And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who voted, and thanks to my talented book cover designer Paula Johnson.  I love this cover.


Goddess of the Week: Cassandra

Beth needs a goddess for dealing with teenagers.  Alas, teenagers are so vexing that no goddess will have anything to do with them.  But I do have a prophetess for you.  Her name is Cassandra, and I predict that she will do.

Cassandra was a beautiful Trojan princess. She was so beautiful that the god Apollo fell in love with her.  He decided to give her a gift.  One night, when she was sleeping in Apollo's temple, Apollo had a pair of snakes come and lick her ears so clean that she could hear the future.  Alas, Cassandra was not impressed and she rebuffed Apollo.  Naturally, gods will not put of up with that business, so Apollo decided to punish her and make it so that no one would ever believe her prophesies.
She said to her brother Paris, "Dude, give that Helen chick back to her husband.  It will end badly."

But no one believed her, so--wham--the Trojan war.

She said to her father, the King of Troy, "That big wooden horse is full of soldiers.  Burn it."

But he was all, "No way.  It's a present from the gods for me because I am awesome." And what happened?  Wham--Troy was destroyed.

Ok, I hate to break it to you, Beth, but you are pretty much Cassandra.  Years of experience have licked your ears clean and given you the ability to accurately predict your teenager's future, but it doesn't matter.  Your teenager will not believe you.  You can say to her, "If you do not study, I foresee that you will fail your biology test."  You can say, "If you go vegetarian and do not take a multivitamin with iron, I foresee that you will get anemia."  You can say, "If you wear that low-cut shirt, I foresee that boys will stare at your boobs and not take you seriously at all."   You can say many things.  Indeed, I foresee that you will  say many, many things, but it doesn't matter.  Your teenager will not believe you because your teenager will think you are lame.

You are not lame.  You are cursed.  There's a big difference, and this is important to know, because if you are lame you may go out and try and educate yourself and, thus, improve yourself in your child's opinion. That's fine, if you are indeed lame, but it will take a LOT of work, and don't you have enough to do?  Now, if you are cursed, there is nothing you can do.  A curse is a curse. But the good news is you can just relax already.  Get yourself a glass of wine.  Watch some TV.  It's all good.  Most curses have a short shelf life, at least in a universal, evolutionary sense.  Give it a few more years and you'll be on the other side of things.

My advice: accept that people often have to learn things the hard way and keep your passport ready at all times in case you stumble upon a giant wooden horse.

Channel Cassandra: I think the problem is that most of us already channel her too much, although if you can use her to help you learn from your own mistakes that might be a very good thing.

Need a goddess?  I got goddesses!  Post a comment saying why you need a goddess and I'll see what I can find.  It's fun!  It's free!  I see it your future.  Ah, come on, you gotta believe me!

Speaking of goddesses...here are more for the trailer:
Here's Carrie. She should watch out because Apollo was the god of music and he would be totally into her.  But he would leave his sister, Artemis, alone.  So we will make her independent, beautiful Artemis.
Adrienne is Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, who is full of passion, confidence, and strength.

Only a few more hours to vote for the covers below.  And only a few more days to send in a photo for the trailer!


The secret of being superwoman

People sometimes say to me: Margaret, How do you do it all?  You have a novel coming out, you teach amazing college students, you withstand enormous amounts of whining while carting your children to and fro, and yet you always seem ready for a relaxing glass of wine.  How is that humanly possible?

Well, friends, let me tell you my secret: low standards.

Low standards will help you through many a challenge. When you have low standards you know that:
An onion is a perfectly good vegetable to serve your family.
Dust bunnies actually add excitement to your living situation because they make you feel like you are living with very small ghosts.
Everything has its place, and sometimes everything has the same place.

Of course, some people just have to be overachiever:
Jamie, a forest nymph, don't you think?
Katia.  With those eyes? Venus.
Liz.  Bastet, Egyptian goddess of cats.

