Friday, February 22, 2013

Shine a Light Through an Open Door

The heart of the world beats in the breast of every man. The door to the world is attached to the heart, and once opened it can never again be closed. The world is filled with a vibrant fabric of cultures and traditions that have survived the millennia. Through war and conflict, natural disasters, and the march of progress the fabric of culture is becoming tattered and frayed at the edges. Nonetheless, the original culture of man survives in its natural state. In spite of our differences, barriers, and lack of understanding the culture of love survives.

We all have our histories in the world from the beginning of our ancestral lines to this day in which we live. These histories overlap and intertwine with one another, attaching to the heart that beats ferociously in the universe. We work each day to survive in a world that seems to be overcome with greed, selfish desires, and the need to acquire and have more. The headlines scream of atrocities that the human mind can scarcely comprehend, as they have since the beginning of the written word. Yet, underneath it all, there is a steady beat that fills the human being, which cannot be vanquished even by the darkest of evils that have plagued the population of the Earth. It is the heart of the world. The heart that allows us, as one race, to overcome all that has been, and all that will be. It is said that Love conquers all, and I hold that as a truth in life.

I have spent the majority of my life in one place where the world had not entered in until the last of the twentieth century. It was when the world seeped into my existence that I was able to open my heart and shine a light through an open door. I began meeting more people from all over the world in my own backyard. Some of these people were only to be in my life for a short while, and others have become long-time friends. The secret to the world is held within ourselves. It is the ability to see another as a human being not unlike ourselves. It is the ability to give and receive love, which transcends all barriers.

Please visit the above video on youtube for links to Ven Tribe and other information regarding the makers of this video, which is the sole property of Lindsey Stirling.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Butterfly Phoenix Receives the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I was honored when my good friend and fellow author, Linda Lee Greene, informed me she was nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award! I was so blessed! Her novel, Guardians and Other Angels is available in eBook format and print on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Here are seven things about me that will help define who I am, and what I do best.

Seven things about me....
I was born in Boynton Beach, Florida, and moved to my mother's home state of North Dakota when I was a toddler. I was born a blue baby in the late 1960s, and this is where my story is somewhat interesting. My first doctor was a man who had narrowly escaped Cuba before the Bay of Pigs. He just happened to be in Miami and had specialized in a relatively experimental surgery in cardiology for infants.

I am the mother of three beautiful grown daughters, and grandma to two very special grandchildren.

I love culture and world history. Growing up on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota immersed in two story-telling cultures, Irish and Native American (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara), gave me the ability to appreciate and accept people for who they are.

I'm supposed to talk about an achievement in my life. However, I view my life itself as an achievement. I could have, and in all likelihood should have, died at birth, but I didn't. I grew up in a time of extreme conflict, fear, and violence and survived - not unscathed, but survived nonetheless. I endured eight years in a loveless relationship as the significant other of a man whose life became consumed by drug abuse and alcoholism. I championed a home to the best of my ability as a single-mother in a relatively conservative state. I graduated college twice while providing for my three daughters. I have overcome many obstacles and challenges in my life, and that is an achievement that cannot be dwarfed by any award or accolade I could ever receive.

I am currently working on "The Chrysalis Series", a fantasy trilogy set in the times of the Gael - although not a historical fiction series. The first book, "The Butterfly Fields," is near ready for release. However, I don't have a set date. The story follows two sisters, Elsie and Annalicia McCormick, as they both find their way through the wilderness of life in the hopes of finding the freedom, safety, and sanity they enjoyed in their youth.

I have my favorite organizations, and as many of my long-time readers know, those organizations are the ones who champion for the unwanted, uncared for, and unloved of the world. Diva Connection is one of those organizations, because they not only champion for women, they empower women of all ages and all walks of life to champion for others. The Jeremiah Program, because they help young single mothers build sustainable successful lives. And my national organization is GEMS, who advocate for and assist young women who are victims of sex and human trafficking. I have been a mentor mother for the Young Mothers Network of Cass and Clay Counties since 2009.

I am not currently serving on any boards or committees. I am a member of the American Legion Auxiliary - Arthur Solie Post, Parshall, North Dakota. I am a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. I served as a parent volunteer, and later as the Secretary of the Executive Bethel Council of Bethel 32, Moorhead, Minnesota, of the International Order of Jobs Daughters.

I would like to take this opportunity to nominate some of my friends who are bloggers that I feel have made a positive impact on my life. I hope that you will go visit their blogs and leave a comment. In alphabetical order, they are:
Arlene O'Neil - Although she is not a blogger, she's still very inspiring, so buy her book Broken Spokes, you won't regret it.
Sarah L. Wallace at Cross Roads of Humanity
Wendy and Charles Seifken at Seifken Publications

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blessed are the Children of the Bookworm

Reading was a big deal in our family when I was growing up. It wasn't just reading for the sake of completing book reports at school. It was reading for the simple idea of it. In every household of the family there were stacks of books, all of which had been read by one or more family members. The adult women of the family would share books back and forth, trading their favorite authors like commodities in the grain market. The value of each author would rise and fall with the collective opinion of the readers. The adult men would read their books in solitude and generally keep their opinions to themselves. My grandfather's favorite was Louis L'Amour and other western authors. Both of my uncles are avid readers as well. My cousins, both of my sisters, me, and even my brother read.

I remember my mother read to me and my next oldest sister every chance she had. It is one of my favorite childhood memories. My two favorite stories she had read to us were Stuart Little and The Velveteen Rabbit. My sister and I shared a room across the hall from our mother's room. After all of us kids were in bed, my mom would spend at least a half an hour reading, sometimes longer if the story was particularly good before she went to sleep at night.

Albert Einstein is quoted as "If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Children need to be encouraged to read. Studies show that children who are read to while still in the formative years have an easier time in school, a larger vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and the ability to reason and imagine. Children who are read to and grow into independent readers also become better decision makers as they are not easily persuaded by the opinions of others.

I want to share with you today a few resources on children and reading:

The Pew Report: "Younger Americans' Reading and Library Habits" published in October 2012.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Free books for young children and more. I signed up both of my grandchildren for this program, and they each received a free age appropriate book every month. 

The Global Fund for Children: Books for Kids project. The GFC project donates children's books to community-based literacy programs.

It is my hope in these days of visual entertainment, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all who are involved in the lives of children will pass on the importance of reading the written word to the children of the world; the future of our world.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dreaming Big in the Big Dream Blog Hop

In early January, Cody L. Martin, author of The Adventure Hunters, asked me to participate in an intriguing blog hop, entitled: The Big Dream Blog Hop, the purpose being to dream big about your project, and letting your readers know what those dreams might be. I agreed to participate, because all great achievements begin with a single dream, right?


The Big Dream Blog Hop:

(Cody L. Martin)Writing is largely solitary, and sometimes a lonely endeavor. Sure, you talk to friends, experts for research, discuss what works and what doesn't with your editor, and bounce ideas off of fellow writers. But in the end it's one person pounding the keyboard or twirling the pencil. But what if it didn't have to be completely alone? Who would YOU work with if you could work with anyone on your favorite project?

In this post, that's what I'm asking. Choose a person for each category and tell why you want to work with them. If you want, feel free to post their picture, a piece of their work, or a link to something about them. The only rule is that the person must still be alive.

Writers dream. Now it's time to dream BIG.

You have the opportunity to hire anybody as your cover artist. If you write children's books or books that are heavily illustrated, who would you get for the interior artwork?

That's an easy one. Elena Dudina would do all the art work for "The Butterfly Fields" and the other two books in "The Chrysalis Series." Hands down she is the best and only choice.

Who would you co-write your next novel with? What genre? Why?

If I could write with anyone at all, I would choose Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Neverwhere, among others. The man is a genius, and a master story-teller. He is also a relentless propagator of the metaphor, like me. I'm afraid he would often refer to me as grasshopper or little spider or something along those lines. It would be in the fantasy genre. His sense of knowing when to insert comic relief would also be invaluable. 

Your publisher wants to do an audiobook version of your novel and they're not sparing any expense. Who do you think can narrate your masterpiece?

Sadly, I don't generally buy or listen to audiobooks, so choosing someone is difficult. However, to answer the question, I would choose Adele. She has a vocal range that would nicely accommodate the story of "The Butterfly Fields." She knows her way around a recording studio, and I think she would be fun to work with on the project.  

They're really going all out! Your novel is getting a full soundtrack. Who should compose it? If your novel uses a lot of songs, list your compilation here.

