Friday, 30 March 2012

Some quotes on the human condition

“Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine. He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease to be a machine.

“First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable “I” or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without end.” ~ P.D. Ouspensky.

“A considerable percentage of the people we meet on the street are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead. It is fortunate for us that we do not see and do not know it. If we knew what a number of people are actually dead and what a number of these dead people govern our lives, we should go mad with horror.” ~ G.I. Gurdjieff.

“No matter how fast you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it's in front!” ~ Rumi.

“Our biological evolution is, for all practical purposes, at its end. There will be no further biological evolution without human 'conscious evolution.' And this may not happen without first an understanding of what our consciousness is, what it was originally designed to do, and where the points of possible change may be.” ~ Robert Ornstein.

“The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.” ~ George Santayana.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tips for writers #4: Backups

+ If you use a PC to store your writing, you don't need to learn the hard way, like me. Always keep backups of your work.

+ Don't rely solely on a backup to the same PC. I've had two PCs and a hard drive die on me.

+ If you have an old PC, don't backup solely to floppy disk. These are notoriously unreliable and may not open at all on a different floppy disk drive.

+ I used to backup to USB flash memory sticks. However, these do sometimes become corrupt, especially if you accidentally nudge or pull out the stick without first clicking on "safely remove hardware". Windows 98 was the worst offender. I've also had sticks corrupt after deleting many files. Remember, too, that flash memory sticks only last about 10 years. So don't use these flash memory sticks as your sole backup. Trust me: I had six sticks and now I'm down to three.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Insiders: The Teachers of Gurdjieff revisited, 2012

Before the second world war, there was an influential Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher by the name of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. He taught that most of humankind was in a hypnotic, robotic state of sleep, and that it was possible to awake from this sleep and achieve a higher state of consciousness through what he termed "the Work". His methods differed from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, and so he called his methodology "the Fourth Way". Many Fourth Way groups and organizations are still operating to this day, in such far flung places as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Little was known about the origins of Gurdjieff's teachings, until a partly fictionalized book, The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort was published nearly fifty years ago in 1966, and at the time this caused a considerable stir, not least amongst those students still following or involved in the Fourth Way. At the time, in the swinging sixties, many people were setting off for places like India, Japan, Turkey and Tibet in search of spiritual and mystical masters, and the exotic; and Gurdjieff's own sources, such as the legendary and elusive Sarmoung Brotherhood, appeared to have been lost.

Rafael Lefort is a nom de plume, of course, and is said to be an approximate anagram of "Real Effort" (which is quite permissible in traditional circles). It is not known for certain who wrote the book, but it is likely that this came out of the camp of the Sufi mystical teachers Idries Shah and Omar Ali Shah who were at that time working together in the West, before they agreed to disagree and went their separate ways. The book may have been written by Omar Ali Shah, or perhaps by a number of students in the Paris group.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The divided brain

Here's an RSA Animate video taken from a lecture on the divided brain by Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary:



• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

IMAGINE: How creativity works

A wonderful animation by Flash Rosenberg, expressing the ideas of the author Jonah Lehrer in his book IMAGINE:



• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tools for writers: Organizing your ideas

Here are a couple of free tools that I use to organize my ideas when I'm writing:

FreeMind

With FreeMind, you express an idea by creating a node; and you build up a "mind map" by creating nodes and child nodes, and joining these nodes together. You can expand and collapse these nodes for easy viewing.


One drawback of this mind map is that you can only create a new node by connecting it to an existing node or idea. So with a simple tool like FreeMind, you can't create a lot of random, orphan ideas and connect them up later.

ZuluPad or WikidPad

ZuluPad and WikidPad are a cross between a notepad and a wiki. They allow you to write text in a notepad-like interface and create wiki-like hyperlinks to other documents. When you click on a wiki link, that document is automatically created and displayed and you can view or edit it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tips for writers #3: Social networking

+ Twitter will help you keep in touch with established, loyal readers and may help you gain some more. However, chances are that a tweet will give you no more than a few seconds of fame before it is swamped by a deluge of competing posts, unless it leads to worthwhile content that other kind folk are willing to read and to retweet.

