A Wiccan Journey: Outdoor Ritual vs. Indoor Ritual.

The title is a bit misleading. I’m not going to compare to see which is better, rather the opposite. I want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and ways to overcome the disadvantages (if possible).

It only makes sense that outdoor rites be the norm, but if you live in a northern countries where there’s extreme weather during the winter, that might be easier said than done. In Canada, our cold weather (that includes snow) usually starts in December, and doesn’t really let up until April. Sometimes March if I’m lucky. That’s not too bad. It means I have seven months of possible outside rituals, weather permitting, of course.

I love outside rituals. There’s something calming about being outside at night. When we lived in the country, it was perfect. The only thing I heard were the wonderful sounds of night; leaves in the trees, the occasion animal, and maybe a stray car off in the distance. It has to be the most peaceful setting to conduct a ritual. Outdoor rites are simple to set up and require no cleansing of the space beforehand. This is the biggest advantage I can think of with outdoor rites. I have four stones that I’ve painted and have symbols of the elements on them. I place them on the ground facing the right direction, have a candle for each, some incense, earth, water, and a flame and that’s it. Once, I got really creative and gathered up sticks from around the house and placed them as the circle.

Now I live in the city, so the noise from traffic can interfere, which is why I tend to do them later on in the evening or closer to midnight. Being in the city also means your neighbours are closer. During the warmer weather, a few of our neighbours stay out longer, and more than once I’ve done ritual with them still messing around in their backyards. It’s difficult to focus when they’re playing music, laughing and talking, not to mention I’m keenly aware that they are there so it’s not as private as I’d like it to be. I had to really concentrate to keep my focus as I keep thinking they were watching me through their privacy fencing.

Indoor rites allows me to burn more candles and not have to worry about them blowing out or being knocked over. A room full of candle light sets an incredibly calm atmosphere and helps me to focus. I can also play music at a soothing level to add to the rite. It also gives me the privacy and quiet that I want. Well, until I’m visited by a cat. Once, my son came downstairs to get something to drink and interrupt. I let him know ahead of time now.

During the colder months, I go out and chant to the full moon, and then go back inside and do ritual. It’s a nice way to still connect with the outdoors without freezing. Inside, I use my altar and I set up a sacred circle. The rite takes a little longer because of the circle casting, but as I’m inside, I don’t have the elements to contend with. They’re also the task of cleansing a head of time. This can be as time consuming as you want. I’ve scrubbed down my whole work area with water that’s had vervain soaking in it. Now I just smudge.

Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor rites, the most important thing is to make it fun and personal to you. Sometimes, when I’ve had a busy day, I just stand outside with a white candle, chant for a few verses, say a prayer and that’s it. There are a lot of guides as to how you can do a ritual, and you don’t have to do exactly how they instruct. Pick and choose what you like. Make it as easy or complex as you wish.

Blessed Be, and stay safe.

Random Question.

Just because I need a filler post and can’t think of anything else to blog about, I decided to answer random questions from an online site I found. WordPress used to do them and I think they’re fun.

Do you have an app on your phone that you use, even though you hate it?

Yeah, my Fitbit app, only because I check it CONSTANTLY!

Hubby got me a Fitbit a few years back because I was right into counting steps, and all that fun stuff, not to mention I can no longer read an analog clock (seriously), so I figured this would be the whole two birds, one stone thing, but I have become obsessed with it. Checking it several times an hour; how many steps, heart-rate, resting heart-rate, logging food, calories, water, how was my sleep? Deep sleep, REM sleep, light sleep? They added a few more features too. Mind-fullness, tracking how many days I’ve exercised. Granted, it’s all for a good cause and keeping track of this stuff makes me more mind-full of what I’m doing, or not doing. Still, the fact that I’ve fallen into the habit of checking it so much is why I hate it. Is it enough to make me stop? Nope. It’s going to be one of those love/hate things for as long as it works.

Food in the time of Covid.

This last year has been interesting, to say the least, but one thing I wasn’t planning on, was all the cooking I’d be doing. I think that came as a shock to a lot of people too. Suddenly, here we are, locked in our homes for weeks at a time, trying to keep sane, and like a lot of others, I found that cooking did take some of the edge off.

