A Tale of Two Inns

Guest Author: Amanda Cabot

Amanda CabotOn paper, they looked like two very similar places to spend a vacation. Both were family-oriented country inns featuring quaint accommodations, modified American plan meals and beautiful locations. One was nestled on the quiet side of Smoky Mountain National Park, the other on one of the gorgeous lakes in New York State’s Adirondack Mountain region. Both offered a variety of activities for the visitor.

The similarities ended there. When my husband and I arrived at the Smoky Mountain resort, we were welcomed by smiling innkeepers who showed us to our room, insisting that if there was anything we needed, all we had to do was ask. A rather surly clerk greeted us in the Adirondacks, giving us a map and telling us we couldn’t get lost finding our cabin. We didn’t.  But when we opened the door and found less than stellar accommodations, including mismatched bedspreads and towels with holes, we suspected that was part of the reason the clerk didn’t accompany us to the cabin. He didn’t want to hear any complaints.At-Bluebonnet-Lake

The Adirondack problems were more than superficial, as we discovered the first night when an unexpected rain demonstrated that the roof leaked. Over the bed, of course. Electricity was unreliable, particularly when I wanted to dry my hair. And when we took a paddle boat out to explore the lake, we discovered the reason a can had been left in the bottom. It was needed for bailing. Yes, it wasn’t only the roof that leaked.

Meals were another major difference. The Smoky Mountain resort served its meals family style at large round tables with what seemed like an endless supply of delicious foods placed on lazy Susans in the center of each table. In the Adirondacks, the food, while nourishing, lacked variety. There must have been a sale on chicken, because we had roast chicken for dinner one night, chicken salad the next day, and chicken noodle soup the third. I like chicken, but even for me that was too much. 

Can you guess which resort we enjoyed so much that we visited it at least once a year? No question about that, is there? And yet, which one do you think provided the inspiration for At Bluebonnet Lake? Yes, the one in the Adirondacks. 

I’ve always claimed that writers need irritation rather than inspiration, and the Adirondack resort certainly provided its share of irritation. While I was grousing over the all too obvious problems, I kept asking myself “why?” And that led to “what if?” The result was not one but three books set at a fictional resort called Rainbow’s End.  All of which proves that writers can find inspiration … er, irritation anywhere.

About Author:

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. Learn more about her at www.amandacabot.com.

Killer In God’s Land

Guest Author: Mahendra Jakhar

Mahen My book The Butcher of Benares is a murder mystery with Naga Sadhus, Aghoris, Benares, the Ganges, the royal family of Benares and the mystery of Bhrigu-Samhita. It entertains and educates. At time its kicks you in the gut and jolts you to think about the crimes happening in the society. It grabs you and takes you on a journey through the lanes of Benares and into its dark secrets, its history and the murderer.

Let me tell you, I was writing a film script with the same title and approached a lot of film directors and producers but none showed any interest. There are still not many murder mysteries being made in Bollywood. So I had this title and then I started writing the book. The story changed totally from what I had in the film script. And I am a big History lover so yes somewhere I have put history into the book. The history that becomes a part of the book also is something that’s unknown to the common man. It’s not taught in schools and colleges so I turned it into a thriller with historical undertones.

For me, crime writing is an art that combines craft along with keeping the story thrilling and interesting. Also, I write crime fiction not just for thrills and entertainment it provides me a platform to try and understand what is going on in our society, what is wrong with our society that in spite of all the development, education, stringent laws and all the crime rate continues to spiral upwards. So in my own way I try to understand it, look for solutions if there are any and see where we as a society are heading.

While researching for the book, I took three trips to Benares and stayedbutcher cover there for a week each time. I met with Sadhus, Aghoris, Naga Sadhus and spent a lot of time roaming on the Ghats and talking to pundits and touts. It was there I found some interesting characters. I also met with a senior astrology scholar who enlightened me with Vedic astrology and its connection to astronomy. I had to read a lot of background on the royal family of Benares and make sure that I don’t hurt their sentiments and still can turn my book into a thriller that I aspire.

