Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
For me, it was hard to pin down. I remember other significant epiphanies; the moment when I realized I could actually read when I was about five and reading the Little Golden Books version of Snow White. Or the time when I finally understood how to read music while practicing flute on the Indiana Jones theme for band. (I made it to first chair after that.)
But...writing? Several things came to mind. The first is actually non-fiction. My tenth grade English teacher asked us to write an essay saying, "I am like a . . ." I decided I was like a crow (don't ask the reasons, either I don't remember or don't want to remember) and wrote about it. A friend read the essay and said it wasn't really an essay because I didn't prove why I was like a crow and went on to explain how to format an essay. That one little conversation made a world of difference when it came to writing high school and college papers and prompted one college teacher to write, "Too bad the English department lost you to music!" Ah, foreshadowing. . .
As far as fiction...I've written since I was little but didn't start seriously writing until after college, but I can't pinpoint one great epiphany.
Maybe it was in grade school, when I was lucky enough to know that creative writing and storytelling was valued because the teachers were kind enough to type out my stories, laminate the covers and bind them with my illustrations.
Maybe it was the initial realization that writing in other people's worlds, fun though it can be, will only take me so far. Writing in the Star Trek universe helped jumpstart my writing, because I didn't have to worry about the world, but could focus on character and story. Once I had the story, I moved it to my own world and began to hone my craft--which resulted in five fantasy novels I had high hopes for but will likely remain in the depths of my hard drive forever.
Maybe it was the online writing workshop which kindly told me info dumps and fantasy names like Eryk'esth'y'a'valen were bad things.
Maybe it was the community college teacher and her short story class where she assured me my story was good, which gave me the courage to write more stories and put them in front of people, which eventually got me into the Clarion SF/F workshop.
Maybe it was Clarion, where I didn't have to be published to feel like a writer, and the friendships I made, which meant connections with more people and other workshops and whole networks of writers whose advice and friendship I continue to value.
Or maybe it's simply knowing I can tell stories people want to read.
What about you? Was there something that really, truly made a difference for you in your writing?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
This blog will be up until the 21st, and then I will draw a name from those of you who respond. I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or Amazon (your choice). Please be sure to check back on Thursday, or be sure to leave an email address so that I can reach you.
As part of my research for HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD, I investigated the issue of reincarnation. My search led me to
Eric Christopher who is a licensed therapist specializing in regression hypnotherapy. He deals specifically with past life regression and helping individuals explore how past life experiences affect their present lives.
Barb: Eric, I understand you belong to an international organization involved with regression therapy. Can you say a few words about that?
Eric: Yes, this organization is called IARRT http://www.iarrt.org (International Association for Regression Research and Therapies.) It is a past life regression training and research organization, offering thorough training on how to do past life regression therapy. I’ve also served on their Board of Directors for three years on the research committee. There’s another organization that’s really specific. They don’t do regression therapy training, but they archive interesting past life case studies. That website is: http://www.iisis.net
Barb: What kinds of things did you research as a committee member?
Eric: What we are mostly concerned with is looking at the effectiveness of past life regression as a therapy modality. We look for ways to measure the benefits of past life regression therapy. One survey that we devised could be sent out by therapists to their clients, and the clients then sent the surveys back to me, so that all the responses were anonymous and confidential. We asked clients questions like, did your issue become resolved? To what degree did you experience the lessening of your issue? To what degree did you experience benefits that you didn’t even expect that you would get?
Barb: Can people fake it when you use regression hypnotherapy with them? If I came to you because of an unresolved issue, and you used regression therapy to help me look for the root cause of that issue, could I make up memories of past lives?
Eric: Absolutely, and you might be surprised when I tell you that I encourage people to fake it. I might regress you to a place where your mind is quiet, blank and very still. Then I would ask you to go to a life that has to do with your issue, fear for instance. I might ask you to show me the life that has something to do with this anxiety, or I might tell you to show me the life that has the greatest benefit for you to see. Then I tell people in a way to fake it. Imagine a tunnel, see yourself going through this tunnel to a different time and place, using a different body. First it’s going to feel like you’re making it all up, but when you focus solely on the images that come to you, I’ll ask what time of day it is, or where you are, etc. There’s something interesting that happens when a person focusses on whatever it is that is dropping in from their subconscious, any information that they’re seeing. Where are they making it up from? Something interesting happens when a person stays present moment focussed on what they’re seeing. Suddenly the information starts coming. It kicks into a higher gear. The information starts coming to the person in a different manner and starts to feel like a download of snapshot images, feelings and inner knowing.
I’ll give you an example: After the first five or ten minutes of focusing on just the image that comes to you, information starts coming to you in a flood. I had a person, who I told, “Okay now, move to the next important scene.” The man replied, “Well, it feels like I’m in an outdoor scene. I think it’s a funeral. It feels as though my sister died, and I never knew her very well.”
