Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn Equinox: Balance and Equilibrium

The Wheel of the Year acknowledges the annual cycles of the seasons and the natural rhythm of the earth. Recognizing our connection with earth cycles is key to developing embodied love.

Many earth and land based spirituality and wisdom traditions, such as the practices of the ancient Celtic people, celebrated the Wheel of the Year. Our ancestors experienced their lives intricately woven with earth’s seasons and tides. They held awareness for the everyday ebb and flow of night and day, dusk and dawn. And they acknowledged the slower change of the seasons; verdant summer into fall’s harvest, fall into winter’s regeneration, winter into spring’s germination, and spring’s expansion into summer once more. These turning points were considered strong magical portals. Opportunities to align with the energies of nature and augment those energies mirrored within ourselves.

These natural crossroads, the ‘in betweenperiods, were celebrated with colorful customs, rituals, storytelling, songs, music, and special seasonal foods. The wisdom of the Wheel of the Year frees us from our modern linear, driven focus, and reminds us to treasure the physicality of our bodies and the rich sensual gifts of the earth. The Wheel of the Year invites us to pay heed to the unhurried energy of our bodies, and to honor them as the divine within matter, for that is where the Divine Feminine resides. By participating in these natural cycles, we can attune ourselves to the creative forces that flow through us, and learn how to harmonize them with the Earth.

The Celtic Wheel of the Year is marked by eight seasonal turning points. The upcoming seasonal change, the Autumn Equinox, occurs September 23rd at 2:05 am PDT. The Equinox is the point of the Wheel when there is perfect balance between light and dark, where day and night are in equilibrium. There are equal hours of daylight and night on this day, which expresses the harmony between the energies of outward, physical manifestation and inward, intuitive, creativity. Nature’s sacred union. This symbolic balance of the rational and the intuitive will exist for a moment, and then the forces of winter will slowly rise and take over. Throughout autumn the land shows clear signs of this journey towards winter where the earth directs its energies inward. Leaves turn color and birds migrate. During the Autumn Equinox we can prepare for when we, too, will go into winter’s intuitive, regenerative state of inner contemplation.

The Autumn Equinox is also called the festival of Mabon, named for the ancient Celtic god, the child of light. Mabon is the second harvest, where we take stock of our yield, ready for gathering. This is the Pagan Thanksgiving where we can offer appreciation and enjoy the fruits of our labors. It represents a time to consider which aspects of our life we wish to preserve, and which we would prefer to transform.

Water is the element of Autumn. Water indicates the realm of emotions and relationships. Autumn Equinox and its element of water urge us to go deeper and embrace our emotions and the nourishing dark of our psyche with its mysterious teachings. Autumn asks us to honor the strengths that will sustain us through the cold winter months. L

Suggestions for how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox:

You can commemorate the Autumn Equinox in small ways:

1.     Enjoy seasonal fruits like pears and apples. Roast the fruits whole in a baking pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees for a delicious autumn treat.

2.     Peel an apple and sprinkle the peel with the balancing herb, thyme. Roll the peel up after you sprinkle the thyme. Bake in a warm oven of 250 degrees for an hour or so, making sure to breathe in the combination of the sweet apple and the fresh, pungent thyme - it will help bring balance to your home and those who live there. Once dried, the peel can be kept to hold in your hand whenever you need a little balance.

(from Cait Johnson, Witch in the Kitchen)

Autumn Equinox Ritual:

3.     Fill a small bowl with water as a way to connect with autumn’s element. Set it on your kitchen counter or on your altar. Gather colorful autumn leaves and surround your bowl with the leaves. Hold your bowl of water and name 3 people you are thankful for in your life. Pick up one of the brightly colored fall leaves, and as you float it in the water, name one thing you have learned or transformed in the past year that has become a strength within you which will sustain you during the winter months ahead.

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Wheel of the Year

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Post: 'Writing Essentials' with Morgen Bailey

I am thrilled to introduce you to the fabulous Morgen Bailey, writer extraordinaire, writing-related blogger, and host of the weekly Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast, as well as blog host to author interviews and spotlights. Morgen's fresh take on things, and her great sense of humor, make her a joy to read and listen to! She's agreed to do a guest post on what she considers are her best tips for authors. Thank you, Morgen!

Writing essentials

American science-fiction novelist Jerry Pournell is reported to have said “I think it takes about a million words to make a writer. I mean that you're going to throw away.” I started writing for fun six years ago and more seriously three years ago and with three NaNoWriMo novels, one and a half in between, part of a script, some poetry and loads of short stories under my belt I’m pretty sure I’ve reached that target. How much of them I’ve thrown away I couldn’t tell you but it’s only a fraction, and if like me, you’ve dabbled before really knuckling down, you’ll feel better for it. It’s all about practice. If someone sat you in front of a piano, would they expect you to play a concerto… would you expect that of yourself?