+ Don't go overboard with pure marketing on twitter, facebook or blogs, unless you can offer "added value" through previews of your work, special offers or decent freebies, so that your readers don't go away empty handed or feel short changed. Consider using a second twitter account to handle most of your marketing, using hashtags, to free your main account for more real and genuine interaction.

+ Tweetfests -- sending one tweet after another -- may annoy your readers and they may decide that enough is enough and unfollow or block you.

+ Running your own blog with worthwhile content is a great way of connecting with, sharing with and building readers. You can, of course, link to your blog from twitter and facebook. Intersperse your marketing with worthwhile content that you feel your readers will enjoy, appreciate and benefit from. Don't take yourself too seriously, and let your readers see that you are a sentient human being just like them.

+ Allow blog comments and pay attention to feedback you receive from readers. Express your gratitude. You may have to moderate comments and allow only registered users to comment, in order to keep out the inevitable spam and occasional hate.

+ Having your own blog will also get you into the search engine indexes so that others can find you.

+ Share the care and help other authors, especially new and independent authors who are struggling to establish themselves.

+ However, be wary of using "black hat" or "grey hat" marketing tactics to game the system in order to artificially get more links to your site, more followers, more likes or more friends, and to give a false impression of popularity. For example, reciprocal link exchanges may help you build up your readers, but search engines may impose a penalty on your page rank for what they consider to be "black hat search engine optimization (SEO)".

+ Above all, enjoy writing and interacting with like-minded folk. Good luck in your own endeavours!

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Sunday, 25 March 2012

A helping hand: A Shadowlands excerpt

As [Jeanine] turned the next page, she found that Tenzing had quite abruptly and with little warning switched from a more didactic description of the study to illustrating what he wanted to say through the use of stories. One tale in particular found an inner resonance with her. It told of a young girl who'd been orphaned as a child and taken in by a poor family who scraped a life together fishing. She found work as a lowly servant at the king's palace, but due to the intrigues of another in the household, who had taken a dislike to her, the girl found herself accused of a crime and wrongly imprisoned in the cold dungeons of the castle by the king.

To cut a long story sort, word had soon reached her foster parents of her imprisonment and when every other means of obtaining her release had been tried, to no avail, and they were exhausted, they happened to mention their daughter's plight to an old wandering holy man, asking him to pray for the girl's release.

This master of the Way, being a holy man, was granted access to the girl to cater for her religious needs after presenting himself to the king and successfully arguing his case.

He visited her many times over the coming months until the guards became quite used to his comings and goings. At first they used to question the man, but as he always gave such an incoherent reply, the ramblings of a deranged holy man, and as he stank to high heaven, after a time the guards simply waved him through.

Then one day, the holy man failed to turn up as expected and come the evening when it was time to take the girl her bread and water, they found her lying in a corner of the cell covered by a thin blanket. When she did not respond, one of the guards pulled back the blanket. To his astonishment he discovered that it was the old holy man, naked as a jay bird, and that the girl had escaped.

And when they questioned the old man about the escape, he told them that the girl had dressed herself in his coarse woollen robes, with her hair tied back and her hood up to hide her features, and had simply walked out of the prison. The guards had become so used to his comings and goings, and his incoherent grunting, that they'd let her pass without question.

“Well,” declared the king when word of what had happened reached him. “The old man needn't think that any advantage has been gained from the escape. Lock him up in the girl's place and let him serve out her sentence. No, double the sentence.”

“In fact, throw away the ruddy key.”

But the very next day, when the guards came to check on the old man, they found that he had quietly passed away in his sleep, knowing beforehand that his time had almost come. So what had he really lost in order that the girl should gain her freedom?

Excerpted from Escape From the Shadowlands.
Painting: Porträt des Titus in Mönchkleider by Rembrandt.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

The writer and the creative daemon

In The Lucian Uprising, the author Winifred Rawlings talks of her writing process, and this is not unlike my own. She doesn't mention the involvement of a creative daemon or guiding spirit or other unseen muse in the process, nor does she offer a psychological explanation, but I think that she would be kindly disposed to such an idea. The benevolent, mythological daemon is not to be confused with the malignant demon of Judeo-Christian belief systems. Anyhow, here's what Mrs. Rawlings has to say on the matter:

“The final thing that I'd like to mention before we move on and before I forget, is that when I write, I don't plan it out as do many who write to patent formulae. Though I've tried, that approach just doesn't seem to work for me. Very often, indeed most often, I'm not at all sure where the words come from; or for that matter, even a good share of the subsequent copy editing. Certainly not from the conscious mind. The words just seem to appear in my mind and write themselves of their own accord.”

“The writer never seems to sleep. I've lost count of the ideas and storylines that have come to me in the middle of the night, ideas that I always think I'll remember when I wake up in the morning and, over and over again, have been singularly unable to recall. I take a pen and paper to bed, and go to bed determined to stir myself and write the ideas down, but once asleep that resolve seems to evaporate, and I wake up frustrated by my weakness and incompetence.”

“You could say, in a way, that I'm not actually a writer, though perhaps I might be called a recorder? And when I come to edit the work afterwards, it's not so much the writing which I correct as the faults in this recording. Or perhaps I'm merely an actor reciting her lines? Some have asked whether I'm a medium, but that's not a term I care to use: it has so many unfitting and bizarre metaphysical connotations. So I call myself a recorder. I just happen to be one of those holding the pen, that's all.”

Painting: The Muse of Poesie by Konstantin Makovsky (1839–1915).

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tips for writers #2: Inspiration

+ Inspiration can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be quite fickle. If you want to be able to call on inspiration reliably then you need to work on it with regularity. You won't become a good cook by reading recipes alone; nor will you build muscles by merely reading the training manual. You have to actually perform the exercises.

Someone once said that if you only go out with a bucket to collect water when it's raining, sometimes you'll get water. But if you go out with your bucket every day, even when it's not raining, sometimes you'll catch unexpected rain. And also, a strange thing may happen: that the very act of going out with your bucket may actually provoke such rain.

So make a point of writing something -- about anything at all, even if you're not interested in the subject, and perhaps all the more so because of this -- each and every day.

Photo: Thomas Edison with an incandescent light bulb.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Every dystopian cloud has a silver lining

It's no coincidence that Sher Point, the metropolis of the Freelands, is an anagram of 'the prison', nor is the name 'the Freelands' itself free from a certain irony. The Sirians, who had originally helped instigate the Eden Project, had a hand in this and they were not without a sense of humour, albeit slightly twisted.

Nor is it coincidental that the words contain within them 'psion', which is associated with faculties such as telepathy. Such faculties did indeed play a part in the original project when people, though some stages removed from Unity or Reality, were nevertheless still able to benefit from it. However with the catastrophic loss of the Link to the Source, though vestiges of such abilities remained as a kind of by-product of spiritual development (incorrectly prized by some), they were largely lost to the masses.

Decay slowly but surely spread through the Eden Project, to the point that the experiment was largely abandoned and the realm ultimately came to be known more fittingly as the Shadowlands.

Sin and the Shadowlands have become, quite incorrectly, synonymous, and several globally organized religious institutions have emerged in the Shadowlands which hold amongst their basic premises the dogma that all people born in the Shadowlands are hapless sinners in need of their particular trademarked brand of grace and salvation. But the truth of the matter is rather more complex. What is seen as black and white by the religionists and the authoritarians might better be likened to a thousand and one shades of grey; or even glorious technicolour.

You see, the degeneration, bad as it was, was further exacerbated by what is now seen in retrospect as a foolhardy policy of biblical proportions: the decision to use the Shadowlands as a kind of pan-galactic therapy centre and later penitentiary, a dumping ground for the dross and lame ducks that other, extraterrestrial communities wished to off-load. It had been somewhat optimistically believed that the penitents would be favourably affected by contact with and immersion in the native community, and this was indeed the case before the Link began to falter. But the sheer number and escalating levels of depravity of the reprobates transported to the Shadowlands ensured that the very converse occurred and they helped to drag the culture down still further.

