Update on Book 2 of my Domina Lumen Trilogy

Okay, I had hoped I would have book 2 finished by now and all would be right in my little world. Well, no. But, I have been working on the book and am on chapter 14, so that’s at least something! This book is more complex than book 1 and requires more research, but it’s not that complex. We will be in the World Within (inside Earth) in this book and there will be Vikings! Along with lotsa fantasy things and adventures. Anyway, I thought I should post a brief update.  Happy 4th of July.  ~ M.E.

P.S. I’m reading Patrick Rothfuss now and loving his descriptions!

Heart of Stone

Rock with heart smaller

I was dusting my rock shelf the other day…something I hadn’t done in a very long time and it seemed appropriate to dust off my blog as well. I thought I would tell the story of my “Heart of Stone.”

I found the stone years ago on the shore of a local lake while digging for fossils. I was walking with a friend who was vaguely like a boyfriend. We had been hanging out together for several years, but had never gone on a typical date. Our attraction had mostly been physical and by this time, the physical was all we had left. After years of arguing about every little thing under the sun there was no point in trying to have an intellectual conversation. It would only end in anger and exasperation. We were the prime example of “opposite’s attract.”

Despite all that, the discovery of the rock came at a time when I was feeling like we might be able to somehow, someway, make a stab at a real relationship. We couldn’t continue to depend on the physical thing holding us together for much longer. The thought of losing his affection had begun to creep into my thoughts and I wasn’t ready for that. My idea of a relationship wasn’t anything permanent, but maybe we could take it to the next level – like go out to eat in public.

I remember when I saw the stone half buried on the shore. I pulled it out of the sand to inspect what I thought I had seen and sure enough, there was a heart in the stone! This of all symbols to find on that day.  I knew it had to mean something. My heart sang! It was as if the Universe was giving me its blessing and affirmation. “Don’t be afraid! There is true love here!”

My friend was down the shore from me. I washed the sand off the stone and hurried to show it to him. He smiled and commented on how cool it was. Then he paused and looked at me and in a moment that had so many possibilities, a moment that could have been so romantic, he said, “Don’t get any ideas.” He then turned and walked on down the shore without me.

Well. It was okay. I was a little disappointed at the time, but a relationship never would have worked. We both knew it. When I came home that day, I placed the stone on my rock shelf in a prominent spot. I looked at it everyday and my desire to see my friend began to wane.  I finally broke it off for good, not in a mean way, but in a “we both know it’s coming so let’s just end it now” way. The stone had a lot to do with that. It reminded me that love was what was truly important in my life and still is. Of course, the stone could also represent the harsh cruelties of love… I guess it’s left up to personal interpretation, but I choose to see the positive in this case.   ~ M.E.

 

 

 

Retro Dip Pen Writing

Dip pen and ink for blog

I recently read that writing by hand has all sorts of benefits for your brain, which is really no surprise. It seems to be in the news more lately since schools have begun dropping cursive from the curriculum. I have begun an experiment on this theory. I am writing book 2 of my Domina Lumen series using the dip pen and ink well you see in the photo. I’m on chapter 5 and so far, I like using the pen very much!

Abysmal Canyon, book 1, was written on my laptop and that was okay, but I was concerned about how many hours I was staring at a computer screen and the blessed distractions of the internet were a problem now and then. I also felt a disconnect – sort of like the difference between drawing with a pencil where you feel the vibrations of the lines being dragged across the paper compared to drawing in a computer graphics program where there’s no feeling except for clutching a mouse or electronic pen that “draws” on an electronic pad that “draws” on the screen.

I started this experiment with a regular ball point pen, but that didn’t feel special enough or worthy of the manual effort. I tried fancier, more expensive pens, but still no magic. So I went back to the Dark Ages (well, not quite -this isn’t a quill pen) and immediately felt a connection. I use the dip pen for drawing sometimes, so the artist in me was pleased and since book 2 is in a medieval world, I felt a sudden kinship with Ysolde, my protagonist, as if she were doing the writing by candle light in a thatch roofed cottage deep in the forest.

Handwriting, regardless of instrument, has it’s advantages. There’s a feeling of satisfaction when I get to the bottom of each page and add it manually to the slow growing pile. If I need to look back at something, I just pick up the page without having to scroll to look for it. I can lean on the table with one hand under my chin while I write. I can doodle when I’m thinking. I can immediately underline or circle words I know need more attention or make notes in the margins. I’m free to be messy and creative and maybe even a better writer.

Initially, I thought the ink would be a pain to manage, especially since I’m left-handed and major smearage (new word) was possible as my hand dragged along in the wet ink, BUT that hasn’t been the case. The ink dries so quickly I haven’t had any problems. I thought I would have to continually keep dipping the pen in the well, but no, amazingly, one good dip will last the entire page length!  I get a peculiar calming effect from dipping the pen. It’s a very Zen – “Be Here Now” kind of feeling. The only negative I’ve found is the obvious – that I can’t just delete/backspace/retype over a section. But that hasn’t slowed me down. The pen flows quickly and will write as fast as I can scribble. I am more thoughtful about what I scratch out with the pen and just knowing that that sentence will still be there if I decide it wasn’t so bad after all is a comfort.

