Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tapping Into Your Creative Dreamtime

After reading about and participating in discussions of dreams this week, I decided to talk about dreams. Everyone wants to know either what their dreams mean or how to stop the nightmares or simply how to have a dream. I will get to the how-to in a minute.

Dream interpretation dates back somewhere between 5000 – 3000 B.C. when dreams were recorded on clay tablets. Like the aborigines of today, primal societies did not make distinctions between the dream world and reality. It was all woven together, like a conversation with nature, the soul or the god(s). The realm of dreams was a more powerful reality, heightened by symbolic interpretations.

There must be hundreds of dream books, well dozens anyway, for interpreting your dreams, but I have come to the conclusion that you are the only one who can accurately interpret your own dreams. Dreams are from your mind and no one else knows your mind like you do.

Having said that, some dreams transcend the individual mind and are prophetic in nature. The dreamer dreams of something outside himself that is about to happen in our three dimensional world.

Sometimes we can have the same dream repeatedly because a conflict depicted or symbolized in the dream remains unresolved or ignored. Once a solution to the problem has been found, the recurring dream usually ceases.
For an explanation of all the different types of dreams visit Dream Central .

More modern ideas about dreams are that they are emanations from the unconscious or subconscious—telling us something or reflecting back our frustrations or as an explanation for the stresses of our life and a dream can be useful as a guide to help us in critical situations (as in PTSD).

Because of his extensive study of myths and archetypes, be sure to check out Joseph Campbell’s thoughts on dreams. 
Each of the early cultures (Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Middle Eastern) had their take on dreams, as do the modern philosophers (more detailed information on that at Dream History)

And then there is lucid dreaming, which simply put, is knowing you are dreaming while you are asleep. When you are in that state, you can control your dreams. I’ve had a few lucid dreams in my life, usually just before waking up, where I knew I was dreaming and could choose to wake up or continue dreaming while making conscious choices as to where the dream would go. (The way I induce lucid dreaming is to impress upon my mind the thought that I will have a lucid dream, as I fall asleep.) 
For more detailed instructions on how to induce lucid dreaming go to Reality Shifter. 

If you want to achieve a dream incubation, (which is to plant a seed thought in the mind that you want to dream about, usually for creative reasons or to solve a problem—or just to remember your dream), then apply this technique: repeat several times to yourself that you will dream about the problem or issue just before going to sleep—do this over a period of time (days, weeks).

When you finally get results and have a dream about what you programmed, be sure to have paper and pen handy to jot down your thoughts because as soon as we awaken and move, our dream images can easily slip away. It may take time, so be consistent. And try to awaken slowly in the morning, not jump into your conscious mind instantly.

For many years I have kept a dream diary. I don’t remember my dreams every night, but I still write down impressions and creative ideas that are evoked as soon as I get up. I have gotten many images for paintings with this technique so I know it can be your own personal fertile storeroom from which to retrieve creative ideas, images and instruction.

I hope this helps you tap into your creative side.

Do you
  • dream a lot?
  • have a repeating dream?
  • have lucid dreams?
Do you keep a dream diary?
Have you ever been inspired creatively by a dream?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Okay, So What's the Speed of Dark?

In my ongoing search to uncover my particular style of humor, I had fun this week exploring dead pan humor, also known as dry humor. I know I went over this in my last installment, but I had so much fun, I decided everyone needs a good laugh to start the week. And, because I’ve settled on dry humor as my style, I thought I'd share some examples: 

Stephen Wright, got me laughing at his site with:

Last night I played a blank tape at full blast. The mime next door went nuts.

If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?

Whatever happened to preparations A through G?

Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

OK, so what's the speed of dark? (borrowed this for today's blog title)

Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "4's"?

Because some people have difficulty in grasping dry humor (Huh? Was that suppose to be funny?) which  is described in two different ways, I found these explanations for you on group discussion boards on humor (who knew they had them):

Dry humor  relates to being serious, or not appearing to be trying to be funny, and in doing so, it becomes funny or humorous.
Deadpan humor is more about the form of non-comedic delivery in which this type of humor is presented without a change in emotion or facial expression, usually speaking in a monotone manner. 

