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Self Publishing: the Pitfalls and the Promise by Storm Constantine

As it becomes ever more difficult to get a foothold in the writing world, never mind sustain a comfortable living from it, many more young or novice writers are turning to self-publishing, so that their work can reach an audience. In some ways, this echoes the rebellious stance of the Punk era in the late Seventies, when a deluge of new bands – all attitude and safety pins – burst onto the scene, and small record labels sprouted up all over the place, eager to disseminate this snarling, spitting music around the country. That happened because the big labels had a stranglehold on music, and popular music itself had suffered for it, becoming largely stale and predictable.

Much the same could be said of standard publishing nowadays. Editors, seemingly held at gunpoint by paranoid accountants, are even less willing to take risks on new talent than in the past. Generally, the new writer finds themselves, armed only with their manuscripts, facing what appears to be a cyclopean, impregnable citadel, whose drawbridge is truly up. The other side of the coin is that new writers also come cheap. Suppose the drawbridge is lowered, and the author is taken into the citadel? All too often, they are grateful beyond words just to see their novels and stories in print, and any money earned from it seems like an unexpected bonus. It’s great to be paid a little bit for indulging a hobby. Most of us would continue to write regardless of whether we’re published or not. However, the low advances offered for novels – and not just first novels nowadays – does nothing to help the situation for authors who see their writing as their vocation in life, and not just something they do in their spare time after work. In addition, the advance of computer technology has made it far easier for people to produce manuscripts, regardless of talent and skill. Consequently, there is a never-ending supply of hopeful authors, few of whom can expect to find a publisher who is willing, if not able, to support and evolve their career in writing. It all comes down to commitment, and unfortunately even when an editor is committed to your work, those who control the purse strings might not be quite so accommodating. To become a big name, you have to be promoted and, as far as the accountants who now run publishing are concerned, to be promoted, you have to be a big name. Is it any wonder, then, that writers are sick of the situation, and think, ‘stuff it, I’m going to do it myself’?

The relative cheapness of self-publishing via the internet has enabled many people to start their careers independent of a professional publisher. All you need is a decent understanding of basic book formatting and access to a cheap printing company (usually print on demand nowadays). You can try to get your book reviewed on any suitable web site or blog, persuade amenable local or specialist book shop proprietors to stock it, or advertise it on your personal web site, complete with text extracts and a glam author photo. In fact, you might not even bother with the hard copy printing stage, preferring to see your work as an electronic book, existing only in cyber-space. It’s not the same as a printed artefact in your hand (that’s irreplaceable!), but you might earn a little money from it, and at least people will have easy access to your work. So as you can see, it’s not that difficult to become a published writer. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It has to be seen as beneficial for literature as a whole that new writers can find an outlet for their work, and that readers can have access to new talent and ideas they might otherwise we denied. Books that might never otherwise see the light of day, being indefinable in terms of genre, or too experimental in form, can reach an audience. I support self-publishing whole-heartedly in this respect, but just one thing niggles me, and it’s quite a big ‘one thing’.

The major benefit of being published by a professional publisher is that your work will be edited, polished to its (hopefully) full potential. An experienced editor can guide and teach new writers, pointing out the weaknesses in their work, playing up the strengths. All too often, the books I see that have been produced by enterprising free spirits fall down because the quality of the writing simply isn’t good enough.

You make a decision to write a novel and turn on your computer. Your monitor blooms with a blank page on your word processor, the cursor is blinking expectantly, waiting for you to begin. Your head is full of ideas, characters are straining at the leash to be released onto the page, plots twirl and plait in your mind, landscapes are ready to pour out of your fingers. So, you crack your knuckles and you’re off.

In the fullness of time, you will have completed your opus, and will be ready to have it printed, one way or another. Of course, for most of us, the process isn’t quite that painless, but sooner or later, the book or stories will be finished. You might have rewritten it/them several times, or given copies to your friends to read and criticise. Some people might have come back with helpful comments, which you may or may not have taken on board. But ultimately, only you decide when that work is ready to be printed, and from what I’ve seen from self-published authors, this is sometimes too soon. And this is a shame, because in all too many instances, the problem isn’t lack of talent, but lack of skill and experience.

