Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Scorpio!

Congratulations, you were born under the influence of the most fascinating (and misunderstood) of all the signs. Scorpios are said to be passionate yet controlled, sexy, secretive, vengeful and strong-willed. I once heard a Scorpio woman say, "I don't hold a grudge; once I get even!"

Is Scorpio's reputation justified?

Well, yes and no. In astrology, the sun sign is never the whole story. The other planets and Rising Sign or Ascendant (the sign ruling the first house of your individual chart) will modify the influence of your sun sign.

Scorpio is the eighth sign of the Zodiac and is represented by the Scorpion, a creature whose sting can paralyze its victims. Astrologers also list the eagle and the gray lizard as symbols of Scorpio. The eagle represents the noble side of this complex sign.

Originally Scorpio was ruled by Mars, the planet named for the Roman god of war. Though modern astrologers now say Pluto rules scorpio, it's true that a number of famous warriors were born under the sign of Scorpio, including General George Patton and his chief rival in North Africa, Feld Marshal Erwin Rommel.

The eighth house of the chart rules sex, among other things, and there's no denying the sexual aura of some Scorpios. Welsh actor Richard Burton was a Scorpio with a mesmerizing screen presence. It was partly his marvelous speaking voice, but there was something about his eyes that drew your attention. My mother was crazy about him, despite his personal problems with womanizing and alcoholism. She called him "a fascinating devil" and I have to agree.

Scorpio is a fixed water sign, and as my maternal grandmother used to say, "Still waters run deep and the devil's at the bottom". Fixed water can mean a calm pool or an iceberg. Scorpio Grace Kelly always seemed cool and composed, regardless of circumstances. And speaking of sexual aura, Grace had it in spades. Other self-contained Scorpios, like Senator Hillary Clinton, are sometimes accused of being cold when they don't open up easily to strangers. Marie Antionette, of "let them eat cake" fame, was a Scorpio.

Did I mention that Scorpios don't trust easily, and once their trust is betrayed, they find it hard to forgive? Scorpio's prayer is: Forgive our trespassers, even if the bastards don't deserve it.

I grew up with two Scorpios, my dad and his mother, who occupied the lower floor of our duplex. Their birth dates were a week apart, and being Scorpio, they both wanted to be both. Living in the same house meant a constant power struggle between them, with my poor Taurus mom caught in the middle, playing peacemaker. Not that Grandma was overt in her attempts to control my dad. That wasn't her style. My mother often described her as "the iron fist in the velvet glove". An Aries like me may go at things full tilt and damn the torpedoes, but Scorpio usually takes a more subtle approach.

When I was little, my dad decided to make wine in the basement, which horrified my grandmother who was a member of the WCTU. "What will my friends say?" she asked my mother. "Can't you do something?" My mother just shrugged and said, "Have you ever been able to stop him when he's made up his mind to do something?" LOL, Grandma said no, but that wasn't exactly true. There were times when she was able to exert control. Like a said, a constant power struggle. It wasn't that they didn't love each other. They were just too much alike to live together comfortably.

When it comes to compatibility, conventional astrological wisdom says that the best choices for Scorpio are the other water signs, Cancer and Pisces, and the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. It's interesting the Scorpio Prince Charles married two women born under the sign of Cancer. (Yes, believe it or not, Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles shared the same sun sign.) Fire and air signs are considered astrologically incompatible with water signs, which may help to explain a little about the marriage between Scorpio Hillary Clinton and her Leo husband. In addition, Leo and Scorpio are in a natural "square" (90 degree) aspect, a classic sign of conflict. But we romance authors believe love conquers all, and their marriage has certainly endured more tests than most.

Famous Scorpios include US President Theodore Roosevelt, Newsman Dan Rather, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, writer Shere Hite, scientist Marie Curie, actresses Sally Field, Katherine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Vivien Leigh, Bo Derek and Demi Moore, authors Sylvia Plath and Voltaire, director Martin Scorcese, and Senator Robert Kennedy.

For more on the sign, go to

So what's your sun sign? Any Scorpios out there?


(Note: This was cross-posted at Servants of the Muse.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Practice Makes Perfect... Or Does It?

When a writer friend, Adrianna Dane, wrote on Tuesday about her problems blogging, I suggested that practice might make it easier, like taking piano lessons.

