Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Message & News

To All of My Dearest, Most Beloved Readers ~~

The holidays are upon us, and as per usual, I am shamefully behind where I would like to be at present. The month of November didn't even register upon my consciousness, since I was on deadline and working hard to complete Book 4 in the Bewitching Mysteries in a way that satisfied me. And now December is a little more than half gone, and all I have to show for it is a whole lot of email correspondence, a teensy bit of gift shopping, a couple of get-togethers, a tremendous amount of cookie baking, and . . .

Oh, yeah. There was the release of HEX MARKS THE SPOT mixed in there. Just in time for the holiday shopping crush. Did you all know that books make wonderful stocking stuffers? Spread the love! Give a book {any book!} as a gift this holiday season.

{{ Just a teensy bit of subliminal messaging . . . pay no attention . . . }}

And now, for a bit of new news . . .

Exciting news, actually. My fabulous agent and wonderful editor just finished hammering out the details for an additional two books in the ongoing Bewitching Mysteries, bringing the total to date up to eight {for now . . . ;> }. Aaaaaaaand, more good news: we'll be bringing them out every nine months, rather than once a year. This should be good news for all of you who have begged me to write just a little bit faster. :)

Stay tuned: the new publishing schedule will be announced shortly.

So, while I'm rolling out cookies and creating masterpieces with frosting, non-pareils, and sprinkles, I'm also working out in my mind what trials and travails Maggie O'Neill will be experiencing next. Despite its quaint appearance and seemingly sleepy facade, life in Stony Mill is never boring. {Maggie and her friends will always see to that.}

Wishing you all the warmest of warm blessings this holiday season . . . May your hearths and homes be warmed by the fires of love that exist within your hearts.

Love to all,

Madelyn Alt

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's Out, It's Out, It's Out, It's Out, It's Out!!!!!

Coming up for air after finishing and sending off the fourth book in the Bewitching series . . . ::pant pant pant:: . . . I just wanted to post very quickly that book 3 -- HEX MARKS THE SPOT -- just came out on December 4th:

ISBN# 0425218708
Hex Marks the Spot
#3 - The Bewitching Mysteries, Berkley Prime Crime
~~ Mysteries . . . with Hex Appeal ~~
The Blurb:

Maggie O'Neill loves her job at Enchantments, Indiana's finest mystical antique shop. But something dark is brewing in Stony Mill--and it's not just the fabulous coffee Maggie serves to browsing customers. . .

Looking for charming stock for the store, Maggie accompanies her boss--and favorite witch--Felicity Dow to the countywide craft bazaar. Felicity falls hard for a beautiful armoire, intricately carved by an Amish craftsman. Maggie can't help noticing that though his clothes may be plain, he himself is more handsome than a man sporting a jawline-only beard has any right to be. And he seems pretty aware that the ladies love his. . . furniture. But when the hunky craftsman turns up dead, with a strange hex symbol etched near his corpse, Maggie wonders if the craft involved just might possibly have been the witchy kind. Because Maggie knows that the dead man could well have been oversexed. . . but was he also overhexed?

The latest review from Fresh Fiction:
"The latest in the Bewitching Mysteries series and a winner from page one. Ms. Alt transports her readers to the lovely town of Stony Mill and entertains with characters both charming and sinister. The mystical elements of the story weave seamlessly throughout as the reader learns, along with Maggie as she becomes more comfortable with and knowledgeable about her gifts and how to work with them for the greater good. This is enchanting entertainment at its finest."
What others have said about Maggie:
"Mystery fans who seek out "feel-good" reads for their literary escapism (books by authors like Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Kyra Davis, et al.) should definitely check out Alt's Bewitching Mystery saga, which is powered by her Everywoman heroine O'Neill. A small-town girl struggling to find her place in the world, she has an optimistic and idealistic outlook on an oftentimes malevolent and depressing reality -- as well an addiction to old episodes of Magnum P.I. -- that makes her one of the most refreshing and endearing protagonists to grace the amateur sleuth genre in years. Alt certainly picked the right name for this series. It's a bewitching saga by a positively witchy chick. Highly recommended. " ~ Paul Goat Allen, BN Ransom Notes Editor
For those who have not yet been initiated into Maggie's world:
The Bewitching Mysteries feature small town single girl and fledgling empath Maggie O'Neill, her witchy boss, and an unlikely circle of ghosthunting friends, the N.I.G.H.T.S., as they investigate an increasing level of paranormal disturbance--not to mention a series of unrelated murders--in Maggie's hometown of Stony Mill, Indiana.
That's about it. And now, having actually completed this deadline on time, I am going to go eat chocolate and celebrate tonight with The Golden Compass.
Oh! One last thing to celebrate: Hex Marks the Spot was the #3 Mystery Mass Market last week. I definitely think that deserves an additional WOOT. :)
Love and Hexes,
Mad ;>

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mad's List of Universal Truths, Halloween/Samhain-Style

I've always enjoyed all those fun Top 10 lists, and as I was sitting here today, nursing a headache caused by too much makeup, not enough sleep, and way too much sugar, I thought, Hey! Perfect Blogging Opportunity!

Here's what I came up with. Universal Truths for those lovers of Halloween/Samhain. By the way, sorry for the blurry pics. My photographer was a 14 year old who doesn't have the patience to hold still. :)


#10) At times like these, a girl can never use too much glitter

#9) Never let a 14-year-old boy loose with a pint of fake blood.

Or faery wings. Yes, that's my son demonstrating his best Owen Wilson pucker below. And yes, he probably got his goofy sense of humor from his mom. I claim no responsibility for the blood above, though. Ick. The wings look totally wrong from behind, by the way.

#8) Always buy more candy than you bought last year {10 big bags, and we ran out in an hour and 10 minutes this year!}
#7) Glitter is something that goes with everything, and as such, should maybe even be used every day

#6) False eyelashes and the right makeup can make any woman look H-O-T, which is definitely cool. No wonder the stars like ‘em so much!

#5) Chocolate will always get a rave vote from Trick or Treaters

#4) Chocolate always gets a rave vote from those persons passing out the Treats, too. ;>

#3) Kitties pick up glitter like crazy

#2) Glitter in the hair one day means looking like Dreamy McSparkle on days two and three, no matter how much you shampoo and brush. Then again, guys seem to like that. ;>

#1) What goes up, must come down... but that can wait until the weekend. :)

There's a whole lotta cobweb on our old wraparound porch, trust me. :)

A few more pics from Castle Alt:

That's about it, so until next year, remember:

Always Practice Safe Hex! And watch out for the zombies!

Love to all,
Mad {madly!}

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween/Samhain Lovin'

Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain to all! Here at the Alt household, our wraparound porch is absolutely dripping with cobwebs and purple and orange lights. Eyeballs blink away at passersby from the windows, and of course I put up the big moon with the flying witch silhouetted against it on my front door. A protective scarecrow watches o'er the proceedings, surrounded by jack o'lanterns, all sporting jaunty grins or wicked grimaces and patiently awaiting the touch of the match to the candles within. All the veggies and herbs that will be useful to us have been culled from our garden, with the rest remaining for whomever or whatever might need them. :)

I'll be walking around town with my son -- and yes, I dress for the occasion -- while he scavenges for treats from all of our neighbors. A friend is coming over to help hand out treats at Castle Alt, a wide variety of goodies. We generally have between 200-300 hobgoblins out our way. A fun time is generally had by all! I don't even have to worry about leftovers -- my highschooler takes them in for locker goodies. Though I might just snitch a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and some M&M Darks for myself.

