Read, Believe, Write!

Beth Fowler headshot

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson

Believe it!

Live it!

Beth Fowler, author of the beloved, fast-paced coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

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The Conversation – Book Review

I approach self-published books with lowered expectations. Calibrating my expectations was not necessary for “The Conversation” by Mike Gannaway, published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.

 

“The Conversation” shimmers with some of the same vibe as the classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but reaches its destination within an efficient 110 pages.

 

Diane, thirty-eight and unmarried, is on her way to Bethany Beach, Delaware. In setting up the story, Gannaway displays uncanny talent for creating interest and intrigue with sensory details and forward momentum.

 

Diane is a confident, well-read, thoughtful woman who has developed her own credo for life: Choose Freedom. Having abandoned “clubbing scene” days when she dressed her chiseled body to tantalize men, she now knows that “the key to freedom was not burning off drudgery; it was not succumbing to it in the first place.” That’s some hard-earned wisdom, wouldn’t you say?

 

Less than a quarter of the way into the book, Diane sees a man sitting on the beach. It’s nighttime. The switchblade in her pocket is insurance, of sorts. She joins the man and they begin chatting.

 

Chris is attentive, polite and asks the right questions. He lets her go on for a while, mostly about herself. Things are going swimmingly, and readers might think, “This is nice. ‘Nice’ can get boring.”

 

Diane says she reads “history, science, philosophy, religion, classic literature, poetry…anything that increases my understanding of the world and grows me in sophistication and wisdom.” She’s coming across as a smug and preachy woman.

 

With laser accuracy and timing, Chris challenges Diane.

 

Now there’s tension and an exploration of opposing worldviews about the BIG topic with which most humans grapple: Finding life’s meaning and purpose. From this point on in their conversation, the stakes are raised and Diane’s “Choose Freedom” credo begins to erode like a sandcastle under the waves of Chris’ questions and counterpoints. Chris is not harsh or cruel to Diane during this crucial conversation. He is empathetic and genuine.

 

Gannaway possesses the intuition and skills to know when to reveal information and when to withhold it until later to best serve the plot and the debate. His sense of pacing is superb. While his style is lean, it’s clear that he’s thought deeply about how to portray a woman’s spiritual journey convincingly. In this he succeeds. (I’m happy to say, Gannaway does not resort to using annoying Celestine Prophecy-esque contrivances.)

 

If you’re searching for meaning, or if like Diane, you’re sure you already know the meaning of our existence, then this book is a prime candidate for your “read now” list.  The Conversation is appropriate for truth seekers from young adult age upward.

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Article by the author of Ken’s WarWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war cover

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

“Life is Binary: The Choice to Live Love or Limitation” – book review

On one of his websites Vivbala himself asks, “Why do we need one more spiritual book?”

The author’s self-published “Life is Binary: The Choice to Live Love or Limitation” is divided into eight chapters which are further divided into subchapters. A dedication, acknowledgements and preface precede the table of contents. There is a reference section at the end. Apart from the colorful images on the cover, there are no other illustrations.

Vivbala starts with his personal awakening story, which in itself is engaging reading. Then he follows it with the insights he received.

Unlike “The Celestine Prophecy” that seems contrived, and some other books by authors who’ve made a business out of selling spirituality, “Life is Binary” is one engineer’s true story. Every writer has a voice, and it is Vivbala’s voice that helps set his book apart from others. He comes across as rational, caring, endearing, earnest and genuine. He’s a regular guy holding down a job and going to performances to watch his daughter dance.

Vivbala skillfully uses analogies and examples to explain his experience, insights and various phenomena such as synchronicity. He writes, “The best analogy I can come up with for what happened to me is the reboot of a computer. In computer systems, when the system starts to behave abnormally or at very low efficiency and there seems to be weird problems happening, the best solution is to reboot the system. A reboot kills all the processes that are running including those that are hanging and clears out the memory. It also deletes all the temporary files used by these processes. When the computer is shut down and restarted, it has a clear processor and memory. Spiritual awakening or near death experiences are nothing but the reboot of your mind and body.”

While reading “Life is Binary” I found myself nodding constantly as I was agreeing with the author’s statements, recognizing myself in his examples, appreciating nuggets of wisdom and realizing that retraining the mind is a life-long process for most of us who yearn to move beyond a limited existence.

Some of the ideas put forth, such as avoiding watching the news because it adds negativity to our lives, are easy to understand and are generally accepted in circles where mental health and well-being are the main focus. That we are immortal will be harder to grasp and believe.

In the final chapter, Vivbala reminds us that spiritual awakening does not come about by reading a book, even so, I wished there would have been more pencil-and-paper exercises to help me identify my patterns, fears, dreams and so forth and to help me apply some of his insights to my life.

Readers who notice typos will find a few, and some of the paragraphs seem mighty long.

If you’ve been reading spiritual development books for very long, you might not find many strikingly new concepts in “Life is Binary,” but that’s not a criticism whatsoever.

What is new and refreshing about this book is the being who is delivering the message and the way he delivers it.

So, why do we need one more spiritual book?

Because there might be at least one person left out there who is still sleepwalking through life. Maybe two.

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ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

“Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis: Long Trail-Short Book

Beth Fowler headshot by Beth Fowler

 

 

 

When I bought “Walking the Trail” by Jerry Ellis, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be the kind of travel memoir I would savor while reading and cherish when finished.

My hope was met.

The dreadful history of the Cherokee Trail of Tears is skillfully interwoven in “Walking the Trail.” And we learn a little about Ellis’ family back home, too.

During his walk he, of course, meets people, all of whom are broken to some degree or other, yet they remain kind and philosophical in their approaches to Ellis and life, respectively. He seems to bond with them on a soul level, even though the meetings are brief, a pattern that was cast when he was a boy. He tells us about the time this pattern was created in a passage describing a dove that would come to him when Ellis whistled. I think every human being has had a dove in his or her life, and then learned that doves aren’t forever. The passage is as pure and true as anything you could wish to read.

Readers are rewarded with gems of observation, self-revelation, lust, loss, peace, one-of-a-kind Americans and forward momentum. I was confused only twice by the absence of quotations around dialog.

Ellis wrote about his 900-mile walk in a voice that is both masculine and vulnerable. Now that I’ve finished the 256-page book, I wish the book was longer.

Walking the Trail

Visit Ellis on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/NATIVEDEFENDER

 

 

ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

Freelancing with Spirit: Part 2

When deciding if a magazine’s or website’s slant, tone and style mesh with your writing goals, read the “Editor’s Letter” for insights to their visions for their publications. Hunt for a mission statement, which can be encapsulated in a slogan on the magazine’s spine, on the cover or in a paragraph on or near the table of contents. Mission statements are usually outlined in writers’ submission guidelines and in resources such as Writer’s Market.
Check the table of contents to find out if the magazine allocates articles into regular departments. Familiarity with a magazine’s regular departments gives writers ideas for new articles and conveys the scope of the magazine’s content. Many magazine editors welcome readers’ stories while others, in submission guidelines, state the departments in which freelancer writers have the best chance of acceptance.

Take note of contributing authors’ bylines. If Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul) and authors of his caliber wrote the articles, move on. Writers lacking advanced degrees and invitations to appear on “Dr. Phil” should aim their articles at periodicals suitable for their level. Find your level. Work in it. Climb up.

And, yes, a few spiritual magazines (and editors) might seem too far-fetched. Before disregarding a magazine as a possible target, inquire about future themes. Just because last month’s issue was dedicated to alien visitations doesn’t mean an upcoming issue can’t be a down-to-earth round up of articles about coping with troubled teenagers.

A shuffle through the heap of spiritual magazines on my desk reveals that one refers to the Master, another refers to inner Reality, yet another to Source, whereas a magazine for women mentions goddess, divine self and higher self among other names for the power that is also known in some circles as the Godhead, Jesus Christ, Mother, Creator, Grandfather Spirit, Buddha…Whichever magazine a freelancer chooses to write for, it’s important to use the targeted magazine’s terminology. But don’t go against your own sacred beliefs just to sell an article.

Get a sense of reader demographics. Are readers predominantly single women, vegetarians, gay Christians, recovering substance abusers, agnostic vegetarians, middle-aged baby boomers seeking more meaningful lives?
These varied audiences pursue different lifestyles, even so, virtually all readers face similar challenges and joys in life and are, therefore, interested in reading articles about the similar, day-to-day challenges we all face.

Editors encourage hopeful contributors to relate to real people with real problems. The social merits of gossiping, meeting spiritual needs on the Internet, finding a good spa, and dealing with geriatric parents are examples of topics featured in those spiritual magazines heaped on my desk.
Successful writers of spiritual articles resist resorting to platitudes and clichés, unless they are used in a fresh, thought-provoking way. Published writers also avoid being preachy and pedantic. They strive to come across as empathetic and inspiring. They add original, heartfelt ideas to the body of thought already existing on a topic.

Researching material for a spiritual article and digging into one’s feelings sets the stage for the writer to experience a mini-epiphany – an added bonus. Furthermore, touching people’s lives positively through the written word is personally rewarding for freelance writers. Receiving checks in the mail ain’t bad either.

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(C) Beth Fowler 2014

(C) Beth Fowler 2014