The relationship you have with your Muse can be filled with a bewildering range of emotions, ranging from angst, occasional stupidity (yours, not theirs) to the utterly sublime. The relationship is unique to each writer, much like our human relationships. As with these relationships the participants can take each other for granted, argue, make up and lose touch. It is often complex and can initiate great transformation. If this is rather far fetched for some people, it must be remembered that the Greek Muses were divine in origin and highly revered in the ancient world by artists, philosophers, poets and writers. They inspired, elevating the mundane to greater heights, so allowing the object of their attention to create and manifest works. The essence of their spirit and those of other muses still lives into our present times. This concept is not constrained by either a particular religion or spiritual path. Once could say they are the driving force within our subconscious, a part of Jung’s Collective Unconscious. In the final solution they are not here to write our work for us, we have to do the hard graft. Terrible realisation but unavoidable.
What of my Muse? Please take a seat, this may take some time. I encountered him as a child in the British Museum, London, UK. The Egyptian Rooms were of particular interest, what a civilisation! The animal headed gods of this ancient land were amazing to a child’s eyes. An utterly fantastic place for either child or adult. This fascination with ancient Egypt has remained enduring and unceasing. As for my Muse, this ancient deity seems to have lingered in the shadows for as long as I can remember. Anpu, but more commonly called Anubis is an immensely ancient figure, with more than a hint of shamanic roots. Originally presiding as the Great Lord of the Dead before being supplanted by Osiris. He is also known as Walker between the Worlds, a traveller between different states of consciousness and Initiator. An odd choice you may think but not without significance. Most of my writing has an underlying theme relating to ancient Egyptian and Jungian concepts. Death, transformation, eternity, gnosis. Not your usual light read, but please don’t let me put you off from tackling an emotionally intense story/article. These are the ones that stir and move the reader, you most importantly.
This relationship hasn’t always been easy, as there have been many periods of wandering alone in the metaphorical desert. There have been occasional sightings of a lone jackal though…Writing had always been a dream of mine, getting published the cherry on top (and not a glacé cherry please). This has happened, with paid and unpaid projects under my belt. The writing is carefully navigated around work commitments but it would be wonderful to break for the open waters. Nothing is ever set in stone though, except if you are incising hieroglyphs on them. Perhaps a discreet petition to His Nibs (my Muse) might initiate a change, positive of course. He is known as Initiator for very good reasons. Initiations can result in profound transformations within the Self, often increasing self-awareness. An essential component of the creative process and life.
I am constantly refining my writing and use a variety of tools to enable this process:
I manage a Facebook page devoted to ancient Egyptian magic and religion - www.facebook.com/TempleofKhem
I have a blog on Wordpress - www.strangegoingsonintheshed.wordpress.com
About Jan Malique
I am a writer and blogger living in the UK and have spent most of my life exploring the Mysteries, both in a mystical and magical sense and still engaged upon the journey. C G Jung, Joseph Campbell and ancient Egypt have also been significant influences on my work and life. My writing is a consolidation of personal researches; a little idiosyncratic but always a reflection of who I am. Grief and Bereavement support are areas of particular interest to me, engaging my time in a voluntary capacity supporting the bereaved. These themes also colour much of my work.
I have contributed to various paper and digital publications, including "Invoking the Egyptian Gods" , "Realm of Angels", Liferites and Axis Mundi magazines.
Hi everyone and thank you so much Scarlett for inviting me to your blog.
I have been creating stories since I can remember. I’ve had a love and interest in writing as soon as I learned how and as a child I would write my own stories and mini books for friends and family. It is only been in the last few years that I took this journey and really started on my book that I’m in the process of writing currently.
Although I have had no formal training and by no means considered a professional, I do possess a love of literature and the art of writing. I’m excited to be exploring this part of my life. I have a few helpful tips that I use myself. As a rule, I always carry a notebook with pens everywhere that I go. So anytime something comes to mind or I come across anything inspiring, I write it down. Also, by my bedside there is a journal and pencil, so if I get any idea in the night or morning I can simply make note of it.
