Posts tagged ‘Life in Harmony’

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!”

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No Matter What You Believe… You Gotta have Faith!

Faith is an interesting thing. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe to a kid or even an adult. How do you define what faith is for you? It’s not always easily put into words. Yet it’s something we use everyday. We have faith that our car will stop when we press on the brake. We have faith in our spouse that they won’t cheat. We have faith that the breeze we feel is really just the wind and not that of a spirit or vice versa.

In Life in Harmony, faith is a major theme. In the story, we get as varied of opinions on faith as we do in real life. People (based on their degrees of faith) handle situations, particularly losses, differently.  Here is how I detail the faith theme in the story:Life in Harmony

It (faith) is our choice as to whether we believe in divine intervention or simple coincidence. Not everyone believes in the miracles they witness. Those who choose faith see the circumstances all the clearer and experience a divine harmony in their relationship with God and the people in their lives.  

I think that pretty much sums up what the religious faithful gain from putting their faith in God. It’s something those against religion don’t have going for them.

What are your views on faith? Have you ever thought about the similarities between your faith in science and a faith in religion? Share your comments below.

The novel, Life in Harmony, will be published in 2013. If you are interested in reading more about the forthcoming book subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive e-mail updates every time there is something to share.

Let’s Talk About Heaven…What’s it like?


As humans, we will never understand the depth of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. The bible itself talks about a multitude of people in heaven from every place, race, tribe and language. It begs the question whether heaven is for all religions or only a select few. 

In my novel, Life in Harmony, the topic of heaven and what its like is addressed in-depth. My personal view of what heaven will be like is very much represented in the book. I based my idea of heaven on my own interpretations of scripture to support my claim (something I think we all should do). 

In Harmony, Kate’s dealing with both the loss of her baby and mother. She’s struggling with losing people on opposite ends of the spectrum of her life and it’s an important dynamic. In one relationship she’s the daughter and in the other the potential mother (this dynamic is a central point in the story).

In addition to her grieving for their deaths, she struggling with understanding what death and heaven is. She’s not traditionally a religious person and in a time of loss (like so many people) she wants the comfort of knowing those she has lost are at peace. In particular, she wants to know her mother who suffered a painful, cancerous death is happy. Ruth, who runs a shop in town, describes for Kate what my interpretation of heaven is. Here’s a compressed passage from Life in Harmony:

The truth is I don’t think heaven is a physical place at all. Heaven’s not up in the sky like so many think. It’s a place of mind. It knows no boundary. I believe a soul is at peace once it arrives in heaven. It does not wander or wonder. It knows. And when we die, our soul goes to that place of peace. The soul is in harmony with the spiritual realm and all its elements. Void of time, pain and distance. It’s unlike anything we could imagine…heaven is hard for anyone to easily describe…While heaven is beyond us and it is still a part of us.

What Ruth is talking about in the end of that passage is the fact here on earth we catch glimpses of heaven. In the form of God’s majestic creation, in our soulful connections to other people and in the miracles He brings to our lives.

I want the reader to understand we have human limitations to understand what God and heaven are. We can never truly know just how great heaven is. At the same time, we still have these spiritual connections to both God and paradise.

In the novel, I set the story along California’s Central Coast in the real life coastal town of Harmony, California. For me, personally, California’s Central Coast is as close to heaven as I get. It’s my “place of mind,” my little piece of heaven here on earth.

I believe heaven will be different for everyone. What I see and experience will be different from what you will experience. I will find a beach more perfect that can be found here on earth. For a glimpse of the Central Coast and my view of heaven, I’ve included a photo by Dagmar Collins from Flickr.com of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse on the Central Coast. The lighthouse (and the legend I created for it in the book ) plays a significant part in the story. It’s a part of the story that reaffirms the harmony with the heavenly realm we experience here on earth and what heaven is to each of us.

What do you see when you visualize what heaven is for you? Who will be in heaven? Share your views below. Thanks for reading and sharing.

If you are interested in reading more about the forthcoming novel, Life in Harmony, subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive e-mail updates every time there is something to share.

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

In my novel, Life in Harmony, the central couple buy a small farmhouse that appears to be inhabited by the ghost of a small four-year-old girl. The question is raised through much of the book about what exactly this apparition is. In the small town of Harmony, California (population 18), the small group of residents have varied opinions on what exactly this girl and other appearances in town could be.Life in Harmony

A 2007 Fox News survey reported that nearly fifty percent of all people believe in ghosts and nearly a quarter of those believed they had actually seen one. What makes someone believe? Is seeing believing? Obviously not, if nearly half of all people believe and less than half of those have seen. Just what is it that makes people believe in things they have not seen?

In Life in Harmony, the statistics from the Fox News survey are fairly similar to those in the town in the story. There are just over a quarter of the people who have seen a spirit and about half who believe even without seeing. What’s most interesting about Life in Harmony is how the belief in a ghost or spirit works as a metaphor for our spiritual faith.

It was important for me as a writer to give those 18 residents of Harmony enough spiritual variety to demonstrate the spectrum of our world views toward spirituality, faith and belief in the unknown. Harmony has religious leaders and religious lay people represented, as well as non-believers and those who dance on the fringe of choosing to believe or not. All with various self-actualizing outcomes.

In my story, the ghost is presented positively and not at all in the horror genre. What if the ghost you saw were an angelic, spiritual one? How would that change things for you? Those of us who believe in spiritual things understand there are both holy and evil spirits that dwell in the world. In Life in Harmony, the focus is on the holy ghosts. There are those moments in our lives, even in nature, where reality defies logic. 

Anyone who has ever seen ocean phosphorescence understands something phenomenal isn’t always easily

explained. While this type of phenomenon has scientific explanations, those who have witnesses it, understand how unreasonably powerful the sight of it can be. It doesn’t seem logical for us to see glowing greens and blue in the night surf and yet we’re seeing it. The world is surrounded by scientific logic and yet there are things that defy common logic all the time. We live in harmony with both our natural world and the people around us as well as in harmony with the spiritual realm.

What do you believe? Do you believe in ghosts? What about spiritual or holy ghosts? What proof do you have to support your beliefs? Share your comments below. Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in reading more about the forthcoming novel, Life in Harmony, subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive e-mail updates every time there is something to share.

“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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