Despite my new attachment to the dip pen, I’m not a total convert. My laptop will have its day again and be very welcome. It is a phenomenal machine and  a blessing compared to the clunky manual typewriter I  had to use in college that always typed the “e” a little higher than the rest of the letters. When I finish this first draft, I may type it into the laptop to edit or I may edit by hand again then type it. I know I have many revisions ahead, regardless of whether the words are on paper or a memory stick. But it’s been a fun ride so far.

If you’re looking for a fresh new way to write, you might give the old way a try – just for kicks. You might actually like it!

Thoughts of my Dad

Me and Dad drawing at the farm

This is one of my favorite photos taken in 1963 of me at age 5 and my dad, age 42, drawing together. We were on vacation at our ancestral family farm in Tennessee about an hour south of Nashville in the tiny rural community of Fly. We drove there from Texas every summer to visit my grandparents on my mother’s side and any aunts, uncles and cousins who sometimes also drove in from out of town for a family reunion.

My dad was a professor of painting and art history as well as a professional contemporary artist (painting and sculpture). He had a wonderful sense of humor and a supreme love and appreciation of all things natural. He had been a pilot in WWII for 5 years and had seen some disturbing sights of war he wouldn’t talk about, although now and then, he would tell me stories of his adventures in Africa and the Middle East. He smoked Captain Black tobacco in his pipe. There’s still a can of it in his studio. The sweet, musky smell brings me right back to him. He died suddenly of a heart attack at home in Texas several years ago, having lived a long, full life of 88 years.

I loved how my dad never made me feel uncomfortable for being a quiet child who preferred to listen and observe others rather than talk. I miss the way he would smile at me when a butterfly would land on my hand, the butterfly being the most precious and important thing in the whole world at that moment, or the way he would draw something funny on his napkin during supper and show it to me discreetly so my mother couldn’t see our shared secret. How lucky I am to have had such a sensitive, kind, intelligent man as my life mentor for so many years.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I’m having a Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback of my book, Abysmal Canyon. It ends June 20th. For more information, please see the link below. Thanks!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Abysmal Canyon by M.E. Neidhardt

Abysmal Canyon

by M.E. Neidhardt

Released August 22 2015

Giveaway ends in 9 days (June 20, 2016)

1 copy available, 272 people requesting

giveaway details »

Enter Giveaway

Free Ebook Promotion!

Amazon link to my book ~ http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B014DNR4Q2

I am offering the ebook version of my sci-fi fantasy novel, Abysmal Canyon, for FREE starting this Friday, May 27 through May 31!  I have signed up on many websites for this promo, so we’ll see how it goes! I am also planning to giveaway several copies of the print version through the Goodreads Giveaway program soon after the free ebook promo is over. I will post here when I set the dates for the print book giveaway. Cheers!

Here is a summary of Abysmal Canyon ~

Fast-paced, action-packed new adult and college tale with crystals, divination, ancient lore, new worlds, supernatural humanoids, intrigue, romance and a plot that will keep you guessing!

When Ysolde Hartmaan starts to head off to her new life at college, tragedy strikes. She is suddenly plunged into a dark world full of mystery and terror where her unreliable divination skills will mean the difference between life and death. Ysolde learns she is the heir to an ancient legacy – a legacy which could be the deciding factor in a centuries old war between two races of energy entities, the Lumen and the Vapors. Teamed with a handsome Lumen as her guardian, Ysolde’s attraction to him grows strong, but romance must wait. Her duty to banish the Vapors and prevent a mass extraterrestrial invasion is pitted against her love and loyalty to her family as she learns to accept the threats and obligations of her new title- Domina Lumen.

Cedar Waxwing Death Scare

Cedar Waxwing

Today when I was sitting on my couch with my laptop, I heard something hit my glass front screen door with a thump. The sound was familiar. A bird hit. Birds don’t hit my door very often, thank goodness. The fact that  I intentionally leave the glass dusty to keep the reflections down and hang a seasonal wreath year-round to break the reflection, yet birds still run into the door, is upsetting. They don’t always live through it. I hated to look,  knowing there was a 50-50 chance I would see a beautiful winged creature lying dead on my porch with a broken neck. I opened the door slowly and saw a delicate, incredibly beautiful Cedar Waxwing sitting dazed on my front porch. She turned her head and looked up at me, wobbling in her stance. My heart ached for her.  I  slowly closed the door. There is a large, menacing male Siamese semi-stray who hangs around in the bushes near my front porch.  I was nervous he might snatch her. I wanted to protect her, to put her in a safe place to recuperate. But I knew if I tried to pick her up, she would freak out and possibly die. So I kept an eye on her through the window.  The next 30 minutes were harder for me, I think, than for her. I was committed to watch her until she was okay. To my great happiness and relief, she finally regained enough composure to fly away with her flock mates. Cedar Waxwings migrate through this area of north Texas every year, along with many other birds heading south in the late fall then heading north in the spring. I treasure them all and wish them safe return to their native lands, especially my beautiful new friend.

