Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Today's Idea: Feminism

I want to complain. I have been advocating for women's equality all my life, and today I needed to start all over again. True, I had the too-early-morning crankiness. Still 3 things hit me wrong before lunch.

First, I read a post on sacred sex by David Deida which set me off. He said women begin their journey with their through a focus on beauty. Men approach from the meaning of their lives. I cleaned it up. His statement was

"The feminine sexual essence identifies with the love-light of being ("How do I look? Am I loved and loving?") and the masculine with the freedom of being ("What is my purpose? Am I successful and free?"). Spiritual growth, for women and men, is about growing from superficial to deeper levels of these identities."

Really? Women begin with the concern about appearance and men with an eye to freedom? Is that some kind of excuse for bad behavior on both parts?  What about little girls who revel in the joy of movement and play? Who love roaming free? What about little boys who love their mommys and daddys and sacrifice their last dime to help them out? What about teenagers who hook up too early because they fear freedom? What about the vanity of a boy with a zit in the middle of the forehead? These are not sex linked characteristics. They are cultural.

Oh he meant the sexual essence. Nah. no difference. Both sexes want to know if they look stunning without their clothes, especially when they are young. They also resist control and limits, though women soon learn to accept them out of necessity. They we have the opportunity to unlearn that acceptance. Our souls have male and female essence combined in them because they are the eternal us. Our real journey to oneness is a balanced walk of the many genders humans express.

Deida did say those statements were a person's starting points and that we all seek to evolve into oneness. Not very much consolation there for me. If a woman does not find her purpose in life, stretch her wings in pure freedom to be who she is, she isn't likely to seek oneness as an equal. As a friend of mine said when we began writing our community's book on Sacred Sex, when the two become one, which one? The male. that's why women give up their names more times than not. They also take on a different identity--his.

That identity and naming issue is more complicated than I can address here. You might want to check out what I wrote in Identity and the Quartered Circle.  This blog is a rant about feminism, not identity. On to point 2.

Going along in the car, my partner had a country station on the radio. Because he was on the way to the doctor and in a lot of pain, I acquiesced. The rhythms and harmonies aren't so bad if you can get passed the fake southern accents.  And the lyrics. I lost count of how many guys were singing songs to women leaving them in order to score one last lay. What part about "I never want to see you again" means "Let's go to bed?" What are they thinking? That they are so skilled in the sack the women will readily see the error of their ways and stay put? Or maybe they intend to prick a hole in the condom and get her pregnant? The songs sound so poignant and sweet. He wants something to remember me by! Just be sure he doesn't take pictures. My teeth were on edge.

Then I heard a series of  radio the ads for some skin cleansing program by Danica Patrick, race car driver . The script trivialized this powerful woman as she pretended the mechanics were talking to her about her skin instead of her car.  She came across like a female ditz that somehow happened to fall into a lucky opportunity to race fast cars. I am sure she was well paid to sound like an idiot. I hope she understood what the boys were doing.  She is pretty smart. She probably decided to laugh all the way to the bank.  On the other hand, those commercials reinforce the stereotypes about women not being competitive because...well why? Oh because women begin their journey by focusing on their beauty. Do the ad gurus on country stations read Deida? I doubt that. This stereotype is so ingrained in our culture, we get stuck with it all the way from red necks to tantic gurus who ought to know better.

End of rant. Except to say, when I commented on the Patrick ad to Eric, he didn't see it as demeaning. Maybe he was in too much pain to pay attention. Ya think?


Monday, September 30, 2013

Free e-book Cawing Crows and Baying Hounds

Pagan Writer's Press is having contests to give away 3 free copies of each title in the For the Love of the Gods series. That includes my novella Cawing Crows and Baying Hounds.  As you may know, this story is snipped from an as yet to be published novel, so get the short and encourage the long!  It is a hot sexy tale that tangles the Gods in the sheets along with the young lovers. There is mystery and history, and a woman saves the day!  Something for everyone. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Circles and Hoops of Willow

Earlier this week 5 of us from the Web PATH Center met on our front porch and created a willow goddess-green lady figure for our ritual use in the coming Full Moon. She is a table top version of the larger-than-life Goddesses in the Temple in Glastonbury. I have wanted to do this for years! Imagine how delighted I was.  We had no pattern nor directions, but followed our Web dictum, "Just do it!" Personally I think she is lovely.

As we sat there working with the green willow branches, drawing them into hoops as the wood gave us permission to bend and form it, one of us said "We are making ensos!" Galadriel is was right! As an alumni of Wicca IV she was there when we made and meditated on painted circles.  That enso lesson is repeated in my book Identity and the Quartered Circle (which you should read if you haven't already.) Here is an excerpt from Identity and the Quartered Circle that tells you what Galadriel meant.

Enso: The Japanese Word for Circle

The enso is a circle of enlightenment, the state of being we aspire to as apprentices and enter as adepts. That enlightenment of merger with the Gods and of our wise detachment is enhanced by meditation. When understood, the silence of the adept is seen as stillness. There is no love/hate, desire/lack, courage/fear. There is only the circle of life, the be-ing is us and Goddess. When we meditate on the enso, we peal back our illusions, even those about time and space. The Shin Jin Mei, written in the 6th century, refers to the Great Way of Zen as ‘a circle like vast space, lacking nothing, and nothing in excess.’
Our willow hoops spoke to us in the same way Zen circles do. Some were as symmetrical as we and the willow could make them. Others looped out in ovals or leaned a bit on one side. Each is a different kind of truth. They are all beautiful, green and wise. They smelled wonderful.
There are many different messages in a willow hoop, in a painted enso, or in a ritually cast circle.  

A mirror enso is a simple circle, free of any accompanying inscription, leaving everything to the insight of the viewer. It reflects truth to us according to what it is and who we are.

The universe enso is formed by nebula, clouds of energy and representations of the cosmos as enclosed curved space. We see them in photographs from the Hubble telescope. These enso are breath taking, larger than life and glorious. Their truth reminds us of who we are and how we are connected to the vastness of space.

A moon enso is found in any full moon representation, or in real time observation. The moon  reminds us of illumination and enlightenment, freely available to all beings.
A zero enso underscores nothingness. We see  the curvature of  time and space as ‘empty,’ yet we know All Being springs from nothingness. We learn the truth of how that is possible from the zero.

A wheel enso represents movement. Everything changes, all life revolves in circles as in the Tarot’s Wheel of Fortune. A wheel rolls and turns back to where it started in itself but in a different place. Paradox and truth sit in a wheel.

A sweet cake enso reminds us that truth is found in common objects. Round cakes illustrate the sphere of enlightenment as does eating them. We find truth in willow hoops.

The ‘What is this?’ enso includes this most frequently used inscription on Zen circle paintings. The inscription is a pithy way of saying, ‘Don’t let others fill your head with theories about Zen; discover the meaning for yourself!’

Circle-green.svgThe same can be said for our willow hoops and any sacred circle. Each person finds the meaning of the hoop. No one can explain it or teach it. The point is to pause and consider the willow hoop. Where does the endless circle woven around itself take you? 
For me, the hoop means completion, a dream realized, and the beginning of what's next. Making the hoop was a simple act, once I got the hang of it. Understanding it, well that is a matter of knowing what is true. Knowing is both simple and profound. What do you think a willow hoop means?



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Working Under the Influence of Spirit: A Review of Drinking the 4 Winds

Working Under the Influence of Spirit

A Review by Dorothy L. Abrams of Drinking the Four Winds: A Shamanic Love Story by Ross Heaven

Published by Moon Books July 2013

I read through this volume carefully because apart from love and madness which I know enough about, I am inexperienced in the use of hallucinogens. In fact I am generally biased against their use by white people in shamanic practices. Consequently I took my time weighing the book and its story, wondering how strongly to recommend Drinking the Four Winds. In the end, I decided to give it my whole hearted support as a shamanic practitioner, spiritual counselor and book reviewer. Ross Heaven gives us an honest, painful and joyful telling of his life experiences since he walked out of pharmaceutical sales and into the world of spirit. For that reason alone, this book is well worth reading.

In addition, for those not familiar with ayahuasca, San Pedro and salvia, the author offers us an intimate disclosure of their work with him. He is embraced and cared for by these plant spirits. His heart is run through the wringer, but that is how these journeys go. Following his story is an education in human interaction with plant allies. His book is a memoire of courage. That is equally true about his interaction with co-workers and lovers.

