Tag Archives: Sarabande

Inanna’s mythic heroine’s journey

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from the archives

“The world’s first love story, two thousand years older than the Bible—tender, erotic, shocking, and compassionate—is more than a momentary entertainment. It is a sacred story that has the intention of bringing its audience to a new spiritual place. With Inanna, we enter the place of exploration: the place where not all energies have been tamed or ordered.” – Diane Volkstein in “Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth: her Stories and Hymns from Sumer”

Inanna, as envisioned by nikkirtw123 on Photobucket is strikingly close to my vision of Sarabande as I wrote the novel.

As an author, I view my characters through a high-powered microscope and present the results of what I see as part of my stories. I will put you into the characters’ shoes if I can because—as Diana Volkstein writes—this is where the energies haven’t been tamed or ordered.

In an older novel, I described that place like this: “He knew him at the binary level where the line between matter and energy is barely discernible and often non-existent: Where urges pull at their chains, where drives push dumbly and drip sweat, where instincts race unchecked, where a horrifying sadness lies buried, where a raw pulse drums a cadence for the primitive rites of changing seasons, where white-hot impulses leap synapses in a shower of elemental fire.”

I wanted a similar, up-close focus in my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande. So, for the story of a woman seeking wisdom and wholeness, I could think of no better model than the myth of Inanna, a graphic dramatization of a woman’s inner journey to find herself outside the traps and trappings of a masculine world that has–as Sylvia Brinton Perera (“Descent to the Goddess”) wrote–forced the binary level of feminine power into dormancy for 5,000 years.

Or, as the late Adrienne Rich said, “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.”

Sarabande’s Heroine’s Journey

The journey in “real life”

In today’s terms, Sarabande was a tomboy. She was an expert with a knife, bow and arrow, a fishing pole, and everything she needed to know to survive in the wilderness. She learned all this from her father because her her mother believed women should only learn to keep a good home and not question society’s norms for women. However, Sarabande will never truly become herself as long as she is a disciple of either her late warrior father or her misguided, preachy mother. She is being taunted by a ghost that she must approach face to face in the ghost’s world.

Early on in her quest to rid herself of the ghost of her dead sister Dryad, Sarabande learns to see the world at a binary level: The lake, surrounding mountains and the cloud-draped sky broke apart into millions of colored specks. Sarabande leaned against Sikimí, even though he was no longer solid, and saw that her own light-pink hand was not solid either. In spite of her sudden dizziness, she did not fall. In fact, when her fingertips touched Sikimí’s side, a swarm of pink specks flew, like bees, into the permeable yellow gold of the horse, and when they did, their color changed to match the specks in their new environment.

moon

But she doesn’t know what it means. So it is, that her quest to find and confront her sister follows the pattern of Inanna’s Heroine’s journey to confront her sister Eriskigal, Goddess of the Underworld. The underworld, in this case, is not the world of mobs and crime or “hell” in the Christian view, but the more dangerous world of the unconscious. Like Inanna, Sarabande will be broken, shamed and close to death before she learns who she is.

This is the heroine’s journey, to be buried in mother earth like a seed where she will be reborn with the spring into a new creation that finally has the freedom to follow the original injunctions of her destiny and her gender.

–Malcolm

The Kindle edition of “Sarabande” is on sale today (March 31, 2016) for 99¢.

Moon mysteries and the lunation cycle

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“The moon, with its repeating cycles of waxing and waning, became a symbol to the ancients for the birth, growth, death, and renewal of all life forms. The lunar rhythm presented a creation (the new moon), followed by growth (to full moon) and a diminution and death (the three moonless nights, that is, the dark moon).” — Demetra George in Mysteries of the Dark Moon

Whenever we see a beautiful moon, we stand in awe of it. Newspapers and the social media love pictures of harvest moons and blue moons along with suitable scientific descriptions of how and why such moons look the way they look.

Click on this lunar calendar to find the calendar for any month.

Click on this lunar calendar to find the calendar for any month.

Other than sky shows, we notice the moon less often these days unless we live along the coast and see the changing tides or maintain our farms and gardens by planting by lunar phases. Science and technology have taken us away from the lumation cycle, the interplay of light resulting from the monthly dance of the sun and the moon, so most of us are unaware of the moon’s affect on us throughout each lunar month.

