Crown of Stars

When several stars align tightly in the night sky, astrologers call it a “crown of stars.” You can tell by the name it’s something good, right? A new Crown of Stars will gather in 2021 on February 11. This particular constellation of stars is made up of the sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. What happens? Energy opens and pours forth. Energy for new projects. Energy releasing you where you were blocked or stuck. Yeah, it’s a good thing. I don’t know about you, but my creativity has been super low key for awhile now. Everything I thought would happen, and everything I planned on doing…none of it got done in January.

This is how bad it got. I have several cherished habits: yoga, meditation, daily morning diary, weekly blog post, usually on Monday, and of course, writing the next book in my new series Jane in St. Pete. All these activities were not stopped by Covid, like lots of other things I love to do on a regular basis. I still practice yoga and meditate daily. We all know what our fun is and, for almost everybody, at least some of that has been put on hold. I love my friends, and it wasn’t great when the hugs stopped, but we adapted. We survived.

*Moment of silence for those who have passed.*

My creative life started to unwind, bit by bit, and I let it. I figured I’d see what happened when I ran out of rope. So I didn’t write in my morning journal every day. Al’s retired and we like to chat over coffee. Some days I still journal, but not every day. Next to go was my weekly blog post. That was hard to reconcile. At first I just thought I needed a break, but eventually I figured I was beginning a new phase. And today is the introduction to that, at least for blogging. Once a month is better for me than once a week. This from a woman who blogged every single day for ten years! And once a week for nine years. Yes, in 2021 I will have been blogging 19 years.

Why did I stop? It felt right. What filled the void? Old fashioned email. We came to Florida in mid-December so we got lots of forwarded Christmas cards in January. I’m taking my time, but if you sent me a Christmas card and it made it’s way to Florida, I’ll be emailing you, if I haven’t already. I miss my friends and the holidays were hard in that respect. Al and I invited my dad over and we had a feast. My son called and Dad got to see his new house (new to Dad anyway) and his great-grandchildren. My other son called December 26, but with their Christmas card, they’d enclosed several “real” beautiful Christmas photos, and I let Dad choose one of those.

And for a long time, email and working on the next book, plus Zooming and conference calls with my writing friends to share helpful thoughts on manuscripts in process (I call this “critique” — a hangover from my teaching days) was more than enough. I didn’t worry about the journal or the blog. I didn’t even fret about not opening Facebook all that often. My thought was “something will happen.” I hoped it’d be sooner rather than later, but I just didn’t know when. I let ideas bubble up and pop into oblivion. I didn’t lecture myself about getting back on track. I considered that perhaps just writing the novel was enough.

Then I read my forecast for February on Astrology Zone by the amazing Susan Miller, all about the crown of stars this month, (and in Aries a stellium: three or more transiting planets in tight mathematical degree) I realized what was next for me. I already mentioned it once, but I’ll say it again, because it is stunning in its simplicity: I’ll be blogging once a month now instead of weekly. Oh, and yes, I’m still practicing Canva.

So that’s my news and I hope this month’s Crown of Stars brings lovely new energy your way, too.

What’s Next?

The writers sit around a kitchen table. There are four of us and we take turns hosting. The host provides breakfast and then we get to work. We are all novelists and have been together for 7 or 8 years. In that time, all our members have published, most of us several times over. And as Bob remarked at Saturday mornings’ meeting, we’ve all become better writers in the process.

Luck played a part in the four of us coming together, because we each have different strengths. It’s helpful that we are two women and two men. Also helpful that our spouses all encourage us in our meetings. Indeed, Tom at one point was working long hours, didn’t have much time to write, and considered quitting the group. His wife would not allow it, telling him he needed us. We are grateful because we need him too.

We have a routine with the coffee and chat at 9 am, then breakfast, then work (we go through a chapter or scene received a week prior page by page). After we’ve finished the critiques, which include side discussions of plot or other big picture things, it’s noon or later. This past Saturday we got into a writerly conversation after the critiques. Basically we went around the table with the question “What’s next?”

When we started only Bob was retired, now everybody is except Tom. We write books, yes, but that’s our pleasure. We are doing what we couldn’t wait to get to. But things have changed through the years and we’re each facing new challenges. Vernie is on the last of her four book fantasy series and she’s near the end. Tom has begun a promising novella, but work stops him from writing as much as he’d like. Still, with each session, he moves the plot forward an inch. Bob is revising an old manuscript we’ve all read before, and I’m revising my St Pete novel. None of have any idea of what we’ll do next.

