Gaze Into Heaven is a collection of true near-death experiences from the lives of early-day Latter-day Saints. These accounts date back to the early 1800s and relate what Saints experienced when they visited the Spirit World. These accounts have been carefully researched and are interspersed with scriptures, insights, and quotes from latter-day prophets and other Church leaders. After reading this book you will never be able to think of life or death in the same way.I asked author Marlene Bateman Sullivan if she'd share some information about the kind of research she had to do for this nonfiction work:
Researching means spending a lot of time in libraries, so make sure that is something you enjoy before delving into nonfiction. I did most of my research at the Church History Library, the Church Archives, BYU Library, and at Utah State University. I also checked out the University of Utah and local libraries.
I was researching for my first book, Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, (true stories about people who risked their life for the gospel) when I came across a few near-death experiences. I was fascinated by these stories, as most people are. I jotted down the references and put them aside, thinking I would come back to them after I finished up my other projects. Many writers do the same thing—come across stories that give you ideas for future books. Be sure and write these down in a file some place!
I got sidetracked as I researched because I found amazing stories about angels coming to comfort, inspire, or direct early latter-day Saints. I then decided to do a book (which expanded into three) on angels. So for the next few years, I did research and wrote about angelic visitations for my next three books; And There Were Angels Among them, Visits from Beyond the Veil, and By the Ministering of Angels. There were so many experiences that I had to limit the experiences in the book to people who had either seen or heard an angel. These experiences all came from the lives of early Latter-day Saints.
Finally, I thought I would be able to start researching near-death experiences, but once again, got sidetracked and decided to finish up a novel I’d been writing for some time: Light on Fire Island.
After that, I started researching near-death experiences in earnest to see if I could find enough to fill a book. I found more than enough. So many, in fact, that I’d like to write a sequel.
A person could spend years in the library, so aspiring writers need to decide on a topic before going to do research.
Computer searches are wonderful, but they are limited. Make sure that you choose a search that pulls up information from ALL sources, not just search one collection.
Another thing that helped me is to type in different words in my searches. Of course I typed in near-death experiences. Watch out for hyphens, though. I also typed in near death experiences and got a different list. Go through your thesaurus if you need to and come up with different words to describe what you are looking for. For example, I didn’t just type in “heaven” I also typed in “Spirit World” and “next life.” Also “death.” You never know what word might bring up information that you can use.
Be sure to check out related subjects—these usually appear either at the side of the computer screen or at the bottom. They may lead you to rich new sources of material.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people at libraries are happy to assist you. During your first visit, ask them to explain the layout of the library. They will give you great advice. It really helps to get their expertise on how to use the computer to navigate their particular system. Asking for their help will save you a lot of time!
Anyone who writes nonfiction must love to research, and I do. I especially loved researching near-death experiences and was amazed at how similar they were to modern-day experiences. There were a few differences. For instance, many early Latter-day Saints who visited the Spirit World saw LDS Church leaders. A number also saw the gospel being preached. But most elements seen in modern day experiences were the same; such as being met by a guide or family member who escorts the person to heaven, experiencing feelings of great love and joy, being reunited with deceased family members and friends, and also the incredible beauty of the Spirit World. Every experience I found while researching was a testimony to me that God lives and loves us, that the Church is true, that life continues on, and that mortality is a time of testing and a time for us to gain knowledge.
Good luck and happy researching!I have a copy of this inspirational read to give away--U.S. only. All you have to do is comment below indicating that you're interested--please provide your email address. I'll do the drawing on Monday.
It's available online or in physical bookstores (yes, they still have a few of those, here and there).
What do you think of near-death experiences? My hubby had one once. Fell 32-feet out of a tree (before we were married). Bounced his spirit right out of his body. He watched from above as everyone came running to where he was on the ground. *shivers*