Saturday, September 29, 2012

Autumn's Herald: Saturday Symbol Fairy 9/29/12

Here in New Mexico, autumn is heralded not by a riotous change in the colors of tree leaves but by an abundant outcropping of roadside flowers such as purple aster and sunflowers.

The Spanish name for a sunflower is girasol meaning "turn to the sun," based on the fact the flower's face does exactly that. And so, a sunflower symbolizes the faithful love of God as well as loyalty, adoration and optimism. Because the flower itself looks like a sun, it also represents warmth and happiness.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Of Friends and Lemons: Saturday Symbol Fairy 9/22/12

Today is a day of visitors. First, a few guests will be at my house then after hours and hours of dance and rehearsal, I'll be (stamina-willing) off to see an old friend. Whenever I attend a party, I try to bring, or I'm required to bring, my family's passed-down version of lemon bars. There is truly no better way to say thanks and I love you than the flaky, tangy and sweet deliciousness of lemon custard baked on top of a sugary pastry.

So, therefore, lemon is this weeks symbol! Lemon represents fidelity in love as well as purity, longevity and friendship. A perfect token of hospitality and appreciation!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 9/15/12

This post is short and sweet as I am crazy busy creating choreography for East Mountain Dance's production of the "Nutcracker." This is the first time EMD has done a traditional, as opposed to unique, Christmas show. It is exciting but daunting. And an unbelievable amount of work. One of the pieces I am rehearsing today is the Columbine Doll from the opening party scene. My little sister danced this number, beautifully, ages ago. I love this photo of her.

And so, this week's symbol is the doll. Dolls symbolize youth and innocence. They can also act as a surrogate for an individual, representing a person positively, like in the use of a corn doll for fertility, or negatively in Voodoo and malicious magic, to inflict pain and injury on another.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 9/8/12

This year, I was invited to put a piece in a University of New Mexico Dance Program Alumni Concert (I graduated from UNM with a M.A. in Dance History and a M.F.A. in Choreography). The concert is a big deal and I am truly honored to be included. Given the theme of the show, I've chosen to revamp two of my older numbers. The first is a dance based on synchronized swimming performed to the song "Her Bathing Suit Never Got Wet" by The Andrew Sisters.

For the second number, I am hoping to reconstruct a duet of "sleepwalking" done to the Emily Browning version of "Sweet Dreams" from the "Sucker Punch" soundtrack. There are two problems, however. One, I need to turn the duet into an ensemble number in less than a months time. And two, I don't have a video recording of the first version. It is going to be a challenge.

So, in honor of my first day-long rehearsal, this weeks symbol is dancing. In many cultures, dancing is a symbol of ecstasy. This is seen in the whirling dervishes of Islam, the Dionysian and Bacchic dances of antiquity, and in African masquerade. It is believed that the trance state brought on by these ritual dances allows the participate to communicate or be possessed by divine spirits. Dance can also represent the cyclical nature of the universe. The depiction of Shiva's Wheel of Flames as the Nataraja, or Lord of the Dance, symbolizes the rhythmic movement of the cosmos whereas round dances like English Morris dancing are thought to help the sun on its path through the heavens. Dance is also used as celebration and, as in the Chinese Lion dance, to ward off evil spirits.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/25/12

Last Sunday, Nia, my corgi-cattledog and I attended "Woofstock" in Edgewood, NM. It was a celebration of and benefit for local dog rescue organizations. I'd heard there would also be agility demonstrations which is one of the reasons we went but sadly, if there was, we missed them. Nia is a rescue herself. I adopted her in Georgia from a group that had saved her one day from euthanization. Nia is such a fun friend, she makes every day special. I can't imagine if the world and I had been denied her presence because someone gave her up to a kill shelter. Being a cross of two herding breeds, Nia is incredibly obsessive. I can't bring her to any ball-based sporting event or she spends the entire time trying to get the ball and barking if she can't. And she adores coursing! Here is one of her coursing runs at the Society for Creative Anarchronism's Estrella War a few years back:

