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Female Nomad and Friends -- A Review

Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World -- the subtitle of this books says so much about Female Nomad and Friends .  Over forty authors joined forces to make this book a reality.  Each author tells a tale of a moment in life that found that author connecting with others in a manner that left a deep impression.  The authors are as varied as the countries that make up this planet, yet each one shows how we are all alike in many ways. 

One of the easiest ways for two people to connect emotionally is to share a meal.  With this in mind, the recipes inter-mingled with the stories are as varied as the authors.  Everything from baked beans to Ho Mok, Grandma's fried chicken to Sun dried Mopane Worms.  If the stories alone aren't adventure enough, the recipes will be.  Before finishing the book, I knew it was food for both body and soul.

The people in this book aren't famous, rich or powerful --not in the usual sense of the words.   Yet, you can't help but feel you are witnessing daily miracles as you read their stories. These are the people that make up this world, your friends, family and the new people that just moved in down the block.  Their individual moments are miracles we see every day if we take the time to notice and open our hearts to receive. 

I can't help but feel that these authors have found what the world needs to bring about peace on a planet-wide level.  Their stories will stay with you, showing up at odd moments, entering your dreams, and causing a subtle change within your soul as you go about your day.  You will find yourself smiling more, greeting strangers, and finding more things to cherish.  This book does not belong in a particular genre, it is a book for mankind.  Are words powerful enough to change the world?  Read Female Nomad and Friends and you will know they are.

Female Nomad and Friends rates six colors on the Rainbow Scale.

 We invite you to join s on the Female Nomad and Friends virtual tour. The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/17/female-nomad-tour . You can learn much more about Rita Golden Gelman and her work on her website - http://www.ritagoldengelman.com/

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Soul Food -- An Excerpt from Female Nomad and Friends

Of all the stories in this collection, I chose this one because it reminds me of when I was young.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)


Melanie Ehler

When I was a child, my Nana would take me along to the Old Reg’lar Baptist meetings at her church. Full of good-hearted people, we had a much higher preacher-to-sinner ratio than your average church. The Old Reg’lar Baptist meetings generally went through three or four different preachers during the same service, and the sermons often lasted several hours.

To a kid, they seemed interminable, as infinite as salvation itself, though not nearly so sweet. Most Sunday mornings, I would busy myself in ways other than spiritual. First, I would rearrange the contents of my Nana’s patent-leather purse, eating all the interred peppermints and circus peanuts. Then, I’d lean back in exaggerated repose and vigorously wave one of the church’s paper fans, overly enthusiastic in my attempt to be mistaken for a Southern belle. The fans were the old-fashioned, paddle-type that had a vibrant Biblical scene on one side with the name of a funeral home underneath it. The message seemed to be, “Just because Lazarus was revived after four days, it doesn’t mean you’ll be. Buy your coffin early.”

I would interrupt my fanning five or six times to make trips to the drinking fountain. All these activities never took up more than fifteen minutes. Once I’d gone through my routine, I’d stretch out on one of the wooden pews for a nice, long nap. My casual attitude provoked a story that still circulates in my family. Upon being asked how I liked church, I purportedly answered in a peevish tone of voice, “It’s fine for the most part, but the preachers keep waking me up when they holler ‘Amen!’”

At any rate, for both somnolent sinners and attentive saints, a certain earthly reward was attached to the church meetings, and that was the church supper. All the good ladies of that church knew how to cook, and they did not waste their talents doling out dainty portions of haute cuisine. No, these soft-bellied, gentle souls served up homey foods, comfort foods, soul food, every Sunday creating a sumptuous spread that covered three fold-out tables. Immediately following services, a line of people gathered in front of those tables, and the prayer that was given before supper was always the shortest one.

Even the everlastingest preacher couldn’t ignore the tables laden with home-cooked food. There were mashed potatoes piled in high, snowy peaks, sitting side-by-side with thick pools of gravy; there were mounds of dandelion and turnip greens picked fresh from the nearby woods. There were tureens of red beans in savory sauce; there were round cakes of golden-grained corn bread and white corn pone. On occasion, there was turkey with stuffing or dumplings bobbing in gravy. And there was fried chicken. Always and forever, there was fried chicken, a crowd pleaser that just about everybody piled on their plates.

And so it was, many years later as a graduate student, living far from the comforts of home, alone and hungry, and perhaps a bit homesick, that I got a hankering for fried chicken. Now, meat of any sort was not a regular part of my diet in those lean years. I was supported solely by the money garnered from my assistantship. As per the usual assistantship trade-off, in return for teaching freshmen classes, the university offered to pay my full tuition, along with a bit extra to cover living expenses--so long as said living expenses didn’t include luxury items, such as heat in my room or more than one meal a day.

I lived on the thin of things, always on the fringe of hunger. I existed on a diet that consisted chiefly of bananas and cereal moistened by water.

Upon occasion, I would see fit to reallocate my meager food budget. That is to say, I would sometimes spend my grocery money on admission to a local swing dance. After such occasions, I would, from necessity, scavenge samples at the local grocer’s for my next meal. Whatever food samples were being offered, I would take two, sly vulture that I was, and after circulating the store twice, my stomach would be full, or at least it would stop growling for a few hours. I certainly had nothing in my budget that would allow for eating out, not even at the most humble establishment.

Yet, there I was, this one particular day, hungry as could be; and nothing could divert my mind from fried chicken. I could not make fried chicken, my cuisine art was limited to microwave food and toast, and so, with little-exercised extravagance, I went into a local diner.

“How many pieces are in the adult portion of chicken?” I asked the waitress. “Five pieces,” she answered. “And in the small?” I asked. “Three,” she responded.

I did not need to finger the money in my pocket to know how much I had. The thing with being poor was that I always knew, down to the last cent, how much money I owned. I had enough for the large portion, unless they charged tax. I could never remember if restaurants charged tax, and then there was also the embarrassment of leaving a cheap, nearly non-existent tip.

“I’ll have the small portion,” I said in a tiny voice. Perhaps my eyes looked hungry. I might have also sighed.

When the waitress brought me the plate, it was heaped with fried chicken. It did not contain three pieces, or even five pieces, it brimmed with ten pieces of chicken, all coated in a crisp, peppered, golden skin and, as I found out by sampling, with tender white meat inside. Thin curls of steam rose from the chicken. I ate and ate and ate. I ate that hot, delicious chicken until I was full, and then – oh, unheard of luxury – I kept going and ate past being full. Even so, I couldn’t manage to eat all the chicken. I carefully wrapped the remaining pieces in paper napkins and discretely deposited them in my purse. They would be for tomorrow. When I got the bill, the total cost was listed as $3.99, the price for a child-sized portion.

I was too embarrassed to thank my waitress properly. I just smiled shyly when paying, hoping she’d understand. Some hunger can be satisfied with food, but there is also another, more intimate type of hunger which can only be appeased by kindness. I was filled that day with both food and compassion. I’ve never felt more full. And I’ve never been richer.

Melanie Ehler has paddled a gondola down Venice’s Grand Canal, fallen asleep during a root canal, and eaten at Burger King when they ran out of burgers. She’s danced the tango in Prague, the blues in St. Louis, and lindy hop everywhere from grocery aisles in Ohio to cocktail clubs in Oahu. Several years after obtaining her Master’s degree in English, Melanie decided to spend a year living in Seoul, South Korea, and from there, she will circumnavigate the globe. Follow her most recent adventures at: http://odysseusdrifts.blogspot.com/.

Reprinted from “Female Nomad and Friends” by Rita Golden Gelman. Copyright © 2010. Published by Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

We invite you to join us on the Female Nomad and Friends virtual tour. The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/17/female-nomad-tour . You can learn much more about Rita Golden Gelman and her work on her website - http://www.ritagoldengelman.com/

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Taking a Stay-cation with Female Nomad and Friends

More people than ever are staying home during their vacations this year.  This week, my guest, Rita Golden Gelman, and her friends will take you on a trip around the world, all from the comfort of your living room. 

Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World - From the author of the international bestseller, Tales of a Female Nomad, Female Nomad and Friends is a moving anthology of essays that celebrates traveling, connecting, and eating around the world. Also included are more than 30 travel-inspired, taste-tested and author-approved recipes.

Rita Golden Gelman is the author of Tales of a Female Nomad and more than seventy children’s books, including More Spaghetti, I Say!, a staple in every first grade classroom. As a nomad, Rita has no permanent address. She is currently involved in an initiative called Let’s Get Global, a project of US Servas, Inc, a national movement deigned to bring the gap year to the United States. Learn more at: http://www.letsgetglobal.org/  

Tomorrow, I will be sharing an excerpt from this book and on Wednesday, my review.  Come join us on this world adventure!  The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/17/female-nomad-tour . You can learn much more about Rita Golden Gelman and her work on her website - http://www.ritagoldengelman.com/

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Fear to Freedom by Rosemary Trible -- A Review

Fear to Freedom
by:  Rosemary Trible
Published by:  VMI Publishers 2009
ISBN  978-1-935265-09-2

To the outside world, Rosemary Trible had it all.  She grew up in a loving family, her marriage was full of mutual love and caring and her husband was a rising star in the political arena, so money was never an issue.  Rosemary had something, however, that others could not see, or even guess--a deep fear within  caused by a horrifying rape at gunpoint.  Fear to Freedom is the story of how Rosemary Trible came to find even more within in herself than she realized--faith and strength that allowed her to reach out and embrace God's healing.  Once she gained the courage to forgive, her fear was released and she found it her mission to reach out to other women who faced daily fear, teaching them to find that faith in God and the strength within.

This book is very much about allowing God to heal your fears, yet it does not preach to the reader.  You feel the author's faith on every page, yet she speaks of God in the casual manner she would speak of an old friend who has been with one since childhood.  She does not pretend that healing is easy, even with God.  She shares stories of women she has counseled and shows how they struggled and eventually triumphed.  All this is done without judgment.  You do not get the feeling she is looking for someone to say how special she is for her work, she simply relates what is in a simple, down-to-earth style. 

The pictures included caused me a bit of concern.  I believe the author's intent was to show that fear can find its way into even the most seemingly charmed life.  Yet, it is possible that some readers may mis-interpret this intent and feel that she overcame because she had so many powerful people in her life.  The pictures may make it difficult for some readers to relate to the author on an emotional level.  If the reader, however, gives the book  a chance, they will find it quite easy to relate.  Rosemary Trible shows without a doubt that fear knows no boundaries in regards to economic status, skin color, or religion. 

The end of the book contains devotionals for each chapter.  These allow the reader to stop and reflect.  It enables them to apply what is conveyed to their own life and situations.  I found the devotionals extremely helpful and thought-provoking.  I'd like to see them published in a stand-alone book.  I can see this book being read not only by individuals, but also as part of healing groups, both within and outside the church. This is not only the author's story, it is the story of every woman who has found herself violated and in fear, in whatever way.

Fear to Freedom rates five colors on the Rainbow Scale.

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The Writing Mother by Phyllis Schieber

Today we see the third guest post from Phyllis Schieber.  I have been honored to have her here this week.  Her writing moves me deeply.  I've read both A Sinner's Guide to Confession and Willing Spirits and they remain among my favorite books.  I hope you have enjoyed these three posts (okay, third one is below).  I am sure Phyllis would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.


Many years ago I read “One Child of One’s Own,” an essay by Alice Walker. In the essay, Walker discusses her decision to have a child, but “only one” because more would make it difficult for her to move about with ease. She also points out that it is unlikely that the question of whether or not to have children is even asked of men who are artists, but that is a whole other discussion. Nevertheless, when I was pregnant, I worried about how I would balance my need to write with my responsibilities for my child. It soon became apparent that there was no contest. He came first, and he still does. It is a decision I embraced with no regrets because that is the only way to do anything successfully.

It is true that I am not a real baby-person. Some women just adore infants. I am not one of them. Give me a two-year-old, and I am there for the duration. The emergence of language thrills me. I am intrigued by the surfacing of thought processes; I am captivated by their play, and by their creativity. I invented games to play with my son that involved little more than our imaginations. I grew as a writer because he challenged my vision and my originality as nothing else ever had. As he got older, I enjoyed the time I had with him even more because I knew it was short-lived. I welcomed school holidays and snow days because it gave us more time to be together. I stashed away little art kits that we could do on these days. We baked and cooked. We painted. I introduced him to mishmash. From time to time, I would allow him to empty the kitchen cabinets and pour a little of everything into a huge bowl. He delighted in this game as only a child could. With his sleeves rolled up and a big wooden spoon clutched in his hand, he stirred the ingredients as he explained what he was making. Each time, it was something else. Years later, when he told that he had chosen to write about mishmash as one of the topics for his memory piece during his six-week Language and Thinking orientation at Bard College, I was moved to tears. He remembered. My time with him had been well spent.

My role as a mother has enriched me as a writer. I can go to a place inside myself that understands what it means to split yourself between your own needs and dreams and your role as a mother. Of course, after so many years, I have a better grip on how to balance the two. Clearly, I have written consistently since my son was born. Still, when my son is home, I turn my days over to him whenever he wants me because now there are weeks and months that go by without seeing him. Although I cherish the time I now have to myself, I often miss those endless days of being wrapped in a cocoon with my baby. And like the women in my novels, I continue to create a life for myself that is separate from my child’s life because that is natural and best.

My son came home after college and lived with us for two years. They were busy years, and I recall the frustration I often felt when my work had to be placed on hold. However, I reminded myself that this time with him was temporary, and I found ways to do my work without taking time away from his needs. It was a balancing act, but I managed it well. And, as predicted, after he left, I missed him terribly. Now, he is settled into his own life with a newly earned Masters of Music in Voice from the School of Performing Arts at Boston University. We speak often, video chat, and enjoy his visits when he comes home, as well as our visits to Boston. Technology has made it easier to stay in close contact, but I often miss his presence. I get an urge to hug him, to plant a kiss on his cheek, or just to share a meal. Nevertheless, I am enjoying my time. I got to yoga classes six times a week; I walk, and I go the grocery store much less than I need to when my son is home. I write at all hours of the day without interruption unless I have students to see, Life has a different pace now that he is out and on his own. I would love for him to live closer to home, and I am hopeful that he will return to New York some day. I think he will. For now, we are each exploring our new lives. I am not sorry for the time I gave him when he was home. I got up a little earlier to write, went to bed a little later, and in-between, I relished the time he wanted to spend with me, even if I was only chauffeuring him somewhere. It didn’t matter. We were together, and it was good. His presence enriched my life, added texture and depth to my writing, and simply made me happy. When I look back on those years, I am satisfied with the decision I had made to always put him first. It is a decision I continue to stand by and to encourage. The time we spend with our children as they are growing up and even after they are allegedly full grown is always time well spent. I am more certain of this than I am of anything else.

Join us on the Sinners Guide to Confession and Willing Spirits virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/04/phyllis-schieber-blog-outreach/ . You can also learn more about Phyllis Schieber and her books at http://www.phyllisschieber.wordpress.com/.

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The Magic of Women's Friendships by Phyllis Schieber

Today, I am glad to share with you the second guest post by Phyllis Schieber, author of Willing Spirits and The Sinner's Guide to Confession.

In her essay, “Women Are Just Better,” Anna Quindlen quotes the observation of a friend who says, “Have you ever noticed that what passes as a terrific man would only be an average woman?” And that’s when, as Quindlen describes it, “A Roman candle went off in my head… What I expect from my male friends is that they are polite and clean. What I expect from my female friends is unconditional love, the ability to finish my sentences for me when I am sobbing, a complete and total willingness to pour out their hearts to me, and the ability to tell me why the meat thermometer isn’t supposed to touch the bone.” It’s so true. I know for certain that it is exactly what I expect and invariably receive from the women friends in my life.

