2 Thumbs Up for “11.22.63”

11.22.63“11.22.63” by Stephen King

Summary: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Recommendation: Yes (in fact, if I could, I would give this book a dozen stars)

Review:

Not since “Bag of Bones” have I enjoyed a Stephen King novel as much as I have this one. In fact, I would say that this one may just tie with “Bag of Bones” as my top favorite book.

Touted as an alternate history/time travel novel (which is a genre I love), for me this book was more about the characters that peopled it. Stephen King’s understanding of human nature is obvious in the way his characters slip into your mind and your life. When I had to break from reading the book, I still thought about the characters; wondering what they might be doing at that moment, as if they were living human beings instead of just fictional characters.

If you’re looking for constant thrills and adventure that keep you on edge until the end of the book, this is not the book for you. While it has thrilling and edgier moments, it also has a lot of pathos, romance, and relationship building. This is a book about people caught up in situations that they want to capture, change, examine, or build. It isn’t a book about car chases, shoot outs, or winning the race; although, there are enough chases, spying, secrets, and edge-of-your-seat moments to keep you enthralled.

Overall, though, this is a book about people. To me, the core of the book was about the characters and the travails that forged their humanity. It is the Stephen King writing that I fell in love with way back at the beginning of his career. This is the magic that that I’ve always admired him for—the magic of writing real-life characters that are at times more real than the people we interact with on a daily basis.

If I could, I would give Mr. King a huge hug to thank him for giving us another of his marvelously peopled, and lovingly executed books. The ending may be bittersweet, but the book contains enough life lessons and thought-provoking insights to keep someone like me rereading it for years to come.

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DEATH – Why Does It Frighten Us So?

Death.

That word probably frightens people more than any other.

Why?

Because it represents the ‘great unknown.’ We know less about death than we do about outer space or the deep recesses of Earth’s oceans. After all, it’s not easy to explore a dimension or state of being that requires us to cease living. So, for most of us, death becomes the area that, like on maps of old, was marked with the words: ‘There be monsters here.’

Monsters. Demons. Angels.

 

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These are what we think of when we think about death, because that’s all we know, or at least suspect, based on the stories that we are told about the land of beyond. Of course, some people eschew the typical concept of death being a place or a continuation of some form of life. Instead, they see death as a black nothingness. Still others divide the realm of death into two states: one where demons and monsters abide, and another where angels and cherubs live.

Proof.

Of course, trying to prove if there is a type of life after the physical body dies isn’t easy to do. After all, how do you gather statistics and measurements when you have no physical form? It is just this conundrum that has plagued most of us who have died and returned. We have garnered little acceptance from the scientific community regarding our experiences simply because we lack the physical proof of what occurred. All we have is our memory of the events, and even those vary widely based on each person’s interpretation. For instance, for someone who is a strict Catholic, the experience may be interpreted through the filter of their Catholic iconography and tenets; while, someone who is an atheist may describe their experience using a filter of science or space aliens.

Some experiments have been conducted. They are usually of the sort wherein someone is forced into a chemically- or electronically-induced death, and then revived within the time limits deemed safe. While these experiments are done within the confines of labs and under the supervision of ‘specialists,’ the interpretation of what did or did not occur on the ‘other side’ (if indeed, the other side was even reached) is still up to the individual who died.

The specialists monitoring the physical side of the experiment can note data on the ‘traveler’s’ body—heart rate, brain waves, blood pressure, etc.—however, they are unable to experience what the traveler who died experienced. Scientists can site all types of speculation and theories to explain what may or may not have happened—low oxygen levels in the brain, random electrical pulses, or a bad interpretation of what was happening around the person who was ‘dead’—but without proof of whether or not the dead person actually traveled their suppositions are as bogus as their disdain of what the travelers experienced.

Been There.

Having made the roundtrip at least once in this lifetime, I suppose that until we devise some sort of carrier to ferry us (the physical us) into the realm of death and back, we will simply have to rely on our own beliefs and truths as to what awaits us when we die.

To that end, I have written my interpretation of my experiences with the hope that they help people overcome some of their fear of Death. Death isn’t anything to fear. It’s merely another step along life’s path.

 

Make It Personal

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When preparing for speaking engagements and presentations based on my non-fiction books, I always ensure that I include several anecdotes or observations. While some authors prefer to keep their personal life private, sharing snippets of yourself with your audience usually helps them relate to you and your story.

Include anecdotes and personal observations.

The most typical question that I’m asked during the Q&A period of my presentations is how the event affected me or my family. People want to know that not only have you overcome the tragedy or grown as a result of the incident, but they want some examples. Sometimes the examples I include are also in the book, but usually not. And sometimes I include a mix—some anecdotes from the book and some not. Letting attendees know that there is more anecdotal material in the book helps sway them to purchase the book because they know they’re not just getting a rehash of what they already heard during my presentation.

By sharing these snippets of insight into my life, it helps me and the audience connect, and not just as reader to author, but as caring individuals sharing a similar experience. After all, many people relate best to your story when they understand the person who wrote it. This is especially true of two of my books (Escorting the Dead and On Dreams and Dream Symbols). These two books also generate a great many questions and much discussion between me and my audience. Therefore, once I’ve read them a chapter or two or given my presentation, I regale them with one or two anecdotes. This usually spurs a spate of similar stories from the audience, which soon leads to some very lively discussions. Once people realize that other people have had similar experiences, thoughts, or questions, it’s easy to get them interested in learning more, which leads them to purchasing your books.

By bringing some of you to the presentation, you show your audience that you and they are not so very different. Perhaps you’re wondering just what to share with your audience. Think back to when you were writing the book:

  • What prompted you to write about that moment/challenge/event?
  • Why was the moment, incident, or event special or important?
  • What about it did you think others might want or need to know?
  • How did it change you or those you care about?
  • What insights did it bring to your life?
  • How did you grow from the incident or overcome the tragedy?

The answer to any of those questions should prompt an anecdote or memory that you can work into your presentation. So, select two or three different ones each time you do a presentation; this almost always guarantees you a lively discussion or question and answer session. Using different stories and anecdotes for each presentation also keeps your talks fresh.

You might even incorporate bits and pieces of your audience discussions as anecdotes (as long as you leave out names and other identifying information). It all helps the audience and potential readers identify with you and your topic. It helps them understand that other people also have similar ideas, thoughts, and questions. And it ultimately leads to book sales.

(To see a video copy of one of my presentations click here.)

ovaldove

 

Coming This Fall

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A lot has changed since I last announced that I was writing a paranormal romance. I had the story all planned out; unfortunately, once I got into it, the characters had a whole ‘nother idea. In fact, the characters pretty much wrote the whole thing for me. Now, it’s just up to me to get everything finalized. (You know, edited, proofed, rewritten…all that ‘fun’ production stuff ; )

Anyway, here’s the synopsis for “The Past Rekindled,” the first book in my paranormal romance series about Terra McGinley—techwriting guru by day and tran’zr by night.

Synopsis:

I’m Terra McGinley…technical writer and tran’zr (short for transitioner to the afterlife). With Death out to get me, I don’t know what to do or who to trust.

My new tran’zr partner is tall, dark, handsome, and completely annoying. While he’s checking the rule books and noting every little infraction, I’m helping people move on–even if it means bending those rules a bit.

In the real world, I’m stuck working with my high school crush. Although he hurt and betrayed me back then, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if we had gotten together. Is it too late, or should I take the risk?

Short Blurb:

Finding love is the last thing on Terra McGinley’s mind as she divides her time between writing how-to procedures and escorting visitors to the astral plane. But when one of her charges contacts Terra and her new partner for help, they encounter Death, who has his own plans for Terra. Now she must decide who she can trust with her life and her heart – past love or new partner?

One of the issues I haven’t yet worked out is whether to use my current pen name – TA Sullivan; or my real name – Tricia Sullivan. There’s a whole controversy over using different pen names for different genres. Some say it’s better because it helps your audiences identify with you for a specific type of book. However, there’s a whole other group that believes once you have your brand established with a name you should stick with that.