Alas, movements which once possessed a live dynamic so often succumb themselves and become sometimes grotesquely twisted, fossilised relics and institutions. But fortunately there have always been some who have been able to Remember and to keep the spark or eternal flame alive through the centuries. Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen, a representative of the perennial tradition, is one of those people, and fortunately he is not alone. Truth be told, and rest assured, we are never alone and help is always at hand.

Though preceded by two prequels, the best place to start reading the Shadowlands series is book 3, Escape From the Shadowlands.

Painting: Mountain Peak with Drifting Clouds, oil on canvas painting by Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1835, Kimbell Art Museum.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Friday, 23 March 2012

The tail is wagging the dog

There is something very precious deep down in each of us, and this has been likened to a jewel buried in a mountain (of conditioning), which we need to dig out, by applying real effort, to retrieve.

The age-old problem is that this essential part of our being goes largely unnoticed or disregarded. It is usually deeply hidden and held a virtual prisoner by other parts of us who have us in their sway, and is as a consequence largely lost to us. The chief culprit in this affair is what Sufi mystics call the Commanding Self: the mixture of primitive and conditioned responses, common to everyone, that inhibits and distorts human progress and understanding. We are greatly hindered by unbridled ego, the allegedly sovereign intellect, by inappropriate or over- emotion, and by a number of unfortunate traits such as ignorance, impatience, lack of trust, vanity, pride, greed, hypocrisy, delusion and spurious imagination (not to be confused with the more felicitous creative imagination).

Tips for writers #1: Miscellaneous

+ The writer never sleeps and inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time. Always carry a notepad and pen with you, wherever you go, and especially when you go to bed. Don't kid yourself that you'll remember when you wake up in the morning.

+ If you're not sure of alternative words you might use, check in a thesaurus. If you're not sure of the spelling or meaning of a word, make a point of looking it up in a dictionary. There will come a time when you no longer have to do this.

+ Read, read, read other people's work.

+ Don't give in to the writers' demon Aitse ("Abandon it, try something else").

+ When you reach the top, look back, return the favour and help those further down the ladder of success. And remember, you never know who you might meet on the way back down.

Painting: The Inspiration of the Poet (detail women left) by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665).

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(8) The Host and the Guests (Shadowlands)

The Host and The Guests tells the story of a mysterious illness which takes hold in Ingmar and of the struggle of one of the sufferers to free herself from its clutches, with a little help from her friends in the Network, a clandestine organization run by the writer and mystic, Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen.

"Don't just stand there and nod. The mind observes and cogitates, the heart engages, and I would encourage you to engage with the process," the healer, Mair Freida smiled, turning to the students.

The Host and the Guests is a short novel, circa 45,000 words. It is book 8 in the Shadowlands series. Contains violent and gruesome themes. Not for the faint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition. The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007JY6SPG. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

A bouquet or a bucket of cold water?

Over thirty years ago, as a young adult, I remember sending off ream after ream of typescripts to publishers and agents. In the early days, these were laboriously tapped out on a manual typewriter, until I invested in a BBC microcomputer and dot matrix printer; later a dedicated word processor with a very limited seven line LCD screen; and eventually my first PC.

I could have papered the walls of my house with rejection slips and letters and I found this a painful and disheartening experience. Looking back, I can see just how raw my writing was, and now it makes me cringe, so I can quite understand why I had so little success. I'm not one of those who would complain about publishers' readers: these are busy and professional folk who thoroughly know their business and who often go out of their way to offer advice and encouragement.

In the end, however, I became so disheartened that I stopped sending out typesecripts altogether; and then around 2008, having launched my own web site, I decided that I might as well have a go at writing again, and this time I simply converted the OpenOffice documents to PDFs, uploaded them to my web server and gave the things away free.

Then earlier this year, having heard about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I thought that I might rewrite the novels and novellas, convert them for the Kindle and upload them to Amazon.

So, that's where I am right now: nervously biting my fingernails, not knowing at this early stage whether I'll receive a bouquet for my efforts of a bucket of cold water.

One thing that I've discovered already is that getting oneself established as an indie author, without the traditional mainstream reviews and publisher's marketing infrastructure to lend support, is not an easy thing. And I'm not alone in this: I know an established, respected -- and brave -- travel writer who has self-published his latest work; and he, too, is struggling to get those first, important Amazon star customer reviews. Self-publishing requires a lot of effort on the part of the author to engage in social media and market themselves, though fortunately I'm more than used to good hard work.