As writers, we have to develop an ‘ear’: for words, for meaning, for the music and colour of our prose. We have to learn when to rein in our muse and when to let it go at a full gallop. We have to understand about narrative structure – what might seem the most basic of principles; a story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. We have to control our readers’ eyes with the rhythm of our sentences, which involves knowing about good syntax, and pacing. This makes the difference between an easy read, when we’re carried along by the fluidity of the prose, and a stultifying wade through a chaotic swamp of words. Too much exposition in the wrong place and readers get bored; too little and they feel short-changed in background and setting. Our characters have to be convincing, so that readers empathise with them. Our plot-lines must be trimmed of cliché. Dialogue should perform the dual task of expanding upon characterisation as well as move the story along. We also have to concern ourselves with viewpoint, and keep it consistent. The story itself should be credible and intriguing, so that our readers want to keep turning the page. Plot holes should be filled, chronology accurate. All loose ends have to be tied by the last page, and narrative clues inserted expertly and unobtrusively along the way. Writing and editing are often seen as two separate skills, but a self-published author has to be proficient at both.

A book was sent to me a while ago by a young writer, who had done an impressive job on the appearance of his first, self-published novel. The book was beautifully put together and, as an artefact, would shame no book shelf, but once I began to read it, discomfort slowly spread through me. Meaningless dialogue went on for pages at a time, and great clumps of extremely detailed description detracted from the thrust of the story. The grammar and punctuation wasn’t that brilliant, which impeded easy reading, and the characterisation was hackneyed. The text was peppered with repetitious words and phrases. The novel just wasn’t a page-turner; my interest quickly flagged. I could see that if an editor had worked with this writer, together they would have crafted a good first novel.

Copy editors are employed by publishers to polish up grammar and syntax in manuscripts, so some writers don’t concern themselves greatly with this aspect. (Not an attitude I’d advocate, by the way!) But when you’re self-publishing, it becomes of prime importance. The subject matter of the book I’ve just mentioned – vampires – was popular, and so was the style in which it had been written or, more accurately, the style its author had striven for. But the execution of the idea let it down. That this novel was clearly a labour of love, into which its author had invested copious amounts of time, energy and money, made it difficult for me to criticise him. But this was not the worst example of a self-published novel I’ve ever seen.

There are many ways in which new writers can avoid some of the pitfalls of the self-published first novel or collection of stories. First, I would recommend joining a writers’ workshop or creative writing course. The stereotype of this kind of group conjures images of elderly people who write twee poetry. I know that because it was an opinion I once held myself. Then I ended up teaching a creative writing course at the local college. The students came from a wide range of backgrounds and ages. Some were into genre fiction, some not, but on the whole, they all worked well together, pooling their strengths and learning from each other’s mistakes and successes. However, if you really can’t find a suitable group, start your own. I ran my class for several years, with new faces turning up every term, so I can promise you that you won’t run out of candidates.

The most helpful groups are those where work is swapped between members for critical appraisal. You learn as much from editing someone else’s work as you do from their editorials of yours. Somehow, it’s always easier to spot mistakes and weaknesses in someone else’s story. It’s actually quite a big responsibility to heap onto a friend or family member when you ask them to read your manuscript for you. Are they really qualified to criticise constructively? The last thing you want is someone just handing it back to you with a nervous smile, saying, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ If they say that, you should want to know why it’s great. Then ask about the weaknesses. Again, your volunteer might not have the terminology to explain what worked best for them and what didn’t. They might also be worried about upsetting you. It’s always preferable to get other writers to look at your work. You can guarantee you won’t get a lukewarm response, even if they don’t come out with what you want to hear.

