Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Fence post: Now available on Audible

 

I am thrilled that my novel, Snow Fence Road, is now also available as an audio book on Audible, just in time for summer reading lists.

Narrator Sheri Beth Dusek has done a wonderful job of capturing the heart and spirit of the book.

To celebrate, the book’s Kindle version is discounted from May 18-25 — and the new audio book is there on the same page:

https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Fence-Road-Phyllis-Edgerly-ebook/dp/B00DDVB106/

I sketched down Snow Fence Road in my 30s after a vivid dream about the trauma that shatters its hero’s life, then spent the next 20 years writing nonfiction.

Finally I realized after half a century of life that what I want most is to explore the real power of relationships – their healing power. And if they are the gold on life’s path, fiction is all about them.

There are the relationships that the characters reveal to the writer, and the ones that writers and readers develop with them – and ourselves – as we connect with their story. Hearing that characters remain with readers like enduring friends is a wondrous gift. Yet the only reason this book exists is that the characters stayed with me for so long, and reflected to me what I was learning about giving and receiving love.

Once a rootless military kid, I find that place becomes a living part of story, for me. When readers say Snow Fence Road feels like an actual visit to Maine, I’m grateful because this place I love so much has always felt like a “fully-developed character”, to me. Small-town life there, as in the story, is human-scale. That’s the one that helps us learn the most about others, and ourselves, I think.

As it follows the developing relationship between Tess Johansen and hard-tested loner, Evan Marston, both ravaged by grief and gun-shy about love, this story is categorized as romance. But it probably seems a whole other country from what many perceive romantic fiction to be today. It’s a love story, and about relationship, but I’m always most interested in what transcends the impermanent, what helps hearts open, and heal, and reach the greatest potential for which they’re created.

Snow Fence Road aims at more emotional and spiritual themes because in the many wounded hearts I’ve encountered, no amount of physical love or attraction ever healed or helped them trust again, but real love did. Real, lasting love requires accepting, and sharing, vulnerability, which in itself can be a miraculous and eternal kind of beauty.

This story also explores the weight of secrets — why we keep them, when they drain our life away; when there isn’t even need to, though shame and guilt convince us otherwise. We learn to keep secrets to avoid vulnerability, then never get to know what real intimacy is.

While a lot of current writing may focus on pain and horror and give center stage to the fear these generate, I think there are higher, kinder, stronger visions to reach for. My goal is always to highlight the beauty and meaning that can exalt human lives.

When people ask me now, “Why do you write?” I may have finally found an answer, the same reason I get up each day: for the increase and advance of the one thing that lasts — the love that brings us home to our own hearts.

It’s a process that began one morning a long time ago when a dream’s sorrow lingered with me, and I began to love and listen to people I will never meet, but who became as real for me as the pages on which their story is printed now.

Find Snow Fence Road at: https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Fence-Road-Phyllis-Edgerly-ebook/dp/B00DDVB106/

A village on the coast of Maine holds painful secrets- the kind only the miracle of new love can heal.

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The Munich Girl through European eyes

I have another chance to be in Europe this spring, and it has made me extra aware of the response of European readers to The Munich Girl

Susanne Weigand, a reader in Germany, writes: “I am German and both my parents have lived through WWII and it was something we often talked about in my family. And in my time at school we were taught a lot about the war and Nazism. Later I read a lot of articles and several books about this dark period of German history.

“But for some reason I always shied away from learning more about Eva Braun, probably because I couldn’t understand why a young woman would willingly devote herself to a man like Hitler. So when I learned that Phyllis Edgerly Ring had written a book about her I became very curious.

“I like the picture that the author has drawn of Eva Braun, her pride and her ambition, her insecurities and loneliness, her devotion and heartbreaking friendship and the story of her life.

“But, and this is more important: This book is offering so much more. The story of three women (and only one of them is Eva) and how their lives crossed and intertwined. The story of a family and their complicated, but heartwarming connections. And even a love story I enjoyed. (And I seldom enjoy love stories, mostly they are too cheesy and sweet.)”

Book blogger and reviewer Anne writes: “Growing up in the Netherlands, where every first week of May is basically dedicated to WWII, and with parents who were both born during the war (my mother even before Germany invaded Holland), I thought I was pretty well-informed on the topic. I studied History for two years in which, again, a lot of WWII was covered. Then I started reading this book and realized I still only know so little.

“I think I already knew who Eva Braun was when I was around 8 years old, but I never actually knew the face and the story behind the wife of Hitler. I always imagined she was a stern looking lady, with dark brown hair (maybe due to her last name as well) and a riding crop in her hand. Someone to match Hitler perfectly. Now look at the cover of this book. That’s actually Eva Braun.

