Mystery Novels by Cynthia Rosi

Odd twins, innocent and haunted. A clairvoyant neighbor who thinks she’s going crazy. But a doubting psychic won’t solve this mystery, and it’s time to hurry.

The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in Psychological Suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

Chantal grapples with the increased sensitivity that comes with psychic awakening as she tries to figure out what’s gone wrong with the strange twins next door. You’ll love The Light Catcher if you’re intrigued by ghost-hunting and psychic experiences, and you love a page-turning mystery.

On YouTube I talk with psychics, healers, and channels about dilemmas faced by my heroine Chantal. Readers keep up a lively conversation at my blog Word Carver and over at Goodreads.

The LightCatcherRosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

You can also buy Rosi’s books Motherhunt and Butterfly Eyes through her website The Light Catcher Novel.

Writing projects take second place during the school year when I teach at Capital University. I often wish for the spaciousness of creative work in the hubbub of the school schedule. Last the spring I applied for a residency, and received the wonderful news “you’re in!” The following day came this caveat: “You’re on the wait list.” Say what? For twenty-four hours I’d been looking forward to total immersion: long days writing, breaks taken up with reading, and listening to other writers read their work at night.

by Cynthia Rosi

The wait-list position never materialized. But, for the first time in 22 years, my kids are both in their own apartments. I had the option of creating a writer’s residency here at home.

You don’t have to create two weeks of calm to get the residency immersion experience — even a dawn-to-dusk Saturday will help to re-charge your creative batteries. While the kids were at home, I would sometimes book myself into cheap accommodation from Friday night to Sunday evening to work on my novel The LightCatcher.

1. Download podcasts. Instead of listening to the radio when I have to run errands, I’m plugging the phone into my car stereo for KCRW’s Bookworm, to Writers and Company from CBC Radio, The New Yorker: Fiction, Poem Talk, and The Moth. I have the ear-buds in when I’m doing housework or gardening, listening to interviews with writers on KCRW or CBC. Their intellectual process and their struggles help me when I face the page.

2. Delete the Facebook app on your phone. It takes a person about 10-15 minutes to drop back into concentration after checking social media, and the temptation to whittle away my time is too great. Sorry dear friends! I’m writing.

3. Order books. Consume the written word. Keep excellent writing nearby, craft books, memoir, fiction, magazines that showcase excellent writers and concepts that stretch you — The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harpers are on my kitchen table, ready to go when I sit down with a sandwich.

4. Bring a journal. I have problems writing, getting started writing, continuing to write. To deal with the internal voices that tell me (essentially) “you’ll never be enough” I write them down in the journal. I’ve acknowledged it, I’ve dealt with it. Then I go back to writing. This is so hard! Looking at my body of work, a person wouldn’t think that sometimes I can spend two hours dealing with those negative voices before I get a word written.

5. Get a writing coach or a writing buddy. I take those negative voices tracked in the little journal to a life coach that I’ve hired for this summer. We’re finding the root of those voices together and setting homework – both emotional and writing goals – for the following week.

6. Approach the juciest piece of writing first. Mark Twain’s method toward memoir was to tackle the most interesting part, leave it when he got bored, and skip to the next most interesting part. Do the same thing. You don’t have a lot of time. The days turn into weeks and months quickly. You’re laying down drafts and crafting. If you keep going, the breakthroughs will happen.

7. At night, when you are alone, pretend you’re at the most fun part of any residency, listening to writers read their work. Turn on your Fiction podcast from The New Yorker and let a writer lull you with an amazing story. Sop up all that language. You have the opportunity to create your dream-writer lineup with those podcasts. Curate the writers that invigorate and inspire your work.

Enjoy your residency! Please leave a comment to let me know what you do in your writer’s retreat to create the residency that nourishes your craft.

The LightCatcherRosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

You can also buy Rosi’s books Motherhunt and Butterfly Eyes through this website The Light Catcher Novel.

Path through the woodsThe Great Serpent Mound is a ninety-minute drive from my house, and it’s a special treat to load up the car with food and a blanket to sit on, extra jackets for any weather, and a thermos of hot chocolate.

by Cynthia Rosi

Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world. It’s nearly 1400 feet long (420 meters), and three feet tall. There’s a path that runs alongside it so that people don’t tread on the snake which has its mouth open next to an egg-shaped oval. The park maintains a wooden viewing platform, complete with rickety steps. When you climb up the steps you can gaze at the serpent squiggling across the landscape.

Twice when I’ve been to the Great Serpent Mound I’ve seen snakes. On my first visit, I saw a rat snake hanging from a tree branch digesting a small bird. I saw a copperhead basking in the sunshine at another visit, and I gave it a wide, respectful berth.

Like many people who meditate, I’m a bit of an introvert. So it’s like a splash of cold water when a loud family joins the path next to me, or a biker gang pulls up for a Bible reading, or someone who’s into chanting has plonked themselves in the grass next to the path and starts om-ing away.