The greatest challenge to crime writing is that so much has already been done worldwide that it’s difficult to come up with something that has not been done before. Even today, world over there are hundreds of crime writers churning out hundreds of books every week and to have a book that stands out in this crowd is itself a great challenge. And to make a crime fiction book from an Indian author shine on a global platform is a big challenge. The great advantage is that if your book is really, really, very good, the crime fiction sells like hot cakes. Then it has to be very good and with my first book The Butcher of Benares, I feel I have been successful in this regard. Being an avid reader and writer of crime fiction myself and being the author of the book, I would go and buy the book. Apart from just being a murder mystery, it combines the mysticism of Benares, the mysteries of Vedic astrology and astronomy, the varied religious sects, the history of Benares, the royal family, the many historic sites and temples and how it all connects to the 1857 Revolt. With these ingredients The Butcher of Benares stands out in the crowd. A whole lot of foreign travellers are picking up the book from airport and superb five star reviews are pouring in from all over.

About Author:

Mahendra Jakhar was born in a small town in UP, Mainpuri, India. The place was infested with criminals and dacoits so his mother sent him away to a boarding school near Delhi. After passing out from the school where he picked up reading and writing, he went on to do B.A, English Literature Hons. from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. After graduation Mahendra worked as a freelance reporter and photographer for various newspapers and magazines in Delhi. He was offered a job with The Times of India where he worked for over six years as a crime-reporter. Post that he shifted to Mumbai to start working as a script-writer for films and television shows. His first film was with Mahesh Bhatt, The Killer, starring Irrfaan Khan and Emraan Hashmi. He writes for several TV shows like CID, Maano Ya Na Maano, Seeta aur Geeta, Dwarikadhish and various documentaries.

10 Benefits Of Reading: Why Should We Read ?

Author: Sherry Helms

Reading makes your education worthwhile. If you have the habit of reading you are one of the few blessed educated ones who will not only benefit from their own learning but also share his/her knowledge with the world. Actually you are one of those who make world civilized and a better place to live in.

read good books

Here we are enlisting 10 benefits of reading, which we hope will be an interesting read for everyone. Do share this post, especially if you want to inculcate reading habits in all your near and dear ones.

10.Inexpensive Entertainment
Books are generally not that expensive plus it is everlasting. This can be shared and can be read by all ages. These all makes a book an immense as well as inexpensive source for entertainment. If you have the habit of reading, you do not need any one or need not to go anywhere. Just a couch or a comfortable chair, sufficient light, peace of mind and a good book to read is all you need to entertain yourself.

9. Strengthens Friendships/Relationshipstress remove
Reading inculcates values and increases moral. You not only start respecting yourself but also people around you. This is one of the biggest traits of human being to love fellow human being.  But this trait is not so commonly found.  Reading helps you increase this trait.

Besides two good readers connect themselves so easily and quickly develops good rapport.

8. Encourages Positive Thinking
Life is all how you perceive things around you, specially the events, the relationship and the situations. A well read man fears none and has solutions to every problem that comes in his/her way.  Nothing shapes your thoughts better then the habit of reading. Reading a good author book is actually like sitting and discussing the topic with the finest thinkers. Read a lot and pass this habit to next generation to make this world full of positive energy.

7. Enhances Memory
People who read regularly have good learning and retaining power. According to a study, those who read daily both early and late in life had a slower rate of decline in brain power to those who did not.

expand minds

6.Improves Vocabulary
Reading helps in increasing your mental dictionary. According to researchers, the more you read the more words you will come across and they’ll certainly become a part of your everyday vocabulary. Being well-spoken, educated and knowledgeable on a variety of subjects is of great help in getting a good job and promotions. Hence, reading not only helps in getting good career but also it helps in boosting their self-esteem, who speaks confidently in front of their higher-ups.

5. Improves Writing Skill
Vibrant and lucid style can make your piece sticky. Writing styles can be improved and the best way to improve it is reading good writers.  Whatever we learn as readers, we can use that as writers.

4. Spurs Brain To Think And Concentrate
As we mentioned in the first point that reading improves your mental stimulation. Your daily activities like chatting with a number of people, checking internet posts or e-mails, tweeting, may create an ADD-(attention deficit disorder) like behavior that increases stress levels and lowers productivity. However, when you immerse yourself in a good book, your all attention is focused on the story,  and parts of the brain that are developed for other functions associate in a specific task of reading. This will help in increasing the thinking and concentrating power of your brain.

3. Improves Reasoning and Analytical Skills
The most important aspect of thinking is “how you think”.  You think hard versus you think smart. Honing your cognitive skills can open a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and can make your brain analytical.

2. Slash Stress LevelsKeep the Stress away read a book today
Reading is a great stress buster.  Immerse yourself into a literary world to distract yourself from daily stresses. According to a study conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex, those who read regularly are free from the stressors that plague their daily life. Reading is a great stress buster that relaxes your body by tamping down your heart rate and reduces stress by up to 68%.

1. Encourages Life Goals
Life goals are dependent on the ambition that you have. If you want to set your goals high and rise above the ordinary just keep reading and see where you go. Sky is the limit for a well read man or women. Just look around you and find the list of successful as well as happy people. I am sure all those people would be having at least one habit in common and that is of reading voraciously.

Hope you have enjoyed this post. Do share this post to increase awareness and inspire people who are yet to be in the list of good readers.

The Message of the Grail

Guest Author:Mara Freeman

Mara - headThe Holy Grail won’t go away. Hundreds of years after the first stories fascinated the aristocracy of medieval Europe, we still find the quest for the Grail showing up in books, movies, TV series, and computer games. As Joseph Campbell said, the quest for the Holy Grail is “the founding myth of Western civilization.” I think of it as the recurring dream in our collective psyche which we must bring fully to consciousness so that its message can be understood and worked through. I wrote the book, Grail Alchemy: Initiation in the Celtic Mystery Tradition, to explore what this myth has been trying to tell us – and how it can change our world if we take its message on board.

What I discovered was that the whole Arthurian saga is about the Sword and the Grail. The first half of the stories are all about the triumph of the sword as the young Arthur defeats all his enemies and becomes King of Britain. In the second half the Grail appears, and we learn that this mysterious icon was lost to the world when the “maidens of the wells” – guardians or spirits of the sacred places – were raped by an evil king, with the result that the land became wasted and infertile.

The knights are seized with the overwhelming desire to bring back the Grail 13081202030193646CzOand restore the balance of feminine and masculine. But sadly that never happens. Not one of the knights is able to bring the Grail back to Camelot. Instead it is withdrawn into heaven or disappears into the Otherworld and is never seen again. King Arthur’s kingdom falls apart in civil war, and the Wasteland remains barren and desecrated.

This struggle between the Sword and the Grail, masculine and feminine, which was so much a part of the Western psyche, is the reason the Grail myth was so popular in the Middle Ages, especially after 1000 years of the Church of Rome with its one-sided masculine outlook. And because the imbalance of the sword over the Grail is still going on in today’s world and creating the crises we have on our planet today, such stories are as relevant to us now as they were hundreds of years ago.

These ancient tales tell us of the need to heal the split between masculine and feminine, Heaven and Earth, Ego and Spirit, that has plagued Western civilization for so long. They give voice to the collective unconscious of the Western psyche which knows that we have lost a priceless spiritual treasure. That this story never dies and is still vitally alive today is testimony that the Grail has never really been found: We continue to seek the Grail in order to reweave our connection with the Divine Feminine, and heal the Wasteland we have made of modern life.

About Author:

Mara has been teaching and writing on Celtic spiritual and magical traditions for over thirty years, both in person and through the Avalon Mystery School. She is the author of Kindling the Celtic Spirit, (2001) and Grail Alchemy: Initiation through the Celtic Mysteries. (2014) Mara also leads transformational pilgrimages and retreats to the British Isles and Ireland. She can be found online at www.chalicecentre.net.

10 Most Amazing Libraries In The World

Author: Sherry Helms

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ~Jorge Luis Borges.

Nothing could be as true as this quote when you look at some of the grandeur edifices that may put you in daze. These marvels of architecture make us feel that the people behind such concepts, designs and architectures must be the greatest bibliophiles, above all, of their time. Or else such wonders could never be created. These edifices represent not only the creative geniusness of the people behind but also their intense passion to read and let read others. 

We hope you won’t stop yourself from appreciating and sharing some of these wonders of the book world.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, France

Exterior Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, France