I have a circle of women friends, who sustain me, keep me sane, remind me of my worth, and reassure me that I am treasured. We say, “I love you,” at the end of every conversation; we unashamedly sign off our emails with the symbol for kisses, and we embrace and affirm our love for each other each time we meet. I think it is because women spend so much of their lives nurturing—their children, their husbands, their partners, their ailing parents, their students, co-workers, the list is endless—that they understand the need to let each other know how much they matter. I don’t know how any woman survives without close woman friends. My friends are my support, my secret keepers, my cheering section—they mean everything to me.

Willing Spirits is actually dedicated to two women I lost very prematurely. The novel was inspired by my love for them and is intended as a celebration of the friendships women share. I describe what it is like when the novel’s protagonists, Gwen and Jane, find themselves “falling in love” shortly after they meet:

Yes, women do fall in love with each other. Differently, of course than they fall in love with men. Falling in love with a man is a feverish experience. There is little control. But falling in love with a woman is much more serious. It guarantees so much more for the investment. For it is from other women that women are nurtured. It is from other women that they hear what they hope to hear from men. I understand. I know how you feel. I’m sorry for your pain. I care about what you think: Words that need no prompting. In that circle, women tell each other things that men and women tell each other first with their hands and lips and tongues before they can tell each other with words. Women comfort each other with touch that is meant to heal, rather than to excite. The mysteries of love are less complex between women. The hidden passages are easier to negotiate. And the dangers do not seem as great as when the same journey is taken with a man. Around each dank and frightening corner, women hold out their hands to each other and form a human chain that is, quite simply, spiritually different. The lucky ones find men who (and it is a deep and well-kept secret between women) are more like women.

My friends are my mainstay. I have women friends from various stages of my life. One friend in particular has been my friend since she was twelve and I was ten (I continue to point out our age difference at every opportunity!) We met at sleep away camp and in the almost fifty years that we have been friends, we have been through everything together. Several years ago, she found out she had lung cancer. It has been a long and challenging battle that she blessedly seems to have won, but we take nothing for granted. We speak every morning, exchange news, reassure each other we are still here, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be friends, to have each other yet one more day. We always, always have something to talk about, secrets to share. We are always still girls together. And I love that about us.

In The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, the protagonists, Kaye, Ellen, and Barbara, are very different from each other, yet their bond is unshakable. They are girlfriends. They may disagree. They may disapprove. But they are there for each other. It is the one certainty they can depend on in their otherwise unpredictable lives. Their bond is solid, and it strengthens each of them, making possible for them to navigate the unforeseen complexities that come their way. They are girlfriends together.

I close the acknowledgments in Willing Spirits with the following statement: “Mostly, however, I am indebted to my friends, the women who embrace me with their open hearts. They nourish me with their love and goodwill. I have been blessed to be surrounded by women who indulge my moods, allow my eccentricities, listen to my complaints, and applaud my triumphs. I cannot imagine how I would thrive without any one of them. They never disappoint me.” Girlfriends. Always, always my girlfriends.

Join us on the Sinners Guide to Confession and Willing Spirits virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/04/phyllis-schieber-blog-outreach/ . You can also learn more about Phyllis Schieber and her books at http://www.phyllisschieber.wordpress.com .

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Phyllis Schieber on Motherhood

Motherhood figures into the subtext of all my work, most clearly in Willing Spirits and in The Sinner’s Guide to Confession. Undoubtedly, motherhood has shaped my life. I am the mother of a soon-to-be twenty-six-year-old son. One of my dear friends, the mother of five daughters, once told me that, “It doesn’t matter how many children you have. Once you’re a mother, you’re a mother.” I believe that is true. Motherhood has empowered and defined me as nothing else in my life ever has, not even writing. I quickly came to see that the love I felt for my son was boundless.

Needless to say, I was not prepared for the emotional impact of motherhood. I don’t know how anyone can be. Nothing can prepare someone for the intensity of such love. In truth, I did not feel that immediately, and I worried that perhaps something was wrong with me. When the nurse handed me my baby boy, he looked rather perplexed and not at all certain that he liked me. But that first night alone with him in the hospital room, I was enraptured. I pulled the curtain around my bed and peered down into the bassinet He stared at me as I unwrapped his blanket and removed his diaper. I smiled at his naked little body and ran my hands all over him. He relaxed under my touch and wriggled about a bit. As I changed his diaper, I introduced myself and presented my plans for our future. He listened with interest before he began to wail. He was hungry. After a rocky start and the help of another new mother in the bed next to mine (by some miracle, she also happened to be a maternity nurse), I nursed him. I was in love. I knew by then that from henceforth, he would define my plans. I acquiesced without complaint. Once we were home and eventually settled into a routine, my life was defined by his needs. His father left early and came home late most every day, and I spent long, mostly happy days with my baby. I learned how to strap him to my chest and write. He slept to the sound of me banging away at the typewriter keys. If I stopped, he opened one eye and looked up at me, questioningly, but with patience. I often rested my chin on his head and rubbed my cheek against his soft curls. He was my boy, and I could not imagine anything that would ever compromise my love for him. I had never been as in love with anyone as I was with him, and that love persists.

When I write about motherhood, as I often do, it comes from a place that is still a source of wonder to me. How is it possible to love someone so much? Even more compelling, how is it possible to know with absolute certainty that regardless of what transpires, you will always love your children with profound and unshakable steadfastness. In Willing Spirits, Jane must deal with the unforeseen reality of her daughter Caroline’s unexpected pregnancy. Jane rises to the situation in spite of her concerns and her disappointment. Jane is Caroline’s mother and that limitless love demands that we often forego our dreams and expectations for our children and learn how to help them live the best lives they can. In The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, each of the main characters is a mother. Barbara, the mother of three grown children, recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of each of her children. She deftly navigates those relationships, trying not to play favorites and working hard to be what each of her children needs while still retaining her independence and her privacy. When she eventually decides to reveal her secret, she is most worried about how it will affect her children. Kaye has two children and though they are adults, she is unable to disregard how her decision to leave their father might affect them. Even Kaye’s relationship with her own mother, Gertie, explores the push and pull of mother and child. However, Ellen’s loss of her infant daughter and the inability to conceive again play the most significant role in the novel. Ellen’s need is so profound and so palpable that I cried as I wrote the section where she imagines what it would have been like to raise her daughter. Ellen’s situation is heartbreakingly sad. Her loss defines her forever. I loved writing the scene where Ellen and Joy meet for the first time. They are each so full of expectations. Joy, already a mother herself, can really understand what Ellen must have felt and continues to feel. Both women have suffered unimaginable losses, and this brings them closer. Motherhood is a bond.

My role as a mother has enriched me as a writer. I can go to a place inside myself that understands what it means to split yourself between your own needs and dreams and your role as a mother. More importantly, I have learned that my dreams and hopes for my son may not always be my son’s dreams and hopes. As I embrace this truth over and over, it deepens my love for my son. He is a fine man, and his dreams represent the culmination of various influences… all of them, I am happy to reports, good ones. As I watch my son make his way through the world, offering him both solicited and unsolicited advice, I am more and more convinced that there is no way to accurately predict who your children will become. We can only hope that they will make choices that show integrity, compassion, and decency. Each time I speak to my son, I tell him that I love him and that he makes me proud. I know there will be times when he challenges the limits of my patience and frustrates me with his shortsightedness… all privileges of youth. However, I also know (and feel confident that he does as well) that nothing could ever make me love him less. Sometimes I still long for just one more chance to experience another day of the chaos and fatigue that defined those early months of being a new mother. I want just one more day of the newness and the thrill of such never-ending love. And then I remember that it is forever on going, forever deepening, and always newly surprising in its intensity.

Please leave a comment for Phyllis and don't forget to return for another post from her tomorrow! 

Join us on the Sinners Guide to Confession and Willing Spirits virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/04/phyllis-schieber-blog-outreach/ . You can also learn more about Phyllis Schieber and her books at http://www.phyllisschieber.wordpress.com/ .