That reminded me of all the years I spent at the keyboard learning to play. I've always needed some kind of creative outlet, and as a child, it was music. I started piano lessons when I was in elementary school and continued through high school. I had some natural advantages, esp. my long fingers, which made it easy to reach an octave, even as a child. I also loved music.

I didn't do so well with other instruments, though. In the fourth grade, we were all tested and those of us who had musical ability were selected to learn an instrument. I was one of the students, and since piano wasn't offered, I chose the violin. Big mistake. For nine months my parents suffered through my weekly screeching and squawking as I tried to coax music from the recalcitrant instrument. My folks were very happy when I gave the violin back to the school. :) To this day I'm in awe of anyone who can play violin. I know first hand how hard it is to do well.

So I scurried back to the piano, which was a more natural fit for me. My other experience with a string instrument came after I finished school and took an adult ed class in guitar playing. I could hum and strum with the class, though my singing isn't any better than my violin playing. But when the teacher decided to add a little Spanish guitar styling, I was out of luck. I just didn't have the manual dexterity for that, I suppose. Back to the piano again.

I haven't played now in about twenty years, but I think about it periodically. I was even salivating over an electronic keyboard in Costco last week, thinking I could make my own music for my book trailers. My DH was even ready to plunk down hard cash to buy it for me. Then I thought about yet another drain on my precious time, and said, "I'll think about it."

I've always needed some kind of creative outlet. In my 20's it was international folk dancing. It was lots of fun and great exercise, and I've never been thinner. In my 30's, it was needlepoint, cross stitch and crewel embroidery. I used to do beautiful needlework, if I say so myself, back in the day when I could still see to put the needle through those little holes. LOL, that's not an option any more.

Then I started writing in my 40's and discovered the old truism about practice makes perfect wasn't working so well any more. Except for string instruments, I'd always found it to be true, whether I was learning a new piano piece, intricate dance steps or tackling a complicated cross stitch pattern. OK, some things got easier as I learned the writer's craft: how to plot a story, write description, etc.

But every story presents a new challenge. Some are easier than others, but there's never any guarantee that things will go easier or that the results will be better. Maybe that uncertainty is what keeps the writing process from getting stale or boring.

Now my creative outlet is my writing. So as much as I'd love to take up the piano again, or try my hand at an electronic keyboard, I think I'd better stick with creating my stories.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Return Of The Muse

A month ago I wrote a blog called Muse On Vacation, lamenting the absense of my muse. Well, last week she returned with a vengeance, and none too soon, since I had a story that needed work. I'm happy to report that on Thursday I finished my current WIP and got it off to my editor.

It still set me to wondering why my muse is so fickle when other authors' muses seem to be much more reliable, constantly sitting on their shoulders, whispering words and story ideas in their ears. Caitlyn, Adrianna and Lacey all have muses they can count on. So what's the difference?

Maybe it's a personality thing. I'm not a Type-A personality. In fact, I have a lazy streak. It's not that I'm not goal-oriented, I am, when there's something I want to accomplish. But I want to have fun along the way.

I think it goes back to my teenage years. I did well in school and knew I wanted to go on to college. But I also knew my parents really couldn't afford to send me unless I got a scholarship. So I worked very hard to get good grades and had no social life to speak of. Then came college, living off campus (at home) and working to pay for my books and gas. I enjoyed it, but didn't have much time for a social life.

My first chance to play a little came in graduate library school, of all places. (Trust me, librarians aren't nearly as stuffy as they're portrayed in the media.) We had some great parties that year, LOL. Anyway, by the time I got my master's degree, I'd had my nose to the academic grindstone for a long time. I decided two things when I left school. One, no more degree programs. I'd had enough. And two, it was time to enjoy life.

I guess that was when I gave my subconscious permission to goof off. I went to work, of course. Hey, a girl's gotta eat. But in my spare time I went dancing and took evening classes in fun stuff like yoga, astrology, and learning to play the guitar (badly). No MBA for me, thank you very much.

When I decided I wanted to write romance, my muse came out of somewhere, but I think now she'd been forged in those carefree days of my twenties. And since it was the 1970's, she's more free-spirited hippie than domineering taskmaster.

I do hope she sticks around for a while. I've got another story to write, then another one after that, and then that other one in the back of my mind.

Wish me luck!