It’s been so hard – as any self-published author knows – to deal with marketing and promoting on multiple platforms, especially when working full time. But it’s finally paid off – my first review and it’s 5 stars! Yay!
Delwyn of the Realms (Storming Archives – Book 1) – is the culmination of my chronicles – realized as a fantasy novel. As explained previously – I decided not to write a memoir and started channeling some of my experiences into a fantasy novel. (Which was a young adult novel at first – but it was so much more fun changing it to an adult fantasy – about a woman who deals with hypnagogic hallucinations and astral projection, and finds a mirror portal to the dream world.)
I’m almost finished with the first draft of the sequel – which has become a wild ride – to say the least. It was exhilarating to discover how easy the sequel flowed, once the first book was done. I started a group board on Pinterest – called “Storming” – where fellow (invited) pinners help to inspire me with images regarding the themes in the sequel.
What is daunting is the marketing and promoting. The platforms I’m using are Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Goodkindles, Shelfari, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube – and others! I’ve used Fiverr for the book cover and advertising. I’ve paid for Twitter blasts and ad campaigns on Goodreads, Facebook etc.
However I knew that reviews would be the number one selling point – and my Beta readers (who say they’re loving the book!) – are taking their time putting reviews on Amazon. I am humbled by the amount of support they are giving me and understand that it takes time to first read a book and then review it. I’m just impatient – and seeing as I am not tech savvy – it’s been a giant learning curve.
Would I prefer to be going through a publisher instead? (Should I be so lucky? Is lucky the right word?!) I’d have to say – No – as much as the idea of someone picking it up and producing it for me is enticing. The problem is – especially these days – it could take an eon to finally get a deal with a publisher (or hook an agent), and after all is said and done – you still have to put a lot of legwork into the marketing and promoting.
So – for me – I find that having control over the book, and stretching myself thin and driving myself crazy with the promoting etc – has been a rewarding experience, after all is said and done. I released the novel as an ebook on Amazon in early Feb this year, and have only sold three units – but I started a freebie campaign today and I already have a 5 star review! (Oh Lordy – wiping sweat off my brow – teeth gnashing momentarily paused!) As at 9:19pm on this first day of the freebie campaign – 23 people have downloaded it.
I used to baulk at the idea of giving away my hard work for nothing – but the cloud has a silver lining. The great review was worth it’s weight in gold. It wasn’t selling that well without a review – so the freebie campaign has become a viable option. (The campaign ends on 3/10/15.)
What was bizarre – was that some of my Beta readers emailed me with glowing reports – but they weren’t putting the reviews on Amazon! (Sometimes it’s like herding cats – you have to be respectful and patient – not a strong point for me!) But it’s paying off and I’m learning as I go. The trick – I think, for any writer – is to persevere and not give up. Keep your eyes on the prize and remind yourself that your hard work is worthy of the struggle. (Pant, pant!)
I have created the paperback version on Createspace and am waiting for the proof to arrive so I can review it before I finally release it. I’m looking into creating bookmarks to take to bookshops, libraries etc. It’s amazing just how much is involved with promoting and marketing. AND IT NEVER ENDS! But I wouldn’t have it any other way! Once the sequel is ready for release, I will continue offering the first book free – occasionally – to keep pushing the units!!!! Where’s the vodka?
My novel is out – available on Amazon – Yay!
At the beginning of 2014, I set myself the goal of completing my first novel, and now I am happy to announce that I achieved that goal last weekend! That’s one of the reasons why I have neglected this blog (for shame!), as my focus was to bash out this book. During each fifteen minute break and lunch time, every day at work, I was hammering at my laptop and scrawling in my notebook, or reading and researching. On the way to and from work, I was listening to audio books, for ideas and to educate myself, on the topics included in my novel as well as on the process of writing.
Halfway through the year, it became clear that a straight out memoir was distasteful to me, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, was the idea of airing out dirty laundry: sharing anguish and personal content, just made me feel uncomfortable. Secondly, and more importantly, I had an idea that I had been throwing around for a long time, in the form of a Young Adult story, that I wanted to put more effort into. I realized, after a time, that the story was semi autobiographical, and I started including bits and pieces from this blog.
