Tag Archives: Author Interview

Author Spotlight: Susan Mac Nicol & GIVEAWAY!!!

What a treat I have for you today! Susan Mac Nicol, author of the charming and skillfully written romance, “Cassandra by Starlight”, is launching her book tour right here!!!  Along with a witty interview, she’s also graciously donated signed e-copies of “Cassandra by Starlight” and “Together in Starlight”  as part of  an exciting giveaway. It’s easy to enter . . . just click HERE or on the following link. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/09fc7f0/

Before we get started, I must encourage you to keep reading after the interview for more information about Susan’s  novel including a great excerpt.  “Cassandra by Starlight” is garnering rave reviews from romance readers everywhere so be sure to check it out!

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Susan . . . how in the world did a horror and thriller fan end up penning such a delightful love story?

And therein lies the tale. I have to tell the truth. Bear with me while I ramble. I had an idea for a story based on something that happened in my home country of Essex when a concrete block was thrown onto a woman’s car while she was travelling on the motorway. I wondered what would happen if this had been a person, and in some strange quirk of fate, two people met who wouldn’t have in the normal cause of events.

I role play in the car when I’m travelling to work. I’ve always done this, since I was kid. Talk to myself like a crazy person, act out stuff. I’ve never wanted to be an actress though. I’m not able to show emotions easily like they have to do.  I used to spend four hours a day travelling to and from work each day for over four years. It’s no secret I needed to do something to amuse myself. I role played this whole story out for weeks, putting on the voices, acting out the scenes (stop shaking your head in sheer disbelief, I swear this is true). Eventually I thought perhaps I might have the makings of a book so I should write it down. So that’s what I did and eight weeks later I had the full Starlight trilogy. Obsessed was a word I think my family used to describe me.

Rumor has it that Bennett, the scrumptious male lead in “Cassandra”, is based on a real person. I don’t suppose you’d share his identity and why he served as inspiration, would you? (I seek “atonement” for my prying questions. )

Swoon. I love any opportunity to talk about my one and only fan crush. I am *coughs* years old and act like a teenage girl. in this regard. My family are still disbelieving of this whole affair. The lovely, delicious British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, (it is his real name, honest)  was the inspiration for Bennett. I watched him in Sherlock and other stage plays like Frankenstein and fell head over heels for the man. His exceptional talent, his on screen presence and just his general being was something I wanted to recreate in a character. I guess I couldn’t have the real thing so I made one of my own.

I was even invited onto a local radio station to talk about this with a fellow Cumber fan, the radio show host, Tracy Cooper. The topic of Benedict and handcuffs in the same sentence definitely got the blood flowing I can tell you…

This tenuous connection has bought me a lot of pleasure, not least in meeting fellow fans who then read my books because of this, but in just being part of a fandom. It’s been a real hoot. I send everything that mentions Benedict to his publicist for the ‘scrapbook’ as I feel it’s only courteous to do so. So this post will be winging its way to her too…  (Deb’s note: Benedict also starred in one of my favorite movies, “Atonement” with James McAvoy and Keira Knightly)

You tackled a hotly debated, controversial topic in “Cassandra” . . . female on male rape. I’ve worked with domestic violence shelters so I understand the public’s misconception about how this could happen. But it does. Have your readers responded negatively or positively to the story line? Did your publisher have concerns?

This was the truly amazing underlying facet of this book. I researched the topic ad nauseum, participated in online forums, read harrowing accounts of survivors and used one of them, an account by a man called James Landrith, as the underlying trauma in my book. Imagine my surprise when I started promoting the book and James himself contacted me to say he had experienced such an event himself. Imagine his surprise when I told him he was the original inspiration for the research. We started a dialogue which continues to this day and he’s featured me on his blogs as well. He’s also read the books, and loved them. The biggest validation for how I’d written the scenes was his assurance that I’d tackled the trauma with compassion and realism and that I think is key.

The reactions I’ve had from people so far have all been positive, I’ve been cited on various anti rape forums and they understand and agree with how I tackled with the subject. My publisher is as always incredibly supportive of this scene and they promote anything to do with it to their readers, as they know the subject has been tastefully handled.

You can read all about the various posts and discussions we’ve done together here and find links to other stories on the topic too

http://www.susanmacnicol.com/category/rape-posts/

The Starlight Series second book, “Together In Starlight”, is a continuation of Bennett and Cassie’s story. What can we expect in book two? Will there be a book three?

Together in Starlight is the second book in the series and yes, there is another called ‘Starlight and Promises.’ The second story takes the couple from London to Tibet, where Bennett is filming his remake of ‘Lost Horizon’. This book very much deals with past events coming back to haunt various characters. Cassie has her own demons to face and their friend, Erica, from the theatre they own, also has a very harrowing experience with someone from her past. Of course Cassie is embroiled in this as well , as she can’t seem to stay out of trouble for long…

But the biggest ‘haunting’ is the one that takes place in the theatre, the Val, in London. Some fairly supernatural events begin to happen, events that have poor Bennett tearing his lovely auburn curls out, and things are never quite what they seem.

“Starlight and Promises’ completes the story of Bennett and Cassie, with more adventures for the couple, and culminates in an event on a tropical island which I hope will make everyone breathe a sigh of sheer delight.

Do you intend to keep writing romances or have you decided to bridge to the “dark side?” What’s on the horizon? I’d love to see a horror based romance from you.

I’m happy to say I might be able to meet that need depending on your definition of ‘horror’! I currently have quite a few books in the works at my publishers and we’re busy figuring out the sequence we need to publish them in.

‘Saving Alexandria’ is a story of a woman trying to fight some pretty nasty demons from her past, and needing to find a saviour to help her make her way through. It’s an S and M themed story, fairly erotic and certainly has its very dark moments.

