Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gratitude



The holiday season, particularly Thanksgiving, often causes us to reflect on what we're grateful for in our lives. Health, family & good friends usually top that list, along with a roof over our heads & food on the table, and an overall contentment with how our lives are progressing. Like many people, I try to make it a practice to "count my blessings" during this time, especially to balance the near-constant demands of our material-driven culture that insists we buy every shiny new object & technological toy. But for this holiday season, I've decided to ponder a different nuance of gratitude that I rarely hear people talk about: Space.


"Space" of the spiritual variety is what occupies the gaps in our hearts when unexpected changes happen in our lives. We didn't get the job we wanted, or the romantic partner we'd longed for, or the house we had our hearts set on. Instead, we're left with our dreams still throbbing in our hands, struggling for breath, searching to find a new goal or object to pin our cherished hopes upon.

And what we suddenly have before us, whether we like it or not, is a blank canvas. An open horizon. A new path ahead with no road map to go by or compass to provide direction. 



And that, in itself, can be an extraordinary blessing, if we allow it. How often I have been grateful for the road less traveled by! Did I deliberately choose it? Heavens no--I can count many times when I was left dizzied & gasping after the whirlwind of change, wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself once the dust & debris finally settled. But luckily, there's always been an inner voice inside me that said, "Don't be in a rush to fill up this space too fast. Set your table and put out your chairs, roll out your best china & finest wine, and let the next things that are supposed to be a part of your life gently come to you. Be grateful for the space."


Could that have been the Angels talking? I honestly think so. Because my natural inclination is to be a "fixer." Like many of you, I endeavor to have all my ducks in a row, to stick with a plan, to envision myself the way I'm "supposed to be" at this point in my life, including all of my imagined goals & glorious achievements. But what if the universe has a more interesting & soul-enriching idea?


So for this Thanksgiving, what I'm most grateful for is the gift of space--those odd quirks of fate that disrupted my plans & directed me to new paths I never would have encountered, which made more intriguing & creative choices possible. They say where one door closes, a window opens. And I believe that sometimes those windows lead to miracles we might never have experienced otherwise. Moments of serendipity where all appears lost--only to discover that there is a far more fascinating destiny awaiting you. But only if you can take a deep breath, relax, and allow the space to demonstrate its special brand of magic. If you can let yourself be content that space will do its gentle work in your heart & in your life, that is exactly the horizon that leaves room open for where your soul might really need to be. 


Oh, and by the way, did I mention I saw 10 turkeys on my jog in Colorado today? Truly wild turkeys are well known as the "ghosts of the forest"--the most elusive game animals of all. Like the gentle space I've been speaking of, they don't announce their presence with harsh, "gobble-gobbles". Rather, they move quietly, swishing the grass with their carefully placed feet & beautiful feathers as they move with the precision of seasoned ballet dancers. Their soft chortles are more like rhythmic purrs than "gobbles", if you stop long enough to listen. And they'll only remain in your presence when you pause in silence & allow them the grace to occupy their special kind of space, for they are very shy & dignified birds. 

And quite frankly, I couldn't help viewing them as a unique omen for the state of being I was inhabiting, one where I actually gave nature the room to speak in profound, non-verbal ways that are perhaps richer than all my well-laid plans. Like me, I hope you can take the time out to reflect on such moments of wild beauty & soul-opening space. Something tells me that if we allow these instances to affect us, they just might lead us to where our souls long to be after all. And for that, we shall be forever grateful . . .

(Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of popular social networks like facebook or pinterest. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Giveaway!


It's time for my great Halloween Giveaway! As many of you know, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, particularly since I write magical romances that always have a hint of the supernatural. So this year, I'm giving away paperback copies of my paranormal romance that started all the magic, TWIXT, which just happens to take place over Halloween! In addition, I'm also giving away the fragrance "Sugared Black Currant" created by Love Potion Magickal Perfumerie, who asked me to be the face of their enchanting scent. If that weren't enough, my Halloween Giveaway package also features a deck of Gypsy Oracle Cards, Zhena's Gypsy Chocolate Chai Tea & a free intuitive/psychic reading by ME. Whew, that's a lot of loot! To keep it all straight, below are the items featured in my Halloween Giveaway:



FIRST PLACE WINNER:
1. A paperback copy of my magical romance TWIXT, which takes place on Halloween
2. "Sugared Black Currant" fragrance by Love Potion Magickal Perfumerie
3. Gypsy Oracle Cards
4. Zhena's Gypsy Chocolate Chai Tea
5. A free intuitive/psychic reading by Diane J. Reed

SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. A paperback copy of my magical romance TWIXT, which takes place on Halloween
2. A free intuitive/psychic reading by Diane J. Reed

What do you have to do to win this bounty? Simply (1) sign up for my newsletter (in the subscribe box featured on the right hand side of this webpage) & (2) "like" my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/BanditsRanch. Then (3) write your name in the comments below & tell me that you'd like to win! The drawing will take place on MIDNIGHT at Halloween. Thank you so much for entering & hope you win! Happy Haunting . . . 

(Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of popular social networks like facebook or pinterest. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Autumn Wonders

 

The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "Life starts over again when it gets crisp in the fall." And I couldn't agree more. There's just something magical about the cool air & first frosts that make you want to drive down a forgotten country lane to the nearest pumpkin patch & take time to see old friends along the way. Perhaps it's the vibrant colors that inspire us to feel more alive, or maybe it's that nippiness in the air that makes us want to huddle around a bonfire & catch up with our nearest & dearest. Whatever the spell is that Autumn so faithfully casts, one thing is certain: it's a season filled with wonder & enchantment.



Each year, I can't wait for the grove of aspens along my jogging trail to turn gold, their leaves shimmering like bright coins. And nothing spells bliss for me quite like the feeling of those delicate leaves falling all around me in a colorful confetti when the wind begins to rise. I often see the tracks in the dirt of many wild animals this time of year, such as mountain lions, deer, elk & turkey, because this is the season when the wildlife are on the move, getting in their last foraging before settling down for winter.
 

I also love to take wilderness hikes with my family, in awe of the checkerboard pattern of brilliant reds & oranges & yellows that lay over the mountains. This was a particularly wet year for us in Colorado, and the aspen trees have responded to the bounty with an explosion of color that's a feast for the eyes.
 

 
It's as though God took a paintbrush and swirled every autumnal hue possible on the hillsides in a beautiful menagerie that's enough to take your breath away.
 
 
The vistas this year are so striking that at one point during our weekend hike, my 8-year-old son paused and tugged at my shirt . "Mom," he said softly, "are we in Heaven?" I fell silent for a moment, simply allowing myself to feel the same wonderment he did. And after taking a deep breath, I replied, "Yes, I think we are."
 
I loved my son's smug satisfaction afterwards—as if he'd discovered Shangri La in the quiet beauty of nature & couldn't wait to show me. And to be honest, I think he did—and I've tucked that memory in my heart & given a quiet thanks to Autumn for enabling us to experience it.
 
 
If you're at all like me, you can't wait to start decorating with fall colors the minute the first day of Autumn comes & you love to collect pumpkins to carve into fun faces for Halloween. But I hope in the hustle & bustle of this lovely season that leads us up to (gasp) Thanksgiving, you'll take a moment to cherish all the quiet wonders that Autumn brings. And maybe, you'll discover that its magical silence fills your heart with a special kind of gold...
 
 
P.S. If you're looking for an enchanting novel that takes place during Autumn & Halloween,
check out my paranormal romance TWIXT, available now on Amazon & Kindle
 
 
 (Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of popular social networks like facebook or pinterest. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves

 
There's a romance to the road. One of my favorite novels as a teen & to this day is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, where Sal Paradise & Dean Moriarty criss-cross through America, embracing adventure & experiencing the exultant & sometimes healing effects of the "heroic present"—a state of soul that bonafide gypsies know all too well. The heroic present is a quality of life spent cherishing the here & now—the sacredness & beauty of this very moment—for despite our many well-laid plans, it's all we can ever truly possess. This "wanderer's" worldview has always resonated with me, and in fact, is echoed profoundly in my magical new adult romances in the Robbin' Hearts Series, where I write about this simple truth: "There's a little magic & outlaw in all of us—especially when it comes to finding true love . . ."
 
And quite honestly, I believe it's true.
 
I think in the back of our minds, each of us knows that we're walking upon this earth for only a short while. We're sojourners, lucky to take in the astounding beauty & grace of this life, so often amazed that we get to experience it at all. We carry the rucksacks of our hopes & dreams over our shoulders, never knowing what day we will die or whether those cherished dreams will come true. All we know is that right now, it's so wondrous—and even magical—that sometimes we have to pause & inhale a deep breath to take it all in.
 
 
We're thieves, whether we want to admit it or not—even those of us who work nine-to-five jobs & pay our fair share of taxes. We steal every awe-inspiring moment we can, knowing we only get so many of them. It's what gives meaning to our short stay on this planet—the fact that we can gaze at the clouds, feel the earth beneath our feet, tousle a beautiful child's hair & register his or her smile. Somewhere, in the mystical annals of the cosmos, these moments are stored in that same energy that brings more warm winds & glorious sunsets, more ice-laden winters of such crystalline beauty that it breaks our hearts into a million pieces & leaves us craving for more.
 
