It was a strange day, but I didn’t leave feeling defeated or discouraged. I had made $60. The booth fee for the paranormal convention table was $50. My net profit: $10. I didn’t sell one book, instead I sold some totem figurines, a few “Ghost-Be-Gone” sprays and a chakra pendant. Visitors trickled in throughout the day, but not many of the faces changed. Instead, most people were there there for the long-haul, having paid the ticket to see the lectures that were going on every hour or so.
I think I counted five people under the age of 21, but I may have missed one or two. I didn’t know what to expect, so there was really no reason to be disappointed.
Although I had never attended a ParaCon before, and probably looked a bit out of place sitting behind a booth without skulls or haunted baby dolls, I wasn’t entirely out of my element. I’ve done some ghost hunting in my days. I know what it’s like to be haunted. Heck, one of my main characters is a ghost, and that’s just in book one…but, it makes sense that most of the visitors that day were seeking the dark instead of the light. Or so it appeared on the surface.
There were those that stopped. The trio of teens who lingered in their black garb, flipping through the box of totem animals while eying my postcards and books until my friend in the booth beside me brashly announced, “I think you guys should read her book.”
“Really?” the tall one, who never made eye contact asked as he flipped over the cover?
“Yeah, especially you. I can tell you’re looking for answers. You’ll find them there.”
“It’s in Kindle,” I offered. “And it’s much a lot cheaper.”
“Oh really?” he sighed with relief as he took the postcard with all the information he needed.
Throughout the day I found myself wondering if I should lower my price. If I had, I probably would have sold 1 or 2 copies, but there would have been very little or no profit in return. The Indie writer’s world is not easy, and I am still figuring it out. I’ve written a book geared toward, but certainly not limited to, the younger generations. Kids and teens who rarely hold a book in their hands unless it is part of an assignment. A topic we joked about with the three teens who had lingered at my booth yesterday.
I am realizing how much I have ventured into the unknown, or rather, the undetermined. I am not discouraged, though. One seed planted is enough. And there were, perhaps, a couple planted yesterday. Three (not the teens mentioned above) signed up for my newsletter, a handful of others grabbed cards and postcards…maybe a few will go poking around on my website in a search for some answers. And, me, well, I’ll keep writing and venturing into the unknown when it beckons. I’ll welcome, as best as I can, whatever awaits.
I’m okay with that. It’s what I signed up for, after all.
Warning, this post contains some disturbing content.
I was, I believe, about mid-way through my studies with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. Driving in my car, as I so often do, down a road so familiar cellular memory could take over and I could lose myself in my thoughts. How many of us have been down these types of roads? Lost in our own musings and not paying mind to what is happening around us?
That day, though, I was paying attention. I was looking with new eyes at what had become so familiar that, I realized, I had become accustomed to it to the point of acceptance. I was jarred into a reality that I found acutely disturbing. I was looking at the facade of a convenience store. A sight not at all uncommon, which is why I was deeply disturbed. Posters defaced the windows, calling eyes to drink in the alcoholic beverages held inside. Mouths to draw in the cancerous smoke of the tobacco sticks sold behind the counter. Bellies to fill with the carbonation of liquid chemicals laced with artificial sugars. Defile your body and numb your mind, they called out to every onlooker: man, woman, and child.
This is my world, I thought. This is what we have chosen for our life, collectively. I was deeply disturbed. Yet, I had also come to accept this, at least partially, driving along the roads and barely noticing my surroundings. Even, sometimes, stopping inside these stores to purchase a beverage or snack to fill my hungry body. And what about my mind?
Last night, while watching an episode of “The Crown,” which I’ll admit has become a bit of an addiction, I fell into a similar state of disturbance. Once we make the conscious effort to open our eyes to our surroundings, we cannot help but see what is before us. “Hold her still,” the voice of the handler demanded, while a stallion did the deed of impregnating a mare. “Well done,” was the response after the deed was complete, as the satisfied parties left the scene.
I, though, was infuriated and saddened. What of the mare? “Hold her still.” “So,” I declared out loud, “they essentially force rape her.” And, everyone applauds a deed well done. Once again I found myself thinking, And this is the world I live in?
