The Garden of Souls
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Biblical town discovered: Jesus could have ridden in this boat

Biblical town discovered: Jesus could have ridden in this boat | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
Archaeologists may have discovered the Biblical town of Dalmanutha mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. According to a Sept.
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Beautiful example of the many artifacts that add to the richness of our Christian heritage.

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DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it

Five Stars - M. G. Armitage

What a ride this was!

I haven't been a faithful reader in years, probably because I find it very hard to be captivated in the first few pages. If I have to sludge through the first chapter, you lost me. I hated it when people would tell me, "oh just get through the first chapter or so, it gets good." If an author can't grab you into a story up front, I'm not putting my faith into the rest of it. That first taste of a book is what draws you in, what makes you keep coming back for more. A good book is like a gourmet meal...good from the first bite till the last.

This book, this fantastic book, was exactly what I was looking for! I was drawn in by the first page, and I wanted more. It's an incredibly fast read, and a book you frequently have a hard time putting down. I know I was guilty of sneaking peaks of it while at work. I jokingly called this book my time suck. You sit down at 6pm thinking you will read for an hour, and before you know it, it's 1am and you still want more.

This author has a way of writing characters you want to know in person. They are so real on the page you can almost reach out and touch them. The dialogue is fun and snappy, and the lead character is one you actually like and can root for. A lot of books these days have leads with highly questionable character values, like if you met them in person you'd probably hate them, and yet they are the ones you are supposed to be rooting for? But not Grant! This is a lead character you love to love. If you can fall in love with a fictional character, I fell in love with Grant.

The authors side characters are anything but throw away, and actually helped move the story along. And I must mention that I felt like the biggest character in this book was the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up in that area, the attention to details, roads, towns, weather, was impeccable. I felt like I was back there, and made me miss it all the more.

I am incredibly excited for upcoming books from this author. If they are anywhere near as good as this story was, this author has a reader for life.

Chéri Vausé's insight:

Found this wonderful review of my book by a M. G. Armitage. Amazon took it down, along with several other five star reviews I received. Shame on you Amazon! Shame! It's hard enough for us fledgling authors to make a living, but to have you steal food right out of our mouths is the worst! Shame on you! Fortunately, I saved it, so here it is. Thank you M. G. Armitage. You're the best! I hope you like my next mystery/thriller as much. Blessings out to you, Dear One!

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My Favourite Year

My Favourite Year | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
In the United States, we will celebrate Father's Day on Sunday, June 19. Father's are important to sons, but also for girls. Our relationships with men are based on what our relationship was like with our fathers. This is a tribute to my father, who left us too soon. I miss you, Dad!Twelve is a horrible age, and it doesn't matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Each sex suffers equally under the tyrannical assault of hormone surges, hair growth, body odour, legs and feet that stretch and change so rapidly you can’t even tell where they are at any given moment, the emotional streamers you’re unable to reel back that seem to fly out in every direction, and the cursed sexual awakenings, that you can’t begin to understand, let alone how to handle. You’re no longer a child, but you’re not really a teenager, and definitely not an adult. You exist somewhere in-between, as the French say, “comme ci comme ça,” you’re like this like that, at any given moment.The Möbius twists of the blasted event called puberty, don’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, smart or dumb, or whether you even want changes in your life. And don’t get me started on the voice squeaks and squawks and taking algebra when you’re still scratching your head over long division in elementary school, and fractions that are so bizarre you cannot comprehend something as small as 1/32nd. (Yes, that's Russell Crowe with his daughter.)Even with all the negatives, twelve has always been my favourite year. It was not for the things I received at Christmas, or for my birthday, or for my budding breasts, or for the cramping and the pain of the Curse—which definitely did not delight me as it did for the other girls. It was the year my Father and I became best friends.1963 began like all the others before it: Shopping with my mother for clothes that actually fit, some hand-me-downs from my older sister and my fashionably dressed cousins, and the needed school supplies. I also sported a new Beatles haircut--compliments of my dear father, the barber. The haircut was all the rage for young girls and boys, but especially girls. The age of eleven still lingered in my body like a limp dish-rag, and I wasn't moving forward like so many of my school mates, but I entered the seventh grade in the fervent hope of launching into a new world of school delights, leaving sixth grade behind. I could choose classes, I was assigned a school locker, and moved from class to class at the sound of a bell. I remember my eyes fixated on a sheet that told me where to go at each given hour, and wandered the halls in search of each class. Everything was new, larger than life, frightening and exciting, as I moved into a school twice the size of my old one.All my dreams, burgeoning in my chest, came to flower at the same moment, as I excitedly found my home-room in the staid old building at Jefferson Junior High School. This was a new world that existed on the skirts of adulthood. From that point, I would become familiar with the processes of high school, preparing for college or a trade. It was a safe place to begin the journey for all us inbetweeners. As I made my way to my new classes every hour, each teacher had a list of additional items we would need for that class work, besides the usual ream of notebook paper, and the ubiquitous No. 2 pencil for tests. There were expectations that seemed more mature, subjects offered that were meant to stretch our minds. I wanted to be fully prepared to meet every one, so I took those lists, and held them tightly in my hand, while I walked the two miles from school back to my home. At the end of the day, my father drove me to a small store near my new school, as every store where we usually shopped seemed to be sold out of school supplies-- they didn't call us baby boomers for nothing. I noticed my father was unusually mellow that evening, looking forward to escaping the confines of our shotgun house to venture out with his middle child into the great wilderness of PeeChee folders, big pink erasers, and three-ring binders. This was new territory for him because he never made it to the seventh grade. He was a self-made, self-educated man. He was also brilliant, and extremely well-read for a Texas country boy raised on a farm with a sixth grade education. And he was soft-spoken, like his many fellow Texans. The thing I remember and like the most about him, was his interest in so many subjects. But, on this particular day, he was only interested in my experiences at my new school.As we moseyed into the shop, our voices hushed and reverenced, the record section caught my eye just before we were to waltz toward the school supplies. I lingered over the display of the new long-playing record by the mop-headed group called the Beatles, with a wistful look in my eye that my father did not fail to notice. It was their second album with the new pop single, She Loves You. As we stood side-by-side, staring down at the cover of the album, something new was birthed between us in that moment. We had seen the Fab Four on the Ed Sullivan Show together, as they sang that particular song sending the audience of mostly young girls into a frenzy. My father, who is usually rather stoic, was fascinated by them, and the adulation they seemed to elicit among those young women. I’m not sure if he liked their music, or if was the fascination over the phenomenon, or even if it was just a matter of pleasing his adoring daughter, but the whole thing amused him to the point that he decided to purchase the album for himself, and for me. It would belong to both of us. We shared something together that we shared with no one else. We became friends, buddies, and I scratched at the top of the album that night: This record belongs to Daddy and Cheri.I haven’t seen the shady side of twelve for a very long time—and let’s not get into that—however, I still can remember that first day and so many after that one that year, as if they all happened yesterday. There were moments when I felt left out of the human comedy, passed over, and when I was the butt of the joke, but it was still the ride of my life. Every day was golden, and the nights were more gloriously purple than before I turned twelve. I was noticing everything, awakened to the mystery of life, as though I were seeing everything anew or for the first time. Still, the whole process of growing up scared me half to death. But when I think of that year, I remember my dad, and how we buddied up over so many things, that Beatles album was only the first. We danced the Soupy Sales Shuffle together, laughed over silly things as if nothing was ever quite so amusing, and he was the only person who came to my music recital with the Junior All City Orchestra, as I strummed on my cello. By the time I reached thirteen, while in the eighth grade, I seemed to grow more confident in my abilities, argued my points more eloquently, and my handwriting flowed steady, lion-hearted. Gone were the hearts and flowers that dotted my i’s and j’s to see how it looked, and my hand matured through the curlicues of my cursive letters becoming my own brand, while my printing became solid, direct. However, thirteen was a focused year, where my life’s decisions became definite, and I travelled toward specific goals. That was the year of planning, the year before I entered high school, but, oddly enough, it was not my favourite year. Neither was my first year of high school, or the last, or my college days. Not even the year I married, or had children of my own. It was that year, the one where my father and I became friends that I have always held as my favourite. After that year, my relationship with my dad flourished. There were times when I didn't understand him, yet eventually I did, and we became even closer. I think it was because of that year that I was able to see him as a person more easily, to let an argument go, or his failings, and to be bold enough to ask for forgiveness. I learned how to have a lasting love, that even in anger, where love grows, so does forgiveness. I also grew to understand what true friendship is. Today, I believe my wonderful relationship with my husband is due to our deep abiding friendship. I learned that with my father. He was my first teacher of life lessons.Now, when I look back, I think the reason twelve was my favourite year was because of my father, and his effort in making a connection with me. I love him for that. He found that path first, then took me along on the journey. It began with that shared album, the acknowledgement that we enjoyed the same thing. In that simple moment, the seed for our friendship was planted. Although there were a few bumps along the road, there was nothing that shook us off our firmly built base. We shared so many things through the years, like that silly album. When he died, I felt assured his love would continue, never leaving me, and it hasn't. I have that first memory of friendship as my touchstone, and every one following that one surrounding me like a warm blanket. To all you fathers out there, Happy Father's Day!- Chéri Vausé is the author of the noir thriller, not your usual mystery or thriller. For more information on her books, go to her book site: NOIR MYSTERY THRILLERS TO DIE FOR.
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With Father's Day tomorrow, I dedicate this story to mine!
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DREAMS

A philosophical discussion of dreams, our aspirations, and how important they are.
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What are your dreams? Are they really important? The answer is...
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Be True to Yourself

Be True to Yourself | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
"Be True to Yourself" and "The Devil is in the Details" are actually misquotes. The correct quote for the second is "God is in the Details" attributed to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect, but many believe he wasn't the first. The German art historian, Aby Warburg, said it before van der Rohe, although it is not attributed to him. Even Gustav Flaubert was known to have said it. The age of the quote is unknown. The Devil didn't come into the quote until much later. Some attribute it to a German Pop singer, Blixa Bargeld, "Der Teufel steckt im Detail", but is also found in Lutz Röhrich’s Lexikon der sprichwörtlichen Redensarten.Once a quote is co-opted and changed, the original becomes lost. You might choose between God and the Devil over the details, but never has quote been more lost than the worst misquote of them all, "Be True to Yourself." "Be True to Yourself", comes from the great Bard himself, William Shakespeare. In Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3, lines 78-82, a scene between Polonius and his son Laertes, and our subject. Polonius is the one speaking. It goes like this:“This above all: to thine own self be true,And, it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not be false to any man,Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!” What Polonius meant is debated wildly, but if we are to be as accurate as possible, the meaning must be approached from the viewpoint of an Elizabethan. Shakespeare wrote the character Polonius as a man who tried to do what he thought was right. Naturally, he asked the same from his only son, and blessed him with that knowledge. Although, many view Polonius as a silly man, sometimes even duplicitous, I don't see him in that way. I think, as many of us mothers and fathers do, we try to impart the best to our children from ourselves, to be faithful to those ideals, to tell ourselves and the world the truth, and therefore, not be false to others or our children. If Polonius was anything, he was weak and cowardly. Most people, when they use the quote, "Be True to Yourself", are speaking of centring themselves, going within to find a respite from the world, or answers that can only be found within themselves. Oddly, that isn't even close to what the original quote meant. These ideas behind the misquote have been applied over the last century to allow anyone to do whatever they want, because, they reason, they are being true to themselves, true to their natures. With that kind of logic, you could convince yourself of just about anything when you rely on your nature, your feelings, even your inner life. Inside I feel as if I'm twenty-five, ready for anything, but the truth tells me otherwise.Polonius wanted his son to be a good man, to sup on the objective standard of Truth until it became a part of him, therefore, becoming a truthful man, and would naturally do what was right. From an Elizabethan point of view, Polonius was looking outward to the world, to a standard, not inward. The inward life had to be shaped by truth, and all a person's actions flowed from that fount. He wanted his son to be filled with this truth so he wouldn't harm others. This idea comes from the Christian standard of the Golden Rule, and from the Ten Commandments. Truth was the penultimate every person was to strive toward. Truth was objective, outside of ourselves, a standard everyone could look at and know for a certainty. It remained the same, in season and out. There's a huge difference between what Shakespeare meant, and the meaning behind the misquote today. Being true to yourself has become a subjective exercise, a search for our own special desire, which is the opposite of Shakespeare's view. The misquote makes truth as changeable as the wind, because it resides within each person, and we are all secret worlds, as different to each other as there are stars in the heavens. The fallacy of searching yourself for truth is apparent in all the characters of the play. The quote was the standard, but none of the character's heeded its call. Instead, they followed their own volatile natures and died. I see Polonius as an integral part of the story in Hamlet, and his murder is a powerful testimony of how evil can flourish within lies, killing the innocent, the virtuous, as well as evil. The quote is the lynch-pin of the story. His manner of death presents the idea that the truth must be sought even in the secret hidden places. Shakespeare saw a king as the pivotal point of a country, and when a king lies, when he kills, when he subverts the truth, he destroys everyone around him. This is what Shakespeare meant in the quote, that truth must rest as our centre. And those words were a blessing, but even Laertes didn't learn anything from what his father said. He was impetuous, sought vengeance, which is not truth. Vengeance is a passionate poison from which he would die, as did Hamlet, the king, and Hamlet's mother. The lies they all told, the murders they committed to further their own natures' desire, became their executioner. And that kind of thinking kills innocence, illustrated in the character Ophelia.Polonius' instruction to Laertes is the signpost that points toward safety, toward life, which is the point of that scene, and a pivotal point in the story. Polonius wanted to send his son away because he feared for the boy's life. Danger was everywhere. Foolishly, Polonius believed he could hide, learn the truth, and slink away without discovery. And Polonius did learn the truth, but at the end of Hamlet's sword, while he was hiding in the Queen's bedroom. It was his cowardice that killed him. If he had stepped out, been willing to support the truth, he probably wouldn't have died. Essentially, it was his cowardice that killed him, and Hamlet's vengeance was the means.The lesson from Hamlet, from that quote, is to never hide behind a curtain of isolation to learn the truth about ourselves, or about others, or about anything, but to be open and honest about what we seek. We should search for only what is true, and make it become a part of us. It is our natures that deceive us. As I've said before, Truth is objective, not subjective. Truth stands alone no matter who looks at it, or who tries to bend it to meet their philosophy. Truth rises above everything and transcends time, cultures, and beliefs. The truth about ourselves must be sought outside of us. Truth should always be our standard. And we should never be afraid or shrink in the face of that knowledge. It is good to look into our hearts, to seek to understand the universe within, to dream and wonder about the beauty of our world and how it affects us, and we should contemplate our actions and where we might fit in the outside world. Yet, we should never confuse our natures with the truth, our inward life for a standard, for they are as different as night is to day. The next time someone says, "Be true to yourself," tell them that's wrong. It's not your nature that you seek, but an objective truth.- Chéri Vausé is not your usual mystery or thriller author. She writes Noir tales, the mystery of good and evil. To gain a peek inside her novels, go to her book site: Noir Mystery Thrillers to Die for. Or Ms. Vausé's author profile on Amazon.
Chéri Vausé's insight:
Every time I hear someone say, "Be true to yourself" I cringe. I know what they mean, and they are misquoting a concept that is much larger than ourselves.
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Finding Meaning In an Indifferent World