We got a few weeks subscription to HelloFresh, and it was great! Twice a week they’d send us stuff and I had a blast putting it all together. Not to mention that I had my son’s extra culinary knife set so I got to play with those as well. We only did the subscription for a couple weeks. It’s nice, but it’s damn expensive, and it opened me up to doing more home cooking than I was before. I started experimenting with spices and sauces, added herbs to things I normally wouldn’t, and took the time to really prepare a meal. My mom got me the biggest bottle of Worcestershire sauce I’ve ever seen. I love it too and I put that shit on everything.

The fact everyone was making bread I find hilarious, and my own attempt at making as sourdough starter failed brilliantly, but it wasn’t just bread. I discovered that I really like to cook, and not just whip stuff together or throw a pre-made dinner into the oven, but actually spend time preparing a meal. It’s become a lost art; like knitting.

Because of this, I’ve pulled back from the prepared meals. I get a few for my son on the days that I’ll be working late, but most of the time, I’ll cook from scratch, and I can’t wait until the garden is growing. Nothing tastes better than food you’ve grown yourself.

How were your Covid meals? Did you jump on the bread bandwagon?

Stay safe.

Of Writers and Prose: Social Media for Authors.

I can hear you all groaning from here.

Social media; the bane of every writers existence, but one of those things that we all need to do, whether we like it or not.

I wrote this post based on my experiences over the last decade with many social media platforms new and old. Whether or not it’s scientific, I don’t know, but this is the conclusion that I’ve come to. Take it or leave it, it’s up to you.

Social media keeps us ‘seen’ in the publishing/writing world, the one thing that all writers need in order to sell our books. Now, don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Twitter and all the others DON’T sell books, but keeping ourselves visible whether by posting those cute cat photos, retweeting someone’s book promotion, or making that quick video about absolutely nothing, keeps us engaged with our audience and in the end, it’s that engagement we need.

Why do we need it? Because, my friends, THAT is what sells books.

When you retweet another writer’s book promo, publish a blog entry, or make that cute video, you’re creating/manipulating the algorithms that all these sites use. Have you ever noticed when you watch something on YouTube, and suddenly there’s are a pile more videos just like the one you watched? That’s the algorithm working. Content IS the key to algorithms. It’s the reason the majority of how-to sites for social media specifically state that you should post on a regular basis? Because you’re creating the algorithm that will allow a potential audience to find you.

When someone clicks on your social media site, more of your content will appear on whatever platform they are using. If you post regularly, even as little as once every two weeks, you are actively engaging with the platform and it will recommend your site and more of your content. Don’t believe me? Click on a YouTube video and see how many more of the same type show up on your feed. (I’m using Youtube as an example because that’s the one that moves the fastest.) Click one video on say ghost pictures, and Youtube will list a dozen or more other channels with ghost pictures, or more content from the channel you watched.

That’s the algorithm in action. That’s what you need to harness.

Each platform is different and it takes a bit of time to figure out how each one works. TicTok is similar to YouTube with its algorithm, but I think Facebook is the slowest. Twitter goes by who you already follow, so the key is finding the followers, but that’s a topic for another post.

Engagement is the key, not just you putting out content, but you engaging with others, and it doesn’t have to be for hours at a time either, but you need to identify what works best for your and that includes how much time you’re willing to give. Remember, it’s called ‘social’ for a reason, and yeah, I can still hear you all groaning.

Writing Update: March 2021

2020 took a toll on my writing, and it seems 2021 is going to be a little easier on me. Our second lockdown ended half way through February and it felt great to get back to work, but my writing suffered for the first few weeks. I really didn’t work on anything until the beginning of March, and then it wasn’t the 2k that I’d been doing during 2nd Lockdown. At least I was writing, and two other stories started poking at me again.

So let’s begin:

Eva and Skye’s Magical Hair Solution

As I’m back at work, I’ve dropped my writing goal to 1,000 again. With blogging and other things, I don’t have the extra time to add more than that to the project. I’ve also been adding plot ideas for a second book. I want to have four books for this series, and I do have a rough idea of where they’re going to go. This first one will be light, but it’ll get darker as the story goes forward.

Word count – 63,000 of 89,000.

Pangea

This is a semi-new project and that’s the working title. I’ve mentioned before that I grew bored with my Gutterchild story (and then someone used that name for their published book), and working on the story with Scrivener did renew some interest, and I’ve been looking at this one again. I like the overall plot, but there are some details that need to be changed. I had originally wanted several books for this series, but right now I just want to get the first draft out. This won’t be the same plot as Gutterchild, and I’m still debating if I should move forward with it or mesh in a new one. I like the new idea too. I’m just not sure if I can sustain it for more than one book.

