About the Author
Amanda Uhl has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was “born” into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master’s degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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?
“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.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a knack for the mysterious–astrology, handwriting, dream interpretation, hypnosis, ghosts, tarot reading, prophecy and so on. I call it my “hidden” talent because I don’t draw on these skills for my day job. But when a friend texted me a link to an article the other day on palm reading, I found myself coming out of my psychic closet.
The article claimed if you have an M on your palm, you would be blessed with wealth among other things. Of course, everyone who read the article was probably checking their palm for the M, wondering why they had yet to receive their windfall.
Some palmists say the letter ‘M’ in the center of the palm indicates wealth.
To those of you who live in America, I have a prediction: You are wealthy–probably wealthier than 99 percent of the world’s population.
Which brings up a good point. How can a sign on your palm possibly measure something like wealth, which is subject to interpretation?
The answer is it can’t. But it can provide an indicator. Let me explain.
Palm Reading 101
For those who might be newbies, here are the basics. There are three major lines on a palm:
Life Line – This line starts above the thumb and runs around its base to the wrist.
Head Line – This line starts with the life line or slightly above the life line and runs horizontal across the hand.
Heart Line – This line starts on the opposite side of the hand as the life and head lines, usually running horizontal above the headline. Sometimes these lines touch or cross; sometimes they don’t.
Then there are other important lines, such as the fate line, which usually runs vertical up the palm, ending under the middle finger or the ring finger and affection (or marriage lines) which run under the little pinkie.
There are also a whole host of other lines, such as the Rings of Saturn, which run around the wrist, or the Girdle of Venus that circle the ring and middle fingers.
And finally, there are special marks, such as crosses and stars that represent a variety of interpretations, depending on the spot in the hand where they appear.
I might also mention each finger represents a different area. For instance the pointer finger is leadership and ambition and the thumb is logic and will power. The shape of the hand and the length of the fingers all have meaning, too. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the hand you use the most (which for most people is the right hand), records events in a person’s life or what others see on the outside. The lesser used hand records the internal impact of those same events.
The point is these elements work together to tell a story. The M interpreted as wealth is actually composed of three lines: the head line, heart line, fate line and life line. (See my crudely drawn picture.) The theory is if each of these lines are strong, chances are you will be wealthy, because you will have a successful career and the mental and emotional capacity to earn a good living or marry well.
There is logic to this palm-reading thing after all.
Now if I can just find the sign indicating I’ll publish my book.
These days, I often wish there were two of me — one to do the dirty dishes and the other to lounge by the pool.
“If only I had more time,” I say. That’s my new mantra. I grumble it as I leave the house to take my daughter to school or stop at the drug store or run to the post office. Usually, I’m dressed in old sweats and flip-flops, no makeup on and my hair looking like a discarded bird’s nest. If I had a clone, I could catch up on some z’s, and I wouldn’t have to leave the house without a shower.
In my fantasy, I send the clone to the day job and spend the afternoon writing my next novel at Starbucks over a chai tea latte. I’m also 30 pounds lighter and I’m eating a cinnamon roll. (Hey, if I’m going to fantasize, I might as well make it good, right?)
Anyway, in case you are wondering, I do know no one can really be in two places at the same time. I have not totally lost it (yet).
But recently, I got to thinking about this. And then I started googling, and the more I learned, the more I began to wonder….
Law of quantum physics
Scientists say it is possible to be in two places at once — if you are a subatomic particle. You see, in the world of quantum physics, which operates on a different principle than our reality, a tiny object is neither a particle, nor a wave. It is in a constant state of flux and therefore, is a bit of both depending on how it is viewed. This means it can be moving or still simultaneously. In other words, it can take two different paths at the same time. (I sound intelligent, don’t I? Thank you, Wikipedia).
Of course this does not apply in our reality — the real world, so to speak. We can’t be in two places at once…can we?
According to many, Padre Pio could do it. This modern day Catholic saint, who died in 1968, was widely known to have the ability to bilocate or be in two places at the same time. Many witnesses have come forward to confirm this claim. Of course, skeptics say Padre Pio was a fraud. He also suffered from the stigmata — the wounds of Jesus Christ — and was accused of using carbolic acid to create the wounds.
And yet…here I go again diving into something I never thought I would ever write about in a blog post — I have had the experience of being in two places at the same time. My mind, not my body. Let me explain.
I am 19 and home from college for the summer. I am getting ready to go to church, a forced commandment in my parent’s home, no matter how disinterested I am at the time. My younger sister is getting ready to go on a date with a new boy. “No fair,” I think. “Why does she get to go on a date, while I’m stuck in church.”
