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Archive for the ‘Excerpts from my Novel’ Category

Why would he (or she) leave just when you needed him most?

This is a question I asked myself after my lover died in 2007.   I found a possible answer as I wrote my first novel, Pieces of You. Here is an excerpt that will give you a clue…and may answer the question for you, too:

“My darling, Mark, you’re here for my birthday! My prayers have been answered! I have missed you so. There were moments when I thought I’d never see you again.”

She had to pause and just drink in his appearance.

“You look wonderful to these starved eyes. Handsome and radiating health!”

Mark was gazing at her with undisguised adoration.

“I’ve never felt better or more peaceful. Just seeing you sets off surges of indescribable pleasure! Let me just hold you. I’ve longed for this; to press your body into mine and taste the sweetness of your mouth.”

All the questions in her mind were overridden by the insistence of her body, but the seating arrangement took over where her will power had left off. By the way Mark looked intently at her and then into the distance, she could tell that there was something he was struggling to share.

While Janie speculated about a poetic speech, Mark beseeched heaven for words that would make her understand.

Looking into her eyes while gently stroking her cheek and neck, he began:

“My dear one, my bride; are you still committed to being my final partner?” (more…)

“You can’t judge a book by its cover”–or can you?

cover for “Pieces of You”

This is my proposed cover for my novel. Can you tell what the book will reveal by its cover?

P. S. I plan to make Pieces of You available through Amazon soon, so please don’t put off giving me your honest feedback.

Joyce (J. F. Elferdink)





A Reading from “Pieces of You”

Pieces of You, a time-travel novel based on a true story, is available through Amazon.

Please listen to an excerpt from Pieces of You here:

Why Start a Second Novel?

Since I now have marvelous editorial assistance for the eighth and hopefully final revision of my first novel, it is time to begin my sequel. I had not planned to write a second, especially since the idea for my first came after disaster struck in my life. It’s been four years since the death of my heart’s love, and life is good. I’m semi-retired: teaching one college course most terms and benefiting in many unexpected ways from the return to my hometown.  So why return to the struggle of writing a whole book?

Because there’s another story to be told that just might make a difference in the lives of a few people…  And since it’s a sequel, it  didn’t require a major crisis to be the initiating factor. Instead, starting the project represents my need to ask another question–maybe even getting answers along the way. As Gary Scmidt told the crowd at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing, a writer’s focus, comes when we find and attend to that question that stirs us and leads us to write stories that say to the reader: “Why don’t you try this?”

My question: How can I act justly when I am overwhelmed by the number of  injustices prevalent in our world and feel a sense of powerlessness to intercede?

Will I find answers? There’s no assurance they will come through storytelling, but I may at the least cause others to ask similar questions. So I begin…

Here’s the start of an outline for what I am calling a science fiction novel: [I would love to get feedback from you (e.g., Does Part I’s premise capture your attention? Bring up questions? ]


Purpose: To show that spirits are active on the Earth, good and evil fighting for dominance, although world conditions make it seem that evil is winning. But there’s hope when humans team up with supernatural beings (of the “white” kind)… One of these teams will include Janine, an elderly woman whose lover, Mark, died more than fifteen years ago. She has been feeling his presence strongly in the last few months as living conditions for her family (along with the vast majority of the earth’s population) have greatly deteriorated.

Part I

Continue where Mark’s glimpse of the future left off (in first novel, Pieces of You)

  1. The world has changed drastically. Control of the wealth is in the hands of a coalition of three international corporations. Partners for ten years, one is now trying to force the other two into subordinate positions. And it seems to be working. Corporation A has created an alliance with a supernatural group, even though the price will be extremely high. (more…)

Is Time Travel Possible?

I recently looked way back in time to a point where humans were emerging from a much less recognizable state and then to the recent past which made it possible to confirm the innocence of a prisoner.  Actually, I only saw these events through the eyes of authors Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter who wrote “The Light of Other Days.”  And they were not even suggesting their characters were time traveling in the sense they could be part of history; the book’s characters were only glimpsing past events through a WormCam, technology that opened worm holes spanning not only space but time—into the past.

Movies have given us some wonderful images and machines for time travel. Consider these top five  views ranked on their basis in science and feasibility by a professor of physics, Ron Mallett.

For those who choose to believe in the feasibility of time travel in our lifetime, even dreaming of being one of the first “travelers,” your hopes have been dashed by this week’s announcement by a group of physicists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and quoted in Discovery News: “By showing a single photon cannot travel faster than the speed of light, scientists prove time travel is impossible.” http://news.discovery.com/space/time-travel-impossible-photon-110724.html

Since I have rarely studied anything remotely related to scientific theory (unless I can count my science fiction reading), I am not going to suggest that scientists should think farther out of the box. Moving our bodies through time and distant space may not be more than creative dreaming, but I can conceive of traveling backwards and forwards in time in our spirits. In fact, my book tells of an angel accompanying my protagonist back in time to his life’s turning points:

 Free my body from this comatose state and let’s get going.”

