Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

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

Advertisements

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

Happy Second Anniversary, Insecure Writers’ Support Group

Monthly IWSG Corner

Blowing bubbles to celebrate—Happy Anniversary IWSG

Blowing bubbles to celebrate—Happy Anniversary IWSG

A long time ago we told multi-talented Alex Cavanaugh, author of sci-fi smash hits CassaStar and CassaFire—and imminent release, September 17th, CassaStorm—that if he thought he could retire afterwards and write/play his music, nobody would let him.

It seems we were right.

Not only does his third book have pre-release rave reviews, but he himself has decided to continue his backup team of support writers—us, the IWSG-moaning-minnies—who celebrate our two-year anniversary today.

His little monthly group has kept insecure writers writing—which is the whole point—but the fact that the site is to be jazzed up, amplified and opened up to more writers is the greatest news. He has put it together with the help of a team of fellow writerly bloggers, Joy Campbell, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler Susan Gourley/Kelley, L. Diane Wolfe, and Lynda Young, and hopes that it will turn into a center for writers, with tips, encouragement, support and links.

IWSGHEADER1

“My goal isn’t for the site to be just a database—I want it to be THE database of writing databases, with links to places like Elizabeth’s Writer’s Knowledge Database, Query Tracker, and WriteOnCon, plus tons of other links and listings of resources. It will also feature a weekly informative post or two, plus house the main list for the IWSG.”
Alex J. Cavanaugh

They aim for an October launch.

What synchronicity, Alex, just when the rest of us had thought our Muse had abandoned us…my token IWSG moan for this month…:(

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US
_________i love y____________i love yo
______i love you♥i l_______i love you♥i lov
____i love you♥i love y___i love you♥i love y
___i love you♥i love you♥i love you_______i lo
__i love you♥i love you♥i love you_________i lo
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l_______i lo
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love ______i
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥__i l
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l_i
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lov
i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lov
_i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i l
__i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i
____i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i love yo
______i love you♥i love you♥i love you♥i lo
_________i love you♥i love you♥i love yo
____________i love you♥i love you♥i l
______________i love you♥i love yo
_________________i love you♥i
___________________i love yo
_____________________i love
______________________i love
_______________________You

May great good fortune go with the launch of CassaStorm, and here’s to loads more years of IWSGing.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

September 4, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, fiction, novel, popular, writing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

SciFi for Beginners

Monthly IWSG Corner

European Crop Art: Rheigaustrasse Zurich, Switzerland July 4th 2013

European Crop Art: Rheigaustrasse Zurich, Switzerland July 4th 2013

The old folks always used to talk about the weather—for something new to say each day. It happened more in country settings where rain/sunshine affected crops, staple of life; but even city-dwellers seem to have become more weather-conscious of late—space-weather, that is—while our earthly home currently goes through some interesting changes:

Tornadoes in Minnesota, hail and rainstorms running through Missouri and down the Mississippi; annual forest fire battles ongoing in northern California—

Great Britain has had its first month of sunshine (July 2013) since 2010—bringing out a few crop circles—but the country is close to power grid overload from excess use of domestic heaters, because the solar panels don’t work!

By contrast, the Aleutians, Alaskan peninsula, Greenland, Iceland, Shetland, Nordkap and the northern Steppes of Russia had a month of blistering cloudless days, with temperatures over 100ºF.

Japan, it seems, had a month of solid rain, but there the weather is affected by the continuing Fukushima ‘clean-up’. Typhoons have followed on the volcanic ‘murmurs‘ [Richter 3 & up] ongoing in New Zealand.

According to solar buffs, it’s happening because earth, now within the sun’s year of solar maximum—an eleven-year cycle at its peak now—is getting more space weather than usual.

And if we didn’t have enough to occupy us on earth, there are next week’s spectacular Perseid meteors, that always make a show on the glorious twelfth. And glistening planets Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in the dawn sky.

It’s enough to make us writers throw caution to the ethers and turn to sci-fi. I know we IWSGers are reader-fans of sci-fi or we wouldn’t be the minions we are to our revered leader Alex. But I mean WRITE Sci-fi.

