Gaye Mack’s Blog

USING HISTORY’S FACTS AND LEGENDS TO SPARK THE STORY

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work 2 Comments

I often wonder why so many of us are ‘taken’ with fictional stories woven around historical fact and legend.  Perhaps it’s the fantasy of it all, being able to put one’s self in the shoes of the characters or perhaps it’s the opportunity to be an armchair editor with the critical voice that says, ‘don’t do that, it makes no sense whatsoever and it’s not accurate.’  In any case, no matter what the reason, so many of us love to read historical fiction as travelers surreptitiously peeking into the past with our imaginations.  And so many of us, myself included, love to create stories that take place  in the past while the phrase, ‘what if…’ constantly whispers in our head.

For me, writing historical fiction is the best of both worlds.  It’s a fascinating journey that can be intensely personal as surprises can take you into the realm of unexplored self-awareness.  Nevertheless, the excitement comes in the magic giving oneself permission and time to research landscapes where there’s the possibility of discovering small treasures that have been hidden away for centuries…treasures that can spark the fire of the story.

Such was the case when I wrote ‘A Murder of Crows’, represented by my agent, Peter Miller, CEO of Global Lion Intellectual Property Management and currently under consideration by several major houses.  When I first thought about the broad story, I knew for various reasons that I wanted it set around 1186 or so in EnglandAlthough I’d decided on one of the story threads, I needed that obscure (or nearly obscure) treasure to add to the mix, something that hadn’t been used or overused by other writers.  So I went on the hunt and happily found it.

In 1184, the astrologers of Toledo Spain discovered the forthcoming and unusual configuration of  planets  for September 15, 1186.  What was so significant about this event was that the astrologers  interpreted the alignment as a sign portending ‘the end of days’.  The alarm was raised through the  legendary “Letter of Toledo”Addressed to the Cardinal who would become Pope Clement III along with many scholars, this letter metaphorically set all of Europe on fire with its prediction of  storms, pestilence, earthquakes, floods…you get the picture.

Aside from the fact that the end of days happily did not occur and that the ‘Letter of Toledo’ resurfaced several times in history after September 1186 (with change of dates predicting the end!), I was thrilled to discover this myth as it provided the  perfect ‘historical’ thread to add to my story.  Writing historical fiction takes perseverance, no question.  You have to dig and dig and even if you find a small treasure, there’s always the possibility that the information is skewed.  Memories fade, accounts are edited for various reasons, access to resources may be difficult, things get lost…not much has changed in 900 years. As the renowned British historical writer, Alison Weir states, ‘you just can’t make stuff up.’

 THE END OF DAYS

SEPTEMBER 15, 1186

 


VERNAL EQUINOX ARRIVES WITH THE NEW MOON IN AIRES~ THE NEXT CHAPTER

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and being a ‘cardinal’ sign, it portends beginnings as do ‘new moons’… igniting new beginnings, new ideas…new directions—blast off!  This particular new moon, which arrived today, March 22nd at 9:38 a.m. Chicago time, came in with a packed punch, so fasten your seat belt.

Mercury with its energy buzzing through our minds and Uranus, who likes to surprise with the unexpected, have sidled up to the Sun and Moon in ‘conjunction’.  This energy is intense, no question.   Look to see which house (circumstance of life) hosts the sign of the Ram (Aries) in your chart and you’ll get a good idea of what to expect.

 Because the degrees of this conjunction range between 00°-4° Aries, those of us who have natal planets at 2-3° in Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra or Aquarius are particularly likely to feel the effects of exciting change this configuration brings.

 In addition, while Mars(which rules Aries), remains in slow retrograde motion until April 13th, we still have time to assess and plan how best we can use our warrior energy toward taking positive risks and saying yes to new frontiers offered by this New Moon.

 As for me with Mars still retrograde, I’m cautiously excited about the changes that have suddenly appeared around my two historical fiction mysteries, “A Murder of Crows” and “A Conspiracy of Ravens” thanks to my wonderful literary agent, Peter Miller.  At this new moon it’s my understanding that several major publishing  houses have initial  interest…no doubt I’ll have some clues as to what’s in store at the full moon in Libra.  It could be new horizons or a return to the drawing board!

 In the meantime, I have the large size bottles of Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy and the remedy for change, Walnut, on my desk!

