Month: May 2016

Late Night Ghost Auditions: No Callbacks Allowed

young woman in bed with alarm clock and eyes opened suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking about his problem on dark studio lighting in sleeping and nightmare issues

It happened last night.

I awoke to see a dark stranger standing by my bed. My heart leaped out of my chest, forcing a gasp, as adrenaline rushed through my body. I scooted across the mattress, nearly pushing my husband over the edge in the process. He, poor man, groaned, rolled over and went back to sleep. But I lay there sweating. What was that…thing?

I didn’t know. When I tried to take a closer look, it disappeared.

In the warm light of day, I brush this encounter off as an over-active imagination. I am a fiction writer after all. And I did have that chocolate mouse for dinner last night. That has to be it, right? RIGHT?

Ghostly encounters
“Ghosts are all around,” my writing buddy Joyce tells me. If anyone would know, it’s Joyce, who I met through a local writing group–the Northeast Ohio Romance Writers Association (NEORWA). She’s a member of a ghost-hunting group, called EVP Mediums and carries the title EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) investigator.

“Aren’t you afraid of ghosts?” I ask her, while visions of my mysterious late-night visitor dance in my brain.

“No, I’m not. The spirits don’t feel threatening. To me, they’re just people.”

Dead people, I think on a shiver. The thought of getting close to a ghost, let alone inviting one to speak, is, in a word, terrifying. I’ve been avoiding them my entire life, though they insist on appearing at my bedside on a routine basis and adding a dose of realism to my books.

Joyce doesn’t share my misgivings. She regularly volunteers to investigate sites known to be haunted along with other intrepid ghost hunters. They routinely tape apparitions speaking and observe dark shadows in eerie places. They even do…gasp…sleepovers.

EVP Investigator Joyce Caylor takes a break at her first overnight outing with the ghosts at Malabar Farms.

Not my kind of pajama party
Armed with camera and audio equipment, a psychic and an ordained minister, they call out to spirits, asking questions guaranteed to invoke an answer. What is your name? How old are you? Why are you here? What do you want?

In the old Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio, which used to house drug addicts, the gang hears shades cry out for their drug of choice. At the Slovak Club in Lorain, ghosts are recorded speaking in…you guessed it…Slovak. At Malabar Farms in Lucas, the spirits issues words of support, uttering “I’m happy,” “He’s going,” and “Pray with you,” after the team performs a cross-over ceremony. The ceremony is performed by the group’s minister to encourage ghosts to “go to the light.”

“We always get ‘help us,'” says Joyce. “I don’t know why.”

Maybe it has something to do with being…gulp…dead.

“Has this been detrimental to your faith?” I ask.

“It’s strengthened it,” says Joyce. “I don’t worry about death. It’s made me think about my relationship with God and why this work is important to do. I kind of feel like this path opened up for me.”

In addition to the spiritual growth, there’s another benefit ghost-hunting is providing Joyce — material for her novels. She has a whole series planned, including five story ideas.

Not bad.

Hollywood has even come calling. Six members of the group (before Joyce joined) have been featured in a new series pilot on Lifetime called American Murder House.

Maybe I should encourage my late night visitor to audition?

At least he won’t have to worry about ‘breaking a leg.’

Eeks! Late night ghost encounters @EVPMediums #amwriting #ghosts #paranormal #psychic Click To Tweet

Two sisters talk trash, treasure and parties

Sisters and The Salvaged Boutique owners, Kathy Cruz (left) and Karen Studd.

Sisters and The Salvaged Boutique owners, Kathy Cruz (left) and Karen Studd.

There’s some indefinable magic that happens when two siblings decide to go into business together. Take Wilbur and Orville Wright, for instance. They were just brothers working in a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, when they dreamed up the idea for the first airplane. There was no “I” in the equation for these two–they shared the credit for their invention equally.

And what about brothers Walt and Roy Disney who founded Disney Brothers Studio. They complemented one another with Walt, the creative genius, being the front man, and Roy, the shy and quieter brother, managing the finances.

And then there are these two–Kathy Cruz and Karen Studd–owners of The Salvaged Boutique in Lakewood. As children, they watched with fascination as their mom transformed garage sale fare and flea market finds into beautiful pieces that graced their Cleveland home.

“We grew up poor,” Kathy, the younger by two years, told me. “We learned at an early age from our mom how to repurpose furniture.”

I met the sisters when I attended one of their popular wood pallet sign workshops today. They provided the pallets, stencils and paints, and we supplied the artistic talent.

Me and my friend Stacy with our signs. If I look tired that's because I stayed up until 2 a.m. the prior evening making final edits to Mind Waves.

Me and my friend Stacy with our signs. If I look tired, it’s  because I was up until 2 a.m. the prior evening making final edits to my novel, Mind Waves.

Giving old stuff new life
Despite the lack of funds, their mother wanted to make a beautiful space in which her children could grow. “It was important to her we could be proud of where we came from and where we lived,” Karen added.

The girls watched as their mom brought in old pieces of furniture. “We would just look at them and think, oh my God, they’re hideous. But the ultimate result was amazing. Paint and fabric became a thing of beauty. A lot of people don’t have the ability to look at something discarded and envision something different.”

The sisters noted that their friends loved coming to their house and seeing all the restyled pieces. As they grew, the girls began to take an interest in design, decorating their bedrooms and dorm rooms in college.

“Growing up, I never knew that interior design or fashion could even be an option as a career,” said Karen. “I never knew people would pay for decorating. I always figured I would need to major in education or a medical field.”

But pay they would. The sisters soon found there was a market for vintage, restyled home decor.

Two years ago, they opened a small web-based business and eventually an Etsy shop. They began blogging on social media and held shows in their homes or friend’s homes. As the business grew, so did their need for space. “We were using our living rooms, basements and garages to work on pieces,” said Karen. “It was crazy.”

Check out the old-fashioned typewriter, just one of the many treasures visitors will find in the store.

Check out the old-fashioned typewriter, one of the many treasures visitors will find in the store.

A home of their own
That’s when the sisters tracked down their present location, the former Lakewood Home Furnishings. With their purchase price, they also received all of the furniture. “The place was jam-packed. We used some of it, held weekend sales and an online auction, and donated a lot to thrift stores.”

At the same time as they were cleaning the place out, they learned they were accepted as vendors with The Cleveland Flea, a growing monthly event, which features local artists and food vendors.

In October 2015, they opened their doors, and the sisters haven’t looked back since. While I was there finishing up my wood pallet sign, there was a steady stream of customers entering the store and buying one-of-kind-pieces.

I told the sisters about my first paranormal romance novel coming out later this year.

“Karen would like that,” Kathy commented.

“Would you consider hosting a book signing party?” I asked.

“Sure,” they told me. “Let’s talk.”

And we did.

Once I have a book release date, I’ll provide a date and time for the party. In the meantime, check them out at http://www.thesalvagedboutique.com and sign up for a fun workshop, like Coloring and Cocktails–who can resist that?

These sisters sure know how to throw a party!

If it looks fun...it was! Plan to join me at this location later this year for a book signing party. You can check out all the unique finds and learn more about MInd Waves, a paranormal romantic suspense novel set in Lakewood.

If it looks fun…it was! Plan to join me at this location later this year for a book signing party. You can check out all the unique finds and learn more about Mind Waves a paranormal romantic suspense novel set in Lakewood.

Sisters talk trash, treasure and book signing party #amwriting #cleveland #ASMSG #vintage #salvage Click To Tweet

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