Fortunately, Ross Heaven is a good story teller. That may be one of the gifts from the plants, and it may also be in his bag of talents. He carried me along from adventure to misadventure in ways I could appreciate, having been there too working with people who are their own worst enemies, and sometimes less a friend to me than I thought. I found his writing on love addiction particularly clear. It explained behaviors I had not been able to quite define in my own circle. I was truly surprised at some of the outcomes, even sucked into the story. I found myself muttering "Are you kidding me?" more than once.

In the end, I did not change my mind about working shamanically in western society without ingesting plant spirits. I rely on my drums and rattles to carry me through the portals of consciousness. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from someone so experienced about his journeys with the plants. When he says he drinks the 4 Winds, he means it. I could read between the lines. I did decide to go back to my plant allies and ask some more questions. I have not completed my plant spirit work, but then neither has Ross Heaven. I know he agrees from what he wrote. A continued education as a shamanic worker is a realistic life under the influence of the spirits.

One thing though, I was left wondering about in this saga: what happens next?

Waiting for book 2, Ross.
If you are ready to buy, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and of course through Moon Books.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lyrica Muse, The Cover!


Today's Cover Reveal for Michelle Cornwell-Jordan

The cover was created by the amazing Joy Stroube

Dreamscape Covers


Lyrical Muse Anthology

Publisher: Michelle Cornwell-Jordan (3CM Media)


Lyrical Muse is a collection of stories that reflects life's rhythms through everyday people. Each story is an example of the best and the worst of the Human soul. Every life lived has its own melody, and within these pages, the reader is taken on a journey to the blackest depths of a daughter's murderous soul to the prickly minefield of a jealous woman's heart and so much more.

So enter of your own free will and allow our whimsical Muse to lead you on an odyssey which just might help redefine your own reality.
Sounds good doesn't it? I'll post more about the contributors later in the week when the cat can be pried from the computer monitor.  Blessings, on this book!  Dorothy


Monday, July 15, 2013

Calling the Shining Ones: Inanna

Inanna protect your people;
Inanna defend your land.
Inanna restore your altars
In the cities of the sand.

Inanna raise up your women.
Inanna return their souls.
Inanna end domination
And the pain of man's control.

Inanna free us from violence;
Stop persecution, bombs and war.
Inanna remove the armies;
Make Persia yours now as before.

 I wrote this poem 16 June 2006. It is even more appropriate now.

File:Kudurru Melishipak Louvre Sb23 Ishtar-star.jpg
Eight pointed Star of Inanna/Ishtar
located in Le Louvre, excavated by Jacques de Morgan
photo from Wikimedia, by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2005)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Apple Pie and the 4th of July

photo from Wikicommons, Pascual de Ruval
Back in the day when I was working as a community activist in poverty and women's issues, I learned the urban take on that line in the Pledge of Allegiance was "...with liberty and justice for y'all." People who were poor, black, Hispanic or female felt left out of liberty and justice because they couldn't afford it. They couldn't afford safe housing. They couldn't afford nutritious food. They were fast losing the ability to pay for heat with rising oil prices. When they needed legal advice, they couldn't afford lawyers. They couldn't afford medical care. Lots of them worked, but at low paying jobs without bennies. I have said many times since then, the hardest working people in this country are the poor. People at the top of the heap don't know that, but it is true.

Things have changed, but for folks at the bottom of the socio economic barrel, not much. Yet on this American birthday, on this 4th of July, our government is turning back against the anti poverty programs that made such a difference in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Congress has tried dozens of times to stop health care extension to people who work and have no insurance. Congress attacks social security, food stamps, WIC, college loans, and Goddess knows what else. Anything that supports the working poor and middle class, especially labor unions, has become some sort of infringement of the rights of the rest of us, as if "entitlements" attack apple pie.

Huh? How is that possible? Those are my rights I am entitled to: life (to live in a safe neighborhood, to have access to health care that I can afford, to collect my social security, to buy safe food, to go out at night as a woman and not be accused of asking for it), liberty (to speak my mind, to worship the Goddess, to gather with my friends around a cause we support, to read independently produced literature and news, to travel and not answer to anyone), and the pursuit of happiness (to seek what gives me joy, to own property, to start a business or do work that is meaningful, to have free time and waste it, to raise my kids, to  build a family or a community, to be educated). The government is here to ensure these rights for everyone.  In my humble opinion it does. Imperfectly perhaps, but it does.

