Honorable Mention Award

Honorable Mention Award

I’m pleased to announce that Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power has been awarded an honorable mention in the Wild Card category at the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival.

The category makes me smile because I’ve been wrestling with category choice. The book has a real world setting but with mermaids. So I often wonder if it’s fantasy or fiction. Then the series will take off into the future and dive deeper into mythology and fantasy elements. But in terms of fantasy it is not outlandish and there is a strong real world setting. Women are central but they have mystical and mythological elements. In the end Wild Card suits me just fine.

A Tragic Waste

 

What’s on your list of wrongs perpetrated against women?

Pervasive Efforts

A recent post presented the concept of the mysterium tremendum which relates to that which grips or stirs the soul. It is of interest because it is my belief that this sort of effect of women on men may well relate to the pervasive and eternal efforts by men to keep women from empowerment.

Daily we continue to see evidence of these efforts. Recently I turned on the television and saw an interview about the fight to get women who had piloted aircraft in World War II, Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs, the right to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery . These women had been granted veterans status in 1977 and burial rights at Arlington since 2002. Then, recently, they were deemed ineligible.

It is not necessary to go into greater detail. The subterfuges, the discrimination and callous attitudes regarding women are endless.

Truth From Leonardo

And then I ran across an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio regarding his recent movie The Revenant. At one point the interviewer asked, “Why is the role of women in the movie so small and the men so gruesome and dominating?” His answer was, “This represents the savagery of a lawless culture. Women have been the most persecuted people throughout all of recorded history, more than any race or religion.” He was not asked to elaborate or support his statement but I know what he meant.

And currently we have an ongoing war against women in the United States. And what I find is that the rationale is lacking in substance because of the pervasive nature of the war.

Inner Meaning Beyond Our Grasp

What is so interesting is that there is normally no in-depth discussion of this process. The battles are fought on specific issues but rarely focus on the extent of the discrimination and its inner meaning. It seems we don’t know the proper questions to ask and I believe in part it is because the real reasons are deeply buried in our psyches and we don’t know how to access the real process. Does the Mysterium Tremendum touch on the real reason ( See WordPress posts of 1/18/16 and 1/20/16)?

What does your intuition tell you?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Struggle Eternal

 

Do you view yourself as struggling?

Many Forms of Struggle

There are so many things to explore in life. Of course we go looking for things like friends and a mate. We hope for success and seek joy and happiness. What we often seem to miss is the basic fact that life, in one form or another, is a struggle.

Of course the struggle is not just a personal one. We struggle as groups, as countries. And our literature is full of struggle. Romance isn’t pure joy and fulfillment. There is generally a struggle of one form or another. The outcome of romance may be an enduring relationship and that involves risk and effort. Is this person really right for me?

Less Than Total Control

There are many guideposts. One thing we are often told is that if we fail in our struggle or the outcome is less than we might have hoped for it is surely our fault and we may even have intended it. After my decades as a psychologist my response is—balderdash! Yes, sometimes we sabotage ourselves, but we also cannot be entirely sure of the outcome of anything. There are chance factors. Maybe some people find it reassuring to think that if it goes badly that was our inner intention. Life is simply not like that. You did not construct the asteroid that is right now streaking toward your village.

Boredom Versus Enrichment

Struggle is inevitable. And, since we are animals, we participate in the quest for survival in all its forms. It is not without purpose. Wouldn’t it be dull to be stuck in the Garden of Eden. We sought knowledge and enriched our lives—at a price. Certainly there were risks for Adam and Eve but the struggle actually enriched the world of humankind and the enrichment goes beyond mere survival. Of course, other than for the basics, you don’t have to have high goals to find growth resulting from your struggle. You get to choose.

A Higher Purpose

One of the themes I address in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is whether there may be a higher purpose for our struggle. As beings we have come a long way from the trees in Africa. Struggle was no doubt instrumental in our development, even our acquisition of language. In writing this trilogy, one of the things which came to mind is whether there is another purpose for our struggle. Will we one day reach some kind of a transformation?

Have you found yourself making sudden gains, if not a transformation?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Meaning and Entertainment

 

What are you seeking when you read?

Reading and Writing As Discovery

Roger the psychologist here. As I tread my way through the world of being a writer, I must confess that it stirs a lot of conflicted feelings and perceptions. I guess many of us may wonder why we write and may from time to time come up with some answers. I enjoy the process and find it one of discovery.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really there to pass time or just for entertainment. I have to be engaged and it has to stir something in me. And recently I had a curious discovery. A lengthy trip on a plane was coming up and I bought some books for my iPad. There was nothing to distract me on the flight.

