Death, like a butterfly, comes on wings of beauty. It is a ray of light that carries you to glory. But dying…dying is a vulture that devours the body. It swoops in like a raptor, ripping you from your life.
The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Lisa has escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport. She arrives in London unable to speak a word of English, her few belongings crammed into a small suitcase. Among them is one precious photograph of the family she has left behind.
Lonely and homesick, Lisa is adopted by a childless couple. But when the Blitz blows her new home apart, she wakes up in hospital with no memory of who she is or where she came from. The authorities give her a new name and dispatch her to a children’s home.
With the war raging around her, what will become of Lisa now?
Review: I love history and I adore reading good, well-written stories about history; however, this book was neither good, nor well-written. While at the online bookstore, I read the prologue and was fooled into thinking the whole book would be as well done. It wasn’t. Not only were the characters one-dimensional and poorly developed, the author couldn’t even maintain a character’s point of view for longer than a minute. It changed at random moments; sometimes mid-paragraph, and, several times, even mid-sentence.
While the premise was promising, the writing failed to fulfill that promise. I tried to push myself to keep reading, but it was difficult when there was no connection to the characters, and, thereby, no connection to the story.
I finally gave up at page 50. That the author actually wrote another 430 pages astounds me. But what astounds me more, is that people actually persevered and read the entire thing. I say, save your time and effort for something much more pleasurable…”War and Peace” would be an easier read.
I’m always looking for ways in which science and spirituality intertwine, and evidently this book helps illustrate one of those entanglements.
Super Synchronicity: Where Science and Spirit Meet by Gary E. Schwartz
As soon as this book came out, I knew I had to read it and I’m glad I did. I’ve written about synchronicities before and they are sometimes very active in my life, and at other times- not so much. But always, there is this curiosity. After years of shaking my head (wondering if I was crazy), all the time my close family members laughing and rolling with it far easier than I did, I’ve come to accept them. I value the experiences, I laugh with the Universe (and the Universe has a glorious sense of humor), and I miss those coincidences when they lapse (do they lapse, or am I not observant enough?).
Along comes Harvard educated scientist Gary E. Schwartz, author and professor at the University of Arizona and the Director of its Laboratory for Advances in…
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I’ve been tran’zing again lately, and not easy ones, either. These transitions have been quite stressful. So stressful in fact, that I’ve been waking up almost more tired than when I went to bed. Usually, I look forward to sleeping and dreaming. Primarily because my dreams normally help me solve some problem or answer some question from my day-to-day life.
I’m sure most of us can think of at least one dream that has helped us resolve some issue or some question. I’m speaking of the types of problems or questions that prey on the mind, that keep you tossing and turning until suddenly you wake up one morning just knowing exactly what you need and want to do. You may not remember the dream details that prompted your decision (and some people will claim that never dream at all), but sometime during the night you gained the insight you needed to make the best choice for you at this particular time and place in your life.
However, the “dreams” I’ve been having lately are tran’zing dreams. (Tran’zing is what I call the traveling I do between planes—the physical plane and the astral planes; primarily the transitional plane, the astral plane closest to the physical.) Tran’zing dreams aren’t really dreams, though they do occur at night while my body is sleeping. But these are actually memories – little snippets of memory from places I’ve been and things I’ve done or said while my body slept.
Tran’zing is actually a type of out-of-body experience. The energy that is you (sometimes called essence, sometimes called a soul), travels at night. But even though it leaves the physical form and goes off on its own ‘adventures’, it still remains connected to the physical body. Because of this connection, the physical mind receives input as to what the soul is doing, seeing, and saying. However, not everyone is willing to accept this input. Some will block it completely (the same way they block all dreams). Some filter it so that it becomes very dreamlike and unreal (the information their mind receives is so far outside their frame of reference, that they eliminate those parts that they can’t accept). And others (like me) remember enough to know what we’ve been up to each night.
For many people, though, playing on the transitional plane is too frightening and so they adjust the information to something acceptable. This is fine; it’s the way everyone adapts and grows. As each person grows, life after life, they will filter this information less and less, until, like me, they barely filter it all.