So why are so many people grousing about loss of liberty? Why do they hate taxes that fund the government entitlements? Why are we so selfish we think this country is lost and our rights are gone because of taxes and government policies supporting our rights? I can still exercise all my rights if  I have money. If I don't have money, and the government programs that help with housing, nutrition, education, business start ups are cut, then my rights are screwed. You would think the ones complaining the loudest would be the poor.  Nope. They complain, and rightly so, but the poor are being drowned out by the selfish. This has to stop. We have to get back together and realize that if we want liberty and justice for all, we have to fund it. There is no liberty or justice when people are ignorant, hungry or scared.

Let me be more positive and upbeat. This country is the land of greatest opportunity and potential, probably in the whole world. In the US we can beat the class system with education and decent employment. However that means corporate America has to keep jobs here. It has to pay taxes like it did in the 60's and 70's. College loans need affordable rates. Universities need to keep their costs down.

We can beat injustice. That means our legal system needs to solve crimes with full investigations, not pick a likely suspect and prove a case against them regardless of the facts.  I've been a court observer too many times to be na├»ve about how DA's get convictions.  Beating injustice means our Civil Rights laws need enforcement so people are truly not judged on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or national origin. If you want to live in a land of justice, that enforcement is absolutely essential because we have yet to outgrow our prejudices. Beating injustice means women must be able to live with men and be equal partners, that the rape culture that still exists in the media, jokes, government debate, and even at home has to change.  Women are not on earth as men's servants and sex toys. Men are not here on hearth to make women's decisions for them. Beating injustice means we have to curtail our right to swing our arms when we stand close to other people's noses. If we fail to control our arm swinging, then dammit the government better step in and stop the violence.

There is such a thing as white male privilege. There is such a thing as male privilege. There is such a thing as Christian privilege. These privileges are preference and deference so ingrained in the culture that we don't even ask why we get Christmas off and not Hanukah or Yule. We don't ask why when two people come home from work, the wife cooks dinner and the husband sits and watches the news. We don't ask why George Bush gets a pass on starting a war costing thousands and thousands of lives in the Middle East based on lies, but Barack Obama is castigated for the 4 deaths in Benghazi. In fact, we are so deeply accepting of the privilege of males, whites and Christians that the questions offend us.  It is that acceptance that anybody gets a pass because of their skin, genitals or creed that is in the process of changing, and that change is painful. Necessary, but painful. It cuts at what we thought were the foundations of our history. They aren't but we thought they were.

We can finish our creation of the land of opportunity and justice, but to do that we have to look at our culture honestly. We Us-Americans are very lucky people but there are miles to go before we sleep, miles to go before there is really liberty and justice for all. Commit to justice. Commit to being who you are as a partner, neither boss nor servant. Do what you can to untangle the train wreck we have made of our progress toward liberty and freedom, and speak up. It is that nagging voice of conscience that is our heritage, our apple pie that we celebrate.  Happy Birthday America. And may the Gods and politicians give us another 237 years to keep working on this so we can all get a piece of the pie.

File:Mmm...apple pie (4028525142).jpg

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Elen of the Ways

The Antlered Goddess: a review of Elen of the Ways


Elen of the Ways by Elen Sentier is a valuable addition to my shamanic library. Sentier is an awenydd, that is a spirit keeper and tale weaver in British native shamanism.  What's that? You didn't know the native shamanic tradition still existed in the UK? That's why you need to read this book. It is the one I have been seeking for years.

Elen of the Ways, for whom the author is named no doubt, is the reindeer goddess of the northern forests that circle the world. She is the Antlered Goddess, a reindeer or caribou, predominant at a time when people belonged to the Land, practiced gift economics and worked cooperatively. Her forests have diminished but in the north they still exist. The hunter gatherer societies are fewer and fewer but they still exist.

Critics will say Sentier paints an unrealistic vision of what life in a pre-agricultural society was like. Her women and men shared tasks; both hunted; they worked fewer hours a week; they had fewer diseases.  Certainly what she describes belies the images we have been taught, but she has some facts at hand. In Numibia women track for the men hunting big game. In the Phillipine back country the Aeta women and men hunt the same animals. Could the modern view of our ancestors be skewed by our own egotistic belief we have created a good thing with our farming and technology? About our technical age Sentier says "We have lost our way...we no longer follow the deer trods." (page 9). 
File:Deer track in forest - geograph.org.uk - 1605591.jpg
photo by Russel Wills 2009

I suspect she is correct. I loved how Sentier brings us around the world in this book with stories, legends and artifacts about the Sacred Deer Goddess. Artemis and the Ceryneain Hind, the flying deer stones in Mongolia, the wild hunt across Europe, the fairy sidhe and their cattle who were deer, sacred apples of the sacred isle which cause alters to grow have a magic link. Sentier weaves these pieces of memory together as a proper awenydd so we can see how the Antlered Goddess connects us all.