I’m not sure which school of thought I identify with; however, I do know that I have a completely different issue that I keep tripping over. There is already an established author with the name Tricia Sullivan. (In fact, she and I were nearly collaborators on my first book–a different story.) I’m not sure if the duplication of names would be to her benefit/detriment or mine. So, in keeping with my current indecisiveness, my wonderful book cover designers have allowed me to put both drafts out here for your perusal. Let me know what you think…do you like it, hate it, have no opinion about it?

To say I’m excited is an understatement. But then, every time I get one of my books done I’m excited. Each book is a labor of love, because I love the book, but I also love my readers. So, I want each reader to love my creations as much as I do (an impossible dream…but then again, who knows. And that’s why I #keepwriting. ; )

 

 

 

 

The Winkling Wuggley Got Her

A Winkling WuggleyAs I warned you lovely readers in my previous post, “Sorry…No Kooky Cats“, I’ve been sucked into the world of YouTube. Not as just a viewer, but as a participant. (So, world beware!)

I’m developing a channel, creating short video, and trying to figure this all out. I’m like a baby who is just learning to walk. I take a few steps, I fall down a lot, but eventually I pull myself up again and toddle on.

I’m sure the videos I create will never win Oscars, Emmys, or whatever the equivalent is in the world of YouTube videos; however, I think (for me, anyway) the key is that I’m having fun and I’m learning things I never thought I would.

Warning: Self-Advertisement Ahead !

So, just in case you want to see what I’ve been up to, I’ve included the link to my channel and the latest video that I created:

TA Sullivan (YouTube channel) 

A Winkling Wuggley Reads Books

 

Rejecting Rejection

Choices Cover 03

Rejection is a way of life for an author…or for any artiste, for that matter. It’s one of those things that you either learn to cope with or you spend all your time depressed. My coping mechanism has always been to tell myself, “Well, that’s just your opinion. I happen to think my [book/story/article] is pretty darn good.” And then I move on to the next step in my path—writing something else, submitting the book/story/article somewhere else, or just taking a nap. I always try to ensure that when I do move on, though, that is in a positive way.

However, the first time my esoteric talents (I’m extremely intuitive) got rejected, I wasn’t quite so aware, nor was I quite prepared to deal with it. I took the rejection of my talents as a rejection of myself. And I believe that’s the trap many people also fall into when their writing is rejected.

I’ve always had a touch of intuitiveness, and after my car vs. bike accident this ability became even more pronounced. For instance, I could ‘hear’ thoughts, perceive emotions leftover in a room or house, or get an inkling of what was about to happen. However, since the accident, I’ve become pretty good at reading someone’s entire aura, including their previous lives—their histories, if you will. I can see the correlations between their current life, their health, and their past lives, and I can usually see (and understand) what lessons they want to learn in their life by having those past lives so prominent in their auras.

When I met ‘Phil’, it was just an ordinary day in my rather ordinary life at my rather ordinary job. We were introduced, he told me a bit about himself, and then he and the boss moved on to the next cube to meet the next person. For the next few hours, I didn’t give him another thought.

The team went to lunch to welcome Phil to our group, and everything was still normal. However, as we prepared to leave, I had difficulty with my coat and Phil reached over to help. When his hand brushed my skin, I got a rush of information, including the connection between us. This ability was still new to me, and in my joy at having this talent, I assumed everyone would want to know what I discovered. I was wrong.

Back at the office, I wrote down everything I could remember. And that night, I did a reading to fill in the gaps. Proud of what I had done and thrilled with this new information, I typed it up and presented it to Phil the next day. He looked confused, asked me what it was, and I told him just to read it and that I would answer his questions later.

I waited all day for him to say something, but he didn’t. So, I thought, okay…he’s digesting it. After all, it was a lot to take in. I told myself similar platitudes all week. Finally, Friday I could wait no longer. I asked him what he thought, and he scrunched his face in thought. Then he looked at me and said in his politest manner, “I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”

I was crushed. I tried to argue with him, I tried to reason with him. I tried to convince him that it was real; but the hardness of his eyes never changed. He didn’t believe in past lives, he didn’t believe in what I had written, and (overall) he thought I was a kook.