Finding Meaning In an Indifferent World | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
If we were the inquisitive type back in the sixties and seventies, and even the eighties, when we asked the question, "Who am I?" or "Why am I here?" or "Why me?" or "What's It all about?" or "Is there something more than this?", we would actually seek to find those answers in the traditional and not so traditional places, until we found the answer. Today, not so much. We're too busy, too preoccupied with our phones, the Internet, too... Well, checked out and disinterested in philosophy, religion, and the great question, "Why?" Yes, indifferent to things that oppose our comfortable view of ourselves and the world. We are more interested in changing our shirts or a pair of shoes or the latest song than in questioning why we exist at all. If anything doesn't seem to work for us, we will not dig in and labour harder to make it work, or to learn if its valuable to us in the long term. We give up, move on, and that has become our philosophy of life. If it doesn't work for me, cast it off. because I'm the arbiter of all things good or bad. This is not a healthy viewpoint. There are still those who do quest, and this is for you.I shall take you back to the time when the first Star Wars Trilogy burst onto the scene with Episode IV: A New Hope in the late seventies. It doesn't seem that long ago to me. I recall that my group of friends passionately discussed the meanings behind the names of the characters, the code, and other ephemera within the plot of the film, and we did it with complete abandon. It was fun. These talks led to other burgeoning ideas surrounding a popular Yogi at the time, and the fervour in the Catholic Church within the Charismatic Movement, and one equally fervent among Protestants with its Maranatha, among many occult topics circulating within my sphere at the time. What truly interested my friends was the idea of The Force. It represented something bigger than ourselves, that it was accessible, albeit hidden, but it could be felt both physically and mentally, just as the young Skywalker was feeling it for the first time under the guidance of Obi-wan. Some wouldn't go so far as to say it was God, preferring to call it, The Cosmos or The Great Mind, not unlike the term, The Force, but others were quite matter-of-fact about the spirit emanating from God throughout the universe, that it was His spirit, and it was the glue that held matter together; a rather Jewish mystical idea. For me, as a poet at the time, and thoroughly insane about science fiction, I listened mostly, gathering all the mystical ideas to pen in my poetry, feeling as though I were the American Yeats exploring the unseen world. Ideas flowed through me, made me think, meditate, and just ponder the universe and my place in it, which eventually led me to the path I have continued to walk all these years, even to the point of teaching it. But I knew what questions to ask. I learned them from my parents, from the books and films I knew growing up. All we have today is God's Not Dead and testimonials. Then we had Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, among hundreds of other films like the Left Hand of God. We had books written by many philosophers, dreamers, religious, and those searching. You could read Flannery O'Connor without someone rolling their eyes. The quest never faded, although the discussion of the films of Star Wars moved toward the back of our minds, and was only remembered when we purchased Star Wars toys for our children. Yet, we still had a sense of freedom to talk about anything spiritual and not be ridiculed, as we explored religion, meditation, the occult, and various philosophies. We had spirited debates about Nietzsche in the halls of our schools, while we read with great intensity the brilliant writings of Martin Buber. We were idealistic, we felt free to openly discuss what we read and felt, and were never bullied by atheists or those who disagreed with us. We brought up our insights into the existence of a spiritual world, and what we gleaned from those intrinsic truths threaded through the major religions, through our favourite stories, poems, as well as, what we learned personally from our experiences. We could use the word God, use the word Faith, use the word Spirit, use all the words that led us toward an unseen existence. We were free to explore. When George Lucas released the first episode after many years of teasing us with the return of the Star Wars franchise, we became excited again, hoping that an open discussion might find itself outside of our homes and back in the marketplace, but it was all for naught. We learned that touching The Force meant that only a select few could tap into it, an elite group. The sign of the ability could be found scientifically flowing through the blood, like a disease, or some freakish accident of genetics. Then, Mr. Average could never be a Jedi Knight, nor could they try to understand it, for they had no hope of being a part of the grand design, just subjected to it by those who could. We were reduced to mere watchers, and then, cynics. The worst part was you couldn't openly discuss anything spiritual in the marketplace. Those who didn't believe in anything outside what they felt with their senses stifled the conversation, were cruel and condescending, and demeaned those who quested into the mere possibility that something existed outside themselves. The world had changed, but so had Star Wars, stealing The Force, the spiritual from Mr. Average. The marketplace was meaner, even in literature. You had to write what the Literati wanted you to write; the Woe-Is-Me book, the story that accused someone of putting you down or abusing you in some way. Abuse and being bi-polar or schizophrenic was in vogue, as were racism, sexism, and, well... You get the picture. You could kill your own child to keep it from experiencing slavery, and that seemed to be acceptable, even committing suicide was a means of ending pain. God, spirit, even The Force, were all banned from every discourse in the marketplace. You didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable.Yet, this thing I call the Star Wars Effect, the spirit from those first few episodes, remained like a ghost in our culture, hovering on the perimeter of films and books. And every film maker still wanted to find whatever magic Lucas had found in those early years, and capitalize on that themselves, to be discovered and the next big thing. And it didn't really happen again until Peter Jackson wanted to film The Lord of the Rings. When Star Wars first appeared on the scene in the late seventies, J. R. R. Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, although originally published in 1954, was finding a resurgence in popularity among Baby Boomers. The books were discussed, illustrated, and generally found in about every occult and independent book store you could find in the seventies and eighties, along with paraphernalia like posters and cards and other items. The why of it is rather simple. A great many people were searching for meaning, they needed to know that their world had an underlying beauty, that there was something magnificent and huge about it, that it had more meaning in just a portion of it than anything else in its entirety, and if found, could be shared and tapped into by Mr. Average. We could all partake, all feel the energy surge through us. And, Tolkien's books do contain more meaning than all the Star Wars films put together, including many religious films, but Star Wars birthed an idea, a means to open the discussion, and that made it a bit more important than most films, however empty of plot the stories may have been. The mythos built by George Lucas became a part of our culture, with all its psychological implications, creating the longing for discussing meaning in stories in general. I recently read an article written by someone who was desperately seeking connections and meaning for their life, and trying to glean it from the literature that they read. They believed that a simple book like To Kill a Mockingbird might have a greater impact in their life, than say a James Patterson or Dan Brown book. They wanted all those Woe-Is-Me books, awarded by the Literati with a plethora of prizes, to be the ones that would do it for them, to answer those thorny questions in their life. And the more they searched for hidden meaning, it seemed to elude them, they couldn't quite touch it no matter how much they read. The next step for them was to make a literature chart to classify the books that should have touched them. This book touched them here, and that one there. After all they won awards, were lauded by the literati. They had to have value. Even though there might be more truth than fiction to that suggestion, their little phylogenetic chart never rose to the level they desired. They settled for a little bit of this and that, like little items found in a treasure box. I imagined them sitting in a comfortable chair with their feet propped up, surrounded by books and they saying, "No, that's not it," until they were old and finally faded away. The question is, would they find everything they were looking for in life in that way? Would they actually find meaning for their life? Probably not. If you take into account all the brain science studies, there is a lasting value to classic stories, and all the studies of myth that impact our culture all point to that fact. Books are the cause and there is an effect, but it doesn't mean that there is meaning on the scale of a religious world there. A book like To Kill a Mockingbird might alter pathways in our brains more effectively than much of pulp fiction or documentaries telling us to believe this or that, but it can't tell a reader why they are here, or who they are. Still, those stories resonate on a personal level and makes us work to understand the characters' motives. It's the work put in that changes us. We feel for Scout and her brother, for their father, and Boo, and we do develop a modicum of empathy. Where as, the silliness of a novel like The Da Vinci Code, wouldn't or couldn't, even on its best day of sales. Truth will out, and most knew it rang false. Also, the characters didn't make us stretch, to empathise with them, when To Kill a Mockingbird does. The art of discussion about literature has found a new and more accessible place on the Internet, when before it was relegated only to the classroom, or to circles of writers found in the likes of the Algonquin Circle or the Bloomsbury Group. We can now enter into a discussion in real time or in our own time, read salient articles such as those found on The University of Stirling: The Gothic Imagination, among many others I personally love to read. The audience has widened, and we have the opportunity to enter the discussion, learn new things about the classic books we've read in and out of school, and gain a greater respect and admiration for the tales. But if it's just analysis, it's empty. It's definitely not personal. And so this reader I spoke of set out on their quest to find meaning for their life in great literature, but still felt frustrated that they couldn't find it as satisfying as they thought. Even with their little chart set out in front of them, and their list ever growing with the publication of new books the literati recommend. Literature has always added a wonderful component to our culture, to aid in helping us find the truth about ourselves and the societies we've created, and as warnings, like 1984. It can make us think. It can direct us toward a different political view, enlighten our attitudes toward others, educate us a bit, add to our understanding of our own culture and those of others, find the fallacies in what's popular to believe, discover that what we've learned in school may not be the whole truth, but literature, for all its wonderful qualities, can't answer the deeper questions in life. Even Star Wars couldn't answer those questions. As much as The Lord of the Rings attempted to answer those questions, and better than nearly any book, a great deal of work had to be done to find the answers. You still have to know what the questions are to see the answers. When it was written a reader knew, but not today.I was watching The Goodwife the other day. The son of the main couple in the story wanted to marry a girl of 23 when he was only 19. Because he took a memoir class in college, he decided he wanted to quit school for a while and write his memoir, while his wife worked to support him in Paris. His mother laughed. It deserved to be laughed at. The most chilling part was the commentary about marriage by the girl he wanted to marry. She treated it as if it were the stitching in the tapestry of her life she could just cut out if she decided she didn't like it. Marriage had to work for her, not that she had to work to make the marriage last. At that moment, I knew that all the literature they should have read hadn't taught them anything, that they wouldn't even know to ask those thorny questions that needed to be asked. The world revolved around them, not that they were sitting on an orb hurtling around a star in a universe so vast that they were a mere group of cells so insignificant that if they disappeared nothing would change. And he wanted to write his memoir at 19. Funny, and horribly frightening. Narcissistic, and infantile. The end result was the parents saying to let them make their own mistakes. How fatalistic, how sad. What if they brought a child into that mess? None of the important questions were asked. And everyone seemed satisfied that they weren't. Those people were a disaster. I also read an account of a teacher bemoaning the fact that the schools weren't relating great literature on a personal level to the students when using Common Core. Everything was detached, analytical, like a formula you memorise in order to work a mathematical problem. It's a sign of the times. Only those hard and calculating could conceive something like Common Core, that teaches a student what to think, not how. That fact is also something I've known for a while, and why I decided to write my Shadow series with several themes in mind. In a sea of books about nothing, I wanted to give just a little something. The first book, The Night Shadow, is about marriage, which I openly discuss in one warm moment between the two heroes. Marriage is not about feelings. Feelings change. Marriage is not about loving someone. Love lives or dies, changes, depending upon the people. Marriage is not about producing a family. Sometimes people can't have families. Marriage is not a contract, or a piece of paper, or just two families merging, however true that may be. Marriage is only one thing: The mystical union of two souls, and nothing less. It's the tender soul entering the world like this new scientific discovery: A flash of light when life begins. (Fascinating video taken of the moment when life begins.) It's the uniting of two into one, the perfect number, the primus mobile, the severed soul finding its other half. Marriage is the bedrock of civilisation, the cornerstone upon which the house we build will rest. The girl in the television series, The Goodwife, was too ignorant to know that if you snip the stitches the tapestry falls apart, but maybe she doesn't care, she's indifferent, thinking she can get a new tapestry. At the moment it feels good. Yet, she will find that the tapestry has to be cleaned, checked, reinforced in order for it to last, and that means work, work, work. Too many today can't even define the word marriage. They spend more time thinking about what to eat and wear on the day they have the ceremony, rather than the marriage itself. The teacher is right. These ideas are fundamental to our lives, they are personal, but they are cast aside as if they are old and useless, like the girl did in The Goodwife. Whatever happened to the Star Wars Effect? Yes, there are people who cry out that this isn't fair and that isn't, and there might be a heated discussion on television, in the media, on the streets, riots and demonstrations, but does our life become richer if we are allowed to smoke pot or not, or if you hate Wall Street, or the debt for your college is paid for by millions rather than yourself? What's on the other side of that Goodwife couple are broken people, and they will wonder, later in their lives, how they became broken. And they will break up. Will they ever know it was because they entered into a union for which they were ill-prepared, that they had no knowledge of what marriage is? They might discover, at some point, how pot is much more damaging to your brain than they imagined, and that paying your own debts means its over, that there's an end to it, which is far better than being taxed on it for the rest of your life. That doesn't guarantee you a job to even pay your taxes. All that fight over something that is meaningless, is just that; meaningless. While our reader searches for answers in his books, he will never know that sometimes, when you don't know the questions to ask, you will never see the answers, even if they are under your nose. They will seem to evade us, always be out of our reach. And that reader will read, and read, and still feel empty. They will be worldly, sophisticated, filled with empty knowledge, but they won't know the answers to the important questions. Those answers must be taught. No chart will do it. No Common Core. No great literary masterpiece. That kind of knowledge is handed down from one generation to the next, to be pointed out, to be gleaned from our traditions, our institutions which are more valuable than most young people know who casually dismiss them. Those things are timeless, are the architects of the world's great ideas, have built civilisations. There will be books that will carry that theme, try to make us think, will answer a small portion of the great questions, might confirm the answers. Still, we must be taught to care, taught how to think, to discuss subjects that challenge us, learn logic, understand the difference between a fallacious argument and the truth, and not silence those who disagree with us because we feel uncomfortable being challenged. Maybe we need to be challenged. We cannot be indifferent, or allow the world to wallow in a nihilistic trance, or scream about phantom rights, or be bullied by the media, or politicians, or the government, or some movement screaming you down, or someone gagging you because they want to have a false sense of feeling safe. You must reach out and learn what you do not know. How beautiful, how true is that above quote. Those who want to be safe from any challenge will never grow. They will always be less, troubled, broken. And bullies. It's up to us to engage, discuss, grow, learn, and reach out. It's all right to challenge one another, just don't bully someone who disagrees. Nail down what it is that they think they know, guide them through the logic process. If you're right, give a hand up, don't smack them down. And never be afraid to ask a question. Only fools disdain questions.Finding meaning is the single most important pursuit of our lives. It changes everything. We need to climb aboard that ship carrying us out into the treacherous sea of life, to learn how to sail, learn about that sea, the geography of lands around it, and find that undiscovered country awaiting us, knowing what questions to ask, so when we receive the answers we will know the truth of it, for we will have learned the meaning of that country, and what it offers; a richer life filled with meaning.- Chéri Vausé is the author the Noir Mystery Thriller Shadow series. To read a few pages go to her book site: Noir Mystery Thrillers of Chéri Vausé. She has taught theology for more than twenty-five years, and became a novelist, beginning with The Garden of Souls, where she used her knowledge of Hebrew and Christian mysticism. She is still on vacation, and will return in several weeks.
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FEAST OF FOOLS

FEAST OF FOOLS | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
The origins of April Fool's Day appear to be rather murky for historians. However, most attribute it to the switching from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. A Papal Bull was issued by Pope Gregory XIII to stop using the Julian calendar, which celebrated the New Year on the Vernal Equinox. In an agrarian society, spring was the beginning of everyone's New Year, a time of planting and rebirth, after the bleakness and die off of winter. The festivities began on March 25 and ended a week later, on April 1. At the time, there were many pagan festivals surrounding planting and harvesting that were still practised, some benign and rather foolish, but they were holdovers from a time before the Church converted the populace. Changing the calendar made the year guided by the Sun, employing consistent time measures, and not based on the Moon, or the seasons. A French term was bestowed upon the fool celebrating on the wrong day; Le Poisson d'Avril, meaning April Fish.Literary references are interesting. A Flemish poet, Eduard de Dene, in 1539 wrote about a nobleman who apparently sent his servants on Fool's errands on April 1. More than a hundred years later, in 1686, John Aubrey called a day of revelry "Fooles holy day", which was the first British reference. Over ten years later, in 1698, there was an invitation tricking a group of people into going to the Tower of London in order to "see the Lions washed." In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, published in 1392, the "Nun's Priest's Tale" is set "Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two". Chaucer probably meant 32 days after March, which would make the date April 1, or the second. The second was the anniversary of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia's engagement, taking place in 1381. I highly doubt this reference. A marriage would have been celebrated, and not the engagement unless there was an important treaty signed making that date significant to the populace. One of the other possibilities is a prehistoric festival called Feast of Fools. The name "April Fools" echoes that of the Feast of Fools, a holiday held on December 28, and might have been brought forward to April, but no one knows for certain. Think of Victor Hugo's, The Hunchback of Notre Dame when the townsfolk crown the Hunchback King. Chaucer had an interesting reference in the Canterbury Tales to a March 32. Some attribute the 32 to a typo, whereas others believe it meant 32 days past March. But is it? The 1392 edition reads: Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Hmm... You be the judge. Some think the Hebrew festival of Purim accounts for it, but I highly doubt that. Purim is more akin to Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Carnivale than April Fool's Day. If you have the luck of being in New Orleans, Louisiana, (Pronounced N'Orlens down here) you will see the signature purple and green of Purim, the liberal drinking and feasting, coins and beads that are prevalent in the Purim celebration, which makes more sense. Following that are days of fasting which corresponds to Ash Wednesday and Lent, Catholic days preceding the Holiest of Holy Days: Good Friday and Easter. Most of the Jewish Holidays fit more closely to Christian religious holidays than silly ones, like April Fool's Day.One possibility is the Greco-Roman festival called Hilaria, celebrated on March 25. It honored Cybele the Greek Mother of Gods. It was celebrated with parades and masquerades in order to celebrate the first day after the vernal equinox. We can see where the word "Hilarious" came from.Here's a couple of great quotes on Fools:"Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever." - Charles Lamb"April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four." - Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894"I have great faith in fools - self-confidence, my friends call it." - Edgar Allan Poe"It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humour." - Max Eastman"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas AdamsWhatever the origins, the day is about fooling people, perpetrating a silly lie. Keep the jokes light, and have fun! Happy April Fool's Day!
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Why Are Women Ghosts So Frightening?