In addition to telling the stories, Sentier travels to places in Scotland as she folllows the deer paths. These are wild places the deer know. Sentier chides us: "We are often afraid of the ways of Earth." (page 40) She is not. She shapeshifts and becomes the deer. She is unafraid of death. She embraces the wilderness. She dares the caves as initiation and rebirth.
I resonate with Sentier. I am a deerkin. There is synchronicity in my experience that pulls me into the book. I have heard a doe choose herself for the hunter. I have sung a protection song against trespassers and coyotes for deer who choose to live. I have seen a new born fawn cared for by his aunt as the mother doe births his twin. I have watched male elks perform for their mates and heard them bugle at night. My own mate has spoken to them.  They are our kin. This book is from the heart, from the soul. It will lead you deeper if you have wisdom to know how to find the deer tracks and how to long for them.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brotherhood and Sisterhood

I recently read two books on relationship which were unrelated to each other.  One was Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream by Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra.  They are brothers, doctors, immigrants from India and sharply contrasted by complimentary beliefs. This book is their memoir. The other book was by Helen Bryan, a novel spanning centuries of women and faith. 

While my reading them one after the other was unplanned by me, they fit together to stir up my brain about who we are and why we are here. That is, in fact, one of the themes of my own book Identity and the Quartered Circle. Helping people find out how they are and to follow their life purpose is my mission.

The secret key is, no matter what we choose or how we exercise our free will, we end up where our soul meant us to be. When the Chopra brothers started out, they meant to study medicine through internship and residency in the US and then go home to India. Instead, one small choice led to another, one open door way to a hall of more doors until they became American in every sense of the world. Deepak is the spiritual mentor and healer who left his western medical practice to offer herbal and food healing wisdom through Ayurveda and exploration of consciousness. Sanjiv is the liver specialist who rose to the top of the medical teaching establishment at Harvard Medical school, fully embracing the Western understanding of intervention with pharmaceuticals and surgery, then later accepting the role of diet and life style as another level of treatment, prevention and healing.  Turns out my 4 cups of coffee a day is idea to maintain my liver. Toward the end of their medical careers now, both of them can review their accomplishments and see the patterns that placed them in the right place at the right time. They nod their heads. Yes that makes sense. I didn't know it at the time.

Similarly, in The Sisterhood Bryan weaves a story about the Convent of the Swallows in Spain and another one in the New World. She follows the nuns and laywomen who seek refuge in the convent through the Inquisition, through settlement in faraway lands, and then connects their lineage to surprising events in the 21st century. None of the women could see what was happening, but there is the mysterious Founder, a woman in spirit who guides them, protects them and brings the circle around to enclose them all in her love. I am avoiding a spoiler alert, so forgive me for being vague. However, like the Chopras, readers at least can nod at the conclusion of The Sisterhood and say, Yes, that makes sense. I didn't see it at the time.

Our lives are like that.  We pick up a random book here, attend a class there and the next thing we know another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.  We see we were meant to be here now. Who meant us to do this? Why our own souls, and the interwoven souls of all the people we know, of all the world. How does that work? I perceive the soul and spirit as intimately connected and working together to connect "the rest of our being on a mission of exploration. As time and space are illusions, so are good and evil. The soul and spirit are eternal. They know everything any part of us has ever known and can help the physical brain access that information. It is the soul and spirit which connects the dots and brings us that ‘Aha!’ moment of epiphany." [Identity and the Quartered Circle p. 150]

For me, brotherhood and sisterhood are community concepts. I have no biological siblings. I am slow to embrace friends and call them sister or brother. Some of that may come from my history as a civil rights activist. When activists call you sister, get your back to the wall. However, in a sense of community, in the awareness of our interconnected beings, we are indeed all siblings. We are all mothers, fathers and gods.  We are Goddess. The Founder of the Convent of the Swallows would have ducked that title, but she was Goddess. The faithful Catholic nuns would have been shocked. Maybe you are too. My dharma is to remind us all we are a part of the Universe having a human experience.  We are divine and we are human. We are not humanly all knowing and always right. We are not divinely excused from doing the best we can do today. We are a dynamic balance of knowing and remembering, or questioning and answering, of being and doing. We protect the vulnerable from ourselves who have not awakened to this truth. We defend. We confront. We champion. We submit and we love. Sometimes we are crusty old grumps. Sometimes we are tender bodhisattvas. In any event our destiny is our creation, and we scarcely know it. I am grateful for these books, mine included, because they all remind me of how that works and what it means.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lives of the Apostates--Studies in Conflict

Lives of the Apostates
by Eric O. Scott
 Studies in Conflict: A Review
by Dorothy Louise Abrams

I liked Lives of the Apostates. I like the title—so blatant, in-your-face bold. I like the academic premise of a philosophy student caught in a hostile course called History of Christian Thought and taught by a preacher. The whole book is edgy. Readers who are first generation pagans may cringe a little, viewing the world through the eyes of their children born and raised with the Goddess. Is that how our kids see us? Well, of course it is. Being pagan is no shield from the distain of the next generation. We were meant to be taken for granted. We are parents. I appreciate the humor of Eric's Scott's wry voice, even when it comes at my expense.
Aside from the ironic edge, the book is about conflict. In this first person narrative, Scott writes convincingly of a young man's quiet desperation caught between dreams and expectation. His character Lou Durham wrestles (I use the term purposefully) with at least 7 different relationship conflicts, most of which are reflected by the people around him. The mother-grown child conflict is shared by his roommate Grimey, Lou's would be girlfriend Lucy, and Jimmy his client on the nightshift. His conflict with Jimmy requires special handling. Conflicts with his roommate and Lucy blow up in his face. Conflict with Mike his coworker is less explosive but present in a niggling sort of way. Conflict with his boss Dana remains an unresolved dread. Conflict with Dr. Eccleston his professor sets off the surprise ending which, if you watch out for the foreshadowing, should not be that much of a surprise, but it is.

The strength of Scott's writing is in how he manages the mirrored layers of his themes without telling us about it. I admire that. Too many novelists explain what they are trying to do instead of simply getting on with it. Scott juggles his prickly characters all in one short plot line balanced on a quarter and a missile. This book is brief when it could have been otherwise. I recommend it.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Set Up Your Facebook Writer's Page!

A couple years ago I knew I had to set up a Facebook writer's page sometime, but I did not expect to do it so soon.  Then I needed to give a website address with my bio for the Yule Anthology from Pagan Writer's Press.  They accepted two of my pieces: Winter Solstice Story (a song poem about Persephone and Demeter) and The Spirit of the GiveAway, an essay about the Native American custom of the GiveAway Blanket and how we used it at the Web.  I could only offer one link.  I have two blogs, Books and Ideas on writing and Anemone's Assays on paganism in the 21st century.  What to choose what to choose?

Coming soon, available for pre order now
on Amazon
I opted to set up a FaceBook Writer's Page under my own name Dorothy L. Abrams   and put the blog titles in my bio.  Those can be Googled.  Or Binged.  Or Yahooed.  A writer's page was quicker and easier than setting up a whole website which remained on my to do list until 2013 as I anticipated appearing in three anthologies and having Identity and the Quartered Circle released in June. As I said to Eric today, that's pretty good for the first year.  Overnight success.  We laughed because we know how many years have gone into this writing thing.

Once I decided on a Facebook Writer's Page, I had to decide what to put on it.  A simple start was to post some poem I never expect to publish. I selected a few haikus and a birthday poem I wrote for Eric a few years ago.  Then I started posting snips about my writing process.  Bingo!  Suddenly I know what I am doing.  What a relief! That was a short learning curve.  Posts on the page are linked to Twitter so they automatically appear there.

Order this now from major book sellers
A word to the wise, remember that Twitter bird is copying everything you write, without the images and context, so try to be lucid. I also cross post the links for my blogs so my Facebook and Twitter connections know what is interesting to read. 