My problem is that I feel some ownership of this sacred site. To me it’s like church, and so I bring the expectations of church, but not a happy noisy church, more like a library church circa 1950 when the librarians glared at you over their cat’s-eye glasses. There’s a part of me that wants to have the Great Serpent Mound all to myself, in silence, whenever I feel like visiting.

Ridiculous? You bet!

So I’ve decided to shift my perspective and see it as a place that welcomes everyone to marvel at what’s been preserved for a thousand years. It’s interesting to hear adults and their kids speculate out loud about the people who lugged dirt around in grass baskets to build the effigy of a snake, and why? For a reason we no longer remember.

ARC Director Nancy Stranahan talks about acting as a protector for the site, the interpretations that each person brings to their experience, as well as the mystery the site invokes by reminding us how little we know. (Great pictures, too!)

What’s your favorite sacred site? Do you feel ownership when you go there? How do you cope with strangers in a space you love? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear your perspective.

The LightCatcherRosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

You can also buy Rosi’s books Motherhunt and Butterfly Eyes through her website The Light Catcher Novel.

Honoring Uncertainty

Last night, as we watched the aftermath of the Paris massacres unfold, my husband reached over and took my hand, his muscular fingers closing over my small knuckles. It felt some kind of safe, even as I know that safety itself is an illusion; there is no safe.

This morning, as I woke up, I realized that my last week has been about coping with feelings of uncertainty. The week felt crunchy, like listening to someone ball up cellophane, or hiking the uneven teeth of a saw blade. Families have atomized; we are shattered at the root. We’ve become as fluid as steam, friends with everyone and no-one, making Facebook pledges of staying with our dogs and cats until death do us part.

I used to think that if I lived rightly, lovingly, and honoring my faith, that God would give some kind of safe passage document back to me, that I would be healthy and protected from trouble. But I don’t think that anymore. Instead, the Divine is a source of Love, a comfort in times of doubt and sickness and uncertainty, and I receive inspiration, clarity and succor from that Love when I ask for support. Even so, I must live out my life with uncertainty, even while I hold myself to courage and integrity. Sometimes those two qualities take me into unsafe and unfriendly places.

As I felt the fear of uncertainty sitting like a cat on my belly, I decided I would not move into anxiety, into projecting into the future and wondering what it would hold. Instead, I decided that being uncertain is an authentic place to be. Our world is in flux. We have become a global people in continuous motion, and I am part of that.

The people of Paris have courage to carry on with life in an ordinary way. We’re watching Syria empty out as those people also face uncertainty, with courage and action. The two are linked. My life seems certain to those who look at it from the outside, but it is the uncertainty of being human which I acknowledge today.

The LightCatcher is an official selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

Thanksgiving at chez Rosi

My family’s first Thanksgiving in Columbus was a miserable affair. My husband and two kids stared at each other over the turkey-and-trimmings feast, wondering how many days they’d have to eat this meal before calling it quits.

We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, family-wise. His folks live in England, mine in Seattle, and due to a job transfer we ended up in the Midwest nine hours and several thousand dollars away from all of them.

The second Thanksgiving I invited friends, but all the men got sick and stayed home. My husband lay in bed upstairs as my 13-year-old son took the top of the table to carve the turkey. The following year, our neighbors invited us to their family’s Thanksgiving dinner, perfect with cut glass, silver, and linen napkins.

Throughout the fourth year, I continued to scope out my friends, asking who didn’t have family to go to, inviting them to join us for the big day when we also reciprocated by asking our neighbors to our house.

Often I battled a culture war with my Anglo-Italian husband who didn’t understand the tradition. “If it’s such a fuss, let’s just not do it,” he’d suggest hopefully, thinking he could avoid cleaning, moving the table, being shooed away from the food, and my ratcheting tension.

“No way!” I’d reply, going ahead with what I considered the bare essentials: Cooked cranberry sauce, an organic turkey, the Jell-O salad (my mother’s 1950s recipe), real mashed potatoes and gravy, from-scratch dressing, fresh bread, and pumpkin pie.

I replayed 1970s memories of my uncle’s house in Seattle: Rainy outside, inside steamy and warm with cooking; potato chips and sour cream dip, aunts pretending to be nice to each other, kids playing Billiards and Mousetrap in the basement, the television tuned to the Huskies’ football game.

At those dinners I would eat until I was past the point of full, and announce to the grown-ups: “I am stuffed right up to here!” pointing to my eyebrows.

In Ohio, we eventually came up with a reliable guest list of friends who didn’t have family nearby, and began to create our own happy traditions. Gratitude was the most important part. I would put a tray of unlit tea-lights on the table. After grace each person would light a candle and say what they were thankful for this year, and pass the tray along.

During the meal, the candles would burn brightly in the center, a reminder of our prayers.

A few years ago my husband approached me about Thanksgiving. He wondered if it would take the stress off me to hold it at his winery, Via Vecchia, in Columbus’s Brewery District, rather than in our home. His friends wanted to organize a bigger event, with invites on Facebook.