In a patriarchal world, the lunar cycles are generally ignored, distrusted or feared because–in a mythic sense–they represent feminine cycles, the unconscious, emotions, and purported instability. In fact, our word “lunacy” stems from an old belief that insanity came with moon phases, and our word “moonstruck” implies that when in love and affected by the moon, we cannot act normally.

Moonless nights suggest mysteries in many ancient traditions. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days; Christ rose from the dead on the third day. In his “hero’s journey” sequence, Joseph Campbell refers to the belly of the whale step as a period of rebirth. We have, however, come to fear those three nights that Demetra George sees as “a time of retreat, of healing, and of dreaming of the future. The darkness is lit with the translucent quality of transformation; and during this essential and necessary period, life is prepared to be born.”

The lunation cycle

This pioneering 1967 book examines the sun and moon's relationship in the context of our lives

This pioneering 1967 book examines the sun and moon’s relationship in the context of our lives

Since my novel Sarabande is a story of a heroine’s journey, the chapter titles follow the sun/moon lunation cycle in support of the action throughout the book. When the person who formatted the book asked about the significance of these headings, I realized that moon symbolism is not front and center in our daily lives in a world of texting and Facebook posts, jobs and hobbies, relationships with others, or even in our thoughts of day and night.

One post cannot do justice to the work of Dane Rudhyar, Demetra George and others who have written extensively about the meaning and impact of moon phases.  Briefly, though, here are the over-simplified basics:

  1. Dark Dawning: New moon (and up to three and a half days afterwards). Life, or any other event, is a potentiality that is felt rather than seen. Think of a seed germinating in the dark earth.
  2. Light Quickening: Crescent moon (appearing three and a half to seven days later). A challenging time for moving forward after a first look at the reality of the new moon’s vision. Think of the seed’s first shoots appearing above the ground.
  3. Light Ascending: First quarter moon (seven to ten days after the moon was new). A time of conscious steps toward a goal. Think of a plant’s stems and roots forming to support the process of growth.
  4. Light Dominant: Waxing gibbous moon (ten and a half to fourteen days into the journey). The vision, development and knowledge to date are fine-tuned to meet conditions. Think of buds appearing on the rose.
  5. Summit of Light: Full moon (fifteen to eighteen days into the journey). The promise of the initial vision is realized as a reality in the temporal world and has a transformative condition within. Think of blooming flowers.
  6. Stirrings of the Dark: Waning gibbous moon (three and a half to seven days after the full moon). The purpose of the vision comes to fruition, an apt word that means bearing fruit.
  7. Withering of the Light: Last quarter moon (seven to ten and a half days after the full moon). With the potential realized, one begins turning away from the task. Think of flowers and stems withering away.
  8. Depth of Dark: Waning crescent moon (ten and a half days after the full moon). As the person prepares to fully look within, this phase–also referred to as the balsalmic moon–links life and death, past and future in a way that’s often viewed as destiny before darkness returns and germination begins again with the new moon.

georgemysteriesThe lunation cycle is often described as the result of an interplay between the active sun and the passive or receptive moon. This is somewhat misleading, I think, because it gives the impression that the moon (or the psyche) is accepting and then transmitting light from elsewhere (from without) as though no creative growth is taking place.

Darkness and light are often equated logically and symbolically with evil and good rather than as components of an interactive process in which yin and yang are equally necessary. As Dane Rudhyar has pointed out, it’s incorrect to refer to the lunation cycle as a lunar cycle. Instead, it is soli-lunar, that is to say, a cycle of sun and moon in relation to each other like the warp and weft strands of well-woven cloth.

–Malcolm

SarabandeCover2015Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the magical realism novella “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and the contemporary fantasy “Sarabande.” (See GoodReads for the current “Sarbanade” giveaway.)

 

November 1 is an auspicious release date for ‘Sarabande’

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Click on graphic to watch trailer

Click on graphic to watch trailer

The new second edition of my contemporary fantasy Sarabande will be released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing on November 1. This is the perfect day to begin the life of a book with a ghost.

Traditionally, the fire festival of Samhain (pronounced SAH-win)–now commercialized into Hallowe’en)–sits within a period of the year of “no time or space” because it’s a boundary. Ancient traditions view boundaries and other threshholds as liminal in a magical sense because they take on some of the characteristics of both sides of the figurative doorway.

