"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.


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

IVORY TOWER; Pretty Fairytale Trinkets

These are a few of my favorite things...

A stunning crystal glass slipper;

 Nina perfume by Nina Ricci, because the red apple bottle reminds me of Snow White;

A heart enflamed - I bought this pretty tea-light holder from Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands last September;

Cinderella's Coach perfume bottle that I've had since I was a young girl;

"A little bird told me..." - also bought from Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands last year


A silver tray of fairytale romance...




I like to put little collections of trinkets together on a tray for decoration and dot them around my home.  Usually the trays are themed, like the fairytale one pictured and they change periodically, depending on new items I might have bought, holidays I've been on that I want to remember and the changing seasons.

I see these trays as miniature altars to beauty and prettiness -  it is something I have done since I was a small child, making collections and displays from my best loved possessions.  It is such a simple way to bring personality to one's home and a touch of magic and enchantment too.


Monday, 29 July 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; For Love of a White Rose

Lost in a world of Roses at war...


This coming Thursday is the first of August, which is celebrated in my home county as Yorkshire Day.  On this day our local stately homes and gardens, country villages, towns etc honour the spirit of the White Rose, the emblem of our county, with special events, pageants and fairs.  It seems more exciting to me this year as I, like many other TV viewers in the UK, have been thoroughly gripped by the TV series The White Queen and I cannot wait to buy the DVD box set next month as soon as it is available. 

I have also been re-reading the novels by Philippa Gregory, which the series is based on; The Lady of the Rivers, The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter.  Of them all, The Kingmaker's Daughter is my favorite and I think it is because it shows Richard III in a completely new light, as a man of honour and chivalry.  The bones of Richard III have recently been discovered, excavated and brought back to York, so the spirit of the White Rose is very current here in Yorkshire. As so little is known about the heroine Anne Neville, Gregory has been able to weave out the story in her own rich, inimitable style, without being hampered by too many historical facts, which can sometimes weigh a novel down.   I already have the next book in the series, The White Princess, on pre-order with Amazon and I am now stuck in the limbo space between finishing the other novels and waiting impatiently for the next one.

I can remember my father trying to teach me about the Wars of the Roses when I was a little girl, as we both shared a love of history.  He spoon fed me stories of Scottish history, Robert the Bruce and such like, from a very young age and I loved it.  But I couldn't seem to be interested in the House of York v House of Lancaster, even though it was much closer to home.  I realize now that it was simply too complex for me to comprehend at such a young age,  with people switching sides right and left, turning their coats so fast they must have suffered whip-lash!  Now with the books, the excavation news and the BBC series of programs, I feel I have a better understanding of the  Cousin's Wars - if he were still alive, my father would be pleased with me for finally grasping it :-)  There is still a saying in Yorkshire that stems from the era of the Rose Wars and it goes;
A Rose is a Rose, unless it's Red;
And then it's a traitor and better off dead!

I'm sure the Lancastrian's must have something equally flattering towards the White Rose of Yorkshire lol.  These days the rivalry between our neighbouring counties is much more good natured. I wonder if they have a Lancaster Day when they celebrate the spirit of the Red Rose?  I like to think that they might.  I plan to light red and white candles on Yorkshire Day to honour the fallen, and the legacy. 

So as I eagerly await the publication and delivery of  The White Princess, which is fittingly released on Yorkshire Day, I am lost in musings of that time, wishing I could wear a tall, conical headdress and veil with a beautiful gown to match.  I might try to persuade my mum that a day trip to York to view Richard III's bones is worth the petrol, but I don't hold out much hope - she isn't a fan of history and thinks it's dry as old sticks! My love of history is something I get from my dad.   Whatever you are doing on Yorkshire Day, spare a thought for all those lost Roses...both White and Red. 


Friday, 19 July 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Fairy Tale Bath Times

Loving this magical new range of bath products, inspired by fairy tales.... Right up my street


Ordinarily I am a woman who enjoys shopping; except for the mundane task of grocery shopping that is.  I don't like supermarkets as they are always too busy, but such chores have to be endured.  I make it more fun by trying to see if I can pick up something magical from the supermarket lanes - it might be some herbs or candles for a spell, or a book or DVD that has a magical theme...sometimes it is something so delightfully twee and 'so me!' that I just have to share it...

This morning as I pushed the trolley around I discovered the new limited edition range of bath products from Imperial Leather.  The range is inspired by the realm of fairy tales and you all know by now how much I adore a good fairy tale.  The products have magical names such as Bewitching and Enchanting, the bottles are pretty and the scents are divine.  I chose the Spellbinding and Alluring bath cremes as I can think of nothing more fabulous than frolicking in the bath like a mermaid during this dreadful heatwave. 

I like that the range is split into two categories, the Light which is all that is good and pure, like a fairy princess; and the Dark which is all that is mysterious and seductive, like a beautiful enchantress.  I got one from each - Spellbinding is Dark and Alluring is Light.  They look so pretty on my bathroom windowsill and they will bring a touch of fairy tale magic to bath times.

I also got more Yankee tarts in Vanilla Frosting, Cherry Vanilla and Sweet Pea; a spooky DVD called The Wicked that is about a scary witch; plus a new book called Her Highland Protector by Ann Lethbridge because the title appealed to me, there's a hot guy in tartan on the cover and I am a sucker for a handsome Scotsman - even if he is only fiction!  

So that pretty much sums up what my weekend is going to look like...indulging in fairy tale bubble baths, reading a Highlander romance and scaring myself late a night with a spooky film.
Whatever you are planning for the weekend, stay safe in the heat.
BB Marie

Monday, 15 July 2013

POET'S CORNER; Sea Spirit

Entranced by the call of the sea...

Image www.victoriafrances.es




Sea Spirit

The boatman calls to me; I have no coin to pay his fee
The lighthouse shines so brightly;
 It's beacon comes too late for me;
I'm lost at sea; forever lost, I wait for thee

The sea gulls call; their gleaming eyes see right through me
They sing my song; their haunting cries sing out for me;
I'm lost at sea; forever lost, I wait for thee

The boat has gone; the ships have all returned to shore
They search no more; I'm lost, yet they look for me no more
I'm all at sea; forever lost, I wait for thee

The waves took me; now they bear my flesh to shore
I swim no more, against the current rough and raw
But it's not me; no, it's no longer me...

For I am the spirit of the sea; I am the mist, the spray, the foam
I am the ghostly sea; I am the haunting sea
Bound for all eternity to be a spirit of the sea

I'm lost at sea; forever lost I'll wait for thee
When will you come to me...to join the spirits lost at sea?

By Marie Bruce

As poetry is such a well known part of my work I thought I would begin a new series on my blog called Poet's Corner, named after the area in Westminster Abbey where many of Britain's greatest poets are laid to rest.   

Written above is another one of my poems published in a later edition of The Witch's Almanac.  It was written at this time of year after a summertime trip to the coast.  I spent a lot of my childhood on the east coast of Yorkshire and I do feel happiest when I am by the sea.  I love spending time by the waves, listening to the cries of the gulls, enjoying the eternal pull of the ocean.   The track Lady of the Sea on my Moon Chants album was inspired by the soft lullaby sound of a gentle incoming tide at Scarborough, Yorkshire, where Anne Bronte is buried.  

I hope you enjoy this new blog series of my poetry; I plan to share both published and some unpublished works too.  
BB Marie x





Wednesday, 3 July 2013

WRITER'S DREAM; Integrity



Over the years I have received countless communications from my readers expressing their appreciation for my work. Some of the loveliest letters I've ever had have come from my Young Adult readers.  Responding to readers letters and emails is one of the nicest aspects of my job and I do read them all.  One theme comes up time and again and readers often say the same thing in their letters;

"I feel as if I know you; as if you are my friend".  

I believe that the reason for this consistent reader response, which spans over a decade of writing, is that I write with integrity and I am very honest in my work.  This has always been the case since the very beginning of my career.  Partly it's because I'm a Yorkshire lass and we are known to just tell it like it is, no sugar-coating. It is also due to the fact that I have never tried to mislead readers in any way. The very last thing I want is for my readers to believe that my life is perfect...that everything just comes so easily to me...that I have never had to work for my success or that I have never suffered loss, disappointment and so on.  

I personally write every word of my books, songs, features, columns etc.  I am not told what to write by editors...I decide what to write and what topics I am going to cover. I decide which magazine a piece would be best suited to and I submit accordingly.  Subject matter is largely based around my own life and what I might be dealing with at any given time.  The daily grind can often be very inspirational.  It is clear to readers, particularly on my blog and on Twitter, when I am having a bad day, when I'm feeling frustrated and angry or happy and excited.  My work is a vital part of me and a piece of me goes into everything I write - including sometimes the bad moods and PMS rants!

Readers might not realize it, but a book or piece of writing is simply a moment in time in the writer's life.  I believe that every book is influenced by what the writer was experiencing at the time of writing it.  If I were to rewrite my books now, they would probably be very different, because I have grown as a writer and as a person.  Although a book has a longevity far beyond the year it was written, usually by the time it is first published the author has already moved on.  It's great that the book is out there, inspiring and entertaining people for many years - that is it's purpose and writers love to know their work is being read and enjoyed, hopefully for many years to come.  But to the author, it is a project that was completed years ago and there are new projects to concentrate on, new goals to achieve and work towards.  To remain consistently published a writer must consistently create new material.

Writing with integrity is the key to touching your reader and creating a connection.  Readers are quick to pick up on dishonesty and they will feel cheated by you as an author if your work lacks truth.  If your book is ghost written - say so.  If you have used a professional researcher, or you had a publisher's writer working alongside you - own up to it.  It will be discovered anyway at some stage, so you might as well be honest from the beginning.  

Taking all the credit for someone else's work is childish. Trying to get ahead on the back of someone else's success is underhand.   This is why piggy-backing just doesn't work - because it is dishonest and underhand.  The publishing industry is unlikely to publish someone who tries to make use of another writer's track record in order to force their foot in through the back door. Why would they commission the Copy-Cat when they are already working with the Original?  Piggy-backing demonstrates a lack of integrity and integrity is vital if you want to be a successful writer.

Readers enjoy the work of truthful authors.  Take the 'Misery Memoir' genre as an example; while I am personally not a fan of such books, it has become a very successful sub-genre.  These books are marketed as honest accounts of courage in adversity; of victims who survive very traumatic circumstances and win through in the end.  The material might not be everyone's cup of tea; it might make for a rather depressing read at times; but the uncomfortable truth related with integrity is what draws the reader in, thus making misery commercial.  Sadness is part of the human condition, an emotion each of us has experienced, something we can all relate to and the publishing industry are quick to market it!

The old writer's adage states "Write what you know".  I would go further and say "Write what you know to be true, based on your own personal life experience".  Don't try to emulate other books;  don't try to copy other authors and writers.  Write from your own well of experience, with an honest pen... 

Write with integrity