"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce


All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

MUSICAL DOLL; Ice Maiden




Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

Love and Bright Blessings to you all
Marie x



Monday, 17 December 2012

MUSICAL DOLL; Goodbye My Friend



This is another beautiful winter wonderland type music video. The opening scene reminds me of the film In the Company of Wolves as the gorgeous white dogs go running through the snow. A winters night; a spooky house; frozen lovers trapped in a moment of time; Posh Spice sitting primly upon a pile of over sized books, similar to the 'books'  coffee tables I have in my house.
It is a lovely song too; touching lyrics of old friends remembered at this special time of year.

"...goodbye my friend...it's not the end..."

Our paths may cross again, when the long winter has melted away and summer's magic once more holds sway.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; "It's a Flash in the Pan"!

 As soon as you begin to write in a serious way you will inevitably have to deal with the naysayers and dream stealers.  In my experience the most vocal naysayers were the people I loved...family, best friends, my then fiance.  It hurt that those close to me refused to accept my ambition to write as a valid career goal.  Not only were they dismissive of my dream, they took delight in sneering at me for it.

Naively I believed that publication would put a stop to their jeers. It didn't; it just gave them a more defined target, as to begin with I was only published in a very small way and for no payment.  As my work grew to a more successful level of publication, the sneers simply escalated to suit and were presented to me with a smirk and a smoke screen of joviality - they were only having a bit of fun, after all.  Eventually the outright sneering gave way to huffs, tuts and deep sighs of envy at any mention of my work as a full time writer.  I was living through a classic case of tall poppy syndrome, being surrounded by crabs in a bucket who were trying to pull me down. 

Then for a short time my success seemed to be 'supported' by those close to me and I thought I'd had a break through. It has recently been brought to light however that much of this 'support' was more of an attempted hostile take-over of my career by a piggy-backer just pumping me for publishing information so she could drop my name and try to get herself published by riding on my coat tails. I turned a blind eye when I thought it was a one off, but once I realized it had being going on repeatedly since 2003 I took action. The take-over has completely failed; the piggy-backer has been named and shamed to all my editors and music producers; the ranks of publishing have been closed against her. I can do without that kind of 'support'.

Success breeds envy. It is a common complaint that when someone becomes well known in their work, they drop their old friends and associates, but if jealousy were not a factor, then friendships and relationships would remain in tact when success comes knocking.  For too many years I put up with a lot of envy, back-stabbing and sniping comments from people I loved.  Now I have a new tactic; if the tie can be severed (so if it is not a family member) then I will do so.  Life is too short and I have worked too hard to let jealousy stand in my way.  

If you want to write, those close to you might feel threatened by your ambition.  My ex-fiance regularly told me that I had ideas above my station - what he meant was that I had ideas and potential above his station and he didn't like it. I have never severed a tie where I have missed the relationship afterwards; in fact it has always felt quite liberating to be free of the dead-weight hanging on my coat-tails. So if you are experiencing anything similar, it might help you to know that it's not just you! It happens.  

Here are some of the sniping comments that loved ones have leveled at me over the years. You might have heard something similar yourself;

It's a flash in the pan!
This on the publication of my first book. More than a decade later, my pan just keeps getting bigger and the flash flashier.

Oh I forgot, you're a big shot author now aren't you?
Yes, I am.

Wouldn't you be better off jacking in this writing lark and getting a nice little bar job?
Er, no, not really.

A writer? Mmm, but what's your real job?
Writing.

No-one wants to know how you worship the Moon Goddess!
Oh, really? My entire career to date begs to differ. M,B,S author.

I bet that's a signed copy of her latest publication! Prop up the coffee table with it.
No more freebies for you then!

But you don't do it all yourself do you? I mean, the editors tell you what to write don't they?
Yes, I do it all myself and no they don't. I decide what to write and where to publish it.

You'll never get published, it's just a pipe-dream! Grow up. Get a real job!
This was bad advice. My career in publishing speaks for itself.

It's not art; you're not a real writer, you're just a hack.
This from an unpublished failed 'journalist' wannabe.  Sour grapes? Oh, I think so.

It's not quite Byron is it?
Wasn't meant to be. Everything I write is meant to be Marie Bruce

Will you give a free copy of your book/album to a friend of mine?
No I won't. Go out and buy it and I'll sign it if you like, but I am a business not a charity.

Will you put this poem of mine/my friends in your next book?
No I won't. I am not a fast track to publication for the lazy. My work is just that - my own work.

You didn't really record an album though did you? You just let the musicians use your name.
Actually I wrote and sang every word, of every song and every melody was my own composition, so yes, I really did record an album. I am a recording artist now as well as an author - deal with it.

Oh I'm a writer too! Yes, I'm looking for a publisher. Will you introduce me to your editor?
Which one? Very unlikely. Do the leg work.

But are you actually published? (looking puzzled)
This from a local doctor, bless her! My response was; "As much as you actually went to medical school!"

You must be one of those self-published ebook authors?
No. I write for traditional publishing houses. Plural.

You'll never make it as a writer; you don't have what it takes. You'd be better to get a job in a supermarket, work your way up to management level. Forget the writing altogether.
Again, this was bad advice. I'm glad I didn't listen to it!