I believe journal writing is helpful due to the fact that you can get your best ideas for book content through your own journal. I’ve been a part of writing groups and that has helped tremendously throughout this journey.
I feel through my journal writing and experiences this year is going to be amazing for my writing career. I’m hopeful that the book I’m working on will be published by the end of this year. I’ve loved helping people all my life, so the book I’m working on if a journey through my life with my experiences and I’m hopeful it will inspire and help others. I wish you success on your own writing journey. Happy writing and thank you all for having me.
About Jenifer Theresa
Name: Jenifer Theresa
Lives: Georgia with my two dogs Spike and Reeses
Work: I work at St. Francis hospital currently. I have always been in the medical field and I’m going back to school for behavior health science and psychology to soon be a life coach and further my career in writing as an aspiring author.
Hi I’m Scarlett Van Dijk author of the Sky Stone series and I’m your host for this stop in the tour.
This is your post for the ACOA Scavenger Hunt and I am pleased to be hosting AUDEN JOHNSON. In her post you will find a number, not in written text, but as a numerical number. Write it down and collect them all as you visit every post along the way. Good Luck!
Family, Relationships & the Sciell
Themes are sneaky. They somehow find their way into my stories. I go into a new project wanting to write about powerful non-humans in a dark world. Themes like finding a place to belong, family and relationships slip in. I never go into a story thinking I want to deal with a certain issue. The different faces relationship wears is fascinating. I enjoy exploring them in my stories, especially in The Merging Worlds Series.
Vayle Slaughter and Shade Harrelite
Vayle “adopted” Shade as his little sister. In Book One: The Sciell, his entire life revolved around her. He protected and trained her. Shade, in turn, “adopted” Vayle as her older brother. But, Vayle’s parents see Shade as a mangy pet their son keeps trying to dragging home. To Shade’s parents, Vayle is the person that keeps their daughter from getting beat up. They like him. They don’t treat him as family. Shade and Vayle don’t care what anyone thinks of their relationship. They have their problems but their loyalty to each other is unwavering…until Book Two: Chains of the Sciell.
Bel Styne, Josephine Royal and Blae Carlton
They’re siblings. Why they all have different last names is a complicated story. Josephine and Blae are full blood siblings while Bel, the oldest, is from their father’s previous…let’s call it a relationship. Bel neither liked nor disliked his younger siblings. They didn’t exist to him. Josephine and Blae pretended it didn’t bother them. They stop pretending in Book Three: The Lost Sciell (Working Title). They start to form a relationship with their older brother. Bel is surprised. He assumed Josephine and Blae were happy with the way things were.
Josephine Royal and Divine Mathews
Josephine and Divine were born with a deep supernatural connection. They’re like one person in two bodies. They can read each other’s mind, explore each other’s memories and control each other’s powers. They hated this deep connection growing up and took pleasure in making the other suffer.
They actually like each other. If they weren’t connected, they’d be friends. This mix of emotions led to possessiveness. They never dated but they acted as if they were in a relationship, a twisted, unhealthy relationship. In Books Two and Three, they dump the animosity and learn to live with their connection. They become friends and then something more.
(From Book Three of The Merging Worlds Series Coming June 2016)
A hand rolled Divine on his back. Josephine straddled his waist. She lost her mind. Divine clenched his fist by his side. He went to bed in thin shorts, Josephine her underwear. Too much of Josephine’s skin was touching his.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“I spent almost 67 year asleep. My body seems sick of it.”
“And you had to sit on me to tell me that?”
Josephine shook her hips.
“First time I straddled a man and received no reaction. It’s a little liberating.”
The image of Josephine on top of another man made him want to kill someone. Divine backed away from that anger. They were no longer two people who saw each other as objects to control.
“You want to have sex?” he asked.
He wouldn’t give her what she wanted if she said yes.
Josephine snorted. “Baby steps. How about we get used to touching? I’ve had time to examine my memories. I like you Divine Mathews. I don’t think I ever hated you. You’re infuriating but not so loathsome I can’t stand the sight of you.” Josephine poked his chest. “I’m going to make you mine.”
Divine felt hot, uncomfortably so. His heart wouldn’t calm down.
“I’m not a possession.” He couldn’t think of a better response to her confession.
“I studied your memories and feelings as well, from those times our minds merged. You like me too.”
Divine’s thoughts stumbled. He wanted to say something clever. He wanted to change the subject. All he could do was stare at her with his mouth open. This wasn’t Josephine speaking. Their repaired connection and a year’s worth of loneliness was making her think she liked him. Divine’s chest tightened. When she settled in, their relationship would return to normal.
Scavenger Hunt Hint:
The number for your clue will not be written in text, but it will be numeral. Tally all the numbers you find during the hunt and tally them together. This final number will be an entry in the Rafflecopter on the ENTER HERE page on the official website - http://acoascavengerhunt.weebly.com/enter-here.html
If you get stuck along the way because you of a broken link, please visit the
AUTHORS LINK page http://acoascavengerhunt.weebly.com/authors-links.html
Did you find the number? If you did, then click this author's link (AUDEN JOHNSON) to continue the Scavenger Hunt.
It may seem strange that, as writers, we put down words on paper, but then are told we need to ‘show’ what we mean. Isn’t the use of words telling the story? How on earth do we ‘show’ our stories to our readers? We’re not painters. Well here is one tip for showing, not telling.
Think about this: the weather was terrible.
Now all you need to do is ask yourself: Why? Why is the weather terrible? What makes that weather terrible?
The sky was filled with dark clouds which let down an unceasing rainstorm. Lighting cracked through the darkness occasionally, lighting up the sky as if creatures of light fought a ferocious battle above. I shivered under an awning, a freezing raindrop occasionally falling on to my shoulder.
Now that is how you show the story while writing. Stating that the weather is terrible, is just telling the reader something. But who cares? Weather can be terrible but it doesn’t mean anything… right? By showing the reader how bad the weather is, will make them will feel the cold, sense the forlorn dampness surrounding the character. This is how you pull in your readers and keep them.
Of course, there are times when telling is perfectly alright. Showing should be used on ideas that you want to capture your reader’s attention. Use this approach on ideas you want them to dwell on and that help them immerse themselves in the story. At other times, there are ideas that are not so important and you can tell them, without forcing the reader to spend time contemplating it.
For example: I hate the cold. This is likely not a massively important detail and doesn’t need to be thought about much.
Even though I understand the concept of showing, this is still something I need to work on myself. I need to go back over my work, find those times when I am telling the story, and instead needing to show.
Here are some examples that you should try. These examples are being told. Show them instead:
Scarlett Van Dijk
Hi everyone, and thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Scarlett.
I’ve been spinning stories in my head for most of my life but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve attempted to set any of them down for others to read.
Time travel, magic, fantasy, and ancient history are the things that fire my imagination. Give me a book or a TV show with all of those elements and I’ll be in seventh heaven.
This passion led to the realisation of a dream a few years ago when I was invited by a lovely friend to be a VIP guest on the Bridge Studio sets of Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis in Vancouver, Canada. How many times had I watched those shows and wished I could be a fly on the wall as they filmed it? I’m here to tell you dreams do come true!
We spent a blissful day watching the cast and crew create their magic. I took away lots of fodder for stories that day!
The experience fired my imagination to write my own stories with an Egyptian twist. I wrote the first draft of my ‘The God’s Apprentice’ series in three months, mostly during my lunch hours and in the evenings.
I eventually completed 3 books that took me in directions I never dreamed of when I carefully sketched ideas for this story.
It grew from a relatively simple story of a young boy who becomes mixed up in a feud between 3 ancient Egyptian gods, to one that traversed different realms and times and brought together a cast of fascinating characters from a shape-shifting Sphinx, talking animal spirit guides, to the man who should have been the last king of France if Napoleon hadn’t executed him – or did he?
Of course, having no formal writing training, I thought that first draft was marvellous. It was a great personal achievement and any of you who set out to write a book and manage to finish it should be justly proud of yourselves.
My self-congratulation suffered a reality check when I joined a local critique group – the Novelists Circle, run by bubbly Adelaide author, Sandy Vaile. It took a lot of courage on my part to go back after the group’s (as it seemed to me at the time) brutal dissection of my first chapter, but I persevered and learned a lot from those far wiser heads. I would highly recommend that all aspiring authors join such a group.
One of the first things I learnt as a fledgling author was that as writers we are too close to our work and other, impartial opinions, are vital.
From the critique group I went on to do Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass for Commercial Fiction where I learned the finer points of crafting a story, and after several rewrites, submissions and rejections, I’m happy to say my story has found a home with Whistling Book Press in Colorado, USA http://www.whistlingbookpress.com/.
So far I’ve set up an author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieBestAuthor/ a Twitter account: https://twitter.com/AuthorMbest a website, which is a bit of a work in progress as I’ve been waiting for my publishing contract to go through: www.maggiebest.com and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maggie_best_author/ where I’ve posted some of my pencil sketches – another hobby of mine.
Twitter and Instagram seem to be where most interest is to be found if you’re looking for visibility as an author. I’ve just about got the hang of Twitter but Instagram is a whole new world and yet another challenge. There’s never a dull moment when you decide to become an author.
About Maggie Best
Name: Maggie Best (aka Margret Best)
Lives: Adelaide, South Australia with hubby of 36 years, son #3, 2 dogs and 3 chooks.
Work: Retired now – I prefer that description to “retrenched” which happened at the end of 2014 when the company I worked for was bought and then broken up by a bigger corporate fish. All the time I’d been writing I’d been wishing I had more time to devote to it: The universe heard me and wham! Suddenly I had all the time in the world. Lesson: be careful what you wish for.
Study: Psychology and linguistics at ANU but I didn’t finish my degree as the kids decided to come along and I became a full-time mum for a few years.
I’ve travelled extensively through Britain, Europe and Asia and love using those experiences in my writing.
Member of: The SA Writers Centre, Romance Writers of Australia.
There are many points to consider when creating a protagonist. What do they look like? What are they good at? Are they smart, or funny, or kind? But considering all of this, the one thing I believe should be avoided at all costs, is the Mary Sue (or Marty Stu if male).
The Mary Sue character is the ridiculously perfect, perhaps overpowered character, whom you cannot fault in any way. As an author, it is easy to fall into this trap. We love our main characters and want them to be perfect. We want our characters to woo our readers with their brilliance just as they are wooing us within the setting of our minds.
So why is this a bad thing?
Mary Sue is boring. Yes, she may have incredible abilities. Yes, they may be smart, and beautiful, and loving. But, no one wants to read about perfect people, at least not for long.
Such perfect characters are not relatable. No one is faultless in reality, so why should your protagonist be any different. Your readers will not be drawn in and captured by your character unless they have traits that make them human. So brainstorm. Do they have a physical illness or disability? Are they easily angered, paranoid, or selfish? Perhaps they are inhibited by their environment, such as their socioeconomic status? There are many ways in which you can FLAW your protagonist and in doing so, will instantly make them a more relatable and a more interesting person to read about. You will give your protagonist areas to learn and develop as a character, and hence will hold the attention of your readers who will now want to watch them grow.
So, when creating characters for your stories (not just your protagonist), give them issues. Scar that shiny image you have in your imagination. Your stories will be all the better for a bit of roughing up!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Night’s reign is timeless and spaceless.
Novalis, Hyms to Night.
For the last five years or so I have been a Visiting Research Fellow with the Adelaide University School of Medicine researching ancient human fossil anatomy and brain evolution - which sounds all very impressive. When I joined the faculty, however, I had rarely felt myself to be such an interloper, like I didn’t belong and was kind of, well let’s be honest, a bit of a fraud. I felt I was there under false pretences. With no background in the sciences, much of the high level stats others juggled with such consummate ease seemed way beyond me. Those clever and adept scientists I shared office space with seemed to be operating in a completely different conceptual universe than I was used to, employing some kind of obscure and intimidating dark art that I only slowly – very slowly – began to decipher.
My doctoral research was in the humanities, so such feelings were understandable. More specifically it was in English Literature, looking at the influence of ecological thought and anthropology on Australian poets such as Judith Wright, Roland Robinson, John Kinsella and Les Murray. Yet I always had an interest in science, some of which, as a kind restless and intellectually omnivorous dilettante, I incorporated into the thesis. Lacking sufficient concentration to focus on academic miniature for sustained periods, my mind naturally wandered across disciplines, instinctively averting the ghettoization of knowledge into discrete areas of specialisation that afflicts much of contemporary intellectual life. Then as now I wanted to understand poetry from a scientific point of view – yet I also yearned for a science that was sensitive to the poetic dimensions of life. In some sense moving into the sciences was a way of coming to terms with, and potentially reconciling, these two seemingly incompatible domains of knowledge – both within myself and our broader culture. So after finishing the thesis, and spending a few years of fruitful uncertainty moping around in an intellectual no man’s land, I decided I would write a book that would hopefully achieve such a synthesis – which thankfully is nearing completion.
One of the things that inspired me to move into the sciences with any kind of seriousness, was reading Steven Jay Gould’s 2002 masterpiece The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. What fascinated me about Gould’s book was his discussion of Goethe’s writing on anatomy and botany. I had long had a special relationship with Goethe’s Faust – this was one of those special works of literature that open up previously unknown depths of aesthetic experience of the kind that can change and transform lives. When we realise somewhat surprised and with increased and deepened awareness – this is what poetry is about. But Goethe was not only a masterful explorer of the hidden depths of the human soul. He also made significant contributions to science that have only recently been confirmed, after over two centuries of neglect, by evolutionary developmental biologists – what has become known as Evo-Devo, a burgeoning field that integrates developmental and molecular genetics with evolutionary theory.
I get asked this question more often that you probably think. Why did I choose this genre, this style as opposed to serious romance or even thrillers? My answer is always the same – why not?
That may sound simple, but there is actually some very solid reasons behind it. Chick Lit has dominated the sales charts for decades. Other genres have also seen increases and then plateaued, but overall, good old romance in the form of Chick Lit has held steady. Anyway, who doesn’t love a good Bridget Jones or Love Actually story? Some Chick Lit has led to the biggest grossing movies of all time and series franchises like Sex and The City, and were all secretly hoping for an outcome like that!
I didn’t start off writing Chick Lit, in fact I began (but failed miserably) writing a psychological thriller. It was a great concept, but the characters were really unlikeable and the plot had as many holes as a slice of Swiss cheese. I struggled with it for well over two years before a very wise mentor told me to ditch it and go with something I knew well. I contemplated this for a while, quite sure my life was far too boring to ever write about, but in a group workshop I was recounting stories of my experience as a wedding and funeral celebrant and I had the entire class in stitches. That’s when I made the jump. I went home from that class absolutely invigorated and full of ideas. I wrote my first book, Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don’t in three months.
‘They Do, I Don’t’ is a romantic comedy about a marriage celebrant who gives up on love when her own life falls apart, but with 10 weddings (and a funeral) still to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, there are plenty of laughs and family drama. Within six months of deciding to switch to Chick Lit I had an offer from Harper Collins Australia for this story.
Timing was definitely a factor, Harper Collins were on the hunt for that type of story, but writing something I knew about intimately and had great insight into meant that it was a story I could write easily and tell really well. Once book 1 was off and running I turned my attention to book 2 and had so much fun taking my characters on another hilarious journey. My family was definitely living in fear at that point given that many of the characters in my first book (especially the sisters) resembled them. They started to throw in ‘this isn’t allowed to go in the next book’ every time they said anything to or around me.