The doorbell rings, interrupting my private pity party, and my sister begs me to get the door so she can continue to prep. I do and am surprised by the boy who is standing there — he’s quite cute — clean-shaven, blond hair and in blue jeans. I’m surprised because my sister’s choices in men are generally more rough around the edges than mine — usually a few tattoos and earrings. This boy looks like someone I might choose.
“Take a seat,” I say, gesturing to a chair in the kitchen. “She’ll be right down.”
I take off back up the stairs so I can finish blow-drying my hair. On the way up, I exchange a few words with my sis.
“Hey, he’s in blue jeans. You’d better change from that fancy dress to something more casual.”
My sister is in panic mode. “We’re going to a movie, and we’re already late. There’s no time,” she tells me, flying down the stairs.”
“Have fun,” I call after her.
And that, readers, is when the magic happened.
Two places at once
You see, I was still blow drying my hair. My mind, however? Well, my mind was curious. It was busy wondering what my sister’s hot date was thinking when he saw how dressed up she was. So, it took off down the stairs after her.
Many hours later, my sister walked through the door, blathering on about her incredible date.
“Do you think he likes me?” she asked.
“Yes, I do,” I told her. “Didn’t you see his face when you came downstairs?”
“No, how did he look?”
“He looked really happy to see you.”
I went on to describe other details. We must have talked for an hour before I arrived at a shocking realization. How could I possibly know what his face looked like or any other details when my sister came downstairs? I hadn’t been downstairs when they left. I had been upstairs blow-drying my hair.
The realization hit both of us at once, and we stared across the bedroom, our startled faces mirroring one another.
“How can that be?” she asked. “I swear I felt your hand on my shoulder as I went downstairs.”
“I know,” I say. “I remember following you downstairs. That’s how I saw what he looked like. I was right behind you.”
“But you weren’t,” she said.
“No, I wasn’t. I never went downstairs. It’s…impossible.”
That night I pondered the mystery. Years later, I am still pondering. My body never left the upstairs. But somehow, my mind did.
Maybe it has something to do with those subatomic particles?
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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“This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.”
Sing with me now.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.”
Great little gospel tune, isn’t it? It was written by composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes around 1920. Most claim it takes its source from the bible when Jesus tells his listeners, “You are the light of the world.”
I heard it often as a child and always thought of it as a metaphor for our spirit or soul — a nice idea or sentiment but not meant for listeners to take literally.
BUT (and there’s always a big BUT when it comes to the paranormal), what if there is a light that shines forth from each of us, unseen by the naked eye, but real, nonetheless? And what if YOU were one of the few that could see it?
That’s the difficulty facing the heroine in my current work in progress, CROSS WAVES. Not only does she see lights around everyone she meets, but each person’s light gives off a different color that helps her make sense of what they are thinking and feeling. And she is so talented at this particular skill, that she can track missing persons by drawing their light to herself. Sound intriguing?
Of course, every good fantasy novel has some basis in reality. In the real world, proponents of the little light call it an “aura,” and they claim that certain gifted individuals can see it. Others say the lights are caused by a medical issue, such as a migraine or neural disorder, and are not magical or mystical.
I would call it all hogwash, accept (gulp, out with it Amanda), I have seen them frequently myself. When I first noticed the strange lights hovering around my teachers and classmates in grade school, I referred to them as my “bad eyes.” I figured I would stop seeing them when I received my first pair of glasses and contacts in high school.
BUT… the lights didn’t stop
Rather, they grew in intensity, and as I got older, I saw them more frequently and in strange venues — conference rooms, restaurants, rock concerts, etc.
To me, the lights appear to correspond to an individual’s energy level, which is why I think I tend to see them around public speakers, who typically are energized. Often, they are colorless or white, but I have seen the lights as blue, green, orange and black.
Is it the shape or construction of my eyes that cause the lights? Do I have a medical problem? Or am I being fanciful in imagining there is something more?
Maybe, it’s a little of each. Whatever the cause, I hope I’m fanciful enough to produce a novel that will keep your interest and stay with you long after the final pages have been turned.
So, let your little light shine. But remember, someone could be watching.
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Mind Waves: 2015 Rudy Bronze Medalist
Charmed By Charlie: 5 Stars, Long and Short Reviews
Mind Waves Publisher
Proud To Be a Local Cleveland Author
Charmed By Charlie Publisher
You can order directly from the publisher.
Mind Waves: Finalist in Paranormal/Sci Fi/Fantasy Category