Posts tagged ‘Fiction’

Sending Spirituality into a Secular World

Sunset at Santa Rosa CreekThe divide between a believer and a non-believer has never been greater in our lifetime. Faith communities are places for us to feel safe and secure among people who share our beliefs. They shelter us away from a world that takes pleasure in challenging our beliefs. What we end up with is isolated communities that separate us from the world we are commissioned to reach out to.

So how does a non-believer full of skepticism and distrust find a way into a relationship with God when our walls of safety prevent them from finding a way in? Can there be a bridge between what is secular and what is Christian safe? In writing Life in Harmony, I hoped it would help non-believers find a way to a relationship with God. One Christian publisher told me Life in Harmony wasn’t Christian enough to be considered Christian Fiction. The book was also seen as too spiritual by traditional publishers. It was caught somewhere in the middle and that is exactly where I am glad the book is.

Christian Fiction’s audience is solely Christian and doesn’t bridge the gap between believer and non-believer. There are certain elements in Christian Fiction that are necessary to satisfy its audience. For a secular world, those elements can be perceived as being sanitized versions of reality.

Life in Harmony, while being filled with spirituality, avoids exclusionary tactics. The couple at the heart of the story demonstrates very little in the way of Christian aspects in much of the book. They are non-believers and non-Christians. They use mild profanity and God’s name is taken in vain in at least once in the book. In addition, sex plays a very important part in the book yet still within the confines of marriage.

These details were included because they are typical aspects of what occurs in our world. I wanted the book to be interesting to the most people possible. When editing the book, we looked for the balance to be as non-offensive to the widest number of people as possible. In making those decisions, wording for religious discussions in the book were specifically selected to be as non-threatening to denominational differences and non-believers as possible.

What I wanted the reader to focus on is the imperfection of the main characters. Kate and Michael are filled with lacking self-worth, skepticism, they frequently argue and show some very unflattering characteristics. I wanted the two of them to feel real and to do that they needed to sound real, talk about real things and do things that real people do. Things that Christian Publishers didn’t think matched what their audience was looking for.

I believe Life in Harmony encourages non-believers to a spiritual life. The book, I hope, demonstrates a God-filled story without hitting the reader over the head with religion. My goal with it is to send spirituality into a secular world and hopefully show a path to God in a non-judgment, non-threatening way.

If you have an avid reader in your life who hasn’t found a relationship with God in their life yet, I encourage you to share Life in Harmony with them.


LIH Cover 2015

Living in the smallest of towns with an array of hippies, farmers and artists, who are as different as they are close, can be taxing enough without the realization that some of Harmony’s residents may not be what they appear. When Michael and Kate uproot their lives in LA after a miscarriage and move to Harmony, CA (Population 18), they had no idea they’d be sharing their home with a spiritual apparition of a four-year-old girl named Ruby. “Life in Harmony” entertains the thought that the trials we face happen for a reason, and sometimes it takes supernatural intervention for us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Life in Harmony is available now from Pangloss Sea. Click one of the links below to purchase the book today!

Amazon Print Edition

Amazon Digital Edition

 


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Being In-Spirit…Being Inspired

Dr. Wayne Dyer said that inspiration comes when we move back in-spirit with a power greater than ourselves. When we let our EGO dictate our life, we Edge God Out and fall out of being in-spirit. Being in-spirit is a significant theme of my novel, Life in Harmony. The theme plays out in the central couple’s return to a more natural setting (God is represented in nature). The theme of being in-spirit is also represented as Kate opens up her acceptance of being one with a heavenly spirit.

When I first began developing the story, it was going to be nothing more than a ghost story but then inspiration took hold of the story and it went further down a path of spirituality than I had originally intended.

I had always been drawn to stories that included God’s use of the supernatural to make his point. The bible is full of God’s direct intervention in the lives of common people. It was an angel that visited both Mary and Joseph separately and told of the baby she was to bear. When you look at the story of Christ’s birth alone, it is filled will God’s divining hand in ensuring things happened as intended. From the use of angels to the wise men, God guided the course of Mary and Joseph’s life in the opening of the gospel story.