After I had my page up and running, I realized people can click on my name and "like" me.  Sounds so 5th grade doesn't it?  Yet this is the process.  If you are ready to post your writerly world in public on Facebook, go "create a page"  currently hidden in the small print at the bottom of your home page.  Click and follow the directions.  It is literally that simple.

Remember if you are just starting to promote yourself and your work, use your writer name and set up a page.  Don't be shy. The trolls won't eat you.  With any luck your public will find you and your books. 

Happy self-promotion, my lovelies.

Coming later in 2013. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest Blogger Time: Tara Chevrestt

 Guest Blogger Tara Chevrestt has the floor here in Books and Ideas today.  She is the editor of HerStory and has a particular interest in hearing loss and societal response in terms of reasonable accommodations and thoughtfulness.   


The month of May is Hearing Loss Awareness Month. I'd like everyone to take a moment...not just now, not just this week or even this month, but try to remember throughout the year, that millions of people throughout the United States have hearing loss.

Some tips for the hearing world:

-The next time you speak to someone in a public place and they don't acknowledge you, don't just automatically assume they're being rude. Stop a minute and ask yourself, "Did they hear me?" Maybe they have hearing loss. Hearing loss isn't a visible illness. You don't SEE it. Hearing aids can be well hidden.

-Make it a habit of speaking clearly and enunciating your words. Don't mumble; don't stare at the ground; don't talk too fast. Try to make sure people are looking at you when you speak to them. This was a rule taught in my household growing up, regardless of if someone had a hearing impairment or not. Back in those days, it was a sign of respect to look at someone when they speak to you and vice versa. We need to bring this back.

-Facial hair...is a nightmare for us hard of hearing lip-readers. If we can't see your lips, we don't understand you. Men, keep that hair trimmed.

-Do not assume that because we can't hear, that we're any different from you. I can get married (I am!), I can have children, I can drive, I can ride a bike. I can do everything you can do, except HEAR. This does not in any way or form hinder my mental capabilities or make me dumb. Let's separate deaf and dumb. It's past time.

-Do not speak to us as though we are slow. Speak normally. There's a big difference in plain enunciation (speaking clearly) and spending one minute on each word you utter. Don't draw it out and move your mouth in an exaggerated fashion. We learn to lip-read normal moving lips, not comical.

-Don't yell at us. Many of us are deaf to certain sounds and it doesn't matter how loud you say it, it won't get through. Plain and simple: if you're not speaking clearly, we won't understand it. Your quiet blah blah blah maw wah just becomes a very loud BLAH BLAH BLAH MAW WAH.

-Don't leave us out of things and talk over our heads. We feel ostracized. When everyone around us is laughing at a good joke, we want to laugh too! Include us. Make an effort. If you feel it's too much work to talk to us, we're going to decide it's too much work to be your friend. And you could really miss out on a good friendship.

-Hearing helpers are just that: HELPERS. If you're asked to be a hearing helper, don't permit others to speak to you as though we aren't there. Don't answer for us. If someone says to you, "What does she want to eat?" do not tell them, "She wants pizza." A hearing helper should turn to the deaf person and say, "He asked what you wanted to eat." We can and will answer for ourselves. Be careful not to take over and remember to just help. We do value our independence.

-Don't say something and then get mad when we ask you to repeat it for the second or third time. Count to ten if you have to, but try to avoid that callous "never mind". If you said it once, I'm going to assume you wanted me to hear it. It must be important enough. It's very frustrating when people do this.

-Cochlear implants and medical procedures of that ilk are personal matters. Do not try to fix us. Many of us are happy the way we are and have no desire to change. We don't see ourselves as broken or in need of fixing, so don't act like we are.

-Teach your kids that we're no different from them, that deaf isn't dumb, that hearing aids are nothing to be ashamed of. Talk to your children about bullying and its long-term effects.

Thank you for your time. In honor of Hearing Loss Awareness Month, I'd like to announce that two of my titles, one my memoir of growing up deaf and working in a hearing world (Hear Through My Ears) and one (Love Request) a contemporary novel featuring a hearing-"impaired" heroine, are on sale for 99 cents the rest of May.

Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, dog mom, writer, and editor. You’ll never see her without her Kindle or a book within reach. As a child, she would often take a flashlight under the covers to finish the recent Nancy Drew novel when she was supposed to be sleeping.
Tara is addicted to Law & Order: SVU, has a crush on Cary Grant, laughs at her own jokes, and is constantly modifying recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. Her theme is Strong is Sexy. She writes about strong women facing obstacles—in the military, with their handicaps, or just learning to accept themselves. Her heroines can stand alone and take care of themselves, but they often find love in the process.
You can connect with her on Facebook or follow her blog.



