Women’s Friendship

I got an email from my editor this morning, along with the edited version of my Magic Bean Café manuscript. She briefly touched on some feedback from an “expert” in her field about women’s friendships in romance fiction. She referred to them as non-conflict tea parties in Pleasantville.

I disagree. (It’s not surprising to those who know me that I rebel against expert opinion.)

Today, women are raising their voices. They are coming together in solidarity to expose sexual exploitation, unequal pay and are fighting for women’s rights. A lone voice is lost in a desert but a phalanx becomes a fighting force.  It took ninety women to take Harvey Weinstein down. Ninety. Women not only have to fight against the tide, they have to do it in numbers. Thankfully, the word defeat is losing its efficacy.

The women in my series, Everyday Goddesses, are not living in Pleasantville. Okay, they live in Eden, but if you remember there was a lot of conflict there including Adam, Eve, the apple, snake and tree.

My goddesses prove the conflict theory. They each face difficult choices, growth, setbacks, sadness, bliss, have their individual flaws and strengths. They don’t sit around sipping tea, even though the main watering hole is a coffee shop. They encourage and support each other, sometimes enable, at other times provide the impetus for change. As one of them says, “We fix one another’s crowns without letting the world know it’s crooked.” Hopefully, we all have at least one of these kinds of friends. To have a tribe is a blessing.

My first exposure to this kind of tribal relationship was Anita Diamont’s, “The Red Tent”. It made an indelible impression that lingers twenty years later. I loved “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, a tale about friendships, with a little magic thrown in.

I’ve created mirrors, each character reflecting the many aspects of the Divine Feminine, which I’ve written about before. Bountiful, earthy, intellectual, airy, fiery, emotional, logical, and passionate. Maiden, mother, crone and queen. Definitely multi-layered, covering the wide spectrum of human emotion.

To call their rituals tea parties is offensive. To say they live in Pleasantville is inaccurate. They are kick ass warriors, working to make the world a better place, who need a little TLC to get through the fight. That they find that within their group is inspiring.

Men have referred to their bond as a band of brothers. Women can have the same kind of bond with each other. I call it the Sisterhood of Kindred Spirits.

I love writing their stories. In fact, I’ve created something similar with my Fire and Ice series. If you’re in the mood, please give them a try.

Tuesday Thoughts

Seems I’ve gotten into a routine of sorts. Tuesdays have become blog days. Easy enough, since I travel to KJ’s for a coffee and breakfast sandwich. Tuesdays have always been  one of those lost days of the week, when I know that little will get done. Today one of the dogs has a vet appt and I’m getting my hair trimmed. Rather than try to visualize a storyline and get it down, in between the in’s and out’s, it’s easier to just spend an hour or so connecting with anyone willing to read the post.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about the romance novel. It’s one the classifications I check-off when submitting my work for publication. Some days I wonder why because in my mind my books are contemporary women’s lit with a little romance thrown in. When it comes down to it, my storylines follow the two basic tenets required: it’s a central love story with an emotionally satisfying ending.

But, in my opinion, they’re so much more.

I like a story, with strong characters, a good plot, human nature revealed in a variety of ways. A confectionary dusting of romance is welcome, because, well, love is an emotion everyone can relate to. My first editor taught me a lot, but she was way too into sex scenes. She always thought more was better. We disagreed. She no longer reads my stuff or gives counsel. My new editor gets me. I prefer the romance, nuanced, building over time, and yes peaking in a scene or two, but not taking over the whole story. I go more for a story about personalities, characters with flaws, who have things to learn or recover from. Deep, layered characters, who come alive on the page. Constructing these kinds of characters is one of the things I love about writing. I read biographies, in order to understand what motivates people, how certain individuals cope with trial and tribulation, to get to know real people who’ve persisted and triumphed. I use what I learned in my psychology courses, (and all the articles I read in my subscription to Psychology Today) to create a core need, and find a way for the character to heal.

Like I said, so much more. I love digging in, learning something new, helping someone navigate life, even if it’s only on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

The Goddess Arising

As mentioned, I’ve created a series that speaks to Goddess, and the many aspects we can find of hers, within each of us.

My first book in the Everyday Goddesses series is Magic Bean Café. The manuscript is going to my editor next Monday and it usually takes a month to get it to print. So we’re close.

I thought it important to introduce my female character Rhea in all her goddess glory.

Who exactly is this mother goddess and what should we learn from her?

A little mythological history is in order.

In the beginning… there was Chaos. Out of Chaos came Gaea and Tartarus, and Eros. Gaea mated with Uranus, the first patriarchal figure in Greek myth but he grew resentful of his children and buried them all inside the body of his mate. It caused Gaea no shortage of  pain and anguish and the only child willing to help her was her son Cronus. He killed his father and took on the mantle of the most powerful male god. He mated with Rhea and from their union came the first generation of Olympians. Repeating the past sin of the father, Cronus became convinced his children would usurp him so he swallowed them whole as they were born. Rhea was able to trick him during her last pregnancy and Zeus grew to overthrow his father to reign supreme.