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Special Guest Blogger This Week -- Phyllis Schieber

I am going to do something this week I have never done in the nearly three years I'v had this blog -- I am allowing a very special author to make three guest posts for your enjoyment!  Phyllis Schieber will be posting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday --  and the subjects are something we can all relate to.  I would like everyone to stop by, read what Phyllis has to say, and leave her a huge thank you in the comments, please. 
If You'd like to read my review of Willing Spirits, you can find it here

Phyllis Schieber The first great irony of my life was that I was born in a Catholic hospital. My parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had settled in the South Bronx among other new immigrants. In the mid-fifties, my family moved to Washington Heights. The area offered scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, as well as access to Fort Tryon Park and the mysteries of the Cloisters. Her first novel, Strictly Personal, for young adults, was published by Fawcett-Juniper. Berkley Putnam released the Sinner’s Guide to Confession, and in March 2008, Berkley Putnam issued the first paperback publication of Willing Spirits

Sinners Guide to Confession - Kaye and Barbara are longtime friends, now in their fifties. Ellen, who is several years younger, develops a friendship with the other two women years later, solidifying this close-knit group. The three women are inseparable, yet each nurtures a secret that she keeps from the others.

Willing Spirits - Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker, both teachers and in their forties, have a friendship that helps them endure. Years after Gwen is abandoned and left to raise two sons alone, she finds herself in love with a married man. After Jane is humiliated by her husband’s infidelity and Gwen must face her own uncertain path, the two women turn to each other. Now, as each is tested by personal crisis; Jane and Gwen face new challenges—as mothers, as daughters, as lovers. And in the process, they will learn unexpected truths about their friendship—and themselves.

Join us on the Sinners Guide to Confession and Willing Spirits virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/04/phyllis-schieber-blog-outreach/ . You can also learn more about Phyllis Schieber and her books at http://www.phyllisschieber.wordpress.com/ .

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When Dreams are More -- A Review of The Sorcerer's Dream by Dreamshield

Alysa Braceau is searching when The Sorcerer's Dream opens.  What exactly she hopes to find isn't clear, but when she meets Running Deer, she knows he holds the answers.  The  Sorcerer's Dream is Ms. Braceau's spiritual journey from seeking to what she terms finding the Totality of the Self. 

Reading first-person accounts is often difficult because they have a tendency to isolate the reader, rather than give them a point of reference to empathize with the author.  This is not the case with The Sorcerer's Dream. Dreamshield writes with such emotion you can literally feel her reaching out and pulling you in to share her journey.  Her words come through with a lyrical quality that borders on being poetic.

As you follow Dreamshield on her spiritual quest, you start seeing glimpses of your own path.  This isn't to say the reader's path is the same one; rather the reading places the reader in a spiritually open position that is perfect for discovering roads that may have been previously hidden.  If the reader is also a Dreamer, this connection becomes much stronger.  This book is not only Dreamshield's journey, but can also be the catalyst that  the reader is seeking.

Alysa Braceau does not hold back on what she shares.  Her thoughts and feelings throughout the journey are put forth without hesitation.  You feel the author is a woman comfortable within her own skin, and this comfort creates a trust that frees the reader to fully experience what is written.  This is a book for anyone who feels the calling to be more, experience more and to live fully. 

The Sorcerer's Dream rates seven colors on The Rainbow Scale.

We invite you to join s on the virtual tour for The Sorcerer’s Dream by Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield). The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/03/sorcerers-dream . You can learn much more about Dreamshield and her work on her website – http://www.dreamshield.nl/ . The book can be ordered on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Dream-Dreamshield-Alysa-Braceau/dp/1609101561 .

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The Sorcerer's Dream --- Sharing Chapter One

The following is Chapter One from The Sorcerer's Dream by Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield).  Tomorrow, I will be sharing my review of this book.  Don't forget the SPECIAL OFFER - Every time you post a comment on any tour post - you will be entered into a drawing for a $35 Amazon gift card -- so, share your thoughts with us.

Chapter 1


26 juni 2004

"Can I help you?" a hurried voice asks from behind the counter. I look up absent-mindedly and order "an Indian soup, two cheese sandwiches, a cappuccino and a glass of water please." I turn around with a full serving tray and see with a quick glance to my right that the terrace is packed. I walk to a table further down the hall with a view of the terrace.

It is one thirty. Rush hour in the spiritual centre located along a canal in Amsterdam. I didn't come here for the Ayurvedic massage, yoga or astrology, but for lunch. Apparently there are several courses going on as the line at the counter has never been this long. People are busy talking to each other, standing in groups spread out in the hall or sitting at one of the tables inside or outside on the terrace where they can enjoy the first rays of summer sunshine.

Distracted I dip my bread in the soup. In a gymnasium, some fifteen kilometers from the ring road I drag myself for the second and last day through the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda. I was hoping the magical movements would make me as light as a feather, just like they had done two years ago, and free me of stifling emotions which easily drag me down and free me of my inclination to nag about everything. However, this time I feel no difference at all.

I cannot appreciate the movements. As everyone in the entire room releases graciously I stay invariably behind.

This morning while I was driving my car I had already decided where I was going to have lunch because there are no cafés or restaurants near the gymnasium which is alarming for someone like me, with - you could say - a healthy appetite.

I was quick to remember this spot. They serve a nice vegetarian lunch and besides I enjoy wandering around in the bookstore.

While I eat my soup, four women at the table in front of me are busy talking and laughing. They are most likely of Surinam or Antillean descent. I think they are discussing the workshop they are attending.

My thoughts drift back to my friends Anthonio and Camillo. Two years ago the Magical Passes were held at the RAI Congress Cent, where a few hundred people from all over the world filled the room. After reading the books written by Carlos Castaneda, Florinda Donner and Taisha Abelar I was excited to hear that there would be a workshop in Amsterdam, so I immediately enrolled. During the past years I participated in a whole range of workshops and courses in the field of spiritual and personal development. To mention a few, I did meditation, yoga, healing with precious stones, intuitive development, aura reading, rebirthing and trance dance. The more obscure the better as far as I was concerned. But nothing appealed to me more than the adventures of the sorcerer's apprentices.

Wanting to prepare myself well for the big day, I opened my closet and quickly closed it again. Except for grubby sweatpants I had nothing nice to wear in which I could move freely, so I headed into town where I bought a pair of black capri pants, a modern gunny and a tight red top to make it slightly more exciting. Even though I dragged myself through the original workshop just like today, it had a benevolent effect that time. I wonder why things are different this year.

Perhaps - two years ago - I sought refuge in the vibrating energy of the room or was it my meeting the Mexicans Camillo and Anthonio? Or was it due to the combination of the two? After everyone had settled down on the ground after the first lecture, the Mexicans sat next to me and looked at me curiously. "Are you from here?" they asked, and "Where are you going?" they asked me during the break. I didn't know anybody else and felt relieved to be approached, and before I knew it they introduced me to a group of Mexican friends. After the workshop Camillo, Anthonio and I continued talking on into the wee hours of the morning. Anthonio spoke a few words of English but that did not make any difference as Camillo translated - he had lived and worked in the United States as a teacher for years. I bragged to them about my dreams and they listened and gaped at me when I told them in my best English about meeting sorcerers in lucid dreams. With a slight sense of shame I confessed that they had accurately pointed out my weak spots and said things about me that I would never dare to admit to myself. I remember we were talking about relationships and especially about the problems they had. Camillo sat to my left and Anthonio to my right. Once they started talking about their relationships they never stopped. Camillo was very much in love with his girlfriend, but she did not want a steady relationship. She had told him that a relationship hampers the freedom of a sorcerer. He was hoping she would change her mind, but at heart he felt exactly the same way. Anthonio's relationship problems were the opposite. He wanted his freedom but his girlfriend (he was crazy about her) tugged at him and demanded the next step in their relationship: marriage and children. Gloomily the Mexicans gazed in front of them. They started a discussion and I felt like they were forcing that nonsense about freedom on me. I believed that so-called freedom is an excuse for not wanting or keeping a steady relationship. I said they spoke nonsense and brought myself forward as an example. As a modern western woman I had a relationship and in the meantime was free to do whatever I pleased. To a certain degree of course. I leaned back in my chair and looked at them commiserating. I concluded that we were dealing with a cultural difference because it was written on their faces that they did not understand a word I was saying. At least that is what I thought until they approvingly said: "we follow the witch," toasting their glasses against mine. That night we finished several bottles. Actually they seemed to me like a couple of easy opportunists, but I was flattered that they had called me a witch. It was something they would regret, because that night, they even started smoking. We said our goodbyes in the middle of the night and I could not withhold my tears. Perhaps it was because I had never felt so light-spirited, unconcerned, and especially completely at home. I will miss them terribly.

