Mercury Direct @4 Gemini


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Astro-LOA FLASH: Mercury has turned DIRECT, symbolic of things picking up, going with the flow, getting a move-on. It’s a poignant moment, so gather the information of the last three weeks, including all the slips, slides and snafus, and move forward with new wisdom. New vision. New commitment to your deepest driving desires. Key to your next step: think it through.

This is tortoise energy, not hare.

Just because Mercury is no longer retrograde doesn’t mean things shoot forward at the speed of light. We are till in the “shadow zone” so look for real progress on or after the 27th of June.

Until then, patience. Plan. Enjoy. Live. If you did your reflecting during the Rx, then new insights and awareness will flow with this steady momentum.

Cafe Astrology Rx Cycles 2015

04 May 2015 10:17 am 04 Gemini 34′ Mercury Enters Rx Zone

18 May 2015 09:43 pm 13 Gemini 09’Rx Mercury Stationary Retrograde

11 Jun 2015 06:28 pm 04 Gemini 34′ Mercury Stationary Direct

27 Jun 2015 00:22 am 13 Gemini 09′ Mercury Leaves Rx Zone

Don’t forget to acknowledge how well you’ve handled the retrograde. To get you started, try some Hot Guy Support – Mercury Rx. Also, note where this “direct” motion is happening in your natal chart. That’s where you put your focus and rev those engines.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_smlOnward and upward!

If you want to learn more about astrology and the law of attraction, join the GVA Circle over at Good Vibe

11th House Blog Members, email me if you want a 30 day free trial.


Venus Luxuriates in Leo


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Venus Embellished by Michael Parkes

Venus Embellished by Michael Parkes

Astro-LOA Flash: Venus enters the sign of Leo on June 5th, 11:32 am EDT. This ingress happens every year around this time but . . . where Venus usually transits for a month or so in each sign, this sojourn in Leo will last five full months, until October 9, 2015.

The retrograde zone is virtually active the whole time, from June 21 to October 9th.

Mercury Rx Shadow Zone from Cafe Astrology

Mercury Rx Shadow Zone from Cafe Astrology

For a quick refresher on the extraordinary synodic cycles of Venus, visit this short tutorial here that demonstrates the retrogrades and STAR patterns. It’s amazing!

What to expect with Venus in Leo?

Leo is a FIRE sign, positive, outgoing and FIXED in motion. Think fire of the heart, passion, creativity, courage and generosity. Venus here gets her flamboyance on. She love drama anyway but during this period, she’s bent on waking up everyone’s inner prima donna. If you have a creative outlet, excellent. If you don’t, find one. Now.

Venus has to do with our core values, what really carries weight and meaning in life. If you aren’t living yours, expressing them in your career, relationships, home, family, creativity, you’ll lose the ability to pretend things are ‘fine’. Especially during the retrograde period from July 25th to September 6th. The WILL is empowered and if you don’t have healthy, authentic outlets for your drives, rejected energy turns in on itself. In such an event, the body is likely going to cop it.

Leo rules the heart, upper back and with Venus reigning, the HAIR. ANY health issues at this time are messages from the body that things aren’t quite right. Get to the heart of whatever it is you are repressing and release, release, release. For help on Eliminating Tolerations, see the GoodVibeBlog.

Even though Retrograde, Venus in Leo has dignity, warmheartedness and compassion. Wherever this is happening in your chart (where you find the degrees of Leo) you can turn on your creative fire, your love and your charm! Yes, you’re going to re-evaluate EVERYTHING in this astrological house(s), but the results are always a more authentic you!

Hints by zodiac sign for WHERE you want to relax, rethink and restore.

AriesARIES: Venus through your house of creative self expression is fabulous for artistic pursuits and child-like play. Pre-pave your true desires here. This is also a charming time for romance but with the retrograde, it’s likely things will flare from ex-current-ex, lukewarm to sizzling again. Wait until October to make a decisions.

TaurusTAURUS: This cycle is all about the home. Are you Queen/King of your castle? If not, why no? Take this time to get the home life correct. That means family as well as the physical dwelling. You might have a major re-evaluation of life style and location. Consider long; make major move after Oct 9 if possible.

GeminiGEMINI: If you have a career in writing, teaching, studying or any form of the written/spoken word, this is your time to gain major accolades. Put your works in front of eyes that matter. Proposals could take yonks to hear back on but the results are potentially spectacular. Involve yourself with a sibling, cousin or community.

CancerCANCER: Venus in your financial sector says “shake your money maker.” Put yourself out there while you dream bigger than you ever have before. No more shyness before all things. Bold, bright and beautiful is your manta. Check into your core values. Make sure you are living yours to the max!

