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Author

At my table at the MN Authors Book Fair

I do love to read and although I’m not keeping up in the reviewing department I have been catching up on the stack of books sitting beside my chair.  As an author I have a great appreciation for readers.  I am delighted when people are interested in my books.  As a reader I am not a good friend to authors.

Perhaps it’s the introvert in me that makes me resistant to reaching out to the authors I admire.  I am well over the shyness I had as a child.  I’ve worked with the public.  I can talk to anyone if I have to.  I’m just not inclined to reach out first, even with my good friends.

I had the opportunity this weekend to be an author in public.  My writer’s group hosted a book fair.  I went and had a good time.  One of the other women in the group offered to share a table with me.  That made stepping away for a little break a lot easier.  It also encouraged me to have some conversation.  In that context, talking to other authors is interesting and easy.

I did a reading which was well attended.  I got a lot of questions both curious and contentious.  I find it amusing when people think I’m against them and try to challenge me.  I’ve come to a place in my life where I can stand pretty comfortably in my truth and not get defensive.  I have a calling.  I write from a point of view.  If you need me to have further credentials then I’m not your gal.

Some of the most delightful people I talked to were clearly extraverts.  I love getting caught up in that kind of energy and carried along for a short bit.  One of the women I spoke with writes about and advocates for women recovering from the sex trafficking industry.  I have no exposure or experience outside of the news so I was truly interested in hearing her story.

At the table next to us was an author who writes mysteries.  That’s not a genre I’m particularly attracted to as a reader.  It was fun to eavesdrop on her conversations as she sold her books and to talk to her as well.  I am intrigued and might have to check out her series.

There was a great variety of styles, genre’s, topics represented at the fair.  I managed to leave without buying a book, but it was really hard.  I have a few on my list for later, once I get to the bottom of my reading pile.

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Culling

Radishes can only be sprouts this close together

Radishes can only be sprouts this close together

One of the aspects of spring, easy for urbanites to ignore, is the culling.  The birthing season for many farm animals means deciding which of the newborns will live, which will be sold, which will be food for the family.   With gardening, the sprouts need to be thinned, the weeds need to be pulled, bushes are pruned and flowers are picked or left to bloom and eventually seed.

Part of the process of dealing with my kitchen cupboards falling off the walls is preparing to have my house torn apart for months.  This isn’t just a kitchen project.  It also involves the bathroom, the basement, the driveway, and some of the yard.  I have water issues, mold issues and years of neglect.

Mold everywhere and bookcases falling apart

Mold everywhere and bookcases falling apart

My basement has been the land of denial for more years than I can count.  I spend as little time as possible down there (because I have massive allergic reactions if I stay).   There’s a lot of plain trash.  Paper and fabric and wood that has been ruined by water and eaten by mold.  I haven’t been able to deal with it because I can’t:

  1. touch it (without breaking out and/or having an asthma attack)
  2. haul it up the stairs
  3. stand to be there long enough to see what is salvageable

So, in fits and starts, I have someone (equipped with gloves and a respirator) doing steps 1 and 2 for me.  Step 3 is a little more difficult.  There is a lot that I never have to see.  It’s undeniably trash.  It walks out my door in a bag.  I may sigh at a loss, but mostly it’s good riddance.

But there is plenty down there where the distinction is not so clear.  Mostly that would be books.  The books in bookcases are probably a little (or a lot) moldy.  The bookcases themselves are falling apart.  But the books look okay.  The books are my references, my treasures, my comfort.  They’re books!

"To sort" (and more to come!)

“To sort” (and more to come!)

If I’m a hoarder, it’s about books.  There is always money for food, and books.  There is always room for food, and books.  There can not be enough bookcases.  As soon as I get a new one, it’s full.  I’m a writer, which means I’m a reader.  My basement is full of books.

They come up the stairs box by box.  They are no longer in any order, packed more for viability than placement.   I have to sort, and cull.   Do I really need 3 large boxes of children’s picture books?  My children are 23 and 27 and I have no grandchildren on the way.  How many herbology books do I need?  When do the mythology references just become an indulgence?

There are memories in those books.  Some of them survived the house fire when I was a teenager.  I open them and smell the smoke, but they also hold the memories of childhood escapes.  I spent late nights under the covers with a flashlight, long afternoons in hammocks, curled up on the limbs of a tree with these books.

“Declutter” is the catch word of the day.  But this is not clutter.  The books without places went out in black trash bags, damp and falling apart.  These are the ones that had places on shelves that will no longer support them.  These are the curated books that survived multiple moves and life stages.  This is culling, and it’s necessary, and it’s hard.

Happy Imbolc

20160201_105835I’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”.20160201_110101

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!book_when_gods_come_knocking_small-1 Manifest Divinity Front Cover hi res

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.bringing race to the tableRooted in the Body

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.

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/hope-2/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/stir-crazy/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/bonus-blog/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/light/

 

Gifting

An extra blog!  Reposting because I found a wonderful site about gifts to give your favorite author (and ME!) for the holidays.  Since Yule is this weekend – Enjoy that longest night! – I figured I’d better get this out there just in case you’d forgotten to add me to your gift list.  🙂

Here’s the link to the original

Along with the post – and my commentary

Decorated-Christmas-gifts-2

1. Mention their name/book when someone asks “What are you reading?”   (Or anytime you talk with someone about Spirituality!)

2. Add their book(s) to Goodreads groups and lists.  (Yes please)

3. Buy and give their books as gifts to people on your Christmas list.  (What a great idea!  I have some if you need them – I’d even sign them for you.)

4. Request your local library get their books.  (Hey!  I have friends who are librarians.  They have limited budgets.  Books that are requested get higher priority.)

5. If children/youth books, tell your child’s teacher/librarian/PTA about the books.  (Well,  I think maybe your churches, circles, women’s groups, specialty bookstores, and the folks in all those classes you’ve been taking.)

6. Suggest the author/book for your book group. (There’s plenty in my books to talk about!)

7. Follow author on Twitter and retweet.  (Maybe GET me on Twitter – but the same is true with Facebook or linked-in and my blog.  The more you “like”, comment, and especially share the more people see it.)

8. Like their author Facebook page and comment occasionally so author knows someone is out there.  (I do have an author page on Facebook Lisa Spiral)

9. Write an email to author.  (I always love to hear from folks about what they got out of my books or how they are using them.)

10. Leave a review on Amazon or other site of your choice.  (Even better!  Amazon, Goodreads, or even those small newsletters that bookstores and religious communities put out.  Hey – The Edge occasionally prints book reviews too.)

Seriously, these things mean a lot. Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!   (AND A JOYOUS YULE FROM ME!)

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed SaversVisit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

Resolution

Happy New Year!  firework 1

I’m not a big believer in New Years resolutions.  I tend to either be willing to do something, or not, and no amount of resolving is going to help.  New Years has never been a great holiday for me anyway.  The impact towards promoting a new resolution leaves a lot to be desired.

The spiritual “push” to start something new in my life seems to be more seasonal.  Maybe it’s the lunar cycle that helps me with resolutions.  Maybe I am just so encultured to the academic calendar that I am moved to start things in September rather than January.  Maybe I think starting something new moving into the coldest, darkest, most miserable weather season of the year is setting myself up for failure.

This New Years we will be with the family having Christmas.  It was the best date for all of us to get together.  We’ve been challenged to bring a dish with the secret ingredient of egg nog.  I’m supposed to work with my niece and come up with a side dish.  Karina, the pastry chef, was of course given dessert (and the most difficult partner).  Orion isn’t going to eat anything with egg nog in it so he’s off the hook.   I’ll let you know how it turns out.100_3846

I’m really avoiding the issue here, which is resolutions.  Objections aside I have made myself a challenge for the year 2013.  I’ve started a new blog.

Don’t fret, I’ll continue to post this one.  The new blog is a challenge for me personally.  It’s supposed to make me think about my writing in a different way.    I’m calling it LisaSpiralReads.

I am a reader.  I’ve always read, a lot!  The blog is a challenge, not to read 50 books in a year.  I do that most years without even trying.  The blog is to write 50 book reviews in a year!

So if you’re a reader, or just interested enough to see how much crazy stuff I read, consider following the new blog.  I won’t post on a schedule.  I’ll just post as I go.  I may only review the things I like, or I may buck up and try a review of something that doesn’t really turn my fancy.   I’m not going to rate books.  I can’t even manage to rate my pain levels!  But I will let you know if something appeals to me, if I recommend it, and why.100_4153

In the meantime, thanks for checking in.     Best wishes for a fabulous New Year!