Keep your photos coming.  They are so unique and fabulous.

And don't forget to vote for the book cover in the post right below.


Goddess Lounge Covers: Help Me Choose

Ok, friends, I need your help again.  I have three cover designs for my novel, The Goddess Lounge. Can you take a minute to do the poll at the top right so I can see which cover seems to have the most impact.  The poll is open until Wed. May 30 at 10:00 AM.

Here's a blurb for the book, if that helps: Penne Armour just wants to be a good mother, but with a mean-girl daughter and a bevy of goddess worshippers telling her that Venus, the Roman goddess of love, is her inner goddess, that is no easy task.  It gets even harder when the LA mom's search for her missing, soon-to-be ex-husband turns into a wild odyssey filled with modern-day monsters and religious crusaders, love-sick dogs, an ocean of traffic, a river of longing, and maybe--with a little divine intervention--a chance at love.  A comic, gender-twisting riff on Homer’s Odyssey, The Goddess Lounge explores the bonds of motherhood, love, and the tension between self-sacrifice and personal happiness. It asks the eternal question: why be a hero when you can be a goddess? 

PS: I do want to give props to my brilliant friend Paula Johnson. She read an early draft of the novel and we both scoured stock photography catalogs for images and inspiration.  Her first book cover design was for "Christmas in Hell," a holiday humor book by Michael Lent.  She has since designed covers for a series of textbooks, a romance ebook, a golf memoir, and a travel guide to London. You can see her work at her websitehttp://www.paulaljohnson.com. 

You can see a sample of her work here:


Goddess of the Week: Inaras

Sophia wants a goddess who will help her overcome annoying obstacles.  She needs the Hittite goddess Inaras.

Once there was a cruel and vicious dragon named Illuyankas.  Illuyankas hated the gods and set out to destroy them.  Try what they might, the gods could not beat Illuyankas.  Illuyankas was just too powerful.  But Inaras came up with a plan.  She invited Illuyankas to a giant feast in his honor.  Well, how could Illuyankas say no?  It was a feast in his honor, and there was pie.  Illuyankas ate and ate and ate.  He got so fat that he couldn't crawl back into his home.  He got so fat he couldn't reach his feet.  So they hogtied him and killed him, and that was that for the gods' dragon problem.

Inaras reminds us that not all obstacles can be fought head on.  Sometimes, what you really need is strategy, patience and a good pie.  Personally, I prefer apple pie, but only if it's not too goopy and if the apples aren't too soft.

Channel this goddess: when the straightest line won't take you where you need to go, when wiles are in order, when cooking for annoying thin people who take, like, two bites and then say, "Oh, I'm so full!"

Need a goddess?  I've got goddesses!  Post a comment explaining what you need or want a goddess for.  Then check back in a week or two and see what you got.

On a book trailer note: You had to know that some people would raise the artistic bar.

This is Lorena, as painted by Jean Spitzer.  I think she's Venus because she is so lovely.  What do you think?
This is Katherine Watson caught in reflection.  She certainly looks wily to me.  I think she is a perfect Inaras.


The Smartest Dog in the Room

My dog Scout is very smart.

These are just a few of the things she does almost daily: walks off leash and stops at intersections, plays hide and seek for hidden dog treats, goes unasked to her crate when I pick up my briefcase, fetches toys by name, prompts me when it is her dinner time, scratches at the door when she want to go to the backyard, sits at the front door when she wants to sit on the front porch, looks and motions with her nose to her box of treats in the hopes of getting a little snack.

And yet...and yet...Scout's greatest nemesis is a shoe.

On nice days, we used to leave the back door open so Scout could go outside whenever she wanted.  Once, the wind blew the door shut and Scout got stuck outside.  We felt so bad when we found her sitting quietly at the back door that we gave her a dog treat.

