Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Mary Lane

Author Name: Mary Lane
Best Known Works: Meena: The Fiery Story of a Heroine’s Initiation, Reclaiming Her Authentic Sexual Nature and Her Relationship with the Great Mother, Divine Nourishment:A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food
Where Can You Find Her? Meena, Divine Nourishment
Top Writing Tip: If there is a story within you, do whatever it takes to write it and share it. If it is soul driven, there will be times when you don’t know if you are writing the story, or the story is writing you. Allow it to be a vehicle for your own healing, and let the characters call the shots. They will come alive, and they can have a strong opinion about who they are and who they want to become in the story. It is the journey, not the goal that is crucial for the soul. Get as much out of the process as you can, and don’t rush through it. I would give the same tip if I was teaching a student about sexuality. Ride the waves, and enjoy the ride. Don’t rush it! 

Hi Mary, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?
I actually didn’t realize I was a writer until after I wrote my second book. My first book, Divine Nourishment, A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food, was non-fiction. Writing this book was merely a way to offer support to nourish ourselves aligned with the earth’s wisdom, and heal the feminine aspect of ourselves so we could live and eat in this alignment. This book was just a vehicle in which to offer information. I didn’t imagine myself writing another one.

It didn’t take long before Meena, began stirring in me. I needed to write another book. But, I had no interest in writing another non-fiction. Never mind that I didn’t have a clue how to write a novel! I did nothing with the stirring for awhile, until it felt like it would turn toxic and make me sick if I didn’t bring it out into the light of day. I couldn’t sit on it any longer, and I didn’t know how to move forward. I started taking writing classes. That didn’t do it. I took a whole semester in creative writing at the college. That helped, but my fiction writing still sucked. 

I hired the teacher as a mentor I could turn to. He confirmed my fiction writing sucked, but he was determined to turn me into a writer. We went through two years of him throwing my passages back at me, and telling me what was wrong with them. He was unforgiving, which I am on knees in gratitude for— now. After story development, character development and layering, I used him as my line editor. Again, he used the time to teach me. 

The writing of this book, Meena, became a five year journey. Not only did I learn writing skills, I experienced what it was like to pull something from the depths of my soul that would force me to do whatever it took to bring into form. Whew! This is the book I share with you today. And, I am starting to consider myself a writer, now.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?
Many years ago I went through a two-year education in five element nutrition taught by a Taoist master. This opened the door for me, and a recognition was ignited. The stirring within was palpable. Shortly after this schooling I landed on the top of a mountain in North Carolina. The combination of my studies fresh in my mind, the silence, and the symbiotic relationship I developed with nature as a result of spending my time hiking, and gathering wild food and medicine was a turning point.

The plant spirits communicated with me. The elements revealed themselves as self similar to my inner landscape. I no longer could feel myself as separate. I dropped into a deeper relationship with the mountain in which I lived. 

One day I was overcome as I gathered wild berries. I had become just another animal amongst the birds and bears. I watched them doing the same thing that I was doing—gathering and eating berries. It was one of those moments when I realised I was so held by the Mother, surrounded by more food and medicine than I could possibly gather, and I was woven into the fabric of her world. I sat and sobbed as I wiped my face with berry stained fingers. In that moment I stepped through a doorway that if I were to put a sign on it, it would read, ‘Pagan’s World.’

What are the main life experiences that have led to this book?
As a sixty-six year old woman, do I see a woman who’s hopes, dreams, passion, and self worth diminished by life when I look into a mirror? Or do I see a woman who has garnered the wisdom of a life lived through many trials, transitions and transformations? Have I succumbed to the belief that an elder woman has no value to our society? Or am I an elder woman who is rightfully taking her seat at the council table, reflecting an authenticity that some seek and recognize deep within themselves? 

If I was to share a bit about myself and what has influenced my latest book, Meena, I would have to say that somehow I have managed to walk through many transformational fires and can stand before the mirror and see an elder who has distilled her journey into a valuable harvest to nourish the next generation. I have entered the autumn of my life and I am doing what nature intended for this season. I have let go and let die what no longer serves, and I am dropping my seeds to support the next cycle of evolution.