This morning, while going through my email, I found myself clicking through the daily dose of petitions in the hope to instill change. It’s always disturbing, the barrage of cruelty that meets the senses head-on. A macaw shot for fun, a comatose woman raped for pleasure (another rape), but it was the face of a young woman that pulled my eyes into the layers held behind the scene. Her grin, an artificial high of delight, as she held the dog she calls “Momma” with bloodied feet. A thrill-ride of violence. A young woman who had taken her scooter and dragged her pet behind her. “Mission accomplished,” her eyes spoke. “Look what I’ve done!”
And yet, I thought, why should we be surprised? Look at the billboards we feast our eyes on? They come in myriad form. Books filled with glorified rape and violence. Big screens bringing to life pillage, greed, lust and more gloried rape and violence. I have never enjoyed reading horror novels, nor have I ever enjoyed watching their counterparts on the screen, yet so many of us do. Perhaps, in part, because we can say, “This is not happening to me.” But is it not?
Look around you. What is your world like. Are you okay with it?
When I sent my visionary fantasy novel, The Labyrinth, to a young beta reader, she asked me if anyone was going to die. She expected violence and even murder. Why not? It’s everywhere. Glorified. Accepted. Welcomed into our homes through media, news, and entertainment. What we create becomes our realities. That, in itself, deserves some thought.
Years ago, when I began the creation of my metaphysical fantasy series, Warriors of Light, I seeded the intention that I would give a portion of the sales to support causes that relate to the themes in the book.
The six main characters in the series are young teens who feel as though they do not quite fit into society. All of them struggle with their inner demons and at least one, with his sexuality.
I have decided that 50% of this month’s proceeds from book sales of The Labyrinth will go to The Trevor Project. The Trevor Fund supports LGBTQ youth who may be contemplating suicide. Even if you choose not to purchase a copy of The Labyrinth this December, perhaps you will consider a donation to The Trevor Project.
To learn more about The Labyrinth and the Warriors of Light series, please visit my websites, aletheakehas.com and warriorsoflight.club. Warriorsoflight.club was designed for the young readers of the series who desire a deeper exploration of self, as well as a sense of community and belonging. Here you can sign up for a monthly newsletter, which will further explore the metaphysical themes from the series and provide a platform of interaction for the readers.
I asked Meryk, the talented young boy, who put together The Labyrinthbook trailer for me if he would be willing to be interviewed on my blog. I’m delighted to share with you our Q & A:
How old are you, how long have you been creating videos, and how did you get started with it?
I am 11-years-old and have been creating videos for about two-and-a-half years. I’ve always watched YouTube videos and thought it would be easy to make my own and get thousands of views right away. I believed that when I started YouTube, I would get so popular and famous, but it turns out it’s takin’ some time. I began watching videos to learn how to grow my channel and I found that you can’t be popular on YouTube without editing. The editing makes it more entertaining. So I started watching videos on how to edit and downloaded a ton of apps until I’d find one that I liked. Then I began editing all of my own videos. Sometimes my mom would tell me while watching one of my soccer games that many of my friends’ parents would tell her how their child watches all of my videos.
Have you thought about developing your talents into a career someday?
Yeah, becoming a famous YouTuber is one of the careers I’ve been considering. I would do editing for other people to make money, but it’s not my passion. I feel most excited about the idea of making funny and creative videos with my friends and getting paid for it! Last year I was so lucky while vacationing in Myrtle Beach. I was in the pool and looked across and noticed some people walking by, who looked like YouTubers I used to watch. I ran up to them before they left the pool area and discovered it was who I thought, and they had 2.8 million subscribers! I introduced myself and they talked to me for a while. They even gave me a “shout-out” on their channel and we spent a lot of time together throughout the week.
What is your favorite thing to do aside from creating videos?
I love football, soccer, and basketball and I like to make “beats”, using GarageBand. I also like to play drums and jump on the trampoline.
What is your least favorite thing to do?
My least favorite thing to do is school, but I do like playing football during recess at school.
If you could choose your power/totem animal what would it be?
would choose a tiger because they’re big and powerful.
If you could choose a super-power what would it be?
My superpower would be to fly because I love being airborne and hope to go skydiving and cliff jumping some day. I’ll make sure to make a video about it.