Then I discovered all the annoying rules that come with writing for a Young Adult audience, which include things such as issues with swearing, drugs, sex and horror. I thought, “Well, that leaves me out!” So I decided to change the protagonist to an older person – a thirty year old woman, so that it would be reasonable for her to have had the experiences in the story at her age, but not too far away from her teenage years.
Then I wrestled with how complex the story was and tried my best to simplify it. Then I worried that I was dumbing it down too much. I fretted over narrowing my audience down too much, but then making it so appealing for a wider audience that it was too boring! The see-sawing was working my nerves, to say the least! Then I thought, “You know what? I’m going to tell this bloody story, get some feedback from people I know, from different age groups and backgrounds, then I’ll revise it accordingly, and not before!” Which is what I’m doing now. I’m chewing my nails and waiting with bated breath, as they read and review my baby!
So now, as I wait, I’m researching different agents and publishers, confusing myself with decisions such as having my own author’s website or just sticking with my facebook page, and this blog 😉 – also, exploring other options such as doing my own ebook or self publishing. Anyway, shall I tell you what the novel is actually about, rather than blather on about the whole boring process? I suppose I should!
It’s called “Delwyn of the Realms”.
For Delwyn, the only way out is through, and beyond! What if her astral travels and sleep disorders are real, and what she’s been told, about being off with the fairies, was a fantasy itself? After a psychotic break and a marriage breakdown, she escapes to her Aunt’s farm in the country, to recuperate. She agrees to the therapy and medication, and goes through the motions to rejoin society, but she’s always been a dreamer, and finding a mirror that’s a portal to the world of dreams is just the perfect ticket to sanity, isn’t it? As all Delwyn’s afflictions and wonderful adventures in the dreamland plummet her further into the belief that she’s a “Portal Stormer”, and that she can continue existing with “One foot in each world, riding them simultaneously; expecting not to fall!”, her Aunt, friends and doctor scramble to save her from herself. The question is: which realm is the fantasy?
Wish me luck (and any feedback is most welcome!)
Happy New Year everyone!
Writing this memoir has been a very therapeutic experience in terms of exorcising demons and analysis. For the most part, as long as I’m writing, I’m happy, although the perfectionist and idealist in me tend to gripe from their perches, saying things like “What about the poetry?” or “Not as good as the Beats” or “I thought you wanted to be a Great Writer!” I’ve had articles published in three of Llewellyn’s Almanacs. The first was about Animal totems in their 2011 Magical Almanac. Then I wrote a series of entries for their 2012 Witches’ Spell A Day Almanac. The last was a piece on the Numerology of plants for their 2013 Herbal Almanac.
I’m proud of those pieces, but I have to admit that along the way, something in me transformed, in regards to my ‘spirituality’. I have always felt uneasy with the term ‘atheist’ as it implies the notion of an aversion to spirituality. The idea of calling myself ‘agnostic’ also made me uncomfortable as it came across as laziness, or at least – as being in a holding pattern until something better came along. It was like a ‘just in case’ position, or lying in wait – like a spider on the outskirts of a web, waiting for the tug of the string.
In my earlier years I went ‘out on a limb’ and explored different faiths, reading book after book and attending services and visiting temples. I had countless conversations with a variety of different types of people from different walks of life. I lived in a Buddhist commune for a year and was initiated into the White Tara mysteries. I spent a brief period studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses (boy was that a mistake!), which was brought on by an episodic fear of death. My cousin organized a clumsy religious intervention, disguised as a makeup party, where she and a psychotic garden variety Born again Christian woman did their best to ‘exorcize’ me! They both ended up in tears and I walked away amused but angry that I was duped into wasting my time and energy – AND I had brought good food!
When I was twenty three I met an American woman – Elia, who was from Waco, Texas. She was in her early fifties and had an ad in the paper about teaching Numerology. I had been interested before and decided to look into it so I called her. When she answered and we started talking, for some reason I thought that she was Russian. (It turned out later on she discovered that her family did have Russian in their background!) The lessons were cheap so I signed up and started attending, every Tuesday night. Elia had a degree in Psychology and was also an art teacher. She was thoroughly fascinating and I learned a lot from her.
It turned out that I was the only one who stayed for the complete course and she said that from the beginning, she knew that I would be the only one who would stay. Week after week, someone would drop off until it was just Elia and I, which was fine with me. To this day I still practice Numerology, as it’s been the only thing that has rung true, for me. I have tested it in a variety of different ways and often I find myself saying “Well, it’s all projection!” But when I look back over my chart I get a chill, and realize that whatever happens, Numerology has been like a blueprint that just states the facts ma’am!
I had religious people telling me often that I needed to have faith, but that seemed like too much hoping. I’d rather have knowledge and truth. Something concrete is better than smoke and mirrors. I remember thinking that it seemed as though they all wanted a father figure so badly, that the idea of someone watching over them gave them comfort, and who was I to take that away from them? I thought “Good luck to you – but don’t impose that grasping onto me!”
Fear is a great motivator and pain is a great educator, however – it all depends on where you take it and how you develop it. Every time I had a crazy experience, whether it was a hypnagogic hallucination or a supposedly prophetic dream, I assumed it was my synapses misfiring or whatever I ate the night before. Sometimes they were prompted by auto suggestion or psychosomatic circumstances.
I knew an older man called Keith who did my tarot cards for me every now and then, in my twenties. He reminded me of Khalil Gibran. For years he pursued me romantically but I was not interested – and I never led him on. One night we stayed at a mutual friends’ house and had to share a bed. Apparently he came to bed later and my vibes were so strong that he had to leave the room! When I came out in the morning he was sleeping on a bean bag in their lounge room and was very angry with me, even though I had no idea what had happened! (Later on that day, we were sitting in their backyard and their pet goose came running at Keith in full attack mode! It was like even the animal kingdom was against him!)
I remember that every time he did my readings, there were always messages about me having to let my guard down and to stop worrying about what others thought about me. I had to stop worrying about the ‘pigs and fishes’. The last reading he did for me was using a Native American deck with animal totems. Again the message was about removing the masks and discovering the real me. I wondered if Keith was peppering the readings with subtle hints about letting him in. There was no way that was going to happen. He was sweet – but kind of creepy at the same time.
After that last reading I had an incredible out of the body experience. All of a sudden I was floating in space with two creatures – much like a white demon I had seen in a painting, with faces on their groins. They were on either side of me, holding my arms and they were grotesque. They told me telepathically that I needed to ‘drop the mask’ and to learn to see beyond the masks of others. In front of us I could see a huge black planet rolling towards us like a bowling ball. I was afraid but they kept telling me to relax. Then I saw a brilliant white light coming up over the horizon of the black planet. It was growing brighter and brighter as it came closer, appearing over the planet, still rolling towards us.
I wriggled and tried to break free, screaming in my ‘mind’ that I wanted to go back to my body and that I wasn’t ready. The creatures (or angels?) kept saying “You’ll regret it!” The white light was getting bigger and closer to the point that it was almost unbearable to look at. Finally I broke free, screaming “I can’t!” and I snapped back to my body. Fair enough, as soon as I sat up in bed I regretted being a chicken and not waiting to see the light, as it dawned on me that the white light was my ‘Higher Self’. To this day I feel bad about that, even though I’m still not sure if it was just my synapses misfiring!
One constant thing that has always been a part of me or my spirituality, is my pagan side. I have always felt strongly connected to the earth, the seasons and to the animal kingdom. I have always been fascinated with ritual and witchcraft too. When I was about twelve years old I came across a book of ceremonial magic that my mum had in her bookcase. It was given to her by a friend of the family, who had given it to us as he thought he was cursed by the witch who gave it to him. He was a guitar player in a band and he had an affair with her. He said that she scared him as she was very controlling and definitely had ‘the power’. When he broke up with her he started having terrible problems with arthritis in his hands, to the point where he couldn’t even play guitar. I don’t know what he did to “break the spell” but giving the book to us apparently helped a lot.
I remember taking the book into my room and setting up a ritual with candles, casting circle etc. However I freaked out when the wind picked up and the candles flickered so I quickly snuffed them out, packed up the altar and put the book back in its spot in the bookcase. Years later, mum threw the book in the fireplace.