And yes, it's a good thing the candy doesn't last long! ;>

Happy Haunting to all,

Mad {madly!}

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Signs, Banishing Rituals, and the Throne of Reckoning...

What led me to write paranormal? Nothing less than a sign. The kind of spiritual sign that is akin to the slap of a frozen salmon upside the head. The kind of sign that says, "Wake up, stupid! You haven't been listening! Go. Do. This. Now."

I need the big signs. I can be a bit dense... though I prefer to blame the constant need for multi-tasking. :)

I had been sticking to writing straight historical romance for so long that I had convinced myself that I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't try anything else. In fact, I had accumulated so many rejections that I had slowly, steadily, painfully arrived at the certainty that I would always be two steps behind the market trends in romance; that I was just not a person who could ever consider herself lucky. It just wasn't in the cards for me to be successful in romance.

I'd hit a particularly low point while attending an all-day workshop with a nearby group of writer friends. By that time, I'd already received the "SIGN!!!!!!"--an epic, fun, cool idea for a paranormal themed mystery series set in modern day Indiana--but didn't have the courage to follow the idea to fruition. At this everyday writers workshop, there was an exercise that we were all supposed to take part in, one that smacked of a banishing ritual to me. All writers present were supposed to take a length of toilet paper, and on it we were supposed to write a list of all the things that we saw as obstacles or challenges in the way of our success as writers, any frustrations that were affecting our work, any whining we needed to get off of our chests, and we weren't supposed to be nice, or hold back in any way. If we needed to bitch about anything and everything under the sun, this was our chance.

Well, I try to be a nice person on a day-to-day basis, but that wasn't what this exercise was about, and on that particular day, something inside me just . . . snapped. {I think maybe, just maybe, it was my niceness bone...} I measured out a length of toilet paper, then measured out a little more, broke out my gel pen, and started writing. And writing. And writing. Everyone present was laughing at how long it was getting, and at how fast and furious my pen was moving across the, um, page. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say, anything that had or was going wrong at that point in my adult life was touched upon. It was negative, and it was petty, and it felt SO GOOD to flush that toilet paper down the throne of reckoning.

And it was a turning point for me. Somehow, in some way, that simple act of symbolically flushing away all of the negativity in my life cleared the way and began to open new doors for me, both spiritually and mentally. I wrote the book that I worried I wasn't a good enough writer to do justice. I started plotting out the series in my airy-wispy-atmosphere-filled-seat-of-the-pants way -- enough to get the bones of it, but not enough to remove the element of synchronicity that keeps me going. I found an agent who loved it, who found a publisher who thought it could work. And from those baby steps, we moved forward with The Bewitching Mysteries.

What do I like best about telling Maggie's story? The freedom. The absolute, utter freedom of creating a world filled with characters I love. Characters who speak to me and whisper their stories. Characters who could be walking the streets of the town I live in {but who, of course, aren't}, who are familiar and down-to-earth and filled with the quirks and idiosyncrasies we all seem to have in abundance. I love being able to bring a taste of Indiana, one of those forgotten states that exist almost nebulously somewhere in the middle of this great nation, into the public eye {and yes, we are aware that most people know nothing about us beyond the Indy 500}. I love being able to show a variety of spiritual and religious beliefs, and I love being able to talk about religious intolerance and hopefully demonstrate that it is never a one-sided issue. I love exploring the spirit world, and the ways that it touches our own. And I love writing Maggie. She is a searcher, and through her journey toward self-discovery I have learned so much about so many lovely spiritual paths. And what's more, I get to do it with a wink and a smile.

Love to all on this lovely autumn day,

Mad {madly!}

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Guest Blogger: Kristy Robinett, Psychic Medium

Today I have a special treat for you all. I have been chatting with Kristy Robinett, a very talented clairvoyant and spirit medium for the last few weeks. Kristy has so many fascinating experiences, and she possesses a connection to the world of spirit that never fails to amaze me. Thinking it would be cool to be able to offer you all a little glimpse into her world, I asked her if she would be willing to be a guest on my blog here, and I was so happy when she graciously said yes.

So, without further ado . . . Kristy Robinett.


I want to thank Madelyn for giving me the opportunity to be a guest Blogger. Mad and I came upon one another on the mysterious World Wide Web. I don't believe in coincidences but in universal synchronicity, and I thank her whole heartedly for becoming my friend!

An Undercover Psychic Medium
Kristy Robinett

"Does this happen often?" I evenly asked the middle aged lady sitting across from me as I ducked the second cobalt blue tea cup that had been aimed at my head. I watched as it fell to the ground without breaking.

"It started a few weeks ago. He seems to like dishes the best," Celia responded. "I've asked him to throw something softer, but he seems to like dishes the best," she repeated, ducking a matching plate.

The house was a typical 1970s ranch with a typical family inside to match. I had received the call from Celia asking if I would please do a paranormal investigation and a house blessing. She stated that odd things were happening.

Odd didn't quite describe it.

The air in the three bedroom house was thick and heavy with negative emotion and fear. Part of the fear was coming from me I was sure. Even after umpteen years (you think I am going to tell you my age?!) of doing investigations, I was still in awe and I still got scared. My husband sat next to me, one eye brow raised slightly, as he looked around at the unexplainable chaos. He silently shook his head and gave me a sideways smirk. He married into the nutso life of me being a Psychic Medium and as he always said, "came along for the beer." Although neither of us drank.

I was born with "the gift", but growing up I often referred to it as "the curse," as it seemed to cause more trouble than it was worth. My father was extremely religious; a well respected Deacon of the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Anything ghostly or psychic was of the devil. Or that was what I was taught from early on. So, when I saw spirits at the age of three and communicated with them, it wasn't exactly the kind of heart to heart talk that I wanted to have with my parents. To be honest with you, I still haven't had that chat. I confess; I am not great with confrontation. I kept the gift hidden. Sort of. I loved doing predictions and would share them with my friends, especially if I 'knew' that there was going to be a pop quiz, or that so and so was going to break up or get together. When asked how I knew about these things before they happened, I made up lame excuses. The toughest part of the gift comes with situations like plane crashes or other disasters, and they still continue to impact me quite hard. When September 11th happened and I had a,vision a few days beforehand, I blamed myself for not doing anything other than scribbling some drawings, names, dates, and other miscellaneous things in my journal. If I wasn't given this to help, then why was I given this? It is still a question I often ask myself.

