I fell asleep for about an hour and a half earlier this evening and had some very strange dreams. Sometimes, I remember my dreams completely while other times I can only recall bits and pieces. The strongest part of the dream I had earlier had to do with shapeshifting. I've had shapingshifting dreams before, so it's nothing unusual for me, and actually comes in quite handy when writing books about shapeshifters. Though, there's definitely a difference between the fiction of the novels and the dreams that I have. The dream is far less dramatic, smoother, there's no popping of bones or anything like that. There is only the animal form and being inside it, seeing from its height, feeling the ground under four paws, the elongated spine, the swishing of tail and flexing of claws. The dreams are almost always amazingly vivid. They don't always make sense, but they're vivid and detailed. This evening I woke feeling sore and stiff and slightly drunk. I stumbled out of bed completely disoriented. If I'd taken a sobriety test, I would've failed epically just because that's how disoriented I was. I clipped a couple of walls on the way into the kitchen to get a beverage from the fridge. My mouth was dry and I felt hot like I'd been running a marathon in my sleep.
I dreamed of tigers in a multitude of colors, not all that appear in the natural world. I dreamed of water, a crystalline body of it, with tigers swimming and splashing in it, their muscles rippling beneath shimmering fur. I dreamed of fighting when provoked, of setting boundaries with others and standing my ground. The rush of tiger energy was exhilarating, powerful, and unstoppable. The tigress was a creature of courage and battle, thick and muscular, her heavy form and sharp claws made for defense and protection.
It's not the first time I've dreamed about her. There have been other dreams where I have taken the form of the tigress charging into battle, leaping into the fray, and standing her ground. Whether she does so to protect cubs or those simply not as strong as she - the tigress does not fight a useless battle or a shallow one and she chooses them wisely. She stands up for what she believes in without shame. She announces her individuality with her very bold colors, the strength and power of her walk, and burns with an inner confidence as she holds her head high.
I believe in totem animals and that when someone dreams so strongly about an animal, something about that animal is trying to get a message across to the dreamer. With the tigress, I know what her message is: Embrace me.
My Chinese astrology sign is that of the tiger and I would say, considering the feline babies I have, I am more of a cat person than a dog person (I like to consider myself equal opportunity with them, but when it comes down to it, it's kind of obvious I'm more of a cat person). I consider myself to be an introvert, which often conflicts with the "generic" definition of the tiger personality. Then again, female tigers are often solitary, and I can definitely be that. Tigers are supposed to be hot-tempered and a bit rash, which I wouldn't consider myself.
Okay, hot-tempered I'll give you an inch, but only when the pissed-off switch has seriously been flipped. When I was younger, I never thought twice about leaping into the fray. Now, I try to be less selfish and more compassionate (it’s that damn Buddhism – it got to me)…doesn’t mean it always works, as I am human, and it really depends what set me off. *Grin.* However, I try to count to ten. The question I often ask myself is, Do I want to stick my foot in this? And more often than not, the answer is no. Experience has taught me that if I'm going to have an argument when I'm angry -- someone's going to walk out of the room hurt and wounded...and nearly every time, it was both the other person and myself.
A lot of readers have asked me how much Kassandra reflects me. There's definitely some of myself in Kassandra (and in all of my characters) but one thing that sets us apart: I like to think I've established better control over my temper. But, in Kassandra's defense, I'm not a werewolf. ;) And notice, keywords, “I like to think.” It’s really amazing, the paradoxes within a person. I consider myself good-natured and easy-going and affectionate with those I know and love, but when I’m upset…I have to watch my mouth. To me, it’s important to be in touch with your darker self. I mean, come on, you kind of have to be aware and know your faults before you can improve on them…and denial is rarely a pretty sight. “I’m not angry - I was just trying to play Frisbee with the dinner plate.”
Hey, you know, I’ve never actually thrown a plate…Hmm…
And for those of you that wonder: yes, I've had wolf shapeshifting dreams as well. Those tend to be more light-hearted, like the dream I had where I was walking through the grocery store in wolf form looking for a package of yogurt covered pretzels, nails clicking in the tile floor. I wonder if Duran Duran had the same dream when they wrote the song, 'Hungry Like The Wolf,' though, I suspect not. Maybe, I was channeling Rosalin.
I finished Bloody Claws not too long ago. Yeah! Currently, I'm taking a short break from the work before I dive head-first into edits. I've already started writing Summoning Shadows, the second book in the Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novels, and Darkness Embraced is about to be released next month. Whoop!
I noticed when working on Bloody Claws that I've become much more critical. Sometimes, the inner critic does come in handy, as she'll force you to dig deeper and to work harder -- but other times, she just blows things out of proportion, stifles the voice of your muse, and becomes a serious pain in the ass. There were a few times when I locked up and had to quit writing for the night, because I couldn't turn that voice off and all it was doing was getting in my way. I kept questioning and when I looked at the page, I found myself staring at everything I'd written and not knowing how I felt about it. When that happens, I step away long enough to put things back into perspective.
I've known a lot of artists and writers that won't work unless they're, "inspired." I've personally learned that it's not about sitting around and waiting for the muse to drop in and pay a visit. Writing is hard work, it takes effort, it takes courage, it takes learning how to tune-out or evade the voice of your inner critic when you need to, and to listen to it when you need to. It takes learning how to trigger your muse and inspire yourself, what works for you and what doesn't. I'm the type of writer that when I'm working on a book, I become immersed in it, but I don't sit down at the keyboard everyday always revved up to go. Sometimes, I have to get myself in the mood. I have to have mental foreplay to establish the connection I need with the main character and to pick up where I left off. There's really no right or wrong way to do that and every writer is different, but I think that's what makes a writer: we write, and nothing and no one is going to stop us, not even the voice of the inner critic.
Can you hear the tigress now? There's a time to tame her and a time to embrace her.
I will be hosting a giveaway soon for a signed copy of Darkness Embraced over on my author page on Facebook (the link to which is located on the right of this blog). I recommend keeping an eye on the page so you don't miss it. I will be doing the giveaway before May, as I'm hoping to provide the winner with a signed copy of the book before it even hits the shelves. That's pretty cool, right? :)