Monday, April 25, 2016

The Energy of Children

I sometimes find it odd that skeptics will point to science as their bedrock argument against the paranormal. Science has stuff in it that's far stranger than anything paranormal, as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, science believes in the reality of energy, and there is a theory that the energy of children can produce things like poltergeist activity. I've read that the really disturbing physical manifestations that are related to poltergeists are frequently centered around a young child, frequently an adolescent. So maybe this paranormal phenomenon is actually an example of uncontrolled psychic energy.

Some years ago between career shifts -and I've had a lot of those- I spent a little over two years as a special education aide in a K through 5 grade school. I was a one-on-one aide to a girl who was deaf as well as challenged, and I had the opportunity to work in a self-contained special ed classroom. My first year there, we had five children, one lead teacher, and two of us one-on-one aides. That may sound like adult overkill in a room with five kids, but trust me, there were times that three of us weren't enough. Kids are clever and fast

I enjoyed the job: my co-workers were both relaxed, easy-going, and funny women and we did our jobs with a sense of humor. There were times that a sense of humor was the only thing that was going to see us through. Yes, even with only five kids.

But one thing we did notice was a certain amount of  -I guess we can call it energy- in the room. As if there was an overflow of activity, even if all the students were sitting at their desks. The door to the classroom opened on its own pretty frequently. We had things fall off of shelves. Maybe because the kids were super active when not sitting and something became unbalanced enough to fall over the edge of a shelf an hour later? Possible. But it happened a lot. I noticed drafts in the room when the doors and windows were closed. And one of the students saw things no one else did. That was possibly part of her condition. And then again...

I was only in the field for two full school years and two summer school sessions, so I never got to have much conversation with teachers who weren't in the same school I was. But I've always wondered if other special ed teachers, tutors, and aides who might be open to the paranormal concept have experienced the same kinds of things in their classrooms. Maybe even more. I do remember one time the principal of the school dropped into our room to see how things were going and asked if we needed anything. We told him we needed a candle, a Bible, and an exorcist, and I don't know how much we were joking. 

I read somewhere that the ancient Greeks considered mentally handicapped people to have been touched directly by God. I sometimes wonder if people who are challenged in our culture are perfect in another dimension or world that overlaps ours, if perhaps they have a conduit to other realms, as it were. I could see how being between two places could raise problems in ours.

At any event, I finished up my second session of summer school and went on to a job in health care. Last year, though, I actually ran into my one-on-one charge when she was on a shopping trip to Sam's Club with her mother. Her mom remembered me and we had a good conversation. My one-time little student is now an adult in her early thirties. As always, I was taken by surprise by that fact, even though academically I knew she had to be an adult. I don't know if she remembered me, but looking at that face brought back a lot of memories, including how active that classroom was, no matter if the kids were up and doing something or sitting at their desks doing work.

Maybe someday I'll meet some special ed teachers who'd be willing to talk about what went on in their own classrooms. That is, besides teaching special students.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Who Is It This Time?

 Something in my house is trying really hard to get my attention.

I know, I know. I write constantly about the noises and disturbances that turn up when I'm writing. This is nothing new to anyone who knows me or to some people who write the same kinds of things I do. I know others who have mentioned the same kind of thing happening to them when they work. Maybe we ought to form a support group, but that's another story.

At any event, whatever is going on now is remarkably more assertive than the usual footsteps or sounds of furniture shifting that I normally experience when I'm goofing around with my ghost stories. Maybe it's because I'm working on two projects at the same time?

(And there's another thing people who know me well are aware of: I rarely write two things at the same time. I read somewhere that Isaac Asimov used to write at least two different books simultaneously. I don't know if he split his day between the two or had two different typewriters set up so he could move between them, or what. I just remember that upon reading that particular fact, I was totally impressed. I couldn't imagine doing it. And I remember thinking that my brain would explode if I tried.)

On the other hand: I wrote a nice little novel called Ghostwalk (that may make its debut as a Bridgeton Park Cemetery Bonus Book at some point in the future) while I was working on Saving Jake. I also had Missing Persons going on my back burner while I was completing Drawing Vengeance. And to top it all off, I also had to complete my short story "She Loves You" for the anthology Lyrical Darkness over that same stretch of time. So maybe I ought to just realize that yes, there have been times I have worked on two (or, gasp, maybe more) writing projects at the same time. 

I suppose it's like being at school and having homework in different classes simultaneously. Maybe I can look at it like that.