Secondly, don’t underestimate the worth of self-help books about writing. Some of them are extremely well-written, by successful authors, who pass on tips of the trade. Take time to learn about the technicalities of your craft – get a good book on grammar and punctuation. When you read other people’s fiction, read it as a writer, not as a reader. Think about what made the book work for you, or why you didn’t like it. Read lots. I used to be astounded when students turned up at my class and told me they didn’t read much.

Of course, if you want to make a decent living from writing, it’s unlikely self-publishing will answer your prayers. However, a well-crafted, self-published first novel can only help you to sell future work to a big publisher, especially if you can collect a few favourable reviews from magazines and review sites. Review copies are very important – send out as many as you can, especially to the bigger magazines like SFX or Interzone. Send copies to the British Science Fiction Association and The British Fantasy Society for their review magazines. (These examples, of course, are all UK-based genre publications concerned with fantasy, horror and sf. I’m sure every country has their equivalent.) In all cases, make it clear how much your publication costs (including post and packing) and how people can order it. Design a page of biographical material, with an author photo. This is your self-promotion. Send it out with every book. One friend of mine self-published to start with, and through sheer back-breaking effort shifted 20,000 copies of his first full-length book. (He’d already published quite a few pamphlets and chap-books.) It’s a phenomenal amount, as most first authors could expect to feel inordinately successful if their book sold between 5,000 – 10,000. My friend sold so many copies because he drove around the country with his car full of books, persuading shops to stock it. This was way back before there was the internet to publicise your work. But it paid off for him and he eventually got contracts from big publishers and made a solid career from writing.

Persistence and determination are all-important, but so is talent and skill. Take the time to hone your work and learn about your craft. There are few easy routes to success, but if you give it your best, you’ll get there in the end.

Interview with Neil Robinson

The best part of my job as Public Relations Officer is to get to know our authors and to read their books! Reading Monday Luck inspired me to request an interview with author Neil Robinson in order to find out more about the man behind the words.

So without further delay here is my interview with author Neil Robinson about his latest book Monday Luck!

Larisa: What inspired you to start a career in writing?

Neil: “Career” is too grand a word. A much better writer than me once said, “I write to understand, not to be understood.” To some extent that’s true of me, though I’m not convinced it’s the best way to write. Writing is something I do sometimes. It would be nice if one day I was paid lots of money for it.

Larisa: How long have you been writing?

Neil: As a child I lived in a world of my own; at least, that’s what adults kept telling me. I had lots of fantasies, which grew more complex as I grew older. I used memory to keep track of things, but once complained to my mum that I was having difficulty remembering where I was in a particular storyline. She suggested I write my thoughts down. I was thirteen or fourteen. Because I’d daydreamed too much at school, my writing skills weren’t great; but for some reason I persevered. And I’m still persevering now that I’m old.

Larisa: What do you feel are the benefits to being published with an Indie Press?

Neil: Like Indie music, I think the Indie press is often, in artistic terms, ahead of the conventional big-business side of the industry, which these days gives the impression it’s only interested in publishing the work of celebrities, top chefs, or established authors with huge earnings potential. If you’re part of the Indie movement you’re riding the crest of an imaginative wave – the mass of water beneath you is the traditional industry, which might swallow you up and carry you along with it, or drag you under and drown you. Still, there’s nothing more exhilarating than riding the crest of a wave.

Larisa: How did you come to work with Immanion Press?

Neil: Immanion Press were nice enough to publish my first novel, Oliphan Oracus, a while ago now. As I recall, another writer, a friend of mine, heard that Storm had launched Immanion, and he suggested my work might suit its brief. So I submitted Oliphan Oracus, and Storm phoned me a short time later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Larisa: How did Monday Luck evolve? And what inspired you to make the main character a children’s entertainer?

