Reach out. Stay Positive. We've Got This.
As most of you know, I’ve been a recluse in the forest for several years now. Isolation is not new to me. However, I’m aware of how challenging isolation can be if you’re not prepared for it. If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, or isolation during the social distancing please reach out to me, your community, or your tribe. With the technology we have today to stay connected, there’s no reason for anyone to feel alone during quarantine.
Due to Covid19 many people will not be able to be in public for many reasons. Many people will not be able to leave their homes, or be around other humans. Many will not be able to keep habits and patterns that support nurturing connective relationships in their immediate communities. This can have a terrible impact on quality of life, spirit, and believe it or not, it can negatively impact immune-responsiveness. Those most at risk will be the elderly, the very young, and the disabled. If you know of any elderly living alone, please reach out to them and keep in touch.
It is scientifically proven that uplifting social connectivity increases immune responsiveness and boosts mental and emotional fortitude. (Assuming those interactions are positive)
So, I encourage you, and myself, to reach out to people more in the next few weeks. Call them for phone chats, face times, emails, and texts. Touch bases more often. If it’s safe for you to get out and meet them for coffee or drinks, make a date. If not, make a coffee date on the phone. Connect with your tribe, and with people in your community who might not have tribe.
I encourage you to post more uplifting and positive memes, content, and thoughts. I will be sorting through archives for uplifting and funny clips, humanizing content and connective stories. I’ll also be making a lot of phone calls and setting up chats over the next few weeks.
Yes, keep the spread and danger down. Yes, stay safe and healthy. But try not to lock yourself away to shiver in alone in fear. Try to reach out to those who don’t know how, or can’t reach by themselves. Isolating to detriment is dangerous on a lot of levels, so just touching bases once a day with someone makes a huge difference. You might have to be isolated—but you do not have to be alone.
If you want to have a coffee date via phone, hit me up. If you need a couple of emails sent to your inbox, or a letter in the mail to keep you connected to another human being—please don’t be shy. Just reach out, and I’ll reach back. I’d be happy to write you a note, or tell you a story. Or play a game of Go Fish via Facetime.
You can contact me privately via the webform here for a connection: CONNECT WITH ATHENA
Loneliness is often, not always, but often a choice. There are options available to help you stay connected to a live link if you desire it. These safety measures and precautions for public health are temporary, so in the meantime we’ll just have to be creative, adaptive, and try a little harder to help each other stay connected.
We are a world tribe and we can beat this Corona bitch together, right?
P.S. I’m adding a page to the website for my recipes. For those of you who need a little creative boost in the kitchen and some ideas for meal prep since restaurants are closed #socialdistancingfood. Follow the food… The ELDER GLADE RECIPES
Most of the big deadlines are wrapping up. Thankfully, many of those deadlines were self-imposed. Legal paperwork has been filed. Taxes are almost done. Chapter re-blocks for three characters are looking much better, and TLE Week Three is mapped. High Tide Tempest is in a bit of a business lull and limbo, but I expect that to shift in the near future. And so it goes, it’s never really done, but this surge of finishing points is feeling like progress.
Still, while I’m wrapping up these deadlines and preparing Plague of Gargoyles for a summer nap I have found myself idly gazing out at the forest more and more. This is a sign that I need to take a break soon-- my brain is overheating.
The unprecedented shift in daily affairs and public safety due to the Corona Virus has changed many plans. For starters, my part time gig down at the pub is on notice as restaurants are being shut down for safety measures. Isolation and self-imposed quarantine are nothing new to me, as I’ve been a hermit for the better part of three years. Still, some basic planning and preparing for social distancing is in the works. This means it’s time to get caught up on some mundane things.
The house needs a thorough deep-clean for spring. I should already be pruning the roses and raspberries, but I’m still behind on all the things. Next week will be my in-house catchup. I’ll be cooking and prepping meals, and starting on the spring clean list. The week after, I’ll have to catch up on yard and garden. The fruit trees are about to leaf, and the grapes will be waking up by the end of the month and will need to be trained this year (year three is the fruit bearing year, and they need to be trellised).
As far as garden goes, the work will be significant this year. The grapes are not the only trained items, the kiwis need replanting and training as well. The new fig I got from Joe and the dozen or so hazelnut trees will need to be positioned and settled soon, too. Not all of them will take, but I’m hoping for at least a handful to root. The garden itself is in need of a remodel now that the chickens are gone and the old coop burned down. What a mess. Ugh. Just thinking about the racoon massacres has put me off of chicken farming for a while. I won’t be doing bees this year but the hives need to be stripped, cleaned and stored for next year (the wax needs to be cleaned and rendered). In short, there’s a lot to do. I haven’t even begun my vegetable starts yet, that’s how far behind I am. I’m likely going to have to go with purchased plants this year.