In my late twenties I started dabbling with an ouija board. My neighbor at the time, Debbie, came up with the bright idea, and even though we didn’t have a board, we decided to make one out of a piece of masonite and some scrabble pieces. We used a little liqueur glass and placed our index fingers on it. Immediately it started moving. It was strange as it seemed as though it was moving of its own accord. Both of us were quite skeptical and wanted to test it, out of curiosity. Sometimes it would go so fast that it would slip out of our fingers and keep moving across the board. It was hard to keep up with it.
The same people would come through and it would say random crap that usually bored us to tears. We noticed that even after just twenty minutes our energy would be drained dramatically, and we had to stop to recharge our batteries with cups of tea and cookies! One time was freaky though. An entity came through and told us that Debbie’s son had torn his pants climbing over a fence at school. I went with her when she picked him up and fair enough, when he got into the car, he told his mum that he ripped his pants climbing over a fence! We raced home to jump back on the board!
It was amazing though, that we couldn’t get the lottery numbers! It wasn’t long before a nasty entity came through, saying that my brother Peter was going to die (he did die a few years later). I was so angry I told Debbie that I wasn’t going to do it anymore so we broke the board up into little pieces and threw it away.
I still wonder about what happens with an ouija board – whether you’re just channeling your own subconscious energies through it, or if there really are actual ‘spirits’ coming through.
Debbie and I started getting into tarot cards and read for each other over the following years. We also went to a professional reader who did a reading for me that I will never forget – as it made me laugh so much. She said that I would end up living in Argentina on a cattle ranch, with 40,000 head of cattle! Debbie promised me that if it ever eventuated, she would personally get on a plane and come to the ranch and eat her own shit from a gold platter. The funny thing is, it kind of came close. I did relocate to the U.S. and am living in Nashville, just not Argentina and without the 40,000 head of cattle. I hope to one day make enough money to do that, just to see Debbie eat her own shit. (Just kidding!)
Whenever I did my own tarot readings I recorded the questions I asked as well as the answers, so I could go back to them after a certain time to see if whatever was predicted came true. The problem with doing this is that once ‘programmed’ with the supposed outcome, you subconsciously bring about the result, unless you’re a saboteur and stop it from happening. I found it annoying when I realized that no matter what, I had the power to begin with, to bring about whatever change I wanted. Even though it was fun and enchanting to do a reading, whatever question I asked – I already had the desired answer in my mind.
I knew what I wanted to happen so I felt that I was affecting the outcome with my subconscious desires. I resorted to doing readings where I just asked “You tell me.” I got more honest and interesting results, which I still recorded and checked, months down the track. At times things did come true, but then it was easy to project certain outcomes. These days I don’t bother with the cards, as I rely more on cause and effect, research and knowledge, based on what has gone on before and what seems logical and reasonable.
We also started getting into witchcraft but I dropped it when I got into my relationship with Jim, the crazy unemployed writer. When I split up with him I picked it back up. I went the whole hog, doing rituals, wearing capes and pentagrams, celebrating the Sabbats and Esbats, writing my own incantations, gathering herbs, playing with gems, oils, spells and so on. I was already into dream interpretation, astral traveling etc so it went hand in hand. After years of practicing I realized that essentially, I was still an atheist at heart. I wondered how I could reconcile this with my pagan heart. Then it dawned on me.
We use magic as a touchstone to program the mind and deities as archetypes to understand our psychology. Symbolism is the language of our subconscious and ritual allows us to tap into it and to project our intentions. I realized that my connection to nature and the animal kingdom was what expressed my spirituality. It is my spirituality. The collective unconscious and the symbolism of the world is what speaks to my ‘spiritual mind’.
It’s not necessarily a faith, as it’s something that I can test and can see real outcomes eventuate in my life. Although my spirituality is still a work in progress (which is the same for all of us), I do feel that I don’t need a religious dogma to nail it down.
Organized religion has an agenda that is not in accordance with the ebb and flow of the rhythms of nature. It is preoccupied with the motivations of greedy and power hungry humans, who are hell bent on controlling other humans. I am happy to side step all of that and to find peace with the reality of nature, without the unreality of religion.