SarabandeCover2015Samhain is a boundary between the summer and winter, days of sun god and the moon goddess, and saying goodbye to the last harvest and hello to the dark days of winter. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that the veil between the world of the living and world of the dead is thin on Hallowe’en. It’s more an altered state of mind, really, at a time directly between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, half a year of way from the May celebration of Beltane.

In my novel, the protagonist Sarabande decides that the only way to stop her dead sister Dryad from haunting her is to travel to the place where Dryad resides. So it is that Sarabande’s  journey is tied to the cycles of the moon and very much on perceiving and confronting a denizen of the underworld.

When my publisher and I started talking about bringing Sarabande back into print, we didn’t have a November 1st release date in mind. That’s just how all the updating, editing, and formatting came out. That’s one way of looking at a story with a ghostly antagonist.

There’s also another way of looking at it. The threshold spirits have their own schedule, and they know that November 1st stands dead center in a magical time period. Night and the Goddess of Night are giving this edition a bit of a supernatural nudge and I appreciate it.

I hope you do, too.

–Malcolm

Sarabandetrailerlastframe

 

 

 

The black horse in my novels

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The Black Horse is both death defying and death seeking. In other words it is symbolic of death and rebirth. It signifies the closing of one door and the opening of a new door. It can also signify the need for you to take a leap of faith and trust what you are being guided to do even if you can’t see the reason or the result. Go blindly forth and believe.

Spirit Animal Totems and their messages

A black horse in a dream could represent a part of the shadow self or a part of your personality that you usually prefer to keep hidden; instinctual urges operating in the dark recess of your mind; the unknown, what is mysterious.

Spirit Animals and Animal Totems

Lake Josephine and Mt. Gould where Sarabande first meets Sikimí. - NPS photo

Lake Josephine and Mt. Gould where Sarabande first meets Sikimí. – NPS photo

A huge black horse named Sikimí has appeared in five of my novels, including the upcoming new release of Sarabande. In all of these stories, he has been a totem animal associated with the mountains of Glacier National Park, Montana.

The word Sikimí means black horse in the Blackfeet language. The Blackfeet are the long-time residents of the eastern side of Glacier Park and the adjacent plains. They are the people the land knows and their language is the primary language the animals, trees, mountains and forces of nature respond to.

Appropriately, Sikimí appears in what might be called a “journey novel,” in this case, a “heroine’s journey.” Typically, heroines’ journeys are associated with night, the moon, the underworld, and the subconscious mind.

Journey novels often portray both physical travel and shamanistic or internal travel. Horse symbolism is well known whether we find the information in classic books such as Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak or David Abram’s Becoming Animal, online sites like the two quoted at the beginning of this post, or intuit them in our meditations and dreams.

This Wikpedia photo looks like my vision of Sikimí.

This Wikpedia photo looks like my vision of Sikimí.

I felt immersed into Sarabande’s story as I wrote it because Sikimí, along with Maistó (Raven), is my totem animal. When I meditate–or dream–about travel to places I’m intentionally visualizing, I will be riding Sikimí. Sikimí is, by the way, a huge Friesian horse with the classic (as opposed to “sport”) size and conformation. So it is, that I find it easier and more intuitive using this horse in a novel about a young woman named Sarabande who is going on a journey, not only to another place but another realm.

Sikimí and I are old friends.

Ted Andrews’ associations of the horse with travel, power and freedom work perfectly as symbols throughout the novel. We know these symbols, subconsciously if not consciously. Sikimí is intended to help pull the reader into the story by attuning with the reader’s intuitive knowledge about horses. If the reader likes horses, rides horses, and most especially appreciates the original Gothic (light draft horse) Frieisians, so much the better.

Sarabande quickly bonds with the horse on their first meeting as  you see in this snippet:

SarabandeCover2015Sikimí nodded or seemed to nod, but within his breath she briefly glimpsed the soul of night, a soul as powerful as the broad-chested Friesian of its manifestation, and there were feral love and rage there that far exceeded the scope of her understanding. But within that scope, her heart told her that night in the shape of a horse would carry her to the cornfields of Illinois without trying to chart the destiny of the ride.

What would it be like to ride night in the shape of a horse? I hope readers will wonder about that as they follow Sarabande’s journey from mountains to prairie and back again. I think I know what it’s like, but readers may well have other ideas that will influence how they react to the novel.

Once the novel leaves my computer and a publisher releases on Amazon and other sites, the story is no longer completely mine. Everyone who reads it will, in a sense, be reading their own version of the novel depending, in part, on how the large black horse gets into their thoughts.

–Malcolm

Clear here to see the trailer for "Sarabande."

Clear here to see the trailer for “Sarabande.”

The Thomas-Jacob Publishing second edition of Sarabande will be released on November 1, 2015. The Kindle edition is available now on Amazon for pre-order.

 

 

 

Thomas-Jacob releases new edition of ‘Sarabande’

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SarabandeCover2015Thomas-Jacob Publishing is releasing a new edition of Sarabande just in time for the 2015 holiday season.

The second book in the “Mountain Journeys” series, the novel sweeps a young woman along a dark and ill-fated trek from the high country of Montana to the prairie of Illinois to escape a ghost. While the novel’s official release date is November 1, the Kindle edition is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Haunted by her powerful sister Dryad from beyond the grave, Sarabande leaves the world of Pyrrha from its hiding place within Montana’s Glacier Park, and travels on horseback to Illinois to seek the help of Sun Singer Robert Adams. Sarabande almost dies trying to reach him and it’s soon obvious that evil has followed her from the western mountains to Robert’s small town in a world of soybeans, corn, brick streets and old homes.

Click here to see the trailer on YouTube

Click here to see the trailer on YouTube

Robert saved Sarabande’s life in the first book of the series, The Sun Singer. Truth be told, he doesn’t think he can do it again. His magic is weak, all but forgotten. Worse yet, he remembers Dryad’s moon magic and hypnotic voice and fears that he can’t resist her seductive charms another time.

Sarabande, a contemporary fantasy, was written so that it can be read as a standalone novel about a woman’s perilous journey. It can also be read as a sequel to The Sun Singer, which was the story of Robert’s journey to Pyrrha. The Sun Singer ended on a positive note, but there were a few loose ends.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Emily’s Stories,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”

Mountain Journeys Web Page

 

 

Thanks for the editors

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At this very moment, an editor is going over the manuscript for Thomas-Jacobs Publishing’s re-release of my contemporary fantasy Sarabande. I’m glad she is. She sees what I cannot see along with inconsistencies and goofs I wouldn’t recognize if I did see them.

Note: none of my editors look like this.

Note: none of my editors look like this.

I could blame my cataract surgery for making my right eye see so much better than I need new glasses to read the words on the screen. (My old glasses are now too strong.)

However, if my editor sees this post, she can remind me (and all of you) that I was overlooking a lot of typos before the surgery.

Sometimes my wife reads over things I’ve written that I think are error free. Nope. She was a newspaper editor so she catches a lot of stuff.

So does my publisher, but she likes to check and double-check, so an editor reads my stuff after she reads my stuff. It must be a fact of life that a writer can go over his or her work a hundred times and guess what? It’s still waiting for the editor’s red pen.

Unfortunately, the red pen is gone. My wife and I are old school: we grew up editing copy (news copy) on a double spaced printout. I find more errors this way than I do when looking for typos and missing punctuation on the screen. I have to admit that Word’s Revision/Markup makes it easy for publishers and editors and writers to communicate over time about manuscript corrections.

But I still prefer edits on paper. My eyes are attuned to the page rather than the screen. Even so, I miss a lot. You probably do, too, whether you edit on the screen or print out a hard copy and look for your favorite pencil.

That’s why I firmly believe everything should go through an editor even though it’s not always easy to arrange this in today’s Kindle Direct Publishing world. If your spouse didn’t work for a newspaper, at least get your pets to review everything before you hit the “Save and Publish” button.

Thanks Lesa (wife), Smoky (editor) and Melinda (publisher).

–Malcolm

TSScoverjourneysMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Sun Singer,” a contemporary fantasy that is currently on sale on Kindle.

 

 

Writing wasting away in Limboville

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I’ve been asked what happened to my contemporary fantasy novels The Sun Singer and Sarabande.

printingpressSince both have been well received, I found a new publishing home (Publisher B) after pulling them away from Publisher A due to a disagreement about the contract.

Publisher B had previously come out with many novels I enjoyed, some of which I had reviewed, so I thought I had found the perfect home for my work.

