Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shaman Circus edits completed!

Finished the Shaman Circus edits and emailed the clean manuscript back to Deb at Alll Things That Matter Press yesterday.
Meanwhile Shadow Archer Press is picking up with Christmas sales, so in between the holiday celebrations, garden work, the new part time job and writing, I'm constantly printing books.
As Shaman Circus moves onto the mock-up stage, I'm writing chapter 15 of Fireworks: Interference Equation but also have this thought in the back of my mind that I should finish and start the rewrite process on Shaman in Exile, while the Shaman Circus book is still in my head. It's odd. We've even discussed this at our writers' meetings, how one character will grab us and not let go.
Jacob snatched Shaman Circus away from Alex, and now Merri is threatening to do the same thing to Sean in Fireworks. A writer relates to each character differently for various reasons. So it's a juggling act to give each one the "page time" they deserve where they can say or do what they need to.
While I do write poetry by hand most times in a notebook, I write novels on my computer. I write quickly and need the advantage of a keyboard. And while I live close to downtown Greenville, I look out on trees, part of the roof of the house next door and a quaint shed from one window and from another look out on my back garden with it's azaleas, camellias, wisteria and flowers as well as my pecan and mulberry trees and an Ent. It's peaceful and always changing.
At the time I wrote Shaman Circus, I worked as a barista at Quarter Moon Cofffee and The Villge Cup, one of the best jobs I ever had. Fun, yet hectic. I was also working part time in the office for a company that served legal papers. I was also painting a good bit, oils mostly and getting involved in the local art scene when it was rapidly growing into one of the main cultural attractions of our city.
At this same time I managed the art gallery at the airport and met lots of artists and was exposed to many types of art. My life was built around work, weekly writing meetings of the Reedy River Rats Guerilla Writing Group, the occasional cooncert if one of my friends were playing, and art openings and even had a few of my own shows, one of which appears in the book. In fact, many of the events in Shaman Circus are based on my real life experiences, while other events were triggered by the headlines in the Times Picuayne after Katrina. I also followed a number of blogs about how survivors were coping.
I'm a huge fan of mythology and alchemy and was a professional astrologer for many years, so many of those influences are interwoven through the plot.
I didn't watch TV while writing Shaman Circus but did enjoy movies. Vanilla Sky, the Serpent's Kiss, Brotherhood of the Wolf were pivotal movies for me at the time. I was reading a lot on alchemy and writing a lot of poetry on the subject, reading The Magus by John Fowles, as well as the Aristos, his book on philosophy, Daniel Martin and Fowles' journals. I'm a sucker for biographies of writers and especially their journals and letters. (Rading Kerouac's and Anais Nin's journals in tandem at the moment along with the rare & wonderful little photographic supplement to aAnais' diaries that j michael niotta gave me.)
Two of the Reedy River Rats, Chris and Brian, are heavily into philosphy so they peaked my interest and for the first time in my life, I started studying philosophy, reading books they suggested, asking questions. There's a lot more philosophy in the second Shaman book, since it takes me a while ti digest all the various ways of looking at humanity, the world, our purpose for being here - all the usual questions. I tend towards the existentialists but am known to flirt with the ideas of other philosophers, as well.
I use a lot of bird omens in my writing both fiction and poetry. So they show up in Shaman Circus as well. I use astrology often, and the Morgan Grier Tarot a good bit as kick-off points for the angles I want to take on a chapter or in character development. These are tools I used for years and find they're great at opening doors to the subconscious where I beleive all our best writing comes from. Like Jung, I fell the subconscious is a storehouse of evry single thing we've ever encountered, even some we barely noticed at the time. And once we let the subconscious percolate on an idea, it will pull together things we would never think of on a conscious level, simply because we don't have time while dealing with the facts and actions we must encounter during day to day life.
That's why, when I say a "passage wrote itself" I'm speaking of when my subconscious pulled it all together while I worked in the garden, cooked, or was involved in some other project. And when I came to sit at the computer, if I was open enough, thanks to visual stimulation, i.e. art or the tarot, aural stimulation with music or even taste stimulation with savored flavors such as a glass of Muscadine wine, a very robust coffee from Leopard Forest or West End Coffee or Ancient Pleasures from Chocolate Fetish - handmade chocolates laced and dusted with cayenne pepper in the ancient Mayan tradition
Back to writing Fireworks: Interference Equation. Here's the music I'm listening to as I write: Din of Theves
and The Embalmers
and In a Lonely Place

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shaman Circus edits and influences!