So what is a Psychic Medium? I am sure that images of flowing gowns, incense and airy-sounding women come to mind. Ha! That is sooooo not me. Flowing gowns just aren't my thang. I tend to gravitate towards jeans and cute t-shirts. Incense? I just don't like the smell, but I do burn white sage! And the airy voice. Hmmm…my husband may call me an airhead sometimes, but he says it in a loving way! In a nutshell, as a psychic medium, I talk to those who have crossed over, along with Spirit Guides, and I pass along information that they give me. It is different from a psychic who uses earthly tools (tarot, pendulum, etc) to foretell the future. Readings with me are never of the cookie cutter variety. I have a sense of humor, and I like to use that in the readings. I still remember the first time I went for a reading for myself. Wowzers, was I nervous. I thought for sure that he would tell me all bad and nothing good. Instead I was immediately put at ease, and felt like I was talking to a friend. That is how I want my readings to be, and I strive to achieve that with everybody I read, no matter the person or the situation. I take my police work very seriously, though. Missing persons and murder cases are tough, especially when they deal with children. I have had my share of tears working on cases with police and private investigators. And paranormal investigations, although they can be fun, can also be stressful and dangerous. It isn't always the ghosts or demons you have to fear, but the living. There is never a dull moment in my life and for that I am thankful as I get bored easily. Sometimes I wait to hear "Cut" from a director and have it all shut off; but my life is real. Sometimes surreal, sure, but still real.

It is difficult to sum up my life as a Psychic Mediumship in one journal entry. I have stories. Boy, do I have stories! And with each paranormal investigation, murder/missing person case and each client I read for, I add more to it. I love being a Psychic Medium. I love doing readings, I love doing radio, and I love doing television. I used to hide, but I am coming out of my shell as to who I am. I am no longer an undercover Psychic Medium, just a Psychic Medium. I will scream it from the rooftop.

Ok, maybe not. I am afraid of heights.

Celia's problem seemed to be an older gentleman in spirit who had once lived in the house. He was very upset that the family was renovating the kitchen. I had a talk with this stubborn spirit in residence, and it was decided that Celia would keep the dishes in the same spot that his wife had always kept them – next to the stove instead of next to the sink. Another mystery solved.

If only they were all that easy!


Monday, October 01, 2007

Interview File Now Available Online

Well! The interview was last night, and I have to say, I didn't even get hives! Kristy and Amy were amazingly good fun, and it really did feel just like girlfriends chatting about everything under the sun. Plus, a little bit of book and writing info as well.

If you weren't able to listen live last night, you can access the file here:

The regularly scheduled radio show is going to be switching to Thursday nights at 7 p.m. EST. Be sure to give them a listen! They have a number of fun interviews in their archives, to boot. Here is a pic of the intrepid hosts:

That's Amy there on the left, and Kristy on the right.

In addition to ParaWomenRadio, Kristy and Amy are two of the foundng members of the League for Extraordinary Paranormal Women, which was formed for Women, about Women, and supporting Women in all area's of the Paranormal fields including investigators, authors, writers, editors, artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, actresses, and musicians. A very cool concept, I think. Please visit them on MySpace here:

Also, if you are interested, Kristy and Amy are heading up a ghosthunt for Halloween at the BlackHawk Bar & Grill in Richland, Michigan on October 30th. You cannot go wrong with this group if you are looking to experience a real, live ghosthunt. Please get in touch with them via . It looks like it will be a haunting good time!

Here is Kristy's MySpace: (don't forget that Kristy is a wonderfully talented spirit medium!)

And Amy's MySpace:

Love to all on this cool, rainy night...

Mad {madly!}

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Fun Chat with ParaWomenRadio!

Hi there, everyone!

Tomorrow night, September 30th at 8 p.m. EST, I will be visiting with the awesome girrrrrls of ParaWomenRadio { listen in at, and/or check them out on MySpace at }. If you're free Sunday night, why don't you come on down and have a listen?

The League of Extraordinary Paranormal Women was formed for Women, about Women, and in support of Women in all area's of the Paranormal fields including investigators, authors, writers, editors, artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, actresses, and musicians. A very cool concept, no?

By chance, I happened to meet up with one of the League's founders, Kristy Robinett, a couple of weeks ago. Kristy is a very gifted clairvoyant and spirit medium . . . which means that, like John Edward, Kristy is in contact with the spirits on the other side. She also has the ability to consult with your own personal Spirit Guides while giving a reading, which makes the reading highly personal and incredibly specific. If anyone out there is interested in having a reading done, I can wholeheartedly and without reservation recommend Kristy to you. You can find her on MySpace at, or at her website at

I hope some of you will be able to listen in! It should be a fun night. I might not even get anticipatory hives. :)

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tools of the Trade

Over with the Witchy Chicks, we were talking about audio/visual aids and what helps each of us in the writing process. It got me to thinking. Is it somehow wrong that I haven't often delved too deeply into the hows and the whys of writing? I'm not wearing blinders, honest. It's just that sometimes it seems as though by dissecting the process in a mad {heh} attempt to understand it more fully, I might strip some of the magick away . . . and I like to keep that intact, thankyouverymuch.

I can tell you I don't use pictures of people to inspire a character. The character always comes to me first, and in writing this series at least, they have come to me fully blown. Some readers have been suggesting various actors, most quite suitable indeed, that they envision in certain roles, and if that deepens their reading experience, I'm all for it . . . but as for me, it's not something I do often.

Music is always very important to me... although rarely while writing. I most often use music in between writing sessions, though not always to keep me in the Stony Mill world. Oftentimes the music I choose is simply to relax me, or to cater to the latest whim for atmosphere that I crave.

Atmosphere. This is the biggie for me. Atmosphere speaks to me, and it can come in so many different forms. I will often select movies for my DVD collection by the atmosphere in the film. Even if the film wasn't the best, its atmosphere will speak to me in some way. Music can give me atmosphere, but again, I don't often use it while writing -- I find it too involving. Something about the way my brain is wired makes me focus on the music itself rather than the story in front of me. Atmosphere can be found in anything, in any circumstance, if one keeps one's eyes open to it. It's the skirl of dried leaves sweeping down an empty street; the gathering of a bevy of vultures in a single tall tree that overlooks an entire neighborhood; the way a road cutting through a pair of cornfields can seem claustrophobic toward the end of summer; the sound of the wind whispering through said cornfields just before harvest. And now we're approaching autumn, my favorite time of year . . . and so appropriate for my writing. So many lovely and evocative images that propel and inspire my mind on its wild travails.

Atmosphere. I couldn't write without it.

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Soooooo... Quick Question

So, I've been receiving requests from readers to start a yahoogroup where people can congregate and discuss the Bewitching series and all things paranormal, as well as receive tidbits and teasers and input from the author in question... namely, me. This list would be whatever readers made of it, and would be separate from any announcement list for those who just want to receive notification of upcoming releases. I'd be more than happy to generate the yahoogroup, but am drawing a blank on what to call you all {other than "My Beloved and Much Appreciated Readers," heh}.

Any suggestions?

Also, a note for MySpace readers. There actually is an existing MySpace group for fans of the Bewitching series. You can join at

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Here a Muse, There a Muse... Where's Your Muse?

When I first began writing, I never really thought of creativity in terms of muses. Nope, back then, it was just me with the writing pad, the typewriter, the word processor, and eventually, the keyboard, hammering away at an idea that wouldn't leave me alone, and struggling to get down on paper what was in my mind. Just me . . . and the {insert writing instrument of the day here}.

Come to think of it, that does sound kind of lonely, doesn't it? Maybe that's why my muse finally swatted me over the head with her fairy dust wand and opened my eyes to her beneficent presence.

I have but one . . . but she has many faces.