Neil: I’d long been interested in the idea of a modern fable – something that wasn’t a direct allegory, but which tried to describe a modern mythological landscape. I was influenced by authors like Michael Moorcock, James Joyce, JG Ballard, Angela Carter and Iain Banks (with and without the “M”). And I was fascinated by the Fortean Times and its record of strange phenomena. For many years I was a journalist, so I also wanted to use some of my reporting experiences, suitably adapted of course. All this was knocking around in my head with stuff I’d learned about Robin Hood and the Arthurian Cycle. Some of the first drafts of Monday Luck were quite different from the end product.

At the time I started writing the novel I was caring full-time for my two sons. I saw the shows of a lot of children’s entertainers. I have to say, those acts were not like Lenny’s; they were very good, and I admired them greatly. Lenny’s occasional incompetence is no reflection on real children’s entertainers. He’s the wandering clown: a bit sad, a bit funny. And his specialty, juggling, is a good – if slightly clichéd – metaphor for the way he manages the relationships in his life. I was juggling too, trying to deal with the various sub-plots and concepts of Monday Luck.

Larisa: Was the use of slang intended to integrate readers into the culture of the book?

Neil: Yes. I wanted to give the impression that the characters moved and spoke within a world of their own, which was similar to our everyday world, but a little out of synch with it – sometimes a lot out of synch. You’ll find many London expressions and some Cockney rhyming slang. I hope it isn’t too confusing for non-natives. There is also mention of a rhyming slang created by Lenny, Simon and co. and based on the names of celebrities. I suspect all families and circles of close friends communicate in the context of a private mythology, which of course is reflected in their language.

Larisa: The characters in the book seem to be inspired by the 1980s. Are you yourself a fan of this era?

Neil: I’m not exactly a fan of the 80s; I just lived through them. In Monday Luck I’ve tried to produce a portrait of my generation, so the 80s, which was a time of great social upheaval in the Britain of my youth, feature prominently. So many business kingdoms like Marian’s rose and fell. It was a time of internal conflicts and big hair, and of metaphorical dragons that scourged the land and have still to meet a knight capable of slaying them. You can’t beat that stuff. Of course, the 60s, 70s and early noughties also play a big part in the book. The 70s, which had punk rock and so much fascinating TV, are particularly important.

Larisa: How much research on Gene Roddenberry went into the development of Greg’s character?

Neil: I’m aware of the salient events in Gene Roddenberry’s life, but I wasn’t conscious of using them to construct Greg’s character. He is, of course, hugely influenced by Star Trek, among other science fiction and fantasy shows. In many ways he is the character I identify with the most, though I didn’t grow up in the US or experience the kind of unhappiness he experiences in his childhood. Like Roddenberry, he’s an active, driving personality, in contrast to some other Monday Luck lead characters who are quite passive.

Larisa: Are you, yourself a fan of Star Trek and Mr Roddenberry?

Neil: I am a massive fan of Star Trek and Mr R, though I don’t attend conventions. I think I’ve seen just about every episode of Star Trek: the original and the Next Generation as well as all the films and all the spin-offs. I’ve forgotten a great deal over the years, so maybe it’s time to start re-watching them. Some episodes are among the greatest works of science fiction. One double episode, The Menagerie, springs to mind. It includes footage from the original pilot, The Cage, and has a complex, thought-provoking and moving plot. I found the use of illusion, which takes a crucial role in this and many other Trek stories, very inspiring. Interestingly, Majel Leigh Hudec, later Mrs Roddenberry, plays Number One in the pilot. In the series proper she changes character and is “demoted” to the position of Nurse Chapel, possibly on the insistence of network chiefs. But her former role was more in keeping with Roddenberry’s vision of the future, where women would share equal status with men. In numerous ways Roddenberry was a radical thinker, and Trek’s portrayals of race, religion and politics reflect that. Naturally, because I love Star Trek, I’m not averse to poking fun at it now and again. I adore the way Kirk and his crew bowl up like cosmic cavaliers on some remote planet where cultural injustices have existed for centuries, and, within the space of about half an hour, our good captain and his mates have sorted everything out, leaving the locals looking pathetically grateful but rather shell-shocked.

