A Story-Writing Challenge

Writer's Ramble

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My elderly aunt Peggy emailed me recently with a playful suggestion that we write each other a story.  My aunt could always be counted on to initiate fun and adventuresome activities for us kids as we were growing up, and this idea was typical of her fun-loving spirit.  She posed that we write our stories within a framework, that we pretend to be rookie reporters for some small-town newspaper who stumble upon clues to a scandal in the works.  I accepted her challenge and agreed to her terms, and she gave us a deadline of approximately two months to finish our tales of mystery and suspense.

During the two months, we each found the task to be more rigorous than we had thought it would be.  I soon found myself consumed with the project as my story began to develop and my characters to flesh themselves out, and pretty soon…

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Drawing Down The Moon

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My friend, Thomas, is working on The Enchanter’s Almanac for 2018, to be released later this month.  Last year’s edition was the first and received some positive reviews from readers. We believe the coming year’s almanac will be even better.

Copied below is an article from the soon-coming edition, which will be available for purchase on Amazon.

Here is an article on the topic of moon magic:

Drawing Down the Moon

     No witch worth her salt ignores the potent resource of the moon to enhance the power of her spell casting.  From the most ancient times in history, magic practitioners have felt the strong allure of the moon and have comprehended the effect and supremacy of its cycles on the ocean tides and the climate, on menstrual cycles, on the mood and behavior of animals and people, and on the effectiveness of magic ceremonies and incantations. Witches in ancient literary traditions, while performing midnight rituals, were described as “drawing down the moon” to work their mysterious craft.  Those  well-versed in moon lore for the purpose of magical influence understand how lunar phases work to impact particular outcomes commensurate with either waxing or waning movements; that is, whether the goal is to attract or repel, to invite or banish, to enhance or diminish. 

     Each phase of the moon lends power to specific magical objectives; for example, a witch performing a spell to evict a troublesome spirit or banish a disease might draw on the energies of the dark or new moon, a spell to attract money or success is best executed during the moon’s first quarter phase, and an invocation to end a relationship or an irksome business partnership and promote closure is most effectively implemented during the waning gibbous cycle.    The time of the full moon is most popular among practitioners because the moon, during this phase, is at its height of its vigor and brightness and dynamism.  Magic intended to tackle your most difficult challenges, when a surge of enhanced energy is required, should be performed during the full moon.   The power of this lunar phase is best reserved for those times and situations that call for the heavy lifting of magic, for those big things needing significantly more “oomph” to either hurl them away or pull them near, or to shrink them down or enlarge them in your life.

     Perhaps the most charming effect of the moon, particularly when at its fullest, is the ideal atmosphere it creates for spell crafting, not to mention the practice of meditation, astral travel, coven ritual and feast day celebrations.  At no other time does a witch feel more like herself and in her element than while reveling in her craft under the gaze of a large, shimmery moon, dancing in ecstasy and ceremony, singing and chanting her spells, or simply rejoicing in nature.

    

 

 

 

 

A Story-Writing Challenge

cover.dunmore

My elderly aunt Peggy emailed me recently with a playful suggestion that we write each other a story.  My aunt could always be counted on to initiate fun and adventuresome activities for us kids as we were growing up, and this idea was typical of her fun-loving spirit.  She posed that we write our stories within a framework, that we pretend to be rookie reporters for some small-town newspaper who stumble upon clues to a scandal in the works.  I accepted her challenge and agreed to her terms, and she gave us a deadline of approximately two months to finish our tales of mystery and suspense.

During the two months, we each found the task to be more rigorous than we had thought it would be.  I soon found myself consumed with the project as my story began to develop and my characters to flesh themselves out, and pretty soon I was losing sleep at night, rising up at all hours to jot down plot ideas and snippets of dialogue running through my head.  Aunt Peggy wrote to me, rather discouraged, describing her difficulty with the process and expressing some doubt about whether she could complete the challenge.  I told her I was also having trouble and that it was fine if she wanted to take a break from it and let the story percolate for awhile.

I finally finished my story and entitled it “The Haunting Of Dunmore Gap.”  I sent it to my aunt, who seemed to like it.  I began to get an idea about publishing an account of this story-writing challenge along with the stories themselves as an Amazon Kindle Book.  I waited awhile to receive my aunt’s story, but so far it hasn’t come, though I think she is still working on it in her way and in her time.

Meanwhile, I decided to go ahead to go ahead and publish my story, with an intro describing how the story came to be written, inspired by my aunt’s challenge.  When her story is done, I won’t hesitate to add it to this slim volume.

And here it is:

 

River of Lethe

Writer's Ramble

In my novel, A Comfortable Distance, Derrick lives a life of determined isolation from people, from relationships, from God.  But in his solitude, he descends into a darker place that results in his own death wish and his eventual demise.  In the Dante-esque world where he finds himself, he learns that his rightful place is with the contorted, human-shaped trees in the Forest of Suicides.  He rejects the implication that he died as a suicide, having expired from an “accidental”overdose of sleeping pills and bourbon; the fact that he wished for death and lived a life of separation and self-destruction slots him for a spot in the forest, which he must fight against with every ounce of his being, struggling to extricate himself from the forest without the appearance of the protective irises that have inexplicably rescued him before (because the forest is where he belongs).

Derrick learns that…

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Moments Transcending

Throughout my novel, A Comfortable Distance, a theme emerges regarding the transcendence of life’s sacred and exalted moments.  Toward the end of Derrick’s near-death experience, he is left with one of the final moments from his life that he can still remember.  The memory is of he and Bonnie, the woman he loved, when they had spent a weekend in a cabin high in the Smokey Mountains.  Bonnie beckons Derrick to join her outside to view the scene from their terrace as a glorious snowfall begins to whiten the wooded mountainside.  Putting his arm around Bonnie he whispers that he wishes this moment could last forever, to which Bonnie says it really could last, like an eternal flame, if they chose to keep it alive.  Derrick is quietly intrigued by the idea that a single moment in time could influence every turn and circumstance of their future, always reminding them of the sacredness of life and the capacity for joy and love that these simple but extraordinary experiences can inspire.  It’s an idea he would eventually reject and regard with cynicism when he began to fall back into his self-destructive pattern, which would bring his and Bonnie’s relationship to an end.

The theme is symbolized by the blue-and-white irises, which represents the sacred moments of prayer that had provided Derrick’s protection while journeying through Purgatory to Sky Island, the “beginning of Heaven.”  When Derrick reaches the shores of Sky Island, he notices one of the irises growing up at his feet and he thoughtlessly picks one, finding it tangible now (before then, the irises had appeared as ghostly objects, untouchable).  The iris, in his hand, continues its rapid blooming, growing in fullness and light, until it finally leaves his hand as a brilliant thing, transforming into twinkles of light that float away to join the sparkling breezes that blow through the air and the trees in Heaven.  It symbolizes those exalted, transcendent moments that live on forever.

When Derrick returns to his life, he remembers the eternal quality that exists in Time and in the heightened moments of our lives if we seize them and allow them to lift us up, to connect us to Heavenly and eternal things.  He realizes that Heaven itself is but a single, exalted moment that never ends, and that our earthly lives can be the beginning of Heaven, like the little island just outside the great Empyrean where glorified souls enter God’s Realm.

A Comfortable Distance by [Sellers, Dennis]

My novel, a Kindle Book, can be found on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

Boomers and Reincarnation

enchanter's

My best friend, Thomas, has begun to create a new Enchanter’s Almanac, illustrated by much of his own art work and filled with short articles and calendar items.  He has asked me to write some one-page pieces for the publication, and I am reprinting one of them below about the Baby Boomer generation and reincarnation.  A Boomer myself, I find this particular theory regarding holocaust victims of World War II reincarnating as passionately activist, anti-war “hippies” to be intriguing to say the least.  Here is the article:

Boomers and Reincarnation

An increasing number of web sites and internet forums provide a place for dialogue on past-life memories of the Holocaust in Germany during WWII. A prominent book on the subject entitled Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust by Yonassan Gershom explores the phenomenon of many Baby Boomers, born just after the war and into the 1950’s, having reported vivid dreams and memories of experiences in ghettos and concentration camps under the command of SS soldiers and cruel treatment by prison guards.

Reincarnation theory suggests that the souls of people who die very young or violently tend to reincarnate very quickly back into a physical body and, therefore, often carry fresh impressions of their recently terminated lives. As if in response to the unresolved trauma of their past lives, Baby Boomers entered their young adulthood with an impulse toward anti-war and anti-establishment demonstrations. This restless generation harbored inexplicable measures of angst and rage against “the man” that sparked a counter-cultural revolution, often referred to as the “hippie movement,” which influenced every level of society, including music and fashion and, eventually, public policy ensuring greater civil rights and liberties for blacks and women and other minorities, and that finally ended the Vietnam draft in 1973.

Over the past half century or so, a tremendous amount of scientific study by such pioneers in the field as Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker has resulted in a vast database of cases on past-life memories, particularly in children, who often recount their memories with detail precise enough to be verified. It a subject necessarily explored by anyone fascinated by the journey of the soul and what may lie beyond our present day lives.

The Witch on Pumpkin Vine Hill

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A friend and I have begun work on a new novel entitled The Witch on Pumpkin Vine Hill.  The story involves a young spinsterish woman whose life is lived, in the beginning, in relative obscurity, quietly caring for her sickly and demanding mother, looking after the house where she has lived all her life, tending to her garden and house plants, which flourish with more speed and lushness than can be explained by the standard green thumb.  Starla is aware of a strange power that seems at times to issue through her, such as occasionally when her duties and her mother’s demands overwhelm her and she finds that her tasks inexplicably complete themselves, leaving her astonished and wondering if she is loosing her mind or if some other more remarkable cause is at play.  She is vaguely familiar with odd stories about her father’s side of the family, which her mother forbids her to speak of.  Having lost her father at a young age, Starla remembers only her aunt on her father’s side, her namesake, Aunt Starla.  Upon her father’s death, when Starla was around three year’s old, she and her mother and older brother visited her aunt’s farm in Pennsylvania to bury her father in the family plot.  She remembers sitting on a blanket on a hillside near a tumbling pumpkin patch while her aunt, with long blonde hair and wearing a sort of gypsy dress, danced around her in a strange and joyful ceremony.  She remembers the bees that wove about her aunt’s ankles in a dance of their own, and that her heart filled up with love for and a deep connection to not only her Aunt Starla but to the  high hill full of orchards and thick woods and rich farmlands.

When her mother dies of her long illness, Starla begins her journey, first into a dark night of her soul when she encounters a sinister and stalking shadow that seems to watch her every move and discourage any act of independence, and then toward the discovery of her destiny involving the unexpected inheritance of her Aunt Starla’s farm on Pumpkin Vine Hill, which Starla learns is more than just a farm but an enchanted place, a power spot on Earth where magic thrives and dimensions intersect.  And with the help of teachers indigenous to the hill, she starts to learn her craft for a grand purpose involving her role as an earth witch and guardian in which she will span the gap between the planet’s utter destruction and its survival and ultimate healing.  But not without the interference of her rival, the stalking shadow, who soon reveals herself as a contender for the right to inhabit the enchanted property as  its chosen “witch of Pumpkin Vine Hill.”

I have written the first four chapters of the novel and have thought of publishing it as a series on Amazon’s Kindle direct publishing program.  Part one would be about 80 or 90 pages.  The photo above was created by my co-author, Thomas Paschal,  as an idea for the cover.  He has published his own Kindle book, The Okten Power, on Amazon.  We are excited about this new idea.  There’s much work yet to be done…