Writing from the Subconscious Mind

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Writing the first draft of a story or novel is the time when the subconscious mind seems most active. Though I write a loose outline, just a little treasure map to see where I’m going, it is when I am deep in the story that surprises erupt and I find threads coming together in a way could not have consciously planned. If you love to explore the deep mind, perhaps tapping into ancestral memories, past lives, or spiritual dimensions, family secrets, and occult mysteries, the Gothic tale provides the keys to many doors. Gothic tales have always been melodramatic, emotionally fraught dramatizations of haunted and suppressed psychological states. What cannot be spoken of plainly, in the light of day, may be expressed through a language of symbols.

The Gothic genre benefited greatly from the Freudian analysis that brought us the works of Angela Carter and Tanith Lee, my tow mentors, whose use of language is dark, poetic yet uncannily real. Freud gave life to the symbols that surround us, suggesting they are signs from the deep self, showing us what we fear to speak.

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The novel I am wrestling with now is one I have been wrestling with for 10 years.  The working title, as some of you may know, is The Demon Lover. Its an overused title, but that’s what it’s about. Its based on real supernatural experiences that I have had, and I’ve had many, couched in the plot of a classic Gothic Romance. Not a modern Formula Romance, but the style developed by the Brontes and Daphne DuMaurier, in the age before we were addicted to the screen,  when we were in love with words and images that opened up our own imaginations.

In The Demon Lover, There are two female characters, one, Madeleine Dashwood, 27, the other Eavan Bertrand, 13, both mysterious ladies whose lives have been shaped by their psychic abilities. This is a story where water plays a powerful role as pool, as rain, a river, then finally the ocean, as bringer of transformation and death. The water imagery invoked the enigmatic figure of Ophelia who then attached herself to both of these characters. I didn’t plan this—-I’d originally though of Eavan as the Ophelia figure—- but it fits so well as a link between the two, sending a resonance throughout the story that I could not have contrived.

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Her clothes spread wide and Mermaid-like a while they bore her up….

As you can see, the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, continues to inspire artists.  She was indeed a creature native and indued Unto that element….

Water symbolizes the subconscious, for what we see on the reflective surface of a lake, or in the waves of the sea, is less than a fraction of what lives below. Entire worlds exist in darkness, completely invisible to us unless we submerge ourselves into their depths. For characters like Ophelia and in my novel, Eavan, who are not of this world, it is natural to associate their leaving of it with water.

 

Millais Ophelia

A disturbing re-interpretation of Millaiss famous Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia

 

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Fabulously done by Dorota Goreka

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The idea of feminine passivity, the dream state, and even madness are evoked on the character of Ophelia. These states are also traditionally symbolized by water. Ophelia embodies the mermaid, the morgan and the water spirits that drag men down under the waves. All of these beings drawn on  the power of emotion to throw over the human will, or swamp the conscious mind with illusions, delusions, and desires.

But are they illusions? Or are they the forces of nature, full of life and death energies and endless creation?

 

 

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At Last! And a Little Preview for You.

I Thought My Career was on its Deathbed, but it was Only a Bad Dream

 

DEATHBED DRAWING

I feel so bad that things have slipped so far as far as this blog and my publishing…I really thought I’d have things up and running sooner than this, but the Vampire 2016 had to eek out the last drop of my blood…

It hasn’t been all bad. I haven’t been idle.  I have six first drafts to edit and all but one should be fairly easy. Dark Reliquary needs a full second layer because of the way the characters worked out. The others won’t be hard. Its just that, while my life was so unstable, all I could write were first drafts. Those kind of poured out, and I wanted to take advantage of the energy while I had it. The second Poppy Farrell Mystery: Taller Than Our Souls, went into a cul de sac plot-wise, so I had to set it aside. for a while. The Russian Doll got longer than I’d planned as did The Vampire’s Bride. This was meant to be a novella. sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror, but it is now a full length novel.

I know there are no excuse,s so I hope to make this up by publishing a lot of things fairly quickly as all these get finished. I hate to let my readers down, but my life has been a roller coaster forever… But—that’s why I have so many stories to tell. I also had a species of writer’s block. It wasn’t for lack of ideas, but lack of words. I couldn’t think in words! Terrible thing for a writer!

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Little Preview

In 2007, I outlined a novel based on some harrowing supernatural events that I experienced in London. I think of the plot as Dan Brown meets Anne Rice: an Occult Thriller. It involves a family curse and how the protagonist, Madeleine Dashwood, deals with her legacy.  It takes place in London, Ireland, New York and finally Salem Massachusetts. I have been in all of those places, but one pivotal scene happens in Toledo, Spain and I haven’t been there. I was waiting and hoping to have the money to take that trip, but haven’t gotten it yet. I also filled up several notebooks trying to find a way to begin this book, how to structure the plot ( it began as a screenplay with a flashback) and whether to focus more on the Thriller elements or the Dark Fantasy. Finally the solution arrived and it merges both very well, and runs in a  chronological fashion. People like that best, I hear. I also found Madeleine wanted to tell the story in her own voice, therefore First Person.

