Tag: dreaming

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

Cooking Up a Book Takes Perseverance

Writing a book calls for a recipe of careful planning mixed with blood, sweat and tears. And don’t forget to stir in confidence, persistence and stubbornness.

And just when you start to get excited, thinking you are onto something, someone tells you the batter looks kind of funny. Why is it that weird orange color? There are no oranges in this recipe!

So you mix and stir and mix some more. This time the recipe will be perfect…won’t it?

Fingers crossed
On a wish and a prayer, you pop the doughy mass in the oven (which in this case takes the form of an email to an editor or agent you think might have interest) and then there’s the inevitable wait, wait, wait and wait some more while it bakes.

What will the finished product look like? A lopsided mess? Or will it, perhaps, take shape and form while it’s baking, rising to the perfection you know in your heart it can achieve?

But even if it looks good, what about the taste? What will the critics think?

And then self-doubt moves in. “What do you know?” the little voice says. “You didn’t go to culinary school. Your degree is in marketing. You don’t know how to cook. In fact, you have no business wearing an apron or being in the kitchen! Just because you made one pie years ago, which your mother and father said was delicious, doesn’t qualify you as a chef. And yes, I know your friends and coworkers all rave about your cooking, but they have no professional experience in the kitchen.

What will it be this time?

What will it be this time?

Looking for love
Still you hope and pray someone, anyone will give you a word of encouragement. Just enough to keep you going another week or day or minute. But the words you crave are few and far between because…well..because everyone else is dreaming up their own recipe and waiting for it to come out of the oven like you.

Ding! The oven timer (and believe me, my email ping, indicating an agent, editor or contest coordinator has responded to a submission, sounds just like my oven timer) has rung. What will it be this time? With shaky hands you open the over door and peer inside, pull the pan out and look it over with a critical eye. Looks and smells okay to you. The dough has risen. One taster even remarks on that. But most of the others agree it wasn’t ready to come out of the oven yet. You should have added extra flour or a bit more sugar.

With heavy heart, you tweak the recipe, which takes weeks and months until you don’t want to fiddle with it anymore. Because the more you fiddle, the more you’re afraid you’ll end up ruining the inspiration for it, which got you excited about concocting the darn thing in the first place.

But finally, finally, it’s perfect and ready to go back in the oven.

You wipe a sweaty hand across your brow and with churning stomach and a dollop of courage, reach for the over door again.

This time, you tell yourself. This time’s a real winner. I just know it.

Cooking Up a Book Takes Perseverance Click To Tweet

Into every artist’s life, a little rain must fall

Sometimes, the more I search for writing inspiration, the more difficult it is to find. Having just returned from a week in a lovely Victorian cottage on the shores of Lake Erie, I would expect to be recharged and re-energized with lots of great ideas floating around my mind. Instead, I struggle to put thoughts to keyboard. I have written two full blog posts, fully intending to share them, but neither one, although interesting, seem to have a clear purpose.

Our lovely Victorian cottage for the week at Lakeside Chautauqua.

Our lovely Victorian cottage for the week at Lakeside Chautauqua.

My vacation was sort of like that, too. It rained off and on most of the time. Just when I began to relax and enjoy the day, storm clouds moved in, and I was running for cover. I ran my normal two miles or so twice during the week, and during one of these outings, a black bird attacked me in the park, its claws digging into my scalp as it “defended” its young in a nearby nest. Our grandmother, who has joined us on this trip every year for the past 20 seasons, is sick and in a rehabilitation center. Despite the large number of people surrounding me (my children, husband and extended family) and the happy setting, I had that feeling that sometimes overtakes me in the midst of a party — I should be enjoying myself, but I’m just not feeling it.

I know, I know — chill and have a drink, right?
I would have, too. But the resort where we stay, Lakeside Chautauqua, is a family friendly place and a “dry” community.

My normal outlet for the blues is to read a good book. But since I have been writing, reading is no longer an escape route. I couldn’t help but critique the writer’s style instead of enjoying the story. Or maybe, I just didn’t have the right book.

I did have one bright spot — I met a soon to be self-published author, who was teaching a class at the art center. Although I didn’t take her course, we did have a nice chat about writing and the difficulties of social media. We agreed to like one another’s Facebook page — check out her Facebook page.

If you have read some of my previous posts, then you’ll know that I often get inspiration from my dreams and use these to fuel the stories I write. The dream I had during this week was so clear and disturbing that I am not sure it will ever end up in a story. I am still puzzling over it, but perhaps you dream aficionados out there can shed some light.