I have lived a journey that has enabled me to turn experiences, insights, and teachings from the natural world into art through the written word. I have become conscious enough about transformational and evolution of the soul that I can take the reader on a ride that has the potential for them to honor and garner the wisdom of their own journey.
I have come to realize this is success for me. It has nothing to do with how much money I have made, how many credentials I have racked up, or how I am recognized by a society with very different priorities. I am authentically unique and aligned with my own soul’s contract. And, I can say that it took all the courage I could muster up over many years to be able to see this reflected in the mirror as I stand before it. My new book, Meena, is a novel that supports the same appreciation and respect for the reader’s journey.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.
The two main characters of the story, M, who lives in ancient times, and Meena, who lives in the modern world, journey through the heavenly existence that once was, and the hell it became, riding the waves of transformation through the light and shadow of death and rebirth. Their multi-dimensional reality allows them to receive guidance, wisdom, and healing from the natural world, as they embrace their symbiotic relationship with the Great Mother. Through her guidance they discover their authentic sexual nature, love, sisterhood, belonging—and the consequences of feeling cut off from her. Without giving the story away, there is an ending that brings deep meaning and understanding to the journeys of women who are carrying ancient wisdom—and wounding.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?
Divine Nourishment, A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food was published in 2010
Meena: The Fiery Story of a Heroine’s Initiation, Reclaiming Her Authentic Sexual Nature and Her Relationship with the Great Mother, is launching Dec 1st, 2016.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?
I write out of the box. What I write has no category that it fits into in the mainstream genres. I discovered this dilemma when I attended a writer’s conference years ago. Meena, is in the visionary fiction genre, which didn’t exist then. 

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life reading rejection letters because someone from the mainstream publishing world is scratching their head wondering what the heck I am talking about. I decided to self-publish. I would rather let my books find the readers who recognize and embrace a perspective that is controversial. I want to lead them through a doorway they are stretched to enter. Considering I have never fit into the mainstream, I have not been able to see how my books would. I would rather push the edges and open doors in my writing, than entertain the masses. I may not sell as many books, but I know my books will be a treasure for those who resonate with what I share. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?
I noticed the few people who previewed, Meena, zeroed in on something in the story that touched them, according to who they are. No two reviews have focused on the same thing. With a story that is multi-layered there is a good chance the reader will find themselves in the story. That is exactly what I wanted. No matter if it pushed their buttons, ignited a deep knowing, or reflected a similar experience, their review was more about themselves in relation to the story than the story itself. That realization has freed me from being thrown all over the place at the mercy of someone’s experience reading the story. What a relief! I get to read a review and see how the story affected them, instead of whether or not the story was good or bad. 

What are your future plans for writing?
For me, the journey of stewarding my books in the world so they get into as many hands as possible is as much a part of writing as comprising the written word. I found writing fiction was fun, and a new frontier for me. However, my desired affect of this story is to facilitate a healing and reconnection with our Mother Earth, which is so badly needed. So, my immediate plans are to follow up the journey in the story with a program to participate in, and bring it to life. That will undoubtedly include writing articles that inspire people to read my new book, Meena. I trust that the stirring will return to write another book after I have properly escorted Meena into the world, and she can stand on her own.


Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process. We wish you all the best with your future projects! 

Jeri Studebaker

Author Name: Jeri Studebaker
BookBreaking the Mother Goose Code: How a Fairy Tale Character Fooled the World for 300 Years
Where Can You Find Her? Facebook, Website
Top Writing Tip: Write about things you’re passionate about.

Welcome Jeri, thank you so much for talking to us!

When and why did you begin writing?  
When I was five I drew a cartoon about a girl getting her hair cut too short.  I remember the frustration of trying to write something people would want to read, and feeling I’d failed miserably.

When did I realize I was Pagan?  
I’m not sure.  I read When God Was a Woman when it first came out, and that ended whatever lingering spiritual connection I had with Christianity.  I remember being furious that Christians had hidden from me a giant body of information about hundreds of goddesses that people actually used to worship.  

