Posted by: TA Sullivan | July 15, 2015

The Magic of Creating

paint_brushAll creative pursuits are part talent, part skill, and large part magic. What do I mean by “magic”? That’s simple, it’s the piece of you, your energy, your spark, that you imbue your creation with. Without that little bit of your own energy embedded in your creative work, it won’t have a voice, or at least not a very loud voice.

For instance, I attended a photography display at a local college recently. One of the assignments was to take an image of a sun rise. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, evidently two of the people found a similar location in a local park and decided to photograph it.

Both captured the image perfectly, framing the rising sun through the rose-covered arched trellis; however, only one of the images had a voice. Only one of the images made you feel as if you were there, standing on the dew-damp grass with the ground-hugging mist encircling your feet and shins. You could smell the rose-scented air, feel the warmth of the struggling sun beams as they climbed over the horizon, and hear the twitter of the morning birds greeting the new day. The other photo was a nice image, but it was silent.

The difference was felt, not just by me, but by most everyone who looked at the two photos side-by-side. Most tried, but couldn’t understand how two such similar images failed to invoke the same type of feelings. My hypothesis, one photographer pushed the energy of their feelings for the scene into the image they created, while the other photographer merely completed the assignment—they took a photo of the sun rising.

So, while one photographer captured an image using talent, skill and magic; the other photographer, forewent the magic and the project fell flat.

Books, paintings, sculptures, stitchery, knitting, any and all creative endeavors need that spark of magic, that little piece of energy from their creator in order to be more than just another object. When you write a story, you have to make those characters live. You have to put enough of yourself, your energy, into the characters and the world you have created for them so that other people can see what you wrote. That world has to form around the readers the moment they open the book, and those characters have to leap from the page and perform their actions with the reader in their midst.

To the readers and viewers (of visual art) it may seem like nothing short of magic. But if they can become involved in the worlds and characters that you have created, they can then add their own spark to it and make it that much more alive. The more energy that gets added to a creative endeavor, the more alive and ‘real’ it becomes. The Harry Potter series is an excellent example of magic feeding on magic. JK Rowling imbued her creations with so much energy, everyone could ‘see’ and experience her world. The readers then added their own spark by becoming so involved in the story that the characters became even more ‘real’, the possibility of that world actually existing became ‘real’. The whole idea grew into something magical, because she used all three ingredients.Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1

When I wrote my book, “The Starstone,” I left a large part of me in the story. Danaria was a real world (to me), the characters were real (to me), and I was always concerned about their welfare. I saw the world, I conversed with the characters, and I struggled with their dilemmas right alongside them.

Hopefully, I left behind enough of my energy, my magic, to speak to others; to call them, to entice them to visit Danaria and see what adventures my characters could show them.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | July 3, 2015

Prove It

proofAfter three episodes of Proof, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised and pleased by the treatment that TNT (and thereby, Hollywood) is giving to the topic of ‘life after death’ and all the related topics (NDEs, ghosts, poltergeist, sceances, mediums, etc.).

They provide enough skepticism and watered-down science to keep it from getting campy and melodramatic; yet, they seem to have an open mind, too. For instance, in the episode pertaining to ghosts and poltergeist, they had the doctor (the primary skeptic) “prove’ that it was a brain lesion causing the dead-wife-sightings. Yet, the poltergeist-type manifestations that were attributed to the ghost of the dead wife continued even after the brain lesion was removed. This left the doctor (and the audience) wondering—were the sightings and manifestations truly caused by the brain lesion; is there something else going on not related to the medical condition of the man who had lost his wife; did the brain lesion only enable the sightings and not cause them; or were the events of ghostly sightings, poltergeist activities, and brain lesion simply random occurrences?

The show leaves it to each viewer to decide these questions, and that’s what makes the show so good. The writers, producers, and actors provide the information and the varying viewpoints, but then they leave it up to each of us to decide what it all means. I enjoy being presented with the information, the different perspectives as to what it all means, and then being allowed to come to my own conclusions. As a partial skeptic myself, I identify with the doctor’s dilemma of wanting proof, and yet I love hearing the explanations from those whose viewpoints rely more on belief and acceptance.

During the past life regression episode I found myself nodding at certain statements made by the skeptics in that particular episode; while at the same time, I know that past lives are real and they do impact your current life (for good or for ill).