What does that mean? It means that most of what I do when tran’zing is often remembered by me once I awaken. It also means that any problems I encounter, any stresses that I put on myself when out of body, are felt by my body even though it is sleeping. So, while I’m home asleep, I’m also off gallivanting around, which means I sometimes wake up unrested.
When I’m tran’zing, I’m helping other people cross between planes. Some of these people are dying, so I escort them from the physical plane and their dead or dying bodies to the astral planes where they can decide what it is they want to do next. Sometimes, I escort a soul from the astral planes to the physical. It might be they have a new body waiting for them, or it can also be that they have wandered where they don’t belong. (It’s not unusual to encounter ‘accidental travelers’ — people who have through the use of drugs, fever, or other non-intentional means — have ended up in the transitional section of the astral plane.)
Other times, I transition myself or others to the astral planes where we work on emotional lessons that we can’t do while in the physical world. It might be that someone chose to resolve an issue through violence, but they now realize how foolish that was. So, with my help they cross to the astral levels and we recreate the situation and they try to find other resolutions. This can take one night, or many, but each time I bring them across, I create the situation, I supply the participants, and we play out the scene until they feel they understand the full consequences and ramifications of every choice and every possible resolution.
All of these come through to me while my body is resting, and these super-emotionally charged activities drain me, so when I awaken in the mornings I feel as if I’ve had no sleep. But despite the stress, despite the tiredness that comes from all these midnight wanderings, I relish the opportunities to help all of these people. I relish the opportunity to transition ‘home’ and visit with my astral family.
In fact, as crazy as it sounds, I look forward to the day when I can transition and stay there. Then I can help people all the time, and not just during my sleep periods.
A friend (Thank you, Ellis) shared an article with me about shared death experiences. These are events in which people are contacted by someone they know (friend, relative, business partner, etc.) at the friend’s or loved one’s moment of death.
The article gives several anecdotal examples of this phenomena interspersed with opinions from different ‘experts’ expressing both pros and cons as to the authenticity of such experiences. The article is (to me, anyway) extremely fascinating and reaffirming.
You see, I’ve been on both sides these types of experiences. As a psychopomp, I’ve been the one who has helped the dead visit their still living friends and family in order to say a last goodbye. And, I’ve been the one who was visited. In fact, as an adult, I’ve had a number of people visit me as they die. But three of them stand out.
One of the most outstanding of the three visits was the Halloween night my mother-in-law came to call.
My mother-in-law was one of the most caring and accepting people, and my spouse and I loved visiting with her. When she became ill, the whole family gathered at the hospital dreading the worst, but hoping for the best. After several days, she seemed to be getting better, and Dale and I headed back home to get some rest, change clothes, and check in with our pets before returning. We were at home for only a few hours, when the dog began acting oddly. He was lying by our feet as we sat at the kitchen table, but he kept raising his head to stare at the foyer. He’d put is head down; then a few moments later, he’d stare at the foyer. This went on for a minute or two, and after peering at the door and seeing nothing, I finally got up and went into the foyer.
I immediately felt chilled, and being late fall, I presumed the door was open. I pushed at the door, but it was firmly closed. I shrugged and was about to return to the kitchen, when I saw her. My mother-in-law stood on the other side of the foyer from me. She smiled and opened her arms as if to hug me. I took a step closer to her, while trying to find enough voice to call my spouse to come. The dog stood staring at the apparition, his head cocked to one side. When my husband joined me, his mother mouthed, “I love you,” and then she was gone.
Soon afterward, the phone rang and we knew it was the hospital calling to tell us that my spouse’s mom had died.
That experience opened my eyes, my mind, and my soul to the recognition that life is more than just what we see in front of us.
The other two visits that I find extremely memorable were from a dear friend and my sister-in-law. Both of these visits came during points in my life when I needed encouragement and support. While both of these visits provided that, they also gave me comfort, peace, and the determination to continue my goal, which was to publish the story of my near-death experience.
My friend was one of the few people who knew of my near-death experience. She was one of the few people who also knew of the other paranormal experiences I had had through the years. We had a shared love of paranormal, philosophy, and science, so always spent hours in long, thought-provoking discussions. When she was diagnosed with cancer, our discussions took on more somber tones. I shared with her all my beliefs of a continued existence based on everything I had experienced and read, and she clung to that like a drowning victim clings to a life ring.