Zombie Plague

Another story that’s been poking at me again. After Nightfire rejected it *sadface* I didn’t send it out again. Life got complicated again (holiday season) and between being exhausted from work and the talk of a second lockdown (which happened), this story was the last thing on my mind. One good thing about being in a pandemic, I now know how the government-all three levels, along with the population at large, would handle a world-wide outbreak. Now that I have real-world experience, I want to include that into the novel, which means a minor revision. There are also a few things I want to take out and put into the second book, which already has a first draft. Looks like I’ll have a lot to do once I finish the first draft of EVA AND SKYE.

Take care and stay safe.

The Crystal Realm: Crystals for Aries.

Welcome to the month of Aries bitches!

The Aries energy is powerful. We are the FIRE energy. We are the WARRIER energy. We’re feisty, independent and trailblazers. We’re full of ideas and half the time we don’t know where to begin so we try to do it all at once. Our birthstone is the diamond. Hardest natural substance on the planet, and if you’ve ever argued with an Aries, you’ll get a taste of that, but having all that energy isn’t always a good thing and with all the qualities imbued to an Aries, there is a negative side to it all, so here are a few crystals for my fellow Aries to help them navigate those erratic waves.

Aquamarine – Aries are all about fire but sometimes that’s not a good thing. Aquamarine is a WATER stone and can help calm some of those fiery impulses.

Black onyx – This is a good stone to help us find balance in our lives.

Clear quartz – this stone can be used in conjunction with other stones. Everyone should have at least one clear quartz in their collection.

Garnet – This protection stone is the ultimate stone for an Aries. It can enhance the natural energies of our sign.  

Red jasper – This stone can temper our minds and let us think clearly, especially when our natural reaction is to do now, think later.

Apart from the Aquamarine and quartz, there’s a colour pattern here-red and black. Two colours that are associated with the Root Chakra, and the primal energies of our bodies. If you’re meditating with one of these stones, use a spicy (patchouli, clove) incense or woody (pine, cedar, bamboo).

These are just a few stones that I found while researching. The link below has several more that help with other aspects of the Aries nature.

Aries Crystals

Five things Every Writer Should Know. Period.

I’ve been writing for a solid twelve years, and I’ve hung around the writing community for about fifteen. A lot has happened in those years, and no matter how many things come and go, they always stay the same. Every year, new writers enter the writing world and are bombarded with things they should do, shouldn’t do, maybe should do – well, you get the picture. I’m here to tell you, with all the experience and knowledge I’ve gained in the last ten years, or more, there are five things that every writer should know. Now some of this is just common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to restate them every now and then.

  • Writing fads come and go.

Remember that vampire craze a few years back? Remember how everyone was writing about them and you couldn’t swing a rope of garlic without hitting a book that had vampires? Just replace vampires with werewolves, zombies, witches, ghosts, and it can feel like the publishing world is getting a bit crowded with the paranormal, but don’t fret. What comes around goes around, and if you have a paranormal novel with any of the above and you feel it won’t be seen, wait a few years. These tropes never go out of style and there’s a reason there are so many-because they’re popular and have a very large following. Keep writing that book, and when it’s done, do your research. If you feel the time isn’t right put it away and wait for a time when it is.

  • Never compare yourself to another writer

This should be a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. All writers have that internal voice that nags at them and tells them they’re not as talented as (insert author here), or why aren’t your books or your career doing as well as (?). I’ve fallen victim to it myself several times and it’s a real pain in the ass to ignore too, but you have to. You have to tell that little voice to fuck right off. Negativity like that can damage your creative energy. Once you start thinking you’re not as good as so-in-so, you begin a spiral that eventually pulls you away from the passion you have for not just your story, but for writing in general.

  • Agents talk to each other.

Yes, they do. Frequently. They talk to each other and about all sorts of things too; stories about how well their clients are doing, upcoming novels they’re really excited about, and authors who have decided to be assholes and harass or belittle them.  If you harass an agent, you can damn well bet that other agents will not only know about it, but be keeping an eye out for anything you send.  Agents get hundreds of emails per day and the last thing they need is some writer giving them a hard time because that agent passed on their manuscript. I follow several agents and at least once a year I see posts from them about some wanna-be author taking their rejection personally. Please, be an adult about this. If an agent (or editor, for that matter) passes on your manuscript, yes it hurts, but it’s not the end of the world and not worth being labeled. Yes, you heard me right. You’ve marked yourself right from the beginning as being hard to work with, and trust me, NO ONE wants to work with that asshole.