So, while I would love for there to be a scientific explanation for everything that occurs in life; I don’t believe that science (or religion) has managed to keep up with all that life has presented to us. Therefore, there are times when we need to say, “Is it possible?” instead of, “Is it provable?”.

As for me, if it seems reasonable and possible, then I’m likely to say, “I’ll consider it.” I don’t always need Proof, but it’s a good show, nonetheless.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | June 17, 2015

It’s in the Eyes

An-EyeI saw a movie the other day called I Origin. Although, not a great movie (the acting was so-so and the film was a little too heavy on the science and rather light on character development), it did get me wondering, and that’s usually a positive thing. The premise of the move is whether or not human eyes (specifically the iris, or colored portion of the eye) and iris patterns are unique to a person or to a soul. In other words, is my iris pattern unique to this body or is it unique to the soul wearing this body, and, therefore, follows me into every body I wear for each life I live.

While I find the idea interesting, I would have to say it’s highly doubtful. In this life, I have blue/green eyes (they shift between blue and green depending on my mood). I can remember at least four previous lives where that eye coloration would have been extremely unusual; so unusual, in fact, that I would have been killed or abandoned at birth because the parents would have believed me to be a witch, devil, or possessed by demons.

Now, I realize that some dark-skinned people do have light eyes, and some light-skinned people have dark eyes, but I don’t think the number of light-eyed, dark-skinned people in the world number enough to account for all of those who should be around if we always retain our same eye colorations.

So, what if the eye color isn’t carried over? What if only the iris pattern is; the pattern of crypts, furrows, canyons and the like? What if the color is derived from DNA, but the pattern is derived from the soul? Now, that would be an interesting study.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | June 4, 2015

The responsibility is yours…

signs I’ve always believed that we are each responsible for our own choices and the results that occur. Yet, so many people (and yes, I’ve caught myself doing it on occasion) are too willing to blame someone else for their ills. The car accident that wasn’t their fault, the reason they were late to work or even why they just couldn’t even come in at all, or the overall “my life sucks, because…” excuses.

I had a friend who spent her life as a social worker and she was always regaling me with the excuses people had for why their lives were so messed up. I have to admit, I thought she was making up at least half of the stories she told me…at least until I read the post: Do Your Decisions and Behaviors Align With Your Goals?

The author has an interesting slant on this, and I encourage you to read it, think about it, and (perhaps) even make it one of your life’s goals to better align your choices with your desired outcome…I know, I will.directions

Posted by: TA Sullivan | June 1, 2015

Escorting the Dead…a reboot

escortingcoverI updated some of the material.

I added some bonus material.

I reformatted the interior.

And I redesigned the cover in anticipation of the companion book, “More from the Masters,” which is due to come out this fall.

So, the rebooted version is available in ebook! (I’m still waiting for CreateSpace to
approve the paperback version.)

Escorting the Dead from Amazon.com

RT-conventionI asked people to tell me of their experiences in attending book or fantasy conventions, and although I didn’t receive many responses, the ones I did receive were interesting.

Among the replies, I received two that described the responder’s experience with some detail. Their stories showed me that, while their attendance at these conventions was in part exhilarating, exasperating, interesting, and nerve-wracking, it was also costly and probably didn’t gain the hoped-for results.

The costs associated with attending one of these conventions as an author can near $500, and that’s not including travel, accommodations, and food costs. Then there’s the time factor. Evidently, if you want to make the most impact, you need to be there for the entire event, or at least the key days of the event. That means, taking time off from work (if you have a regular “day job” other than author), which can be a long weekend, or a whole week (depending on the convention).

It seems as if there are two main goals of those authors who attend these events:

  • Network (with agents and publishers, and other authors)
  • Recognition (give away free copies of your book(s), give away other free items with your brand/logo on them—t-shirts, pens, coffee mugs, etc., get noticed—give a speech/reading, make an impact on potential readers)

While these seem like worthwhile goals, the second one (especially) can be done for less money and with less hassle via the Web. If you want to give stuff away, create a web site and announce free stuff; list your book(s) for free with Amazon (or other online vendors) for a day or two; announce a contest and the prize can be a free mug, t-shirt, or book, or even lunch with the author; create posters of your book covers and offer them on some of the art sites; create an electronic newsletter or blog and build an audience via your writing.

If you really crave the spotlight and want to give a speech or reading of your material, you can arrange to do so at local gatherings (libraries, country clubs, social clubs—red hat society meetings, reading clubs, schools—present yourself at career day for high school or middle school students or college campuses, give a history or writing lecture for school students or local college, etc.). If you can afford the travel expenses, then you can pursue these same types of venues in other (further) locations from where you live.

As for the networking angle…well, I’m all for meeting other authors, I think most of us are a great bunch of people. However, I’m not all that stoked about landing a contract with a “real” publishing house, and I don’t really see the advantage of sharing what few commissions I make with an agent. Now, I might be willing to share my commissions with someone who could actually help me do the marketing of my books, but since most agents and publishers don’t really help you out with that, I’m not really interested.

As it is, I’m too busy trying to build my readership and develop some name recognition to really spend time cultivating a network of agents and publishers. Nearsighted? Maybe, but I’d rather shake hands and socialize with those few people who just might want to read my stories.

So, to sum up:

Pros of Attending: Lots of chances for networking, opportunities to listen to and learn from more experienced people in the industry, possibilities for building readership recognition

Cons of Attending: costly, crowded (easy to get lost in the crush), not a great venue for introverts

Therefore, I think if I were to attend, I would go as a guest. I would get a day pass and attend conference sessions, lectures, and demos; speak with other authors; and make connections with potential readers. However, I don’t think I would bother with the hassle of renting a space and a booth, and then hoping that people would find me. I think I’d rather go out and find them.

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1

Posted by: TA Sullivan | May 11, 2015

The Magic of The Starstone

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1There’s a certain amount of magic that goes into creating a story—whether that story remains short or turns into a full novel, the magic is still there. When you first start to write out your ideas, the story world and characters have little more substance than ghosts or shadows. The world itself is no more than a set propped up on the stage in your mind. But as you continue refining the story and reworking it, the characters become more real, and the world itself becomes something that you can actually visit. You can see the rocks, trees, and animals. They are so real that you can actually touch them, or so it seems.

In writing and developing The Starstone, I spent days on the lanai talking to people that no one else could hear, immersed in a world that no one else could see. It was surreal both for me and my spouse. There were times he would step outside to ask me something, and then struggle to figure out whether my response was to him or to something one of my characters had said. Even while walking the dog, the conversations continued. I can’t even begin to guess how many neighbors crossed the street to get away from the mad woman carrying on crazy conversations with herself, the dog, or no one. Yes, it’s magical, but it’s also intense and all-encompassing.

My life became so enmeshed with the world of Danaria that it sometimes became impossible to tell them apart. I was immersed not only in the world, but also in the lives of the characters—sometimes as an observer, and sometimes as a participant. But even as an observer, it wasn’t always safe. There were sword fights and arguments, kidnappings and escapes. The flight to Darkwind’s castle on the back of one of his wyverns left me nauseated and gasping for breath (I do have a distinct fear of heights), yet the trip was necessary if I was to write about it.

But worst of all, I think, was when the characters took umbrage at something I wanted them to do or say. They turned their backs to me and refused to respond to my queries, or else they simply walked off and disappeared from the world I had so painstakingly created. It hurt. They had become more than just characters, they were my friends. Yet, when I figured out that I was wrong, they would step back into the drama as if nothing had happened.

It was very difficult each time I had to put the story away, and it would take days, weeks, and sometimes months for the world I had created to fade away. There were times I would come around a corner of the house, and find myself not in the kitchen, but in a canyon. I would quickly look over my shoulder to see whether the ice beast was skulking behind me, before realizing that I had let the magic of the book out again. I would then bundle it back up and tuck it into a corner of my mind, until I had the time to let it out to play.

This time I not only let it out so I could play in Danaria, but I’ve let it out there so others can play, too. So, come immerse yourself in my magic land of Danaria. Feel the rush of the wind against your face as the wyvern you’re riding swoops down to within inches of the white caps, and laugh at the antics of the tree-runners as they scamper from branch to branch. It’s a wonderful world to get lost in.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | April 30, 2015

Why do you write?

readerEvery author’s “How-to” book that I’ve ever read always has these 2 basics somewhere in the book’s depths:

Write what you know
Write for yourself

The “write what you know” part has never been an issue for me. While I love fantasy and the freedom it gives you; the story still has to be somewhat believable or no one will accept the premise and, thereby, the story. Therefore, writing what I know (or can at least research) is always the best course.

However, for the longest time I struggled with the “write for yourself” part of it. I mean, I didn’t need the story written down if I was writing for myself. I could picture the story in loving detail in my own mind, so why spend time scribbling it down unless I was planning on sharing it with someone else? And thus my dilemma. If I’m writing for someone else, then who? And if I’m not writing for someone else, then why bother?

It was very frustrating. So, I went through all those reasons of why write (it down). Why be a writer (of stories)? Fame…I don’t care if I’m famous; in fact, I prefer my privacy. Glamour…writing isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work. Riches…well, that one still grabs me. Sure, I’d like to be rich, or at least rich enough to quit my day job and do nothing but write and read stories. But then the stories become just another job. You have to create the stories to make sure the money machine keeps churning out the dough.

No, the real reason I decided to write the stories down was for those lonely, geeky kids whose only friends are those they meet between the covers of the books they read. This was a reality I knew very well. These lonely, geeky kids I saw in my mind’s eye were very much like me when I was young. (So, in a way, I guess, I was writing for myself.)

I was the kid whose best friends were the Hardy Boys, Ann of Green Gables, and every character that every piloted a space ship designed by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, or Andre Norton. My friends lived in the local public library, and every week I would invite a half-dozen or so of them to my house. They would take me on the most wondrous adventures, and it would no longer matter if I wasn’t invited to some classmate’s birthday party, or if I wasn’t asked to participate in the games at recess. It didn’t matter because I was solving mysteries, stopping spies from taking over the country, or saving the world from some technological catastrophe.

Therefore, when I decided that I needed to share my stories, these were the people I had in mind as my audience. The kids who prefer (or need) to find their way through childhood and young adulthood by reading books. The kids whose imaginations can’t be contained inside of movies, but rather need to explore worlds of their own visualization but with the help of a good story and one or more characters they can relate to.

Once I figured this out, I realized I was writing for myself…just not in the way I initially thought or understood their statement to mean. It took me a bit of pondering and soul searching, but I really think I’m a better writer because of it.

I think every wannabe-author needs to take a look at those two questions. Then they need to really look inside themselves for the answers. Be honest with yourself; it’s not easy, but I think once you figure out why you really want to write stories and books, you’re ready to be a real author and not just a writer.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | April 21, 2015

Dante’s Equation

emerging2A universal wave that defines our reality…that is the key plot item to a book I just finished reading. The odd thing is, that although it’s a book of fiction, it brings together several concepts I have researched and studied for years.

If you believe some of the studies I have researched, we (as individuals) are a composite of frequencies, and one part of our individual frequencies contain the “universal frequency” of our reality. It’s what links us to this moment and this place. If we altered that link, that universal frequency, we might suddenly no longer exist in this reality. Instead, we would be in a different reality—perhaps one that is so close to our current one that we would be hard pressed to identify the differences, but it would be different.

If we alter that linking frequency in one way, we’re in an alternate reality; if we alter it another, we move from the physical plane to what? The astral plane? After all, the physical plane is only separated from the astral plane by a small shift in frequency. For instance, if all of physical reality (all the streams of physical reality that exist) exist within a frequency range of 0 – 100, then the astral plane is probably 100.1 – 200. And each reality within the astral plane is a separate frequency, just as each reality in the physical plane is a separate frequency. So, while astral matter is more pliable than physical matter, I would image that there are still some common realities that people go to in order to learn certain lessons, such as the reality of a brimstone and fire hell, and the reality of clouds and angels—how common are those? Perhaps there are realities that mimic the various realities on the physical plane, so that experiences can be reworked and revisited and the lessons learned.

But back to Earth and this reality. If the whole physical reality is in a frequency between 0 and 100, then where is our reality…50 – 52, or 48 – 50? Maybe it’s not so close to the middle, maybe it’s more skewed than that…maybe we’re closer to 35 – 37 or 60 – 62.

And what happens to the me in the reality I shift to (provided there is a me there), if I’m able to shift my linking frequency? Do we meet and cancel each other out? Does my moving into the next reality, push the me that’s there forward or backward, creating one big chain reaction of pushing ad infinitum? And if I push the me from that reality out and take her place, then when (and if) I shift back to my own reality, does the other me slip back to her world, too? My mind boggles (which is an interesting game, by the way—do we have a headache yet?)

