Feeling the Love

rainbow cloud

I woke up this morning feeling loved. This is a first for me. This was not romantic love. It was the unconditional, high vibrational, powerful, creational kind of love which I can only qualify as Divine. Yep, with a capital “D” – this love was God-sent. I was barely rising into consciousness from a restful night’s sleep when I felt this powerful force vibrating in my heart. I was filled with love . . . and it was all for me. I had to do nothing, simply open and receive.

My first thoughts were – “Where was this coming from?”; “Was someone actually praying for me?”; “Was this heaven-sent from one of my deceased loved ones?”; “Was God answering my lonely prayer?”; “Was this a gift of pure heavenly grace?”; “How long will this last and how do I pass this love on to others?”; “Can I wake up every morning to this awesome state of love?”.

As to the source, of course there’s no way I can walk around asking people if they prayed for me. I accept the gift in faith, no questions asked, no strings attached. It’s my job to pass it along in the same manner. Unconditionally. Through my smile, my words, my actions, my presence. And through the stories that I love to write. Can I keep this intense feeling of love? I intend to. All day I’ve been checking back to the feeling I had this morning, and the love is still there in my heart. Vibrating. Pulsing. Energizing my blood with each beat of my heart. How different would the world be if everyone woke up each day to this love?

As a writer of Young Adult fiction, this makes me ponder – aren’t many story plots about love or the lack thereof? At the core of a plot, did the protagonist feel loved or not – including self-love or loathing? Self-loathing can lead to a string of bad deeds made by a character who is looking for love in all of the wrong places. In my novel, Rebels from Olympus, Justus battles with the lack of attention from his mother, only to find out later in the story why she struggled with her capacity to show Justus her love. Justus and his sister, Rosa, work through the tension of the see-saw kind of love siblings have in winning over the attention of their mother. Rosa wins most of the time.

I have been missing my deceased parents so much lately. It’s true. No one will love you ever again the same way – unconditionally as a parent does. I realize that some people never experience this type of love from a parent whether they be orphaned or born to parents incapable of loving their children that way. I was lucky. I knew my parents love for me. Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and son, and I know they love me. There’s a certain quality of love that I miss. What I felt this morning was like the love from my parents, but so much more. The love from my Creator.

The photo above was taken by my husband a few years back when we were swimming at a local pool. It’s a waterfall rainbow pouring God’s love down to us all. See the dove-cloud flying above the waterfall?

This day, and every day, I pray that you, Dear Reader, feel loved. And then, pass it on.

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. He gets his first kiss with the secret love of his life. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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Art – a Rebellious Act

imageMismatched shoes? Who does that?

Lady Gaga does. She’s such a rebel when it comes to fashion. And her music. And just about everything else she takes on – from causes to tributes.

When you have confidence in yourself and the statement you want to make to the world, why not be outrageous? Wear patriotic mismatched shoes, red glitter eye shadow, blue glitter nail polish and a red glitter suit. It’s the art of being yourself, which can be an act of rebellion. Why not press the buttons of society’s fashionistas and make them scream.

Justus Appleyard, the teen protagonist in my Young Adult novel, Rebels from Olympus, creates and draws his own comic book series, Captain Fortis. His fearless superhero battles local environmental criminals who pollute and pillage the land. His major archvillain is a three-headed monster called the B.U.G., who looks almost too similar to a band of three bullies he deals daily with in school. Yeah, he uses his art to process the conflicts in his life – in true rebel style.

His younger, thirteen year-old sister, Rosa, is a precocious fashion designer. She has an invisible friend, Mini, who began teaching her how to design and sew unusual fashions since she was four years old. Luckily, their mother supports Rosa and indulges her creative spark.

Rosa has the drive to take her ideas from her surroundings and make them her own in designs that are her unique translations of how she interprets her experiences. At the beginning of the novel, we first meet her in the Appleyard’s living room, wearing one of the couch’s pillows on her head, which she had re-interpreted and fashioned  into a hat. It was a fashion fail, but she keeps striving throughout the story to take her world and manipulate it into her own rebellious way of seeing it . . . and wearing it.

Being original in your own thinking and brining it out into the world through a rebellious act of art is transformative. For you, and the world around you. You can alter the way people think when they experience your creation: a pretty dress; a thought-altering comic book; a video game that’s different from the norm; a healthy meal you’ve cooked; a poem; a newly-invented contact game. It’s endless.

I dare you to create daily. Being a rebel is you being uniquely you.

 

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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Dolphin Magic

dolphins in waves

Do you believe in magic?

According to my dictionary app, magic is the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.

