All posts by Moondancer Drake

Thoughts on Writing “The Other”

Once again I got the increasingly common question from a white writer about how to write non-white characters (in this particular case how to write Cherokee characters) without getting it wrong and offending someone.

There’s always a risk of “getting it wrong” when you’re dealing with writing about anybody outside of your own experiences. I worry about it all the time as someone who writes characters of different cultures, nationalities, even characters who live with disabilities that are beyond my personal experiences. The best you can do is research, talk to as many people as possible within that group, and when someone from that group tells you said or did something offensive or problemsome, listen and learn. Another important thing to remember is to respect when someone from that group says “No.” It is not their responsibility to educate you, but if you are respectful and open, your chances are pretty good at finding someone more than happy to talk to you.

As far as how and where to gather your research outside of the obvious talking to people from that group and asking respectful questions ( and honestly listen to the answers), go to the experts. Not just a random person from that particular group, but one of their scholars, educators, community outreach folks, etc… For example, every tribe, in my experience, will have departments dedicated to historical and cultural information.

One very important thing to remember is do not assume if you know about one nation’s traditions, that information will suffice for all Native American traditions you write about. It won’t. This may sound like a “duh!” statement, but I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve had a writer send me something that was a mismatch of tribal tradition, region, housing, food details, etc… When I told them Native Americans were not hive minds and the author had to “choose a tribe” they didn’t understand what the big deal was. It’s a huge deal.

For me personally, if you want to write Cherokee, or any contemporary Native American character ( please are plenty of poorly done historical depictions, unless you must do history fiction to keep your muse happy, please set your native character in a contemporary or even futuristic setting) hit up the website of the Cherokee group you want to center the character in, and not only talk to the cultural department, and see what books on the website or by e-mail they recommend to learn more about their traditions, stories, and history. There is a lot of crap out there. The experts within the tribes themselves can help guide you through the minefield of garbage to where the the gems lay.

Many contemporary Native Americans feel invisible in the eyes of the average American, only remembered as seasonal trimming during the thanksgiving holidays or as the mystical advisor for some white hero in movies or books. We need the faces of contemporary Native Americans in the stories read, as well as TV movies or any other sort of popular entertainment. Realistic examples of contemporary of Americans, not caricatures or unrealistic idealizations no one could ever live up to. It’s not as hard as some people think it is. The “Others” in a lot of ways we’re not so very different. It’s important that people remember that we can be heroes too, we can have romances, we can fly spaceships.

Authors do not have to be afraid to write POV characters who are not like them, as long as they’re willing to do the work it takes to do the best they can, and be willing to listen and continue to learn even if they do get something wrong.

Thoughts on Writing Sequels and Natural Order Peek

Lately I’ve been pretty focused on the subject of sequels. Before I started college this last fall I got e-mail from my publisher stating that my sequel for Ancestral Magic (currently named Shadow Magic), didn’t have enough back story. Now I admit, as a woman who enjoys a good fantasy or paranormal book series, nothing irritates me more than feeling like a previous book is being retold in the following one. Fortunately, for my sake and that of my readers would’ve been politely nudging me for the sequel, I finally got over the creative speedbump and now the newest version of Shadow Magic is in the hands of my publisher.

Since then I have been working away on my newest project, National Rebirth, the sequel to my novel that came out last month, Natural Order. It’s crazy hard. It’s been so long since I wrote the first one, I had to really reacquaint myself with the story, and the little details. Timeline was a huge one. The characters, those seem to always remain with me, but setting, dates, even name sometimes, those can be tricky. I found the easiest thing was to become a scholar of the first book, before I even started working on the second. While I have enough back story this time with all slowing the pace? Who knows. But I now have a better respect for the authors I used to be irritated with as I waited for the sequels and continuing sagas of their work.

So for my readers who have enjoyed getting to know the wonderful folks in the community of Green Grove, and who are waiting patiently to revisit there, I invite you to come and get to know the Archiquette family and their newest daughter, Elizabeth.

Here’s a sample of that community from my newly released novel, Natural Order. Elizabeth has recently lost Dusty, the woman she loved, to a violent crime, and now she’s going to live with Dusty’s family in northern Wisconsin. She is pregnant, weighed down by grief, and watching her life seemingly go on without her control. She is currently riding in a truck with Dusty’s brother Orion, a gentle natured Oneida man who has been Elizabeth’s support system since his sister’s death a month ago.

Chapter 3

The farmers’ fields were aflame with crimson and gold fire, and the air was crisp and clean, like a fresh canvas for the painted sunset displayed in the early evening sky. Beth watched the farmhouses and grazing livestock disinterestedly as they passed, at times closing her eyes as the cool air stung her face through the open window. The short nap helped, but now the churning in her stomach made sleep difficult. A wall of cold air was preferable to the waves of nausea that seemed to worsen in the enclosed vehicle. Dusty had tried to get her to drink special teas, but there was a part of Beth that never trusted “alternative” remedies. It was one of several things she and Dusty had spent a long time butting heads about early in their relationship, before deciding just to agree to disagree. As the next gut-turning wave hit, she grimaced, wishing she hadn’t eaten all her saltines that morning.

“I picked you up some ginger ale in town today.” Orion jerked a thumb toward the space behind the seat. “It’s back there if you want it. The soda’s warm, but Dad used to make it for Mitexi when she was pregnant, and it always made her feel better.”

Beth looked over at him in surprise. “How did you know I was having morning sickness?”

“I just pay attention, something my father taught me long ago.” Orion flashed her a boyish grin. “Told me the girls like it when you pay attention.”

Beth laughed and reached behind the seat. She found a flat box that held several glass bottles, and retrieved one. She read the label critically, raising an eyebrow. “All natural organic ginger ale. Sounds tasty.”

Orion chuckled at the sarcasm in her voice. “You’ll get used to it. As I’m sure Dusty told you my family runs an organic farm. Free range chickens, wild game, organically grown fruits and veggies, hormone-free milk. We rarely ever eat anything we don’t make ourselves.”

Beth looked at the bottle, and tipped it, the light from the sunset shimmering inside the amber liquid. She moved the soda around and the bubbles fizzled and popped excitedly. It looked normal enough. “Dusty used to drag this sort of food into the house all the time. I never touched the stuff.”

“Think of it as an adventure.” At the raised eyebrow he received in response, Orion smiled. “I promise. It’ll make you feel better.”

Without her typical fallbacks like saltines and toast, the ride was looking to be a miserable one. As sick as she was, Beth was ready to try anything to make the nausea go away. Besides, she told herself, Orion had taken very good care of her these last few weeks. Beth had learned to trust that, even if his ideas often sounded strange, there was wisdom behind the words that came from his young lips. With one more uncertain glance at the bottle, she unscrewed the cap and raised the glass in toast to him. “Bottoms up.”

She took a long drink. It wasn’t as sweet as what she was used to, but had a bite to it that was interesting. She finished the rest and set the empty container next to her on the seat. As they drove, Beth saw houses and barns that were adorned with intricate symbols. Each was unique, but they were all circular in shape. Some were brightly colored, while others were simply black and white. Common symbols caught her eye, but the details were more difficult to make out from a distance. She remembered reading about the use of similar symbols amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch. They were hexes used to ward off evil magic they believed could affect the health of their family and livestock or cause crops to fail. It was a fascinating superstition, but not a practice she was familiar with this far west.

By the time Beth saw the sign for the Fox River, the nausea was fading. She wasn’t willing to give up on modern medicine just yet, but this time there seemed to be some credence to “traditional” remedies after all. Whether or not she was ready for the full organic experience, Beth got the feeling that over the next few months things were going to be very different. They drove over the Fox River Bridge, speeding past cables that hung down from the steel arch. It reminded her of bars on a birdcage. Looking away from the cables, Beth’s gaze fell to the river below. “Dusty said you all live close to the river. Must be nice.”

“Sometimes.” Orion opened a small rectangular tin with one hand and threw a white mint into his mouth. “But you have to be careful where you fish or swim. There are people trying to clean up the river, but some of the local factories spent several decades screwing it up. Gonna take a lot of work to heal the damage they did to the water.”

He offered her a mint, and she shook her head. Beth remembered Dusty liked those things but they had always been too strong for her. “Heal? Now you sound like Dusty. You talk about the river as if it had been burned or cut, as if it was a real person or something.”

“The river is a living thing.” Orion’s eyes remained on the road, but a deep sadness crept into them. He spoke with great reverence and love. “She’s timeless in her beauty and strength. Without her, none of us can survive. She is sacred to my people, Beth, sacred to anyone who hasn’t forgotten how to listen to the land.”

Beth was uncertain how to respond to this, so she turned back to the open window and watched as the truck turned up a long, dirt road. In many ways, Orion was like Dusty. They both took their beliefs to heart, and it permeated every part of them. Beth envied that conviction. What did she really believe in?

From Moon’s Resource Library

I wondered what to start with on my first day at Pagan and Pen. As an author writing takes up so much of my time, when I’m not being a mom or serving my goddess community, so I figure might as well start there. Most people who are familiar with my work know I write multicultural paranormal fiction with a pagan flair and starring lgbt characters, most often bi and/or lesbian women.

When writing fiction one of the things that is crucial for me is the time spent doing my research. Nothing turns me off of something I’m reading or watching then finding the creator of the art didn’t do their research. I thought it might be fun for me to share a few of the books I most often use when I write. Now this doesn’t mean that when I am dealing with a special setting, culture. Etc… there aren’t tons more books I rely on, but these are used for most of my writing as a whole.

I am very fortunate to have the author of the first book as my teacher for many years. If you only get one book to touch and awaken your deep feminine magics THIS is the one, my sisters.

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Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries: Intuitive Ritual Creation
Author: Ruth Rhiannon Barrett

How can women turn birthday parties, baby showers, and other rites of passage into empowering celebrations brimming with meaning and fiery feminine spirit?

Emphasizing the Dianic Wiccan tradition, Barrett shows women how they can create empowering, transformative rituals that strengthen their profound connection to the Goddess. Instead of providing shortcuts, scripts, or rote rituals, she teaches women how to think like a ritualist. Step by step, readers learn the ritual-making process: developing a purpose and theme, building an altar, preparing emotionally and mentally (energetics), spellcasting, and more. For beginners or experienced ritualists, solitaries or groups, this thorough, engaging guide to the art of ritual-making can help women commemorate every sacred milestone-from menstruation to marriage to menopause-that touches their lives.

“Ruth Barrett brings her many years of experience in teaching and priestessing in the Dianic tradition to this book. Her thoughtfulness, intelligence and depth of understanding make it a valuable resource and will open a new perspective for many Pagans.” -Starhawk, best-selling author of
The Spiral Dance and The Fifth Sacred Thing

Okay, I admit I likely have 35+ herbalism books on my shelves, but if I could only take one with me in a pinch, there’s no doubt, it’d be this one. Clear and concise in its information and instructions, Susan Weed is one of the first authors I think of when it comes to Green Witchery.

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Healing Wise
Author: Susan Weed

Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity.

The next two are self expanitory. I’m obsessive about find the the perfect names for my main and secondary characters, and sometime I go a little crazy with all the names in my book. These two books really help me give into that urge.

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Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What to Name Your Baby Now
Author: Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran

Synopsis:

The authors of “Beyond Jennifer & Jason revolutionized the world of American baby names by giving parents the information and insights they really needed. By identifying current styles and trends–instead of reciting the same old alphabetical lists of name derivations and meanings–their bestselling book changed baby-naming forever. Now this perennial favorite has been updated with new names and more fresh, fun, and indispensable advice. Hip, sweet, and user-friendly, “the best baby-naming book ever written” (“The News Journal) is now even better.

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The Complete Book of Magical Names (new version)
Author: Phoenix McFarland

There is tremendous energy within names. Powerful symbols of identity, inspiration, and intention, names are magical tools of self-transformation. The original version of this classic guide, included in the prestigious New York Times “Reader’s Guide to the Best 10,000 Books in Print,” helped thousands find the perfect name for everything from their child to their coven to their cat. Now, it has been revised and expanded, and is bigger and better than ever.

The New Book of Magical Names presents a dictionary of more than 7,000 names (including pronunciations) taken from modern and ancient sources, including nature, mythology, history, fantasy literature, folklore, and faraway lands. Discover how religious and political movements, long-forgotten customs and social mores have influenced names throughout time. This fascinating guide features:

• The only dictionary of non-Christian names in print
• Names indexed both alphabetically and by the qualities they invoke      (beauty, wealth, power, and more)
• Quizzes to help you figure out your magical name
• Rituals to unleash the power within your name

Whether you are looking for a baby shower gift, initiating a new era in your own life, wanting to find a pen name, a magical name, or even a name for your house, The New Book of Magical Names is your indispensable resource.

Here are just a few of the books that make my life as a writer, and in many ways as a pagan woman, a lot easier.

Ancestral Magic by Moondancer Drake

ancestralmagiclargeTITLE: Ancestral Magic
AUTHOR: Moondancer Drake
ISBN: 978-1-933720-54-8
PUBLISHER: PD Publishing

Available at your local independent bookstore or lgbt owned online stores like SCP

Purchase Here!

BOOK BLURB:

In a world where magic has become no more than childish fantasy or cinematic illusion, secret towns exists beyond the sight and understanding of mundane humanity.

Green Grove is such a town.

Sky Hawthorn is a single mother struggling to support herself and her blind son, on nothing more than a waitress’ salary and hardheaded determination.

Meg has spent years watching Sky stumble through one doomed relationship after another with the wrong men, never daring to reveal the secret love she has for Sky.

When a lawyer arrives to tell Sky that an aunt she’s never known has left her a manor house in a place she’s never heard of, her family’s life is turned upside down and Sky is left with a big choice to make.

At that moment, with that single decision, the three of their lives change forever.

Review #1 – Paper Moon

Review #2 – Rainbow Reviews