Another concept I found in this novel that was interesting, was how the astral plane worked. Now the author didn’t call the realities where the different characters ended up the astral plane, but to me it was so obvious that no label was needed. When the protagonists were subjected to a pulse, it shifted their universal frequency link and each of them then found themselves in a world ideally suited to showing them their main life lesson.

Two found themselves in a world of wondrous technology, but what they found was that people didn’t matter, only the technology did. At first, this was great because they loved technology. However, the more they realized how little people meant, the colder and less ideal their “chosen” world seemed to them.

Another character who believed he knew what God wanted and never thought people showed enough respect (to him and to God) found himself in a world where the rules were so rigid and so strict that only blind obedience was acceptable. He soon found that this was not the type of faith that he wanted, nor the type of faith he wanted to foist onto others.

So, it went for each character, as they confronted the worst in themselves and came to realize how narrow and shallow they really were. Exactly the types of lessons you would expect to encounter in the astral planes.

Once they acknowledged the blinders that they had worn, they were able to return their individual frequencies to what they needed to be in order to return to their own reality.

Now, while the author took some liberties in the way she got them back to their own reality, and in how they actually get to the astral plane (she had them traveling to the astral plane as full physical beings), it was still a very thought-provoking and intriguing book. More than anything it makes me want to ask the author which of Nick Herbert’s publishings she has read, and what gave her the idea in the first place. I think it would be utterly fascinating to sit down and discuss some of these concepts with the author, to see where she got her ideas from, and what her feelings are about multiple realities.

So, if you love a book that will make you question and think, then I highly recommend that you read Dante’s Equation by Jane Jensen.

Posted by: TA Sullivan | April 9, 2015

Is there proof of an afterlife?

escortingcover

TNT has a new show starting in June called “Proof”. I must admit, I am intrigued…from the little bit I’ve been able to find about it, it sounds as if it could be interesting. The premise is this:

Rich old guy, afraid of death and dying, hires young doctor to research life after death and bring him proof that there is some sort of existence beyond this world. So, she investigates NDEs (near death experiences), psychics, mediums (and yes, there is a difference—psychics can read people’s energies, intuit possible future events, and sense other people’s emotions (among other things); while mediums speak to dead people), reincarnation reports, OBE reports (out of body experiences), hauntings, and other paranormal and death-related happenings in an effort to find “proof”.

Depending on how they treat the subject the show could be helpful in bringing death and dying out of the closet and into the light, or it could simply push it further into the corner of that dark, cluttered closet where no one will be bothered by it. I understand that it’s TV, which automatically indicates that any information it provides will be diluted and inundated with melodrama. However, there’s melodrama and there’s high-camp. If they go the route of camp and ridiculousness (ala the TV show, Ghost Hunters, or the movie, Ghost Busters) then they will do nothing to improve people’s understanding of physical death and spiritual life (not to mention, losing me as a viewer ;-}. However, if they stick with the melodrama, they might actually be able to help people understand that death is not scary, and what happens after the body dies is not scary.

As an escort to those newly transitioning from and to physical life, I can assure you that life goes on…in a different way than what we experience now here on Earth, but it does continue. I don’t know how anyone could actually prove that consciousness and “life” exists beyond the physical world, though. It’s not as if you can scribble it out in a formula, or build a measuring device that would definitively prove to everyone that life doesn’t end when the physical body dies. But then again, what is acceptable as proof is different for everyone. Some will accept only what they can see, hear, taste, or feel, while others what all the scientific jargon and formulas to back it up. That’s the type of person that even if you could them across the border into death and bring them back, they would find some other explanation for what they experienced. After all, people can only accept what they wish to accept; it’s the way our brains are made. If it’s outside our experiences and expectations, then we can either expand our acceptance factor and acknowledge it as something we never experienced, but could be true, or we can block it and find a more reasonable (to us) explanation to it—something that will fit within our mental model of what is real, possible, and true.

That’s why for some people there are miracles, and for others common occurrences. A child becomes gravely ill, and is treated by a modern healer and is cured—this can be a miracle to someone not familiar with or accepting of modern medicine; while for others it is just the natural occurrence and result of taking antibiotics. So, what proof would you need to accept that physical life isn’t the be-all end-all of existence, or do you already accept that this isn’t all there is?

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