dreamscape

Getting into the Groove of Dream Work

Guest posts, Random Musings

The following article has been contributed by the bright intuitive coach, Sonya Tomas. Read, and feel, on.

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Cascading through a minimalist white house. Faceless creatures are clamouring over one another, reaching out for their vampire feast — me. I’m panicking and dodging their intention through cloud-coloured empty rooms. Every move feeling like a dead end. Spotting some exposed beams, I matrix my butt on top of one and feel safer, but doubtful as to how long I’ve got. Having watched the film The Faculty during a thirty-something going on thirteen gab fest with friends the night before, my REM sleep went to town that night on the horror genre. Substituting vampires for (spoiler alert) aliens the tone of my dream echoed the need to escape threatening humanly-challenged thingies.

Dreams are a treasure box of info giving us front row seats to our desires, fears, the repressed and overlooked bits of ourselves, and the unresolved situations that we are ignoring or in the midst of processing. Our dreams become a creative expression influenced by events, our inner knowing, guidance from our higher-self, and our ego. To paraphrase Carl Jung, dreams are a cocktail mix of our external and internal world.  My friends saw the same film I did, but I was the only one who dreamt of vampires that night.  Since we create the script, characters, props, and backdrop of our dreams, Fritz Perls, goes on to point out that dreams are projections based on our predispositions, feelings, experiences, and biases. So, every aspect of the dream is a reflection of a part of ourselves. Dream interpretation can be part of the process towards integrating the fragmented parts and be a motivator for action.

When interpreting dreams it can be easy to resist some aspects. When I took on the perspective of the vampire, I felt a void and loneliness, not malicious intent. This rang true to how I’ve felt in my waking life and its part of my own healing work. It’s precisely the spots that we want to avoid that provide the richest insights. I love interpreting my dreams because it connects me to me. I’ve also appreciated the support of using dream work as part of therapy.  Here are a couple of techniques for getting into the groove of dream interpretation:

  1. Remembering our dreams is the first step! Set the intention before going to bed to remember your dream. You can even ask the Universe to dream for your highest good and to remember your dreams in the morning.
  2. Dreams can fade fast, so keep a dream journal or your phone by your bedside to record as much as you can upon waking. Don’t worry about it making sense, just get it down.
  3. Retell the dream in the present moment. This helps to relive and connect with the feelings of the dream.
  4. Relive the dream from the perspective of the different props, cast and landscape. Consider the emotions and motivations of each character and object. We can discover what we haven’t totally owned in our waking hours from these different points of view.
  5. Your body can be part of dream interpretation too. Make a posture that exemplifies the overall tone of the dream.  Notice where in your body you’re relaxed or tense and what feelings come up.

Be kind with yourself. Dream work is insightful and eye-opening. Know its okay to seek out extra support for your dream work and what it brings to light.  Dreams edge us towards owning our truth. Blessings on your next REM cycle!

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Sonya Tomas is an intuitive coach who enjoys helping others find the beat of their drum. She loves starting the mornings off with a dance party while looking for her hairbrush, followed by tea and a dose of news. An eternal student at heart, she’s embracing the art of progress not perfection. Having overcome her social media shyness, she’s now wondering what the fuss was all about!

Connect with her on her Facebook page or on Twitter @tomas_sonya.

 

 

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writers-block-vintage

Guest Post: A Lesson in The Futility of Shallow Research

Guest posts

Reading Other People is VERY excited to have James Collins, author of “Sol Limitis” and founder of many relics (see BIO below). Thanks for guest blogging, James!!

I’m not going to start this blog by saying how important research is in crafting a solid novel: that would be as patronising as telling an astrophysicist that they might find maths a bit useful, or a Premier League striker that they should practice penalties.

But I am going to recommend to writers of historical fiction that they should hone such a robust foundation in focused research that they end up so bloated with period detail they can’t blink without some leaking out.

I’m an expert procrastinator, so I like research: it inhabits that nebulous no-man’s land between not doing anything and actually starting to be productive. I can generally bury myself in books for some weeks before I start to get that nagging feeling that I should be committing words to screen.

When I started researching my novel Sol Limitis (the first part of an historical fiction trilogy set in Late Roman Britain) I didn’t think it would be so overwhelming; I held a degree in archaeology, and had specialised in Roman Britain. All I had to do, I thought, was spruce up a few old topics using Wikipedia and I’d be ready to go.