From Out of the Past

The first book was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I didn’t really know what it was about but I started reading. It turned out to be set in France during World War II. I was curious about the experiences of the people at the time and she drew me in and gave me their perspective. It was not a love story and was both difficult and engaging. And then something strange happened. I saw the face of a shop girl from when I was with my parents in France. I was ten years old at the time. She was in a bad mood but suddenly froze and looked off into the distance. The connection was instantaneous. As a ten year old I couldn’t understand that the Nazis had left only five years before. But something about that look stuck in my mind and then connected to the story I was reading.

Reflections of Our Personality

We harbor strange things in our brains. And in my brain, I search for connections. I’ve wrestled with a name for the genre I’m writing and have finally settled on choosing the term speculative fiction. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type and the “what if” is always foremost for me. In Nightingale I think I was engaged with what ifs about how one endures such a terrible environment and then I found I had harbored someone else’s pain in the memory of a shopgirl’s face. I can’t prove that connection but we get stirred in interesting ways.

And There Was Meaning

In the end it was meaning and connection I sought. In Nightingale I found some elements of both. And, in my own writing, I am looking to understand why I chose to write the trilogy of Gaia’s Majesty. And recently I believe I’ve come to understand that it is about the empowerment of women. For decades, in my office, I listened to stories about people’s lives and one thing that came out again and again was the struggles women endured because they might be cherished on the one hand, but in other ways were pushed aside and told what they could not do. So, I chose to convey a story about talented women on an important mission. It was meaning I was seeking.

What are you discovering?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Wonder of Reuben De Santis

Seeking Character Diversity

In the first book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy, Gaia’s Majesty: Mission Called, our lead character, Chantia, refers to being among the fishies. Her use of the term reflects her ambivalence about the new life she has been thrust into in the world of the Tethyans.

Of course she has derived benefits such as finding the birth mother she didn’t know she had and the love of her life, Beck. But it is a complex world and she finds special appreciation of the man Reuben who helps guide her through the revelations and turmoil.

The Richness of Reuben

The world views Reuben as an extremely talented couture designer who works in Milan, Italy. While he is, indeed, talented and world renowned, he also is deeply embedded in the causes of the Tethyan people. And that means he offers special guidance and support for Chantia and Beck. It is he who designs their wedding and her wedding gown.

Why Reuben?

Where did this character come from and why was he brought into the story?

While at the beginning there was an outline of this series and it began with a lot of detail, the story had a way of developing itself. Things had to be explained, they had to have reasons for inclusion but some characters showed up insisting on inclusion.

From an author’s standpoint it seemed desirable to have diversity so long as the diversity enhanced the richness and meaning of the story.

Reuben’s Origins

In the world of this story Reuben had his origins in Project Runway on the Lifetime network. Tim Gunn from the series was the inspiration. In fact, that is him in the picture at the top of this post. He is with Heidi Klum who is also prominent in the series. I suspect she is secretly one of the Tethyans. In the series Tim is a man of impeccable élan and manner. He is ever so talented and supportive of the contestants. The man he is seemed perfect for the book and he would help guide Chantia just as he helps guide and support the contestants on the show.

The one problem is that I am pleased to have the character but I could not do justice to the man who inspired the character Reuben. Nonetheless I wanted his inspiration in the book and I feel he offers diversity to the setting and the people.

One Other Note

Another thing that Reuben brings to the story is that he is gay and has a husband in Milan. There had to be diversity in this series. The core Tethyans are mermaids who live in the sea. They can morph and come to land to form families but they also bond and have children in the cities in the sea. These women can reproduce diversely. Some birth children from heterosexual unions, they also have the capacity to form a union of eggs from other women or can clone themselves. These facets of the story symbolize the underlying diversity of the world of humankind. Too often we are sheltered and deny the diversity of possibility. This author felt the need to open the full possibility of this fantasy world along with underlying realities. And Reuben added to the diversity and wonder of this world. Especially because the inspiration for his character enriches our world as it is.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Part 4 : Our Nation in Crisis

Our National Turmoil

The People’s Business

Each morning when we turn on the television we are greeted with coverage of a pathetic and terrifying political scene of a Washington in disarray. Certainly there has always been a dark side to politics and inspiring leaders with wisdom are often not too common. There is an important question. “Would it be possible for us to have a representative democracy?”

There are ongoing hints of deeply rooted corruption and authoritarianism. The unwise Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court simply deepened the corrupting influence of money in government. There is a seemingly endless conflict about health care. Every other developed country has a more efficient and less costly system. Perhaps it’s time to get back to pursuing the people’s business and needs.

No Paucity of Vital Issues

We have come to the point where we are seeing everything through partisan political views. But before us are numerous issues needing to be solved and they should not be partisan.

One frequently mentioned issue is the plight of what we call the Left Behinds. In fact, we have many groups of them. Most often mentioned are the people of the Rust Belt. There are many other groups.

When I came to Maryland, Baltimore was a city approaching a million people and now it is a city moving down toward six hundred thousand. People moved out, jobs disappeared and the population suffered from a multitude of issues.

In Appalachia the coal era has been coming to an end. No, we can’t bring coal jobs back. The reasons are numerous and inevitable. Among them is the fact that clean, renewable energy has become economically viable.

We say we are having a heroin epidemic. The problems are much deeper and broader but rarely do we hear clear statements. It is a complex issue and requires complex answers. It is not merely addiction, there are societal and economic roots.

I’ll leave the list there for now.

The Need to Debate Responses

Instead of evaluating responses to our needs, we seem to be focused on political turmoil. Political parties serve useful purposes but are not an end in themselves. The keys may be found in representative government. Perhaps we need to be representing the needs of constituents and working to make compromises born of an understanding of complex and competing interests. We have found solutions and agreements in the past and its time to do it again. And that process takes debate and compromise.

And representing the needs of the public is found in getting out there and knocking on doors to gather constituent views and information. Certainly it helps to have candidates do some door knocking but trained volunteers can also gather information.

In Gaia’s Majesty

This is an unsettled time in the world and raises the specter of another major worldwide conflagration even as we face significant climate change issues. It is a time in which we need to explore our response to our future. In that environment I decided to explore thoughts and possibilities in the realm of fantasy fiction. And so the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy was born.

But this time on earth is new. At long last we are looking at a worldwide movement to empower women. The potential of half of our population has too often been stifled. That process appears to be changing and the idea that a greater role for women might just be a decisive factor in the challenge developing before us.

Enter the Tethyan people including the Andromeda defense force working under the vision and conviction of an earth goddess. This goddess is not merely a reflection of a facet of human conflict but rather a being who oversees the development of a promising population of animals.

We will see how decisive this time is and how important a role women will play in the outcome. For now we can enjoy a fantasy exploration and the view of enticing possibilities.
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Speculative Fiction – Inspiration, Personal Growth and Authenticity

 

Focus on Our Personal Meaning

Here is a difficult but intriguing question. What is your personal meaning? In the end the meaning of how the world is must be less important than our exploration of our own reality and meaning. In doing so speculative fiction may aid us. And that fiction may involve a search through ancient mysteries that may be intriguing as we attend to our own growth and inspiration. One viewpoint is that such a focus is too self centered but if we don’t guide ourselves through self exploration, then we may have no direction at all. Maybe we won’t achieve a transformation but certainly we have to move beyond ourselves at some point and as we do we have to hope we have not lost our way.

The Core of Authenticity

It was very hard for me not to consider existential philosophy while I studied psychology. I found them intertwined. Early existential philosophers believed that their thinking began with the human subject. Woven in were concerns about disorientation if we did not examine ourselves. And, of course, there was the matter of authenticity. But they wondered if it all was merely absurd and at the same time wondered if considerations were too abstract. It helps if there is a direction or an object and that may mean validating our own personal meaning and giving it some substance.

Confession

Now a confession. These decades later I can’t summarize the works of the existentialists. I frequently felt lost in the depth of their thinking and the subtlety of presentation. I’ll leave it to you if you want to pursue the thinking of people like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre. But, in the end, the takeaway almost has to be the dedication to building our own view of an authentic self which leads to productive dedication and development. And it is that dedication that is woven into the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

A Little Closer to “Reality”

I think we’ll stay a little closer to ordinary reality which is difficult enough because it can be quite confusing and ephemeral. At one level, though, considering how authentic we are in our daily lives is worth considering. And, in fact, I can’t completely detach psychology from existentialism. Some of us run into more trouble than others as we try to make our way. And some of us turn to literature to do our exploring. Certainly vast areas of literature are helpful and fulfilling. Again it is probably psychology that leads me to science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction.

The stories writers create are ways of sharing among people the explorations of ourselves, humanity and what our future might hold. These considerations help guide us.

Have you seen works of fiction have large impacts? If so, what works were they?
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt