Blog

The First Question is Always WHY? #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

 

This article was originally written for The Greenville Guardian, an online newspaper for Greenville, NC. To read the full article and see a silly picture of me, follow the link below.
http://greenvilleguardian.org/?p=6047

Why I Write: Spencer Bennington
When you’re a kid, one of the best ways to develop the social skills needed to succeed in life is team sports. So, naturally, being the loving mother that she was and still is, mine wanted to sign me up for tee-ball.
“No,” I said flatly. “I don’t know how to play.”
Mom was all sorts of outdone and swore up and down about how “they’ll teach you to play,” and “it’ll be fun” and a whole mess of other things to make me change my mind.
But I didn’t.
In fact, as a kid, I never played on a single team. As sort of a joke/political statement I joined the cheerleading squad in eighth grade, helped form a comedic YMCA basketball team in high school, and used slow-pitch softball as an excuse to drink way too much beer in college, but I’m not sure any of those really count.
The point is, as with tee-ball, I never wanted to do anything when I was younger unless I was sure I would succeed. If I wanted to learn new skill, I would practice over and over by myself until I was confident enough to demonstrate it to an audience. Nothing really came naturally to me—certainly not sports, but school subjects too, like Math and even Reading. Everything was practiced in private until I could perform in public.
But one day, that all changed. When I was an angsty 12-year-old, I started scribbling down poems in a spiral notebook. It didn’t take long for some of my classmates to take notice or, for some reason, for me to want to share my writing with the people around me. I didn’t care if the poems weren’t perfect because, for the first time, I had something that felt natural. Every word, every mixed metaphor, every terrible cliché somehow felt like an extension of my true self, something I could never be ashamed of.
The Greenville Guardian asked me why I write. The simple answer is that it feels ordinary. Wake up, brush my teeth, have a cup of coffee, write down a few lines that I think are funny or insightful or that I might can use in a book later on. Scrawling down fun ideas and silly little verses is just a habit, no different from dribbling a basketball at the bus stop or sniffing a wine before sipping–it’s part of what makes my soul shine in a different hue.
In a nutshell, writing is one of the few things I’m good at. That being said, finding a publication like the Guardian, which prides itself on paying contributors for content, was a life-changing experience. Until finding it this past year, I had completely resigned myself to life in a world where I had spent thousands of dollars and countless hours refining a set of skills which are entirely undervalued in the current job market. With two college degrees under my belt and a wealth of experience in the writing world, I was content taking a job as a pizza delivery boy because–well, what other job could I get with a master’s in English?
Why do I write? Because I enjoy it, because it’s part of my body, because my heart has things it needs to say.
But why in the world am I still writing?
Because of you.
The Greenville Guardian is the first place I’ve ever felt like I was being appreciated and rewarded as a writer. It’s the first publication that has made me feel connected with a larger audience and a larger community. It’s the first time where I’ve felt that total strangers extract the same amount of joy from my words as I receive in writing them.
Before now, the only person I’ve ever seen do that was my Dad.
Truthfully, he’s why I still write. He’s the one person that has annoyed the absolute piss out of me for years, trying to remind me that my talents are appreciated, are worthwhile, and are important.
Recently Dad gave us all a pretty big scare with some health issues. This is nothing new; he’s been playing chess with Death since I was eight years old. But a few weeks back, when he could barely walk, when he had to be rushed to some unfamiliar hospital, when he could have left this world forever, he texted me every morning. Not out of fear, certainly not to tell me anything about his condition (he hid that from me, actually), but to remind me to write.
In what could have been his last moments, that’s what he thought was most important.
Why do I write? Why am I still writing? Because there are people like Dad who see me try to put a little color and music in the world the only way I know how. Because there are publications like the Greenville Guardian with readers who remind me after every piece that I’m not just some lazy wannabe hiding from the “real world” under the guise of art.
I write because the greatest minds of my generation are not just stagnant films of rail-yard ash, but sunflowers brimming with life, hope, and love; mermaids singing each to each the songs of ourselves, the chorus of every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.*
I write because I believe that beauty still exists in this world, and that we all have the power to create wonder.
Thanks for reading and please check back next week for Mike Bennington’s answer to this question!
*lines from Ginsberg’s “Howl” and “Sunflower Sutra,” Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” respectively.

Judging a Book by its Cover     #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

My grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”It’s a familiar saying that maybe your parents, grandparents or teachers used as well.

This was not the blog that I had planned for this week, but something hit me yesterday as I was reading a post by a female recording artist friend of mine. I was very sympathetic to her post as I myself had been in her shoes years ago, releasing record albums, (yeah I know that dated me) and always was a little self-conscious of the publicity photos. (I really have to work hard these days to make my corpse viewable when launching a new book, cheap plug…August 15th).

She had just released a new album this week and worked tirelessly on the photo shoot for the album cover as she is a little overweight and very conscious of the fact. She has tried very hard to recently lose 30 pounds and was very proud of her success, so much so she posted several before and after selfies recently. Her friends and fans gave her continued positive support feedback and were very kind.

For the album cover, she decided to do a face front image. Her fans wrote very uncomplimentary remarks concerning the cover and could not understand why her selfies seemed to make her look smaller. (They were profiles)

I know this is quite the passion in the entertainment industry, checking to see if Jel-Lo gained a couple of pounds or if Ken and Barbie got divorced. We just seem to thrive on one another’s misfortunes and sometimes miss out on what that person really has to offer. My friend isn’t trying to sell a weight loss system, she is, however, a very gifted singer.

Being from a Christian background, I recall the scripture that says that we shouldn’t try removing the speck from our eye when we still have a log in our own. It is so easy to judge or review someone else, but how do we feel when we receive that same judgement.

And why do we as a society place some professions under the microscope and not others? Do we judge the garbage collector for his appearance and post negative comments? Surely, he is just as important and probably has a larger fan base than I do. (Don’t believe me? Check with anyone in NYC next time there is a garbage collection strike)

Because we have been allowed to engage with people across the globe from the safety of the seat behind our computer, we think that it is our right and responsibility to say whatever we think to whoever we want, even the President of the United States. (Although I would still be careful there)

Even though we are technologically advanced and preach about diversity, bullying and offensiveness, we have forgotten the biggest rule of all. LOVE ALL UNCONDITIONALLY.

Above all else, love is our vocation. And as I have said many times, you have to search first for it from within and love yourself before you can love others. Since all souls in the universe are connected, wouldn’t it make sense to say that you can’t hurt someone else without hurting yourself?

Love is found from within, judgement from without. I think maybe i’d rather stay indoors today.

We Hate Sequels!  #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

We hate sequels.

Why? They are rarely as good as the first book or movie and almost always leave you at a place of disappointment rather than the satisfaction you had in the previous story; the one that left you longing for more.

It is for this reason, when our publisher suggested writing a sequel, that we almost totally dismissed it. How could we take our characters to another book. We were satisfied that we had said all we had to say and didn’t want to create an expansive product purely for the sake of profit and exposure. If we couldn’t write something that was of everlasting value and make your heart smile, well…we just wouldn’t do it.

After listening to our readers and fans, we found that they wanted more from the characters that they had come to know and love. They knew from the epilogue what the final outcome was, but they had a genuine curiosity as to the details that happened over the 40 year span from New Orleans to the nursing home in New Bern. There were just too many unanswered questions for some.

We still hated sequels, and didn’t want to continue the story if we couldn’t create a plot line that was maybe even more intriguing than the first, while at the same time continuing to get to know each character, as Master Bennie might say, “More better.”

We decided to call this sequel a midquel as the story begins before the epilogue of “If” with Anna lying on the ground after being shot in New Orleans. Does she live? If so, how and what happens next? Does she marry Mark? Do they live happily ever after? And who exactly is Sonny and how does he come into the picture?

These were questions that we had in mind when laying out the story, and you know what? We actually worked on two books simultaneously from the material we came up with. The first is “Sopie.” It is named after the female protagonist of this novel, Anna Sopoulos. We chose her as the protagonist to give the readers a different point of view from “If”. “Sopie”, Mark’s pet name for Anna, is now available for pre-order to be delivered on the launch date, August 15th. The cover, description and links to order are located below. Pre-order and save 25%.

Writing “Sopie” opened up a new storyline for the third book of this trilogy, “Sonny’s Boy” due out in 2018, and in my humble opinion is going to be the best of the three.

But we promise…NO SEQUELS!

SOPIE_ebook

Can true love overcome resident evil?

In SOPIE, the second book in the Twin Flame Trilogy, a matured Anna Sopoulos reunites with the love of her life, Mark Banos. Leaving the witness protection program and New Orleans, Anna changes her name to Sopie Banos, and the couple, along with their teenage son Vinnie, move to rural Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. They plan to begin a new life of peace and tranquility.