“The Munich Girl tells us the story of three women: Anna (the main character), Peggy (Anna’s mother), and Eva Braun. … The story is told from three different perspectives: Anna’s life in 1995, and Peggy and Eva’s life pre- and post-wartime. There aren’t only fifty plus year old flashbacks, but also flashbacks within 1995 itself: before and after a plane accident (this is no spoiler because the book starts with Anna looking back at the accident) Anna is involved in.

It’s safe to say that Eva suffered from fear of abandonment. As Anna, later on in the story, says about her life with [her husband] Lowell:

It’s as if I have always felt, somehow, that I had to do the right thing, so he wouldn’t stop loving me. Wouldn’t leave.

I think this is what applied to Eva as well (and is actually a pretty big similarity when it comes to the relationships between Anna and Lowell, and Eva and Hitler).

Adi had given her a life she would otherwise never had known. She would not betray this generosity, or relinquish the honor of being one of the few who had this trust.’

I am grateful for the readers in many parts of the world who receive the story of The Munich Girl, give it their precious time, and then make the time to offer their insights and reflections about it. U.S. reader Nancy Vincent Zinke wrote, “I’m not surprised that The Munich Girl is getting worldwide attention and positive reviews. Its themes of fear and love, loss and redemption, pain and understanding, patience, trust, and more give this book a universal message of hope, and finally, acceptance of what was, what is, and what may be. It touches my spirit, and in that way, helps me know a little bit better what it means to be a spiritual being.”

goodreads_icon_100x100-4a7d81b31d932cfc0be621ee15a14e70Find more about the book here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27914910-the-munich-girl#other_reviews


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Purpose helps balance our being with our doing

Photo: N. Augusta Vincent

When we translate the spiritual inspiration we receive into a genuine act of service, our motivation is most likely one of improving our relationships.

But something far deeper also transpires, though it may initially go unnoticed. We are bringing out from the latent state of potentiality our true self and purpose.

The genuine acts of service that we have exchanged with another person in this world form the eternal part of our relationship that transcends this material world.

The material gifts we exchange with loved ones will return to dust, but the love we show them will last forever.

Photo: N. Augusta Vincent

What is the connection between relationships and the concept of investigating our own reality? The personal investigation of one’s reality is an abstract endeavor and it can be difficult to assess progress.

However, the more successful we are in uncovering our true self, the better the decisions we will make regarding our lives and the people in them, which translates into healthier and happier relationships.

This will provide us with tangible evidence that we are making progress on the path of service and self-discovery.

To live to our highest potential, it seems that we need to come into awareness of our true selves and also to establish a balance between our being and our doing that is rooted in our truest purpose.

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Co-authors Ron Tomanio, Diane Iverson and Phyllis Ring explore these and related themes in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? published by George Ronald Publisher.

Find the book at:

 


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On the trail of The Munich Girl

IMG_3242Delightful contributions and correspondence from readers have, once again, helped me make new discoveries about The Munich Girl. Reader response remains one of the biggest gifts of all in sharing a book’s story with the world.

Big thanks to Heather Heather Krishnaswamy for: reading the book, writing with kind words to let me know — then taking it with her to Europe, and ALL the way to the top of a mountain and the Kehlstein Haus, high above Berchtesgaden, Germany, so that she could send this photo.

I’m personally rather fascinated with then-and-now photos — the historic ones I pored over during my research, and the ones that readers send me as their own travels follow parts of the book’s trail.

Egaes Nest Hitler House - 020In her photo, Heather is standing quite close to where these two photos of Eva Braun and her dog were taken around 1939 or 1940. The scene is one that’s included in the book’s story.

Reader Kathy Bailey left a comment recently that feels too thoughtful to let become buried in the obscurity of internet archives.

It’s a response  to the question that never stops coming: “Why Eva Braun?” (Or, in the instance of one recent reviewer, “Why this woman?”)

EB pix Germany and more 498“Why Eva?” Kathy begins. “Because she is also a representation of Germany, a beautiful country of many good people who were swept along by something they didn’t understand and later regretted.

[Observation entirely my own own: Are we willing to — will we — learn from history ourselves, when and as we find ourselves in similar circumstance?]

“Why Eva?” Kathy continues.

“Because through her, Phyllis explored the many complexities of love. Which is not one-size-fits-all.

12939510_10209722543888161_1278498025_n“Why Eva? Because through her we come to understand Anna, who finds the courage to break from an oppressive relationship.”

Like her country, Eva Braun may not have recognized that the relationship was oppressive.

Or not until it was much too late.

Find more about The Munich Girl, (Kindle version remains discounted this month) here:

https://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast-ebook/dp/B01AC4FHI8/

 — And please, keep sending your photos and thoughts.