“No, Kirk, I did not suggest that. The adventure I offered you takes place only in the spirit. Your body will remain where it is. We will be traveling back through your life, revisiting some of your high and low points.”

“That’s preposterous! Why, that’s the stuff of science fiction novels. How am I supposed to believe you?”

“Why is traveling back in time in the spirit less possible than having this conversation with me while no part of your physical body is engaged?” Zachri went on. “These episodes from your past may seem like a theatrical performance, but you will be playing yourself. Some of the characters in your life’s play are the original stars; others will be ‘seconds’ but you won’t be able to tell the difference. You see, once humans have crossed over, they are fused together as into one puzzle, creating one image. But their individuality is preserved. This ability is inexplicable to humans who see themselves as wholly separate individuals, never fully making contact with others—even those they love most dearly.”

“What you’re saying is utterly confusing. How can individuals fuse into one image and still be individuals? I understand that each puzzle piece must be in its designated place to complete the puzzle’s visual image. But relating puzzles to what happens after we die is a very strange metaphor!”

“The only way I can answer some of your questions is to use simple human objects to reveal what you cannot fully comprehend.”

“OK, Zachri, that was the easier question and I’ll just let it go with your object lesson. The more disturbing question is the other one. Why must we revisit events in my life? By the way, I don’t agree with you about never fully making contact with another person. Even though Janie and I haven’t been face-to-face often, we have become exceptionally close—soul mates—although I never appreciated that term until I met her.”

“Kirk, do you remember reading the story of Job in the Bible?”

“Yes, I read it, but not for many years. I used to attend an Episcopal church, although I only did it because I had an image to maintain as a senior manager of a bank. We were all expected to do whatever it took to be perceived as upstanding, contributing members of the community.”

With a sudden look of apprehension, Kirk said, “What does reading the Bible have to do with the question I just asked? Is that why you’re here, to test my memory? Oh my God, you’re not here to test my faith!”

“Kirk, in chapter 38 the Lord says to Job: Brace yourself like a man: I will question you, and you shall answer me. As you admitted, you have not been following God, the one I referred to as your Maker, these last few years. Your time of reckoning has come. Your life is in the balance. Your physical condition is much more serious than you have acknowledged to your son or to Janie—or even to yourself.

But do not fear: this is not a time for punishment but a time for healing.

Inspiration from Art (photos taken at the Detroit Institute of Art)

Sometimes authors’ best inspiration comes from works of art. Here’s what I wrote in my novel after viewing artwork on display at the DIA with my six year old granddaughter in tow:

“Grandma, let’s go to the D-I-A.” Saying the letters very slowly and distinctly was Emily’s way of ensuring that Grandma understood she wanted to go to the Detroit Institute of Art. Seeing paintings through the eyes of children was an extraordinary way to break out of one’s personal boundary of the meaning of things, and Janine had a strong sense that this would lead to important insights into her present challenges. With Emily and Nathan in tow, Janine used her camera to capture some of the more interesting and unique art on display at the DIA. She would later transfer these images to her computer, compiling them into a gallery of works for Kirk to leisurely view while recuperating.

“What does this look like to you?” Responding enthusiastically to Grandma’s question, Emily said it was a strange-looking man, looking somewhat like the Rumpelstiltskin of her storybook images, his head all in blue and topped with a torn blue cap. Nathan’s perception was considerably different—he saw a dirt road bounded by trees, and “a blue tornado hanging over the road with a huge mouse jumping out of it.” Emily burst out laughing at his answer, but as the tears began to drip from Nathan’s eyes, their grandma hugged them both and praised them for their creative interpretations—and marveled at being able to see what Nathan saw after he described the painting!

 Their next point of interest was a seascape where the artist had graphically drawn a tempestuous scene of a man fallen overboard, his colleagues reaching for him as a shark was making its way, mouth open, toward the helpless man. “What do you think of this picture?” Janine asked the enthralled children. Nathan, always the impetuous one, said he wanted to get in the water and tie up the shark’s mouth so the man would be safe. Emily called the painting cruel and disgusting and demanded they move on quickly or it would cause her to have nightmares.

Finally, they found some artwork that mesmerized both children and grandmother: a virtual dining room table where a hand magically appeared serving food from the multiple platters scattered around the table; when that course was removed another was served…and another and another. While seated around this table, the guests could almost taste the delectable cuisine that was put before them, but it was only virtual reality. What they touched was a tabletop with nothing whatsoever laying on its glass surface.

Another hour of touching, staring, analyzing, meandering or sprinting, and the little ones were growing grumpy. After depositing her tired but happy grandchildren with their parents, Janine went home to ponder the experiences of this delightful day, fully expecting the happy ending—some very good news. There seemed to be a message almost within reach of her conscious mind, and as she sat in her favorite chair—the mauve-colored fifteen-year-old recliner that still cradled her body as lovingly as when she first saved it from the heavy-set would-be buyer who would have surely squashed its springs in months, she let her mind drift.

Janine daydreamed throughout the evening, starting by allowing herself to envision walking into the Swiss clinic, taking Kirk’s hand and kissing his lips, and staying close to him through the days or weeks of recuperation. As she slid more deeply beyond the conscious state, the images changed. Scenes from the day’s museum tour were barging into her mind, starting with the transformation of Kirk’s dear head into the blue head…or swirling tornado that Nathan had seen. No longer just a representation of a recognizable human being, the blue head rotated 360 degrees, but with each degree of rotation, it exhibited the features of various people Janine had known, even her deceased ex-husband. Returning to its starting point, it again took on Kirk’s facial characteristics with one exception: his face wore a beatific look, one that melted her heart. As the image dissolved, the face so like Kirk’s looked back and gazed directly into her eyes. In the final instant before disappearing, he winked.

The next scene appeared in Janine’s altered state of conscious in what seemed like a blink in time (but if someone had been recording the vision playing out in her mind, they would have noted it was in fact two hours and forty minutes later). She could feel the restlessness of the waves lapping against the side of the boat as she bent over to grab onto the man’s arm—which she was sure was attached to Kirk—while the others, squeezed together in the boat, grabbed onto her clothing to keep her, too, from falling overboard. One arm stretched skyward, as he lay semi-conscious in the deep green sea, with the gunmetal gray shark close enough to count its three rows of needle-sharp teeth. The man’s hand was almost within her reach when the strange blue cloud appeared directly over them. She looked up and then back to the sea, and in that instant when her eyes were focused elsewhere, Kirk’s body was lifted out of the water, but with no detectable prop. The shark arched upward and forward, making a graceful arc with fully two-thirds of its body exploding out of the water, but it could not reach its prey. In the next movement, Kirk was standing in the boat with Janine and the others, but just as suddenly the boat was gone, and then the sea was gone, and then the people in the scene were only charcoal etchings on a white background in the original painting’s gold leaf frame.

After this bizarre dream she could not interpret, Janine awoke sufficiently to move from her chair to bed, not bothering to undress. Almost instantly she was in a deep-sleep state. This time her inner life was projecting a party on its motion picture screen; the table visited in the art museum was the centerpiece, but it was no longer a virtual reality—all the joyful people around the banquet table were enraptured with the flavors and fragrances, savoring all the courses, and the lovers most of all. To them it was Elizabeth W. Garber’s poem Feasting come to life. ‘I am the feast this kitchen was blessed to prepare waiting for you to enter open mouthed in awe in the mystery we’ve been given, our holy feast.’ [From Chapter 8: A Glimpse of a Future Together]


What stories could you tell or write by interpreting my photos of these paintings?

Working Conditions in Heaven

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog. Come with me as the curtain is lifted and we get a glimpse of what heaven’s residents do (with apologies for offering only a finite perspective on the infinite!).

In the next instant Kirk was transported through the ultimate mystery into glory, to an experience radically new yet tinged with the familiar, a place of radiance, purity, peace, vibrant colors and dramatic energies.

“Can you describe what you are seeing and feeling, Kirk?”

Busyness; How astonishing! I see beings doing a great variety of activities, all with a look of pure contentment. Beauty beyond belief; I see colors that are indescribable; light-reflecting brilliance that seems to bathe everything in splendor. But also beauty in every face and body, the breathtaking kind associated with cherry blossoms at their perfection or the sun’s transforming touch on earth and water at day’s end. I wish I knew more descriptive words… Power; I feel a power that is nothing like the competitive strivings within human hierarchies; instead I sense the unalterable assurance that what is desired is happening because it should, and therefore, this power is a completely uninhibited, natural force. Interdependence; I’m feeling entirely unique and absolutely necessary to every other being, not just for what I can do but because of who I am fully integrated with who they are and what they can do.

“It is very clear to me that what I see and feel is not the result of a natural interplay of forces, but something much more intentional: the only word that comes to me is perfection. Everything I observe and sense seems to be wrapped in something from which it draws its manner or structure. Is it God?”

“Your response is accurate as far as is humanly possible to experience and define. Instantly, you have entered into seventh heaven, known as the dwelling place of God and His angels, and instantly, you knew the transfiguration of the environment and yourself.

“What stands out as the most shocking revelation in what you are learning?”

“I’m most startled by the busyness of its inhabitants and the diversity of their activities. I thought the only act of the heavenly beings was worship.”

“It is, but most humans separate worship from work. Bringing your gifts to the altar—using your talents productively—is the vanguard activity of worship because it brings boundless joy to supplier and recipient. Think of how you feel when you give a gift or a compliment. And think of how you feel—after you overcome the uneasiness— when you receive a precious gift or sincere compliment. Now eliminate all the mental and physical barriers to doing exactly and only what you love most. How often would you choose work defined that way over idleness? How difficult would it be to obey if you were being asked to do that which brings you sheer joy, never exhausting and always beneficial?

If this environment was yours, and you were interconnected with all other passionately engaged humans who had previously crossed over, think of the potential impact of any assignment!


What do you think people do after they cross over? Are our images dissimilar or close? Or has the question never come up?

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