I completed my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo and the first draft of The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits on Friday. This book is the second in my fantasy series. It’s a whimsical, queer-saturated book in the “urban fantasy” genre.
Today, I begin the second draft revision.
Lucky LaFey (the Norse god Loki in mortal disguise) is a leading character. You’ll meet him in the middle of his search for Vali (his long lost son who was turned into a wolf by the Aesir and made to kill his brother Nali).
In addition to my plucky cast of human “Hermits” and outlier Elves who comprise the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, you’ll also meet Lucky’s seventeen witch daughters (called “troll women” in the lore–Loki gave birth after eating a sacrificed burnt woman’s heart); his part mortal/part elf/part Jotun son (with two biological dads–just ask me how!); a giant multi-dimension hopping salamander named Vesta who digs human architecture in a big way; the “Big Dipper”–a sinister Lake County CA guru; and Sigyn and Angrboda both make cameo appearances. Plus, the first book’s star villain, Anna Phylaxia, known as the “Martha Stewart of Kink” due to her line of BDSM-themed luxury housewares and linens, makes a comeback appearance. In the shadows, the lurking menace of U.S. government surveillance…
Thrill as Lucky (in his female-ish form of Lucia LaFey) battles the Big Dipper at a celebrity banquet by parodying his/her own Lokasenna. Sob as Lucky and his daughters uncover the nefarious doings of “the Dip.” And ponder as the human Hermits try to get a grip on what exactly their “witching work” is meant to be!
They don’t know it, but the Boulet Brothers and three seasons of Dragula have joined my private and exclusive cluster of “writer’s muses” for my fantasy novel in progress, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. (Here’s the Season 1 premiere of Dragula, on YouTube. Season 2 and 3 are on Netflix.) The goal of Dragula is to create “the Next Drag SuperMonster.” Their guiding principles are “drag, filth, horror, glamour” (and “punk” in the first season).
My goal is to complete the first draft of my second novel in the Ornamental Hermits fantasy series. My guilding principles are “magic, punk, art, glamour.” (I’m not so down with “filth” as I’ve changed far too many diapers in my time, and currently empty seven cat boxes twice a day… so there’s that.)
Right now, I’m in the middle of my annual participation in November’s NaNoWriMo. Since November 2nd, I’ve written 30,000 words out of a 50,000 word target. This is a writer’s competition–a challenge to pit my tendency to over-edit in first drafts against raw inspiration and creativity.
Over-editing in first drafts is the result of fear. It’s an unwillingness to commit to the entire plot, to put characters in jeopardy, to give all or lose all in love and hate and war, to race toward the exciting climax of the book. Much like the contestents in Dragula, I deeply believe in my writing, just as the contestents deeply believe in their drag. They create personas, constellations of characters, facets of being, visions, a “world” in which their drag selves are at play–suffering yet triumphant, always rising from the ashes. Damage breeds creation. Yet so often those hidden fears can mute or dim our full commitment, our performance of our art. Dragula challenges its people in just about every way imaginable. The Boulet Brothers’ constant admonishment is “do better, commit fully, show us who you are.” If you don’t, you “die” on the show.
Writing–world and character building–is my salvation, just as drag is theirs. Many of the Dragula contestents could feel right at home in the artsy, queer haven that is my imaginary “Hermitville Farm and Arts (and Magic) Collective”–and if not Hermitville, they’d enjoy “The Realm,” a place where there are at least twenty-nine genders among the Elves, and almost every Elf is capable of shapeshifting and summoning irresistable powers of glamour.
I am writing to create a home and a community for myself, even if that home is not manifest in the physical world and my book friends are all invisible. Drag performers participate in an already created, yet constantly mutating demi-culture of art, but acceptance is not necessarily ready-made. Still, I envy them.
The Boulet Brothers are not in the business of coaching writers, yet I am keeping them before me as inspiration. I imagine them telling me to not be lazy or play it safe, to expand the limits of my imagination, and to bring this into my writing (otherwise, Elimination Challenge!). And I love their witchiness (’cause, you know, I’m witchy and my books are all about the discovery of magic), and I love their mischief (’cause, you know, my divine S.O. is a Trickster), and I love their sex and gender fuckery (’cause, you know, I’m a sexologist–but there are compelling personal and creative reasons besides).
So in a moment I will leave this blog post and open up my first draft, and plunge into my daily word count challenge (about 2,100 words or so). I will light an imaginary candle (though I could light a real one–I have plenty) and summon my muses both inner and outer. And the magic of world and character building will contine. It’s my deepest joy.
Thank you, Boulet Brothers, for shining your dark so that others may begin to sparkle in chthonic depths, clawing their way into the limelight as fully realized creatures of art.
