Sunday, June 26, 2016

Now on deck: Turtle's...

As alert hearth/myth readers know, I've been trying to figure out a suitable title for my new book -- the fourth and final book in the Pipe Woman's Legacy series, and the twelfth book set in the Pipe Woman Chronicles' universe -- for the past couple of months.

Book titles are funny things, and titles for individual books in a series are odder still. For the original Pipe Woman Chronicles, I picked Seized, a single past-tense verb, for the title of the first book -- and then had to hit the thesaurus pretty hard to find suitable one-word titles for the other five books. (Gravid was perhaps the least successful compromise, as it didn't end in -ed.)

For the second series, Land, Sea, Sky, I went for nouns that had something to do with the elemental force that took center stage in each book: Crosswind for Air, Undertow for Water, and Scorched Earth for, obviously, Earth. That last one was another compromise, as I had to opt for two words to convey the meaning I was after.

Which brings us to the Legacy books. I didn't want to do another round of single-word titles, so I opted for two words, the first being a possessive noun. Dragon's Web and Firebird's Snare worked great for Sage's books, and I thought I was done. But then I realized I needed to give Webb a couple of books, too -- so back to the thesaurus I went. Spider's Lifeline was genius, I thought (if I did say so myself).
A. Balet | Wikimedia Commons | CC 3.0

And then came Book Four.

I knew that part of the plot would revolve around Hilary's kappa, Enkou (sorry if that's a spoiler), so I decided to put the word Turtle in the title. Which meant I then had to come up with a word to go with. Out came the thesaurus again. The titles of Sage's books include terms for traps: web and snare. But a lifeline isn't a trap. It's a way out.

When I saw the word weir, I realized I'd found my title -- because a weir can be both a trap and a way out.

Weirs have been built for centuries, both along rivers and in tidal areas. They serve a couple of purposes: like dams, they can be used to regulate the flow of water; and they can also be used either to trap fish for catching, or to point them toward a fish ladder to allow them to get over the weir. (This photo is of a weir at a grist mill in Washington state.)

Webb's girlfriend's kappa has proven to be a free agent, answering to no other gods -- but he has also proven to be loyal to Hilary, and by extension, to the Curtis clan. So leave it to Enkou to develop a mysterious structure that might save everyone in the end.

Oh, right -- here's the cover.

Turtle's Weir is currently with my editors, and I believe we're on track for publication this coming week -- probably Thursday, June 30th -- but I'll send a newsletter when it's live. This would be an awesome time to sign up for my mailing list, if you haven't already. Just click here and add your name and email address. I wouldn't want you to miss the release date when it's so close.

These moments of catch-and-release blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's Kupala Night.

Kupala Night - Simon Kozhin | CC 3.0
Tomorrow is the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, and many Neopagans call it Litha, or simply Midsummer. But in Slavic countries, it's known by another name: Kupala, after the pagan goddess of the same name.

The name Kupala is a cognate of the verb "to bathe" in the various Slavic languages. So as you might expect, Kupala is the goddess of water -- but She also has a fire aspect. Both elements can be used for cleansing and purification. And interestingly, some of the observances remind me very much of the Celts' Beltane practices.

For example, the Slavs would kindle a bonfire, and young couples would jump over it, hand in hand. If they made it to the other side of the fire still holding hands -- or if the fire shot out a spark as they jumped over it -- then they were destined to wed. If, however, their hands came apart, their relationship supposedly would, too.

But how to pick the fellow to jump the fire with? Kupala has that covered, too. Young women would weave flower wreaths for their hair, stick candles in them, and then lay them on a pool of water and light the candles. Supposedly each wreath would float to the young man who was to be that young lady's husband.

According to author Patricia Monaghan, flowers, herbs, ferns, and birch trees are sacred to Kupala. Supposedly the only time you could find a flowering fern was on Kupala Night, and young people would go searching in the woods to find one. Ferns don't flower, of course; they propagate by spores. So one can only imagine what those young people were really up to in the forest. (I told you it sounded like Beltane.)

As Christianity overspread the Slavic lands, Kupala became associated with St. John the Baptist, a.k.a. Ivan Kupalo, and the celebration was moved to St. John's Day on June 24th -- but as with so many holidays the Christian Church appropriated, its pagan roots remain.

These days, some Slavic Neopagans celebrate Kupala by going swimming. So today, I took a dip in our apartment complex's pool. At last -- a Kupala tradition I can get behind.

Blessed Midsummer!

These moments of Midsummery blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

On following your own advice.

It's been a little over a year since we ran that month of #PublishingFoul coverage at Indies Unlimited. Our aim was to document the ways vanity publishers and other sleazy operators take advantage of newbie authors -- first by telling them how great their book is, in order to suck them in; then by overcharging them for editing and/or formatting services that are never delivered, or are delivered improperly; and by charging them exorbitant fees for marketing packages that never pan out.

One of the things I wanted to make sure we emphasized was that the authors are victims in these scenarios. Sure, they might have saved themselves grief if they'd done a little googling before signing a contract with one of these shysters -- but why would an author brand-new to publishing think to do that? Besides, vanity presses are run by professionals in the art of separating newbie authors from their money. They've been at it for decades. Tens of thousands of people have been taken in by these scam artists. And the shame and embarrassment they feel when they realize what's happened often keep them from telling anyone about their experience -- which then makes it easier for the scammers to perpetrate the scam on others.

Our message was this: You were taken advantage of by an expert at this stuff. You have nothing to be ashamed of. It wasn't your fault.
johnhain | Pixabay
It's good advice, and it applies in a lot of situations. Too bad it took me so long to make the connection in my own life.

True story: After my divorce, I was approached by a guy I'd met in grad school and had become friends with. He was broke with no job and needed a place to stay; I had a mostly-empty basement and told him he could move into it. I'll admit I was interested in being more than friends -- so I let him cook in my kitchen, borrow my car, bring his kid over on weekends. I loaned him money that he never paid back.

This went on for quite a while. Eventually he began to say things that undermined my sense of self-worth. I walked too heavily. I talked too much. What I did for a living (I was still in broadcast news at the time) didn't make any sense to him. I didn't treat his stuff with respect -- never mind that he had broken several of my things and neither apologized nor offered to replace them.

Once, I tried to work with him to set some house rules, and he told me point-blank that he wouldn't follow them.

Another time, he said to me, "What can I say to convince you I'm not an asshole?" The perfect retort, of course, would have been, There's nothing you can say -- but if you stopped acting like an asshole, that would be a big help. But the thing was, I had never thought of the possibility that he was an asshole until he said it.

At last, at a point where my life had completely fallen apart -- my mother had been sick with cancer, I'd lost my job and was about to lose my house -- I discovered he didn't care for me at all. Never had. And he claimed he had no idea I had been interested in him.

I sold the house partly because I couldn't think of any other way to get him to leave.

Anyway, the whole thing was humiliating. I came out of it questioning my judgment so harshly that I didn't dare to even think of dating anyone.

That was eighteen years ago. Over the years, I've recognized that I was verbally and emotionally abused by him. But it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I made the connection between "I was victimized" and "I have nothing to be ashamed of."

Who knows why it took so long? After all, it was staring me right in the face: Why would he suggest that I thought he was an asshole unless he knew he was behaving like one?

Anyway, I'm now certain that I was not the only woman he ever took advantage of. I believe he was an expert at manipulating people to get what he wanted, and he took advantage of me. And as we said last year to the authors who'd been taken advantage of by scammy publishers, there's no shame in that.

Hence, this post. And I hope it helps someone figure things out more quickly than I did.

These moments of cautionary yet shame-free blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Book 4 progress.

I am happy to report that the first draft of the fourth (and final -- I'm serious this time) book in the Pipe Woman's Legacy series is in the can. Yesterday, I hogtied myself to my desk and spent hours throwing words onto a virtual page, which resulted in my best word-count day ever: more than 8,100 words in a single day. It was a long, intense day's work, and I'm still pretty well fried.

But enough about me. What's it about? And do we have a title yet?

What it's about: The story picks up a few weeks after Spider's Lifeline leaves off. The temporary amnesia about Ingrid Ingunnardottir suffered by Naomi and Joseph has spread to Webb; as a consequence, he has done nothing to find the sipapu that leads to the gods' realm. So first, he has to shake off the glamor Ingrid has placed on him; then he needs to build a team to find the sipapu; and then they need to get into the realm, locate Freya, find out which goddess is really managing Ingrid, and make Her stop.

You know it's not going to be that simple, right? Because once that's done, the gods still need Their peace agreement tweaked, and Naomi's already recruited Webb to help.

As for the, I don't have one yet. Enkou figures in a couple of key scenes, so the title will definitely have the word "turtle" in it. Still working out the rest. I'll let you know when I know.

I'm still hoping for publication around the Fourth of July. We'll see how it goes.

That's all I've got for you for now. Maybe next week I'll have a title -- and maybe even a cover.

This short moments of first-draft blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.