Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

Retiring “Schizandra and the Gates of Mu”

After long consideration and the recent appearance of the external sign I requested for timing, I have decided to remove my first novel, “Schizandra and the Gates of Mu” from distribution. For the past couple years, I’ve wanted to de-list this book, since I wrote it for a pre-2012 audience, and so much has changed since its 2009 publication. Every time I thought to take it out of print, though, I received the word, “Wait.”

I finally sensed the time had come and requested validation, which came in the form of a new review which expresses my own feelings — that this book “is a product of its time.” So many of the fresh and imagined things I included have now become mainstream or even cliche. Although the novel still works on a mythological level, when I left California and my entire life behind, I also left behind the intended series. I honestly don’t know if or when I will return to those characters.

I have spent the past few months delving into how-to-write-fiction books, something I never did before writing “Schizandra and the Gates of Mu.” I do feel proud of it as a first novel; however, I also see clearly how I will shift my future storytelling. Synchronously, the retirement date, November 1, occurs on what would be Schizandra’s 30th birthday, as well as the date I will return to writing fiction after an 8-year hiatus that began while writing Book 2 of the Schizandra series. You can read the strange story behind that hiatus by clicking here.

All of which is to say, if you’ve ever wanted to purchase “Schizandra and the Gates of Mu” and still want to, then you have two more weeks to do so. In honor of her 30th birthday on November 1, 2017, Schizandra will enter retirement for the foreseeable future, just as her creator comes out of retirement.

 

Garden Update: The Good, The Bad, and the Undetermined

Despite last week’s heatwave into the mid-nineties, which we had not reached all Summer, signs of Autumn continue to reveal themselves. A cool breeze here, crunchy leaves there, along with more squirrel activity than I’ve seen since Spring.

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It’s also the start of Fall bulb planting season, and — since CPL (crazy plant lady) ordered those bulbs before what turned out to be a slightly dislocated rib causing all the neck and upper chest pain — I’ve got a lot of bulbs to plant. Not the 1,000 I planted Continue reading

Lyme Book Update

Some people have inquired about the collaborative healing Lyme Disease book project between Catherine Grace O’Connell and myself. Although we remain in contact, at the moment, it seems that life has sent each of us in different directions. When Catherine was ready to start working on the project in 2016, I needed to finish up several other projects; when I started writing the book in early 2017, Catherine’s other work ramped up so much that she couldn’t do any writing at that time. Then, David and I had the whirlwind of our house purchase, move out, and still ongoing relocation.

Around the time of our move, Catherine and I decided that we will support each other’s work and writing, but not write the book together, since we currently have very different foci. She started Continue reading

The Importance of Starhawk’s “City of Refuge”

As predicted, levels of intensity, exposure, and reactivity continue to increase, so we best learn how to deal with rapidly thinning veils. I’ve said for years that this is not a time for keeping secrets and hiding from your Shadow, as the energies no longer support codependency, collusion, treason, or sweeping things under the rug. They just don’t. I’m rarely surprised by “shocking” revelations, as I read people’s energy signatures and therefore notice the darkness amidst the light, the smudges, the shameful feelings, fear and Shadow boxing. We will see more and more of this as the veils continue to thin.The Hopi prophecies even predict people losing their minds due to enhanced abilities to “see.”

Best remedies?

As I have said for years, we must each address our own Shadow. Doing so takes tremendous courage and often results in internal and public shaming or rejection by friends, family, and society. Do it anyway. The energies do not support running from your own Shadow. It is far easier to address the Shadow from a place of quiet safety than to have a Tower Card situation force you to do so, but these times offer lightning strikes and paradigm shifts galore. As Carl Jung said, “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”

Learn to recognize your own responsibilities of giving away your own power, and learn how to reclaim any energies forcibly taken away from you –by whatever means provide strength and power to, not power over. The means of reclamation themselves usually demand engagement with your own Shadow. As within, so without. Walk the Middle Way of Atreyu. Sift through complex moral dilemmas and move beyond black and white thinking. Find your own firm moral compass in each situation by assessing your heart, intuition, facts and your awareness of others’ energy signatures. Freedom requires responsibility. Get used to it. There’s much, much more to come in terms of revelations.

And now, onto some recommended reading:

Starhawk has released a sequel to her highly prophetic novel, “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” which I’ve referenced many times on this blog, especially that novel’s exploration of El Mundo Bueno and El Mundo Malo. I still recommend reading “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” but the urgency of our times leads me to suggest her latest novel, “City of Refuge” even if you have not previously read “The Fifth Sacred Thing.” This new novel begins right where the earlier novel ends, and it deals with issues we are now — or will very soon be– facing as all the old structures ordering life and perspective crash and burn.

