Monthly Archives: June 2013

Reflections on what “Networking” is really all about

Sometimes in the wild and woolly world of the Internet and Social Networking, you manage to form lasting relationships with people you may never meet personally, but dearly wish you could.  Since I began my adventure I have found a number of these people.  People I have not met, may never meet, and yet feel that they have become a very special part of my life. Morgan is just such a person.  I am charmed by her input, inspired by her passion and whether or not we agree on things, I admire her gentler touch in bringing issues to the forefront.  When such a person pours her soul out into poetry, I consider it something worth noting.

Starting WedFront thumbnesday, June 19th through Thursday, June 20th,  Morgan will be offering the Kindle version of her book, Dancing within Shadow, for free.  This 2-day event will launch a promotion that will run 7-10 days at which time (drum rollllll) – she will release her paperback version.  There are new poems, photographs, and a brand new cover for both the paperback and the Kindle.

What I love about this little book is that Morgan has expressed some of the pain she experienced in her childhood in such a manner that anyone that has suffered at some point can wrap themselves up in her insight and inspiration.  She provides few details and does not linger long before she moves on to the process of growing out of that pain, growing into something beautiful and fulfilling.  She takes your hand and leads you into her world:

 The Journey Opens

I am diving into poetry to discover

what lies beneath the surface

and between the spaces

of time and me.

Finding much I’ve learned

and much still to grasp

the spaces I find

filling up fast.

Whatever comes into play

I shall discover more

of me I will to see

Divine.

The journey is opening to all

where we take it now

is up to you

and me.

 

When she asked if I would give her a spot on my blog I jumped at the chance.  In return I received a poem written just for my little Alcove:

Reflections of You

Looking into time
looking into your reflection
reflection of colors at sunset
reflection upon the water
water flows with emotion
water flows with images
images taken from memory
images come to life
life filled with choices
life mixed with mistakes
mistakes that you would change
mistakes that turn to dust
dust fills the air
dust makes it hard to breathe
breathe deeply into now
breathe silently into peace
peace can be gained
peace can be reality
reality looks dark
reality can change
change for the better
change can bring joy
joy leads to laughter
joy in the moment
moment in time
moment of solace
solace of mind
solace opens wide
wide into spaces
wide open heart
heart opens to healing
heart opens to love
love brings you together
love makes you strong
strong you stand
strong joined as one
one and one makes two
one and one with you
you shine within
you and I always
always loving you
always and forever
forever in my heart
forever entwined
entwined we are
entwined with you
you and me together
you and me equals love
Love
Together

Morgan is Co-host of @StoryDam and creatrix of OctPoWriMo (a poetry month in October). She is intimate with shadow and dances into the heart of it believing that diving in to what most people try to avoid makes great fertilizer for creativity whether it is writing, painting, or any other form of art.

Writing and publishing her books have been a dream since she was eight years old. She finally made that dream come true last March when she published, Dancing within Shadow. Filled with beautiful photos and art, this poetic journey travels into Morgan Dragonwillow’s troubled childhood to discover her courage, her refusal to be broken, finding love, and the light of transformation. There are defining moments in each of the four sections – Darkness, Rebellion, Love and Light. Morgan Dragonwillow shares pieces of her soul opening a path through the darkness.

Morgan’s creed is rooted in poetry for, “Poetry has anchored into my very being and I find that it draws me back to the page again and again, more than any other form of writing.”

“I don’t know about you but I have tremendous stage fright. What I mean is that any time I have to be in front of people whether in print/words or physically I get extreme anxiety and my brain starts to shut down. The closer to the date the harder it gets. Somehow, between my partner cheering me on and telling me there isn’t anything I can’t do, and me pushing myself to get through it, I come out on the other side.

Is there anything that causes such anxiety in you? How do you get through it? Do you get through it?”

You can find Morgan in a number of places:

Dancing within Shadow Amazon Link is http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-within-Shadow-ebook/dp/B00C100FPC/

Website http://morgandragonwillow.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mdragonwillow.writer

Twitter https://twitter.com/MDragonwillow

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Current times, Poetry

All Authors Blog Blitz ~ June 15th, 2013

AABB

During one of those unguarded moments scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook my eye was caught by the phrase, “this sounds like fun!”  Uh oh.  Weak moment – instant response – “Where do I find out about it?”  And so it went.  However, I did meet some really interesting people and now I am a guest blogger in places as far off as Wales and Australia.  My guest is from right here in the good ol’ U S of A. In fact from New York, I have Ms. Y Correa herself and here is her internet home: http://ycorreafb.blogspot.com/ and http://fatebooks.yolasite.com/

After getting all the rest of us up and running she was a bit stumped for her own piece, I asked her to post something about her current release, Marco Antonio & Amaryllis.  After all, there are several posts in the Alcove about historical fiction, a few on research, and a few things on what makes a good story when it’s wrapped around an event in history.  This is what she had to say.