LeoLEO: This is your sun sign/Venus conjunction and it gives you double the charm, double the allure and ten fold the vivacity. Use this energy, especially on your own self development. Reconsider everything from wardrobe to walk, style to elocution. Your whole image gets a change up. Be MORE you.

VirgoVIRGO: Your life force glows from the core of your heart to the outer reaches of the cosmos. People will notice the change. Compassion is amplified, and so is a hard to pinpoint charisma. This is where you give to the greater oneness of life, like a beneficent goddess of antiquity. And, follow your heart wherever it leads.

LibraLIBRA: The life of the party, the charm and enchantment in any group, you shine among friends, center stage. Like truth serum, when it comes to your closest others, Venus reveals who is loyal and who has moved on. Expect some reshuffling where attachments are concerned. Amp hopes and wishes for the future!

ScorpioSCORPIO: Whatever you are after on the career front, smile and it’s yours. Just take note, during the Rx cycle, you may discover that what you thought would make you happy doesn’t cut it anymore. Revisit your core values and trust guidance to pave the way to what you heart desires. Can you imagine this clearly?

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: Expansion is your style and with Venus in your solar travel sector there’s plenty of potential for all levels – mind, body and spirit. As you ready for new horizons, think of sharing the adventure. Venus wants to partner and in Leo it will make the journey doubly sweet. An old flame resurfaces . . . perhaps?

CapricornCAPRICORN: All work and no play will only piss Venus in Leo off, royally. You want to schedule in some fun around all the empire building. There’s a chance to rethink your approach to intimacy. It might change the way you view life. Be it tarot with a friend, deep and meaningful conversations or sizzling passion, doors open now.

AquariusAQUARIUS: Consider the power of pre-paving when it comes to all your personal, one-to-one socially significant relationships. You don’t want to let this opportunity go untouched. Get to the core of what you REALLY want when it comes to partnership, biz or pleasure. What unfolds now will enlighten you, if you let it.

piscesPISCES: Note: any issue with the body is a message that something isn’t quite right. You want to jump on this, not through “treatment” but by listening. What is it that you repress? Release that now, and put some love into your nutrition, exercise, work and magic. Creativity and passion bloom at the strangest times! And that time is now.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_mdmCheck my 7 minute Youtube tutorial on the transits of Venus.

If you want to learn more about astrology and the law of attraction, join the GVA Circle over at Good Vibe

Happy Venus into Leo, Everyone!


The Art of Confusion


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Rob Gonsalves‘ surrealistic paintings

Astro-LOA Flash: Mind boggling Mercury Retrograde square King of the unconscious sea Neptune over the next two days. It could be a time of confusion, there for your support and pleasure.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 12.43.20 pmWhat? Since when is confusion our friend?

Since now!

No, I haven’t gone nuts. I’m saying confusion can be a goldmine, if you approach it with the right perspective.

out-to-lunch-signs-printable-out_to_lunchThink of it this way. Confusion releases you from your relentless path or goals, giving you a time out to question your best course of action. It ties in with the idea that Mercury Retrograde is all about review, reflection and release. Add in the non-linear, right brain Neptune energy, and basically, it’s best to be out to lunch, for now!


Research is also showing that confusion is a good thing. It means you are beginning to understand!

Confusion is a natural part of learning. If I’m not getting confused then I’m not learning enough. – 

Confusion helps us let go of old ideas, set points and beliefs. It’s the stage of the hero’s journey where we get lost in the woods, deep in the liminal regions without a map. When that happens, we will find new pathways, something nigh impossible to discover if the way is perfectly clear.

If you can get on board with a dose of confusion, this weekend is going to be auspicious. If you fight it, it’ll be a pain in the butt, your choice. The idea is to allow the seas of Neptune’s unconscious to wash over you. Be lost, at this time, and see what rises up from the journey.


Step 4 – Writing Skills to Master


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writingpiconceToday I’m offering another post in the Steps to Publication Series. It’s re-blogged from Bang2Write, a fabulous site with practical writing insights for both screenwriters and novelists.

Remember, this ongoing blog series isn’t necessarily linear. See it as a mobius loop where you find your own starting point. Jump in where it’s relevant to you.

The tips below might already be mastered, well and truly part of your writerly toolbox. If so, excellent. If not, learn them! They’ll help you on your road to publication!

10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now

By On May 27, 2015

Professional formatting = Professional layout = Professional grammar, spelling & punctuation = Professional writing. It’s not rocket science.

Yet as anyone who spends any time reading writers’ submissions knows, this too often so NOT the case! Look, the odd mistake or typo will always slip through. NO reader, agent, producer or assistant worth their salt will ever care about that. What we’re talking about are the CONSISTENT CLANGERS that can get you marked down, or worse, thrown in the dreaded OUT tray!

So here’s a list of those little, niggly things that can mean so much to your spec screenplay or unpublished novel when you’re sending it out. . .

