It’s a Conspiracy, I tell you

My sister has written humorous book about lesbian life. It is called the Dyke Diagnostic Manual. In it she deals with the tricky question of how do you identify and name a group of lesbians.

My sister’s book of humorous insight into lesbian life, drawn from years of personal experience.

 

After looking throughout nature she decides the best model for lesbian group behavior is geese. They are both matriarchal but have a relatively egalitarian structure. A group of geese is called a gaggle, so a group of lesbians must therefor be named a laggle.

 

Lately I have been spending more time with fellow writers. I am in three different writing groups that I attend regularly. What do you call a group of writers?

 

What animal is at times wise and at times foolish? What animal can be dark and mysterious but also loud and raucous? A crow, of course. And what do you call a group of crows? A murder.

 

But writer’s don’t do anything, they just write about it. So writers can’t be called a murder, we are only a conspiracy.

 

"A conspiracy of writers" I like the ring to that.

“A conspiracy of writers” I like the ring to that.

 

 

The Story of Babi

Babisbottle

There have been two books I have read that really got under my skin because of the situation I was in when I read them. One of those books was Russalka by C.J. Cherryh. The book is set in ancient Russia. The two main characters have to flee town and they become trapped by a wizard in the woods. Most of the action takes place in a two room cabin in the woods. This being ancient times there is nothing more than candlelight. Every night they try to leave when the wizard falls asleep but they are foiled by one of the wizards servants, Babi.

Babi is an earth spirit. The wizard feeds Babi with offerings of vodka. When the characters try to leave Babi is waiting for them. He appears as something between a large black dog and a bear. When they go inside it is as if a large bear has made it’s den in the cellar underneath the cabin. The cabin itself bucks and twists as if a large beast is underneath.

I read the book just after my ex and I moved out into the country. We had a trailer but no regular electricity or running water. During the day we would work the land, planting gardens, clearing woods and working towards building out permanent home. At night I would sit up and read by candlelight.

About this time “something” started to visit our trailer at night. It would bump and then run alongside the edge of the trailer. It was big and heavy enough to rock the trailer slightly. The first time it happened we were certain that the neighbor’s cows had escaped. But when we went out with a flashlight there was nothing there.

This continued for some time. Some nights it would sound like a deer in rut running it’s antlers back and forth along the trailer. Other nights it would just be the bumping. Often there was a sense of a presence.

It matched the story almost too well and I started reading sections of the book to my ex. She agreed, the similarities were eery.

So the next time I was in town I bought a bottle of vodka. That night I filled a shot glass and set it on the outside edge of a window. I sat it up high enough that the chickens couldn’t disturb it. In the morning the glass was still there, undisturbed. The vodka however was gone.

After that he was our friend. Babi became a friendly helpful spirit on our land. I learned as time went on that our Babi like peppermint Schnapps even better than vodka. Many nights after working all day I would sit on the front porch, pour a glass of schnapps and then drink a toast in Babi’s honor. You could almost feel the sense of contentment rolling off the darkness.

As the years went by many friends and visitors had encounters with Babi as well. Once we left the chicken cage in the shade and then we were stuck in town longer than expected. We were terrified that the sun would have moved and the chickens would be scorched in the sun and died. We came home to find that something had undone the latch and let the chickens out so they could get in the shade. More than once something chased coyotes off our property. Visitors would see a black dog-like form checking them out or have something bump their tent at night. It was never unfriendly.

And that is the story of Babi. I still keep a bottle of vodka or schnapps handy whenever I go out to the land and I always leave him a little something.

 

There’s a bear on my altar

Altarbear

I’ve added a small carved bear to my Lakshmi altar in honor of Bear Naked’s release. As you can see I have all my books on the altar already, along with a small Buddha, a set of prayer beads and a carved Rooster. The rooster symbolizes the traits I need to develop in order to succeed in my writing career.

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, prosperity and beauty. She governs both spiritual and material success. I pray to her regularly. Believe it or not I am not praying for huge riches, merely enough to make this writing gig to become my full time job. I love writing and I would love nothing more than to devote my life to bringing new stories to my readers.

I have had some success already with my YA stuff, which can be found on my other page, racheleliason.net. I hope that my fantasy writing does even better. Time will tell. In the meantime you can still pre-order Bear Naked for a discount over at thewordverve and pick up my free short story on this site.

