Thirteen-year-old Klara is a modern teenager living in a complicated family situation. Her mother is fixated on herself and making sure her son gets everything he wants. Klara’s father recognizes some of the imbalances in the family but refuses to make any change. Luckily, Klara has an escape. She looks to her star family for emotional sustenance.
This is a highly creative and thoughtful work of young adult (YA), visionary fiction. Klara is a star seed from a distant galaxy. In her dreams (or are they dreams?), she has contact with beings of superior wisdom and knowledge. They give her access to understandings she doesn’t possess in her everyday reality. Of course, living in the 3D world and reconciling the idea of being a star being is difficult for a teenager. Klara soon attracts help from adults who share ideas from Hinduism, Q’ero Shamanism, and Quakerism. All these traditions offer support for Klara as she negotiates the difficult dynamics of her family and the increasingly dark times with her brother. In this way, the book familiarizes the reader with several esoteric wisdom traditions without preaching but making each of them relevant to the spiritual crisis the character faces.
I especially enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with consciousness, reincarnation, the holographic universe, the interconnectedness of all things, and the idea of a feedback loop. Many of these ideas emanate from ancient tradition and yet modern science is starting to recognize them as well. The Arturian Gate by which Klara takes incarnation reminded me of the “well of forgetting” in some esoteric writings. Similarly, the comemeya necklace activated by thought resonated as a stand-in for the chakra system or perhaps just the heart chakra. There are discussions of Edgar Mitchell, the Schumann resonances, and the idea of an emerging upgrade in human consciousness. Dreams, alternative realities, parallel realities, vibratory fields, beings existing in other dimensions. There are many discussion points opened by the book for seekers to explore.
Ultimately, Klara comes to grips with self-acceptance for where she is in her journey and what forgiveness looks like in the moment. A wonderful book to open hearts and minds reminding us of what our time on earth is all about.
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My visionary works are Into the Land of Snows and Timeless Tulips. Elephants Never Forgotten is Sci-Fi.
(No longer under contract restrictions, I can now share the story freely.)
A Dutch settlement, north of New Amsterdam,
The New World 1638
Father would want me to record this day. I fetched parchment and pen. My soul was hollow as I wrote words unthinkable only days earlier.
Alone, so very alone, I write to stave off the madness that encircles me. My only wish is to hold on long enough to see you return.
Sickness has spread through our village. I am told I must remain indoors so as not to tempt the Devil’s wrath. Watching from my window, I have seen the bodies wrapped in linen and taken behind the village. I know not how long this will continue or who shall succumb next.
Father, it has been too long since I have gazed on your kind countenance. I fervently hope you will hear my prayers and hasten back to your most obedient daughter.
May God have mercy upon us.
The rain had stopped, finally. The gray clouds broke in the afternoon sky as the cab pulled to a stop in front of a house on Lindengracht. Dad jumped from the front seat and hurried to help the driver wrestle the luggage from the trunk. The cab’s dome light came on and threw a beam onto the metallic clasp of Mom’s purse. Lydia caught the glint of the reflected streak and winced. She looked away, but the damage was done. A flickering cascade of broken, mirrored glass danced at her feet. Instinctively, she closed her eyes. Not now, she commanded. Not now.
Moments later, Lydia opened her eyes and found the image gone. She sighed with relief and got out of the cab. Standing near Mom, Lydia gazed at the three-story brick structure and stifled a yawn with her hand. It was more modern than many of the buildings they had passed since their arrival into the garden district, but still old by American standards. The house reminded her of Colonial Williamsburg except that it was very narrow and tightly surrounded by other structures, one building almost melting into the next. She closed her eyes and yawned, opening her mouth wide. Stretching, she thrust her jaw left and right, fighting the effects of jetlag. It had been a long flight from New York City.
Dad deposited Lydia’s wheeled suitcase alongside her and returned to retrieve the rest of the bags. Mom left Lydia to grab her own shoulder-bag and makeup case from the back of the cab. Lydia turned to look at the tree-lined street and remembered from her tour book that many early canals in the area had been filled in. The grassy strip just beyond the paved street was probably one of those former canals. She wondered what it was like to live in a city where water was the main method of travel. Sleepy pictures of Venice floated through her mind as Dad tapped her shoulder indicating he was ready to go inside.
