It’s been awhile since I’ve really felt like an author. My first book is out of print. The last few years I’ve been contributing to anthologies rather than writing on my own themes. I’ve had a hard time making the space to work on my next book. Life happens.
This past weekend, though, has been a writers week for me. On Friday I attended Women of Words. I’ve been a member of this amazingly supportive writers group for over a year, but I’ve had to miss meetings the last few months. It’s great to feel “back on track.”
Then, as my regular readers know, I went to the Minnesota State University, Mankato Women and Spirituality Conference. I spent most of the weekend vending my books (and the anthologies) and being “seen” as a writer. I also gave a well attended workshop on Daily Practice (the next book).
There were some gems that dropped into my ears over the course of the weekend. Some of them were immediately useful. Others I’m still digesting. I’ll share.
One of the Women of Words said that when you go to sell your books you need to have the expectation that they will sell. Now that seems self evident, but I know I have set up vending with “Maybe I’ll sell a few books” in my head. Not this time, and it made a significant difference in my sales.
The conference keynote speaker, Daisy Hernandez, talked about the power of memoir. How when we share those personal stories we often find they are much bigger than we are. In telling our own stories we tell a human story, a culture story, and there are at least elements of that story that belong in other people’s stories as well. It’s hard for me to share those personal stories, but I know when I do my books are better for it.
My table was across from the artist who drew the cards in the Spirit of Archetypes divination deck. I drew the Martyr card. These cards carry “illuminated” and “shadow” meanings. The shadow of the martyr is exactly what you think. The illuminated archetype is about conviction and commitment to a purpose. Like being an author and owning it.
When I speak about Daily Practice, and especially when I speak to women I have to address the issue of “How do I put myself first?”. This comes across in a lot of ways. It can be about time. It can be about priorities. It can be about reluctance to do self care. It’s a very prevalent theme when I converse with people about their issues with Daily Practice and it’s certainly been one of my issues as well.
One of the suggestions I give to people who can’t seem to “do it for ourselves” is to dedicate the practice to the Divine. Make your practice devotional, take a sacred vow to do the practice, add a gratitude component. Essentially I recommend heightening the perceived value of the practice beyond just something we do for ourselves.
So… it finally occurs to me on the drive home to LISTEN to some of the things that come out of my own mouth. What if marketing and promotion (the necessary and my least favorite parts of this job) were sacred service? What if all marketing and promoting was about opening a channel for the Divine to inspire more people? This one I’m still chewing on, but it tastes a whole lot better with this kind of seasoning.
Samhein/Halloween is New Year for Wiccans. I’m feeling well packed for a new start.
I’ve written several posts on this Sabbat in the past (links at the bottom). It’s the time of year when we notice the days are getting longer. Back before artificial light cows and hens stopped producing in the dark time of the year so it is a time to celebrate the return of eggs and milk. Many animals are at the “birthing” time in their cycle. It’s a good time to start things.
For many people who make New Years Resolutions it’s the time to recognize failure. This is why I don’t do New Years Resolutions any more. Who needs to beat themselves up? Not me! But it is a good time for me to recognize where I need to get “back on track”.
Sunshine and winter thaw is a good motivator. But I’ve got an even better one. My copies of Pagan Leadership Anthology: An Exploration of Leadership and Community in Paganism and Polytheism came in the mail!
This anthology, edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood and published by Immanion Press, includes a piece I wrote. That’s where I need to get “back on track”. I’ve kept up with the blog, but have been actively avoiding other writing – for no good reason.
Getting the books in the mail reminds me “I am a writer!” I have authored 2 books (Manifest Divinity and When Gods Come Knocking) and have published works in 3 anthologies (Pagan Leadership, Bringing Race to the Table, and Rooted in the Body Seeking the Soul). Writers Write!
The season marks the time to get back into the daily practice of writing. For me, I find that it helps to set aside a particular amount of time I MUST write each day (with an eye to when I might squeeze that in). The amount of time can be minuscule. 10 min, 20 min, an hour, how much doesn’t matter. I need to sit down and do it. Once I start I’ll write until I’m done, sometimes all day. It’s the getting started where I need help.
This time of year is the “housekeeping” time of year. What have you been avoiding that really needs to be done? Just do it. Think of it as preparing the way for spring.
I know it may seem I’m getting my blog out a little late this Monday morning, but honest it’s still REALLY early in San Jose. I’m out here for Pantheacon (My regular readers will have seen previous years posts and several links to the con site in the last weeks.) This is a convention for Pagan practitioners in the Bay Area and has become a national event. I’ve met folks here from New York, North Carolina, Florida and Texas. Not many this year from Minnesota through.
The locals are all complaining about the dry air. I know that the area needs rain badly. I also know that compared to living in forced air heating, well below zero, no humidity to be found air my skin is very happy with the moisture level. My ankles may be swollen enough to be painful, but my heels are notably less cracked than they were just a few days ago. 63 degrees with the sun shinning is a treat not to be missed and I snuck an hour out of the day to put on my sunglasses and lounge by the pool.
I was on the schedule this year as a presenter, which has made this a very different experience for me than in previous years. I find myself doing networking very actively. This is hard work for me, but I’ve had some lovely conversations with people. I even came out of nowhere to give Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi a big kiss! Those of you who’ve listened to the The Priestess Show on Blog Talk Radio may know that Stephanie is another of the priestesses. I’ve never actually met her in person, but Traci Logan Wood, our producer, asked me to give Stephanie a big hug and a kiss and I said I could do that. It’s the kind of event (and Stephanie is the kind of person) where she didn’t instantly start screaming. It was actually a good prank and it was great to meet her and her husband, Raven Grimassi, in person.