What main life experience led to this book? 
Writing my first book, Switching to Goddess.  In Switching I wrote about my suspicion that Mother Goose was a goddess in disguise.  I did a workshop on the topic at a local Pagan gathering, and it generated a lot of excitement.  So I began digging around for further evidence that Mother Goose was indeed a kind of Halloween costume hiding an outlawed deity. 

How long does it take you to write a book?  
For the two I’ve had published, a year. 

Tell us a bit about your book. 
Breaking the Mother Goose Code presents evidence that Mother Goose was actually the ancient European Great Goddess in disguise, and that her fairy tales and nursery rhymes contain secret, coded messages about the mind and soul of this Goddess, about the way she wants us to live our lives.  

Is this your first published piece or have you been published before? 
My previous book is Switching to Goddess: Humanity’s Ticket to the Future. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?  
I scour the internet for every review I can find.  Reviews increase book sales, so I like to post them on my author’s FB page.  Also I think all writers possess a strong desire for feedback about their writing -- especially, of course, the positive, but the negative too helps you improve your writing.  

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?  
It depends on what I’m writing.  When I’m working on my Portland, Maine, Native American manuscript, I spend a lot of time roaming around Greater Portland, which is where I live.  So my home is the perfect place to write this manuscript, since the river that provided food and transportation for my subjects lies a mile south of my house.  

For Breaking the Mother Goose Code, I wish I could have lived in an Alpine village in perhaps Western Austria, where people still practice ancient rituals connected to the goddess Holda/Perchta, who I believe was a major prototype for Mother Goose.  Another Mother-Goose prototype is the Greco-Roman Aphrodite/Venus, worshiped right across the Alps from Western Austria.  At some point after the fall of the Roman Empire, Holda/Perchta and Aphrodite/Venus merged in the minds of Medieval Europeans into one and the same deity.          

What are your future plans for writing?
I’m working on a book about female fairy tale characters, another about the original Native Americans who lived in Portland, Maine, and a fantasy novel about ancient Minoans. 
Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and process, Jeri. We wish you all the best with your future projects!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Melusine Draco

Author Name: Melusine Draco
Best Known Works: The Secret People
Where can you find her? WebsiteFacebook
Top Writing Tip: Never, never lose the strength to dream … and never give up.

Hi Melusine, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and even from school-days I wanted to be a writer.  My first serious job on the Path was as an editorial assistant on a house-journal for an international cosmetics company but it wasn’t until 1987 I became a full-time, professional writer.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

Since I was brought up within the Shinto belief, it’s safe to say there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t ‘pagan’.  The basic belief that there is a universal life-force inherent in everything made it easy to step between Shinto and Old Craft

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I am part of the traditional British Old Craft tradition and my books reflect that journey from novitiate to Initiate, and the various stages in between.  Since there were few titles on the subject of genuine Old Craft  I thought it would be my contribution to preserve Coven of the Scales teaching for posterity.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

The Temple House archive series of novels is an esoteric amalgam of New Tricks, The Legacy and CSI. Drawing on a veritable mine of esoteric knowledge and experience of international intrigue, the Temple House was established to combat ‘evil forces’ of a human or supernatural agency, and those who would use occult power for destructive purposes. The current members of the Temple House, or ‘the Nine’ as they are referred to in memory of the original nine founder members of the Order, are all specialists and magical practitioners in the diverse fields of occultism and its relevant histories.  I use a lot of genuine psychic stories in the text, so there’s a lot of ‘faction’ included as part of the adventures.

How did the topic of your books come to you?

Not a question I can readily answer but obviously from somewhere buried deep in my subconscious.  I usually start getting the germ of an idea in the early hours of the morning and by the time I’m fully awake the whole idea for the content is mapped out in my mind.  I’ve learned never to ignore this process!

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast or slow writer?

Generally I’m a very fast writer – it only took me five weeks to write Pan but at the other end of the scale, it took me ten years to write Starchild: a rediscovery of stellar wisdom – but they were completely different applications

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

The Secret People is my 25th magical title plus there are the two novels in the Temple House Archive series – House or Strange Gods and Realm of Shadow.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?