The moral of this post is, if your loved ones are threatened by your writing ambitions enough to snipe at you for it, you are probably in with a good chance of success! Don't let the naysayers grind you down. Just smile and chalk it up to envy, then keep calm and write :-)

Monday, 10 December 2012

MUSICAL DOLL; Snow Globe Song



I love this wintry music video from Girl's Aloud.  I can never remember what the title is, so I refer to it as 'that snow-globe song' in honor of the video.  This clip is everything a girly girl could wish for; snow globes, a winter's night, frozen lake, star filled sky, romance, tulle princess dresses, glitzy earrings that frankly look painfully heavy but you'd wear them anyway...it sums up this time of year perfectly.
Enjoy!

Monday, 26 November 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Christmas Candles

Some of the lovely festive fragrances I bought today!


It's that time of year again!  This morning I went Christmas shopping.  I wanted to get as much done in one day as possible because Yorkshire is currently on high alert for probable flooding.  The river was bubbling like a cauldron  right next to the car park so it was with some trepidation that I left my little car and heading into the mall. All the flood defenses were up around the shopping center, which does kind of take the buzz out of things, but the seasonal decorations were spectacular as always.

I did manage to get most of the gifts I wanted to buy.  I also picked up my diary for 2013 and it is identical to my 2012 one - a lovely red rose design.  I picked up some new tree decorations too.  I always buy a special ornament each year, building the collection to go on my tree.  This year it was a pretty blown glass ballerina, en pointe, with a white feathered tutu.  She reminds me of Odette, and as I am going to see Swan Lake in January, she is an appropriate addition to my tree. I saw some lovely owl decorations I might go back for later this week, weather depending. 

Then I bought my Yankee candles for the festive season.  I always pick up some plug in refills, wax tarts and tea lights as well as candles as I like to dot little flames of fragrance all around my home. I have a plug in on in the hallway and the winter fragrance is the first thing visitors notice.  I try to make my house a warm, glowing retreat of  comfort and joy; a place where I can snuggle down under a throw and watch a festive DVD, or curl up and read a book, breathing in the scent of Christmas and nibbling on winter treats.

I chose some old favorites and a couple of their new winter collection; the Christmas Eve candle is one I get every year. I place it on my hearth and light it as my Yule candle on the winter solstice, burning  it throughout the season.  I also got more Sparkling Cinnamon candles as they make my kitchen smell so cosy.  From the new collection I bought Sugared Apple, Snow in Love and also Cherries on Snow.

I am already burning Sugared Apple tea-lights and they smell so fairytale!  I'm looking forward to decorating the house and getting the tree up this weekend.  Meanwhile I plan to spend the afternoon with my feet up before the fire, listening to festive New Age CDs, shopping on Amazon and sipping the Starbucks take-out frappuccino I grabbed on the way out of the shopping center.  Luckily my car hadn't been washed away and the river seems to be behaving itself ...for now at least.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

BOOK NOOK; Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan



If you have ever seen the witchy movie I've Been Waiting for You then you will be intrigued to learn that it is loosely based on this teen novel Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan (who is also the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer).  I like the film and so I tracked down the book Gallows Hill on Amazon UK.  In truth the movie bears little resemblance to the actual text of the novel, but this didn't spoil my enjoyment of either - I like both versions.  I read Gallows Hill over the weekend and it was just the kind of witchy read I enjoy. It is only a short novel so its easy to get through it in a couple of days. 

The book follows the fortunes of young Sarah Zoltanne who has recently moved to a small town called Pine Crest.  She isn't happy about the move, the town or her new family circumstances, but in order to try and fit in she agrees to read fortunes at a Halloween party using her grandmother's paper weight as a crystal ball.
The problems begin when Sarah discovers she has a real knack for scrying; she begins to see genuine visions of the future in the crystal, leading her fellow students to suspect her of being a witch. Witchcraft doesn't go down well in Christian Pine Crest and soon Sarah is beset by mysterious threats, while someone follows her every move and stakes out her house after dark.

Charlie, an outcast himself, is the only  person who has any time for Sarah and the two become friends.  But it soon becomes clear that they are bound by more than friendship.  As Sarah's visions and dreams intensify Charlie has a theory of his own - that Sarah and other members of the Pine Crest community are reincarnated souls from the Salem Witch Trials forced to relive their ordeal or find retribution in this lifetime.
But who was Sarah in her previous incarnation and can she right the wrongs before her terrible fate is repeated?  

You'll have to read the book to find out!  It's a fun read if you like witchy tales; the scrying scenes are accurately portrayed and the original members of the Salem community who were wrongfully condemned and executed on charges of witchcraft during the infamous Witch Hunts are all named and treated respectfully.  There is even information on what happened to survivors after the hysteria in Salem was over, which makes very interesting reading.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel and I shall certainly be on hunt for more books by this author.  If you have read any of her other books, let me know which ones you recommend.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Snow White Sunday

This is what my Sunday is shaping up to look like...

A whole morning working at the laptop writing up new proposal for one of my editors.

I'm burning this lovely wintry apple scented candle - it reminds me of Snow White.
And I'm wearing this beautiful fairytale perfume - another Snow White product.
 

I'm going to spend the afternoon in fairytale land watching these fabulous films...


Julia Roberts is far too nice to be a wicked queen....but she makes me laugh in this film.

I also plan to eat a girly pink cupcake with pink edible pearls on top!


And generally have a very lovely time...just me and my fellow princess Snow White...oh and Pyewackett too!

Do you ever theme out your days?


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; I've Been to Narnia!