I drafted the concept, and a very rough plot, and did some rather generic research and sat down to sketch out the characters and fatten up the storyline.

And then I stopped, for the first time.

I realised I had hardly any clue about my characters, as I had no sense of familiarity with the day-to-day world they were inhabiting. Without the context of their environment I couldn’t really grasp their motivations or personalities. We are all inexorably shaped by our worlds, our predilections and idiosyncrasies and behaviours, and fiction should be no different.

And as I stuttered and stumbled over my characters, and turned back to their world, I realised that my research had been woefully insufficient.

So I hit the books again: poring through stuffy tomes on 4th century British archaeology and Roman military history. I took copious notes and slashed these down into useable abbreviated versions. And this helped a lot: I was able to return to my characters and the plot and expand on them with much more confidence. I started writing my novel.

And then I stopped again.

Because I realised I didn’t have enough ingrained knowledge of the locale. I couldn’t move in 4th Century Britain, because I had no concept of so many things: the types of clothing, the etiquette, the speech, the architecture, the types of shop-fronts, how the roads were paved. What animals were domesticated then? What food was available? How did the social and military hierarchies work?

Virtually every line I tried to write was hampered by a complete lack of knowledge of the minutiae of daily life.  Without a vision of detail sufficient enough to perceive the layers of grime smearing the townhouse windows (and whether they even had glass windows in the 4th Century…) my writing was stuttering, and I was unable to achieve any measure of flow with my prose.

“The Past is a foreign country,” as novelist LP Hartley once wrote.  “They do things differently there.”

And so I went back and did more granular research, soaking up all the details, reading entire volumes on Romano-British life. Only after I felt as though I was fluent in my period did I begin caressing the keyboard again. I realised that I had to be as familiar with the past as a polyglot is with a second language: to be able to think in the lingo and not have to translate on the go. For my writing, I needed to be able to think and visualise as an inhabitant of 4th Century Britain so I didn’t have to pause to look up facts. Only in this way was I able to produce a coherent novel that didn’t shy away from the necessary descriptive passages and didn’t shirk its duty of a realistic and accurate vision of the past.

Of course I still had moments when I needed to stop and mark passages for fact-checking, or dedicate an hour or so to more specific research before I completed a redraft. But this didn’t impede the overall flow of creativity required for pouring out thousands of words into some kind of comprehensible sequence.

I’m not saying this process is unique to historical fiction: of course research is necessary for every half-decent novel. But some genres more than others lend themselves to exposing their author’s lack of diligence in the planning and crafting of their world. I think, at least in part, this quite onerous burden of research is behind the reason why so many works of historical fiction stretch to multiple volumes: it would be a waste of all that effort to produce a single novel and move on! Instead the existing research can be recycled into a trilogy (and beyond!) with relatively minor additional research, which makes it more efficient, and hence satisfying, for the author and thus the reader.

Which, come to think of it, doesn’t suit me all that well: instead of indulging my procrastinatory tendencies, I might have to knuckle down and just get on with part two of my trilogy!

Bio:

James Collins is an author, editor, freelance journalist and recovering archaeologist. Born in Stoke on Trent in 1979, he studied archaeology at the University of Nottingham and went on to work as an archaeologist in the UK and abroad. Tired of wallowing in muddy holes for a living, he survived various unsavoury menial jobs before catching his breath in the construction and renewables industries for more years than was healthy. He is currently working towards being self-employed and to be able to get paid for doing what he loves: writing. James also plays and teaches classical guitar and spends most of his spare time studying the Daoist arts.

Website: http://www.jamesdcollins.co.uk

Twitter: @JamesDomCollins

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesDomCollins

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14923560.James_Collins

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/James-Collins/e/B01B7UMI6A

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Guest Blog: Surviving Friendship by Cat Acewal

Guest posts

How do you survive the death of a friendship?  I’m not being rhetorical, it’s a real question.  It’s a tricky one too because this is a living, breathing thing—this friendship.  The person has not had a sudden heart attack or been hit by an oncoming bus.  No, this person still exists. Not only in my mind, but in flesh and blood; is a real walking-talking-breathing person who grocery shops and curses (in Spanish) when she stubs her big toe.  This person is no figment of my imagination.