I gave up my child
I delivered a baby and gave it up for adoption. When I remembered that I had the baby, I felt terribly guilty and couldn’t understand why I would have agreed to give it up. I told my husband that we needed to see if we could get the child back from its adoptive parents. He didn’t seem to be as impassioned as I, but agreed to let me have my way.

I first talked to a nurse in the hospital who told me that she had seen many cases like this before, and I should be able to get the baby back. The nurse was right. The baby, a little girl, was brought back to me, swaddled in a blanket and delivered by my brother, who handed her over somewhat cavalierly and told me her name was Caroline — my mother’s name, my daughter’s middle name, and my little niece’s name. I told myself that I would have to change the baby’s name since it was already in use in our family. I picked the infant up and tried to nurse her, but it was difficult, since she had been bottle-fed the week we were away and didn’t know how to nurse. She was just beginning to get the hang of it when I awoke.

This dream disturbed me, evoking that sense of responsibility I have as a mother to my children and leaving me with a sense of guilt that I would abandon my child.

So dream experts, what is my self-conscious trying to tell me? I asked my husband what he thought it means, but he just said, “It means you were sleeping.”

Funny guy.

When grandma comes to visit

imageThe year is 1979. I am twelve.

In the backyard of my home, there is a black telephone attached to a pole. It looks like the kind you might find in an old phone booth. It rings nonstop. I look around hopefully, waiting for someone to answer it. No one does.

I think: Maybe, if I wait long enough it might stop ringing?

It does not. Instead the ringing persists, growing louder. After staring at the telephone a moment, I pick it up cautiously.

“Hello,” I say.

“Hi! Tell me about yourself,” an older woman speaks with enthusiasm.

“Who are you?” I ask.

“Never mind that. Just tell me all about yourself. What do you like to do for fun?”

“Who are you?” I say again, feeling stubborn. Why does this lady think I’ll answer her questions if I don’t even know her name.

“Hurry. I don’t have much time. Do you like school? Do you have a boyfriend? I want to know all about you.”

“Listen, lady,” I say,” annoyed. “I’m not answering any of your questions unless you tell me who you are.”

“It’s…it’s….,” she struggles, clearly torn. Eventually, she realizes that she has no other option if she wants to continue the conversation. “It’s grandma,” she finally sputters in my ear.

I stare at the phone dumbfounded. Both my grandmothers have been dead for years. I never knew them.

I hear a click, and the telephone is disconnected. I awaken to the sound of a dial tone in my ear.

When dreams speak
This is obviously a dream, but I can’t shake it. It was nothing like the nightmare I’d had the week before, which featured Bigfoot on a white horse. (It was the late 1970’s, remember. Bigfoot was all the rage:)

Could I have been speaking to the spirit of my long-dead grandmother? And if I was, what did she mean when she told me she didn’t have much time? Why would there be a time limit to our conversation? Wouldn’t a ghost have all the time in the world? And couldn’t she spy on me from the other side to know if I had a boyfriend or not?

So many questions, but for me, the dream remains elusive — staying just out of reach of my logical and enquiring mind. As much as I want to ignore it, I can’t. It disturbs me, forcing me to deal with questions that lack satisfying answers.

Despite all of our scientific advances, little is really known about our dreams. It is believed that most of us dream every night, although many people don’t recall or pay attention to them. That’s a shame because psychologists say that dreams can reveal many aspects of our lives. They can bring to light and offer solutions to our problems. They can help us understand and accept deep emotions — the kind that are so painful to contemplate, we bury them deep within our subconscious.

Maybe, this is why I find myself exploring dreams in the Mind Hackers series. Although the heroines would prefer to ignore them, like the ghost of my grandmother, their dreams haunt them — engaging them in compelling conversations and hinting at clues to mysteries that must be resolved along the way. Clues that cannot be unearthed in any other fashion.

Getting back to grandma
When I recount the strange dream to my parents the next morning at the breakfast table, they find it oddly entertaining.

“Now doesn’t that sound just like your mom,” my mother tells my father, giving him a strange look. She turns to me and adds, “Your grandma was always asking her granddaughters if they had a boyfriend. She loved soap operas and romance. If she were here right now, that’s exactly what she would ask you.”

Their acceptance lends validity to the visit.

Many years pass, and I dream of grandma again. This time, she hands me an antique movie camera and has me peer through the lens to see still photos strung together of other long-dead relatives. She has a message, too.

But that’s a story for another day…nothing like a good cliff hanger, right?

I’d like to think grandma with her love of soap operas would approve.


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