Friday, December 21, 2012

A Winter Solstice Walk

December 21, 2012
Ithaca, New York

Ithaca in winter
I woke up this morning in my sister's old room to the sight of a gray wintery sky and the dark graceful bend of bare branches. Home. It's a feeling more than a word, isn't it?

The way that the call of a crow can make you feel rooted to the earth, like you belong, or the way you can look out a window you used to gaze out years ago and feel at once so very much changed and so very much the same. It's an intimate relationship between person and place, and sense of belonging that nobody can take away from you.

Being here this time of year, tears are always close to the surface. The last time I saw my father was December 27, seven years ago, and yet even now, when I come home, he is everywhere. It's as though in passing away he expanded into this place that he loved so much, in the quiet paths that run the endless acres of forest, in the cold shimmering reflection of our winter streams. The creek beds, the dark stacked towering cliffs of shale, the gnarled tree roots and in the rich scent of decaying leaves. It is here that I feel closer to him than ever, as if I could turn on the trail and he'd be right there beside me, breathing it all in.

Frozen falls in Six Mile Creek
On this day, thousands of years ago, people gathered to usher in the light half of the year. Bonfires were built, and we circled round them and celebrated the dark days of winter coming to an end - from here, the days grow longer, and with them will arrive the promise of new life, of spring.

A few weeks ago I had a dream about my father. We were walking in the winter woods, the rim trail at Treman Gorge. I had on a winter hat and he was wearing his battered old anorak, just like he always did. Suddenly, I looked down to see a big brown feather sticking straight up out of the trail. I bent to pick it up. And at the same time, in this dream, I remembered that I couldn't be walking with my father, not really, because he was no longer living.

"Look, Dad. It's a feather from you!" I said to him, smiling.

He reached over and playfully flipped the edge of my winter hat away from my eyes, to make sure he had my attention. His brown eyes, when they met mine, were welled with tears, and he was smiling at me as though I had made him quite proud in noticing:
Feathers come from my father.
Thank you, he mouthed. Embarrassed by his tears, he gave me a wink.
I woke.

There will be no bonfire for me this year. Instead, I will go to the woods to be close to him. My mother and I will walk the same trail that we've all walked hundreds of times before, arm in arm, wrapped against the cold, our faces feeling clean in it, looking up at the evergreen trees, the gray winter sky, and the delicate naked branches that feel like home. On Sunday we will welcome the new life, little Haven Mae, the grand-daughter he never knew, now sixth months old, on her first visit from Seattle to the lands her family have so loved through the years. She will see the thick wooded hills, hear the gurgling of the water as it runs over smooth rock, and begin to understand something of home.

Ithaca Falls in high water
Happy Holidays to all. I hope this year will burn brightly for you, in all aspects of your life, and that wherever you travel, you always remember home.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ancient Burial Mounds of Sweden: My Visit to the Mounds of Solleron

On more than one level, I'm still processing the trip I took to my ancestral homeland of Sweden this past summer. It was beautiful, mysterious, intriguing, expansive. This is, perhaps, why I have been slow to write of it. Quick to post photos, (click here to view the album), slow to write of it. My father's entire family hails from Russia, but my mother's father's family came over from Sweden, and her mother's family came over from Finland, thus making me 50% Scandinavian. People often ask me about my name - Signe is in fact, a Scandinavian name.

So when the opportunity came up to visit our good friends Brad and Cecilia in Stockholm, we jumped at it. Top on my list was to sleep or hike near some ancient burial mounds, and lucky for me, Eric is as interested in ancient places as I am, so we planned a 3 day side trip up to the area of Dalarna, and more specifically, to a tiny island called Solleron. The true writing of the experience isn't done justice in the time I can allot to a blog entry, but I do hope to tell the whole tale in a proper way someday.

Road trip!
Swedish countryside
I'd come across Solleron on our Lonely Planet guidebook. Two different sites on the island together accounted for somewhere between 100 and 150 different viking graves - the graves themselves date from 800 -1050 AD. Historians believe that the place name (Solleron) indicates that the place was perhaps dedicated to sun worship of some kind. For over 250 years, Solleron was an incredibly holy, sacred place where the dead were laid to rest.  Farmers living in the area had discovered the graves quite accidentally when clearing land for farming, and had come together to preserve them - many of the goods discovered, swords, jewelry, ended up in Swedish museums. But there are still several mounds that have not yet been excavated. And there was a 3 km trail that wound through the sites we could hardly wait to visit.

The trip from Stockholm to Solleron on lake Siljan, was only about four hours or so, and the scenery was all fields and grey skies and brick red painted farm houses, green, green trees and pools of water where river met land. At long last, the road narrowed and we found ourselves pulling up to the open air museum where the walk began. Pamphlets in 3 languages were stocked nearby, and we grabbed one, changed into our hiking shoes to combat the muddy fields, and took off on our journey. The humps in the land instantly reminded me of was the strange raises I'd noticed near Stone Henge in England - many of which, according to tour guide Peter Knight, were grave sites themselves.

The museum wasn't open, but we explored the 18th & 19th century farmstead buildings, complete with a replica of a Viking Long Boat that had been discovered nearby in an archeological dig.
Exploring the open air museum

As we started our walk, I spotted the 1st grave site right away. "Eric, look! That's a mound!"
"I don't think so," he said. What a Doubting Thomas. We looked at our map, and sure enough, I was right. (I love you, Eric, but..IN your FACE!) I have a sixth sense when it comes to details of ancient places, and I have yet to be wrong. To his credit, if you haven't seen burial mounds before, it looks like a clump of trees on a pile of earth and rocks. This is because it is very, very old. And you have to remember that the actual hight of the mound would have been much taller - much soil has deposited on top of it in the passing centuries.

The first mound. Rock cairns nearly make it
 look like little more than field rubble to an untrained eye. 
 I was a kid on Christmas morning spotting the next site, this one with an undeniably atmospheric evergreen sprouting from it. I couldn't brush aside the feeling that the tree was somehow another manifestation of the person who had been buried there, names and identities long lost in the annals of history. Somewhere along the way, my blood line had mingled with theirs, and here I was, a walking manifestation in my own way, too, of who they had been and who had come before. We moved from site to site, the mystery of it all so overwhelmingly intoxicating. Who had been buried there? Who had laid them to rest? How had they lived their life? How had they died? What goods had they been buried with to accompany them into the next world? What deeds had they done? Had their death been mourned or secretly celebrated? Most of all, what had they looked like, what things did they hate about life and who had they loved?
A much clearer mound.
Note the gorgeous tree that's grown on it.
Another mound, with the edge of a second
in the left foreground. 

