The Cradling Ocean And Stories We Tell

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Writing my short story, “Seafoam”, I had visions of underwater scenes and images like those above. That’s often how stories (and song lyrics) begin for me. Snapshot images inviting me somewhere. Loyal to inspiration, I let them lead me into playful, dark or un-chartered places. I’ll try anything twice.

The varied images and places they take me all have only one common element – a persistent emotion demanding to be felt. So I follow, describing what I see and feel along the way. With “Seafoam” I kept being reminded of the delight I felt when, as a ten year old kid, I first dared to open my eyes under water. I was shocked by how large the swimming pool looked and in love with the shafts of sunlight penetrating the glistening, aqua colored water.

I was also drawn again and again to the wonder of what lies beneath the surface of the Earth’s swimming pool, the ocean, and what might be out there watching us as we stare, enamored, into the azure horizon . I have always felt the ocean is “home”, or our spiritual birth place. Yet there is so much that is unknowable about that seemingly infinite place. Just like I’m sure extraterrestrial life exists, I believe we share this planet and it’s cradling oceans with life forms yet undiscovered or long forgotten by us humans. The ocean also puts life into perspective. To realize how small you are, that you’re simply one magnificent piece of a larger overwhelmingly gorgeous picture of creation, is thrilling, humbling and intriguing.

I felt all of that again recently in Hawaii when I slipped into moonlit water off the coast of Kona one night to be greeted by a ballet of reef Manta Rays gliding out of the darkness, almost brushing against me as they scooped up plankton. The same emotions played out a few days later when my husband and some friends and I were cruising the coastline on a sports boat one morning and we came across wild, Bottle Nose dolphins. We jumped into the incredible deep, blue water with them. They seemed completely unafraid, almost like they’d been expecting us, and for a few precious minutes they slowed down long enough to let us swim with their pod. One tilted as she swam and looked up at me. The same way a wise, old giant Green Sea turtle did as I snorkeled up to it later that day. The mantas, the dolphins and the turtle all conveyed a powerful sense of connectedness. I got the message: “We are not so different you and I. We are all here sharing this bounty together. It is as precious as it is timeless and fleeting.”

All of that, underpinned by childlike sense of innocent optimism, is still rippling in my body-mind as I put the final touches on “Seafoam” and prepare to upload it to Amazon. It is a labor of love and sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this. My inner critic says, “Don’t you have more pressing, “serious”, music industry work to do? Songs to pitch? Meetings to procure?” Well, yes. All that exists, but still I’m called in this direction. Now I think I know why.

We have GPS and Google maps to get us where we want to go in the physical world. But stories – be it family folk-lore, tribal legends or fairytales glowing on an iPad – maybe stories are the best maps of where we’ve been, and where we want to be, emotionally. What if this life you’re living is a story you’re writing and telling as you go? What if every day is a new page and a chance to choose your own adventure?

With that in mind, I’ll sign off this week wishing you wondrous, enchanting stories to weave with every breath and every day.

 

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FKAuthorPic

To check out my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

A lot of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store click here.

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking visit my web site by clicking here.

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The short story, “Seafoam”, mentioned above is coming soon to Amazon for Kindle!

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My “Seafoam” e-book cover art by Mirella Santana

 

 

 

Building Wings On The Way Down

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“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

Ray Bradbury

Have you been eyeing your own “cliff” in some way, shape or form?.. Or maybe you’ve been throwing yourself off creative ledges for years and are now searching for even more dizzying heights to conquer.

This is another short post from me today, just to let you know you’re not alone. In building those wings we draw from every interaction and ounce of awareness gleaned from every moment of our existence. As miraculous and complex as that may seem, it’s actually pretty simple. It happens naturally and instinctively, like breathing. All it takes is the courage to let yourself go.

New, imagined worlds await. Happy building – and flying!

Love: The Ultimate Enchantment

Stuck In Love poster

Last night I took a chance on an indie film that’d been sitting in my Netflix cue for ages. I really like Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly. And I wasn’t in the mood for a movie full of explosions and flimsy characters. I wanted substance but didn’t want a tear jerker and was in the kind of mood where I didn’t even mind if I got a little bored, you know? Man, did I get more than I bargained for.

“Stuck In Love”, written and directed by Josh Boone, is about just that– an author stuck in love with his ex-wife, and how the divorce he never quite accepts affects his almost grown up kids. I was just reading on the film’s official site that Boone describes the script as his hope chest, filled with all the things he believes in and cares about. Isn’t that lovely? That heart felt approach really does shine through, draw you in and hold you there.

Greg Kinnear’s character is an author (who openly encourages his kids to become writers, too). I loved the numerous literary quotes in the scrip that served to gently comment on life and love without being preachy. They give us even more insight into each of the characters. This one was used twice:

” I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”

Bill Borgen’s quoting from his favorite collection of short stories.

Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis, the guys from the band Bright Eyes, created the film’s score and a number of original songs for the soundtrack. Being a songwriter myself, that’s another thing I loved about the film– how songs (often over a perfectly timed montage) play an integral role in supporting the story and evolution of each character. That thoughtful use of songs takes you inside the hearts and minds of each of the characters and reveals even more about each of the family members.

Isn’t that true about all of us, too? We are the sum of all our experiences and influences, including what we read and listen to.  If you really want to know someone, look at the books on their night stand and scroll through their iTunes.

Anyway, I felt compelled to write about this film, because it seems so unassuming, with it’s kinda understated story line and without any Sunset Strip billboard marketing fan-fair, at least that I can recall (it’s a 2012 release). Yet there’s nothing disposable about it. It’s a quiet, bittersweet celebration of loyalty, growing pains (at any age) and the workings of the human heart. This little gem is a movie to live–and love–by. It reminded me that, of all the sensual mysteries and pleasures life has in store for us, love remains the most enchanting of all.

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For more about the film’s cast, crew and producers visit imdb. 

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 FKAuthorPic

To check out more of my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

A lot of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store link click here.

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking visit my web site by clicking here.

Seafoam – An Excerpt From Under The Glistening Surface…

Seafoam e-book beta cover

Seafoam e-book beta cover

The story goes that when I was born my mum wanted to name me “Seafoam” but dad wasn’t up for that. I love that mum had that very 1970’s notion, though–and being such a water baby who’d cry to be put back into any body of water I was around, I’ve often thought mum’s first instinct was bang on. She went with “Fiona” (after a feisty heroine in a novel she’d read) and, with almost psychic perception, she suspected I’d be a writer.

That name, “Seafoam”, has always stuck with me and captured my imagination. Might there be a girl out there called Seafoam? What would she be like? All these years later, I finally sat down with a word document and asked those questions… And Seafoam’s story began to unfold. Much to my delight, I found myself back in the oceans and inlets around South East Queensland where I grew up, under the surface in a place between worlds that suits me just fine, telling a tale about a Deep Water Nymph a tad too curious for her own good.

“Seafoam”, my next short story e-book, may be the first in a series of stories inspired by her and the magical, mysterious water world she and her kind call home. I’m working on final edits and the cover design and hope to release her into the digital wild–on Amazon for Kindle– in the coming weeks. Here’s a first look at the start of her story… I hope you like it!

“Seafoam” – an excerpt

Once upon a time–just the middle of last week, actually–a small, weathered fishing boat was enjoying the friendly slap of the warm Pacific Ocean as she drifted with the tide off the coast of southeast Queensland. She was just far enough out to have lost sight of land. Nets whistled as they flew through the air, hit the water with a smack and sunk dreamily down into the big blue. Up on deck, a fisherman rubbed his beer belly with satisfaction and unscrewed his thermos lid. Happy at the thought of a strong cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit, he turned up the volume on his iPod and sang in falsetto, “Like a virgin… woo! Touched for the very first time…” The music filled his hairy ears. He was smiling and thinking about a girl he’d known in high school, so he didn’t notice the ripples around his starboard side, the two very large sea-green eyes that glinted in the sun then dipped below the surface, or the silvery fins that flicked the fiberglass hull.

“Are you awake? Are you awake? Or are you dead?” came a petulant voice bubbling with youthful impatience and silky as the salt water enveloping it. It was lucky for the fisherman that he didn’t happen to possess any super powers, like X Ray vision. His clogged arteries and this much reality would not be a good mix. Under his little boat, where only barnacles and boringly predictable currents hang out, something like a girl was swimming like a fish, and asking a lot of questions like a woman.

“Where are you guys going? Where did you come from? “Byron?” “What, do you come from Tug Boat stock, the strong, silent type?” Seafoam fired away. She even tickled the duckboard with a flurry of bubbles, hoping the smelly old boat would warm up to her.

If you could hold her still long enough, closer inspection would reveal Seafoam’s over sized eyes held a permanently dreamy look. Her pale, oddly colored skin was like the luminous inside of an Oyster shell and her long, dark hair was a burnished mahogany. Her mother said Seafoam’s hair was the color of the deck of that wooden ship, The Endeavor, that sailed by the year Seafoam was born. But her crowning glory had fiery red streaks here and there that she was quite proud of. “It’s like little sparks of fire under water!” “Fire under water… How delightful and impossible!” she’d think to herself. She used to think it was from thinking too much, but the red was actually inherited from her grandmother who was the hottest summer day on record. This particular day was indeed “a good hair day”. Shiny tendrils drifted around her slippery, human looking arms and torso and licked her perky breasts with their nipples like peaks of caramel. She’d heard they tasted like caramel as well. But who knows what that is, and who can believe anything Groupers say?