I found myself standing by a snowy lamppost, just like Lucy.



My brother still teases me about the day he discovered me curled up on the floor of my mother's wardrobe, sobbing because I couldn't get into Narnia. I must have been about seven years old at the time and I was convinced that Aslan's magical world existed somewhere beyond my line of sight; I knew I just needed to find the portal that would take me there.  Alas it was not my mother's wardrobe!

In fact I had to wait until I was in my mid-thirties before I discovered such a portal, which was a very special exhibition held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. It was back in 2008 that the Weta exhibition of weapons, props and costumes from popular magical films came to Yorkshire.  Of course I went. There was never any question of that; but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so magical and realistic.  I expected museum type displays and although everything was safely locked in glass cabinets, the curators had gone to a lot of trouble to create just the right atmosphere for the films they were recreating.  Far from simply handing in a ticket and being shown around, guests were allowed to wander freely through the enchanted spaces that had been created.  I was utterly mesmerized by the whole experience.

To begin with, the entrance to the exhibition had been set up as a large wardrobe; hanging on a rail were the fur coats the children wore in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I could hardly contain my excitement; this was something I had longed to do from a very young age...I pushed my way through the soft fur of the coats only to feel the spiky branches of fake fir trees taking their place.  Pushing through the trees, I stepped into Narnia.  There before me was the Lamppost!  Lighting and projection made it seems as if it was snowing; set design made the exhibits wintry; the Narnia soundtrack was playing softly adding to the magical atmosphere...and there, just beyond the Lamppost stood Mr Tumnus with his snowy umbrella held aloft and his arms full of parcels, looking for all the world as if he had been Christmas shopping! I had tears in my eyes at that point...I had finally found my way in!

All the props from the films were there; the White Queen's chariot; the centaurs and Minotaur; the gifts the children received from Father Christmas, Peter's sword and shield, Susan's bow, arrows and horn, Lucy's magical medicine.  My favorite item was the White Queen's wand as it was an intricate work of filigree, looking like it was indeed crafted from an icicle. It is a shame that you cannot see the true beauty of it in the film. And of course, there was Aslan at the entrance to his grand pavilion, looking regal and powerful.  If he hadn't been behind the glass, I swear I would have kissed him!  He was the finale of the Narnia exhibit but this was by no means the end.

As the fake snow underfoot gave way to crisp golden leaves two tall silvery white trees created an elaborate archway.  The music changed and two steps later I was in Lothlorian and surrounded by the Elves from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy with the soundtrack drawing me in even further.  Here were the beautiful, intricate weapons of the Fellowship; Frodo's  Orc-blue sword Sting; Anduril  and Glamdring the swords of Arragorn and Gandalf respectively; Borromir's shield and two horns, one whole, one cut in two.  Here also was an area set up as the Court of Rohan with horse flags  and banners hung behind the throne.  Everything here was carved with horses heads - it was a pony girl's dream setting.  The bad guys were represented too, with Sauron's helm, Saruman's Staff, goblins and Orcs galore...facing a life sized Orc waxwork (not behind the glass but just stood free!)  was enough to make me slightly nervous...big, scary dood!  Each realm of Middle Earth had its props all set out, but my favorite part was Rohan and Lothlorian...those exhibits set my girly heart racing for here was magic and beauty combined.

It really was one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. There is something enchanting about seeing the items that have gone into making a series of films so very special.  We were not allowed to take photos and they hadn't put together a souvenir brochure which was a shame, but I do have very fond memories of the day I went to Narnia and Middle Earth.  I don't know if it is still touring, or if it will ever tour the UK again...but if it does it is well worth a visit...you can bet your life that I will be pushing through the fur coats into Narnia once more if I  ever get the chance. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; To Weave a Woman's Web

Flaunt your feathers and beguile him with a smile.
www.victoriafrances.es


To Weave a Woman’s Web

Weave a web of wantonness
A twinkle in the eye
A rush of palpitations
A breathy, heart felt sigh

A quiver of the flesh
And a stirring of the blood
A cresting of desire
That has never felt so good!

Ride the waves of passion
In satisfaction, slumber deep
Be elusive as the butterfly
If his interest you would keep;

Then spin a web of intrigue
To keep him wanting more
Exude an air of mystery
To tempt him through your door

Maintain your independence
And set your spirit free;
These are the rules of engagement
If a temptress you would be!

By Marie Bruce

I wrote the poem above some years ago for my book The Wiccan Temptress  but much of the poetry was removed in the final edit due to space issues so I have decided to share some if them here on this blog instead. The tone of To Weave a Woman's Web  seems to suit the Gothic pictures I have chosen to include in this post.  I adore the work of  Spanish artist Victoria Frances; she is fearless in the subjects she covers and her work is all over the internet.  She portrays a world of dark Gothic beauty that is extremely seductive.  Take a look at her beautifully atmospheric website to view more of her stunning work www.victoriafrances.es 


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Samhain, Then and Now

A sign of things to come! 1984; I was 11 years old here and at my Nan's house.  Not the best pumpkin I ever carved.


Now;  from the Spirit&Destiny photo shoot to promote my spell-casting column. And yes, the hair IS all my own.
www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk



There is a saying in witchcraft; once a witch, always a witch.  Basically it means that if you feel drawn to the gentle positive magic of witchcraft now, you were probably on this path in a past life.  It is more like finding your way back and remembering the techniques than learning something new.

Although most kids enjoy the spirit of Halloween, I always felt especially excited at this time of year.  I never went trick or treating as my father wouldn't allow it, but my brother and I enjoyed many other Halloween games such as apple bobbing, apples on strings, 'suck and see' where you are blindfolded and dip your finger into foodstuffs and guess what it is by taste - black treacle always had me stumped!

Looking through old family albums I discovered this photo of me as a child celebrating Halloween. It made me smile,  as it is a foreshadowing of future events and the turn my life has taken, working as a full time pagan author. I thought I would share the pictures even though they are fuzzy, share the magic and possibly make you smile too.

I will be observing Samhain quite gently this year, rather than celebrating; but I do wish you all a very magical Halloween night.
Blessed Be.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

MUSICAL DOLL; Fairytale Melodies

I am a woman who adores fairytales.  A fairytale can be any literary genre at all; ghost story, mystery, thriller, Gothic, erotic, always romantic...I am drawn to the concept of 'Happy Ever After' even though I know Life rarely gives people such a marvelous gift. 

I turn to the innocence of fairytales when reality becomes too painful.  A beautiful fairytale is a great antidote to sadness, taking you back to the safe realm of childhood; cocooning you in the secure knowledge of a happy ending. They are a wonderful form of escapism.

As I am currently writing my second pagan album which has a Gothic fairytale theme, I have been immersed in this enchanted branch of folklore for some time.
I have been searching for modern variations on old, much loved fairytales and came across some quite stunning pop music videos which are full of fairytale inspiration. 
These are some of my favorite ones. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I have. I find them all quite enchanting, charming and inspirational.

Katy Perry's Wide Awake is a stunning interpretation of a woman's descent into the Underworld to become Lady of the Labyrinth, facing and overcoming her personal demons.  I love the blue hair and the fact that she punches out the Prince!

Kelly Clarkson's Don't Waste Your Time is a darker, more Gothic version of Sleeping Beauty In the Woods. I especially love the red gown and the astral projection/spirit walking that takes place in this video. Once again this fairytale maiden is choosing independence over a less than princely Prince.


Amy Lee and Evanescence in Call Me When You're Sober re-work the Red Riding Hood tale, exploring the  theme of  a woman's disappointment in falling for a man she thinks is a Prince only to discover that he is a predatory wolf.  Oh, and I WANT that red Tartan dress!!!

Another Evanescence offering, this time with Amy Lee cast as the Snow Queen, trapped in an icy numbness,  freezing out raw emotions in an avoidance tactic and effectively blocking out past pain. Haunting piano melody and vocals.  This song is an old favorite of mine. 

Memories by Within Temptation is quite beautiful.  A woman in white; a ghostly lover in the mirror; a wraith of a woman, haunted by her own memories of love lost and found again in remembrance.

One of the things which I love about these music videos is that they do not pander to the stereotype of fairytale maidens being helpless damsels in distress; quite the contrary, as these maiden tend to kick the Prince into touch if he fails to live up to expectations!  These are strong, independent modern women living in a fairytale world of magic and enchantment, just like any modern day witch.

My own fairytale album follows on from my debut Moon Chants and is based around pagan magic, Wiccan ritual and traditional Gothic themes.  I will be writing the album throughout this winter, as I find the dark season most inspiring, it being in perfect harmony with the concept for the album. Click here to find out more and watch this space for more updates on the musical side of my career.
Blessed Be
Marie x


Saturday, 13 October 2012

DARK DAYS, SEARCHING FOR SILVER LINING

It seems that Life is teaching me the true meaning of Halloween this year as I am having to come to terms with the death of my step-father who passed away just yesterday.

This is not a moping post and I don't want to depress anyone.  I just wanted to explain that I will be absent from my blog for a little while; maybe a week or so.

I will start posting again as soon as I feel up to it; but in the meantime I am going on an active search for the silver lining...I know it must be somewhere close!

Love and blessings to you all
Blessed Be
Marie xxx

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

IVORY TOWER; Regal Winter Nesting

Beautiful deep plum soft furnishings - the new colour for my winter time boudoir

Photo from; http://househomegarden.blogspot.com/

Last night we had the first deep frost of the season here in Yorkshire.  It was so cold my cat Pyewackett stayed snug indoors with me all evening and I turned the heating on.  I love the chilly nights at this time of year, when the darkness falls early and the sky looks like black velvet.  The October moon is one of the prettiest of the entire year, taking on an amber glow, like a pumpkin in the night sky.    It has barely warmed up at all today; it is grey and clouded over, so no frost tonight, but it is still decidedly chilly.

So I have given into my autumnal nesting instincts and spent the morning transforming my pretty lilac bedroom into a regal boudoir fit for a queen.  My room is painted a deep Lilac colour and during the lighter months I have pastel lilac voile panels hung to the windows, allowing the sunshine to filter through into the room.  Trouble is they don't afford much privacy and as the nights are getting darker earlier I wanted more substantial window dressings.  I was also ready to spruce the room up a bit and give it a mini make-over with new soft furnishings, candlesticks etc.

I went shopping and bought beautiful new curtains in a deep plum-purple faux suede.  They are thick and thermal lined, blocking out any silhouette at the windows and keeping heat and light from escaping. With coordinating plum voile blinds the windows now look like those of a royal palace.  I also bought a full bed throw in plum velvet, with matching plum duvet set and sequin boudoir cushions from www.kylieminogueathome.com to scatter and spruce up the bed.  I have spent the entire morning pottering in my room, cleaning windows, hanging new curtains, dressing the four poster bed and now I'm worn out!

