Where is Love?

wave washed heart and pink shovel_4500Where has the romantic gone?

How did she become lost?

Where is the lonely little girl who constantly poured her soul

Into a few choice words—laying bare her life, her heart, and her mind?

I have searched everywhere, yet she remains lost.

I see a form; it could be her.

Instead I am confronted with some glowering old woman

Whose sour disposition seeps forth from every seam of her face,

and every pore of her skin.

Like the odor of spoiled meat, it surrounds her in a miasma,

full of despair and dislike.

When she sees me, she grabs my sleeve

and demands querulously, “Where is love? Where has it gone?”

“I was a young woman once—in love with life and filled with joy.

Now, here I am dressed in these rags. My hair is coarse and my

face is wrinkled. I do not understand. How did I come to be this way?”

Her tears follow the runnels of her face

until they tumble free and splash against her shawl.

Her claw-like fingers still grip my sleeve

and I find myself patting her age-speckled hand.

Love is so fleeting, so swiftly fading.

With its departure do we lose our youth,

our beauty and our way.

Feeling her pain, I turn her toward the light.

Wiping away her tears, I softly explain

that love is there, in front of her.

For within the light all is joy,

and within the light all is music,

and within the light everything is love.

With a look of awe, she releases me

and reaches toward the light.

As she shuffles forward, her countenance changes.

Her face grows smoother, and her back straighter,

and as the glow surrounds her, somewhere deep

within myself I feel the tones of love resound.

Tran’zr series…coming soon

I’m currently working on the first book in a paranormal romance series. I’m finding it fun, and definitely different from any of the other books I’ve written.

Here’s a draft of the blurb that will go on the back of the book:

Changing dance partners can be dangerous. When a young lawyer waltzes into Terra’s life, she decides to give him a whirl. But when she tangoes with Death, someone she never expected dips into her life and steals her heart.

I’ve already gotten some book cover ideas from my pal at DL Design and Digital Art, which I’ve posted here. (If you like any of the designs, let me know. I always enjoy learning what appeals to folks.)

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The short synopsis is:

I’m Terra McGinley…Tran’zr and technical writer, and I’m dating-impaired. I’m okay at getting first dates (though my mom would say otherwise—she’s always trying to fix me up; if it’s male, single, and over the age of consent, she’ll drag it home for me to meet.) However, when it comes to follow-up dates…well, let’s just say that my mother shouldn’t expect to hear wedding bells any time soon.

Being a tran’zr is a part-time gig—which is a good thing, because the pay is non-existent and the hours are horrible; otherwise, it’s a great job. Tran’zrs help transition people from the physical world to the spiritual and vice versa. Some people call us Grim Reapers, while others refer to us as Death Escorts, but we prefer Transitioner, or Tran’zr for short.

Telling the Story

escortingcoverDo you know the difference between a novel and a non-fiction book? A non-fiction book is based in truth. However, the biggest mistake that non-fiction authors make is equating truth with a dry recitation of facts rather than the telling of a story. Despite your history teacher’s attempts to bore you with lists of dates and tables of facts, history can (and is) actually interesting. People want to know why something happened or why someone acted or reacted as they did. They want to understand the reason for events, and that’s where your story telling ability comes in. You need to show them why; you need to give them the story surrounding the event.

All stories, both fiction and non-fiction, are just that—stories. When writing a memoir, biography, or other bit of non-fiction, you still need to follow the same guidelines as an author writing a novel; however, you have a major advantage. Your story is already loosely defined for you. You have the timeline, timeframe, characters, major conflicts, and key dramatic elements, all you need to do is add the story components.

You need to develop your characters so that your readers can see them the way you do—are they shy, dynamic, geeky, or ne’er do well? The characters need depth, life, purpose, and motivation to go along with that dramatic moment. Does the moment you’re recording have to do with star-crossed lovers, a robbery gone wrong, a heroic deed, or just a crazy moment that changed the character’s life? You also need to build up the environment. What was the time period like, the culture, and the society? Help your readers understand your character’s perspectives, actions, and reactions. (For instance, the American culture and societal mores are much different today than they were in the 1970’s and understanding that can help the reader connect with the character and their plight.)

Also, just as a fictional character has wants, needs, fears, and motivations, so do your non-fictional characters. By using a first- or third-person point of view, action verbs, and a show-not-tell writing style you can catapult your readers into the story and help them appreciate the little slice of true life that you are sharing with them.

Here’s an example of a memoir that, while historically accurate, is rather dry:

In 1973, Terry got a job for the local newspaper. She did many jobs while there, such as typesetting, layout and design, and bundling (which is the bundling of flyers, ads, and other inserts with the paper). However, her favorite job was junior reporter.

Her first really major story involved the murder of a local schoolteacher. When the body was discovered, Terry was at the school to cover the latest protests.

Here is that same example, but written in a more story-like way:

1973 was a tumultuous year. It was the time of flower power, (Viet Nam) war protests, hippies dropping out, dropping in, and dropping acid, flag and bra burnings, and it was the year that Terry saw her first murder victim.

