Want A Little Magic In Your Life?

There’s something about magic. From card tricks to mind-bending disappearing acts magic fascinates everyone. Who wouldn’t want to be able to wave a wand, recite an incantation, or create a potion that will take his cares away? I confess I have an addiction to the television series, Charmed. But today I’m not talking about magic on the stage or magic on the television. If you want a little magic in your life all you need to do is open the cover of a book.

The Magic of Books

If you’re reading this, I’m betting you understand what I’m talking about. Reading opens your mind to learning and to places you’ve never been. Through a book, you’ll understand ideas and experiences that aren’t yours but somehow reveal yours to you.

I’ve read hundreds of books. Yet, there are some that are clearer in my memory than others. Books that woke a bit of magic in me. Books that took me to places I’d never been.  Judging by the Seven books in Seven Days meme making the rounds on Facebook, there are many people who have felt that particular magic.

The Magic of Recommendation

Think about the books you’ve read. How many made an impact on you? You can share about them in the comments if you want, but you don’t have to. Think about them for a few moments. Why did you read that particular book? Did someone recommend it to you? Remember the joy, the learning, the enlightenment–the magic they brought you.

The books that brought you magic? Did you share their magic? By that I mean, did you recommend the book to someone else? Many others? That’s wonderful. I hope the folks you shared with also felt some magic. But there is another way to share the magic.

Another way to bring a little magic in your life and in someone else’s. Write a review of the books you loved. A brief, “I liked this book,” will take a few seconds yet it will spread the magic.

The Magic of Reviews

Will your review make someone else read the book? Maybe. If it does, you’ve spread the magic. Reviews also send a little magic back to the author. It may be encouragement or reinforcement that the author needed on a bad day. Even a negative review can be a little magic in an author’s day. I’m not saying that negative reviews feel great. They don’t. Yet, to know someone in the big ugly world out there read my book is helpful. That they cared enough to try to help me write better books in the future is pretty powerful magic.

 

Want a little magic in your life? 

Spread the magic. Share a favorite book with a friend or two. Write a review. You may question how powerful the three-word review you shared is. Trust me, it’s Big Magic. And for those of you who have shared your magic with me, thank you.

Inspiration from War and Resistance

Novelists are often told, “write what you know.” That’s not quite right. They should learn what they don’t know. Then when they write, they write from a place of knowing. I wanted to write about everyday people who decide to fight for their freedom. So I turned to history again. I needed inspiration for my then in-progress novel, My Soul to Keep. I looked for character inspiration from war and resistance. I found a lot more.

Google is my friend. I searched for resistance and freedom fighters. Scanning hundreds of articles about resistance groups or rebels or freedom fighters I looked for firsthand accounts. I read a lot of articles. Articles about the American Revolution, the Syrian Civil War, and the Polish, the Yugoslavian, the Dutch, and the French resistance fighters in WWII.

Syrian Civil War and Reality

There were two resources I returned to over and over again. I found a number of YouTube videos about the Syrian Civil War. These were videos not for the faint of heart. They showed the real brutality of war, the spirit of resistance, and the destruction of homes and lives. It also showed the resilience of the human spirit.

People lived in the ruins of cities under appalling conditions. Food and clothing were scarce. Once thriving shopping districts had been reduced to rubble. Rebels took refuge in tunnels under the cities. In the documentary I watched, there were times the rebels were under such heavy fire they could not leave those tunnels. Still, they found the spirit to sing songs and joke amongst themselves.

Seven years after the beginning of that war, it is ongoing today. I cannot find the video that seared itself into my brain today. But there are many enlightening documentaries still available.

Not for this book

The devastation of that war was not what the first book of My Soul to Keep needed. I filed away my notes and turned to another source.

Agnes Humbert

My next resource was an audiobook. Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France by Agnes Humbert narrated by Joyce Bean. Agnes was an art historian in Paris when Germans occupied the city. She tells of how she oversaw the packing of the art in the museum where she worked. Then there was little more to pack and her boss sent her home.

Inspiration from World War II Resistance. Lynette M Burrows tells of research she did into resistance fighters while writing My Soul to Keep.
Audiobook Résistance by Agnès Humbert available on Amazon.com

Resistance

She went home, packed up, and left the city. But she couldn’t stand the idea of leaving her home to the Germans. She joined a resistance group. A bunch of regular people who couldn’t bear to watch what was happening to their city and nation. As regular folk, they weren’t warriors or strategists or terribly security-minded. They did what they could with what little they had.

They developed a network. Everyday folk milled around at train depots and shops listening to soldiers talking. They questioned people passing through town. Surreptitiously they printed a newsletter they called Resistancee.   They repored what news they had, movement of troops if they could.  They circulated it under the noses of German soldiers.

Betrayal

Eventually, they were betrayed to the Gestapo. Humbert was imprisoned. She faced days of uncertainty and interrogation. Eventually, she was transferred to the first of several labor camps. She relates, in detail, what life in labor camps was like. She talks about how meager food rations and clothing were. The prisoners were forced to work when ill or injured. Punishments for failing to work were severe. Agnes managed to steal and hide scraps of paper. She recorded her activities and thoughts. Had her notes been found she would have been killed. Seven of her friends were executed. She survived.

The audiobook is engrossing and horrifying. Yet, through it all, Humbert had a brave, witty, and compassionate attitude. I highly recommend listening to this one.

What I Learned

My research revealed that everyday people don’t make the best military-minded decisions. But their lack of military know-how is part of what helped them endure. This was my inspiration. From WWII  and the resistance in Syria, I recreated war and resistance in My Soul to Keep. Have you read about real resistance fighters? Which ones? What did you learn from your reading?

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear makes my heart stutter and my brain screams stop. Hope makes me smile and dream. I flip-flop between these two minute to minute. Determination keeps my fingers moving. That’s what happens when you let your dreams be bigger than your fears.

Six Days to Publication, Lynette talks about letting your dreams be bigger than your fear. Read More

My Soul to Keep launches in six days. At times I can hardly believe it. This novel has been years in the making. Why did it take so long? Fear. Many different fears.

Danger

The danger warnings I have gotten have varied. One danger was that I had exposed too much of my personal life. Another was that I would be ridiculed. Or I would be put on the spot about beliefs espoused in my book. Sometimes the fear was about real situations in my life that had nothing to do with my writing but scared me nonetheless.

Sometimes the fear drove me away from the work. There were days I didn’t even turn on the computer. More than once I discovered I had walked away from my desk, without conscious thought. I’d return and find my computer on, a sentence half-written. Fear had stopped me again.

When the fear was bigger than my dream, the fear turned me into a ghost. Diminished to less than what I could be. Ghost me drifted through the day reinforcing how I wasn’t worthy, I couldn’t do it anyway, I should just give up.

Determination Can Help You

I didn’t give up. My determination was stronger. My dream came back every time, bigger, stronger. I learned the things I needed to learn. I wrote reams and reams of words that I’d cut and throw away. For a while, fear tried to tell me that the rewriting and throwing away were signs of my fear. Some days that may have been true. Most days it wasn’t. Learning takes practice.

Six days away from publication fear visits me again. It whispers, “No one cares. It’ll be a flop. You’ll fail. Failure will cause you too much pain.”

Lessons Learned

I acknowledged my fear.

Yes, I’m terrified but I am determined to try.

I am letting some of my self and my past bleed onto the page. But my characters are not me. My readers have their own pain and past to deal with. I hope I can help them.

Ridicule may hurt. But it is more about the person who is casting the ridicule than about me.

It may be awkward and unsettling for me to be put on the spot, but I will feel sorry for that person who put me there. He has more fear than I.

The scary life situations are scary. If my fear stops me for a time, that’s okay. I’m human. I will sit at the computer another day.

What is failure? I have learned and grown and gotten through to the end despite all that fear has thrown at me. That’s success.

Taking the Power Back

Somewhere along the way, I learned that there’s a difference between feeling fear, acting on fear, and succumbing to fear. I learned to love the me who sits at the computer lost in a world of words.  My power is in my dream, my determination.

No matter how scared I am, I’m also exhilarated.

Six Days

The ebook version of My Soul to Keep is on pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. It’s coming to iTunes and Google Play soon. There will be a paperback version as well. No, fear isn’t the issue—technology is challenging me but it won’t overcome my determination. *smile*

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear won’t stop my next book either.

I hope this helps if you are being held back by fear. Face your fears. But feed your dream. Let your dream be bigger than your fear. You’ll be glad you did.