The Soundtrack of Bear Naked

Every story or novel I write has its own unique feel to it. In the case of my upcoming YA novel, Country Girls, it was the main character’s voice. She dominates the action and she narrates as well. I found her voice actually changed my writing style, for that book at least.

I have started listening to music while I write recently. It helps drown out the distractions. It doesn’t really matter what the music is. It’s just background noise anyway.

Then I started planning Bear Naked. For some reason this novel required a very specific soundtrack. I found myself listening to more folk music, especially a couple of smaller bands that I know. My favorite local band, and one of my favorite bands period, was top of the list of tracks I have been listening to. Thankful Dirt is the duo of Molly and Darren Matthews (pictured below).

A local indie/folk band. I listened to their album almost incessantly while writing Bear Naked.

A local indie/folk band. I listened to their album almost incessantly while writing Bear Naked.

One of my favorite bands back in the mid-nineties was Tempest. They are a celtic rock band from Norway. When I conceived the character of Uncle Darren, I knew he too would be a Tempest fan. I also knew I had to dig out some of my old Tempest to listen to while writing. There was one album in particular that I listened to frequently while working on this novel, Turn of the Wheel. The folk ballad Bonden og Krakka is even in the novel itself.

There were other albums and artists that I listened to. Overall the soundtrack has a distinctly folk feel to it. Here is a list of the artist and albums I regularly listened to while writing Bear Naked.

  1. Thankful Dirt by Thankful Dirt
  2.  Turn of the Wheel by Tempest
  3.  Boxes and Bags by Coyote Grace
  4.  Cross of Changes by Enigma
  5.  Touch by Sarah McLaughlin
  6.  Under the Pink by Tori Amos

The first three albums are folk rock. They are smaller bands that I have seen in person. The first album and the last three all take me back to the mid to late nineties. At that time I was active in the local Renaissance fairs and festivals. This is the life I envision Amanda and her Uncle Darren living.

I listened to other CD’s at times, depending on my mood and inclination. But this list is the music I choose most often and the stuff that put me in the mood of this book. I am working on Bear Naked Volume Two: Wolf Camp currently and it is interesting how this list is changing and evolving. I will post a list for that work when the time comes.

A New Novel and a New Page

I am setting up a new page for my new pen name and novel. The pen name is R. J. Eliason and the Novel is Bear Naked.

I will be using R. J. Eliason for all my adult fantasy and science fiction writing. I am not using it to hide my identity or my writing. R. J. (short for Rachel Jean) is close enough to my real name that friends, family and fans can easily find my adult fantasy. But at the same time it is different enough from Rachel Eliason.

I publish Contemporary Young Adult novels under my given name, Rachel Eliason. Some readers love contemporary novels, novels set in the real world of today. Some lovers readers love fantasy, novels set in other worlds. A few readers love both. For those with a particular taste in writing they can tell at a glance which kind of book my latest release is.

The novel is Bear Naked. It is the beginning of a shapeshifter series. Amanda Burnson is a young woman living in Dubuque Iowa. She is starting her junior year in high school. She lives on the edge of town with her Uncle Darren and her younger brother. A neo-pagan who spends most of the summer traveling to fairs and festivals, overweight with an odor problem and best friend to an effeminate boy, Jay; there are many reasons why the other kids tease her.

But this year is different. Jay has a new friend, a gender queer kid named Corey/Courtney. A boy named Connor, who last year was as loner, now seems calm and friendly – a huge change. He has a group of new friends who quickly befriend Amanda and Jay as well. Connor and Amanda grow closer as the year progresses.

Things are looking up for Amanda, except that there are people trying to kill her. And she’s starting to suspect that Connor and his friends might not be exactly human…

Bear Naked, a shapeshifter novel, available soon.

Bear Naked, a shapeshifter novel, available soon.

The novel is being published through the Wordverve.  My prior books have been completely “Indie”. This is my first experience with a small press and so far I am really pleased. I am looking forward to seeing this book out. More importantly I am looking forward to writing the rest of the series without so many concerns about the editing, formatting and publishing piece.

If anyone is wanting a review copy, leave a comment or send me a personal message.  I will be compiling a list of reviewers and blog sites shortly. I hope to have about thirty reviewers lined up by release.