matter Press, a Maine publisher

I’ve always been one to push it: the over-achiever in me likes to be in control. But sometimes it just doesn’t work.

We all know when the Muse is directing operations, it’s better if we just go along with her, with the tide, and allow her full rein. It’s important to give her loads of room to stir up the subconscious, and then wait and see what little miracles she has planned for us.

At other times, when the outer world directs—like editors, publishers, book-signings; that whole exciting round of putting oneself out there—it sometimes takes us by storm and we need to follow that flow, too.

But our Muse doesn’t like it; does she? Even when we tell her she needs to rest occasionally. Like her human charges, all work and no play… you know.

I wish it were as easy as it sounds: deciding when to write, and when not to. But, especially in the writing-publishing world, it’s never that simple. We writers aren’t totally in charge.

To be honest, we probably never were. We may think—especially during edit-mania—that the left hemisphere of our brain is running the show. But, even then, the direction is more likely to be coming from the reading public, what our publisher expects, what the market wants; what subjects are current darlings of the book-club circuit.

So, because I have been working flat-out—over the last month, at least—to try to get through final edits on my apocalyptic/end-times New Age novel, SHASTA: CRITICAL MASS, forthcoming from lovely Maine publisher, All Things That Matter Press, I have to say upfront I have probably let down my blogging/authorly friends in Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. I know how good it feels to hear a word of encouragement from others in the same position—writers and bloggers and authors beginning to make a name for themselves out there—so I apologize if I haven’t had a chance to make the usual rounds of IWSG authors’ pages in the last few weeks. I promise I’ll try to make up for it, when the current push subsides.

Maine publisher of spiritual, self-help, authorly fiction and non-fiction for new ‘voices’

On the other hand, there may be quite a few IWSG-ers whose work is ideally suited to the ATTM ethos, so I’ll explain. They are a small press who like to introduce to the world of readers those authors who have a message—predominantly spiritual—to relay, a distinctive “self”, which they’d like to share. In these times where the ‘Big Five’ often have little patience with first-time authors or new discoveries, their approach is refreshing. Run by husband-and-wife team, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Phil and Deb Harris, the system operates smoothly, and the cogs are well-oiled and kept rolling by a team of editors, including the superb Marvin Wilson, himself a blogger and author of several books, including the Avatar-Award-winning novel, Owen Fiddler (2009). I couldn’t be in better hands.

For IWSG-ers, it may be of interest to point out that Marvin is also a mentor who delights in assisting writers, bloggers, other authors in the art of good writing.

That said, my Muse is feeling a little restless. She doesn’t like taking a back seat. Edits and reworked points-of-view (POV) are not what she thrives on. But I have told her that she, like me, should take a break from time to time. We all need to make the Journey Out and In. Besides, I’ve had a couple of chapter rewrites where she seemed delighted to pitch in again and throw her weight around!

And, if all goes well, she will be allowed to stretch her wings fully once more next month, when the annual NaNoWriMo marathon starts up again for all of us fledgelings to soar, unencumbered, to dizzy heights.

Until then, I hope she will a-Muse herself—sorry :(—and I have reminded her that we have even greater (Muse-ical) avatars who paced this path before us:

Gazing past the Planets
Looking for total view
I’ve been lying here for hours
Got to make the Journey Out and In

Thank you ©Moody Blues.
And thank you, Alex.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

October 3, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, Muse, novel, publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Deadline versus the Muse

A-musing, but not funny...

When my Muse is on vacation, any convenient distraction will do. But, as an ex-journalist, I find that doesn’t make filing by the deadline any easier, especially when one has committed to joining an inspiring writer and author like Alex J Cavanaugh and his ‘bloghop’ team of dedicated bloggers/authors/workaholics to write a monthly contribution.

To remind the aspiring writer who may be reading this and who might contemplate joining his awesome throng, Alex suggests we (*bloggers, or *authors-in-waiting) jot down a few thoughts every first Wednesday of the month and share our experiences, worries, troubles, elations and errors in the publishing world with upwards of 170 other bloggers/authors subscribed to his Insecure Writers Support Group [IWSG]. That isn’t counting the thousands of other bloghopper readers, not encumbered by a deadline, as well as possible wannabees who are casing the joint before making a commitment to join in themselves.

Alex suggests that on the first Wednesday of the month we can let our hair down and spill.

This is okay because all the other hoppers out there have had similar experiences. We are among friends. It is all right to express our innermost fears, our weirdest conflict, our secretest doubt, our silliest blunder. Because he is right out front there expressing these things too. If you aren’t totally comfortable with verbalizing the negative (like stage superstition covered by the ‘break-a-leg’ greeting, i.e. don’t tempt fate), you may cheerfully add your good news, your recent success, your final breakthrough into authordom…

What is clever about the support provided by his hopping bloggers is that, not only do we get to share something we may never have admitted to ourselves before, but we suddenly have a built-in audience.