The forests of birch on Solleron
 We walked for a few hours. I soaked it all in. I saw stands of birch trees that reminded me of my childhood in Enfield, New York. There was a subtle feeling of home, though my feet had never before touched these foreign shores. But there would be no answers to my questions.

A fern covered mound in the backyard of a home on Solleron.
The man who owned the house (now deceased) was one of the
biggest advocates of protecting the area. 

Three more graves (and many more) lie un-excavated. 
I didn't want our time on Solleron to end. As it always does, civilization called, with its necessities of food, and a dry place to camp away from the clouds of mosquitoes that were starting to track us like the blood thirsty savages they are. But we saved the best for last.
At the end of the trail, an ancient pagan holy well. Votive offerings of gold, silver, and other prized possessions had been found there. I stared into its waters longing to feel that ancient ancestral magic and realized for the first time that there was nothing more to feel on Solleron except for a feeling of peace, peace, peace. Subtle, quiet, cloaked in peace.

The ancient well on Solleron 
There would be no answers to my questions on that day, but I hoped that answers will unveil themselves on another. I've come to think that perhaps it's the being in places that matters most. If we're lucky, a connection is forged between us and the spirit of a place. From that moment on, exploration can continue from just about anywhere. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of being a lover of antiquity is to let the past rest peacefully, even when you are longing more than anything, to unearth it. This year on Samhain, I did a small ceremony to honor my ancestors. (Courtesy of Raven Keyes. I posted it on my Facebook page.) As I called in the four directions, when I came to the North, I felt the undeniable presence of my Scandinavian ancestors, going back to the beginning of their time. I asked for their help and guidance in days to come, as I moved forward with life and my work and career. I asked to come to know them, in whatever ways I could. I left an apple out, cut into slices, and some honey, in remembrance of those who had come before. And all that I felt was peace, peace, peace.

Looking into the ancient well. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm Not Oprah But I Also Have Favorite Things

Every year, my big fat holiday issue of O Magazine arrives and I'm always curious to see what Oprah's picks will be for the year. I love me some Oprah Winfrey, please don't get me wrong. But listen. The woman is, what, the richest woman in the world? Let's allow her the fact that she has fallen unavoidably out of touch with reality. I'm certain I will never have to worry about having enough money to lose touch with reality, but in this year's Oprah's Favorite Things issue I saw an item she listed and officially found my gauge. If I ever start thinking, "Who doesn't need a pink scooter for schlepping around the winding roads of St. Tropez?" That's when I'll know I must be officially part of the 1%.

I hope you'll find some ideas on this list of something to get for your loved ones, and that I've provided a good balance of items in relation to cost. Some are things I buy just for me, and others are yearly go-to's for friends and family.

When compiling the list I realized that all the things I love have a connection to a part of my life, and thus, have their own wee stories. So feel free to skip right to the list if you don't want to read all my background blathering below.

I am a bit of a closet product junkie. As a little girl, I saved my allowance to buy candy (you will remember my candy obsession from the book, I bet!) and, of all things, makeup. So while I may only be 32 years old, please know that my recommendations are pretty legitimate: I have been learning about and experimenting with makeup since I was nine, so technically I have 23 years of experience with it. (I no longer apply lipstick to my forehead.) Living in New York City and working in publishing, you learn some good secrets to scrape by financially. If I ever had to go to an afterwork function, or when I was single, on a date after work, I would swoop into SEPHORA, spritz on perfume and redo my makeup there, all for f-r-e-e. I rationalized that since I bought all my cosmetics there anyway, they were still the true winners of the arrangement. Besides, they love when people come in to play. I now order from them online, since we don't have a store in Charleston. They offer free shipping on orders over $50, free returns, even if a product is used, (say, you break out from it, etc.) and with every order you get to pick from a selection of 3 samples.

It wasn't long after I moved to the city that I had to get a second job just to be able to afford rent and scrape by on credit card bills and groceries. I landed a part time position working at Sabon, an up-market Israeli bath product store that had just opened a block from my apartment. I'd always loved soaps and shower products. Sabon has now become a favorite gift of family and friends alike. (My mother is obsessed with their Grass scented glycerine soap, and we get it for her every year.) Sabon uses salt from the Dead Sea in many of their products, which is known for its healing properties. I got hooked on a few of their products while there, and wanted to share with you.

Prior to moving to New York, I had worked on the island of Nantucket for John Harding of Nantucket Natural Oils, a perfume maker for the stars with a "Nose," capital N. He is a true perfume master, and also was the person who first got me excited about aromatherapy and using essential oils in holistic medicine. While there, I developed my own scent as a gift for my sister. It's a delicate, green, floral and fresh scent. Because we share a love for the mountains, I crafted it to smell like you're standing in a field of wild flowers after a rain storm. I named it "KAIPEI" and KP we both still wear it. He still has my 'recipe' on file and if you like, you can order it too.** Note: You'll probably have to mention my name. The recipe is on my personal card file with him. He keeps track of what customers order on a file because when you buy 4 (whether it be over 1 year or 6 years time) you get 1 free. This way, if you create your own scent, as I did, he also has it on file so he can make it for you again when you run out.

John's perfumes are all in oil form, they don't contain alcohol. A $45 size, the smallest you can buy, will truly last you 1-2 years, and unlike department store perfumes, because there's no alcohol, the scent doesn't evaporate off your body in half an hour either (all the while nearly knocking people unconscious as you pass). It's a softer smell, and it lasts on your skin up to 8 hours. John also offers pretty much any designer scent you can imagine without the alcohol. Right now he's having a "buy 2 get 1 free" special. It's an amazing shop.

My love for single malt whiskey was developed in Scotland, and if you're just getting started, you can never go wrong with Macallan 12 or Glenlivet 12. Subtle notes of caramel in both=delicious. If you want to try something smokey, try Laphroaig. It's like drinking a campfire. (I personally don't enjoy it much. I like the smoother, less peaty single malts)

Lastly, my favorite gifts to give or receive can often be found or made things. My father was known for this. For one of my birthdays, my father gifted me a fossilized trilobite that he found on a gorge walk in Ithaca. In a letter when I was living in Cape Cod for a summer, he sent me a small stick that was naturally formed in the shape of a duck head. Another year he gave me a small piece of granite he'd found in the perfect shape of a heart. These things I treasure.