And that’s too bad really.  In a way, you know it would be easier (not that I wish her ill-will because that’s just non-sense reserved for the ID channel, for which I have been watching far too much of lately).  If it were just some hallucination though, I could probably mold her into who I want her to be (though truth be told, she was damn close already), make her say what I long to hear and the demise of our friendship would not be of issue at all.

Ah, for life to be that simple.  Maybe it is true what they say:  ignorance is bliss.  If this is so, I should simply let go, stop fighting with all my might and let myself wake up in a place called Bellevue where tranquilizers are given like candy, in an attempt to restore balance to a population who are known as ‘guests’.  Of course, I will not allow it to be that easy, this thing called life.  This thing called pain.  Anguish.  There are a number of names for it, but they all call for the same thing:  Endurance.  I must endure.

My friendship, the friendship, OUR friendship, because it was a two-way street, and even she can’t deny that—began fifteen years ago, when we were both other people.  That’s a lifetime ago, fifteen years, as it should be if you are on the path to evolving and living the productive life we are all taught to covet.  It was at work—where many a relationship begin—that we met briefly one day and her sunny disposition struck my pessimistic demeanor with a thunderbolt.  It penetrated my tough exterior (the one that we all knew I was wearing because I had been hurt in a previous life; that coat that we all pick up and put on in an attempt to avoid such hurt) and made me laugh and think and examine life’s ways.  It was fast and furious, this friendship, most likely due to in-your-face circumstances that we encountered.  Among hers:  a miscarriage and a separation from a domineering husband whose attempt to control her like a puppet on a string only filled her with strength in the end.  But I was there before any of that.  Before she had the self-knowledge to know your worth is not dictated by how short your skirt is or how-low-can-you-go knit tops.  She, of course, was the mainstay for my entrance into true adulthood.  An example of how to be responsible and accountable.  To this day, I am still following in her footsteps, trying to buy an apartment, trying to save for retirement, trying to be the adult I never feel that I can be.

She was the practical to my whimsical, the steady to my wobbly legs that had never felt the ground beneath them for any significant amount of time.  My large family (though small in my acceptance of them) became hers and her big dysfunctional family mine.

We shared many things, most of which individual to each our person.  I like roller coasters, black olives, and Persian cats (those I will admit, I am probably obsessed with—at least two in particular) while she can get nauseous in a car (and forget about a plane—outright distraught), counts olives (black or green) as one of five hated foods, and though she enjoys the look of a Persian, it needs to be at a distance, as their fur can send a blow to her already compromised lungs, leading her into asthma mode (something for which she never had before meeting me or my furry twosome).

But all these differences, these contrasting views did not come between our relationship.  To the contrary, they seem to define it.  And strengthen it.  In fact, we always were coming to the same conclusion about ourselves:  that we were complete opposites.  In EVERY way it seemed.  She has dark, curly hair; me, wavy blonde hair.  She has a larger-than-most bosom with no hips or butt to speak of, while I have a smaller-than-most bosom with large hips and a butt.  She has four siblings, I have none.  She is a thinker, a ponderer with a slow, deliberate way about her.  I can decide to move to Tahiti in an afternoon and be packed up by next day’s end (okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea).

The traits that matter, the ones who make us who we are (and as much as I like black olives—consuming them doesn’t make me a better or worse human being) is where our likeness’ lie.  We are both intelligent, albeit on different aisles of the spectrum (her smarts are more traditional and analytical while mine are creative and can fall a little outside the box); we both are moral individuals who care about other people and believe in a higher power (she again is more traditional—a struggling Catholic—I see all Catholics as struggling because I see that dogma—any religious dogma really—as unobtainable; me, someone who prays, who believes, but follows my own code of right and wrong); we both have a sense of humor and love to laugh—and isn’t laughter really the best medicine of all; and finally we are both human.  We fuck up.  We make mistakes—BIG, gigantic mistakes and we forgive and we forget and we move on.  At least I hope we do.

Because truly, I’d hate to move on without my best friend.

Be sure to check out Reading Other People later this week for another guest blog from this awesome author.

Cat Acewal is a writer who splits her time between Los Angeles and New York.

Acewal previously worked as a social worker, and it was that time—those stories—that ignited her aspirations to write suspense fiction. Kin-Krazy is her debut novel and the result of such ambitions.