Examples of deadpan humor are: 

  • Brian from Family Guy, The Office, Stephen Colbert from the Colbert Report, and Bill Murray, who has done a lot of dry humor. 
  • For the older crowd, there’s Bob Newhart, George Burns and Gracie Allen (a genius at deadpan delivery). YouTube (audio only, sorry) on George and Gracie on: Jive Talk
  • Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in a sketch of deadpan humor which ends in a bit of slapstick.

A few more words of humor for your edification, with minimal explanation:

levity  - (lightness of mind, fickleness, inappropriate lack of seriousness)
            playfulness, pleasantry

quip - (clever or witty remark) or (a sharp, cutting or sarcastic remark) a quibble

raillery - (good humored ridicule, banter)

satire – a literary genre or form—strong irony or sarcasm used with the purpose of shaming or ridiculing
people and/or society into improvement.

slapstick - broad comedy characterized by boisterous action, mugging, and obvious farcical situations and jokes.

tomfoolery - a silly act or behavior

waggery - roguish or droll humor

wisecrack - (a smart or facetious remark) 

whimsicality or whimsy - odd or fanciful, a product of playful or capricious fancy which may have stemmed from this word whose origin is from 1490-1500:
whim-wham (noun)
1. any odd or fanciful object or thing; a gimcrack.
2. whim-whams. nervousness; jitters: He had the whim-whams after the accident.

Well, that’s all I have on humor, hope it was informative and entertaining. Love to hear your thoughts. 

I hope you had a good laugh this week, or at least a chuckle at someone’s dry/deadpan humor.  Why not share it so we can all smile?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's Your Protagonist's Astrological Sign?

What's Your Sign? Part IV

In this ongoing series of using astrology and the Tarot to find the archetypes for our story characters, we need to pause briefly. Up until now I haven’t mentioned the additional elements that affect each zodiac sign; the four elements that the Greek philosopher Empedocles first mentioned—the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Each sign of the zodiac is aligned with one of the elements. To date, I have skipped around the zodiac to give you one of each (Libra-air, Pisces-water, Taurus-earth) and now we add Leo-a fire sign.

Air signs will be more concerned with insubstantial, etheric or creative impulses, water signs concentrate more on the hidden, dark watery world of the subconscious-more slippery impulses to nail down and earth signs are more concerned with the concrete rather than the abstract. (Keep in mind these are broad generalizations for our purpose of character construction. Individual horoscopes contain other elements that mold a sign, but on the whole these will aid you in building your character so that he/she rings true.)

As you might guess, the astrological sign of Leo signifies the strength of a lion, but also the warmth of the sun, because this time our sign, Leo, is aligned with two cards of the Tarot-The Sun and Strength, and is influenced by the fourth element, fire. Fire heats and gives warmth but can burn when out of control.

The Star IQ website references some myths and legends of Greek heroes and Christian saints revealed by this sign and these cards. 

So, when building your Leo character he may have to deal with the dilemma of using brute strength or inner strength. Leos tend to have outgoing personalities and leadership qualities. They need to shine and seek validation and admiration from those around them (think of the male lion in a pride) and they love to bask in the limelight.

The positive qualities of Leos are exuberance, passion and creativity and include a generous and caring nature. On the negative side (there is always at least one) the Leo faces aspects of pride and vanity.

The Tarot Reader  website explains the Tarot cards in relation to Leo this way:
Strength (Leo) is often depicted as a maiden gently subduing a lion. The card stresses the need for discipline and control, the taming of our desire natures, known as the id, as represented by the lion. The woman represents the ego, the higher mind, and the knowledge of what is right and respectable. The two can be in constant battle and it is this inner battle which is the theme of the Strength card.
The Sun (The Sun) provides us with warmth and life and symbolizes the need to shine. The Sun represents vitality, consciousness, potential and the essence of self, very much the traits of our warm, fiery Leo and themes of our Sun card in the Tarot.
The Sun asks us to become conscious of self, the pure essence of our being, our true identity, and to express ourselves accordingly. The Sun is also representative of the ego, individuality, the power of self and the conscious will and so also urges us not to ignore the power within us.

I hope this suits one of the characters you are building or will build. Leos are not boring and can be colorful characters to use in your story. If you need a leader, this is your sign.

Has this astrology/tarot information helped you think of character in a new way?

Do you think you might use it to help you develop a character in the future?

Are you a Leo or do you know some? Does this sound like them?

Monday, March 19, 2012

That's not a joke . . . Ba-rump-bump!

 Writer-Blogger Voice 

There’s been a subject niggling at my mind for some time now—humor.

In my ongoing search for “voice”— I know I have one, but I’m not all together clear on what it is so I decided this would be the day to research all the different kinds of humor and maybe figure out how that element plays into voice.  
It’s kind of like trying to take a watch apart and put it back together again so you have no left over parts and it still works. Some people are good at this and some of us—not so much.

I know I like banter* and I can be flippant, especially when I am irked.
*For an example of banter in action--go on over to Laird Sapir’s blog post, For Science – A Twilight Review where Mike Shulenberg guests. Check out the comments section where they banter back and forth—pretty funny, if you like that sort of thing, and well, I do. 

I think there’s an element of droll in my humor. Apparently others are struggling with this humor thing as well, because during my research, I came upon the blog, The Ominous Comma (don’t you love that title?) and his struggle with being called droll. 

But I soon moved on to consider facetiousness. Oh yeah, I can be facetious (not meant to be taken seriously or literally, as a facetious remark). That one gets me into trouble in serious situations.  

And, I know I can’t tell jokes. I always blow the punch line no matter how hard I try. I suppose I could be successful with a joke on my blog, since I'd have time to rework it so it doesn’t fall flat, but I’ll just accept that I’m just not a good joke teller.

I’m not the jester type, nor a clown either, so I can eliminate the buffoonery of putting on a red nose for laughs.

Then I happened upon deadpan or dry humor. Hmmm

     -Joking in a matter-of-fact, dry or indirect way. Hmmm

      -Marked by or accomplished with a careful pretense of seriousness or calm detachment; impassive or expressionless. 

I’m feeling this. Over at Donn’s Fragments, he defines dry humor and mentions that one type of British humor is a dry humor. I have British blood in my veins--I must be getting close.

But then, I found another blog on dry humor and they attribute this quote to Mark Twain regarding dry humor: 
        "The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it."

That's not so good if you want people to laugh. Some people don’t get it. I get it, though. I love it. Take Comedy of Errers by Marianee Hansen. She has dry humor and she is very good at it. I always laugh out loud at her posts.

But, if you need another example of up-front, dry humor-one that you can see, check out this video that qualifies. 

So, did I figure out what type of humor plays into my voice—I’m non-committal. I’m still working on it. There are more definitions of humor to go in the next installment. . . 

I'm continuing this series on voice which is preceded by: The Absolutely Most Important Thing a Writer Must Have and Voice And Your Inner Child

You can also check in with Kristen Lamb who will be offering serious advice on voice in her upcoming blogs. Great minds think alike.  See, I started to write that and then a voice told me someone would think I'm bragging, or maybe being sarcastic, but in my head it's more a droll humor in a dry sort of way. Still working on it. . . 

Any thoughts on humor--or maybe a good joke?

An Aside:
I've been tagged by fellow blogger and friend Tami Clayton for a writer's game with fellow bloggers, called The lucky 7 MEME.

The rules to which I must adhere are as follows:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP (or page 7 if you haven't gotten to 77, yet)
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.
My 7 lines: 
When the man at the car closest to me nodded, they got back into their cars and drove down off the mesa on the far side without a word. After that, the whole smuggling scene changed and I no longer viewed my situation as just an exciting way to earn money for college. Some instinct deep within me kicked in--another part that had been silent until now awoke, so that I would never leave myself vulnerable like that again.
Tessa closed her eyes a moment, visualizing this scene. A fleeting image of a samurai warrior intruded. Where had that image come from? It had nothing to do with Jack's novel.
So, now my other fellow authors, you're IT
                (check out their great blogs):

Friday, March 16, 2012

Writers & Bloggers Must Haves

I caught a multitude of good advice this week that all you writers and bloggers might want to check out.