  • Writing is HARD.

A decade or so, when self-publishing soared into popularity, everyone decided to write a book. Nothing wrong with that, but some soon learned that being an author isn’t easy, and neither is telling a good story. I get it. Writing is hard, but the difference between a writer and an author is how you handle that hardship. A new writer may look at other writers/authors and see how effortlessly they accomplish word goals, or publishing goals, or handle promotional work, etc, but I’m going to tell you that each and every writer has struggled with all of these at one time or another. The reason it looks so easy, is because they understand the nature of the beast. Writing is more than just telling a story, and promoting is more than just putting up a link to your novel. This is a business and it has to be treated like one. Learn as much as you can about your craft and everything that comes with it. The writing community is very supportive. Hook up with like-minded people, because the information they can give you is priceless.

  • How-To Books are Guidelines

This goes along with #4. Writing books are a wonderful place to start for the new writer. Hell, even seasoned writers can gain new insight into their writing with them. I have a few myself, but I’m well aware that what has worked for the authors might not work for me. In those instances, I tweak their information to work in my situation. For example, there’s a popular advice that states you should read for 4 hours a day and write for 4 hours a day, every day. I don’t have that luxury and neither do many of my writing friends, but I didn’t dismiss this advice. Maybe I can’t write or read 4 hours a day, but I can write for 30 minutes every other day. The fact is, I’m writing. I’m creating a writing habit that will help me move forward with my stories, and guide me through those days when putting words down is difficult.

So there you have it; 5 Things Every Writer Should Know. Period.

Take care and stay safe.

The Pandemic: One Year In.

Today is an odd sort of anniversary, but this is a date I will remember for the rest of my life.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day the pandemic officially affected my life. One year ago today, I was at work, nervously talking with co-workers about the increase in cases, and how stores in the mall were already closing down; wondering if we were going to follow. The WHO had issued a global pandemic and all this was so new, so strange. We wondered how long it would last, or if it was as bad as the news said. There was a lot of worry, and sometimes I wonder if we didn’t worry enough. There was a lot of denial and confusion; nothing like this had ever happened before, not in a hundred years, and so much had changed since that time.

A year later, and wiser, covid has become a daily thing in my life. I wear a mask when I go anywhere, vinyl gloves at work, and douse my hands with sanitizer and soap. There are new variants in the illness. Some are worse than the original, some not as much, and as I write this I wonder if life will ever get back to a place where I can say normal again, or is this the new normal?

A year ago I was dressed for St Patrick’s Day; green clothing, eye makeup and lipstick. My shift was until 9pm and we were slow. No one was out. I had the next day off and was to work a close on Thursday, but the next day, as more stores closed, I got the notice that my workplace would close too. Now it was becoming scary. I was officially laid off on April 2, but I was lucky. My workplace was honouring my scheduled hours and paying me for them. The Federal Government was already implementing special unemployment benefits (taxable) and I was able to draw on that. From March 18th until June 1st, almost ten weeks, I was in lockdown. We only went out for groceries, my husband didn’t visit (we talked on the phone), and I tried to keep myself and my mind busy, and not get too deep into ‘doomscrolling’. Some days were better than others, and I thought I had a good grasp on what was going on, but the fact I quit doing the things that I loved (writing mostly), meant that it was affecting me in ways I didn’t know.

Going back to work at the beginning of June and everything felt different. Plexiglass was up around the cash regisers, we had to wear masks for our entire shift, and we had to keep six feet from customers AND co-workers. That last one was the hard part. I played traffic cop and had to direct customers and break up groups that huddles around tables. If you were going the wrong way, I’d tell you.

#SorryNotSorry.

Now, one year later, it took a while, but we eased into a routine and learned to block out, if not ignore completely, the constant barrage of covid related news. I take a quick look when the new numbers pop up, but then go back to what I was doing. I have a dozen masks ready to go, seven cans of Lysol and I don’t know how many small bottles of hand sanitizer, not to mention my own stash of vinyl gloves. They say we’re on the verge of a third wave and a possible third lockdown. Vaccines are out and being distributed, but I’m not sure when I’ll get mine. We’re still working on the elderly, and front-line workers, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe again.