“Double Alchemy’ is a two book contemporary paranormal romance series about a very dishy and controlling Warlock who has a darker alter ego, and a woman who has to cope with them both. It’s about witchcraft, the Witch Trials in Essex during the 17th century and dealing with malevolent darkness and beings and of course, magyck.

‘Born Human’ is a real diversion from my norm, being a gritty, dark detective thriller with a lot of romance, and a very nasty bisexual serial killer. It tackles a fairly controversial topic and some of the scenes in this book might not be for the faint hearted who expect a true romance. It also starts my foray into writing erotic gay male sex scenes.

And finally, there’s ‘Loving Matthew’, my first concerted effort into the gay male romance genre, a genre I read prolifically and adore. This is the story of Matthew and Shane, two very different men who meet in tragic circumstances (I do like those, don’t I), sparks fly and Shane, loving and nurturing soul that he is, has to find a way to bring Matthew out of his dark, tormented past and fall in love again.

Enough there to make everyone happy, you think?

Is it difficult to balance your “day job” from your writing? When do you find time to burn up the keyboard?

I do resent my day job for taking away my writing time. But it’s an unfortunate evil that pays the bills *chuckle* and I have to do it. I love my day job luckily or else I might have a permanent scowl on my face.

I write during lunch times at work, in the half hour when I get to work early and have time to spare, and sometimes in the half an hour after work before I leave for the day, as I let the traffic die down. Then I come home and write from about seven pm to midnight, one o’clock in the morning. Every day, no cease and desist. Weekends are also spent writing, at least five hours each day. My poor family have got used to me being totally oblivious by now.

And now for the “fantasy” question . . . If you found a magic stone that could transport you to any place, any time in history, where would you go and why?

Ah, that’s easy. I want to go back and catch Jack the Ripper. London 1888. I have a real reason for wanting to do this and in fact, I wrote about this exact wish in a post I did for my publisher back in December. So if you take a look at this, you’ll see exactly where, when and why I want to go back in time…

http://www.boroughspublishinggroup.com/blog/decembers-romance-blog

Wow! Thanks for joining me today, Susan. I’ve had fun and I know my readers have enjoyed learning more about you, as well.

Speaking of readers . . . I promised you more information about “Cassandra By Starlight” and here it is:

Cassandra by StarlightCassandra-by-Starlight-CVR_3_resized

Susan Mac Nicol

Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Boroughs Publishing Group

amazon.com –    http://www.amazon.com/Cassandra-Starlight-Series-ebook/dp/B008XCJ6JI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360074570&sr=8-1&keywords=cassandra+by+starlight

amazon.co.uk –    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cassandra-Starlight-Series-ebook/dp/B008XCJ6JI

Book Summary:

Falling in love makes Cassie Wallace’s everyday and  normal life much more complicated that she’d ever thought it could be.

Being an independent and somewhat unconventional woman, she’d never  intended to fall head over heels for a handsome, charming and younger  man, one who lived a life she’d only ever imagined before on the big  screen.

But Bennett Saville, up and coming star of theatre and film and filthy  rich to boot, was one such man. From the tips of his shiny Armani  loafers to the auburn curls on his head, he turns Cassie’s world  upside down. From their initial tragic meeting to the dangers that  threaten them both as their relationship grows more intense, Cassie  finds herself a willing participant in Bennett’s world. She learns  about a life in show business and living with a man who is constantly  on show to the world – not to mention having to face the fact that  women throw themselves at him with regular abandon.

Cassie embraces the challenges as only she can, in her usual feisty  fashion, lending humour and compassion to their developing  relationship. And when violence and fear comes calling for them both,  it takes the two of them to hold the dangers at bay and face the  events together.

Excerpt:

The day the sky fell changed Cassie Wallace’s world forever. She woke up that morning with the expectation that this day would be like any other. She also had a slight hangover from the abundance of wine she’d drunk the night before to try and get through a blind date organised by her work colleague, Sarah.

The evening had been a total disaster. Not only had the man been an absolute misogynist, one of the cardinal male sins on Cassie’s unwritten list, he’d also had a habit of leering at her chest every time he spoke as if he thought it might talk back to him.

She’d smiled politely whilst thinking she’d like to take his smarmy public school tie and shove it down his throat. When she’d finally left at around eleven, she hadn’t been able to get away fast enough.

She stood in her bedroom, checking her outfit in the mirror and sighed.

Was it too much to ask to find a decent man just to share things with and have a good time? They all seemed to be absolute idiots and in the old but true cliché, only interested in one thing.

Cassie had been out on a few dates in the past few months but somehow she never made it past the first one. A previous date gone wrong had told her she was too independent and perhaps a little bit ‘emotionally challenged, not affectionate enough’ for him.

She’d shrugged this off but it had hurt her deep down especially as she knew it to be true.

My bloody expectations aren’t even that high, she thought in exasperation as she fastened her necklace. It’s not as if I’m such a great bloody catch myself! Middle-aged and not really all that exciting. I’ll take what I can get within reason.

Cassie smoothed her skirt down over her hips and picked up her handbag.

When she left the house at six thirty, it was a typical dark English winter morning. Forty-five minutes later she was sitting in the traffic on the motorway, listening to the news bulletin.

“Bloody idiot,” she mumbled in between bites of a banana that she had hastily grabbed on her way out. “He wouldn’t know a bloody budget if his life depended on it. Silly sod has got no idea how to run a bloody country.”

She crept forward in her Honda Jazz at about two miles an hour, watching the traffic in front which seemed to have ground to a halt for no reason at all.

I really need to try and find something closer to home, she thought, not for the first time. This travelling lark is really starting to piss me off. Four hours a day in traffic is not my idea of time well spent.

Cassie wasn’t sure what other quality pastimes she’d be engaging in if she did have more free time, given her current ‘lack of male’ situation but she supposed she’d find something. Join a book club perhaps, or find more time to get to the gym. She might even start writing that novel she’d always planned on doing.

Her fingers impatiently drummed on the steering wheel in time to a melody on the radio. In response to another bulletin by the newscaster regarding the level of binge drinking in the county, she burst into a further diatribe. “For God’s sake, let the bloody idiots lay where they fall. If they had any brains they wouldn’t let it get that far so they needed an ambulance to take them to A and E. It’s my taxpaying money that’s looking after these morons!”

She glanced at the clock on the display. Seven thirty a.m. She’d be lucky to make it in on time today.

The story of my life, she thought resignedly. Slow death by traffic jam.

The traffic still seemed to show no signs of moving any time soon. She switched off the engine and took out her Kindle. She may as well catch up on her reading whilst she had nothing better to do.

Her concentration span was low as she tried to read. Last night’s ‘date’ kept replaying itself in random snippets of conversation. Cassie could still hear Ron’s supercilious comment about women needing to have a man in their lives to keep them focused on what was important—the man and the provision of all his needs.

She’d almost choked on her wine when she’d heard this and only just stopped herself retorting sarcastically that as a man’s needs were so simple, the only ‘provision’ they really needed was a soft toy shaped like a pair of boobs to play with and talk at. As she had very little money in her purse other than her taxi fare home, she’d stopped herself.

After the hell she’d been through sitting and listening to Ron’s drivel, the least she’d make him do was pay for dinner. Cassie had made a decision after last night. She’d stay home with her own company for the near future, with a bottle of wine and a couple of decent movies. She’d rather drool over a virtual Mark Harmon in NCIS than a real life douche bag like the Ronalds of his world. As for sex—well, that was what vibrators were made for.

It was nearly ten minutes later before the car in front of her re-started its engine and she followed suit and sped up to about twenty miles an hour as the queue took flight. She settled in as it got back up to the more respectable speed of fifty miles an hour.

As she drove she glanced idly up at the foot bridges to see the people strolling with dogs, on bicycles and footing it on their way to work.

At the bridge just ahead she saw a solitary figure leaning over looking down at the motorway below. She slowed down a little. Ever since those incidents a few weeks ago when someone had thrown a concrete bucket off the bridge at a passing car, she tended to be wary of people standing watching the traffic.

The figure didn’t appear to have anything in its hands but then she had only caught a glimpse of it before turning her eyes back to the road. She increased her speed as the traffic flowed easier.

There was no warning, just a sudden deafening bang of metal as the windscreen of her car collapsed inwards. Cassie screamed in terror as glass flew towards her like wafer thin slivers from a frozen icicle. Her hands left the steering wheel in panic, her foot pressing down on the accelerator.

The Honda Jazz went out of control, spinning around like a dirt dervish. Debris from the windscreen flew like lethal missiles around the interior of the car. Cassie cried out in pain as she was subject to a vicious assault by anything lying loose in her vehicle. She tried to cover her face in an instinctive reflex but her left arm seemed unresponsive. The pain horrifying. She whimpered as she glanced down and saw the bone shard sticking out.

In her pain and terror she didn’t notice that the car had stopped spinning. Everything went quiet. Cassie lay slumped in the driver seat, dazed and unresponsive as the shock set in. She could hear the sounds of people shouting and heard someone asking her if she was all right.

She vaguely registered the sound of screeching metal as someone tried to pull the driver door open. It was as if everything was being done underwater. The sounds were muted and her brain was sluggish.

The older man looking in at her from the road was speaking but she couldn’t hear what he was saying. Cassie looked at him blankly. She couldn’t see clearly, as if a can of fine red spray-paint had been aimed at her and the nozzle depressed, coating her eyes. She tried to move her body but the pain in her right leg was excruciating.

She watched dully as the man outside starting pulling away metal struts and twisted the door to get inside to her. She could hear his voice vaguely now, a rough London Cockney accent as he spoke reassuringly whilst trying to free her.

“All right, darling? Just stay calm and I’ll try and get to you. The ambulance is on its way. They’ve told me not to move you so I just want to try get in and keep you company till they arrive. You look as if you could do with a bit of company. Just stay with me now. Don’t go anywhere.”

He smiled at her, trying to keep her reassured. With a final tug at the door, he made enough of a space to squeeze in slightly and he took her right hand, avoiding the bad condition of her left arm with its broken bone. Her hand was freezing and he rubbed it gently.

“There we go. That should feel better. You just stay calm now and we’ll have you back to your old man in no time.” He continued holding her hand, talking to her as she slipped in and out of consciousness.

In one of her lucid periods she raised an unsteady hand to her face to wipe her eyes. The fog cleared a little and she was able to focus, then desperately wished she hadn’t. Lying in front of her, across the bonnet, was a face, pulped and looking as if dark sticky jam had been smeared all over it.

She could see the eyes open, looking at her and she could see the mouth forming words before she screamed and screamed and eventually the fog of blackness claimed her and the face could be seen no more.

Doctor Ian Spencer frowned as he read the patient chart in his hand. He glanced at the patient, an old man in his seventies, matted grey hair curling around his face like tendrils of an octopus, framing a bucolic face of cherry red, his bulbous nose caked with fresh snot.

“Up to your old tricks again, Terry?” the ER doctor asked resignedly. “I thought perhaps last time we had reached an understanding of sorts?”

The old man chuckled hoarsely.

“The drink beckoned again, Doctor, I’ve told you before, cider waits for no man.” He coughed, his body wracked with spasms. The doctor motioned with a hand to the waiting nurse who offered Terry a glass of water. He drank it greedily and lay back in the hospital bed.

Ian Spencer made a notation in his patient’s chart.

“You realise this time, Terry, you’ve really outdone yourself? You had what we call a minor varicose bleed which basically means your insides leaked with blood because they couldn’t do what they were supposed to do. I managed to stabilise you and you’ve been in intensive care for two days. Given the state of your liver you were very lucky not to have it worse. As it is, you’ll need to be here a few more days before I can release you.”

“I’m very grateful to you, Doctor.” Terry leered at the nurse who moved out of the way of his groping left hand. “I can always count on you to put me right.”

