I was excited to be asked to participate in a blog tour for this book, A Gaze Into Heaven by Marlene Sullivan. I have always had a huge interest in books that help us understand the pre-existence and life after death. Life's challenges seem a little bit easier to handle when we can look at them with an eternal perspective. A Gaze Into Heaven did exactly that.
Here is a synopsis of the book:
Gaze Into Heaven is a carefully compiled collection of more than 50 near-death experiences that occurred during the early years of the Church. These documented accounts give fascinating glimpses into the Spirit World by those who have actually been there. Besides being filled with stories of insight and inspiration, Gaze Into Heaven has pertinent quotes from latter-day Prophets and other leaders, scriptures, and perceptive commentary. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way.
Most of us have wondered exactly what will happen when we die. What does the Spirit World look like? Will we see departed family members and friends? What do people do there? Do spirits there know what is happening on earth? What did people who had near-death experiences learn from their visit? All of these questions and many more are answered in Gaze Into Heaven. There have been many books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this book is the first to focus solely on those that took place in early church history.
Studying near-death experiences can bless us with a better understanding of this life and increase our knowledge of the life to come. By reading about those who actually entered the spirit world and saw conditions there, we can benefit from the insights they gained and use that information to reevaluate our lives and use our time on earth productively.
Many times during the reading of the book I stopped and pondered the great gospel truths and profound teachings that were shared through these near-death experiences. For me it was a very moving and visual experience as the accounts in the book painted an incredible peaceful and beautiful existence that awaits each of us, after we leave this earth. Some of the accounts so vivid in description I felt my understanding of the great Plan of Salvation expand and deepen.
Let me share a quote from the back of the book:
“With this book, Marlene Bateman Sullivan has done a valuable service for Latter-day Saint readers. Previous life-after-death studies published brief extracts from numerous sources and combined them to define spirit-world events and conditions. Returning to those sources, she has compiled many of their complete accounts, which add additional insights that will be enjoyed by many. Well done!” Duane S. Crowther, author of Life Everlasting—A Definitive Study of Life After Death
Marlene was kind enough to answer some questions about how she gathered her information and did research for this fascinating book.
How did you come up with the book title?
By reading a quote by Joseph Smith. It’s really cool, but a bit lengthy, so I’ll shorten it a little. Joseph Smith said; “All men know that they must die . . . it is important that we should understand the reasons . . . of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world . . . and our departure hence. . . It is a subject we ought to study more than any other. . . Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Period I, vol. 6, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9 October, 1843), 50.
I was fascinated by the idea that if we could ‘gaze into heaven’ for even just 5 minutes, we would know more than studying for days and weeks! Incredible. Especially when you think that the experiences in “Gaze Into Heaven” will let us catch glimpses of heaven!
What kind of research did you do?
I lived in libraries for a while. J While I did some research at BYU and the University of Utah, I also went to Utah State. However, the majority of experiences came from the Church History Library and the Church Archives. I pored through old newspapers, early church magazines, and in the archives, looked at countless collections of papers, journals, letters, and microfilms.
What was your inspiration for writing the book?
It might sound a little cheesy, but my main focus was about trying to present these stories in such a manner that the book would be accepted and published, so people could read it and in so doing, have their faith and testimonies increased. After finding and reading these experiences, I was so touched that I wanted to share them with everyone! I wanted people to know that God exists, that He loves us, and that the gospel is true. I wanted people to know and read these incredible stories so they would realize that this life is but a fleeting moment and we should take advantage of our time here to learn and grow.
What will people gain from reading your book?
I hope it will build people’s testimonies. I hope people will be inspired to try a little harder and do a little better. To know that all acts of kindness mean so much, and to realize that this life is not just a testing period, but a chance for us to grow and learn. I hope people come away from this book with a firmer conviction that life continues on and that if we endure our trials patiently and learn from them, great blessings await us in the next life.
What does your book teach us that will help us in our daily lives?
