Archive for 2012

December book reviews

December book reviews
Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

booksAs most of you know, I’m an avid reader. My reading time does, of course, depend on my work load, but I find myself reading in the middle of the night just to satisfy those literary urges. I do think people become better writers by reading a lot of different books. For me, it helps to find out what I like or didn’t like about what an author did.

So, I decided that at the end of every month, I plan to start posting brief reviews of all the books I read. This will be faster and easier for all of us than me posting individual reviews of some length. I read a lot of different kinds of books, so there won’t be any rhyme or reason to it. I just read whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.

Call it Jessica’s Book Digest, if you will.

Here are the books I read in December. The first one began in November but I finished it in December. It counts!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling
5 stars

I know, I’m late to the Harry Potter thing. It can’t even be called fashionably late when your friends stage an intervention. The book, I thought, was wonderfully written with great imagination. It helped for me that I recognized Victorian literary qualities in Rowling’s style. Fantasy is a tough genre for me to enjoy because I need to believe in the possibility that the fantasy world created by the author could exist in reality. If I don’t buy it, I don’t enjoy it. However, Potter is a world that I not only believe could exist in reality, but I’m waiting for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Sadly, the owl hasn’t arrived yet. Harry himself reminds me of a Victorian hero, and although he sounds mature for his age, I never forgot that he was just a boy. That’s hard to do. I hate writing children, mainly because I don’t, in all honesty, remember much about being a child myself. I was an adult from birth. Even the villains have some likable qualities, and that is equally hard to do as a writer. Reading the Potter books will allow me to experience childhood in a magical way and I am looking forward to getting started on the second book. I’m going to read all of them before tackling the movies. I do recommend these books even if you’re not sure you’ll like them. I wasn’t sure but now I find they’re a wonderful escape from the daily grind.

Growing Up PsychicGrowing Up Psychic: My Story of Not Just Surviving but Thriving–and How Others Like Me Can, Too
by Chip Coffey
4 stars

I started this book a long time ago but set it aside when life got busy. As a child medium, I could have used help like this, so I wanted to see if anything I could still learn from it. Chip Coffey has a straightforward writing style that, while sounds like his speaking voice, lacks descriptive power and style. That’s probably the fiction writer in me reacting to a distinctly nonfiction book. I had a little trouble staying focused on it at times. However, this is a great book for parents raising child mediums. A lot of it describes Coffey’s upbrining and coming to accept himself as a psychic medium. It’s to the point and doesn’t dramatize the issue into something out of a horror movie. There is a great deal of practical advice, vocabulary lists, and so forth. I would categorize this book as more for beginners, which is to be expected, because parents with child mediums or child mediums themselves are indeed beginners in this field. If you’re looking for insider information on Coffey’s Paranormal State experiences, you will be disappointed, but there is a great deal of insider information on the children featured on Psychic Kids. Many of the children contributed written material to the book that will be very helpful for child mediums to read.

Messenger Between WorldsMessenger Between Worlds
by Kristy Robinett
4 stars

I may be a little biased about this book because Kristy is my friend, but I thought she wrote in a brave, honest style about her life as a medium. Her intent with the book, in my view, was to inspire people with recounting her difficult life and how she turned her struggles into helping other people. I touched on the fact that I’m a medium in my own book, but I wasn’t able to be as brave as her in revealing my truth. People sometimes think psychics and mediums writing books is just another facet of their money making machines, but they fail to understand how tough it can be to expose things about ourselves that many in this world mercilessly ridicule. Kristy tells her story with integrity and manages to describe even the most difficult life experiences with a positive lesson in the end. Her advice about relationships with the living and the dead often strikes the reader as basic but the truth of it cannot be denied. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the most basic ways to express love and respect. Kristy explains it without being high and mighty. Her writing style is conversational, yet literary. Like with Chip Coffey’s book, I had to deduct one star because there were some errors that should have been corrected by an editor. Otherwise, it was a wonderful book!

Noble CauseNoble Cause: A Novel of Love and War
by Jessica James
3 stars

What are the odds of finding another Civil War fiction author with a name so similar to mine? Noble Cause follows Alexander Hunt and Andrea Evans through the Civil War as they chase each other from opposite sides. Andrea is a spy and courier for the Union dressed as a boy when they first know each other, while Hunter is a Confederate cavalry commander loosely based on the Gray Ghost, John Mosby. Through many twists in the novel, Andrea and Hunter spend the war veering between trying to kill each other and falling in love. I had a few qualms with this novel, which is why I gave it three stars. James extended several scenes that didn’t require such length and I found myself wanting to skim when scenes were drawn out too long. She also wrote Andrea in such a way that got a little too close to making her very unlikable. A heroine should not drive the reader to want to skim past her scenes to get to a more likable character. That was why I stopped reading the Sookie Stackhouse series. I couldn’t stand her but liked everyone else. Hunter is written as an idealistic romantic Confederate hero, and although it could have come across as cliche with him, I found him very attractive and convincing as a man. Sometimes female authors struggle to write men accurately, but I dare say, James struggled more with female characters. The combat scenes were also very, very well written, which is incredibly difficult to do, speaking as someone who has done it. With some better editing and closer attention on some anachronisms, James has wonderful potential as a historical author.

The John Lennon LettersThe John Lennon Letters
by John Lennon, edited by Hunter Davies
5 stars

This is a stunning book and a must have for any John Lennon fan. I got it for Christmas and I have been through it a few times. When I got it, I thought it was going to be basic transcripts of his letters with some explanation by the editor, which is what most historical collections do. Davies filled the book with photographs of each letter in addition to the transcripts and context explanations, allowing the readers to feel like they’ve got pieces of John for themselves. His letters are charming, funny, witty, sometimes arrogant, and often filled with drawings and jokes. He had a way of tailoring every letter to the person meant to receive it. I enjoyed seeing a few early things he made for Cynthia, his first wife, before he was famous. This is a book that doesn’t necessarily have to be read from start to finish either. Sometimes I just open it to a random page and see what John has to say that day. I do recommend that you buy the hardback book, not any e-reader version. Some books are simply meant to be tangible objects. Highly recommended!

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Are writers a type of medium?

Are writers a type of medium?
Posted by Jessica Jewett 2 Comments »

WritingI had a little discussion about this very question the other night. Some people in the paranormal community have this theory that people who write novels or short stories or even poems are actually doing a form of mediumship. This doesn’t happen all the time but it happens enough that we have to take notice. I never actually thought about this before this year and here’s what made me wonder.

As you all know, right now I’m trying to finish up the second novel in my Civil War trilogy. There were some very strange coincidences with my first novel in this trilogy, such as choosing the regiment that my great great great great great uncles were in, however, I didn’t know at the time that they were in that regiment. Going to the regimental musters and looking for character names was how I noticed my family name. So then I looked up my family tree and realized that I had unintentionally placed these uncles in my novel. They were prison guards. I had never really looked at my family tree in detail before then, so there was no way I could have known that these people were part of this regiment. I had seen the surnames before, but I had never known their personal stories. And yet, that was the regiment that was selected for the novel. Was it a coincidence? Maybe. Were my uncles trying to get me to tell their stories in some way? Maybe.

Long after I was deeply entrenched in writing the second book in the trilogy, one of my test readers noticed that some of the background characters resembled historical figures in South Carolina. However, these were not hugely famous historical figures. They were what I would call B list or C list historical figures. Only people very educated in South Carolina history would have recognized traits in these characters enough to realize that they were actual people.

One character in particular was written as Isabelle’s brother. If you read the first novel, you know who Isabelle is right away. She was the only girl in a pile of boys and I introduced one of her brothers in the second book. I gave him a very specific physical description and a very specific personality description. My friend, a native South Carolinian, read the passage where I introduced him into the story and she pointed out that he strongly resembled in physical and personality descriptions the son of one of the famous generals. I had been harboring feelings for a long time about this book being led by something else bigger than myself because sometimes I would write entire passages and not have a clue of what I just wrote until I went back to read it. So I got curious and looked up information about the sons that this particular general had. Lo and behold, there was my character. He looked exactly like the way I described him and people who described his personality used the exact same phrases that I did in the novel. Coincidence? Maybe, but it gets highly unlikely the more it happens in the same trilogy.

A couple of other minor characters associated with Isabelle’s brother in the novel have actually turned out to be very close to reality in a couple of other South Carolinian figures. It would make sense if I had been highly educated in South Carolina history. However, I’m not. This novel trilogy has taken so long to write because I often need to stop and thoroughly read about this place. I knew virtually nothing about it going into it. I just thought South Carolina was a romantic place to have a novel. So how could I write about people that I didn’t even know existed?

Indeed, questions of that nature often arise when people exhibit behaviors of mediums. How can we tell perfect strangers about their family members and their friends when we have no prior knowledge of them? Is it really that different when it comes to a storyteller being inspired or completely driven to write a story? They often say every form of creativity has to have a muse behind it. What is a muse? Could a muse not be a spirit on the other side wanting their story told? Isn’t that the desire of every person – to be remembered and immortalized somehow? None of us want to be forgotten after we die. So wouldn’t it make sense that some of us, when we die, would sort of inspire writers to immortalize us in literature? Extending that idea further, what about painters? What about musicians? Where does their inspiration come from when it’s so clear that they are highly driven and almost obsessive with creating the specific thing?

Some might argue that if storytelling, painting, music, and so forth, come from influence from the other side, then people living here don’t actually have any talent. I disagree. It takes talent to be able to tune into that kind of energy and create it. We are not being fed things word for word, or paint stroke for paint stroke, or music note for music note. We are given seeds of inspiration but it’s up to us to create. That’s where talent is necessary.

So what do you think? Could storytelling for artistry or music be some form of mediumship? How is it possible that storytellers create characters who, if we bother to look closer, turn out to have actually existed at some point?

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2012 Christmas message from spirit

2012 Christmas message from spirit
Posted by Jessica Jewett 7 Comments »

Victorian ChristmasLast Christmas, I had been practicing automatic writing for a few months and the spirit I was working with gave me a message to share with everyone. Here we are a year later and a different spirit stepped up to have his message heard. I cannot name this spirit, however. The name would influence your perception of the message and it is true that even spirits deserve a chance at anonymity.

I had a harder time doing it this year as opposed to last year. This year I’m more distracted and busier than ever, which is a blessing, but I feel like I’m rushing through a lot of things now. And it seems like more of my regular visitors have figured out that I’m capable of automatic writing in varying degrees, so many of them want to be heard as well. Not only am I doing this public message, but I feel compelled to deliver private messages too. I feel guilty if I don’t do it.

So without further ado, here is this year’s Christmas message to you all from one spirit in the afterlife.

“Changes are coming so fast in the physical world that many there cannot see beyond the violence and heartache facilitating those changes. The loss of a child, the piercing of a bullet, the taking of another life – none is easily overcome, nor can these deeds be forgotten. No death comes by accident and no death is more important than any other. A life’s extinguishment and transition into our realm comes for all. It is the great equalizer. Human ego creates a hierarchy of life and death, but we must all remember that each soul is a life force all its own with a history of rags, riches, love, and hate. No soul holds more value than another. A child dying of hunger in Africa is requires as much attention and action as a child shot in school. The nationality pales in comparison to the reverence of being one stitch in the fabric of humanity. We must all serve one another and love one another. We all have the power to abolish hunger, pain and suffering.

Enough talking. Start doing. A new Age of Enlightenment is upon us if we reach out and touch it. The world must become more ‘we’ and less ‘them’. Love more, argue less. The basic principles of decency have been lost and we therefore must look to antiquity for guidance. Look to your ancestors. Look to your children. Look to Spirit.

Spiritual practices must return to daily life in the world. Which practice is preferred isn’t the argument. The discipline, self-discovery, true love with the universe, and joy that accompanies daily spiritual practices cannot be denied. Don’t be fearful of that which is bigger than the self. Never allow the ego to become the deity. Each soul is but a dot in the whole of the painting. The painting cannot exist without each brush stroke and each splash of paint. Give the artist joy in painting you.

This coming year, you must slow down and absorb moments. Love the people who hate the most and push them toward the light of joy. Never answer hate with hate. Never give blackness more power. Spend your soul energy on charity, joy, healing, and remembering that which is bigger than the self.”

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