Specifically:

How do we convince people to walk away from their own enslavement if they have no concept of anything better?

How do we transition people from utter dependency into an empowered life if they’ve only known slavery, abuse, learned helplessness, and top-down control?

How do we integrate vast armies (real and metaphorical) of people “just following orders,” whether in the military, political “honey traps,” cults, torture chambers, or areas of life where these ways seem like “the only ways available”?

What do we do with people who have been so abused and broken that all they know is abuse?

How do we instill a positive sense of Self in people who have lost their own humanity through abuse, educational and media brainwashing, and/or collectivism?

How do we treat people who have failed — sometimes in spectacular ways — but who repent of those failings and attempt to make restitution?

What do we do with unrepentant psychopaths with every likelihood of repeated and increasing offenses?

How do we tell the difference between them?

How do we get real food into people who’ve only subsisted on chemicals, heavy metals, addictive BigPharma drugs, Frankenfoods and processed pseudo nutrients?

How do we fight for change against powerful, conscienceless forces without resorting to their level and methods?

How do we teach broken, abused people to lead themselves without ourselves becoming the next pop icon, guru, dictator, villain, or cult leader when the people we are helping project the only things they know onto us?

How do we step into leadership roles when that triggers our own need for Shadow Work, as well as others’ unresolved Shadows massively projected onto us?

What is truly compassionate, and how do we navigate hierarchies of compassion?

These questions and more run throughout Starhawk’s masterful “City of Refuge.” It’s a gritty, disturbing, yet redemptive book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough during these troubled times.

 

 

Laura Daligan ~ Wine & Wild Wisdom with Anna McKerrow

This is a fun and fascinating conversation between the ever lovely Laura Daligan and YA author of “Crow Moon,” Anna McKerrow, perfect as we creep closer to Halloween:

Schizandra Series Update and Instant Manifestation

“Remember, my friend, you must go down the road to know, it is as above as so below.”

Now that we’re approaching Spring 2010, many people have begun to inquire about Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar, Book 2 in the Schizandra Series. True, I had planned to finish it around this time, and no, my divorce and move to Chicago are not the reasons for the delay. I actually think writing Book 2 may have catalyzed these changes, rather than the other way around.

In September, artist Tania Marie and I went on a quest to Mendocino, feeling that we would find something there to help our creative endeavors. What we discovered were some ancient teachings on Runes and language coding through number, color, symbols, and association. I had intuitively used some of this in Schizandra and the Gates of Mu, but I began consciously coding Book 2, and it was moving along quickly with lots of subconscious stirrings. It felt mysterious, fast paced and fun. In short, I liked it, even upon first draft.

Then … I ran into a strange “problem.” I’m not sure if it was the Runes or synchronicity or what, but I began to notice that whatever I wrote about started to manifest instantly in my life. If I introduced a character with a certain birthday, for example, someone would immediately appear in my life with the same birthday. Cool, right? Sure, with birthdays it was cool, but fiction thrives on conflict. In order to keep a story moving, an author really needs to give his or her characters the worst case scenarios. I found that whatever conflicts I introduced in the story, no matter how bizarre, began to weave their way into my own life. At first I started attracting clients with those issues, but then the conflicts began exponentially manifesting in my personal experiences. People with the same names, birthdays, and challenges as my characters started appearing and interacting with me in the same ways as in the novel. Situations that I thought stretched the imagination in fiction began to appear as everyday occurrences in my “real” life. They would be slightly different, but recognizable as a reflection of whatever scenes I happened to be working on.

Those of you who’ve read Book 1 know that some strange events occur. Well, Book 2 is even stranger, and my life suddenly grew even more surreal than usual. Fiction and “reality” began to blend in ways I did not particularly enjoy. Whatever I created on the page started to become my life, and I don’t like conflict. I much prefer fun, calm, wholeness, and a sense of total connection to the Divine. Throw in some chocolate and I’m good to go. 😉

Fall 2009 did not feel good, despite copious amounts of raw cacao! I am incredibly grateful for all of the shifts and transmutations, but whoa Nellie! I needed to tighten my imagination’s reins a bit.