You don’t know why you know these things, but it comes to you intuitively. A short time later into the regression, more details dropped into his awareness. “Oh, I realize now my mother died when I was 13, and my sister was 10. She was sent off by some relatives to live in a convent. That’s why I never knew her very well.”
Imagine a past life like a painting, or the set of a play. We just get that tiny spotlight at the end of the tunnel like it’s on a blank stage. Five minutes later, and the spotlight grows, and you get more information. By the time we get to the end of that life, you get a feeling or a sense of what it’s about. When you go through the death scene, you get even more. It’s as though the spotlight grows even more. From the soul’s point of view, that’s when you get a profound sense of what that life is about. You get a lot more clarity and insight at that point.
Now, I want to come back to your question. Can people make all that up? Your own inner mind will show you a life that is somehow for your benefit to see. Sometimes that is a real past life, and I do know this because I’ve had clients go and research some of the data that came out in the sessions, and found it could be verified and correlated.
I can’t say if it’s always a past. Sometimes something from this life needs to be worked out, and your mind somehow conveniently creates metaphors that exactly relate to whatever the biggest issue is that you need to work through.
Barb: Something you said earlier triggered another question. You said making it up is not necessarily a bad thing, because your higher self is going to take you to where you need to go. As the spotlight broadens, you get a better sense of what that life is about. So does each life have a specific purpose? Do we reincarnate with a reason and something specific we need to learn?
With every life that we’ve ever been through, and I’ve worked with clients who’ve had thousands of lives, there’s always something to learn and grow from. I want to clarify something you said. Your higher self is going to take you to where you need to go. As long as you stay present moment focused it will show you, or eventually take you to what you need to see. You’ll always see some life that has a lesson to learn. A woman wanted to go to a life that had something to do with her tremendously low self-esteem, and instead of going to a life where she was lowly, she was shown a life in which she was a clan leader and looked to as a person of great wisdom. People from other clans would come to her for advice. She said it was something she’d never felt before. It was a good life, and she understood why she was taken to see that particular life. Sometimes you’ll see that your inner soul will take you to whatever life is most beneficial for you to see. Her own higher mind wanted to remind her that this confidence was a part of her too. She had this inherent within her, and she needed to step into it. We had her imagine her present day self and that past life self meeting. They hugged and they merged. She took the strength and confidence that she’d had in her past life and brought them to the present. How would she interact in her world with those strengths cloaked around her? How would others respond to her, and how would she respond to others? It caused a different vibration moving within her.
Sometimes your higher mind will show you something very positive, but whatever it is you are shown, it is for your highest benefit to see. We always have room for growth. Essentially what past life regression does is put the issue right there on a platter under your nose for you to see.
Barb: I have some basic questions that I think our readers will want to know. Do we recognize souls we’ve known from previous lives? If I meet someone today, and I feel an instant and strong affinity or antagonism, could that be indicative that I’ve met this soul before?
Yes, that can indicate previous experience with that soul. For instance, my mother, who doesn’t necessarily believe in past lives will say, “You know, there’s just one thing that makes me think there’s something to that. Sometimes I’ll meet a person, and I’ll feel like I’ve known them before.” We don’t know how, but it’s and intuitive kind of feeling. She also says that when she was traveling in Italy to a particular town, it was almost as if she knew how to get around there. She felt a sense of familiarity with a place she’d never been to before.
Occasionally people will get a sense of having been somewhere before, or a feeling a familiarity with a place. It’s a strong indication that you’ve known that person or that place from another time. In the Western world, we are stuck in thinking that our identity is this body. Our souls are pure energy, outside of time and space, infinite and eternal. That’s our true identity.
Barb: So, we come to this life with lessons to learn, and there are souls we interact with who must have something to do with those lessons. I’ve heard it said that we often incarnate with souls we’ve associated with many times. Have you found this to be true?
Eric: Yes, we often come back with family members. I’ve seen this many times in my work. Especially if the primary issue a person has to deal with is relationships. Their minds will show them times during other lives where they’ve been involved with a person, and there will be an intuitive recognition. It doesn’t always happen. I would say about 30% of the time that happens.
Our families are a wonderful means of getting soul lessons. One of the things we’re here to learn is how to give and receive love. And, boy, our families can be a wonderful challenge for that. How to let go, how to best communicate frustrations, fears, how to communicate love—our families are a great source of soul lessons. That’s why we often come back in groups.
Barb: Is that because particular souls challenge us in ways we need to challenged?
Barb: It’s never easy, is it?
Eric: No. You can’t get through life without challenges. It’s not what comes to you in life, it’s how you respond to the challenges. That’s the key to life. How are you going to respond to the challenges?