In that case, ferocious prayer could possibly be a form of magic.

Let me go back to a beautiful August day on the South Jersey Shore. I knew the time was drawing near when my first Young Adult novel was on its way to being published, more than likely self-published. It was close to ready. But . . . was I ready? I knew that the other side to self-publishing was the whole marketing piece. At some point, I would be making some type of public appearance: book signings, author talks, interviews, etc. Even the thought of the traditional author book cover photo made me shake in my sandals.

The problem? I was overweight. An issue I have dealt with most of my life. In fact, I was at the point where I truly felt it was impossible for me to get down to a reasonable size. I was extremely self-conscience, but diets had done nothing but increase my weight over a period of time. I know there’s the thought of “be happy with yourself no matter what” and loving yourself. Uh . . . this never worked for me.

I sat on the beach, uncomfortable in my body. I was already having some auto immune problems with muscle pain, so I had been gluten free for a year. I felt better, but still no weight loss.

My husband and I walked into the surf for a refreshing swim. I felt inspired. I began to pray. I prayed to the Great All. To the Blessed Mother, the Star of the Sea. To the spirit of the ocean, mother of all life on the earth. I prayed ferociously. Wildly. With my whole being, I laughed and prayed as I stood firm and exulted in the power of God as each wave pummeled my body. I prayed for health. I prayed for wisdom on what steps I needed to take to achieve this health. I was joyous. I leaped high and played in each wave’s swell, flinging my arms wide to the ocean.

Exhausted and humming with the power of my ferocious prayer, I collapsed on the beach blanket and fell asleep for half an hour. Shortly after awakening, I sat up to look at the ocean. I saw something directly in front of us in the surf. What was it? Three dolphins playing in the surf exactly where I had wildly prayed. I called my husband’s attention to them, to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. Yes. He saw the three dolphins, too. As many times as I’ve been to the beach, I’ve never had seen dolphins come in so close to the shore and play in the surf as it breaks on the sand.

I was awestruck. I had sent out my prayer, my plea over the vastness that is the ocean. The ocean responded with the magic of three dolphins, playing, as I had been, in the surf. Coincidence? Some would say that. But I chose to own the Great All’s reply – “message received.”

So what happened? An inner urging, that small still voice that’s so hard to hear anymore with the world’s clamor at my door. Stop eating refined sugar. Could I do this? It wasn’t until October that I vowed to eliminate all sugar from my diet.  It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And then . . . I began to lose weight. Slowly. But surely. I dropped sizes. I no longer have to buy women’s plus size fashions. I don’t weigh myself, that’s a non-issue, but I feel better. I have no target weight goal. I trust that my body will find what’s healthy for me. Even now, more than a year after I went sugar free, I’m still slowly dropping the pounds. Believe me, I’m far from thin, but in a much better place than before.

Pray. No matter your belief system or to whom you pray. All is One. It’s your conversation with the infinite universe. Even if you question your belief or have none at all. Try it. It’s simple. It will magically bring direction to your life, as the act of asking clears your thinking about what you want or help you may need.

Here’s a few lines from my Young Adult novel, Rebels from Olympus:

Rosa jumped back into the limo. “If I knew any prayers, I would say one now.”

Diana folded her hands together and said, “God, please help us now. Thank you.” She turned her head to Rosa. “There. Done”

“That was efficient.” Rosa fluttered her eyes.

 

And so it is. 

Stay alert for the answer. It may come in the most curious way and at a time you don’t expect.

 

 

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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So, what about that lightning bolt?

Aladdin_Sane_by_ViaWireshpscar1

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Release date  November 21, 2015

Let me say this at the start . . . I am not hitching my humble novel to the great star power of David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) or Alan Rickman (Severus Snape).  I am, however, intriqued by the one common thread by which we are associated – the lightning bolt.

A lightning bolt, in unscientific terms, is a heavenly event of charged particles seeking balance and manifesting on the earthly plane with a flash of light and booming sound. It can kill, injure, destroy. It can also bring a flash of inspiration. Benjamin Franklin “discovered” electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm, which eventually changed how the world was powered. The ancients perceived the lightning bolt as a weapon or message from the heavenly gods.

I have a crystal in my collection called a fulgurite. These “lightning stones” are made when a bolt of lightning strikes the sand, and the heat of the strike, some three thousand degrees, fuses the sand together to make a hollow crystal. It is literally the imprint of lightning striking the earth. Powerful stuff.