Fate, however, has a different plan for the newly unified family. A looming darkness stalks them–waiting for the perfect moment to exact its ghastly revenge. Sopie soon discovers that the peace of her family’s rural life must be sacrificed for the good of the whole town.

Together, Sopie and Mark must use their combined supernatural abilities to rid their new community of this unimaginable horror before it can consume them all.

Order Now:

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

The Twin Flame Paradox #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

 

We have talked about the Twin Flame relationship from a lot of different angles over the last several weeks. If you don’t understand anything else, understand this; the Twin Flame relationship is not always, and I should say seldom, a romantic relationship as described in most romance novels. (Ooops! There I go again blowing more sales of our books!)

In fact, a Twin Flame relationship is actually a look inward. Most people tend to think that if they look outside themselves that this would make for a much more peaceful planet. Actually, the reverse is true.

When we look inside and reflect on changing those things deep inside our psyche that prevent us from loving fully, we develop unconditional love and this in effects makes the outward changes spreading our light throughout the world.

Since your Twin Flame is your true self, how can you love her/him without truly loving yourself.The twin is merely a mirror or reflection of this true self, helping you to see your flaws clearly so that they can be healed making for a more perfect soul when reunited.

This is why so many twins are runners. They are not prepared nor are the ready for such revelation. Your twin may have a vocation (work, marriage, etc.) that they came to experience in this physical world and you provide a disruption or turmoil that they just weren’t prepared for. Leave them be and stop chasing. Go back to inner evaluation. This is a spirit relationship, not a physical one and reunion may not take place in this lifetime or dimension. That’s hard to wrap your head around sometimes.

Oh, and just like most good things, twins usually show up at the most inappropriate times in your life or they show up at a time of great need, just to disappear again. The reason for uniting with you twin is to face your own unresolved issues and reach your soul’s highest potential to shine love’s light on the world.

Remember, a Twin Flame should not be confused with a soulmate or romantic partner. It is natural to assume that they would be in our humanistic view as this is our natural measuring stick in the physical world. However, this is a relationship of spirit, not flesh, although that doesn’t mean that the intensity of the relationship doesn’t end up in a physical relationship.

IMG_0407

Then, you have to consider the opposites factor. How many are prepared to live with someone that likes what you hate and hates what you like. She like hard rock, you like jazz. She likes steak, your vegan. She likes piercings, you don’t even like giving yourself an insulin injection. Without the journey to the center of your soul, meeting your Twin Flame can be very painful and cause a great deal of conflict for you. How can you love someone one minute and want to beat the hell out of them the next? If you have met your twin, then know that there is much work for you to do. It won’t be all shits and giggles. Seeking your Twin Flame is not for wusses.

Interesting point here, none of those differences matter. When you are ready to meet your Twin Flame, you will have overcome all of these little annoyances and already realized that you have embraced those differences and see how they truly compliment you.

Unconditional love is a tough job. No one said it would be easy, but until we can get into our own heads and love our true self how could we possibly attract our twin.

Listen to the words of this classic while meditating on these ideas.

The Greatest Love of All

 

Stop and Smell the Roses (or bacon, if you prefer) #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

Last week I wrote about the pitfalls that we face when we ignore others. This week I’d like to elaborate on what we miss out on when we ignore ourselves.

We often-time find ourselves so busy that we feel like a one-armed paper hanger with the hives. Deadlines to meet, children to feed, mortgages to pay. All of these things are important, for sure, but how much happiness do we derive from being able to accomplish one more goal, just to find a loftier one…purchase the latest electronic gizmo, just to find it obsolete next week. Remember, we all are living on borrowed time during this game of life and when we exit the game, all of those valuable pieces just go back in the box.

There is so much beauty to appreciate in those simple things that surround us everywhere. Should we not occasionally sit and breathe in God’s natural beauty? Oh, and then there’s love. I don’t mean romantic love necessarily, but that is certainly in the equation. But what I speak of is more of an Agape love or unconditional love.

Unconditional love requires us to shed our egos and love ourselves for who we are. Until we do, we can never experience unconditional love with another. How can we do this if we never take the time to clear our minds and meditate about how we can make ourselves a better partner for the planet and the people around us?

Judgement is another thing that prevents us from loving unconditionally. How can you say that you love unconditionally if you continue to find pleasure in making condescending remarks about a person’s appearance, clothing or habits? It doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike an appearance or a life-style, but does it really affect you in a negative way? What makes you think that you are so styling?

Twin Flames, I believe, have this problem ten-fold, as each is a mirror of the other. They are complete opposites of each other and therefore are bound to not like these differences very much until they reach that point where each appreciates the other’s individuality and begin to realize that each is the perfect compliment to the other.

I think a lot of people misunderstand the Twin Flame relationship and confuse it with a soulmate, which is more of a romantic match. And I am sure that the fictional accounts in my books have added to this misunderstanding. Oops!

Understand, that a Twin Flame, exhibiting unconditional love, could be any two souls, male/male, female/female, male/female, young/old. Like I said, it is not about a physical reunion, but a spiritual one. They incarnate at different times and each time it is for the growth of the individual as well as the union. Until both halves of the soul have matured, there is no reuniting.

Twin Flames, although romantically popularized recently, are very rare occurrences in this physical dimension. One could actually be in another dimension, so a physical reunion during this lifetime would be impossible. However, one supports the other always.

So where does all of this leave us? We all should strive everyday to steal a little time away to make ourselves better. We need to add perfection to our life. The universe will take care of everything else in it’s time. We need to taste and see the beauty that God has placed before us and commit to loving who we are. It is then, and only then, that we will truly begin to love others as God loves us…Unconditionally.

Diamond in the Rough #AmWriting #MondayBlogs spencermichaelsbooks.com/blog

 

This story recently appeared on CNN.

“An anonymous buyer purchased a ring for $13 at an open market sale in the U.K., in the 1980s. The person originally believed the ring was simply costume jewelry but learned that it was actually a 26.29 carat diamond after Sotheby’s appraised it several months ago.

img_0398The “genuine cushion-shaped” diamond sold for $847,667 at the Sotheby’s Fine Jewels auction in London. 

The silver had tarnished, and there was some dirt in the setting. These diamonds were made for candlelight, not our white artificial light, so it was all about trying to bring out its fire.”

I wonder sometimes if we pass people in our daily lives, some tarnished with a conceivably dull setting, never allowing them to bring out their fire because they are looked upon in an artificial light.

How many times a day, do we take the time, if only for a second, to share in someone’s joy, have empathy or a prayer for someone’s pain or loss? Or are we so busy that we just don’t make the time?

This is how we can be the Twin Flame that doesn’t recognize the other twin. They are sometimes so busy with the life they lead that they fail to see the mirror that is in front of them. The can’t see the forest for the trees syndrome.

I remember my brother, who I won’t say was annoying, but managed to always call to talk at the worse times. He had tried reaching me one weekend and, as usual, I ignored the calls as I was too busy.

That Saturday, he called again and before I got a chance to think about it, I picked up. We talked for about an hour about all kinds of projects he was interested in doing musically and after we hung up I was exhilarated, anxiously anticipating the possibility of doing a new music project with him.

That Monday, I got a call from his wife that he was gone. Massive coronary. Fifty years old. Do you think I ignore calls today?

Remember, cards and calls are nice, but soon forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the world in which we live. But remember that inside our shells there is spirit. Spirit responds to energy. Positive energy heals the spirit. Kind meditative thoughts enable a person’s spirit.

Meditate daily to pass only these thoughts of unconditional love, light and peace to those around us. Believe me, they cherish those feelings in the still of a lonely night and you will find yourself recharged.

Twin Flames. Fact or Fiction? #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

If you read our book, “If”, then you know that the main thread of the story involves the reuniting of Twin Flames. But what is a Twin Flame? Is it the same as a soulmate or something quite different?

Unlike our soulmate, who is our perfect match, the Twin Flame is our perfect mirror, seeing every flaw that we have, making this an on again off again type of relationship.

There are no rules in soul connections and the idea that someone must do doesn’t exist. The only thing that always exists is unconditional love. This unfortunately doesn’t always transcend into the physical world in which we live. As in most cases, one twin will usually awaken, while the other stays in denial, running. Both take their own journey, experiencing life in their unique way and many times on completely different paths. But the destination is the same and they do reunite at some future date. This they can be assured…or can they?

What are your thoughts? As I have talked to readers at various book signings, I have found that some of you have experienced this phenomena or have had a strong belief in it, so I thought, for the next few weeks, we would discuss the subject of Twin Flames and Twin Flame relationships as well as introduce you to my second novel in the Twin Flame Trilogy, “Sopie.”

I look forward to hearing your comments and your stories. Please share them with us.