Barb: I’d like to move into the subject I’m most interested in. Can romantic love carry over from one life to another?
Eric: I believe it does. Sometimes couples will get that first look at each other, and there will be that inner knowing that they’re supposed to be with that person. Even with all my work, and with soul-mates, I had only an intellectual understanding of it until I met my wife.
When we met for the first time, our eyes locked for 45 minutes. Within the first few hours of our meeting, we felt as if we’d merged. There was an intuitive feeling, like, wow, we finally found each other. So, I do believe romantic love can carry on.
When we first started living together, my wife would have a heartsick feeling whenever I would leave for work. A great fear would come over her, almost a panic. We explored that fear through regression. It took her to a life where she said goodbye to me as I was going off on a sea voyage. I worked on a boat or a ship, and the ship sank. Saying goodbye that time was the last she saw of me. I never came back to her. So there are fears that we experience that make no logical sense in this life, and when we go into these fears, we find these emotionally charged past lives just below the surface.
Barb: So, did that help your wife? Obviously you don’t work on a ship now, but you go off in a car, or on a bike to work.
Eric: After the session she could see she had spent the rest of that past life living with the grief, and she understood where the feelings stemmed from. With higher awareness she can see that the issue is over. It doesn’t pertain to this life anymore, and then she could let go and heal. You get this understanding that it’s okay. You’ll meet again.
Barb: Knowing that you will be with that soul again is reassuring.
Eric: Yes. This happens often, about 70% of the time, where people will do a session because there’s a void in their life, or a sadness because someone has died. We’ll go back into a past life, and they’ll recognize that same soul in other lives.
(At this point, we kind of went off on another tangent about souls sending messages to family members, and maybe I’ll use that material for another blog in the future if there’s interest.)
Now I’d like to open it up for questions from our readers, and I’d like to caution you that both Eric and I work day jobs. You might not get an immediate response, but both of us will be checking in throughout the next few days, and we will respond. Thanks for stopping by!
Friday, September 16, 2011
2. Every single epithet is by the gods. Not crap, shoot, or something else. But gods, gods, gods. Could someone, sometime, just pick one and curse him/her out? Must everyone worship two dozen deities?
3. Paranormal heroes and heroines who can never die. You think they can, but they become so powerful nothing can take them out. Hello? Where's the drama? The high stakes? Why did I bother reading this book if at the end the hero is more powerful than everyone he's ever met or battled against, and there was no chance he could lose?
4. Super, über attractive heroines without a flaw. Everyone wants them, and they're so perfect it makes my teeth ache. They're also cookie-cutter and one-dimensional.
5. Heroes who act like jerks for 98% of the book, never apologize, and STILL get the girl (or guy). The literal alpha hero is not a likable character. But it's fiction, so why can't he be written as sexy and controlling but nice as well?
6. A series that delves so into the world in which it's set that it forgets the romance. I have a huge bone to pick with an author that did this after making me love her first five books. I wanted to rip my hair out when I sunk time and effort into reading story after story, only to find each hero and heroine getting less and less time, while the minions and gods took center stage. Not a problem if you don't bill the goods as ROMANCE.
7. Paranormals set in contemporary times where the heroine is a virgin and has no idea what sex is. I mean, come on. At some point, her tongue has been in a place it shouldn't have been. Right? Or is my mind stuck in an eternal gutter?
8. Vampires that overly defy convention. Why make it a vampire book if the vampire can see the sun without dying, doesn't need blood to survive, and thinks stakes are for sissies? Then isn't the character, er, not very vampiric?
9. Why must every empire be evil? It's not all Star Wars. Can't some impiriums and starfleets and planet coalitions be good?
10. Last but not least, why is every alien humanoid? I know Star Trek set a high bar, but it's kine of nice when authors use creativity and make up worlds where the leading intelligence exists in a moss-like substance that sticks to trees. Granted, I don't to read about green goo kissing brown goo, but it's a lot more realistic to think there may be intelligent life out there that doesn't resemble us. We humans are cool, but we're not that cool.
And that's my Friday wrap up. Have a great weekend, and gods, but I hope you read a great book. (See, isn't that annoying?)
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Monday, September 12, 2011
Romantic Times called it "charming and original," LASR said it "delights and astounds," and Miz and Crew Love Books called it "another fabulous book in the Urban Arcana series."
Less than a year ago, Fianna Meadows was a pampered noble in the Faerie court. Then she was exiled, turned mortal and forced to work for a living—in a werewolf bar in Detroit, no less! Still, Fianna has to admit her new life isn't so bad...particularly when it comes to Greg Novak, the bar's sexy owner.