Rhea is an ancient mother goddess and queen of the Titans, a gentle creature but a formidable guardian and opponent. Known as Mother Time, she wielded the sickle of the moon until Father time appropriated it. (Go figure)

Rhea Cronun, of Magic Bean, represents the mother aspect of goddess. Born under an earth sign, she is connected to the foundational energy of Gaea and her namesake. She also symbolizes the sacred marriage, between the polarities of masculine and feminine. A birther of life, yet capable of strategizing a coup. She perseveres through austere times, pain and struggle, and not only survives but ultimately flourishes. She personifies fertility, creation, and the bounty of the earth, all the things that the café represents.

Rhea- mother, entrepreneur, baker, nourisher, guardian, protector, friend.

How many of these facets live inside of you?

 

 

Interesting

How I keep bumping into the Divine Feminine lately.

I had an appointment at Circle of Wisdom’s, a metaphysical bookstore I’ve been frequenting since the 80’s, 90’s? It’s been a long time. While I waited, I browsed, found a couple of books that interested me and brought them up to the counter for purchase. The staff member commented that one of them was her personal favorite and that she taught a course on the sacred feminine through the goddesses, Quan Yin, Lakshmi, Isis. My antenna went up. I found it interesting she was teaching material I was attempting to incorporate into my writing. Where she used the mythological archetypes, I was expressing those aspects through the actions of everyday women. And men.

I was there because a friend of mine had a reading there that had given her some good information so I figured I’d give her an opportunity to wow me. It was an interesting meeting. We moved through the basics, daggers suggesting struggles, business opportunities, my writing life, and she pretty much confirmed where I’d been and where I was going. She suggested I host a book reading, and after a pause, asked, “were you a teacher?” When I responded in the affirmative, she said that I should be teaching the Divine Feminine to others because I understand its meaning, and I live it. And the course shouldn’t be open only to women, but to men as well. Very few understand the true meaning of the energy force and how important it is to humanity. Is has nothing to do with gender or sex. It has to do with balancing the feminine and masculine within us. And we all have both aspects, expressing the one we need given the situation. We can nurture, as mother or father, we can reason whether man or woman. Logic, focus, action-oriented are masculine energies. Intuition, empathy and receptiveness are feminine. They are energies, not specific traits assigned to gender. They live within all of us. If we utilize only one of these powerful forces, we become unbalanced in our approach to life, desensitized to human suffering, and fixed in a mindset that is neither collaborative or reflective. If society expresses one to the exclusion of the other, stability is compromised, and humanity tumbles into an abyss. We seem to be on that precipice today. Maybe that’s why it’s imperative the Divine Feminine within be honored again. It has been buried, ignored or outright refuted but it is an intricate part of who we are. Life, both realistically and metaphorically, cannot be created without the communion of both forces.

My visit to Circles got me thinking about the synchronicity here. If there were signs pointing me in the right direction, I had come upon two of them. My new series was thought out, planned, strategized and put into play late last year. And it encompasses the energies, elements, archetypes, and contrasts that exist within all of us. Everyday Goddesses. Goddesses every day.

It’s not so much the year of the woman, but the year where we need to seek out and assimilate that which she represents. My purpose, in writing my series, is to make this clear. I know it will make us a kinder, gentler nation.

Getting to know your characters

I’ve been writing away on the third book of my Everyday Goddesses series and pealing away at the layers of my character, Minerva Holt, judge.

When you begin a story, you always have a sense of who you’re working with. You’ve already written a back story, know where she came from, what her passion is , who her friends are, her strengths and weaknesses, a wound or two, and what stunts her growth. In this series, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m incorporating goddess through symbols, elements, and aspects. It means I have to configure the personality to include a variety of traits. Minerva is air, mental, intelligent, but she’s also from the south which means she’s full of charm, stylish, feminine. At times they are at odds with each other but it helps me create depth. There’s nothing worse than a two dimensional character.

With every chapter, with every layer peeled away, I’m finding out something new about Minerva. Sometimes it’s in direct contrast to what she’s already revealed in an earlier chapter. The challenge is trying to merge them into one complete whole. How can a daughter who’s a daddy’s girl with the need to please, be a stringent voice for justice, even when it goes against the consensus? How can a woman who never leaves the house without her face be confident in who she is at the core of her being. How can a woman who doesn’t like to rock the boat, who loves harmony and symmetry, strike at the very heart of the judicial system if it suits her purpose. How can a woman who doesn’t do change well, change her colors seamlessly like a chameleon when the situation requires it.

This complexity makes for an interesting person, but it makes it more difficult for the writer who must shift from one paradigm to another. I’ve had to go back and start the book again and again to re-align things with Minnie’s surprise revelations. Didn’t her mother want her to stay home and raise a family? Then why did she champion Min’s law career after her marriage failed? Didn’t Minnie leave the south behind, in search of independence, when she moved to Eden? Then why does she let her father’s expectations still control parts of her life?

Humans are complicated specimens. Just because a character lives between the covers of a book doesn’t mean she can be made of cardboard, flat, without essence.

The writer’s job is to make their characters real. It’s one of the most difficult things to do but also the most fun. I’m looking forward to a few more months of it.

After much thought and re-reading some of Sark’s work, I’m thinking of calling this one Bodacious Choices.

What do y’all think?