I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Teresa Morrow of Key Book Promotions (http://teresamorrow.com/blog/). She works with authors to market their books, and I meet her in the Books & Writers discussion forum on LinkedIn. Morrow asked me to share my thoughts on writing and online book marketing, so she could relay that experience to other writers who are just beginning the grand process of writing and promoting their works of art.
At first glance, Morrow’s questions were simple, but I found that they were not necessarily easy to answer. I had to reach deep for my replies, especially when it came to explaining the poignant message of my book. As I constructed a reply to that question, I realized that my parents’ message from beyond the grave is even more relevant now than it was in 2009, when Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge: My Parents’ Past Lives and the One They Shared With Me was released by North Atlantic Books.
So, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of the interview in the hope that it will touch a place in your heart–a place where you can remember that YOU can most definitely contribute to solving global problems, which have resulted in the present-day anguish of your fellow brothers and sisters. YES, YOU ARE THAT POWERFUL!
Here’s my Q&A interview:
About the Book
1. Why did you choose to write Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge?
Growing up during the 1960s in Shreveport, Louisiana was rather ordinary, except that my mother was a paraplegic.
She had been involved in a car accident, when she was 17 years old that left her paralyzed from the waist down. My father, who was 20 years old at the time of the accident, loved my mother so much and wanted to take care of her so completely that he married her in the hospital just 10 days following the accident. That was the beginning of their extraordinary journey.
It wasn’t until I was five years old that I even asked my mother why she was in a wheelchair. After all, she was able to do everything that every other mother did, and she usually did it better. So, from my perspective, our family life was normal. Nevertheless, my mother’s explanation was the first of a million stories that I would hear about her courageous life, the things she was able to accomplish without the use of her legs, and the ever-expanding love that she and my father shared.
I etched these stories into my mind believing one day that I would write a book about their beautiful relationship. As I grew older, I also wanted to document how incredibly lucky I was to be inspired my whole life by such a strong, independent, feminine, smart, grateful, and gracious mother. This desire became even more urgent after my mother’s death at the age of 63. She and my father had been married for 46 years by then. He was there when she took her last breath. And, he permanently imploded in sorrow after she was gone.
I, too, felt indescribable grief. I had questions about where my mother’s soul had gone, not quite comfortable to rely solely on religious faith—was she in heaven; was she sad to be away from her family; could she walk again? While navigating through the roller coaster ride of grief, trying to get answers to my copious list of questions, I finally felt compelled to write about my parents’ love story. Writing was cathartic, it eased my mourning, and it gave me purpose.
Chronicling their lives brought my father and me even closer, and it allowed for a seven-year conversation, that I never imagined us having. During purposeful interviews and spontaneous chats, I learned the intimate details of my parents’ lives—information that had never before come up in casual family conversation.
Interspersed throughout our dialogue were critical ponderings about God and life. By this time I was deep into my quest for answers about the afterlife and was studying the Eastern belief of reincarnation. So, when my Dad referred to my Mom as his “soul mate,” I asked if he believed that they had shared past lives together. He wasn’t so sure about that “hippie idea” and didn’t acknowledge any desire to pursue the thought any further—clearly, he had been using the common-day connotation of the term—but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Maybe my parents were soul mates, who might have shared some colorful and adventurous lives together—wouldn’t that be interesting to discover. And, maybe, they didn’t meet at all by accident in their teens at the skating rink, but were drawn together by cosmic magic. I had to find out!
With my father’s blessing I consulted a well-known past-life regression therapist in Austin, Texas. Her name is Julia Hanson, and what she told me blew my mind! She revealed that my parents had, indeed, shared over 200 lifetimes as soul mates—from Lemurians living in paradise to ancient Anasazi living in the Desert Southwest and from Greek servant boys to Celtic children dying under Hadrian’s rule. Hearing about my parents’ past lives was like taking an incredible magic carpet ride through history.
It quickly dawned on me that their love story hadn’t begun in 1953 with their hospital room wedding; rather, this lifetime was an extension of their eternal love affair. With fervent curiosity, I began researching many of the periods of time in which they had lived and unexpectedly discovered there was a common thread running throughout many of their lifetimes. They most always incarnated during times of great strife and global change—the catastrophic sinking of Lemuria, transition from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, the Great Plague, World War I, and the 1960s. “Why,” I asked—why had my parents incarnated so often; what was their purpose for incarnating during this lifetime; and why had they chosen to share their lives with me? I desperately wanted to know.
Fortunately, the past-life therapist had an answer. She said that, prior to incarnating into this lifetime, my soul and those of my parents decided to come together as a family, complete with a set of circumstances and environment that would propel each one of us on our life path and, hopefully, if we so chose, to the fruition of a divine mission. It would be these exact conditions that would offer the opportunity for me to recognize and witness my parents’ unique lives and feel compelled to use their love story as a backdrop to relay a time-sensitive message to humanity at precisely this moment in history.
2. What is the message of Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge?
The message in the book is my parents’ message to humanity. It’s multi-layered, but in its simplest form, the message is: LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS. It is the only thing of value we possess in life, in past and future lives, and in the afterlife. It is the only thing we take with us when we die, and it’s the only thing by which we will judge ourselves in the afterlife.
My parents relayed this message by the way they chose to live their lives, both in the past and present. They had infinite faith, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. They loved unconditionally from fully-opened hearts and minds. And, they had a knowing beyond knowing that they were not separate from God—never had been, never would be—and, therefore, not separate from his unconditional love, support and blessings. My parents were teachers, and their lives were like a chalkboard on which they openly shared profound lessons for those seeking a higher truth and the deeper meaning of life.
The most important thing I learned from my parents is that love should be at the root of all thoughts, all words, all feelings and all actions–in essence, the only answer to any question should be LOVE.
For example, should people be starving to death because others are consuming the Earth’s resources in excess? If the answer is LOVE, then, no, we cannot let others die from a lack of food just because those who have access to the resources won’t share. It’s easy to think that it is “others,” who are allowing the atrocious cruelty of starvation; but if we truly examine the question and answer honestly, most Americans will painfully realize that they are participating in this barbarity—not only in third-world countries, but on our own soil.
Allowing others to die from starvation is not a decision made in love. That is a choice made out of greed, lack of compassion, apathy and ignorance—these attributes are not LOVE. Love would involve empathy and action taken to eliminate the suffering of our fellow human beings—from hunger and every other situation that causes pain, agony and hardship. It can be done. It’s just not being done, mostly because we don’t know how to address such big problems as singular individuals.
We are so far removed from our power that we can’t even imagine that as individuals we can make a difference. We believe that only those at the top, the ones with the wealth, power, and control, have the ability to make a difference. And, knowingly or unknowingly, we have freely given them and their institutions our power, many of whom are now abusing that power and are no longer working for the good of all people.
This is the old, dying belief system—the one of survival of the fittest. It’s the same belief system that wreaked havoc in our ancient and not-so-distant past. Atlantis sank. The Roman Empire fell. And, even now, the power of many global governments is beginning to crumble. This is the belief system of the 3rd dimension, where the illusion of duality—good/bad, right/wrong, haves/have nots—is predominate, rather than the reality—the truth—of oneness and equality.
However, something wonderful is happening right now on the planet. You see young people around the world, who are unwilling to blindly accept the status quo, peacefully creating change in their lives, their communities, their nation, and their government. But, the truth is we are all shifting into a higher dimension of thought and energy. This is happening because millions of people are answering the call of their hearts to wake up from the ancient slumber that has kept humanity in the dark.
This growing number of people are awakening to the truth that we are ONE collective, living/breathing organism, and our every thought, feeling, word, and action affects humanity as a whole, whether that is positive or negative. Yes, WE ARE THAT POWERFUL because we are co-creators with God.
By virtue of being born as a Child of God, we all possess divine, collective, individual and unlimited power to end the enslavement of humanity in all its ugly forms and to literally create heaven on Earth. It’s been our choice all along. Many masters, such as Jesus and Buddha, reminded us, but we just couldn’t remember until now. Now we know that it is as simple as choosing love over fear.