For Greg, keeping his hands off Fianna has been a challenge. But his sense of honor won't let him get involved with a woman put in his care, even if Fianna is eager to explore her new feelings of lust. Resisting the temptation to claim her gets even harder when Greg's grandfather, the region's Alpha, orders him to marry and Fianna agrees to pretend to be his chosen mate.
Fighting his attraction to Fianna isn't Greg's only problem. Someone is killing werewolves and attacking other paranormal beings in Detroit. He vows to do whatever it takes protect both his pack and Fianna—even if that means giving her up...
Friday, September 9, 2011
Or, travelling and how it influenced me and my stories and especially my settings. I love to travel. LOVE it. Being in Europe means that wildly divergent cultures are but a few hours away on a plane. Even France, which lies roughly 50 miles away from me, is a whole ’nother culture. And that’s what we travel for, me, the Old Man and the kids. We take in museums, and assimilate the history of places. They’ve been trained to point out interesting little titbits of information. We soak up the differences and revel in them.
Now, anyone who has read Ten Ruby Trick will probably recognise Marrakech in one of the cities. Not the culture, I hasten to add, because I’m pretty sure the Moroccans don’t have the same attitudes towards relationships as my pirates. But the place, the smells and sights and sounds, the atmosphere. A big influence on my settings. Wandering around and feeling like giants (really, I am NOT tall, but I felt it!) and being different…that was the inspiration for another book, Love is My Sin. Our outlooks were so dissimilar, along with our looks, I blatantly stole the inherent conflict of a relationship between two people of wildly differing cultures and what happens when they meet head on.
So in my head, Estovan looks much like this
And a trader’s shop much like this
For my next release (not a fantasy, an historical but being a Viking in 844, my hero believes utterly in magic, so it counts!) the inspiration was two-fold. One, my editor Deb asked is I’d ever thought of doing an historical. Two days before I left for Norway. And two, the atmosphere of the fjords. They are deep and stark and beautiful. With Deb’s words ringing my ears, I spent an afternoon wandering round a fjord thinking. ‘A place like this is made for secrets. And the jarl’s longhouse would be here and the blacksmith over there and…’
This fjord as it happens
And then, on the way out, watching the oily black water of the fjord at the bow, we noticed this
And my hero’s fate was sealed.
Atmosphere is something that I think is vital to both fantasy and historicals. To really find yourself steeped in another place.
Where do you find yours?
Monday, September 5, 2011
It was a wonderful experience. It reminded me of the value of support networks. Just being able to laugh and let off steam with people who understand the joys and frustrations of writing was amazingly powerful. Everyone ended the weekend energised and that little bit more confident because we'd been reminded we aren't alone.
And because writers' brains aren't normal -- or is it only me? -- that got me thinking about the appeal of shapeshifters in the paranormal romance genre, and more specifically, the role of packs.
Do you remember that old quotation from Robert Frost, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in"? I think pack magic captures that sense of belonging. And I think it's that sense of belonging, with all its frustrations and love, that is so appealing.
Everyone needs a place to belong. There is a strong tradition of authors as lone wolves, but we're not. We're sociable, if sometimes shy, communicators. We need our author pack -- and as I look around Here Be Magic and all the other social media where we hang out and support one another, I'm incredibly grateful for the warm welcome of the author community.
Now, I'm not going to insist on a group hug, but perhaps we could howl at the moon together?
Friday, September 2, 2011
I’m sitting in the garden trying to think of a topic for this blog. Vito, the dog, is wandering around sniffing, hunting lizards and chasing birds. It’s early spring in the southern hemisphere. Little wonder I have difficulty focusing. I want to lie in the sun. A chilled glass of sauvignon blanc would be nice. Perhaps with some crackers and cheese. Maybe a fresh strawberry or two.
Okay, enough daydreaming, back to the blog. It occurs to me that the life of a writer is a bit like that of a dog. No, not the sniffing, hunting and chasing. The waiting.
A dog waits for his owner to come home in much the same way as a writer waits for a response from a publisher. The dog will patiently check the gate, time and time again, until his owner returns. So an author will check email, patiently awaiting that acceptance.
Then it’s time for walkies. The editor guides the author through edits much like an owner guides a dog through the walk. Sometimes the dog tries to pull away, sniffing something (a new genre?) his owner would prefer he left alone. However a good owner will bring the dog to heel, gently and painlessly. Only when the dog is thoroughly exhausted will the owner bring their pet home.
After walkies comes petting. Dogs will nuzzle, wag their tails and gaze adoringly at their owners asking to be petted. A writer sends her book into the world to face reviewers. If we’re lucky, we too will get petted.
Walking and petting are wonderful things, but there is one thing a dog loves even more. Food. No creature on earth is as excited as a dog about to be fed. Except perhaps an author ripping open their royalty statement.
So, what excites you?