Monday, March 21, 2011


Last year I had the good fortune to participate in an anthology for writers published by Twilights Times Books, the publisher of my Psychic Closet book. The new release's title is How I Wrote My First Book: the story behind the story by Anne K. Edwards and Lida E. Quillen, Editors.
Twenty authors tell amazing stories about the efforts that went into writing their first book.

Below is an excerpt from my chapter.

The Manuscript from a Mystifying Source
by Toby Fesler Heathcotte

An unseen source dictated my first book through automatic writing, a process where the practitioner enters a meditative or light trance state and writes without conscious thought of what words will be produced. I hadn’t a clue how to go about it or what it might mean in my life. Even now I can’t explain with any kind of certainty what happened, where the material came from, but maybe why. Confusion reigned in my mind despite the fact that I held a degree in English and hoped to become an author, so I should have understood writing techniques.

The year was 1983 in Arizona. I taught speech, drama, and English in a Phoenix high school. My older son had enrolled in college in Tuc¬son and moved away from home. The younger graduated from high school and worked at a fast food restaurant, saving money to join his brother. A difficult divorce lay two years behind me. My main emotional support came from my women friends, fellow teachers who had gone through divorces themselves. My friends encouraged me as I cast around for new ways to add meaning to my life.

Some odd dreams and intuitions began occurring to me, experiences for which I had no spiritual framework. I had always remembered occasional dreams. Now I became serious about writing them down, analyzing them, and trying to know myself better. These dreams proved significant both in my personal growth and as seed material for my writing.

One episode especially provoked me to search for answers. We had a gorgeous white cat that stayed outside at night. One morning I opened the door for him but didn’t see him on the patio. I lay down on the couch to wait for the coffee to perk, accidentally fell back to sleep, and dreamed I saw the cat in a plastic bag sitting on green grass. The cat did not come home all day. The next morning I found the caretaker for the condo complex, and he told me that he had found a white cat dead on the grounds, placed it in a plastic bag, and dropped it in the dumpster. By comparing times, we discovered that he had found the cat within a half hour of my dream. Needless to say, the cat never returned.

Although I did not understand the how and why of things like dreams that came true, a voice in my head, or intuitive knowing, they began to happen to me more frequently. I felt alternately afraid and titillated by these experiences. I felt a spiritual lack that was difficult to define. I had learned Christianity in a Methodist Church as a kid but abandoned the belief for agnosticism during my college years. After my divorce I attended a Fundamentalist Christian Church for a while.

One night I didn’t want to attend a Bible study, but a voice in my head said, “Toby, go to the Bible study.” I went without hesitation. That could have been Jesus or an angel speaking. Who knew? The subject for discussion at the Bible study turned out to be people who heard voices in Biblical days, like Daniel did in the lions’ den. The bizarre coincidence of subject matter with my experience of a few hours earlier awed me. I asked whether people heard voices in mod¬ern times. The answer? No, only in Biblical times.

end of excerpt

If you have a yen to write or know someone who does, this would be an excellent choice.

How I Wrote My First Book is available in many places. To buy it from Amazon (where all my other books are available) in paperback or for Kindle, go to:

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