Loki has always been a “muse extraordinaire!” People love to write and sing tales of the exploits of Loki Laufeyjarson, the Northern trickster. From fan fiction to published novels, modern writers are no exception. I didn’t plan on making my second Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy novel all about Loki,” but he stepped into the plot during last year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve been working on the book since then, and now, in the 2019 NaNoWriMo contest (goal: complete 50,000 words in one month), I am certain I’ll complete the first draft of the novel before December. (The book already weighs in at about 68,000 words.)
I’ll try to provide a short glimpse of the book without too many spoilers. In the first book, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, my plucky gang of intentional community oddballs, known as “the Hermits of Hermitville,” were living happily on twenty acres of jungle and agricultural land in Pahoa, Hawai’i (the “Big Island”). But tragedy struck, Elves showed up, and chaos prevailed. The book is “a tale of mid-life magic” and if you’re over the age of fifty, you perhaps can appreciate the challenge of learning magic(k) in the midst of a (mid-life) crisis.
This second book, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, finds the Hermits fleeing to another location, here in California. And Loki, in his guise of “Lucky LaFey, a drifter,” bursts into the book from the very start. And my writing life will never be the same.
The Witching Work has a lot to do with Loki as a parent. He’s the mother of witches (in my book there are seventeen), a co-father to one of my book’s characters (that’s a bit of a spoiler), and also the heartbroken parent of Váli, the son who was transformed into a wolf by the Aesir, and who then killed his little brother, Nari. Nari’s entrails were used to bind Loki to a rock, while he writhed under serpent venom whenever Sigyn had to empty the bowl she held above him (to catch the dripping poison).
[Note: in some versions of this tale, Váli is named Narfi. I thought it would less confusing to use the name Váli.]
Loki’s seventeen witch daughters also appear in the book. They call him “Mapa” as he gave birth to them. Loki’s ever-complicated love life is also on display.
Loki the actual “Norse god” can be very interactive with those who pay him any attention. Since he is my “most trusted one” in my polytheist pantheon, he gets quite a lot from me. He seems to be quite willing to serve as a muse as well as my beloved deity and teacher (especially when the book is “all about him”). I enjoy his shameless delight in his own stories.
The beauty of this is that Loki, a shapeshifter, changes shape as a literary character too. “My” Loki (written and worshipped) is very different from “your” Loki, or the Loki of any other writer or devotee. He actively invites the union of my imagination with his inspiration, and laughs happily with the results. With his help, I’ve produced over 13,000 words in five days since Nov. 2nd. And the results are amusing and gratifying.
And now–I leave you to dive back into my manuscript, which is will get much more attention this month than my blog.
Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, the light has changed, the veil thins. Everything feels liminal… I love it! And there’s lots going on in the next two weeks: the 1st year anniversary of the dedication of Loki’s Lokabrenna Tiny Temple on the 28th–an observance which also represents with a deeper spirtual bond with my “most trusted one”; a witchy ceremony and “Dumb Supper” at my house on the 30th; Halloween/part of Samhain and a good friend’s birthday on the 31st; the second part of Samhain and my birthday on Nov. 1st; and another good friend’s birthday on the 4th!
These are some of the joys of a life lived on the left-hand path, though the term itself means many things to many people. I first encountered it in neo-tantra circles but of course it is used widely elsewhere. I associate it with witchery, tantra and sex magic, and other spiritual processes. I also imagine my last years as a creatively crafted life–something along the lines of the Addams Family meets Downton Abbey meets War for the Oaks, but with a punk rock /Helium Vola/ Hawaiian musicsoundtrack and a Leather Family next door. I suppose this is a topic for a whole other blog. Meanwhile, I collect too many glass jars and lids. (I’m either planning jar spells or storing food against the next zombie power outage apolcalypse.)
The mundane aspect of turning 65 next month has also brought the transition to Medicare. I have already fried more a few brain cells trying to figure out the unweildy assortment of supplemental plans.
I also, like most people in Northern CA, endured the PG&E power outage for three days (some endured it longer). But at least there has not been a fire this year to force me to evacuate my home. There’s a reason I make friends with fire deities and offer them cookies!
What comes after Samhain is going to involve another constellation of challenges. I intend go to “a place quite northwards, it seems”* in the next 6-8 months, to a place that is less isolated and more culturally active than where I live now. I’ve been well-sheltered by this house for the last two years, and have enjoyed my daily view of the lake and the mountain, but Lake County is not right for me. It seems I’m more suited to urban-ish environments than rural life and I need to find a better place to age, to spend the last decades of my life. A medium-sized college town, progressive and arty, will do me just fine. I know a place. I have friends there.
So this time of year involves reflection, liminal awareness, and a deeper opportunity to connect with my deities, guides, and ancestors. I am asking for their help in the coming year, of course, and Loki, my restless guide, is determined to not let me vegetate.
Hail Loki and all love to Freyr, Freya, Gerda, Bast, and Brigit as well! Love to the ancestors.
Now this one is hard. I have to choose “a favorite myth or myths of this deity,” which is the devotional exercise for today. Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. But there are gaps in Loki’s lore that fascinate me, particularly the children of Loki who are seldom talked about in detail: (1) the witch daughters aka “troll women” that Loki birthed and (2) the fate of that poor son who was turned into a wolf and forced to attack his brother. What happened to him after that?
I’ve got a series of fantasy novels in the work. The first, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, is done and I’m trying to find a literary agent now. The second one, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, is in progress. I didn’t plan on it, but Loki–in the guise of Lucky LaFey, the quintessential “handsome drifter”–inserted himself into the second book and now his quest to find his younger, missing wolf son is a huge part of the plot. (Read an earlier version of Lucky’s character sketch here.) We also get to meet some of his witch daughters (seventeen in all).
Below is an excerpt from The Witching Work where Lucky is speaking with Babe Bump (the first person narrator of this scene) and (spoiler alert) his newly rediscovered son, Oyster Olson.
FYI–Oyster and Babe are two of the “Hermits of Hermitville,” a fledgling magical collective in cahoots with a number of Elves. “The Dip” is a cult leader who may have imprisoned Loki’s missing wolf son in a cave at Mount Konocti, and “Ozzie” is the luscious Professor Osbert Almond, an Elf.
Here Lucky introduces the fact that Oyster has a slew of part-sisters (aside from Hel, of course):
“Mmm. I guess we do need to address that. And, Oyster, you’ll be meeting them someday anyway. More siblings. Sisters. Long ago, I gave birth to a number of witches after eating a woman’s heart.”
(Me: what the fuck?!)
“I forget how many of these daughters I have. Every hundred years or so, they have a reunion. I’m always invited but I don’t always go. I think the firstborn plans on teaching here, actually.” Oyster looked startled. “Son, I meant to talk with you about this. Just hadn’t had a chance. Sorry!” Then Lucky continued, “Anyway, three of my witch daughters help me with tracking the Dip and now they’ve infiltrated his operation. I was telling Ozzie that a fourth might be available. That’s all. But since I hadn’t told Oyster about his witch sisters yet, Babe, I didn’t want to tell you first.”
“You could have told me about them when I first learned that you were one of my fathers!” Oyster cried, “Remember me begging you and Dad to not hold anything back?”
“It’s just… not how I do things, kid. Try to not mind it too much,” Lucky patted Oyster on the back, a kindly gesture but I don’t think it was the one Oyster wanted.
Oyster gave up. He just lifted his eyes and gave a great sigh. “Ok. I’ll try.”
So, the above is first draft stuff. Not entirely smooth. But why am I inserting my own Loki story here instead of discussing something in the Norse lore? I’ll tell you: Loki was and is a potent and endlessly interesting muse. He fuels plot lines as easily as he shifts shape. Ancient storytellers love him, and modern authors too. And because I haven’t found much in the lore that speaks of the fates of these other children of Loki’s, I am free to add my own PLG, “personal literary gnosis.”
Writing this second book is a devotional activity, now that Loki’s involved. And I read it aloud to him as I go. I believe he enjoys the attention and the literary invention on his behalf.
Hail to Loki, my patron, and the most amusing muse that ever was.
Yesterday was March 6th. According to Susan Miller’s Astrology Zone March forecast for my Sun sign, that was my day for a big candy box of astro-goodies. I had (1) New Moon in Pisces in my fifth house (love and romance)–though I didn’t “go out and circulate” as advised, except for a trip to the grocery store and no, I didn’t meet a new love in the parking lot. (Gluten-free crackers were on sale though. That was a score!)
But perhaps all that action in my fifth house is what inspired me to launch my Neopagan Spectrosexuality and God Spouse survey this week? Looking for 100 good respondents who will actually fill out all ten questions. If you’re having spirit sex, I want to know. Totally confidential. (No one keeps secrets like a Scorp!)
According to Miller, I also had (2) Neptune doing the conjunct thing with the New Moon in Pisces, where the Sun and a retrograde Mercury are also canoodling. And (3) Mars is in my seventh house “partnership sector” which I guess is dandy, but since there is no human partner on the horizon, it seems kind of a waste. Now a literary agent–that’d be a treat! I could get serious about that!
So here I am, waving a nice internet signal flag (below) to the literary world and to fans of fantasy fiction at large. It’s a “showcase” of the first three chapters of the first book in my Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy trilogy–a tale of mid-life magic. It’s meant as a “teaser,” so please, purchase and be teased!