“Not always, Terry, not always.” Ian passed the chart to the nurse and continued on his way. He’d  just  completed  his  surgical rounds  and  was  walking  down  the  hospital  corridor  when he heard an ambulance arrive and saw the frenetic activity bursting through the double doors. Heheard the ambulance staff calling out their incoming triage procedures to the attending doctor and watched as a trolley with a woman covered in blood was wheeled into the waiting operating theatre.

One of the staff nurses, Judy, a good friend, hurried past him.

“I don’t believe this one,” she muttered to him. “Some poor woman minding her own business on the motorway and somebody falls on top of her car. We were lucky no one else was hurt as well when she spun around or we’d be running out of space this morning.”

“What about the man who fell?”

“He’s dead, poor bugger.” Judy’s voice was terse as she hurried off.

It was some hours later in passing Ian saw his colleague, fellow trauma surgeon Phil Moodley, come out of the operating theatre where the woman had been wheeled.

“Phil!” Ian hurried to catch up with him. “Wait up.” Phil turned and proffered a tired smile when he saw Ian.

“Ian, how are things? I’m just on my way to catch a few minutes doze. It’s been a long day.” “How did things go in there?” Ian motioned to the OR. “I heard she was hit by a man falling on her car.”

“Yes, it was very bad. The poor woman has a ruptured spleen, a hairline skull fracture, a broken femur and radius, and a wealth of lacerations and internal bruising.” He frowned.

“She also has a small foreign body embedded in her left temple. It’s in an awkward place and fairly deep. I’ve recommended not removing it at this time. I’m not sure it would be prudent. It doesn’t appear itself to be life threatening. She’ll be in intensive care for some time. I need to keep an eye on her for any possible embolism. She’ll probably need some physical therapy afterwards if there are no complications.”

He squinted at Ian with tired eyes. “You seem interested in this one, Ian? Did you know anyone involved?”

Ian shook his head. “I was involved in a similar situation some years ago when I was at Lakeview Hospital and that one—that one I did know. The person that fell though, not the victim.”

Phil nodded his head.

“This woman was very lucky, the young man was not. He was dead at the scene. His relatives are on their way.”

Ian nodded. “Thanks, Phil. You’d best get off and get that sleep, you look all out of it.”

Phil patted Ian’s arm and wandered down towards the staff room. Ian wouldn’t tell Phil the real reason for his interest. It was too personal and no one in the hospital knew anything about his reason for leaving Lakeview three years ago and joining Tilhurst Hospital on the outskirts of Essex.

In 2009, his wife Sandra had jumped off a foot bridge straight into the path of a passing mini-van. To this day he had no idea why. The mini-van driver, a young man called Freddy Clifford, who had just become a father, had died in the incident with Sandy. The feelings of guilt for both Sandy’s and the man’s death (he should’ve known what was going on in his own marriage for God’s sake!) had never left him.

He’d left Lakeview and started again where no one knew his history and no one could feel sympathy for him. He felt he didn’t deserve it. He was sure a psychiatrist would have some insight to offer on his reaction but he had never engaged with one, preferring as he did to manage it himself.

Ian made his way over to the nurses’ station outside intensive care. He saw Nurse Angie, a bubbly young woman with bleached blonde hair and a Carry On set of breasts, sitting behind the desk. She smiled as she saw him approach.

There were more than a couple of nurses who’d tried to form a relationship with him but none of them had been successful so far.

“Doctor. What can I do for you?”

“The woman that Dr. Patel has just operated on—can you tell me a little bit about her? How’s she doing?”

Angie consulted her notes.

“Let me see. Hmm, she’s in a private ICU room, so she must have great insurance. Room 310. Cassie Wallace, forty-seven years old, divorced. Her sister is coming in to see her. She’s on her way from Kent.”

She looked at Ian enquiringly. “Has Dr. Patel asked you to keep an eye on her?”

Ian shook his head. “No, just curious about how she’s doing. It just seems so tragic, minding your own business then POW! You find yourself in this situation. Thanks for the info, Angie.”

Ian made his way towards Room 310. He couldn’t say why he was so interested in this woman, only that he felt he had to find out more about her.

He clothed himself up with a mask and gloves and nodded at the ICU nurses as he walked through the main ward to the private ones at the back. The hum of machines and the absolute quiet in the ward was strangely restful. Ian reached Room 310, opened the door and slipped in.

Cassie Wallace lay on her back, surrounded by soft light from the equipment. The constant beep of the life support machines and monitoring equipment comforted Ian. This unit was dedicated to keeping people alive with the best care the hospital could provide. Cassie Wallace was in good hands.

Cassie had her left arm in a splint, her fingers cold and pale like soft, limp white gloves. Her right leg with its broken femur rested on the bed covers. Ian guessed she had pins and rods inside keeping it together.

Her face was battered and bruised from the accident. He could see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Her pale strawberry blonde hair was spread across the pillow like soft gold straw, with a large bald patch on the left side where Dr Patel had shaved her skull.

Even through the cuts and bruises, Ian could see she was a very attractive woman. Not just pretty or beautiful, but with a look of her own that even under current circumstances made her look younger than her forty-seven years. She reminded him very much of a curvier Michelle Pfeiffer. A noise at the door made him turn. Judy stood there, looking surprised to see him.

“Ian? What are you doing in here?” she whispered.

“I was just checking up on her. I know I’m not her doctor but I really wanted to see how she was doing.”

“It’s all right, Ian.” Judy patted him on the arm. “She can do with all the help she can get. I need to check her vital signs now. Do you want to stick around?”

“No Judes, I’ll let you get on with your job. Thanks.” Ian left the nurse with her patient and made his way back towards the main reception.

SueAbout The Author:

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when  she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives  in Essex. Her debut novel ‘Cassandra by Starlight’, the first in a  trilogy, has recently been published by Boroughs Group Publishing in  the US.

Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would  see herself being a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological  thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something  very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.

Susan’s Social Links

Website: http://www.susanmacnicol.com/
Blog: http://susanmacnicol.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanMacNicol7
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susiemax77
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/susiemax777/

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A Zombie Tale…and Interview

Zombies are the next big thing, much like vampires and werewolves prior to Twilight. It’s almost a cult phenomenon and one that has definitely motivated writers to pen some intriguing tales. James Lacey is one. His new release, Perseverance – A Zombie Tale, is unique, edge of the seat and already boasts a strong following. 

MEET THE AUTHOR: James Lacey

I’m happy to welcome James Lacey, a most extraordinary author, compassionate paraprofessional, and outdoor enthusiast. That’s a lot of hats to wear and let me tell you, James wears them all well.

Tell us a little bit about your recent release, “Perseverance, A Zombie Tale” and why you decided to write about Zombies.

I always liked zombies as the background material for the larger story. The story here is the hero trying to keep his love, Ashley, alive in incredible circumstance. All the great zombie movies and stories I have seen and read do the same thing, use them as the backdrop to the big picture. And, let’s be honest, zombies are naturally scary and fun to write.

Your hero in “Perseverance” is a low key teacher forced to live outside his comfort zone to survive. Did you plan his personal metamorphosis into a reluctant leader as the internal conflict or did it just evolve during your writing?

It definitely evolved as I went. The original work was a short story that ended just as the hero receives the phone messages in the first chapter. Then the people who read it kept asking what happened next, so I had to sort of make it up as I went along. I think you can see that when you read the book, because the change happens so gradually that you don’t realize the character at the end is so completely different from the character at the beginning. Our hero wouldn’t even recognize himself if he saw what he would be transforming into.

Where do you find the seeds of inspiration that eventually sprout roots and become a book?

The original inspiration came from just an idea that popped in my head about how an individual in a situation would survive. After that it came from the support of my family and friends who read what I was producing and kept encouraging me to continue.

You’re a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast. Did you use your experiences as a hiker and camper to add reality to the struggle for survival, and if so, how?

There’s definitely some of that in the book, sure. You learn when you go hiking and camping enough how to travel light and make it a few days on the bare minimum of supplies. And you learn quickly how to improvise when something happens out in the woods. Cell phones usually don’t work in the places I go hiking and camping, so it’s important to know what you’re doing.

And now I just have to ask….why did you keep your hero nameless? Was there special significance in that? (I love first person writing and thought it was a clever ploy to keep the hero without a “brand” identity.)

I was wondering if I would ever get this question and I’m glad you are the first, lol. I kept the hero nameless because I never really knew who the hero was. He changes so much in the book that a name would feel like an anchor of sorts. And I think that worked really well. The funny part is that because the hero is nameless, some of the people who read the book and know me have a tendency to think that the hero is supposed to be me, and they couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t even really like dogs (no offense to Alice, but I’m a cat guy).

In addition to writing an exciting and vivid tale of a Zombie invasion, you are also a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. When do you find the time to write? Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”? In other words, do you just sit down and let the story evolve or do you plot it with an outline?

I’m taking Master’s courses in Applied Behavior Analysis, too, lol. But I find the time to write no matter what because I love doing it. Most of the time I’m a “pantser,” and I just write whatever it feels right to write about. But I have a few long-term projects planned, and those I have to actually plot out. Sometimes it might be a few weeks until I have time to work on them, so I need to keep track of what I’m doing. Oh and it really helps being single. Lots of time. lol

What else are you working on?

Right now a few more video projects to promote Perseverance are in the works. I’ve also been putting up some bonus content for the book, kind of like DVD extras. They’re all on the website. And I’ve sat down and put some serious thought into a sequel, even drafted out a few scenes.

Last question, James, and completely off topic.
If you found a magic stone that allowed you to travel back in time to any era, any location, where would you go and why?

I wouldn’t go that far back. March 30, 2012, about 9am. I’d walk into the gas station, buy a coffee, and play the lottery. Mega Ball. Numbers 46, 23, 38, 4, 2 and the Mega Ball 23. Then having been a part of the largest jackpot in U.S. history I would be able to free up a lot of my time to write more 😉

(this answer was provided before the mega jackpot for Powerball…LOL)

Now that you’ve seen the clever and creative side of James Lacey, let me shed more light on “Perseverance”. First, I’ll share an excerpt but keep reading because at the end is a fun video parody called “It’s a Zombie, Baby”. LOVE IT!!!

EXCERPT:

It is close at hand…

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:

let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: 
for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness,

as the morning spread upon the mountains:
 a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.


A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:

the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; 
yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Joel 2:1-3

When it happened I was excited – at first. I was a fan of the movies, the books, the games…all of it. So when those first reports came on the television and hit the net I was probably the most excited person on the planet. I mean, you always wonder “what if” when you see it in films, but then to have it actually happen, it really gets you going. That is, until they’re banging on your front door. Or the door of someone you really, truly care about. Someone you love.

That is when the excitement fades to fear. The fear can turn to horror. But right before that there is a brief moment where human instinct takes over and you choose to either fight or run. You don’t think, you just act. That is how I’m still alive. And it is probably why she is dead.

My story is not a happy one. It is not about heroics or unity or the fight to persevere. It is the story of survival. The only thing a person could really do during the crisis. It is the story of trying to protect someone you love and failing. It is a story of love, friendship and ultimately death. I’m not holding back. I am going to tell you everything. For some, this story will be harder to read then it was to write. For others, it won’t. Either way, this is my story. This is my account of the zombie apocalypse.

I was trying to be reassuring and bring my students back to the mood they were in before we stopped to eat, which not many were doing. But I knew there was something big going on.