 
And yeah, I realize that perhaps my heart is more restless than most, because like so many of us whose ancestors immigrated to the United States, I come from a long line of wanderers. My husband likes to jest that "The Reeds never died where they were born." It's a fact—for a centuries, the Reeds were always pressing forward & exploring, searching for new places to taste this life & live out loud. Country to country, coast to coast is how we liked it—no borders or boundaries to hem us in. Is that why one of my first jobs as an adult was riding a mustang horse from Mexico to Canada and back, spending my nights in a gypsy wagon? Or I lived in a tiny attic for many years to work with the homeless & mentally ill in San Francisco? I decorated it with bohemian scarves & a colorful chandelier, loving the way the light struck the flea-market crystals to send vibrant hues swirling like a kaleidoscope through my nook. At night I gazed at the stars from my attic window & was convinced that I owned the whole world.
 
 
And I did. Because if I could appreciate it & tuck it into my heart, in a way, the world truly was mine. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant all those years ago when he said "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." We can't actually possess anything; we can only appreciate it for a while. For this reason, the homeless individuals I case managed on the street weren't simply my "wards"—they were my friends. I understood them & they understood me in a unique way that no one else does. We often sat together & marveled at the crazy mixed-up beauty of the world, sharing a smoke & chatting about these myriad enchantments that are so fleeting, yet make our hearts feel whole if we take time to notice them. I remember every conversation—every word—we exchanged, because the harshness & fierce transitoriness of their lives had etched their souls as fine as diamonds. They had a poetic & hypersensitivity to beauty & joy, because tomorrow was never guaranteed. It was a worldview I could relate to, quite frankly, because I was nearly as poor as they were, yet doggedly determined not to let that steal the beauty of life from me.
 
 
So blame it on my gypsy soul. But even though I'm more comfortable with my living situation now, I'll never forget the wisdom of the many gypsies, tramps & thieves I've known on my journey. Life is as fleeting as the warm light of a candle. They know this & so do I. If I could offer any encouragement to you today, it's to dare to wander & fall in love with life. Dare to really feel it—all of the good, the bad, and the in between. And like my characters in the Robbin' Hearts Series, dare to celebrate life whenever you can with song, dance & wonderful stories that remind you of just how big your soul has really grown. Because no matter what kind of house we have or dreams we pursue, there's a little magic & outlaw in all of us . . .
 
 
 
If you're in the mood for a magical romance,
check out my novels on Amazon & Kindle
 
 
(Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of popular social networks like facebook or pinterest. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer's Spell



I don't know about you, but Summer overwhelms me with possibilities. All of a sudden, I want to spend every minute barefoot outside, feeling like a kid & going on free-spirited adventures. Here in the mountains of Colorado, many wildflowers don't even come out until mid-Summer, each one a burst of vibrant color that seems to shout, "Look at me! Life is grand!" It always astonishes me how in the harsh, arid conditions at 9,000 feet, these wildflowers blossom with a striking beauty, as though somehow their struggle against high altitude, fierce temperatures & thin mountain air has deepened their color & verve. But when they appear, like a child, I have to dash to each one & whisper "Welcome! So glad you made it!" Yes, I'm foo-foo like that, but I also know that these alpine blossoms are an incredible reminder of the splendor that can follow sheer tenacity—and many of them carry magical messages. So I invite you today to join me on my wildflower walk & to share in the lovely moment of serendipity that occurred to me recently which resulted in my special Summer Spell. I hope it will touch your heart the way it did mine : )




Geranium
First off is the wild Geranium—with its delicate pink flower that's plentiful in high altitudes (I've seen them blossom at 11,000 feet!). Did you know that planting Geraniums around your home will protect you from negative energy & unwanted visitors? The Geraniums in the Rocky Mountains vary in color according to the soil they're in, but each color has special properties. Red Geraniums invite love & abundance, while this pretty pink one attracts friendship & love. White Geraniums raise your sensitivity to the influence of your Angels & Spirit Guides. And folklore tells us that to relieve stress, scatter Geranium petals in your bath water to help you relax (and maybe adding few bubbles & a glass of wine on the side wouldn't hurt ; ). 



Rose
Perhaps wild roses might not seem unusual to you in spring & summer, but I've seen them growing in the most rocky & windblown environments at altitudes that will make you struggle for breath! What a testimony to their endurance & strength. Rose is well known to signify & attract love, but did you know that it can also enhance the love you receive from your Angels & Spirit Guides? We all know that you must truly love yourself before you can accept love from another, so to boost your own self love, inhale deeply from this delicate flower & let its scent fill you with the divine love that your Angels long to give you. And like the Geranium, scatter Rose petals or pour Rose water into your bath as a reminder to love & nurture yourself so you can spread your love & passions into the world. Roses are also known to bring good luck, so plant them in your yard to insure abundance & to ward off negative energy.