 


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Escaping the prison of our imagined past

Artichoke flower 131

Photo: Kathy Gilman

The spiritual nature has a value system that places priceless relationships above any object or hoped-for outcome. But the human nature, if left in charge, does not.

The sign that we’re in a situation that requires a shift from the eyes of our human nature to the vision of our spiritual one is when we find ourselves focusing on the imperfections of others to such an extent that we experience an increasing intensity of negative emotions that, in turn, causes deterioration in personal relationships.

The only escape from this vicious cycle is to change what we see, to elevate our perception, and to begin looking at others with the sin (imperfection)-covering eye of the spiritual nature.

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Photo: Saffron Moser

The spiritual nature doesn’t dwell on perceived imperfections but instead seeks the missing spiritual attributes that the situation is calling for and creates an act of service designed to release those latent virtues, which exist within the heart of every soul. When that happens, the destructive negative emotions and imperfections begin to dissipate. They are, after all, merely perceptions and `decisions’ of the mind or human nature, and the resulting emotion is the energy of those thoughts in motion.

However, in the survival-motivated blind imitation that is the human nature’s customary behaviour, our mind and emotions can liken our current experience to one that has registered as negative in the past. In order to truly investigate the reality of the matter, we need the spiritual nature and its vision to come into the driver’s seat, to interrupt this reflexive imitating of what happened — or what we perceive to have happened — in the past. If we are unwilling to do this, we will remain prisoners of that past, and of what, in essence, is actually an imagined past, the perspective of the mind alone.

A sign that we’re progressing away from imitation towards investigation is that negative emotions we’ve experienced are replaced by positive ones, and there is also a noticeable improvement in the way we feel, and within the tone of our relationship  with others.

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Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?, from George Ronald Publisher:

Find the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455105839&sr=1-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes


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“Uncomplicated read of a complex situation”

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A room where Eva Braun likely did a lot of her own reading. Photo courtesy of Third Reich in Ruins.

I believe it’s writers’ biggest privilege to have others read their work. After all, our world has more books in it than ever before.

When book reviewers (who are, most often, inundated with authors’ requests for reviews) make the time to read, reflect on, and write a review for a book, it’s nothing short of supreme generosity.

As The Munich Girl makes its way out into a world of readers, it’s a gift each time a reviewer shares response to the novel. This week, writer Carol Sampson has offered her thoughts about it at her blog, and also introduced a new circle of her own readers to the book.

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Writer and reviewer Carol Sampson

Back in November when the book’s print version published, Carol was the very first person to respond when, hunched over my laptop in my good friend’s guest room in Germany, I searched for book bloggers who might be interested in giving the book that increasingly rare resource: their time. I was especially grateful to connect with Carol, who, like my mother, is from the UK.

It’s an extra bonus when a reviewer recognizes both the themes and the intent that The Munich Girl is meant to convey. Carol notes that the novel reflects my own interest “in people, their relationships, and the effects we all have on one another in the decisions we make. Each character reveals different aspects of humanity and gives an insight into the human condition.”

12342460_10208150312625888_7743673090992892225_nDescribing the story as a weaving of history and fiction that’s “an uncomplicated read of a complex situation,” she kindly credits it with  “offering an understanding of the intricacies of relationships.”

With my deepest thanks to Carol, I encourage you to read her full review at the link below and, while you’re there, check out the other great recent post she’s done called “Who am I to judge?”

 

Link to Carol Sampson’s review here:

http://carolsampson.co.uk/blog/the-munich-girl-a-novel-of-the-legacies-that-outlast-war/


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A path of service and self-discovery

DClagoon1555542_10152303684446802_937112982_n

Photo: David Campbell

When we translate the spiritual inspiration we receive into a genuine act of service, our motivation is most likely one of improving our relationships.

But something far deeper also transpires, though it may go unnoticed, at first. We are bringing out from the latent state of potentiality our true self and purpose.

photo 2

Image: Judy Hughey Wright

The genuine acts of service that we have exchanged with another person in this world form the eternal part of our relationship that transcends this material world. The material gifts we exchange with loved ones will return to dust, but the love we show them will last forever.

What is the connection between relationships and the concept of investigating our own reality?

Our personal investigation is an abstract endeavor and it can be difficult to assess progress. However, the more successful we are in uncovering our true self, the better the decisions we will make regarding our lives and the people in them, which translates into healthier and happier relationships. This will provide us with tangible evidence that we are making progress on the path of service and self-discovery.

WTOEimage.phpTo live to our highest potential, it seems that we need to come into consciousness of our true selves and also to establish a balance between our being and our doing that is rooted in our truest purpose.

Explore these and related themes in With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? published by George Ronald Publisher

Find more about the book at:

http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

and in print version at:

http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html