Posts tagged ‘Harmony CA’

Couples in Harmony: A Contrast in Marriage

What first drew me to the town of Harmony (besides the serenity of its locale) was its population of 18. I wondered how in a state like California could there still be a town with such a fictionally small number of residents. When I began building the cast of characters that lived in Life in Harmony, I surrounded the central couple with other couples in various stages of marriage. I wanted Kate and Michael to see examples of how each marriage is different. Here’s a rundown of the other couples of Harmony and the role they play in the story.

Beck and Lucy

Beck and Lucy are the mature couple who run the Acadia Inn (Acadia is derived from the Greek word for idyllic place/harmony with nature). They are an example what love looks like after years of marriage. They certainly argue but at the heart of their relationship is love. From Beck’s calling Lucy “a pretty little thing” as she is walking Established 1973away to his speech at the dinner party where he tells everyone that if his wife (and daughter) believes in miracles that’s all he needs. He loves her so much that her beliefs surpass his own. Beck and Lucy are also an example of a happy life after the loss of a child. In addition, they help keep things light by providing some comic relief with those private details of married life (usually geared around toilets).

Sunny and Holla

Our hippie couple reminds us the book is set in California where people freely live by their own set of rules. I wanted their kumbaya, melting-pot religious philosophy to counter what Ruth was selling. Make no mistake they are selling their lifestyle. They seem a “sunny” and happy couple whose pick-and-choose philosophy appears to work for them (on the surface).

I encourage you to look at the journey Holla is on in the book. It is a subtle story. She is quick to caution Kate about Ruth’s God but motherhood is changing her. She wants different things now that she has her son. What seemed like her path before, may not be working for her. She has doubts about her beliefs and wants there to be more to life than what Sunny is selling. She also wants reassurances that her deceased father’s life did not just end. Her story is a work in progress that comes to an understated conclusion at the end of the book. Father Tom leads those gathered in prayer and the chapter ends with As Father Tom prayed, Raye bowed her head and without thinking so did Holla.

Stan and Tess

The last couple in Harmony is one that is only together in one of the first chapters. Stan and Tess are the couple having dinner in Juanita’s that first night Kate and Michael visit Harmony. They are a punk rock couple who seem out-of-place in the peaceful setting. They argue. It is ugly. Tess walks out and we never see her again in the book.

The Harmony Chapel mentioned in the book. It sits behind the Creamery Building.

The Harmony Chapel mentioned in the book. It sits behind the Creamery Building.

Stan and Tess remind Kate of what she sees in her own faulty marriage. It was two chapters before where we see Kate and Michael fight in much the same way. Kate herself wonders if staying married is the right choice for her. Stan and Tess’s breakup signifies that all is not peaceful in Harmony. There is reality and choices to be made. Kate  wonders if like Tess she will walk out.I can tell you there is certainly more to the Stan and Tess story but the rest of it was left out of this book.

I can tell you there is certainly more to the Stan and Tess story but the rest of it was left out of this book. Life in Harmony is about Kate and Michael. It was an editorial decision that details in Stan and Tess’s story was left out entirely. I know it leaves unanswered questions in their journey and I apologize. Perhaps that is a story for another book

With these three couples, we see a marriage that works in the long run, one that ends abruptly and one that seems alright on the surface but may be beginning to crack. They are examples for us to compare the main characters’ relationship to and hopefully add richness to the story.

Small disclaimer: The residents in the novel, Life in Harmony, are all fictional characters and are not likenesses of the actual residents of Harmony. While some may share trades and locations as those in the real town of Harmony, they are works of fiction. I know the book’s website, harmonynovel.com, does a fantastic job of blurring the lines of reality and fiction but the book is and always has been a work of fiction.


 

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


If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

The House as a Metaphor

MILD SPOILER ALERT!

In the book, Life in Harmony, the settings play a significant part in the story as it unfolds. When Kate and Michael uproot their lives in LA for a new life in the small town of Harmony, the house they buy there and renovate is a metaphor for their relationship.

The house in Harmony that inspired the location of where Kate and Michael would live. The house in the book is much smaller and the descriptions vary greatly.

The house in Harmony that inspired the location of where Kate and Michael would live. The house in the book is much smaller and the descriptions vary greatly.

I love when the couple settles in to spend their first night in their new home. I am sure you can recall in your own experiences how your own first night in a new place felt. You’re a little uncomfortable as the surroundings aren’t familiar. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 7:

That first night proved to be a trying one. Michael laid the mattress down on a bed sheet that Kate used to cover the cold living room floor. The two lay there side by side looking up at the water damaged ceiling. There in the stillness of the house was a crackling sound like that of the silent interlude between songs on an old record album. They listened as the old house settled in around the two of them.

From this passage, we find similarities to where the couple is in their relationship at this moment. The couple is finding the house cold. The water-damaged ceiling above them a reminder of recent tears shed. Then there are those new sounds to remind us that we are in a new place in our life, a new chapter. That final line gives a glimpse that this couple and house are coming together. An intentional hint that this house will a play a part in describing how the journey for the couple will unfold.

The renovations of the house are detailed throughout the book to parallel the restoration the couple makes in their own lives. The first things they fix are the windows. Visible damage they want to hide from the world. Symbols that tells others there is something wrong. The new windows give an illusion that things are alright. They add warmth to the house and are a first barrier of protection against the outside world for a couple who is on the edge.

As you read through the rest of the book and follow the renovations, you will start to see the story the house is telling about the couple. Kate focuses on the kitchen, a place she felt comfort in as a child. Then there is the bathroom, where we are reminded that the necessities of life can’t be ignored. Finally, as Kate starts to put her life in better perspective, there is the living room (once messy and cluttered with moving boxes and renovation trash) and the finishing touches there that make the house come alive. Living returns to the house.

All that remains unfinished is the bedroom. By the time of the house warming party, the bedroom is nearly done but painted in a color Kate doesn’t like and without pictures on the wall. This should call back her bedroom from the house in LA that opens the book. “The blank, pale walls of their undecorated bedroom were cold and gray; colorless reminders of her recent losses.”

The "Red House" in Harmony that is used as the house that Raye lived in.

The “Red House” in Harmony that is used as the house that Raye lived in.

Reading the book, we know the couple’s intimacy issues are constantly a focus of the story. In fact, it is itself a symbol of the couple’s reconstructing their own relationship. When everything else seems fixed, at the center of the couple is this void between them in their intimate relationship. The unfinished bedrooms that bookend the story before the climax reminds us that an important part of their marriage is not fixed.

In writing the book, I paid careful attention to the details and descriptions of the house including use of color choices because I wanted the reader to be able to visualize the journey. I also included details for most of the other
locations in the book. Raye’s house is red as it’s as fiery as she is as she represents the spirit of the book. Beck and Lucy’s house is big, bright white with clean trim. It is a well-tended and settled house. Ruth’s shop almost an afterthought in town easily missed, seemingly unimportant. Locations, setting descriptions and colors play an important part in adding deeper value to the story.

If you’ve already read Life in Harmony, I’d invite you to go back through the book and pay attention to the details the setting plays in the story. If you haven’t read the book yet, I would encourage you to give it a try.


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

 


If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

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

 


If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

Humble Yourself in the Splendor of it all!

In the E.B. White book Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte spelled out the word “Humble” in her last web about Wilbur the pig. While Wilbur was becoming semi-famous, Charlotte reminded him and his onlookers that regardless of his state in life he was still a humble pig.humble-charlotte-s-web

Being humble also means “realizing your place in the grand scheme of things (life) and being humbled by the greatness of it all.” Sometimes our problems consume us so deeply that we miss the fact that our individual problems aren’t as consuming as we allow them to be. There are greater forces at work and our contributions here aren’t as significant as we may think.

In the movie Grand Canyon (1991), tow-truck driver, Simon, tells lawyer, Mack, to get himself out to the Grand Canyon. Simon (played by Danny Glover) continues, “It’s pretty, all right, but that’s not the thing of it…When you sit on the edge of that thing, you just realize what a joke we people are. What big heads we got thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much. Thinking our time here means diddly to those rocks. It’s a split second we been here, the whole lot of us. Yeah, those rocks are laughing at me, I could tell. Me and my worries, it’s real humorous to that Grand Canyon.”

grandcanyon3The movie wraps up with Simon and Mack’s families out at the Grand Canyon and, with James Newton Howard’s sweeping score, we witness the majesty of the creation of the Canyon in vivid color. It reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our lives, there is something greater at work here. Our problems don’t amount to a spec of sand in the larger picture. We are to be humbled by the greatest at work.

This idea is explored in my book, Life in HarmonyAs the book opens, Kate and Michael are at a stressful crossroads in their life as they take off for a weekend getaway. The journey of their drive from the congested Los Angeles to California’s pristine Central Coast is written as a metaphor of the cleansing we can witness when surrounded in a natural setting.

Later in the book, Kate is encouraged to go and spend some time at the beach in solitude. There is no question Kate has been through a lot with both a miscarriage and the death of her mother. Kate is needing clarity and her new friend in Harmony encourages her to seek that clarity at the beach.

“I can’t tell you all the hours I have sat and thought things over at the beach just taking in the inspiring landscape. Sunset at Santa Rosa CreekThe beach is a gift. A gift to be taken in over long periods of time. Time alone. Time to think. Time to appreciate…Go down to the beach. Go and experience it for yourself. Connect with that spirit inside yourself that is yearning to come out. There is power and peace in moving beyond our own reality to a power greater than ourselves. Go now! The beach is calling.”

We all need to  take some time to take in the splendor if for no other reason but to humble ourselves and our problems. Taking in the serenity of a natural environment like the ocean or Grand Canyon helps put our life in perspective. It should also connect us with a power that is greater than ourselves.

LIH Cover 2015If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

If you’re looking for a good book with an uplifting story, check out my novel, Life in Harmony. Click this link to buy the book!

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.

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