Doing the less usual. NOT the Eiffel Tower. A different view of Paris.
FINAL REST: PERE LACHAISE
The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is the most visited cemetery in the world. On a recent trip, I visited this vast, interesting place. Famed for being the first garden cemetery, it opened in 1804 but there isn’t much space devoted to what we would think of as gardens. Instead, the cemetery is chock full of ornate, closely placed tombs. If you’ve visited the cemeteries of New Orleans, you’d feel right at home here. The sixty-nine thousand tombs cover a range of architectural styles, but the Gothic crypt seems to predominate in the older sections.
Although there are over one million interred in the cemetery, and there is a waiting list today, it wasn’t always a popular burial site with Parisians. Located far outside the city when it opened, and not being attached to a church, made it an undesirable final resting place. So a bit…
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By Katie Bayerl
This is a complicated story told by the sister left behind after a sudden, natural death. To complicate things, Callie’s sister might have been an honest to goodness saint. The people of the small community of New Avon seem pretty convinced she was and so does Callie’s Mom. But Callie knew Tess, and Tess was no saint. While there is a growing movement to have Tess canonized, Callie and her Mom are trying to cope with the grief of losing Tess in their very different ways. Callie can’t get behind the sainthood thing and starts acting out putting herself at risk.
The story begins after Tess’s death with her diary entries showing how she feels about the visions and signs she sees. Some days she feels connected to the mystery and other days, she doubts and fears for her sanity. When the voices give information that is proven to be correct, Tess takes heart but some parts of what she hears make no sense. This part of the book is particularly well done and believable. As Tess’s fame in the community rises, a little girl goes missing but Tess herself dies before solving the crime. Enter Callie. When the little girl miraculously reappears near a shrine to Tess, Callie takes it upon herself to prove to the community that Tess has nothing to do with any of it. Her sister can’t be a saint!
This is a book that is getting solid five-star reviews and it is well-written. But. It is a book that stays firmly grounded in the material world allowing Callie to retain the memory of Tess as she knew her. By doing this, it strips away mystery and possibility. While the author did not have to confirm Tess’s mystical connection and make her a saint, it could have been hinted at in a number of ways. I’m arguing for the best of both worlds here where Callie’s firm belief in science stands alongside mystery. Instead mystery is gutted at the feet of science. The odd thing is that after reading the author’s notes at the end of the book, I’m wondering if the ending was edited to be more palatable for what’s perceived by a few to be today’s audience. It could have been a five-star book.
Summer is here! School is out, and it won’t be long before the kids are complaining that they’re bored. Books geared to an individual child’s taste can help keep the summer break fun and exciting. I’m happy to share that my book, Elephants Never Forgotten, is listed along with other great summer reads here:
GRAB ONE OF THESE GREAT MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS!
In this incredibly beautiful book, we encounter seventeen-year-old Sora dealing with the fatal diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Set in modern day Japan, the teen faces the deterioration of his body, a growing sense of isolation, and all the big philosophical questions we would expect. The grownups around him offer what help they can but they serve mostly to point out how society as a whole can’t face death. Sora finds some solace in the death poetry of Samurai warriors, but they are distant echoes from the past. Looking for friendship, and confined at home by the disease, he reaches out through the internet to find companionship. Even though the disease is progressing, Sora eventually risks meeting two of the friends he’s made online. Skittish at first, the friends have as much trouble dealing with death as the adults do, but they come together anyway.
This is a book about friendship, courage, and death. It doesn’t shy away from the unfairness of life. Because of that and some push back in reviews I’ve read, I guess this is one of those books best kept to a more mature teen audience. Some people are very concerned that a book about teen suicide was ever written. Really? And then, there’s the connection to disability and teen suicide! Nevertheless, it’s a great book for teens because all of this is difficult and there’s lots of room for discussion. On top of that there are the cultural differences between Japan and the US. What is expected of a teen in Japan is not necessarily what we would expect from a teen in the US. All of these themes make this a great jumping off point for deep thought and discussion. Recommended!
I’m happy to welcome Eleyne-Mari Sharp to talk about her book, “Inn Lak’ech: A Journey to the Realm of Oneness.” Having just finished this wonderful book, I’m excited to get a chance to chat with her about her visionary novel for young adults. It’s one of those books, I think, teens and adults can read and enjoy. Furthermore, it opens the door to discussions on so many deep, philosophical questions.
Eleyne-Mari brings a breath of experience to her work. She has been a writer, jewelry designer, events organizer, radio show host, and radio show producer. Added to this, she is a certified color therapist, spiritual aromatherapist, and crystal worker.
Now for the book. In “Inn Lak’ech,” Elm Sunday is a teen living in the seaside town of Little Blessing. We get to know this town and its inhabitants intimately (and for anyone who has lived in a small town, it just feels right). Elm’s life is shattered when her older boyfriend is murdered and later, her father dies. Young adult defiance and rebellion send Elm spiraling down. How does the Universe respond? Elm is about to find out. This is a story of connection, loss and grief, and redemption.
Welcome Eleyne-Mari! Thanks for being here.
It is my honor to be with you today, Ellis. Thanks for inviting me!
What were your first glimmers of this book? Was it the characters? The town? The overall concept?
Four years ago, I had no idea I was going to write a novel. Until then, I had written reams of short stories but never thought I had the patience to write about the same characters for several years. I thought it would be boring and I hate to be bored. Even though I was organizing writers conferences where “Writing the Novel” was the most well-attended of the workshops, I still remained unconvinced that novel-writing was for me. Then one day it happened. I got “the nudge” and I could not ignore it. From that point, my muse ran wild and Inn Lak’ech was always in my brain.
The place—Inn Lak’ech—came first. I had just learned about the Mayan expression, “In lak’ech,” which means “I am another yourself.” That’s when all the bells and whistles went off and I was guided to write about a waystation for soul families. It was a very exciting revelation and I had no idea where it would lead me, so I just went with the flow, riding the currents through color, crystals, sea magic, mother-daughter relationships, grief, angels, fairies, mermaids, and dragons.
One of the things I found fascinating about writing Inn Lak’ech was the way the story unfolded. In real life, I had grown up as an Air Force brat who moved around a lot during my first seventeen years, so I never had the small town upbringing of my protagonist. As I wrote, it was a complete surprise how the entire town of Little Blessing played like a movie on a continuous loop in my head. I walked the streets, I climbed Miss Vi, I ate a Triple Fudge cone at Holy Cow Sundaes, I played the sea drum at Moonwater Beach. And it wasn’t like I was imagining everything I wrote, more like I was RELIVING everything. I was intimate with every color, every resident, every blade of grass, and I hoped to convey that intimacy to my readers.
The element of water plays a large role in the book. Elm experiences water as death and rebirth. Could you talk a bit about how water is a source of spiritual renewal?
In science class, we learn that we cannot survive without water and our bodies are composed mostly of water. Yet we do not learn that we all have the ability to communicate and travel through the magnetic frequency of our bodies’ of water. Nor do we learn that we are polluting the waters with our negative thoughts, words, and deeds.
I was a baby when I was baptized in the Catholic church, so I don’t recall the experience but I do believe that water baptism is a spiritual act. Actually, I feel spiritually renewed every time I plunge into a pool or take a shower. I used to take water for granted, but now I remember to bless and thank the water for cleansing and hydrating me. Water is a part of me and I appreciate its gift.
How did your work with colors and crystals play a role in your development of Elm’s experience in Inn Lak’ech?
Thank you for asking that question because I never grow tired of talking about color and crystals!
While envisioning Inn Lak’ech, I saw the place as one gigantic mood ring where everybody changes color at their own rate. And I wanted to share as much of my own color healing knowledge as possible so that readers could get an idea of color’s tremendous benefits, especially as an ascension support tool. The soul level colors in the book are the same ones that I teach in my 5th dimensional “Color Luminary” course—Pink, Blue, Gold, Green, Yellow, White, and Violet. Speaking of Violet, this color is also featured in the book because it is connected to the energies of Archangel Zadkiel, whose etheric realm just happens to be Inn Lak’ech.
One of my favorite crystals is rose quartz. Prior to writing the second draft of the scene where Glorie creates her own rose quartz tiara, I sat at my desk making the tiara from rose quartz points, beads, and sterling silver wire. (I call this fun research.) Even though I had never before created a tiara, I think it came out okay because it doesn’t fall apart when I wear it in my hair.
Little Blessing has some really interesting characters. Elm’s grandmother is a rather severe woman. I wondered if she symbolized how you view the Christian right? The town has very progressive elements and yet, it was being held back in many ways. One could say that about the US now. Thoughts?
Judging others is a weakness that I have been struggling to overcome for my own spiritual welfare. Of course, Ruth has no problem judging others and I suppose she does represent how I’ve viewed the Christian right. Unlike Ruth, I respect a person’s decision to choose their own religious path as long as they do not condemn others for following a different one. In real life, I have never known anyone as self-righteous and angry as Ruth. Nevertheless, I was guided to write her character as a bully, a religious tyrant.
As far as what is occurring in the United States, I agree with your assessment, Ellis. From my perspective, we cannot progress until we have released that which is no longer serving us.
I used to consider myself an omnist, a believer in all religions. Now, as I watch the crumbling of Christian faith throughout our country, I am neither frightened nor unhappy about it. As a former Catholic, I watch the pope on television and I sense that he is truly an authentic and loving humanitarian, but I don’t believe that the religion he represents is a just or loving one. Besides, religion was created by humans—not the Divine—and I’ve tried to keep that in perspective.
Has spirituality always been a part of your life?
No, although it became increasingly important to me during the past 30 years. I was raised as a Catholic but it was all boring recitation and incense until I became a teenager. I had never felt close to the Creator until I began hanging out at a coffee house for teens in our church and started listening to the musical scores of Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. My “Jesus loves me” period lasted maybe a year. After that, I called myself agnostic until I reached my thirties, when I discovered Louise Hay, aromatherapy, color and crystal healing, and a greater connection to all that exists on this planet.
What role do books like yours and other works of visionary fiction play in helping to shape the future?
What I am hoping is that readers of Inn Lak’ech and other visionary fiction works will be inspired to open their hearts and minds to see the bigger picture, that we are all connected—In lak’ech. I would be overjoyed if my books helped heal and raise the vibrations of young adult and adult readers because that was always my INNtention.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m writing the prequel and sequel to Inn Lak’ech. This has been a lot of fun because I get to return to Little Blessing and write about places and people that I didn’t have the chance to explore in Inn Lak’ech. Oh—and I get to expand upon Elm’s synesthesia and create more flavors of ice cream, so that’s a huge bonus!
“Seaglass Christmas: A Little Blessing Mystery” is a visionary fiction novel with a cozy mystery element. My protagonist, Mercy-Faith “Elm” Sunday, is eight-years-old in this book, living with her parents at Sunday’s Marina in beautiful Little Blessing. This is long before Big Dave became mayor and Glorie owned her “Sea Angels” mermaid store. I’m really enjoying the writing process because I get to think and play like an eight-year-old, solve problems, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas months in advance. I was a voracious Nancy Drew reader when I was about Elm’s age and Seaglass Christmas is my homage to the teenage detective, but in a visionary fiction sort of way.
At the time I was writing Inn Lak’ech, I swore I would never write a sequel. But as you know from reading the book, Ellis, one should refrain from swearing to prevent colorful orbs from floating and bursting over your head! Anyway, about a week after the ebook was released last August, I got that nudge again and found myself furiously scribbling down the outline of the sequel.
Do you remember when Elm meets The Other Elm in my book? Her daughter is the protagonist in “Lightmover: The Illumination of Silver Violet.” It’s about a gifted teenager who shows the world how to shine, despite her brother’s resentment and her own disabilities. And one of the really fun elements in this book is that Sil-Vi owns a horse, who is her very best friend. I was crazy about horses when I was a kid and loved reading books like Black Beauty and watching My Friend Flicka and Fury on television. Sadly, I never got one as an adult, but I still think they are beautiful animals and giving Sil-Vi a horse allows me the opportunity to fantasize through her, which is another perk to being a novelist!
When Lightmover is released in 2020, the Little Blessing series will have ended unless I am “nudged” to write another book. If that’s the case, I guess I’ll just continue to go with the flow!
Thanks for sharing some time with us today, Eleyne-Mari! For more information about her work, please visit the sites listed below.
Official author website: www.writelighter.com
Aura House website: http://www.colortherapyschool.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Eleyne-Mari-Sharp/e/B074RJ5NVN
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4dftF3GZXkDOy7d9hfynEw
This may not be the best written YA book ever, but it did have a compelling plot idea. Could sixteen-year-old Quinn Cutler have become pregnant while remaining a virgin? While Quinn and her family struggle to come to grips with this most perplexing of mysteries (because Quinn insists she never had sex), her father is campaigning for Congress putting them under scrutiny. Quinn’s pregnancy becomes public, religious fanatics come calling, and Quinn goes into hiding. Can she find the truth in the lies she’s been told and discover the origin of her child? Is she carrying the next messiah? How does her family’s history play a role in everything that’s happened?
Read this book for the odd twists and turns it takes. Remember how hard it is to get anything unique published and that’s why I think this is a bold book- for the author and the publisher. So many things are derivative and everybody these days seems compelled to write a trilogy. Hooray for something different!