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Pagans in the Woods!

I think I am finally recovered from the six days I spend in the woods at the Pagan Unity Festival last week-end. I am still a little tired and I attribute that to being old. We bought stuff, packed stuff, hauled stuff, herded people, danced, sang, went to class, cooked, bought more stuff, laughed and cried.

I believe that it is the finest thing that  I do. Every year people come to me and tell me how their lives have been forever altered because they spent a week-end at PUF. That makes me cry and makes my heart leap up in joy. It is why we bust our humps every year for months in advance and try and figure out ways to correct out flaws for months afterward.

For those of you who have never gone to a Pagan festival, it is several days of workshops, rituals, food, music and silliness. We had amazing authors and workshop facilitators this year, as we do every year. We are a kid friendly, family oriented festival, but after midnight all the folks under 18 are chased away from the bonfire so the adults can dance and get silly. 

Did we make everyone happy? No we did not but we tried. Did we drop a few things between the cracks? Yes we did. We are working to fix the problems and make PUF even better next year.

Thanks to my amazing staff, without you there is no PUF. Know that you change people’s lives and give them hope and joy. That is mighty and so are you all.

Thanks to everyone who presented a workshop, they were all wonderful and people loved them.

Thanks to our VIPs, Oberon Zell, Raven Grimassi, Stephanie Taylor, Christopher Penczak, Dorothy Morrison, M.R. Sellars, Mark Mandrake and Byron Ballard. You are the best and I honor you.

I want to thank everyone who came. You have changed my life for the better.

Peace&Love,

TishImage

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Lost

I was invited by the good folks at Spirit of the Earth Church to their West Kentucky Hoodoo Festival, to present a workshop on magickal workings, since I have written a book on the subject; Spell It Correctly. The drive up was easy, the sun was shining, the directions perfect and I went right to the site with no trouble at all. The gathering was on a farm that belongs to one of the members of SOTE, it is a beautiful place! I presented the workshop, had a good response and was invited to stay for dinner, which I did. I never turn down food. David Clark told me that the organization of the festival was my handiwork since he, his wife Nancie and the other members of the group used my first book Chasing the Rainbow to design their festival. I was overwhelmed by that, it is a good thing to know that something that you have written actually does someone some good. I took my leave, reluctantly, of the fine folks of SOTE so I could get home before the sun went down. My reasons were two-fold; I have such a lousy sense of direction and I don’t see well at night. Before you tell me the reason I can’t see is because I’m old, let me just tell you that I have been night blind forever. I scared my first husband almost to death on a trip between Baton Rouge and Nashville…but I digress. Anyway I left confident that I could retrace my steps. I was so very wrong. I even had a huge landmark that looks like the Washington Memorial to guide me, I saw it on my way to the site, I just knew I couldn’t miss it, the monument is tall and the land is flat. I missed it. I drove and drove and drove. In that part of Kentucky there are no stores and no gas stations and no people. Just lots and lots of land. What I desperately needed was a gas station. As I drove on with the sun setting behind me, my gas gauge dropping and no gas stations or signs of civilization in front of me, my panic began to set in for real. I also realized something; there are no gas stations in Amish country because they don’t need gas stations. If only I could have have powered my car on horse manure I would have been in business as there was lots of that along the sides of the road. When the sun set I began to pray; oh please don’t let me run out of gas out here, I have no bars to call AAA, they would never find me anyway. Maybe Amish folks would find me, take pity on me and let me sleep in their barn because I was in trouble. Finally after what seemed like hours I saw lights in the distance and came to a cross roads! Hallelujah I was saved! I had to figure out how to get off the highway I was on and down to the road where I saw the lights. It was a lonely little gas station but it was at that moment, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I pulled up, filled my tank never even looking at the price per gallon, I didn’t care. I went inside to ask directions and got them from a very nice young man with a very thick Indian accent. I smiled and thanked him and left as lost as when I had arrived. I tried to follow the directions he had given and continued to be lost but at least I was in a town. I just didn’t know which one. I found another gas station with lots of people in it, I just knew I could get directions. I was right, everyone in the place was more that happy to give me directions to Nashville. The nice redneck, the fellow in dreadlocks and the kind Hispanic man all gave me directions. I smiled harder and when I left I waved at the Hispanic gentleman who was riding away on a kid’s bike carrying a twelve park of  Busch beer under one arm, I admired his balance. I drove away into the night and by following the directions of all three men found myself at the very same gas station again. I tried again and this time I ended up at a Walgreen’s where I accosted a lady in the parking lot for directions, she gave them and I tried again. And failed again. Then it hit me, I had a new phone! Maybe just maybe there was GPS, the only trick was finding it. My track record in finding things at that point was pretty low. But I pulled over and frantically went through my phone and found GPS. I programmed in Nashville and lo and behold a map appeared and the computer voice told me to turn left. I did with new hope which was quickly dashed when I went right back to the same gas station that I had visited twice before. I tried again and again and it might have just been my imagination but I thought the computer voice sounded irritated the sixth time it said ‘recalculating’. I got home that night, late, I did call my husband so he wouldn’t worry as soon as I had bars. To give you perspective on the trip; I left Nashville on I-24 and went through Clarksville, I came home on I-65 from Bowling Green. I’m gonna hire a driver.