Friday, May 17, 2013

Surreal Synchronicity

It seems I live my life by synchronicity.  I start out in one direction and receive unexpected affirmation or challenge from something or someone I thought was entirely unrelated.  But wait!  Aren't all things connected in the great web of consciousness?  Must be so.

This afternoon we were inspired to write about a character I haven't developed or even written about by Angelique Mroczka on the HerStory facebook page. I picked a turn of the 20th century character I mean to write about someday. Like my Fawsettwood Witches, she is a past life memory. Here is my character's comment: 

I am a student at Newnham College in Cambridge. Women aren't allowed admission in the men's colleges, so this one and Girton have been established for women. Cambridge is a heady place to live. Famous people, great intellects, ideas floating on the Cam. I love it. I am a doctor's daughter, but we are not rich so I work at the perfumery in the town centre. The proprietor is an alchemist of sorts, steeped in herbs and potions. Fragrances are only half of what we sell. I sometimes wonder which is the source of my greatest education: the books and ideas espoused by my tutor or the formulas I learn at the shop. My father would disapprove were he aware the shop sells herbal remedies. What my father does not learn then will not trouble me. The shop smells divine even in the street

The shop is still there.  Eric and I walked by it in Cambridge last summer.  As soon as I smelled it, I knew I had worked there when I was a student 100 years ago. It was an uncanny experience.  Today, I had to check the spelling of Newnham College so I "Binged" it.  Don't you know one of the women who founded the college had a last name of Fawcett! Different spelling.  Same witches.  Well, she likely was no witch, but the thread of synchronicity hit me squarely in the face. I would say this is a surreal experience, but that strikes another chord of memory.

Earlier this week I was chatting electronically with an artist friend in the Southern Tier of NY. Her name is Lizzy Greenhood. She introduced me to women surrealist artists and writers, an entire niche with which I was unfamiliar.  They resonated immediately right down to my core. Surrealist writers and artists try to harmonize ordinary reality and dreaming into a single understanding.  They put unlikely things together with photographic clarity to shock the sensibilities into something new or deeper in our wisdom. Because of the unchallenged sexism of the male leaders in the movement, the women have been largely ignored.
File:Homenaje a Frida Kahlo.jpg
Homenaje a Frida Kahlo
by Gem Diaz shared on Wikimedia.org
used with permission
On the other hand, I have had many encounters with Frida Kahlo over the years, one of my favorite women painters in the western hemisphere.  And Georgia O'Keefe. It simply never occurred to me there were writers too.  Duh! And who were they, other than Lenora Carrington?  Here is a link to a list and a book about them: Surrealist Women. I suspect I will be studying and writing more about them in the next year. I want to be named among them!

Fact of the matter is, I have to discipline myself to suppress my natural surrealistic style of writing.  One, it is hard to understand.  Two, I had not credited myself with being connected to anyone in the leaps of fancy my rough drafts take. Oh.  Connectedness again. Interconnectedness of being.   Gracious Goddess, I have learned something else about my voice. In so doing, I realize my character from Newnham College in Cambridge whom I knew became a minor writer most likely connected with the early surrealists.  Well, there is another great leap forward in consciousness!

And that, dear readers, is how life works. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ela of the Abbey

Ela of the Abbey


Spirits speak across time

Unstopped when hearts grow old or cold,

They whispers secrets in our souls,

"I am here, just out of sight,

In familiar rooms." I know!

It's Ela of the Abbey and

Her sweetheart William Longspee.

Their great love survived—

Murder, lies or trickery—

Desire lives when bodies die

And souls embrace each other.



Sprits speak across dreams

Meet face to face within our minds

At rest. "I am back inside

The stories told to visitors."

I nod. I wrote that down, my Ela,

So others know a woman lived.

A husband died.  Their passion beat back

Plotting kings and regents; Ela  

Built an Abbey as her refuge

Free from fate and marriages. 


Dorothy L. Abrams
Poetry written for the 17th Annual Room Full of Sisters
Auburn NY May 7, 2013

Photography of Lacock Abbey Wiltshire UK June 2010
by Eric A Reynolds