Introducing Ms. Y Correa ~

9781301007493_frontcoverTruly, at heart I am a Paranormal Romance reader. I love all things Paranormal (Alright, maybe except for Vampires and Werewolves…!), yet I’ve also had a lifelong fascination for Historical Romance stories. More specifically Medieval times, Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek Mythology.

Those are eras that have always caught my attention. So, upon choosing a story to read, I tend to always lean to those genres.

My biggest issue had always been finding stories that combined all of those elements. They are incredibly hard to find.

I was born and raised in the state of New York, which is a melting pot of culture and diversity. Every day people interact with each other no matter what their race, creed and color. “Multicultural”, is simply a way of life. This is how I was raised – to appreciate everyone’s individuality and respect their differences.

The day I decided to write a story, for me, it was only natural that this every day diversity that I knew so well be incorporated into the story. This is how I developed my style of writing.

The day I started writing “Marco Antonio and Amaryllis”, I played on my own personal knowledge of the Spanish culture (being Hispanic myself), as well as a specific time in history.

Doing some research (which took no time at all) I came across the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585. During this time the English invaded Spain: and I thought to myself that this time in history would be ideal for writing an Interracial Medieval story.

I simply knew that if in THIS day and time there are so many interracial couples, they MUST have existed in that time as well. Only, in that time, it must have been frowned upon and taboo, as most people fear what they cannot understand.

Immediately, upon starting my venture, my natural affinity for the paranormal simply meshed into the story. I played on the beliefs of the people from that time. Many of them lived in perpetual fear of witch-craft and things of that sort.

Just like that, the story simply came to life and “Marco Antonio and Amaryllis” was born. The original manuscript had been written in Elizabethan English, however realizing that many people today have a hard time understanding that method of speech, I changed it to modern English while keeping the Medieval feel and content. There are some Spanish notes in the story, and those were written in Medieval Spanish. Our language too, has changed throughout the years.

Stories like the well know and admired classic “Romeo & Juliet” inspired me, as well as “The Romance of Tristan and Isolde”, “Stardust” the novel, was another great inspiration. Withal, I remained true to my roots and heritage and tried to portray the diversity of the people of that time as best I could.

It may seem odd, but as I was writing (much like it happened with all of my stories prior), my characters took on a life of their own. They came to thriving life, and it very much felt like they were the ones narrating the story to me, and I was the privileged individual whom they’d chosen to write their story.

Following is an Excerpt:

His focus returned to her. What cruelty life offered him, that his one true love was unattainable. Yet, obtaining her was his only conviction – his only mission and obsession. She was in fact the most beautiful woman he’d ever known both inside and out. She’d yet to fully be his. But he was certain, that one day, she would be his – totally and completely. He would fight for her until he exhaled his last breath. Even if that were the very cost.

However, for today, he’d be content (as he always was) with just looking at her from afar. Contemplate her beauty and know – in the depths of his soul – that this was a battle worth fighting.

“Altivo, stop! Para!”, digging his front hooves into the dirt Altivo came to a screeching halt. MarcoAntonio had been so preoccupied in his train of thought, that he’d barely realized that they’d arrived. His body slightly thrust forward with the abrupt stop. He leaped off his horse, checked his hip for his sword and took in hand his ebony shield. Even though it was the middle of the night, time and space was never to be trusted. Things lurked everywhere. In his experience, he knew that the most unexpected things could happen, at any given moment. It was always best to be prepared.

Unhinging a small sack from Altivo’s saddle, he tossed it lightly in his hand. These small jewels were what he used as pebbles, to toss at the balcony of her quarters. What use did he have for them anyway? He owned millions. Yet, he wanted none. So, why not use a precious stone to tap the window of his precious treasure…?

Tossing the first blood ruby, he called – his Spanish accent as natural as the air he breathed, “Psst!” no answer. He tossed another, this time an emerald, as green as the forest, “Psst! Amaryllis! I am here…”, he called out again in a strong whisper. He listened. He heard some rustling around.

The first thing that he caught a glimpse of was her hair as it came floating over the edge of the balcony wall, and grazed the ledge. Then her head leaned over, and she looked down….