So what happened?

My guess is that staff turnover at Publisher B created a deluge of work that the remaining staff couldn’t keep up with. Nonetheless, when I sent the manuscripts to the publisher in the fall of 2013, I felt the publisher could meet his proposed release dates of January 2014 for The Sun Singer and May 2014 for Sarabande.

These dates were missed with no explanation and I was given a new set of release dates that were also missed with no explanation. Perhaps my request for a cover befitting a fantasy novel was the problem. I said that the covers supplied by Publisher A, while striking, weren’t typical fantasy covers; among other things, they gave readers no clue about the focus of the novels.

Publisher B agreed as did several of the artists he contacted who looked at the covers I’d had before. Yet somehow, no viable artist could be found until late in the summer of 2014. Finally, The Sun Singer was released last August with a nice cover and a great printing job.

E-book Problems

Unfortunately, the formatting of the e-books as a mess. The publisher blamed me for supplying documents that had formatting errors. He was right about that, though I consider the delivery of a manuscript to be the author’s responsibility and the formatting for print, Kindle, PDF and other e-books to be the publisher’s responsibility. I also expect the publisher to make sure the formatting is correct before the books go live on a seller’s site.

It took me several weeks to get Publisher B to remove the e-books from Amazon and Smashwords. I would have preferred the files be fixed and re-uploaded, but this didn’t seem to be happening. Then, Publisher B removed the print version from Amazon and elsewhere even though there was nothing wrong with it.

We had a variety of discussions about how the e-book formatting should be done, my preference being for something that mirrored the formatting of the print version. Whether I was asking for something impossible to deliver, I don’t know.

Finally, several weeks ago, Publisher B sent me an e-mail saying they were ready to release The Sun Singer in e-book (with a simplified formatting) and print.

Publisher B doesn’t seem to understand that the author needs to know the release date so s/he can do advanced publicity, set up give-aways on GoodReads, and talk about the book on Facebook and Twitter.

I asked for the release date and got no response. Publisher B asked me about Sarabande, I answered, and got no response. I asked about being added to the publisher’s blog so I could help promote the books and got no response.

Finally, I used my old e-mail address to ask the publisher if messages from my new e-mail address were ending up in the SPAM folder because we were (I thought) in the middle of a dialogue about moving forward and all I was hearing from Publisher B was the sound of silence. My question about the SPAM queue got no response.

So there it is. Both novels have been in limbo for over a year. Since Publisher B has authors and novels on their list that I like, I would prefer they release The Sun Singer and Sarabande. Whether they will or they won’t is a question stuck in the black hole of zero communication.

What Happens Now?

Now, if you are Publisher B and happen to be reading this, and have been sick, immersed in a family tragedy or a business reversal, then I would be sorry to hear that because I know what that’s like. I wish you had told me and propose that when you can’t keep up with e-mail, then a staff assistant needs to step up to the plate and keep things running smoothly.

If you’re not Publisher B and wish to have your work published, I’ll say that long delays of a year or so are not uncommon with major publishers, though you do need to have an agreed-upon time table for all the steps in the process. One of the benefits of working with a smaller publisher is the hands-on more personal approach as well as a shorter manuscript-to-print time frame.

My mistake here was not nailing down the release dates, with reasonable flexibility, in advance. Also, if small-publisher tradition and/or contract language specifies that the author is responsible for most of the marketing effort, the publisher needs to at least keep the author informed of release dates (and then stick to them) as well as having a blog or a system of news releases that announce the new books. This needs to be in the contract, too. I didn’t get that nailed down either because my back-and-forth e-mails with Publisher B gave me the impression my expectations about such things would be met without being backed up by clauses in the contract.

I’ve been in this business long enough to know better and ended up with my books in Limboville. There are many sites that show standard book contracts. While reading them doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a prospective new publisher to add any verbiage you find missing in his standard contract, you can always try.

I let my emotions get in the way: I was so upset with Publisher A about the contract dispute that everything Publisher B seemed to be offering looked like a breath of fresh air. It’s better to step away from those kinds of negative feelings and hopes and make sure you have a meeting of the minds with a prospective publisher before you sign the contract.

This is your cautionary tale.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of The Lady of the Blue Hour and The Land Between the Rivers. His short stories appear in The Lascaux Prize 2014 (2014) and Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories (2013).