Writing am hard work

So you think writing is easy work huh? You think it’s all about throwing words at paper and then you go have a smoke and a glass of bourbon right?  Well let me tell you a thing or two about that. Writing is for crazy people. First you have some sort of an idea and then you put it on paper, or a screen in my case, then you read it to yourself, then you criticize your words, then you delete everything, then you rewrite it because the idea in your head won’t go away until you write it down, then you read it and rewrite again and again and again. Did you know that writers also seem to be anal retentive perfectionists too. True, we are.   Oh yea did I say that the words in your head beat on you from the inside until you let them out and give them a life of their own? Well they do. We tend to use too many commas as well. It makes you crazy.

The words wake you up in the middle of the night and demand that you WRITE THEM DOWN! It makes you crazy.

After all that you send you new birthed and beloved baby out in to the world and into the hands of a publisher, who does not love your baby, and sends you a rejection letter! It makes you crazy.

If you finally get published then you have to worry and wonder if anyone besides your mother will buy your book, or will there just be more rejection. That keeps you up at night. It makes you crazy.

So writing is about repetitive actions that you continue to do and where you expect to get different results, voices in your head and setting yourself up for rejection and criticism. Only someone soft in the head would do it. Really I should know. It makes you crazy.

I guess the only questions is; does writing make one crazy or is one already crazy before a pen is ever touched?

I spent the weekend in St. Louis. I traveled there with my friends Star and Jay and Flat Stanley. If you don’t know who he is, look it up.  Jay, who I thought liked me dubbed the trip ‘Driving Miss Owen’. At every stop he jumped from the vehicle and ran around to open my door as if I was too weak to open it for myself . My son, with whom I labored for 27.5 hours to bring into the world suggested that Jay rename the trip ‘Driving Miss Crazy’. What can I say? Children, they will break your heart every time.

But on to the real purpose of the trip; I had a book signing at a local store called the Mystic Valley in St. Louis, where I  ran into some old friends, made new ones and sold some books, I met with my publisher, I filmed two video interviews to promote my books, and had dinner with M.R. Sellars and his family and some friends, twice. Now if your don’t know M.R. Sellars, he is a writer type guy and he writes murder/occult/pagan/horror stuff. He is one rather twisted guy, but nice enough. If you can overlook the fact that he know way too much about body decomposition, ways to kill people, what it takes to actually kill a human,  will happily explain how the size of maggots on a body will tell you how long that body has been a body and is absolutely thrilled to look at crime scene photos. He also knows about vampires, serial killers and all manner long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. I don’t know how he sleeps at night, and he probably leaves the light on if he does.

We had dinner at the Sellars house on Friday night, we ordered in pizza, more friends joined us, we laughed and drank away the evening and no bodies or murders were ever discussed.

On Saturday evening, we were invited for dinner again, which means that were nice enough on Friday, right?  Despite the fact that the man writes horror stories for a living, he cooked dinner for us and we let him. Murv did the cooking and the fare was mostly vegeterian as he, his wife Kat, my traveling companion Star, and I are all heading in that direction. So we had roasted beets, grilled squash, sweet potatoes, wild rice with feta cheese and spinach, spagetti squash, roasted chick peas and grilled portobello mushrooms. I know I am leaving out several dishes but in short it was a feast! It was a lovely dinner, there were many great discussions, lots of stories, jokes and anecdotes. Sellars and I swapped horror stories about traveling to promote our books, I am sure that we were riveting to the others who were listening to us. We discussed the Pagan Unity Festival at length, what we all wanted to see for next year, things that we never wanted to see, potential guests to bring in as speakers and so on. There was much beer ingested and we made evil plans for the next day. All and all a good day.

Now I cannot tell you all the evil plans that we brought into reality on Sunday. I am sworn to secrecy. Just let me say that this involved Sellars, Me, Johnathan, Kat, Star, and cameras. No, you dirty minded people, we did not film porn. The rest of the participants aside, no one in their right minds would pay good money to see Sellars or me naked. Please. Our evilness made us laugh and laugh and we hope that it pleases all of you as well when it is revealed. There I have baited that hook.

On Sunday evening, after all of our hard work with cameras and scripts, we had dinner. Sellars warmed up the leftovers the night before. He added a Turkish dish that was in the fridge (what better time to get rid of leftovers than when guests are in the house right?), and combined that with some white rice. Again, we had a grand time only the crowd was smaller; Sellars, Kat, Willow, Star, Jay and myself.

