Monday, 29 August 2011

Pitch to a Publisher Contest – Moon Books

Moon Books is an imprint of O-Books (John Hunt Publishing) and they have graciously offered to take part in our first publisher pitching contest. The prize: a chance to go through the entire proposal system for an opportunity to score a contract for publication. This contest is open to anyone who is interested in submitting a proposal for a manuscript that is either written or partially written.

The proposal can cover any aspect of Paganism: Asatru; Druidry; Heathenism; Wicca; Witchcraft, etc., but it must be non-fiction. To enter, please submit the following information, via email, to Trevor Greenfield (trevor.greenfield(at)o-books.net), Submissions Editor for Moon Books:
  • Author Name;
  • Book Title;
  • Book Status (Draft, Complete, Percent Complete);
  • Book Summary (100 word maximum);
  • Author Biography (100 word maximum);
  • Audience (If you had 500 copies, who would you sell them to and how?, 200 words maximum);
  • Attach a sample of the manuscript (25,000 minimum final word count).
The deadline for this contest is noon on Friday, September 30th. Each entry will receive a reply within five days.

Good luck!

Reblogged from the Pagan Writers' Community.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Downtime

Readers and subscribers to this blog may have noticed an increase in book reviews, and book-related posts appearing here in recent months.   The lack of other content is down to changes that have occurred over recent months.  The first is a result of a change in computing policy at work. 

Up until recently, I was able to use any downtime at work to surf the internet and there was unrestricted access to my favourite sites, which included blogs, Youtube, Facebook, and pagan fora.   Reading books was reserved for very long periods of downtime, at home as well as work, and so reviews were a little less frequent.  This meant that I was able to keep relatively up-to-date with current events in the pagan community and I was able to find inspiration for posts here, as and when my opinions and spiritual life was affected.  In recents months, restrictions have been applied to personal computing useage at work, including what we are allowed to post using our work ISP.   Posting an opinion on anything that is not work-related is prohibited and this includes the writing of, or commenting on personal blogs, posting on fora, or even clicking a "Like" button at places like Youtube, or photography sites.   This means that any posting I do on the internet must be done from my home computer and, as I only have mobile internet access, I have found myself culling a lot of my virtual reading materials, including several fora.   As the amount of downtime has not changed, but time on the internet has been severely limited, I have had more time to read actual books, hence the amount of reviews posted here.

The other reason for the influx of book reviews is that I have been invited to participate in a programme whereby in exchange for reviews, I receive items which are about to be released for sale.   Being a bit of a bibliophile, and an avid reader, I mostly receive books - though not always - and, when I submit my review for the product, I also post the review here.  These reviews are subject to a deadline so take priority over my own reading schedule, which is why it may appear book reviews may not necessearily relate to my personal (pagan) path.

Reading current events in the pagan world, musing over them, posting my own thoughts on other sites, and spending time drafting, editing and publishing entries on this blog has been profoundly affected.  I find myself a little out of touch with the greater pagan community in the virtual world, though my personal practices and connections (in the real world) are continuing unaltered.  As a result, I feel like Meanderings has become no more than a review site, which was never my intention. 

I hope valued readers, and subscribers you will forgive me while I try to find a more balanced approach to the content of Meaderings.  I expect to be able to upgrade to home broadband before the end of the year, which will allow me to write entries online, rather than offline, and allow me to flit between inspirational links as I draft posts.  I hope this will allow Meanderings to illuminate my wanderings along my personal pagan path, instead of my journey through the book shelves in the pagan library.

In the meantime, I should like to express my thanks to the readers, and subscribers of Meanderings for sticking with me - walking by my side - as I attempt to find my way.

Nature Mystic

Author: Barry Patterson
ISBN: 1906038295/9781906038298

This book of poetry from Mr Patterson is now a very firm favourite book. I received it two years ago, having purchased it after reading his "The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci" and enjoying the writing style, as well as content.   At the time I shelved it to be read later in favour of other books I was reading at the time and this may have been a mistake, except that I believe that, sometimes, things happen at the right time.

This past week has been rather erratic: one day good, the next horrible.  I keep books at work to read, but on one particular day which wasn't going well, I felt I didn't want to read what I had to hand, so before I left for work I searched high and low among my shelves for something a little inspiring.  I located "Nature Mystic" and put it in my satchel.

The day did not improve, and, in a quiet moment or two, I found time to read "Nature Mystic" and everything changed, because despite being a very slim volume every poem is worth spending time reading, and re-reading.

From the very first, I found myself thinking, indeed feeling different.  Barry Patterson has written very much from the heart about us, and our place in the world - man-made and natural.  His writing is earthy, inspiring, dark, light and reaches into my very being.  Reading his poetry changed the fortunes of my day.  It was a good day because I had this book, with its beautiful writing in my possession.

I should like to add some of the material here, but samples of Barry Patterson's writing can be read at his  website.  I don't have the ability to critique poetry [there are reviews on the net where you can read more scholarly critiques of this book], but, like art, I know what I like and I truly enjoyed, and appreciated "Nature Mystic".

I urge those who like (pagan) poetry to purchase and read "Nature Mystic".

Rating: 5/5.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Book Giveaway - Shadow of Death

The Pagan Writers’ Community are giving away one copy of a book and this time it is "Shadow of Death" by Karen Dales.

To quote Good Reads:
Death is the beginning. Life is the shadow. Released from more than one hundred years of revenge, the Angel of Death is no longer a tool for the Grand Council of the Chosen. He is finally free to return to a semblance of a life with Father Paul Notus. Haunted by nightmares of his past misdeeds and failings the Angel wants nothing more than to be left alone. It is across the Atlantic, in a foreign country, that he joins Notus, taking up the mantle once more as a protector in a land where those who would see him dead have flourished. Corbie Vale has not forgotten what the Angel has done. His own burning need to see the Angel humiliated and Destroyed sets into motion a carefully seeded plan despite warnings of greater retribution from the God of Death himself. Now in Corbie’s territory, the Angel’s sword becomes the lure to a trap, one that changes the Angel by giving him what he never dreamed of – mortality.
Please go to the website of the Pagan Writers’ Community for details on how to participate.

Good luck!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Testament of a Witch



Author: Douglas Watt
ISBN: 9781906817794

Why did I read it?  It was given to me in exchange for a review and I was keen on the idea of a fictional work set in Scotland during the the notorious witch hunts.

Synopsis:   John Mackenzie is an advocate in Edinburgh who is charged by a letter from a dead woman to investigate happenings in the village of Lammersheugh. He and his assistant, Davie Scougall, a man raised in religious superstition, arrive to find the dead woman's daughter, Euphame also accused of witchcraft and the enlightened Mr Mackenzie and his reluctant assistant must work quickly to save her.

What did I like? Douglas Watt keeps his chapters short and each has a different voice, focussing on one person, or section of the community and this keeps the story moving at a cracking pace.  The zeitgeist of the Scotland in the 17th century - the religious fervour and political unrest - is evoked with apparent ease and Mr Watt is explicit when describing the gruesome nature of the treatment afforded those accused of being in league with the devil but this adds to the feeling of uncertainty and terror of the time.

I enjoyed this book and sped through it keen to discover the underbelly of Lammersheugh with John Mackenzie, but unlike other murder and/or mystery books, I was unable to unravel the mystery ahead of the author's reveal.  For me, this is a big plus for the book.

What didn't I like?  Very little.  Some of the chapters were difficult to read as over half the chapter was  written in a Scottish dialect, though the few Gaelic phrases scattered throughout other chapters were translated into plain English.

 Would I recommend it?  Yes!  I would thoroughly recommend this book to others: friends, family and even my grandmother, a fussy reader.

Rating: 4/5.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Charm to avert the Evil Eye

Another example of the use of a thread cure used as a charm to avert the evil eye, or droch-shùil, was collected by Alexander Carmichael on 10 April 1875, from the recitation of Fionnghal NicLeòid, Flora MacLeod, a cottar, from Carnan, Ìochdar, South Uist.
Read the whole article at the Carmichael Watson Project blog.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Book Giveaway

The Pagan Writers’ Community are giving away one copy of a book and this time it is "Shades of Faith" edited by Crystal Blanton.

To quote the Pagan Writers’ Community:

"Shades of Faith: Minority Voices in Paganism is an anthology that encompasses the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community and addresses some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations, talents, history and beauties of being different within the racial constructs of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups.
Often the associations of the roots of Paganism have pushed assumptions that worshippers of Paganism are strictly Caucasian. The mainstreaming of Wicca has elevated images of worship and deity that connect with Celtic, Greek or Roman cultures. There are a lot of minority races that are practicing Pagans and are often having a myriad of experiences that are fashioned by the reality of walking between the worlds of their birth ancestry or culture and that of their spiritual culture. This anthology is an opportunity to share their stories and experiences with others around being the minorities within a minority spiritual community.
Some of the practitioners in this anthology practice paths that include (but are not limited to) Wicca, Voodoo, Umbanda, Shaman, Native and other Pagan paths.
Join us in celebrating the incredible diversity and beauty that encompass the harmony that has created the song of the Pagan community. The previously unheard voices of our community are now sharing the power of experience through the written word and through their voices."

Please go to the website of the Pagan Writers’ Community for details on how to participate.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction


Editors: PanGaia magazine and Llewellyn publishing
ISBN: 0738712698/9780738712697

What's it about? It's a selection of short stories from pagan authors as collected by a panel of judges for PanGaia magazine.

What did I like about it? There was variety so if you didn't like the style of one author, at least you could look forward to the next, in addition to which no one piece was overly long or short.

My favourite stories were A Valkyrie Among Jews by April, which incidentally was the winning story according to the Introduction to the book, and Black Doe by Vylar Kaftan.

A Valkyrie Among Jews examines pagan identity and the conflict that sometimes arises between the birth religion and paganism of converts. In this instance, the pagan convert is a woman working in a Jewish retirement centre where she is surrounded by the religion of her upbringing. Black Doe was a very well written story about a woman who is shunned by her tribe at her own request in order to feel free, but has to turn to the gods for help. According to the author, the story was written in response to challenge to write about "survivor's guilt about food poisoning and someone getting a haircut" (page 209) and the author certainly delivers. It's also the last story, so was a real treat.

I would be interested to read more work from either of these authors, which I suppose is the purpose of anthology: to bring new authors to the attention of readers.

What didn't I like? All but two of the stories in the anthology.

I'm afraid most of the pieces held no interest for me, and I continued reading only so I could discuss them with fellow readers in the book club. I found myself half a page in on one story, and already hoping the next work was better.

Every story involved the supernatural or fantasy in some way, i.e. there was no real, modern world stories which I think has been mentioned by another reviewer, Eli, here. I kept hoping I'd find a piece that wasn't overtly pagan, fantasy or magical but it never arrived. I've read pieces by pagan authors which have not fantasy, science fiction, magical or pagan elements but are just very good stories. One, in particular springs to mind; it's about a girl working behind a bakery counter as life passed by. There is nothing in the storyline that would label it as pagan; it addresses ordinary concerns from a pagan point of view, i.e. the author. I guess, though, this is not the anthology to find such a narrative.

I do enjoy reading books with magic, the supernatural, myth and manifest deity, but I would dearly love to see writing from pagan authors which veers from the expected genres and, in this regard, I think this collection missed an opportunity.

Would I recommend it? I would recommend the two stories I mentioned above, just not the whole book.

Rating: 2½/5.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Book Giveaway – Uneasy Lies The Head

The Pagan Writers' Community blog are offering "Uneasy Lies The Head", a book by S. P. Hendrick, as a giveaway.
"In the near future, Britain has given up its constitutional monarchy to become a republic. But though the crown is a museum piece and the family no longer bears its ancient titles, Stephen Windsor feels the stirrings of the lives of ancient Sacred Kings in his bones, which is not surprising as at key points in Britain's history he has been reincarnated to perform the supreme kingly act. And though the throne is empty and forgotten, the Land remembers, and calls once more for a crown upon a royal head... and royal blood upon the ground!"
Why not go over to the Pagan Writers' Community blog and see if you can't nab yourself a copy of this five star read, as rated by the reviewers at Good Reads?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World


Author: Signe Pike
ISBN: 9781848503724

What’s it about? According to the author, “It’s an examination of the loss of myth in modern culture” (page 9).   I would say it’s a personal exploration into the current belief (or lack thereof) in fairies in the modern world, as experienced by one young woman by travelling through Mexico, England, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, all the while still grieving the loss of her father about whom she has mixed emotions.

By reacquainting herself with the belief in faery, Signe Pike feels she may find a way to work through the conflicting emotions she has following the loss of her father, but before undertaking the journey to faery, Signe relinquishes her job in publishing and moves interstate, away from the city.  Life-changing events indeed.   

Why did I read it?   Because it was offered to me.

What did I like about it?  It’s an amazingly easy read.   It shows that Signe Pike worked in the publishing industry, because the book is very well organised, with a warm voice, unimposing language and her memories of her father are interposed nicely with the main narrative.

Signe Pike clearly did her research and was enthused by her subject; her descriptions refrain from being flowery or expansive, but the impressions given provide a good image in the mind’s eye of the places visited.   Thankfully, too, the book progresses from the Disney-like fairy creatures to musings on the Sith, Sidhe and other historical manifestations of the “other crowd“.  

What didn’t I like?   The research undertaken was done post-travel, and there were errors.  For instance, on page 185 of the U.K. paperback edition, the following appears:
… elderflower liquor … made from the flowers on the hawthorn trees, you know, the faery trees“.
Elderflowers are from elder trees, which not unlike hawthorn is thought to reign back luck down on those who cut it down without permission, but most definitely isn’t the same as hawthorn.   Hawthorn does produce berries (haws) which can be made into wine though.

I didn’t agree with a lot of the connections/extrapolations the author made; some I felt were more than a step too far.  Many sites were missed out, owing to financial restrictions, and I felt some research before the trip might have been beneficial, but this is a personal journey, so I suspect serious research was beyond the scope of the book.

Would I recommend it?  Sure:  To those that really, really want to believe in that magic they knew as a child; to those that  want to dip their little toe in the mystical otherworld; to those going on holiday and want something easy and light to read, but nothing too serious; to those that might frequent Glastonbury, the town, not the festival.  

I would not recommend it to anyone that has spent time traversing the Otherworld; I just don’t think they would appreciate it very much.

Rating: 3½/5.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lughnasa Live

RTÉ broadcast this programme on Sunday, 31 July 2011 in celebration of Lughnasa:  Lughnasa Live.  Now, you can watch this 55 minute long programme which includes snippets on selkies, Eddie Lenihan on the loss of the renowned Irish storytelling, and much more.

Enjoy!