In Children of Stone, the story begins with Marai the shepherd's devotion to the goddess. He prays to his own form of Ashera but he's also added qualities of the Sumerian Inanna to her. Here's what I found on her from http://daysofyear.com/goddess-of-fertility-day/as we celebrate Fertility Goddess Day.
Asherah is still very much present in some parts of the Old Testament, though the translators have tried to miss them out. Here are a few examples:- The Garden of Eden story. Eve is the English name for Chawat, which is another name for Asherah. The serpent is also a symbol of the goddess. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are both epithets for Asherah found in Canaan. Solomon's Temple had an Asherah pole right in the middle of a temple garden (could this represent the Garden of Eden, home of the gods, and the pole represent the Tree of Life?)- The references to the Queen of Wisdom in the Bible are very much referring to Asherah. See the line "She shall be a Tree of Life to all who hold onto her".- Abraham blesses by God (El) above, and by the 'womb' of the deep, below. This is a classical reference to Asherah as the womb of creation and the primeval depths.- The Psalms make references to the 'womb of the Dawn', or the 'womb of Shachar' (the Canaanite god of the dawn), who according to Canaanite tradition was born from the womb of the goddess Asherah herself.- And the most important reference of course is in Deuteronomy 33, where the word 'Asherah' is clearly present, but was left out or purposefully changed or confused for another word by the scribes. Here is that verse: "YHWH came from Sinai and shone forth from his own Seir, he showed himself from Mount Paran. Yea, he came among the myriads of Qudshu, at his right hand his own Asherah, indeed, he who loves the clans and all his holy ones on his left."
So much of Marai's character is built around his infatuation/devotion over this goddess that the Children are easily able to lure him to their vessel and convince him to surrender himself. Here's a clip from Voices in Crystal. You'll notice how I use the ceremonial "standard-head" image above when he sees her.
---A rush of exotic vapor swept through his flared nostrils. He stopped blubbering, sniffed like a beast and then waited for his doom.
You still have the thought
We are Your Lady of the Star
If that is your knowing
If this pleases you
We can make her for you
See us now
A seductive female voice filled the shepherd’s thoughts.
Marai stood on complaining legs at the top of the dune and opened his eyes. Once again, what he saw knocked him to his knees. The instant before he buried his face in the vibrating sand, he saw a sweetly muscular girl-woman reclining naked in the exposed part of the milk crystal shape as if she rested in a giant, carved bowl. Her be-ringed hands cupped her large, round breasts, offering them to him. Marai’s senses stilled. He knew the image he saw wasn’t the real goddess, even if he wanted it to be. It was larger than life, but it showed movement and sighed in raptured breath. Pearls and golden shapes cut like crescent moons and stars burst from a crown that pressed ever so lightly into her abundant ringlets of hair, creating the illusion of a starry crown. Dozens of ropes of perfect pearls streamed past her offered breasts to the mound of black between her ripe, hard thighs. More pearl ropes, draped like a belt, hung about her wispy waist and ample, but firm hips. She appeared to be at most seventeen years old; a mature, but young woman. When she spoke inside his thoughts, her dusky, night-filled child-voice haunted him from thousands of his dreams. The image was every bit Ashera, goddess of the morning and evening star. It was an unknowable miracle.
If you long for a thing You create it for yourself When you see me Who am made of your every desire, Why are you so afraid to look on me?
Her lips moved, and her hot, impassioned breath came out of the image to ruffle his hair. She is so alive, he thought, but how can she be anything other than just an image? Marai ached to touch her, but feelings awakened in him earlier that night by the power of the voices left him chilled in fear.
The sight of me thrills your heart, Your loin leaps up for me Am I not the essence of She, The Evening Star? Look up, man of Ai, Do not bow your head See and delight in what has been given to you
The shepherd sat at the crest of the dune, pondering his situation. It’s not my Ashera. It can’t be. Why doesn’t the real goddess come to punish whoever creates this falsehood--unless it is? The woman in the milky globe continued to offer herself, then faded into rainbow colors and patterns dancing over the surface again. The sweet voice whispered inside his thoughts:
Enter me, my sweet, my man of Ai.
