Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take Tea and See

I think it was in April when I met Janice Roper for the first time. For years, Ilona, my mother-in-law, had spoken of her dear friend who came to town to read tea leaves in the art studio. When the Little Dude was born, Janice was one of the first people Ilona called (so she could get his birth chart).

Having grown up in a haunted house and counted pyschics and mediums among my mom's friends, I'm pretty used to this sort of thing. But when I finally got to meet Janice for a tea leaf reading, I was welcomed by a gentle and humorous woman who greeted me like an old friend.

Needless to say, the reading that Janice did for me was incredibly accurate down to the initials of the people who later hired me to write a TV pilot.

Last month, I stopped by the studio where Janice had just finished her last reading and asked if she'd consider writing for this blog. She said yes and I'm so excited to post her first message to us. As an intuitive counselor, Janice combines the ancient art of tea leaf reading with the art and science of astrology to guide individuals in their practical and spiritual paths. So many of you who come to this blog are writers and creatives and Janice will be a monthly source of wisdom and inspiration for all of us.

Enjoy her first of many columns to come!

Creativity is Essential For the Journey into 2010

"Woman Painting at Mount Rainer" @ Art.com

by Janice Roper, Intuitive Counselor

By Divine design we are creators, and it is our birthright—indeed, our directive—to joyfully wield the power of the Universe. Spirit means life, living with meaning, purpose, joy and a sense of contributing to the greater community. Matthew Fox, author and director of the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA says the new spiritual order will be creation centered, which means it will honor the Divine in each one of us. I agree the year 2010 is the time for each of us to become fearless, spiritual warriors so when the human species wakes up it is capable of great things.

Did you know that writers, artists, composers do their best work when the planet Mercury in the sky is retrograde. (Retrograde means the planet has turned backward—a symbol from heaven for us to go inward. ) Our senses supply us with raw sensuous data. colors, feels, tastes and odors—all rich cognitive material . Then our minds set forth what we receive into neat, orderly conceptual design. Utilize the period of Mercury retrograde to put your own stamp on the infinitely curious clay of the spiritual world! The creative opportunities are here now. We create because we have to. By unlocking our imaginations new work would abound. We create because we change reality and we change ourselves into someone more energetic and more powerful Stay tuned inward in 2010 because the Creative energy flowing makes each of us special , and we deserve this power.

Mercury, the planet of communication affects all phases of connections—your computer, cell phone, television and other electronic equipment—these things may need a tune up too! Mercury also affects our lower mind and how we think, our attitude toward life, as well as the higher self and the spiritual connection we have to Source. It’s a time of learning at the deepest level. The New Year 2010 begins with a Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn and a Full Moon in Cancer/Capricorn. Also the North Node of the Moon is pointing the way in Capricorn—the need to identify with the larger ideal, greater than the personal life. Each one of us must ultimately come to stand for something and many of us tapping into Source can methodically work toward a goal not for our own success, but to redeem and assist others. Pluto also in the earth sign Capricorn, (for 14 years) assists in the transformation of the new year. This powerful energy flowing through each one of us can be used deliberately to create the life we desire. Set your intention, become a creator of future good. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimension.”

Janice will be giving readings by appointment in Newport Beach, CA January 16-18. You can email Ilona Martin @ lucy453@aol.com.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tis the Season...

Tis the season for ...

  1. Smiling at shop clerks and cashiers even when they give you attitude
  2. Buying a coffee for the person in line behind you just because
  3. Going the extra mile even though its not in your job description
  4. Making cookies & candies from scratch because (a) you always wanted to try it and (b) the little dude can help with the sprinkles (even though most end up in his mouth or on the floor)
  5. Turning off work & what-not to be really be there with your loved ones
  6. Driving around in your PJs to look at the lights
  7. Wrapping gifts to holiday music
  8. Adding bows & ribbons to gifts even though they might not be noticed
  9. Hiding those extra special gifts that Santa will put under the tree
  10. Letting go of grudges, feuds and hard feelings
  11. Holding in that sarcastic reply or put down and then breathing it out
  12. Kissing your spouse with or without mistletoe

Monday, December 21, 2009

Me, Me, Me, Me

"Girl Before a Mirror" by Pablo Picasso @ Art.com

These days I have a real problem with promotion. There I said it and I wasn't struck down by lightening. I am, however, struck by my own bull s#*!.

My next short story will come out this April in the anthology, Orange County Noir. When I first saw the cover, I immediately searched for my name. There it was! When we began scheduling events, I'd get that little "what a minute" feeling when my name was at the bottom of the press release or I wasn't asked to participate in certain events. Its painful and a little embarrassing to admit that I am "one of those" authors who are always seeking her spot in the limelight. But its the truth.

Back when the publisher let me go and then later my agent, I learned that self-centeredness makes for a very painful and small world. In light of that lesson, I stepped back from promoting my wares, shifted this blog to showcase other authors, artists and musicians and went back to my writing. So along comes Orange County Noir and here I thought I'd worked through all that ego stuff. But it was there waiting and as I began my promotion plan, it pounced.

Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to have published my stories and the readers who have enjoyed them. I love what I do and that I'm able to make a living through it. I don't mind sharing my experiences through the blog and I realize that promoting the book is part of the whole enterprise. But how does one get the word out about the work without promoting oneself?

I'm not sure. Maybe its enough to be aware of my ego when it chimes in with: they could've put your name before that guy's, or couldn't they have used a larger font? Hopefully its enough to go into the planning and execution with the idea that the work is the star, not me the author.

To stay aware of the landmines inherent in promotion and marketing, I've posted this quote above the laptop and in the promo plan and may possibly tattoo it on my left wrist:

"Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard."
-Daphne Du Maurier

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Behind the Mic With Mary Talbot Fee

Photos by Rick Gould

It's never too late to pursue your dreams. Just ask Mary Talbot Fee who released her debut CD, Midwinter's Night Dream earlier this year. After a few career changes and raising a son, she transformed herself into a jazz chanteuse and is set to step out onto the San Diego music scene.

Chica Lit: Tell me about yourself and your background.

Mary Fee: I'm a late bloomer. I've had other careers but I've always been infatuated with music. My mother was an opera singer and musical comedy soloist in church for 25 years. She did a show at Carnegie Hall. I felt I had her voice but I wasn't comfortable expressing myself.

Chica Lit: So was there "a moment" when you decided you were going to go for it?

Mary Fee: It was a five-year long moment! My mother got Alzheimer's and she died last June. If you hear the whole album, there's a song called, Angela and that was her name. I wanted to do a song in her honor so my arranger and producer had heard of the song. I sang it in Portuguese to represent the change in communication that happens when you're communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's. She'd lose her train of thought, words and then her voice for last six months of her life. The translation [of the song] was very appropriate ... so beautiful but different.

My mother has always overshadowed me. She was a very powerful person; I'm a little bit more reserved by nature. I sensed she didn't want competition. When I was little, she'd be playing her songs and I'd learn them faster than she did and she would say, "Hey! How did you learn that?" It was funny.

My relationship with her changed as I cared for her. I think maybe I learned more of who I am as a separate individual and was able to love her in a new way. When you have a successful, powerful person in your life, it is inspiring and [it can] make you kind of intimidated!

Chica Lit: How did you start on the path of recording your first CD?

Mary Fee: It was very serendipitous. I went through vocal coaches who were less than what I'd hoped for but then a friend of mine gave me the name of Amber Whitlock. I took lessons from her for awhile and her husband, Rob had a label, Sketchin' Records. She asked me if I wanted to record and I said yes and yes and yes!

Rob is the arranger of the album and the process took about a year from conceptualization to final product. Recording took six months followed by the engineering and mixing and making of the actual CD.

Chica Lit: Take me into the recording studio. What is it like? What happens in there?!?

Mary Fee: Some people record live and some people record in a club setting and they're done. Most people who really want a high quality album lay down rhythm tracks first, then bass, drums, guitars and piano ... that takes a little while.

Chica Lit: For writers, the first part of our journey is "finding our voice." Is it the same for singers?

Mary Fee: Yes! It's important to find your own voice. I went through years trying to emulate Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. It's important to learn their process and then let it settle and find what it is that you want to express.

I was developing in this style [even though] I'd done jazz for a long, long time. Amber changed my sound a little bit. I had done choir singing and lots of jazz and I tried to push it. [Amber] said my voice was more intimate and so she pulled me back. I was learning how to sing right into someone's ear.

Chica Lit: It seems that our popular culture celebrates the child star even though girls like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan don't always fare well as adults! Do you think that life experience has helped you in this endeavor?

Mary Fee: Absolutely. For one thing, I have a son who's 18. But I'm not going to be focusing on settling down. Having had a number of different careers, I think I have the advantage of really seeing the world.

Child prodigies are fascinating but I hope to be an inspiration to people who were like me, a little shy about expressing their art. Maybe they will try and not feel that because they're over a certain age that life is over.

A lot of these kinds of measurements of time began when people didn't live as long. I feel sad for woman who have babies and then they think now what? You have tons of time left after you raise your children. Think about how long it takes to learn when a person starts to study music at 10. They have it down pretty well by the time they're 18. That’s only eight years so if you start at 40 and begin at 48, you have 20 years of really good time and much more.

I think we need to reevaluate time and be more generous with how we feel about people and what they're doing.

From now till December 31st, purchase Mary Talbot Fee's new CD, Midwinter Night's Dream for $12.99 at www.marytalbotfee.com.