But back to what I'm doing now and what's going on in the house. I am currently struggling with, er, writing Book 4 of Bridgeton Park Cemetery. I have also been invited to write a longish short story (say, 25,000 words) by a good friend for something she's got coming up in June. Needless to say, I accepted the invitation. But more on that at a later date. So right now, I should really be working on two things at once. Because of that, I have ghosts on the brain. (Did I mention I'm also deeply immersed in the books I wrote about buying for research a couple of blog posts ago?) I should be steeped in the supernatural little buggers.

And so the house is now behaving accordingly. It started last week when I was in the bathroom (doesn't it always?) finishing up my morning routine and heard someone walking around in the house. That happened twice, and both times I literally searched my entire house to find all the doors and windows locked and no one there. Of course there was no one there. But over the weekend-and once again in the bathroom in the morning-I heard the TV going and decided that Jim had come home from his workout early. I could hear the background voices chattering away. So I opened the bathroom door to greet him but the noise stopped as abruptly as it had started. Jim wasn't home. The TV wasn't on.

That afternoon while we were indulging in a series we're currently binge-watching, I heard a strange noise from around the corner and down the hall. It sounded to me like a cabinet opening, or maybe closing. It sounded mechanical. I looked at Jim and asked, "Did you hear that?" "Yes," he said, and added, "It sounded like a cough." 

A cough? He heard a cough? That bothered me more than the idea of a cabinet opening or closing although I'm not exactly sure why. No cabinet should have been making noise and no one should have been coughing in our hall when all two of us in the house were in the same room.

Things continue in this vein: footsteps walk past the door when I'm in the bathroom. I've heard the refrigerator door open (a very distinctive sound, with our appliance.) More than that, there's a feeling in the house now. Like someone waiting. I just have no idea what they're waiting for. Oh, and just for the record, while I was typing this sentence, I heard a loud tap from the direction of the kitchen. Clearly someone wants something.

Maybe if I finish my writing projects, it will go away. 

And then, of course, when I start writing the next book something else will arrive...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Time Travel, Physics, Ghosts

I have been keeping an eye on Missing Persons since it launched last week, and was pleased and somewhat puzzled to find that the last time I checked, it ranked #228 in the category "Time Travel." Brief note: #228 might not sound like a very high ranking, but in view of all the millions of books Amazon lists, I'll take it! And so I was pleased.

But the category Time Travel? Really? I am trying to figure out how that happened with this particular book. I guess I could see that label applied more easily to Saving Jake (no spoilers - no additional details included in this post), but Missing Persons? Well. Maybe. If you read it and can find more than a very slight connection, please do write to me and let me know.

But the idea of time travel as it applies to the paranormal made me think of an episode I watched on PBS. I think it was on the Mystery series. But you know, it's been a while so I'm not exactly sure. At any event, this particular story was entitled "Miss Morrison's Ghosts" and was about two somewhat elderly schoolteachers who visited the palace Versailles in France some time in the early twentieth century. While they strolled through the gardens surrounding the palace, they passed a man working around the shrubbery. Since it was the height of summer, this would not be unusual, except that the man was wearing clothing more appropriate to the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, that could be explained as historically correct clothing required of the groundskeepers. Shortly after that, they passed a woman who could have been Marie Antoinette's twin sister sketching within the small gazebo just to the side of the path.

At that point, things grew a little fuzzy, and both women remember being overwhelmed with a feeling of dread, of disaster on the immediate horizon. They looked around themselves and suddenly heard the shouts of what sounded like a group of people -angry people- approaching. Alarmed, the two ladies, hid themselves from the mob that soon swarmed the path. 

I'm not clear on, and maybe they weren't either, exactly what happened next, except that the mob vanished as quickly as they had appeared and the two were again alone on the path in the garden. Both of them felt overwhelmed by what they had just experienced and retired from their visit to Versailles to rest up at their lodgings.

After extensive research, the younger of the two ladies inevitably came to the conclusion that they had somehow stepped back in time to the French Revolution and the moments just before the angry citizenry of Paris stormed Versailles and captured the royal family. Her companion wanted nothing to do with that explanation, and didn't choose to speak of what had happened again. But the woman who decided upon this somewhat extraordinary explanation for their experiences wrote the story down, which is why it was eventually turned into an episode of Mystery.

The point of this story is that it has caused me to sometimes wonder if some of the hauntings people experience aren't related, in some way, to a kind of time travel. Physics, if I remember correctly, has proven that time is relative to the person in a particular moment of that person's awareness. This posits that time is not linear, as most of us conceive of it, but something else. Some years back, there was a teacher at my community college who taught a class titled "Crazy Horse and Einstein Are Cousins." The teacher was Native American, and his intent was to show his students that his Nation did not see time as a linear construct: that is, they did not categorize events as past, present, and future. Instead, everything is happening in the moment. That is why events and injustices that will seem to be so long ago - centuries!- to the western mind, can seem like something that just happened this morning when a person is of another culture and perceives time differently.