Boo RadleyTo Kill A Mockingbird, Shoeless Joe Jackson/Field of Dreams and the movie Grand Canyon are favorites of mine because they dance very close to a divine force watching over us, guiding us, toward a greater goal. Being in-spirit comes in many forms in these titles and it reminds us that God is at work and uses whatever means possible to ensure his “plot” is followed. Whether it’s a stranger on the street or homeless man in Grand Canyon, the angelic Boo Radley in Mockingbird or J.D. Salinger in Shoeless Joe Jackson (character was renamed in Field of Dreams), we are reminded that God works out the details of inspiration in whatever manner necessary.

In Life in Harmony, our main characters, Kate and Michael, are at a crossroads and inspiration gathers like a rolling stone in the beginning of the book. A hand rubbing a back inspires an agreement for a trip. The open road with seemingly endless possibilities leads to a turn off that changes the course of events (pay attention to how the roads in the book come to dead ends and how that plays a part in the journey).

Inspiration comes from our willingness to be joined with a greater power than ourselves. My inspiration to this philosophy came from Dr. Dyer and in my appreciation for use of supernatural elements in the books and movies I mentioned above. Life in Harmony shows what life out of inspiration (not being in-spirit) and in spirit is like.

The term supernatural these days takes on a non-spiritual element and is more aligned with scary elements related commonly to ghosts (another word with more negative connotations than it should have…will save my thoughts on that for later). Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines supernatural as being unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature; relating to… a God.

Being inspired literally means being aroused or imbued with the spirit to do something, by supernatural or divine influence. Life in Harmony is a story inspired by and about being in-spirit with something greater than ourselves.LIH Cover 2015

If you haven’t picked up my novel, Life in Harmony, yet please buy it today (click here for more info).  If you have read it, let me know what you thought. I hope you find it inspiring. Dyer Book

An additional resource for inspiration is the Dr. Wayne Dyer book Inspiration: Your Ultimate Call. I was saddened by his death earlier this year as his books and lectures changed my focus in life. I will always be grateful for his inspiring me to get back to what my Spirit wanted from me – to write.

 

Buy the Book!

Today is the day! My novel, Life in Harmony, is finally available! You can order a copy by clicking one of these links:

For those of you not familiar with the book’s story, the book is one woman’s spiritual journey as she copes with loss in her life. She is at a point in her life where she has to cope with the death of her mother and a miscarriage at the same time. On top of that she is debating whether staying with her husband is the best choice for her. In short, she is lost.LIH Cover 2015

Too many people are often unsure about the direction of their life and can’t seem to find what matters. In our modern age, religion has less of a focus for too many. Too often parents decide that God and religion aren’t important. Some even go so far to say they will let their children decide on religion when they are old enough to do so. For most, religion has become a politicized and complicated subject. Often our churches don’t make it any easier on those non-practicing.

An individual relation with God is isn’t really  as complicated as religion makes it. In fact, it is what’s missing from too many lives. When you don’t believe in a Creator/God who has a masterful plan, you are left without hope. Without hope there is a void in your life that too often gets filled with vices that thinly veil that void but for only short time.

Life in Harmony tells Kate’s special story. Sometimes God uses supernatural intervention to bring his lost sheep back to the flock.  This book takes a very soft approach toward bringing people closer to God without hitting them over the head with it. It is my hope that the book’s non-threatening approach to God through spirituality will open some hearts toward having God in their life and how that connection brings a new awareness to what life is really all about.

When life seems to be handing you nothing but loss, take the most unexpected turn to “Life in Harmony.” 

I hope you will do me the honor of buying Life in Harmony today. I think you will find it a good story with a great message. Perhaps you could buy a copy for a friend who is missing out on having God in their life.

I plan on spending the next 10 weeks doing a Blog Blitz here covering themes and ideas presented in the book. Subscribe at the top right to stay informed as I share my insight from the book.

The Albatross Necktie

Close-up of Claucasian mid-adult man straightening necktie.I know it’s been two years and just when you think I’ve given it all up… I’m back!

The truth is this has been a long time in coming. Raising a family leads to making decisions that you insist you would never have to make, but do because what you want rides secondary to what responsibility holds. All during the past two years, I have had the publication of “Life in Harmony” hanging around my neck like an albatross necktie. I know that term is incredibly negative and in reality it’s not entirely the way it sounds. Has it been choking me with reminders of what should be? Absolutely! Sometimes we need those gnawing reminders to eat at us so we don’t forget about what lies deep inside us still yearning to get out.

Certainly, the daily grind of life and responsibility can weigh us down. It detracts you from affording the mental capacity of personal goals. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children and wouldn’t change my life with them for anything. No one tells you in person or in any parenting books the level of sacrifices you will make to show your children love. With them as my priority, most of my writing efforts in the last two years have been dedicated what has become known in our house as the annual “Summer Binders” (Books that guide my boys through their summer months in productive ways …more on that at another date).

The truth is I wouldn’t allow myself to work on anything else because of that albatross I wore as a reminder of something left unfinished. I knew what I needed to do to get “Life in Harmony” to publication but didn’t have the time or mental capacity to see it through except on vacations from the Monday-Friday, bill-paying job. And while sparks of creativity would tempt me into writing something else, I refused out of guilt. I needed to see this through to the end first. So I wore “Life in Harmony” around my neck not doing much else with writing because if there was time to write, it should be used to get the book into print.

So slowly but surely I built the bridge to this very personal goal one stone at a time. Finally, the bridge looks LIH Cover 2015complete and the necktie is coming off. “Life in Harmony” is finally ready for its close-up.

What has emerged is a good story that I hope others will enjoy. In working with my new incarnation through Pangloss Sea Books, “Life in Harmony” will hopefully be a new start for a new way of publishing and marketing books. The book will enjoy a soft release this holiday season. A soft release is a slow release where we can hopefully build an audience for an eventual larger release sometime next year.

For the few of you who are reading this I thank you. You can expect more consistent posts in the next few weeks. That necktie is now cast off and I am ready for what comes next. Look for this blog to take a strong turn toward positive story-telling with a new emphasis on “Stories that Inspire!”

“Life in Harmony” Preview

Life in HarmonyPreview time! I’m excited to present the book design for my novel, Life in Harmony.

The cover design is a digital painting of the actual town of Harmony, California  where the story takes place. The imagery is taken straight from the town’s description in the book:

Kate watched as the insignificant town came into view. Its row of buildings, white clusters against the green of the surrounding grass, reminded her of tiny bird eggs huddled together in a nest against the elements.

This idea of a nest of pure white eggs nestled in the safety of a green nest is meant to convey that Harmony is a safe haven for those willing to slow down and notice its existence. 

As I continue on my journey of publishing Life in Harmony, I will update you on the progress and share details of the story here. Hope you enjoyed this first peek!

Inspirational Quotes from My Book List

In preparing my aesthetic statement for my master thesis, I had to pull together the works of literature (and elsewhere) that have inspired me to be the writer I am becoming. In pulling together a book list and some quotes, I came up with more than I needed. Here are some quotes from books I just loved and had to share. So indulge me…

Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, has had a profound effect on me in the last six years. Dyer talks at length about how getting inspired means being in-Spirit with your Source. Here are a couple of great quotes that didn’t make it into my edited essay.

There’s a voice in the universe entreating us to remember our purpose, our reason for being here now in this world of impermanence. The voice whispers, shouts, and sings to us that this experience – of being in form in space and time – has meaning. That voice belongs to inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.

Before merging into form, we were a part of God, with all the inherent qualities of a Creator who sends forth abundance, creativity, love, peace, joy, and well-being.

The movie and screenplay for Stranger than Fiction is for me a work of art. In the screenwriter, Zach Helm uses vocabulary and words in a vastly creative outlet. On top of that, is this strange story of a writer who can’t find her inspiration and an IRS agent who can’t find his. Here are some of the greats from the screenplay:

Harold Crick: I brought you flours. 
Ana Pascal: [seeing the sweetness of the gesture, then realizing he’s carried 10 bags of flours] Um… and you carried them all the way here?
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, I’ve been odd, and I, I know I’ve been odd, and… I want you.
Ana Pascal: What?
Harold Crick: There are many reasons, there are so many influences in my life, that are telling me, at times, quite literally, that I should come here and bring you these, but I’m doing this because I want you. 

*****

Kay Eiffel: Because it’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he’s about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn’t that the type of man who you want to keep alive? 

*****

Kay Eiffel: As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick. 

Nick Hornby’s About a Boy follows much of the same themes as Stranger than Fiction. Hornby uses humor in tragic tales much the way a later author on this list does. About a Boy remains my favorite Hornby book. Here are a couple of highlights from the book:

Loving people, and allowing yourself to be loved, was only worth the risk if the odds were in your favor, but they quite clearly weren’t. There were about seventy-nine squillion people in the world, and if you were very lucky, you would end up being loved by fifteen or twenty of them. So how smart did you have to be to work out that it just wasn’t worth the risk?

No man is an island…

But all three of them had to lose things in order to gain other things. Will had lost his shell and his cool and his distance, and he felt scared and vulnerable, but he got to be with Rachel; and Fiona had lost a big chunk of Marcus, and she got to stay away from the casualty ward; and Marcus had lost himself, and got to walk home from school with his shoes on.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It really stayed with me long after reading it (Click here to read more about my opinion of the book).  While you have to read it to really appreciate its effect, here are some of the best quotes:

A lost corner. That’s what she called it, and that was what started it. Because at Hailsham, we had our own “Lost Corner” up on the third floor, where the lost property was kept; if you lost or found anything, that’s where you went. Someone – I can’t remember who it was – claimed after the lesson that what Miss Emily had said was that Norfolk was England’s “lost corner,” where all the lost property found in the country ended up. Somehow this idea caught on and soon had become accepted fact virtually throughout our entire year.

I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.

When we lost something precious, and we’d looked and looked and still couldn’t find it, then we didn’t have to be completely heartbroken. We still had that last bit of comfort, thinking one day, when we grow up, and we were free to travel around the country, we would always go and find it in Norfolk…And that’s why years and years later, that day Tommy and I found another copy of that lost tape of mine in a town on the Norfolk coast, we didn’t just think it pretty funny; we both felt deep down some tug, some old wish to believe again in something that was once close to our hearts. 

Another one of my favorites is also by Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment. 

As I say, I have never in all these years thought of the matter in quite this way; but then it is perhaps in the nature of coming away on a trip such as this that one is prompted towards such surprising new perspectives on topics one imagined one had long ago thought thoroughly.

He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lorship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?

Anne Tyler has been a long-time favorite. My favorite of hers remains The Accidental Tourist. Like Hornby,Tyler takes quirky characters in the midst of tragedy and adds that small dash of humor and hope. Two of my favorite moments in the book involveMacon’s willingness to accept the new people in his life. In the end, he leaves behind his old life and self for Muriel and much earlier in the book he accepts her son, Alexander, after seeing him being bullied on the walk home from school. The book boils down to this one great quote:

I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you’re with them. 

Lastly, we come to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s opus to the life and the sea, Gift from the Sea. Second only to the bible for me, this book shapes and reshapes my view of self, the world and country. It is a great collection. Here is a limited (I really tried) collection of treasures from this book:

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable. 

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity…The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides. 

This is what one thirsts for, I realize, after the smallness of the day, of work, of details, of intimacy – even of communication, one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide. 

This last one by Lindbergh opens Life in Harmony.

Simplicity of living, as much as possible, to retain a true awareness of life. Balance of physical, intellectual, and spiritual life. Work without pressure. Space for significance and beauty. Time for solitude and sharing. Closeness to nature to strengthen understanding and faith in the intermittency of life: life of the spirit, creative life, and the life of human relationships.

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