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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Not thinking in Costa Rica.

I get it. Thinking about not thinking does NOT constitute not thinking.

Costa Rica 1Apparently I have persistent chatter in my head, which I have agreed to refer to by the rather unflattering phrase “monkey mind”, at least for the next few days. Friends have talked me into joining them on this week-long retreat in beautiful Costa Rica for an introduction to the ancient art of Qi Gong.  It is related to Tai Chi and King Fu, all of which involve understanding and ultimately manipulating the flow of energy through one’s body. I’m a long way from doing anything impressive, but I am finding the concept cool and the exercises alternately invigorating or relaxing. Originally we were planning on a girl’s weekend in San Francisco shopping, and I’m not sure how it morphed into this activity instead, but oddly enough I am glad that it did.

We are entering into the meditation phase of the day’s session. Be quiet, monkey I say to myself. Luckily I talk to myself a lot anyway so this isn’t a problem. You’re a person of words my inner monkey replies. You need your words. You use them to write books, remember?  Well, the monkey has a point there.

Costa Rica 3Just to demonstrate her worth further, the monkey begins reciting back to me the post called Feeling Gratitude in Costa Rica that I just wrote for my other blog. It is true that as I write, I stop every so often and recite the words I have written back to myself, listening to their sounds and turning them over in my head, analyzing whether each has conveyed my thought or feeling in the best way possible. See, that’s me and you writing, the monkey says.

Really? Because when the words themselves are being created, once I’ve gotten going, I don’t say the words in my head and it often seems as though I’m not in my head at all. There is this sort of odd peace inside me while ideas flow all mistyped onto the screen and although sometimes I anticipate what I am going to type, more often I don’t. It’s a state in which I can be startled by everyday sounds and can’t easily function for a few seconds after an interruption. It’s dynamic and yet peaceful and it feels as good as anything I know. In fact, it is very much like meditation, but with me being a lot more active.

Then it occurs to me, and I have an answer for my monkey.  I mostly write without you, dear monkey mind.  What you and I do together is called editing. You’re my internal editor! And  you’re a great one. I’m so glad I have you.

Costa Rica 2I give my internal chattering monkey a mental hug of appreciation and then send her off for a nice nap. We’re not editing now. We’re meditating. Not thinking. Not … no not that thought either. Not anything. Not any thought. We are.

Read more about my novice attempts at meditation here. Read about other changes this week has wrought here.

To learn more about Qi Gong and what I have spent this past week studying, please visit Sifu Anthony’s website called “Flowing Zen” here.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2013 in oneness

 

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The look of peace ….

I am once again in search of images that convey the idea of peace. Interesting ways to assemble the peace sign work well, and this tumbler page for #peace has many of them,

Click for hashtagpeace

Click for hashtagpeace

Doves are a favorite also, and I found this version with doves and olive branches especially appealing.

Click to visit Robert Graham' site

Click to visit Robert Graham’ site

Finally take a look at this beautiful mural. It is from a fascinating website listing many examples of peace monuments using the symbols of hands & handshakes

Click for more

Click for more

If you like the idea of searching for an image to capture a quality we all seek, come see images of joy on my y1 blog here and images of hope on my z2 blog here.

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in peace

 

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Music to read by

“Dooooon’t do it ……”

That was the advice from several published writers at a website called the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It is a forum for people who write, hope to write, or like to talk to people who write and you can find it here. You will meet some of the most encouraging folks there that you will ever find anywhere (and a few of the snottiest) and will get help from both.

musicI was working on my first draft of x0, and wanted to include some snippets of well known classic rock lyrics to give my reader something to hum in their head while they took in certain parts of the story. It turns out that a LOT of authors have this great idea. I was concerned about copyright issues, but every one that I mentioned this to assured me that I would be fine thanks so some vague notions of public domain and fair use. Only the nice people at AW said differently. Song lyrics are like poetry. You cannot safely use even a tiny bit of them. Doooooon’t do it.”

I was forewarned but still determined, so I tried another approach. I took my nine songs and found out who owned all or part of them in the US and world wide and I started writing people.  Can I please use this line from your song? How much will it cost? The assorted parties for seven songs just ignored me, and they kept ignoring me no matter how many times I wrote them back.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing however, has people on staff to handle just this sort of thing, and I found myself in negotiation for weeks with a Licensing Analyst named Lacey. She wanted to see context, I sent her pages from my book. We argued about how many copies I could sell for the price she decided on. I’ll never know why I persisted with this, but I think it was just that the whole process fascinated me. There are people stealing these songs left and right all over the internet, not to mention quoting the entire lyrics, and yet this very nice woman was spending time dickering with me over few words in a self-published first novel that might not sell ten copies. I think we both thought that the other person was nuts.