The coming out of the forest transformation is put on temporary hiatus as the world locks down. The irony is not lost on me that the moment I decide it’s time to come out of hermitage—the world is put on social distancing notice. Well played, Universe. Well Played. I did not see that coming.
On the bright side, Mabelyn called to let me know that for once in my life, I’m trending. YAY! Homesteaders living in the woods are finally trending. My work here is done.
As for the body re-model: I dropped out of ketosis for a few weeks to load up, and re-plan my diet for the plateau break. I dropped out of the leaning between 20lb from where I started. My body is already starting to level off on my diet and exercise so it needs a shift. Likely a cheat week, then a protein remodel, and a new calorie ratio of fat to carb, then a new cardio plan. I may even take a week to do a quick cleanse, I didn’t expect so much detoxing this round of leaning. Like, whoa, so much more detoxing than expected—which made me realize how unkind I’ve been to myself for the last three years. Let up on the stress and boozing, lady. My skin went absolutely nuts, and my fatigue was off the charts for what it should have been. Not good. Hopefully, a cleanse will make the next round of leaning less icky.
If I’m back in ketosis with an adapted regimen by the first week of April, I’ll still be on schedule for the goal in October. Yay!
Books and Publishing
With the banner change and bringing my work under one label, it’s time to start pushing for a management team. Originally, I was considering bringing on an assistant or an intern, but upon really looking at the volume of work over twenty years and the marketing plan it’s become painfully obvious that I need more than an assistant—likely a whole management support system.
As far as IPs (intellectual properties) go, The Pillars of Dawn, and The Life Erotic are both large properties with extensive material and backgrounds to work with—however, they are unknown, and therefore present a risk. Risk in the sense that they don’t come with a fanbase and a large following to support them. On the other hand—that also works in their favor as there is not a huge base ready to chop apart any adaptation or option deals. So, it’s a mixed bag.
I personally think the unknown aspect works highly in favor, as literally nothing like either one of my series is currently on the market or being presented in film/television format. So it will be an “out of left field”. A surprise, as it were. There’s very little in the film/television world that’s surprising and rich nowadays. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the boom in live stream and the slog of content being released means there’s a lot of “filler content”. Which has led me to cancel some of my streaming services, for lack of original and refreshing storytelling. Yes, there’s some, but not enough, at least in my opinion. And I hate having to sort through a bunch of dreck to find something surprisingly excellent.
For comparison, this boom in content has happened twice before. Look at the music industry and when it went digital, and again in literature when e-publishing democratized the field. When a boom of content hits the airwaves and becomes accessible to the general public, a flood of options, tastes, styles, and ideas come with that surge. It also means anyone can put it out there, and they do. This is awesome! It breaks down the gatekeeper functions of market conditioning.
Breakdown in market conditioning allows the consumer market to “re-condition” to a state that’s closer to actual audience preferences versus gatekeeper and profiteer preferences. Wooohooo!
And we are there finally, in the visual entertainment industry. In film/television/streaming there’s a land race for grabbing space and viewer attention. Air waves are the new gold rush and content producing companies are facing a “wild west” mentality.
Perfect. It’s about fucking time they have to prove their value as sifters and content producers. It’s about time they have to stand in front of their decisions to the public, and not to share holders. In a perfect world—it would be both public and shareholder, but we’ll get there.
With all that said, I’ve made up my mind that since it’s time to come out of the woods, AND I happen to be sitting on two active series with large IP potential that no one has seen yet, and is written specifically for an audience that has as of yet been denied (the female audience)—it’s time to go live.
I intend to be at the optioning table this year on both of my active IPs. The plan is to bed them down somewhere they can be marinating, and get back to work, back to work with a fire under my butt.
I was able to produce a lot while in hibernation, the flip side of that is that I left no real footprint while I was in building mode out here in the wilderness, and management companies like to see a footprint before investing headcount. So, I’ll be on the hunt for risk takers, and a team that wants to be a co-collaborative experience.
I’ll keep you posted. This should be an interesting adventure. My teeth are in the idea, so it will happen one way or the other, even if that means I have to build a management team from scratch and out of pocket. You know me, once an idea gets in my jaws…it’s just a matter of time.
Queries go out this week. Stay tuned.
