Writing About Flowers & Things Feed

Floriade, Deadlines and Zines and how they sometimes work...

Is it really over yet? 

Floriade 1_edited-1
view from my Canberra room 

Last Friday saw me driving to Sydney to place the second of my new book series into the hands of my Australian publisher. 

Floriade 7
... Rockpool Publishing then Floriade or bust! 

It felt good. I can't tell you exactly what that feels like but I will tell you it is a heady mix of relief, excitement, elation, numbness and outright fear...

"Have I  'done it'  right?"
"Is it really over?"
"It can't be, I missed something"
and so on.
Oh and that feeling of wanting to rip it back out of your publishers hands as a heat descends on your body from the writing gods above when she/he comments on something you know you probably haven't included... 
"I'm so looking forward to seeing the part on Zombie eating leaves *or insert whatever it was you might of alluded to in your pitch*"
So now your book gets edited... da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaa and I am kinda over the whole "the editor will think I'm an uneducated halfwit" because, well, basically other than a focused uneducated passion for botany I probably am, having left school at about 15. If it wasn't for spellcheck, I probably wouldn't be published. I can not spell, grammar? mmmmm well I know how to speak proper but any of the finer points? I thank the stars for wonderful editors!
Oh yes and thanks to an accident many many moons ago, I can only bash way at the keyboards with a few fingers of my right hand. Yes I've tried all the voice activated dictation programs but I think my accent annoys them. I seem to think better with the few fingers that do work on my right hand anyway. Maybe thats my superpower? mmmmm 
Studio
In my studio...forget about those fancy pants glossy 'in my studio photo spreads'
this right here is what 8 hours before a book deadline looks like.

But.. I love what I do and the opportunity to share it is something I'm forever grateful for. My passion to learn as much as possible about Ethnobotany (the relationship between plants and people) has filled my life with so much meaning and purpose for decades and along the way I have also learned how to craft that into something to share.

So once you hand in your First Draft, what you do not want to do is then jump back in your car and go on a road trip right after handing over a few months of sweat, tears and sizeable chunk of your sanity to your publisher. Do not do it. Oh yes, you will tell yourself that this is your holiday, treat, relaxing time. It will not be. You should go home, put on your grungiest PJs, find a very long TV series that you haven't watched because your last year has been spent writing in your universe, not escaping in theirs and you should snuggle up with a warm blanket (or friend who will not judge or more importantly talk!) and flake right out. You need to disappear and do SFA. When you finish doing it, you need to do it again. and again...

But, truth be told I did in fact enjoy Floriade in Canberra! 
Big floriade

What's not to love. My best friend lives there (damn it I should of just stayed longer and flaked on her couch under her cats, I could still be there). 
There is also Flowers right now, over a million of them and it was good to see them, real good.
They had all just about burst into bloom the day before and so it was unlike any Floriade I'd ever experienced. Firstly, because rumour had gotten round that there were no flowers yet, the crowds were right down and secondly all the flowers were fresh and bright, new and well... there! 
If I had of gone a week before I would not of seen them and in this very hot spell we are having on the East Coast, if I had of gone a week later, I would of seen cooked flowers and so I went at the right time. The Flowers made me feel chirpy and hanging with Jan always makes me feel great. It would of been better with a cat blanket but I'll remember that for next time.
Hang on! ~ mental note: DO NOT AGREE TO DEADLINES AT FLORIDA TIME. 
Floriade 2
Floriade is all about... flowers! 

I did a few things at Floriade I can't tell you about just yet. Such is the way of writing and publishing and people not wanting other people to know what some people are doing in case they do what those people are doing too but I did flowers things which are good. 

Floriade 4
... and flowers!

Cow
... and things painted with flowers! 


Floriade 5
... and made to look like flowers. 


 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌻I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!🌻🌷🌷🌷

Floriade 55
Don't worry BigW, problem solved.....there are still Christmas trees for the Flower Crazy People! 


Back home to garden this week
Garden 1
(I have a strict limit on time away policy so I can actually do what I write about) and I found that my new herb garden has gone bananas, or rather dill and comfrey and the beetroot, fennel and cos are ready and delicious. Some bird chopped two of my zucchinis seedlings to pieces. I'm assuming it was a bird or a pack of rather feral insects who decided to rip them apart and not eat them. I get needing to munch on my veggie garden so that you can survive but I'm not a fan of plant vandalism or hunting for sport. 