He moved on to another part of the company soon after that (I hope it wasn’t because of me), but I learned two lessons that day:

  1. Not everyone is going to like what you do.
  2. Not everyone is going to believe in what you do.

For those who don’t like what you do, well, that’s on them. For those who don’t believe in what you do, it doesn’t matter, because you believe in what you do.

And for both sets of people, never force your products on anyone, but always make them available to anyone who wants to them.

Most of all, remember rejection isn’t about you. It’s about the person doing the rejecting. Psychopomp 3D - DLS - 8pxls - 2

A Modern Fairy Tale

we-never-look-up

Once upon a time in a land far and gone, there was a story teller. Oh, not just any story teller. No, this story teller could weave an emotional net with her words, capturing any and all who heard her thus causing them to fall under her spell. She could make people laugh; she could make people cry; she could evoke sighs; and she could appear wise.

Yes, her stories were wondrous things to behold, and all within the land would gather around to hear her tales of daring, romance, and comedy sublime. But then one day, the story teller saw that no longer was everyone enthralled by her stories. Alas, instead of heeding her marvelous stories, they walked by, ignoring her and her magical words.

“It must be a trick of the web wizards,” she thought. How else could such an occurrence be explained? Always, were her stories binding to those who heard; always, were her words bewitching enough to entangle even the most reluctant listener. But now…now, did no one stop; in fact, no one even slowed down as she let her words weave their magic stories.

Instead, with heads down, faces blank, and fingers twitching over strange glowing screens, her audiences scurried past without even noticing her. The story teller, bewildered by this, vowed to venture away from her cottage at the edge of the village, and strike out toward the village square. She had to see for herself whether this affliction was a random thing or some horrible epidemic. So, as the sun arose the next morning, she cast her feet upon the path toward town. She followed the road as it wandered through farms and neighborhoods, around the shops, until it came to the village square.

With each step she took, her heart sank lower and lower. While one or two travelers were drawn to her, and greeted her with requests for stories, most continued past without noticing her at all. Instead, they traveled with their eyes focused downward while their fingers danced across the glowing screen they held in their hands.

“This cannot be,” she exclaimed. “How is it that these glowing screens have entranced them all?”

Sick of heart, she cast her web of words once more. But this time she sought only to ensnare one of those with the magic screens. Once captured, she compelled the boy to speak; to explain to her what sorcery held him so enslaved. With barely a glance her way, his voice explained, yet his fingers never stilled. They twitched and fumbled across the screen, flicking here and tapping there. The story teller’s eyes grew hard, and her mouth did frown as she learned the secrets of the magic devices.

She released the boy and watched while he continued his flicking, twitching, and tapping, while he scurried down the street. That’s when the idea came to her. Her lips slid upward and a scheming glint lit up her eyes. She nodded to herself as she brewed her spell. Yes, she knew what to do now.

Returning to her home, she worked far into the night. Come the dawning of the day, her spell complete, she smiled. Now, they would hear her words, she thought. Now, they would once again be enmeshed in her web of words. Once more, would she be the supreme story teller.

She cast her spell and it crept through the crevices and back corners of every web site ever devised by the clever web wizards. And soon her stories were everywhere on the Internet. The siren song of her magic words would no longer be ignored, but instead would they appear on the glowing screens that each person held. And for those few who shied away from the web wizards’ tool, she magicked her stories into books of paper. These, too, were easily procured and she made sure they were available to any and all. And soon, she saw the changes she had wrought appear across the lands.

While still the people scurried past her, their eyes glued to their magic screens; no longer were their fingers twitching and their faces dull like death. Instead, they were smiling, laughing, crying, and frowning as her words flashed from the screen into their minds, and then into their hearts. No longer were they immune to her magic, but rather had her magic net of stories captured them all by traveling via the Internet and into their own shiny devices where her words once more bewitched and bespelled them.

And the story teller, using her own magic glowing screen, watched her rankings climb and climb as each of her stories ensnared another reader. And she thought herself clever and wise to have used the web wizards’ own tools to once again show the people how wonderful were her stories.

Technologies