As a junior reporter for the local paper, she was at the school covering the latest protest when the screams ripped through the air.

 

Now, which memoir would you rather read?

Interview with the Characters from Danaria

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1A friend and I were speaking the other day about fictional characters and what it might be like to sit down with them and actually speak to them about their plans, desires, wants, and needs. I was so taken with the concept that I decided to use the library interview questions that I answered to find out more about the characters in my fantasy series. So, to find out what Joelnar, Darkwind, Neerah, Phessari, and Marek think, keep reading.

Q: What do you want most from life?

Joelnar: A quiet life of raising horses that I can share with a wife and family.
Darkwind: If not love, then at least acceptance. Everyone fears me and thinks that I’m this terrible, awful person, but they don’t know me…at least not the true me.
Neerah: I thought I wanted love and adventure, but now I’m not so sure about the adventure, anyway.
Phessari: I want to share my life with someone while using my healing talents to help people.
Marek: Honor. I want to regain, and then maintain my honor so that I and my partner can lead our people and keep our village strong.

Q: What do you notice first about people?

Joelnar: How open they are. If a person is trustworthy, they tend to be more open in the way they present themselves and speak to you, because they have nothing to hide.
Darkwind: I used to take everyone at face value. Now, however, I try to note their energy patterns to see how believable and trustworthy someone is. Despite my ‘age,’ I still have a lot to learn about people.
Neerah: I notice a person’s face and whether the person is smiling or frowning, or looks friendly or sour. If they’re sour, like old lady Enderas, then I would rather not have to spend time with them.
Phessari: Their aura. A person’s energy signature precedes them by at least four feet, so it’s the first thing I sense, and it gives me so much information about the person.
Marek: How they carry themselves. A proud and honorable person is comfortable with themselves, meets your gaze, and stands tall and strong.

Q: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I can’t say that I have ever really had any friends. But if I did, I should like them to be understanding and kind.
Neerah: Fun. I love friends who enjoy life.
Phessari: Respect. It’s not easy for some people to respect someone with different values or beliefs. So, I really appreciate having friends who respect me.
Marek: Loyalty. When I go into battle, I expect my friends to be there with me. My fight should be their fight, and their fight is my fight.

Q: What is your main fault?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I’ve been told that I’m too controlling; but then, again, I’m rather reserved, so I get very uncomfortable in unstructured situations.
Neerah: Recklessness, I guess. Joelnar, Marmian, and my grandfather have all told me that I don’t think about the consequences of my actions; that I tend to just jump into things.
Phessari: My acceptance and my convictions in my faith. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a believer.
Marek: Intolerance. I have been very intolerant of those who aren’t warriors or who do not follow warrior ways. I have little patience for spell-casters and the like.

Q: Do you have any regrets in your life, and if so, what?

Joelnar: Yes. I regret not going back to Darkwind’s when I first had the chance and rescuing my friend, Rafe, and my brother. But I’m determined to set them free, no matter what.
Darkwind:
I regret my interactions with Neerah. Of all those I have hurt, her pain cuts me the deepest.
Neerah: I regret not taking my opportunity with Joelnar when I had the chance back in the Forest of Reflections.
Phessari: I wish I knew more about the interactions of couples. I have spent so much time learning my skills as a healer that I have had little experience with emotional entanglements.
Marek: I regret my quick dismissal of those who do not follow the warrior’s path. I am just now beginning to understand that it takes more than being a great warrior to be a great person.

Q: What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?

Joelnar: I would like to have the touch with animals, especially horses, that my mother did. There wasn’t any animal anywhere that would shy away from her.
Darkwind:
Courage. I wish I had been braver when I first entered this world of physicality. Perhaps then, Ionee (now Neerah) would not have been so upset with me.
Neerah: Actually, I wish I could return the talent I was gifted with. I wish I couldn’t hear the gems singing, or use their power.
Phessari: I have already been blessed with so much, I would not ask the gods for more.
Marek: I have already been gifted with the skill and power of a mighty warrior. As a leader, this is the best talent to have.

Q: How do you wish to die?

Joelnar: Quietly, with my family around me.
Darkwind:
Free. If I die, I want to be free of d’Oessler’s control, and with Ionee’s forgiveness.
Neerah: I don’t wish to die at all. That’s morbid, ask me something else.
Phessari: I will accept whatever fate the gods may bless me with.
Marek: In battle, of course. That is how a warrior should die.

Q: What is your favorite motto?

Joelnar: With love and family, all things are possible.
Darkwind:
All are one.
Neerah: Life is a playground; let’s have fun.
Phessari: Life is a circular path leading to enlightenment.
Marek: Elai-gri nahk tie. Onward to battle!

 

Is there proof of an afterlife?

Psychopomp 3D - DLS - 8pxls - 2

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?