I know a few things. 2019 will be the last year I’m able to meet regularly with my group. In 2020, Al and I hope to spend six months in Florida and travel, too. We have two houses: one too big and one too small. So we’ll be looking to sell both and buy something just right.To my surprise, I am fine with ending my book writing career, if it proves too difficult to continue in this next chapter of real life. Writing a novel takes several hours a day for several months in a quiet place. I’m not sure I’ll have that when Al retires. He’s worked at the same place for 47 years, so retirement will be a big adjustment for him, too.

I’ve been writing novels for a long time too. Several practice novels and then the published ones. I feel like it’s okay to stop now. I’ve written my share of books. If I include my poetry chapbook and the writing manual, plus this novel I’m going to polish before Al retires, it will be an even dozen. I’m satisfied, ready to move onto the next chapter of my real life. I know writing will always be there, even novel writing, if I want it. I plan to keep blogging and the website will be here. I may write flash fiction and just publish on the website. That’s my idea for “what’s next?” right now.

Anything can happen, and it will. Life is an adventure. Everything I think I know, every plan I ever make, shifts in some ways before it ends. Adventures, like novels, are always unpredictable. That’s the fun of it all.

New Page “For Writers”

As you can see above, I’ve added a new page to the site. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and today I’m finally opening that page. Since I’ve started writing less about writing, I wanted to make sure writers seeking advice had somewhere to click.

♥ Writers, this is for you ♥

Having said that, I promise readers that I will post more fun extras on a regular basis for you. If you don’t write, and you don’t read my books, you’re probably a pal checking up on me to make sure I haven’t been buried under an avalanche of books. Not to worry! I’m alive and writing.

♥Readers, this is for you♥

A Gypsy tidbit I have not mentioned yet is why I chose that title. Talking with my BFF yesterday, I started telling her about a dream I had about Stevie Nicks. Don’t worry, I didn’t tell her the entire dream, as I know that dreams are only interesting to the person who has them. I get ticked off in novels if the author includes more than one dream. Okay, we know you want us to know something, but your character doesn’t know it yet, so she has a symbolic dream. Yawn. Anyway, I always loved Stevie, and even though the characters are Romany, I named the book Gypsy after her song.

The Mysterious Series

newnat

There’s been quite a bit of activity on the part of my unconscious self, and I’m thinking today is the day I am reining in all that ‘intuitive’ business. I have tasks needed done now, rather than spending my days chasing down just exactly what I am doing with this paranormal series called “Traveling Girls.”

Everything I do with these books is out of sequence, disorderly, not my usual MO while writing a novel. First, I started putting up scenes from Gypsy, the mother of the series, on my blog. Then for Christmas, I put the entire book on my website for free. Happy Holidays! Next, I  once again interrupted the book of my heart, just days from its being finished, to indie publish Gypsy I haven’t done a lot of promo, but expected I’d give Gypsy some free days on Kindle at some point.

Then a chance meeting with my Gypsy cover artist the other day resulted in me telling him about what I’d heard regarding New Adult series. (If Gypsy is the mother book, the traveling girls are her NA offspring.) One of the things I heard about NA series is that readers like the covers the same, not exactly, but similar enough to be recognizable. James* said “I have the perfect cover for you.”

I didn’t even have a name for the second book yet, although I had pulled the manuscript out of the deep file it was buried in. So James and I did a bit of brainstorming and between us figured out how to fit “Traveling Girls” into the cover. I found my perfect title. The image is stunning, but really, a cover before a properly edited story? I just didn’t want him to sell it to anyone else. Once he sells a cover, he takes it off his “buy” shelf.

So I decided it would be fun to put the cover up as a blog post. Ha! I have this thing, I don’t know why, but many, many of my photos get cut off when I transfer them from my pictures to Word Press. I tried so many fixes, and my lovely friend Bodicia offered to help as hours were going by and I was not getting the image right.

I tried a few more things and presto! I had my blog entry. Just the new cover shot with the new book title, but I loved it. The title was at the bottom instead of the top, but that’s fine. Then I noticed my sidebar was blank. Oh dear. I went ahead and tried to correct it but when all came to nothing, took Bodicia up on her offer to help. She restored my book images and links as well as some other stuff.

I do have plans for this series that mysteriously inserted itself into my conscious mind, front and center, at a not-so-great time. Maybe it’s good cosmic timing. You will be hearing more about this paranormal series soon, but for now, I’m keeping it under wraps until I can wind up that book of my heart that I finally finished.

*If you’d like to inquire further about James and his work: aepbookcovers@gmail.com