I think that reading and pondering these near-death experiences can give us a better understanding of what is important in life. It helps us realize that this life is a time to learn and increase our knowledge of the gospel. It will help us become better people. We can benefit from the insights given by these near death experience and use them to re-evaluate our own lives—to see what changes we could make to improve. Learning about the next life can help us use our time on earth to be more productive.
Below are 3 links where Gaze Into Heaven can be purchased online.
Amazon: Click HERE
Deseret Book: Click HERE
Seagull Book: Click HERE
Gaze Into Heaven is also available at Deseret and Seagull Bookstores, as well as other LDS bookstores.
For more information and to get to know author Marlene Bateman better please visit her website: www.marlenebateman.info
So, I've been flying under the radar for a few months. Most of you know my son has been battling colorectal cancer, in fact, he was diagnosed on March 1st, 2012, one year ago today! I have tried to dedicate myself to my family as we've gone through this horrendous year of ups and deep, low and very scary downs. It feels good to have that year OVER!!!
Anyway, I want to congratulate my son and his wife and two children on getting through that awful year and look forward to the future with gratitude and excitement. I know there are great things ahead for them!!!
Next I want to tell you that I will be doing a fun signing tomorrow, Saturday, March 2nd, at Barnes and Noble in Sandy, Utah, from 1:00 to 4:00. Come and see me and all the other awesome authors that will be there. I will bring the chocolate!
I also want to tell you about a fun event hosted by Seagull Book and Tape. It's called, THE REALLY BIG COOKING SHOW. It will be held at Thanksgiving Point on April 13th. I have two sets of tickets for two that I am giving away for the event. If you want to enter to win, just post a comment and on April 1st I will choose two winners for the tickets. YAY!
It's good to be back. I am working on two projects that I hope to have done in the next few weeks. I appreciate all the love, support and encouragement from the best fans in the world!
Here is a list of times, dates and places where I will be signing copies of my Christmas booklet, Christmas in Bliss and the multi-authored book, Christmas Spirit, a collection of true Christmas stories.
Fort Union Deseret Book Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 10:30 AM – 12:30
I'm so excited to announce that I have two new Christmas books out, available now, just in time for your Christmas shopping.
First is the booklet, Christmas in Bliss
It's Christmas Eve, and Nikki Michaels is on the last leg of her drive to celebrate the holidays at home. Though Christmas doesn't quite hold the same magic it did when she was younger, Nikki's idea of a merry Christmas is sharing in the festivities with her family in Salt Lake City—so when blizzard conditions force her off the snowpacked freeway in a middle-of-nowhere Idaho town called Bliss, she finds her situation anything but blissful. Snowed in at a rest stop with a small band of strangers, Nikki finds kinship in a fellow traveler who helps her find the magic of Christmas again and spread the spirit of the season to other stranded travelers. Christmas in Bliss is a heartwarming holiday tale that is sure to inspire readers with the hope and happiness found in the true meaning of Christmas.
Next is a collection of great Christmas stories by various LDS authors called, Christmas Spirit
I'm excited to feature author, Frank L. Cole, on my blog and tell you about some of the books he's written and about his most recent book release.
First, here is a little about the author.
Frank was born into a family of southern storytellers and wrote his first book at age eight. Sadly, he misplaced the manuscript and has since forgotten what he wrote. Highly superstitious and gullible to a fault, Frank will believe in any creepy story you tell him, especially ones involving ghosts and Big Foot. Currently, along with his wife and three children, he resides in the shadow of a majestic western mountain range, which is most likely haunted.
Frank is the author of the highly successful Hashbrown series. He has written an exciting adventure series for youth (adults will enjoy this book as well) and the second book in the series was recently released. The first book in the series is, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter;
Amber never dreamed her archaeology class would turn into a top secret mission that would take her across the globe, but when her teacher goes missing, Amber realizes it's up to her to protect the Hidden Scepter or risk unleashing an ancient power too terrifying to imagine. This guaranteed page-turner from the bestselling author of the Hashbrown Winters series is perfect for the adventurer in your family.
and the second book, recently released is, The Guardians of Elijah's Fire.