So here we are, one year in and I’m still trying to keep busy. I went from doing nothing to doing too much, so I’m still trying to find a healthy balance. I went for a nice long walk this morning, and it felt good. Maybe I’ll start doing that again. It seems to ease my mind, and these days, that’s the key to surviving all this.

Stay safe.

What’s on the eReader: [Good question]

I’m sorry, folks. No book review this month. Getting back into the swing of reading again now that I’m back to work, has been a little more difficult than I thought. I’m exhausted at the end of my shift and other than relaxing in front of the tv, I haven’t done much reading. Too much strain on the eyes.

So what’s on the ereader? A hell of a lot, to be honest.  Here’s a rundown;

10 Gothic

5 Science fiction

20 Classic

9 Zombie

5 Paranormal

1 Mystery

1 My book

4 Other

Total: 55

Most of these are just samples. I refuse to purchase a book until I’ve read a small excerpt of the author’s writing. I’m particular when it comes to the books I read, and a lot of these samples I downloaded while I was working on certain books. The Gothic and zombie ones I downloaded to get a feel for the genres. Most of the gothic are classic as well, so I suppose there’s a bit of cross-genre going on here.

The classic books I think everyone should have in their library just because, and I’ve always been a fan of scifi. I don’t normally read Paranormal but one was recommended by a friend and I enjoyed that so I downloaded more. The mystery book was written by a friend who has a whole series which I now plan on reading.

In total, I’ve finished seven.

I’ve read some of the classics; Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Frankenstein, Dracula Carmilla, and the Castle of Ontorno. You can imagine my surprise when I first read Frakenstein only to learn that it was NOHTING like the 1950’s movie.

The zombie ones came a while later after I was able to sit through a whole episode of The Walking Dead and started writing my own zombie plague novel. I must have downloaded a good two dozen of them, only to delete them after the sample. Most were self published, and no, I’m not going to get into a rant about that, because there are good self-published novels, but with the zombie genre, I just found that it was the same story over, and over, and over. I don’t know, maybe people like that sort of mindless shooting spree/survivalist story without any sort of a plot, but it’s not my cup of tea.

The crime novel was written by a friend, and to be honest, I don’t read a lot of novels by friends. What if I don’t like it and they ask me if I did? I don’t want to be stuck in that awkward situation, so I tend to avoid it all together. Having said that, the ones that I have read are good, but I’m not going to push my luck. So yeah, back to the crime novel. You might have read my review of it on my blog a while back. I did like it and I am going to read more in the series once I’m back on track. There are a few horror ones I want to check out as well, but I want to get through this lot first before I add more to my ToBeRead pile.

Oh yeah, and one of my co-workers suggested I read The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, so I’ve added that which means that if I like it, I’ll get the other books. This list just keeps getting longer and longer.

What book[s] are you currently reading? If you like them, maybe I’ll add them to my list.

Of Writers & Prose: When the mind says YES, but the body says NO.

I am the most indecisive person I’ve ever met. My ideas flow like crazy but making them a reality is a whole other story. My on-again-off-again desire to make YouTube videos consumed me for the nearly eight weeks I was off work, until it culminated into a health problem. A minor one, but still it forced me to stand back and take an honest look at what I wanted to do compared with what I could do, and I’m afraid the latter won.

I had a slew of video ideas all planned out. There would be interviews with writer friends on their new books or whatever they wanted to talk about, and I had a series of five minute videos entitled 5 Things Every Writer Should Know, that were quick takes on all sorts of writing related subjects. I did this to keep my mind engaged during lockdown. Last time I did nothing but doomscroll, eat and play video games for six weeds. What I didn’t realize was with the schedule I’d made, I was adding more stress on top of the stress of being in lockdown, and my body (and computer, for that matter) decided I needed a wake call in the form of heart palpitations. My maternal grandfather died of a fatal heart attack at 50, so needless to say I was a bit concerned. I had this years ago when I was drinking a lot of coffee, and they went away when I switched to tea. Quite frankly I feel stupid for it (I know I shouldn’t, but I do), and once I cancelled the interviews everything went back to normal literally overnight. I did toy with the idea of starting them up again, a part of me isn’t willing to risk another round of problems.

Having said that, I still like both of these ideas, but I’m going to make them more me-friendly. The short series I’m going to put up on my blog. I think it’ll be a nice addition to my Writers and Prose posts, and as for the interviews, well, I still want to do that as well and I’m working on making it a reality, just in a different, less stressful way.

Stay tuned . . .

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