First Installment

Just received the copy edited version of Shaman Circus from Deb, the editor at All Things That Matter Press. I was really relieved when I opened the file and the edits were not extensive, mostly punctuation, a little grammar, and thankfully she caught three contiintuity issues, I totally missed. Handled one with an addition of a few lines to one chapter but will have to rewrite part of another. And then will be done on this phase. So now we move forward one more big giant step. I'm very excited and not as nervous as I was waiting for the edits because I feared some large rewrites. You never know.

I still can't believe it's happening sometimes. A dream I've had for more than 20 years to see a first novel published. But I delayed. Started four novels and never finished them over the years until Shaman Circus wrote itself in less than a year in from October of 2005-to May of 2006. This speed and dedication was thanks to my writer's group and our serious dedication to being frank but always offering suggestions, along with critiques. I never would have completed a novel without this constant weekly support and honesty.

Other influences came from music. Jacob's character became part of Scotty T's rendition of Baron Samedi when he was involved in voudou ritual. When Jacob is in rock singer mode, he's based on the lead singer of 10 Years, (Tennessee) Jesse Hasek.
I got hooked on this band in the parking lot of the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport. The song came on the radio when I was ready to get out of the car and I ended up late at my job as barrister at The Quarter Moon Coffee Shop on the top level of the airport. I had never heard anything like it and had to listen all the way through hoping they would say who the song and band was so I could grab the CD. I was lucky. They did. "Waasteland" On their tour to support the album, 1o years played at The Handlebar here and my friend, Donna, and I went to see them and I was blown away by the lead singer's passion for music and the intonations and emotionality of his voice and his crazy all-over-the-stage-amps-everywhere antics.
I found listening to music helped me a great deal and certain CD's related to the characters, 10 Years, "The Autumn Effect" related to Jacob LaQuerre, the protagonist, while Flyleaf the Middle Eastern flavored music of Niyaz related to Lily (who is an American Tribal dancer influenced by Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Turkish folk dancing). Shrine and(sometimes Flyleaf) also inspired Mavis, who is based on my good friend, Wendy Swearingin (auhor and artist) and author, Brian K. Ladd's character, Candy Cane, in his novel, Trimalchio's Couch.

The kick start of the book was a poetry reading/music show held at Coffee Underground, by Wit's End poetry. It was the first time I saw Scotty T. and The Disease perform.

It was the night before Halloween and they were all in costume and Scotty was Baron Samedi (although I didn't know who that was at the time, I just figured it was a personage from Voudou culture.) And I was so mesmerized by the whole five senses experience I had to write it down. It ended up as the first pivotal chapter in the book from the main antagonist's point of view. I was also reading Nick Tosches, "In the Hand of Dante" at the same time and this gave me the freedom to be radical. At a later time, Nick would play a pivotal role in Fissure and in my gutsiness as a writer. We e-mailed back and forth for a while and he sent me a poem to publish in fissure #2. But it was when he wrote "be a leopard." I got even more gutsy with pushing the envelope in Greenville and beyond with my small press, Shadow Archer Press.

Also at the time, I was painting madly and had already painted Lily in a couple of different forms. so she was already formulated in my mind as a figure, for figure painting, although not yet as a character. And the Shaman popped up in a painting I did of New Orleans.

Other inspirations came from visiting the local art galleries, reading lots of anthropological books on shamans in every culture, constantly haunting the blogs of authors, Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin Kiernan for writing and publishing pointers or criticisms. Reading everything I could on Katrina and especially seeing the damage first hand in New Orleans afterwards.
This was after the novel was actually written, but the experience came into use during the extensive rewriting and revisions from 2006-2009, while I wrote the sequel, Shaman in Exile, at the same time. New chapters were added, some chapters totally cut, other portions totally rewritten.
I tend to write a very fast and sloppy first draft to get the plot and dialogue down, then do extensive rewrites. It's not how most writers like to work, since the revision process is torture, but I'm ADHD and this process works much better for me. I like to see results and will work more diligently when I do. I'm old enough to be old school and wrote my first unfinished novels on a typewriter so got used to seeing that stack of pages on the side of my huge turn-of-the century walnut table. Seeing the page count on a computer is not nearly as satisfying. But typing on a computer where white out and an eraser ribbon are unnecessary is easier. Maybe I never finished those first four novels because I ended up spending a forutne on paper and typewriter ribbons and retyrped every page many times.
more to come later - must go back to finishing the final edits
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