Earth envoys—the Voyager twins—enter a whole new dimension: heliopause, between solar system and hyperspace, August 2012

Earth envoys—the Voyager twins—enter a whole new dimension: heliopause, between solar system and hyperspace, August 2012

Add Comet Ison to the mix—a recurrent comet starting to appear on the outer edge of the solar system—and don’t we hear those Voyager vibes in the background? Doesn’t the sci-fi inner child in us all want to come out?

Beloved Voyager—that last vestige of ’fifties technology—hit the edge of the heliosphere, the heliopause, entered ‘outer’ space a year ago last August. Comet Ison appears shortly in our skies, bright by November. I wouldn’t be surprised if it arrives next month, September, just to add glitz and glitter to the launch of Cassastorm.

Come to think of it, Ninja Captain, are you responsible for earthly tornadoes, rain and windstorms, too?
🙂
©2013 Marian Youngblood

August 7, 2013 Posted by | astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, fiction, novel, sun, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

Whatever the Weather: Write On

MONTHLY IWSG

What we IWSGroupies should always remember…

Writing should be an act of love; all else is a scribble—”écrire c’est un acte d’amour; ne pas faire c’est escritureJean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau clearly didn’t have a lot of deadlines; or else he was so secure within himself that they didn’t phaze him. Well, some of us DO write only when we’re inspired and in love with our words, but there are other times…aaarrrgggh.

No, I didn’t say that Alex J Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group [IWSG] stresses me with deadlines! But I did completely lose track first Wednesday last month, posting something which even Alex must have thought indicated I had lost it. So I am giving a quick apology now to any who read my cropcircle item at that time, as a bonus, or for misleading those who searched my site for other relevant material and ended up reading my (much older) post on how Myers-Briggs sees us flighty authors!

Blame it on the weather! Or something.

It is true: the 2012 season (which in Britain has been dire) since having early summer in March, resorted to Arctic gales and rainstorms from April through August, and now that September has arrived, only the most hardy of us mortals lingers outdoors to pick up the fragments of petunia blossoms, and rose petals hurled from their stems. It could get anyone down—in their right mind.

What we do may, technically, be illegal… 🙂

But we writers have never been really in our right minds, have we? And, as we all know, if we’re feeling down, or insecure, or unable to cope for any reason, it always helps to reach out and help another. So if you guys are still with me, reading/writing and supporting each other, you may find it gratifying to stretch out the hand of friendship—even if your fingers are full of petals and your mind full of untyped words—because this month marks one whole year that the IWSG has been together, and it has grown from just a few writerly bloggers to an amazing 276 people out there sharing their tips, fears, doubts or just plain helping other budding writer/bloggers along. Alex, our Ninja captain, is a great one for holding out a helping hand—besides he posts FAR MORE FREQUENTLY than I do—so if you are in any doubt about joining our disparate gang, [I said disparate, not desperate] I heartily recommend it.

Besides, in reading and visiting the blogs of others—even if you haven’t really got one going yourself—you develop a ‘feel’ which just could turn into something you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the guts to. Now’s your chance.

P.S. My criticism of world weather may sound unreasonable, particularly in the wake of hurricane Isaac, which seemed intent on doing a Katrina around the Mississippi basin; I don’t mean to steal any thunder. My dear goddaughter is a doc in one of the emergency rooms in NOLA and she says it wasn’t pretty; but the great thing we all share about WEATHER is that it changes; and there is always hope for us writers that our togetherness—hugely assisted by the friendly electrons of the internet—will give us the feeling of holding hands across the waves [literal and metaphorical], so that we know we are not alone.

For that reason alone, I am grateful for having found IWSG and want to wish it happy birthday. I also wish Alex godspeed with his third novel CassaStorm—go to his site and reeeeead about it—like his other two, it is destined for huge success.

Thanks for being there IWSG buddies.
Have a good September.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

September 5, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, fantasy, fiction, novel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Crazy Cozy Spoof Pitch

Blogfest Crazy Cozy contest to celebrate Alyse’s launch

My friend and fellow author Hart Johnson (Tami Hart) is celebrating today because she has been officially launched~ as new “name” Alyse Carlson in the wide world of readers of cozy mysteries. Her Azalea Assault is published today by Berkley Press. Yet, true to form, she isn’t crowing from the rooftops about her newfound fame, but is sharing the honor with her friend and (longer-term) professional author Elizabeth Spann Craig, who also launches today, though not for the first time: her new Quilt or Innocence is released today by Signet.

So it is not surprising that some of us were asked to make the occasion a little more crazy (than it already was, and it is jolly: see other participating pretenders) by sharing in a Crazy Cozy Spoof Pitch: setting out the bones of a Cozy Mystery and letting the authors choose the zaniest.

So here’s mine—all apologies for uproarious laughter or convulsions subsequently induced—accepted.

CRAZY COZY SPOOF PITCH:
Protagonist: My detective is an amateur crop circle photographer, Colin, camping overnight with his girlfriend and accidental witnesses to what they believe is the manifestation of a light orb in the making of a crop circle.

Sidekick: his girlfriend, the lovely Linda; who has ideas of her own about who is making the patterns in the cornfields.

Manton Drove crop circle June 2nd, 2012, first CC in barley: “all the Cees”

Theme: you guessed it—the crop circle season has begun! endless imaginary designs conjured up to keep the croppies hoppy! er, happy.

Victim #1 and Victim #2: found together next morning in the middle of a newly-formed crop pattern: #1 is local rope-&-plank circlemaker Dave, known to brag about his alien connections; #2 is the lifeless corpse of a small, gray large-lidded alien. Their bodies are aligned to face an ancient burial cairn and passage grave on the distant horizon.

Killer: Locals suspect Dave’s partner Doug had been jealous of his partner’s ability to make board-and-stomp patterns in the wheat better than him; but when more “alien” circles start to arrive and they know they didn’t make them, they decide to split up and see what’s going on.

Aliens making crop circles? who would’ve thunk it?

But our trusty sleuth and the dedicated Linda have other ideas, when they camp out the following night and witness another ball of light descend and pick up the gray body, deliberately left to see if they could film any developments…

aha: the culprit… or do their eyes deceive them…?

Oh, yes: The real killer is the driver of the second “light orb” ship, who thought by sacrificing his colleague and the earthling, they would learn more about Earth jealousies. After all, they have full capability aboard to resuscitate his co-pilot and resume their mission…
©2012 Marian Youngblood

…and a postscriptum for the serious matter of the day:
If, by now, you haven’t figured out what a Cozy Mystery is—think Daphne duMaurier, Agatha Christie, rather than Blade Runner, Alien Resurrection—if you see what I mean…

And it may interest you, bloghop reader, to know that even Alyse’s publisher, Berkley, knows that she’s loopy; because this is their cover blurb for her:

“Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson who writes books from her bathtub. By day she is an academic researcher at a large midwestern university. She lives with her husband, two teenage children and two fur balls. The dust bunnies don’t count. This will be her first published book.”

Don’t you just love it? How can she fail? Go, Hart: woot woot.
Lots of love.

Azalea Assault is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good book stores, June 5th.

June 5, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, crop circles, fantasy, fiction, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Editing one’s Way through Writer’s Block

Monthly IWSG

Self-explanatory; though some friends say there should be a time segment for beating-head-against-wall...

Believe me, I really didn’t think I’d get hit by the dreaded Block –the writer’s nightmare par excellence— only a few months into our fun bloghopping fiesta with Alex in his Insecure Writers’ Support Group. Part of the IWSG guidelines are, after all, that we can share our insecurites, without feeling vulnerable, but if we’re feeling strong (sometimes we are), we writers who ‘have been through the fire’ (Alex’s words) should encourage others who might be struggling, by sharing the lessons we’ve learned.

“When I write I feel like an armless, legless man, with a crayon in my mouth” Kurt Vonnegut

This month the only lesson I’ve learned–blah–is that the Block waits for no man-woman-child; it can pounce at any time and, unless we can lay culpability at the door of the Muse–for her being in absentia–there’s no-one else to blame, but ourselves.