Why Are Women Ghosts So Frightening? | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
After the horrific tsunami in Japan a few years ago, taxi drivers began to have unearthly encounters with ghosts climbing into their cabs and asking to be taken to various destinations. When the drivers were questioned by someone chronicling the numerous events, the stoic professionals were quite matter of fact about their experiences. Many said they didn't discover they had a ghost for a passenger until they glanced into the back seat to find their passenger had disappeared, the experience that real. Some even conversed at length with these ghosts while driving, and when they reached their appointed destination, the passenger just vanished. But ghosts are no strangers to the Asian world. Stories of ghosts surrounding the ships found drifting from North Korea into the China Sea with every passenger dead have been added to the strange mix of legends regarding ghost ships. The Chinese have bizarre ceremonies where a bride or groom will marry their betrothed who is dead in order to make them a part of their prayers for their ancestors, but also to prevent the ghost from haunting them. Myths of the spider woman who weaves a web to trap a man or woman is found in Japanese and Navajo cultures, or the woman in white who seems to transcend cultural boundaries all over the world. She inhabits houses, can be seen on roads, or may pick a particular individual to haunt because she holds a grudge against them. And this woman seems more frightening than them all. Why? Well, here's a deeply philosophical look at the phenomena. Classic literary history is rife with ghostly female spectres. Think of the sirens who sang to sailors and fishermen, luring them onto the rocks to die, or how about the Erinyes, who we've come to love as the Furies. These delightful creatures were designed as a mechanism to punish those who've broken with cultural norms. One of my favourites in literary history is Clytemnestra who saw herself as the "angel of blood and god's vengeance," when she executed Agamemnon while he helplessly bathed. But who wouldn't slice and dice a monster like that for sacrificing their daughter in order to have fair weather to launch an attack? However, she got her comeupance when Orestes kills her for killing his misogynist cretin of a father. Then there's the quintessential vengeful spirit known as Medea, who not only kills her brother to escape her island home, but then kills her husband's new wife with a poisoned dress, and murders her children so they wouldn't be influenced by their father Jason. And she went on to become part of the pantheon of gods? Yikes!And there are many more, like Phaedra in Euripides' play, and India's goddess Shiva, etcetera. You would think that the variety and number of these stories would make the female ghost more common, a little less frightening, but, in fact, it makes her ghostly presence all the more terrifying. A recent survey was taken where the surveyed were asked about what film characters in horror stories frightened them the most. Without question, the top candidates most voted for were the little girl in The Ring, the woman in The Grudge, and Regan in The Exorcist. It's no surprise to me that female ghosts or spirits have always been the top contenders for the most terrifying of creatures, and the why is most fascinating. I offer my humble answer to that ticking question of why, by taking you on a mystical journey, and waxing a little philosophical. Let me begin by admiring the female's role in the history of the world, in every culture across time, because she can do something men can't. Women are the nurturers of society, and for nine months out their lives they carry the future in their bodies. We not only help a child to grow within us, but we have the means to feed them for the first year of their life, a feat only assigned to the female of nearly all the species. It's noteworthy to mention that there's even a scientific formula that gives new meaning to the woman's profile when she's heavy with child. I absolutely love this, and if you're a woman, then this should be beautiful to you. Mathematicians have determined a woman's pregnant belly is the Divine Proportion, or known as The Golden Mean. Aristotle is attributed to have postulated this mathematical formula first, and Plato taking it to the next level, and onward... What is the golden mean? In short it represents the following : Two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. Here's an illustration of that formula: I find it fascinating that the figure above resembles the child curled in the womb, adding to the mystical nature of this mean. You've probably seen this curving line drawn on Da Vinci's Man, and/or a Nautilus shell, however, I believe the mean is most perfectly expressed when calculated on the woman's pregnant belly, the formula reaching its zenith in a woman, perfectly poised to change the history of the world with the birth of her child. That to me is not only miraculous, but a beautiful divine ideal. At this point, let's take a little bit of a journey back to the story of creation to present a touch of Hebrew mysticism in this commentary. In Genesis, Adam was created on the sixth day, after the animals. He was fashioned by God out of clay, possessing both a male and female body; an androgynous being. The narrative continues to say that a soul was breathed into this clay, and they - yes, I said they - became a living soul. The name Adam is from the word adamah, meaning clay, and isn't a name for the Dude, but specifically explains what he was made of, that he was tied to the earth until the soul was breathed into him. Within the next narrative that goes into more detail, the Woman (later named Eve in the story) was separated from Adam's side (the Hebrew word does not mean a rib, but side), and she became a complete human by herself. The act of separation was the final act by God, and therefore, she became the crown of creation. Adam's expression of admitting that the Woman was taken from him, a letter of God's name is added to their genders: A Yod for man, himself, and a Heh for woman (taken from God's name; YHWH). Man was created in God's image, or his likeness (this does not refer to God's shape, as if he were an anthropomorphic being), because Adam was given a touch of the divine breathed into the clay, a soul, and was given the ability to reason and to have faith. Only man has this ability. The terms ishah and ish's root (woman and man) is in the word fire. I've always found that fascinating. It certainly explains why a relationship between a man and woman gone wrong is like scorched earth. In a deeper probe into the word origins, the Hebrew word knegdo is used in this part of the narrative. This means the woman was created to oppose the man if he is found to be unworthy, but a helpmate if he is worthy. Woman was specifically designed in her nature to oppose man, even to fight him if he proves to be too earthy, too tied to his animal nature (the same clay animals were created from), or militaristic, denying the spiritual nature of man, and his crucial elevated pursuits. This is why she is the crown, the ishah with the double Heh. She is the more spiritual of the two, and man is meant to listen to that perspective, to take heed, and not always wallow in the mud from which he is fashioned. He is to be human, above the animal, to adhere to the sacred and not animal desires. But she can mislead, too, and the gift of being in tune with the spiritual can be turned toward evil in a greater degree. Yet, within her higher pursuits, she is the crown of creation, the penultimate Queen of Heaven, taking humanity to its highest heights. Science has shown the brains of men and women function differently. Women are more empathetic, more apt to judge the world through their feelings. They also interpret their feelings in a different way from men. One of my favourite sayings comes from the Kabbalah (the Hebrew book of creation), "God counts women's tears." What that means is they feel the sadness of the world more deeply than men. This isn't to say that men don't feel deeply, it's that women see the spiritual nature of sadness and weep for the world, for they carry the world in their wombs and possess the ability to touch the souls of their children when pregnant. A man simply cannot do this, but then, he wasn't meant to. Men and women together create a balance, a lovely partnership that when exercised in love are capable of many great things, or even simple ones like family. What does all of this have to do with ghosts? The power of the opposition between males and females lies in our unconscious mind, in a joy and fear so engrained in our makeup that we couldn't excise it with logic even if we wanted. The story of creation exposes the idea to us, to help us understand our natures. Interestingly, the fear of being opposed by a woman seems to cross all cultural boundaries, in spite of our great religious differences and belief systems. If the nature of a woman is to feel more profoundly the spiritual side, then a ghostly woman who brings the power of the spiritual down on the heads of those she haunts would be a force no man or woman could fight in the material world. Her spirit can live on to wreak her vengeance, which would be considerable in regards to the depth of her spiritual nature, and both men and women would naturally fear her. It must be played out, for the spiritual world flows through this world, unseen, but always trembling near, heightening the fear factor. The female spectre is the opposite of the nurturer, the mother, the helpmate. She becomes the destroyer, stoking the fire to purge her victims from the earth. Innocence, motherhood, and love are all turned upside down, and a terrifying force of destruction flourishes in place of those values. It's a powerful narrative not likely to go away any time soon.I don't agree with the commentaries that claim women ghosts are conjured up by men as a misogynist means of controlling women. That's hyperbole that is factually false. I think there's a natural fear of the nurturer turned destroyer. Do we not hate a woman who is cold toward their children, or abusive? She is the epitome of evil, a terrifying creature. We expect that mothers will naturally love their children, but we know that isn't always true, and that frightens us. People are not just flesh and bone, but have a spiritual nature. We have a sense of eternity knitted inside of us, and we tend to pay more attention to it in our fears. It's also why we write and tell so many stories that transcend the physical world, why we tell tales of faeries, ghosts, and jins, of witches and wraiths that steal babies and haunt us. And that terror of the other world intruding into our mundane existence is difficult to ignore, and no amount of logic seems to take it away. Naturally, when we see a little girl climb out of a well to come after us, we're absolutely terrified. So the next time you climb aboard a taxi, strike up a conversation with the ghost next to you. Be kind, and maybe they won't come after you, particularly if they are a woman. (Wicked laugh and cackle here.) - Chéri Vausé is the author of the Noir Mystery Thriller. She taught theology for more than 25 years, and lectures on many literary subjects using mysticism as a means to explain a reader's reaction to certain stories, and the meaning behind the stories that haunt us. This was a part of her lecture series. For more information on her books, go to her book site: Noir Mystery Thrillers to Die For.
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The Saurian Tail: Does Darkness Lead Us to the Light?