Anyway, on this particular day, below her finned forearms, around each of her delicate wrists, Seafoam was wearing her favorite seaweed bracelets. They trailed beside her like streamers she’d seen on bicycle handles. She wished she had a bell to ring, too. Like the ones she’d seen little girls dinging as they zoomed down the boardwalk at the Marina where the Land Lovers did their peopling or whatever it is humans do. In lieu of a bell to ring, Seafoam made do with a purple topped Cowrie shell strapped on with more seaweed and some fishing line she’d unknotted from around a seagull’s leg. It didn’t ding but it looked cool. Where her hips sloped down into thigh and luscious butt cheeks her skin turned shades of silver, like the choppy ocean’s surface just before an afternoon thunderstorm has a good cry.

Where a standard issue Mermaid’s tail would normally begin, Seafoam instead had long, muscular legs that tapered to powerful webbed feet–permanent flippers you could say. From a distance, if the light was right and the remnants of last night’s magic mushrooms had them fooled, a Land Lover lucky enough to catch sight of Seafoam could mistake her for a Mermaid. And sure, she could do a great mermaid impression, swimming lazily with her legs together, but a deep water nymph never got anywhere keeping her legs together. She’d laugh at the truth in that, and with a flick of her ankles, launch herself high into daylight, plunging in a beautiful sun kissed arch the shape of a whale’s spout. She did love to prove a point.

If she were here right now, and if you could speak Ocean–as many people used to–Seafoam would explain with pride that she is a Deep Water Nymph. Like many other supposedly mythological creatures, Deep Water Nymphs are most at home in the open ocean, so they’re rarely seen and, therefore, not well understood. They’re related to Mermaids and Sirens, yet are considerably smaller in stature, and of course they have those aforementioned lovely, long legs descending to flippers that forests of Sea Kelp just love to play and sway with. Mermaids are jealous of that by the way. Furthermore, while Sirens are downright devious, and Mermaids are famous for lying about on rocks, brushing their hair and pining for impossible loves, Deep Water Nymphs are, simply put, jovial. Like their Irish cousins, Silkies, Deep Water Nymphs love a good fight and are, obviously, closely related to Fresh Water Nymphs–like the ones John William Waterhouse captured in his famous painting “Hylas And The Nymphs”. It may be helpful to know, too, that Deep Water Nymphs find Land Lovers compelling and scary at the same time­­–kinda like a ferry crash.

Speaking of which, Seafoam loved to watch Land Lovers jostle around together on the deck of the tourist ferries to that “boom, boom” sound. Was it called “dancing?” Seafoam thought so. She clearly remembered the look on one’s face as she shuffled in time with her mate–or “husband”–Seafoam believed they were called. Saggy skin and pitiful lung capacity aside, those two Land Lovers radiated pure bliss. Memories like those got under Seafoam’s skin and soon she developed an inconvenient longing to dance. She was shunned by her sea-faring brethren for voicing such a desire. Surface frolicking, plunge diving, attack circling, bottom cruising–those were all respectable past times to the Oceanic Community. They could after all be considered survival practice or hunting techniques, but dancing? Ridiculous. You see, for thousands of generations Underwaterlings (they call each other Undies for short) have all felt far superior to humans. So a pointless desire to dance, to stumble around upright sucking down toxic air would certainly be, pardon the pun, “a step backwards”. As time passed and the ocean grew warmer and shipping lanes got busier, it was generally held there were more important things to think about. The Undies in her area forgot about Seafoam’s wish, or simply laughed it off. Yet her dream persisted as only a dream can. She’d watch the occasional dinner cruise with its swarm of floppy tourists swaying gleefully, their wrinkly faces lifted to the moon. She’d catch those rare blissful looks, the rays of inexplicable happiness and keep them–a memento in her ageless psyche. That would be enough, wouldn’t it?

But back to the tale. Not a fish tale or a mermaid tail. The story tale. Seafoam had long been a fan of speaking to strangers and had learned a lot from the vessels Land Dwellers rode around in. But this little, old fishing boat–aptly named “The Grumpy Crab”– it wasn’t saying anything! It lolled from side to side and seemed almost bored. Tired of trying to strike up a conversation, Seafoam back flipped into a drop off in frustration. Stupid old floater, she thought to herself and laughed again.

Late that night, Seafoam was snuggled up to a Spanish Dancer sea slug, with its silky frills against her neck, just drifting with the tide in a symphony of moonbeams when a strange, muffled breath yanked her out of a dream. “Shhhhhhh.. gggggggghhhhhkkk!..” came the snorting sound again. Near the entrance to a Rock Fish cave, two black figures loomed…

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To see what happens next and how this story ends check back here for news about “Seafoam” – a short story e-book – coming soon to Amazon for Kindle! 

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Fiona Kernaghan

Fiona Kernaghan

To check out more of my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

A lot of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store link click here.

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking visit my web site by clicking here.

 

Seafoam And Some Island Inspiration…

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front because I’ve been away in my own land of enchantment–Hawaii. Ah, yes I know. It IS hard work but somebody’s gotta do it. All that communing with Madam Pele, frolicking with dolphins and exploring the mysterious embrace of the gorgeous big, blue Pacific…

Speaking of which, the Pacific Ocean and the Eastern seaboard of Australia happens to be the setting of my next magical realism short story, to be released soon to Amazon for Kindle. “Seafoam”, is a light hearted tale with a dark twist or two, and is all about a Deep Water Nymph too inquisitive for her own good. It may be the beginning of a series, too–something new for me!

Here’s a quick look at the early stages of the cover art by Digital Artist, Mirella Santana.

"Seafoam" e-book cover art in progress

“Seafoam” e-book cover art in progress

 

More from me soon- and here’s hoping you too are are having a delightful, enchanted summer!

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To check out my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

A lot of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store link click here.

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking visit my web site by clicking here.

SCHEHERAZADE TAKES ON THE KARATE KID: HOW CROSS DISCIPLINES FEED EACH OTHER

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This week I’m thrilled to welcome Stephen Weinstock to Create An Enchanted Life. He is the author of this week’s blog post- and certainly knows a thing or two about following your bliss, creating an enchanted life and faithfully doing the work that often demands! I hope you’ll check out his work and links below. For now, on with the show–or blog st least!..

SCHEHERAZADE TAKES ON THE KARATE KID: HOW CROSS DISCIPLINES FEED EACH OTHER

by Stephen Weinstock

Like my talented webhost, Fiona, I have crossed between musical and fictional worlds in my career. This combination goes hand in hand with an affinity for magical realism. Literature and poetry of the magical realists often has a musical flavor, and a magical piece of music conjures real narratives in our imaginations.

Let me share what I’m writing now, because it will inform how my musical work informed my current work in surprising ways. I have published 1001: The Qaraq, Book One of The Reincarnation Chronicles, the first novel of a magical realist series where a group of souls (the qaraq) presently in suburban New Jersey, discovers its ability to recall past lives. They have been traveling from lifetime to lifetime together, from Carboniferous era dragonflies to 4th Century Persian harem dwellers. The whole insane series (11 books, thank you!) is a giant puzzle of their karmic relationships.

In crossing between the two disciplines, I have grappled for years with the same questions: do I focus on one field at the expense of the other? do I work at one until I am discouraged and then switch tracks? do I just relax and enjoy the abundance of creativity in my life?

I have tired of this dialectical struggle, and recently realized these are the wrong questions. They are perfectly fine questions for day-to-day planning, but they have no ultimate answers. What’s way more interesting is how music and literature feed each other, from writing while listening to tunes, to adapting novels for music theater projects. I have received other benefits from my performing arts work, which have guided my novel writing in unconscious ways. Now that I see them more consciously, I cannot condemn any creative work I have ever done as ‘on the wrong path,’ but rather I thank the Infinite Intelligence for moving me through many spheres of influence.

Back to The Qaraq. Structured after The Thousand and One Nights, the book has a modern Scheherazade story set in the present, from which the characters recall and narrate their past life tales, just as Scheherazade told a part of a story every night to the King. Each chapter has a present day frame that transitions into a past life tale about, say, two atomic particles in a love spat. Again, the insane part is that the series contains 1001 chapters, with 1001 past life tales, just like the 1001 Nights. Oy, how to keep it all straight?

Back to the music vs fiction thing. As a composer for the theater, I wrote and taught new musicals and operas. I invented curriculum at the first musical theater writing programs in the country (in San Francisco and at NYU). Doing this work, I learned that in the traditional Broadway musical, the basic unit is the scene-to-song. If you don’t like musicals, this is the form where people are talking and then some idiot breaks into song. For the Broadway lover, this form is as complicated as a Sondheim show, where characters elegantly glide between spoken scene bits and the next verses of the song. I learned from teaching this form that you find it everywhere: recitatives leading to arias in opera, pantomimes leading to pas de deux in ballet. I analyzed dozens of them for my students, critiqued hundreds of them in our workshops, and desperately tried to improve on them in my own works. It was a grand adventure, but did it help me write Reincarnation Fiction? Well, yes.

A decade later, when none of my half dozen musicals and operas had been produced, not even the promising Rock and Roy (with writer Barry Jay Kaplan), based on the double life of Rock Hudson (so politically important, too!), I slowed down this work and started my past life series. Facing the problem of not boring my readers with each chapter having the format of present day frame into past life story, I played with possible variations: starting a chapter in the present, going to a past life tale, then processing the past back in the present; starting with a mysterious tale from the past, coming back to the present to understand it; going back and forth between present and past so they informed each other; embedding a second tale inside the first and proceeding accordingly. There weren’t too many possible forms, but each had its own variations, and the form successfully moved the action forward.

Just like in Oklahoma! OMG, I was re-cycling the scene-to-song as a present-frame-to-past-life-tale form. And I thought it was a neo-Arabic literary device. It was Score Doctor Stephen to the rescue, creating as much variety of this form in my novel. Looking back, I’m put in mind of that scene in the first Karate Kid film, where the master makes the kid with attitude wash his fence. Wax on, wax off, is the drill, using his two hands in the same repetitive way for hours. The kid’s pissed but does it, and then at the next sparring, the master gets the kid to make a karate move, and he sees that the wax on/wax off drill actually trained his muscles to do the move perfectly. Same deal, here: years of working in scene-to-song prepared me to structure and vary each chapter of my magnum opus. Did I do my musical theater work so I could write the series? Or was I unconsciously influenced by that work to re-invent it in my book? Whatever.

As I moved on from musical theater, I did one of those career guidebooks, and realized that the work that had brought me the most fulfillment in my past life was accompanying dance classes. The goal of each class was for the music to bring the dancers to physical and emotional ecstasy: what more do you want? A decent wage, for one, since accompanists are the lowest paid in the music biz. But the point was clear, and so I went back to beating a drum and piano for dance. After a bunch of years free-lancing, I ended up at LaGuardia HS, the “Fame’ School in New York, where the kids are the most appreciative of dance music in any studio I’ve experienced. And the wage was decent.

I play for modern dance, which means that I must improvise everything, although within a fixed structure. Being a self-taught musician, accompanying for dance was my daily practice, my piano lessons, and my performing opportunity rolled into one. When Martha Graham says “And!” you play whatever’s in your head. You trust your first instinct, and build on whatever comes out. Being an organizer and a structurer from my other endeavors, dance exercised another part of my creative brain, and taught me to take whatever material you start with, and elaborate, energize, and make it work. To bring everyone to ecstasy.

For my series, I have to come up with 1001 stories. I have a simple rule: any idea that pops into my head is welcomed and put into the series somewhere. There’s no time for picky judgment. Even if it’s a ‘mediocre’ idea, like a seven-inch plant squashed into a chunk of coal, I can use it somehow, elaborate, energize, and make it work. Hey, where did I learn that? That’s right, you’re catching on, by improvising for dance I learned to improvise for fiction. Not that I don’t plan to a fault: there are eleven hidden structures in The Reincarnation Chronicles, woven into each chapter. Structural puzzles come from my work as a composer of non-improvised scores, but that’s another story, and another gift from my musical work.

The norm is no longer to land a job and keep it until you retire. First of all, nobody’s retiring anymore, and secondly it’s cool to fluidly move between career options. Juggling two or more fields is something you may be dealing with on a daily or yearly basis. I’ve learned that sweating the decision about which field to follow is important for basic time-management issues, but don’t sweat it too much. I dealt with the stigma of changing paths, and failed to see how my energy in one place was feeding my energy in another. Now I believe this is why I made all the path choices I did, or why those paths opened to me, to keep replenishing my creativity and suggesting new ways to approach a task. If I hadn’t waxed on and off, I wouldn’t have been able to handle a modern day Scheherazade.

Stephen Weinstock

Stephen Weinstock

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STEPHEN WEINSTOCK’s bio and links:

STEPHEN WEINSTOCK has created scores for theater companies (Magic Theater, Eureka Theater), choreographers (Margaret Jenkins, Adam Barruch), and dancers (the Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham studios, Juilliard, LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts).  His musical Rock and Roy, about the double life of Rock Hudson, has been performed at New Dramatists in New York and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  Mr. Weinstock is author of the series 1001, based on the Arabian Nights, about a group of people who discover they have shared 1001 past lives.

Find 1001: The Qaraq, Book One of The Reincarnation Chronicles at his website:

www.qaraqbooks.com

on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615908373/ref=ox_sc_act_image_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

or goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20708397-1001

 

 

The Whispering Muse

the-whispering-muse

I was enthralled and excited to hear about this enchantingly titled novel, “The Whispering Muse”, on KCRW’s “Bookworm” last week! This author is also a songwriter who’s written lyrics for Bjork! Talk about my cup of tea. Michael Silverblatt began his chat with Sjon by referencing Magical Realism (yay!) so I had to share this wonderful interview linked below!

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw/bw140529sjon_the_whispering_

Overview

“An extraordinary, powerful fable—a marvel.”—Alberto Manguel

The year is 1949 and Valdimar Haraldsson, an eccentric Icelander with elevated ideas about the influence of fish consumption on Nordic civilization, has had the singular good fortune to be invited to join a Danish merchant ship on its way to the Black Sea.

Among the crew is the mythical hero Caeneus, disguised as the second mate. Every evening after dinner he entrances his fellow travellers with the tale of how he sailed with the fabled vessel, the Argo, on the Argonauts’ quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece. En route the heroes happened upon the island of Lemnos and discovered to their astonishment, and considerable delight, that it was inhabited solely by women.

An ode to storytelling, The Whispering Muse evokes a time gone by with wit and verve, from the rogues and oddities among sea-faring types to the long-lost romance and mystique of ancient mythology.

Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic poet and novelist. He has won the Nordic Council Literary Prize and Best Icelandic Novel in 2005 for The Whispering Muse. His novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sjón is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre. Also a songwriter, Sjón has written lyrics for Björk, including for her most recent musical project, Biophilia.

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About me, Fiona, this blog’s founder and author:

Many of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store link click here.

To check out my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking you might like to visit my web site by clicking here.

 

“Nightfolk” – A Web Of Mythic Tangents

NIGHTFOLK cover Holly S. KINDLE

 

As part of Create An Enchanted Life’s new occessional book review and recommendations feature, today I’m sharing a 4 star review of Holly Saknusseneouw’s “dreamy labyrinth” of a novel, “Nightfolk”. Happy reading!

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There’s no point in saying that Nightfolk isn’t a vampire novel, but
with the exception of one slip of the tongue, the word is never used.
The preternatural people at the heart of the story are clearly that,
(whether described as “Nättfolk,” or “Travelers,” or even “Nox
Viatori,”) but where Ms. Saknusseneouw is offering an expansive and
extremely impressionistic historical narrative, vampires with their
long lifespans and contagious memories make for a nifty vehicle. Mind
you, I’ve never come across any previous nosferatu lore that involved
shedding memories, but it’s a flexible metaphor, promising nocturnal
locales and predatory glamour, although in Nightfolk the vampires are
far less predatory than some of the mortals and movements they come
across over the centuries.

This is a point made right from the prologue, a journal entry by a
boozy old codger named Richardson, whose florid prose style veers
between H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft. Sitting out the Depression in
an Adirondacks hotel, Richardson sets the story in place, recounting
the tale of Emily and Jack, a destitute couple that could be out of a
Frank Capra film. When Emily is transformed from a chambermaid into an
otherworldly ingénue, her mousy, everyman husband Jack also changes,
his puritan instincts curdling with repulsion and desire – turning him
into a Paul Bunyan-like recluse.

Transformations abound in Nightfolk. This is clearly where Ms.
Saknusseneouw’s fascination lies, for the central character, Fran
Avery, is in a process of metamorphosis throughout the novel. Fran
starts out a seething upper-middle class WASP who has just ditched her
crunchy boyfriend during the summer of 1979. Fran is only too ready to
put the liberal seventies behind her. She is craving reaction if not
outright tyranny, her instincts aligning with Sylvia Plath’s lament of
“women adore a Fascist.”

So when Fran meets a still very-young Emily, and is lured into her
universe with it’s invasive memories, she will indeed get to meet
Fascists, among them Jack. One can picture Fran evolving into a kind
of Ann Coulter if she made it into the Reagan Era-if she stayed on in
what the novel calls “the Natural World.” But upon being transformed,
Fran passes through a succession of memories and consciences,
effectively becoming a time traveler. Along the way, Fran finds a
conscience of her own, and tries to forestall morphing any further by
becoming a Rip van Winkle. During her long, long sleep, she glimpses a
number of periods, some iconic, such as the French Revolution and the
London Blitz, other eras are obscure, involving long-forgotten
revolutions, pogroms, and cocktail parties – with the Nightfolk
forever watching from the sidelines. A few of the Nightfolk that Fran
encounters are indeed quite dangerous, while others are discreetly
hapless, or have simply seen too much. More often it’s the mortals of
the daylight hours who are out of control, especially Emily’s ancient
husband Jack, whose crazed pursuit of redemption over the years
assumes monstrous proportions. Jack is a complicated fellow. He starts
fires, fights fires, and then embraces a homegrown Fascist group in
the early `30s only to kill hundreds of Germans when war comes. As
hard as Jack tries to purge himself, he can never shake off his
attraction for Emily – a fact that Richardson, even as a ghost,
repeatedly teases him about.

History, for Ms. Saknusseneouw, seems to be an ongoing process of
waking up a relic, no longer relevant, while the people who have
stayed on have changed beyond recognition, possessed by events,
ideologies, and misguided piety. The result is a web of mythic
tangents, as Nightfolk plays out like a dreamy labyrinth – making for
a rather cracked morality tale.

 

**

This review originally appeared on Amazon as:

4.0 out of 5 stars
The Passage meets Outlander. Master storytelling! October 26, 2013
By Belle Struck
Format:Kindle Edition

 

***

For more about Holly, you might like to check out her Amazon bio by clicking here.

 

***

About me, Fiona, this blog’s founder and author:

A lot of my songs are available to preview and purchase on iTunes worldwide. For the U.S store link click here.

To check out my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here. 

For more about me, my songwriting and avid pleasure seeking you might like to visit my web site by clicking here.

Do What You Love. Then What?

 

 

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Joseph Campbell wrote about it in “The Power Of Myth” and Deepak Chopra is a fan of the idea. I am, too. Yet no one ever talks about the downside. Love makes you do crazy things…

It makes you turn your life upside down, say and do things you never thought you would, trash your safety zone. All in the pursuit of another “high” on that thing you love so much. I know because I’ve done all those things, and still wake up every day perversely looking forward to doing them again in small and big ways. For me, it began with a dream of being a signed songwriter in Nashville (where I believed the best songwriters in the world hang out.) I flew away from a record deal and and a support network of Australia’s most respected musicians because that dream kept whispering to me like Tolkien’s gold ring. I ruptured my close-knit family and headed into America’s urban wilderness.

There have been times I’ve wondered “what the hell am I doing?” and “is this worth it”? But the heat of those emotions only serves to better distill the thing that is essentially me, what I came here to Earth, and America, to do. So now I feel a bit like the crazy witch in the woods who has quested with the best of them (Your Highness style, lol, see the movie to get that joke) and now I live in a magical encampment of my own design, deep in L.A.’s tangled labyrinth, with my wordy potions and mythically minded tribesman. I’m proud to be here with them drumming up enchantment, specks of stardust in the dream machine’s eye.

If that’s all getting a bit too Grimm, let me put it this way. In the pursuit of a glorious life and an idea you just can’t put down–be it the idea of what your life could be or just how this particular scene should play, phrase should rhyme, or how a brush stroke could swim…  your bliss will be a pain in the ass. Forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning (for like, six months), leaving your keys in the freezer, and the kitchen full of dirty dishes is only the beautiful beginning. See the mess and love it anyway.  Stay faithful to that vision you’re drunk on. Let some ideas fly and some break your heart. Even after you’ve birthed something you’d let define you, who knows where it can end up? Even your best intentions can end up looking like a tattered Tibetan prayer flag someone’s taken and used for bunting at a second hand car yard.

Like Sonny says in The Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be alright in the end… if it’s not alright, then it’s not yet the end.” Meanwhile, I really do believe you can learn to love the “battle”, and thrive on the hazards of following your bliss.

Know I’m always wishing you many victories on the way to yours.

 

***

 

 

 

The Guardian’s Wildchild by Feather Stone

Fiona Kernaghan:

Feather

 

I was taken by Feather Stone and her author bio recently. It’s pretty intriguing…

“I have experienced the paranormal since I was a child. Therefore, I don’t think of these events as odd. They’re gifts and I treasure and hold them as sacred. I met my spirit guide when I was about seven. Later, when I was drowning in a lake and laying on the sandy bottom, accepting death. My guide whispered, “If you stand you can breathe.” I did as he beckoned and survived, obviously (LOL). Many times my guides have spoken to me, including my father a few years after he died. Now that was unexpected! I believe everyone is visited by his/her guide though we are often too busy to notice the stranger offering a moment of comfort or assistance. We are all capable of experiencing the paranormal, if you so choose. Sit in silence once each day, even if only for five minutes. Empty the chatter in your mind. Enjoy the bliss.”

***

So today I’m re-blogging an excerpt of My Little Book Blog’s review of Feather’s urban fantasy, “The Guardian’s Wildchild”, with big thanks to Lizzy Baldwin for the excellent review. Here it is below. Enjoy!

As always a quick over-view of the plot to begin; her Guardian Greystone knows Sidney Davenport as a ‘wildchild’; this is due to her radical love to rebel, and to break the rules. Sidney is gifted with a set of supernatural powers; however she must carefully conceal her abilities from the world. Even in difficult situations, that have the potential to change her life forever, she must be careful otherwise her enemies might discover the truth of who she really is, and then use this against her and have the Guardian destroyed. Sidney must call upon the spirit guides Celeste and Seamus to guide her through.