Thank you to Meryk for participating in the blog interview. Please support Meryk by visiting his YouTube channel. If you know a young Warrior of Light who you think should be interviewed on this blog, please let me know! I’m starting a new section dedicated for this purpose to inspire children of all ages to follow their “Light.”
The washer is dead, the kids are back in school and the new neighbors are murdering felling all the trees in their front yard. The tears are simmering just below the surface, but I’m feeling the urge to rant more than cry. It’s one of those lifetimes days when you find yourself asking (over and over again), What is wrong with this world?!
Here’s the thing with the washer: I had a feeling it had officially kicked the bucket, but we decided to pay the $99.95 service fee to find out that it is not only dead but unfixable. Even if we wanted to repair its multiple issues (there was talk of the display board being broken, as well as the motor), we can’t. It’s ten-years-old, apparently long past its predicted lifetime, and its parts are no available to fix it. I’m really wishing we had not bought that new dryer still sitting in a box, waiting to replace our still-working, albeit-not-very-efficient, yet rarely-used-because-we-let-the-sun-dry-our-clothes-for-free-dryer that is at least forty years old, even if it is a fire hazard…because you see, there was a time when we built things to last, and not consume and throw away.
Yesterday, while emptying the dishwasher that is only a year old, I found myself putting more glasses in the sink than in the cabinet. Spots. Tiny spots, all over them. Thoughts of going back in time and living the life of Anne Shirley (my favorite childhood heroine) danced across my mind while I hand-washed glasses, and later, sodden laundry that smelled like gym shoes after being stuck in a locked, broken washer for two days. I could see myself in a gingham dress, my hair braided and tucked behind my ears while I sat with my bucket of clothes. My arms felt the satisfaction of racking the dirt free across the imaginary rippled back of the washer-board. And, I was smiling. It was a happier day in my mind. Life simple and unblemished by the advances in technology that distract us and push our minds away from the present moment. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with doing a job yourself, instead of letting a machine do it for you. I thought about how much I enjoy hanging laundry on the clothesline and pressing my face to the dry cloth that’s been kissed by the wind and the sun before I fold it away; running warm water in the sink and watching the bubbles multiply before I scrub clean the pots and pans I have used to cook a meal for my family.
Where do you think a washer goes when it’s time to bury it? I Googled the question, and actually found this article in Scientific American, “Where Do Old Appliances Go After They Die?” Since the author sounded like a kindred spirit, I decided to read what he had to say. I was already feeling a bit lighter after the first paragraph, which is actually a question posed by a concerned consumer who does not want to “add to the waste stream” and would rather repair her old appliances. Good luck finding parts, I smiled wryly before I continued on.
But, there’s hope, the article reveals. Utility companies will sometimes recycle your old appliances if you buy a more energy efficient one (at least when it comes to fridges and freezers), or you can go to Earth911.org to find a recycler near you. Aside from the annoying pop-up asking me to subscribe, I’m already loving this Earth911 site, which I’m pretty sure I’ve visited before. It appears to be updated regularly with great articles on how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle, and find more Earth-friendly products. It’s Lupe’s kind-of site, and I think I’ll dedicate this post to him.
“Each time his peers showed off their newest smartphones, Lupe thought of children in China walking barefoot through acres of discarded electronics, picking cadmium and copper from metal circuits with bare hands. He thought of poisons leaching into the porous tissues of skin, coursing through blood with oxygen along pathways to hearts and brains.” (chapter 5, The Labyrinth)
It literally takes two seconds to type in your type of dead appliance and zip code to find a potential appliance recycler near you. I found one in the neighboring town. Looks like they take washers & dryers, so I’ll be investigating this a little further. There are also links on the Earth911 website for recycling a whole host of other products including yoga mats and nail polish. Yep, things are looking a little brighter around here (there’s also a LOT more sun in the neighbor’s yard).
The grinding of machines crunching tree limbs can still be heard, though, and I am doing my best to breath in the possibility of new life forming to replace what has been lost. I know we will soon need to take some of our own trees down that are dying and diseased, and top others to provide enough light for our solar panels. It will not be easy, I will be blessing the Earth and the trees once again for their sacrifice. If you have a moment to add a personal blessing to the trees and the Earth, adding with it the vision of new life flourishing next door, the elemental spirits, (Lupe), and I would be very grateful.
As for the kids going back to school. There’s not much I can say about that aside from this: I feel like I didn’t sleep at all, but I must have because I can recall having a dream that I was their age, struggling to decide what to wear, and then missing the bus. They both made it to school on time, though, and it’s rather quiet here, aside from the machines next door. It will likely take me a couple of days to get used to it, but I will. Maybe that’s why I agreed to have a tooth filling replaced on my birthday tomorrow. A little pain distraction is sometimes welcome.
Wishing all kids and parents much happiness at this time of year, and if you’re in the market for a new washer or dryer, don’t buy one “made in China.” A word of advice from the serviceman who declared my washer offically dead. May she rest in peace and be repurposed into some new form. And, may our new washer last at least as long as she did.
I used to keep a journal just for animal encounters. Not just animals, insects too, and birds, and all manner of non-human life forms I met up with each day. I was interested in their symbolism and what it might mean to me. Synchronicities and patterns. The universe talking in code. I used to do a lot of things I no longer do, and these days I am acutely aware of how much I am allowing myself to be wrapped up in the mundane, favoring it over the magic of life. Not because I want to, but because I have somehow convinced myself that I must. I must search not for encounters, but for artificial messages. Messages that I must send to get readers for my new book. It is a task I do not like, but that in itself is a lesson and, therefore, a gift. How do I make magic out of the mundane? Somedays it’s easier than others.
When the jobs we feel we must do become a chore, should we continue on in toil, or should we pause and breathe into the depth of being to find the magic contained within the moment that is always offered to us? The moment upon which we trail our breath and our thoughts, whether they be rapid, or peaceful? Today there were many encounters throughout my day which felt forced, labored, without fruit. Yet, there were also pauses when I stopped to be present.
I watched the squirrel, boldly wearing red fur as it masqueraded as an acrobat climbing up, then down my apple tree stealing apples in its mouth and leaping through limbs as though gravity was a ruse. I could almost believe anything was possible until I returned to the drudgery of musts. “You must do this to sell books.” “You must do that.”
The voice inside my heart forever whispering against the pull of musts, “just let it be.” “They’ll find the words you wrote for them, somehow.” I don’t always believe in somehows, but the voice inside me tells me I should.
The crow that stopped my feet today was dead. Its head pointed downhill. Black feathers tucked above the vibrant green of grass on this sunless day. I couldn’t help but think of magic extinguished. It had fallen beneath wires. Was it electrocuted by too much force? Energy coursing outside its bounds? The owl had been found in nearly the same place, also dead, one month before. I cannot help but think of the two bird messengers in my book. Grandmother Crow. The owl who haunts the last pages with a warning…
Yet death, I am reminded by yesterday’s snake, is not an end, but a beginning. Decayed life breeds new life in that ever-lasting cycle. How can I forget the wisdom of Shesha? Did I not write his story upon the pages too?
Briefly, today, I thought about fairies. Sue had reblogged a post about the fey and for some wonderful moments, I was transported into the realm of magic not often seen. Perhaps that was why I was lead by the turkey feather, which floated up from the blackened road as though wanting to be seen. To be caught, as I drove home. So I took the ever-willing dog for a walk, and there it was still. In the middle of the road. Large, curved and perfect. Banded in brown. A solitary turkey feather waiting for my hand to receive its gift.
So I twirled it in my fingers, feeling the life still present. Blessed life. A reminder of abundance. Down the road, a red fox wandered from the twilight woods and stopped to fix my gaze. We stared as though each daring movement, until a car passed by. Some say foxes hold the secrets of the fey. Cunning, bold, stealthy. Red, like the squirrel. Have I lost touch with the red blood of Earth? I wrote the words in this book, in part, to save her. Created six warriors with a mission to repair her broken veins, forgetting, after I had finished, that one must care for the inner body, always, while caring for the outer. And so I look back upon today. To the red squirrel taking with ease the fruit of the apple back to its nest. The dead crow charged with too much power. The lone turkey feather in the middle of the road. One perfect blessing waiting to be held. And the red fox, who had ventured, for a moment, out of the hidden realm to say hello.