There they were! Those eyes! That smile! Enough to melt even the coldest of hearts. Everything about her made his heart skip a beat. Her long luscious, silky hair, that was the perfect combination of fire and ice all neatly intertwined into the most vivid shades of red and gold. Her bright, sea blue eyes which seemed to carry the entirety of the ocean within them. The milky brilliance of her skin. The birthmark that was placed just above her lip, which seemed to be set in just the right spot to accent her lips and all of her beauty to perfection. Her body! That alone was enough to make any goddess jealous. She was not too thin: MarcoAntonio appreciated a woman that looked healthy. Amaryllis was just right, in every way. At least in his opinion.

“You are late…!”, she pointed out.

“Well, that may be true ma’ lady,”

“’Tis!”, she said in a teasing tone, then smiled again, “You cannot stay long. I’m being watched.”

“And?”, he replied with mockery lingering in his voice.

Amaryllis giggled a little, covering her mouth she tried her best to keep quiet. His wit always made her laugh. Then she quickly got serious, “MarcoAntonio, ’tis dangerous. You know this to be true. ‘Tis always a risk to visit me at these hours, my love.”

“And this is precisely why I love her so!”, he stated bravely as if he spoke to an audience, “Amidst everything, my beautiful lady, is always concerned for the well-being of her knight…. Knight, may I remind, ma’ lady!”

A knight, that appears to be looking for trouble, should our foes become aware of his scrambling.”

“Let them become aware!” he raised his voice, still with lightness and taunting sounding in it, “Should they come, I will slay them…!” he pulled his sword from his hip and began a little dance. Bouncing around, sword in hand, he swung it in the air as if he were fencing against the strongest of men, “I will give them a little of this! Then… a little of that!” He jumped in Altivo’s direction, “And my trusted steed, shall save me, and whisk me away into the darkness of night,” then he turned to look up at her, “of course, never, before first having valiantly saved, ma’ lady.”, then tossing his arm into a whirl in front of him, he bowed at her graciously.

Amaryllis giggled some more, covering her mouth with a hand, “You shall never change: will you?”

“Why should I, ma’ lady? If I change then I shall lose my most precious treasure… your love,

“Well, I suppose that is true, noble sir.”

“’Tis, ma’ lady.” and he smiled at her.

Now – my blogs are rather diverse in this case.  For Rachel Rippon I wrote a blog that was a bit biographical.  It tells a bit about my published book, “Who I Am Yesterday,” and described my work in progress “Why Me.”  You can find Rachael in all kinds of places, here are a few:

http://rachaelrippon.blogspot.com.au/ (where the post will be).
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6151756-rachael
https://twitter.com/RachaelRippon
https://www.facebook.com/rachaelripponwriter?ref=hl

My second blog was on a much lighter note.  Lucinda Elliot has a lovely lighthearted blog that talks of gothic tales and heroes that are allowed to have runny noses and heroines that are allowed to have some strength of character.  For her I wrote a bit about one of my favorite authors, Clive Cussler and his series starring Isaac Bell.  Staged in the early 20th century, this series has the type of characters I thought would be right at home in Lucinda’s world. A fan of Shakespeare and a citizen of Wales, she can be found on here: http://sophieandemile.wordpress.com/posts-page/ (where the post will be)
http://www.goodreads.com/message/show/58362190

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction, Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

Launching My Speaking Career ~ Part the First

One of the things that one must do in order to sell the books that are written is, well, interact with the public.  Actually, this is not such a bad thing since I am a firm believer that there is backstory (fiction) and research (nonfiction) everywhere you look.  In my case I am becoming aware that people actually want to hear about my experiences and to learn something from them.  Thus, through the endeavors of my husband’s weekly “assistant” and care giving companion, I have ventured back into the world of the spoken as well as the written word.

I am told that dementia is reaching epidemic proportions in our country as well as other parts of the western world.  There is no shortage of information available about the possible whys, the possible treatments, the possible outcomes; well, you get my point.  We are still in the realm of “possible” and not quite at the place of knowing provable practices that prevent or mitigate the disease or of having assurance regarding treatment once the diagnosis is confirmed.  Part of the problem in arriving at definitive causes and treatments is that each and every case is different in some small or great way.  Each person afflicted responds in a different manner and that, in part, is due to the response of the care giver.  Given the job of providing a talk on such a diverse subject, where does one start?

My book, Who I Am Yesterday, records the story of the first year of my adjustments to my husband’s condition.  There were signs before the diagnosis, but the book starts at that point in time when I could no longer hide from the realization that he was no longer the person I had met, fallen in love with, and married.  It is my journey.  It was shared in hopes of providing others some help in finding their own way.  In order to provide meaningful information for people seeking help, my talk had to center around issues I could see as common if not universal to the disorder.