Just when she thought she was safe, Amber learns she's become a target and it seems even her closest allies can t be trusted. Now Amber, Trendon, and the whole gang are facing their most terrifying enemy yet. This thrilling tale ups the action and doubles the danger! Bestselling author, Frank L. Cole delivers an engrossing tale for adventurers of all ages.
If you like suspenseful and exciting adventure books, you will love this series. I thought both stories were extremely well written and paint a vivid picture for any reader's imagination.
I asked Frank to tell me a little about himself.
I have lived in such exotic places as the Philippines and Kentucky, and currently live with my wife and three children out west. While I strived for years to earn my publishing credits, I consider sharing my message of “Exercising Your Imagination” to over 30,000 kids across the country as my greatest accomplishment. The Guardians of Elijah’s Fire is my 5th published book.
Here is my interview with Frank:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Frank: I suppose a lot of authors say this, but I’ve loved writing since I was a child. I can remember being in elementary school and having a collection of my stories I would share to anyone willing to listen.
M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?
Frank: I really don’t have much of a writing background. I graduated from Weber State in Communications, which has helped me immensely with marketing my book and speaking at assemblies.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Frank: Long, hard, and very painful. I began the publishing journey about 11 years ago with my first novel (a very poorly written middle grade fantasy.) Over the next few years I saw probably more than 125 rejection letters. I don’t know how many times I considered hanging it up, but something kept me going. I received a contract for my first book, The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters, in December of 2008. That was about seven years after the journey began.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Frank: I still feel discouraged because as every author realizes or eventually will realize, rejection never ends. I deal with it by screaming a lot. ☺ Seriously, I would wallow in self-pity for a while after a particularly painful rejection, but then I would go back to work. I had to remember my roots and realize I didn’t start writing as a child because I wanted to be published. I started because I truly enjoyed it.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Frank: Sporadic. If I’ve caught the writing fever I’ll write for hours every night. If I’m in between projects, it can be weeks before I smack the keyboard. I try to at least set aside a few hours each week to focus intently on a story, but with life, my job, and my family, it can be difficult.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?
Frank: I have a fairly unique background. I was born in Kentucky and my dad told me stories of his upbringing in Brooklyn, NY. I usually pull from my own experiences and memories to begin a story. I’m also a horrible sleepwalker and talker. My mind is constantly going in a million different directions. It can be tricky finding the right idea to focus my energy. If it wakes me up in the middle of the night or if I suddenly can’t think of anything else but the idea than I usually know I have something. I’ll also try it out on my wife and family to see their reaction.
M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?
Frank: I woke up one night and scribbled down a few notes in my notebook I keep by the bed. I had this dream of these kids studying archaeology and I got excited about it. I’m a huge Goonies fan and I love a good adventure tale.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Frank: Absolute quiet and the only light I use comes from the computer screen. Plus I need warm socks. Weird. I know.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Frank: They all have a special place in my heart, but I think I love my newest novel, The Guardians of Elijah’s Fire. It is the sequel to my novel, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, which came out last March. I really did a ton of research on it and I just love the creepy stories found in the Old Testament, which seriously reads like the greatest fantasy novel. Plus, when I read those stories and realize they actually happened, it makes the world a more mysterious place. I love that. My Guardians series follows Amber and Trendon as they search for dangerous artifacts capable of Biblical destruction. I incorporate a ton of action, frightening sequences, and of course, humor. I have to make it funny.
M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?
Frank: I’m still scared to walk up my stairs at night. I take them two at a time and try not to look back. If someone or something grabbed my leg I would scream like a banshee. Honest truth.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Frank: Don’t give up. Keep writing, polishing, and thinking up new ideas. You’ll eventually find somewhere your books belong and you’ll be happy you stuck with it.
M.B.: What are you working on now?
Frank: I’m finishing up the 4th Adventure in my Hashbrown series, which will come out in April of 2013. Right after that I’ll start immediately on the final book of my Guardians trilogy. I also just finished a new novel called, The Summoner’s Handbook, which I’m polishing in my free time.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
My greatest claim to fame is my family. I am married to my prince charming and have four awesome children. This year I experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother to my sweet baby girl Halle. I love to travel and I love to write books.