I have books published by main-stream publishers and have self-published others.  There are currently 16 titles with Moon Books and we’ve had an excellent relationship, not only with the publisher but also with the other Moon Books authors, since it’s more like a writing community than just a contract deal.   Some of my old titles I’ve recently re-leased on Kindle, and all my novels have been self-published because that was I have total control over any subsidiary deals that might come my way.  It depends on how you see your future as a writer as to which you choose – both play a valid part in modern publishing.

Who encourages/inspires you?

The landscape in which I’m living can either inspire me or completely stultify any creative urges.  Fortunately, where I live now generates a constant flow of ideas for both fact and fiction.

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

I don’t need to go anywhere because I live in a beautiful Glen in the shadow of the mountains with my dogs.  The Glen is a very magical place and its energies have some remarkable powers.

What, or who do you enjoy reading?

I read fiction for relaxation and my favorite author is the late Simon Raven with his Alms for Oblivion series.  I also enjoy  David Hewson’s Nic Costa series and Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

In dream-time I would like to go to a traditional Japanese inn with its own Zen garden and koi pool.

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

Without hesitation it would be the original 1977 version of The Magus by John Fowles.  This novel has a fine literary style combined with an ‘otherworld’ feel to the plot and ends indeterminately. Fowles received many letters from readers wanting to know which of the two apparently possible outcomes was correct but he refused to answer the question conclusively, sometimes changing his answer to suit the reader.  Now that’s a literary legacy!

What are your future plans for writing?

I have two more books coming out in the next few months – ‘Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches’ and ‘By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root: The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons’ – and then I shall be finishing off the third in the Temple House Archive series. There’s also a vampire novel in the planning stages.

Thank you again, Melusine for giving us a glimpse into your passion and process. We wish you all the best with your next projects!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Joanna van der Hoeven

Author's Name: Joanna van der Hoeven
Best Known Works: The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid
Where can you find her?WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter
Top Writing Tip: Being a writer today means having to know something about marketing and publicity as well. It's not a glamorous part of the job, but it takes up about 70% of the work involved. You have to be your own manager, your own PR person, your own publicist, for the most part, because when you work with a publishing company, you're not the only author on the roster, and the time that they have to spend on you and your work is limited. So you have to build up your own brand, so to speak, from the bottom, doing the leg-work yourself. Find out who your audience is. Interact with them. Set up a website for you and your work. Set up social media pages for you and your work. Update them regularly. Take out advertising, but really do the research beforehand to ensure that you get what you are paying for. It's not very artistic, but it's a necessity, I think, in this day and age. 

Hi Joanna, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing ever since I can remember. I've always created stories, and have a vivid imagination. I began writing a fantasy novel when I was thirteen; it was eventually published when I was in my 30's.  For me, writing is a way of either letting my imagination roam free, or in the case of non-fiction, defining something that I am working with on a deeper level, integrating it body and soul through the written word. 

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

I'm quite a fast writer. When the idea is there, and I've set down the outline for a book, it then comes very quickly. It just flows.  However, it takes some time to recharge the batteries after finishing a book, and spending time marketing it and so on, so that re-charge time is spent reading and researching, travelling, opening myself up to new experiences. So, for example, The Awen Alone only took about four months to write, and that was when I was also working a day job. However, it took me over a year before I was able to even think about the next book, Zen for Druids. That is an even longer book than The Awen Alone, but it only took roughly two months to write, as I'm now that I'm a full-time author, and can dedicate all my time to both research and writing. I'm very lucky, in that I have the time now to be able to delve more deeply into certain subjects. 

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

Well, I came to Druidry in a very roundabout kind of way.  Back in the early 1990's, I had taken a course at college called "Magic, Religion and Science", and was shown a documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada on Paganism.  It resonated with me, but more than that, the musical soundtrack to the film resonated with me. It was written by Canadian artist Loreena McKennitt, and I found it hauntingly beautiful. Shortly after having watched that film, I visited a Pagan store in Montreal, and heard that same music being played. I felt instantly at home. I got a couple of books on Wicca, as well as cassettes of Loreena McKennitt's music, and my journey into Paganism started there. 