So, it is with deliberate and careful choice that millions of people are aware of and responsible for what they create in the universe for themselves and for all others. This great shift in consciousness has already reached a tipping point, and it can no longer be stopped, not even by those who appear to hold the reins of the world. Even in the darkest aspects of humanity, where fear is used to breed hatred, oppression, divisiveness, and inequality, the light of Christ-consciousness is bringing true and lasting enlightenment. In essence, this is the second coming of Christ. He is arriving first in our hearts; then, through our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions we are heralding his full return to Earth.
This was my parents’ message. I am their humble messenger. And, Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge, is a guide on how to wake-up and step into the power of co-creating paradise on Earth.
3. When did you begin your writing?
I began writing my book on the eve of my mother’s funeral.
Because of the state of shock that I was in at my Mom’s sudden passing, I had taken a walk in nature, sometimes the only place where I can find solace and always where I can directly connect with God. I began talking to my mother, hoping she could hear me, and I said that I would not let her beautiful story die with her. Before I finished my walk, I had a manuscript outline in my head.
After a few weeks, I began to do research on my Mom’s life, as well as my Dad’s. I created a questionnaire and sent it to countless members of our family. I tape-recorded interviews, and I talked for hours with my Dad. I was surprised to find how little I knew of my parents’ lives as children and young adults. It became evident that I only knew the surface highlights of their lives. I didn’t know anything about their private life-changing moments, heart-wrenching abandonment, near death experiences, or the resilience of their spirits to transcend the challenging cards that life had dealt them. I only knew my parents from the stories they told me, usually the happy ones or the ones about walking ten miles to school in the snow with bare feet. But, what lay beneath their stories was an unexpected treasure of poignant family moments that I realized had made them the strong, loving, and faithful people that they are today.
After filling notebooks full of research, I was ready to write. But, instead, I had a major crisis of confidence. I unrelentingly questioned my ability to pen the story of my parents’ lives. After all, I didn’t have any formal training as a writer. Yes, my parents told me that I had talent, but they were just a little biased. So, I decided to enroll at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where I took classes in the English Writing & Rhetoric program. I was fortunate to be mentored by two dedicated and generous professors—Dr. Catherine Rainwater and Dr. Barbara Fillipidis. While under their tutelage, I was able to learn multiple aspects of technical writing and creative storytelling, and that is where my book began, as projects in their classrooms.
4. How long did it take you to write Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge?
With my research and classroom projects in hand, it took one year from the time I sat at the computer and typed the first word, until I had a finished manuscript that I could submit to publishing houses. However, as I awaited word from publishers, I continued to fine-tune the content and formatting.
5. How did you decide to publish your book?
I preferred the experience of being published by a traditional publisher. I know there are many credible ways to be published in this technological age, but I wanted a traditional experience. It’s for the same reason that I refuse to by a Kindle. I enjoy the traditional experience of walking into a bookstore, browsing the aisles for hours and carefully selecting a book that I can dog-ear, annotate, and add to my personal library. However, as a non-published writer, being traditionally published was a long shot.
For seven long years, I sent my manuscript to countless publishers—well, 28 to be exact, from which I received 28 rejection letters. Then, one day I typed the words “independent publishers” into a search engine and came across North Atlantic Books. It was a name that I hadn’t seen on previous searches, so I went to their website to find out who they were and if my book might be a good fit for their publishing house.
After reading about their company mission, which is to “affect planetary consciousness, nurture spiritual and ecological disciplines, disseminate ancient wisdom, and put forth ways to transmute cultural dissonance and violence into service”, I knew they were the publisher for me. With high hopes and a prayer, I sent them a copy of my manuscript. I don’t remember how long it took them to respond, but it was long enough that I thought a rejection letter was surely on the way. Then, I received an email from the founder and CEO of the publishing house—Dr. Richard Grossinger. He suggested that I call him.
You can imagine my simultaneous joy and terror at the thought of talking to a real publisher. Publishers were people that I had placed on a sky-high pedestal in the ethers somewhere, near angels and saints. Nevertheless, I bit the bullet; and while sweating profusely and fearing that I’d throw-up when he answered, I made the call.
Dr. Grossinger answered after a couple of rings. His voice was strong and kind, and I imagined that he looked something like Ernest Hemingway. This made me relax. In my excitement, though, a lot of our conversation was a blur, but I gathered that he would be interested in re-reading my manuscript if I totally re-wrote it. I told him that I would, and he could expect to hear from me in one month.
He liked what I sent him the second time around; and with the expert guidance of one of his talented editors—Hisae Matsuda—I was able to produce the book he wanted two years later. The rest is history. I can proudly say that I have the amazing honor of being published under the Frog Books imprint of North Atlantic Books. Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge: My Parents’ Past Lives and the One They Shared With Me was released in August 2009.
About Book Marketing
6. Do you incorporate blogging into the marketing of your book?
Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, blogging is one of the promotional activities highly recommended by Kat Engh, the Online Marketing & Publicity Coordinator at North Atlantic Books. She advises that online marketing is where writers can experience the most comprehensive exposure in this day and age, as opposed to traditional book tours and bookstore signings.
I have certainly found that to be true, but I might add that writing blog posts, posting on related blogs, and actively participating in discussion forums takes a LOT of time. But, it is time well spent. You can literally reach thousands of people via the World Wide Web with just a stroke on the keyboard.
With that in mind, I had a blog site created that mimics the look of a traditional website–I must give full credit to my web designer, Anne-Marie Defesche, who works as Lead Designer & Developer for Go9Media in Austin, Texas. Having an interactive blog site allows me to post commentary on subjects that are related to my book, as well as topics that are important to me as an evolving spiritual person.
This activity keeps the website from becoming static and continually beckons expanded groups of people to visit the site, learn about my work, and join me in community conversation about topics that matter to humanity.
7. What subjects do you cover with your blog?
The main subjects that I enjoy exploring are spirituality, metaphysics, Eastern and Western religion, and the afterlife. The posts that I currently have listed are: 2012: Doomsday or Day of Awakening; Have You Ever Seen a Ghost?; Heaven and the Afterlife; Truth, Love & the Missing Link in Revelations; and Revolt in America?
As you will see from the blog, the posts are essay-like, rather than brief social commentary, like on other social media sites. That’s because I use the blog as a platform to share my thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, as well as a medium for others to share their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. There is much we can learn from each other.
Currently, I am enjoying the process of writing a blog piece on how the chaos going on in the world today—bizarre weather patterns; economic collapse; scandals in government, big business, religious institutions, etc.—reflects the inner beliefs, thoughts, and actions of individuals, which has manifested collectively, thereby, creating reality as we know it. I want people to remember that they have the power to create something better.
8. Do you incorporate social media into the marketing of your book?
Yes. I have a personal Facebook page that reflects my persona as a writer, published author, and seeker of spiritual truth, as well as a Facebook page dedicated to my book. I try to post something relevant on both pages every day and really enjoy the conversations that transpire.
I also have a Twitter account and a profile on LinkedIn, which I find useful in marketing my book, as well as networking and interacting with other writers.
As a natural-born introvert, which is typical of most writers, I really appreciate and enjoy this type of social interaction. I find that I say much more with a pen in my hand (or hands on a computer keyboard) than I would say if standing in front of a group.
However, I am becoming more and more comfortable with public speaking and now welcome the opportunity to tell my parents’ story to as many people that would like to hear it.
9. What else is in the works related to your book?
I am thrilled to report that a screenplay has been written by Melissa Archer Stutes of Honolulu, Hawaii, which is based on Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge. Stutes has a background in theater and film and is a member of the Austin Film Society. She is currently in contact with movie production companies, who have shown interest in the screenplay; and she is actively submitting the screenplay to screenwriting contests, where a winning entry can garner national recognition. Details can be found on my blog site at: http://rainbowjourneybooks.com/?page_id=51.
I also continue to welcome television and radio interviews, as well as speaking engagements, which will provide opportunities to talk about:
· Growing up with a paraplegic mother—learning how one triumphs over tragedy
· Loving unconditionally—it’s not as hard as it sounds to fully open your heart
· Religious questioning prompted by grief—what do Christians believe about the afterlife
· 2012 and The Great Shift in Consciousness—what this mean for the average human being
10. How can others contact you?
I delight in having contact with others, especially those with open hearts and open minds. I can be reached on my blog at www.RainbowJourneyBooks.com or via the following social media sites: