It Wasn’t Halloween, But…

You know how there are some things that happen that may remind you of a related, yet unrelated other thing? I’m not being clear, am I? Well, here are a couple of examples. I’ll have my head in the refrigerator, looking for something to eat, see a bowl of grapes and up pops a memory of me and mom at the Farmers Market. Or, I’ll be driving and turn left on Stella Street and up pops a scene from the movie, “Rocky.” You remember the one where Stallone is yelling his lady love’s name? So I say all this to say that recently I was on Facebook (something I find totally overwhelming which is why I visit my page infrequently), smiling at photos of my nephew on the beach and up pops a memory of the most terrifying moment in my life. It’s close to Halloween so I thought, heck, why not share?

In 2000, I attended the Maui Writers Conference, which is one of the best writing conferences I’ve attended (and not just because of the setting although that had a lot to do with it). The hotel where I stayed sat on the edge of a cliff and the cliff eventually eroded into the Pacific. I was so delighted when I reached my room and saw that I was on the ground floor with my patio facing the ocean. Visions of early morning coffee on the patio with my laptop and/or my journal and pen danced in my head.

Well, it turned out that my schedule was so heavy with lectures, writing exercises, feedback sessions and group meetings that I didn’t experience a single lazy morning on the patio, not one, so instead I started leaving the patio doors open at night. At least that way the ocean breeze could fill my room while I slept and the sounds of nature could soothe my soul while I rested—a satisfying concession. On the fourth or fifth morning there, some primal instinct woke me a few hours before dawn and before I could open my eyes I knew I was not alone. Instant fear shrouded me, constricting me from head to toe. I could not move except to open my eyes and face the fear. Normally in the dark, the eyes need time to adjust, but not this time. I immediately saw in the corner of the room a dark form. It was not a solid form; I could see through it, but it was material enough that I could make out the shape of a fully grown man; and, its presence was commanding, powerful. I knew at every level of my being that it was EVIL, and I also knew that it was there to take me out, to end my life by snatching my soul. I was so afraid, so wrapped in fear that I could not yell out, turn on a light, or hide under the covers—any action that would protect me, as if those things could. The spiritual entity didn’t move. It stood still, posing as an ironic juxtaposition to the innocently billowing curtains behind it. Finally, my mind freed itself from fear, just enough to allow me to do one thing—cry out to Jesus. It was a feeble cry, not even articulated, simply carried out in my mind, Help me, Jesus, help me. I closed my eyes and not even a second later opened them. Evil was gone. In an instant, I was freed of its presence. In a flash, I was freed of fear. Peace settled within me and I fell back asleep.

Later that morning when the sun was fully dazzling and I sat in group lecture, I could not concentrate. Even though my heart and soul were still at peace about the encounter with evil, my mind would not release that terrifying moment. The incident from beginning to end had only lasted a few seconds yet the intensity of it forced my mind to rewind it over and over. And I could not shake the accompanying questions:  why me, why here, why now, what did the visit mean?

My time in Maui came to a close and on the long plane ride home and for months afterwards, I continued to ask why questions. Then one day while meditating and praying, answers started pouring into me. The answers did not come in audible tones but as thoughts, simple ordinary thoughts:  The Evil One had come to dissuade me from my life’s purpose–writing. It especially did not want me to write the particular book I had been working on in Maui, “Fuller’s Curse.” And, it did not want me to live because of the impact my words and works would have on others.

When the answers came, I was transformed. I experienced an awakening that led to discontent with my current profession (I resigned from my corporate career four months after the conference) and forced me to accept my call as a writer and to pursue my writing career more seriously.

The most terrifying moment of my life led me to life fulfilled and this I recall all because of my handsome nephew’s photo on Facebook. Go figure! Oh, and happy Halloween!

The Ebola Crisis

Originally posted on Pam Y. Fields:

The Ebola Crisis is a good case that shows 1) how we are all interconnected and 2) why we should care for our brothers and sisters.

1. We can pretend that we don’t know what’s going on or what’s happening to our brothers and sisters but it will eventually present itself at our doors. Our media had mentioned only a little about the Ebola crisis in Africa before it made it to the US. However, even with that little bit, we could have still rallied forth to do something to help. I’m sure there were probably some groups and organizations that tried to do something to help but by and large, the US did little to help. Some probably felt like, ‘Oh, it’s over there. What does that have to do with me?” You can keep telling yourself that only up until the moment you are faced with it directly…

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From Me to You…Happy Birthday!

On September 2-3, I celebrate my new year! …the start of another year of living and learning.

I am so excited about what the next twelve months will unwrap for me that I’ve decided to share my excitement in an unusual way. Instead of receiving birthday gifts, I plan to give gifts.

For one day only, on September 2-3,  the ebook version of “Fuller’s Curse” will be free on Amazon.

Fullers Curse Front Cover Promo

To claim your free gift, simply go to www.Amazon.com, access the ebook version of “Fuller’s Curse,” click download, then select your method of delivery. Just four steps to my birthday gift to you!

Happy birthday to me!

Restrictions: One ebook per reader. Promotion runs for one 24-hour period. Cake and ice cream not included!

Five Quotes on Reading

Recently, I read five quotes on writing by Elmore Leonard (Western and mystery writer, screenwriter, novelist, and more). They are listed below:

1. “… The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind it out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write. …”

2. “A writer has to read. Read all the time. Decide who you like then study that author’s style. Take the author’s book or story and break it down to see how he put it together.”

3. “The main thing I set out to do is tell the point of view of the antagonist as much as the good guy. And that’s the big difference between the way I write and the way most mysteries are written.”

4. “It is the most satisfying thing I can think of, to write a scene and have it come out the way I want. Or be surprised and have it come out even better than I thought.”

5. “Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.”

I think these are some of the most “spot on” descriptions/explanations of the writing process. But writing and reading go together, right? Two sides of the same coin, right? So when considering one, it’s nearly impossible not to think of the other. Right? Right. So as I considered these quotes I couldn’t stop myself from tossing reading quotes around in my head. And of course, as a writer, once it’s in the head, paper is next. So I found myself typing a short list of reading quotes. I’m not sure where I read or heard the quotes below but they well represent the readers’ side of the writing process. Give it a quick scan and tell me if you agree.

1. “Giving one’s time and attention to reading is as vital as giving one’s time and attention to thinking.”

2. “Reading a variety of genres is the equivalent of having a variety of spices in one’s pantry.”

3. “Reading is to mental growth as prayer/meditation is to spiritual growth.”

4. “A good book is near even when family and friends are not.”

5. “Reading forms bonds of friendship by unraveling the many artificial threads meant to separate.”

Aaahhhh! Reading and writing, writing and reading…gotta love ‘em!

My Bucket List

Recently, a friend posted her author bucket list–a list of things she wants to accomplish as an author/writer before she dies. Her post at FaithSimone.com inspired me to think about what I want to “check off” as an author/writer before I “check out.” I’ve always kept a list of goals as a career guide and because of that it took me a while to understand the difference between goals and a bucket list. But once I separated the two in my mind, I had a ball creating my wish or dream list.

Below is my list. What about you? Do you have a personal, career or professional bucket list? If so, feel like sharing?

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1. To have publishing credit in multiple categories/genres: children’s, screenwriting, romance, horror, etc.

2. To attend at least one of the premier literary awards ceremonies: Nobel Prize, National Book Award, Academy Awards, etc.

3. To buy a writing retreat; a private oasis where I can visit, think, dream and write.

4. To have lunch with Toni Morrison and Stephen King, individually.

5. To establish a scholarship for young African American creative writers.

6. To establish a stipend-based award for adult African American creative writers.

7. To read at least one book by the “important” novelists. (Thanks to Carol Baladywer for expanding this list.)

8. To attend an international writers retreat and/or conference.

9. To attend a major literary event in NYC, the mecca of the US publishing industry, such as the Harlem Book Fair.