I'm Not Oprah But I Also Have Favorite Things Guide 

1. Sabon Bath & Body Products:  Sabon Shower Oil ($18) is a creamy shower gel that leaves you smelling like a slice of heaven. Sabon's Body Gel Polisher ($17) makes a great gift for sloughing away dry winter skin. It's a shower gel with beads of Dead Sea Salt so it cleans while it softens. I love both in Patchouli Lavender Vanilla. Not a fan of Patchouli? This scent has made a convert out of more than a few former Patchouli haters, including myself! But they do have bountiful other gorgeous scents. Mom's favorite product is the Glycerine Grass Soap and KP loves the Carrot Body Lotion.

2. Nantucket Natural Oil Perfumes: John Harding offers pretty much any designer scent you can think of, only without the yucky chemicals and alcohol. The scent I crafted is called "KAIPEI" (you'll have to request it and tell him the recipe is on my card, but he can make it) and I also love the Ralph Lauren Romance they offer. The quarter ounce size will truly last you about a year, and it's $45. I buy the .50 oz. size, and it lasts me 2 years. Great for people with allergies who can't wear regular perfumes. The carrier oil is Almond Oil.

3. Maps: Maps as art make an amazing gift. They are also in general one of my favorite things. I framed a 1960's topographic map of Ithaca that I found in my father's desk and it now hangs above our bed. They not only look great, they remind us of all the special places we've been, or places we'd like to go. and local bookstores are great places to look.

4. Single Malt Scotch: A great gift any time of the year. A good single malt will cost between $40 and $50 or more, but you can often find smaller bottles of certain brands and gift them together, too. In fact, why has no one in my family yet thought to make me a "Single Malt Medley"?!

5. Found Things: The price? Free. The value? Priceless. The trilobite my father gifted me was wrapped in this tiny box he'd once received a gift in from one of his students at Cornell. Beautiful shells, stones, or even pressed leaves can make truly special presents. Just remember to "ask permission" before you take something from its place in nature.

6. Made Things: I make mobiles out of painted sticks, fishing wire and shells I find with natural holes. It's a beautiful way to bring the outside indoors. My sister-law Cameron has one of my creations on her screened porch, we have three in our house, and I think I've promised one to my writer friend Mary Alice Monroe so I'd better get cracking! Note: These don't travel well. 

7. My Favorite Cosmetics:  Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream ($39) is a sunscreen, tinted moisturizer, primer and anti-aging treatment in one. It can be layered to create the look of a dewey foundation, and it is spectacular. Oh, and did I mention it also controls oil? I don't go anywhere without it. One tube lasts me about 6 months. Too Faced Shadow Insurance (Candelight $18) is what I wear instead of eye-shadow most days. It has a light golden sheen that can be worn alone or under another shadow, helps your eye makeup stay put all day. For blush, I'm infatuated with NARS. The shade is... oh please forgive me, but it's called Orgasm ($28). It's been a cult favorite among makeup gurus for a few years now because the shade looks good on nearly every woman's skin tone. After trying several blushes, this one is the only one I'll use. I absolutely love it. For zit coverage, I swear by Body Shop's Tea Tree Concealer ($9). It treats the blemish while covering, and helps it heal up in no time flat.

8. Uggs: They're big, they're fluffy, they're warm, they're made well, and they last forever. These are made to be a big, clunky, sasquatch of a boot and I love them for it. They're great for winter airport travel because they're easy on/off, and look great with leggings, yoga pants, jeans and even some knee-length casual dresses. Eric convinced me to relinquish my very old smelly pair, and I just got these beauties from him for early Christmas. I would sleep in them if I could. This pair is the Ugg Bailey Bomber Boot (Tall, Chocolate Natural $240). They're admittedly pricey, but if they're your thing, they're worth every penny. Especially if you travel often to chilly places or live in cold climates.

You can find both scrap book paper for wrapping and little charms
at Michael's or Hobby Lobby
9. Handmade Soaps: I'm learning how to craft my own from scratch, but you don't need to be experienced or deal with any chemicals like lye to create these beauties. All you need is an organic soap base (which you melt down easily via stove or microwave), a soap mold, your favorite essential oils (I get mine at Whole Foods) and any natural colorant you might want. I process and mix in my own herbs from the garden (rosemary is a nice one to include, chopped) and Ta-da! Beautiful soaps. Easy. You can order it all on my favorite website Bramble Berry is based in Washington state, and they are an incredible company. They offer many different melt and pour bases, from organic goat milk to aloe. You can buy a book of scrap book paper to wrap them, and yarn or raffia makes lovely bows. I made these for a recent baby shower and they were a huge hit!

I hope this sparks some ideas for you this holiday season, and I'd love to hear about your favorite things too!

With Warmest Holiday Wishes,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Iroquois Prayer in Honor of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving friends. 
In honor of the holiday, I thought it would be fitting to post this beautiful Iroquois prayer, written down before the turn of the 20th century. 
Translated from the Iroquois language by Harriet Maxwell Converse 
b. 1836
(Elmira, New York) 

"We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we
   are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, 
   and ordered that these beings shall always be 
   living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these 
   beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth 
   and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have 
   fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow 
   shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, 
   the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest 
   brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees 
   and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, 
   and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and 
   for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, 
   the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give 
   us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge 
   of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can 
   still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of 
   this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music, and hope they will be privileged to 
   continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who 
   perform the ceremonies on this occasion."

Monday, November 05, 2012

Inside The Book of Kells

I hope I never cease to be impressed by the wonders of synchronicity. I've often said it's when we're truly "in the flow" that things find their way to our doorstep. This weekend, the arrival of this stunning edition of The Book of Kells on my writing desk was no exception, and it offered some enchanted affirmation for me that I'm on the right path with Book #2. The Celts are an elusive people, and my research on them for the novel I'm working on at times seems insurmountable. This, dear friends, is exactly why I was so thrilled when my awesome husband Eric came across this book and thought of me.

The Book of Kells, which most agree was produced around 800 AD in Ireland, is a resplendently illustrated version of the Gospels, the original of which is now kept at Trinity College in Dublin. One of Ireland's National Treasures, it's one of the most beautiful of all the illuminated manuscripts that date the Middle Ages. What makes it fascinating (and so incredibly useful) to me, is the glimpse that it also provides us into the Celtic culture of a lost era. Turn the pages and you'll see beasts that look more far-Eastern than Celtic, severed heads that cap letters, snakes that resemble the legend of the Viking/Norse Mithras serpent, fire breathing monsters and more.  

Bernard Meehan's coffee-table-sized tome (Thames & Hudson, $95.00)
Those of you who read Faery Tale will remember that the history and religious practices of the pagan Celts was an oral tradition. The Druids, religious leaders of the pre-Christian Celts, believed the word was sacred and contained great power. Vestiges of this can be found in the folk beliefs that have risen up surrounding faeries, oddly enough - it is believed that if you ever meet a member of the Fae, they would never deign give you their real name! (Think of the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin"...) To possess their name is to possess power over their spirit. This story has recorded what was a genuine cultural belief of the humans living in ancient eras.

For the Druids and the ancient Celts, to consign their religious practices, massive knowledge of the natural world and cultural secrets to paper was to risk losing everything should they be conquered by another nation. This of course, eventually happened anyway. And now all we have to provide us with information about the more mystical side of their nature are the burials we find, remnants of epic poetry, and of course, their art.
Jesus and his virgin mother, likely known in the Celtic world as Brigid.
 The Book of Kells
What excites me about it is the fact that The Book of Kells also serves as one of the only living documents that can provide us with a visceral and incredibly unique glimpse into the minds of the Celtic people at that time. We know very little about the state of Celtic life post Roman occupation throughout the British Isles, which is precisely the time period I'm writing about. The Celts themselves wrote nothing down, so I'm nothing short of grateful for the studious Celtic Christian monks who dedicated their lives to the writings of history, such as they heard it, and gave us this incredible work of faith/art. The book is filled with animistic representations that offer tantalizing glimpses of the Celtic people's close connection to the natural world. Dogs, lions, peacocks, cats, eagles, cows and more fill the pages, the Apostles themselves are even represented as winged creatures (see second caption below).   

Prior to its adoption in this text
the Stag was a common symbol found in the pagan Celtic world.

Early Celtic-Christian Symbolism:
Luke represented by a calf and John represented by an eagle, as found in The Book of Kells
And of course, it wasn't created in a vacuum. Early Christians converting the Celts needed to construct a religion that didn't exist too far outside the confines of Celtic belief in order to achieve success with conversion. Things had to be made relatable. (Thus we find innumerable translations of pagan deities into the Christian Celtic world view: the goddess Brigid became Brigid, Virgin Mother of Jesus, etc.) The stag, peacock and other creatures that must have held great meaning to the Celts, were all given roles to play in the stories of the gospels via illustration. Most importantly, the monks working on the Book of Kells were using the artistic styles of the time. Thus we can get a truly exhilarating peek into the imaginations and mystical symbolic imagery that held value to the culture as a whole, not just the Christian peoples of the time. Celtic Christianity was rife with requisitioned pagan symbolism. We can learn a great deal about the forgotten world of the pagan Celts by studying the symbolism recorded in this 9th century text.

The value of this particular edition is exponentially increased by it's author, too. Bernard Meehan is Head of Research Collections at Trinity in Dublin and has been studying the Book of Kells for over 30 years. His written insights on the symbolism and history of the book are among the best and most informed one could hope for.

You'd better believe I'll be using this book to build the religious world of the Celtic people you'll be meeting in book 2.

I have a feeling I'm going to need a magnifying glass.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding Enchantment in Your Own Backyard

"In that moment I knew I had a magic all my own here in Charleston. I stepped back onto the patio and sat on the cool stone, letting my gaze soften, watching the wax myrtles ruffle in the breeze. Not expecting, just waiting. A quote came to mind, something I'd come across this past summer from T.S. Eliot...
We shall not cease from exploration. And at the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time." - Faery Tale 

The neighborhood pond I visit on walks.
The shed and flowering Jessamine, taken from the patio.
 When I left New York City in search for enchantment, I was convinced that it was out there to be found, if only I could only go to the right place to find it. But what I learned by the end of my journey was that rediscovering enchantment in your life isn't about visiting magical or exotic places or even catching a glimpse of something paranormal that can't be explained away. I came to learn that enchantment already is.

Enchantment is the miracle of existence, not just the possibility of spirits or other dimensions, other worlds, but enchantment is in every mundane earthly moment, right alongside all the mysteries and magic that come along with it. It's in the miracle of each breath we take, how the oxygen fuels our lungs, our heart, it's in the unfurling of a flower in the front yard, in the way the clouds move across the sky, it's in the connection we have to our families, our friends, and our adorable and oh-so-loveable pets.

And that's only the tip of the enchanted iceberg.
Lucy gives kisses on a winter night in the sunroom.
My problem was I was in such a fog of grief and inner-discontent that I just couldn't see it.

I hear from a lot of wonderful people who are longing to make a trip to England or Ireland, Scotland or Isle of Man, in search of similar experiences - but some can't afford the time off, can't sneak away from family responsibilities, or just can't afford the steep price of an airline ticket. For me, travel elicited my awakening. And for those of you who are longing to journey, keep the dream close! It will become a reality, it's just a matter of when.

Something I think some readers may overlook, though, is the fact that it wasn't as much the places who spurred my awakening as it was the illuminating stories and conversations I was having along the way. It was the people and the wisdom they offered. All of which I shared with you - ergo, you've got everything you need to get you started (I hope) within the pages of my book. And the best place to start is actually your own backyard, because that's where you spend most of your time. That's where you'll receive the most benefit from connecting with the spirits of the natural world, because that's the environment you marinate in everyday.

I didn't see anything that October night in my yard, now nearly three years ago to this day. But I've seen and experienced a lot of magical things in my own backyard since. Always when I was least expecting it. Often it's been when I reached out most earnestly, in times when I needed it most. These days I like to keep my spiritual experiences close. But the point is, it isn't so much the where as it is the how. Recently I heard from a reader in Louisiana (Jess) who'd begun leaving offerings around her property and had been experiencing a very real and (I daresay) enchanted connection to the land she lived on as a result. When we do put this kind of magical focus on our own space, it almost seems to come awake itself - a connection or bridge is formed, communication is opened this way. That's when the cool experiences happen.

Acknowledging and doing something energetically to actively appreciate your local natural surroundings is the most important thing. Plenty of people go to Glastonbury each year, and spread their magical juju all over that place. But how many people make the pilgrimage to your backyard, to connect with the beings and plants and animals there, to offer trinkets and positive vibes and to give thanks for all it does?
Just you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

After the Faery Tale... Book Two!

I don't know how many of you saw my chat session with novelist Alex Bledsoe, but we talked a great deal about inspiration. As a writer it's foremost on my mind, because without inspiration, there is no magic to infuse a project, no faery dust to make it sparkle, touch people, to bring it to life. (To read that interview, click here.)

Faery Tale was such a guided book - there's no other way to describe it. I didn't feel I was writing it so much as I was trying to follow a loose thread back to its source. I learned to pay attention to synchronicities in life, because those are our keys - what are we noticing and why? Is something striking us and why? Who are we encountering in our path, why do they intrigue us, and what wisdom might they have to offer? What are they reminding us about that might have been long forgotten?
These things matter. I learned to pay attention.
Obeying the Muse
Usually these are the things that touch that magic of "source:" that thing which needs to be reclaimed. The purpose, or inspiration of the work.

It's because Faery Tale was a guided work that it finds people. Sometimes it feels like the book almost seeks out the people who need to connect to it. As though it has a life of its own. None of this was my doing, I'm merely the scribe. But I've had the enchanting pleasure of hearing from the people this magic has reached and it's probably been one of the biggest gifts any scribe like me could hope to receive.

This is why when readers asked me what I was doing next, I felt a certain amount of terror. Would inspiration find me once more? I turned again to the things I'd learned about life through the journey I took in Faery Tale.
And that's when I realized the story had already found me.

I'd come across some new scholarship on an ancient legend that had gripped me beyond belief. It was a story so epic, so beautiful, so powerful, and so deeply moving that I became nothing short of obsessed. I began reading every non-fiction book on the subject that I could get my hands on. Through research of my own (which is on-going) it became clear to me, as I wrote in Faery Tale that, "...within every legend lies a kernel of truth." I felt a deep and incredibly emotional connection to a family I was reading about that I couldn't explain but also couldn't question. They had lived out the saga in real days on this planet long ago, and yet it was this very family -- whose lives were at the epicenter of this huge moment in history--who had been methodically, intentionally (and frustratingly) effectively extinguished from the historical record.

It was then I knew that I wanted to tell their story.
That I was meant to tell their story.
And this is how I found myself writing a historical novel.

I can't say more about the subject now than I've said above, for which I hope you'll forgive me, but so many of you have been kind enough to wonder what I might be working on, I wanted to share something of its nature with you. If I can pull off this "fiction writing" thing, I know you'll love it.
Because I'm not so much writing fiction as I am trying to remember a true story that happened long, long ago.

Right now I'm working on completing a first draft, which I'll be sharing with my agent in early fall. Depending on her feedback, I'm hoping to shop it with publishers shortly thereafter. If I can sell it, that's when a publication date would be assigned.

I want to thank you so much for your interest and most of all, your support. In the meantime, Faery Tale continues to stretch its wings. I find myself quite occupied with corresponding with the wonderful people it's reaching, the freelance work I'm doing, and my new commitment to blog every week! Stay tuned for an autumn filled with recipes, soap making adventures, tales from my trip to Sweden, renovations to the backyard shed (which we're transforming into a writing space for yours truly) and more.

As soon as I finish the novel I'll be working on a very neat side-project related to the book that I think many of you will be pretty excited about too.

In the meantime, thanks so much for sharing in my excitement. I'm sending love and thanks to you all and hoping you have a glorious Friday filled with enchantments all your own.

- Signe xx

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Beat Writers Block

I presented these tricks to a group of women when I was asked to speak at the Lowcountry Romance Writers Association Beach retreat last winter. They're an amalgamation of tricks I would tell my writers to do when I was editing, and more so, tricks I've learned to help myself in times of need.

Writing Faery Tale was one thing, and I used plenty of these tactics. But I also do the occasional travel writing for publications, food reviewing, and articles I want to pitch to national women's magazines. These tricks have become not just solutions to blockages, but a way of life. So I wanted to share them with you, in hopes they might help you should you ever find yourself stuck - with any creative endeavor!

1. Make Time to Meditate
It may sound whacky if you haven't tried it, but meditation offers so many benefits for writers and artists, too, I'd imagine. It helps me ease my anxiety. It helps me quiet my over-active mind, which tends to go and go and go at night until I've worked myself into a frenzy of what-if's and I-can'ts. Most importantly, when we meditate, we are placing ourselves in a mode that is receptive. My friend Shaman Jon made a great point when he discussed with me the difference energetically between meditation and prayer. I think writers tend to pray a lot: "Please, please let me finish this book," or "Please, please let my agent like it," or "Please, please let me see that I sold more than 1 copy in all of America this week." Sometimes we pray to give thanks, or of course to try to help others in need. Whatever it is, when you pray, you're sending energy out. (Often desperate energy, too, I might add.) When you meditate, you are making yourself open, receptive, quiet, calm. You're putting yourself in a completely different energetic state - it's an active state. Meditation, on the other hand, is open. It allows. It doesn't fight, it doesn't block, it prepares the ground to receive its seeds. Meditation creates the space for us to watch, listen, and become passive observers of both our own thoughts and the world around us. This, I think, is the best state to be living in if you want to be inspired.

2. Create the Perfect Environment
Do you write best at a desk? Need a room of your own? Propped up on the couch? In a coffee shop? (I absolutely cannot write in coffee shops. But they can be a great place to go if you feel stuck, miss human interaction, need an "office" or need a change of venue. Then it's back to my desk.)

Do you write best morning, day, or night? It's important to study yourself in productive mode like you would an animal in the zoo. What does Writer-You like best to eat when Writer-You is writing? etc. I spoil myself when I'm on deadline for something, and it really does help me get it done.
Other things that help create atmosphere:
- a nice scented candle
- clean burning incense
- ear plugs (I actually have them in right now)
- or music (if the quiet bothers you)
- turn off your internet browser (leave any research points blank and designate them for a day when you're stuck in your writing. Then you can surf and library away.)
- a fancy bar of chocolate, hidden so no one can find it but you, when you really need it.
- delicious tea or strong coffee. Brew a cup, then butt in chair.
- special jewelry. Think of it as your talisman. I have certain things I wear only when writing.
- for goodness sake, turn off your cell phone. Off! There's nothing quite like a ringing phone or bleep of a text message to wrench you from your glorious receptive state of creative bliss and then you've got to start all over again.
- close the door. And tell your friends and family that when the door is shut, you mean business.

3. But... Know When you Need to Leave Your Environment
Everyone has their own unique tricks that work for them. I know a lot of writers who force themselves to write words on paper, even if it becomes stream of consciousness, to keep from getting stuck. That has never worked for me. I have a rather "Type-A" relationship to the page, and I absolutely refuse to degrade it with: Oh what will I have for lunch today? God, I wish I could write something... blah blah blah..

I just can't do it, it makes me cringe. When I get truly stuck, I've found things that help me to still move forward in a positive direction. Once I discover the well is dry that day, I'll instead designate the time for research. There is a stack of about 10 books on my desk for the current project. You can also find documentaries on Netflix about your subject - those I tend to watch nights or weekends. Still technically work, so long as your learning something and you take notes. Movies can be a great source of inspiration for clothing styles and character traits for fiction, I've found. Changing your venue can also work. Get up and go for a walk. Get present. Notice the things around you. This gives your brain a break and also gets you out of that "I'm stuck I'm stuck I'm stuck" mantra that you're sitting in the chair beating yourself over the head with.

4. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
You can get help from a friend (though I would warn you to be very careful who you speak with about creative projects. Sometimes you can get too many cooks in the kitchen, and it can throw you off track.) From a professional editor, OR from "out there."

The "out there" sort is a favorite of mine. Think of it as inviting the muse. I truly believe inspiration for creative projects comes from somewhere outside of us too - it's not ours, we don't own it. This is why we say we were "inspired." Ask for help. Maybe even make an offering of flowers, incense, etc. Then pay attention to things that cross your path. Be receptive. See how your story unfolds - where will inspiration find you? It could be a story you notice on the news, something somebody mentions to you in passing, but it'll grab you. When you're struck by something, when it grabs you, write it down. Don't question it or try to make sense of it. Trust that you wouldn't be struck by it if it wasn't somehow a piece to your puzzle. It's of value.

5. Remember that We are Only the Scribes.
There are so many stories out there waiting to be discovered. All they can do is knock on the doors that lead to our visions - this miraculous thing we call "imagination." We just have to allow ourselves to receive it. Our job becomes to get up and open the door.
Then, step gracefully out of the way.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Healing Power of Reiki

I'll just come right out with it: 
Raven Keyes has written a book, and it goes on sale today! So today we celebrate the mystical healing art of Reiki, and the launch of Raven's book, with a sit-down with the new author. 

Raven Keyes
Those of you who read Faery Tale will remember my good friend Raven, who you met at the beginning of the book. She was renting my apartment during the day to conduct Reiki sessions with her clients. I would come home at the end of the day to the soft smell of incense and this nearly indescribable sense of peace, calm, that I hadn't noticed before. In an effort to help me understand and experience Reiki, she's given me Reiki more than once, and every time it's been nothing short of blissful. What surprised me most was the warmth and the physical pulsing I could feel coming from her hands as she gently lay them on my body. You really can feel the healing energy as it passes from the practitioner's hands into you. (Any of you unfamiliar with Reiki can read Raven's description below.) Each time she and I did a session, she also received some pretty interesting "information" as she calls it, from the spirit realm, which she would share with me after the session. It was always right on, and often helped me to gain some insight into a particular area of my life that held important meaning for me. Raven's calling in the world of Reiki has led her to work in some large arenas - with the National Football League, in the operating room of Dr. Mehmet Oz, and if you can believe it, even more. She's written a moving, absorbing and fascinating account about Reiki and her otherworldly experiences with it: messages from the spirit world, incredible spiritual encounters, but mostly, her book is offers story after moving story of the incredible results Reiki can deliver to those in need of healing, no matter what the ailment. 

A fascinating glimpse into the life and experiences of a Reiki practitioner

It was Raven, of course, who first told me she felt the presence of faerie spirits in my apartment, bewildered as it made me at the time. Imagine if she and I hadn't met - would I ever have begun the journey that would utterly change my life? Later she arrived in Glastonbury to stay with me at the Chalice Well - a place I'd selected to try and have an encounter based upon a few of the experiences she had reported having there, and well... you know the rest! 

The book is truly absorbing - I finished it in two days. Not to sound cheesy, but I really hope you'll get a copy and discover what Reiki might be able to do for you. I caught the new author for a cyber-sit down to talk Reiki - I hope you'll enjoy our conversation below. Click here to order.

1. First of all, for the layperson, what exactly is Reiki? 

Reiki as a practice is the absorbing of healing energy from the universe by a practitioner who then shares that energy with their client through gentle hand positions on or over their client's body. What the energy called Reiki actually IS cannot really be described. These days, I'm often in the operating room during surgery with doctors and technicians who have never heard of Reiki, and when they ask me about it, the way I describe it to them is probably the best I can do: I tell them that I, as a Reiki master, am the delivery system, like a hypodermic needle, that gets filled up with healing energy - energy as impossible to describe as love - which I then pass along to their patient through my hands. This explanation seems to satisfy them, and I hope it's helpful here.

2. Your book is entitled THE HEALING POWER OF REIKI: A Modern Master's Approach to Emotional, Spiritual & Physical Wellness. What can readers expect to glean from reading the book that might differ from another Reiki book out there on the market? 

I've had the opportunity to bring Reiki onto world stages, so I have many stories to tell that are unique. Most books on Reiki in the market today describe it in a more text book like manner. Although I do share information about Reiki, that's done mostly to clarify the stories I tell about real-life experiences I've had throughout the years. The readers get to travel with me and to experience firsthand the operating room with Dr. Oz, the locker room of the New York Giants, a big event with the NBA, cancer patients, those suffering from PTSD, family members of victims of 9/11, rescue and recovery workers behind the police barricades at Ground Zero... and readers also get to meet regular people just like you and me. There is no other Reiki master in the world who has performed Reiki in the combination of places to which I've been able to bring my work; therefore my stories are truly unique. Readers have said they couldn't put the book down, and one person even said it was like reading a thriller, which really surprised me.

3. What do you think the biggest misconception about Reiki might be?

For those who don't know anything about Reiki, it might be thought to be religious, which it isn't, or woo woo, which it isn't either. Reiki is more in line with universal law. Einstein understood that there was more going on in the universe than he could put his finger on, try as he may. However, scientists had a recent big break through in Switzerland at CERN this past summer when they discovered the Higgs Bosen particle that some labeled the particle of God. It's interesting to note that I have a scientist friend who claims that the word GOD is really an acronym: Geometric Order of Divinity = GOD. In any case, this intangible energy that heals called Reiki is just beginning to be researched to discover its underlying nature, which probably can't ever really be understood. However, this research is being championed by doctors who have observed the clinical results of Reiki's use with patients and in hospitals. These doctors are working to get the funding for the research necessary to find some answers that will allow Reiki to be used more widely to help patients to heal, and possibly to even be paid for by insurance.