Let’s start with the first 5 tips from Bang2Write

1) Fonts

i) Screenwriters

Believe it or not, screenwriters STILL submit spec scripts in fonts other than courier. Make no mistake: this is a non-negotiable. This includes short films, feature screenplays and YES, spec TV Pilots as well! No one cares if there’s a template for whatever *type* of show you’ve written, just write it in courier. By the way, Courier New is a horrible version, it’s much lighter than Courier Final Draft or Courier Prime and will give manual formatting via MS Word away in seconds. Download software!!!

1.courier font

MORE: The B2W Format One Stop Shop – A complete rundown of all the format issues I see most often in spec screenplays, plus what to do about them.

ii) Novelists

If you’re making submissions to agents, or even if you’re not and publishing straight to the Kindle, the preferred font is Times New Roman.

2. TNR font

MORE: 29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent by Carole Blake from the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency.  Read these horror stories and weep!

2) Layout

i) Screenwriters

Remember, scene description is scene ACTION. Make sure you revitalise your scene description, avoiding camera angles and other niggly things, like “widows” (aka “orphans”), which are single words that occupy a line all by themselves. Too many of these little blighters and you can end up with a false reading re: your script’s page count, plus it just looks scrappy.


ii) Novelists

As it says below, novels need to be double-spaced. That’s just the way it’s done. So do it.

3. double spaced

MORE: Struggling with your prose? Then check out 8 Ways To Jump Start Your Novel’s Description.

3) Apostrophe Confusion

This error is probably Numero Uno in the spec pile, whether I’m reading screenplays, pitch material or novels. This is a real shame, because it’s actually easy to get a handle on this, if you’re disciplined (that’s the bad news). The good news is, there are plenty of strategies to deal with apostrophe confusion and even cure yourself altogether.

It’s NOT difficult to see why apostrophes cause so much confusion. There are three main ways these slippery little sods can cause headaches for writers: contractions, plurals and possessives.

i) Contractions

Contractions are basically two words squished together, as below.


Contractions are easy to check, because all you need to do is think about what you’re REALLY writing, such as the below:

“You are the one for me”:'re vs. yourMORE: 5 Killer Grammar & Punctuation Errors That Will Sink Your Reputation … And Ways You Can Fix Them! By Michelle Goode AKA @SoFluid

ii) Apostrophes vs. Plurals and Contractions

Sometimes people will put an apostrophe in a word that’s actually a plural. It’s rare you need to do this.  Other times, people will think it’s a word is a contraction, when it isn’t. Check these out:

12. contractions and pluralsiii) Possessives

Other times, you need an apostrophe to indicate something belongs to someone / something else. This is admittedly quite weird and theories abound for how it happened, but my favourite is the one that stuck in my mind and helped me remember:9. possessiveThe notion behind the above is that the English Language is SEXIST as the apostrophe formation is always derived from the word “his”, whether the subject is male OR female. Who knows if it’s true and frankly who cares (How’d we even say, “Lucy‘r writing”, rather than “Lucy‘s writing”??), but it is a handy way of remembering the possessive!!

4) Tenses

There are obviously loads of ways of expressing yourself with language and if you’re a non-native  speaker or an EFL/ESL teacher, you’ll know there’s loads of tense formations in English. But for the sake of clarity, let’s go with these ones:

4. TENSESi) Screenwriters

Screenwriters should write in the PRESENT SIMPLE. Lots of scribes write in present continuous, which can be very “flabby” at worst and at best, take up extra space. Present simple, that all-important /s/ format is the tense of choice. That’s not to say you can’t EVER use the continuous (aka “progressive”), just use it in addition to, NOT instead of, present simple. It’s rare screenwriters ever need to use the perfective aspect. MORE: Improve Your Writing

ii) Novelists

Novelists and non fiction writers, bloggers etc can obviously use whatever they want, include the PAST versions of the above tenses. However, it’s really important to remember CONSISTENCY IS KEY. I see a lot of seemingly random mixing and it rarely works. MORE: Exercises on tense consistency

5) Mixed Tenses

i) Screenwriters

The ones below are probably variations of those I read most often. In screenplays, in scene description, it’s nearly always a massive error to include them (not so much in dialogue though, as it could be argued it’s the character, not the writer, using the mixed tenses!).

ii) Novelists

In terms of novels, I think it depends on HOW you’re writing your book. If writing in the first person or using a narrator, it could be argued mixed tenses are okay because it’s *how* “normal” people speak. I’d venture using mixed tenses in the third person however looks like a mistake, rather than a deliberate style choice.

8.mixed tensesSo you know: mixed tenses *can* be a massive pet peeve of script readers, though the tide of public opinion appears to be turning in their favour. That said, if you are going to use them, I think it’s wise to ensure readers KNOW it’s a considered choice and not just a mistake!

The next 5 tips are on the Bang2Write page. Head over there to tick off what you know and where, if anywhere, you can improve.

Thanks Lucy for the insights!

More Steps to Publication Series HERE.


Laugh with Mercury Rx


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Chelìn Sanjuan

Chelìn Sanjuan Magical Realism

Astro_LOA Flash: Mercury turns retrograde, an apparent backward motion from May 18 to June 11 and crossing 13 to 4 degrees of Gemini. You can see the full retrograde zone below.

Retrograde zone via Cafe Astrology

Rx zone via Cafe Astrology – click to enlarge


Learn more about transiting Mercury and Mercury Retrograde in these tutorials.

It’s definitely Trickster time and the best approach is to LAUGH! That really is good medicine.

Not that there’s anything pathological going on, but seriously, loosen up. Approach this time with a lighthearted curiosity.

Review what Mercury Rx mean. Metaphorically, the messenger of the gods is slowing down, going back over old territory, signalling a time for you to rethink your beliefs, MO, approach, actions, desires and above all thoughts, especially in the area of life where you find 4 – 13 Gemini. If you aren’t sure, ask for help in the comments!

To allow for change, we have to get flexible with our ideas. So now is the time to be more open, curious and ready to see another perspective. Relish this! It’s a chance to grow in so many ways.

What about buying computers, losing keys, traveling and signing contracts?

I receive a lot of emails that begin with, “I want to  _____ but am freaking out because Mercury is Rx. What do I do?”

The answer is, you relax. Remember? We are meant to rethink things, reconsider and see the world in a new way. If we stay open, curious and laughing, and ready to welcome Trickster energy into our lives (because the Trickster only shows up when we are stuck and need a shake up!) then Mercury retrograde becomes an enlightening time, restorative and refreshing.

At the same time, it makes sense to allow for potential delays. Leave for the airport a few minutes earlier. Double check for the tickets, the keys, the shopping list the passport. Research more than shoot from the hip. Become more zen, more aware.

You can see how this is good for the soul, yes?

Hints by zodiac sign for WHERE you want to relax, rethink and restore.

AriesARIESThe Mercury Rx puts the Trickster in control of your tongue. You say one thing and they hear another. Emails, sans body language, get misconstrued. Don’t even think about sending text msg without punctuation. But it’s excellent for revising manuscripts or creative projects put on the back burner. Go there!

TaurusTAURUSUse this Mercury Rx to get in touch with what really gives you a sense of peace and happiness, then let go of the outmoded core values and actions. Awareness through stillness is the first step. It will lead to skill and talent development that is more authentic than you ever though possible.

GeminiGEMINI: Mercury Rx meanders through your home, work, Self and relationship life. Everything! Best reflect on what you believe about what you do, where you do it, whom you do it with. How? Just set an intention to notice the things you like about your life and smile. Exhale and limitations are going, going, gone.

CancerCANCER: With Mercury Rx in your solar 12th house, it’s time to go ‘in’ and listen to your dreams. Not daydream fantasies of achievement, goals, challenges and actions, but really sink deep into the depths of your soul. What messages are welling up from there? Watch for synchronicity, tune into feelings, receive.

LeoLEO: Mercury Rx in your 11th house of friends and groups can turn the usual gatherings into a herd of wild horses, all galloping off in different directions. Not lot of control. Allow for a new view when it comes to social connections, and find ways to relax amid the chaos. Gems emerge when you aren’t looking.

VirgoVIRGO: Career, mission or profession can feel like a dream time journey, with the auto focus weaving in and out! This is good news! For the next three weeks you let go of trying to micromanage your future and ‘make things happen.’ Let your neurons relax so the universe can open new doors to infinite possibilities!

LibraLIBRA: Travel or study plans turn into the trickster’s playground for the next three weeks. Deep breaths. Remember, it’s not about forging ahead right now, but finding peace and serenity in the midst of contrast. Take time out to reconsider your world view. Is it what you think, or what you are expected to think?

ScorpioSCORPIO: Mercury Rx in your house of shared resources has you reconsidering any joint financial arrangements, both income and debt. As you sift through possibilities, you’ll discover creative ways to organize and restructure the boundaries to your liking. You decide, but not yet. Let it marinate for a while. Go have fun.

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: Communication with partners, practical or intimate, goes a bit zany– muddled and/or blurred! It’s not the best time to come to any conclusions as wires get crossed. Use your gut feelings to make choices that can’t be delayed, and ask what you believe about partnerships. Rethink your relationships, without judgement.

CapricornCAPRICORN: Mercury Rx through your 6th house of well-being says reconsider your lifestyle. Is this really what you want, or are you there because of circumstances ‘beyond your control?’ (ha!) Take stock of your nutrition, exercise, healthy care, comfort zone and routine. Start with what you believe about your body!

AquariusAQUARIUS: This is a time to go into cruise control on the creative realm and practice the art of allowing. Think play, recreate and relax. Consider where you can expand your beliefs and live more in the ‘now’. The goal is to drop judgment and experience life in the red hot moment. And it will be red hot!

piscesPISCES: Thoughts turn to home life, family and symbiotic connections. Give yourself enough ‘me’ time to appreciate recent inner growth and development. Ask what family means to you. Home? Is there anything you believe that could be limiting your experience of others? Listen. Love. Reflect!


If you want to learn more about astrology and the law of attraction, join the GVA Circle over at Good Vibe

Happy Mercury Rx, Everyone!


How to Get Published – Step 3


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Lost in her Thoughts - Samy Charnine

Lost in her Thoughts – Samy Charnine

An abridged version of this post appeared on May 16th over at The Supernatural Underground.

Hi Everyone! Next in the Steps to Publication series: the opening line.

Every story begins with a spell, invoked through the opening line. We can expand this to say every chapter, every scene and even every paragraph also begins with a spell.

Why? According the the Harry Potter universe, an opening spell facilitates the passage between two zones, creating an accessible connection. In the case of fiction, the connection is between the reader and writer, a conduit that transports both to a “secondary world” where the story takes place.

Think of the opening spell as the magic that draws the reader in, convincing them to sets aside their ‘real’ world responsibilities and immerse in the pages. Like any good spell, there are a variety of ways to go about it, but realize this inaugural line is rarely written first. Often the first line, paragraph and chapter are edited and revised for days, weeks and months after the story is completed.

Of course, there are exceptions. Stephen King, for example, creates whole stories around the opening line:

Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer‘s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both. I think that’s why my books tend to begin as first sentences — I’ll write that opening sentence first, and when I get it right I’ll start to think I really have something – Stephen King

To make this opening spell powerful, you have to be willing to give it your all. It might help to identify your approach. Here are four to consider:

  • The plunge – shock and awe
  • The mood – voice and style
  • The compel – it’s irresistible
  • The back story – the table setter

Ingredients required for each will vary. I’ll break it down but note all will require a measure of time, imagination, paper and pen or word processor, and of course, solitude.

How ever you create the opening line, it must always whisper: Listen to me . . . Stay with me . . . surrender to me . . .

1) The Plunge

This opening spell is usually dynamic, dangerous and always in medias res. In other words, it starts in the middle of the action, where disaster doesn’t have long to wait.

“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

“Sammy’s voice was low, his fingers warmly persuasive. Terri Garey, A match Made in Hell

“I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.” Pamela Briggs, Moon Called – Mercy Thompson

‘Where’s papa going with that axe?’ E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“Mother, I’m in love with a robot.” Tanith Lee, The Silver Metal Lover

“Screaming, I slashed and kicked wildly.” Jocelynn Drake, Nightwalker

2) The Mood

The Lost Correspondent - Jason deCaires Taylor.

The Lost Correspondent – Jason deCaires Taylor

These opening spells tend to be more world building. They rely on voice, and the promise of what is to come.

“Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.” Brandon Sanderson – Elantris

“Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.” Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

“By the time the first AIVAS had finished its recital of the first nine years of the colonization of Pern, the sun, Rukbat, has set with an unusually fine display. Anne McCaffrey – All the Werys of Pern

“‘Ark-aawl’ —a hundred voices calling their territory from the treetops. Ly de Angeles – The Quickening

“The wind blew out of the northwest in dry, fierce gusts, sweeping across the face of the Gray Lands.” Helen Low – The Wall of Night

“In the days following the holocaust, which came to be known as the Great White, there was death and madness.” Isobelle Carmody – Obernewtyn

“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.” Trudi Canavan – The Magicians’ Guild

3) The Compel

Falling by Igor Grushko Vayne

Falling by Igor Grushko Vayne

This opening spell is often a cross between the Plunge and the Mood. It has elements of both.

“What I have chosen to do is shocking.” Traci Harding – AWOL

“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.” Jim Butcher – Blood Rites: the Dresden Files

“The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.” Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea

“Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.” Terry Pratchett – Hogfather

“On the second day of December, in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.” Stephen King – The Shining

On this last one, the author comments:

It sets you in time. It sets you in place. And it recalls the ending of the book. This isn’t grand or elegant — it’s a door-opener . . . There’s nothing “big” here. It’s just one of those grace notes you try to put in there so that the narrative has a feeling of balance, and it helped me find my way in – Stephen King


In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.

4) The Back Story

Back story as an opening spell is tricky. Readers want to be in the here and now, diving into what is, not what was. But with the right tone and pace, it can work.

Back story first lines deal with the past in a way that draws the reader in. We must be compelled to ask, “And then what?”

“Eight Months ago, I was attacked in the back alley of my home town and rescued by an uber-hot guy named Chaz.” Amanda Arista – Nine Lives of an Urban Panther

“I cam to London to write and found myself practicing magic instead.” Kim Wilkins – Angel of Ruin/Fallen Angel.

“I never believed in ghost.” Merrie Destefano – Fathom

“In the early 1800’s a man named Amadeo Avogadro hypothesized a number—a baker’s dozen for chemists, but in his equation hid a paradox, one that could alter reality with a single thought.” Kim Falconer – Path of the Stray

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” JRR Tolkien – The Hobbit

Whether the opening begins with fear, shock, surprise, a problem, a question, a character or history, if you keep reading, it has done it’s job.

A few things that may not work as opening spells

Note: There are exceptions!

* Dialog, unless we have a strong sense of who is talking and care.

* Exposition. We don’t want eyes to glaze, ever.

* Superfluous characters or info, because  . . . it’s superfluous

* Introducing too many characters, foreign names, places or things we can’t relate to or prnounce.

Have a look at your favorite authors and genres, noticing their approach to opening lines. What do you think works best? The Plunge? The Mood? Back story? I’d love to hear them in the comments!.

You’ll find more Steps to Publication HERE!


How to Get Published – Step 2


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Would you want to read this?

Welcome back to the Steps to Publication series.

These posts are numbered, starting with Step 1, but this is not a linear process. See it more as a mobius loop where you find your own starting point. Jump in where it’s relevant to you.

Today’s topic is Formatting: How avoid rejection by doing it right

You know formatting is important, but do you know how to do it? Here are eleven key points to follow if you want your manuscript to be read by an editor, publisher or agent and not chucked in the bin because you were unaware of the guidelines.

Yes, there are guidelines. Most publishing houses and agents have them, so before you send, look them up and adjust your work appropriately before you submit.

It really is that important.

Here are the basics:

* 1″ margin on all sides
* Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman or Aria
* Double-space the entire text.
* Include a title page with your contact details and title of the work
* Number the pages, beginning with the first page of story text
* Use a header on each page, including your name, the title and date
* Each new chapter gets its own page, starting 1/3 of the way down the page
* Chapter number and chapter title are in all caps, separated by two hyphens
* Start the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.
* Indent fives spaces for each new paragraph.
If you don’t know how to format dialog – go here


Seems simple, right? As a mentor for the local writers center, I have yet to receive a ms that ticked even half the boxes for standard formatting. So, follow the rules. Check the agent/publisher’s specific guidelines, and get yourself in the habit of doing it right.

Remember, one of the fastest ways to be coming a professional writer is to get into the vibration of being one – and that means you know how to present your work!

Go to it!


Taurus New Moon Cruise


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The New Moon in Taurus is powerfully linked to Eros (passion), Mars (assertive energy) and Saturn (acuity). But things may not launch in a flash. It’s more like a slow burn, gradual, thoughtful, sustaining. In esoteric astrology there are four ‘serpent’ signs of transformation. Taurus is the first of them, the coiled up serpent energy that appears to be sleeping . . . until it awakens! Be ready for potent new beginnings.

LA. – Sunday 9:13 pm
NY – Monday 12:13 am
LON – Monday 05:13 am
SYD – Monday 2:13 pm

Until then, it’s the dark moon and Mercury is at a standstill, preparing to turn retrograde. The more you rest, muse, reflect and nurture, between now and the NM, the better. Once you spring forward, remember, it’s a time to rethink ideas and discover their source. Are they a true core value, or are you just going along for the ride? You decide, then prepave this time with your best, most cherished intentions.

Again, nothing happens in a rush, so settle in to a steady, measured progress, especially in the area of life described by the house of the New Moon. (Your house with 26 degrees of Taurus.)

Sign by sign horoscopes

AriesARIES: The new moon highlights your second house of core values and sense of ‘wealth’. What is it, inner and outer, that makes your feel secure? Your ruler Mars in Gemini is all about walking the talk. Find a balance between structure and spontaneity.

TaurusTAURUS: This is your new moon, the one that lights up all four corners of your life, Self-expression, home, career and partnership. It’s the perfect time to set new intentions, putting energy into YOU and what you want to create. What’s getting a revamp?

GeminiGEMINI: Taurus is your natural house of dreams and immersion in the collective. It’s a time of synchronicity, symbols and serendipitous connections. You will be generating new enthusiasm for a breakout solar year ahead. Muse, and create.

CancerCANCER: Time to indulge in connections, friendships and links with like minded others. This energy wants tangible results so remember the fortune cookie adage – to have a friend, be a friend. It’s your turn to give to the group. Participate!

LeoLEO: A month of public appearances, spotlight attention and new developments when it comes to your career, mission or profession. The key question is, are you doing what you love? The answer will define the rest of the year! Make changes where necessary.

VirgoVIRGO: Time to get out of your head, or the house, job, obligations and explore a new world. You are primed to taste, touch and smell new horizons, view the sights and appreciate every nuance. Travel, explore, expand. The world is waiting for you.

LibraLIBRA: Joint partnerships, especially where finances are involved, get a revamp. You decide how you want this to go, but it’s time to get practical and stop relying on outmoded biz models for shared revenue. Aim your sights higher and more will come.

ScorpioSCORPIO: One of your favorite new moons, Taurus puts the spotlight on relationship, especially sex and intimacy. No matter what is, or is not, happening in your life now, you take a moment to imagine it the way you want it to be. And so it begins . . .

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: All the taken for granted things of the household, studio, office, your pets, plants and plans, include gym and dietary wellbeing, are ready for new energy and attention. You put your mind to the ‘little things’ to make sweeping changes. Now!

CapricornCAPRICORN: A childlike creative impulse washes over you, infusing all you touch with smiles and laughter. Don’t be embarrassed! It’s natural for you to play right now. Set aside some time for fun, carefree expenditure of energy. You won’t regret it.

AquariusAQUARIUS: This new moon is your cue to put attention inward, into the home, family and sense of emotional ground and stability. Evaluate, appreciate and make repairs where necessary. This sets the stage for fabulous results. Trust the process.

piscesPISCES: The new moon in your communications sector has you translating ethereal notions and honing them down to practical affirmations. i.e., cut to the chase: Your words are powerful creators of your future. Say what you mean; love what you say.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_smlListen to the Align with the Stars call for the month of May over at

There Jeannette Maw and I talk about Mars into Gemini, Mercury Rx and the New Moon in Taurus and desires.

Happy New Moon.


Align with the Stars – May Call


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Consulting the Oracle by John Waterhouse

If you missed the call, the recording is up on the main page at GVA. Scroll down to:

May 2015 Align with the Stars Call

Over at Good Vibe Astrology, Jeannette Maw and I will be talking about the May Astro weather including Mars and Sun into Gemini, New Moon in Taurus and Mercury retrograde. We’ll be talking astrology and deliberate creation, otherwise known as Astro-LOA.

These monthly “Align with the Stars” calls are a chance for everyone to learn how to put Astro-LOA to practice. All welcome to the live gathering.

Feel free to listen and/or join in, ask questions or stream online.

If you want to use you chart as an example, that would be great. Please have a link to it ready either from the Gallery or your own upload link. To put your chart up in the gallery just follow this simple tutorial.

Call Times: May 13th/14th
LA – Wednesday – 3 pm
NY – Wednesday – 6 pm
LON – Wednesday – 11 pm
SYD – Thursday – 8 am

To stream online, (or download after the call) visit Good Vibe Astrology on TalkShoe.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_smlOr dial in on Phone Number: (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 25859

Open to everyone.

See you there!


How to Get Published – Step 1


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The Wizard’s Apprentice – Desktop Nexus

Hi everyone,

Welcome to a new series of posts in the Writerly Sector of the 11th House Blog.

Over the next few months, I’m going to share steps which lead to publishing success. The focus is manly on genre fiction, but much can apply to non fiction and “literary” fiction as well.

The steps to publishing success will be numbered, starting with Step 1, but this in not a linear process. See it more as a mobius loop. You may not be taking these steps in the order I deliver them. Find your own starting point and jump in where you are drawn.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

Mobius loops found in Rider-Waite-Smith tarot

Whatever stage you are focused on –

. . . finishing a manuscript, finding an agent, pitching your project, landing a contract, launching your website, amping your social metrics, handling interviews, talks and presentations, touring, and/or writing your next book . . .

– this series offers support, guidance, tips and feedback for your highest success.

Are you ready?

Step one. Make it your own.

Huh? What’s that mean?

It means, begin by writing the story you want to tell in the genre or blend that lights you up, with the POV (point of view) and voice and pace that feeds your muse. The operant words are you, you, yours. Later, when you are ready for revision (there is always revision) you’ll research your genre and nail it, hone the word count range, consider audience, publishers’ guidelines, tempo, pace etc. But first, make it your own.

Stephen King puts it like this:

When you write a story . . . your stuff starts out being just for you . . .

How do you make it your own?

I like what my yoga teacher, Adriene Mishler, says on this topic.

Find what feels good

In the case of the writer, that means find what feels good for the story. At the start, it’s incredibly personal. You may want to tune out the suggestions of others, family, friends, readers, editors, agents, publishers, until that first draft is down. They will be incredibly helpful for revision, but not yet. For now, it’s a “12th house journey” quiet, solo, immersed in the world of the your own imagination.