Arrival So I arrived Friday but really didn't see anyone til later. All were apparently busy in the throes of setting up, so I checked into my room. The hotel is an old beauty, but I learned it is closing without a buyer in 2 weeks - A shame as it has 2 huge indoor/outdoor pools with hot tubs - a family play area, a Tiki lounge, several bars, game rooms and everything is done up to look like the streets of New Orleans. I Hope there is a buyer who wants to make the few improvements needed to save such an outstanding looking place.
My performance I always felt like I sneaked in the back door on this event so there were many things I never learned until too late to do anything about them, such as exactly what the VIP status and ticket was and who had one, what the goody basket for the VIP ticket was and that it was completely separate and different from the baskets for the 50/50 raffle and different again from the individual author gift baskets on the tables which were separate and different from the swag and candy each author was expected to have in addition to other handouts. Evidently, everything I needed to know was on a Facebook page for Authors and Attendees. It was different from the Facebook page for Attendees. I made the discovery of the correct page two days before the event when all pertinent information had long scrolled by. There were plenty of socially awkward moments as I blundered through on my own damage control. I also did not know about the necessity of greeting and "squishing" all the authors with appropriate squeals of delight and then taking a selfie to post on the page afterward, thus I reacted poorly to being "squished" and found no pictures of me posted with other happy authors. Still, despite my faux pas aplenty, I would rate the event a 5 on organization but give myself a 2 or 3 on preparedness and having a clue despite the number of Cleveland Area authors in attendance who did have a clue.
Sales and lessons learned Do everything earlier, signups, getting and making gear, finding people who are actually willing to help me get set up and check to see if I am good to go. Find out what the event customs and requirements are (the ones that aren't mentioned on Facebook) from those who have attended previously. Work on NETWORKING. Unlike most authors I am not an introvert - except for my personal space thing - I'll go right up and engage you in a conversation, often at the wrong time LOL. It's all a learning process and I believe I will get better with proper guidance. Even so, I sold quite a bit which was a shock for me since my books are not standard issue romances, erotica, or paranormal romances and that seemed to be about 80% of the authors genre. My bookmarks (since they are my personal craft item and no 2 are alike) sold separately but with each I included a card and a blurb sheet with the URL for my e-book. These items were also free with a book. I sold my Book 1 print for half price @ $10 and gave a blurb sheet for the other books with the ebook link. It's more rewarding to me to sell an autographed print book with a bookmark than a random ebook, but I realize peoples lifestyles in 2019 are different. I mentioned that I was an ebook reader because I can whip out my phone anywhere and I can read while I am walking on a treadmill or elliptical or stationary bike at Planet Fitness. Everyone I mentioned it to told me that was a very good idea and thanked me for including the links.
I learned that I needed to publish many more short items and get into more anthologies and get the longer work out there annually. Most fun meet? Henry Tobin the model. Nice guy and not so full of himself as many models and actors become. If he looks familiar you'll see him on any number of covers featuring dark vamps, wolves, highlanders and so forth...I told him he wouldn't work out for any of my PRESENT story covers, but if I ever did a stand-alone novella with my character Prince Maatkare Raemkai he was very close (although too light-skinned as the prince's shift is the black dog and Lord of Death) I could work with that, however! Many thanks to Martha Lanham, Mary Sittu-Kern and all the other organizers for being unflappable in the face of the many crises that such major events entail; especially those I brought. I'LL BE BACK.
In honor of Fertility Goddesses and in honor of the great time at Perrysburg with it's mostly Romance Authors, I'm reposting my own character interview of Naibe-Ellit, one of the ROMANCE elements of my series. Go Girl!
Today we travel back in time to Ancient Egypt when the pyramids were being built…before the time of Abraham.
My name is Naibe-Ellit. It wasn’t my name until recently. I took the name because of a thought that came to me when I fell asleep. It was my first-formed thought.
I called out to her: “My Lady, My Goddess” when the big and pretty man told me to lie down in the bed of rainbows. I think always knew her. I think she was my mother. Maybe she was me, as he said or a kind of me but born from the stars instead.