In my experience too many novice writers worry about finding their ‘voice’ and understanding their ‘craft’ early on. It can be a long journey, perhaps not as long as a million words, but as long as you write regularly (daily is the ideal but when does life afford that luxury?) you’ll get there… and here are a few basics to put in your suitcase:

·       Probably the most used phrase when teaching writing is ‘show don’t tell’. If you have a character who is angry for some reason, saying ‘Andy was angry’ is a classic example of ‘tell’. Simply put, you’re not showing us how. If you wrote ‘Andy slammed his fist onto the table’ you are.
·       Dialogue tags – it’s recommended that you can only go up to six pieces of dialogue (between no more than two people) without attributing it to someone. And there's nothing wrong with ‘said’. Don’t be tempted to look at your thesaurus and say ‘Andy postulated’. You could also avoid tags by another character saying “Oh Andy, that’s…” or in the description; ‘Andy laughed. “That’s…”
·       Character names are important as we often get a sense of their personality by what they’re called. A Mavis is likely to be older than a Britney and would, usually, act differently. Avoid having names starting with the same letter; if you have a Todd talking to a Ted, the reader can easily get confused. Bill and Ted would be fine and as we know, they had a wonderful time back in the late 1980s.
·       I’m a big fan of repetition… of not doing it. Unless it’s ‘the’, ‘and’ etc, a word should only be repeated if the second instance is to emphasise or clarify the first. For example, ‘Andy sat in the car. He beeped the horn of the car.’ You don’t need ‘of the car’ because we already know he’s in the car. If you said ‘Andy sat in the car. He beeped the horn and the car shook’ that would be fine because you’re clarifying that it’s the car and not the horn (because it’s the last object you mentioned) that’s shaking.
·       Stephen King’s writing guide / autobiography ‘On writing’ has been the most suggested book in the interviews I’ve conducted. Amongst other things he’s notoriously against adverbs (‘ly’) and fair enough in, ‘completely dead’ you wouldn’t need the completely because dead says it all, and a character doesn’t need to be ‘sighing wearily’ because the sighing tells us enough, but adverbs are necessary in the right context. Again it’s all about clarification and fine-tuning.
·       Every word has to count; does it move the story along or tell us about your characters? If not, the chances are it can be chopped.
·       If you’re having trouble with a passage move on or leave it and return later with ‘fresh eyes’.
·       Read. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your genre or not (one of my Monday nighters writes amazing sci-fi but has never read a word of it) but reading will help you see how a story is structured and balanced between dialogue and description; short sentences speed the pace, long passages slow it down.
·       Join a writing group, get your work critiqued. Read your work out loud. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up when you hear it outside your head.
·       Subscribe to writing magazines, go to workshops, literary festivals. If you really want to write immerse yourself in all things literary.

There are many more examples I could give you but all you need to remember is that it’s not about clever words (because that ends up becoming ‘purple prose’) but just getting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and having fun. When your characters take over (and they will) you’ll have the time of your life!

~Morgen Bailey

Morgen is foremost a writing-related blogger, but also hosts the weekly Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast, two in-person writing groups (based in Northampton, England), is the author of numerous short stories, four and a half novels (which she’s reworking for eBooks), articles (most recently for the NAWG Link magazine), has dabbled with poetry but admits that she doesn’t “get it”, and is a regular Radio Litopia contributor. She also belongs to two other local writing groups (one of which runs the annual HE Bates Short Story Competition) and when she’s not at her part-time day job, as a secretary, she writes, researches for her writing group, writes a bit more, is a British Red Cross volunteer and walks her dog (often while reading, writing or editing) and reads (though not as often as she’d like), oh and sometimes she writes. Everything she’s involved is detailed on her blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Virtual Book Tour thank you!

I appreciate all the great folks who stopped by to say hi during my Virtual Book Tour. I hope you enjoyed all the book excerpts, interviews, and book trailer to celebrate Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call.

Thank you Bels of TheBookishSnob for organizing my Book Tour. You are wonderful! And a thank you to all the fantastic blog tour hosts. Be sure to check out their blogsites, they are all an incredible group of readers and/or writers, interviewers, and reviewers.

Congratulations to Krysta Banco, my big Giveaway winner! Krysta will receive copies of all three novels in my Goddess of the Stars and the Sea series - Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call, The Awakening: Rebirth of Atlantis, and The Keys to Remember. Thank you for following my Book Tour, Krysta, and happy reading!

Hosting Blogs: (as well as the links in case you missed the book excerpts and interviews and would like to see them!)

The Bookish Snob – Book Excerpt / Giveaway  
eReading On The Cheap – Book Trailer / Giveaway

All Things Books – Book Excerpt / Giveaway



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Big Giveaway!

I am happy to announce my BIG - yes, really big - Giveaway for my blog stop on my Virtual Book Tour!

I am offering the following to a reader worldwide:

One e-book PDF edition of my new novel Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call  
 And if the winner lives within the United States (due to shipping costs), you will also receive:

My first two novels in the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea series: 
One print softcover copy of The Awakening: Rebirth of Atlantis  
One print softcover copy of The Keys to Remember

Must be aged 15 or over to enter.

Entries close: September 12th, 2011 (winner chosen via

*I would love it if you forwarded this post to your friends. I could use lots of support!*

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post that includes your name, email address and country

And if you would support Carry on the Flame in the following ways, that would be great!
2. Tweet, blog, and/or Facebook this post
3. Follow me on Twitter
4. 'Like" my author Facebook Page
5. Add Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call to your read list at Goodreads if you are a member