Melissa Norris over at Word Serve Watercooler Has tips on how to effectively use Twitter for Authors.


Melissa Norris also guest posts to give us 8 Twitter Tips for Authors.
(Target your audience, make lists, follow to add to your audience—those who follow you for your content not to add to their numbers)


Blogging Bistro has tutorials on all things blogging by Laura Christianson : 

Over at Pitching Perfectly read about log lines, branding yourself and How to Pitch the Book:  posted by Laura Brennan.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taurus and the Hierophant

 Archetypes: Astrology and The Tarot - Part 3 

What do Al Pacino, Jack Nickolson, George Clooney, David Boreanaz (Seeley Booth in Bones) and Pierce Brosnan have in common, beside the hunk factor?
They are all Taurus males. Keep that in mind as we work through Taurus.

Venus rules Taurus (also Libra see previous post).

Venus (the planet with energies of beauty, light and love), represents the power of attraction and the artistic nature, and an inner sense of calmness and peace that draws people.

A Taurus, when positive:
  • is a good person to depend on. They follow through on their responsibilities, especially to family.
  • has an earthly/earthy wisdom that attracts people.
  • has a strong sense of determination. When they focus on their goals they often reach their destination.
  • likes nice things but has a sensible outlook on life—a the hallmark of this sign.

When Venus is out of balance in Taurus:
  • the person will take on the attributes of the opposite—grosser side of the sign; careless, possessive, indecisive, overly romantic, sluggish and dependent on others.
  • if fear of change or other fears reign, they will attract those who will irritate them to the point of causing the Taurean to make changes (fear or no fear) and then stability will reassert itself.

Taurus is an Earth sign, connected to the body and the physical world, rooted in sensuality, pleasure and celebrating the blessings of the material world. The Taurus bull's horn becomes a Horn of Plenty, overflowing with Venus' gift of luscious abundance.

When Taurus is in tune with their sense of oneness and harmony with the earth, he/she will drop the feeling of being harassed into trying to gain all the money and possessions they initially felt they wanted, and learn to bear in mind that there is beauty beyond the world of material possessions.

The Tarot card that is aligned with Taurus is The Hierophant. The Heirophant’s great gift is his ability for inner hearing. He is the spiritual messenger and as a Taurus, his true gift lies in his capacity for self-discipline. He represents stability, discrimination, practicality and inner strength. He represents the need to search for meaning in one’s life.
(Information for the Hierophant taken from:

Hierophant, deriving from the Greek “hieros” meaning “sacred,” and “phainein” meaning “to reveal,” is the title of the high priest of the Eleusinian cult. In the mystery religion of the Greek Eleusis, the vegetation cycle of the death and burial of grain in the ground and its rebirth in the spring became symbolic of the spiritual life of man.

Christianity later adopted the basic tenets of the mystery religion of Eleusis, including the symbolism of the dying and rising god and the role of the male high priest as the revealer of truth. The hierophant of Eleusis gave rise to the pope in Rome.
    (Information taken from:

Some famous Taurus women are: Katherine Hepburn, Carol Burnett, Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cher, Audrey Hepburn, Janet Jackson, Renee Zellweger and Shirley MacLaine.

If you are a Taurus, does this sound like you?
Is there enough description of Taurus to give you character trait ideas for your stories?
Inquiring minds need to know. . .

Refer to previous post for the Pisces archetype.

 #astrology #character #writing #writer #blogging #archetypes #tarot #paranormal

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Voice and Your Inner Child

I read a post this past week by Lois Lavrisa at The writers guide to e-publishing

She cautioned writers not “to change” your “true voice to fit some perceived social pressure (i.e. what’s selling.)