Book 2 in the series: Confetti Confidential: Annabel’s Wedding was released on November 1st last year and pretty much picks up a year after where the characters from They Do, I Don’t left off. Of course there’s lots of hilarious moments and emotional turmoil just like the first and so far feedback and reviews for both have been amazing.
It’s certainly been a learning curve having two books released in 1 year and all of the whirlwind and crazy that comes along with that, but I think that’s really the only way to learn. I wish I could say I was now confident with how to market myself and reach an audience, but the reality is that with every book you put out you just have to wait and see.
Right now I’m almost finished writing my third book, again a Chick Lit set in Hawaii, but after that I’m going to branch out a little. Chick Lit will always be my favourite genre and I don’t think I’ll ever move too far from it, but I’ve teamed up with a fabulous kids author recently to write a really fun adventure story aimed at middle grade readers and I’ve also begun research and notes on what I’d call an ‘epic’ love story which is based on my grandparents and a box full of old war-time letters my Mum found when clearing out their house.
There’s definitely exciting times ahead, but one of the best things that I have found about this whole thing is the people I have met. Chick Lit is a genre that welcomes you with open arms. The community is supportive and helpful and reciprocal in lifting you when you reach out and lift others. Oh, and did I mention that they’re cool? Yep, we’re all pretty cool!
About Susan Murphy
Susan Murphy is an author, mum to three fabulous kids, wife, marriage and funeral celebrant, university student, teacher, and self-confessed chocolate addict. When not writing she can be found standing on the edge of a cliff, on a P&O cruise ship or even getting blown away on a beach somewhere while officiating wedding ceremonies. You might also find her at the SA Writers Centre where she is currently a member and previously the Writer in Residence.
Video trailer for Book 1
Harper Collins: http://www.harpercollins.com.au/search-results/?search-term=Susan+Murphy
I have been writing since 2003, and every year since I started, I have been in some form of online writing community. When used well by the members, they are invaluable. Here are my top pros and cons for writing communities…
Positive Reasons to Join an Online Writing Community
1 Grow and Manage Your Professional and Personal Writers Network (and make New Friends)
One of the strongest ways a newly published author can grow awareness of their book is through their professional and personal network. If they’ve done their preparations right, they will have started growing this whilst still in the first draft stage of their book’s production cycle. Once you know other authors and writers, there are several ways they can help you grow awareness of your book(s).
2 Open the Doors to Cross Promotion
One of the things knowing other authors and writers can result in is cross promotion across their readers/followers and yours. The guys at Sterling and Stone do this very well with their podcast, as they often invite others onto their show to share experience for writers. By doing this, you and your friend can grow awareness of your own projects to a larger group of people. Ways of cross promotion include guest posting (like I am here), being on podcasts, promoting each others’ books to email lists, sponsorship and sharing valuable content of others.
3 Discover Valuable Resources (with Less Work)
Ever had to scroll through several pages of Google for the most recent answer to a question? Me too. Often participants of a writing community will share links to online resources that can help other members of the group.
4 Get your Questions Answered
When people get stuck, they are more likely to ask someone they know than a stranger for help. This happens in online writing communities - members have the ability to ask others (that they can then check out to see if they know what they’re talking about) for answers to their questions or difficulties.
With the proliferation of open mic nights and spoke word events, there are now many opportunities for writers to perform their work. Even if you would rather drink battery acid than read for an audience, I encourage you think again. Reading your work is a wonderful way to reach a wider audience, doubling as an occasion to develop confidence in yourself and in your writing.
I first began my writing career as a playwright, and am a great fan of actors. In my experience, the reading nights that work best are those in which actors read. It makes sense, then, that when preparing for performance writers could do worse than turn to the actor’s craft of performance. What is it that makes actors such engaging storytellers? Of course there is the stage experience, but there’s more to it than experience. The best actors assume professionalism in all performance, and that means preparation and rehearsal – of the voice, of the script, and of the work.
So here are some practical tips based on the actor’s craft designed to help you prepare for performance, so that you will be your dynamic best when standing in the spotlight:
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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