 

Fright Fest 2015

T.W. Maplass Covering Fright Fest UK 2015 – Days 3-5

Film, Guest posts, Halloween

DAY THREE

My most anticipated film of the festival was FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD. If you know your comics, you will understand how crucial this title was in the shaping of Marvel and DC. Paul Goodwin and Sean Hogan teamed up to deliver a funny and insightful talking heads retrospective documentary about the rise, fall, and rise again of the cult sci-fi and fantasy comic. Hogan and co managed to gather the vast majority of important players, past and present – Alan Moore (WATCHMEN) being the most notable absentee.

Many of the supremely talented artists from the 2000AD stable went on to write and illustrate some of the most seminal stories in the superhero multiverse and much besides. As one commentator from the documentary stated, ‘Without 2000AD, there would be no Vertigo.’

The main slot on Saturday evening certainly justified its position. RABID DOGS is a fast and loose remake of Mario Bava’s 1974 project (which was actually completed by his son after Bava’s death). Eric Hannezo directs this brutal French thriller about a bank heist gone awry, where the armed robbers are forced to take hostages. A delightful sting in the tale will leave audiences reeling long after the final credits.

Rabid Dogs

Rabid Dogs

Fright Fest 2015

Guest Feature: T.W. Malpass Covers “Frightfest” – The UK’s #1 Horror Film Festival

Guest posts, Halloween

We here at Reading Other People are so thankful and grateful for T.W. Malpass’s guest blog series highlighting his adventures at Frightfest. With Halloween just days away, it’s a perfect time to to feature Malpass’s reviews and experiences of the festival.

T.W. Malpass resides in Staffordshire in the North of England and is an author of horror and dark  fantasy fiction. His work is often noted for its social commentary and references to popular culture.  His love for horror dominates his life, and he can often be seen prowling the grounds of his local cemetery at night, searching for any poor soul who will listen to him recite the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. This guy’s a strange bird, but someone who instantly becomes your best friend when you need to win a movie quiz.

Currently, Malpass is due to release his prequel to the Fallen Gods trilogy, Fallen Gods: Origins, as well as a controversial, unnerving short story with a feminist tract, which combines FGM and reality TV.

He occasionally writes freelance articles and movie reviews and lives in his family home with his equally crazy dog, Biscuit.

When he’s not writing, you can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/T.W.Malpass

Or sometimes here: https://twitter.com/TW_Malpass

Check us out tomorrow when we feature Malpass’s first guest blog.

Malpass and Kane Hodder - that's right, Jason Voohrees himself.

Malpass and Kane Hodder – that’s right, Jason Voohrees himself.

Danny Writing

More With Author Andrew Joyce: Part 2

Guest posts

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Nick has been kind enough to allow me a little space on his blog to promote my latest book, MOLLY LEE. It’s averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon. It is also available in paperback. Please check it out.

I would love to tell you all about it, but instead, I have to turn the writing duties over to my dog whose name is Danny. You see, he can be pretty insistent at times. We recently had some excitement in our lives and he can’t wait to tell you about it. For what it’s worth, this is a true story. And when you are finished reading it, please click on the link to my book and check it out. Danny is not the only genius in our household.

 

Danny and the Three Monsters

Hello dog fans, it is I, Danny the Dog! I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been helping my human, whose name is Andrew, look after three Labrador retrievers. What a nightmare! There is Chloe, who is fourteen months old, and then there is Beau and Hank. They are both four months old and they are holy terrors. They live on a boat down at the end of the dock. Their human was going out of town and he asked my human to look after them and Andrew, being the idiot that he is, said yes.

First of all, I want to say to Jeff, the human that lives with the three monsters, don’t ever leave them in Andrew’s care again. I wouldn’t trust him to look after a taco, much less three dogs.

The trouble started right away. Jeff had two crates (humans call them crates; I call them cages) for Beau and Hank because, as I’ve said, they are holy terrors. Andrew went over to take them for their first walk after Jeff left, and of course, he has to take me along to help out. Anyway, Andrew gets them out of the crates and is getting them off the boat when clumsy Hank falls into the water.

Let me paint the picture for you. It was nighttime. It was dark. The water was dark and Hank is black. Andrew and I could see nothing of Hank. We could only hear him splashing around. The dock is about five feet above the water so Andrew couldn’t get him out by standing on the dock. Being the genius that he is (just kidding), Andrew got on the swim platform, which—for you landlubbers—is attached to the back of a boat and is only a foot above the water.

