Book Contest Awards Received

I’m pleased to announce that awards have been received for Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power. It is the first book in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

It received awards from:
New England Book Festival
London Book Festival
Hollywood Book Festival

 

 

Coming this spring is book 2 of the trilogy: Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise.
We will be moving swiftly into our future.

Life Wins Almost Every Time

 

What sudden shifts have you experienced in your life?

Clarity Versus Reality

We may maintain contradictory beliefs at the same time. We often “know” about our future and what we want one moment at a time. But life has a way of having other “thoughts” for us. A trip to Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress is instructive.

A Political Environment is Almost a Life Form in Itself.

There is a class of political beings clearly to be seen. Almost routinely they are clad in dark blue or black suits whether they are men or women. These are the aides and the employees of the members of Congress. Many of them fought hard to get their jobs. Sometimes it wasn’t a matter of simply applying. Often it involved service in successful political campaigns. In some cases they had to serve a number of times before their candidate won and they could join him or her in government. They could then come along for a glorious career.

Except there is a sobering note. There is an age group missing in DC. The dominant age group jumps from twentysomethings to middle age. Why is that?

Along Comes Destiny

The problem is that fabulous face. It is seen across a room at a party or a gathering of some kind. Two people enchant each other and then the most terrible thing happens. They desperately want to be together and that generally leads to a passionate involvement, marriage and children. Setting up the appropriate household and managing the insistent newcomers are all consuming. And so the careers are interrupted or end. The political passions are replaced by the personal passions and associated needs.

It often seems that this almost inevitable human event was not foreseen. The focus was on the moment and the excitement of the career. At some point we once again see the insistence of a reality we live on the edge of. Isn’t it amazing how we can evade the almost certain element of life which is just waiting out there? We do an extraordinary balancing act with these various facets of our lives. The adventure may only be for a time. Or at least that particular adventure. And often the fiction writer plays out the scenarios for us. Perhaps we should pay more attention to fiction.

What is your style in pursuing fiction? Do you consider it or experience it?

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

Who We Are, Versus Who We Think We Are

 

A Challenge for Each of Us

Our personal identity is a constant challenge for each of us at all levels. We have to assume an identity in order to function but, in fact, we may have a very different identity from that assumed by other people. On a day by day basis we can’t trouble ourselves with these matters. Why would we? So we make an assumption and forge ahead.

The fact is that most of the time we probably think not at all about issues of identity unless we are challenged or face a problem. Sooner or later there will come an event when someone will ask “Who the hell do you think you are?” The question may mean the person is offended by a position we have taken or it may be a more fundamental challenge. If it is the latter then we truly are challenged.

Our Personal Identity

And sometimes we are perfectly clear about who we are but are in hiding. Others may think they know us but do not. There may be a fundamental mixture of comfort and pain.

Now, with these questions, if you are confused or feel lost then you thoroughly understand why we do not dwell on such questions most of the time. It is only at crisis point that we must attend.

And Then One Day…

And writers of fiction often come to the point where they wonder who their characters really are or where they came from. One of the reasons to have an outline and a firm understanding of the story is that it keeps us focused rather than letting us get lost in a fantasy related to a character’s identity or our own identity. Or is that the point of writing fiction? Can we expand our world and our identity? Are we often asking questions we want to explore.

Different Kinds of Meaning

The fact is that we who write fiction are almost surely not simply engaging in an interesting exercise or a labor of love. It seems likely that our engagement goes much deeper. As a psychologist I know that what we are doing is often a reflection of our personality. Those of us who engage in speculation and fantasy are different creatures from the people who focus on the glory of the turn of the phrase. In my dissertation I sought to answer the question “does the painter’s work reflect his personality?” The literature was full of unfounded psychoanalytic speculation.