The story is very scary and I think that was another reason I put it off. The things I have to tune into and immerse myself in, are dangerously dark. But the plot is exciting and has great twists and turns. Madeleine is a sympathetic character and her struggle is intense. I think people will enjoy the strangeness and mystery of Madeleine’s quest to understand her nature and find her stolen soul.

I early January, I had a dream of how to start The Demon Lover and it began pouring out of me. So again, I am writing a first draft. What I want to share is the Prologue to this book. It will give you a foretaste, a teaser.Though the Prologue is satirical, the rest of the book is serious. I hope you enjoy this!

I will get these books  done—all 6 novels,plus a few short pieces, by 2018.

I am aware that the title, The Demon Lover, has been used many times before, for centuries in fact, but it is the perfect title for this story. If you think of something better, please suggest away!

 

DASHWOOD

 The Demon Lover

Churchyard Bottom Wood, London

1760

Sir Francis Dashwood, Grand Master of the Order of the Friars of Saint Francis of Wycombe, better known as the Hellfire Club, raised his forked staff to the night winds of the north. He raised his staff to the forest, to the high oaks, copper beeches and mountain ash, to the owls and gathering crows. A ring of tall cathedral candles flared round the circumference of the clearing, while within its orbit, twelve hooded men stood with raised staffs, intoning the incantation in sacred mimicry of their Grand Master.

Though outsiders viewed the Order with skepticism, thinking it a mere front for secret debaucheries and drunken revels, the inner circle quested after more profound mysteries. On this thirty-first day of October, 1760, Sir Francis and his men had slipped away to the Borough of Haringey, marched in procession through the vast oak groves of the Forest of Middlesex, to the secluded glen of Churchyard Bottom Wood to commence their most solemn and nefarious Rite.

They’d performed this ritual many times before with, (they in their besotted minds believed), no result. Still the demonic spirits were said to take notice of them. Drawn to the theatricality of satin robes and gilded staffs shining like jewels in the midst of the wildwood, they waited for greater enticements to manifestation. Barring that, certain alignments of a moon and stars would enable them to step through the curtain of the night and astonish their devotees.

Sir Francis would have liked to perform a blood sacrifice, but could find no volunteers. So pointing his staff at the earth, at the dark depression in the ground that was known as a plague pit because skeletons had been discovered there, he passed a dagger across his palm and let his blood flow freely to the earth. He called upon the infernal powers, by the issuance of blood and terror, to rise. His merry men intoned in unison, the responses to his cry.

The crows circled lower; winds tore through the trees scattering leaves like motes of fire. The etheric flames that marked the Circle of Art sprang up, bright blue in the dusk. Sir Francis marveled at the distant echo of a hunting horn. The trees rustled, and the ground split open, emitting smoke as from the fiery pit of Hell, into the woods.

Every living thing grew still and silent.

The hunting horn echoed again.

Sir Francis fell back, for he saw a sight he never thought to see. Out of the trees, tall and smoky, with eyes shining yellow in the night, stepped a shaggy, naked god. Rising from his head were the horns of a stag; rising from his loins was an enormous cock.

Sir Francis trembled. Gripping his sweaty staff he looked around to see all of his men lying face down on the ground, hiding from the horror of their deity.

The god stared. Its eyes flashed as if lightning crossed them. Its antlers rose up like trees. Though sprouting from the head of a man, they were not incongruous, but magnificent. Primal. Terrifying.

What do you want? the voice growled from the shadow of the god’s head.

The god was outside of the circle of blue fire, manifest in the red-flamed Triangle of Arte, therefore under complete control of the Magus. Watching the creature’s cloven hoof inch toward the very edge of the mystic line, Sir Francis raised his staff.

“Give me power, oh Master. Power and riches and long life. Nay! Grant me the secret of immortality!”

The god seemed to seethe, to grow taller, to loom.

What will you give in exchange for such treasures?

Sir Francis hadn’t thought to wage a bargain. The Rite had never worked before. He didn’t want to give anything up, for everything he owned was precious to him. He had to think fast.

“Money! I’ll leave seven guineas on the altar for you.”

The god roared.

Do not mock me!

“Oh… You don’t want money? What could you possibly need? Being a spirit.”

The god leaned toward Sir Francis, its head transgressing into the protective barrier of blue flames. Its whisper was like a serpent’s hiss.

Souls… I need souls…

Though shaken and humbled, Sir Francis wasn’t about to give his soul to this demon. He thought of something distant, so far away as to render it meaningless.

“A soul you shall have. One of my descendants. Seven generations from now. Does that suffice, Master?”

The god stood up. How tall it was! A veritable giant. Its eyes glowed brighter in its shadowy face and it seemed to smile.

Sir Francis’s head spun. He stabbed his staff into the ground and leaned on it as the entire forest swirled around like a carousel. He tried to focus his eyes on the antlered god, but it had melted into the night-blown shadows of the woods.

“Aaaahhhh!” Sir Francis cried from he knew not where. Utterly bewildered, he doubled over, clutching at his chest. The emptiness was horrible, as if his very guts had been burned out.

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London

Highgate

1978

And round about his home, the glory

That blushed and bloomed

Is but a dim-remembered story

Of the old time entombed.

                                                        —-E.A. Poe

 

The previous pages are from a novel about an infamous ancestor of mine, Sir Francis Dashwood. The minute I read them I knew, deep in my soul, that I was the seventh.

I did not own the book. It was in my father’s abandoned library hidden amongst stacks of genealogies, history books, and various notebooks filled with my father’s feverish handwriting. The book was a dog-eared paperback with a lurid cover of a half naked woman inside a red pentagram on a black background. Hellfire! was scrawled across the top. The author’s name escapes me. Though the book looked as if it been read many times over by my poor, tormented  father, the importance of these particular pages was signified by both a ribbon marker, and a turned down corner.  Though I was taught never to deface a book, I tore them out. I tore them out because they belong to me, and I can’t tear them out of myself.

The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the daughters.

So, somewhat, the Bible says. I know the Bible through and through. It is tattooed on my brain, and shackled to my wrists as tightly as these pages from my father’s penny dreadful, Hellfire!

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Morna: A Novel of Ideas

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Click the name: MORNA: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies

 

One of my fans wrote a review for MORNA saying she liked the book, but not the characters. This gave me food for thought because I like the characters in this book, though they are not the warm and fuzzy kind. They are what I call Elemental. At the mercy of their environment, swept up in the forces of nature so powerful, they may be driven mad, these characters transcend the human and become mythical.

Sometimes a story, though character driven, is not about them being lovable, but about testing their personalities to the limit.

Like many of my stories, MORNA was inspired by a combination of faery tales and folk ballads. There is an English folk song called House Carpenter that tells the story of a woman lured by the promise of material wealth to leave her good but poor husband and join a seductive ship captain that turns out to be the devil. Lady Rowan’s character is based on this ballad while the Selkie seems neither good not evil, but a creature of the elemental sea.

This is my favorite version by Pentangle:

Compelled by this mysterious and  foreboding ballad, I thought it would be fun to take a wealthy, powerful, rather spoiled woman, have her lose everything, and see what she would do. In my mind’s eye, I saw a medieval lady with long auburn hair standing at a tower window looking out to sea. This was Lady Rowan come to visit me and have me tell the story of why she was in the tower looking out, waiting for the ship with the broad red sail. I knew by the energy of the sea and the land that this was Scotland. I knew the ship’s captain was an otherworldly being. But how did a great lady, an aristocrat, end up in a ruined tower at the far edge of the world? Kidnapping was one way she might be there, prisoner of of some thwarted and  jealous  lover. War was another way. I felt this plot was more in keeping with what I wanted Lady Rowan to go through. She must be made to lose, not only her material wealth, her pride, and vanity, but also her dearly loved husband to the ravages of war.

Like the untamed power of the sea that carries the Selkie to her on a dream, or a hallucination, or a fantasy, war is the arena in which Hugh encounters his demons. Rowan is engaged in a struggle against the forces of nature, Hugh against his fellow man.

The children are pawns, as are the two old servants. The young guards, though removed from the fields of battle, nevertheless suffer the onslaught of powers stronger than themselves. Then there come the wizards, the Macloeds, wielding their dark and ruthless magic…

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How much can one woman take before she loses her mind? Or, had she already lost it when she looked out to sea and  saw the Selkie’s ship? So isolated is she, that she has no way of knowing if she is mad or not, because there’s no one to compare herself to.

Was her pride humbled, or not? And Morna…daughter of the sea and two fathers, how does she tilt the scales into the waiting hands of Fate? And what is Fate? How do you know when Reality butts up against the Unseen, and the walls of normalcy give way, what, or whom, could possibly have orchestrated such a descent into darkness? Or why…

 

 

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Gothic Tarot Cards

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Arcana

 

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Never was there anything more mysterious than the Tarot cards. Their air of magic tinged with the apprehension of what fate has in store, their storytelling capacity, are some of the qualities that lend themselves to our dark, dramatic themes.