My narcoleptic experiences had died down to a dull roar during my teens, which is strange, but they intensified after the birth of my son at age 22. The last big one I had was when I was about 28 years of age. (Which is interesting as that is the age that some people believe your ‘Saturn returns’ come into play. For example: every 28 years, Numerologically & Astrologically, you go through a crisis of some sort.) It’s an age when people are apparently more likely to commit suicide – or make a major change in the direction of their lives. Apparently every 7 years you go through a crisis, good or bad, just like every 7 years your body has totally replaced every cell in your body.
At age 7 you are learning more about the world, its rules and your place in the world. At age 14 you are dealing with puberty and going through lessons dealing with how to become an adult. At age 21 you are expected to have ‘arrived’ and the crisis is usually to do with questions such as ‘who am I? what am I here for? where am I going?’ Some people figure that if you haven’t got it sorted out by the time you are 28 years of age, or if you are having difficulty with your assimilation into society, that it’s a big crisis. 4 x 7 = 28 and every 28 years is another major crisis.
The Atheist in me is still intrigued, but more likely to believe that each person has different life paths, patterns etc. Some people seem to be in crisis all the time! It’s usually all pinned to the journey an individual has lived, the summation of the decisions and choices they have made, their background, their projections and perceptions, belief systems, relationships, environment etc. Although a 7 year rhythm does seem reasonable, as most things in the universe relate to the vibration of a number, I don’t believe that everybody is exactly the same with this cyclic phenomenon.
At the time, I was living alone, apart from my 5 year old son. Nothing overtly important was going on, other than my son having started school. I was single and living in public housing, in a stand alone unit. I wasn’t working at the time and had a routine set with getting up early, getting my son ready for school, including getting his breakfast ready and packing his lunch. Then we’d get on the bus and after dropping him at school I’d come home and do housework, shopping etc.
This time there was no warning. I hadn’t changed the position of my bed. It was early on a Saturday morning and the sun was coming through the curtains, around 6:30am. It started with a dream, where I was in the back of a bus and I needed to get off. When I started walking towards the front of the bus, a few other people got up too, and we were queued in the aisle. When the bus stopped, we got off one by one and when it was my turn, I looked at the bus driver and something told me not to look at him, but I couldn’t help it.
When I did look at him his face was scrunched up in a really evil smirk or snarl. It was very scary. When I turned to jump off the bus I saw a little brunette school girl, about 5 years old and she had a surprised expression on her face. Her head then started getting bigger and bigger, as though someone had started pumping up her head with a bicycle pump. It looked like a balloon, the way her head kept getting bigger and bigger, and her eyes kept getting wider and wider, as if she was becoming more and more surprised.
Finally, her head exploded and then I saw a totally different scene. It was like a page filled with swarming maggots, but when I looked closer, I realized that it was a massive orgy with thousands of people swarming over each other. It wasn’t long before I snapped to and woke up out of the dream, but I was again paralyzed and couldn’t scream. I was on my back and felt another mouth inside my throat. It kept saying, over and over – “Why don’t you call your mummy?!” – in a sarcastic, taunting voice.
At the same time the voice was taunting me, I was trying to scream but couldn’t, and I also heard in my right ear, railway crossing bells ringing loudly. I could almost make out the railway crossing to my right, as I strained to see the room. Then I saw the ceiling go a misty white, like a cloud was forming.
As the clouds started clearing in the center, I saw three aliens. Two of them seemed like the standard greys but the one in the middle was the one that scared me. It seemed to have a face that floated in front of its actual head, changing and morphing like oil on water.
I was screaming inside my own throat, as the voices kept taunting and the bells kept ringing. I forced myself to look off into the left corner of the ceiling and yelled inside my mind for my ‘higher self’ to come and help me. As soon as I started doing that, I could see an orange ball of light appear in that left corner of the ceiling and as I focused on that – rather than the aliens, it dissipated. At the same time, lots of eyes had started appearing all over the walls, blinking and looking at me.
It took a long time to shake that episode off. Even after I got up and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea – 10 minutes later – I could still faintly hear the bells and my throat felt like the lips were still there. It shook me so much, I finally made an appointment at the local hospital and was linked to a neurologist.