Pride

Can a tree be proud?

Pride is something I’ve always struggled with.  It seemed to me growing up that any time I felt proud of myself I was warned not to get to big a head, not to get too full of myself, not to brag.  I was told that people were proud of me, but often for things that required no effort on my part or that I wasn’t especially proud of myself.  Sometimes it felt like someone else being proud of me was like them taking credit for something I had done.  All in all a very complicated word.

Orion and Karina

As an adult I’ve had the experience of being very proud of my children.  I probably didn’t tell them so often enough, but it certainly gave me a new perspective on the emotion.  It’s not so much that I’m proud of myself for what I may have contributed to their upbringing.  It’s more that I am proud to know them as independent of me.  I am proud that there are things that they do that I couldn’t have, or wouldn’t have done.  I am proud to watch them come into their own.  I am proud to see them meet the challenges life tosses their way.

Now I’m learning again, about how to be proud of myself.

Manifest Divinity (by ME!) available at Amazon or Immanion Press

It’s the book,  Manifest Divinity.  I have something concrete I can point to and say, “I did that.”  I also have a responsibility (to myself and my publisher) to promote my work.  There’s a conundrum!

September has been quite the adventure.  I’ve got a new interview posted with my publisher An Interview with Lisa Spiral Besnett.   I’ve done a book signing.  I’ve been doing podcasts on the blog talk radio at The Priestess Show.  I have had to stand up and be proud of my work.  I’ve had to talk about it with humility, but not shyness.  I’ve had to say with conviction, “You should go buy my book.”

So here I am filled with gratitude for all the support and attention people have shown for both me and my work.  I am humbled by how many people will stand up for my book without even having read it, just because they know me.

Orion with Star Foster (formerly) of Patheos

The best of course

is that Orion says I’m his favorite author.  I am proud.

I am also continuing to ask for help and support.  To encourage people to get the book, spread the word, write reviews and send me hints about marketing.  In the meantime I suppose I should get to work on writing a book proposal for the next one.

Look at me signing a book.

Sunshine and swollen ankles

Yes, those are palm trees in that photo.  I am ensconced in a lovely hotel in San Jose California enjoying the sunshine in spite of my swollen ankles.  The high temperatures back home are not as high as the low temperatures here.  I’m happy to stick my nose out the door in the morning without a jacket or shoes.  Especially in the sun in the afternoon this is barefoot weather.

I’m here for Paganicon an annual festival/conference/convention with representation from a wide and diverse variety of Pagan practices.  It’s my first time at this convention and I am impressed with the level of thought and care that goes into the presentations I have seen.  Of course the local planners have been at this for 20 years so most of the logistical kinks are worked out.  It also helps that there is a strong focus on authors and publishing.

San Jose Hills from our hotel room

I’m enjoying shopping and eating and running into old friends.  I am technically here on business.  I’ve written a book and I came out to schmooz with other authors and publishers.  It’s useful for me to talk to authors about their experiences with various publishers and to get recommendations and introductions to publishing houses that specialize in spiritually oriented material.

That’s all kind of foggy isn’t it.  Blame it on the excess of water in my system.  The place I am in the process is a little tricky.  Since I don’t yet have a contract with a publisher I am reluctant to talk too much about the book.  What if someone else stole my idea and ran with it.  On the other hand I’m really proud of myself and would like to start promoting my work.

Some of the writers of the anthology, "Shades of Faith" edited by Crystal Blanton (center).

It is encouraging to see a number of workshops that specifically relate to the core topic of Invocation and Evocation.  Although this community uses those terms in a very specific sense, the bulk of my experiences in the more esoteric application of those terms is exactly what many of these people do.  There are a variety of practitioners of the African Diaspora Religions here as well as practitioners of the Norse Seith and the more classically expressed “Drawing Down the Moon.”  There is also oracular work being done, tarot readings and trance dance.

My own work is not specific to these Pagan practices but addresses the issues of relationship to manifest Divine in all aspects of life.  I hope my work blossoms like the cherry tree outside our hotel room.  You all must please be patient with me and wait for updates, which I’m sure will come in good time.

For now though I think I’ll let the writing go (both blog and book).  I think it’s time for a break by the pool.

Doubletree San Jose airport pool from the 10th floor

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