Where was I born?
Do you mean the first time? I think it was in a place called Hazor or maybe Mari. Those names are familiar to me. I don’t have a good memory of the times or the places, just tall, tall walls and stones and women dancing and singing. I was so little. As for when? I can’t say. These places were destroyed before your time. Nothing but ruins now and talk of them in a book called “The Bible”. Men discover things and make up stories – hope they are true. I wish I could help them learn the truth.
I’d describe myself as…well that depends on when. I was not expected to live. I was small and could not nurse because I had a bad chin. Some women in the place (I know now it was a temple to Ashera) pitied me and cared for me. They thought it was cute to teach me dances and about my body as a vessel of the goddess even though my mind was dull. They did not know I learned anything from them, but I did. I learned to call on her.
When the man named Marai found me and put me in the rainbow place, everything changed. I became beautiful and I could think so clearly.
Mari I guess was where I grew up and then I lived with different men who wanted me to dance for them and be their goddess for a few nights. We traveled and then I came to a place near the foot of a great mountain. There I met Wise MaMa and Bone Woman.
Mean old Nahab and his friends always making me dance for them and play the goddess in their beds. They called me Brown Eyes.
I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I guess back then I didn’t know any better. After I was changed… I understood what had been done to me and began to “take back my life” as women in this time say.
Here’s how I looked before I was changed by the Children of Stone.
In the picture the author drew I’m about sixteen years old. Maybe you think that’s young and that I’m still a child, but in my time a girl became a woman when she discovered her first moon blood – maybe when she was twelve or thirteen. Marriage came soon after and within a year, if she survived, she had a child.
I suppose I had a happy childhood. I don’t recall being sad. I was mostly cared for and fed well enough to grow fat and juicy as a woman should be.
My relationships? Marai is my life.
Oh, I know there are women in modern times who think that such an attitude makes a woman weak, and it could do that if a woman was with the wrong man. Trust me, there have been plenty of those in my life. I like what he says:
That he is strong because I have been strong and he returns his strength to me. We are one heart. My writer lady could ask me to tell you what happens and tell you about some really tough times that come later in the story, but she calls that a spoiler.
I value my times with him and living my life every day. I value that I can heal people with a glance and create magic in their lives with a simple touch and a smile. The writer found a picture of me after I was changed.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR CHARACTER INTERVIEWED??
I'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU.
OPENINGS IN JUST A WEEK OR TWO.
CONTACT ME THROUGH MY FACEBOOK PAGE. https://www.facebook.com/groups/childrenofstonebooks/?fref=mentions&pnref=story.unseen-section
Next up is Christina Stovall. Welcome Christina!
When is the release of your next novel?
My next novel is scheduled for release on August 15th of this year. The novel, Boundless, is the third and final book in my Song of Souls trilogy. The first two books are Soulbound, and Soulfire.
The trilogy is a high fantasy story that centers around a young widow named, Aislynn. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident she discovers that they remained bound to one another. Through this bond she becomes part of an order of women known as the Soulbound, and is set on a path of adventure, danger, and self-discovery.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
I believe it’s a crucial element in learning your craft and finding your own voice.
Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the first book I read by myself, but I do remember my mother reading chapter books to me early on in life. One of the first was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. His work has been a tremendous influence on my writing.
What book are you reading now?
I’m slowly picking my way through Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. I keep getting distracted by the desire to reread old favorites.
How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?
The Song of Souls trilogy was born from my own experience as a young widow. In 2010, after only a year and a half of marriage, my husband ended his life. He’d long suffered with depression as a result of a traumatic brain injury he received when he was eighteen. My life was shattered, in the blink of an eye I lost not just the love of my life, but the life I dreamed of sharing with him. I’m not sure when I first envisioned the scene that inspired the trilogy, but about four years after his death I began writing. The process helped me work through the senselessness of that loss, and helped me feel like there was purpose to my time with my husband. Since we weren’t blessed with children, I feel the books have given our time together a legacy.
I most identify with the main character, Aislynn. She was my safety net for navigating the stages of my grief.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, the novel is classical high fantasy, so a lot of the elements in the book are obviously not realistic. However, the emotions and some of the struggles Aislynn endures are taken directly from my own experiences. The first book starts out with a heart-wrenching scream at the moment of her husband’s death. That is something that actually happened. I won’t get into the exact details of that moment, but when I was told my Dustin was gone all I could do was scream. I’ve been told by people who were present at the time, that the description of the scream in the book is spot on. I also had Aislynn use the same pet name for her husband that I used, “dearheart.”
To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t *have to* but I do find that it can help. I usually prefer the house to be empty when I write. I’m visually disabled, and my mother lives in my house with me. I tend to do most of my writing when she isn’t around. I sometimes listen to music while I write, but more often listen to it before as a way to pump myself up, or set the mood.
What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
I don’t have to have a set goody, but I usually need a glass of water or something else to drink. A all natural apple juice tends to be a favorite since I gave up drinking soda.
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
Editing, absolutely editing. That, and writing the synopsis. I can plot out an entire trilogy with threads that follow from one book to the next, but ask me write a one to two paragraph blurb for the back of the book and I’ll procrastinate like nobody’s business.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?
I think it was just getting started. There’s a bit of a fun story to how I overcame that. I love going anywhere that allows me to put on a costume and indulge in geek culture. A comic con was started about an hour from where I live. Since I’m in Kansas, and adore The Wizard of Oz, I decided to cosplay Dorothy. I was walking around the convention when I suddenly hear someone calling for Dorothy. I turned around and found one of the guest authors running toward me. He lives in L.A. and meeting “Dorothy” was one of his goals while in Kansas. We talked for a little while, during which I told him he was doing what I wanted to do. He looked at me and simply said “So do it.” For whatever reason it hit home.
I decided then and there, that I’d start working to pursue my dream.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
Friends usually. More often than not I have to work it out in my head before I can talk to anyone about it.
How do you market your book?
So many ways. I’m fortunate to have a sister with a degree in marketing, and she’s helped me come up with some great ideas. I also do the usual things like online book events, local interviews, blog interviews (case in point, lol), and networking, networking, networking. I’ve even done work as a host on a couple of online radio shows. I have a few other secrets, but those are mine to keep, lol.
Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
They have. I was once contacted by a young widow in South America. She’d lost her husband a few months before and was really struggling. We kept in touch for some time, but I haven’t heard anything from her in quite a while.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
My editor, of course. I also have a couple of friends who get special reading privileges, as does my mother. One of my sisters gets to read ahead of time as well because she does my covers and helps with the marketing.
Tell us all about your very first book signing.
My first book signing was at a fantastic bookstore/coffee shop in my hometown. I’ve known the owner for years, and she had done some work with my husband. I was terribly nervous, but when I walked in the door she had a special place set up, front and center. It looked amazing, with a high-backed chair, a table for the books, and another for signing copies. My food and drinks were free for the evening. I had a surprising turn out, family was there of course) and friends, as well as some I didn’t expect to see. It was amazing. My husband was extremely well known in the community and I think a lot of people wanted to support me in my healing process.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
I don’t know that I have a universal message I want readers to take from it. If anything, I guess the message would be that no matter what life throws your way, you can get through it. You just have to trust in yourself, and in the people who are there to help you. Really though, if someone reads my books and finds any kind of inspiration, escape, hope, or whatever I think it makes the journey and all the pain I went through worth it.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ha-ha, I don’t know. I do have a background in theatre. In fact, I met my husband when we were both cast in a play at the local theatre. But, I think in this case I’d rather step back and let someone else play the part. I’ve lived through widowhood. I’d want to be part of the casting process, certainly. I would consider doing it if the part was offered.
Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Hmm, I have two answers. In terms of meeting someone historical, I’d absolutely want to meet Anne Boleyn. She’s a fascinating figure and I have so many questions I’d love to ask her.
On a more frivolous note, I’d want to meet the actor Ben Barnes. For one thing, I think he’s kind of make perfection, lol. More importantly though, and the real reason I’d like to meet him, is because I picture him in the role of Aislynn’s Soulmate, Rorin. That role has special significance to me, and I’ve always felt that Mr. Barnes would be able to embody the emotions and struggles that someone in Rory’s situation would experience.
Do you have any hobbies?
Yep, though they have become more limited as my vision has diminished. I used to do a lot of theatre. I love to swing dance, get lost in Renaissance festivals, and enjoy cosplaying at any event I can make it to. I also indulge in a little guilty pleasure video game playing, lol. I recently learned how to crochet as well. There are half-completed sweaters and afghans all over my office, lol.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I adore the movies The Princess Bride, and Willow. I also love the Lord of the Rings trilogies, and Stardust. Basically, fantasy movies are my jam! As far as TV goes, I tend to gravitate toward historical dramas and period pieces, as well as sci-fi, and documentaries about a variety of historical topics, or random subjects that catch my attention. I loved The Tudors, inaccuracies aside. I also enjoy Game of Thrones, but it doesn’t have a lot of re-watchability for me. I don’t want to see my favorite character die over and over again. Robb Stark forever! Curse you, Red Wedding!
My current obsession is the Outlander series on Starz. It’s history with a fantasy type twist. I can watch that show over and over again.
Favorite foods I’ve become a bit of a health nut over the past year, so my tastes are changing. That being said, I still love the occasional bacon cheeseburger. Also, cheese, forever and in so many incarnations, cheese.
What’s your sign, lucky number. I believe in making my own luck, but I’m a Capricorn according to the zodiac. I actually feel I more closely relate to the Native American signs though. According to that, I’m a snow goose, lol.
Number, I like 24 for some reason, but I don’t know that I consider it my “lucky” number. I just like even numbers better than odd, and 24 makes me happy, lol.
What’s your favorite color. Depends on my mood, but I gravitate toward deep jewel tones. If I had to pick one color I guess it would be a deep scarlet. I love scarlet and gold together.
What music do you hear in your latest book.
Specifically? Well, I like epic style instrumental music. Each of my books has a theme song of sorts. For Soulbound, it’s a song called “The Hero in Your Heart” by Thomas Bergersen, featuring Merethe Soltvedt. Soulfire’s theme is “Don’t Sleep” by Alex Pfeffer, featuring Amelia Brightman. Boundless has a couple, depending on my mood. The first is “Don’t Fear the Reaper” the remake for the series The Originals, (ha-ha, I just realized the irony in that.). The others are more specific to scenes and characters. So music along those lines. Rose’s themes from Doctor Who was actually the piece that inspired the whole trilogy.
Do you have hobbies other than writing?
Yes, crocheting, cosplay, theatre, and occasional gaming.
Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Probably not much. I think for me to stop writing I’d have to be in some sort vegetative condition. Even the idea of life without writing is disturbing to think about. It’s such a big part of my identity now.
You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my family. If I had unlimited funds we would go somewhere amazing.
What do you want written on your head stone?
“She’s dead, Jim.” Joking. I don’t know. I guess it would change depending on where life takes me. I’d love for it to be something poignant that highlights my determination and accomplishments.
Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?
Of course, I’m an imperfect being, and my own biggest critic. I see so many things that I would have done differently with more experience under my belt.
What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors?
Just write. Don’t worry about creating some brilliant piece of work. Write what you love, what you know. Write the books you’d like to read. Tell your stories and don’t worry about whether or not they meet with the approval of others. Be yourself.
On a more technical note, hire a real editor, set your pride aside, and listen to what they tell you. Your editor isn’t there to tell you how amazing you are. An editor is there to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and how to improve. Don’t ask a friend to read your work, hire a pro. My editor has become a friend, but she still expects me to work hard and grow as an artist.
When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?
My family, we’re a close knit group. No matter what they’ll be there for me.
Tell us how we may get a copy of your book.
(Soulbound and Soulfire are available in print and Kindle form through Amazon and Barnes and Noble (upon request). They’re also available through Kindle Unlimited. Physical copies can be purchased through me, and a limited number of bookstores in Kansas.
Social media links and websites?
Official FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SoulboundSongofSoulsTrilogy/
Personal FB: https://www.facebook.com/christen.stovall