I’ve been pondering this for some time now—how to allow your true voice to come through—and what is it anyway? I have a clue, if not the whole enchilada.

Last year, I took a stroll through Nelder GroveCalifornia. While walking through the enchanted grove of redwoods, wild flowers and minor waterfalls with its moss and magic, I couldn’t help but see with the wonder of childhood. 

As I wandered the mile-long path, imagination fully active, I remembered some of the fairytales I used to read so long ago and could envision them happening in that place. I wanted to take a piece of that magic back home so I looked around until I found the rock that “spoke” to me. You rock lovers know what I mean.
In the days that followed, I did a series of posts in my journal, entitled, “musings of the rock” as I “listened” to the wisdom that came through. I know, I know, some of you are saying, “That's just a rock! I’m outta here, this woman is looney.”

Too bad for you. 

You are missing the point—looking at life with childlike simplicity, allowing the creative mind to speak to you, brings out your authentic voice. Have you so lost your inner child, your belief in all the things that tap into your creativity, that all you feel is dry and uninspired?

My advice—don’t kill the dream. Don’t become too grown up—always leave a piece of childhood alive, or if you’ve lost it, go back and find it.

What is this state of childhood I am talking about that’s so special and what does it have to do with voice? It is the ability to believe in the impossible and pretend with abandon, to try new things or old things in new ways.

Not all children have the option to be childlike when that innocence is stolen or ground out of them by the insensitivity of others around them while growing up. As soon as the ‘adult’ voice comes in with, “That’s silly, immature, na├»ve,” or is dismissive and critical with, “You're too adult for that,” then that sensitive child within withers and, eventually, will die if it is not revived and nurtured.

I’m convinced that H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne had their inner childhood intact. That was why they were able to make the leaps they did.

Einstein said, “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” 
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination,”
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

You may argue, imagination is not child-like wonder, but don’t you have to have a child-like wonder in order to allow your imagination to do more than pass ideas through your mind, don’t you have to act on it—that takes a certain trust, belief in the impossible, the incredible, the crazy?

I think you have to believe in yourself, love yourself and allow the child-like wonder stay alive. When you are not afraid to bring out your inner child, or at least allow it to come out and play a bit, you may just get closer to bringing out your writer-blogger voice. 

When we write our novels we have much less of a filter due to the distance from creation to publishing when we have time to edit, but we are much more critical when it is going out into cyberspace on the next click. I'm not talking about inappropriate content as Kristen Lamb warns in her article, Deadly Doses-Politics, Religion and Our Author Platform. I am talking about being yourself fully, and as Isaiah said, "a little child will  lead them.

What about you—do you think I’m crazy?
Or do you think I might be on to something?
Or, here’s a safe question, do you collect rocks?

#magic #rock-collecting #sci-fi #voice #writers #writing

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's Your Sign? Part 2

                                          Pisces and The Moon Tarot Card

Part 2 – Archetypes from Astrology and The Tarot for creating characters.

Pisces, sign of the fishes swimming in opposite directions in the element of water—the realm of emotions and intuition. Pisces people are highly sensitive and intuitive. They are most often found to be selfless, compassionate, sympathetic and kind --popular with all kinds of people. They tend to be easygoing and have an affectionate nature which people respond to and feel comfortable around.

But, on their dark side they can be idealistic to the point of dreaming more than doing. They can be escapist and secretive and need to steer clear of substance abuse. Further, they can be vague, weak-willed and easily led—emotional rather than rational.

The Moon card of the Tarot is the symbol tied to Pisces. Emerging from the primordial waters of ignorance (unknowing of our divine potential) we begin the journey toward higher purpose, encouraging self-exploration and exploring the areas where we have failed to be honest with ourselves and face our truths; what in our lives is an illusion and what is truth. The inner light within us—our own feelings and intuition is what we must ultimately trust as our best guide.  But before we do that we must pass the dog and the wolf—the tame side of us at war with our wilder, more uninhibited urges. What are we yielding to that is moving us in certain directions? Our goal is to pursue the path that leads to expressing our higher nature.

Pisces intuition and imagination are both its strength and weakness. Everyday life offers little structure if one is leaning too far into the mystical side of life. It becomes too easy to flounder and lose direction. 

The best path for Pisces to follow is to engage in creative or spiritual pursuits while working in the real world. When they trust in their feelings they are more apt to follow the best solutions and make the right decisions.

The Power of The Moon is that she is a source of intuitive clarity, immense power available for us if we learn to focus and direct its energy.

So, a character arc has so many possibilities when you start out on the darker side of Pisces and move to its higher potential by the end of a book. Or, if not the protagonist, you can see the possibilities for using the dark side as fodder for a weak, substance abuser who is a likable character, with moments of brilliance coming through intuitively, or one that lies all the time and is led around by a stronger individual. Pisces offers so many possible combinations for  interesting characterization.

Do you have a Pisces character in your stories? 
Can you think of a movie character that follows the Pisces archetype?
Does this give you any ideas for a character?
If you’re a Pisces, or know one, does it ring true?

Tags: #archetypes #Tarot #Moon card #Pisces #character development

Monday, March 5, 2012

#Bread Crumbs for the #Hashtag Limited


Hashtag Tips for Writers 
While traversing the twitterverse, there be landmines, pitfalls and holes into which you can fall and never be heard from again. That is the fear for writers who haven’t yet fully entered into Twitterland and the effective use of the #hashtag.

I’ve left breadcrumbs here for the Hansels and Gretals who need some basic information on the use of the #hashtag. I was a Gretal not too long ago, so I know there's a need.
#Hashtags can be effective, irritating or limp. If you throw a Tweet out without the proper hashtag, you are in effect, spinning your wheels. If, as social media-ites, we want to be helpful to our peeps in promoting their work (books, blogs, posts), we should use the hashtag as effectively as possible.

When using Triberr recently (great help for groups who band together for greater exposure), I’ve notice that Tweets that go out from using the Approve button don’t target anyone, or any group. They just floats out into the universe and land on some far shore where they probably just wash up with the dead seaweed. Maybe someone will come along and find them, but to be more effective, we need to send those tweets to those interested in the appropriate subject matter. Targeting your audience.

So, how can you be more effective? When sending out Tweets about your own work, you target (hopefully) the people who are interested in what you write about (gardening, vampires, books, authors, writing, paranormal, etc.).

The same should hold true if you want to be a good member in standing with your Tweeps, and that means sending your Tweets out with appropriate hashtags that target their potential audience. If you actually read a Tweep’s blog, then you know what it is about and can define who their audience is. If you are self-centered and wimpily sending out Tweets without genuine support for your Tweeps, they will see that and eventually drop you and not support you any longer. Don’t be dead weight.

So, when using the #hashtag:

1. Make sure it adds value (don’t be a robot and only hit the Triberr Approve button—use the Tweet button and add some effective hashtags.

2. Don’t overuse hashtags—no more than 3 in a single Tweet. (That doesn’t mean you can’t send another Tweet right away with different hashtags to target different audiences for an especially good post/blog/book.)

3. In using hashtags to promote, make sure they are on subject, be it blog or a post or an author you are promoting (take a look at the tags they have listed on their post and use those)

4. When re-tweeting, if you think of a hashtag related to the topic that may be different from what is already there and remove one if there are already 3.

For more on the hashtag:
  • At you can find the frequency that a hashtag is used on Twitter. Plug in writer and you will pull up a graph to see how that hashtag trends in Twitter. You will notice that writer gets a lot of hits on Friday and Monday. But author is more effective on Wed. and Friday. Writing trends higher on Monday. Writers/authors are probably putting out more blogs on Monday, Wed., and Friday.

Did you know all this stuff?
Can you add any info to this article to help others? Or direct us to additional information?
Thanks for your comments if this was/wasn’t helpful.

#hashtag #Twitter #writers #Triberr #tweets