I'm not sure quite how to describe her, but I know she's there. At times she is a fluttering, shimmering, sparkling deva that brings humor and wit to my stories, darting here and there about my shoulders as though wanting to be sure I get it all just right. At other times, she is a terrible taskmaster, her wand turning into a staff of power, heavy and gnarled, lending darkness to my writing where needed, and driving me to press on at even the most difficult moments.

When she's with me, the words flow, the ideas are effortless from brain to fingers, and I "drop into the page" as I'm writing, swallowed up by the story that is as much a part of me as my everyday life. When she's sulking because I'm not listening closely enough, every sentence is a battle, an entire paragraph a major accomplishment. She's feisty, opinionated, at times even snarky, and she knows just what I need at any given moment to turn me on, story-alistically speaking. She even knows when to back off, to give me time to recoup my energies. And when it's time to get back to work, she oft-times comes softly in dreams, whispering snippets of story, of people, of lost hopes and secrets and lies, and musing over what might be.

Her name is Leda, by the way. I don't know why. It just is.

How about you? Do you have a muse, or even gang of them? What gets you going, creatively?

Mad {madly}, not crazy, just muse-ically blessed :)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Let There Be Fireworks...

Otherworldly Sex -- that does kind of flow, doesn't it? It's almost enough to make me wish I wrote about magickal creatures, gettin' their groove on.

Alas, I write paranormal mystery of the fairly light sort, with little touches of darkness thrown in, of course, to hint at what's really going on in plain, old Stony Mill, Indiana. And while I like to poke at and test the boundaries of genre as much as the PTB will let me get away with {::very big grin::}, I don't think I'm going to be having any pull-out-all-the-stops love scenes any time soon. Let alone sex between magickal beings, considering that the Bewitching series is peopled by ordinary people living somewhat extraordinary lives.

That is not to say that my empathic heroine, Maggie, is not going to be getting some. Eventually. Poor girl, she's been going without for far too long, wouldn't you say? She deserves an otherworldly experience as much as the next girl. But since I have been charged with telling her story, when the time comes I will simply have to rein in the urge to describe every... little... nuance of the experience in oh-so-loving detail.

Me, I'm just wondering what sex between two unshielded empaths would be like. As any empath can attest, the, um, experience is often fortuitously {if inadvertently} enhanced by intercepting the, um, reactions of one's partner. {::koff koff::} Quite handy, that. If two empaths were to share their enthusiasm... well... given their natural ability to project as well as receive... and especially if the experience was carried aloft on the wings of True Love {insert the thumping of hearts here}....

Yeah, I'm pretty much thinking it would be:

Talk about your ultimate in magical powers. Whoever said empaths were short-shrifted in the psychic abilities department, anyway?

Mad {extra madly!}

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Favorite Woo-Woo Guys & Gals

Who were some of my favorite paranormal characters, growing up? What a fun stroll down memory lane...
When I was a kid, I loved the Addams Family. They were creepy but kooky. Mysterious and spooky. I didn't find them altogether ooky. That probably made me weird. Da da da dum. {snap snap} LOL. I also adored all of the original Scooby Doo episodes, at least until they added Scrappy Dappy Doo and ruined it.

All right, so I added the kilt. It's a good look.

Jeannie from "I Dream Of" fame was a bit too "Yes, Master," for my taste, but I will say, she rocked that costume. Even without a belly-button.

In the vamps corner, Barnabas Collins scared the bejeebers out of me when I was five years old, and I have had vampire nightmares ever since. I perfected the sleep-with-the-covers-tucked-tightly-around-the-neck posture in bed around that time. Then I saw Frank Langella as Drac when I was, oh, twelve or thirteen, I think, and found him a heck of a lot more interesting. Heh heh. I have to say that no other Dracs appealed until Gerard Butler in Dracula 2000. He didn't say much, but wow, what a delivery. Yum, yum.

"I don't drink... coffee."

{{P.S. Yeah, that's him...}}

Harry Potter is a wonderful, wonderful creation. I love his energy, but I have to say I'm probably more a mix of Hermione and Ron, myself. My favorite characters have to be the Weasleys. Warm, witchy, and wonderful.

Speaking of witches, Nora Robert's three {Air (Nell), Earth (Ripley), and Fire (Mia)} really struck a chord with me a few years back, as of course did Alice Hoffman's Sally and Gilly. Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan kicks ass, as did the Halliwell sisters {Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and later Paige} on Charmed -- but I liked their sisterly moments the best.

Samantha Stevens, on TV's Bewitched, is one of my all-time favorite witches... but I also adored Nicole Kidman's Isabelle from the movie, especially after she decided to get a life and be herself.

Arwen the Elf... I know a lot of people *hated* her expanded storyline in the LOTR movies, but I loved it. Very girl-power. Galadriel, too. And the glimpses of the elf world were so very beautiful. How could anyone not appreciate them?

Who were your favorites?

Mad {madly!}

Monday, June 04, 2007

How-to books

I'm often asked what writing books I look to for encouragement and inspiration.

I have to be honest with you. There aren't many, nowadays. It's not that I feel that I'm to the point in my writing where I have nothing further to learn. Far from it. I learn something new every day that I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and IMHO that's the way that it should be. The day I decide that there is nothing more for me to learn in this challenging career-slash-obsession called writing is the day I close the book for good. {Lucky for me, that day is nowhere in sight! LOL.} But I am to the point where I have a good feel for my own writing process, for what works for me and what doesn't. I used to read every article and attend every writing class I could. It was fascinating to hear how others wrote, to gather what nuggets of wisdom I could, only to wonder later why their methods didn't work for me. No matter how logical they sounded, no matter whose brilliant method it was, none of them seemed to fit. Eventually I came to understand why some days I needed to be at the computer with seven different files open, sifting back and forth between them all, while others I needed to sit quietly with a notebook on my lap and a gel pen in hand, my process for that day as much about the smoothness of the flow of ink on the page as the flow of words. And sometimes my process isn't about the putting down of words at all. It's about watching a movie that possesses a sense of atmosphere that speaks to me, or listening to music that seemed to be saying something about a particular character. Or getting outdoors and walking for miles, or digging in my garden with its neverending supply of weeds to be cleared. For me, it's all part and parcel of my being a writer, which is why I wouldn't recommend my particular process at all. It isn't meant to be for anyone but me {though if it happens to speak to anyone else who might be reading this, GREAT! Feel free to emulate away...}.

The one book I would recommend if I had to choose at least one would be Stephen King's ON WRITING. .. mostly because he's not telling you how, he's just telling you to do. Write, write, write. Because that's the bottom line, really, isn't it. That's what it's all about.

And now... back to the Travel Channel. Samantha Brown is checking in at Edinburgh, Scotland, one of my favorite places in the whole world. Have I ever mentioned ::koff koff:: that Scotland and its many treasures of all varieties ::koff koff:: is a neverending source of inspiration for me?

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Some links you may find useful:
Predators & Editors: Warning site for editors and agents, very helpful...
Mystery Writers of America:
Sisters in Crime:
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America: including Writer Beware
Romance Writers of America:
Duirwaigh Gallery: {on the list simply because I believe there is magic in creativity, and this site is so beautiful and inspiring and soul-stirring... and it never fails to lift my spirits high}

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's Adopt-a-Fox Day Over at the WitchyChicks...My Pick!

A month or so ago, the WitchyChicks decided to set aside one day a month for our new Adopt-a-Fox program. One day where we can be giggling fangirls and unremorsefully ogle {and even ooOOgle} A Man(!) of our choosing. Why a fox? Why, because we're Chicks, y'see, and foxes love to hang around the henhouse. At least, we like to think they do.

Today the pick was mine, and as such, we are going to celebrate and revel in the male loveliness that is . . .

Gerard Butler.

Hang on to your petticoats, girls. We are talking about adoption here, but this man is guaranteed not to add one iota of maternal sensibilities to your already overloaded hormonal burden.

A Hot Scot if there ever was one, Gerard Butler has at long last arrived in Hollywood's eyes with the role of the wise and powerful {and dead sexy, to boot} King Leonidas in the recent blockbuster hit movie, '300'.

I give you, His Royal Thighness... King Leo, himself.

But tall, dark, and handsome are not the least of Gerard's many delectable attributes. He is a rugged man's man, but with the kind of softness a woman looooooooves; he has a crazy laugh that never fails to bring a smile to my face; he's intelligent and spiritual, and speaks openly about things that matter to him... all in an accent that, well, I should probably not discuss what that accent can do, at least not on a public forum; and he possesses a wonderfully zany sense of humor. An admitted lover of women in all shapes, sizes, and colors, he once described himself as a bad boy... with a good heart.

Is there any better kind?

He even dearly loves his mum, Margaret, and speaks of her often in interviews. Altogether now. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!!!!!!

{{That's G with his Mum at right...}

If you missed Gerry in 300, you might also have seen him in Phantom of the Opera {can you say tight breeches and an open-chested white poet's shirt? I knew you could!}, or perhaps Dear Frankie {one of my top movies of all time}, or Timeline, Dracula 2000, Reign of Fire, the USA miniseries Attila, or even Lara Croft: Cradle of Life, where he had the audacity to outshine the star, Angelina Jolie.

If you have somehow managed to miss Gerard in any of the above movies, queue them up at Netflix. I guarantee you that even if the movie isn't top notch, Gerard Butler's acting talents *are*.

Happy drooling! I mean, viewing!

Mad {madly!}

P.S. By the way -- Gerry does wear a kilt to special events. Except somehow he manages to give Scottish traditional garb a modern, bad boy edge. Woot! Woot!

Here are a few more pics, just because there can't be too many of this lovely man...

And, because I know you're dying to hear the accent.... ;>

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A long and winding road... or how I came to be an author of paranormal mysteries

When I first started writing, lo, these many years ago {fourteen, to be precise}, I had no idea if I could write an entire book. Oh, I'd always written -- journals, essays, poetry -- because writing about my experiences was my way of dealing with the world. But a whole book, with characters I could relate to and care about, and situations that made sense, and a story that wouldn't let go? Did I really have the creativity? I didn't know, but I knew I wanted to try.

They say to write what you know, so it seemed sensible to try to write what I was most often reading at the time -- straight historical romance. It was harder than it looked. There were so many wonderful authors out there, so many who inspired me but at the same time made me think I could never be as good. But since I was writing just for myself, there was no pressure, no reason not to continue. Each new scene was a challenge, each chapter completed a major accomplishment. By the time I had finished the manuscript eighteen months later I was well and rightly hooked by the process of writing, but I still thought of myself as a dabbler. Sure, I was writing, but it was just for fun. No one else could possibly want to read my stuff...

I did mention my recent hobby to a couple of friends, and they asked to read what I had written. When they professed to actually enjoy it, I thought they were just being kind... as were members of a writing group I had found all the way across the state. But it got me to thinking. Could it be possible? Did I have a talent for this that I had never really expected to find?

The writing group suggested that I try submitting the manuscript to a New York publisher. So, with courage born of naivete, I went to my bookshelves and made a list of all the publishers represented there. A book at the library described the submission process. Armed with this new and foreign knowledge, I made my best attempt at writing a query letter and synopsis and sent off a few letters. Most of these came back with form rejections. I was more surprised than anyone when I received an actual request for the complete manuscript a month or two later from a major publisher. Back then I was writing on an old model home computer {a big step up from the typewriter I had started on, let me tell you} with an inkjet printer that was slow as molasses at printing off a 400 page manuscript, but print it I did. The expense of postage added to the expense of printing made me gulp, but it was far too late to turn back. I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and mailed it anyway.

As you might have guessed, that manuscript never did sell. The publisher kept it for eight months before rejecting it with a one and a half page letter telling me why they were returning it to me. Since I never really expected it to sell anyway, it didn't even hurt all that much. {Or is that pain just dulled by the time that has passed? Hmm...} I set the manuscript and the letter aside and just kept writing my stories, slowly, but surely. But my critique group didn't want to let it go. A letter with details wasn't just any old rejection. It was {and still is} rare to receive that kind of feedback. The publishing business worked with a set of unspoken rules and credos. Best that I learned them now and save myself heartache later.

Armed with my writing friends' collective knowledge, so graciously shared, and filled with a new hope, I continued to write and submit. But with each new manuscript submitted and rejected by all, the hope dwindled, and the self-confidence I had fought to attain began to wither. How could anyone continue to receive so-called "good" rejections for so many years but not sell the books she was writing? Maybe it was just not meant to be. Maybe I was kidding myself about this writing business. Maybe I should just quit while I was ahead.

I came to that point several times. Nearly quitting. Wanting to and not understanding why I couldn't seem to do it, why I clung to that last vestige of... well, not quite hope, but perhaps compulsion might describe it best, and all the while, a part of me was dying inside. Finally, even that part of me reached rock bottom. What was I doing? Why was I torturing myself this way?

Around that time I had had a strange experience where a story idea -- a character herself, really -- had come to me out of the blue and insisted I take down what she had to say, word for word. Information flowed from my brain to my fingers and out on the screen. Three pages of monologue in a kind of "brain dump" I had never before experienced. When all was said and done, I saved the file in my IDEAS folder and promptly forgot about it. I really had no clue what I could ever do with it. It wasn't suitable for historical romance. It wasn't even a romance at all, and furthermore, it was in first person. I had never liked first person! And it was paranormal. Now I have been a lifelong reader and researcher of the paranormal, so that part about it I liked, but it had never even occurred to me to include it in my writing. I was a writer of straight historical romance. This idea would never work for me. It was probably silly to even have saved it. Why-oh-why couldn't I get ideas that would sell?

I nearly gave up on writing altogether during that summer of my supreme discontent. But the universe had other ideas. I did actually stop writing for a few months. I read a lot, but I could no longer find things that sang to me. Nothing that resonated. Was it not enough that I was giving up on writing? Did I have to lose my love for reading as well? It hardly seemed fair.

I thought back to the last story I had read that had really gripped me, that had reached down into the very core of me and refused to let go: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. I took the book down again and tried to look at it with fresh eyes. What was it about that book in particular that I enjoyed so much? What I found surprised me. It wasn't the Scottish history or the wonderful Scotsman Jamie Fraser, as compelling as both of those things were to my soul. It was the epic nature of the book, the way it blended so many things -- including the paranormal -- and yet not one felt out of place. A cross-genre book that broke all the rules. It just felt... natural. Right. Meant to be.