Thistle
Now wait a minute, a weed like Thistle can't be magical, can it? But folklore assures us that this bright plant deepens your connection to the divine & invites spiritual helpers into your life, as well as guards against thieving in every way—including mental, physical & spiritually draining situations. So place the downy fluff from the Thistle under your welcome mat to keep robbers & emotional leeches away from your home, and include Thistles in your flower arrangements to invite loving Spirit Guides into your sphere. In addition, meditating on the rich, purple color of the Thistle cleanses your spirit & many people feel it offers healing for the mind as well.


Indian Paintbrush
The spectacular Indian Paintbrush is the wildflower of passion. When you stumble across it, don't pick it! Let it dwell in the earth the way it's supposed to, brightening the world with its vibrant cheer. But do know that it's no accident you came across this fiery blossom—it's a message to you from your Spirit Guides to keep following your passions. Never waste a single day on regret or what could have been—today is a pure gift to you, and you are called to celebrate it with a newness & faith that will lead you to miracles. And when those opportunities do arrive, go after them with your whole heart! Indian Paintbrush never hesitates to spread is flame-colored petals to the sun, and neither should you.


Daisy
Who doesn't love a charming daisy? We've all played that childhood game of plucking the petals while saying "He loves me, he loves me not" to foretell our future in romance. But did you know that Daisies bring joy & renewed passion for life? Place them around the house to lift your spirits, boost your mood & remind you of possibilities once again. And if you DO want to attract a joyful suitor, place some Daisy petals under your pillow & allow your dreams to guide you to the right person (with a little help from the Angels, of course!). The bright Daisy (even this delicate, high altitude one above) is also known to protect children & to encourage you to let your inner child come out to play. So take off those socks & shoes & walk in the sunshine among the Daisies whenever you can.


Sunflower
Yes, this wild, Rocky Mountain sunflower may seem small to you, but it still carries the magic of bringing good luck & making your wishes come true! They are actually native to Peru & do well in high altitudes. Eating sunflower seeds is said in folklore to bring good luck, & sleeping with the seeds under your pillow will help you germinate your deepest dreams & bring them into your life. Sunflowers are also a symbol of faithfulness (for the consistent way these blossoms follow the sun), so if you'd like to attract a faithful suitor, plant them in your garden to encourage people of truth, integrity & fidelity into your sphere. And finally, few flowers can cheer one up as much as sunflowers, so make bouquets of these sunny plant for your home to send the blues packing. 



Mariposa Lily
This spectacular wildflower is one of the jewels of the Rocky Mountains, so delicate & fragile, yet it thrives brilliantly in alpine altitudes. In folklore, Lilies signify resurrection & renewal, which is why we so often see them at funerals to represent our hopes to reunite with our loved ones in the afterlife. But magical tradition also tells us that if you come across a Lily in your everyday life, something you thought was dead to you is about to rebloom. It could be a cherished dream, your hope to find true love, or simply to get your passion back for life. The tender Lily is here to tell you that you are much tougher than you thought you were, and your courage & endurance are about to be rewarded with wonderful openings for new possibilities. So if you feel you've lost your mojo a bit, surround yourself with the fragrance of Lily in your bath or in your home & arrange Lilies bouquets to inspire your hope. These lovely flowers will send a message to your Spirit Guides that "I'm ready now to start anew—please bring the best people & situations for my happiest future." Then take a deep breath & let the past go, knowing that your Angels will carry you to exactly where you need to be.


SUMMER'S SPELL
(Items required: an old, trusted tree)
 
 
 
While I was out on my wildflower walk this year with a friend, the most incredible (& magical) thing happened—I'd dashed over to take a picture of a flower, only to look up & realize I was beside a rare Ute Prayer Tree. Believe me, I got the chills at this moment of serendipity. The Ute Tribe, which are native to the Rocky Mountains, have a custom of tying select Ponderosa Pines to the earth so that they'd be "grounded" & continue to grow with a unique curve as their branches reach to the sky. You can tell when such a tree has been deliberately altered by man (& not by heavy snowfall) when you see distinct vertical marks on the tree where the Utes used rawhide to fasten the trunk.


If you look carefully at the photo above, you can see the vertical marks that probably occurred about 250 years ago (as indicated by the redness of the tree's bark, which signifies its age). My friend & I were both stunned. Neither one of us had ever encountered a Ute Prayer Tree before, and we had a hunch it was no accident. Why? Because the purpose of the Ute Prayer Tree is for you to lay your hands upon it, like a trusted old friend, and release every care, sadness, bitterness or regret you've ever experienced in life into the tree.  This stalwart companion has existed in silent strength for centuries, has seen many people (if not civilizations) come & go, and is hardy enough to absorb any negative or limiting emotion that may try to thwart your spirit. So spontaneously, my friend & I halted our wilderness trek & took a moment to let go—release any hurt or sadness we've known—so we could be cleansed & ready for a new possibilities.

