Monday, October 20, 2014

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

ACT I
 
Scene I [An open place.]
 
Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches.
 
First Witch. When shall we three meet again?
     In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
 
Second Witch. When the hurlyburly's done,
     When the battle's lost and won.
 
Third Witch. That will be ere the set of sun.
 
 
Thus begins The Tragedy of Macbeth, my favorite Shakespearean play. And here is my burning question:
Why three witches?

The three witches, or "Weird Sisters," are Shakespeare's versions of the Three Fates: Clotho, who spins the thread of your life, Lachesis, who measures it, and Atropos, who cuts it. Indeed, these witches seem to know how to pull Macbeth's strings and influence him along his tragic path. This is shown most strongly in Macbeth's first line upon entering the stage:

Macbeth. So foul and fair a day I have not seen. (I.iii.38)
 
This directly connects to the witches' famous chant "Fair is foul, and foul is fair./ Hover through the fog and filthy air." (I.i.10) Herein lies one of the thematic undercurrents of Macbeth: Things aren't always what they seem in this place. (I'd bet my bust of Shakespeare...yes, I have one in my home library...that Jim Henson was influenced by this for his movie Labyrinth!)
 
Three has long been viewed as a "magic" number, and various mythologies have forms of a triad, or triple diety, with each aspect having certain qualities or functions.
Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone
 
So next time you are stirring some eye of newt and toe of frog into your cauldron, make sure you say your incantation three times and think fondly of Master William Shakespeare!
 
If you are also fond of things not always being what they seem, and you happen to be a fan of Once Upon a Time, you may want to check out my joint article with Teresa Martin in the Once Upon a Fan Origins Archives: Rumplestiltskin's Transformation in Once Upon a Time: Literary Anti-Hero to Hero Archetype.
 
Oh look, a spinning wheel...how very Fate-like!
 
All images found on Pinterest. If something is yours and you do not wish it to be used, please contact me and I will remove it.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall into Fantasy Giveaway 2014

Books or candy for trick-or-treat? I'll be honest, that's an easy answer for me!
Especially with the Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway starting today.

Check out fellow speculative fiction author Ash Krafton's blog for the chance to win fantasy books and goodies from more that 50 adult and YA authors!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lightning Strikes: Fleetwood Mac and the Power of Words


No one knows how I feel
What I say unless you read between my lines

~"Stand Back" by Stevie Nicks

          The music of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks has struck chords of enchantment in my soul for decades. Imagine my joy when I saw them live in concert recently (many kisses to my husband for getting those tickets)! Needless to say, it was a powerful experience: the raw, intense guitar of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie's magical voice, the crazy drums and yes, Christine McVie returned! It all swirled together around the theater like the pulsing colors on the video screen behind the band, coalescing and reverberating through my bones, the power of words mingling with the roar of the crowd.


          Yes, the power of words, borne on the wings of music notes. That power made my soul soar when Stevie cried out:

 Rock on, ancient queen
Follow those who pale in your shadow

Rulers make bad lovers
You better put your kingdom up for sale, up for sale

Well, did she make you cry,
Make you break down,
Shatter your illusions of love?
And is it over now?
Do you know how?
Pick up the pieces and go home

 And my heart beat with determination with Lindsey's crooning:

Been down one time
Been down two times
Been down three times
Never going back again.

          A musician is a writer also. Fleetwood Mac wrote their songs and then gave life to them, not on a page but embedded in music. In sharing them through an album or live in concert, they did the same thing an author does when he/she publishes a story: placing part of your soul out into the world so others can be affected by it. And let me tell you, was the crowd ever affected: we screamed and clapped thunderously. It was the same feeling of creative exhilaration experienced when a piece you are writing snaps into place, or you connect with someone over a story, or your students have a moment of brilliant perception in a literature lesson, but amplified ten-fold in the arena atmosphere. You could literally feel the creativity vibrating in the air. I left there infused with a renewed sense of awe in the magic of language. Apparently, this is a spell that Stevie has woven herself: check out this video from Oprah's Master Class in which Stevie reveals why writing is so important.
 
 
          I've found this word magic in so many places. Of course, first in the books that have been my soul mates throughout life. It's amazing how a quote can pull on your heartstrings and resonate within you again and again. We all have those passages in our hearts; one of mine is from Wuthering Heights (and there are so many from that book):


          Books can pull our entire minds into them, and bring us on an adventure to another world, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, that we literally have to tear ourselves away to get some sleep. And I love the chills that I get listening to my old cassette tape (yes, I am dating myself) of T.S. Eliot reading The Wasteland.  To hear a poet's voice from beyond time and dust reading his own work is an enlightening experience. 
 
 
         I am so blessed that my passions, reading and writing, are crafted with words. I saw the gift that language is every day when I was teaching, and I see it in my own children who get so excited about the book series they are reading and want to talk about them with me. My interactions with my kids remind me of the power of words to uplift, inspire, and teach, and how important it is to choose our words wisely. Even in writing, I am more and more aware of the craft and hard work it takes to put the right words down on paper to capture a story. And as I write this, I'm drinking my pumpkin spice tea (it is October, after all) out of my old name mug that my parents found way back in their cabinets recently. It is the mug I used as a teenager, and it reminds me of the days I sat hunched over loose-leaf scribbling away with no care of passing time. It reminds me that the core of my soul is a writer. Names are words after all, and powerful ones at that, as all the stories say.


          Stevie shared a story with us about her song "Gypsy." The first line comes from a San Francisco shop that she ventured into when she was a young musician. She absolutely loved the name of the shop...Velvet Underground...and the gorgeous clothes within. As she stood in this store surrounded by beautiful gypsy-like clothes, she had a premonition of her creative success. She suddenly knew who she was destined to be. And she was a true vision in the concert: black flowing skirt, boots, her shawls and scarves on her tambourine, her trademark twirling and bowing in front of the drum set.


          She even wore her black top hat for one number and her gold shawl for "Gold Dust Woman," which I quote above along with "Never Going Back Again." To me, those two songs speak of finding the inner strength to overcome hardship and adversity so that you can cultivate your true self. Stevie added lines to the end of "Gold Dust Woman" which I had never heard: "You should see me now...You can't take me down...you can't take me...you can't break me down."


          So in this autumn season of magic and mystery, cauldrons and incantations, and leaves that crackle like old paper, know that the creative power of words is in all of us to tap in our own unique ways. You just have to reach down inside yourself, knocking any obstacles out of your way, and own it (and maybe listen to Fleetwood Mac as a muse):

Lightning strikes,
maybe once, maybe twice,
and it all comes down to you...
 


*All images are from Pinterest. If something is yours and you would prefer it not to be used, please contact me and I will take it down.*