Lydia pulled her suitcase to the bottom edge of the house’s stairway and bumped it up the six steps following Dad. The three of them stood before a massive oak door while Dad dug deep into his pockets for the key. The family would stay in this historic house owned by the company while Dad interviewed with a Dutch publishing firm. His previous job as editor at an independent art book publisher vanished when the company decided to change its product line. Now that company produced novelty books for children.
“It’s got to be here,” Dad said, his Southern accent making the words melt like butter on toast.
Exasperated, Mom stepped forward and reached to help Dad explore his other pants pocket.
Dad playfully slapped her hand as he took a step back. “Not now, Ronni. The child’s watching…” He grinned.
Mom rolled her eyes. “I’m only trying to help.”
Lydia smirked. She’d seen this kind of behavior before. Dad enjoyed these little stabs of humor while Mom was always uncomfortable with them, reacting slightly shocked each time. Maybe if Mom pulled her own joke once in a while Dad would be able to lay off it. But really, Lydia couldn’t see that happening. Her parents’ dynamics just wouldn’t allow it. They’d never change.
“You two aren’t going to do this the whole time we’re here, are you?” Lydia asked.
Dad produced the key that had been hidden in his hand the whole time and reached for the door. Mom raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips as if to say look what I have to put up with.
“Of course not, darling. I, for one, am going to be on my best behavior.” He swung the door open and stood gallantly to the side, allowing the ladies to pass.
Lydia stepped over the threshold and into a darkened room. Directly in front of her, a staircase led to the upper floors, and just to the left, illuminated only by the light from the street, a vase of tulips sat on a pedestal. The creamy white vase was overwhelmed by the vibrant yellow and red flowers that overhung it. The splotch of color momentarily made the entranceway warm and inviting. Dad closed the door and plunged them into darkness.
“How ‘bout some lights?” Lydia asked.
“One second, one second…” Dad slapped at the wall feeling for the light switch.
A click and the overhead light came on.
“Very nice,” Mom said examining the entranceway and taking note of the fresh flowers. A mirror hung on the wall opposite the arrangement. That caught her eye. She stepped forward and peered at herself. Long slender fingers sporting a French manicure smoothed her eyebrows and corrected a bit of stray lipstick. Without taking her eyes off herself, she pulled a brush from her purse and whisked her newly colored blond locks from her face.
“You look beautiful already,” Dad said grabbing her around the waist, embracing her.
“You always say that,” Mom answered.
“Because it’s always true.”
Lydia turned away from the tender moment. She’d seen that many times, too. She abandoned her suitcase and strolled left into the living room. Two large windows brought light in from the emerging sun. A beige room with a fireplace and comfy blue sofas greeted her. She sunk luxuriously into one of them and eyed the coffee table, considering whether to rest her feet on it. Slipping her shoes off, she started to raise her feet, but then Mom entered the room. Her feet stayed on the floor.
Dad poked his head around the corner. “Don’t you want to explore the new digs, Sunshine?” he called to Lydia.
“Sure,” Lydia said pulling herself to her feet.
Mom surveyed the room and stationed herself at the rain-spattered window. “Do you suppose it’ll rain the whole time we’re here?”
Lydia joined her at the window. “The guidebook says that in Amsterdam, it’s raining, just stopped raining, or getting ready to rain. It doesn’t look too bad right now.”
Mom turned and looked at Lydia. She swished Lydia’s long brown hair off her shoulders so that it hung behind.
“I’m waiting,” Dad called.
With practiced motion, Mom pulled a few short tendrils curling in the humidity and smoothed them down behind Lydia’s ears. Lydia felt her mother’s eyes on the strawberry birthmark at her hairline. Starting in pre-school Mom had covered it with makeup and Lydia repeated the behavior mostly out of habit. As her mother reached up, Lydia stepped back and spun around. She ran to meet Dad at the foot of the stairs.
“Race you to the top!”
Lydia gave him her best, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look.
“You think I’m too old for it? Just because I’m a little gray and have a little extra weight,” Dad poked his pouch of a tummy, “doesn’t mean I can’t still beat you.”
“I mean, I’m too old for it. Fourteen-year-olds don’t race their fathers anymore.”