Bitterly I realize that this weekend's workshop stands in sharp contrast to last years', if only for the fact that I miss my Mexican friends. I take a bite of my sandwich to comfort myself. Maybe I will see them at a next workshop in Mexico City. Another voice tells me "no." Enough is enough. I need to put energy into my family and my work. At present, two months after my maternity leave, I am finally getting the hang of things at a publishing company with career opportunities.

Suddenly I look towards my right. A dark man moves slowly passed me wearing an Indian headdress and starts a conversation at a table in front of me. An incredible show-off, probably hoping to attract women wearing that headdress.

However, the calm look in his eyes and his unobstructed way of talking to the women around him contradicts my first thought about him immediately. Shortly after, the dark man slowly walks passed and gives me an open look with his kind dark brown eyes. He is a heavy built man approximately in his mid-fifties, wearing his dark strait hair in a long pony tail. As I eat my soup, I look back at him just as openly. A few minutes later the feathered headdress passes my table once again, towards the ladies, who await him longingly. I am quietly starting to become curious and begin to wonder what kind of workshop he gives. As he talks to them he looks regularly my way as if he knows me from somewhere but does not remember from where. At the same slow pace he walks back and once again we look at each other openly. I become more curious by the minute, no, I mean every second. I want, or rather, I need to know who this man is, where he comes from and especially what he is doing here. As he walks passed once more I don't think I can stand it any longer. My question "What do you teach?" pulls him towards me. The man stops abruptly and walks towards me cautiously.

"I teach people to heal themselves," he says. His voice sounds warm and sympathetic.

"Okay," is the only answer I can think of as another question pops up in my mind. But the question is not necessary as he starts talking himself. He says he is a medicine-man and with the help of drums he is capable of bringing people into a healing state "Sounds interesting," I try to encourage him, because I have always been very interested in everything concerning healing. "The rhythm of the drums produce theta-waves in the brain which activate the self-healing powers," he explains. His head turns to the right to the open door on the other end of the hall where people trickle out, to indicate where it is taking place. "Where are you from actually?" I ask him most sympathetically. I am used to turning a man inside out with questions and if you do it in a nice way it is not necessarily annoying. The man tells me he comes from North-America and he curiously asks me in turn: "Have you ever participated in Indian rituals or ceremonies?"

"You mean shamanism?," I ask. He shrugs and looks as if he is saying "give it a name you like." I stare in front of me and go into a kind of trance in an effort to dig into my memory.

I am playing for time and tell him that I have done so many things and I recollect that shamanism was also one of them. I tell him about the trance journey experiment I made, combined with the modern psychotherapeutic techniques which made me find my lost soul again, or at least part of it.

A tall, middle-aged, strawberry blond woman signals towards the Indian. She is wearing traditional North-American clothes. She is standing at a table a few yards in front of the door and gives me a friendly nod. She is surrounded by a few people. I think they would like to pay, perhaps he has the change. The dark medicine man excuses himself and walks towards her. I quickly stuff my sandwich down my throat and hope he will return as soon as possible. As he walks towards me I wash it down with lukewarm cappuccino. The Indian continues the conversation where he left off. He tells me he gives teachings in original shamanism and goes into the subject of an upcoming event. "If you are interested there is going to be a weeklong festival in July where shamans from all parts of the world exchange knowledge. There will also be healing rituals." That sounds wonderful. However, camping out for a whole week in a primitive Native American lodge, hanging around in casual clothes, standing in line for a cold shower and going to filthy bathrooms, is not for me. I look disappointed and tell him: "Too bad that's right in the middle of my vacation." He puts his hand in his pocket, rattles the coins, looks towards the strawberry blond woman and nods. He has to finish the conversation and says: "We also have a small, exclusive group of people to whom we teach more in-depth knowledge, but that is not until somewhere in September or October." Small and exclusive, that suits me much better. I eagerly ask him for more information. He writes down my address and promises to send me a flyer and hands me a yellow-brown business card with the words "Running Deer" on it and underneath in small letters Vidar, his Western name. He puts the address information in brackets, and tells me he will be moving soon. Three-quarters of an hour later I continue the Magical Passes with renewed energy and meet a kind, big man from Colorado, teddy bear-like, with whom I dance the tempestuous northern and sensible southern wind.

31 August 2004

Vidar throws the door open of his working-class house built in the thirties and located in the middle of a decent neighborhood. "Come on in," he says with a huge smile. A smile that instantly puts me on my guard. As soon as I got out of the car I smelled a stuffy cocoa scent coming from the industrial estate only a stone's throw away. I doubted whether I was at the right address because it did not seem like anyone was living here. This was due to the silence that surrounded it, and the cobwebs dangling from the door-post, but especially because of the closed curtains with a faded flower print. Reluctantly I step across the threshold. I had been looking forward to this moment for three months.

Two weeks after our meeting I still had no information, and hadn't received any flyer. Nothing. So I called him up to see what had become of it. I didn't need to introduce myself again because he knew immediately who I was. "I cannot believe you've gotten a hold of me!, he said surprised. "Why?," I asked in my turn surprisingly. He pointed out the time of day, it is two o'clock in the afternoon, and he said most people try to get a hold of him early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon.

"Oh, of course," I answered him guiltily and asked him about the flyer without beating about the bush. "It isn't finished yet, you have to be patient," he said. His friendly and natural way of making conversation immediately put me at ease and I wanted to fire a question at him but he already started himself. "I have seen many extraordinary qualities in you." "What kind of qualities?" I jumped up and pressed the phone as close to my ear as possible. He called them psychic and healing qualities and mentioned the course with the exclusive group of apprentices and roughly stated that my qualities or gifts could be enlightened in rituals and ceremonies.

This is where I needed to be.

The sun broke through, ropes were casted off, the rusty flood gates were opened and as far as I could see, I was sailing towards a new horizon. In short, I was exulting inside, even when he slightly backed out, saying "After healing your Self you might also be able to heal others." The "Self healing" sounded like an endless road, but I was not going to be discouraged. I felt a sense of recognition in everything he said and I told him that for many years now, whenever I felt pain or discomfort I would practice sending healing energy to myself. I had read many books about everything dealing with curing, healing, laying on of hands and magnetizing and had hoped silently and loudly for a day like this.

He never stopped talking and apologized for the amount of information given on the phone. "Oh, never mind," I told him immediately and encouraged him to continue and I tried to absorb all his words. He talked as if it were about a regular training program and I heard him say: "With the help of the medicine wheel you will become acquainted with your totems, your special place of knowledge and your personal medicine." My thoughts ran away with me. Somewhere in the distance I heard him say that I was going to find two rings in a dream and that is where I lost the thread. Or no, I heard him add: "At a later stage you will have visions and medicine dreams." Normally I would want to break the silence that followed, but I was speechless. I heard a sigh and felt he was starting to end the conversation. I asked if I could meet him in person without sounding too eager. He consented! Then I started to breathe again. He promised to call me after the summer holiday.

"After the holiday," turned out to be a wide notion. My patience was severely put to the test. It was not until the summer was almost over when the phone rang. Finally! A clear voice announced: "Good afternoon, this is Running Deer speaking." My heart began beating faster. I had almost given up hope. After exchanging formalities he asked if we could meet and explicitly mentioned the goal of the appointment. He literally said: "It is my task to explain to you the difference between modern and traditional shamanism." Before hanging up I asked about the price of the consultation. "Nothing at all," he answered. "It is part of my mission."