If you're in the same boat, I sincerely wish you luck and hope that your efforts meet with good fortune.

Painting: The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins, 1882.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(2) Life on the Flipside (Shadowlands prequel)

Life on the Flipside or In Two Minds: Bradley Foster is convicted of a crime that he did not commit and is 'sent down' for life to the degenerative realm of the Shadowlands, where he leads an impoverished and troubled life. Fortunately, he finds love and also the help of The Network, a clandestine organization run by a mystic from the mountainous realm of Narayana.

Life on the Flipside is a prequel, book 2 in the Shadowlands series. You can begin reading the series at (3) Escape From the Shadowlands, if you wish. The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007960W1U. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(1) The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor (Shadowlands prequel)

The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor: Set in the Shadowlands, a degenerative realm, young David Seymour goes in search of the Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor, and finds a still greater prize.

The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor is a historical prequel, book 1 in the Shadowlands series. You can begin reading the series at (3) Escape From the Shadowlands, if you wish.

Reviews

A wonderful read in the field of mystical faction --no, no spelling mistake
Amazon.com, 12 February 2012
By Un lector (Madrid)
☆☆☆☆☆

"As the author explains, mystical faction is an extrapolation or merging of fact with fiction.

Deeply influenced by the teaching of the late Sufi exemplar Idries Shah (''The Sufis'', ''Tales of the Dervishes'' and the extraordinary ''Nasrudin corpus'', to name a few) De L'Amour is certainly well-qualified to embed Sufi wisdom in ''The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor'', a fascinating story that will reveal as many layers of meaning as the reader is ready to pay for --in terms of an ''active reading'', akin to ''active imagination'' in more ways than one.

Read it by all means --you might wind up like the young protagonist, David Seymour, finding an unexpected, still greater prize than the lost treasure of Roth Nagor he originally sets out to find..."



A fantastic read! Highly recommended
Amazon.co.uk, 6 November 2012
By Holly (UK)
☆☆☆☆☆

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is the first book I read by this author, and I'm looking forward to reading more in his Shadowlands series. I was drawn to read the book after "meeting" the author online, as I'm not sure if I would have been drawn to the book by title and/or description alone. I'm very happy that I gave it a try, as it was a very enjoyable read: a fantastic story on many levels that immediately drew me in. The author's influences as a writer (primarily Idries Shah) are very apparent in his writing, and that made it all the more enjoyable to read. I highly recommend this book, and as I mentioned, I look forward to reading more books in the series."



A Good Yarn from a good storyteller
Amazon.com, 4 January 2013
By Omar
☆☆☆☆☆

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a journey involved, the development of the central character and a fair sprinkling of humour and wisdom for the reader. I am starting to enjoy these tales that take place in the Shadowlands!"



The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B0077DYP8G. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(10) The Insiders (Shadowlands)

The Insiders: Exploring the higher realms of possibility: John Little is intrigued by a friend's illicit involvement in the old ways, which date back to a time long before the rise of the New Faith. Sent on a journey to find the Teacher of the Age, he learns from a number of diverse Masters along the way.

The Insiders is a response to The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort.

"In answer to your many as yet unasked questions, know-what is ten a penny and often not worth the paper it's printed on. I'm here to teach you know-how and that is an altogether different kettle of fish." ~ The Master Malik Joujai.

The Insiders is a short novel, circa 38,000 words. It is book 10 in the Shadowlands series; however it is a standalone book and you do not have to read the other works first.

The Insiders is now available for free download as an epub or mobi ebook from our web site.

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(9) Whisperings of Love (Shadowlands)

Whisperings of Love: The wise healer Mair Freida is ill and her friends must embark on a long journey to bring back a cure.

The old lady at length hears the whisperings of love, calling to her. It is time to move on from the hidden mountain sanctuary of babs chu to join the Elder Abbots on the next stage in her continuing evolution in the still more distant mystical realm of Shu'la beland.