To accomplish this, you must feed your muse. This will be different for everyone, so tune in to your own inner guidance and find out what she or he prefers.

Quick guide to feeding your muse

images* Show up. You have a muse. Meet with her daily.
* Create a sacred space, a room, corner or desk to write UNDISTURBED.
* Ritual Routine – when is your writing time? Honor it like a god!
* Non-judgment. Anything goes at this stage. Let the story lead.
* Fuel the body – meditation, exercise, nature, food, water, sunlight, starlight
* Fuel your sensuality – connect to touch, taste, smell, sight, sound.
* Dream and synchronicity awareness. Messages come from here!
* Read more! Immerse in stories inside and outside your genre.

Do the work, one scene at a time.

Don’t set out to write a novel. That’s daunting. Set out to write a scene, and then another and another. In a matter of months, you have a first draft.

At this stage, it is completely your own.

Next we’ll look at the manuscript itself and the all crucial formatting. Many a good story has been rejected simply because the writer didn’t know how to present it. Before we talk about structure and editing, we’ll make sure the ms (manuscript) won’t be knocked back on presentation alone.

Question and comments welcome!


Void of Course Mars


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Bilder für jedermann or

Bilder für jedermann or “Bookworm” by Fenner Behmer

Astro-LOA Flash: Mars turns Void of Course in Taurus (see times below) giving us some coasting time until the big bang into Gemini. Think of it as shifting into neutral when you’re clocking a good speed. You have a certain momentum and now you can let things ride.

MARS VOID at 28 TAURUS 24′ May 9th/10th
LA – Saturday – 1:36 pm
NY – Saturday – 4:36 pm
LON – Saturday – 9:36 pm
SYD – Sunday – 6:36 am

MARS INTO GEMINI May 11th/12th
LA – Monday – 7:40 pm
NY – Monday – 10:40 pm
LON – Tuesday – 3:40 am
SYD – Tuesday – 12:40 pm

Things to do on a Mars VOC

Relax, sleep in, congratulate yourself on what is working, growing, flourishing, and allow the trajectory to take you to the next exciting step. Celebrate!

Things not to do on a Mars VOC

Push, shovel, slave, barter, badger, holler, wrangle, threaten, macro or micro manage, regret, chastise, judge.

Mars is the engine of the psyche. The action station! It burns the fuel to turn the pistons of your life, getting you out of bed in the morning to jump into a new day.

Learn More about the astrology – natal and transit – of Mars on this quick tutorial.

When VOC, it’s ideal to unwind while you fill the tanks! Why? Because Mars has just been through almost all of Taurus and you have burned your Taurus house/planets down to the nib. In the days of the void, you refuel! Joss Whedon, a Cancer btw and clearly adept and self-nurturing and love, says:

Fill the tanks, fill the tanks. Constantly watch things, and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show. – Joss Whedon

Whether your focused on business, art, helping professions, family, parenting, farming, it doesn’t matter. Find a way to refill what has been depleted. It might be reading, viewing, more exercise, less exercise, more nourishing food, fasting, massage, meditation, parties, sex, intimacy or time on your own. Your inner guidance knows what to do, or not do. Just fill the tanks.

NOTE: It’s usually the Moon’s void of course phase that we track, occurring for hours or a day every 2.5 days, but any planet, other than the sun, goes void of course. There are several ways to measure this. The contemporary way is to note when the Moon or planet is PAST the exact degree of its final major aspect while still in its current sign. So on the 9th of May, when Mars reaches 28 Taurus 24, it makes no applying aspect in that sign until moving into Gemini on the 11th. At that point it immediately applies to the square to Saturn at 2 Sagittarius.

Mars VOID is a really cool time to play with Jeannette Maw’s idea of doing nothing. Nothing but receive!

Let me know in the comments how you fill the tanks.

I’m putting in extra reading, meditation, conscious appreciation and making a career mood board. I’ll blog on that when Mars is in Gemini!

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_mdmWhat about you?


For Astro-LOA on tap, join the Circle.

Astro-Flash Mercury into Gemini


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Astro-LOA Flash: Mercury into the curious, AIRY, communicative GEMINI is all about moving energy around. Stir it up. See new angles. Open pathways. Mercury is also heading for an about face on the 18th – the second retrograde of the year.

Whatever is excited now, you’ll be rethinking and reflecting on deeply soon.

Find a ways to slow the zany trajectory and consider what is true, false, illusion, confusion or brilliance to you. Open your mind!

For support, check Mercury by Transit tutorial, and the Mercury Rx tutorial.

You also might like the hot guy support for Mercury Rx.



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