Many of us took on the blogosphere with trepidation a couple of years back, plunged in naïvely, hoping against hope that we were going about things the right way, blind leading the blind, ‘building our platform’, braving the unknown waters of HTML. We scanned site stats on a daily basis, counting our hits… grateful for traffic and every new comment.

The IWSG sorts all that out with one blow: built-in support group, others’ sharing what we had not dared say out loud, and the miraculous sudden ‘following’ of a dozen comments in the feedback section we never expected in our wildest dreams. Who can resist?

...nice to have one's ego stroked occasionally...

It’s a very nice means of having one’s ego stroked. But it’s way helpful, too.

Some of us secretly longed to become recognized in our lifetime for our — Muse-directed — passion: that we have a Voice that sounds like no other; that the novel we wrote on an Olivetti portable before you had to keep changing the ribbons might finally be unearthed and shared with millions. Others see rôle models in e-book epiphanous Amanda (Hocking) or OBE-Jo, (Rowling): imagining ourselves next to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Still others find solace simply in reading, creating and looking fondly at the written word every day in life.

I am one of the latter. I have no option. I have always written. I doubt if I shall stop now.

This only partially explains why I write New Age fantasy and historical fiction, laced with a little Sci-Fi, for mainstream publication [i.e. hard copy]; while my blogs are hardcore non-fiction, laced with an occasional crop circle!

C’est la vie.

Alex writes this month of a guilty feeling he holds next to his heart: that he did not always want to be an author; that he writes as an outlet for his creativity and it morphed into publishing success. He should not feel guilty about this.

New Age guru and Abraham-channel, Esther Hicks, says in order for us to be successful at what we dream, it’s not the long hard struggle that counts, it’s the ability to allow effortless creation to emerge through joy in doing what we do best. It may sound like a tall order. In shorthand, Esther says if we catch the dream, encapsulate the feeling it gives us and follow through with expectation, all things will come; or, more Abraham-like:

“Once you align with your desire, the Energy that creates worlds will flow through you…which means enthusiasm and passion and triumph. That is your destiny.”
Abraham-Hicks

and

“The feeling is the manifestation.” Abraham

Part of the lifelong occupation of a writer is renewing oneself, finding fresh material that inspires, and sometimes doing little exercises in writing differently. After all, if you’ve been hitting the keys for a couple of decades, you worry about getting stale.

And, if your Muse is taking a break, there’s no harm in pounding the keyboard until she gets back.

Recently I have found myself contemplating suitably short sharp bursts of chatter on Twitter, where one may only submit a total of 140 characters or fewer — to fit in the tweet-box. It is certainly an exercise in brevity. It’s also excellent practice in self-editing. There is always the (future vision/) opportunity to tweet the publisher’s link to your book when launch date arrives!

Another technique practised by those of free-associative or poetic bent, is writing to a ‘spark’ word; or making an idea into a poem. There are Flash Fiction addicts — writing a blog or telling a story in no more than one thousand words, including all dialogue, build-up and plot. There is fun in writing a snappy caption for a random pic.

And then there is the Drabble.

Part way between the tweet and the flash, a Drabble is a story — a bullet, an idea, a character outline, a work of fiction — that is exactly 100 words long: no more, no less. I assure you it is more difficult than it sounds.

I was asked last fall to contribute to a really fun drabble-thon where each person’s 100-word story followed on from the writer before. Its theme was ‘Pay it Forward‘. The result was a flight of fancy into realms of superspace and back that no one could have foreseen. If you would like to read these brave drabblers, check out The Burrow.

I append another little Drabble which I wrote for last year’s December Drabble contest also at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash. This was a sort of picture caption and drabble combined. I am the first to admit drabbling is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot more editing and self-control than your average flash.

NOLA HOLA

She’d worked hard — her beads sparkled in December sunshine. Farmers market always busy on weekends, the tomato and squash guy in the next stall said, selling his pumpkins for pennies. Marking ’em down low was his recipe for getting home early.

Freezing, only her second time, she gotta stay to cover costs. Don’t come back without a Franklin, or I break your arm, he’d said.

That weirdo, watching from a doorway since lunchtime, came over, handed her a 1000 dollar bill.
‘Cleveland cover it?’ he asked, picking up the jewel case.
Passport outta Dodge, she thought.
‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Thanks.’

©2010 Marian Youngblood
photo ‘Colourful beads’ by Natasha Ramarathnam
December Drabble Theme at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash

So, sorry, Alex. I cheated this month. I’m not sharing an inner woe and I’m not admitting to a fear worse than death.

Unless it’s that my Muse has abandoned me forever…

Well, blame it on my Muse. She’s on vacation, and I’m having a hard time remembering when she’s due to get back!
©2011 Marian Youngblood

October 5, 2011 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, fiction, Muse, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments