Monday, January 16, 2017

Mood Board Magic

New Moon by Pat Erickson
Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to turn on all you writers - aspiring or fully accomplished -  to the notion of Mood Boards.

If you have a visual sense, and most of us who can see do, creating mood boards can be one of the most inspiring practices you can do, that isn't actual reading or writing. Fabulous for tackling the 'blank page', starting a story 'in medias res' and giving your characters, animals, conflicts and geology the personality needed to come to life.

Want to create a mood board for your current project or seed of an idea?

Let's get started.

What is a Mood Board?

noun
  1. an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

    "We put together a mood board with key images and words that best convey the essence of the story, book cover, event our brand."
The Mood Board can be digital or physical. I used mostly digital mood boards for writing projects, and keep them, or just images on Pinterest, but more of that in a moment. Let's explore the uses next.


Uses for a Mood Board

  • To design a process, either abstract. as in writing, or tangible as in building in the physical world (books to covers to new kitchen designs).
  • The mood board is all about the vision. What you can't say in words.
  • Mood boards are essential when communicating visual ideas to others, as in commissioning a book cover, collaborating artistically or pitching ideas, including book to film projects.
  • A mood board is a springboard. Instead of facing a blank page, you can collect images as ideas for character, climate, topography, conflict and stakes in storytelling, or inspiration for a brand, or a brand new bathroom or garden.


How to Create a Mood Board

It's simple:

1. collect images

2. arrange the images in meaningful ways

This is all up to you and your individual style. The idea is to explore. Play around, and discover what lights you up the most.


Example Mood Boards

As I mentioned, mosts my book mood boards are on Pinterest for the world to see. It's a fun way to share images, get inspired and get to know your story world. Here is an example from a new series - just sold -  and soon to be announced. Working title - Amassia books 1-3.


If you are on Pinterest, I'd love to connect. And, shout out if you have an example of your mood board on line, or are just starting one. I'd love to see it. 
xxxk
Kim

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Things I choose to carry

Welcome 2017!

Thanks to your predecessor, I am going to kick your ass.

Sorry if that offends, but this is war. As the great Billy Joel said, "We didn't start the fire," but year, we are going to make it our submissive little puppy.

So now, it becomes the time to choose your weapons, right? Take with you what you need and leave behind all the stuff that is just weighed down. As a female, I do this about once a month with my purse. This year, I'm doing it with my life.

In order to do that, I have to figure out exactly what I'm carrying. I have recently become familiar with the notion of Family of Origin. Boiled down, it means that you are the sum of everything that you have witnessed, done, absorbed, consciously and unconsciously. Its the unconscious stuff that really kicks you in the butt. Family of origin, when known, can be a powerful tool to help figuring out why you hold truths sacred, or how you define the universe.

While sorting through my truths, I discovered that what I watch and what I read has a LOT to do with how I think and what I think about the world. Wow. Knowing that some day some little girl might read Diaries of an Urban Panther and take something with her for the rest of her life. Geez. What a responsibility. I LOVE it.


So one of the things that I will take with me is Grandmother Willow from Disney's Pocahontas. I think that the essence of the tree spirit has sort of infiltrated how I see our connection with everything. Even trees. Everything I do, say, sing, write- it ripples.

Ripples start out small but echo out for miles. They are a change to the status quo, and someone has to start them. Someone else will see what I do, say, sing, write and perhaps they will take that with them.

Now, I'm pretty sure that I'll never actually talk to a tree. I will never have a raccoon or a hummingbird follow me around. I will never have such perfectly straight and untangled hair.

But I will listen. I will watch and be still and wait to make sure that what I an doing is the best for everyone, not just myself. Because it ripples.

And what I have found, is that when everyone is happy, fed, healthy, and feels secure, I am happy, fed, healthy and feel secure. Funny how it works that way.

So we are going to call this year "The things I carry" as an homage to Tim O'Brien's powerful masterpiece about his experiences in the Vietnam War. Its the movies & books whose messages have taught me how to live and that I still carry with me.

Maybe they can help teach you something that you might need to completely own 2017.

Until Next month...
Amanda

----------------------------------------------------------

Amanda Arista,
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther
www.amandaarista.com

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, Supernatural Undergrounders

Pohutakawa, the NZ 'Christmas tree'
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A major trope of epic fantasy (which is what I'm currently writing with the Wall of Night series) is the "road trip": aka "a farm boy (or gal) goes on a journey" during the course of which they will likely encounter lovable animal (or robot, or supernatural) companions and acquire sidekicks (the "band of brothers" -- or sisters!)

The road trip is also a major feature of the Christmas - New Year period in real life -- and part of the Fantastic Road Trip is that one should visit previously unknown terrain and climes.

So I thought I'd marry the real and the fantastic traditions for you today with some a few photos from my Christmas-New Year road trip -- which I suspect will be new terrain for many, even those who have seen the Lord of the Rings films.

The clime is certainly different, since Christmas / New Year falls in summer here, although if the terrain is sufficiently elevated, snow may still be seen.

Now for those pictures:

The magical Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park

The awesome power of the Huka Falls, near Lake Taupo:



















A vista toward Lake Taupo, the source of the Huka Falls:
Not my car, alas!

Here be snow, still: Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park:


I think if there is one message I take from these photos it's that nature generally and national parks in particular rock -- something to be both celebrated and cherished in 2017 and beyond.

---



Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year.
Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holiday Season

Christmas Night by Juli Snowwhite

From All of us at Supernatrual Underground, wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season.

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells--- Silver Bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle,tinkle,tinkle, In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,Bells, bells, bells,---
From the jingling and tinkling of the bells.

- Edgar Allan Poe -

Have a wonderful weekend!
xxx

Friday, December 16, 2016

Writer's Agony and Ecstasy


Hi Everyone!

I shared a version of this earlier on AvaSykes.com and wanted to bring it here too.

The good news is, I've finished another novel!

The other news is, finishing it dropped me into a well of grief.

It's happened so regularly, this emotional plummet after achievement, a kind of post-completion depression, I decided to do a little research.

Turns out, it's a thing.

The ecstasy

It started out on Cloud 9. The first draft of a new work, a YA Paranormal, was complete, working title: The Cloud Forest. Here's the guff.
Fifteen-year-old Bri Arias survives a car accident but isn’t regaining consciousness. While her body lays comatose, her spirit roams the shaded world between waking and dreaming, life and death. In a parallel version, one where the accident never happened, Bri has the worst summer possible. Her archaeologist mother recruits Bri, and her year 10 Earth Science class, for a dig in the Andes Mountains. Touched by a shamanic spell, Bri becomes a ‘carrier’, a host to souls in transition, and most of them are not human. In one world, Bri is hospitalized and treated for schizophrenia; in another, she discovers a threat to the fabric of life-after-death. The only question is, can she wake up in time to save them both.
Christian Schloe

Then came the agony

They say the Hero's Journey is a metaphor for life. The stages, twelve or so  depending on who you read, correspond to the psychological steps taken every time we step out the door, start a project, job, relationship, degree, oil change, you name it. The process looks awesome on paper. A guide.

Encouragement.

Full Circle.

But it's not always that neat, especially at the end if the circle breaks and you spiral into the depths the 13th lost underworld.

Here's how it's supposed to go:

Step 12 - Return With The Elixir

"This is the final stage of the Hero's journey in which [the hero] returns home to the Ordinary World .... [They] will have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death but now look forward to the start of a new life. - Dan Bronzite
Yeah, sure. Good, on paper.

But no.

Before any looking forward to new wonders of life, there is the part where you hit the pavement, face first.

The agony after the ecstasy of creative accomplishment.

You write the book, paint the picture, score the film, edit the video, choreograph the dance ... It took you a week, or a month, or two years. You give it your last tweak, mission accomplished and on comes the fanfare! Triumphant Muses! 

Ticker-tape parade!

So good on paper.

And maybe it happens like that, for some, but for me it's grief, utter and complete.

Back in the "real world," elixir in hand, and I want to curl up in some dark hollow and die.

Not so uncommon to feel that way

Sure enough, it happens to other writers.
The strangest thing about finishing a book is the incredible sense of loss -- and yes, a bit of depression - when it's over. - Jungle Red Writers on Post Book Depression

Evolutionary advantages

Apparently there's an evolutionary advantage to depression, and a plethora of scientific studies on the relationship between it and creative expression.
 ... the creative person, who spends his or her time ruminating on thoughts is likely to suffer from major depression. From an evolutionary standpoint, depression, while seemingly a hindrance to a healthy and happy life, is really a balancing act that helps us focus on the areas where we need to improve most. - Creative Something
If you look deeper at the hero's journey, it is actually there, in the "refusal to return."

Step 12b Refusal to Return

The full round, the norm of the mono-myth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the un-aging Goddess of Immortal Being. -The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
For me, it's not so much a fall into darkness but divine homesickness, leaving the table of the gods behind. Leaving the world behind. It lasts a day or two, then slowly wears off, like a bad dream fading away.

Only then can I begin to think of the next step, the next work, and the process begins all over again.

How about you?

Has anyone else felt this way after a creative project is completed? A goal reached? I'd love to hear about it.

***

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter and the new GoodVibeAstrology.com.

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tis The Season -- 5 Highlights Of My 2016

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Yep, that's right! It's December (how did that happen already?!), which not only means that cash registers are jingling and the goose (or turkey, but I was being really traditional) is getting fat: it's also the Season of Lists.

Published 2016!
So getting in the spirit, I thought I'd share 5 of my highlights from 2016 (to date, since there's still a few weeks of 2016 left):

January 26: Daughter of Blood, The Wall Of Night Book Three, is published -- after a 4 year "slog to the finish" for me, and wait-of-saints from loyal readers. And to date the feedback has been positive, with Romantic Times calling Daughter: "a heady imaginative tale full of Lowe's haunting prose and bold characters, that builds to a startling climax that will leave readers anxious for more."
FB Group Haarth
May: The Wall Of Night series' got its own FaceBook group, fittingly titled Haarth -- it was set up by avid readers so they could discuss the story, the characters and the world. All good fun! It led to even more fun, too, with a Q&A on Twitter at #TheWallOfNight I really enjoyed interacting with The Wall Of Night readers in realtime.
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L-R: Helen; Courtney Schafer
June 5-8: Sydney -- this visit was primarily to meet up with friend and fellow SFF author, Courtney Schafer, but I also got to meet the crew at both Hachette, my Australian publisher, and Galaxy, the specialist SFF bookstore, as well as other great Aussie SFF folk.
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Also published 2016...
July 6: A Twitter Q&A with Kim Falconer -- I had a great time doing this Q&A with Kim on #thebloodinthebeginning to support the release of her paranormal, post-apocalyptic fantasy, The Blood In The Beginning which stars feisty heroine, Ava Sykes. In fact it may even have been the year of the Twitter Q&A!

September 17-18: Masterclass on "Building Fantastic Worlds" -- I got to deliver this masterclass as part of the inaugural National Writers' Forum and it
was a blast. Great to talk about something I loved with a great group of people. Even better, they seemed to enjoy it, too, with one participant providing the following feedback: 

Building Fantastic Worlds
 "My highlights were Helen Lowe’s session on Building Fantastic Worlds (utterly worth getting myself out of bed on a Sunday morning)..." (The Big Idea.)

So there you are, just a few of the highlights from my year. I'd love for you to share one or more of yours in the comments -- because it is the season. :)

---


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year.
Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Guff on Supermoons

Her Only Friend the Moon by Alexander Jansson

Hi Everyone, The 'supermoon' has been getting a lot of attention this week, and since the influence of the Full Moon in Taurus is still HOT, I thought I would share a post from my AvaSykes.com site - Thoughts on Supermoons.

'Suppermoons" ... here's the guff.


Hang on. I should say, here's my guff. I don't expect everyone to agree.


There are people who swear by 'supermoons', saying the moon is larger at these times, and yeah, it looks larger, by about 14%. But heads up. It hasn't really changed size.


The appearance changes because the moon has cycles of perigee -- when it's closer to earth. (if you can call 357,000 km close).  The perigee happens 2-3 times every 14 months.

Loui Jover

Social Media gets all excited about it, claiming there is stronger astro effect raining moonbeams down on our heads. Like, get out the garlic and the holy water or something.


Me? I don’t give ‘supermoons’ a thought, basically because it's the New or Full Moon that matters astrologically (the lunations as we call them), not the proximity of the moon to earth via the ecliptic. 


I guess you could argue that because it looks bigger, it does more, but then there’s Pluto, you know? 4.28 billion km from New LA.  Not super close … but super powerful. A Pluto transit trumps a lunar one, super or otherwise, by about a million.

What a 'Supermoon' does is generate hype that doesn’t amount to any actual astrology IMHO - but that could be my North Node in Capricorn talking.


Still, it’s not grounded in ancient astrology, or astronomy, the wisdom passed down for thousands of years. It's a 'pre-new age term that popped up in the late 1970s, an easier handle for the scientific 'perigee-syzygy' (try saying that three times in a row).


It's more meaningful to look at what degree the new or full moon is in, and the sign. ie where's this mojo landing in your chart? 


The most recent SM was on the 14th of November, at 22 Taurus and will have it's 'sway' until the New Moon in Sagittarius at the end of the month. 

Thoughts? I'd love to hear your take. 



Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook