The Norse Gods Love Geeks And Other Things

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Now, while there is an American football team called the Vikings, you will not find a truer statement than the one I have made. The Norse gods love geeks.

And why is this, you might ask? According to remaining sources (those that weren’t destroyed by ancient Christians), the Norse gods were, and are, warriors. The gods are the epitome of masculinity, the goddesses the epitome of grace, beauty, and mystery. Since when would the likes of Thor (as depicted in the Marvel movies) ever dare to pick up a book and read or at least educate himself on the nuances on how to receive an email?

The answers are quite simple.

Geeks have kept the Norse gods and religions alive for decades now, starting with Tolkien and his world-building. Geeks have kept the Norse alive in various forms of fictional writing, from epic hero adventure novels to bursting with life and color stories in comic books and video games. RPGs like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Star Ocean take very heavy cues from the Norse mythos. (Seriously. In Final Fantasy VII, you’re on Midgard, which in the Norse mythos, is Earth. In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning’s summon/magical partner is a creature called Odin that can turn into a steed. In Star Ocean, the entire magical system is based on runes, and, in Star Ocean 4, on the planet Aeos, there’s a cave called the Urd Falls Cave. For those wondering about Dragon Quest, the cue is game four. It’s divided into chapters, and the first chapter centers on a soldier named Ragnar.) The Japanese even created series called Odin Sphere and Valkyrie Profile. How heavily influenced by the Norse mythos, I’m not 100% certain as I’ve never played them,

The Norse gods love storytellers. On long, cold wintry nights, everyone gathered around the hearth for a good story, for singing, and for dancing. Norse culture is steeped heavily in story-telling. Storytellers keep the heroics and the traditions of those old ways alive, and geeks, by tradition, are storytellers in their own ways, be it gaming adventures, writing, or art. The spirit of the warrior lives within each geek.

This was something that’s been on my mind for a while now, and so I thought I’d share.

I’m currently also in a state of flux. My excitement over the new pen name has faded (as stated in a previous entry about names). I’m still sticking with Raven Ember for a while longer. Names are such fickle things, and the next name I want to be as true to me as possible.

Other things happening. I’m pondering either a new critique site (I have a recommendation for one, thanks to a fellow Scribbler) or simply seeking out beta readers. I’ve noticed a few things about Scribophile that are making the site rather unsatisfactory, and it’s very strongly related to the stance people take on critiques. I’m not going into details right this moment. I’m not even 100% certain I’m leaving the site just yet. I am simply biding my time. I have learned a lot from my time at Scribo. There does come a time when we outgrow what a critique group can provide us.

In the meantime, for my fellow Tulsa-area writers, I’m going to try and get a writing group going again on Wednesdays. The basic idea is to get together and focus on writing. Current location would be at the Bixby IHOP (I work there still) around 2-3 pm in the afternoon, and it would last for about 2-3 hours (no later than 5:3-6 pm – I have a class I’m attending every second and fourth Wednesday of each month). For people to bring: laptop, pens, notebooks, and a little bit of cash for either food, beverages, or both. I’m open to location changes as well. I’m simply choosing IHOP for the moment because I’m often there every Wednesday. Drop me a line to let me know if you’re interested.

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Our Own Limitations

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There is this phenomenon in the United States – might be in other countries, too; my friends overseas will need to chime in as to whether or not they’ve heard this from like-minded individuals as the ones I’m about to present – that comes up only when people like myself talk about traveling to other parts of the world with friends and family. The summer I’d returned to Michigan, it happened twice. In fact, my mother has said this, too, and she’s been to a good portion of the U.S.

“I’d rather travel the U.S. first.”

I got to thinking about this yesterday morning on my way to work, mainly because I was trying to settle (still am) on where I want to write about in my next Dream Travel blog entry. It also occurred to me that part of my desire to not travel the U.S. first is because, well, I’ve already traveled most of the U.S. first, with a couple of excursions into Canada for good measure. I’d left the state of Michigan for the first time in 1992, went to Texas for the first time in 1997, and, between 2000-2004, traveled to parts of the East Coast and finally to California. In 2011, I finally visited Utah for that writing workshop with David Farland. I moved to the Seattle area in 2014 and currently reside in Tulsa. There are very few states right now that I haven’t visited.

Mind you, most of the traveling I’d done was sustained by me having a good paying job, but I was still able to make this a reality for myself. So it’s one of those things now: If you want to travel the U.S. first (if you happen to be a U.S. citizen), then I have to ask what’s stopping such people from doing so? Time? Money? Good reasons, but I also wonder, based on my own personal experiences, if it isn’t more a fear of diversity and being exposed to things that will shake one’s core foundation and belief system. The people I know who say such things are close and narrow-minded individuals. They’ll listen to someone like me (because I’m family) but will still have the thoughts, oh you poor deluded thing, that’s not how this world works, if they’re not saying it to my face. And, yes, that’s happened to me, too. These are people who will say that they’re not racist, so long as people of color fit into their narrow world view and way of thinking.

Now I have traveled the United States or at least a good portion of it. It’s been a fun journey, and I’m of the mind to get myself into a financial position where I can do so again, just would need money for food and fuel and maybe hotel accommodations – I have an S.U.V. so packing blankets and pillows to sleep somewhere is actually not a big deal for me. There are a few places I’ve not yet been to but the notion of traveling the U.S. first over other countries? I’ve already done that and have done so without realizing that, yes, I’ve done so. (Internet friends and conventions are the best!)

The prevailing attitude of the “U.S. first” for travel just makes me think of how we limit ourselves and in so many ways. We can make possible whatever we set our minds to get things done. Yes, traveling the U.S. isn’t as easy as simply getting in your car and leaving for a weekend. Maybe for the next town over or even a trip out of the state but from one end of the country to another? Yeah. I get it. Finances are a pain to deal with, but, as I said before, it’s totally possible to do.

The same goes for writing, my friends. If this is your “U.S. first” of travels, start your planning for your road trip.

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

 

The Name I Have Always Wanted

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I am on an interesting, multi-faceted journey, personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m coming into my own at the right times. I’m still looking for the right pen name for myself, one that will truly convey who I am and what I am about in all aspects of my life.

Not to worry. I will still be Raven Ember for a while now. The former pen name no longer fit me, and I’m not about to go back to it. Raven Ember will get me by, and, yes, I jumped on the name change quite quickly after going through a few possibilities. It’s a temporary fix at this moment, one I’m happy with for the most part. It’s satisfied the need for a change.

In any case, there is a name I have loved for a very long time. Victoria. One of my main female characters is named that, and she’s appeared in a few of my fanfiction pieces as well. Mind you, I’ve changed the spelling to more fantasy-esque, but, well, I am in a transition phase in my life. I’m forty years old, I don’t look it, I don’t act it, and I know I’m in a transition phase. Ever growing outward.

I am in no rush to be changing my pen name. That’s mainly because I’m also on the lookout for a name to suit me in real life as well as professionally. Only the people in my real life know my real name, and the people I meet even casually love to remark that my real name is beautiful, unaware of the scars this name has brought me. It was an unusual name for a young girl in the 1980s, one that you would think people would remember, but they would forget it. When I do people that I don’t like my real name, even as they’ve told me they think it’s a very pretty or beautiful name, they’re shocked, and they’re like why? It’s hard for many people to imagine the anger and frustration (and hidden under the surface hurt) that my real name has caused me. And, spiritually speaking, it’s not even my real name. My father named me, unaware of who and what I was upon my birth. I’ve had many people tell me it would be bad to change my name, it would hurt him for me to do so, without them understanding that my name is very important to me, very sacred to me, so much so that keeping something that has wounded me is simply unwise.

I’m finding the name change, while rushed, has been good for me. I feel stronger and confident. And I love it.

A Sickness In My Heart

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There is a woman I used to speak with, a woman who dreamt of becoming a successful author. This is not an unusual story in and of itself when it comes to authors. We dream of being as big as Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyers, those people who are actually quite rare in the writing world. For some reason, authors included, people have it in their heads that authors must be poor and remain poor, despite our ways to articulate the thoughts and visions in our minds. We’re talented, dedicated, but broke and working other jobs, pursuing other avenues of revenue because authors don’t equate into being worth the money for the joy they bring to readers. I watched this woman tear herself apart trying to become marketable, change her style and her genre at times, and to write in a style at one point that made me think her story had come straight from a Weis and Hickman novel. (To note here: The only people I ever want to see writing exactly like Weis and Hickman are Weis and Hickman. Otherwise, the author has completely destroyed a unique voice in writing.) All of this because people were trying to tell her how they had gotten themselves published, how they had gotten themselves agents, and from agent rejection. Also not unusual is the amount of time and energy people like myself put into encouraging her to keep going, to keep the faith, and to never give up on her dreams. She then claimed burnout, which, yes, is very real for everyone on this planet. Years later, she’ll still claim she’s still too burned out from trying to get things done the old-fashioned way to consider trying returning back to writing, to even consider trying things another way because the times have changed, and authors have more options when it comes to publishing, because Amazon has, indeed, changed the publishing world. I have encouraged her in the past to try a different critique forum – I tried her critique forum because she was claiming some success with them in finding her weak spots but found the atmosphere to be too toxic for my liking. I recommended the place that’s been working for me and why I wrote about finding critique sites that work best for the authors instead of feeling like one needs to be in one place only in order to succeed. I have even encouraged her to try self-publishing. What better way for someone who wants to be traditionally published at some point to try her mettle on the world by testing the indie market for viability? That’s part of why I started to self-publish in the first place. I have even asked to read her first novel she completed and queried out because it truly did sound fascinating to me.