Showcasing the first 5 chapters of a tale of mid-life magic. A ragtag bunch of artists and musicians learn mystic arts and team up with Elves as they resist interdimensional baddies, a giant salamander, and the usual real estate developers. Set in the lava land of Puna in the “not too distant future” of a renewed Hawaiian Kingdom. The lead characters are trans and intersex, and many others are LGB and queer. The $3.00 profit from each copy…
Getting those five chapters into the MagCloud format, and launching it, was what I was doing yesterday instead of displaying my charms at the Foods Etc. parking lot in Clearlake. (Sorry, fellas!)
(4) Miller also heralds this March 6th astro-quake:
“Uranus into Taurus for the first time since 1934 to 1941. This means the influence will be brand new to you and most people living today. Uranus takes 84 years to circle the Sun and all 12 houses of the horoscope, spending seven years in each house this planet visits. The seven years Uranus will be in your marriage and partnership house will be from March 201* until April 2026.” (She wrote 2018* but that was obviously a typo.)
I’m twitching with anticipation. And since I’m 64, a Uranus in Taurus partnership just might get me through the remaining years of my life. We’ll see. If nothing else, I guess I’ll make a few more trips to the grocery store.
So, just as any good Scorpio would do, I ignored the romantic promptings of the stars and shunned human company so as to thrust two more projects out into the world in order to advance my aims for world domination. It’s a life that only my cats–and Loki–can understand. That is, until you read my five chapters and take the survey…
Then you’ll know…all!
P.S. Yesterday I found out that microwaving marshmellow Peeps is a popular form of consumer product torture. I never knew it was a thing. Is it kinky? Should I run a survey?
The “Broom Closet” is a term which refers to neopagans and witches who are not “out” about their religion and practices. As a sexologist and sexuality counselor, I have worked with many people who at one time or another had to emerge from a sexual or gender closet in order to lead a more authentic life. What I’ve just done is slightly similar, though more fraught with professional peril than with personal difficulties.
Of course it doesn’t escape me that outing myself as a witchy Lokean neopagan polytheist means my potential dating pool has now shrunk to the size of a small puddle, but hey, what’s not to like? (I mean that with the sincerest irony…)
So here’s the skinny. The last three years–after my divorce and the sale of our family home–have been personally and professionally difficult. I’ve been financially and geographically exiled from my beloved San Francisco Bay Area where my family resides. I’ve had difficulty re-establishing my professional practice in both Hawai’i and here in Lake County. Therefore I’ve struggled with a lack of interest AND motivation with regard to my work. The only truly consuming interest, besides general survival in a new region, has been a deepening of my spiritual life and the pursuit of magical knowledge.
I am a creature motivated by special interests. If I get bored with something, I drop it in favor of a compelling new shiny. Due to lack of business and time-wasting sexual harrassment by pretend clients, the field of sexology began to lose its appeal for me. I felt burnt-out. In Hawai’i, while working on my first novel, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, I began to study magic and witchcraft as research for the book. I was soon hooked by everything about it. Whee! Something that’s even more fun than just plain sexology or just plain hypnosis but which can absorb elements of both (e.g. sex magic, tantra, and trance work)! And I’ve always been a mystic anyway, since about age twelve… (FYI, I’m now working on the second in the Ornamental Hermits series.)
I’m also not good at compartmentalization. I can do it, but it always feels wrong and exhausting. Over the last several months, I’ve been longing to combine my spiritual life with my work life with my (non-existent) romantic life. I just want put it all together in one oddly shaped package as so many others have done before me, and then spend that released energy on more interesting pursuits.
That rune reading, done on Imbolc with the help of my patron deity, Loki, encouraged me to take the leap. That’s what Loki’s all about–pushing his devotees out of stuck places and into new terrain. At first I thought he wanted me to leave my sexology practice altogether. Now I realize he wanted me to MUTATE and deepen it. Therefore, I spent parts of yesterday and today re-writing my professional website to announce my new direction. Doing this does feel like emerging from a rather stale crysalis and my wings are still a bit crumpled and soggy. However, my new page, “FAQ: Out of the Broom Closet”, was actually a lot of fun to write.
Plus, the idea that I’ll be deliberately working in tandem with my deities and guides means I’m not going it alone any longer. I hope this means my clients will benefit from my improved access to insights and energy, gifts of the gods, belike.
Also the sexual harrassment from fake clients has been a source of worry, but I’ll be invoking protection and warding the heck out of my practice from now on. My Norse deities can be pretty hardcore…
So thanks to them, and Loki in particular, I am expanding and mutating once again. And with Freyr and Freya as deities of both sexuality and magic, I’ll also be appreciative of their ongoing guidance. I hope that in becoming whole, I’ll be doing work now that is “holy” in the best and most expansive sense of the word. I feel excited.