And it worked! Both of us felt as though something magical & cathartic had taken place. Afterwards, we were filled with a tingling excitement, because we know that you're never asked to release the old unless something new is coming—and we felt that our Angels had guided us to this moment because there are special things in store. After all, in order for anyone to blossom in life—find love, fulfill dreams, or take a new path leading to fulfillment—you must first get rid of old growth that's already served its purpose & be open to the new. So I'd like to invite you to do a similar Summer Spell to eliminate negativity & accept fresh opportunities into your own sphere for enhanced joy & vitality.



Directions for the Summer Spell: First off, find an old tree—preferably a tree you've known since childhood or one that you discover in a grove with a wide trunk & large canopy that's particularly aged. Then approach the tree with a kind & gentle greeting. Explain that you're going to lay your hands on it for the purpose of healing by releasing any sadness, hurt, anger or bitterness from the past that might limit you. Don't worry, trees cleanse our atmosphere all the time & generously release oxygen so we can breathe, and your tree is strong enough to take any negativity & pool it at its roots to release into the soil where it will be dissipated. Then pray or meditate (whatever you like to call it) & visualize yourself letting go of specific emotions, memories, people, or situations that no longer bring you joy or help you on your path. That doesn't mean you don't love certain individuals anymore—it simply means that you recognize you need to grow in new ways & you desire now to change course. When you're ready, feel those old memories, images & painful moments leaving your heart & your body & entering the tree in a swirl of light. There, they will sink through the bark, into the sap & down into the earth, where they will never be able to thwart the new growth of you or the tree again. Now, feel yourself completely cleansed & ready to put joyful energy back into your life. This is extremely important—it does you no good to cleanse yourself if you don't make a concerted effort to refill your heart & mind with hope, sunshine, love, & new purpose. Visualize yourself bathed in sparkling sunshine that permeates your very soul, and ask your Angels or Spirit Guides to take you by the hand & help you go forward on your journey. Imagine your greatest desires—see them clearly—and know that your guides will help you every step of the way towards fulfillment. Most importantly, thank the tree for its generosity & ask that the tree be blessed with health & new growth as well. As you walk back to your starting place, notice any blossoms nearby, or go to a flower shop & purchase flowers to place in your home to remind you of the magic of flowers & the blossoming that is about to take place in your life. Finally, be grateful. Give thanks to your Angels or Spirit Guides for this cleansing & for Summer's gift of sunshine that highlights your new journey & brings cheer to you as you go forward.

And if you have a minute, please let me know in the comments below if this spell worked for you! Have a joyful Summer :D



If you love the gentle enchantment of
nature & spells, check out my
magical novels on Amazon & Kindle!



http://www.amazon.com/Diane-J.-Reed/e/B0071FXGOE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1406901739&sr=8-1
 
(Photo credit note: All images on my blog are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of popular social networks like facebook or pinterest. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fairy Tale Sex & New Adult Romance



Everything old is new again. You’ve often heard this well-worn cliché, but nothing brings it home better than the skyrocketing rise in popularity for a new literary genre that publishers are calling “new adult romance”. What, exactly, is new adult romance? Quite frankly, literature that focuses on young people from about the ages of 18-24 who are encountering their first sexual relationships (with the accent being on relationships—not necessarily their first one-night stand or bump and grind in the back of a car). Why all the shout? Because though you may not realize it, the reading ages of 18-24 used to be death in the publishing industry. Publishers and marketers have known for decades that their bread and butter came from readers who are ages 25-55—the largest demographic of book buyers around the world. But then something happened—welcome to the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. All of a sudden, younger people were reading in droves. And as if on cue, the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer appeared, single-handedly hooking teenagers on a book and film franchise that addressed all of their angst and need for a book boyfriend or girlfriend. Young adult fiction became a huge force in the publishing industry, but there was only one problem: these readers grew up. And they wanted to keep on reading . . .

Enter new adult romance!