Alex and his equally illustrious-and-prolific blogging buddy, Arlee Bird, don’t hang around. They both blog and read/comment on others’ blogs daily and, instead of allowing the ‘block’ to take me over, I should probably have signed up for Lee’s amazing April A-to-Z challenge. It is, after all, one of the best ways to ease oneself out of that frozen-can’t-cope stance, because the challenge makes you write EVERY day during April: self-evidently alphabetically sequential. I recommend it to those bloggers/beginners who have the gift of writing something interesting/meaningful every day in life. [I do write every day in life–I have always kept a journal, still do–but what’s going through my head at the moment is far from meaningful]. And, for those just getting into the blogging craze, it’s a great way to start; to follow and comment on other blogs; and to emulate other bloggers. If you check out the link, you’ll find their following is massive, and if you want to make new writing friends, both AtoZ and IWSG are the way to go.

There’s an added incentive to put–just a few–words on the screen every day, because, as we all know, words on the screen are basically what this (unblocked) writing’s all about.

All writers need encouragement, because what we have in common is our (strange) lack of self-confidence. It must come from all those years of being holed up alone, writing our magnum opus. So when the day dawns for the book launch, we seem to be surprised that we pulled it off. [I am being positive, here, you’ll notice].

But I didn’t sign up, because I’m–er–editing. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Nevertheless, my editing is coming along fine. I have just tightened up (again) chapter twenty-nine; only another sixty more chapters to go…

Feeling discarded, Muses waiting in the wings, until the left hemisphere departs

What it comes down to is this: while I may LOVE the sensation of being enfolded by my Muse (when I’m in the “zone”, right hemisphere), the editor in me (left hemisphere person) that insists on inserting commas, semi-colons and em-dashes in the correct places, has a valid role to play, too. I imagine countless Muses waiting in the wings, feeling redundant and discarded, while their left hemisphere counterparts tackle the job.

I admit to struggling with the switch-over. I tried, in one earlier blog, to summarize how it feels to have plot bunnies interrupt the editing process: almost as irritating as having them try to direct the creative flow, when the Muse is in residence.

I shall have to take my own advice and try to be a little more patient with myself. The best and worst of writers have good and bad days. Philosophically, we wouldn’t appreciate the one, without the misery of the other. And it is never productive to rail against the status quo. We all know in our hearts that it is the very contrast of what currently ‘is’ that, with a few gentle strokes, helps us change it to what we hope ‘will be’. And it’s never a good idea to beat the horse we’re mounted on, and even less clever to heap criticism on the rider. If we give ourselves a hard time about it, it will take even longer to resolve..


When it comes to edits, don't rely on your Muse to help, because she'll send a minion

So, I’d better get back to that edit: my inner taskmistress is a bully. But she won’t mind if I pause for a moment to add five pieces of advice which the great C.S. Lewis gave to a young writer: they are, after all, rather more editorially- than Muse-inspired words; so, when you wake up one of these mornings in bed with Rite R. Block yourself, you may find them worth re-reading.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
C.S.Lewis

And thanks, Alex, Lee and my other talented writerly friends (you know who you are) for letting me sound off today.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

April 4, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, novel, popular, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Publishing Headache: Do or Be Done By

Monthy IWSG Corner

Mrs BeDoneByAsYouDid, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith for (1916) The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley

However talented and charismatic your writing is, entering the publishing world at ground level can be daunting. We all need a little extra help to keep our heads down and our fingers on the keyboard. In that respect, this little monthly injection from the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) is a boon. Those who have been following know that our revered leader, Alex J Cavanaugh, celebrated the launch of his second book last week, see blog below.

That’s taking the I-95 to stardom. Many of us toil and trouble over our works for years before reaching that superhighway. Some of us get stuck on Route-66 indefinitely and then launch ourselves into self-pub, if only to see what it actually looks like on the bookshelf!

Within what is almost the last industry to become ‘wired’, Big Five Publishers are notorious for not replying to query letters for months; require representation by an agent before looking at a submission; fail to return MSS unless accompanied by a SAE; don’t like email submissions and generally offer little advice. The learning curve is huge — and mostly self-taught.

It is little wonder, then, that self-publishing has taken off — there are an inordinate number of frustrated authors-turned-publishers out there. And with the advent of Smashwords, CreateSpace and Lulu, everyone can do it.

Plunging into deep waters: Tom hides from trout in Jessie Smith's 1916 illustration of Kingsley's 'Water Babies: a Fairy Story for Land Babies'

But we authors, published, self-published or wannabe-published, are a determined group. And we still — in our darkest days — imagine our name in (virtual) lights, our nom de plume in headlines.

So, some of us –while not letting up on the query circuit– adapt ourselves for entry into yet another world of imaginary stardom: the book contest. Believe me, it is yet another plunge into unknown waters.

I submitted to ABNA again this year, but did not make it through the first hoop — although I am thrilled to say one of my writerly cohorts did!!

Undaunted, I regrouped and headed back to my old stomping grounds (Scotland) and submitted for the newish (eight-year-old) Dundee International Book Prize, a British enterprise co-hosted by the University of Dundee and the City of Discovery. Like ABNA, Dundee takes a month or so to let you know you’ve made it (or not) through the first round. Both accepted online submissions. However, unlike ABNA’s publishing partner, Penguin Books, Cargo — the publisher behind Dundee– announces the winner AND launches the winning book in October. This at least gives the entrant hope.

Judges lined up to scan the winning entries include author Phillip Pullman, agent Jenny Brown and media intellectual Stephen Fry. With the prize also comes an advance of GBP £10,000. It is a major incentive for any new author.

The difference between these two contests, however, is striking.

Tom finds not all young ladies are as dirty as he: Smith illustration of 1916 edition of The Water Babies

All comparisons of geographical size, literary muscle and talent aside, I saw these two arms of the industry reaching out to us authors in remarkably different ways. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) — author of the Victorian cautionary tale, The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for Land Babies — would have had fun. In his 1863 tale of a lowly sweep (boy apprentice) lowered down chimneys to clean as he went, Kingsley emphasized squalor versus gentrified living, criticized child-labor, was outraged by American slavery. His hero Tom is amazed to see his own reflection in a little lady’s bedroom, immediately plunging himself afterwards into a stream to wash; and spending the rest of the story in the arms of fairies. He is ‘redeemed’ by two Victorian mother-figures: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby, and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid: the former surrounded all water babies in a kindly bubble; the latter brushed all aside with impunity.

Kingsley’s authority figures show remarkable similarities to our two book contests.

Dundee, a rising star in the British book prize league, offered press office interaction, explanation of how to submit, entered into helpful discussion when one platform seemed incompatible with their entry guidelines, and acknowledged receipt: c.f. Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

ABNA, on the other hand, admittedly swamped by 5000 entrants, did not acknowledge receipt of entries, but its webpage was efficient; announcing MS upload as having ‘succeeded’ or try again. The February 23rd first round successes were provided in a pdf list which could be downloaded to see if one’s name was included. No correspondence was entered into. In a cautionary sense, ABNA gave no advice, took no prisoners, offered no ‘Pay-it-Forward’ ethos; c.f. Kingsley’s Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.

I do not expect consolation or even understanding from the wide world of publishing — matters for publishers have gone from bad to worse in a matter of a few years. They struggle with advances (many give none), book returns, publicity budgets and book signings. It has become a cut-throat business where many have gone down. But in taking the Bedonebyasyoudid approach, slicing off all option for the kindness of others to play a part, they may have been a little hasty –shortsighted, even. [In my opinion there will always be a place in people’s hearts for the feel of a book in one’s hands].

Dundee is Paying-it-Forward. I admire them for that. When I was unable to complete their online entry form — let’s just say it was formatted in a program which my **MacBook** couldn’t read– the Prize office suggested I send in my own text document, completing my required details. How enlightened!

Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby at Kingsley’s Christian redemptive best!

There is no mega-solution or allegory in this cautionary tale; it is totally unrealistic to believe that the publishing industry, especially in the US where readership is the world’s highest, will change overnight and become a kindly motherly soul.

But I’d like to compliment Dundee on its humanness.

It matters not who wins and who loses; but how we treat each other in the process. And ‘paying-it-forward’ is going to become more important to our interaction as we writing-humans journey through this crazy fairy story called life. On that lingering note, I thank our host, Alex, whose pay-it-forward approach has rubbed off quite a bit lately!
©2012 Marian Youngblood

March 7, 2012 Posted by | authors, culture, elemental, fiction, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments