Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No One Alive Can Control a Murder of Crows

One of the saddest things a person can tell herself is “I can’t do this anymore.”

After some years, many people will utter a version of at least one of the following: I can’t go to work after a long night of partying anymore; I can’t have sex until walking straight becomes a faraway fantasy anymore; I can’t do twenty pull ups anymore; I can’t act like I’m twenty-one and bulletproof anymore… I just can’t freaking be who I used to be anymore.

Most of the items listed above (perhaps not the sexy bit) make complete sense when coming out of the mouth of someone who has lived a certain respectable number of decades.

But when you are a thirty-something-year-old hotness, who has always walked around in a fairly healthy body, saying things like: I can’t pick up a gallon of milk anymore; I can’t drive my car anymore; I can’t sit at the table anymore; I can’t write longhand for more than a few minutes anymore; I can’t miss sleep without consequences anymore… Pretty much, saying “I can’t anymore” can really break a soul in half.

Years ago, not being able to do the things I always enjoyed doing (I swear this is not an ad for an antidepressant *cough, cough, cough*)… Anyway, not being able to do the things I loved doing used to be really hard on me. After I hurt my hip, I was angry because “I could no longer wear a bikini;” and after I hurt my shoulder, I was livid because “I could no longer do pull ups.” A few years after that, chronic pain knocked on my door, and I raged and cursed because I could no longer do a shitload of other things.

Then I lived a few more years, learned a few more things… And I laughed at my younger self. Don’t get me wrong, I still hold her in my arms and let her cry when she feels cheated by Fate, but I mostly laugh at how silly that Magaly used to be. 

Less than a month ago, I received a partial diagnosis that seems to explain most of the acute health issues I have been battling against these last few months. I say partial because although I might be dancing with Ulcerative Colitis for the rest of my days, my doctor also believes that Crohn’s Disease has moved in, to turn our relationship into an irritable threesome.

I saw my cognitive-behavioral pain management psychologist (say that 13 times fast) a few days after I learned about the diagnosis. And I think the doctor might have been a tad worried because I walked into her office with a galaxy-size smile on my face. Maybe she thought I was in shock. I mean, it would only make sense that someone who is already living with two chronic illnesses would get really pissed off when told that now she has to share her life with an autoimmune disease, too. Right? Well, I’m not thrilled about having sores in my gut. But I’m deliriously happy that it’s not me, chronic pain and cancer doing this dance. That deserves a mildly psychotic grin, don’t you think?

But why are you telling us all this, deliciously Witchy Writer Woman? Oh yes, my Wicked Luvs, I can totally cyber-read your minds. I’m sharing this because I want—I need—you to know why Blooming Howls will be put on hold for two weeks: I’ve had too many medical appointments and more are scheduled on the horizon; in order to publish on the 31st, I would have to sleep very little and stress out a whole lot; and I don’t want to publish a book while I’m too ill to enjoy the process.

You see, my Wicked Luvs, in the last thirteen years, I’ve learned that “I can’t do this or that” is often a stinky load of lies. I can definitely wear a bikini as long as I don’t mind flashing my butt-scars. And who the hell says I had to handle a whole gallon of milk? I can buy half gallons. My Piano Man can separate a gallon of milk into smaller portions. And why would I pick up a gallon of something I don’t even drink?

I can do almost anything I was able to do when I was twenty-one and not in pain… I just have to use my ginormous, creative, beautiful brain to come up with realistic ways in which to do these things without half-killing my sexy and often throbbing thirty-something-year-old body.  

The title of this post is a quote mouthed by a character in the first story of Blooming Howls. And it is a half-truth. For the character is correct, “no one alive can control a murder of crows.” But why would anyone want to? One could just make friends with the birds; maybe get to know them and see about joy-soaring with them. Who knows, one could get all kinds of lucky… and find oneself guiding the flight of an uncontrollably happy murder.

So… it’s not that I can’t publish Blooming Howls on Halloween day, but that I’m not willing to make my flesh and soul miserable in order to do it. My gut tells me that November 13th will be the day. Does this cause me a little pang? Unquestionably. But I’ll fly with it…
Murder of Crows 2.0, by xWaxWingx

I’m extending the Blooming Howls Blade Giveaway, since it is a celebration of the book release. I’m going to amend the previous giveaway posts to reflect the change. And I will write a post with the details in a day or three.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Blooms and Howls in My Word Garden and the Strokes of SunshineShelle

“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?”
~ Unreal City, in The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot

In “To Know Them All the Way to the Bone,” I told you about the process behind the creation of the Blooming Howls inspired blade. Now I want to share a bit about the cover art, brought to life by Michelle Kennedy (AKA SunshineShelle artiste extraordinaire).

Shelle and I work well together. Okay, “well” might not be quite enough to describe the way our Muses communicate. This is how it goes: I send Shelle—who, by the way, lives thousands of miles from moi—a scene from the story I want on the cover; I include the full story (or most of it) for her to read; I describe poses, general shapes, moods… and then ask Shelle to use her skill-full magic with colors, contrast and everything else I have no clue about when it comes to painting.

I remember telling Shelle that the “girls are terrified, but they still find comfort in each other;” that the mood was to “be bleak, but promising;” that the consequences of the girls’ behavior have left them howling and buried, but there is hope for blooming.

The first sketch Shelle sent me contained all those feelings. I never told her what colors to use—I’m not a painter. But the moment I saw the contrast between sky and soil, between gray skin and bright blooms… I smiled like a glee-full lunatic, showed the art to my Piano Man, and emailed Shelle to tell her that she was painting goddess of them all.   