Mystical Vulture Visitor from the Otherworld/Spirit World.

Black_Vulture_1

Yesterday morning, I had what I believe to be a visit from a spirit from the Otherworld or Spirit World. I say this because I can’t find a rational explanation for the experience no matter how hard I try. I have to admit, I am ashamed I would even feel the need to find an explanation. The  younger me wouldn’t have questioned this for a moment.

As the story goes, I was walking my dog early in the morning down a path on the edge of a small college campus, between the soccer field and the intermural field. There were no trees in the immediate area, just fences and low bushes. There was a cool breeze and the sun was just coming up. Tag (my dog) and I were happily cruising along when suddenly there was a flash of light before me then a huge black vulture appeared soaring about 15 feet above. His enormous wings were stretched out so far he looked more like a condor than a vulture. He looked directly at me then swooped down right over my head so close I felt the wind from his feathers as he passed. I quickly turned to look back at him, but he was gone.  I mean he just vanished. How could such a large bird just disappear? There was absolutely no bird even close to that size anywhere nearby. I stood still looking around in all directions for a good 5 minutes and saw nothing. I looked at the top of the power line poles along the path and other tall things the bird might have suddenly lit upon after passing me. I looked in the distance all the way around for a vulture soaring in the air. Nothing. He vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

Now, I am a firm believer in the Otherworld/Spirit World, but it has been a long time since I have had a vision that wasn’t in a dream or during meditation. This was real time, in this world, in this dimension (or at least, I think it was!). I have always admired the vulture for the fact that even though they are raptors,  they are not predators. They don’t kill, but feed on the dead. They are fastidiously clean and take excellent care of their young way longer than most. And they can soar like no other bird I have ever watched. They seem to enjoy spiraling together in the thermals. I have often wished I could join them. Still, why would he visit me??

A little vulture culture – The Mayans revered the vulture saying the bird could re-create life from death. In Egyptian mythology, vultures were symbols of femininity and maternal protection. When the goddess Nekhebet became associated with the vulture headdress, the bird became a heraldic symbol for Upper Egypt.

 Nekhbet

Egyptian queen with vulture headress

(Egyptian queen with vulture headdress)

So here’s the rest of the story – Tag and I continued on our walk, still looking for signs of the vulture, but saw nothing. When I got home, I looked in my Druid Animal Oracle for a vulture to see what the vision might have meant. The book mentioned blackbirds and ravens, but no vultures.  So I searched the internet and found that if a vulture has flown across your path, the vulture is asking you to be patient. He is asking you to be thoughtful about your decisions and “choose paths that support your higher consciousness and heart.” – (this came from the website: http://www.spirit-animals.com/vulture/  More on the subject can be read there.)

Even though my experience was way more than just a random vulture passing by, I couldn’t find any information about a mystical siting of a vulture from the Otherworld, so I decided to just go with what I found.

Another website had an entire page devoted to the symbolism of the vulture throughout history in different cultures. Wow! I had no idea! Here’s the link to that website with fascinating information for those who want to know more. http://www.whats-your-sign.com/bird-meaning-vulture.html  Thank you, Avia!

So what does all this mean for me? The suggestion from the Spirit Vulture that I need to be patient and take my time making decisions fits with my current situation. With all the obsessions and insecurities I’ve had about the new cover for my book ( while neglecting my blog and not writing book 2!) and freaking out over the endless forms of marketing I apparently should be doing, I have been going nuts. I don’t have the money to do what the gurus/bestsellers suggest, but even the free marketing leaves me very little time to write. I bow down to those self-published bestseller folks for having such social media tenacity. The private, creative soul inside of me hates, hates and did I mention, hates(?) marketing!

Bottom line – I’ve been trying to do too many things at once. I need to chill, soar, be patient and thoughtful, write and do my art and things will work out.

So to end this mini-saga about my visitor. Having the Spirit Vulture pop in and out of my world was a blessing and perfect timing! Although I won’t be dining with him on road kill, I will try to embrace all that he has to teach me. I might even find a way to include him in book 2 of my series. Just thinking about him has gotten me writing again. His magic is already working!  🙂

New Book Cover for Abysmal Canyon

Well, after MANY different designs and gathering opinions, I have finally created the cover I think works best for my book. Thank you to those who gave opinions about the other designs I had up on this blog for a while. The new cover is now on the book on Amazon and hopefully, it will be more attractive to my target audience (18-24 year olds).

Introducing “Von” from my novel, Abysmal Canyon.

Von cropped contrast 10 brightness -10 smaller

Von is a Lumen, which is a positive energy entity. He can take on a human form, which you see here. He is the guardian for the Domina Lumen (Lady of the Lumen or Light), who happens to be Ysolde. There is a definite attraction that grows between the two. I am fairly happy with this depiction of him. His eyes are a very light, silver blue. His hair is long and white. He wears it either pulled back or loose as above (my preference). He has a bit of the High Elf look with the long white hair and he is tall, strong and proud. But he’s not as refined in dress, nor does he have the High Elf eyes or ears. And no, he’s not related to Fabio. haha