I could hear the words “bioterrorism,” “widespread” and “thousands dead.” I could hear people talking about countries all over the world. CNN had this gorgeous new anchor,

Rebecca Mailey and I had a sort of boyhood crush on her. I was 29 and still entitled to fantasize about celebrities. So when she was the one who sent a chill down my spine, I thought it was sort of ironic and could not help but laugh. I’ll never forget the colorless look on her face when she uttered, “We are now getting scattered reports of incidents here in the United States.”

I never finished booting up my laptop. My instincts told me to get everyone out of the rest area and back on the bus. It was a quiet on the way home. I told everyone to call their parents and let them know that they were okay and would be home soon. As we boarded the bus two police cruisers went speeding in the opposite direction, sirens blaring. It was unnerving, given what we just heard. The rest of the ride home was dead quiet.

“It’s happening everywhere.”

“What is?”

“This…thing. People are dying. Riots happening everywhere. They said that there are drugs in the water supply that makes you want to hurt others. Then they said it wasn’t drugs, but a massive psychological event caused by a solar flare or something. Another guy said it’s been happening for a few weeks, but until now the government had it bottled up. And then…”

“Keith.” I had to stop him. The talking heads on TV had him all turned around.

“Yeah?”

“Take a breath. Clearly they don’t really know what is happening. So the question remains. Now, what do you know for sure? What do they know for certain? Think simple, Keith.”

“I don’t know. People are killing each other, I guess. They haven’t really said why or how, just that it’s happening.”

That part bothered me. If it were a terrorist event, then someone would be taking credit by now. If it were a disaster, then they would know the cause. Not knowing information…that is when I became hooked. That is when it became…interesting.

I looked up at the clock on the microwave. It was almost 10 AM. I really slept in late. I went and checked my cell phone. Seven missed calls? I realized then that I still had the phone on silent from the tournament. One call from Keith’s mom. Two from my parents? That was odd. Four from Ashley. Damn…I had promised to go over early this morning. She’s probably pissed right now. I went back into the bedroom and turned the TV on as I checked my voicemail.

“Hi, it’s Keith’s Mom. Sorry I’m home so late. Thanks for watching him.”

All over the country people are fighting against…

“It’s mom. Calling to see if you’re okay. Call me back.”

Military response is beginning to organize…

“I need you! Now! Please hurry! Call me back!”

We have confirmed video reports of…

“Why aren’t you answering?! Oh good…I hope…call me back…”

Rising from the dead and attacking…

“They’re outside! Help me! I need you! I need to hear your voice!”

It’s A Zombie, Baby    Video

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
When not writing, James Lacey lives in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

He works with adults and children as a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. James also enjoys hiking, camping and watching
football.

http://www.jameslacey.net/

http://www.twitter.com/JLaceyWrites

 

 

Perseverance: A Zombie Tale
James Lacey

Publisher: 23 House Publishing
Pages: 324

Genre: Horror

Book Description

It didn’t happen the way it was
supposed to…

I am a teacher. At least, I was before it all happened, before I was forced to survive. I taught social studies at the high school. I was
also the coach of the school’s successful debate team. It was a cold Saturday in January when I heard the first rumor of trouble…

You know, pop culture had defined the zombie apocalypse time and time again, all coming from the minds of horror writers, film producers, and video game designers. Who knew that when it really happened, it wouldn’t be anything like they all predicted. Oh sure, the dead reanimated, and they were certainly hungry for living flesh…but what were the mysterious red-eyes, zombies that moved faster than their stumbling counterparts and seemed to not only communicate, but to exert some kind of
control over the others.

Barnes and Noble Amazon

“James Lacey takes the classic zombie story that we all know and love, and then
twists it off into the new directions and unexplored territory. Perseverance is fresh,
exciting, and edge-of-the-seat spell-binding.”

– Samantha Murphy, 13 Nights of Blood: Legends of the Vampire

Halloween Event – Meet the Author: Vera Jane Cook

What better person for today’s Halloween interview than Vera Jane Cook, author of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem? Jane, as she is more commonly known, is an award winning writer of women’s fiction. Her recent foray into the paranormal genre has produced an intriguing tale that spans time and space. A love story steeped in suspense and demonic manipulation. A story you won’t want to miss!

Jane, you have an impressive back list of general and women’s fiction. What made you decide to delve into the paranormal with a story about witches and demons?

Actually, I never had a plan to write this book, I woke up with the narrative on my tongue and wrote down what had come to me and the story evolved from that point. I loved the aspect of time travel, to move through so many centuries, also to get philosophical about death and evil. Paranormal characters are larger than life and it amused me no end to be writing without having to think about reality, to know that my characters could move to another century to escape danger. The characters could go anywhere and what they are confronted with is larger than life. That was fun.

Have you experienced paranormal activity? If not, how did you research those aspects for Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem?

When I was younger I think I did experience the sensation of being contacted from the other side. Now that I’m older it doesn’t happen anymore. I also remember levitating a friend of mine when I was about twelve or so. I haven’t tried that one since. I do believe there is more to life than meets the eye and writing about Annabel Horton gave me an opportunity to explore that.

I‘m sure your background in acting, education, and writing provided a wealth of interesting anecdotes. What has been your most enjoyable and fulfilling position to date, disregarding the element of financial compensation.

If I could get away with it I would be a full time writer. I don’t like to work for money in terms of having to do something so I can survive. I am bored with most things except writing. I do like my day job but the end result is about making money and how much can I make, etc. When I write the only end result I have is to write a good book.

You’ve mentioned your childhood on the Upper West and Upper East Side of Manhattan. What was it like being raised by a Southern mother in New York? Did that experiences flavor your stories?

It absolutely flavored my stories. My mother was a great story teller and her colorful life is almost part of every book I write in one way or another. I think what I take from her most is humor and her southern roots. I have written three southern novels so far.

Your love of professional theater has produced an impressive portfolio of credits. Which did you enjoy most, acting on stage and film – or building your own world on paper? And why?

I am really an introvert and don’t really like working nights or traveling but I did enjoy being an actress very much. I think living in my own head is more satisfying for me than living in someone else’s.