And then there was the Goddess writer's seminar I attended, given by the wonderful Barbara Samuels and Jennifer Crusie. These two amazing women spoke eloquently about their "Girls in the Basement," their muses whom they likened to tough-and-difficult-to-please teenage girls. It was when they started writing to please their girls that they felt they truly found their niche. The sweet spot of story. Their seminar really got me to thinking. What if I let my inner self go? What if I forgot all about the editors I was trying to please? What if I forgot all about markets and writing rules and requirements and just wrote something for myself? What would that something be?

My mind kept wandering back to the strange idea I'd had months before. Well, it wasn't romance. It wasn't historical. It was completely and utterly different from anything I'd ever done before... but maybe that was what I needed most at that point in time. Somehow I needed to find the joy again. Maybe this was just what the muses ordered.

So I gave myself permission to turn off all the voices, all the editorial, to break whatever rules I wanted to break for the sake of the story, to just write what came to me through my Maggie's voice. If I wanted to throw in a kitchen sink, then I was going to do just that, and if I wanted it to be orange, then that's what it was going to be. The story idea had come to me as a mystery, so that's what I wrote. Maggie was a fresh voice in my head, like a friend I had known forever, and she made me laugh amidst the darker goings-on in the story. Another rule broken, ha ha! And all of spookiness made it that much better. Light and dark, funny and yet unnerving, modern and yet rooted in the Old Ways... Ghosts, and witches, and murder, oh my! And the story that came as a result scrubbed away the sadness and despair of ever publishing and it renewed my faith in my writing. I was a writer. Whether I was a writer who would publish or not, the fact that I wrote was a part of me that could never be taken away
unless I allowed it to be.

Why it never occurred to me before to include the paranormal in my writing, I will never know. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe I needed to discover my inner strength as I expanded my writing abilities. Maybe I had to go through everything I did in order to believe in myself in the end. Whatever the reason, by finally letting go and yielding to the wisdom of the universe, I found myself again. It was a long road, a winding one, but in the end one that gave me confidence and satisfaction both. Sometimes I wonder where the road will end, but I don't allow myself to dwell on that thought too long. After all, the joy of any journey should include points of interest along the path taken as much as the end destination itself. Something tells me I would do well not to forget that hard-won lesson again.

Love to all,


Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Creation Process

Over on the Witchy Chicks we were discussing the creation process each of us uses. This was a post in which I was supposed to sound very author-ish, very cool and in control as I intelligently discussed Creation, that strange, otherworldly state that occurs when I sit down at the computer and begin to write. How I create what I do, tools and techniques, how do I keep everything straight in my head.

The truth is . . .

The truth is, tools and techniques and bibles sound just a little too hardcore for little ol' fly-into-the-mist me. They're the kinds of things I should be doing but can't bring myself to put much effort into. I don't know why. I'm funny that way, I guess. Maybe because so much of it hasn't been put into words yet, because it's all still stewing away in that mysterious cauldron of creation, waiting for its turn to boil . . . and trying to find words for it before it's ready would be kind of like tasting a recipe before all the ingredients are in there. It just doesn't do it justice.

I'm a seat of the pants writer. When I sit down to write a new project, I develop a very generalized plan for what's going to happen. I know which main characters are going to be involved. I know who the victim will be, and his or her relationships with the people in their lives. I know how my Maggie will come to be involved. I know a few of the scenes that will need to be there to carry on the series arc due to what happened in the last book. I choose a point in Maggie's life to open things, and I allow her and her friends and relatives to guide me, and--voila--creation happens. Beyond that, though, it's all very nebulous and hazy and requires a great deal of trust from me.

Trust. I'm very big on it.

I have faith that the characters will come through for me. I have faith that the magic will happen. And because I have faith, it always does. I close my eyes, I take that leap of faith. The bridge always appears beneath my feet. Sometimes it appears a step at a time, sometimes I see a dozen feet at a time, but I'm always given a briefest glimpse of the entire blessed thing as reassurance that I'll be able to walk the walk when the time comes.

This process has never failed me, and I don't expect that it ever will.

What I do keep in a file is a list of characters and the books they first appear in, the briefest of descriptions and major character issues; a list of establishments Maggie has frequented, and their general location in town; and a huge number of pictures that "speak" to me with their imagery. I'm big on imagery and atmosphere, because they appeal on a subconscious level and lend a bit of creative magic to the mystical dreamworld going on somewhere in my brain.

Creation really is an interesting process, isn't it? One would think that, since the end result is the same, the process itself must also be the same, but I've found that it's very different from author to author to author. Flying into the mist is not for the faint of heart, and it's not for anyone who must control every aspect of everything at all times, but it works for me, and that's all that matters.

Love to all,

Mad {madly!} ... and now that label probably makes sense, heh ;>

P.S. The Find function {Control-F} is my best friend :) :)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Stranger than you've dreamt it...

If I tell you that I've never actually seen a ghost, will you hold it against me?

To me, it doesn't matter, really. I don't need to see them to know that they are there. I always have known, even during the years I tried to convince myself that they were figments of my imagination. For me, it's all about sounds, feelings, perceptions, and movement.

Let me share a few glimpses into my world:

1) The first house that we rented when we returned to Indiana ate shoes. Honestly. One half of pairs, and none of them were ever seen again.

2) Another of the houses that we rented had a cold spot in the laundry room, and a very anxious feeling to it. My oldest boys were four and two at the time, and the older of the two would tell me about waking up to find a "chocolate man with red eyes" standing at the end of his bed. Now, we live in rural Indiana, and at the time the population was predominantly caucasian--I don't think my boys had ever actually seen an African American person at the time, which seems terribly odd to me, but that's just the way that it was. We also live in an area that was quite active in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Could it have been? Or was this another kind of entity entirely?

3) The chocolate man apparently followed us to our next home, because the younger of the two started seeing him as well. This house had more than one spirit in attendance. Often when I was home alone, I would hear very distinct human footsteps cross the entire length of the two rooms above. We also had a prankster. Things would disappear quite often and then reappear later in places that did not make sense--for example, a recipe card I was using for some cookies I was baking went missing, only to show up three days later in the center of my bed.

The strangest thing that happened at this house, however, occurred on a rare "mental health day" I had taken off work. My employer at the time had a habit of calling with a million questions, no matter if you were sick or on vacation or what, so when I left the house to pick the boys up from school, I took the phone {a wall model... this house was small enough that I just had the one phone, and this was back in the day... ;> } off the hook and laid it on the floor below so that if my employer called, the phone wouldn't just ring and ring, alerting them to the fact that I was not, in fact, at home. I locked the door, and left the house. When the boys and I returned fifteen minutes later, I went to replace the phone, and--you guessed it--the phone was already back on the hook. No one had been there, and the doors were still locked.

4) Most of the dreams I have are just run-of-the-mill dreams {with the odd pre-cog one thrown in for good measure, but always over something trivial}. Some, though, are extremely vivid and detailed and have a sense of urgency to them. That "Hey, pay attention" feeling.

