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.

A Review of “Accidental Ashes”

xoe2“Accidental Ashes: or that time I found out I was a demon, and all my friends were vampires and werewolves” by Sara Roethle

Summary: Last year Xoe’s life was turned upside-down. Things haven’t improved much. With the lives of her friends at risk, Xoe forgets to worry about another life…her own. With the reappearance of a face from her very distant past, and a random string of abductions to deal with, Xoe has to fight to keep things together. Even if ‘together’ is a far cry, ahem…howl, from the norm.

Recommendation: Yes

Review:

This second book was even better than the first Xoe book. In fact, it was so good as to appear effortless (the markings of a truly wonderful story teller). The characters interacted seamlessly and I felt quite at home with them. It was like visiting with family that I hadn’t seen in a while.

Nuances of the author’s world popped up here and there, sprinkled throughout the story like confetti at a party. With each occurrence, I found myself nodding and thinking, “Of course, that’s the way [this] world works…” Her world is nearly as rich and complete as Harry Potter’s or Rachel Morgan’s (The Hollows series by Kim Harrison), and her characters were, also.

In fact, if there is anything I have to nitpick about in her book it was the way in which she handled the interplay between Xoe and her mom. In this book, Xoe needs to cope with a lot of new and (to her) surprising information about herself and her friends. She is then confronted with her long-missing father and the truth as to who he is and why he left. Xoe handles it all surprisingly well, but her mother does not. While this is understandable—after all, in real life, people handle things in various ways and with varying degrees of competency—the part I object to is Xoe offering her mother some pain medication that Xoe was given when, at the end of the first book, she broke her arm. Instead of admonishing her daughter for sharing prescription meds with others, mom says, “…sure, why not…” and takes the meds.

I find this wrong on so many levels, but two of them stand out the most. First off, what authors write does influence others. So many people read a book wherein someone admits to doing a particular action or believing in some concept, and the reader thinks, “…well, if this person does it, then it must be okay that I do, too…” The reader doesn’t always make the distinction between life and fictional characters. The fact that the author has the protagonist doing this, thinking this, or saying this, makes the reader think that it’s okay.

The second reason I found it “wrong” is that it is a weak mechanism for getting a character out of a situation that the author isn’t sure how to cope with (I know, I’ve done it, too, and I’ve taken the criticism for it). I get it, that some people don’t handle stress, confrontations, or large amounts of negative information well. But Xoe’s mom didn’t seem to be the type to avoid life by hiding behind pills, booze, or sleep. In fact, in book 1, Xoe’s mom seemed almost as much of a real go-getter as Xoe. So, for mom to suddenly seek escape from life in pills and sleep seemed a bit like the author seeking escape from having to deal with this secondary character.

However, since mom isn’t a major character, I was willing to let it go…mostly. I still worry about young adults seeing the sharing of meds as something that’s all right, though, since mom not only condoned it, but participated in it.

So, except for that one minor point, this was definitely a 4-star book. And I truly believe that C. Roethle will be the next Kim Harrison…just for a slightly younger set of readers.

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?

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.

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?

The Next Taylor Caldwell?

My Life as a PsychopompWriting a novel is a maddening, magical, and mind-bending experience. It’s a mystical journey that can take you anywhere and nowhere. It’s a journey that can go on for eons, or it can last only moments. When you’re enjoying the experience, it’s heaven; but when the characters won’t talk to you, it can be hell.

My novel began 25 years ago (yep, you read that right–I started this journey 25 years ago), while involved in some meditation classes and past life review sessions. As stated in my book Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp  (gotta get those plugs in), I have a knack for being able to read other people’s past lives from their auras; however, I could never easily read my own. But as I learned different types of meditations, I was able to bring out details of some of my own past lives.

I recorded the details and followed the path of the stories that I found. The paths led me to other people that I knew, but who had also been part of my “pasts”. So, from reading their auras I got more details and, many times, a totally different perspective on the incidents. I scribbled snippets of dialogue, I dashed out descriptions of scenes and character interactions, and I began to formulate an idea for a story to weave all these disparate bits and pieces of past life memories together.

In my naivete, I thought I might be the next Taylor Caldwell. While growing up, I had read nearly every book she ever wrote; her stories were brilliant and had felt so authentic. She knew so many details about each of the time periods she wrote about. Yet, when asked about the amount of research that she must have done to imbue each of her stories with so much realism, she denied it. She said that she just knew what was right for each story because she could see it in her mind’s eye. She claimed that most of her research was in regard to the events of the period and the placing of those events in the proper sequence.

She was a brilliant writer, and very clever. So, it seemed less than surprising to learn (years later) that her historical fictions were a combination of her past life memories and her ability to write a story. But, as I would learn, it takes more than being able to “read” auras and discern past life memories to create a story, let alone a novel. There’s a fair bit of story telling ability needed, too. Oh, and let us not forget the ability to write…a small matter that so many of today’s wanna-be-authors seem to feel is unimportant. And while I admit that spelling and grammar can be a bloody pain in the keester, they do make it so much easier on the reader.

Recognizing that I had a lot more work to do wasn’t easy. I’m not always a very patient person. All I saw was that I had the makings of some great stories; great stories that I truly felt others needed to see and share, too. However, 25 years ago was long before the age of the blog or other social media outlets. In fact, PCs were not something that everyone had, and the internet and email were barely out of their infancy. So, unless I could pull my stories into some cohesive book or collection of short stories, no one was going to see them except me (oh, and probably my hubby). And so began the greatest adventure of my life…learning to be a writer, an author, and a novelist.

books

 

What you see isn’t always what you think

What do you see in the picture shown here?

is it an angel or alien
is it an angel or alien

When I showed the picture to different friends, I got several different answers: angels, aliens, light reflecting on clouds. And whose to say that any of those answers was right or wrong?

If you asked three different people to describe something they all saw or experienced, you’d most likely get three different answers. Crazy, right?

Well, maybe it’s not as crazy as you think. After all, much of what we think we experience is based on what our minds tell us is real. And our brain’s output is based on imperfect, and often, incomplete data.

I’ve been watching a TV show lately called Brain Games. It’s all about how our brains perceive and interpret information. What I’ve discovered from viewing this show is that while we think of our brains as infallible, they aren’t…not really.

Our brains function just like those computers the CSI guys use when they enter partial fingerprints into it, and then try to get a match. Our brains take in all sorts of information through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; however, many of us rarely fully focus on the input that our body is sending us, so we don’t always get perfect data. We may only see part of what is happening around us because we’re focused on our cell phone, or on the taste of that meatball sub we’re having for lunch, or on the lyrics to our favorite song playing on our iPods. So, just like that partial finger print that the CSI computer is trying to match, our brains are trying to make sense of partial input.

Adding to the brain’s difficulty is the fact that the majority of us come with preset filters. We call these filters:  beliefs, prejudices, past experiences, fears, preconceived notions and convictions, and expectations.

Having these filters is not necessarily bad; in fact, without them we wouldn’t be who we are. However, they do skew and limit the output our brain can present to us based on the input we gave it.

So, if your filtering system (personality and thought processes) allow angels, then it’s easy to see how your brain may put together all the input you gave it and give you that answer. However, if your filtering system doesn’t go there, then you might be more inclined to receive the answer of light glare on clouds.

Neither answer is wrong, each person simply experiences a reality based on his or her information input and his or her filtered output.