Dad sighed, sounding almost hurt. “Sounds like some ridiculous teenager rules! I thought you and I would resist the imposition of silly rules and blaze our own way.”
“Nope,” Lydia said. She started slowly up the stairs.
“I’ve always said that maturity is overrated, and fun should take precedence.”
“That’s not sounding very parental. Don’t let Mom hear you say that.”
Lydia paused at the top of the stairs while her father caught his breath. In his mid-fifties, Miles Bradshaw had begun to show the decade or so that separated him from his wife. As Lydia gained height and maturity, she watched her father become grayer and rounder. His reading glasses had recently become a permanent fixture. And while the physical changes were expected, she more frequently questioned her father’s ability to adapt to her growing up and changing. He should know that ninth graders are beyond racing their fathers up a flight of stairs. Besides, her father always said that being an only child had made her mature beyond her years. So why did he want her to participate in such incredibly childish behavior?
A quick look upstairs revealed three comfortable bedrooms and a small bathroom. From a window in the smallest bedroom, Lydia peered out onto a grassy courtyard framed by laurel bushes. A garden with spring bulbs bloomed alongside the foundation, and in two beds separated by a walkway were rows and rows of tulips.
Dad leaned against the doorframe. “Small, but nice. What do you think?”
“It’s fine,” Lydia answered. She went to the bed and bounced up and down a few times. “What will our new house be like?”
Dad moved to the window. “That depends. Assuming I get the job, we’ll get a place in the country. Big change for us.”
“That means no Saks or Bloomies. You think we can get a puppy?”
“I think that might be negotiable— if and I mean if, we move. I know you’ve always wanted a pet. Heck, I had a dog as a kid. Loved the dickens out of that hound dog.”
“I know, Dad. That’s why I think it’s time I had my own dog. It’d make the move easier if I had something to look forward to. You know?” Dad gazed out into the backyard seeming to consider her plea.
“Let’s see how things progress, dear daughter, and I’ll get back to you on that. Let’s say you’re not looking at the parent who needs the convincing. Right now, I’m more concerned over how your mother’s going to handle the move. She’s going to have the hardest time adjusting. That is, if we move.” Dad walked down the hallway out of sight.
Lydia fell back onto the bed and smiled. Visions of puppies danced in her mind’s eye. At least if they did move, the prospect of getting a dog was on the table and since Dad was okay with it, it meant that Mom would cave over time.
She sprang to her feet. The move would be a big change and she worried about how they’d all adapt. She knew that Mom was not looking forward to giving up Manhattan to go upstate. In fact, Mom had done her best over the years to erase her rural roots and pretend to be from the city. She enjoyed the fast pace of the metropolis and its myriad choices. Mom loved the crowded streets, the theatre life, the shopping, and the excitement that seemed to make the streets pulse. Dad was right that Mom would have the hardest time relocating.
Lydia herself was conflicted over the family uprooting itself from the city. She could see some definite disadvantages, but she also recognized that it wouldn’t be all bad. There was the possibility of the puppy! No doubt she’d miss her friends and the routine of her life. She might have to give up ballet, but that might not be such a horrible thing. What worried her most was the uncertainty of the whole thing. If Dad didn’t get the job, they’d stay in the city. But if he did, and it was very likely that he would, then they would be moving.
When Lydia considered that possibility, she felt unsure. What should she feel? Scared and sad about leaving her friends? Hannah especially. How would Hannah get along without her? Would Hannah be mad at her? Blame her? Would Hannah forget her the week after she left? Maybe. Lydia considered the other option. What if she could actually feel some excitement about the change? Maybe getting out of the city would be a good thing. The school might be a little more relaxed and not so focused on standardized tests and whose parents did what. In a small town, she might be able to go more places on her own and enjoy more freedom. She’d be able to be outside more. Actually, be in nature and see wildlife. That would be cool! Being a teenager away from the city might have its perks. But then again, there was always the problem of whether she’d fit in. Would she be able to make friends?
The only thing she was certain of was that Dad would make it through any transition just fine. His perpetually upbeat attitude assured he’d always land on his feet, finding something good in everything that ever happened.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs broke her train of thought. She realized it was only Dad bringing up some of the luggage.