Although it would break with tradition, we held the newly-christened “Gathering of Gratitude” two weekends before official T-day, leaving us free over the holiday weekend to enjoy our daughter, and our son home from college.

In the week before I visited my mother, so I had nothing to do with the organization. Paolo took care of the invitations with his friends, cleaned the winery, and set up the tables. When I returned, I made a turkey, cranberry sauce, and two pies, in case everyone brought hummus and chips.

Our Gathering of Gratitude carried on the tradition of giving thanks. After saying grace, eighty people passed the tray of tea-lights along the tables, each person lighting a candle. Following dinner, we stood together in a circle of forgiveness and gratitude. Then we had a dance party to shake off the calories. Several people brought guitars, and took to the stage in turns to sing their songs. From a gathering of four lonely émigrés, we’d grown to 80 folks who shared hugs and smiles and great food.

This year we are back to the four of us. With our son and daughter away at college, the few days we have together seems extremely precious. I’m loading up the larder for four days of eating, movies, games and walks, ready to capture every moment with them before they head back to their campus housing.

Thanksgiving celebrations wax and wane. But always there will be candles on the table and grateful hearts.

Rosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

Tea connects British people. When the plumber came to fix the pipes in my home in Caddington, Bedfordshire, he would remark that it was “very hot in the house,” and that he’d built up a “powerful thirst.” I finally understood these were polite signals that I should boil the kettle for tea. Then I’d take a break with the plumber, dunk chocolate cookies, and chat.

If a construction crew dug up our road, the stay-at-home mums took trays laden with mugs of tea and biscuits out to the street for the workmen’s breaks.

Once, in London, I saw a man fall out of a second story window onto the pavement below. I stayed with him until the ambulance arrived, and then walked to the office. The first thing my boss offered me was a cup of tea.

Rosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

The Victorian high tea, with its Mary Poppins images of cucumber sandwiches, no longer exists in most homes. If someone invites you to tea, it will be the evening meal at 5 or 6pm. A later, more formal meal is “supper.” The children will have had their “tea” and be dressed for bed.

When I lived in England, high tea was in such decline that china tea services turn up in second-hand shops, along with hand-embroidered linen tea napkins tossed out from grandma’s Welsh dresser.

In mourning for this lost custom I decided to host a “proper” high tea. I invited the village mums to arrive at 3pm for home-made scones, blackcurrant jam, and clotted cream which I made from Joy of Cooking, because my local shops didn’t carry clotted cream.

We sat balancing delicate, gold-rimmed cups on our knees: china for once, instead of our usual mugs. We continually consulted a little book called “The Etiquette of an English Tea” to check our manners. We spoke in pretend posh accents, and asked each other to “please pass,” dissolving into fits of giggles.

I loved tea.

My daughter’s friends, girls under five, played a manners game my mother in Seattle had made up for me when I was a little girl. I’d set the table with the china I’d picked up second hand, and put a cake and a teapot in the middle of a cloth-covered table.

“The Queen,” I announced, “is coming to tea. You mustn’t slurp, or spill, or scrape your spoon in the cup as you stir in your sugar. You must eat your cake with a fork, and wipe your mouth with a napkin.

“If you break the rules,” I said, and made my eyes big and round, “the Queen might not come back.”

I couldn’t tell which the girls loved more – to pretend the Queen was coming, or to slurp so she wouldn’t return!

As a reporter, the first thing I learned in a strange newsroom was how everyone took their tea. Strong with a little milk? Two sugars? Very milky? A finicky editor once led me into a tiny kitchen to make sure I poured water as soon as the electric kettle had boiled.

My editor quickly fished out the teabag with a spoon. “Brew not stew!” he said, and at the first sip happily smacked his lips.

But my strangest encounter with tea came during an assignment to report on a city-wide, dawn police raid. They’d rooted suspected burglars from their beds, and drove them to the station, without cuffs. After the booking sergeant checked in a grumbling crew, the police offered their charges – you’ve got it – cups of tea.

The most enduring memory of a cup of tea, the most delicious? Midwives cheered me on as I gave birth to my 9lb 10oz son with: “when you’re done we will bring you tea!” And they did – milky, with sugar, and a big stack of buttered toast.

The best cuppa ever.

The LightCatcher is an official selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

Need to stay grounded during a time a spiritual emergence or rapid growth?

Donna Sigl-Davies describes ways that people can stay grounded and engaged in daily life while going through spiritual emergence. We discuss ideas like modifying your practice, checking with a mentor that you’re doing the practice right, and slowing down. If you’ve crashed your car because you’re blissed out, then this video offers real tools to help.

As Donna points out, spiritual experience is not the same as religious experience, but spiritual experience is part of normal human life.

How do you stay grounded during the joy and blissful feelings that come with spiritual emergence?

Rosi’s The LightCatcher is an Official Selection winner in psychological suspense novels for the New Apple Book Awards.

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