Monday, December 24, 2012

My Next Big Thing: Blog Tour

I’d like to thank Susan Oleksiw, author of the Mellingham Mystery series and the Anita Ray series, for inviting me to participate in this writers’ blog tour: The Next Big Thing. Check out her post for the tour at “One Writer’s World.” Susan and I have known each other for many years, and cofounded the publishing company Level Best Books, along with Kate Flora. They’re both terrific writers, and Susan is also a talented photographer.

On this tour, lots of writers share their experiences and ideas about the writing process, and talk about either an already published book or a work in progress. It's a great opportunity to get together online with our friends, colleagues, and readers. We all respond to the same set of questions, but of course our answers are all different. Although I’ve got two novels ready for a publisher (anybody interested?) and am halfway through the first draft of another, I decided to blog about my latest published work, which I hope will become my Next Big Thing sales-wise.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the author of more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books, including Hidden Agenda, which won The Kiss of Death Award for best novel of romantic suspense. Most of my fiction falls into the mystery category. Much of my nonfiction work centers on health/healing, metaphysical subjects, home/interior design, and mystical, magical beings such as angels and mermaids. My short stories have been published in numerous anthologies internationally, and my work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Q: What is the title of your book?

My most recently published book, Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore, came out earlier this year and includes all sorts of tales, trivia, sightings, and fascinating info about mermaids throughout history and from around the world.

Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?

My editor, Andrea Hakanson, at Adams Media and my now-agent, Paula Munier, came up with the idea––thanks again, ladies––and we developed the book together.

Q: What genre does your book fall under?

Basically, it’s a nonfiction work and classified under the rather boring “reference” category, but Adams produced it so beautifully (hardcover with lots of lovely turquoise illustrations throughout) that it really should be considered a gift book as well. You could also shelve it under mythology because, as the subtitle says, it traces the myths, legends, and lore about merfolk back thousands of years to ancient Assyria.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, lots of movies have already been made about mermaids. Disney popularized Hans Christian Andersen’s story in the animated movie The Little Mermaid, which has grossed billions of dollars since its release in 1989. However, the actual tragic tale is a far cry from the fluffy Hollywood interpretation. And mermaids have appearanced in other movies, including Splash in 1984 starring Daryl Hannah. The Secret of Roan Inish is about Irish Selkies, a type of merfolk who shapeshift from seals to humans. Many of the individual legends in my book could be brought to the movie screen––I’d nominate Scarlett Johansson, Amanda Seyfried, Evan Rachel Wood, and Sierra McCormick for mermaid roles.

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’d say: Everything you ever wanted to know about these mysterious and magical beings, and more. Actually, the back cover copy says: “In this beautiful collection, you’ll explore the watery origins of these mysterious nymphs, from the streams and rivers of ancient Babylonia to the shining seas of the New World and beyond.”

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Adams Media, in Avon, MA published the book this year; they’ve also published seven of my other books. Paula Munier––one of my inspirations at Adams at that time––is now my literary agent and is seeking publishers for two of my novels.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I spent about three months on the first draft, then another few weeks making revisions my editor recommended. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but from conception to birth the project probably took about the same amount of time as a human baby would, but with a lot less discomfort!

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Mermaids have mesmerized us for millennia, and the mermaid mystique shows no signs of diminishing anytime in the near future. I had a great time researching this book, talking to anthropologists and historians, and learning about all the different types of merfolk that splash about in the waters of the world. Did you know, for instance, that mermaids don’t just swim in the sea, some of them live in lakes, rivers, and even fountains? Not all mermaids sport a single tail (the ultimate chastity belt)––some, like the original mermaid on the Starbucks logo, feature split tails that allow them to mate with humans. And many can transform their fishy tails into human legs when they want to come ashore. Most mermaids combine good and bad qualities, but all are bewitchingly beautiful. And yes, mermen exist too. I hope if you choose to read Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore you’ll have as much fun as I did writing it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Can We Expect on 12/21/2012?

I posted this info last year, as we approached the year 2012. Now that the long-awaited winter solstice is approaching, I thought you might like to read it again. The beautiful graphic was created by my friend and fellow author/artist Kathleen Valentine.

You’ve heard the dire predictions––supposedly based on the Mayan calendar––that the world will end on the winter solstice. But what can we really expect?

First of all, astrologers don’t believe the Maya meant that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Instead, their ancient calendar pointed to the end of an astrological age. Each age, according to their calculations, lasted about 25,500 years. This corresponds to what astrologers call the precession of the equinoxes, meaning the amount of time it takes the spring equinoctial sun to move backward through the zodiac and arrive again at the same point from which it started. (Of course, the sun doesn’t really move, but that’s how it appears to us from our vantage point here on Earth.) Thus, 12/21/2012 signals the true beginning of a new age: the Age of Aquarius.

It’s interesting to note that 12/21/2012, from the perspective of numerology, is an “11” day––the number of Aquarius. Aquarius, as you may know, is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, but there’s more to it than that. When you add the digits of the date (1+2+2+1+2+0+1+2) you get a sum of 11. Numerologists consider 11 to be a “master number.” Master numbers resonate with intensity. They offer increased opportunities for growth, awakening, and accomplishment. They demand more from you and require you to function at a higher level of awareness.

Eleven is the number of the visionary, the avatar, the inventor, the person who leads by offering a positive example. It’s also linked with humanitarianism, equality, balance, truth, and integrity. In the Tarot’s major arcana, the Justice card is number 11.
When we’re under the influence of the number 11, we may experience lightning-like bursts of insight or situations that propel us to act quickly, drawing on intuition as well as intellect. The repetition of 11s, as in 11:11, can be seen as a portal into other worlds or realms of consciousness.

What all this suggests is that 12/21/2012 brings conditions that will require us to think outside the box and to address problems with a more elevated and expanded vision. We’ll have to be more honest with ourselves and others, and behave with greater integrity. We’ll be called to make changes that benefit humanity and take into account the good of all, not just a few. We’ll see continued efforts to right wrongs and establish more balance between the haves and the have-nots. In short, this winter solstice sounds a wake-up call for all of us and offers us an opportunity to usher in the long-awaited Age of Aquarius.

A blessed solstice to all!