That is how Scout learned to close the backdoor with her nose.  She fooled us for a while, but then we saw her and the gig was up.  We put a shoe in front of the door so that it could not close all the way.  But hope springs eternal.  Everyday, at least once, Scout tries to close that door with her nose.  The shoe stops the door.  Scout sits and waits for a treat anyway.  But she has to close the door all the way to get a treat.  She knows this because, every once in a while, we will forget the shoe or it will be dislodged, and then she'll close the door, and then she'll get a treat.

Everyday I think: maybe today Scout will learn to MOVE the shoe.  I have been waiting years.  So has Scout.

Keep your goddess pictures coming! Here are some more:

This is Shelley.  She took this picture in Mexico so let's make her Coatlicue, who gave birth to the moon and the stars.

This is Debra.  She took this photo 20 years ago when she was an artist in New York.  This was before she got married and had a child.  This is when her life belonged to her alone and channeled Athena. 



Another modern goddess

First, here's another epitaph from the book I got at the Getty.

An Epitaph

I was Callicrita, I bore twenty-nine children
And all of them lived, and still live.
I died at a hundred and five
And never needed a cane to steady my hand.

Talk about tough.

Here's another book trailer entree.  It's from Rois.  Here is her wonderful reflection on the photo:

I am sending you my current favorite photo of myself.Let me give a tour of the picture and why I like it so much.  First off, you may notice my hair and it's natural grey highlights.I was in the middle of a self journey regarding my grey.I was leaving it to see how it made me feel about myself and to see if others treated me differently.My journey is over,I colored my hair a week or so ago.I did it only for myself which made me feel pretty damn good as a woman.I realized that personally my hair color was not hugely important but I like it better, for now, with color.   Oh,the treatment from others was a mixed bag,the ones who didn't like it where the people who did not really matter in my life.
Now you may notice my glasses are a bit crooked.That really represents my goofy side and how I just can't take too many things too seriously because as you know there are usually bigger more important things to fuss over, rather than the B.S people put out there.

On my face I have a sprinkling of freckles that I think are interesting. Most of my family does not have them and I always wonder where did they come from? They make me unique within my own family.I know most women cover them up with makeup but I wear mine with pride.And that is my " I am not to sure about myself"smile,flashed mostly when my bashfulness comes through.Writing a blog is easy but faced to face I can be quiet and reserved.

My clothing,well I was all bundled up for 100 mile ride on our vintage scooter.This is my tom-boy side sticking out,a side most people don't realize I have. I really can't stand the idea of boys leaving me behind to have all of the fun.And the idea of a boy beating me really pushes me hard to keep going. And peeking out at my neck is a very dear scarf, hand knit by a great friend,that's my love of craft saying "hey there."

What you don't see in  my photo  that I was just not ready to post online is my belly.I have an 8 inch scar right up the middle that is in its second reincarnation,2 surgeries same surgery site.There's also a small scar where my appendix was,because of complications it healed looking like a mouth.( I have thought about getting the Rolling Stones lips tattooed there.) And thanks to my youngest being a huge baby lots of stretch marks.  Now most women would think my belly is damn ugly but I love my battle scared belly.I have survived to live my life and to give life to another.My belly will never be flat and smooth but a life that was flat and smooth might have been a bit too dull for me.
This photo says to me - I am strong,independent,fun loving,full of love and life.I may be tattered and worn when it comes to mainstream ideals but I wear my wear and tear with pride. 

I love Rois's reflection.  Strong, independent, fun loving, full of love and life.  Hmmm...I would say she is Inanna, who went to hell and back and never stopped being a queen.  

Now, you don't need to send me a reflection when you send your photo, but you can if you want.  Keep those pictures coming.  This is all very exciting.


Mother's Day

My family took me to the Getty Villa for Mother's Day.  If you don't know the Getty Villa, it is a beautiful museum in Malibu that is devoted to classical art.  We went to see an exhibit called Aphrodite and the gods of love.  If you can go, you should.  It's fabulous.