Now I hand Vidar my jacket in the hall before he opens the dividing door to the living room. He drapes my jacket neatly across a coat hanger and hangs it on the coat rack. An uncertain tension rushes through my body. I am excited and curious, but also on guard since I am with a man I do not know in unknown surroundings. Cardboard boxes are scattered all over the place and it looks as if he moved only yesterday. In the middle lies a deerskin and next to it its antlers. To the right, just passed the hallway I can see the wood timbered stair case. I look at the closed curtains behind me once more, showing only a small strip of dusk. Drawn curtains. I am worried. Is he hiding something from the neighborhood? My host walks to the kitchen just passed the stairway, excuses himself as he starts stirring in a pan on the stove. "I am cooking chai tea," he explains as he turns towards me. I feel sorry for him as I watch him make the tea so primitively. Presumably the poor Indian has no money to buy a teapot, because if you look closely he does not even have a couch. With my hand I lean on the arm rest of the chair at the head of the dinner table. The other end of the pinewood table is stacked with piles of paper, magazines, books and junk. A real male household I conclude.

I look around. The small bar in between the kitchen and the living room is also packed with stuff. "Have you just moved in?" I try not to sound too curious. I wouldn't mind knowing whether he is married and if he has children. I guess he just got a divorce and subsequently, the next question occurs to me: why? Was he banned by his wife because she was fed up with him chasing women? Prove me wrong, but I believe he is a big charmer. By the way, he does not stand a chance with me, because he is too small and too old. He mumbles something inaudible from behind the stove, sounding reserved. I better not ask any further, that would be overbearing. It is probably unusual in his culture to ask personal questions. As he stirs in the pan I observe everything in detail and look towards the backyard which is at least 15 meters long, surrounded by high trees and covered in grass which urgently needs to be mown according to Dutch standards.

A gentle breeze blows through the green branches. At the far end, right against the fencing there is a small wooden shed painted in typical Dutch style: dark green with white window frames. It looks well kept. I look back around the living room nervously. A firm hit over the head would do it if he would start to harass me. I ease my thoughts by thinking there are men who do not have an ulterior motive, but to be quite honest I have never met them, apart from my Mexican friends.

Opposite the stairway there is a burgundy-red cabinet, approximately 5 feet long, stacked with piles of paper, magazines and cd's. I walk across and read the titles. From the corner of my eye I watch my host turn down the gas and reach over to the right to get two mugs from a cupboard above the kitchen sink. I look further. On the wall above the cabinet I see a pouch with two long grey feathers sticking out and two shorter brown-white feathers. Vidar comes towards me and then stays standing next to me with his arms crossed looking like a salesman lacking interest. "That's nice," I say. "It is a spirit knife," he replies. He points at the two long grey feathers "these come from a heron, the brown ones come from a hawk and an owl, the grip was made from deer antler and the pouch from deerskin." He explains "Items of medicine like the spirit knife are made after they have been seen in a vision. The knife is used by medicine men like myself who use the deer's spirit to heal: you can cut open the ethereal body and remove the negative energy." Without stopping he continues and tells me that animals sacrifice themselves to serve humankind. "Just like the prehistoric hunters I received a vision and saw where I could meet the deer. I met him at the pre-arranged time and location and that is where the deer sacrificed himself without hesitation. I roasted the meat, after taking off his skin and his antlers," he says while pointing at the deerskin in the middle of the room. "In a following vision I met the deer once more. I was surprised to see him and asked him: 'What are you doing here, I killed you.' 'No,' he answered, 'I am not dead, I have given up my material form and passed on the knowledge of the deer medicine to help man heal.'" He explains: "Medicine men receive information about healing through visions and medicine dreams. To achieve this, ordinary dreams need to be inactivated." I nod interested but I actually do not understand how that is possible, inactivating dreams. I would rather not. I am actually glad that I have them.

I grant his invitation to take a place at the head of the table. The feeling of tension and excitement increases by the minute. I am curious to know what he has to say. Vidar reheats the tea for a few seconds before turning it off and pours the steaming tea in the mugs. I look at the kitchen sink which is packed with bottles of red wine to the left. They are trying to seduce me with their calling. I would not mind a glass of wine, it would taste good, too good actually. It would relax me immediately. To the right of the sink are many pots of vitamins and other kinds of pills and powders.

He places a mug of hot chai tea in front of me on the table and asks whether I would like a piece of apple pie. I turn down the offer even though apple pie is my favorite. My host makes himself comfortable, blows the hot vapor away from his cup with an elongated breath and asks me what brought me to the place where we met. I tell him about the Magical Passes a few kilometers down the road, the absence of a good place to lunch nearby and my desire for a nice vegetarian lunch. A huge smile appears on his face. Then he asks me what appeals to me in Castaneda's work. "Its accessibility," I call out spontaneously. But as soon as I say it, I realize that his work is far from accessible. When I read The Art of Dreaming I understood less than half of it, but I was hooked as it unleashed my imagination. Just before going off to sleep I read a few pages and as soon as I slept I was dragged into his world and received lucid conscious dreams without having to do anything. It gave me a rush, it was addictive and I wanted to read more. Automatically I read one book after another. All of them were beautiful, but they hardly had the interactive effect of The Art of Dreaming and I kept dreaming that one day I would meet a Don Juan.

I return to the subject of accessibility and philosophize: "His books display a desire to learn and show his vulnerable side." Vidar's encouraging smile stimulates me to demonstrate more of my intellectual side. "Carlos shares his fears, doubts and uncertainty which make him human, since he does not pose as a weighty spiritual apprentice, but as an ordinary human being with all his shortcomings. That is what I mean by accessibility." Vidar carefully takes the talking stick out of my hands and expresses himself cautiously: "...do you feel resistance in your life...as if you were held back?" I take some time to reflect, but in fact I could answer him with a straightforward "yes." "I feel I have great difficulties achieving anything," I say, and hope not to sound too wretched. Vidar nods understandably. You could call it resistance, I think gloomily. Dissatisfied I look back on a bumpy career. Sometimes, when I wonder what unknown power is responsible for all of this, the voice of my conscience says I have little patience, I quickly lose interest and lack stamina, I have difficulty adjusting, do not like rules and do not feel like playing up to anyone. In short, I am standing in my own way with my own resistance.

"Have you ever had the feeling you could fly away, escape?"

"Oh yes," I say eagerly "I allow my energy body, or whatever it's called, to fly away into space. I give it wings and make triple somersaults backwards and forwards, high in the sky. I think it is my way to release energy," which would explain these circus acts of my energy body.

"But why do you want to know about my resistance?"

"A human being becomes resilient through experience and the way he has been raised." He declares: "You may have become hardened as you resisted pain and disappointment or it could be that you were raised according to certain convictions which keep you from learning anything. The resistance keeps you from following the path to your eternal Self. For that reason it is imperative you get rid of your resistance."

Returning to our conversation on Carlos Castaneda he says: "You've read his books, then you must also know that Castaneda's sorcerer's tradition is also known as first rule of knowledge, coming from the Toltecs and Aztecs." I nod. "But there is also a second line," he continues. "Originally there was only one sorcerer's line, but because hunters covered great distances during the ice age, and due to the origination of land bridges, this original line split into two tribes. The second line is the North American tradition in which I have been raised," he says without hesitation.

He adds without much ceremony that we both come from the same spiritual family and that his assignment is to lead me into the teachings of the totality. The expression on my face varies from surprise to disbelief and back again. I feel like I am dreaming. Do I hear what he is saying? A deep-rooted desire tucked away somewhere becomes reality, but it seems too good to be true. He says again: "You know Castaneda's books, then you also know that sorcerers discover and train successors." Vidar takes a piece of paper and draws three lines forming a Greek Y. He points at the vertical line and says: "That is the original tribe and the two lines going up symbolize the two lines of sorcerers." Explicitly he says: "You cannot compare the two traditions because there are different teaching methods. The tradition of the first line uses fear and terror as a teaching method, whilst the tradition of the second line is the way of monumental beauty."

Without humility he goes on to say: "I am an experienced teacher and am capable of leading you towards the totality within two-and-a-half years." He releases a deep sigh: "You have no idea how much luck you have had to have met a benefactor like myself," and determines that I must have crossed his path to finish off my personal medicine wheel. I stare at him with amazement. "Your arrival is to accomplish your life's mission, to complete your personal medicine wheel. You have taken up the Way to find or become the totality. That is your spiritual goal," continuing: "As soon as you have obtained sufficient knowledge, you will meet the source of your knowledge, someone like me to bring it to an end." I sense no doubt in his voice when he says: "You are capable of crossing that finish line, recognizing yourself in your totality." I smile at him politely, but I haven't got the faintest idea where this is leading to.

"Desire is the technique to reach that goal," he continues.

Hey, hang on, "desire"? Is that what he just said? I look at him disapprovingly and wonder if he wants to have sex after all. He does not give in. Perhaps he means a different kind of desire. Without reserve he explains that beauty is a clue in finding the apprentice who will be educated to become a person of knowledge. Even though I would love to extensively wallow in his compliment I decide not to let it distract me too much. It would not be the first time I've had my judgment clouded.

As he looks down meaningful he declares: "During the past thirty years I have trained five groups of sorcerers, but I had never expected a sixth one to show up."

Do I hear compassion in his voice, are those tears in his eyes?

"You are the sixth in line and currently the only one in the group." He mumbles: "If only you knew how special our encounter is, it is a chance in a million!" and he stares at the table emotionally. I feel the urge to hug him but my distant nature holds me back. The knife is put to my throat: Tell me: is he a dangerous lunatic or is he speaking the truth. I blink my eyes nervously.

"You do not have anymore apprentices like me?"

"There is a possibility a stalker will join our group, but until then you will have to put up with me," and he gives me a kindhearted look.

There is a tense silence as if the invisible world is listening in. There is great esteem in his voice when he finally asks me: "Officially I must ask you if you are prepared to enter into the apprenticeship of the totality." My heart is in my mouth. I do not doubt for one second but I let the answer drift for a moment, not wanting to sound too eager.

I clear my throat and without sounding too formal I say: "I want to do this for myself and for my family."

He laughs. Amused.

A burst of energy shoots out of me and kisses him on the cheek. It startles me. This made me blush and I wonder if he noticed anything as he is gazing out of the window with a faint smile on his face. It looks like I have given him the go-ahead as he turns towards me and says: "You need to be in good physical condition to reach the totality."

"Good physical condition," I repeat after I have cooled down a bit, "sounds like I am going on a survival trip." Vidar smiles reserved. Outside a white cat pricks up his ears. "Whatever you will become after your training depends on your talents and your predilection, which means that your spiritual family will decide what your life's mission will be."

I am trying to catch the eye of the future but all I can see is a grey twilight zone.

With an unaltered determination he continues "You will reach the totality by dreaming."

I interrupt him immediately. "How do you know I am a dreamer? I might be a stalker." Through Castaneda's books I know that the world is divided in dreamers and stalkers, but why am I one or the other and not both? I fear he might be overlooking something valid.

"You told me how much you dream, and that's says a great deal, your dreams are ready-made." That sounds reasonable. For the brief period that I am here, I have told him about my active dream-life and the fact that I have written down all my dreams in notebooks for at least fifteen years. In the past few years I noticed their development into conscious dreams. It has given me an enormous rush to realize I could direct them and I always look forward to the next experience. I love my dreams and never want to lose them again. Shyly I tell him about the dreams that kept me busy these past years. In those dreams I am seduced by dark men, dragged to their cave where they make love to me, after which they are determined to marry me. Quite a shock when you wake up the next morning beside your own husband.

Vidar explains that there are four practices that guide the apprentice into the totality, summing up: the art of dreaming, stalking, hunting and the art of the warrior. "Gradually you will learn to master all of them, but because you are a dreamer the art of dreaming is the most important one for you. On the way to the totality you will learn to master your dreaming, which means that ordinary dreams will come to a halt and will be replaced by the dreaming of the spirit. Ordinary dreams come to a stop and disappear because they are primitive and take up too much energy . As you master your dreaming, you will have dreams of medicine and visions that guide you into the totality." He explains: "When you start dreaming, you become conscious of your dream body. The totality creates a dream body to travel from this reality," knocking on the table, "which is the first reality, into the second reality." Vidar offers me a notebook and I neatly write everything down. He quickly checks me out to see whether it all makes sense to me. I try to look as neutral as possible and then I look downwards, pretending to be aloof, because the expression on my face never lies. Besides, from experience I know I need more time to absorb all the information and this is all theory and I prefer to put things in practice.

Vidar is quite unconcerned and continues. "The Algonquin-Indians sorcerer's of old believed that the Big Bang was not an instant but a twofold event, the result of the first and subsequently the second reality." He declares "the second reality reflects the first reality," drawing a circle on a notepad with a line in the middle. "The characteristics of the totality is twofold," instructing: "The Totality consists of the first and the second reality. The first is created by the creative energy of the first reality and the second by the creative energy of the second reality." He draws another circle and places a dot in the middle. "The dot is the totality of the Self.

Your dreaming creates the first reality as well turning around your totality. With your dream body and your intention, which is the energy used to create, you will not only travel from the first into the second reality, but you will also reach the totality of the self. Creating and dreaming are one and the same and both are created by the creative energy of your intention." My teacher then tells me that both realities are created by the totality and that the totality is dreaming. "The first rule of the first reality is fixation which means that one believes that this is the only reality, but the space outside the circle represents the boundless second reality. The shamans of old discovered that to balance things out a second reality exists, a reality which is not fixed."

He grabs his mug and says: "We have fixated the mug, but through the shift of the assemblage point it changes into a very random thing." He concludes: "To reach the totality you need to stop or dismantle this reality by manipulating the assemblage point, a small shift is all that is needed."

He looks at me again. I apologize, in case he hadn't noticed it I tell him I need more time to comprehend it all. "You will learn by experience," he reassures me "and that means that you will find out what the truth is and that I am right."

A subtle nod of the head tells me that it is enough for tonight and he invites me to come back in ten days and asks me to find a stone to be used in the first dream exercise. "Take any kind of stone and study it in detail, you need to know it inside out, every line, every dent, every outline. Let your inner eye - between your eyebrows - visualize the stone," pointing with his finger to his forehead. "Aim to find the stone," he continues. "With this exercise you create your dream body, a double, an extension of yourself. You can never break away from it. With your dream body you will be able to travel into the second reality." I put my pen down. My head is spinning from the amount of information and in the meantime I am spun to and fro between what my mind shouts and my heart whispers. My mind gets the worst of it. What a night! My desire for knowledge has come true, everything is coming together. I yawn deeply and look at my watch. Midnight. Time has flown past. An uncontrollable flashback takes my mind back to the eight months prior to meeting Vidar. I get up to leave and tell him I was driven by a powerful energy, like a gust of wind pushing me forward and urging me to undertake all kinds of things but I did not really know what I was looking for. Carefully I tell him the wind stopped blowing the moment I met him, I felt at peace.

I drive back home in a state of arousal, it feels like I am in love, but quickly I put that thought aside. Impossible, he could be my father.

We invite you to join s on the virtual tour for The Sorcerer’s Dream by Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield). The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/03/sorcerers-dream . You can learn much more about Dreamshield and her work on her website – http://www.dreamshield.nl/ . The book can be ordered on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Dream-Dreamshield-Alysa-Braceau/dp/1609101561 .

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Interview with a Dreamer

Yesterday, I introduced you to The Sorcerer's Dream and promised you an interview with author, Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield).  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Self- conscious, dreamy, witchy, adventurous.

How do you think others would describe you?

I just asked one of my friends:

She’s exciting, funny and valuable to listen to, and nice to look at also (but the last, you can’t say about yourself ;-).

Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of your work.

Being with my 6 year old daughter, we can talk, play and laugh together quite a bit.

Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

In the winter when it’s cold and wet outside we have a mouse running through the living. Shriek.

What is your most precious memory?

I have many but if I have to choose I really come up with this one: the day I gave birth to my daughter and to finally meet her for real!

What is your most embarrassing memory?

This one is tough, which one to choose but this one pops into my mind now: When I had diner for the first time with (what I thought was) the love of my life in a nice restaurant in Amsterdam you can imagine I was very very exited. I never, ever felt more beautiful in my life and after diner, when we went from our table, I walked ahead to the exit with my head in the clouds, didn’t notice the threshold and you’ll guess, I stumbled and (almost) fell. I was very embarrassed and felt more clumsy than beautiful.

If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing with your life?

I would travel to the Amazon or to Africa or elsewhere to learn more from indigenous people and about the healing spirit and the power of (medicine) herbs and plants. I dreamt a lot about this, so that must be a good choice.

In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

That’s a good one), I cite this one from my book after I took magic mushrooms in a special ceremony which is presented to those who are following the teachings of Totality.

One of the features of this ceremony is experiencing an intellectual death and to let go of your fears and to be able to travel into the unknown and to reach the totality of the self and then you will discover you are the creator of your own reality:

‘My life has been scattered in a hundred thousand pieces. My life, I have complained and nagged about it so many times, but I would die to return to it. From a distance I see myself lying motionless on my right side and finally realize I am dead. I have always been curious about how it would be and now I have come this far. Now I know your spirit just continues living. From a distance I watch my past life. I had a wonderful life, but I just did not see it and what was I worrying about? The worst thing is the fact that my daughter has a future without a mother. I feel guilty. What a way to say goodbye.

I have lost my physical body, but some way or other I have the sense that my torso has been turned and my legs are somewhere behind my head and I wonder how to get it back in shape. Slowly it dawns on me that I have left the world and ended up in the second reality.

My life passes by like a circus, only now I count my blessings. Now there is nothing left but me and the extremely dull everlasting present. Only now I understand the meaning of the often heard expression ‘it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do as long as you are happy and you mean something to others.’ No matter how small. It seemed a sort of platitude and a cliché, but it is true. I look back on a life in which I was very busy, fretted about the tiniest details and lashed out at everything.’

Can you describe the time you realized you were doing the work you were meant to do?

That time was about ten years ago. I started writing as a freelancer for magazines about spiritual new age workshops and courses I followed and I felt more and more energetic doing the things I really liked (writing and developing my spiritual side).

What is going on with your work at this time?

I’m doing different things at the moment: I have a healing practice and besides that I work at a publishing company in Amsterdam (The Netherlands, Europe). And of course I write, so you can call that variety.

What are your future goals for your work?

I love to do both but finally I hope to be a more of a writer and journalist with a healing practice than working at a publishing company and combine that with writing and healing.

Why do you do this sort of work?

I try to follow my heart and my passion. And that feels good!

What other person who does this sort of work inspires you the most? Why?

People who dare to follow their heart and their gifts inspire me, despite the fact knowing that it might not always turn out the way you hope or expect.

How do you define your work?

Never a dull moment!

In one sentence—what do you want people to say about you in fifty years?

Whoa, she was good dreamer!

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

My website: www.dreamshield.nl

And I just started a blog: http://dreamshield.wordpress.com

Is there a place where people can reach you?

You can send me an e-mail and my future blog will be a nice way to keep in contact.

Can you list all your titles so people can look for them?

I’ve written one book: The Sorcerers Dream and I want to write a few more books in the future because I love to write and to share my experiences.

For new people —what can they expect when they read your work?

What I hear often is that people start dreaming while reading my book and they enjoy that a lot. People find it a challenging, confrontational and exciting trip. But I have to warn you; it’s not very mainstream:)

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

I don’t know if I am a real writer, maybe I will feel like a real writer after writing another book (and another one and another one). But the feeling of being a real writer came more close when I discovered I loved to write this book and also that I want to continue it day and night (impossible of course) and that it gave me so much energy.

What are your future goals for your writing?

That my second book will be as exciting as my first book! That’s a challenge…

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

When I once start a ‘writing project’, I really want to continue but I need to build in some stops. So I start the day (after breakfast) taking a walk in the dunes where the fresh air and the beautiful nature gives me new inspiration. When I come home I make a pot of coffee for myself and writing starts at about 10 o’clock. I take a short lunch after about three hours and continue to let’s say five o’ clock. Like I said, I prefer non-stop writing but that’s impossible and of course after dinner and after bringing my daughter to bed I usually start writing a few more hours. I just love it!.

What writer most inspires you? Why?

It’s a Dutch writer, Heleen van Royen. She is a very good and tends to bring taboo topics up just as easy and she is so very open and honest about her thoughts and feelings that it can even be confronting and therefore embarrassing to the reader.

How do you define your writing?

Accessible without the tendency of making poetry.

In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

It opened my heart and I became more aware.

Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your work?

My book is about my initiation into the sorcerer's world and mastering conscious dreaming. It is an exciting spiritual adventure that takes you into the magic realms of the unknown and you can read and learn more about:

Mastering conscious dreaming, dreaming practices, traveling to the unknown, dreaming and the meaning of sexual energy, the healing of your inner child and the way to reach the totality of the Self by facing and releasing your emotional, physical and spiritual blocks.

That is to say an adventure!


We invite you to join s on the virtual tour for The Sorcerer’s Dream by Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield). The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/03/sorcerers-dream . You can learn much more about Dreamshield and her work on her website – http://www.dreamshield.nl/ . The book can be ordered on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Dream-Dreamshield-Alysa-Braceau/dp/1609101561 .

 SPECIAL OFFER - Every time you post a comment on any tour post - you will be entered into a drawing for a $35 Amazon gift card -- so, share your thoughts with us.

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The Sorcerer’s Dream: An Initiation into the Sorcerer’s World

I have hosted a lot of authors on their tours, but every so often, one comes along that really stands out.  This week, I have that special type of author and book.  I hope you find her as exciting as I do :-)  Dreamshield (Alysa Braceau) studied social work and is a freelance journalist who writes for newspapers and magazines. She has a Healing Practice and gives workshops about the Art of Mastering Conscious Dreaming and Dream Healing.  Tomorrow, I will be sharing an interview with Dreamshield.  For today, let's take a look at her book.

This is the autobiographical story of a young woman bumping into the enigmatic sorcerer Running Deer and her initiation into the sorcerer’s world and mastering conscious dreaming. It takes the reader throughout the magic realms of the unknown and gives a new approach to the traditional training of women sorcerers.

The riveting autobiographical account The Sorcerer’s Dream written by Dreamshield takes the reader throughout the magic realms of the unknown and mastering conscious dreaming. This book, following the traditions of Carlos Castaneda and others, gives a new approach to the traditional training of women sorcerers.

The author describes her initiation into the surrealistic world of dreaming and magic, following the teachings of ‘Man of Knowledge’ Running Deer. In the heart of Amsterdam, a thrilling stride unfolds in obtaining the knowledge of the Second Reality on the way to the ultimate goal: finding the Totality of the Self!

The combination of unusual instructions and experiences within the sorcerer’s world and the level-headedness of a very Dutch woman offers the reader excitement and contemplation on the way to the source of this reality, finding the ultimate self through the experiences and understanding of Dreamshield herself. Up until the last page the reader remains intrigued whether Dreamshield will reach her goal.

Right by the author’s side or facing her stands the character of Running Deer. Sometimes mysterious, then challenging, strict as a guru, or vulnerable as a visitor in a foreign country. However, the precise description of these distinctive steps on the road to her initiation stand like milestones in the landscape of this unique history

We invite you to join us on the virtual tour for The Sorcerer’s Dream by Alysa Braceau (Dreamshield). The full schedule can be seen at http://bookpromotionservices.com/2010/05/03/sorcerers-dream . You can learn much more about Dreamshield and her work on her website – http://www.dreamshield.nl/ . The book can be ordered on Amazon.   .

SPECIAL OFFER - Every time you post a comment on any tour post - you will be entered into a drawing for a $35 Amazon gift card -- so, share your thoughts with us.
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