I would reach out to her, ask her to try again, and that I would, for sure, buy her works if she decided to self-publish. Because, in truth, I would. I have indie authors in my Kindle cloud I would love to read. I have more I would like to discover. I believe with all of my heart and soul in supporting indie authors who are passionate about their stories, who continue to write because that’s what’s calling out to them, and because they care about their craft, they’re not just out to make a quick buck. However, past experience has taught me she’s unwilling to listen to my words and my encouragement, unwilling to even try because it’s stuck in her head things must be done a certain, and she’s an author this world needs. I know that she is. I feel it in my bones and in my soul. There are only so many times I can do this before I’m perceived as being pushy and overbearing instead of passionate and believing, yet, in spiritual terms, her guides have reached out to me repeatedly to get her back on that path. I have had to let this go time and time again, even as I know there are people out there who need her stories. I really do want to reach out to her, though, at times and just plead one final time for her to give my critique forum a try, to try self-publishing, to see where it can take her on that writing path. I want to know how her life is going as well because, at one point, I also considered her a friend, though I question whether she saw me the same or not. I will probably never know at this point, and I write this in an effort to once more let it go and be at peace with myself.

There is a man I used to call my dad. Once upon a time, I used to be a daddy’s girl. My parents are long since divorced, and my biological father has always had mental and emotional issues. I once told my counselor I thought he was manic-depressive due to his mood swings. He still suffers from depression, from feeling like his children don’t love him or care for him. I have dealt with tears over the phone because he’s gotten so emotional, from crying at the drop of a “I love you so much” and rolling my eyes at the display. Note: I possess zero doubts about my biological father loving me. However, I have spent hours upon hours trying to convince him that I do love him, that I do care about him, but my inquiries about his health was always met with a “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine” or a “I didn’t think it was that important”. I get brushed off on the important things. Most of 2017, when he reached out to me, it was to find out when I was going to retrieve my belongings. Maybe an inquiry or two about my health, but nothing about my job, my career, or anything else. When I finally could arrange the time, after gaining a new car and dealing with that new financial arrangement, I was treated like an inconvenience because he was entering his busy period for his new job, never mind it was still an inconvenience for me due to the type of work I’d maintained for two years along with gaining secondary employment.

He texted me about my grandmother’s death instead of calling, something that has not set well with anyone but me (I didn’t want to hear him blubbering over the phone about his mother’s death). I found out through Facebook and an email about my stepmother’s death. And I still retain my Michigan phone number. I’ve maintained that same number for two years now. I can even tell him that, and I’d be met with a “I wasn’t sure”. He’s so unsure that he doesn’t bother to try. And I know there are people who will gladly list the ways I can become a better daughter to him, a better friend to the woman who was so insecure about herself, despite all of her cockiness about her abilities, and I want those people to know this: I have tried all of those things and more. I have gotten on my biological father’s case repeatedly about his health, I have tried to express to the woman that I see her as more than just a wannabe author, and I have backed off. I have done everything I could, and I have been met with dismissal, neglect, and abandonment.

Meanwhile, as I have done all of this, backing off when and where needed, I have neglected my own writing career, my own emotional well-being. It has finally hit me that I have suffered for all of this energy I have sent out, so much so, my very spirit weeps at night as I lay down to sleep. The weeping has been an ongoing thing for two years now, and I now know the root cause. I have put more time into the care of others than I have for myself, and I could have accomplished so much more if I had put just as much effort into myself as I have them. I have yearned for people to do for me as I have done for them when it comes to love and positive energy. I have listened to others where my biological father has been concerned, about not severing ties because I might one day regret it when he dies, but the pendulum always, always, always swings both ways.

I expect no change from my biological father. I also expect no change from the woman. For her, though, should she wish to try again, should she actually read this and hear with her soul and heart my words, my door is open. Change begins with us, and part of my change for myself is to feed my heart and soul with love, my mind with positive thoughts and energy, and to put as much effort, if not more, into my overall well-being and career as I have them. This is my purge of the negative harm I have caused myself.

I refuse to drain and hurt my spirit any further. I do love these people, but I have my own things to accomplish.
Here’s to a healing and restorative 2018.

So This is 2018. Bigger Adventures Await

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Four days into this new year, and things are still topsy turvy in the world. Hey, people and situations don’t change overnight just because we want them to, right? It’d be nice if they did, but then we might also find ourselves at a disadvantage because we’re not behaving how others want us to behave, which would be docile and meek most of the time, becoming doormats for those who wish to trample over us. Change is a double-edged sword that can and will cut both ways if one isn’t careful or mindful when using the sword.

Still, change is upon some of us, myself included. People are crossing my path, sometimes bringing ideas with them and sometimes just being a reminder of the type of person I wish to avoid becoming. Some even help me to become more aware, more awakened than ever before. And that’s good.

There’s going to be a lot happening this year. I speak not only on a personal, emotional, mental, and spiritual level for myself but for the world as a whole. What’s going to happen for the entire world remains to be seen. I hope that many wounds that have been inflicted upon our communities start to heal, that we open up dialogues instead of finger pointing and blaming, which gets us absolutely nowhere.

For myself, I know of a few challenges laying in wait for me. And I’ve already overcome them.

Life is a little slow at this moment for me, but I have no doubts things will pick up. Until then, writing is on my agenda, writing and tea-crafting. The witch is in.