After being interviewed and giving my whole history, I was scheduled for an EEG reading. They played strobe lights in front of my face as I stared straight ahead, and after a while we stopped and they told me they’d be in contact with the results. A few days later I received a phone call from one of the doctors, who advised that the findings were quite amazing. Apparently the majority of my brain activity was in the right temporal lobe. They said that the left brain was virtually inactive in comparison! They said that they could see where the last attack had taken place and that I needed to be tested further.
According to a theory put forward by some scientists, the right brain is best at creativity & expression. It also covers intuition, music appreciation, emotions etc. The left brain is supposedly in control of logic and analytical thinking, being better at things such as critical thinking, language, reasoning etc. (Some scientists say they have debunked this theory as a myth.)
I’ve always been very creative, love music and consider myself mostly intuitive, but I can also be quite analytical and like to think that I have a good grasp on language and critical thinking! So I went to my next EEG reading which was more intensive and then finally went back to my neurologist for the results. I was told that even though it’s a sleep disorder, it’s not technically narcoleptic. Hypnagogic hallucinations happen when falling asleep and hypnopompic hallucinations happen when coming out of sleep. I mostly have hypnopompic ‘turns’ but have sometimes had hypnagogic turns.
A trick I learned, especially over the last big turn, was to aim to turn my head to the right. When I was finally able to move, I noticed that I could ‘snap’ out of the attack and sit up, no longer paralyzed. Hence the reason that I have not had anything like that last attack since then. From time to time I have felt myself slipping into it – but suddenly turning my head to the right sets me free! There was a time, after that, when I fell asleep on the couch and I half awoke, feeling like there was a tornado in my ear. I felt the familiar, rubbery sensation along my spine and thought “Oh no!”, but was able to snap myself out of it. Some people say that the roaring in your ears is the beginning of your ‘soul’ leaving your body, as in astral projection. Who knows!
It was sad, (and strange) when I realized I had passed on this ‘affliction’ to my son, Zack. He was three years of age and prior to his first incident (or at least, to my knowledge it was his first incident), he had not yet strung words together to make full sentences. I was a little worried, although he was able to communicate and knew quite a lot of words and was obviously intelligent. It was early morning and I was at the table having a coffee. My brother Lucas lived in the unit next door, in the fishing village of Warneet on the outskirts of Melbourne.
All of a sudden, his door flew open and he ran towards me, very angry, breathing like he’d run a marathon. He just looked at me, angry and breathing hard. I asked him what the matter was. Then he calmed down and said “I come from the Pleiades constellation!” That’s right. They are the exact words that came out of his little mouth. I was flabbergasted and nearly dropped my cup. All I could say was “What?!” He repeated himself. Silence. A little while later I said “Say that again.”
He said it again. I grabbed his little hand and took him next door to my brother’s house and woke him up, which made him grumpy, of course. I told Zack to tell his Uncle what he had just told me. He said proudly “I come from the Pleiades constellation!” Lucas woke up 100% and did the same routine, saying “What?!” and so on. We were both flabbergasted. Zack proceeded to tell us, in full sentences, that our whole family came from the Pleiades constellation, from a planet called “Liftkik” (I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling!), and that we were vapors before we came into our bodies on this planet.
We spent the whole morning, trying not to lead him, to be as clear as we could, to find out where this stuff came from. It turned out that Zack had woken up in the middle of the night, feeling trapped in his body, and he tried to scream for me but I wouldn’t come. He said he saw tall grey aliens in long black cloaks standing in a semi circle around the room, with small, squat black aliens in front of them. One of the small black aliens put a clear crystal ball in the air and it floated towards Zack.
He saw that it had a black key in it and they told him that if he took the ball and unlocked the key he would discover the secrets of the universe! Apparently all the aliens kept chanting “Take it, take it, take it!” There was one alien that was very strange. He was also short, but like a white dwarf, with a long nose, pointy ears with gold earrings in them and he didn’t have a shirt on and no shoes. Apparently he was wearing shorts. Zack was mostly afraid of him. Zack asked me why I didn’t come to him when he was screaming for me. I apologized and said I didn’t hear and agreed to let him sleep with his door open from then on.
No matter what had happened, it dawned on me that he too might have inherited the dreaded narcolepsy curse. Or – our family comes from the Pleiades constellation! (?)