I am revisiting the stories of Angela Carter these days. She was the first author I read who inspired met o get serious about writing. her use of language lavished on themes of werwolves and vampires gave me permission to compose the kind of  Gothic tales I enjoyed reading while indulging in the lush, poetic writing style we call “literary”. These were the first Gothic tales since Poe, that really moved me and took my imagination to new heights and depths.

The Visconti Tarot, shown above, is the oldest complete Tarot in existence. It red-brown and gold hues suggest royalty, spell casting and dried blood. These are the cards of the vampires.

Carter uses the Tarot cards in full force in her short story, The Lady of the House of Love.

 

Wearing an antique bridal gown, the beautiful queen of the vampires sits all alone in her dark, high house under the eyes of the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors. each one of whom, through her, projects a baleful, posthumous existence, she she counts out the Tarot cards, ceaselessly construing a constellation of possibilities as if the random fall of the cards on the red plush tablecloth before her, could precipitate her from her chill, shuttered room into the country of perpetual summer and obliterate the perennial sadness of a girl who is both death and maiden.

 

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Love and Death

Of course the Death card always puts in an appearance in these tales. This is the fate we all fear, especially combined with The Lovers, for who can bear the death of love?  Of course  the Grim Reaper always smiled up from her blood red tablecloth. When, at last, the Lovers appear, this is not a cause for joy.

The bride is also a powerful Gothic persona, for marriage is a kind of death for woman. In the days of arranged marriages, when love had nothing to do with it, when a girl could be sold to the wealthy old man, or the cruel aristocrat, when she never knew how the beast would treat her, appearing in ghostly white veils was the most resonant attire. She grips the cards, desperate to know: is she safe, or not? Is this love, or not?

Her great Aunt is Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, a figure who seems to haunt us all. How many actresses have played the role? This lost bride, this ghost, sitting alone in the dark, high house with the long table gone to rot, is a kind of vampire who feeds on her ward,  Isabelle,draining the girl’s emotions, killing her love, cosigning her to s symbiotic death in life.

I don;t think most people think of Charles Dickins as a Gothic author, but he’s one of the best. Like Shakespeare.

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Stories with Tarot

When I found the Angela Carter book, Tarot Readers were few. I was one, so I was drawn in to this story of the lady in the House of Love. I also have incorporated the cards into stories.

Now there are many authors employing the Arcana!

Here is a Goodreads list of novels that use Tarot as a theme. As you can see, they all have a dark, Gothic feel to them.

Out of 530 books, I am sure you will find something to enjoy.

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5230.Stories_Where_Tarot_Reading_Plays_A_Role

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2016 Must Start Early!

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Some of you may know I was slowed down in 2015 by a need for Rehab, and a day job search that began to take over my life. That’s how hard it is to find a job in Seattle these days!

These things, and a few other special, secret influences, slowly made it extremely difficult to enter the altered states of consciousness from whence the stories flow. Its a miracle Morna: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies made it out into the world when it did. I hope you have all gotten your copies for 99 cents. Please leave a review! The price increases to $2.99 on December 1st.

Astrology

Some of you may also know that I have been a professional Astrologer and Psychic for many years. The celestial influences have not been kind to me. The first half of the year was great in many ways, but Mercury went retrograde in Libra mid-September, triggering all sorts of distasters in my Venus ruled chart. It has been Dance with Death. How many things can you lose at once and still be on the planet?

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2016

One thing I know needs to change in this blog. I feel my entries on here are quite boring. Too businesslike and not really me. That is because all my creative energy goes into writing the novels and I don’t have much left over for the blog. My Winterspells: Life on the Magical Path, Legacy of the Witchblood blog was quite another story, but I wasn’t writing fiction when I was working on it. Go here: http://www/houseofwinterspells.com. Its also in the tab under Magic. All that stuff is woven into the novels now. The posts are really good though, if I do say so myself.

This blog was gaining great popularity when I bailed on it. Silly me! I didn’t see how it could turn into a writing blog at the time. Now I do.

I’d like to do a podcast in 2016. This is a matter of getting the technology together so there is no fan hiss.

Novels

I also need to return to the novels I had planned for 2015. I may get The Vampire’s Bride finished by New Year. Its a novella, sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror. That one took me two weeks to write. This one could make it through!

Then I have the first draft of Dark Reliquary. Its a big project, but it goes well.

Sovay: Prelude to The Lady in Yellow, is in first draft as well. These two books could get finished early next year.

The second Poppy Farrell book, Taller Than Our Souls has been a bear. It got stuck in the middle and I haven’t been able to unravel it. This was actually demoralizing for me. I’d never had writer’s block before.

So these are the plans I can stick to so far. If I got these books out, it would feel great and there would be three series with more than one book in them. Lol!

Please pray for me to stay motivated and you’ll have more to read from me. Let me know what you would like to see for 2016 from me, as well.

Here’s a good winter read!

Click for The Vampire’s Mirror

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