A slight breeze lifted her hair off her shoulder and Lydia wheeled around. Facing the window, she watched as one of the curtains floated up and then returned to its normal position. An odd occurrence with the window closed, but one she thought could be easily explained. Obviously, the windows were not well sealed, and the wind had raised her hair and blown the curtain, startling her. Old houses were like that, just like old apartments. Back home, weather stripping ran all around her bedroom window because without it, her room would be freezing in the winter.
Lydia approached the window, confident that she would be able to feel the draft responsible for moving the curtain. She floated her hand around the window searching for air flow but found none. The window was old, but it seemed to be in good repair and Lydia did not feel a breeze. Dropping her hand, she tried to remember how the incident had happened. She was tired and maybe jetlagged just enough to think she saw a white curtain move against a white wall. If she was turning around when she saw it, maybe it was just that motion combined with not focusing precisely, that made the curtain look like it moved. Yes, that must be it. Lydia refused to dwell on it.
There were far better things for her to concern herself with. Deep down she had a feeling that Dad was going to get this job. He really wanted it, and he’d be good at it. She sighed. How could she make this move better for Mom? For herself? She turned and left the room, walking to the master bedroom, which faced the street.
A large, four-poster bed with a bright blue comforter hugged the wall to the left. She stepped around her parent’s luggage and into the intense sunshine pouring through the sheer curtain panels in the two windows in front of her. The first sunlight of the day beckoned to her, and Lydia rushed forward to be engulfed in its warmth.
From the window Lydia watched as a large, muscular woman pumped her bicycle and drew near. The woman leaned the bike against the lamppost in front of the house and secured it with a combination lock. Lydia pulled the curtains back for a better look and a few moments later, the doorbell rang.
While the print copy is no longer available, the ebook can be found here:
The face of the Dutch girl glared back at her with dark eyes and a mouth twisted in a cruel grimace. From the hall came a sinister laugh.
After a family trip to Amsterdam, 14-year-old Lydia finds herself closer to the past than she could have imagined. During her stay, a bizarre series of events that seem to defy all logic is set in motion. When Lydia’s life is threatened, she is forced to solve a centuries’ old mystery and uncover the truth about Annika, the angry ghost of a little Dutch girl, her story, and how their past and present connect them. Lydia finds herself closer to the past than she has ever been. But what can Lydia possibly do to help someone who died over 400 years ago?
I’ve been intrigued by the notion of sin-eaters since I saw a movie concerning the topic years ago (The Last Sin Eater, 2007). Recently, I spotted this YA historical fiction work on the theme. It’s an intriguing book with a nice murder mystery at its heart.
But what is a sin-eater? Sin-eaters are designated individuals within a community who consume ritual foods thereby taking on the sins of a deceased person. The foods symbolize (or absorb, depending on your perspective) the sins and through ingestion, the sin-eater acquires the sin thereby absolving the deceased, and paving the way for entry into heaven. Historically, the practice is associated with Wales and the English counties bordering Wales.
In the book, The Sin Eater, 14-year-old, May, is made a sin-eater after stealing a loaf of bread during the reign of Elizabeth I. Marked as a sin-eater and shunned by society, May eventually seeks out an older woman in the same situation. This woman mentors May in this hard life through example because verbal communication is forbidden. Sin-eaters are well fed and outcasts who are redeemed only upon death, having faithfully served their purpose—or so May is led to believe. Things are turned upside down when the older sin-eater refuses to consume a deer heart for a royal governess who’s died. Refusing to do so costs her life. May loses her teacher and ends up center stage in a mystery of death and intrigue involving the royal bloodline.
I enjoyed the book because it is an imaginative tale about something very little is known about. And yet, it did exist culturally, and the legacy carried on to some extent in areas including western England, Wales, Bavaria, and 17th century Dutch America. Campisi’s novel is now available in paperback.
For the next two weeks (May 30-Jun 15), INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, Kindle edition, will be on sale for $2.99 ( orig. price $4.99).
HIGH ALTITUDE MAGIC & MYSTERY:
Sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.
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REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog during the Covid crisis. Anyone interested in receiving a Reiki distance treatment can contact me at: email@example.com. I will provide additional information via email. To honor the exchange practice of Reiki, you will be asked to make a $25 donation to your favorite charity.
Hey, gang! I’m Lydia. In Ellis’ book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds- A Ghost Story, I was the fourteen-year-old moving to Upstate New York dealing with the ghost of a Dutch girl from the 17th century. At the time, I thought ghosts weren’t real, but first-hand experience has a way of shattering your reality. Today I have the chance to grill the writer— I mean ask a few behind the scenes questions. Some I have an inkling about, others I’m just as clueless as the reader is.
I’m like totally over this, but how was it that Annika
became your favorite?
Yeah, about that. You were always intended to be the main character but by the end of the story, it was obvious Annika had taken over. Partly, it was the history of the period that was so captivating and interesting. 17th century Holland and what Annika’s family goes through during the boom and bust of the tulip market grips us. That’s not to say what you experience is to be trivialized. Lydia- your world changes alongside Annika’s. You both make moves and go through things neither of you expect.
That’s for sure! And now that I know Annika’s whole story, I get why she acted the way she did. It was just so scary and aggravating at the time. But, like I said- I’m over Annika being more of the focus of the book.
Speaking of our connection, how am I like you? What makes
You deal with the same mother/daughter issues but with a
maturity I didn’t have. We both are “book” people and have a love for animals.
Both of us struggle to find our place in the world. Don’t we all?
What was the toughest scene in the book to write?
You know this one.
Yeah, but I gotta ask.
The incident when Mom had to call the ambulance.
Because it really happened that way.
Right. That scene was written from experience. It was just before Christmas and I was starring at the Christmas tree. The lights started to behave strangely. I witnessed a bizarre and beautiful phenomenon, I later learned was called “aura”. Events intensified where I lost my ability to speak and access language. My brain shut down. Some people call this a stroke in slow motion. Very scary. In fact, it was and is the scariest thing to ever happen to me. And these incidents continued for twelve years. Imagine, experiencing unpredictable, stroke-like symptoms for a dozen years… That’s why this scene was so hard to write and re-read.
Would you say this is your most personal book?
Absolutely. We’ve already talked about the migraine connection but there are other elements as well. In the dedication, I mention being a toddler and talking about a ghost I would see at night. This book also explores mother/daughter issues I myself experienced. Lydia is far more perceptive and processes these topics with insight I didn’t possess at her age. In many ways, the book was cathartic in allowing me to explore themes of illness, emerging spirituality, healing, and personal power.
Can I have a sequel?
No way! Sorry, my dear, your story has been told.
Is Annika getting a sequel?
This is starting to sound like whining. I’ve already given
you credit for being mature. Now, what impression are readers going to be left
Oops. I just want you to know that I’m available should
another plotline jump into that writer head of yours.
Anyway, thanks for hanging out today! Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds is out in print and e-book. Follow the links below.
Two worlds collide in this haunting tale. When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to Upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease. When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia has to contend with what she may have inadvertently brought home with her.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“YA Author Ellis Nelson knows how to thread a carefully spun tale with some little known, wildly interesting, historical facts and wonderful family dynamics. She paints memorable portraits of the different countries and eras – including the scents, fragrances, smells and stenches that so clearly define those ancient times in Holland . . . right into the New World! As an avid reader, I enjoyed the love for details, the historic research, and the way the author stuck – with unwavering rhythm – to her theme. . . ”
“… author, Ellis Nelson, accomplishes so much more. She ties the old world (Amsterdam) and the new world (New Amsterdam/New York) into one intriguing thread. Then she weaves that thread into a present day story of a young visionary, Lydia, who stumbles upon the unfinished business of her invisible counterpart, Annika, from the 17th century. The stories of both girls are complete, one illuminating the other. Through these points-of-view we experience the everyday angst of adolescence in both natural and supernatural ways. Mystical insights, historical realities, and future possibilities gild this lily of a story (or I should say, this prizewinning tulip) into a work of art.”
“Timeless Tulips is the third novel I have immersed myself in by gifted author, Ellis Nelson. As with her other books, this story is exciting, suspenseful, and definitely unique. The plot twists in unexpected ways and is filled with shadowy circumstances. A wonderful read!!”
“Speculating on tulips was a twist. Nelson brings the setting, characters, and events to life with a deft hand.”
“… loved the Amsterdam, Dutch heritage aspect, since I’m of Dutch ancestry. Wonderful ghost story!”