Back when I was searching for an agent for what has become the Bewitching series, I received an offer of representation from two agents on the same day, and I was faced with making a decision between the two. Both had excellent reputations--that wasn't the problem. One of the agencies had irritated a few authors with contract provisions, but the agent was effusive about the first book {TTWM} and felt positive it would sell with only a few very minor revisions prior to submission. The other agent liked the book, liked my writing, but thought that there were elements in it that would need to be completely revised -- but this agent was highly regarded by the authors the agency represented, and I knew more about them than I did the first agency.

I struggled over this dilemma for a few days, knowing that control of my destiny was in my hands, and I would have only myself to blame if things went badly. How was I supposed to choose between two good agents? Which one would be more likely to sell a difficult project? How could I possibly guess? Did my manuscript need a tremendous amount of revision, or would the changes the second agent wanted edit out the things that made the book mine? I had no idea -- agents don't tell you what they want to see without signing you on, so even that was no help. But in reading back over the manuscript itself, it felt right. It felt good. Minor changes I could see, but nothing felt wrong structurally, which is what a major revision would have entailed. But what if I was wrong?

The night before I would have to give my decision {which I still had not made}, I had a conversation with my guides. Look, I told them, I really could use some help here. If you have sent me signs and I've missed them, I'm sorry, but you know that sometimes I get so busy that I can't see what's right in front of me. Help me, please. Help me make the right decision.

That night I had a dream, one of the "Pay attention!" kind that you can't mistake for anything other than Notices From On High. The dream took place sometime in the medieval period -- maybe the 1400s from the way I was dressed when I looked down at myself. It felt like England to me, and the place--a big, cavernous place with a round tower --was very familiar to me, as though I'd been there often. The dream started out sunny and clear, the sky brilliantly blue, warm both in actuality and in the overall feeling of the place, but things quickly changed once inside. Suddenly I was being chased by several men along these raised platforms within the big barn structure. The fear was overwhelming--I could taste it in the back of my throat. I can still feel it now, remembering. I ended up running the wrong way. I remember clutching my stomach and thinking, "My baby..." I was trapped, and I knew it, and the men were coming at me from all directions. I looked down over the railing of the catwalk, and I remember hearing this voice in the dream: "You can either stay here and almost certainly die, or you can take a leap of faith now and perhaps live..." I made my decision. I leapt.

And then I woke up.

I knew the dream was more than that the instant I woke up. The symbolism in the dream to me was unmistakable as it related to my situation, and I accepted the answer I was given gratefully. I called agent #1 that morning and accepted her offer. Four months later, 1 month and 1 day after the book was submitted, she sold the first 3 books in what became the Bewitching series to Berkley. I've been very happy with the agency ever since.

But the dream ... I realized later that it worked on more than one level. I've dreamed of the same place since then, the people, snippets, not a continuing dream, just bits and pieces that all fit together like a puzzle. But nothing that relates directly to my life currently, or if it does I haven't figured that out. Just this place. There is a man there, and the feeling of intense love, blindingly sweet. All I can see is his eyes, and the overall sense of him, but I know I adored him.

I love having these dreams. They leave me happy and serene and... I don't know... certain of the continuation of awareness? Of life?

5) While traveling in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we stopped at a touristy place called The Mystery Spot, just west of St. Ignace. Like its more famous sister in Oregon, this is a place where compasses don't work right, where things seem to roll uphill, where time and space and distance all seem to converge and fold in upon each other. Or that's what they say. ;> I took the boys in for a little bit of fun, expecting optical illusions and the like... and was amazed by my reaction to the spot. I don't know if it's all part and parcel of being a sensitive/intuitive, or whether it's just because I'm sensitive to energy in general, but the moment I crossed a certain line, I felt... off-balance. Heavy, as though something weighty was pressing down upon me from above. My ears rang. My skin buzzed. It wasn't an uncomfortable place, just very different from what I normally experience. And once I left the property, everything was back to normal.

6) Indiana has a lot of places where Indian battles were fought, as well as places that were sacred to the regional tribes. One of these is a place called Seven Sisters, a series of rocky promontories that overlook the Wabash River, where the movement of the river over eons has carved out a series of seven columnar features from the limestone riverbed. We went looking for this place on recommendation from a friend, and were pleased when we managed to find it, considering that it is kind of out of the way. I got out of the car and approached the edge cautiously {this isn't a well-marked place, so apparently they don't feel the need to put up fencing or guard rails for visitors}. Standing there on the edge, surveying the lower floodplain opposite, I had a flash of fires and sound, almost like the overlay effect often used in film. We found a small sign later that told of the sacredness of the site to the Miami tribe, and that they used to hold rituals there.

7) My most recent experience actually took place at work last fall. I was standing in the doorway to an office, chatting with a friend, and all of a sudden felt a puff of very much directed breath against my neck. It surprised the heck out of me -- I stopped mid-sentence and spun around, wondering which of the office goofballs were feeling just a little bit naughty that morning. :) There was no one there, of course, but it was definitely too focused to be a random draft {if you've ever had someone gently blow their breath up the length of your neck, then you know this feeling... }. We did have two vehicular deaths happen a couple of years apart, directly in front of the building, and of course you never know what has happened on open land prior to the building's existence. Whoever or whatever it was was definitely feeling a bit frisky that morning, though.

This is getting way too long so this is it from me for now, but I hope you've enjoyed the tales. For me, what most people view as paranormal or supernatural is just a normal part of life and the way I experience it. And really, I can't imagine living it any other way. :)

What about you? Do you have tales to share?

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Friday, March 16, 2007

Inexplicable Moments of Connection

I used to smile and nod politely when other authors spoke of their muses, before turning away so they wouldn't see my eyebrows stretching high in amused disbelief. One writer friend goes so far as to serve her muse up with gourmet coffee in a special cup each and every morning that she sits down to write. Another buys her muse pretty little things, a glass bead, a pretty feather. "How... odd," I would think to myself, totally not getting it. I didn't believe for a minute that they thought of their muses as real entities. I mean, we are living in the twenty-first century. Surely such eccentricities went out with all of the modern technological advances and scientific wisdom.


Inspiration does have a way of striking at the strangest times. An unusual turn of phrase in the middle of a conversation remembered later might spark a whole new way of thinking. A snippet of lyric in a song you've heard a thousand times suddenly takes on new meaning. The way the sun parts an unusual cloud formation, casting a strange ad eerie light on the landscape below. An article highlighting the quirks and peculiarities of modern life. Someone you see out of the corner of your eye.

Then there are the dreams.

I have been known to have the rare precognitive dream {always on subjects trivial, though, darn it!}, but far more often I have dreams that are... different from the garden-variety ventures into Wonderland. Dreams where I am not me, where I am not in the here and now, but some faraway place. They are vivid and detailed glimpses into the lives of other people, their motivations, their heartbreak, their desires. Their stories. Sometimes I'm an invisible bystander witnessing the events, sometimes I look out through the eyes of someone there, experiencing it first hand. Sometimes I'm not even female. I've used some of these, while others I have stored for other projects, somewhere down the line. It feels right to do that. Somehow I feel I'm being allowed to see so "they" will have life once more.

So, might it be a being of creativity bestowing these lovely nuggets of inspiration upon me? Or am I connecting the dots on some vast unseen web of creative material? Jumping from one thought dimension to the next? As a wise man once said, "We are all connected."... but how?