After thinking on it and watching more carefully the relationship that my husband and I now navigate, I was able to arrive at a perspective that seemed useful. My goal would be to convey some sense of what a patient with dementia must contend with so that people sorting through their own path to coping with the disease could do so with understanding.  Such an approach takes some of the stress out of the situation and makes it easier for both the caregiver and the person receiving care.  To me, those critical points were: abstracts, time perception, hallucinations and humor.  This is a rather long presentation for a single blog, so I will make it a multi-part post.  We begin with abstracts.

Abstracts

Courtesy WANA Commons, Some rights reserved – Lynn Kelley Author

Courtesy WANA Commons, Some rights reserved – Lynn Kelley Author

I would like you to take a few moments and close your eyes.  Think of your most favorite place in the whole world.  Visualize every detail.  Flowers – their color and smell.  Is there sand or dirt or concrete beneath your feet?  Is it warm or cool, sunny, or cloudy?  Is it a building?  Where is it?  What do you smell?  Are you eating something?  What is it?  How does it taste and does it taste like that anywhere else?  Think of every detail you can recall and focus on that for just a moment.  When you have that vision locked with all five senses, open your eyes.  Considering this is a post, the exercise might have a different outcome if you happen to BE in your favorite place.  You will have to do your imagining on the second part.  To avoid confusion I will assume the first scenario.

Courtesy WANA Commons Some rights reserved – Ell Brown (Dr. Johnson’s bedroom)

Courtesy WANA Commons Some rights reserved – Ell Brown (Dr. Johnson’s bedroom)

Now, look around you at the things you can actually reach, touch or smell.  Can you describe the place of your vision using only the objects available to you where you are?  Can you build your mental picture using only the colors, surfaces and lighting in the place you are?  You cannot use “like,” “bigger,” “smaller,” or other comparative adjectives.  In other words, you cannot use phrases such as, “it is red but brighter, deeper than this.”  “It is soft like the carpet but slightly damp and sticks to your feet.”  You can only point, touch, taste or smell.  Can you use what is before you and describe that scene you so vividly saw in your mind?  Not well, or not at all?  Welcome to the world of dementia, a world without abstracts.

This is not a concept we stop and think about even if we do, in some ways, “get it.”  But think about when you ask a person with dementia to go get something, or when you say that you will be traveling to a certain place.  Imagine my conversations when I try to explain I work for a company in Calgary, Alberta and I do the things they need done through the internet connections on my computer.  I’m aware that not everyone works virtually, so how about a conversation where you are trying to explain that you must work in order to provide shelter and food.  One answer I have received is “what rent, why do we have to pay rent?”  In other cases it might be, “yes, we can get that, but we must wait for our retirement checks.”  A mind that has fallen victim to dementia loses the ability to conceptualize the abstract.

Keep in mind this does not mean that a person with dementia cannot visualize.  They can and can do so quite vividly.  The problem is they cannot connect the picture in their mind with the reality around them with any consistency.  The picture is vivid, but the time frame may be different, the location may be different, and the people involved may change.  However vivid the picture, it just doesn’t “connect” with reality.  It is a movie version of the book with several chapters left out or plot lines changed to meet the director’s needs rather than the author’s ideas.

You will have far greater success navigating as a caregiver if you keep this front and center in your mind.  Develop a modified version of charades.  Rather than getting frustrated and aggravated because he or she cannot locate something when you have told them “exactly where it is,” (many, many times) go get it or physically show them where it is.  Avoid pronouns whenever possible unless it is “you” and “me.”  Don’t get concerned if there doesn’t seem to be any understanding about where you are going to get whatever it is accomplished.  Keep things simple and direct.  Address issues without providing unnecessary background or commentary.  Be mindful of a world that no longer provides the ability to compare what you see with what will be or to visualize some future event or condition.  It is no longer possible to discuss finances or work choices or even, “where shall we live” kinds of things beyond the simple “here” or “not here.” Even explaining when something will be delivered or picked up can cause a great deal of confusion.  Focus on the here and now and form your conversations around concrete and present concepts that can be touched, seen, heard, or smelled.

Abstracts have such far reaching implications in how we communicate and how we manage our day to day needs that it really is important to really understand this issue.  What about you?  Are you a caregiver and do you see moments of frustration caused by this type of problem?  Does this point of view make sense when you think about your experience or a situation you have observed?  Love to hear from you; just can’t guarantee your input won’t end up in a talk somewhere along this new road I’ve taken.

Who I Am Yesterday is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.  See you next time with “Time, the Biggest Abstract of All.”