I love music, but I know very little, actually nothing, about composing. However, I listen to a lot of music while writing. There are many artists who come to mind while reflecting back on the writing of "The Butterfly Fields." If I had to list those I would like to have in the soundtrack, these would be them:

Aoife Ní Fhearraigh - one of the most beautiful Irish Gaelic voices I have ever had the privilege and pleasure to hear. Younger readers may know her song, "The Best is Yet to Come" featured in the PlayStation 2 game, Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 4 in the PlayStation 3 game. However I would choose her song, Mo Ghra-Sa Mo Dhia as it is so beautiful and fits the plot of the story.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - I love Mary Chapin Carpenter's folk songs. The depth of the emotion involved in her songs reveals the very inner soul of the singer. The song for "The Butterfly Fields" would be Closer and Closer Apart. Although the song is about lovers, it also can be applied to the situation between the sisters, Elsie and Annalicia.

Albannach - "The Butterfly Fields" is written in reflection of the times of the Gaels, although it is not a historical fiction novel. Albannach is a Scots-Gaelic performing group of drums, pipes and other traditional instruments of the times. They have a song that works well in the story during the time of preparation for battle, The Fire and Thunder of Scotland.

Clann An Drumma - As with Albannach, Clann An Drumma rocks the drums, pipes and other traditional instruments of the times of the Gael. Like many other tribal cultures of the world, the Gael used drumming and dance as a means to prepare themselves, in all aspects to go to war. The Gael is comprised of three of the six recognized nations of the Celts: Irish, Scots, and Manx. The dynamics, legends and lore of the Gael plays a significant role in "The Butterfly Fields."

Viktoria Tocca - Although her rendition of The Dark Waltz (Phantom of the Opera) is vampire based, she sings the song beautifully. I can't say much about this part of "The Butterfly Fields" as it would be a spoiler to the story. We mustn't disappoint our readers before they've had a chance to begin the journey into "The Butterfly Fields."

Enigma - I have loved this group for years. Their music speaks truths into the world that otherwise would not be heard. The Age of Loneliness speaks volumes to the loneliness of the soul of Annalicia in "The Butterfly Fields."

I could go on and on with lists of performers I would like to see on the soundtrack for "The Butterfly Fields", but there is not enough room in this post.

Congratulations! Your novel is being turned into a major motion picture. As the creator of the original work, you get to pick the director.

The Butterfly Fields is a work that could only align with the vision and insight of Polish film director, Agnieszka Holland. Not only is she a director, she is also an author, which I feel gives her a greater ability to envision what "The Butterfly Fields" really are, and portray it as such.

Agnieszka Holland is a Hollywood outsider, as far as director's go, which in my book says that "The Butterfly Fields" would be fresh and new on the screen.

The director has some ideas on who to cast, but you get to cast one character. What role/character is it and who portrays them?

There are no other options. The role of Seanmháthair, a pivotal character in "The Butterfly Fields", must be played by no one other than Dame Maggie Smith. One would think this decision is based on her acclaimed performance as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, but no. I love British films and one of my all-time favorites is The Secret Garden (1993) where Dame Maggie Smith plays the role of Mrs. Medlock.

Dame Maggie Smith has the best ability to portray Seanmháthair as the character is complex and requires someone who can pull off a traditional grandmother role, a strong grand matriarch, and yet someone who surprises even the most astute reader / viewer.

You've been hired to write a novel based on a preexisting character or franchise from another medium. Which character or franchise is it?

I love a challenge. I love complex people who confound and astound the masses with their antics. Yet, at the same time wear their emotions on their sleeve in broad daylight even though the world may not recognize it. I would love to write a novel on the life and times of Eminem. You didn't see that coming did you? Although Eminem is considered a 'person', in reality "Eminem" is the public persona or character played out in live action for the masses. Eminem is the alter-ego of Marshall Mathers III. Eminem is a man who is definitely Not Afraid. (Video not family friendly due to language)

It's the anniversary of your favorite literary character's debut. You've been hired (yay, work!) to write an anniversary novel. Who is the literary character?

The Velveteen Rabbit. This was one of my all-time favorite stories as a little girl.

Be sure to check out Charles and Wendy Siefken's blog tomorrow as "The Big Dream Blog Hop" continues. Charles and Wendy Siefken are the co-authors of Kia's Journey.