Sunday, August 23, 2015

Believe: The Magic of a Garden

Nothing quite whispers "Believe" like a garden.

Believe in the possibility of growth...

Looks like a loaf of bread that somebody threw over my fence next to my Frog Prince, right?
That's what I thought.

It's a giant mushroom that literally grew overnight!

Believe in the beauty of nature...

"The earth laughs in flowers." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Believe in the magic of the greenwood...

Look'll see the little Green Man who guards the door to the Tylwyth Teg in my garden...

I don't have an enchanted way with plants, like the protagonist in my work-in-progress does (the third tale in the Wood & Stone Series), but I have had great pleasure and some success with my herb container garden in my backyard this year.

My pride and joy: chocolate mint...yum. Great in iced tea, as a hot infusion, or in a simple syrup poured over ice cream or tossed in fruit salad! 

And I have been deriving great satisfaction from drying herbs in my kitchen window and creating little sachets of lavender and chocolate mint. Sometimes I need a break from actual writing (egads!) to refresh my thoughts, and dried chocolate mint and lavender crushed together make an intoxicating scent that both calms the senses and clears the mind. The serenity I feel knowing that the green magic of nature is guiding me to express my own creativity is truly priceless. 

I've added a cleansed/charged bloodstone and a fabric leaf to this sachet. Bloodstones are a very dark green jasper, almost black-looking, with red and yellow inclusions that show up best in sunlight.
Bloodstone is one of my favorite stones, and it has an important part to play in the entire Wood & Stone Series...for example:

Aislin kept the necklace in her apron pocket, her secret talisman. She rolled the stone in her fingers as she walked to the market each day, her basket of pies slung over her arm, glancing now and then at the distant forest trees. How different they were from the splintered stalls in the town square, the grit between the cobblestones, the dreary faces of her neighbors peddling and buying their wares. The town was brown and gray, cracked and pale. But the forest exhaled life to her, which the necklace captured in its evergreen depths. Every night she pulled the soft leather through her thumb and forefinger, and the thought that he had braided it sent shivers through her. She slept with it under her pillow. When she was baking, she kept it on the windowsill, fascinated how the sun brightened the stone’s green color and revealed red and yellow sparks of firelight within. 
Excerpt from Love Lies Bleeding: The Lady of the Forest

Aislin's Necklace.
I saw this in a now-defunct shop on Etsy and knew it had to belong to Aislin.
And yes, of course I bought it! 
If you look closely you'll see it around Aislin's neck on the ebook cover...and around my neck in some of my bio pictures.

Bloodstones are quite true to their name: they help emotional centering and bring calmness, but also aid in courage, vitality, and creativity, all symbolic of the heart and the blood. And as with Aislin, their deep green color reminds me of the depths of the forest and the magic that lies therein.

As always, the forest is waiting...
and I would love to share its magic with fellow bookworms!
TOME TENDER BLOG is holding a fantastic giveaway where you can win a "Believe" swag package I've put together including a "The Forest is Waiting" sachet (chocolate mint/lavender/bloodstone) and an inspirational bookmark, 
as well as copies of my e-books.

AND, if you sign up for my CORVUS CALLING email newsletter, you'll also be entered to win a sachet every time I send a newsletter for as long as my herbs last!
 The sign-up form is over there on the sidebar.

What is your favorite herb, and how do you use it? 
I'd love to get some more ideas, so please feel free to comment below!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Writer's Digest Conference 2015

You are not alone.

Writing can be a solitary life. Sometimes loneliness creeps up on us while we are staring at a lined page or index cards or a computer screen with only our characters to interact with. Fun and creative...but lonely sometimes.

You are not alone.

This is one of the recurring themes I heard throughout my first Writer's Digest Conference. And I experienced it firsthand. Workshop teachers all showed we have the same highs and lows as writers. So many times we laughed as a commonality was pointed out, such as: 
"First. Drafts. Suck."

 But best of all, I made so many new writer friends. In just a short space of time we inspired, encouraged, laughed, and shared the stories of our characters and our lives with each other. We were so immediately comfortable because deep down we all knew each other, as only writers can.
Introverts unite! At the Writer's Digest Conference! 
Absolutely priceless.

By the way, how many writers does it take to pay a bar bill? 
Three. (I was one of them.) It was hilariously pathetic. Obviously Math is not our thing.
(Have to give credit to author Bernardo Montes De Oca for that line...he said it as he was watching us three fumble around with cash and calculator and credit cards.)

I've been tweeting out some #WDC15 Wisdom I gathered (Lesson #1: it's less stressful to ask for separate bar tabs to begin with), and here is some more:

  • Honor your reality. Life is part of your reality. You can't neglect a job or forget to feed the kids to write. But writing is your reality too. Figure out how to make it all co-exist, or...
  • You will get cranky if you don't write. Writing makes writers better people. So does coffee. I think we drained the hotel coffee supplies. I still can't believe I missed those cakes on Sunday. Where the heck were they?
  • Writing is hard. (Seriously, I know...but hearing EVERYONE say it made me feel better.)
  • Resistance (like Writer's Block, or the sudden urge to scour your kitchen) exists for a reason. It means that what we are doing is important or meaningful.
  • The craft of writing and the business of writing...learn both. Fear neither. (Jonathan Mayberry's Opening Keynote)
  • Sometimes the story knows more than you do....Writing is emotionally autobiographical - in the writing of it you are feeling it. ( Jacqueline Woodson's Central Keynote)
  • Whether it's creating a writing schedule or a story outline, don't feel you have to follow one way or someone else's way: experiment to find what is right for YOU.
There was just a plethora of excellent information and inspiration in all these workshops. 
My favorites were:
  • DIY MFA and Creating a Stronger Outline for a Stronger Story with Gabriela Pereira (who was lovely and funny and sincere...she almost brought me to tears at one point.)
  • Growing Your Iceberg: Creating a Seconday Story That Seems Ancient with Brooklyn fantasy author N.K. Jemisin
  • Revising a Novel: Step Away from the Blue Pencil with Hallie Ephron

And of course Chuck Sambuchino's Pitch Perfect session gave me the necessary tools (and the confidence) to talk to literary agents at the Pitch Slam!
I highly suggest looking into these workshops - many of them are online as webinars.

Overall, the Writer's Digest Conference was a game-changer for my career as an author. It inspired and energized me as well as introduced me to wonderful fellow writers! 
Total magic, and totally worth it!

Did you attend the Writer's Digest Conference this year? 
I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

All images are from Pinterest. If an image is yours and you do not want it used in this post, please contact me. Thanks!