When she called and said the cancer was in remission, we both celebrated. Our lives went on, our heartfelt discussions continued, and everything was as it should be.
Months after her remission diagnosis, I was surprised to look up from my computer to find her standing in the doorway to my sunroom. I had been staring at my computer screen debating the wisdom of writing about my NDE. I hadn’t heard the door bell, nor had I heard her come in. Yet, there she was, all smiles and as radiant as a new bride. Her brown eyes were shining and happy, and she said, “Do it, Trish. Write about it; all of it. ‘Cuz you were right. It is beautiful over here.”
I was so dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to say. Then she said, “Tell my sister, I’m sorry.” I nodded, and she whispered, “I love you, friend.” Then she held up her hand, palm toward me, and a moment later she disappeared.
My experience with my sister-in-law was similar, except all the more shocking because I didn’t know she was ill. She had injured herself in a fall, so was in the hospital. I had completed my story regarding my NDE, but was having second thoughts about actually publishing it. I had just turned off the computer and was turning to leave my home office, when I felt a chill. A moment later my sister-in-law shimmered into view. (And yes, it was a definite shimmer. Very much like a heat curtain that sometimes appears above a very hot road.). She didn’t so much speak to me, as she smiled, and then nodded. A sort of peace fell over me and I just knew that publishing the book was the right thing to do. As that thought flowed through me, her smile grew bigger, and she mouthed the word, “Yes.” She, then disappeared.
So, can we and do we share our deaths with others? I certainly believe so. Is there a continuation of life after we die? I certainly believe that, too.
But what do you believe? And why? Have you ever had the chance to say goodbye to someone when they’ve died? Have you somehow just known the moment a friend or loved one has died?
What are your experiences?
Death is a part of life, no matter how much we shy away from it.
I’ve recently been asked by multiple people how I stay so positive while going through something so difficult and challenging. If I’m being completely honest, the answer is quite simple- accepting that death may come a little sooner than you had once anticipated.
I know death is a difficult subject. The majority of people have a hard time accepting the death of a loved one or dear friend, let alone their own death. It is too often seen as the worst possible outcome.
Perhaps if it was seen in a more positive light those who suffer/suffered from a physical illness could live a happier and more fulfilling life.
I’m not saying it’s an easy pill to swallow. It’s not like I woke up one morning and decided that I was okay with my life ending at such a young age. It took a few months, and much thought but I…
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Write for yourself, not for the masses
Don’t write in a genre just because it’s popular; write in a genre because it genuinely appeals to you. Remember, it takes approximately nine to twelve months to write, edit, and publish a good novel. That means, by the time you finish writing about vampires, school-age wizards may be the rage.
Write in a genre because you enjoy that style. Someone who loves (or at least enjoys) writing and the genre they’re writing in, breathes more life into their characters, adds more dimension to their settings, and presents a more well-crafted story than that person who is merely trying to cash in on something that is momentarily popular.
(Obviously, this is a tip for people who are serious about writing, and doesn’t apply to those who are merely writing because they think it’s the easy road to riches. Which leads to our next tip.)
Be prepared to work
Being a full-time author (whether it be books, stories, blogs, or other material) is arduous work. For those of you who think that writing a best-selling book or an award-winning blog is a quick, easy way to make money, think again. Stephen King and JK Rowling spent years struggling to make ends meet before someone finally thought their work might have potential. And when you look at the number of authors who actually make a decent living from their books versus the number of authors still struggling, the odds are not in your favor. Writing, like acting or any other art-based endeavor, requires dedication, commitment, and hard work.
The truth of your writing is noticeable to your readers. Although your characters are fictional, they must feel real to the readers. Men cry. Women can be strong. People aren’t superheroes (and even if they are, they can still be vulnerable).
Even when you create a fantasy world, the ‘rules’ of the world have to make sense to the reader. Otherwise, they won’t believe in your world, your characters, or your story. The honesty of your story—the world, the characters, and the plot—must come from you. If you aren’t honest, the readers won’t buy it.