My publisher (Taylor Ellwood) is here and will also be coming to Minnesota for a convention in March. We’ve been conspiring together between workshops. It’s always nice to spend face time with people who are so important to the work I’m doing. Taylor is additionally a sweet man and fun to talk to. His wife has been very patient with him “checking up on hisImmanion Press authors”.
Because I’m a presenter I’ve also had the opportunity to do a book signing and tarot readings. I took advantage of those events to make a few more contacts. It will be great if I can manage to keep in touch with some of the folks I’ve met. That’s not really my skill set either, but I know at least one of the women I’ve spoken with is now connected via Facebook. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she’ll remember to send me the link to her favorite on-line women’s clothing store.
Next week when I’m home for real I’ll give you all more detail about my workshop presentation and the great friends I’ve been able to reconnect with. In the meantime try not to be too jealous as you throw another log on the fire and curl up under you warm blankets.
You’re hear expecting yet another blog about fireworks and the 4th of July aren’t you? Don’t be too disappointed when I tell you that the celebration I’m writing about is a little smaller and more personal than all of that. Of course ANY excuse to light off a few fountains of color and noise is a good one, right?
You all know (well you do now) that I’ve written a book on spirituality. This week I was confronted with yet another step in the reality of being a published author. This one seems almost too good to be true. My fabulous publishers at Immanion Press http://www.immanion-press.com have sent me a “rough draft” of what will become the cover to my new book! It’s quite the shock to open up an email and see my name in print!
Sending a book off to an editor is daunting. There is that amazing high of having your material accepted for publishing. The validation that yes you’ve done it! Then there is the critique and edit process. You’ve heard me complain about that. If I’m honest with myself, as those things go I had it easy. Then there is some “sit around and wait.”
The publisher at this point can pretty much do what they want to get what you have written into a format that they like. They can muck about with art, or lack thereof. They can choose a font that you hate. They can send your material off to strangers to make comments for the back. They can put your book into a “category” (science fiction, sociology, memoir, romance) pretty much at their discretion.
I feel very fortunate to have a publisher that is willing to include me in this process. I am asked for my ideas about formatting and artwork. When they sent the draft of the cover the email said, “What do you think?” and they meant it. I get a quick response to my inquiries and I get advice when I have questions about the industry.
Even though I still don’t have a publication date I have been given some very important advice. Create some BUZZ for your book!
It is against character for me to talk about my projects and promote myself. This blog has been quite the challenge and most rewarding. Cyberfriends and fellow bloggers from across the country reading and offering their encouragement makes it a little easier each time. I think all of you who’ve been supportive of my whining deserve to celebrate a little bit with me as well.
So, dear readers, PLEASE help me out with this “creating buzz”. Share my blog with everyone you can think of and let them know how much you enjoy reading. Forward the link lisaspiral.wordpress.com. Tell everyone you know someone who’s book is on it’s way to press! Light a firework for me and let your friends know that you have an “in” with a soon to be published author. 🙂
I suppose it would help to know a little something about the book itself. The book is about exploring the different ways that the Divine manifests in our lives. It is written in broad enough strokes that it would be useful to anyone looking to build a relationship with the Divine, regardless of their religious practice. I identify the Divine by the AWE experience. I give examples from my life experience of Divine Manifestation and tell stories from a wide variety of religious perspectives. The book is also is a tool to help enhance that personal relationship between the reader and the Divine.
My intention with this book is to help people come to an understanding of the Divine that allows them to fill that gap between religion and spirituality for themselves. You might say I am on a mission to promote awe-some-ness and bring enchantment back into our daily lives.
So as a reward for reading through the whole blog, and I hope sharing it with your friends, here is the photo that has left me well and truly stunned:
We are fast approaching the equinox, the beginning of spring. In Minneapolis this is generally a celebration involving getting the seeds started, indoors. It might even still be a little early. More often than not there is snow on the ground from the latest big blizzard. It’s a good two months before it’s “safe” to put the tomatoes in outside.
This year we have just gotten through a week of temps in the upper 70’s F. Things are blossoming and budding a month ahead of “normal.” Not that we don’t occasionally see a warm day in March, or an early spring. But in the 51 years I’ve lived here, most of which I remember, I’ve never seen a spring like this one.
It is not unusual, given our weather extremes, to have a significant frost weeks after it appears the warmth of spring is here to stay. With the growth so fast and so far ahead I can’t help but wonder what the impact of a killing frost might be on these young buds.
Most of our natives can handle that kind of climate abuse. The dandelion will spring forth again, as will the chives and the bulbs. The bulbs may not blossom, but they will be back next year. The lilacs may only see one blooming if they are hit with frost, a short season. The apple tree will certainly survive, but will there be fruit?
Sticking out your neck, or your buds, is a risky business. Even if the early warmth holds the season may also have flooding or drought. There may be huge and unseasonable storms, like the tornadoes we’ve already seen this year in the heartland. Winter may come as early as the spring, so the seeds and fruits from this early bloom may not see there way to harvest. Anything could happen!
I’ve buried the lead here. I’ve stuck my neck out. I’ve written a book and sent it off to a publisher, where it has been accepted. WOW! YEAH! Spring blossoms forth!
Contracts are being discussed, distribution is being debated. There will be editing and formatting and cover art that I may have an opinion about, but no control. Months from now, maybe even next year, the book will hit the market and the public may choose to partake of the fruits of my labors, or not.
In the meantime, I have to get used to the idea of calling myself an author. I guess that’s a little different than a writer. It sure feels that way.
Best wishes for a fruitful harvest from this brilliant and early spring!