4. What was the most difficult challenge you faced in writing this book? 

I'd have to say the greatest challenge for me came in the the actual writing process. My book sold on a proposal, which meant only a few of the chapters were already written. I wrote the other chapters that were listed in the table of contents in the book proposal. Shortly after I turned in what I thought was the final manuscript, I received 13 pages of notes from my editor, with instructions to scrap chapters of what I had written. This meant that 25,000 words were now out of the book, and I had to make them up in new chapters that my editor now wanted instead. I remember how panicked I was! I remember sitting at the computer crying and telling my husband, "I can't do it! I can't write all these other words!" Of course I did in the end, and the book turned out to be much better with the new chapters, because there was a more natural flow to the overall progress of the book.

5. You and I have obviously shared a great deal of exploration into the world of faeries together. What do you think, if any, is the connection between faeries and Reiki? Is Reiki something you think is also implemented by the faerie realm?  

A wonderful question, Signe! Reiki is really unconditional pure love from the universe that those in the know (like you & me) can SHARE with the faeries so that we can feel truly connected to each other. Last year at summer solstice time when you & I were in Glastonbury, England with the ladies who came on our retreat, we shared Reiki energy with the Holy Thorn Tree, with each other, in the Chalice Well Gardens, at the White Spring ... and in response to all the love we spread around out of our Reiki hands, we saw the sparkling lights of the faeries two nights in a row! These days, I sit on the back porch of my country house and send Reiki out of my hands into the trees. I always think to the Fae, "here is some love for you, I love you, all is love," while holding my hands up. More times than not, they respond by showing me their sparkle! And I also feel the energy of love coming back toward me from them ... it's truly wonderful when these things happen.

Raven Keyes is a Reiki master, teacher, certified hypnotherapist and guided meditation instructor. She was part of the original Complementary Alternative Medicine program at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital led by Dr. Mehmet Oz. In the world of professional sports, Raven has brought Reiki to athletes in the NFL and NBA.  Featured in national magazines such as “Vogue” and “W,” she was named “Best Reiki Master in New York” by New York Magazine and was televised as “New Yorker of the Week” on NY-1 for providing volunteer Reiki services for 8 ½ months after 9/11. Raven lives in New York City with her musician/composer husband, Michael Pestalozzi and their dog, Murphy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fairytale Pumpkins

They might have been around forever, but I had never seen them before last year: Fairytale Pumpkins. 
Last year I stumbled across a wheel barrow full of them outside Trader Joe's, and this year, as I was rushing into Whole Foods to do some last minute shopping, there they were. 
It's the fact that I'm never looking for them when they first appear that make Fairytale Pumpkins so utterly magical. You're rushing through your day and all of a sudden, the sight of those lumpy, plump, vibrant and hilariously squat pumpkins that you're certain could be made into a horse-drawn carriage fit for a ball appear and you remember that enchantment is everywhere. Here in Charleston, where the coming of fall is announced by only a 15% drop in humidity, the pumpkins have become an important reminder to me that mother earth is at work at her ceaseless and ancient cycle. Another year has turned, life folding away behind it for safe keeping, in memories, in our day dreams, in our longings for places we've been, the hundreds of places we've visited in that year where we've left little pieces of ourselves.  

They remind me of slipping into the car in upstate New York when the air is crisp and driving to Iron Kettle Pumpkin Farm, of fresh milled cider and cinnamon-sugar doughnuts still hot from the fryer, of Halloween costume shopping, of running through the leaf-filled streets of Ithaca New York with pillowcases of candy, heart racing and cold-cheeked.
Fairytale. They remind me too, of all the adventures I've had, the people I've met. The stories I've told and the mystery that lies beyond the daily grind we so often slip away into, unconscious, where we are momentarily unreachable by the worlds that may exist beyond. These giant, dumpy and lovable squashes remind me to be present; autumn is coming, autumn is coming...

They remind me that we are all living our own fairy tales, each and every day, if we can only just remember. 

I didn't buy my Fairytale Pumpkins yet. It's too hot still, you know, and I couldn't stand to watch them fade, rot in what is still our late summer heat. But it was simply the sight of them, these simple things that grew from seed, that invigorated me. Helped me remember. 
And I wanted to share that with you. 

Happy Autumn to you... and may the enchantment continue to find you each and every day. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Things We Write to our New Born Nieces

Dear Chicken:

We spent the mornings together, just you and me, listening to Greg Brown and rocking in the chair. I couldn't believe how tiny you are, or how much I adore to hold you. I wore you in the Mobi wrap all over Seattle and you slept on my chest as we shopped and your mommy got a pedicure. On the night before I had to leave, I took you outside to look at the moon. Lughnasa. An ancient Celtic celebration and your Auntie writes and reads a lot about them. Well, Lughnasa is August 1st, and it's a festival held to honor Lugh the Long Hand, the Celtic All-Father, the God of Light. So there we were, you and me and the big moon on the night before an ancient festival and it felt so magical.
I held you to me and wished for the best things for you, forever and always. These words might feel meaningless. I understand. It's hard for me to imagine that any relation I have or had could love me the way in which I love you. All of my good hopes and dreams, I sent them to the moon on behalf of you and I asked that your life be blessed. (And Auntie Signe thinks the word 'blessed' is rather cheesy and over-used, so this is really saying something.)

Don't be afraid to take a leap when your heart is unhappy.
If you're following your gut instincts, the world will support you. This, I know.

Be kind.
Learn to nurture yourself, and then others.
Face your fears, but only when you are ready- we all have our own sense of timing, you know.
Know that here or away, We all love you simply because you are you.

You are part of us, and we are a part of you.
We are family, and we can't wait to know you... as soon as you can focus your gaze on us.

I love you, Chicken.

Auntie Signe xoxo

Monday, June 25, 2012

For Today, I Will Dance

I don't know exactly how it happened, but over the past several months I become obsessed with Zumba. For any who are unfamiliar, this would be the workout craze sweeping gyms across the universe: Latin and International music with set dance routines in large, mirrored rooms. I was initially worried about a lot of things: 
1. I can't dance. At all. To say I have two left feet would be a nicety. 
2. I was worried about what others might think of my catastrophic attempts at coordinated motion. 
3. I was doubtful that I would ever learn the moves to any song, ever, in a proficient enough way to feel any measure of success in the class. 

The first five classes I did, I was pretty lost. And I had to swallow that inner hater who was wondering what people might be thinking. Pretty quickly, it no longer mattered. I learned that attending the same class time with the same instructor each week gave me the chance to actually learn the moves - and I surprised myself. I remembered more from week to week than I thought I would. And with that, I was hooked. I began to notice after working 3 classes in per week into my normal 5 day workout routine, I was able to isolate and move muscles in my hips and core that I hadn't known were there. But aside from that, what I've come to love best is the feeling of being in that room. Shimmying my shoulders, shaking my hips, and yes, even sometimes twirling, can evaporate the frustrations of the day in a far more resplendent way than sweating it out on the Spin bike. 

Today, as I was looking over the gym schedule, and in the few minutes I had before I rush off to a 5:00 PM class, I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate Zumba. Thanks to Zumba, working out is fun again. Thanks to Zumba, I've rediscovered my inner-sassyness: gone are the frumpy over-sized teeshirts I used to sport to the gym, ushered in are the racer back tanks and even a sweep of mascara on dance days, because I like to feel good about who I see in that mirror. Mostly, for that hour, I am thankful to be lost in music. I remember, on dance days, why people have gathered for thousands of years to dance together: it's in the celebration of movement that we can remember just how lucky we are to be healthy, strong, impassioned, and alive. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's My Birthday, It's Your Birthday, It's Somebody's Birthday Somewhere!

My name is Signe and I'm a celebration-aholic.
A beach walk celebrates the
completion of a long day

Dinner to celebrate our
friends' visit from Sweden
My husband Eric points this out constantly, and I'm lucky he and my Framily (friends & family)  indulge me, because there is simply nothing I love more than a reason to celebrate something. Holidays, birthdays, and baby showers are obvious no-brainers. Celebration! But what about the other vacant and disused days in the calendar year? Those lonely, lonely Wednesdays in, say, March? (March itself being a dismal month that nobody ever celebrates - excluding the birthday-ers - save if it's mentioned in regard to Julius Caesar getting stabbed to ribbons in the Senate two thousand years ago.) Hasn't March been through enough? Doesn't she deserve a little celebration? So I look at this uncontrollable reflex to celebrate things as merely doing my part. Birthdays and Anniversaries seem to ache for lavish dinners, whether made at home or dining out, trips to a foreign country or even a campy road trip with a book-on-cd. Long day at the office? Let's celebrate being done with work (for the day) by having a glass of red wine and talking while we cook dinner. It's Friday? Happy Hour!! I wrote one full page today: bubble bath. Full moons and things like Summer Solstice? Why not?! We've been celebrating those events for thousands of years. Bring on the bonfire and let's give thanks to our ancestors and make some sparkly sort of punch.

I suppose celebrations are on the brain because today is in fact my birthday, and as I grow older, I find my relationship to the celebration of life events is changing, of course. Obviously at 32, it's no longer about the cake, the party, or the gifts. (Though I'm embarrassed to say I probably out grew this later than some. When I was a little girl and would wish on a star, I would wish that wrapped presents would start falling from the sky, so.....cakes and parties and gifts are nice when you can come by them!) But now it's about the phone call I know I'll get first thing in the morning from my mother. My husband hugging me in the kitchen and calling me his birthday girl. The birthday card coming across the long miles from my sister in Seattle - the one that fills both pages of the card with handwriting and a message that never ceases in moving me to tears in it's meaning. The sweet pings of birthday wishes from friends and readers on Facebook and Twitter from across the globe: a reflection of the incredible people I've met in my life and the rainbow variety of paths that they walk.
Celebrating Mary Alice Monroe's
new book at the SC Aquarium

It's about going to see "Snow White and the Huntsman" and eating mozzarella sticks for dinner.

So yes. I'm a celebration-aholic and proud of it. Because celebration reminds us to live in the moment. It reminds us to take the time to connect, appreciate and reach out to the people we love in our lives. It provides us with a much-needed timeout from the weights and stresses of the challenges of being grown-ups, and being human, giving us a blissful pocket of time to simply be delighted.

So if there's one thing I could encourage you to do, it'd be to remember when you have a bad day, to raise a glass, light a candle, make a wish, and blow it out. Because it's bound to be somebody's birthday somewhere. And life is too glorious and too brief an affair to not celebrate every moment we have to spend.
Why not celebrate four days early?
Sunday's early birthday cookout with The Butler Family.
(With sweet, sweet, wee Grey Butler.)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Free E-Books! (And a Chance to win a free Kindle, too.)

How often do us authors get to say that, huh? 

I'm thrilled to announce that from May 7th - May 9th, you can download Native Water free, along with books from several other authors! 
(Click here to download my book.) 

We're calling it a Spring Fling Par-Tay, and it's going to be fun for you, I hope. Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, Humor - there's over 30 books to choose from. If you visit the Free Partay website  you can also enter to win a free Kindle or $25.00 Amazon gift cards just by signing up for the newsletter. Check out the website and see if there's anything up your alley - it's fun to nab these titles before they go back to their regular prices. 

They're available for free through Amazon. No strings attached. Just free e-books for your Kindle, and we hope you'll enjoy them. Don't have a Kindle? Not a problem. You can download the free Kindle software and read on your computer or on most mobile devices. 

To download Kindle software to your PC:

To download Kindle software on your Mac:

(There's also a Kindle App for Ipads.)
Happy reading, friends. 

Welcome to the Spring Fling Free Par-Tay! A party for readers!
Three Days Only, May 7th-9th...

There's a genre for every reader's taste.
You can never have too many great books. Load up your Kindle and tell your book-loving friends to do the same.

Here are just a few of the titles available: 
The Arrival. One World, one man, and an epic battle for an empire. By J. Thorn
Ish: Getting the Ish Out in the Open Vol I of a Juicy Conversation Series -Amazon Readers Rated 5 Stars. By Regina Griffin

When I See You. Moving on begins with letting go and keeping promises. By Katherine Owen.

Dunaway's Crossing. In 1918, the Spanish influenza took more than twenty million lives, and saved one. By Nancy Brandon.

To enter to win a Kindle and $25 per day Amazon gift card giveaways, simply visit and sign up for their newsletter!