But Carl Jung gave us a magnificent personality typology free of bias and authority. I found the personality of the painter was clearly displayed in his work. In discussing my dissertation results with artists I could see their focus and how their personality identity shaped their work. A study with writers would probably uncover some interesting differences. As I step back and look at the characters in my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I see a melange of parts of me, people I would like to know and layers of identity issues.

What do you see when you take this viewpoint into the act of creation?

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

Choosing a Book Category

 

The First Step – Or So You Thought

What category have you chosen for the type of books you prefer to write?

So, at last your book is nearing completion. The proofreading will come to an end shortly and its time to take a serious look at listing and promotion. Each site, whether for sale or promotion, offers you a list of choices for listing your book under a category.

Now Comes a Question

The first thing is to decide where your book belongs. Of course you love your book and there are some obvious categories that can be discarded. But then comes some more difficult decisions. The largest category, with 70% of books, is romance. But where within this category does your beloved book belong. You may have an opinion, but the public may have a different opinion.

Making a Decision

With Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power I thought to put it under fantasy. Clearly mermaids were not exactly in the center of what we call the real world. And, of course, there was the involvement of our Earth Goddess, Gaia. So, initially I put it under fantasy. But there was one problem. Its setting was in the present day and the characters were living in a contemporary setting—mostly. So there was a reality orientation and what I learned quickly was that there were many fantasy fans who found it not nearly fantastic enough.

I looked at sci-fi but that didn’t work either. Gradually I had to refine my search and when I looked at each type of category I found that my view of the book and description was not necessarily a good fit.

A Strange Choice

At last I had to begin to focus on “fiction”. No kidding. Well, it definitely was fiction but so was anything else for sale—aside from nonfiction. So, I began to scan the offerings in various promotional sites. I found a rather large divergence of offerings which was not surprising. Often I came back to literary fiction. My initial reaction was that it was simply not appropriate. The word literary means to me something carefully composed which uses meaningful turn of phrase. My book did not fit that at all and besides I admire literature but don’t read it. I want an intriguing story that makes me think and consider such carefully constructed stories as composing a field over which I stumble.

What I Came To

In the end I had to select fiction. Sometimes just plain fiction and sometimes literary fiction. In literary fiction I found other books with which I was comfortable. And if it was offered, which it sometimes was not, I selected magical realism. My book had a modern day reality setting with a mythological underpinning. Given my belief as a psychologist that we humans live on the cusp of reality, it was a perfect fit. There are so many ways to discover and describe our personal and collective worlds that magical realism fit my preferences perfectly. Or I simply had to settle for fiction or literary fiction. After that it was up to me to describe and present it. Now I’m more comfortable and it seems I’m beginning to find the audience which works with the book. When writing fiction, this was not a set of choices I had expected.

How clear are you about the proper choice of category for the type of books you prefer or are writing.

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

Women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Pt 1

 

Avery the Whiner

This post kind of comes down to the psychologist still learning about being a psychologist.

Avery is the lead character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. She is a central focus throughout. Characters should come alive to the author if they are to be authentic. Avery certainly did that. But I had to learn a lesson and she had to get a grip.

Getting What You Wish For

It is hardly news that sometimes we have to tell someone they should be careful what they wish for. Avery had to learn that lesson and since I was the author it really was me who had to learn the lesson and get it across to her.

Avery had a pretty good life. She had been raised to do “good works” because her parents worked in third world health delivery systems. It was a challenging life and had its perils. They died in a car accident in the Middle East and Avery felt abandoned. Maybe that wasn’t quite fair of her because they had no intention of leaving her.

Then She Got a New Family

And later the family she got was not one she had known existed but suddenly they were very much in her life. Their arrival came with a large load of complications and threat. Here is where my problem began. In the first draft of the first book of the Gaia’s majesty Trilogy I finally had to face that Avery was whining a lot. Sure she got a grip at last but until then she could be really tiresome.

What I learned

At first I thought her reaction was perfectly understandable. Well, it was to me because, as a psychologist, I could feel her agony and her devastation and discomfort. You want a family but it didn’t have to be so complicated and even frightening. And you didn’t want to have people trying to kill you.

What I was doing was displaying my view of what was almost surely going on deep inside her. But what happens deep inside is often not what we display to the outside world. But consistently I got to see that side of people in my office and there were times when I had to encourage them to display their agonies. When someone comes for help it may be necessary for them to bring out all the nasty things they feel so we can together sort them out and help them come to terms with their burden.

In Avery’s case she hadn’t known she had a burden or perhaps it is better to say she didn’t have a burden until this strange, alien family showed up. What was she supposed to do with that? The more she learned, the more her agony increased.

What To Do

Avery could flee and take what was left of her former life with her or she could tough it out. Toughing it out was what she really had to do and in the life changes she had found a neat guy. Fleeing would have probably meant giving him up. So she hung in there and displayed her agony and feelings—whined.

My Turn

At last it was the turn of the author to get a grip. I had a picture of her agony and knew how she would almost surely feel inside. Fine! Nice for me to know but the reader did not have to endure her agony in that particular way. I had to serious revise what I had written and give her more strength, determination and composure. And her guy could help her.

Sometimes, in particular settings, it is not desirable to have truth and reality be writ too large.

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 Psychologist Looks at Characters

 

An Emerging Character

Internal Conflict

Something emerged as I was writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It was a tug of war between a writer and a psychologist. One might think immediately that this conflict could be a real asset. The truth is much more complicated than that.

It seems likely that similar conflicts exist in other creative enterprises. My dissertation dealt with painters and how their personality might influence their work. In fact, using the personality typology of Carl Jung, it was clear it does influence their work. Is that information useful to the artist?

Might he or she step back and do a different kind of analysis of the painting taking shape? They might, but their art is not a cognitive enterprise. It seemed best for them to let their creative processes flow. I doubt the person considering their painting would really be interested in those kinds of contributions for something to hang on their wall.

A Different Kind of Challenge

The written word brings a different kind of challenge. Of course it is reflected in the particular form of that written word but a similar tug of war can take place. The very matter of plot and character interactions lends itself to construction and it is easy to slip into analysis which may affect content, direction and style. With characters we hope the reader will be attracted or repelled by them depending upon their role in the story.

As a psychologist there came a point where I had to deal with my own inclinations. In life I have to contain my analytical tendencies. In seeing friends or in social occasions doing dispassionate analyses of the people with whom you are interacting is not typically a good idea. In fact it gets in the way of life.

I have, from time to time, been told a person was disturbed by the feeling that I was analyzing them. Most of the time I was doing no such thing. That is, unless there were warning signals which indicated I needed to be on my guard for one reason or other. Sometimes you meet someone who seems intent on manipulating you and the situation. My inner psychologist kicks in at once.

Around the Edges

In developing characters there is an essential conflict. Spending too much time on the analysis can be stultifying for the story. Often there simply needs to be a flow. The character has to live within and emerge. At least that is what I’ve concluded. There may be other approaches.

A good example for me relates to my lead character in book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Avery is a bright, dedicated young woman but in the background is the fact that she had lost her parents in an early part of her adulthood. She wanted them back and had felt abandoned.

When she finds that she has another kind of family I wrote her as doing a lot of whining. Such a reaction under the specific circumstances of this story is completely understandable at least to me. But most people would contain it inside which is what I was relating to. When it became clear it wasn’t working I had to reconstruct her. It worked a lot better. Sometimes reality in storytelling simply does not work.

The Bottom Line

This example is what I, as a psychologist, had to view. I’m sure many writers have things they have to face in their writing—things that are coming from inside of them. It was not a matter of my personality but reflected my training. Each form of art has its own pitfalls and I suspect that many writers of fiction have to wrestle with components coming from within themselves. In some instances it may enhance the work or it may yield flaws which must be dealt with.

In what ways does the “inner you” affect your vocation or art?

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

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.