Now, you can’t swing a dead cat in a bookstore without seeing new adult romances plastered all over the shelves. Titles like Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Lick by Kylie Scott, and My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron address this unique age bracket that is testing out adulthood and what it means to have a possibly fulfilling relationship that includes sex. But let’s face it—our first sexual relationships often crash and burn because we’re just beginning to figure out who we are and what we want, and new adult romances address the relationship minefields that often plague us in our twenties. It’s as though, in high school, we are given a script for how to lead our lives (stay in school, study hard, don’t do drugs or get pregnant), but in our late teens and early twenties, the script gets a lot hazier. Okay, maybe you want to graduate from college or try to get a good job, but what about relationships? You’re old enough to vote now, you probably don’t live with mommy and daddy anymore, and no one’s around to tell you “no” about much of anything. So you experiment with sex, boyfriends or girlfriends, and try to figure out what feels right to you in ways that no previous set of “rules” can quite apply. All by yourself, you figure out relationships are messy and hard to define. And at this point, you’d really like books that reflect this sea of possibilities as well as their pitfalls. As Margo Lipshultz, senior editor at Harlequin, says of new adult books, “These characters do have more freedom [and] less parental supervision. They’re in charge of their own lives, but they’re figuring out how to navigate those lives for the first time, and they're making mistakes along the way: trusting the wrong person, or falling for the guy that they know is bad for them” (Bookish.com, July 1, 2013). So along with this new-found maturity in our twenties come very high emotional stakes. You don’t necessarily have mommy and daddy’s shoulders to cry on about your choices anymore, and you probably want to test out relationships that your relatives might not approve of. And thank god! Because if you don’t get out there and make a few mistakes, you might become one of those pitiful people who marries far too young before they really know who they are, becoming that all-too familiar shell of a human being by their forties. We’ve all met people who didn’t do enough experimentation in their early years, only to do so much later in life when it becomes awkward or downright embarrassing. (Seriously? You want to die your hair purple, get tattoos and piercings, and date people way too young for you at age 45? Icky!). The twenties are that golden time when, if you have any sense, you’ll hopefully venture forth into that dark wilderness to figure out who you really are, and let yourself do all those crazy things in the name of finding love. As Sylvia Day, a well-known romance author, says of new adult readers, “These people are so young and they’re setting out on their own for the first time and feeling that first blush of love and that huge hormonal reaction. Your love was insane—you can’t stop thinking about them, you’re calling each other all the time. All of that—that whole overblown sense of drama—is what’s in New Adult” (Bookish.com, July 1, 2013).

But wait a second—

I can think of a centuries-old literary genre that has been addressing this age bracket, and all the crazy, love-lorn machinations that accompany new adulthood, for about as long as mankind has been walking this earth. And it’s called fairy tales.
Rapunzel
Yes, fairy tales! Think about it—how old do you think Snow White was when she was lying in that glass casket, about to be “awakened” by a dashing young man? Or Rapunzel when she was letting down her golden hair for that handsome prince? Hello—though fairy tales rarely are specific about the age of their characters who’re about to blossom into sexuality, they’re generally taken to be of “marriageable age.” In times of old, that particularly angsty age bracket can range anywhere from 16-22 (depending on which scholar or version you listen to). This is a very similar demographic that the more recent new adult romances address. What’s more, there are several fascinating features that many popular fairy tales often have in common with new adult romances, and they are the following:

1.      The main characters are considered of “marriageable” age for their culture, anywhere from 16-24.

2.      The main characters set upon a journey away from home where they are no longer supervised by their parents or caregivers.

3.      The main characters encounter obstacles that there are no ready answers for—they must figure out the path forward for themselves.

4.      The main characters encounter male or female partners who often provide their first serious encounter with the opposite sex that might lead to a long-term relationship.

5.      The main characters (whether overtly or metaphorically) have an intimate encounter with the male or female that they fancy.

So let’s take a look at two of the most popular fairy tales of all time: Rapunzel and Snow White, to see how they are indicative of the same classic scenarios in the more recent new adult romance genre.

In Rapunzel, we all know that this poor young woman was sequestered in a tower around the age of 12 (depending on the version) as she was just about to approach puberty, locked away by a nasty fairy, sorceress, or godmother (again, depending on the version). But as Rapunzel blossoms into marriageable age some years later, along comes a dashing prince who ventures through the forest and finds her through the echoes of her beautiful song. It’s important to note that the prince has left the comfort of the castle and his parents’ supervision and taken the classic new adult journey (often through the wild woods, an interesting metaphor for the unknown) to find his possible mate. Thereafter, we hear the prince state his famous words, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” Obviously, most psychoanalytical literary critics view his call as metaphorical for his desire for sexual intimacy. Interestingly, however, it is now Rapunzel’s choice whether to invite this young man into her private chamber. At first we are told she is “frightened”—yet she decides to do so anyway. New adult romances are all about such angst-filled choices, particularly ones that are made without “permission” from other adults, and could have long-term consequences. Luckily, Rapunzel and the prince are said to have “lived in joy and pleasure for a long time” which results in her pregnancy with twins. How fascinating that there is no wedding involved in this story, and Rapunzel at one point says to the evil fairy/sorceress/godmother “Why is it that my clothes are all too tight?” Though Rapunzel may seem naïve, she’s encountered one of the real-world consequences of new adult sex: parenthood. Another consequence is the disapproval of elders, and the fairy/sorceress/godmother becomes so irate that she cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, banishes her to the wilderness, and informs the prince that he’ll never find her again. But true love—often the biggest goal in new adult romances—wins out! Though the prince loses his sight and wanders in the forest for a dark period, Rapunzel eventually finds him in the wilderness and her tears of joy restore his sight as the lovers are reunited.

I absolutely adore this particular fairy tale because it clearly shows that both female and male characters have a long and arduous journey through the “wilderness” to ultimately find their most suitable long-term relationships. Just having sex with each other isn’t enough to secure happily-ever-after—there is a difficult path ahead towards adulthood that they must tread before they are settled with one another, a path that sometimes means bucking against the approval of their elders. Yet how wise fairy tales are for not offering a simple formula for happiness! Anyone who truly reads fairy tales knows how complex and full of puzzling twists they can be, but for new adults in particular, they offer something of a road map to the arduous minefield we all must navigate towards maturity.

Characters in fairy tales often go through a period of wandering
 in the wilderness before reaching maturity & finding true love

Similarly, Snow White contributes another glimpse into the complexities and angst-filled stakes that are often involved in truly becoming a “grown up” who makes his or her own relationship choices. As we know, Snow White has the stepmother from hell who envies her like crazy—and true to most new adult romances, there aren’t adults around who’ll be of much help on one’s journey and may even be a thwarting influence. At a tender age (some versions say 7, but archaic versions hint that Snow White had reached puberty), the evil stepmother hires a huntsman to take Snow White out to the woods to kill her. Here we are at the woods again! That classic metaphor for no rules and no society—a place where you must figure out your way forward by yourself. Yet precisely at this wild place, Snow White inspires the pity (and some say sexual attraction) of this huntsman, who feels sorry for her and lies about her death to the evil stepmother. What happens next is very intriguing—Snow White hides out and sets up “house” with a bunch of men, the iconic dwarves. More archaic versions say they were miners, later called “dwarves” to lessen the sexual tension, because such a job favors people of shorter stature. And many psychoanalytical critics see her living situation as a metaphor for Snow White “shacking up” with various boyfriends on her road to new adulthood in order to try on various female roles—for we know in the fairy tale that she “tested all the beds”. In return for her cooking, cleaning, and washing, the dwarves promise Snow White that “you can stay with us, and you shall have everything you want.” Sounds like a classic live-in relationship to me, but I have to wonder if perhaps these men are assigned “dwarf” status in the fairy tale because they don’t quite measure up to the ultimate long-term partner Snow White is seeking.

Yet in due time, Snow White’s experimental lifestyle infuriates the evil stepmother once she finds out that the young woman is still alive. In famous fashion, the stepmother disguises herself as the old farmer’s wife and offers her a “poisoned apple” that kills her. It doesn’t take a psychological genius to see the parallels to the “fruit of knowledge” that Adam and Eve ate of, or that this apple is perhaps a metaphor for sexual activity that “kills” Snow White’s younger self. Could it be that during her time in the woods with the dwarves, Snow White experimented with sexual relationships that changed her from a child to a woman forever, yet left her wanting? And the stepmother merely reminded her of this with the apple—that she is no longer a young girl? This is a huge theme in current new adult romances—that after experimenting and pursuing the “one,” many young women feel adrift and emotionally “comatose” due to the crash and burn nature of early sexual relationships. After all, Snow White is later placed in a “glass coffin,” not a heavy box made of wood with metal hinges—one that she could easily break out of if she has a single breath of life left in her. And even more peculiarly, her coffin is set on display in the forest for all to see. Metaphorically, it makes one wonder if Snow White is very much alive, but too emotionally drained by her previous relationships or experiences to allow herself to be a bold adult woman just yet. She’s in a holding pattern, emotionally and sexually, wearied by her former experiences and perhaps merely waiting for “the one” (that new adult romance characters so often long for) to awaken her into a happier adult relationship. However, as if by magic (or perhaps Snow White’s intuitive wisdom to lay low and wait for what she truly wants), her Prince Charming does appear, and with a brave kiss “awakens” her to her happily ever after with him. Well, duh—“awakening” moments in fairy tales are often a more palatable way of describing intimate contact, particularly after ancient fairy tales were scrubbed of sexual details and innuendos by the Grimm Brothers in order to sell to broader audiences as nursery tales in 1857. (Their 1812 edition of fairy tales often left in the sexual connotations). After such an “awakening,” this young woman, who’s already been through her wilderness experience and associated with several men, is said to have finally found her true love.
 
The Prince discovers Snow White in the glass coffin

Again, what I love about Snow White, similar to Rapunzel, is how frequently these fairy tale characters at the brink of adulthood must wander through the wilderness to find their way to maturity. Even Prince Charming in Snow White has to venture into the forest and take chances with some serious risks involved. After all, why, oh why, does he approach a creepy glass coffin and open it in order to kiss a supposedly dead total stranger? That’s crazy! But you often have to go through a lot of crazy as a new adult to find a rewarding relationship. Blind dates, online dating websites, trusting potential mates who turn out to have baggage, or are emotionally scary, or are downright stalkers—this phase of young adulthood is filled with emotional minefields and genuine risk. But as the classic saying goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince—or princess. No guts, no glory! And in fairy tales as well as modern new adult romances, the stakes are always high. That’s because heartbreak, let alone pregnancy or the possible transmission of sexual diseases, has real-world consequences.