Night before last, in her obsessive need to find any and all creatures hiding in our woodshed, Nia somehow managed to take a huge chunk out of her toe. Poor thing. She bled everywhere. Then, because she sleeps with me, she kept me up half the night trying to remove the bandage I'd made her. So, in her honor, this week I am sharing the symbolism of dogs.
Dogs symbolize fidelity, vigilance and nobility. People born in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are thought to be honest, affectionate, fair and open-minded. In Christian art, the image of a dog depicted at the feet or in the lap of a wedded woman represents faithfulness in marriage. One of the most well-know dogs is Sirius, Orion the Hunter's constant companion, a principal character in Greek mythology and astronomy. Dogs are also associated with the dead, thought to both accompany the soul to the next world and symbolize departed spirits. Some African cultures believe dogs are able to see into the spirit world. Various hounds show up in Celtic mythology, leading heroes in and out of the Underworld or hunting the souls of the dead across the night sky. Celtic lore often connects hounds to the sea (a symbol of the afterlife). This is seen in King Arthur's hound, Cabal who chased Twrch Trwyth into the ocean, the hounds of the sea god Mannanan, Aine's stone which attracted all the mad dogs of Ireland who then fell into the ocean, and Queen Nehellenia, a goddess worshipped at the point where travelers crossed the North Sea from the Netherlands, who is often portrayed with a dog by her side. Dogs are further affiliated with healing because they lick their wounds. Let's hope that works in Nia's favor, granting her a speedy recovery.

Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford, 1959.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/18/12

We've had several crazy storms at my house this past week so I'm paying tribute to the power and beauty of nature by discussing the symbolism of lightning.

Lightning symbolizes sudden illumination and the loss of ignorance. It can also represent destructive or creative power as well as angry intervention or retribution by the gods. This is seen in the Tarot, where lightning is interpreted as a sign of divine presence. Similarly symbolic, thunderbolts are a common attribute of many sky gods, embodied in the S-shaped motif on the clothes of the Romano-Celtic sun or sky dieties and in Thor's hammer.

On a related personal note, my sweetie of twenty-two years uses a lightning bolt as a maker's mark and as the division on his Society for Creative Anachronism heraldry.

He chose this emblem because of a scar he's had on his forehead for as long as he can remember. Imagine our surprise when we first learned of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter! Given its meaning, a lightning bolt is the perfect symbol of Harry Potter's adventure and his dealings with Lord Voldemort. And my sweetie? I wonder...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/11/12

Having spent all week working on the main illustration of my “Saint George and the Dragon” manuscript, I decided today’s symbol would be the Dragon. The word “dragon” in ancient Greek means “snake.” Many dragon images, past and present, are endowed with snake-like looks and qualities. In Greek mythology, there are many different types of dragons including several that are snake-based like the Hydra and Python, of water and of earth, respectively. In western cultures, dragons are often associated with evil but in East Asia, they are commonly considered beneficiary. The dragon’s ability to fly and breathe fire may stem from an origin belief that meteorites were dragons streaking through the sky. The link between dragons and meteors is strengthened by the Celtic story of King Arthur in which Uther took the surname Pendragon (“chief-dragon”) after he saw a dragon-shaped comet (although some say it was his elder brother who saw it). According to Carl Jung, winged dragons represent the transcendent symbolism of the snake and the bird. Combine that with either water, another transcendent symbol, or fire, a destructive symbol, and the dragon becomes the epitome of transcendence. But a dragon can also symbolize primal force, destruction, devouring, as well as wisdom and longevity (in Oriental culture).

I have always loved dragons. I wore a dragon head pendent for years and decorated my room extensively in dragon art. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be the subject of a dragon-based illustration by my good friend and incredible artist, Robin Wood. That portrait became later became a Dragon Magazine cover!

Jung, Carl G., ed. Man and his Symbols. London: Aldus Books, 1964.
Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The birth of the Saturday Symbol Fairy

I chose to start my "symbol a week" posts on 8-4-12 because it is such a phenomenally-appropriate numerological date. Eight is my absolute favorite number and is also a symbol of perseverance, goals and earthly wisdom. Four is symbolic of solidity, stability, and foundation. Twelve is the sum of both so it lends a sense of completion. Why chose to post as a  "symbol fairy?" Well, it seemed appropriate. It ties into the gifting or bestowing of something on another. Plus I've had a run of fairy-oriented events in the last few weeks, so it fits.
And the first ever symbol? A tree! The symbol of evolution, physical growth or psychological maturation, rebirth, longevity or immortality, wisdom, strength, protection, fertility, offspring, agriculture, sacrifice, resurrection, temple, cross, pillar, hope, mother figure, and center of the world. Like all symbols, it can have additional cultural and archaic connotations specific to each person. The symbolism of a tree is not new to anyone who has taken a workshop from me but it is the most appropriate start to this endeavor of mine since I am Sarah SHADE after all...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Zombies ARE Real

I had a fascinating thought about our world and about how art can imitate life. A person who very kindly critiqued a single chapter of my zombie apocalypse manuscript commented she didn't believe my teenage heroine would leave a place of safety to live alone in a world of toxic rain and zombies. Now, I have (I hope) set-up several things to help the reader buy into my story: 1) my heroine is incredible impulsive and demonstrates this several times early in the story, 2) her place of safety has become anything but - everything she cares about has been taken from her and she is forced to do/become the thing she hates most, and 3) she is a very capable markswoman and has fought zombies first-hand for years. But still, would a teenage girl really leave "home" and go out in a dangerous and potentially-deadly world? My thought - they do it all the time. Girls run away from their families, choosing a life on the street rather than deal with whatever is happening in their home-life. According to, one in seven kids between the ages of ten and eighteen will run away at some point. And think about it. Our world is just as hazardous as one filled with zombies. Runaways deal with starvation, drug addiction, crime, pornography and rape. And one out of every three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within forty-eight hours of leaving home. So who are the REAL zombies? PIMPS! And anyone else who takes advantage of a vulnerable child.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Story of a pitch contest participant

I entered the March Madness Agent Pitch Match about a week ago. To get in, there were three times during the day in which you had half an hour to email your 35-word pitch and first 150 words of your manuscript. Only the first 50 pitches at each time slot would make it into the contest. When the first time slot came around, I got online and waited for the clock to tick on the hour. When it did, I hesitated sending my email, wondering if there was going to be some indication of when to send. Twenty seconds after the hour, I went ahead and sent my pitch - and didn't make the cut. Fifty pitches were submitted in less than twenty seconds. Wow! So, when the next time slot came around, I sent my email the very millisecond the clock ticked on the hour - and got in! By the end of the day, the contest had 198 entries. (If you did the math, you realized 198 is more than 50x3. Anyone who had participated in a pitch workshop the month before got a special entry.) From there, the sponsors, Brenda Drake, Cassandra Marshall, and Shelley Watters chose sixty pitches for the "game" round of the contest. And my pitch made it! Yay! There are ten agents who will basically play poker for the pitches they want. They can play a hand to try for a query, partial or full manuscript. They can also use certain hands to trump another's play. All of this takes place between March 12 -14. You can follow the action on twitter with the hash-tag #PitchMadness. Should be fun!

Check out Brenda's blog about the rules here!

You learn about the participating agents here and here!

And Cassandra's blog with my entry is here! Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 1/29

For six sentence sunday this week, I wanted to share a few lines from my YA steampunk romance, HERITAGE. Moments from being married to the man of her dreams, sixteen-year-old Sylvia Long is carried off by Gabriel Villeroi, swept into a world of invention and the supernatural...
I glanced in the mirror a second time, praying the man was simply a fabrication of the mind brought on by my euphoria. My heart fell, along with my hopes. There he was, nonchalantly leaning against the bedpost like he had every right to be there.
Incensed at the man’s lack of etiquette, I spun around to face him, nearly toppling sideways from the weight of my hair.
“Sir, I do not know what has possessed you to enter my bedchamber but it is of no consequence, I insist you leave at once.”
“Alas, Sylvie, I am neither able nor willing to heed your request.”
Make sure to visit to see more #sixsunday!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pitch Blogfest

Brenda Drake is hosting a fun pitch contest and blogfest! See more details at:
The official contest isn't until Tuesday, so I have the next two days to perfect my pitch. Let me know what you think, good or bad!

Here is my entry:

Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Word Count: 80,000

Pitch: In a world of necrotic cannibals and fanatic survivors, a self-reliant teen must find a way to work with the boy who betrayed her to stop a madman from destroying the last remnants of humanity.

I haven’t slept soundly since the world ended.
Stuck somewhere between waking and dreaming, I hear a muffled thud.
I reach for my pistol. A few years ago, a seventeen-year-old girl might have kept a phone under her pillow, anxious for a call from a boy or a text from her best friend. Now it’s a firearm. Lucky me.
Odds are the noise is my new roommate – for the umpteenth time. I hate that damn cat. I never take chances, though, not anymore. That lesson is tattooed on my soul, inked in the blood of those I’ve failed to protect.
Gun in tow, I slide off the bed, careful not to make a sound.
The good news? The noise wasn’t the cat. It’s fast asleep in the far corner. I won’t have to kill it for waking me – this time. The bad news? The noise wasn’t the cat. That means trouble.