I'm pondering what to replace them with today or a plan of defence. 
Clivia 1
I do grow flowers too! Clivis which mean ~ inner strength and letting go of fear. 

And so to Zines. 
Last year I produced and released an Artist Edition of my Flowers of the Night Oracle
I am really proud of that work. It was exciting and just outright fun putting it together. I learned a lot about what I wanted to do in future and what i did not want to do. I learned that people still don't realise I create the art for my own work (stop sending me horrible messages saying I'm dreadful for not crediting the artist! its me and putting my name twice on the cover would just look too egotistical) I learned that really putting your work out there in your pure voice bought a lot of praise but equally loads of criticism but it made me stronger in what I believe. All of the criticism focused on how my deck wasn't like other oracle decks and didn't work the same. Well, good! It is always Nature first in my work. Always. Plants are not humans, they are not there just for us. We have a relationship with them which works both ways. I've made lots of mistakes, a few misinterpretations and followed paths to nowhere on my personal quest but that's what exploration is all about. 

FlowersOfTheNight_box_front
new box for Flowers of the Night Oracle

I think it is an important lesson to learn that you are not compulsory and that probably the majority will not like, understand or want your work if you are working within a defined and focused field. If you are out there creating whatever may come because you are looking to be successful in a broad genre then maybe you do need to change and bend to the popular vote but I am not and so I will not. Usually I hear confirmation that what I am doing is right in the words of those who are negative. Sometimes I hear really valuable suggestions and so I will take those on board. I am just selective because the Work I do is more important than trying to please. 

Oh yeah and so to Zines. 
Flowers of the Night Oracle is being released now by a traditional publisher, (Rockpool Publishing) a couple actually, both in Australia and the USA and UK this November. There are slight updates to it including a revised Guidebook and card format. Oh and the box is different. Because my decks take years to create (I have one now that is not going to be released until 2019 at the earliest and I've worked on since 2012), I collect a huge amount of information in my journals. I also create lots of artwork along the way too and so with this release I am gifting a Zine of Flowers of the Night with the first 99 orders for it from me (I have to keep one for myself!). 

Oh yes! IT COSTS TOO MUCH IN POSTAGE TO BUY FROM YOU
I do get a lot of people asking me if I can please offer free postage like *insert online book seller* Um no. 
When you buy from me, you get my signature on my book. Ok now this may mean nothing now but what if I was to turn out to be the next Steven King? 
Just saying' ;) 
Seriously what you also get is extra treats that are worth more than the postage cost. Artworks, prints, flower and plant stuff, seeds if you are in my  country and love, lots and lots of love! 
To be honest, running an online shop is not my job. Writing books and illustrating stuff and creating art is. 
I also only make a few dollars profit on each title I sell through my online shop. I charge what the post office charges me to post your things and unfortunately I don't post 100,000 items a day so I can't get that mega postal discount but I try hard to make it worthwhile for you because I like making friends with people who like what I like.
I'm also a fan of collecting special things from authors I like so I try and do the same for those who may feel the same. 

THE ZINE! 
FON gift pack

So that is what I'm doing right now! Making a mysterious, cool (I hope!), plant filled, flower bursting, night lovely ZINE for you all and I am LOVING IT! 
There are loads of original little artworks and inclusions and today I'm actually working out how to create a moon on something transparent to use as the cover (can I hear you all say OHHHHHHHHH). 
I think I'm down to 40 odd copies left that will include this Zine and no I will not be releasing it separately. Publishing contracts will not allow it. This is a completely handmade (by me!) Zine. 

I am going to be around a bit more, it has been a huge few months of completing books and decks and I am very grateful for those friends who like my work and have stuck around even if I'm not so 'huge on social media'. I really appreciate you and hope you will enjoy next year what this year has let me do. 

OK off to sort out my Moon creative art challenge for your Zine! 

Bunches of blessings to you,
Cheralyn 🌷

Shoes
Floriade haul... Poppy shoes. 



 


To answer my mail - how to be successful at this...

I haven't been around much over the past couple of months. True. 
Mostly because I have contractual deadlines for a new book series and two new Flower decks and I also have my novel to complete this year. That is a lot of work and I really am not in the position to pay/ask someone, or to actually want to have someone, run my social media for me. I can only do so much in a day and it means I'm too busy to post videos, photos and blog posts about what is going on because the reality is, when you have a lot of work to do, you have no additional time to do much else. 
Then there is this thing called, LIFE. Relationships to tend to, dogs getting sick, kids having life changes, bathrooms to paint, cars to fix, gardens to love, books to read, health to look after, places to to go, people to see, just like everyone else does. I'm ok, I'm just busy! :) 

Cheralyn Garden 1

My work with Botanical History also takes a lot of research and what you see published this month, was planted years before and ended up with my publisher at least six months to a year before it sat on bookshelf. People who do not read my work, constantly ask me if I channel or make up meanings and messages or if I have someone else help me. No I do not. All my work is researched back through history, through to the very first indication of each plant on earth and then back through the multitude of ways the plant has been used and has been a part of the Ethnobotanical relationship for me to then include it in whatever I am writing. That takes a lot of care, a lot of time and all of my focus.

My blog post today is actually prompted by an increasing amount of email I receive asking for help to be an author. Nearly all tell me they have a brilliant idea for a book or deck but haven't started it and won't start it until they get a contract or are sure it will sell. Then there are the next lot of people who have started their project but haven't finished and want to know if what they are doing will sell and if not what I think they should be writing instead to get a publishing contract/sell lots of copies and so on. I very occasionally get correspondence from someone who is dedicated to a passion and they just want tips on how to have their passion shared and hopefully get published. The rest are dedicated to the passion of success. Nothing wrong with that, but I am the wrong person to ask. 

I am not measurably successful by everyones standards with everything I create because I do not follow trends or look for 'gaps in the market'. I don't know how many people click on my social media posts. I am too time-poor to work at 'engaging an audience', I do not change my fonts, colours or content inline with analytics and I do not look at similar pages and people to myself in order to expand the audience I have. BUT, and this is very very important, there is nothing wrong with all of that! I just do not have the resources for it and I adore my botanical history research, writing and art creating and then there is my garden which, as any of you who garden know, takes a huge amount of my time but I give it lovingly. 

I simply can not give up any part of what I love doing for what I probably need to do in order for me to do more of what I love. My choice. 
Garden sept

This time next year, I will have eleven published titles worldwide. 10 will be focused on flowers, one on a type of plant. Eleven in the fours years since I became a published author. This is because my passion is exploring Botanical History, particularly the Language of Flowers, Ethnobotany and Gardening. Plants are my focus. I have written about plants and created art about plants for decades and so when it came to becoming published, I was ready. Ready to share what I had already completed, ready to create new projects and when people approach me with their ideas for me, 99% of the times, I had already done it, started it or planned it out. Why? because I was already living my passion with focus. 

Focus like this makes following your passion very easy but it is not the easy road at all. 

Not everyone will like what you do, they won't want to publish it, buy it, talk about it. They will have expectations for your work which has nothing to do with why you created something in a certain way. (I wrote a dictionary, Flowerpaedia, of a 1,000 flower meanings completed translated both ways like a human language translation dictionary with instructions of how to view the flowers online if one wished so people could carry it around with them but some just can't grasp the concept that having it illustrated would mean it was coffee table sized tomb at 4 times the price). This will happen to you if you put yourself out there with what you believe in, not everyone will like what you do or how you do it but if what you do is really your passion, then trust me, you will bob back up with lessons learned (or simply shrug off it off) and set yourself on that road again. If you can not? Then it was never your passion to begin with. 

None of the time you spend on your real passion is wasted! 
A lot of people tell me they are worried that they are wasting their time on their passion and could I suggest a better subject they could be doing. I have created artwork, written parts of books and decks for things which haven't seen the light of day yet but they might later on. They are still what I am passionate about, they are still part of the conversation that I engage in every single day. Nothing is wasted if it is what you are meant to be doing. 
Live your life in your passion. The amount of people who approach me telling me that they want to write/create decks about the meanings of plants and flowers as well and would I kindly share my booklist so they can find the meanings too is staggering. Seriously staggering. I do have a cheeky response, "Go and ask your garden" to which I sadly and usually get the response, "Oh I have a brown thumb". Then what is it that you do have an affinity with? That is probably where your true voice can be found. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful financially or in popularity and some of the most successful people on this planet are successful for just being successful. Yeah that's a lot of the word successful! :D If that is what you are looking for, them you need to seek out people who are more the entrepreneur. Everyone's measure of success is different and so is mine. None are 'better' than the other, they are just different. My personal measure of success is not how many people come and see me at talks and workshops, its not even how many titles I sell or where, it is the completion of a body of work that I have created no matter if it is published/exhibited or not. I think it is very important to share that because there are a lot of people I meet who also measure their success and contentment on this very same scale. You are not better than others, just different. Again, your measure of success is personal and if it is dollars in the bank, clicks on a social media post, bums on seats, completion of a novel, discovery of a concept, whatever it is, it is no more meaningful than the next person because it is what makes you jump out of bed each morning, makes you tick, what make you personally content and drives you forward. 

So what if you fail?
I have a deck which hasn't done as well as the rest of my work but I love that deck. It is everything I wanted it to be, a collection of the Flowers which grow at Sacred Places around the world. It is the oracle deck Flower Reading Cards. Maybe the title didn't really 'sell it' that well, maybe the colours and fonts didn't cut it, perhaps my lino-print artwork was too loud, bright or just didn't resonate, maybe everyone else just thinks it is crap, but I don't. I think that deck of Flowers is wonderful. The work to put it together was immense and exciting and filled my days with so much joy as I was lead down ever expanding paths through history on the trail of each flower and the places it originated from. Because my measure of success wasn't how many it sold, it was what I did every day and what I still do with that work, I look at that body of work as incredibly successful. 
Pyramidal orchid WEBCARDS paint

Don't work in response to others. 
I work very hard at my passion and nothing I ever create or share is in response to anything or anyone else except 'The Work' that I do. There is zero room for that sort of energy in my life and I often see others doing it and believe me, they are never happy. Its a never-ending game of one upmanship. Walk, no run, away from that energy. Head down, tail up and onward my friend. Blinkers on because believe me, the minute you step foot out there someone will tell you that they thought of what you are doing every single day. Usually they will not of stepped out there with this similar work themselves but even if they have, (or quickly do in response to you work!),  if you are creating authentically and with focus then what you are doing can not be battered or dented with such energy. 

So to be at success at whatever it is that you want to be successful in, you need to sit down and define your measure of success first.
Don't be shy about it and be honest. Find your passion (hint, it's what makes your heart beat a little faster when you come across it.)
Then live it with focus every day. 


bunches of love, 
Cheralyn 


🌻 Where I Find the Meanings of Flowers


I’m contacted daily by people who would would like me to share how I discover the meanings of flowers. Most are writing or creating things based on the Language of Flowers.

Do I receive the information from Spirit?  Faeries? Intuition?
Do I have certain/favourite/special books which contain these secrets?
Do I just make them up?

IMG_7940

Most people want that magick key, that one source or place, but I cannot give it to them.

Not because I’m mean-spirited but because there is not one key, one place. It’s actually
 ’out there’ in Nature. It’s in gardening books, complementary health books, it’s in the stories of people from all over the world and from the folklore whispered down time.
Like many of these people who contact me, I did want one book, one resource, to contain keywords, but even that came at a great cost. One I gladly paid. In time, in experience, in patience. 

IMG_7928

Although there are many ‘Language of Flowers’ books, most are whimsical pieces which do not contain the botanical names and they do not go deep enough nor do they reach back far enough to source material to ensure accurate meanings. This is why I wrote Flowerpaedia. I wanted something handy to contain as many Flower meanings as possible that everyone could reference easily. It is a tool that I couldn’t find and I wanted so I thought maybe others would as well. It is a beginning, not an end and I hope that those who use it see Flowerpaedia that way. These are keywords  to start a conversation with Nature and I  know you will hear so much more! 

Cheralyn carrots 2

To find these meanings, it took take me over ten years. I did not labour every day for eight hours a day but I decided ten years ago to put my journal entries, my notes, my other titles into one place. In making that decision, I had to tidy these research notes, I had check and triple check all my entries and as I wrote a Language of Flowers translator, there was a lot of good old fashioned hard work! (The first half of book is meanings and their flowers, the second is flowers and their meanings.)


So I suppose in sharing this, what I am saying is, I can’t just hand out ‘the’ place to find all of this for your work or wonderings. You need to experience it. Go to libraries, to gardens, to the wild of nature and look, feel, listen.  Speak to those who work with and for the land and  most importantly, do so yourself. Grow things, love plants, share what you do as you go.
Tree heart 2

This way,  you will naturally find out how to find what it is you seek but you will also find so much more and hopefully give back as you become a part of the conversation between people and plants.

bunches of blessings, 
Cheralyn 🌺