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Reviews ~ Loving Science through the Eyes of a Theist

Where the Conflict Really Lies  by Alvin Plantinga, available in hard cover for around $25.00

conflictSome time ago I decided that I would make it a goal to “go back to school.”  This time I intend to study in a subject area that I never had time for while I was building a career in accounting and business management.  I intend to study philosophy.  I find the subject of thinking on how we think wonderfully absorbing.  Part of that wonder is how we view the universe and how much we are only now beginning to understand.  Consequently, when I run across someone who seems to think that the word “lobotomy” and the word “theist” are interchangeable; well, I find it odd. Depending on the circumstances I may even consider it amusing.

Recently I was watching the series, Stephen Hawking’s Universe.  There is a segment in one of the episodes where the work of Monsignor George Lemaitre is discussed.  If you do not recognize the name, Monsignor Lemaitre was the first astronomer and physicist to postulate the “primeval atom.”  (Hoyle’s Big Bang).  Another physicist had a similar idea based on Einstein’s relativity equations, but it was Lemaitre that realized what the actual proof of his theory would be.  He was, basically, looking for Hubble’s results.  He was an avid proponent of the theory of an expanding universe and argued long and hard with such luminaries as Einstein against the steady state universe.  He made sure he was present at the Mount Wilson observatory to discuss Hubble’s new findings about the expanding universe while Einstein was there.  The Catholic official now responsible for caring for Lemaitre’s papers and research said something I found much to my own liking.  There are two ways for science and religion to have a conversation.  One is sitting at the table together and attempt to talk, in which case the conversation usually degenerates.  The other is for the religious to simply do good science.

And they have.  There is much ink spilled on the controversy between Galileo and the church.  The church had accepted the views of an ancient Greek as interpretation of scripture.  You may have heard of Ptolemy.  However, Galileo was a devote Catholic and his faith was not shaken by his great discoveries.  Kepler, Newton, Einstein, and many, many others had no issue being theists of one brand or another and still have the drive to know all they could know about the universe in which we live. Many of the men of science that did so much to build the foundations of what we know today were in pursuit of what they saw as the mind of God.  This tradition is still going on.  There will always be those who choose to be willfully blind, whatever their world view may be.  In Plantinga I found a kindred spirit and a thinker that was perfectly comfortable in a universe where arduous scientific investigation can co-exist with a belief in some form of a “Prime Mover.”  Plantinga writes from the world view of a Christian.

Where the Conflict Realty Lies develops Plantinga’s position that there is only superficial conflict between science and religion, but very deep conflict between science and naturalism.  He has no beef with evolution; only unguided evolution.  His philosophical point of view is that it is very difficult to build a case that purely random, natural selection would select for a reasoning, rational mind.  If the whole focus of evolution is survival and the propagation of the species, then what purpose does the development of mathematics, physics, set theory, and other abstract thoughts serve which are so fundamental to advanced sciences today?  Where does Bach and Mozart come in?  What survival instinct do the arts protect and preserve?  Evolution based purely on natural selection is not forward looking, it does not anticipate need; it reacts to current changes and accidents of mutation.  Even using the proven theories of adaptability (a change in a complex organism becomes permanent because it can be adapted to other uses) does not completely explain the human drive to explore, to build, …to think.

Then there is the question of why we should come to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliable?  Just because we can train an animal to respond in a certain way given certain cues, what gives the sentient human being that extra push to “seek that which is true?”  What helps us sort through what to believe as true?  I know the scientist will say that it is experience and experiment.  We can duplicate circumstances and we KNOW this to be true.  However, sometimes we find out we didn’t have the whole picture.  And sometimes the only proof is what we can deduce and calculate that appears to successfully predict future outcomes.  I believe without hesitation that stars explode and in the process create the elements of which we are made.  I have not seen it happen.  I do not have a nuclear lab in my basement.  I know this to be true because I have seen the work of others (at least that part I understand) and that interpretation appears to fit what I know of the universe.  It does not impair my belief.  My belief makes my knowledge of these things all that more alive and gives the experience of learning a deeper richness.

Although there is a bit of probability mathematics here and there, Pantinga’s book is written for the serious layperson.  The thinker that wants to understand a bit more about what the argument really is.  It provides a basis for the thought process that accepts those things which have strong scientific support, but still looks further to test and stretch that knowledge.  It is the kind of conversation that allows a person to question points that are unresolved without being accused of refuting the whole field of inquiry.  Perhaps, in the end, Lemaitre’s admirer and curator is right.  The best way to have the conversation is for the theist to do good science.

Plantinga presents a strong case that allows the theist to sit down comfortably with the scientist and to mutually discover the wonders of this amazing universe.

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Current times, My Journey with Job, Natural Sciences from the Observation Deck