But if you never muster the courage to continue on your journey towards adulthood, you’ll forever remain emotionally locked in Rapunzel’s tall tower or Snow White’s glass coffin. The one thing that fairy tales and new adult romances have most in common is that true love requires bravery. And perhaps this is why we love these characters so much. They could take the easy way out and follow the rules or do what’s expected of them to lead a psychologically stale life. But instead they keep going through dark times to grab that chance at true love and genuine happiness. It doesn’t mean that their paths are always easy. But if they can survive their journeys through the wilderness (both sexually and by bucking society’s rules) their reward is a meaningful and fulfilling adult relationship. And isn’t that what most of us really want? Though new adult romances shed a fresh light on the precarious nature of this necessary growth phase of entering adulthood, the desires and dreams of all of us to find true love and fulfillment in our adult lives is as old and as beautiful as fairy tales themselves.
If you love new adult romance with a touch of fairy tale magic, check out my new adult novel STONE OF THIEVES, now available on Kindle & in paperback at Amazon.


Sources for Article:
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. The Annotated Brothers Grimm. Edited with a Preface and Notes by Maria Tatar. W. W. Norton & Company; The Bicentennial Edition, October 15, 2012.

Zutter, Natalie. What Is ‘New Adult’? Romance Editors and Authors Tell All. Bookish.com, July 1, 2013. http://www.bookish.com/articles/what-is-new-adult-romance-editors-and-authors-tell-all.

(This article was originally written by Diane J. Reed for www.onceuponafans.com and is used with their permission.)

(Photo credit note: All images on my website are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of facebook, pinterest, or other popular social networks. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stone of Thieves: A Sexy Romance To Steal Your Heart!



Stone of Thieves is here! A sexy, new adult romance & the HOT stand-alone sequel to Robin in the Hood that will make you believe once again in true love. You don't need to read Robin in the Hood to enjoy this magical & sensuous adventure as Robin & her boyfriend Creek journey to Italy to find her long-lost mother. There, Robin discovers the dark secrets behind her true gypsy heritage through the powerful Stone of Thieves. Check out the book description:

The Stone of Thieves . . . for centuries its magnetic draw has twisted the hearts of ambitious men and women with the promise of power, passion, and intrigue until it fell into the hands of unlikely thieves Robin and her boyfriend Creek. But can they steal their destiny away from the curse that pursues this magnificent ruby heart? As the stone begins to spread its sorcery, Robin races to find her long-lost mother in Italy in the hopes of discovering the truth about her unique gypsy heritage and the ruby heart that is rumored to steal souls. Yet when the desire for this stone by powerful members of her family threatens their very lives, Creek decides to take matters into his own hands to protect Robin, his greatest treasure of all . . .
 


I had so much fun writing this novel & exploring various aspects of gypsy traditions that I could share with readers. One thing that appealed to me is the lure of freedom in gypsy culture to explore your identity, which is particularly important for my main character Robin as she transitions to young womanhood & has to sort through the lies about her past & how she wants to redefine her future.



After all, Robin McArthur used to attend an uptight boarding school, but as she roams the Italian countryside in search for her mother, she gets swept away by the beauty and grandeur of Italy & the nudgings of they gypsy woman Zuhna, who urges her to follow her heart. And where does her heart lead—to a more profound love with Creek, of course!



Creek...the very same man who'd kill to protect Robin & who encourages her to find her real mother & unravel the mysteries of her identity so she'll be whole in body, mind, and spirit. It is Creek in Stone of Thieves who also teaches Robin how to be a woman as they encounter their first intimate moment inside an enchanting gypsy wagon.
 
 
 Yet becoming a "woman" in every sense of the word means that Robin poses a new threat to her Italian relatives as she mystically becomes the next Gypsy Queen—and this means they'll stop at nothing to take her life. While the clock is ticking, Robin races to find her mother, using the power of the gypsies' Ruby Heart (the Stone of Thieves) to outwit those who have persecuted her kind for centuries.

Can true love conquer all? Hell yeah...

Is Creek's love enough to protect Robin through their ordeal? I'll let you find out—and I truly hope you enjoy this sexy & magical thrill ride that brings Robin & Creek deeper together than ever before. If you do get the chance to read Stone of Thieves, I'd love to hear what you think! Until then, as they gypsies say, Baxti hai sastimos tiri patragi! (Wishes to you for luck & good health!)

The following are links to buy Stone of Thieves on Kindle:
For U.S. Kindle, click here
For U.K. Kindle, click here
For Canadian Kindle, click here
For Australian Kindle, click here
 
(Photo credit note: All images on my website are either my own or were gleaned from pictures in the public domains of facebook, pinterest, or other popular social networks. If you own the copyright to any of these images & do NOT want them used publicly, please contact me & I will take them down immediately! : )