Last week was a tough one in the entertainment world. We’ve lost some influential cultural icons. On the other hand, it’s within our loss that these stars have found completion . . . a re-union with their eternal selves. When an inspired talent dies, I believe that the wisdom and passion they carried with them on their earthly journey become accessible to us. A path of magic stardust is left in their wake which we can claim. It’s there for us in the act of asking.

What would I ask of David Bowie? Freedom. To be who or however I want to be without the internal self-critism I struggle with as a woman. David strutted across the stage of life with identity du jour fervor.

Alan Rickman? Of course, I identify the most with his character of Severus Snape in Harry Potter. My request is more of a stretch here. Of the actor or the character? Of the character, my request would be that of undying passion. For the one great love of his life. Always. For me, passion for life in all ways.

The actor? Diction and the melodious timber of voice. Listening to Alan Rickman speak was like eating the creamiest butter melted on warm toast. A satisfaction I can describe in no other way.

In working on the cover design of Rebels from Olympus with my artist friend, Marygrace Antkowski, I had no idea of what the cover should look like.  She shared some drawings with me, which primed my visual pump, and, in a very symbiotic way, we came up with the cover design. I saw a big impact cover, like a comic book, as Justus, the protagonist, creates his own comics in the novel. I saw a yellow lightning bolt streaking across the cover. In my story, Jupiter used his lightning bolt to whisk aways rebellious gods who were disobeying his rules.

Last week, a soundless lightning bolt named death hit us hard – striking our hearts with loss and grief. We see our stars as immortals, cultural gods who cannot be touched by death. We mourn when they do die, but they whisper to us in our thoughts and dreams, “Carry on. All ways.”

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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Percy Jackson Doesn’t Live Here

Percy Jackson almost made me quit writing my first Young Adult novel. For about ten minutes. After a short cry. I had been dutifully working away at Rebels from Olympus for a good four years when Rick Riordan’s novel, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, was published in 2005. I read about it in the local paper, devastated that someone had beat me to it. I knew of no Young Adult novel that involved demigod children, one parent human and the other divine. Hercules and Achilles are well-known demigods. I had a good thing going. My problem. Time. I had very little time to write as much as I wanted, as much as I needed to publish the novel quickly. Someone else was going to eventually think the same thoughts.

The roles of wife, mother, daughter, employee and homemaker competed for my attention. All came before my novel in my list of priorities. Relationships are very important to me. Writing was my “thing” I did for myself in my “spare time”. I was away from the story for months sometimes. I always came back. So, someone else did come up with the demigod theme before I could finish and market my novel. You can’t patent story ideas.

I wasn’t surprised when I read about Percy Jackson. I knew that it would now be a Herculean effort to get a literary agent to consider Rebels from Olympus for publishing. I would be another copycat author. It happened when Harry Potter hit the ground running. Too many Harry Potter knock-offs flooded the market. Agents and publishers wouldn’t touch another novel about witches and wizards. Was I doomed? Should I stop writing this story that came to me in a dream back in 2000 and wouldn’t let me go? It had wiggled into my every day thoughts and made itself at home. Characters vied for my attention in unseemly moments, and I found myself taking plot notes for the novel. These characters, these people lived in my imagination and became very dear to me. I couldn’t abort them.

No. Negative thoughts were not going to bully me. I vowed not to read any of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels as they came fast and steady onto the publishing scene. I didn’t want to be influenced in any way. I pretended that Percy did not exist. It sounds mean. But I had to. Intuitively, I knew that my story was not similar to Percy Jackson in any way. Then, when I had finished my second draft of Rebels and felt I had a solid novel, I finally allowed myself to read one of Mr. Riordan’s novels. Relief. My novel is very different.

Try to tell that to the literary agents as you send out queries asking them to represent your novel to the publishing houses. Everyone is running scared in the publishing industry. Money is tight and a novel must be a sure investment. I did send out about ten query letters. Some agents turned my query down quickly. I knew why. They didn’t read any further once they saw the word – demigod.

I kept a cool head. I knew self-publishing was in my future. My book was going into print one way or another. From dream to published novel, it has been a fifteen-year journey. Writing this novel has been a salvation for me, carrying me over the rough waters of family illnesses, deaths, job losses and the wear and tear of daily life . . . and its joys. Now it’s my turn to carry my book out into the world. Rebels from Olympus is my offering of encouragement to today’s youth to be the best version of themselves.

 

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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The Zephyr’s Greeting

image

The end of this week brought the first chilly weather we’ve had in Pittsburgh. Yesterday was grey and somber with the temperature in the 50’s and an occasional spit of rain. It was the kind of day where you rushed from car to work to car to home. I’m just not ready for winter’s approaching bite, and I miss spending my evening’s outside already.

Craving fresh air before I went to bed, I opened the front door to our house. Within seconds, I heard a stir of wind rouse the dry weeds in the empty lot across the street. How odd – it had not been a windy day. Then the breath of wind crossed our street and gently puffed at me. I felt a greeting in the air as it moved around me. The brief zephyr passed, and the neighborhood fell silent again. My spirits were uplifted as I closed our door to the chilled autumn night.

How Nature, God’s creation, yearns to commune with us. Pay attention and respond back.

 

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
store.bookbaby.com

 

The Cardinal – Robin’s Autumn Replacement

Cardinal-Norther, male IMG_0048b

I so miss hearing the robin’s morning song. From early spring through just about mid-summer, I looked forward to rising out of bed to the sound of their musical accompaniment. Vitality. Joy. Here. Now. Their music added the necessary spice to the start of my day as a reminder to savor the moment.

The mornings have been so quiet all of August and half-way through September. This brings its own sort of somber, reflective peace as summer winds down. Yet I still yearned for the robin’s song.

A couple weeks ago, the heartfelt, varied song of a cardinal woke me up. I find its song a bit more musical than a robin’s with its change in rhythm and notes. It was a sweet surprise. That evening, while I was lounging in the backyard with my husband, I heard the gentle “chip, chip” of a cardinal as it settled in the apple tree for the night. This is the same apple tree that a mated pair of cardinals have raised a couple broods each summer for the past several years. This particular cardinal seems to be flying solo.

A pattern evolved. Every evening, the cardinal comes to roost in the apple tree to the sound of its sweet “chip, chip”. Then each morning, as the sky just begins to lighten, this little bird breaks out into full song. What a joyful treat that lifts my heart! When you live in the city, every manifestation of nature is magnified and becomes an event.

Where did this bird come from? I think it may have hatched in the apple tree from one of this past summer’s broods, that’s why it has no mate. This morning it was pecking around in the yard with the sparrows. I can tell it’s young by its smallness.

I thanked it profusely for satisfying my heart’s desire for a morning song. By the way, this is the same apple tree that’s growing fruit on its one branch this fall. See previous post.

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
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Touched by Juno?

Apple blossoms, 9/2/15
Apple blossoms, 9/2/15

Can an apple tree blossom and then bear fruit at the very end of summer as the sun’s rays weaken daily? That’s what has happened to the one apple tree in my small backyard in the city. This small miracle has touched only one branch on the tree.

What thoughts come to my mind? Certainly the saying “late bloomer”. That describes what I am, especially in light of finally publishing my first novel when it has been my dream to be a writer since I was eight. Here I am, fifty years later. I’ll take the apples as a good omen.

Baby apples, 9/20/15
Baby apples, 9/20/15

My son’s girlfriend, Kaitlyn, handed me another clue. When I was talking about this strange anomoly of the apples, she commented, “Maybe Juno touched the branch.” I was astounded. In my Young Adult novel, Rebels from Olympus, which is in the final stages of being self-published, the Roman goddess Juno, loosely disguised as June in the story, walks by an almost-dead ficus tree, commands it to perk up and then touches a withering leaf. The main character, Justus, within minutes, notices that the tree has miraculously flourished into a state of perfect health.

Was this tree touched by Juno? I would like to believe in the possibility. Even the leaves around the young apples are new and vital. Will there be mature apples at Christmas? Highly unlikely. I’m sure the first frost will kill them off.  It is intriguing to consider how the symbolism of the apple tree has been linked to Jesus in some folklore. There’s also a Christmas carol titled, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. I may listen to that carol often this Yuletide.

ADDENDUM, 12/12/15

I cut the apple-bearing branch from the tree the other day before the apples shrivel once our area does get hit with frigid weather. I placed the branch on my mantel with one of my nativity sets. The green of the apples is quite alive and fluorescent!

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Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. He gets his first kiss with the secret love of his life. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
store.bookbaby.com

 

Surprise!

rose

The divine surprised me. As I was cleaning up my garden last autumn, I grumbled about the growing darker days, the cold, long winter ahead, the end to a summer which I did not enjoy as much due to too many rainy days. I walked over to my Peace rose to check out what was literally the last rose of the summer growing season. I was dumbfounded. There was a blooming heart in the center of the rose. My poor words cannot convey the grace I felt in that moment. The image of that rose has carried me through the darkness of winter like few other things could. The divine is always responding to us. Look for it. Be open.

 

 

Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. He gets his first kiss with the secret love of his life. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.

Identity can be a killer in this Young Adult fantasy thriller. Destiny calls.…
store.bookbaby.com