~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Monday, July 2, 2018

When characters surprise you

So, while I'm shopping around for an agent who might be interested in the first book of my trilogy, I became caught up in the excitement of starting the second book. However, as I began writing, my protagonist surprised me by demanding that some of her past and her beliefs be quite different than I had originally conceived! This has sent me on a research intensive because I want to get to know her in more depth and understand what drives her before I get too far into the manuscript.

Part of my research into her belief system involves Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century Abbess in Germany. Who knew?!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wanting what is best for everyone

Don't most of us want what is best for everyone? Especially the basics? Aren't we all Americans? Don't we simply seek these things in different ways?

In his book Tribe, about the complexities of veterans returning home from war, the author Sebastian Junger (a journalist who has spent years reporting on the front lines) speaks of many compelling aspects including "how do you make veterans feel that they are returning to a cohesive society that was worth fighting for in the first place?" He cites the destructive behavior of our politics as one that damages veterans and says, for instance:

"The most alarming rhetoric comes out of the dispute between liberals and conservatives, and it's a dangerous waste of time because they're both right."

Take that in for a minute. Really. Why do we continue to obsess about our differences instead of focusing on our core similarities in order to reach a resolution?

From Junger's perspective, we are living "in a society that is basically at war with itself" and that "people speak with incredible contempt" about whatever is relegated to the so-called other side. And, he says that "it's a level of contempt that is usually reserved for enemies in wartime, except that now it's applied to our fellow citizens."

How tragic is that?

He goes on to say that "unlike criticism, contempt is particularly toxic because it assumes a moral superiority in the speaker."

We truly need to understand that what we're doing and saying is destructive for all of us, for our country. Criticize if you must. Disagree on how to achieve what is best for everyone. But can we please stop heaping contempt upon those who think differently?

I'm not preaching. I'm at fault, too. I'm begging for all of us to be less divisive and more constructive in our conversation and behavior.

I want what's best for the greater good. Don't you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

By the Dark of the Moon

I wrote this fantasy piece quite a few years ago and recently unearthed it. I was struck by how well it would fit into another fictional manuscript that is stirring in my head at the moment (along with a multitude of others), so I decided to share it here while I'm in the process of copying it into a new Scrivener document.

The wet blanket was tossed over the small fire to smother the flame as quickly as possible. Someone was coming, I was sure I heard a footstep crunch toward me from the darkness, and we don't want to be seen.

We weren't supposed to be here, see, the land was off limits, private property, only those dying few who had lots of money were allowed in here. A good heart didn't count for squat among those kind. This land was held and used by The Moneybelts; I heard their ilk were called the something else a long time ago before the awakening, but it's not important anymore. There were still a few privately-held lands of lush forest and majestic mountains, like here, but no one was allowed to visit them except the last remaining strange ones called The Wealthy.

So we sneak in and commune; we are here to celebrate life within these private velds of green. Instead of hoarding Her energy, we honored and gave offering to Her, our Mother Eairth. Oh, these weren't the only green spaces, not by far. We've come a long way since the time of the Enlightenment when the scales tipped and then fell over to rust, the time of the Change when the majority simply refused to do any more work until all creatures and people were cared for and provided with enough. No, these green spaces still 'owned' and gated and isolated by The Moneybelts were few, but desperately in need of ritual cleansing to set free the spirits that lay within, remnants of an ignorant time when people thought bodies were the most important part of Life and so clung to them even in death, afraid to let them go, terrified of letting them return to the Mother as nourishment through transformation.

"I think whoever it was is gone." Cloud's whisper reaches my ears in the silence of the woods, carried upon the shadows of the dark moon night.

We pick up our shovels once more and began digging with reverence, casting prayers upon the elements, talking to the ones who were held confined to this space, afraid to leave because of the energies that bound them to their bodies within the vaults guaranteed to last centuries. Striking a hard surface, me and my friends brush the last bit of dirt away gently with our hands and open the lid of the casket. "Mrs. Miller, you're free," I whisper, and my sisters join me in an ancient chant. We take her bones and all that is left of her body, placing them within a hemp bag to take back to the funereal pyre built earlier in the night. I feel her sigh of relief caress my cheek upon the current of light cool breeze. Climbing out of the grave, I look across the dark expanse defined by tombstones and giant pine trees that rise tall and thick among the old stone markers barely legible, I see the bushes and ferns spreading themselves wild around the maze of once perfectly aligned burial sites where roots and quakes have shifted and lifted them out of their purchased complacency. Hundreds more to go, one at a time.

While we have the legal right to conduct these acts and rituals of liberation, rights provided by the Council of Elders, this compound and those like it remain heavily monitored by the Old Guard who cling to their archaic ways in spite of all that has been accomplished since the Great Shift, and it is said in hushed tones that they are still willing to kill just to maintain control and a semblance of power over others. They are so few now, they're no longer a threat to the greater good throughout most of the world. But here, we are careful not to be seen. No one could imagine killing another human these days, or any living creature for that matter, but these people might. So rather than risk it, one of the initiations into becoming a Priestess of Passing is to slip into the fenced compound and free souls from their prisons.

We know our duty and try to stay focused, but every so often one of us lets slip a nervous giggle. Which is what thirteen-year-old girls are prone to do, after all.
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