I am very happy with how it all looks.  The room is ready for a cold, frosty winter.  The deep plum colour is inviting and warm; it feels as though the room hugs you when you walk in through the door.  The velvet feels rich and decadent.  It is queenly and regal in the deep purple tones of royalty. Best of all it feels completely private.  I am burning Yankee's Black Cherry to bring in the scent of autumn and putting out new candle holders so that I can retire to bed early with a good book or  snuggle down and watch a DVD.  It feels like a room where I can hibernate  when the winter sets in, or when my thyroid disorder decides I must curl up and sleep like a dormouse.  It is a room for sipping something festive, picking through a pile of new books and feeling like the Queen of my own little dominion.  Winter, you are most welcome...my snug little nest is ready for you now.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Witching Hour




The Witching Hour


See the pumpkins grinning on Halloween Night
See the black cat's fur stand up, tail fluffed in fright!
See the bats go flying by and a cloud flit across the moon
Feel the eerie silence descend upon the room
We sit around the table and wait for it to tap
To tell us that a ghost is near; we listen for his rap...


Rat-a-tat-tat!  "Is there anybody there?"
Was that a ghostly footstep upon a creaking stair?
Rat-a-tat-tat!  "Is somebody here?"
Hearts beating loudly, breath held in fear.
We watch the fire burning low
Scrying pictures as the embers glow.


Then we gather round the hearth to hear a spooky tale
Was that keening just the wind or a banshee's wail?
Was that a Shade that passed me by?
Or just a trick played by the eye?
Anything can happen - and we are ready for a fright
For it is the Witching Hour on Halloween Night!

By Marie Bruce

Saturday, 6 October 2012

SHIMMER SPELL; Persephone Speaks...

Proserpine is Rossetti's version of the beautiful Persephone.

"Come now Shadow Seeker; listen to my dark secrets in the whispering voice of the autumn wind.  I, who hold the keys to the dark tower of your dreams can also unlock the greater mysteries of your heart.  Here in the sublime sanctuary of my Underworld realm the darkness sighs for you."

Persephone lifts an ornate lantern and lights the candle within. “At the center of all things is the light of all lights; the light of spirit and the light of hope.”
  A large black moth flies from the darkness to the light of the lantern.  You watch fascinated, as again and again the moth makes for the lantern, beating its wings against the filigree pattern.  In one quick movement Persephone reaches out and gently catches hold of the moth.  It sits peacefully upon her open hand and you take a closer look at its beautiful dark markings.

            “Light any spark in the dark and the moth will come, for he is eternally drawn to the darkness; the deeper, denser shadows beyond the pool of light. As he struggles to reach the shadow side of candlelight he exhausts himself, constantly striving to attain an illusion and reach his dark goal.  But of course the moth will never reach this denser shadow... except in his own demise.

           Human nature is very similar in that you have a tendency to believe that circumstances are somewhat blacker then they really are. You forget to see the light and neglecting to seek its warmth and comfort, you are burned by sorrow.  Remember then that it is in the darkest days that you should look to the light, not to the shadows beyond.” Persephone blows gently on the moth and it flies away into the night. 


 "Fear not the dark nights of the soul when the weight of melancholy presses down upon you…if you will but step forth into the shadow-scapes of nature you will discover your night vision and come to see the gentle truths behind Life’s harsh trials.  Embrace the Darklore and allow your heart to release the ruby tears of past pain.  Only then will your spirit be free to pursue your own Gothic fairytale, for who knows what may happen in the enchanted Shadow Lands that lie beyond ‘happy ever after’?"  

I have always been drawn to the goddess Persephone and her mythology.  The story tells how Hades, god of the Underworld, saw Persephone picking flowers in a meadow and became infatuated with her.  Hades abducts Persephone, dragging her down into his dark realm, forcing her to be his queen and tricking her into eating the seeds of a pomegranate (the fruit of the Underworld) in order to bind her to his dark world. But Persephone is goddess of springtime and without her the world falls into decay. 

Eventually Persephone's mother Demeter goes to see Hades’ brother, Zeus, demanding that he intervene and make his brother return Persephone to her duty as maiden of spring.  Because Persephone has eaten the pomegranate seeds she is bound to the Underworld, so a compromise is reached wherein Persephone returns to the Earth and to her mother for six months of the year, maintaining her role as spring goddess, but each autumnal equinox Persephone must go back to her husband and take up her crown as Queen of Death and the Underworld for the next six months, giving the Earth over to autumn and winter as Demeter mourns this annual loss of her daughter.

On the surface this would seem to be a simple myth told to explain the cycle of the four seasons, but Persephone’s story is full of dark themes being overcome; abduction, trickery, betrayal, possessiveness, violation, rape, brainwashing manipulation, control, loss of innocence/ignorance and apparent powerlessness.  But Persephone is far from powerless and in the end, after all her trials, she becomes more powerful than she was before as Persephone is now both the beautiful Maiden Goddess of Spring and also the Dark Goddess of the Underworld.  She carries both light and dark within her and this is what makes her so beguiling.

I believe that most women go through their own 'Persephone Years' ...those periods in life when some difficulty must be overcome; betrayal confronted; deception brought to light and enemies faced and conquered. Our Persephone Years are those phases of sorrow, loss and sadness, which may come from divorce, illness, bereavement etc.  The trick to keeping positive is to realize that Persephone's story is a teaching myth...in the darkest time you are transformed to become stronger, more beautiful and more powerful than ever.  If you are struggling through such issues let Persephone be your guide with the meditation above...allow her to help you ascend back into the light, not as a vulnerable young women, easily manipulated and taken advantage of, but as a powerful Queen of great fortitude.





Thursday, 4 October 2012

IVORY TOWER; I'm enjoying a PJ day...


Today I have been having a lovely relaxing time, busy doing nothing, curled up in my nightie; reading, pondering, writing in my journal and generally being very lazy! Here's what my day looks like...

It all began with a bowl of sweet cinnamon porridge and coffee

Then a lovely shower with this autumn scented body wash from www.thebodyshop.co.uk

I'm wearing this soft blue nightie from www.hush-uk.com
And burning this warm, comforting scented candle from www.yankeedirect.com
I'm reading this fabulous history book and pondering on the finer qualities of Mr Neil Oliver - yes I have a little crush!  I was at Eileen Donan Castle (in the background there)  just a couple of weeks ago...it is beautiful.

I enjoyed a lovely cream tea of plain scones with blackberry jam and Cornish clotted cream....

....and spent time writing, blogging and tweeting.

I plan that my cosy evening will look something like this...
....with a marathon of my three favorite magical sisters....

....and a few of these to round off a lovely day of lazy indulgence!
So that's my day!  What have you been up to today? Whatever you did I hope you had fun :)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; Start Small

New writer's often ask me how to 'go about it' ...it being the business of becoming a professional writer.  As I have said time and again, there are no short cuts - becoming a writer is generally a long road.  It might be that you have to work hard in another field, say nursing, before you are qualified to write a book about nursing care...the hard slog doesn't just mean sitting at a desk reading rejection slips, though that is usually part of the journey.

There is no quick-fix formula to getting published - if there were someone would have bottled it by now and sold the writer's dream on the open market. Also new writers should be prepared to work for free, say for a school newsletter or a hobby club newsletter.  Even published books that are based on blogs are the product of someone who took time to write their blog for free. Sadly this not what most people want to hear.  They think that;

  •  I was published immediately upon sending something out to an editor - No, it took me five years to get anything in print and even longer to get paid for my work.
  • That I was an immediate success - No, no-one is. 
  • Or that I 'knew people' namely editors and that I was published via nepotism - No, I was a complete outsider to the industry and didn't know a single editor or publisher when I started out.
People see where I am now as a successful columnist, recording artist etc and that is what they want to emulate; they want to slot themselves into publishing at the same level in order to reap the same recognition and rewards.  But let me make it crystal clear... I did not start out by writing for a national magazine and I was invited to write for Spirit&Destiny and Paradise Music only after years of publishing success and hard work...I have a proven track record; I am a known name and one of the top writers in my genre in the UK.  But that is not where I started out as an unpublished writer and I have worked my way up from the very dregs of the slush pile!

It took me almost nine years, from sending off the first piece of work (rejected) to signing a contract and getting paid for my work. Just to put that into some sort of perspective - it only takes three years to train as a nurse and six years of post-grad medical school to train to be a GP doctor!  Yes, I was that dedicated to my goal.   When I started out I began writing humorous poetry once a month for a local pub-guide, which I did for free, for over a year, until the publication folded. There are some who would (and did) sneer at me for it and turn up their noses at this small start....but look where it's brought me!...I recognized it for what it was at the time - a starting point.  I am still proud of myself that I wasn't too proud at the time to write poems for free; poems which were dismissed by those close to me as 'not quite Byron, is it?'  It was never meant to be Byron - I am not into Piggy-Backing and the industry always closes ranks against copy-cats! - it was meant to be Marie Bruce and it was the beginning of my career as a published writer.

So that's how I did it; beginning in my teens and published in my twenties.  You need to swallow your pride, forget the best-seller lists for the moment and start small. Start small, start local and be prepared to write for nowt! If you are not prepared to publish in a small, seemingly insignificant way, and deal with the sneering that brings, then you are chasing the dream for the wrong reasons.

Friday, 28 September 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Autumn Scents, Home Comforts

My candle addiction! I love filling my home with Yankee scents.

Photo from; www.yankeedirect.com

Yesterday I went candle shopping in the local shopping center.  I had so much fun, just sniffing everything like a little puppy, getting excited by the new autumn and winter fragrances.  Shopping for home fragrance goodies is one of my  annual autumn rituals; every September I stock pile spicy candles and scented tea-lights, festive oils and woody incense sticks...all the warm scents that evoke the spirits of autumn and winter.
It is one of the ways in which I welcome in the new season.  I have done it for years, even when I was strapped for cash I would still make sure I bought a couple of packs of incense sticks in fine autumnal scents such as cinnamon and spiced apple.  Incense is certainly one of the least expensive ways to invest in the scents of autumn if you are feeling the pinch.

Yesterday I enjoyed the thrill of a Yankee candle shopping spree.  I bought all my favorite autumn fragrances; Cinnamon Sticks, Sparkling Cinnamon, Kitchen Spice, Black Cherry and Honey & Spice from their new collection. I also picked up a Mandarin Cranberry wall plug-in and a couple of Cinnamon Sticks refills as this is my favorite autumn/winter scent.  I have the plug-in on now and it is filling the house with a beautiful fragrance.

I got a new oil burner too; I had been looking for one for a long time as I wanted a burner with a separate well, rather than a single fixed unit. I also do not like the burner's with a shallow glass dish balanced precariously on top - they crack and break far too easily.  The burner I bought is Yankee's Petal Bowl Burner in pink, with an ironwork stand and a pottery bowl.  This is for my bedroom, as I already have a lovely mermaid burner in my kitchen and a fairy one in the living room.  I then bought a range of burner oils from Marks & Spencer's in fabulous scents such as Frosted Christmas, Mandarin, Cinnamon & Clove, Apple & Elder-flower etc.  I love their oils as they are inexpensive and they do last for ages.  Again if you are strapped for cash and want to fill your home with the scents of autumn and winter, these oils are a wonderful way to do so without breaking the bank.  M&S room sprays are also beautiful; my current favorite being Mandarin, Cinnamon and Clove.

Yankee products can be a bit on the pricey side, but they are designed to be a treat, an everyday indulgence; and the tarts and scented tea-lights are at the cheaper end of the price range so there is something everyone can afford.  It certainly felt like an indulgence to me yesterday walking out of the shopping center with a couple of bags of Yankee goodies, the fragrances wafting around me as I walked to my car.  When I got home I had more fun just sniffing and trying the new oils and so on.

Today it's back to the grindstone and I have been tucked away in my library working on some editorial copy that I need to get in to one of my editors early next week.  I love being in my own little study, surrounded by the home comfort of my books - I missed it so much when I was away in the Highlands.  Pyewackett is curled up asleep in his basket beneath the escritoire; the wind-chime is tinkling softly in the breeze from the open window; the sun is shining through the faceted crystal hung in the window, casting sunlight and rainbows upon the spines of the books.  I am burning one of my new candles Honey & Spice.  It smells warm and comforting, mingling in with the scent that drifts from the mug of Options Turkish Delight hot chocolate, with marshmallows, that sits on a Bruce coaster beside me. It is the scent of a home-coming.  I gaze around the study in wonder...this is my job...I am working right now...I know how very fortunate I am... but I also know how hard I worked to get here.  There is no such creature as an over-night success.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; HUSH, Its Story-time



It's no secret that I adore Hush clothes...their stylish dresses, snoods and wrist warmers suit my lifestyle perfectly.  I can wear the same Sloppy Joe dresses to the ice rink, the stables and the dance studio before coming home to my real job as a writer.  The picture above sums up my cosy life in a nutshell.  I enjoy the versatility of the Hush collections and I look forward to the arrival of each new season brochure, which is more like a glossy fashion magazine than a catalogue.  I especially love the autumn/winter collections and I recently purchased quite a few of their winter dresses for my holiday in the Highlands.  As a writer I need clothes that are comfortable, as I am sitting at a desk all day long (and sometimes all night too!) I find their cashmere wrist warmers protect my wrists from the heat of an overworked laptop and I am tempted to buy the lovely deep wine red mittens in the winter collection for the same purpose!

As I am a fan of the Hush brand and their ethic of enjoying your downtime in style I was intrigued to see that they are currently running a short story competition and I thought it would be of interest to some of you who are pursuing your own writing ambitions.  Simply write a 2000 word short story around the theme of the word HUSH and email it to info@londonwritersclub.com by 31st October 2012.  Send for a Hush catalogue or check out their website for further details www.hush-uk.com  or follow the brand on Twitter @hushhomewear

So take some time this week to curl up in something cosy with your laptop and write your entry :-)
Good Luck!
Marie x

DISCLAIMER; This is not a sponsored post, I just thought I'd pass on info of a writing contest.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; There's No Place Like Home

The comfort of one's own bed after travelling is perfect bliss.

Picture from; www.google.com
 
Late last night I returned from my working holiday in the Highlands and if you have been following my blog recently you will know why I was so much looking forward to the break.  I spent my time based in a tiny Victorian spa town called Strathpeffer which really hasn't changed a bit since its heyday in the 19th century; it is very easy to imagine ladies in long gowns wandering around the little town to 'take the waters'.  I have been to Strathpeffer before and the area and the locals are familiar to me.  I like to travel alone so I have no-one else to please and I can just wander and ponder and do my own thing.

My first visit to the town was eleven years ago and although I love all things Victoriana,  it made me realize just how much of a city girl I actually am. Even though I love the countryside and the Highlands, it was still a bit of a culture shock that the town does not boast a single jukebox... nor is there a village pub, just the hotel bars...or a takeaway -  the locals have to order pizza from Inverness and it takes 40 minutes to arrive and then it needs to be warmed in the oven.  This all seemed very strange to a 20-something girl used to having everything she could possibly want right on her doorstep at all hours of the day and night.  On my recent visits over the last couple of years however, it is the very peace and tranquility of Strathpeffer that has drawn me back there - it is like spending a few days in a time capsule. It is the closest I have ever come to time travelling!

Staying in a hotel has its perks; no washing up, all meals are cooked for you and there is no housework to do.  But it also has its drawbacks...I missed my home comforts, my cat Pyewackett, my privacy.  I did get lots of writing done, but missed the comfort of my own study.  As I was up in the mountains the internet and phone network coverage are somewhat sketchy so I left my laptop at home and carried a notebook and my diary instead.  Again this allowed me to absorb the peace of a much simpler time and I was offline for more than a week, which for a writer is a very long time.

On my last evening I said a fond farewell to the town, the Pictish Eagle Stone, the memories and the timeless mountains;  I will be back again one day, but in the meantime there are other parts of Scotland I want to explore. I am already planning a new trip to Wester Ross for next year.  I always find coming home after travelling in Scotland somewhat bitter-sweet.  I am happy to have my space and privacy again; but I miss the fresh mountain air, the big landscapes, the glens, the stags, the scent of pine trees, the pipes and kilts and the beautiful accent of the Scots with their romantic way of expressing themselves.  I never feel so free as when I am in Scotland. But these are some of the things which make my return home a true homecoming;

The comfort of my own lovely four poster bed
A hot bath with a range of lovely bath products to chose from
A cosy study in which to write
My big screen TV and DVD collection
My car just waiting for a midnight drive to see if the local barn owl is hunting
The lure of the shopping center!
The fragrance of scented candles burning in the evenings
My cat Pyewackett
Family and friends and their 'Welcome Home' smiles
Ordering pizza for supper and it arrives inside 10 minutes, piping hot!
Enjoying breakfast in bed and a lazy lie-abed morning
The knowledge that Yorkshire is home, Scotland is hame and I will always have a foot in each country.  I could never choose between the two. I am a Bruce and I belong to both places.

It was wonderful to be in Scotland; it's great to be back in Yorkshire.



Tuesday, 4 September 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Time Spirals

A Perfect Example of A Time Spiral

Photo from angelslightworldwide.com  .
In the winter of 2002 I watched helplessly as my grandmother died of cancer.  Now exactly ten years on, I am watching my step-father go through the same process.  It is heart-breaking. He is the latest of my family to be struck down with the disease...every other member of my close family has either died, or survived cancer...but since the late '90's it has always been there,  an ominous dark shadow hovering over us.

It is very upsetting and distressing but it got me thinking about time spirals and how they affect our lives. I have never believed that the passing of time is a linear process; I believe it is more of a spiral which we traverse in an ascending direction, moving ever on-wards and upwards.  At certain significant periods in our lives we pass by the same bend in the spiral, re-experiencing something, drawing out old emotions and regurgitating memories.  This explains why we sometimes feel as if we are going round in circles and getting no-where fast because in effect, we are going round in circles!  But we are still moving forwards and ascending the spiral.

Of course I have had the understandable gut reaction of  "I can't believe we are here again; that my mother has to go through this...again; that my step-father has to experience it at all".  It is a real struggle to try and find any kind of silver lining in my life at the moment and I must confess that my positive attitude has taken a significant knock-back. Any positive vibes I have must be given to my mother, step-father and to my work. Even so, I am trying to come to terms with the hand that life has dealt us.  It's not easy, but knowing that it is just the same old bend in my personal life spiral is strangely comforting.

It is not only the family illness which tells me I am traveling the same bend, although that is the most significant evidence; but other things have also occurred in recent months which have brought the past back into the present... for example, last autumn I had an unexpected meeting with the doctor who cared for my grandmother when she was dying and whom I've not seen for years.  I have found myself pondering on the past quite a bit too, especially my grandmothers funeral which is an event my mind had blanked out...but now I remember.  I have found myself drawn back to the same destination in the Highlands that I first visited a decade ago.  These are all signs that I am passing by a landmark on my time spiral...the past has come back and taken up temporary residence in my present.

The good thing about time spirals is that they can help us to navigate the most difficult bends in the road; I have been here before so I know what to expect.  In the decade that has passed since my grandmother died I have grown older, wiser and stronger.  Nothing knocks me down that I can't bounce back from.  It's just a bend in the spiral and this too shall pass.  I am also aware that something good must be waiting for me and mine round the next bend because life is about balance...to get there I just have to keep plodding on-wards and upwards.

I share this personal story because other people might also have experience of a difficult time spiral.  No-one's life is perfect and we all have rocky roads to navigate at times.  If you do ever feel that you are running round in circles, or wonder how you can find yourself in the same old place after a decade has passed...take the time to think back over your own personal life spiral...it could simply be that you really are just... going round the bend! :-)
Blesses Be x

Thursday, 30 August 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; Piggy-Backer Update

You may remember the post I wrote some weeks ago regarding the problem of Piggy-Backing in the publishing industry;  this is when an unpublished writer tries to use a successful author's name, style of writing or emulate a bestselling book to try and get themselves into print.  It is extremely frowned upon within the profession.

I have had some experience of this myself;  an inexperienced writer has frequently used my name to try and get published. It might be an innocent mistake or simple ignorance of the profession;  it might even be sour grapes caused by jealousy but as it has shown no sign of abating,  I have been left with no choice but to address the issue.

So today I wrote a plain speaking email to all of my editors and music producers, naming the piggy-backer and informing them that I do not endorse her work, nor am I in collaboration with her.  My entire professional circle of editorial colleagues are now in the picture of what is going on, so they will be ready for any future attempts at piggy-backing from this person.  At the same time, this polite memo protects my own professional standing which I have worked many years to achieve; my editors are now aware that I have never encouraged such behavior and that if such submissions continue, it is not and never has been, by my endorsement.   I will protect my professional standing against anyone who attempts to make use of my name.

A new writer will only get published when they have an idea that is worth publishing; not because they might have brushed shoulders with a successful author.  There are no short cuts.