Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on local author J.C. Artemisia. She will be at our 65 James Street bookstore on Sunday, August 12, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM hosting a workshop for children (and parents!) about sigil making and talking about the Pagan picture books she’s released.
Thank you so much for joining us on our Spotlight blog, J.C.! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I am a Pantheist Pagan momma to three, wonderfully spiritual children (blessings always come in threes)! My kids range in age from 2years-7years, so every day is an adventure. I earned my bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Chester College of New England and my master’s degree in education from Plymouth State University. In addition to writing, I teach communications courses in an online graduate program.
I was raised in a half-Pagan home, and we celebrated our faith and holidays with extended Pagan family, as well. I would say my work is largely inspired by spiritual literature I wished for in my youth and messages I want to share with my kids and other spiritual children/families.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your books?
I write spiritual and Pagan themed books for children of varying ages. I have always noticed a significant lack of Pagan-kid literature, and I hope to change that for the next generation! My content varies from metered rhyme to prose.
I understand and respect that religion and spirituality are deeply personal, and I know focus and tradition varies between families. For these reasons, I try to take a broad approach in my content, hoping it will align with many family paths. Further, I want to foster children’s passion and connection with books and reading, so each of my books includes an engagement section at the end where kids can write, draw, and personalize their experiences with the message.
What was the inspiration for your newest title, Look to the Moon? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
I have felt called to write a moon-themed book for a while, but I am also trying to stay on some kind of publication schedule—Yeah, right!
Look to the Moon was a muse calling I could not refuse. I was leaving the store with my two-year-old one night. It was dark, and the moon was shining brightly on us in an otherwise quiet parking lot. I pointed up, drawing his attention toward her, and before I could say anything, he babbled, “Moon? Follow?”
My heart sang, and I laughed, “Yes, baby! The moon follows you, because she loves you so much!” This is a message I have repeated to all of my babies, but that night, I could feel the message growing, forming new life. I buckled my baby into the car, scribbled some notes onto a napkin, and began drafting the work that night.
During the writing process, I also became visually inspired. I began envisioning layers and textures with a strong moon presence. I studied visual arts in my undergraduate career, so I was comfortable to develop the composite images that would eventually be used in the book. The choice to use silhouettes was two-fold—first, I wanted the figures to be fully embraced by the moon’s light, and second, I wanted the images to speak to a diverse reader group. Families come in all shapes, sizes, colors, etc. My hope is the silhouette families will create a sense of inclusiveness for varied families on varied spiritual paths, all under the same moon.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
I find many parts of writing challenging—though this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the frustration and fire are the reasons I return, over again, to feel and watch the messages etch and shape in meaning.
That being said, I have had more than a fair share of torment over words, meter, rhyme, and pace. Making time and space is important for my writing process. With three little kids at home, this is not always easy. I often find myself writing notes throughout the day and diving in at night when I know I can get a few solid hours of work done.
Even with the space, however, focus can be an issue, so the first thing I will do is log off of social media and turn off alerts. Unplugging is a tangible action, and it really puts me in the mood. I also like to wear headphones while I work, but I don’t often listen to songs with lyrics or even familiar classical music, because I find them distracting. Instead, I typically search YouTube for “12 Hours of Rain Sounds” and pick one of them to help me focus.
Then there’s the actual writing and editing—as archaic as this may sound, I do a lot of my first draft work (and later, editing) by hand. This may echo back to my academics and free writing practice, but I feel it allows me to be most genuine and connected with the words and message direction. It is another tangible action that puts me in the right place for writing.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
Family time is an essential part of me. I have a young family, and as a work-at-home mother, I am able to make time to be present with my children, create arts and crafts, read, and play. My husband and I love to take the kids to community events, and we are definitely Renaissance Faire nerds!
I also love teaching and engaging with my students. Communications is a fascinating field, and I am constantly learning and sharing developments in social media, visual rhetoric, and writing best practices.
In my “free” time—that space between the rain drops—I paint (mostly acrylics), crochet (mostly stuff for my kids), and cook (mostly baking, lots of magickal spices and intentions).
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
My next planned release is called Magickal. It is a cross between a traditional nursery rhyme and a ritual chant. The overall theme of this book is self-value and recognition of personal blessings and strengths as aligned with the elements. The estimated release for Magickal is fall 2018, though the early release of my most recent book may slightly impact publication schedule.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Thank you so much for being part of our Spotlight Blog, J.C.! We are excited to have you at our 65 James Street store for sigil-making and storytelling on Sunday, August 12, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM!