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Random Musings

A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale Eight days ago my computer transformed into one humongous bug. What had it eaten? A new food called Windows 10. Windows 10 was free! It had all sorts of neat new options. What was not to like? I took the bait and Windows 10 took care of the rest. It trashed the contents of  Read More 
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Book Review: A Very Fine House

I've just finished reading a Very Fine House, reliving the years I spent in such a house with my daughter. If you've loved and anguished over a beloved child's struggle with abuse and addiction, you've lived in such a house. This house was built with love, then rocked to its foundation and shaken so mightily it's a wonder a foundation was left on which to rebuild. This is Stoefen's gift to readers, the reality that what seems lost can be recovered. Stoefen enjoyed an unusually close relationship with her daughter Annie, who shared everything with her mother until the day she stopped sharing. The signs were subtle at first, small emotional and psychological issues that gradually transformed a beautiful child into an insecure and uncertain young woman. While many of us saw this happen to our own children at a much younger age, Annie's descent into full-blown meth addiction until she'd reached college age. Like most of us, we struggled mightily to rescue our children from the darkness we saw engulfing them -- desperate fight we are bound to lose if we think it is up to us to save them. Beaten down by the rapid disintegration of her daughter's life, Stoefen was forced to let go until Annie turned to her for help. While I'm filled with admiration for Stoefen's wonderful narrative, for the expensive treatment program she managed to obtain for Annie in lieu of jail time, and for her supportive love of Annie as she fought to pull her life back together, it's Annie who made it happen. This young woman's struggle to emerge ached through my heart and fills me with joy. Read More 
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The Scent of God on Kindle Free 4/24-25

Once again, I am able to offer the Kindle Version of The Scent of God FREE. From April 24 through April 25. Please feel free to pass this information on to persons who might be interested. Thank you. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JLG3YNE
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The perfect Valentine's Day Gift

Free tomorrow, February 12 through Valentine's Day, the kindle edition of The Scent of God. click here: http://tinyurl.com/lch4kao. "An exalted and terrifying examination of what it means to love with your whole heart." --Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder, This is the story of a Happy Marriage
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Scent of God on Sale at $1.99 for 7 days

The Scent of God (kindle) will be available for $ 1.99 (list $7.99) — part of a 7-day countdown sale during which the price will remain $1.99. Don’t forget that books make great gifts. This sale will enable you to get that last minute Christmas gifts for your loved ones and friends at a greatly reduced price. Have blessed holiday and peaceful New Year. Travel safely, avoid too much eggnog, savor your favorite foods and delight in shared friendship. Thanks for your support of this book and ongoing encouragement.  Read More 
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An Explanation of the spiritual term Kenosis

For those of you who have asked for a further explanation of Kenosis, these reflections from the Director of the House of Prayer -- the Rev. Ward Bauman -- will elucidate. A reflection from the Kenosis retreat, 2013: "True knowledge of God is that which is known by unknowing." (Cloud of Unknowing) One of the primary practices of all spiritual work is detachment, the learned behavior of "letting go" and not clinging. This is primarily true of wisdom, that is, spiritual knowledge. The great paradox is that we cannot find it by grasping it. In other words, going to another conference, reading another book, or hearing another teaching will not ultimately be the knowledge that we seek and need. This is perhaps one of the hardest lessons of the spiritual life. We in the West do not get it. It is so antithetical to everything we’ve learned. But this is core to coming to spiritual truth. It also points to the heart of our spiritual malady, pride. True wisdom comes only through true humility. Here the crack in our armory creates an entrance for the divine light. Jesus said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This is the beginning and foundation to all spiritual work. The Chinese philosopher, Chuang-tzu said: Consider a window; it is just a hole in the wall, but because of it the whole room is filled with light. Thus, when the mind is open and free of its own thoughts, life unfolds effortlessly, and the whole world is filled with light. (The Second Book of the Tao, Stephen Mitchell) When our hearts are open and free of constructs, we become channels for spiritual light. When we are unburdened with cumbersome and restricting ideas, something new can emerge. When we are emptied of self-focus, we can begin to see the bigger picture. This, then, becomes the practice of prayer; in self-emptying we become free and receptive for "true knowledge." Read More 
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The House of Prayer and a Kenosis Retreat

”Pilgrims are persons in motion – passing through territories not their own – seeking something we might call completion (or perhaps the word “clarity’ will do as well), a goal to which only the spirit’s compass points the way.” -- Richard Niebuhr I've just returned from a territory not my own:. A Kenosis (or self-emptying) retreat at the Episcopal House of Prayer on St. John’s University campus in Collegeville, MN. The House of Prayer is an exquisite retreat house of wood and stone, with Gothic windows, quiet spaces, an oratory with a soaring tiered scallop of panels reaching toward the light. There were twelve retreatants and a retreat master--the Director of the House of Prayer: gentle, erudite, and compassionate Reverend Ward Bauman, who with his brother Lynn Bauman and Cynthia Bourgeault worked to translate The Luminous Gospels: Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and Philip. Bauman is also the author of Sacred Food for Soulful Living, a cookbook of recipes from the House of Prayer kitchen who, besides guiding us and leading all the meditation sessions, also prepared our every meal which was the most delicious vegetarian food I've ever eaten. I entered the retreat, determined that I was going to “make it” this time. I’d empty myself and travel into the fullness of God’s presence. So intent was I on making this retreat the “retreat of all retreats” that I got caught up in trying to force self-emptying even though I knew that all meditation requires is the willingness to participate. . . that the action is God’s. Confronted with myself as full of myself, I was miserable. Perhaps I wasn't meant to achieve divine union, I thought, but if this was so, why the more than 50 years of yearning and search for this grace? Why the desire if God did not mean than I take this journey? There’s nothing quite like smashing into oneself. It’s a humbling and grace-filled encounter with darkness which brought me to the point where all I could do was accept where I was at and be grateful I was anywhere at all. It wasn't until the final two days of this intense silent retreat that I found myself willing to be where I was, as I was, and in that acceptance I fell into God. For a time, at least. As Niebuhr says, Pilgrims are persons in motion, seeking a completion to which only the spirit’s compass points the way. The spirit is always at work even when we’re off track, leading us gently back to where we belong. Read More 
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Aaron Paul Lazar shares his Next Big Thing

Update: March 19, 2013. Aaron Lazar's Next Big Thing Aaron Lazar is one of the most prolific authors I know, which is why I'm so pleased to feature Aaron’s Next Big Thing Interview . I met Aaron on Gather.com, a wonderful and diverse online community of writers, six or seven years ago. Since then I have watched in amazement as Aaron delivers one intriguing, suspense-laden yet heart-warming mystery after another. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? You'll have to read Aaron's work to discover what I mean. The LeGarde Mysteries Series, Moore Mysteries Series, and Tall Pine Series -- each featuring different protagonists -- propel readers through the Genesee Valley, Adirondack Mountains, and even Paris, the city of lights. His latest book, For Keeps, features family doctor Sam Moore who wants nothing more than a quiet life with his wife yet is drawn constantly into one mystery after another. Please do check out Aaron’s Next Big Thing Blog and his Author’s Website Read More 
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Hard Magic: John Caruso's Next Big Thing

What joy it gives me to feature writers whose work I admire as I promised last week, Do visit John Caruso's blog, and his Next Big Thing interview. I tagged John for this blog-hopping as he is a brilliant writer and I'd like him to receive the exposure he so well deserves. John recently published his second book, Hard Magic, which I've just begun reading and find myself totally, inexorably engrossed in the magical, mysterious world he so vividly portrays. Read More 
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Beryl talks about her upcoming book.

FROM THE AUTHOR Do you find the term “tagging” confusing? I do. Most often you've probably been “tagged” in a photo or a post, yet you fail to find yourself either in the photo or in the post. Thanks to my dear friend Christin Lore Weber, I've now experienced a form of “tagging” that does make sense. It’s called The Next Big Thing in which writers “lift up their Next Big Thing for the entire world to see . . . most often right in the midst of writing it.” So, thanks to Christin for tagging me. Please check out Christin’s Next Big Thing . Christin is a brilliant blogger and scintillating author whose work you will not want to miss. In the next couple of days, I’ll post links to the Next Big Thing bloggers I've “tagged,” for this project. Beryl’s responses to the Next Big Thing interview: What is your working title of your book? The title, besides the cover, is often the writer’s most important tool for drawing the interest of the reader. My current project has born several titles. The most recent comes from the creative mind of the woman who bestowed the title -- The Scent of God -- on my first book. She drew the title The Glass Chrysalis from a chapter in my current work which refers to Butterflies and the emergence of their offspring. Where did the idea for the book come from? After my memoir The Scent of God was released, I was inundated with queries asking why I had stopped the book when I did. They asked for a sequel. Even more pressing was my desire to tell the story which burns in my heart and demands release. I've been working on the sequel ever since. “When can we buy it?” readers constantly ask. I have no answer. I’m still working on it. What genre does your book fall under? I don’t believe there is a defined genre for this work. I would call it a literary memoir in fictional form – in other words, a true story told as fiction. I assumed this format recently because I felt trapped within my own voice and vision. I needed to step outside myself in order to find the truth beneath the story. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? This is the story of a mother’s search to understand and forgive the choices she made that might have contributed to her daughter’s violent death; a mother’s effort to free her child as she could not do during life. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? While my first book received national acclaim, it did not become the best-seller the publisher expected and has still not earned back the substantial advance royalty it was awarded. The current publishing environment is a difficult one for new and mid-level authors. As a result, many have turned to self-publishing as a friendlier and more financially lucrative option. I might eventually choose this route, though I will probably run this work by my agent first. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I've been through so many drafts that I've lost count. As I only decided to take the book into fictional format within the past month, you could say I've just begun the first draft. This draft, however, feels more rewarding and exciting, so I think I’m on the right track. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter’s Worst Nightmare by Kristina Wandzilak and Constance Curry Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back by Claire and Mia Fontaine. The Lost Child: A Mother’s Story by Julie Meyerson. My Daughter’s Addiction: A Thief in the Family – Hardwired for Heroinby Marie Minnich. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I actually began writing this book many years ago in daily journals which became my most trusted confidants during the years of anguish and fear that followed my first husband’s death (where The Scent of God ended) and that leads to my daughter’s death and its aftermath. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? Those who read The Scent of God will be the first to seize on this book. Parents of children suffering from depression and mental torment and those whose children are addicted to alcohol and drugs will find their stories in this work. The damage inflicted by those who disguise abuse as love, and the anguish and confusion that result from the sudden violent death of a child or loved one, add other engrossing dimensions to pique interest. It will conclude with the letters I wrote to my daughter after her death. Read More 
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