What new works are you planning for the future? Will there be more paranormal or will you be writing in a different genre?

Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem is book One of a trilogy. I’m not sure when they will be completed but they are titled Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau and Annabel Horton and the Demon of Loudun.

You’ve mentioned that your love of reading started early in childhood. Name three authors and a specific title that influenced your life.

There were and are so many, Hot Shot was the first paperback novel I ever read, soon followed by A Stone for Danny Fisher, Wuthering Heights, Atlas Shrugged, Lolita and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ve read so many books and love so many authors.

And now for a fun question…..If you found a magic stone that could take you back in history to any era, where would you go and why?

I would go to the year 1850 and I would be a wealthy man, a man ahead of my time. But, alas, I would be entitled, opinionated and prone to cigars, women and whisky.

Book Description:

From the Salem Witch trials through the Nineteenth Century and beyond, Annabel Horton is pursued by the devil’s disciple, Urban Grandier, the demonic priest from the incident at Loudon. She must take the bodies of those that the devil favors to protect her family. She must uncover the motive behind the illusive Ursula/Louis Bossidan, the scandalous cross-dresser who is pursuing her beautiful granddaughter, and she must learn, being one of God’s most powerful witches, how to use her power. But will it be enough to save her husband from Urbain’s fiery inferno? Will it be enough to save her children from demons greater than themselves? Read on, you will learn more…..

Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem
By Vera Jane Cook

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
Publisher: Musa

ISBN: 978-1-61937-024-1
ASIN: B006PIYOXA

Number of pages: 367
Word Count: 130,000

Cover Artist: Lisa Dovichi

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/QXtnd8wMeTM

Amazon    Barnes And Noble

EXCERPT:

PART I – DOMINION

Chapter One

Some say I am a stain on your history, a nameless statistic―a grotesque misfortune that is alluded to in your textbooks. I cannot disagree. Allow me to introduce myself as I am. Patience Annabel Horton is my given name, though I refer to myself as Annabel, never much caring to claim a virtue I do not possess. I am in spirit form for the most part, though it was not always so.

It was in the year 1692, in the village of Salem, in the state of Massachusetts, that I swung by my neck. Many of us died there, such needless, senseless tragedies.

There was evil in Salem Village in 1692, but it was not in the soul of any of those women they hanged. Poor Goodwife Nurse, now she was the saddest of the lot to be taken to the tree. No more of a witch than poor Bridget Bishop. No one was safe from the devil’s fire; certainly I was not, not with my detachment, my disinterest in the other girls of my village and their silly games. You see, I knew I had powers, and it kept me apart, but I told no one my secrets. Of course, I only tell you now because it no longer matters.

But I am not here to condemn anyone for my suffering. So do not be alarmed. As you may or may not know, men who believed they were doing God’s work chastised many of Salem’s citizens as witches and brought us to trial. Many, like myself, were hanged. I was eighteen years old.

I will tell you what really happened in Salem Village before the century turned. You never learned the truth of it. Your history books do not contain the truth, but I will open the veil of time for you.

* * * *

Before my death, one year to be exact, a presence came to me.

“Who goes there?” I called in the dark. The form was like mist. The answer was like wind.

“Leave me, ghost,” I whispered coarsely.

The wind became a breeze and caressed my lips. I knew I had been kissed and I shuddered.

“Who are you?” I asked softly. The form appeared to be that of a man.

“Yours,” I thought I heard him say.

“You hold me in your arms, and yet I cannot see you.” I looked around the room. I felt his movement. Once again, he came so close.

The wind was like a dance as it lifted the hair from my brow. The air around my body felt so light and sensual. I seemed touched by a gentleness. It caused my heart to pound.

“Show yourself,” I commanded.

He circled the room, a tall gray mist. I was sure his hair was black, his eyes as dark as evening.

After that, I waited for him every night, and almost every night he came to me. It was not long before I fell in love with this spirit, as helplessly in love as any restless young woman can be.

These ghostly visits continued right up until my physical death. I always knew when he was near because the air would become faint with the scent of fresh rain and I would feel drugged with the fragrance that lingered in my room.

“You smell like late afternoons in summer, after a rainfall,” I told him, but he did not answer. He spoke to me so seldom. It was quite by chance that I heard his whisper.

“Matthew,” he said.

“Matthew is your name?” I asked.

I listened so carefully as the shutters moved and some papers on my bureau fluttered like wings.

“Matthew?” I asked again. “Oh, please speak more. Tell me where you come from?”

My illusive shadow was silent.

“Matthew. Matthew, speak to me! Show me your face. Let me see the hand that strokes me.”

Suddenly, the wind returned. “I am so far,” he uttered.

“Surely you must be a spirit from another time,” I said.

Miraculously, the papers on my bureau flew around and around again, as if chasing each other in a playful game of tag.

I knew he could not reach me, could not fully pass beyond the barriers between us. Yet I felt him like an artist must feel his subject.

“You are tall,” I said. “Your shirt has cuffs of white and I have images of your smile. Does time part us, Matthew? Are the centuries between us too vast?”

I saw a shadowy light. It shone before me and revealed a man of great height, but in a split second the light was gone, the image within, too oblique to recall.

* * * *

Soon after his first visit, I received letters. They appeared out of nowhere. I would find them all over the house, always beginning: To my wife.

“What’s this?” I stammered as I held the letters in my hand.

Know that I love you and I’ll come to protect you. He had written.

His notes were always signed with the letter M, for his first name.

“Matthew,” I whispered. “How is it that you can leave notes about the house and yet not show me your face?”

But my ghost was silent and could not find a way to answer me.

“Why do you sign only with the letter M? I asked. “Is Matthew really your name?”

Silence remained, as still as the night wind beyond my window.

I began to think that I had truly gone insane. Oftentimes, I doubted the presence of my ghost and I questioned Father about the mysterious letters. For surely, I thought, the sun must be too hot and had affected my brain.