That’s it for the Mid-month Update for March. I sincerely hope you are all staying safe, healthy, and connected. I will be trying to post regularly to keep content fresh and up-to-date. Please chime in on what you’d like to see or hear, and I will do my best to work it in.
Thank you for all your support!
“How do I connect with a Muse?” It seems like a strange question, but since I write about the nine Muses in The Pillars of Dawn, I actually get asked this question fairly often. Usually, the question pops up when I’m sitting with artists, and the conversation rolls around to blockages.
I don’t believe in blockages, writers’ or otherwise, so I usually end up saying so and acknowledging my creative outputs are heavy, deep, and if uninterrupted can go on for hours/days without pause.
The short of it is, when I connect to the pipeline—it’s pours out, and it’s all I can do to try to keep up. (Funny note: my laptop is getting old, so when I’m on a really good streak and blazing out content, there are times when my keystrokes outpace my word processor and I have to stop for a minute and wait for my computer to catch up. Yes, I need a new laptop. It’s on the list.)
Artists in these conversations refer to this energy as the Muse. Inspiration. Graced with productivity, ideas, and source. I don’t disagree. I think of it much the same way, and I thoroughly enjoy writing about the Muses in my series with this power.
People mistakenly think I have some sort of “in” with Calliope, or something and ask me how they can get an introduction, or how to “snag” a Muse for their project.
That’s not really how it works. The best explanation I can think of to entice a Muse to an artist really boils down to the concept of true partnership. Enchant her with your energy, and prove you’re a good match for her.
Muses (energy) will partner with like energy (vessel). Like attracts like in this case, right?
While I can imagine myself, and the characters I write in The Pillars of Dawn as vessels—they (and myself) must be a match for the energy of the Muse in question. As seen in the books, pairing the wrong energy with the wrong vessel is catastrophic. It just doesn’t work.
As a storyteller, my match to a Muse energy is storyteller energy, right? So, what is storyteller energy? It starts with willingness. It begins with curiosity. Being open to answers that bring more questions, that breed more mysteries, which leave breadcrumbs of truth that lead to discovery. Quintessentially, story is a journey. If you’re not open to a sojourn down the scenic route—you’re not open to storyteller energy and that Muse will pass you by. If you have all the answers already, she’s going to go dance with someone else, because she wants to discovery the mysteries, too.
The same rule of inspiration applies to all forms of elevated and cosmic consciousness whether that’s music, law, language, mathematics, the sciences, astronomy, leadership, and so on and so forth. Like energy attracts like energy. Being open to the mystery, brings connections with higher consciousness in the field in which you would like to have a pipeline to inspiration and discovery.
The principle is pretty basic, also known as “The Law of Attraction”.
So, now you’ve got the Muse. You’ve managed to connect with a sense of curiosity, openness, willingness to create in this amniotic womb of the unknowable mystery in your chosen field. Now what?
Now that you’ve connected, you treat the relationship like a partnership—a true partnership. The connection is “at will”, remember? She’ll just move along if you’re puttering around trying to decide what to do. In short, put a damn ring on it. Commit.
What does that mean?
There’s a level of commitment required in this relationship to keep your Muse, and your inspirations flowing. Commitment to the work. Commitment to the process. Commitment to the continued relationship of Muse and Vessel. The second you decide you’re too tired to keep going, she’ll pack up and move onto the next Vessel. (You can win her back, if you work at it, but she’s going to make it hard on you.)
As a storyteller, my commitments look like this: When an idea comes, I make note of it. Always. Whether I’ll follow that breadcrumb later or not is another story—but I always make a note. This is why I have boxes of notes, scribbles on my hands, menus with dialog in the margins, sticky pads, audio recordings, and photos with captions for my files. The inspirations are popping in, constantly.
How do I keep them popping in? By living. This seems weird, but it’s true. The movie, Short Circuit, where the robot is struck by lightning, and he wanders around saying “Johnny Five is Alive”, “Need input”.
That’s my life as a storyteller. Short Circuit is a perfect metaphor for the human condition, and the life of a storyteller. I basically wander around saying, “Need input”.
Story cannot happen in a vacuum. It needs air. It needs experience. It needs contrast and depth. All of which I need in order to produce believable content, characters, and scenarios. My imagination is rich—but it has limits. I need actual tastes, textures, and elements to flesh out my worlds and scenes.