I’m sure that not every single person will see every single detail I wanted portrayed on the cover. But I’m certain that everyone who sees it will feel a lot of what Shelle and I wanted to share. And that is what matters; for art—words or paint—is all about emotions, isn’t it?

Blooming Howls is a collection of “word-seeds: characters, conflicts and plots sowing inside my Muse, blooming on my tongue, waiting to be howled through my fingertips and birthed into complete stories.”

When you read the table of contents, I’m sure you’ll notice a title or three, which you’ve seen before. This means that I’ve extended, added to, or concluded the telling of that particular adventure. If you’ve read any of the tales before, read it again; for there will be beginnings, tones, points of view, structures, endings and even new characters surprises.

Those of you who have emailing me with loving messages and give us our Lum death threats might be happy to know that “The Worst Faery in New York” is in this collection. Same goes for Regina, dearest Darlene, some new characters you’ll probably love and at least one youll certainly despise. 

Which of my characters are you most curious to know more about, my Luvs? Why…

Blooming Howls, by Magaly Guerrero
to be released on October 31st
unless the writer is eaten by something hungry and with great taste
or can’t get up after today’s medical visit…
which wouldn’t taste great at all

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Fancifully Twisted Halloween Masquerade

“Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde

The words mask and disguise can inspire thoughts of deception; but as Oscar Wilde’s quote suggests, this isn’t always true. Take Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as an example. In the play, a deceiving mask is a tool of revelation. Let us look at Viola, a young woman pretending to be a man who plays a woman on stage.

The outermost layer of Viola’s manifold masquerade reveals information about her world; and the inner bits of the same onion shed light on the wants and emotional states of Viola and every character with whom she interacts. The man-woman combination provides her character with the best means to obtain and transmit information she wouldn’t have access to, had she been just a woman or just a man.

Olivia, a character who doesnt pretend to be a man on or off the framed stage, must play with a different kind of disguise. As a noble unmarried woman, she has to hide behind a steward if she wants to remain part of her circle after her father and brother die.

I don’t think Shakespeare thought much of his era’s gender based limitations. In fact, I believe he uses Viola’s character and her layered masks to reveal his opinion in a safe manner. Viola’s success with Olivia and Orsino, a man interested in Olivia, can be attributed to her ability to address these two individuals as a woman and as a man. 

The woman under the mans face knew how to relate to Olivia. The same disguise puts her on an advantageous place when interacting with Orsino: she was able to use her voice because Orsino thought that it was a man talking to him. Had Viola come to Orsino as herself, he would have never revealed what he did. Not after saying that “no woman’s sides can bide the beating of so strong a passion” as his. 

It could be argued that Viola’s boldness arises from the fact that she gets to hide behind a man’s face, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate; for it is the creativity of a woman that originates the ingenious plot. Then again, it could also be said that the play is just fiction, and that Viola’s capable mind will always stay on stage. But isn’t fiction a dramatized kind of truth camouflaged under artful deception?

By dressing Viola as a man who acts and looks like a woman, Shakespeare offers insight into the complexity of gender issues. How wondrous that this message holds so much truth so many centuries later… Shakespeare doesn’t only show that women have a strong voice, but he uses all his characters to illustrate that gender roles can be a blurry concept, and that most characteristics aren’t gender specific. 

He presents Orsino, a man who shows traditionally thought woman-like behaviors; he is lovesick and sitting at home, waiting for a woman to come claim his heart. Olivia acts like the stereotypical thoughtless bachelor; she doesn’t care about Orsino’s love—she’s even annoyed by it—but when Cesario (Viola dressed as a man) charms her, Olivia asks him to marry her. Shakespeare uses deception to reveal veracities about gender, society and about individual identity, which would be too problematic to be discussed in any other way, especially while he was still breathing.

Are you wondering how all this relates to a Halloween party? Probably not, since you are a wicked witty bunch. But I’ll tell you anyway, I was thinking, how much of ourselves do we truly reveal through our choices of Halloween masks? What are you wearing this year?

Note: this was not the post I had planned for A Fanciful Twist’s Halloween Party. My original choice has skulls, a festive Caribbean sunset, and a child with an attitude problem. But yesterday, a former college mate asked me about Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and gender roles. I ended up re-reading everything I ever wrote about the play. When I ran into a paper discussing masks, truths and disguises, I was tempted to tweak part of it for the party… but thought it too long. Then a different friend shared a link to “Rhiannon Schneiderman Takes On Ideals Of Beauty And Grooming In Her Hilarious ‘Lady Manes’ Series (NSFW)”, and I just knew that this post was meant to be. I understand that it remains a tad long for a blog party, but I hope you enjoy reading it anyway. For me, it was a fun and rewarding piece to research and write.
The Face Behind the Mask, by Bress-Art

You’re probably muttering, dearest witchy writer, is there a giveaway? My thoughts exactly! So here is one… or three. When it comes to masks, layers and truths lurking (and screaming) under fictions, my tales tend to be queens. So I’m giving away a copy of

2. Thorn in Red, and
3. Blooming Howls (to be released October 31st)

If you own copies of my work, just let me know and the prize will go to the next person. Best of luck, my Luvs! Don’t forget to visit other Fanciful partiers. If you rather not take part in the giveaway, feel free to tell me. The winner will be chosen using Random.Org, and announced on November 3rdFly over to my sidebar to enter the Blooming Howls Inspired Blade Giveaway.