For the end of the world, we’re serving turtle pie ala mode

Suppose the world is facing an extermination event in two weeks. What would you do with your two weeks?turtlepie

That’s sort of the premise of the movie, Seeking a Friend for the End of World. While the movie itself is rather pathetic and I wouldn’t recommend it, the concept intrigues me.

My first thought when confronted with the idea of the world ending in two weeks is self-indulgence. That includes:

  • Spending time with my hubby
  • Sleeping in in the mornings
  • Eating whatever I want (like fudge, brownies, turtle pie, and all the chocolate ice cream I can – after all, what’s the point of dieting if we’re all gonna die?)
  • Reading (books, magazines, newspapers, everything – I love reading)

What I wouldn’t do:

  • Go to work (what are they gonna do, fire me?)
  • Worry about my weight
  • Worry about paying my bills
  • Plan for tomorrow

But then I spent a little more time contemplating the idea as if it were something that could actually occur and I wondered what about all those people who are alone? People who have no family and few or no friends, people who are perhaps bed-ridden or confined to their homes, people who maybe require some sort of medical intervention to keep them alive. Who will look after them?

Even if the world is ending in two weeks, is it fair, is it right to forget about those who can’t do for themselves? Self-indulgence is great, but wouldn’t it be even greater to be indulgent with someone? Instead of buying just one or two slices of turtle pie, why not buy a dozen turtle pies and share them with the folks in a homeless shelter or a nursing home?

And what about the home-bound people? Would their care givers still be on the job, or would they have opted for the self-indulgent route and so have left their charges to fend for themselves. And how would I or someone else get a list of these people and their addresses so that we could check on them and make sure that their last two weeks were as self-indulgent and fun as we wanted ours to be?

I have to admit, what started out as a simple and silly question, turned into quite a mental exercise. I’m sure that the opportunity to test my actual reaction to this type of news will never occur (at least not in my lifetime), but still…it was an interesting insight into my own mind and motives. And I hope that if the situation ever did occur that I would be as thoughtful and caring as I think I could be (even if it’s in my own self-indulgent way – turtle pie, anyone?).

Sleep Walking

dreamer2There’s a passage in one of Stephen King’s books where he talks about how his protagonist is avoiding life by burying himself in his writing. SK goes on to say that to the protagonist, the characters in the story he is writing are more real to him than the world and people in which he actually lives. I mention that because for a while I felt as if my life was that way.

I had been burying myself in a pretense of life to the exclusion of what was important. I went into work and I busied myself with how-to guides, indices and table of contents, images and tables. I scurried to meetings, and followed agendas, and answered phones, and all the time all I was really doing was avoiding life—real life.

Oh, I can see you going, “Whoa! Wait a minute; what you described is life.” But you’re so wrong. For me life has never been about creating a physical product or object, or going to meetings so I can listen to someone worry about whether deadlines will be met, or whether we should change the template of our how-to guides. For me life has always been more about why people act the way they do, care about what they do, or say what they do.

Seeing beneath the surface of the games and dramas that people participate in has always been easy for me. So easy, in fact, that I rarely got caught up in the dramas myself—at least not for any length of time. I think this is why, when I realized what I was doing, that it hit me so hard. Here I was, going through the motions of living every day and thinking that this was what it was all about, this was living; then suddenly realizing that what I was doing was really avoiding life.

I literally became a sleep walker during the days—I came into work, did my “thing” and then went home, never recognizing that what I was doing served little purpose but to occupy my mind and keep me from actually seeing beneath the surface to my real life.

I suddenly recognized just how much people do things out of habit. We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that if we don’t have gainful employment that we’ll starve, if we have nowhere to live, we’re failures. Yet, look at how many people manage to do what they want and still get by. How many people are painting, sculpting, selling poetry, hanging out at the beach riding surfboards and just enjoying life?

There’s nothing wrong with any of those options, just as there’s nothing wrong with “working” for a living. I think everyone needs to make their own choices. It’s just for me, I finally recognized that what I was calling “working for a living: was really “hiding” from life. While I want to write, and I want to make money enough to support myself and my husband, I also needed to unbury myself from this false life and continue my search for what’s real—for me. And what’s real for me is understanding the BIG picture—who we are, what we are, and where are we going.

So, although I still work writing how-to manuals, and I still participate in “normal life”, I’m also spending much more time in the astral plane. In the astral plane I can interact with others like myself who are ready to know, who are ready to see what lies beyond. Then during the day, rather than lull myself back into a walking sleep, I study the people around me. Not in a disinterested, mad-scientist way, but rather as stranger to a unique and extraordinary world that I need to understand and figure out.

I see the world through the eyes of someone new; and, like a child, I revel in the beauty and simplicity of a raindrop, or marvel at the sound of bird’s call. I enjoy the fragrance of fresh brewed coffee, or the sight of someone laughing.

Every day is a unique and marvelous occurrence just waiting for me to experience, and experience it, I do. I no longer sleep walk through life, but instead I try to make each day something joyous and positive, even if all I am doing is going to work. Every day is a wonder, and every moment a precious gem.