So … I decided to take a break from fiction and started painting instead. The same instant manifestation occurs with my painting; however, I paint from my heart and I paint whatever I love, so I find this process much more fulfilling and sustainable. If I can find a way to separate my creative efforts on the page from the creations in my life, I will complete Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar. I’ve worked so hard to reintegrate parts of myself that I’m not sure separation is on the agenda, but I’m open to the possibility. In the meantime, I find my art continues to deepen and offers a lot of joy and positive transformation both internally and externally. I have always been a big “manifestor,” but the intensity and speed of those manifestations with my creative projects have stunned me. I’ve spoken with other authors, even spiritually oriented ones and they agree that fiction is hard work, but I haven’t heard of anyone experiencing QUITE this same problem with their characters and conflicts bleeding into real life. I’m sure it does happen to some people; I just decided I didn’t like it happening to me. 🙂

Artwork, though? Loving it! I promise to post some of my more recent projects soon. I keep taking upside down photos with my BlackBerry, and my computer won’t let me reorient them. LOL, no matter which way I turn my BlackBerry, the photos come in upside down! Several people have pointed out the appropriateness of this as I feel like The Hanged Man from the Tarot, suspended upside down, pondering the Runes until I “get” them, hop down and fully claim their knowledge. I haven’t hopped down yet, though, and likely won’t until sometime in June if my lease and other synchronicities are any indication. Hopefully, I’ll get those photos up sooner than that, though!

In the meantime, yes, I am still offering coaching, intuitive, medical intuitive and Reiki sessions and classes. My extra meditative state these days seems to enhance the insights, so do feel free to contact me. I thoroughly enjoy connecting with and helping people, finding it a mutual blessing.

Namaste.

Finding Time to Write

I coach a fair amount of writers and would-be writers, and lately many have asked me how I found the time to write Schizandra and the Gates of Mu while running a busy coaching practice, blogging and creating The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. I thought I’d share some of my secrets here and also invite any aspiring writers to join me and some of my clients on a special challenge we created yesterday.

1 ) Find Your Most Productive Writing Time in the Day. For me and a lot of other people, that happens to be first thing in the morning. If I turn on the computer, open up Word, and leave my email off, I can write some good quality stuff at a faster pace than later in the day when distractions have begun to mount. It also helps me to have that connection with dream time, since I often dream of my characters or plot solutions. As the day wears on, those details lose their freshness, but first thing in the morning, they come out strong.

Some people just aren’t morning people, though. My husband writes best between 1 and 4 a.m., and I’ve had a number of clients who “thought” they should write in the morning because they read that some famous novelist got up really early to complete his draft. Unfortunately, for these clients, writing in the morning created more frustration than inspired writing. They needed massive amounts of coffee or cacao just to open their eyelids, and the words simply did not flow. Some of them had given up on writing altogether by the time they contacted me. When we discovered their most productive writing time, though, their writing began to flourish — even if that meant eating dinner an hour later or spending two hours on the computer before bed.

It doesn’t matter what other people do. If you’re trying to squeeze in writing time, then doesn’t it make sense to maximize that time as the most productive possible?

2 ) Decide What You Want to Write. No, you don’t need to know exactly how things will turn out. Few, if any, authors truly know that when they begin a project. But it definitely helps to have some idea of what you’d like to create, along with your most deeply desired timeline.

I got the idea for Schizandra and the Gates of Mu in October 2001. At the time, I thought it would be a short story, because I still couldn’t read after my 1998 brain injury. The story percolated in my mind as the brain damage healed.

By 2003, I realized it would be a novel, but I still hadn’t started it. In 2004, my husband and I spent two months in Sedona, and that’s when I really began writing Schizandra because I suddenly knew the story’s setting.

It was my dream to write a novel (OK, many novels), but from a goal standpoint, I sensed that was much further away. I decided to finish my non-fiction book If I Only Had a Brain Injury and just let Schizandra continue percolating. Because I felt clear on my writing priorities — finish the brain injury book, write some helpful articles, then work on the novel — I felt satisfied and fulfilled by the writing I produced.

Yesterday I spoke with two aspiring writers. Really, they are already writers; they’re just aspiring to finish and make something of their projects. Both struggle with finding time and discipline to write. We took some time in sessions to discover what would feel like an accomplishment in terms of weekly, monthly and seasonal writing. One wants to write a short story by summer’s end. The other wants to finish a book review, write an article and then get started on her own novel, which she would like completed by April 2010. By vocalizing those goals, both were able to step back from an amorphous “I need to write more” and see what they actually need to do.

When Stephen and I moved to Petaluma, CA in May 2008, we did so with the goal of me finishing Schizandra during our 13-month lease. I vocalized this goal every time someone asked me, “Why Petaluma? Why now? You really seem to love Sedona.” (We moved to Sedona again in October 2007 for my research.)

Why yes, I did love Sedona and still do, but I did not even open the Schizandra file the entire second time we lived there! In Petaluma, I couldn’t walk to two raw food restaurants, two juice bars, two natural food stores and three crystal shops/metaphysical bookstores. Nor do I drive, so I was pretty much stuck in our little condo with no excuses or distractions. My tummy was not the happiest camper, but, boy did I write! I figured I had 13 months to finish, and I uploaded the final draft to the printer literally the day before we left Petaluma!

3 ) Create Some Supportive Accountability. This can be from someone who totally believes in your writing gifts, a friend who thinks you’re a fantastic manifestor who gets everything you desire, a life coach, or a writing group/partner.

Having others know my novel goal helped keep me on track. I took a two month total break from Schizandra after I wrote The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. I figured I had earned this break and I might have just rested on my laurels a whole lot longer. I had a blog; I’d written two books. Come on, wasn’t I pushing myself a little too hard with this whole novel in a year thing?

I really owe Cecilia of http://www.rawglow.com for her big kick in the butt! We were walking one day and in the nicest way possible she mentioned how it amazing it was that I had made peace with not finishing Schizandra before our lease ended. “When do you think you’ll finish it? Two years? Three years from now? Isn’t it a series? How will that work with the 2012 theme?” I admit, I got a bit defensive — at least inside (Cecilia claims not to have noticed my reaction) — but her comments really got me thinking. The next day, I hauled myself out of bed at 4:30 a.m. and started writing. With the exception of Christmas week, I think I spent about 6-10 hours per day at least five days a week writing or editing Schizandra and the Gates of Mu until we moved.

Does everyone need to do that? Nope, but I really wanted that novel done in Petaluma.

4 ) Commit to Something. It need not be as ambitious or demanding as finishing a novel by 2010. Maybe you want to journal three times a week. Maybe you want to write five articles. Maybe you want a short story to show for your efforts.

Take that goal and break it down into tiny bites. What does it ultimately take to write? Um, some time spent writing. 🙂 So, commit to that. I’ve found for myself and coaching clients that it’s more effective to commit to something small and keep it than to commit to something huge and feel like a big loser for not meeting your obligation.

5 ) Don’t Edit While you Write. You will have a hard time flowing from your right brain if your left brain won’t stop criticizing your grammar, style and concepts. Leave the editing for an editing time and the writing for writing. They are vastly different processes, both important, but both better off kept apart, especially in the beginning. Especially if you have a history of writer’s block or getting discouraged with your early drafts.

Let the drafts come out. If you want to compromise, you can read books on writing in your free time so that your first drafts come out better and better. I particularly like Elements of Style and The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. If you know how to create good writing from the beginning, you’ll feel happier with your drafts.

Seriously, though, don’t edit while you’re inspired to get things onto paper or into the computer. The muse can be fickle. Honor her and celebrate when she graces you with her presence. She will visit more often!

6 ) Create Some Community. Writing can be lonely work, especially if it means 4 a.m. dates with the computer before heading to the gym or out to work. The idea that other people — somewhere — are also committing to their craft can help you feel a sense of community and joy. That’s one reason National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become so popular. Thousands of people set themselves the “impossible” task of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. Does everyone finish? No way! But they have fun doing it, and they get a heckuva lot more writing done than they would have on their own. The insanity of the quest creates bonds that last beyond the month, and many people participate year after year.

7 ) Get Creative. At least two of my clients and I have decided to apply the above principles in our own lives. We have each committed that on five days per week we will begin our days with thirty minutes of writing. One of those five thirty-minute periods can be for editing, but the other four must be straight writing. We can write for longer than thirty minutes, but we must commit to at least thirty minutes per day, five days per week, starting today. In our cases, that writing will occur first thing in the morning.

I meditate before I write and consider that part of my process, but today I hopped on the computer right afterwards and began this post. My personal goal is to finish the first draft of Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar by January. There, it’s public. Oh, Lordy, that will be quite the feat, but with the commitment I feel towards my clients and my readers and myself, I know it’s etched in my brain now as an intention.

So … are you an aspiring writer? Do you wish you had more time to write? Always wanted to release a cookbook? A novel? A memoir? Start a blog? You’re welcome to join us. At least three of us will be writing first thing in the morning for at least thirty minutes for five days per week. Whether you tell us your goals or not, we’ll be holding that space for you!

Cheers and Blessings,
Laura Bruno
http://www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com