I practiced Wicca for some years, before diving deeply into Zen Buddhism.  After about five years later I then found Druidry, which for me blends the enchantment of living a magical life wholly integrated with nature and the discipline of living a life in service, to one's community, the land itself, the gods and the ancestors. I think I've always been a Druid, all my life, but I just didn't have a name for it. For me, Druids were characters in fantasy novels that I was reading at the time! I've now been a Druid for many years, and have always been a writer, ever since I was a teenager. When I felt I had enough experience under my belt, naturally I turned to writing about Druidry, and my impressions on that religious/spiritual path. 

And, of course, I'm still a big fan of Loreena McKennitt! I've followed her musical and physical journeys through the history of the Celtic diaspora since the beginning, and am always inspired by her work and her work ethic. 

Who encourages/inspires you?

I'm inspired by nature, by the natural world.  Taking long walks, being by myself, I get to silence the chattering mind, and allow myself to become still. It's like a form of moving meditation for me. I also practice meditation in the more traditional sense, but I receive inspiration when I'm out and interacting with the natural world, allowing the stories of the myriad beings all around me to sing.  We can get so lost in our own stories, and it's important to open ourselves out to hear the stories of others, both human and non-human. 

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

The Lord of the Rings, most definitely.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid is my third book with Moon Books publishing. I've written two previous books for their Pagan Portals series, entitled Zen Druidry: Living a Natural Life in Full Awareness as well as Dancing with Nemetona: A Druid's Exploration of Sanctuary and Sacred Space. 

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

Ebooks are an interesting subject. I have a Kindle, which is great for when one is travelling. It certainly lightens the load in the suitcase, not having to cart around 10 books with me wherever I go! It's also good from an ecological perspective, in that the cost to the environment is much less when you purchase an ebook than a physical copy. That being said, there are many publishers out there who manufacture books with a strong ethical code, using natural dyes for the print and renewable or recycled materials, and they need to be supported as well. 

The problem with ebooks is that they can be pirated a lot easier than physical books. You used to have to scan a physical book page by page onto your computer in order to have an electronic copy that you can put out everywhere on the internet. Nowadays, it's fairly easy to convert a file into something that can be downloaded for free from various websites, and it's the author that suffers as no royalties are exchanged.  Most websites that offer free ebooks (illegally downloaded) are actually just set up to place a virus on your computer, but there are some out there that circulate illegal copies of your work. In electronic format, it's easier to pass on information. Sure, you can lend out physical books, from the library or from friends, but you will then return the book and go and buy the book for yourself if you've enjoyed it, which supports the author. With ebooks, sometimes it doesn't get that far. 

It's difficult, because books are becoming so expensive these days. Ebooks are much cheaper, as they involved much less work in their production and distribution, and so if one is able to afford a e-reader device, then financially it's the better option. But I've always loved having a physical book, and so will often buy an ebook and then, if I've loved it, buy the physical copy as well. Please buy your books, in whatever format, and support the authors! 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?

Reviews are very important for any author, especially when they come from platforms such as Amazon. After a certain number of reviews, your book is made known to a wider audience, and so the more reviews the better, really. It's always nice to have good reviews, but you will always have the odd one or two reviews from people who haven't read the book (which has happened to me, even stating that they haven't read the book in the review itself, that they bought it for someone and that they don't agree with all this Pagan stuff!) or from people who just don't get on with the material. And that's fine, people are people, and everyone has their own opinion on matters. What matters most to me personally is when someone actually takes the time out to contact me, to email me and tell me about their experience with one of my books.  It's so wonderful to know that you've touched upon someone's life in a certain way. 

What are your future plans for writing? 

I also have Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with Nature due out at the end of October 2016. Then there's two further works scheduled for release in 2017 and 2018 respectively: The Crane Bag: A Druid's Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices and a full length tome: A Druid Colloquy. 

Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your process and passion, Joanna. We wish you all the best with your next projects!