I will also never know why in the end I paid about $300 of my own hard earned money to secure the rights to use selected words from two of my favorite songs, in the first 5000 electronic copies of my book. But I did. No, I have not sold 5000 copies yet, and yes I am keeping track. I’m like that. And so is Sony/ATV.

I’ve included links to the two songs below, along with the placement in x0 that I paid for so dearly. What can I say ….. these two songs will now always have a special place in my heart 🙂 . And maybe Lacey bought my book.

This part of her job sat somewhere between treasure hunting and puzzle solving, and Lola had to admit that her day-to-day work would not have made a bad 3D video game if someone added a little bit of music and some glossy effects. And, okay, maybe a car chase or two. Lola enjoyed herself as she twisted and turned her 3D visualization of the rocks on her computer screen, humming as she looked for shifts in the rock layers known as faults.

“If you’re lost you can look / And you will find me / Time after time.”

Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 hit Time After Time (BUY) had once been a favorite of hers, and now that Lola thought about it, it made good music to prospect by. She was surprised she hadn’t remembered the song for years. She sang a little louder.

“If you fall I will catch you / I’ll be waiting—”

“Time after time.” Bob, the older engineer in the group, joined in her song as he walked by her door. “Geez Lola,” he said, “I’ve had that song in my head all damn morning. What are you doing singing it?”

“No idea. Maybe we listened to the same radio station on the way to work?” she guessed.

“I only listen to my iPod,” he replied.

4 Non-Blondes: click for official video

4 Non-Blondes: click for official video

Amnesty? That sounded hopeful. As she started to read, Bob walked by, singing in his head one of the many great oldies he had managed to amass on his iPod. Where did the man find so many good old songs?

What’s Up?” had been the 4 Non Blondes’ 1993 hit, coming out the year that Ariel was four. Lola loved it, and the two of them had sung, actually, screamed it together whenever it came on the radio when Lola was driving little Ariel to preschool.

In her BBC article, Ms. Duffield described talking to taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and hotel clerks in the Niger Delta region who were all hoping for peace as they watched militants hold disarmament ceremonies which involved relinquishing guns, rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, ammunition, and gunboats. Gunboats??

And so I wake in the morning and I step outside And I take a deep breath and I get real high / And I scream at the top of my lungs / What’s going on?

The BBC article added that while no one appeared to have given up their entire arsenal, the quantity of weapons released, presumably for cash, was significant. Concerns had been raised that no independent monitors were tracking what was being done with the weapons, and this caused particular concern because in the past, corrupt officials had sold confiscated guns, which had then made their way back into the hands of a wide variety of criminals.

And I try / oh my god do I try / I try all the time, in this institution.

The article noted that another major obstacle to peace was that there were now thousands of young men in the region effectively unemployed, given that their previous full-time profession had been guerilla fighter, with resumes that included kidnapping, blowing up oil pipelines, and stealing massive amounts of crude oil.

And I pray / Oh my god do I pray / I pray every single day for a revolution.

The government plan, according to the article, was to retrain these young men in new skills. It noted that they were already being processed at centers where they were being asked about their other career interests. Other career interests??

The BBC said that retraining would be a daunting prospect, and that in the case of failure, the young men would likely return to their previous activities.

And I realized quickly when I knew I should / That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man / For whatever that means …

She looked at the photo of the giant pile of automatic weapons. Seriously, right now in Nigeria there were actually thousands of angry young men filling out employment questionnaires??

Twenty-five years and my life is still / Trying to get up that great big hill / Of hope … for a destination.

For more on my adventures with including music in novels, check out my z2 blog here for a little fun with bubblegum music and my y1 blog here for songs I wished I had used.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in music for peace, Nigeria

 

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x0 on 1670 people’s to-read list!

Like most independent writers who have decided to not go the traditional publishing route, I am always looking for effective ways to promote my three novels. I don’t have training in advertising, and in truth I would much rather write than sell. However, if I am going to spend some time trying to get folks to read my books, I would like that time to be as productive as possible.

goodreadsSo far, my best results seem to have come from advertising and doing give-aways on Goodreads.com. After about six months of steady effort, I am happy to see that I now have 77 ratings and 43 reviews (mostly good), and over 2700 different people have selected one or more of my books to go on their shelf of books to be read.

I have been promoting x0 for the longest, and so not surprisingly it has the most reviews and most would-be readers. It’s true that some ratings appear to be random from people who have just joined the site and haven’t read my books and I have no idea why someone would do that. (These people seem to grab about 50 random books all on the same day and often give them all the same rating, be it three stars or five.)

Others, however, have taken the trouble to provide thoughtful reviews with both compliments and criticisms and their efforts are greatly appreciated by this author and hopefully by the possible readers who they help inform.

Check here for news on z2 out in paperback and here for news on y1 making it to the semi-finals of a contest.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 2, 2013 in x0 elsewhere

 

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