About an hour after dinner, I began to feel sick to my stomach. Hard on the heels of that I developed severe pain in my stomach. I was feeling terrible and trying to decide if it was a gall bladder attack or a virus of some kind. We were all tired after the antics of the afternoon, and decided to take leave of our hosts at around 9:00 PM. At that point Sellars looked at me and asked, “Sweetie, are you alright?” I told him I was not and asked if he had any Tums. He did,I took them and we left. By the time we got to our hotel, which was about seven minutes away, I was really miserable. I staggered up to the room, Star gave me some peppermint for the nausea, and I lay down. We began to discuss what my aliment might be, had I eaten something that was causing the trouble and so forth. We decided there was not enough fat in the food I had eaten to cause a gall bladder issue and that the food we had eaten was left over from the night before, and I had not had any problems before.  By now my upper lip was numb. “Except for the Turkish dish with rice”, I said. “What was in the rice?” asked Star. “Maybe Saffron,” I guessed. “Which comes from Crocuses,” she said. “Which are kin to…: I said, “Buttercups!!” we both shouted. Sellars had poisoned me! I am allergic, very allergic may I say to freakin’ buttercups. Most people think they are beautiful little spring flowers. I know better, I know that are evil little devils that want to kill me. Somehow they had recruited Sellars in their war against me!

So here is my warning to you; if you ever have dinner with a murder mystery/occult/pagan/horror type guy and he offers to cook, bring your own food.

I’m just saying.

 

Hello world!

Where do I begin to write the story of how great…oh sorry couldn’t help myself. If you do not get that reference, don’t tell me, it will only hurt my feelings by reminding me how old I am.

Okay, so this is supposed to be about me well, let’s see, where do I start? I was born in a log cab…..I walked to school up hill both ways in the snow… Oh never mind that is ancient history, how about this; I run a successful Pagan festival and have for almost thirteen years now. I have been told that I am pretty good at herding, feeding, problem solving and getting large numbers of folks to all go in the same direction at the same time.  Some people told me I should write a book about it, some even insisted that I write that book. They told me that by writing about how to run a festival, I could help other people to do it well. It would also benefit the people who went to the festivals, and the authors that went as guests. In short, I would be doing a service to humanity. Hmmmm…like Mother Teresa.

Why is it that people always insist that other people write a book. If anything out of the ordinary has ever happened to you, people always say “you should write a book!”

“Wild Wolverines kidnapped me and kept me in a den under an oak tree in the great Northwest until I would teach them to line dance and sing like Garth Brooks.”

“You should write a book!” people shout. “Well,” you explain, ” I have an IQ of 42 and I can’t even spell wolverrine….wooulvrine…wowlennie…..that animal with mean claws.” Then you get a wink and a nod and a, “Yeah but you could get a ghost writer!”

If you have never written a book you have no idea what a process it is. If it can even be called a process. You have a ghost of an idea and so you sit and stare at the paper or the screen or the note book or the roll of toilet paper just hoping to be struck by you muse. Usually what happens is that you get struck by a cat paw belonging to a cat who would like some dinner “noooowwww” please. I knew that I knew what I was doing on the festival end of things. After all people came back year after year, we did not poison them or lose their children or set anything on fire. Or sure there was that one time, why can no one get over that. I digress. I knew the festival stuff, but how could I put it on paper? Where the hell would I even start?

I started and wrote about the festival on a legal pad. Then I rewrote, at one point I started over completely from scratch, then I started that over and simply rewrote the original. I turned it upside down and inside out until I was more or less happy with it. I tweaked it. I got angry at it. I cried. I laughed. I walked away from it and declared that I was done with the whole thing! Who the hell was I kidding. Everyone thinks they have a book in them, most people really do not. Who was I to think that I actually had some talent and that I could write a book that other people might want to read?! Maybe, I thought I should just run away and join the circus.

Finally, I decided that I would try it again. This time, I went to the computer and put all of my notes there.  It was a process that almost drove me to drink.  I had such a hard time scrolling up and down to see if I had written something that I thought I had written.  Computers are foreign territory to me. But I wrote, and then, I wrote some more. Then I edited again and again and again.

Finally I thought it was ready. I made a day trip to Chicago at that point, having nothing to do with the book. I knew I would be in airports and waiting rooms and would have time on my hands.  So I printed out my manuscript, stuck it in my bag and away I went.  I worked on it every spare minute.  But the time I got home again, I thought it was ready.  I typed all the corrections into the computer and sat back and basked in the glow of a job well done. I took 2 years to get that done to my satisfaction. Elephants carry baby elephants and give birth in that amount of time!

When the manuscript was finished, I had to get someone else to transfer it on to a disk for me.  I went to Kinco and shipped it off into the unknown. It was like sending a child off to college, I could hardly let go of the thing. I cried all the way back to work that day.  What if it really sucked?  What if they hated it? What if they decided they did not want to publish my book? Yikes!

But they did like it, they did publish it. Yea! Let’s talk about the publisher end of things for a minute. I was very lucky, I had a publisher who was interested in my project. I had made the approach, discussed the idea and was encouraged to tackle the project. Then I submitted the outline and a couple of chapters, and wonder of wonders, they liked what they read! So, away down the highway I went. Not everyone has such an easy time getting into print. Remember that and do not be discouraged.

Anyway, here we are, three years after I started, the book is in print.  People are buying it, liking it, and telling their friends about it. Gosh that was not so hard, I mean really, sorta of like childbirth. You forget how painful it was. I think I might write another one.