The Saurian Tail: Does Darkness Lead Us to the Light? | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
The search for meaning, or enlightenment, may lead us down many paths, toward foggy shores, a desert, or to a mountaintop. It's a pursuit fraught with questions, and sometimes no forthcoming answers, but we always begin in the dark, searching for the light to shine on our path through life. Someone once asked me, "Why do you write such dark stories?" in reference to my Noir thrillers, particularly my Shadow series which can have some evil incidents in the plots. The answer may be simple, but it still is very complex. It has to do with man's psyche, his attraction to the mystical, the metaphysical, and to religion. Being a Catholic theologian, a former teacher of the God's mysteries, I write for the searcher, the one who wants their stories to carry them into a place where they might learn something about themselves and the world. From the moment we are born, we are ferried toward the shores of Death, but our minds are attuned toward living our life to the fullest, to hang on with all our strength. We not only know this consciously when confronted with an illness or an accident or when someone we know dies, but that thought is always there on a subconscious level. We have a natural fear of death, to fight it off for as long as we possibly can, so life fills our daily thoughts. We might believe that our pursuit of happiness leads us toward the light, yet often times, our pursuits can make us feel depressed, unfulfilled, and even lost. But can the darkness, black subjects, shadows, lead us toward the light, give us a deeper explanation of who we are, and why we are here? Can horror and death teach us about light, and the sacred? My answer is yes. "Taken in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries." Carl Jung, The Integration of the Personality.My Shadow Series is based on one of Carl Jung's archetypes, the Shadow Archetype which Jung's quote refers to. I liked the metaphor of shadows, which abound in noir films and stories, and based my series on the idea of taking ten years of a couple's life where they uncover secrets about the heroine's parents, her past, and where she learns a great deal about her husband and partner in their private investigation firm, including herself. As they investigate various crimes, they are really discovering themselves, learning who they truly are, and what they must ultimately face; their darker half, the implacability of death. Just as we all do, they had compartmentalised themselves, but my heroine created such claustrophobic boxes to live in, those square walls affected everyone else around her. Together, she and her husband gather the strength to face the perils of life, to allow parts of their personality to flourish, when before they had been suppressed by others.According to Jung, in order to be fully integrated, the Shadow Archetype must face negative aspects of their personae, their animal nature, much like the Hyde personality inside Dr. Jekyll. It is within this complexity that some have difficulty in facing that other half of themselves. The psychological terror of confronting one's darker side sends many to a psychiatrist, or in a minor sense, a psychologist, or to a church, or to God. Yet, if we knew the freedom we would experience by facing it, we could exorcise it, and realise that we are more than just a good or bad person, but that we have darker proclivities we must wrestle with, what Saint Paul called his thorn in his side. Our black side is not separate from us, but wholly a part of us. As Jekyll is dying, he is forced to admit that Hyde had always been there and it wasn't just the potion that allowed him to come out. Jekyll was not the angel to Hyde's devil, he had harboured all those evil thoughts all along. By falsely believing he was two, Jekyll and Hyde, instead that he was one, he literally set loose those powerful forces within himself that had longed to experience an unrestricted life. As Jung would say, he ignored that dark half, giving it the space it needed to begin to grow. Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, once likened Hyde to a hydatid, which in zoology is a sac of limpid water containing tapeworms. He says Jekyll and Hyde are of Scandinavian origin. Jekyll is from Jokulle meaning an icicle, and Hyde comes from the Danish word for hide or haven. Instead of integrating the two to allow the good half to control the bad, to feed the good, he gave sustenance to Hyde, a potion to enable him to grow. In that separation, Hyde gained control, took over, killing the Jekyll side who became too impotent to fight Hyde because he was not that good after all, but an icicle. Your choice may be to either swing on that saurian tail and play games with it, as Dr. Jekyll did, or face it. Jung, of course, was more interested in facing our darker half in a psychological coup. The religious life asks its believers to do the same, to face that darker half in order to integrate our lives, and not be impotent in the face of our dark desires. In my stories, I take it one step further, to delve into the mystical mysteries of life. Light kills darkness, erases it, and removes shadows. My stories are not just the cold reality of facing the dark side, but the search for the divine, for light. Even with the implacability of Death hanging over us, to search for the divine is a search for meaning, to understand our soul, which are both immortal. Jung's reference to the saurian tail is the cadeusus, the symbol held up by Moses to prevent the serpents bite from killing the Hebrew people. It was the medicine that saved, the serpents bite that did not kill, but revealed a hidden truth. In a sense, by giving my characters a touch of the mystic, I raise that banner, that symbol to elevate rather than send a reader toward an abyss where they might never return. Yes, darkness can lead us to the light, just as the serpent's tail leads us to a greater truth of who we are. - Chéri Vausé is the author of the Noir Mystery Thriller Shadow Series: The Night Shadow, The Touch of a Shadow, and (to be released later 2016) The Shadow that Follows Me. She is also the author of the Thriller, The Truth and Nothing but Lies, and a Gothic (to be released later 2016) The Portrait of Lilith.
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Exploring the why of horror and dark tales, we learn it may have something to do with facing our darker half.

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Fairytale-Like Illustrations By Swedish Artist Alexander Jansson

Fairytale-Like Illustrations By Swedish Artist Alexander Jansson | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it

Alexander Jansson is a Swedish illustrator who describes himself on Facebook as some kind of artist, digital mixed media illustrator, 2D/3D animator a mystery scientist.

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I have a soft spot for beautiful illustrations in Fairy Tale Stories. These are quite remarkable!

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Writing is Genius

Noir Mystery Thriller author Chéri Vausé's Writerly Tips and Publishing Business News.
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Having a book site separate from my Blog allowed me to create something beautiful, and an easy way to see my books, get a peek inside, and my upcoming events.

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The Night Shadow by Cheri Vause - Book Goodies

The Night Shadow by Cheri Vause - Book Goodies | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
The first four years of the sixties have not been kind to Esther Charlemagne, even with her former NYPD partner, Aiden “Mac” McManus by her side. As they settle into life in Los Angeles as private investigators, the two take on a case that forces them to return to New York City to unravel the …
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Book Goodies has two of my books. Check out this great site!

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The Night Shadow - Kindle edition by Chéri Vausé. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The Night Shadow - Kindle edition by Chéri Vausé. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Night Shadow.
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The Night Shadow has made it to the finals of the Best Mystery in the Bookbzz contest! Read it and find out why!

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Professor Gives English Class Assignment That Goes Hilariously Wrong - Trendzified

Professor Gives English Class Assignment That Goes Hilariously Wrong - Trendzified | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
LOL, this is the most hilarious thing I've read all week!

Via Levin Chin
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Perfect example of differences in the way men and women write. But it also says, don't make literature a team project.

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A Little Whine with that Cheese

A Little Whine with that Cheese | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
Someone I know works for a company that believes anyone who complains should be fired, and they are. Their reasoning is the complainer is not a productive worker because they don't have a positive attitude toward their tasks, their fellow employees, and their employer. Hmmm... Although that may be true in many cases, for chronic complainers  invariably create a depressive atmosphere to work in, besides being a crashing bore, it's not the complete truth. Nothing is more cathartic than a really good rant or complaint when your work environment could use a swift kick in the proverbial arse, and there is probably more than a little room for complaining. Most work places where people complain the most are usually due to management being out of touch with the rank and file, or they send signals to middle management that they don't want to hear complaints and insulate themselves. Poor managers promote fellow poor managers, and so on. So, I guess, I'm fired. Fortunately, I'm an author, and I'm practically self-employed, even though I'm with a small press. That said, I do hate incessant whiners, probably as much or more than this employer does, but that doesn't mean all complaints are not worth listening to, or are not valuable.As an author, I do travel around the social media circuits because I'm not as famous as James Patterson or P. D. James. While perusing, I happened upon this self-published author's tweet: "Too many authors use too many words." At first I was stunned into silence. I read it again. Then I began to laugh. What does she think writers do, use cheese whiz to tell a tale? In the words of the Beatles, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" I get what she meant, but if I hear another cheesy writer tell all us authors that we need to show not tell, don't use the word very, chuckle, any words ending in ly, adverbs, adjectives, the verb had, other words for he said, she said, such as she insisted, he cajoled, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, I'll run screaming from the room. Words are beautiful. All words should be employed and not fired. I tell a story, and films show a story. Besides, there is too much advice on writing clogging up the Internet, and not enough concentrating on weeding out the hacks. I like my stories with meat, not just action and dialogue. I'm not Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not James Patterson. I'm me. I tell a story in my own way. Okay! So, this is my rant. This is my complaint, my whine. Now, I'll give you a chance to complain... It's your turn... ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!") I'm serving a baked brie with a cranberry compote, Havarti, and a Jarlsberg to die for, served on toast points. You pick the Whine...- Chéri Vausé is not your usual mystery or thriller author. For a look inside her books, go to her book site: Noir Thrillers to Die for.
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Sometimes you just need to rant
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Dreams

Dreams | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
There are many kinds of dreams, and not just the nocturnal type. Aspirations are called dreams, and I've often wondered why. Perhaps it's because we fondle them when we sleep, and dwell on them during the day in an almost trance-like state. I think they do become our dreams when we visualise them in our head repeatedly. One of the most beautifully written poems likens dreams to the cloths of heaven. No one could express it more eloquently and simply than Yeats:Aedh Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven- by William Butler YeatsHad I the heavens' embroidered cloths,Enwrought with golden and silver light,The blue and the dim and the dark clothsOf night and light and the half-light,I would spread the cloths under your feet:But I, being poor, have only my dreams;I have spread my dreams under your feet;Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.Dreams are frequently used by writers, not only for their symbolism, but because they speak to us in a universal language we all can relate to. They unwind in our sleep, reminding us of our hopes and fears and loves and secret longings, never very far from our every thought. Yeats saw the metaphysical power of dreams, as a reality that can be wounded easily by those we love, and that they are the most precious gift we can give because they are priceless to us. Our dreams reside within our souls, speaking to us when we least expect it, giving us the strength to strive forward, to fix our minds on a goal to achieve them, and, as Yeats says, they are like the divine altar cloths in heaven. In the literary world, dreams are employed to frighten, to foster love, as prescient warnings, and a myriad of other tropes in plot points. As a writer of the Noir mystery, I make up the psychological profile of my characters with their dreams and aspirations as a way of expressing their inner life. I like to expose the strange and bizarre dreams of my villains to the reader so they may understand their motivations a little, be able to see them as a real person, rather than a cartoonish one dimensional evil character. I used a dream to forward the plot and reveal the inner life of my antagonist in my first Shadow story, The Night Shadow. It was also a thread left for the reader to unravel the mystery. The potential villain reveals a snippet of this inner life to a psychiatrist when she discusses her reoccurring dream. But, the most telling is her interpretation of a painting in the doctor's office, Chagall's The Cock (above). She stares at the painting, appearing to be in a self-induced hypnotic state, all while describing what she sees in the painting, and, therefore, revealing her secret self. Chagall is said to paint the unconscious mind, his symbolism strange and sometimes unfathomable. Yet, they are the stuff of dreams, unyielding to the gravitational pull of reality. I find myself staring at his work, just becoming lost within the dream.Dreams can be destructive if they are pursued in a way that wounds those we love. One of the worst things a person can do is to give hope to another, to encourage them to develop a dream, then dash it deliberately. Sometimes people do this in the belief they are trying to help the person be realistic. But we all need to discover on our own that some dreams are unreachable, and that maybe a slight modification can mean the achievement of it, as opposed to casting it away as unworkable. Dreams should be encouraged, never discouraged. Big or small, dreams are truly divine. They can alter the course of the world, or create a simple art piece. They can terrorise us to the point of mental collapse, or guide us to the promised land. Three of the most famous personalities in the scriptures are dreamers; Jacob (pictured above), Joseph, and Daniel. And, then, there is Joseph in the New Testament, who dreams and saves Jesus' life. Saint John the Revelator dreamed of the end of times (not the world), and wrote a most enigmatic and misinterpreted book that continues to befuddle even the best of the apologists. His dream never ceases to fascinate, and has become the best fodder for horror films ever written. It's imagery is stunningly beautiful, and I liken it in its form to The Song of Songs, that it is at once allegorical, and yet contains glimpses into the future that frighten and give us hope. Frank Herbert, in his Dune Trilogy, made the central character a dreamer. Both Freud and Jung were fascinated by dreams, developing their theories using the imagery of their patients. They both believed dreams possessed a universal language that could be interpreted to heal a troubled person. The Aboriginals in Australia believe the dream is more real than their waking life. The tribes across the continental United States have rich dream lives, interpreting their futures with dreams, or to understand them as warnings, or answers to questions. I see dreams as crucial to our civilisation, that they carry within every one the God particle, the divine substance that keeps the universe from flying apart.I find I dream answers to my story problems, which seems a common practice for many writers. We all write about it. I dream new story ideas, and strange moments that seem to come true. I continue to believe that all of us have the ability to glimpse into the future with our odd Déjà Vu feelings, or a simple uncomfortable moment that keeps us from walking out our front door, or climbing into our car, or taking a plane, even walking down a street. But there are those who dream in technicolor, in big landscapes, and have prophetic glimpses that can change the course of a nation. Cops are said to have those feelings before they breach a door, or walk up to a person, and some visualising the danger there. We all have a rich inner life of dreams, hopes, and aspirations, but some dreams are so fabulous they build dynasties, corporations, nations. Jung felt we are all connected, and our dreams tapped into that interconnected pool. Whatever you believe, dreams are important. They keep us sane, order our thoughts, solve problems, and give us hope. There is nothing else in the universe that is as powerful, save God himself. Don't dash the dreams of those you know. Encourage, uplift, and tread softly, for those dreams are fragile.- Chéri Vausé is not your usual mystery or thriller author. For further information regarding her books, go to her book site Noir Mystery Thrillers to Die for.
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The Unconquerable Universe

The Unconquerable Universe | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
“It is almost banal to say so,” Henry Miller once said, “yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” As true as this may be, why is it our memories can be so fixed on a moment, an object, or someone at a certain age? Is it our memories that give us a sense of permanence? Alan Lightman observed the phenomenon of our longing for permanence in a world that is in constant change: "I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?" And while he continues on in his address to denigrate this longing for permanence because everything is impermanent, he fails to see that it is our strength, not our weakness. We don't need to reframe the question, as he suggests. We need to see the significance of the answer. We are here for a short moment, and then we are gone. Each day we awaken, we are older, marching ever forward toward our demise. What we create often lasts longer than we do, such as a beautiful marble relief. And if we dwell upon those unassailable facts, we could wonder why we should continue to live, to despair out existence. The artist, Carrie Mae Weems, relayed this idea of our impermanence in a commencement address to graduating artists. She likened man to a particle of dust, a nearly scriptural phrase. "I think about myself as dust in the wind," she said, "and I’m going to be here just for a hot second — that’s about it. When you think about the vastness of the universe in which we dwell, we are dust in the wind — and yet we are here." "And yet we are here," she says. It is no accident, no fluke, no mistake that we exist in spite of these depressing facts. We think, we create, we learn, we give life, and we grow. It's this dynamic, this metaphysical odds against all odds that is reflected in our memories, inside the world within us that we build brick by brick. We exist, building an unconquerable universe in our minds almost every moment we live. This divine gift that gives us a sense of permanence, something to grasp onto, as things wither and die around us, anchors us to our families, our communities, and our culture in an unfathomable way. We are the only creature who has the unique capacity to create, to erect edifices that reach up to the sky, have complex problem solving capabilities, or may design worlds on canvas or paper, or compose and play music purely for pleasure or to advance a civilisation or merely for the artistic works' sake. We see in our minds, and those visions are fixed like a fly in amber motivating us, visions we share with one another, and they become the mortar for that world. Albert Einstein said that he could "see" the answer to a problem, just as a sculptor can see his artwork in the stone before he begins to hammer away. He meant he answered a question in his head before he wrote the equation down on paper. His mind's eye built the answer step-by-step to the ultimate end. Mozart could compose an entire symphony in his head, and write it down without changing a note, telling those around him that he heard it in its complete form that way. Imagination and memory work together to create or problem solve. They are beautiful handmaidens, our gift, and they give us solidity, permanence. Beethoven created his greatest masterpiece, the Ninth Symphony, when he was completely deaf. This capacity for erecting a complex world is because of our longing for permanence, not in spite of it. These amazing universes were created in the mind, rested there until they were chiselled into being or written down for the world to share in. Yet, most of us have created minute worlds in ours, unlike Einstein or Mozart, but they are permanently etched memories only we can see and hear. They are plans for cooking a special dish for a loved one or painting a room to give it a fresh look, or having a child, where they will become fond memories, forever fixed inside of us. They are not small or insignificant or foolish. They are huge, a vast universe without measure, that gives meaning to every one of us, a reason why we love, why we work hard, and live to full measure. As the Bard said, "What a piece of work is man..." These unconquerable universes within every man are the hope of the world. Beautiful.- Chéri Vausé is not your usual mystery or thriller writer. For more information about her Noir crime mysteries, go to her book site NOIR MYSTERY THRILLERS TO DIE FOR.
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Should we long for permanence in an impermanent world?

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Be True to Yourself

Shakespeare meant something completely different.
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"Be true to yourself" is the worst misquote all!
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The Spiritual Nature of Art

The Spiritual Nature of Art | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
Every ethnic culture has their symbols, their spiritual beliefs. They are passed down from one generation to another in their religion, their politics, their culture, and their art (encompassing everything from their written and oral stories to their drawings and music). The most accepted place to find these symbols, the spiritual beliefs, are in a culture's religion, and, interestingly, within its art. It is within art that symbolism, the spiritual thrives and reaches out to other cultures. It is where it has its most enduring place when an artist is free to speak the truth. The spiritual life of a people always found its most eloquent voice, its continuity in art. Wassily Kadinsky, a Russian artist and a Symbolist, wrote a book in 1914, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, and it can be found today reprinted under the title, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Being a part of the Symbolist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, he found his own voice by painting the spiritual, his dreams, by freeing himself from a particular style. He became a great proponent of loosing an artist's potential by abandoning the popular styles at the time, by forsaking materialism--which he believed forced an artist to paint subjects in a particular way for the money--in order to speak the truth through their work. He brought to the fore discussing the power art can have on a culture by bringing out the spiritual within art.History is punctuated by many artistic movements throughout the centuries, the artists turning their backs on what was popular, on what was expected, and breaking the rules. But most interestingly, when a culture needs a spiritual uplifting, a movement begins in the artistic world where they tap into the spiritual, breaking through the barrier. These movements have always been present, even from the beginning. Cave paintings did not all depict hunting scenes, but show an interesting shamanistic bent. The ghostly figure in the centre of the cave painting above is meant to portray a profound spiritual idea. The figure seems to be disappearing, perhaps indicating an ascension into the spiritual realm, or the presence of someone not in the physical but in the spiritual. It's beautiful in its simplicity, and is not difficult to understand what they meant. Symbols in art have always helped anthropologists and historians understand the culture of a people, been a valuable aid in showing what the people may have felt at the time, and the importance of an idea to them. Symbols continue to help all of us understand ourselves, and how much, or even, how little we've changed from that artist in the cave. We continue to create new symbols, and attach great meanings to these images in order to feel that we belong, or that we might be excluded, isolated, or shunned by a culture we live in. Even our misinterpretation of a symbol can create movements, or hysteria and division, or unite us, make us proud and strong, or create fear. Think of the Swastika, and how it can evoke feelings of hatred, but turn the direction of the legs around and you have an Indian symbol of good fortune. For good or ill, symbols are much too important to be dismissed without further study and understanding what they mean.During the late nineteenth century the movement in the world of art, Symbolism, began to unfold producing astounding works. Artists were breaking from the Romanticism Movement and the innovative style of the Impressionists, shattering the notion of what the definition of art was. Unlike the Impressionists, or the Romantics, and other styles, the Symbolists were a varied group of artists from all over Europe and the United States, never adhering to a particular style like so many movements of the past. To Kadinsky, among others within the movement, art did not exist for art's sake, but was a vehicle for a society to be moved to truth, to find the spiritual nature of man. Art had meaning. Their aesthetic goals were wildly different, yet they were unified by a shared pessimism over the decadence they believed existed in modern society, the materialism that ate at a man's soul and kept him from producing work that mattered. The Symbolist's desire was to paint the invisible, such as dreams or ideas or religious themes, minus the orthodoxy. Their preference for the employment of broad strokes, flat, simplistic, and abstract forms (Kadinsky's spheres above) inspired many artists such as Picasso, Watts, and other great painters of the time, to experiment painting ideas and emotionally charged pieces, much like Goya's Black Paintings that portrayed the evils of war, of witchcraft. Picasso began his so-called blue period having seen some of Gaugin's paintings, and was surprised and inspired by that artist's almost feral forms, and the release from any particular style. Even films were inspired by Symbolists, such as Kubin's odd stilted style inspiring its way into the film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The paintings that emerged from this movement were remarkable in their use of colour, as well as form, such as the Odilon Redon painting above, entitled Evocation. This is one of several showing his penchant for illustrating Buddha as his central figure. (His vase of flowers is in the header to prove these artists mastered the art of portraying realistic forms before they began to experiment with a more subjective style.) These Symbolists broke with tradition, painting their own notions of a free-flowing invisible world. The Symbolists had tapped into a universal idea that most religions, even those of the Aboriginal culture, have known for centuries: Symbols possess a mystical nature, and speak to our conscious and unconscious minds about universal truths. Kadinsky was right. But how right?As an author, I believe that there is such a thing as the spiritual, symbols that project spiritual ideals, and mystical connections within literature. And I'm not speaking of overtly religious books, but those stories that connect us to our spiritual selves by discussing intensely personal subjects of marriage, divorce, life, death, our lighter and darker halves, etcetera. One of the most prevalent forms exists in horror literature. What better way to express one's abject terror of modern science run amok, on relying on science to explain all rather than tapping into the spiritual to know what is right or wrong, than in the seminal work of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or Frankenstein? A vial of poisonous science is the symbol for Hyde, or lightning bringing a horror to life in Frankenstein. Both express a profound cynicism regarding a cold, calculating science that does not recognise man's soul, or the existence of good and evil in the world, or doing something because you can before thinking if you should. Social movements that are meant to equalize, to make things fair, inevitably become a communistic/fascist bureaucracy that begins to control a people to the extreme, whittling away at their freedoms. These movements, although well-meaning, kill generosity, the charity of a people caring for one another out of their own volition, by wresting the function from the people and controlling it, taxing it, and eventually destroying it. Fairness can pay a price that is too high, and cannot help but become an even greater evil, shown so brilliantly in 1984, by George Orwell, or The Trial, by Kafka, or Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. These stories are timeless, and can be certainly applied to the politically correct and micro-aggression movements present today in the corporate, government, and media, besides on the college campus in the United States. What if they took hold of absolutely everything? If we could be bullied into excising everything deemed offensive? Orwell, Bradbury, and Kafka warned us, but did we listen? When you can't please this disparate group or that one, you have to eliminate all freedom of expression to stop any offence, and this is the beginning of the end. You change the language, just as in the Orwellian nightmare of 1984, or The Giver, and enact deadly penalties that will eliminate any dissent. This is what Kadinsky was trying to say, that we need to crack through the crust of a culture encapsulating it, isolating it from the truth, that we should listen to the Kubins, the Redons, the Orwells, and Bradburys, pay attention to what Kafka felt, to see the evil of a bureaucracy turned against its people and that robbed them of their freedom; something he actually experienced and had to write about. They warned us, beseeched us to pay heed, for they tapped into the spiritual and prophesied what the world would be if we didn't. They showed us the darkness for what it is, and what it will become if left unchecked and people's hearts turned cold inside that hard shell.Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud eventually disagreed about a great many things, and went their separate ways. Symbols, the spiritual, were at the crux of their disagreement. Jung believed in a collective unconscious, that there were universal symbols that spoke to people in dreams, and were expressed in its art. A recent study may have found a connection between the trauma of a parent, among other hardships experienced by a person, that are transferred from parent to child through their DNA. A traumatic experience alters a person's DNA sequence, and into the mitochondria of a cell, which can be transferred from both parents to the child in the semen and eggs. Scientists have found that a child could be born with a particular tendency because of something the parent experienced before that child was born. Among the 3 billion bases, 99 percent are the same among all the peoples, but the tiny differences are what make us unique. The results of the study suggests that we can altar those sequences, and that opens up all kinds of interesting ideas. The question postulated in the book, The Bad Seed, by William March, written so many years ago, was a debate between nature versus nurture. A mother believed her child was a cold-blooded killer because the mother was the product of a cold-blooded killer, and then, her daughter inherited that gene from her. The study suggests that it might be both, not just one or the other. We are all products of nature and nurture. This could be the scientific answer Jung was looking for to explain his thesis. Symbols could be passed from parent to child within their DNA, that those things that make us feel in profound ways will be there in our future children, hardwired. For those who've backlashed against the initial studies that proved brain patterns can be altered through experiencing the symbols of art or literature, saying they didn't believe it, might just have to eat their words. Kadinsky was more right than he ever dreamed. Or perhaps he knew instinctively what science was yet to prove. Kadinsky wanted the pretty paintings to contain something of value for the public, to offer more to the viewer than something nice to hang on the wall of our homes, or even in museums. Art should speak to us. The Symbolists looked for spiritual ideals, to tap into the mystical realm, to share a piece of their soul. Writers should also strive to present more than an interesting story, that their writing should contain more than a formulaic inciting incident, a crisis, and a resolution. And it shouldn't matter what the genre. Do we try to classify Lord of the Flies into a horror genre category? No. It speaks to us from beyond a genre. Does Billy Budd or Moby Dick only belong to sea faring tales? Absolutely not! Literature has as much responsibility to provide the symbols that speak truth to a reader as do artists who paint or sculpt, or even composers. Instead of concentrating on being politically correct, or promoting social issues, or what I call, the Woe-Is-Me story in the Literary genre, they should rise above and speak to a man's soul, not wallow in the muck of abuse because its trendy. It's not enough to be socially relevant. If anyone remembers reading Dickens, we all saw the worst of humanity in his stories. It's not as if we aren't aware that there are evil humans, that they cause chaos and death, that they are abusive and exist in bureaucracies, are our bosses, they are poor and wealthy, criminal and seemingly good citizens. These ideas are not new. Kadinsky was asking us to bring out the spiritual through art, the mystical, to challenge our perspective, to bring us to tears by moving something deep within us. And if we tell a great story around it, wonderful. Dostoevsky couldn't create a story without an idea behind it, without characters who possessed a deeper kinship to us than just emoting within a plot. We all feel the isolation, or seeing ourselves as the ugly duckling next to the beauteous Rebecca, to have no name, in the mystery by Daphne du Maurier. What better way to scourge the evil personality of Rebecca and her toadie Mrs. Danvers than to have everything she touched immolated, wiped out of memory entirely? We discovered the beautiful side of evil. It's a symbol we can all understand. And it's deeply mystical. It speaks to us. These are enduring symbols of our society, the ones we can truly relate to. I do try to connect to something deeper within my stories, to laugh and cry with my characters, to have them experience the mystical, to be spiritual beings, and to learn to overcome adversity and triumph, and wrestle with the darkness within themselves. I want to transcend the world, to tap into something deeper, along with Dostoevsky and Kafka and Kadinsky. If I fail it is not because I haven't tried. Would that all writers would learn this very basic lesson, and strive to give the reader, the world something just a bit better, something that will give them something to chew on and feel.-- Chéri Vausé doesn't write your usual mystery or thriller. For more information about her and to read a few pages from her books, go to her book site: NOIR MYSTERY THRILLERS TO DIE FOR. Or go to her AMAZON Author Profile. She has been on vacation for several weeks, and will be returning at the end of next month.
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Do authors have a responsibility to tap into the spiritual? I believe they do. Here's why...
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Here is the Question: To Bite or Not to Bite

Here is the Question: To Bite or Not to Bite | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
The beginnings of the vampire legend are wider and more varied than most know, and did not originate with the publication of Bram Stoker's seminal book, Dracula. These supernatural beings or revenants or demons who consume blood and/or eat flesh predate the popular Mr. Dracula by several thousand years. Nearly every culture contains a tale of the undead inhabiting corpses. One of the most famous of the original stories is Adam's supposed first wife, Lilith. Originally of Hebrew origin, this folkloric tale portrayed her as a non submissive female, made from the dust as Adam was (not from his side), and chose to not procreate with Adam. Because of her refusal, she was cast out, becoming a demon who lived off the blood of babies for an eternity, unable to ever procreate herself. Ancient Babylonia and Assyria carried the tale naming her Lilitu. The story was originally written in the Hebrew book, Sefer Hasidim, and showed why Eve was taken from Adam's side, sharing his soul and desire to procreate. Lilith became part of the creation that came into being during the twilight hours just before God rested. The creatures were called Estries. These Estries could be healed of this horrid affliction of feeding on the blood of babies by making them eat bread and salt. Redemption was available for the Estries, but not for Lilith. She had seen the light, had a choice, but chose poorly. Her fate was sealed by that choice. The word vampire is a more modern term for the undead, and did not exist in ancient times. The blood drinking creatures, devouring flesh, and such, were believed to be demons or evil spirits. That supernatural domain was overseen by the Devil himself. His name was synonymous with what came to be called the vampire, or vampyre. Some cultures subscribed to the idea that blood drinking belongs to a kind of a deity, adhering to the notion of an angelic fall, much like that of Lucifer. The story of Satan, the transformed angelic being, Lucifer, fits rather nicely into that paradigm. In India there are tales of vetālas, a ghoul-like being who inhabits corpses. The Persians were one of the first to chronicle stories of blood-drinking demons, and pottery shards have been excavated depicting these men in the act. Not to leave out the Greeks and Romans, their mythology also has their demonic side. The Empusae, and the Lamia, and the striges are the creatures who gave mankind hell. Today, a Striga can be purchased and hung in the kitchen, and is affectionately known as the Kitchen Witch. Witches and demons were the usual terms used when describing unspeakable practices with blood and flesh. Empusa was the daughter of the goddess Hecate. She was a demonic, bronze-footed creature, who feasted on the blood of young men. She could approach them by transforming herself into a young woman so she could seduce them more easily. The Lamia, like Lilith, preyed upon children while they slept in their beds, sucking their blood. The gelloudes or Gello also preyed upon the young. The striges regularly feasted on children, but also delighted in sucking young men dry. There was no such thing as a good witch, or someone who practised white magic. They were all considered evil, playing with forces that could be set loose on mankind to destroy it. Witches in general were associated with crows or birds, taking on their form and flying about gathering intelligence and locating their prey. Later, the striga became are part of Roman mythology, but were commonly known as strix. The strix are a kind of nocturnal bird that feeds on human flesh and blood. Rising from the dead can be attributed to a myth in Azerbaijan, where the creatures are called Hortdan. Some of their abilities are similar to Dracula. They can become an animal, be invisible, and were known to drain the vitality of victims via blood loss. Sound familiar? Vampires have changed over the last two centuries, and have taken on many of the attributes found in the bountiful folklore about blood suckers. When you look at their history, these creatures were almost always supernatural, some considered deities.Over the past thirty years or so, the vampire has been romanticised. Olivia Metcalfe, a graduate student, wrote an essay for Spectrel Visions about Vampirism (link). She postulated that by negating the supernatural qualities of a vampire, and also making the vampire a woman, such as in American Horror Story, you have destroyed the monster in our midst, and actually made the character someone to be pitied. But as we now know, women and men both were part of the blood sucking lineage. Making the vampire a female does not necessarily make them less monstrous. According to the lore, women were the most horrid, the ones feared even more, because they could masquerade as a beautiful, innocent young woman, and would set their lovely traps for unsuspecting young men. The vampire, or revenant, has been a part of literature long before Stoker's Dracula was published. Here's a list: The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, Die Braut von Corinth (The Bride of Corinth) (1797) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Robert Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), John Stagg's The Vampyre (1810), Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Spectral Horseman (1810) and Ballad in St. Irvyne (1811) about a reanimated corpse, Sister Rosa, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unfinished Christabel, and Lord Byron's The Giaour. Byron also wrote: The Vampyre (1819). Some believe it was authored by Byron's personal physician, John Polidori, Fragment of a Novel (1819), or known as The Burial: A Fragment. Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest, first appeared from 1845 to 1847 in a series of the penny dreadfuls. Varney was published in book form in 1847. Later, Sheridan Le Fanu's lesbian vampire story Carmilla was published in 1871. With Varney and Carmilla, vampires became a bit more likable, but they weren't loved or revered. (If I omitted anyone, I do apologise.) Yet, it wasn't until Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, that the idea really plucked the strings of the public with its blood pathogen contagion idea. His tale was more in keeping with the folkloric tradition than the other tales. Stoker retained the supernatural qualities of the vampire, but he didn't stop there. Stoker may have drawn on the earlier vampires, such as The Vampyre and Carmilla, but he was more influenced by The Land Beyond the Forest (1888), written by Emily Gerard, and other books about Transylvania and vampires. He was supposedly drawn to the story of Vlad Ţepeş, the "real-life Dracula," when a colleague mentioned it to him. Evidently, the first chapter of Dracula was omitted when it was first published, but released in the story published in 1914 as Dracula's Guest. It was this tale that influenced the early film, Nosferatu. If you haven't seen it, you can download the film and watch it. The film is completely worth your time. Creepy...As the twentieth century progressed, we had Bela Lugosi in the movies, and then Christopher Lee, all equally frightening and nightmarish visions of a creature that could only be killed with specific instruments and in specific ways: A wooden stake driven through the heart, and kept at bay with a cross. But then, Frank Langella played Dracula in 1979, and the blood sucker suddenly became a romantic figure. He didn't have to hypnotise the girl to get her. All he had to do was just smile and romance her. Then, she would come to him willingly. Suddenly, the monster was less monstrous. I mean, look at this guy below. Hunky, tall, beautiful voice that resonates in his manly chest. Wow! What girl wouldn't want to be with him, and be young forever? Even with that pesky little habit of biting someone's neck and the thirst for blood. Well, sacrifices had to made for true love. Still, it was every father's nightmare. Dracula was the bad boy who comes along... and wham! His daughter is in love, willing to become one of the undead to just be with him. A father's dream of her marrying a doctor or lawyer, and being cared for properly, are dashed to the grave. No grandchildren. No family dinners, unless you served blood. But is this truly what we want from the story of the vampire? Gary Oldman or Frank Langella, or a sparkly vampire like in Twilight? Do we really want our vampire to be handsome, articulate, and sexy? Well, we were forgetting the part of that original folklore that these vampires are also like Romero's, Night of the Living Dead. Yes, Zombies! The revenents. Zombies, excluding the Voudon tradition (Voodoo), we still want the monsters. We don't want Buffy falling for the vampire. She's supposed to kill the suckers. We want nasty, evil, despicable monsters that all of us can kill. We need the release. Maybe occasionally make them romantic like Gary Oldham, or Frankie boy, but we need to know that we can kill any monster, supernatural or no. We must know we have the tools to vanquish the evil spirit, otherwise, why would there be so many Zombie tales, so many evil vampires created in books and films to satisfy the insatiable bloodlust for them, in spite of that sparkly horror? So... Bring back Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, even that weirdmeister, Bela Lugosi. Even Gary Oldham died in Coppola's film version, as did Mr. Langella. I want my monster stabbed in the heart with a wooden stake, or crucified like Gerard Butler in Dracula 2000 (my personal favourite). I love the mythology with the thirty pieces of silver. Take that you blood sucking nightmare!- Chéri Vausé is the author of the Noir Mystery Thriller Shadow series, and the upcoming Gothic Horror, The Portrait of Lilith, to be released August 2016. Her Book Site: Noir Mystery Thrillers to Die For has excerpts from her published books.
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The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
The surrealist artist Salvador Dali painted these unusual images and titled it, The Persistence of Memory. In my recollection of the first time I saw it, I wondered about each image within the theme, turning it over in my mind, trying to understand it, then, taking it in as a whole. Yet, it seemed disjointed to me, the individual images fixed in time strange, one not having anything in common with the other. But isn't that the nature of memory, to fix on a sight, sound, or smell, and sometimes the most profound ones, a feeling? Perhaps because I was young, I couldn't account for my odd thoughts, for I was still learning about symbolism, about dreams, and art. Today, I see it with a greater clarity. It asks many questions, but the one I keep thinking is, Why is it that our memories are too often tied to things that seem to be of no value? Or are odd, unrelated moments in time? But then, are they? These are the very things that impress us, have an intrinsic value to help shape us into who we are to become.I love using a work of art in my novels, and I like to give the piece a life of its own, to lend an art piece meaning to my characters and within the storyline. Sometimes it's the classic MacGuffin, someone in the story pursuing it with vigour, but has nothing to do with the main plot point. And sometimes it's the core, that seed bearing centre of my story, gathering momentum and greater meaning than even the characters themselves, such as The Portrait of Lilith, my horror story presently in edit. I've used a variety of artists from Magritte to Goya to Chagall, and some works that were painted by artists who don't exist in reality, only within my story, like the beautiful haunting Lilith. The why of it is because I love art and it's so much a part of my life. I write what I know, and sometimes what I can glean from research. And while I'm in the creation process of devising an intricate portion of a plot, visualising it step by step in my head, I find certain memories creeping in, and nagging at me, an image intruding, and it makes me wonder why, that perhaps I should incorporate it, that it belongs in the story. Dali was right. Memory is persistent. Those moments are draped in the time we experienced them, forever fixed like a fly in amber. What he didn't say in this piece is that we must learn to discipline our memory, as well as allowing it free reign, to intrude into our writings, and hopefully give our work a greater depth. As an author, I've had to organise, coax, and even flog memories forward, but the ones that seemed to work were those persistent ones, the ones that made me weep, or laugh, or feel uncomfortable. I write to change myself, then present it to the world, hopefully changing it just a little. Each time I confront those memories that make me feel uneasy, I find a truth about myself I must face. Hemingway said a writer doesn't do very much, but sit down and bleed. And it's those odd disjointed memories in my head that seem to make me bleed the most. Does it make me a better writer? I can only hope so. All I can do is put into words the images in my head, while the artists of the world, like Dali, paint them.- Chéri Vausé is the author the Noir Mystery Thriller Shadow series, not your usual mystery or thriller. For more information regarding this author you can visit her booksite, or watch her book trailers. Her latest novel, The Portrait of Lilith, a Gothic/Horror Thriller, will be released late spring.
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Secrets: The Eyes Have It

Secrets: The Eyes Have It | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
Charles Dickens once said, “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret to every other.” When I first read those words, I reeled at the thought that even I might be that profound secret to those around me. Was I falsely believing my family and friends know me thoroughly, that I'm an open book to them? I began to wonder how could I be when I spend most of the day writing, hours thinking silently while immersed within myself, lost in other worlds of my making, or researching to make my stories authentic. And all the years I spent living a life separate from them is only shared through anecdotal snippets. Is it just authors, or those introverts who live in their heads who are secrets to their loved ones?The answer is, no. Dickens is right. We may believe that we know the person we marry, our children, and our friends, and then they surprise us in ways we could never calculate or anticipate. Their actions or ideas do not fit within the algebraic equations we've programmed to describe them. They are a never ending source of wonder and awe, or disappointment and sadness. That is the nature of secrets, of the constituents of our ephemeral soul. We are hidden from those around us, containing an entire land within, possessing our own language, culture, and dreams inside that quiet world. We are, as the good book says, fearfully and wonderfully fashioned. And yet, our bodies may be made of dust and water, but our souls, the essence of who we are, is knitted in secret and made of fire. We are, as Carl Sagan says, Star stuff. It is true that to be a good writer we must pay attention to the world around us, to see things most would miss, to stare into that hot star seated before us and use all our senses to understand them. The eyes have it, look deeply. We should search for the nuanced, the ticks and the tells, to uncover the hidden agenda, the masked intentions, the cloaked path to the land within each person. As writers, we are the purveyors of secrets, the revelators of deep truths. Peering into the secret world of humanity is our job. In a sense, we are like doctors who open wounds and clean them out with words. It may be painful for some to read what we've written, but we must put those words onto paper if we are all to heal. We are the lens that exposes the minutest of details, or we may fly up to the stratosphere to take the shot that tells the bigger picture. We are the conscience of society, and we must hone our observation skills to a fine point in order to learn about that secret world inside each of us, to stare inside that strange Pandora's box each person carries around with them.The secrets we reveal can shake a reader's world, make them feel as if the tectonic plates beneath their feet have moved a few degrees, just enough to knock them from their feet. Saint John called that experience, the dark night of the soul. It's the moment we learn the truth about ourselves, how small and helpless we are, and how wrong we can be in our philosophy of life. A fellow author described her experiences as destabilizing. She said it was caused by the rhythm of some words. Although the content of each word was important to her, it was the combination that unsettled her world, as if the ground under her feet shifted, knocking her off-balance. Her secret had been revealed. She was sensitive to the tonal quality of prose, to lines that made her think, then rethink, all the while plucking the strings of her emotions with the combined sound of the words. That combination opened her up and changed her perception of who she was and her life. She pondered the revelation, that although it was an unsettling truth, it was real and certain. If a simple truth affected her that deeply, then she must make room for it inside her world.Reading them silently wasn't enough. She found herself chanting them over and over in order to experience the sensation she felt when she first read them. I can recall many times reading a poem or scripture verse affecting me in that way. It might be a line or two from a Shakespearean sonnet, or one of his plays, or another classic writer like Dickens, or Dostoevsky. Oddly enough, I would find myself repeating those lines, committing them to memory. And the words would trip across my tongue and make my heart beat a little faster, and tears would fall unbidden. I am laid bare, just as Saint John described. Although it was not a religious experience, it made me sensitive to the world, more empathetic, and a believer in hard truths found living inside others.This is what writing is all about. A good writer should make a reader think and feel, no matter the genre or length. A great writer will compose their words as if they were writing a symphony, a musical piece that will resonate within a reader's emotions. The rhythm, the tone, the how we say something is just as important as what we say. And yet, every word should be cerebral enough to help the reader ponder the meaning behind the story long after they turn that final page. Stories that unsettle, as well as engage, alters our perception of who we are and the truth of the world, precisely as that author described. It's what Dostoevsky called an idea behind the story. Some say it's a message, but it's more than that. A message is a note to the reader that can be a warning or even a reassuring pat on the back. An idea will bring a light to the nighttime of our lives, to keep us from stumbling in the dark. But a secret can scorch the earth, or immolate us.If we settle for telling a simple story, that's fine. There are more books out there like that than those containing an idea, or ones that plummet into a secret world. Yet, the ones that do have lasting value. I like the idea of writing a book with the idea behind it, to reveal what the French say, le dessous des cartes, which means the cards underneath, the ones you can't see. Those are the secrets, those simple cards folded in our sleeves or hidden in the deck, that we must bring out into the light.We should apply that idea of a secret world to our heroes and villains, holding something back, and forcing the reader to guess what they might do, or what they might know. Writing in that vein can make our characters more robust, multi-dimensional, and fill their dialogue with conflict and adversarial tension. But it also allows them to have the kind of secrets that can explode within the story, or come to a slow boil. Tess Gerritsen says she doesn't map her characters, but allows them freedom to surprise her. I couldn't agree more. I surprise myself when I write a character who will rise to the occasion or shrink from it as my story unfolds. People are rarely one way.It's not enough to just write beautiful words on a page, or active words that engage a reader's attention. That is almost too formulaic. Sentences should have a rhythm and dig into the rich black earth of life to reveal that secret gem long buried. Writing like that takes more thought, forces us to go beyond the story, and to make our words function in three ways: The definition, to further the story, and reveal a secret, another story behind it. The word secret is often times fraught with a negative connotation. But I ask you to see it in its most positive light. Even if we are revealing a dark and dangerous occluded idea, facing the shadows and the inherent danger is necessary. It becomes a call to arms for our readers, to change lives, to be wary, even more thoughtful of those around us. The question we must ask ourselves when we have completed the first draft of a story is whether we have revealed that secret world in each of our characters, and uncovered a bit of ourselves along the way. But more importantly, have we broken through to that deeper idea under the permafrost of the story. And, have we told the truth people might not want to hear, but must? Cracking through that hardened expanse to allow the burbling mass underneath that benign frozen layer to percolate up through the fissures, and exposing it to the world is our goal. I want to be that writer, that diviner of truth, to help my readers dowse for the subterranean idea. And if I can knock someone off their feet, just once, then I've hit the mark. It might take a lifetime of writing, and it might be the book I just turned in, but whenever it is my secret will be revealed.
Chéri Vausé's insight:

I tweaked this post, added the appropriate pictures, and placed it on this beautiful site. It's basically for content curation, but it's much more than that!

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Three Things Authors Need to Know about Dialogue by Chéri Vausé |

Three Things Authors Need to Know about Dialogue by Chéri Vausé | | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
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Ms. Nina Romano, a wonderful author herself, allowed me to give out a few tips to writers. Check out her newly released book.

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The Truth and Nothing but Lies by Cheri Vause - Book Goodies

The Truth and Nothing but Lies by Cheri Vause - Book Goodies | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
An FBI agent is sent to investigate a series of explosions at Women’s clinics in Washington and Oregon by his Governor father. The case takes many twists and turns as he ferrets through the lies told to him by everyone, but as he follows in the final footsteps of a beautiful woman presumed to be …
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Book Goodies is a great site. Place your books on it!

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Voting in the Bookbzz.com Prize Writer Competition

Voting in the Bookbzz.com Prize Writer Competition | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
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Please, Vote Now for The Night Shadow as best mystery!  It's only $.99 for the Ebook until the end of the voting period.

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Amazon.com: April Sage "April Sage"'s review of The Truth and Nothing but Lies

Amazon.com: April Sage "April Sage"'s review of The Truth and Nothing but Lies | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for The Truth and Nothing but Lies at Amazon.com. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users.
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Thank you for this wonderful five star review!

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Twitter / Notifications

Twitter / Notifications | The Garden of Souls | Scoop.it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pick Up This Book! November 24, 2014

By Readerofallthings

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This is a great suspense-mystery story, set in the 1960’s. Taking place between California and New York, the attention to details for this decade is excellent, and just one of many things that make this story so enjoyable.
There are many characters in this story, but the story places them in at the right time, without overwhelming you and making you feel like you can no longer keep track of who-is-whom. Very early on I was trying to work out what I thought the ending of the story would be, the who-done-it if I may.
There are twists and turns, and I quickly developed a valued interest in the main characters, Esther and Mac. There is tragedy, illness, murder, deception, hatred, and many other vices sprinkled throughout the story that made me stay up much later than I should of just because I needed to know what was going to happen next.
I can honestly say at one point I was brought to tears, and that does not very often happen to me from a book. Of course I never had it figured out, but those are the ones that make the best stories, wouldn’t you agree?
I would recommend you get this book as soon as possible. Just make sure you have the free time to read it, because once you start, you will not want to put it down!

 

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