Now this is where Andrew’s “genius” comes into play. He took off his glasses and placed them on the transom so they wouldn’t slip off while he was bending over to pull Hank out of the water. He called to Hank. Hank swam over and Andrew got him onto the boat. Then Andrew went to get his glasses and they were not there or anywhere else on the boat. It looked as though Beau knocked them into the water because he had his paws up in that general vicinity while he was watching Andrew rescue his brother (they’re twins). All this in the first five minutes of Andrew looking after the monsters. And it only got better, and by better, I mean worse. I had a ball watching Andrew trying to cope for four days.

On to the next disaster, but first a side note. For some reason Beau is enthralled with me. The damn dog wouldn’t leave me alone. He put his snoot in my face, ran around me, bounced around me; he was a royal pain in my rear end. Finally, I had to growl at him and give him a little nip on his snoot to get some peace.

Now back to Andrew’s genius. We got the dogs back on the boat without further mishaps. Andrew fed them and all was well. But then Andrew decided not to put Hank and Beau in their crates. He felt sorry for them being cooped up like that. Big mistake!

The next morning when we went to get them, there was poop everywhere. The whole floor was covered in it. The babies had gotten into the dog food bag, ripped it open and ate it all. Then they pooped everywhere and walked in it. They got it on the couch, on the sliding glass doors, on everything. I think even on the ceiling. Needless to say, after spending two hours cleaning it all up, Andrew changed his mind about the crates.

Last night we were hanging out. Andrew was staring into space because he did not have his glasses and could not read a book or see the computer screen. I was on the computer starting this story when Chloe came onto our boat. She’s always coming here and stealing my water bowl! To date, she has taken five. But she should have been locked up on her own boat! Andrew got up, looked out, saw Jeff, and said, “Thank God! Thank God!” I barked the same thing. Our days of taking care of the monsters were over. Thank God!

P.S. This morning Jeff came over with Andrew’s glasses. Beau had taken them and hidden them in his stash place.

Guest Blog

Guest Post: A Few Words From Author Andrew Joyce – Part 1

Guest posts

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. Nick has been kind enough to allow me a little space on his blog to promote my new book, MOLLY LEE. The story is a female-driven account of a young naive girl’s journey into an independent, strong woman and all the trouble she gets into along the way.

Now you may possibly be asking yourself, What is a guy doing writing in a woman’s voice? And that’s a good question. I can only say that I did not start out to write about Molly; she just came to me one day and asked that I tell her story.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

This is the description from MOLLY LEE:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

As I had wondered whatever became of Huck and Tom, I also wondered what Molly did when she found Huck gone.

I know this has been a long-winded set up, but I felt I had to tell the backstory. Now I can move on and tell you about Molly.

As stated earlier, Molly starts out as a naive young girl. Over time she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.

With each setback, Molly follows that first rule she set against self-pity and simply moves on to make the best of whatever life throws her way. From working as a whore to owning a saloon, from going to prison to running a ranch, Molly plays to win with the cards she’s dealt. But she always keeps her humanity. She will kill to defend herself, and she has no problem killing to protect the weak and preyed upon. However, when a band of Indians (for instance) have been run off their land and have nowhere else to go, Molly allows them to live on her ranch, and in time they become extended family.

This is from a review on Amazon:

“A young female in nineteenth-century rural America would have needed courage, fortitude, and firm resolve to thrive in the best of circumstances. Molly Lee possesses all of these, along with an iron will and an inherent ability to read people accurately and respond accordingly.”

I reckon that about sums up Molly.

I would like to say that I wrote MOLLY LEE in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have three editors (two women and one guy). They kept me honest with regard to Molly. When I made her a little too hard, they would point out that she had to be softer or show more emotion in a particular scene.

I set out to write a book where every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I wanted the reader to be forced to turn to the next chapter. And I pretty much accomplished that, but I also wrote a few chapters where Molly and my readers could catch their collective breath.

One last thing: Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do writing my stories. Sometimes more.

It looks as though I’ve used up my allotted word count (self-imposed), so I reckon I’ll ride off into the sunset and rustle up a little vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime).

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me over.

Andrew

* Please visit Reading Other People tomorrow for Part 2 of Andrew’s guest post, culminating in my review of Molly Lee on October 7th.