Note: I think physics and the paranormal are closing in on each other pretty quickly and it's just a matter of time before all those "silly supernatural things" that can't be proved in a laboratory actually will be. After all, we couldn't prove the existence of molecules and bacteria and supernovas and quarks and other things of that ilk until technology caught up with the concepts. It's just a matter of time and research, I think.

That aside, I have a feeling that people who see some ghosts are actually seeing something from what we call the past. If the people in that past moment could see the witness who is observing their existence, those people might consider our twenty-first century observer to be a ghost herself. If they could all see each other.

I don't think this explains all hauntings, but I have read quite a few stories that involve someone seeing a person, or a scene, or an event, that would make quite a lot of sense if the person who is witness to this type of paranormal scene had accidentally stepped out of his own time for just a moment, and gone to the place where said historical person existed, or when that historical event happened. And there have been numerous stories: the woman at the college in Kansas who walked into a room at the library and found herself staring at another woman in turn-of-the-twentieth century (ie, 1899 to 1902 or thereabouts) apparel standing in front of an unfamiliar bookshelf, replacing a leather-bound volume; or the poor tourist who took the elevator at an historic fort down to the basement in search of the restrooms only to find himself in a Civil War surgery complete with blood covered physicians, wounded soldiers crying out in pain, and the expected sights and sounds of wounded battlefield survivors being treated; or the motorist north of London who somehow ran into the ancient queen Boudica and her horse drawn chariot, armed with her spear and a slew of other weapons; or those travelers who swear up and down that they have seen Lincoln's ghost train with its black bunting and the solitary coffin lying on an open car passing through the station.

Having something in the house that makes noise and moves things around is one thing. I tend to call that thing a ghost. 

But perhaps stumbling upon a person or a scene out of history could be another thing entirely?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Never Say Never

I had thought I would be coming to this post with a ghost story, but I postponed that because I need to talk about something really neat.

Some months ago, I released a sequel to my novel Saving Jake as a download on Smashwords. I like to think people noticed, although I doubt it. I know that I don't tend to peruse that site myself very much. But then something unusual happened.

Saving Jake was published by New Leaf books back in 2002. Good grief, it has been a while! At any event, shortly after that I started a sequel to it because I missed working with Mr. Holdridge and Mr. Corts, and I wasn't working on anything new yet (Haunted had yet to cross my mind). I stopped working on the sequel after getting about a third of the way through it, after making the acquaintance of Cassie Valentine and Michael Penfield. And they became my new friends.

But Jake and Corts were always in my head. They live in the same neighborhood, after all: right around Bridgeton Park Cemetery. So after releasing Drawing Vengeance late last summer, I took out the partially-written sequel and decided to finish it. Now, since Jake is on contract with New Leaf, I know I couldn't release Missing Persons on my own for profit, so I asked my buddy Donnie Light to format it and put it up on Smashwords for me. That happened in November, 2015.

Fast forward to early 2016. I met up with my editor from New Leaf after she had asked me how sales were for Missing Persons. I told her it was a free download at the moment, and that was fine, but we had a dinner meeting and she offered to read it. About two weeks later she told me she had finished it and wanted to publish it as an e-book only since Missing Persons is shorter than a full-length novel.

I was flabbergasted. I had told myself -and probably you, as well- ad nauseum that I would never traditionally publish again, not after launching the Bridgeton Park Cemetery series on Amazon myself. HOWEVER, my editor is a lovely woman and if she is willing to give my little sequel a shot, who am I to say 'no'?

So here is the announcement: going back completely on my proclamation to be an indie author first, last, and always, I want to tell all of you that Missing Persons will soon be available as an Amazon exclusive!!!! I will go on FaceBook and Twitter and my author page at Amazon to announce when it is available, which should be pretty soon. Hopefully, this week, if the planets align. The cover art (see above) is gorgeous as always because Carmen Elliott always does gorgeous work. 

There is a big disclaimer that I do want to add: SPOILER ALERT!!! Please, please, please do not read this story if you have not yet read Saving Jake. To do so would ruin the emotional investment in the first book as well as blunt the last message at the end. So please don't do it.

That said, I hope that those of you who made friends with both Jake and Corts will enjoy reading a follow-up story. I had fun writing it - I hope you have as much fun reading it!