To start her mission Sidney leaves her sweet home on Hawk’s Island, to stop the evil malice of two characters that want to wreck havoc worldwide. However Sidney does not hold the skills in espionage needed for the mission to be successful and after being caught and imprisoned she is sentenced to death. In an odd turn Sidney cannot help but feel an attraction towards the man that is calling for her execution; the tall, dark and handsome Captain Waterhouse. Strict, determined and meticulous in every detail; however in the arrival of the female prisoner he finds his world being turned upside down in a nature he could never have imagined. Waterhouse is about to scrap all his morals and put his life in danger due to the connection between them. Through stunning imagery, an intricate and adventurous plot, and a strong cast of characters, Feather Stone gives readers a fast paced story woven with murder and magic.

So the first comment to make is if you were looking for a strong, strident and determined, female protagonist, look no further! Sidney as a main character is incredibly well characterised and appealed very strongly to me as a reader. She has a really sense of strength and flame and as a female reader I could not help but fall for her sass and grit. Even in the most difficult and stressful situations, she manages to not only ride the storm and stay tough and driven, but she also manages to fascinate and please the reader! I could not help but feel an instant connection to her and that is a real credit to the author. Too often in books we are given wishy-washy characters that are so easily vanquished, I often think it is due to the ’50 shades effect,’ that has left us with female characters that don’t appear to be able to stand on their own two feet. I must therefore pause here and salute Stone in the fact that that doesn’t happen here. (Yes!) Additionally the strong characteristic written into the book makes Sam an extremely diverse and exciting character; at first we see him stony faced and demanding however he shows just the right of compassion when needed. He is slightly harder to warm to, in terms of characterisation, however this allows the reader to fully understand his character, which is a nice touch.

Another strong point is in the fact that the setting is mostly located on the Navy ship. This allows for a large amount of description that ends up having an overall magical quality. The description is strong much like the characters and this allows a stronger diffusion of information into the reader’s imagination; I really felt immersed in the story and felt myself being drawn more strongly into the story as a whole. I also really liked the way that the author played with the emotions of the characters and really managed to change Sam’s perception of his own life. The scenes that play out throughout the book between the two main characters were made extremely special and they felt extremely genuine and at times, as a reader, I felt I was intruding on scenes that were just plain lovely. I found myself rooting for their relationship, despite my first viewing of their relationship due to Sam being such a dark and brooding character; at first I thought what is Sidney thinking! However, he grows so significantly into his own character it ends up being extremely genuine and honest.

A final remark is that the author has a definite understanding of how to make the readers mind race; the book was extremely fast-paced meaning that it makes it very easy to read and fun to read as well; at no point did I think why has this part been include which is a big compliment. Additionally by leaving an epilogue it allows the reader to ponder their own thoughts and then read the resolution; by doing this it allows the reader some room to breath and recuperate before sinking their teeth back into the plot. One thing to note for me as a reader is that I felt it held more of a mystery feel than a paranormal/fantasy, which I originally thought was the main genre of the book and although for me that was fine due to not being the biggest paranormal fan, for others it may slightly disappointing in that respect.

It will come as no shock (from the above comments that I really enjoyed this book) with the strong characters, a real understanding of plot pace and a memorable love story this book really sang for me as a reader. The genre is not my stereotypical favourite however I can see myself definitely reading books from this author in the future!

***

TheGuardian'sWildchild

Available at:
Twitter:  FeatherWrites https://twitter.com/FeatherWrites
Facebook:  FSauthor https://www.facebook.com/FSauthor
Read more of Lizzy’s reviews at her lovely My Little Book blog.

 

Originally posted on mylittlebookblog:

Firstly I must thank the author profusely for sending me a copy of this book; it always means a lot when I receive a book from an author. When I set up the ‘review requests page,’ I had no idea that it would gain such a response from the readers of my blog. I have since received a wide genre of books, from children’s books, thrillers, indie novels and sci-fi, to today’s fancy, a paranormal/romantic fantasy. I love reading books and being able to read such a wide range of books is a complete privilege as a reader. So, this is yet again one of these reviews, so thanks again to Feather Stone for sending it over and trusting me with such a special review; so, onto the review!

As always a quick over-view of the plot to begin; her Guardian Greystone knows Sidney Davenport as a ‘wildchild’; this is…

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Fiona Kernaghan

Fiona Kernaghan

I'm a songwriter, singer and dedicated pleasure seeker. When I'm not writing and recording songs I write screenplays and short stories.

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