Take writing and literature classes
Don’t presume that your one or two classes of English and English Lit in high school are enough to make you a writer. Relearn basic sentence, paragraph, and chapter structure. Find out how to craft a short story (which is much more difficult than building a novel). Refresh yourself on basic grammar (especially verb tenses), punctuation, and spelling.
When crafting a house, you need a good foundation, and the same is true of building a story.
Edit and proof; then do it again
Don’t presume that because you used an online grammar checker (such as Grammarly or Word’s spellcheck tool) that your story is good to go. While those tools may catch 80 – 90% of your blatant errors, they don’t catch all. (They won’t tell you that the phrase “She licked the lock on the front door…” is absurd. After all, licked or clicked are both perfectly acceptable words.) Worst of all, those online tools won’t tell you whether your story or novel needs restructuring. They can’t tell you if your voice is wrong for the type of story you’ve written; they can’t help you figure out how to fix the pacing; and they can’t help you figure out that you jumped from one character’s head to another without indicating the switch. The only way to learn about those types of missteps, is to hire a story editor. After the story editor has gone through your work; then you need to have it edited/proofed for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Play with your words
At least once a week, take a break from whatever you’re working on to play with your words. Find a phrase, sentence, or scene that you like, and use it to prompt you into writing something. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t even have to be publishable. The point is to practice creating images with words. Just visualize a scene, and then create that scene with your words. Try painting the scene in a flowery, overly descriptive way; then try painting that same scene using short, choppy descriptors. Use a different voice for each style, or try a different pacing. Play with it; have fun with it.
Whether you’re an independent or traditional author, you’re going to receive negative reviews from readers and critics or rejections from agents and publishers. Remember, though, that it’s just their opinion. Does it hurt? Of course. But, they are just one person out of billions. So, let it go. Unless a review or rejection letter tells you specifically something that you can do to improve your writing (your characters are poorly developed, the pacing is off, or the manuscript needs proofing), then just try to shrug it off. Not everyone is going to like you or your creation. After all, you don’t like every book you read, every piece of art you see, or every meal that is served you.
Each artiste (and yes, I consider authors artistes) has their own style and not everyone will like it. Don’t let the negativity get to you. Just focus on the people who do like your work.
Read everything, including styles and genres you don’t really like. Push yourself to read outside your comfort zone. If you do, it can help you grow as a writer. As you read, listen to the cadence and the rhythm of the words. Figure out what appeals to you and what doesn’t, and then figure out why.
Opening yourself to other styles, different authors, and different genres may just spark something in you and help you broaden your skills and techniques.
While this concept dredges up feelings of horror in most authors, who tend to be an introverted lot, it is a necessary evil.
Use your online tools to help you network. Create a presence online so that you are visible to both those in the writing/publishing world and those who love to read.
Join Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. Find groups who share your interests. (There are groups out there for almost anything.) Start a website and blog. Write posts (articles) and share them with other bloggers…and not just about your books. Write about topics that interest you, whether that be ghosts or antique car restoration. Your interest will garner readers, and if those readers like what you have to say, they may just check out your books, too.
For those authors willing to get up close and personal, there are conventions (book conventions, comic cons, romance conventions, fantasy conventions, and more). Conventions are a great way to meet fans and others in the writing and publishing industry. You can usually find information online for the type of convention(s) you might find interesting and pertinent.
Other places that authors should check out (depending on the types of books you author) are historic re-enactments in your area, gaming groups, mystery groups (who actually plan and solve mysteries together), as well as writing groups, and library reading sessions. Also, many senior centers love to have people volunteer to give talks and presentations. Plus, there are historical societies, women’s groups, or you can be a guest lecturer at your community college.
There are many ways you can network to gain readers, mentors, or support.
Be kind and helpful
Being kind and helpful already comes naturally to most people; therefore, this could be one of the best and easiest ways to market yourself. When you help someone else, not only do you get to feel good about yourself, but you never know what might come of it.
Offering to help someone in your critique group may result in them helping you obtain a speaking engagement (perhaps at the school their child attends, at their neighborhood library, or at the senior center their mother visits). More importantly, though, that person will tell other people about your kindness, and word of mouth sells a lot of books.
So, being kind and helpful is not only a great reward in its own right, but, it can ultimately lead to a lot of book sales.