When I have a chance, I'll post a picture of me rocking my new Aphrodite tee shirt.  In the meantime, here is an ancient Greek epitaph from a book called Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments.  So far this is my favorite (PS: it helps to know that Zeus is the king of the gods and Bacchus is the god of wine):

An Epigraph

No wonder I slipped, and fell, and died,
Soaked by Zeus outside,
Soaked by Bacchus within.
The odds were two to one
And they were gods.

Good news: I have more photos for the book trailer.  Have you sent me yours?  No!  Why not?  You know it won't be the same without you.

This is Katie.  I think she is a modern Artemis, goddess of the hunt, don't you?

And doesn't this say goddess of the crossroads to you?  I agree.  So Petrea is one of my favorites, Hecate.


Cupid and Psyche
Cupid and Psyche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Psyche did not start out as a goddess.  She was a princess.  She was a really beautiful princess.  She was so beautiful that people started saying she was as beautiful as Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty.

Here's the thing.  You are not supposed to think you are as good as the gods.  That's hubris, and it will get you in a lot of trouble.  Personally, Psyche may not have thought she was so great looking, but she didn't refute anyone who said she was, so her hubris was sort of implied, and that was enough for Venus.

To put Psyche in her place, Venus told her son Cupid to go shoot one of his magic love arrows into the lamest, ugliest guy in town so that Psyche would fall in love with him.  But Cupid didn't do that.  He decided he wanted to take Psyche for his secret lover, which he did.

Blah, blah, love, love. Venus finds out and decides to keep them apart.  She locks Cupid in a room.  Psyche's all, "Wah, wah, poor me, I lurrrrvvee him.  Please let me be with Cupid."

Venus is all, "Ok.  You want him so bad?  Then do me a favor.  Go to hell.  Ask my friend Proserpine, the queen of hell, for a jar of her special Eternal Youth Beauty Cream.  Bring it to me and you can marry Cupid."

Psyche climbs to the top of a tall tower and prepares to throw herself to her death so she can get into hell, but then Athena (enthusiastic frienemy of Venus) comes and shows Psyche how to get into (and out of, that's the hard part) hell without killing herself.  Journey, odyssey, wild times.  Psyche gets the beauty cream, brings it to Venus, and Psyche and Cupid get married.  Psyche moves on up to Mount Olympus and becomes a goddess.

I'm telling you this story because it exemplifies why you don't want to be a hero.  Until Athena stepped in, the only way Psyche could deal with a hero's journey was to fling herself from a tall tower and die.  Traditionally, women are called heroes when they sacrifice their own lives.  Men are called heroes when they slay monsters.

Don't be a hero.  Be a goddess.  Own your life.

Channel this goddess: When you must!  When you need to say no, when you're being asked to give up that which is intrinsically you.  You are worth more.  You are a goddess.

Need a goddess: I've got goddesses!  Post a comment explaining what you need or want a goddess for, and then check back in a week or two and see what you got.  It's fun!  It's free!  It's better than flinging yourself from a tower!
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There are goddesses among us (Book trailer submissionss!)

This is what it looks like to own your own life:

Barbara: Goddess of great heart.  Daisy: Goddess of num nums.

Karin: Goddess of awesome.

More goddesses to come.


Thanks and a Blog Contest! Wow!

Thanks, everyone, for your support and for your ideas for promoting my novel.  Several people suggested that I try and appeal to the visual nature of our culture.  So...I have an idea!  I'm going to make a book trailer.  As you may know, a book trailer is like a movie preview, but for books.  Plus, it's usually a lot shorter and it is not always plot dependent.  It can give more a sense of voice than actual story.

Here's the story of my book. The Goddess Lounge is about Penne Armour, an LA mother whose search for her missing dirtbag of a husband takes her on a wild odyssey where modern-day monsters sell thousand dollar shoes and butcher locally-grown, organic-fed boars, new-age priestesses battle evangelicals over inner goddesses and menstrual tents, and love not only follows you like a love-sick puppy, it is a whole slew of lovesick puppies.  A comic, gender-twisting riff on Homer's Odyssesy, The Goddess Lounge asks the eternal question: Why be a hero when you can be a goddess?  

So that's what my book trailer is going to ask: Why be a hero when you can be a goddess?  I want to pack my book trailer full of photos of women of all ages, weights, backgrounds, etcetera and I want to show that being a modern goddess means owning both yourself and your happiness.    

So...send me a picture of you or some woman that you think is fabulous being totally authentic, a picture that says my life belongs to me. Be in my book trailer!  Let me celebrate you and the fact that you are a modern goddess.

There are just a few rules:
1.  Send one picture of you (or someone you think is fabulous) looking like you own your own life, whatever that means to you.
2.  Send the picture as a jpeg file to mail@margaretfinnegan.com.  
3.  Send it to me by May 30, 2012.  
4.  All women are beautiful.  No ageism, weightism, photoshopism, whateverism allowed.  
5.  Keep it clean so I can show my kids.  
6.  The photo must belong to you.  No one else can own the copyright.  With your photo, you should send me a note granting me permission to use the photo for my book trailer.  All the other rights will belong to you.

As pictures roll in, I will post them and I will introduce you to our gallery of modern goddesses.  
During the week of June 1, I will post my top five picks for who best symbolizes what it means to be a modern goddess.  YOU will get to choose who wins.

The winner will get a copy of my novel The Goddess Lounge and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.  How fun is that!

Feeling shy about the whole picture thing?  Well, you're going to have to get over that because I really want you--YOU--in my book trailer.  You, my wonderful blog friends, sustained me through much of the writing of this novel, and now it's my chance to celebrate you.  It is time for the world to see how DIVINE you really are!


Goddess of the Week: Aphrodite

Former Hope Collection; gift by M. Embeirikos,...
Former Hope Collection; gift by M. Embeirikos, 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Deb needs a goddess.  She asked for one quite a while ago for one thing, but her circumstances sort of changed in the meantime, so now I've tweaked her request.  I hope she doesn't mind.  Since Deb recently started a new job, I'm giving her a new-to-the-office goddess.  I'm giving her the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

If you know that Aphrodite is the goddess of love, you are probably scratching your head right now.  Goddess of love.  New to the office.  Probably not a good idea to combine those things.  I get it.  But goddesses have many aspects and here is why she is just the goddess for the job.

Once, Aphrodite was the new god on the block.  The other Olympiads?  Zeus, etcetera?  If they weren't siblings they were sons and daughters of the siblings.  It was a tight knit group up there.  Aphrodite was a late addition.  She wasn't even Greek.  She was from Cypress.  She just showed up one day, showed everyone what she could do, and was hired.  Those first days weren't easy either.  The men totally hit on her.  The women were jealous and guarded.  But here's what she did.  She cultivated a network of supporters outside of Olympus.  She gladhanded minor gods, muses, and gorgeous people, who, in turn, worked hard to sell her product.  Let's give credit where it is due: She made  love/romance the brand name that it is today, which was no small accomplishment. Finally, corporate realized she was a lot more than a pretty face. They recognized her for the indispensable member of team Olympus that she was.  In fact, they even gave her a golden girdle (which was sort of like a decorative belt) for her outstanding contributions to the company.

Aphrodite reminds us that to succeed in a job you need to believe in the value of what you do and how you do it.  It may not always be easy to be the new kid, but with perseverance, an easy smile and outstanding performance you will get where you want to go.

Channel this goddess: When starting a new job, when meeting future in laws, when in doubt of your true worth.  (Believe me, you are worth more than you think.)

Need a goddess: Post a comment explaining what you need or want a goddess for.  Check back in a few weeks and see what you got!  I'm telling you, making toast is more complicated.  So post already. 
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