I was about nine when Trek first aired in the UK, and in those days we had no VCRs. The show clashed with my Cub Scout weekly meetings, and I had to make a choice. It was no contest – the Cub Scouts got the boot.

Larisa: People often say an author is inspired by their surrounds; did you find this true?

Neil: I’m not sure “inspired” is the right word. My surroundings wouldn’t leave me alone. They surrounded me – there was nothing I could do about it – and took me prisoner. The only way I could escape was to put them into a story, mythologize them in fact, and let them have their day in court. I live in Essex, a mundane place that is also extraordinary. That’s one of the main themes of Monday Luck: the strangeness of familiarity. Essex is full of paradoxical landscapes and contrary people. I feel I’ve done what my surroundings asked of me, but they still won’t let me go.

Larisa: Do you personally have any experiences with the paranormal?

Neil: I don’t. I’m sceptical when it comes to the existence of the supernatural. Still, existence is a slippery concept. I think it was the philosopher Kant who said that existence is not an attribute. If you ask me if I believe in a Father Christmas who once a year plunges down chimneys, consumes tonnes of mice pies and litres of sweet sherry and leaves presents for every child in the world, then I would express considerable doubt. But the idea of Father Christmas exists in our collective consciousness and is very powerful.

Larisa: What do you think fascinates people about the paranormal world?

Neil: Many things fascinate people about the paranormal. It invites so many possibilities, some frightening, but others quite appealing. You sometimes hear people say about life: Is this all there is? Well the paranormal says there is something more. It may simply be the possibility of a life beyond this one. Which, actually, is pretty exciting. In evolutionary terms, humans need to exploit their environment, so we’re hard-wired to have a sense of curiosity and wonder, and to seek new experiences. Few things stimulate wonder more than the paranormal. I’m intrigued by what it tells us about ourselves. It’s often a coded way of expressing desires, fears and hopes. Vampires, for instance, tell us about “otherness” and sexuality, among other things.

Larisa: Did show like Destination Truth or similar inspire the book?

Neil: I have to admit that I’ve never seen Destination Truth. I believe this show is on the Syfy channel, which I don’t have access to. However, I was devoted for a long time to the X-Files, which is often very impressive. Like some apparently unrelated series, such as the Sopranos, it is a marvellous “portrait of America” show. The work of Joss Whedon, particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, is also terrific. In Buffy he subverts the Vampire myth with great skill; and the dialogue is always scintillating fun. An episode called The Body, in which Buffy’s mother dies, stands alongside the best of Star Trek.

Larisa: What can we look forward to from you in the future?

Neil: I’m working on a story set thousands of years in the future. From that short description, it doesn’t sound as if there are any links with Monday Luck; but there are – distant links, but present nonetheless. Much of the action takes place in a fishing town which bears a slight resemblance to places like Hull or Grimsby in the early part of the 20th century.

I want to create a surrealistic world where most people are lost most of the time. A Grand Guignol artist uses a swarm of nano-thingies, possessed of a colony intelligence, to create a planetoid. It’s meant to be the ultimate artistic statement rather than a world for human settlers, but many centuries after its creation people set up home there and often find themselves subjected to the bizarre whims of inscrutable, invisible, sub-microscopic artificial beings.

 Larisa: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your writing?

Neil: I think that just about covers it…for now.

Thank you to Neil Robinson for taking the time to speak with me. The book Monday Luck is available now!!

Song of the Sulth by Maria J Leel

Song of the Sulh

A Wraeththu Mythos Novel

Maria J Leel

June 2012

Cover Art/Interior Illos: Danielle Lainton

Editor: Storm Constantine

Interior Layout: Storm Constantine

Maps: Gordon Leel & Maria J Leel

ISBN: 978-1-907737-07-7

IP0033

Genre: Fantasy

316 pages

£12.99, $21.99, $20.55 Aus; $20.30 Can; E15.20

Cover Blurb

Humanity’s time on Earth is done and a new, androgynous species has risen to take its place. Deep in the mountains of the eastern coast of the New World lives Raven, a human boy, and the last remnants of his ancient tribe. His adopted father, Two Comet, persuades Raven that the only chance for the survival of his heritage lies in Raven joining humanity’s usurpers: Wraeththu. Reluctantly, Raven agrees, but in a final act of defiance conceives a child with his close friend, Pale Fawn.

Raven is incepted into a phyle of the Wraeththu tribe of Sulh, a band of travelling scholars who welcome the ancient wisdom he brings to them. When Raven’s human tribe inevitably succumbs to extinction, Raven and his chesnari, Fen, find a way to send Pale Fawn, and the child she carries, to safety far across the ocean to the east.

Raven accompanies Fen to his homeland, Alba Sulh, and meets his people, the Waterlanders, a tribe of both Wraeththu and human women. Here, there is a mystery concerning Fen’s vanished sister, Serena, and other women who disappear mysteriously into strange – and predatory – etheric rifts. Following an inner call, both Raven and Fen are driven to seek out the family members they have lost, and follow the Waterland mystery to its source across the eastern seas. What they find makes them realise their role in the new world order will be more crucial than they could have dreamed.

Song of the Sulh is a strong, character-driven story, and an innovative addition to the canon of the Wraeththu Mythos.

July Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of: A Circle of Stones

Contest runs from July 2nd-July9th, 2012. Winners will be notified by email 48 hours after the contest closes. In order to enter, participants must complete each task listed. ! Good Luck to all who enter!

Contest Closed!

The winner is: Lisa Allen!

Congratulations Lisa you have won a complimentary copy of A Circle of Stones 🙂

Parting Ways by Lisa Spiral Besnett

From The Law Of The Wicca:

Anyone living within the covendom and wishing to form a new coven, to avoid strife, shall tell the elders of their intention and on the instant void their dwelling and remove to the new covendom.

Members of the old coven may join the new one when it is formed, but if they do, they must utterly avoid the old  coven.  The elders of the old and new coven should meet in peace and brotherly love to decide the new boundaries.  Those of the craft who dwell outside both covendoms may join either, indifferent, but not both.  Though all may, if the elders agree, meet for the great festivals if it truly be in peace and brotherly love.  But splitting the coven often means strife, so for this reason these laws were made of old.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we part company, and why.  My Wiccan tradition has two new covens forming in the local area.  My daughter is moving out into her first real apartment on her own, with no intention of ever moving back.  I have been through two divorces with two very different outcomes.

A student of mine made the observation that it seems, in the Pagan community as a whole, 3rd degree is given when you get to be too much trouble.  When it’s easier on everyone to get you to leave than to let you to stay and disrupt the group.   Is 3rd degree essentially a pat on the back, a rank of sovereignty, clergy with the traditional rituals and a boot out the door?  I had to agree that this is often the most compelling reason for 3rd degree to be given.

However, in my tradition neither of the two new covens are starting this way.  It is simply time for both High Priestesses to move on.  They both needed to be independent in order to continue to grow spiritually.  There was sadness, but no animosity in their parting.

The same is true for my daughter.  She can not become the fully functioning adult she is meant to be if her home base is with Mommy.  I am proud of her and excited and a little sad.  Thankfully she’s not running away as fast as she can or shaking up with the first guy who would have her.  Five years ago she might have done just that.  Now it really is time for her to go.

I did that, more or less, with my first husband.  I was living at home and keeping the kind of hours only a college student is capable of surviving.  My parent’s lived an hour away from school 20 min walk from a bus line that ran once an hour until 1am.  He lived within a block of campus.  I actually moved back home over the summer before moving out to a “real” apartment choosing intentionally to live with him rather than just crashing at his place.

That divorce was mostly because of attrition.  We grew up and found we dealt with grown up stress in very different ways.  I became management and he became labor.  Not a great dynamic for a marriage.  We were never a passionate couple and that may have made the parting easier.  We also continued to share custody and responsibility for the children.  Our dynamic makes more sense outside of the marriage relationship.  We are not the friends we were in college, but we have never been enemies.

My second husband was another story.  The last six months we were together he was astonished why I would still want to be divorced when things between us were getting so much better.  I had just resigned myself to saying yes to anything just to get him to sign the paperwork.  I didn’t throw his clothes out on the lawn and kick him out, but as soon as the divorce was final I got rid of most everything he’d left behind.

My first husband had reason to stay in touch.  I had to change the locks so he’d stop ‘dropping in‘ on me and the kids.  I had to get my friends to move some of the valuables we’d agreed were to be his to his house or he wouldn’t have taken them.  I had to say “It’s been a year, the ‘stuff’ that’s mine and the ‘stuff’ that’s yours is no longer negotiable.”  When the kids need something he’ll buy it.  When there is a childcare issue or a transportation need he’ll step in.  Rarely do I get push back on any request and my decisions are my own.

My second husband was a pest.  He would call “just to check up” and then bitch about how miserable he was.  He would write scathing messages on facebook about how I shouldn’t say nasty things about him to my friends.  He signed a paper that said anything left after he moved out was mine.  Six months later for the courts he signed a paper saying all our property had been distributed and he had his and I had mine.  Six months later I got threats about all his stuff that I had no right to be keeping because it was his and not mine.  He wanted to keep tabs on my 17 year old daughter and 21year old son.  He accused me of not letting them speak to him, as though I could have prevented it had they wanted to call.

Separating for autonomy sometimes requires being left alone to make your own decisions and your own mistakes.  I hope that my daughter continues to call me regularly but I can’t make her because I need to know if she’s coming home for dinner.  The same is true with the two new covens.

One of the new covens holds to the old law, to have no contact with the old group.  The interpretation they are using says that this restriction lasts for a year and a day.  They also distinguish between friendship and religious practice.  There will still be phone calls to touch base on a personal level.  The old coven leaders will not be guests at the new coven’s rituals.  At least not for a while, until the new group has time to establish it’s own traditions and group dynamics.

The second new coven does not seem to hold to the law in this regard.  There is concern about how the old group will perceive the validity of the decisions in the new coven.  The old coven leaders are welcomed and encouraged to participate in rituals for the new coven’s members.  Autonomy seems to be limited by personal authority, which from my perspective is being undermined by the old authority.  There is no question about who is running the group day to day.  There is only a question about where the power for decision making truthfully lies.   Who holds sovereignty?

It’s clear that parting company is difficult.  It is even more difficult to achieve with both grace and autonomy.   When we desire to take sovereignty of our own lives and our own spiritual paths are we truly the best judge of when we are ready?  If it is not necessary to ‘cut the ties’ in anger, why is that so common?  Is it a necessary stage of development to separate ourselves from our parents (biological or spiritual) in order to truly recognize our own sovereignty?

Erynn Rowan Laurie Pilgrimage to Ireland

Seeking Brigid: Sacred Well, Holy Flame
Pilgrimage to Ireland, 2012
July 11-18, 2012

Join author and poet Erynn Rowan Laurie and the Sisterhood of Avalon for a seven-day pilgrimage to Ireland, exploring our connections with the Goddess Brigid, patron of poetry, smith craft, and healing. With the breathtaking landscape of Ireland as our backdrop, our time together will be spent engaged in conscious sight-seeing, scholastic inquiry, and spiritual exploration inspired by Gaelic tradition. For pricing and the full brochure, click here. All over 18 are welcome. Only 12 openings are available.

For more information about the pilgrimage please visit this site

*******UPDATE*******

This just in.

There is a ticket available for a reduced rate of $1,400.00.

Contact pilgrimage@sisterhoodofavalon.org

For more details!!