 

 Solar Fire Software


GETTING THE DUCKS IN ORDER ON THE BUMPY ROAD TO ‘PUBLISHED’ STATUS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

In my last post I wrote about the effect of Mars turning retrograde and how that signals a slow down and re-evaluation in our charts.  Currently I’m experiencing this Mars effect  in the ‘circumstances of life areas ‘(the houses) of my own chart which have to do with my ‘work in the world’ and ‘creativity’.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to shift my writing from non-fiction, academic material and return to the arena of historical fiction, specifically in the ‘thriller/mystery’ genre, which I’d explored in the early 1990’s.  While fiction offers endless creative paths to explore, the reality of going from idea to the printed page(hopefully by someone else other than your new best friend at Kinko’s),  is not for the faint of heart.  Anyone who has been or is on this road knows what I’m talking about.

After working for a year on  a major reconstitution of a manuscript  I wrote 20 years ago, year #2 saw an e-file accumulation of  literary agent rejections.  I stopped counting at 55 with the realization that two years of hard work was going nowhere.  While the rejections continued to come in, I decided to write book #2.  As this book neared completion the fires around E-Publishing and Publishing On Demand ratcheted up frenetically in the literary press.  I wondered if I should trash the whole idea of going the traditional route with a literary agent and try my hand at self-publishing.  A huge dilemma because self publishing no matter which route you take, requires enormous marketing demands on your part if you want to be successful.  Amanda Hocking and her explosive success is legendary but the reality is that the ratios of self published authors to actual success levels such as hers, are staggeringly depressive.

While mired in this personal dilemma, I ‘accidentally’ came across an announcement for a mystery writer’s conference to be held in Chicago. While  I hadn’t been to a writer’s conference in 20 years,  the program offered the opportunity to ‘pitch live’ to attending literary agents.  When I looked at the list of top level agents, I didn’t think twice.  It was an ‘either sink or swim’ decision on my part, particularly because I’d never pitched any of my manuscripts ‘live’ before.  Once I’d signed up, the reality of the preparation made me wonder what planet I was on when I made this decision!  A slick pitch is approximately 5 sentences…the first sentence should be no more than 25 words which informs the agent the title, genre, audience and general overview of the book…orally from memory in no more than 4(yes four!) minutes.  Your heart pounds, your palms sweat and you wish you hadn’t eaten lunch and could ask Scotty to beam you up.  Was all of this worth it?  Yes.

A week ago I signed a contract with one of the agents to whom I pitched,  Peter Miller, President of Global Lion Intellectual Property Management.  I’m still in shock because Peter represents an  impressive client list and possesses a huge reputation in the industry.  This said, seeing my manuscripts on store shelves is no guarantee even with his help, guidance and expertise.   The publishing industry is in flux and ultra selective, particularly for fiction.   I have much ‘clean up’ work to do.  Even though these manuscripts have been edited endlessly, they need  final, perfected polishing so that Peter can pitch them to major publishers and editors in the next few weeks in New York and then the London Book Fair in April.

Despite the excitement of clearing this first  hurdle, Mars continues to have his way with me, the work is hard and the agenda is chop wood, carry water…I won’t be holding my breath any time soon for that call from Good Morning America!


DURING MARS’ RETREAT, THE MESSEAGES OF DR. BACH’S OAK AND THE ANCIENT RUNE NAUTHIZ, PROVE TO BE STRANGE, BUT COMPATABLE BEDFELLOWS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

If you’re wondering why particular aspects(not to use a pun) of your life have slowed down recently, it very well could be related to the warrior planet Mars’, biennial shift in motion.  On January 23rd Mars turned ‘retrograde’ and will not station ‘direct’ again until April 13th.  As I have written in previous postings, any time a planet shifts into  what astrologers refer to as ‘retrograde motion’ (when a planet ‘appears’ to be moving backwards in the sky), the message of that planet’s energy is for us to quiet down and go within.  What we are to consider during these times is where and how the energetic representation relates  to our actions and in our lives.   

Mars with its fiery warrior energy is currently in the sign of the Virgin, Virgo…the organizer, analyzer, perfecter…the seer of how things could be, the idealist…the server.  But in her idealism and self-inflicted drive to grow, Virgo can be hypercritical and merciless in her self-evaluation, deficient in her self-esteem, particularly when combined with the warrior energy of Mars…well, you get the picture. 

For the next few months whether we like it or not,  we have the opportunity to take a breath in order to contemplate what and were we need to re-evaluate our behavior and goals.  Perhaps we need to consider making a  course correction.  Are there areas where we need to make serious changes?  What isn’t working in our lives and needs to go?  Where do we need to concentrate on building our self-esteem?  To contemplate and then carry out the action is not an easy task by any means and begs the question, where do we start? 

By looking at current transit placement in our natal chart, we can find  clues to these answers.  Whatever house(circumstance of life) in which  Mars has landed gives us the answer.    Is it the 10th… our work in world?  Or perhaps it’s the 7th where lasting partnerships and collaborations, reside.    Maybe it’s the double whammy of the 2nd which represents among other things, our self-esteem and self-value! 

Regardless of where Mars is sitting  for his months of retrograde motion, frustration is  characteristic of the energy we can feel which can be draining emotionally and physically.  However help is on the way in Dr. Edward Bach’s ‘Oak’ flower remedy.  When I teach about Oak in Bach’s repertoire of his 38 the flower remedies, I always envision it as the ‘energizer bunny’.  Its life force gives us strength to ‘carry on’  by providing us  the stamina and  sustainability we need.  The assistance found through Oak is not only for times of planetary retrogrades…we can call upon Oak during a particularly challenging illness or struggle when life seems to have been derailed through circumstances or ill judgement…any time when we feel we have don’t have ‘it’ in us to keep going.  As I said, the energizer bunny!

The ancient Norse Rune, Nauthiz puts the energetic interpretation of  a Mars retrograde quite well:  “This is a time to…restore, if not harmony, at least balance.  So mend, restore, redress—when fishermen can’t go to sea they repair nets.  Let the Constraints of time serve you in righting your relationship to your Self.  Be mindful that rectification comes before progress…consider the uses of adversity.”(The Book of Runes-Ralph Blum)                                                  

                                                                   

                                                                  OAK

                                                                            ©Dr. Edward Bach Foundation

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

RUNE STONE©Dreamstime

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                              


LEO’S FULL MOON-CREATIVITY & HEART, MIND & VISION

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

 

Admittedly, it has been almost two months since I last blogged…definitely a faux-pah in the eyes of the blogging police.  However, I have a good excuse for this temporary absence…at least in my mind and it falls into the category of ‘there are no accidents’

It has been almost 20 years since I attended my last mystery/thriller writer’s conference, but at Thanksgiving an opportunity appeared (notice I did not say, ‘by accident’) out of the blue for me to attend such a conference that was held in Chicago this past weekend.  The important thing about this conference was that not only did it offer the opportunity to really schmooz with some of the best mystery/thriller writers we have, but to  ‘live pitch’ one’s  latest project to some of the country’s top literary agents… but there was a catch. 

In order to do this, I had to finish my ‘current project’ which I’d already been  working on since last spring.  The expression, ‘pedal to the metal’ was an understatement as I became glued to my keyboard(and my wonderful, selfless editor up in Minnesota) racing against the clock, while dosing myself with numerous flower remedies.  I hardly saw anyone and only had clean clothes thanks to my husband who took over laundry and shopping duties…Christmas?  When did that happen?  You get the picture.  Thus my long apology for the silence as I endeavor to get back to work!

The outcome of this effort  is that the book is done, the conference was a success and my pitch was a success insofar that agents want to see the full manuscript….so now I wait. Even if I receive an offer for representation there’s no guarantee  a publisher will offer a contract…it’s a dicey business that’s becoming more chaotic by the day(note the current stand off between Amazon and BN), but writers are compelled to write, myself included, the torpedoes be damned.

In the midst of all of this effort,  my astrological work and studies languished(along with the previously mentioned laundry and shopping duties).  Only today did I realize we are under the influence of  Leo’s  shinning full moon, lit by the fire of February’s Aquarius Sun.  Astrologically, Leo rules our heart and creativity for it is from the heart that this authentic piece of ourselves resides.  Aquarius, the sign of the collective is ruled by that rebel of the planets, Uranus with its mental energy and vision.   If it weren’t for Uranus thinking out of the box, we’d all be still writing on clay tablets and I don’t mean IPads!  So what a better ‘opportunity’ than to sit in the energy of this full moon where we can each contemplate the job that is uniquely ours, that evolutionarily, we came to do?

This pairing of the Leo full moon and the Aquarius sun reflects the Divine message that we are to align our heart and head in carrying out the job, whatever that may be.  One thing’s for sure…each of us has one!  And if you need a little self-confidence, try some of Dr.Bach’s Larch flower remedy….having drunk a bottle of it this past weekend, I highly recommend it!