Writes ‘spiritual self-help books’
Betsy Otter Thompson, 73, has come home. After 25 years in Los Angeles, the Wyndmoor native and author is living just a block away from her childhood home. She returned with a lifetime of experiences and her newest book, “Walking Through Illusion – Jesus Speaks of the People who Shared his Journey,” the second of a trilogy.
When she first arrived in L.A. to pursue an acting career, Thompson was experiencing a very difficult time in her life. She had been through two rough divorces, was extremely poor and struggling to survive both emotionally and financially. Hurt and blaming others for her situation, she was full of anger and pain. Thompson prayed for guidance. She clearly describes exactly what happened to her shortly thereafter: “An energy came into my life. It was the presence of light, and I knew it was the light of reason.”
She explains that from that moment, her life completely changed. The energy became a voice, and she listened closely to the voice. Within two months, she was working as the executive assistant to Alan Horn, the Chairman and CEO of Castle Rock Entertainment, and was beginning to take responsibility for her life. When her boss moved to Warner Brothers to become President/COO, she followed him.
Her office days began at 8:30 a.m. and did not end until after Horn went home. These were long, high-pressured days, but Thompson enjoyed the excitement for 18 years. Her role as executive assistant was thrilling as it allowed her to leverage her BFA from the University of Pennsylvania; she even served as the curator for Horn’s art collection that was housed in his three homes.
Evenings and weekends, however, were spent writing. She listened to the energy that had come into her life. “My writing is an interpretation of this energy. It is a gift, no different from any other gift.” Just as musicians hear the notes and artists envision beautiful images, Thompson cannot fully explain how she creates her work. She does clarify that her writing improved and evolved as she got better at listening to the voice and applying what she heard.
Deeply inspired by Helen Schucman’s “A Course in Miracles,” Thompson began to make peace with herself and with others. “When you start taking responsibility for your life, everything changes.” She began to redefine her purpose and instead of looking outside for solutions, she looked within.
By engaging in this reflective process and listening to the voice that was now present in her life, she started the decade-long process of writing a previous book “The Mirror Theory.” Thompson describes the philosophy represented in the book thusly: “Everyone we encounter is an emotional mirror of our love or the lack of love we express. Any dissatisfaction we feel only comes from not looking at ourselves in an honest way … Once you realize that is it you who controls this, you realize that you are in a position of power.”
Raised an Episcopalian, Thompson no longer belongs to an organized religion. She emphasizes that the book is not about Christianity but rather one that tells the story of a family who lived long before Christianity began. Jesus serves as the central character whose humanness is emphasized, though the primary difference between him and others is presented as his willingness to go deeper to discover the essence of who he was.
Being raised Christian certainly posed many questions for Thompson about Jesus. As any writer explores the characters within their stories, Thompson answered some of her own curiosity about Jesus and discovered more about herself though the writing process, “Writing the book did awaken me to my own relationships and where I can improve them.”
Now retired from her executive assistant role, Thompson spends her days writing and also enjoys knitting adult and children’s sweaters. The second book in her planned trilogy of self-help spiritual books was recently completed. In the book, entitled “Walking Through Illusion – Jesus Speaks of the People who Shared his Journey,” Thompson features a series of interconnected stories about biblical people who either knew Jesus or knew of him, and were influenced by him in one way or another.
Tommie Borton Warder, who has given workshops in stress management for the U.S. government, said after reading “Illusion”: “This is a book you want to keep by your favorite chair and read over and over. The exercises at the end of each chapter take us, like Alice, on a journey through the looking glass, where we can see the other side of things from a new perspective.”
In addition to the subject matter in “Walking Through Illusion,” Thompson hopes her experiences in trying to get it published will inspire other writers who have received nothing but rejection letters from publishers. Thompson was actually able to get an agent to submit the book to many publishers but still had no success.
“I took it as a good sign,” she explained, “that one publisher had actually taken the time to give his reasons (for rejection), and after I got over my disappointment, I thought seriously about his comments. His insight was impressive, and I instantly saw how I could use his critique to improve the book.
“So I spent the next two months incorporating his suggestions into the first three chapters. Then I wrote the agent telling her what I had done and how I'd used his comments to rewrite those chapters. I attached them to my email and asked her that if she liked what I had done, would she consider resubmitting the book to the publisher.
“She emailed back that she did like what I had done and forwarded my letter and attachment to the publisher. He responded in a week that he had changed his mind and now wanted to publish the book. I share this with you because I'm always hoping to inspire other writers not to get discouraged and give up, but to keep on trying and keep on working on their books until something does happen.”
“The Mirror Theory,” published by Hampton Roads, is now in its second printing and is available at www.amazon.com. The publication date for “Walking Through Illusion,” published by John Hunt Publishing, 0-Books in England, is May 28, 2010, and is not yet available in book stores or amazon.com, but Thompson has early copies. The cost is $13.95 plus $3.95 postage and $1.12 tax for PA residents, but they may be purchased at Betsy’s home in Wyndmoor.
For more information on the books or the author, go to www.betsythompson.com