Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Look at Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. Hopefully our reasons for giving thanks is ever present. Setting aside a particular day helps us focus our attention on our many blessing, but when thanksgiving and gratitude becomes a part of the way we live, then our lives begin to have more meaning. It's one thing to feel grateful when things are going the way we want them to. It requires a more conscious effort when we are dealing with pain, discouragement, disappointment, depression, or a challenging situation of any kind. The list of possible reasons for refusing, or forgetting, to be grateful could be quite extensive. However, the older I get the more convinced I am that everyone has hard stuff. Really hard stuff. Maybe it's supposed to be that way. Since what goes around comes around, if we dwell on the hard stuff, we're likely to get more of it. By contrast, once we start to recognize and verbalize our blessings, like magic, we seem to have more blessings!

In Chapter Twenty-One of Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog, Reilly and Norah visit a place called Zora "where the sun always rises, shining hope into every moment". They meet Flavio Xanthipee, a yellow haired horseman who shows them some interesting things about gratitude. "...your collective gratitude offers answers to the questions locked inside of you, but which can only be revealed upon your asking," Flavio Xanthipee said. "Look for the good that emerges out of difficulties, challenges and sorrow, and you will always find reasons to be grateful. Gratitude dispels the gloom of any dark moment and opens our hearts to hope."

Next time something doesn't go the way you had hoped, or you encounter a real disappointment, try simply expressing gratitude for the opportunity for growth, and the greater good that will come of it. Trust that it will come. And it will. With practice, you'll see that although a particular circumstance or situation may not immediately change, your perspective changes. And your heart opens up a little more. With an open heart, the reasons to be grateful will be endless.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Part of My Journey of The Stelladaur Series

Two days ago, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, I hosted an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) party for my debut novel The Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog! Two years ago, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, my husband suffered a heart attack. I witnessed both events in my living room, in the middle of a bad storm that left us, and thousands of others, without power for many hours and days. The official unveiling of the novel occurred by candlelight, flashlight, and a battery-operated spotlight. My husband was transported to the hospital by the lights of an ambulance, a ferry, and the dimmed Seattle skyline. The ARC party felt cozy and intimate with twenty or so of my dearest family and friends who have been a big part of the book coming to life. The evening of my husband’s heart attack left me feeling inexpressible gratitude for life itself, and that he is still here with our family today. To me, both are extraordinary events in the rather ordinary journey of my life. That being said, the stories behind every story are always extraordinary! The Stelladaur Series began to take form in 2008, as I jotted down character and scene ideas, plot structure, and names for over a year, in a small journal my sister gave me for my birthday. I attended my first writing workshop at our local library that year. In June 2009, I woke to the sound of heavy rain on the skylight about my bed and said, “Today I write the first chapter.” And I did. Then I put the manuscript away for eight months while I shifted my time and energies to an unrelated project I had committed to do. From the end of January 2010 through May 2010 I wrote the novel—five days a week, six to ten hours a day. It was heaven! I basically listened to the characters tell me their story and typed it into my computer. Then I put it on the back burner as I dedicated ten more months to yet another prior commitment. Somewhere in there, I edited the manuscript dozens of times and then queried dozens of agents. One agent kept the manuscript for six months but ultimately decided it wasn’t the best match for her. It turned out to be a blessing. By spring of 2011 when the idea for The Stelladaur Academy literally popped into my brain, it became clear to me that I needed to jump into the world of Indie Publishing. This has proved to be a wise choice, but that story will be told later. In September of 2011, I did something really bold. I printed bookmarks for The Stelladaur Series with the following text at the bottom: Book Launch 2012! I still had no idea how that was going to happen! But I organized numerous book reads in various states, mostly at middle schools and high schools. It was a delight to meet those awesome young people! One of the best compliments came from a 6th grade boy who raised his hand and asked, “Is this real?” The kid beside him nudged him and said, “No, it’s not real. It’s a fantasy!” But the first boy wasn’t convinced. “No, it’s real. I know it is!” The Stelladaur Series is about discovering what you really want by understanding the universal connection between imagination and following one’s own heart. What’s more real than one’s heart? Although the official book launch is on March 1, 2013, the fact that the Advance Reader Copies are in hand now—in 2012—and have been sent to reviewers, is no small thing as far as the power of affirmation goes! This, too, is one of the themes of the novel. For any and all who may decide to follow my blog, welcome! I promise to post weekly on topics relevant to everything the Stelladaur represents. Much more to come!! Please visit my web site and watch the AWESOME official book trailer at ! (Note: The kids in the photo below play the roles of Reilly and Norah, the names of the main characters in the book trailer!)