But is Mair Freida strong enough to make that journey? And with a deranged killer on the loose, will he thwart the Network's plans and gain access to Shu'la beland?

Whisperings of Love is book 9 in the Shadowlands series. It is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007DIMNF2. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(7) The Gift (Shadowlands)

The Gift kindle ebook
The Gift tells the moving story of Emily Hart and Bradley Frogmorton as they awaken to the Gift and answer the summons of the Doyen Mugwash ... and what comes after. If you have 'the Gift', whatever you do, keep the secret to yourself.

“You're beginning a whole new life -- and for your own good and for the good of your future employers, it is better that you leave your old attachments behind. The more completely you make this transition, the better. 'To serve and gladly' is our motto, and the very essence of our activity. This should be your only concern from now on. It is a great honour to be called to enter the ranks of the Ancient and Noble Order of the Mugwash, and vitally important that you understand, appreciate and above all wholeheartedly embrace this ethos; and develop and nourish the precious Gift that makes all this possible. Don't let us down.” ~ The Noble and Most Reverend Mater Mugwash.

The Gift is a short novel, circa 42,000 words. It is book 7 in the Shadowlands series, but may be read on its own.

OCTOBER 2017 UPDATE: You can download copies of ALL the books from here on our web site. Although marked as "review copies", there are no strings attached.

Reviews

Five read, Five more to go
Amazon.com, 21 January 2013
By Paul Berglund
☆☆☆☆☆

"The Gift, by Etienne de L'Amour, is Book 7 in the Shadowlands Series, from Sher Point Publications, UK. I have read 5 of the 10 thus far, and these five all take place in a world very much like our own, yet different and mysterious, as though somehow from a parallel dimension, seeming like out of the past yet in present time.

Within this world of the Shadowlands are places such as Narayana, Godweir (the Outlands) and the Shangri-La-like Abshar. As I read, I always think it must figuratively be somewhere in Central Asia or near India, but it really could be many places.

Adventures with journeys happen here, something of the nature of Harry Potter-like journeys, but with their own uniqueness and character. There are, layered throughout, or brought forth here and there in each of the books, thought-provoking philosophical statements and 'life-sayings', if you will, of a quality you don't find often. The intriguing adventures seem to have at least this dual purpose, one to entertain, and the other to help, to assist the 'traveler' (the reader) on his or her own journey.

In this 7th book, The Gift, there is a most interesting idea as the basis for the story. The central feature of the tale is the seemingly very unjust and backwards state-of-things where when people who are 'gifted' with sensitivity (telepathy and related abilities) are 'found out' they then have to spend their lives in servitude to other seemingly unworthy and disagreeable people. From this starting point proceeds the adventure. As with the other books in the series I have read, I have found The Gift thoroughly enjoyable, and as a bonus there is within it the happy tear-in-the-eye in the concluding pages, which some of us readers do enjoy now and then. For this reader, the only question now is which one of the remaining books in the series to pick up next."



Another great read in the Shadowlands series!
Amazon.com, 9 March 2013
By Omar
☆☆☆☆☆

"This book, like others in the Shadowlands series rocks along with a solid story line sprinkled with humor and wisdom. The central motif, that an ability like telepathy might be the cause of the subjection of those possessing it by others is an intriguing and unusual perspective on how a society might deal with such abilities.

Is the 'Gift' a blessing or a bane to its possessor? And how far can it be developed? All this and more in a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Certainly this book demands a sequel and I hope there is one on the way."



The Gift is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007D35KI4. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

Enjoy!
• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(5) The Lucian Uprising (Shadowlands)

The Lucian Uprising: Things were bad enough with the economic depression and the growing poverty. Then they were further inflamed by the rise to power of a new political party with an age-old agenda, led by the charismatic despot Lucian.

This is the heart-rending story of friends caught up in those upheavals, and of help they receive from a clandestine, mystical organization simply known as The Network.

The Lucian Uprising is book 5 in the Shadowlands series. It is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007C7TRRQ. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(4) In Search of Destiny (Shadowlands)

In Search of Destiny kindle ebook
In Search of Destiny is set in the disparate realms of the Outlands; Sher Point, the metropolis of the Freelands, and the mystical kingdom of Narayana in the East.

It tells the story of Conrad Harper, who sets out one day to search for his destiny and heart's true desire; of the help offered him by a mysterious organization known simply as the Network; his journeys with the Master of the Tradition, Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen, and of his finding romance, ancient knowledge, unfettered awareness and wholeness of being.

And it shows how ordinary and everyday experiences, which we tend to take for granted and often do not value, can be brought into service and woven together into a rich tapestry with an altogether higher purpose.

In Search of Destiny is book 4 in the Shadowlands series. No real harm will be done by reading this book first.

In Search of Destiny is now available for free download as an epub or mobi ebook from our web site.

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

Reviews

Another exciting and thought-provoking book in the Shadowlands series
Amazon.com, November 9, 2013
By Omar
☆☆☆☆☆

This is Book 4 in the Shadowlands series but can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone book.

Conrad Harper lives in the Outlands and has grown up with a mother determined that he grow up to be a 'normal' person, a person with a permanent job, who marries and raises his children. But Conrad's father wants something different for him; to go out into the wider world, to reject a humdrum lifestyle and seek a better future. From an early age Conrad has been told tales by his father, tales from an ancient oral tradition said to contain a subtle knowledge.

Then comes the day when Conrad's father dies, leaving Conrad expected to be the 'man of the house.' Having thus committed himself to a life of drudgery one day he meets an old lady, a Traveller, who tells Conrad to leave his home and country and to go in search of his destiny.

Thus begins Conrad's adventures in the Freelands, the city of Sher Point and the mystical land of Narayana.

The story rocks along as any good adventure story should, but with an added bonus of the sprinkling throughout of bits of wisdom, guidance offered to readers, to make of what they will. The stories Conrad's father told him begin to come alive.

Does Conrad find his Destiny? To find out I highly recommend you read this most interesting and enjoyable book!



Gets you thinking about where your life is going
Amazon.com, October 19, 2013
By Brendan Addison
☆☆☆☆☆

If you have ever wanted more in life than programmed work, entertainment, economy-worship, and political sideshows, you'll love this book. Etienne de l'Amour is busily creating stories that give you a bit of a kick start to get out of your ruts and on with your destiny. What is destiny? I can't say exactly, but it definitely gets me moving when I remember it! The story is about Conrad, who is a lot like most of us - stuck in a dead-end life, wishing for more. What I like about the book is the guidance it seems to give, indirectly, for where to find your own way onto the road to destiny. I got my copy free as a review copy, but I would have paid for it easily knowing what I know now!

Enjoy!

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(3) Escape From the Shadowlands

Escape from the Shadowlands kindle ebook
Escape From the Shadowlands: Something has gone drastically wrong with Psi, the caretaker system, and the effects are even being felt in the higher planes. The experiment in the Shadowlands, formerly the Eden Project, is to be terminated, imperilling the six billion souls down there, as well as the representatives and resident field workers. Marie and her younger brother foolishly decide to make the descent, in order to help out, but their plans go awry and they become separated from one-another, and they forget their origins.

Fortunately, they eventually find help in the form of the writer and spiritual Master Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen and his clandestine organization, The Network.

If you like Doris Lessing or Idries Shah, you might like Escape From the Shadowlands. If you've read Doris Lessing's Briefing For a Descent into Hell, you'll know where EFSL is coming from; and if you've read James Hilton's Lost Horizon, or watched the films, that's where EFSL ends up.

Escape From the Shadowlands is book 3 in the Shadowlands series, and is preceded by two prequels: (1) The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor and (2) Life on the Flipside. You don't have to read the prequels first and it's probably a good idea to read this book first.

The background genre of this book, as ever, is mystical faction. It also contains elements of technological science fiction.

☆☆☆☆☆ "Astounding, dizzying journey! Entertaining, enlightening."