You'll have to excuse me now. An old friend is waiting for a sweet cup of tea, served up fresh, with love, from me.

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Great Scot!!!

The world is about to discover the seemingly limitless talents of a heretofore underappreciated Scottish actor whose career trajectory I've been following for some time, and all I can say is, it's about time!!!
The movie 300 is thundering into theaters nationwide today. In fact, in many cities it opened at the midnight hour last night to gargantuan box-office success. A movie about an underdog kingdom defiantly facing down a fearsome contingent of warriors against truly mind-boggling odds, 300 has not only the boys and men surging eagerly toward the theaters, but also is drawing women of all ages in droves.
{Girrrls, can you say 'impeccably toned and fabulous male bodies clad in nothing but leather briefs and glorious crimson capes?' Uh huh. I thought you could.}

All teasing aside... 300 is lead by my H'wood favorite, Scotsman Gerard Butler {a.k.a. Gerry Butler, a.k.a. Yon Great Kilted One; fabulous in Phantom of the Opera, Dear Frankie, Timeline, and Beowulf & Grendel... and yes, that's him above}, who shines even brighter than ever before as the fiercely protective and unyielding King Leonidas. His commanding presence can be physically felt and experienced by the viewer--powerful, powerful, powerful. Not to be outdone, the rest of the movie's talented cast delivers each and every scene with a life and vigor that has managed to gather the attention of all of Hollywood, comic book fans, gaming fans, action adventure fans, and yes, women world-wide. Not bad for a film that stars none of the usual Star Magazine and US Weekly crowd. {Thanks to director Zack Snyder for that!}
Ah, but if it offered nothing more than a whole lotta eye candy, the advance buzz wouldn't have reached such impressive heights. The CGI special effects are amazing, the stylized atmosphere starkly commanding and beautiful at once, often tinged by an eerie, golden light. In fact, the imagery is so all-encompassing, one might expect character development to be an unfortunate afterthought, but the performances of all actors involved in this film are flawless through and through. Especially evocative is the emotional arc of the love story between Leonidas and his beloved queen, Gorgo {played by the exceptional Lena Headey}. Their exchanges without words are both poignant and heartrending, clearly read by anyone who thinks to look.

300 is a powerful and amazing ride, THE must-see movie of the year. Go see it!

Have fun at the movies!

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

P.S. Oh, okay. Since you begged, here's one more pic. This one's from the March 5th premiere at the Grauman Chinese Theater in Los Angeles:

He is fairly fabulous, isn't he? You should see him in a kilt.

P.P.S. One last thing to highlight the vid work of a very talented friend, BluEyedDaizy Productions {see the link to the right--->}:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Single Most Important Bit of Writing Advice I Can Give You

The Witchy Chicks have been sharing publishing wisdom for aspiring writers all week. If you have a moment, please go here to benefit from their wonderful words of wisdom. On the same note but from a slightly different angle:

Selling that first book is a dream come true for so many writers. When The Call comes in, the world takes on a rosy glow, fairy sparkles drift down like confetti, and your cheeks hurt from that maniacal grin you can't seem to wipe off your face. Not that you mind. The world is now your oyster, and you are the pearl! Your life is going to change (in a good way!) overnight! You see dollar signs! Fame! Fortune! Someone to clean the bathroom for you!

Ah, the life of the published author. It doesn't get any better than this. Am I right?

Maybe. But then again, maybe not...

Being a new author in the writing biz can be a little bit like being submerged in a shark cage in the Bermuda Triangle -- the sharks are circling, the holes in the cage are bigger than you thought they were, and you're in danger of passing over into the oblivion of the abyss. If you're lucky you might go the easy way, but the hard way is nibbling away at your hard-won self-confidence, and you are horrified to find that the decision might not be yours to make.

The dangers? Oh-so-many things can go wrong. You might find that your editor has so many authors that he/she doesn't really remember your name (it's terribly disconcerting to have to remind the editor that bought your book who you are... again). Your book might have been bought as filler for a spot on the list, but nobody bothers to tell you -- in fact, they are hoping you don't realize it, because it brings up all sorts of uncomfortable questions that no one really has answers to. The agent you struggled so hard and so long to acquire might not be terribly interested in putting out a lot of effort on your behalf until you become a proven commodity -- something that takes excellent writing, an idea that grabs the reading community by its throat, perfect timing, years of building a readership, and a whole lotta luck. Your publisher might not show a lot of support until that same readership provides evidence of itself, which means you have a lot of work ahead of you trying to grab the attention of a lot of people who have no idea who you are or what you have to offer, because no one has ever heard of you or your book, let alone manage to come across it on bookstsore shelves, because the bookstore owners and buyers haven't heard of you, either. You have no say over the cover, little say over the title or back cover copy, little to no publicity unless you do it yourself, and to top off this bitter mouthful, you *will* at some point be asked to make changes to your story that you might or might not be comfortable with.

Still with me?

Take a deep breath, prospective author. I know you might have issues with control (most of us do), but I'm going to let you in on The Secret. You know, the one that you've KNOWN has been out there all along while you were struggling to learn your craft. The Secret that is whispered about on author loops, and shared in quiet corners at conferences.

Ready? Here it comes.

The only true control you will have is what you choose to put into the work. It's all about the work. Your writing, your voice, your characters, your world-building, your story. When your agent drops you because you're not moving up the ladder, when your royalties scarcely cover the groceries, let alone the heating bill on the house you can't afford, when publishers go out of business, or lines are let go, when the cargo train carrying copies of your book from east coast to west derails and bursts into flames, along with a large percentage of the first and only printing of your book (this actually happened, by the way), you will realize that you have absolutely no control over these very influential outside influences on your writing career. This will trouble you greatly. Try to ignore that little voice that insists you Must Retain Control At All Times. It isn't possible. Instead, devote the bulk of your energy to nurturing and learning and maturing at this career that is part craft, part art, and all you.

Protect. The. Work.

Guard it like a jealous dog with a particularly juicy bone. Don't let the negative voices of critics (whose numbers are truly astonishing, by the way) drag you down into the mire that is their world. They don't realize the amount of energy you put into your latest manuscript, how you struggled, how you bled. They only know that something about it did not work for them, but haven't the subjectivity to realize that their voice is only one in thousands. (With luck, hundreds of thousands. :) ) Don't play comparison games with other authors, whose careers are not the same as yours and never will be. (Just as you don't know the intricacies of their lives, you also don't know the intricacies of their careers, and the reality might not be as pretty as you might believe...) Don't waste energy on things that have no impact on your career, but can have a terribly detrimental impact on your ability to WRITE.

Protect. The. Work.

Learn to trust those people who are in your corner (agent, editor, marketing departments, publicity, etc.) to do their jobs. Do everything you can to help them do their jobs, but at the same time, realize that you have to be involved in your career, too. Learn as much as you can about the publishing business in all its glory. Ask questions, but be aware that some questions will not have immediate answers, and sometimes the answers aren't going to be ones that you will feel comfortable with. Plan out the way that you want your career to go, but be flexible. Read all of the wisdom from the W'Chicks as provided on the link above, and study it well... but always remember that the quality of Your Work is the real reason you're here.

Protect. The. Work. It cannot be said enough.

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}