To that end, I try a lot of new foods, drinks, recipes and markets. I put a lot of strange stuff in my mouth. Some of it is delicious—some of it is retch-worthy. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
I wander through textile stores on weekends and touch all the things. I rub in on my inner forearm, my check, and my neck. Furs, faux furs, leathers, cottons, blends, satins, weaves, and so on. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
I walk into apothecary shops to taste and smell. I invite strangers into conversations. I get on the bus and people watch for hours in the city, with no destination in mind. I take photos of people at the beach. I loiter in the library for hours and make notes on the books people are checking out, and how they observe me in the corner, spying. I wander through Goodwill, and assemble outfits for my characters. I jump out of airplanes. I stop at the rock shop at that little beach town on the coast and pick up all the pretty stones and give them jobs in my scenes. I book short trips to places I’ve never seen. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
Input. Input. Input. I am alive. I need input. All these details and inputs I’m gathering, cataloging, storing—becomes story-ing.
Hence the phrase on my business card:
Inhale Life, Exhale Story.
My commitment to my Muse is that I live big, and boldly, and often messily. I gather data. I ask a lot of questions. I make notes of hypotheticals, ponderances, curiosities.
In turn, she (my Muse) gets to adventure this world with me. She’s with me when I’m at the textile store, or skydiving. She’s with me when I’m drinking a new wine or flirting with the bartender. She’s right there when I’m wandering the jagged coastline searching for mermaids, and gathering shells. She’s even with me on all my worst dates. She is living vicariously through all my discoveries and experiences.
So when we sit down together, as partners, and I place my hands on the keyboard, tuck my legs up under my body and disconnect from this world—Aria blooms under my fingertips.
Vast spaces open up between this world and the next, and in those gaps characters emerge, conflicts abound, and adventure beckons. And all those scenes are fleshed out with everything I have tasted, touched, smoked, or swallowed, everything I have ached from, yearned for, bled on, laughed at, been broken by, lifted from, reached for, and have been inspired to express because it feels so very real.
Sometimes reality and my imagination cross over. They can get tangled and woven because so much of my life is put in my work. It takes time to come out of a writing binge and unpick reality so I can function as a normal human being again. This can be hard for people to be around; especially if I go straight from a heavy writing session to lunch with friends, I can be really disoriented for an hour or more.
But hot damn, was it fun while I was in there! Being plugged in is like flying! Even the hard stuff can be a total blast.
So you see, the commitment doesn’t end with just being open to the mystery and the discovery. The commitment doesn’t end with putting your butt in the chair to pour it out all out. The commitment is a life choice. It’s a way of living, for me anyway.
This life choice means I have a flourishing, co-creative relationship with my pipeline to creativity and I live accordingly. By nurturing this energy, I can rely upon it to support me whenever I sit down to work. By keeping this relationship fed and secure, I have total faith and trust in the power of the connection. It goes both ways.
A Muse is not there only at your whim, and to treat her as such means she’ll just move along.
She does not just make appearances when it’s convenient for you, say on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm. You either make her a part of your life, a part of your tribe—or she will run off with the cute painter down the road.
Respect her time. Listen to what she says, her voice is an equal element in your work and life, whichever field you are working in. Support her needs, and she will support yours. Make time to be alone with her. Make time to show her your world. Make time to play, adventure, and enjoy one another. Then when the inspirations start pouring in…get a notebook and pay attention.
Many of the writers in the groups that believe in blockages have habitualized those blockages. They have fortified those blockages so well, and cling to them so tightly that nothing is getting in. They must be dismantled from the inside out—and by dismantle, what I really mean is recognizing they are fictitious, and they will simply crumble.
FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real.
Those blockages are fear.
This is the part that confuses me about blockages in creativity. What the actual fuck is there to fear about unlimited creativity?
Unlimited potential. Wow. Seems unreal, right? Except it isn’t. It’s totally achievable, and a mega ton of fun to boot.
So, moral of the story. Have fun. Play. Be sensual. Be creative. Be a good partner. Be curious. Be hungry. Be open. Be adventurous. Be loose.
All you have to do to “snag” a Muse is be living your life, and be open to the ideas that come. And once you’ve piqued her curiosity with your laughing, smiling, joy…she’ll scoot in closer, snuggle up against you at the keyboard and as you to tell her s story.
Then you just take a deep breath and prepare for an amazing ride.
This post is for all my fellow ladies who have ever feared their own voice, desires, and ambition. If you have ever kept silent, or endured for fear of scorching the Earth with the power of your hunger—this post is for you.
When I came to the woods, tucked in and wrapped myself in the work it was an instinctual, desperate, almost animalistic move. Very few people understood it at the time, but it felt primal to me. It was sequester and build—or be devoured by the machinery of conformity.
My books, my writing style, my personality, my very dreams were contrary to the way the industry, the corporate world, and mainstream programming work. It was bend to the expectations of fitting into the matrix, quiet my voice, and be less--or leave.
So I left.
But I wasn’t idle for three years, I was creating. I closed down all unnecessary energy expenditures, let go of all corporate support, ditched relationships that were feeding toxins and contributing to the lag. I grew more fierce, protective, and feral as time went by.
And I wrote. I wrote like my fingers were burning, because my spirit was on fire.
The Pillars of Dawn, The Life Erotic, and The Creative Revolution, all grew exponentially in purpose while I was in hermitage. The meanings behind them, the purpose of why I was creating them, the lightning to be drawn down and channeled into the fuel of words all began to take shape and develop into a heartbeat with an even stronger sense of mission. Message was birthing into story, and it was a painful, sweaty, exhaustive process.
It’s funny when I go back through twenty-five years of work and re-discover old stories and books, manuscripts, film scripts and so on that were learning modules for my development as a storyteller. I unboxed three books I wrote ages ago. Two of the books were the beginning of a fantasy series I wrote when I was 16-21. Then, there was one other book I wrote at about age 23-26ish, The Alchemy of Blood.
I had completely forgotten about it. When I opened the box it was still labeled by the work-in-progress name and it took me a moment to remember what it was about. In the first days when I really began to own that I would be a writer, and that my life would take the course dictated by the pathway upon which that dream would be mapped—I was struggling with what voice meant. My mentor at the time, Jessica Morrell, was teaching me about voice—but I still didn’t know what it meant to me on a personal level. There’s writing voice, personal voice, and then there’s me, right?
Or was that right? I wasn’t sure at the time. I was also in a marriage at that point that made me feel trapped, cornered. There was no way out. My voice as a woman was insignificant, my needs and dreams secondary or treated as nonsensical (humored, at best). I was pretty sure that marriage would be my death. I was angry, tired, lonely, and aching to be allowed to be strong, but terrified that I would destroy everything and everyone if I reached for my power. The power of voice.
So, I wrote a book: The Alchemy of Blood, as a practice run to try and connect with my voice. My author voice, and my personal feminine voice. I needed a safe place to explore the consequences of self hood as designed by me, rather than imposed by my world. It was a fictional obstacle course to work through my fear, my dis-empowerment, and my terror of owning my own rage and channeling it into discipline and purpose. I had a secret fear that if I spoke my true words—I’d accidentally burn the world down. That’s how afraid of my own voice I really was. So, I borrowed my namesake and leaned into her mythology as a support to produce a book exploring the individual sovereignty and powerful journey of being a woman in a world built for men. A world built from the blood of women…for men.
The most interesting part of The Alchemy of Blood was that I forgot about it. Then some twenty years later, I no longer fear my own voice. I no longer fear accidentally causing harm. I no longer fear the conflicts that arise when my true nature rubs up against the system. Writing it took the clamps off my brakes.
The book did exactly what it was meant to do. It gave me a place to practice, explore, rethink, reconfigure. It lanced my rage, gave direction to my meanings, and offered an outlet for creativity and craft. It’s probably safe to say that manuscript was the basis for the tone and purpose I carried onto my storyteller path. It might also be the manuscript that kept me alive when my whole world tipped ass over teakettle shortly after I started writing it. There was even a brief moment when I wondered if my world had imploded because I’d started writing it. But when I realized those comforts, patterns, and relationships were contributing to keeping me stuck and in fear. I let go of them, and embraced the voice even tighter and held on for the ride.
I also discovered during the last two decades of writing, that I was not the only woman who feared her own voice. Who lived in terror of what they might feel or say. Who lost sleep trying to keep silent. Or slept alone for having spoken and scorched the Earth with her desires. It was during those years, discovering all these other women with the same fear that I had resolved to own mine, control it, then express it for others who may need path to safety.
As far as names go, my parents could have done much worse. My dad still calls me the wise-ass goddess, but that’s another story, I suppose.
All this is to explain, as I’m going through all the archives and sifting material for the coming rebrand and launch—it seems fitting to post the prologue to The Alchemy of Blood since it pretty much underscores the nature of my work in female empowerment and literature for the last twenty years. The trick to finding a voice and brand that will present well, and be able to be inspire and empower without repulsing or causing fear, well, I’ll need some help and direction with that. But, you know, all in due time and with the right collaboration.
In the meantime: Prologue: The Alchemy of Blood