Reviews

Astounding and Dizzying Journey!
Amazon.com, 24 January 2013
By Zenizen
☆☆☆☆☆

"Etienne de L'Amour has stepped up to a very great challenge and taken up the torch from the likes of Doris Lessing with his book, Escape From the Shadowlands. In so doing, he has done all of us a very great service. The book details the journey that we all face in one way or another and provides signposts that, properly understood and followed, can help us successfully navigate the perilous way. For a very entertaining and - dare I say enlightening - story that you will relish and remember, please treat yourself to a very good read indeed :)"



Escape From the Shadowlands is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B0079Q8WZ8. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

If you want to try before you buy, you can read chapter 1 of Escape From the Shadowlands here. Alternatively, you can download a preview in mobi/kindle format here. The preview contains the first 10% of the book.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Sources of inspiration

I would say that the primary inspiration for my works has been the writer Idries Shah who did so much to introduce the way of the Sufi mystic to western audiences from around 1960 to the present day, beyond his death in 1996. One of the ideas of which he wrote was that the realm we live in and call the 'real world' (the concrete, physical plane) is in fact a lesser world of decay and degeneration, and that beyond that, and our destiny, is what the Sufis call the Real World; that behind the everyday world of illusion lies a blueprint or design (a naqsh) in the Real. C.S. Lewis mentions the shadowlands in a similar vein.

This idea in turn inspired one of Shah's pupils, the author Doris Lessing who wrote in her Canopus in Argos series of a catastrophe of cosmic proportions severely and adversely affecting our link to the Source, which provides us with a higher nutrition and higher contact. My novel Escape From the Shadowlands was also inspired by Doris Lessing's Briefing For a Descent into Hell.

Shah encouraged certain books to be written by students and personalities associated with his work (and also himself wrote works using pseudonyms) and I've found addition inspiration in these works, such as Bashir M. Dervish's Journeys with a Sufi Master; Omar Michael Burke's Among the Dervishes; Ernest Scott's The People of the Secret; and also Desmond R. Martin's Account of the Sarmoun Brotherhood, a mystical hidden community said to reside in the mountains of Afghanistan (also known to the mystic George Ivanovich Gurdjieff as the Sarmoung).

Prior to my involvement with the Sufis, I was also inspired by the likes of [the fraudulent] T. Lobsang Rampa's The Third Eye; Carlos Castaneda's teachings of Don Juan; the explorer and theosophist Alexander David-Neel's With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet; Helena Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine; James Hilton's Lost Horizon (twice made into a film); and by the publications and practises of British Buddhist and Zen societies.

These early interests lost their appeal once my studies with the Sufis began to kick in. Indeed during that time I felt so many of my assumptions, beliefs and conditioning being slowly eroded, challenged or at times unceremoniously sandblasted. The last thing the Sufi mystics do is pander to or collude with the ego or Commanding Self: quite the converse.

This went on until at one point, around the time of Shah's death in 1996, I was no longer sure who I really was any more; beyond the "black hole" that had been me: it was so much more a process of unlearning and uncovering than learning or adding to the stock of information and opinion that lay folk call knowledge. It wasn't until perhaps a decade after Shah's death that I was again able to look at these former interests with fresh, new eyes.

Though preceded by two prequels, the best place to start reading the Shadowlands series is book 3, Escape From the Shadowlands.

Painting: Inspiration by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog, Mystical Faction. I write novels and novellas in the Shadowlands series using the nom de plume Etienne de L'Amour and dystopian sci-fi as H.M. Forester, and this blog contains details and samples of my writing, together with my inspirations, trials, tribulations, and random thoughts.

The genre in which I generally write is mystical faction, hence the blog title. This is a blend of fact and fiction, based on fact which is spun-out and woven into a fabric containing elements of myth and imaginative fiction.

You can download previews of the novels from our Dropbox mirror site:

Though preceded by two prequels, the best place to start the Shadowlands series is book 3, Escape From the Shadowlands.

The books in the Shadowands series are:

1. The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor. Historical prequel.
2. Life on the Flipside (or In Two Minds). Prequel.
3. Escape from the Shadowlands.
4. In Search of Destiny.
5. The Lucian Uprising.
6. Time and Time again. Not published as yet.
7. The Gift.
8. The Host and the Guests.
9. Whisperings of Love.
10. The Insiders: Exploring the higher realms of possibility. A standalone book.

Read some background info about the Shadowlands and sources of inspiration here.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+