“Father, I have received notes of affection. Do you know who sends them?”

Father laughed. “A neighbor’s boy must surely be culprit to the bow of Cupid, daughter.”

Ha! I knew better. No neighbor’s boy in Salem would dare call me his wife. I frightened the boys of my village. They thought me haughty and illusive. Oh, there was a young man from Andover with the courage to court me, and I might have married him if not for my fascination with my ghostly lover, but I never got that chance.

It must be you who writes me. Mustn’t it be so, Matthew?

If only I had known then that it would be centuries before I would see the face of my beloved. But in 1692, I could only cherish his words, so I made myself a wooden box and covered his letters with a beautiful purple cloth. I placed all the letters inside. I then covered the box with a square piece of coarse fabric and hid it under the tallest elm tree by Frost Fish Brook. Many afternoons that year I read the letters in the shadow of the branches. The writer’s hand was full of lovely twists and loops, and the ink was black.

Had I not of died so soon I might have lived my life with my ghostly lover and never come to know him as a man of flesh. I would have assumed that some lost spirit had written the letters and had found a way to leave them inside the house. But, that innocence was not to be, and it was not fate that made it so.

It was Urbain, Urbain Grandier, and the power given him.

About the Author

Vera Jane Cook, writer of Award Winning Women’s Fiction, is the author of The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Lies a River Deep, Dancing Backward in Paradise and Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem.

Jane, as she is known to family and friends, was born in New York City and grew up amid the eccentricity of her southern and glamorous mother on the Upper West and Upper East Side of Manhattan. An only child, Jane turned to reading novels at an early age and was deeply influenced by an eclectic group of authors. Some of her favorite authors today are Nelson DeMille, Calib Carr, Wally Lamb, Anne Rice, Sue Monk Kidd, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Her favorite novels are too long to list but include The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wuthering Heights, Look at Me, Dogs of Babel, The Bluest Eye, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Body Surfing, Lolita, The Brothers Karamazov, She’s Come Undone, Tale of Two Cities, etc., etc., etc.,

Dancing Backward In Paradise, Jane’s first published novel received rave reviews from Midwest book review and Armchair Interviews. It also won the Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and the Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater received five stars from ForeWord Clarion Reviews. The Story of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem is her first paranormal novel and will be followed by Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau and Annabel Horton and the Demon of Loudun.

The author works by day for an education publishing company as an account manager and lives on the Upper West side of Manhattan with her long term partner, her Basenji/Chihuahua mix, Roxie, her Chihuahua, Peanut and her two pussy cats, Sassy and Sweetie Pie.

http://www.verajanecook/blog

http://www.facebook.com/vera.j.cook

http://www.twitter.com/verajanecook

“Impossible Realities” – A Book for Curious Minds

My mother used to say, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I was a curious child and an even more inquisitive adult – so reading “Impossible Realities” was like the best sugar high I’ve ever experienced because there was no crash. Only the anticipation one feels prior to embarking on a journey filled with possibility.

“Impossible Realities” is a compilation of scientific data, anecdotes and the personal experiences of Maureen Caudill, who spent fifteen years researching artificial intelligence and neural networks. If that sounds very “techie”, let me assure you, this book is written in a style everyone can understand. It’s a fascinating and eye-opening study of the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. If you are a skeptic, you’ll find the research substantial enough to reconsider your views. If you are a believer, you’ll rejoice in the validation. And if you’re a student, you’ll find a wealth of information from which to learn and study.

Maureen has compiled a thought provoking blend of information to support the existence of eight areas of psychic/paranormal activity: psychokinesis, remote viewing, energy healing, telepathy, animal telepathy, precognition, afterlife and reincarnation. I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hogwash!” And that’s fine. Diversity of thought and action is what makes our world more interesting. However, I challenge you to read this book with an open mind and consider the possibility that these powers might exist.

The introduction tells a simple story about a village who believes swans are always white. And because no one had ever seen a swan of another color, a theory was born that all swans are white. The villagers accepted this as law. It was taught in their schools and never questioned until one day a little girl asked her teacher. “What if they’re NOT all white?” The teacher was shocked. How could this little girl be so impudent as to challenge what everyone knew to be the truth? She was duly punished. But years later, long after the little girl had reached adulthood, she was near a pond and heard a loud honking. Parting the reeds, she peered across the water and saw a black swan. The villagers would not believe her  but it didn’t matter. She knew in her heart the theory that all swans were white was wrong. She’d seen it with her own eyes.

The moral of the fable is this:  it only takes one person’s confirmation to prove the theory incorrect.

There are a lot of people who choose to believe psychic phenomena is a hoax, fake, an impossibility. Maureen admits to being one of those doubters at one point. But when scientific research, as well as her own experiences, proved certain theories wrong, like psychokinesis, she began to look at psychic and paranormal activity differently. “Impossible Realities” takes the reader on a journey into another realm where the impossible is possible…and then offers the proof.

I’ll be honest, I am so fascinated by this book I’m now on my second reading. I think you’ll feel the same. And to “prove” it, I’ve included an excerpt after my interview with the talented and mesmerizing, Maureen Caudill.

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Maureen Caudill

I can’t begin to express my enthusiasm for today’s featured author and her recently published non-fiction work, “Impossible Realities”. It’s a subject I find fascinating . . . the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. A former Defense Department contractor on artificial intelligence, Maureen Caudill offers evidence to support a wide range of paranormal phenomena.

Maureen, you’ve spent over 15 years as a researcher in artificial intelligence and neural networks. Just citing your experience might intimidate many readers yet you’ve written a book that’s easy for a lay person to understand. Have you always been interested in psychic and paranormal activity or did it evolve through your research?

I’ve always tried to have an open mind about everything, and let the data determine what “truth” was—something that’s not particularly common in certain types of questions. However, what really sparked me was something that happened to me 10 or so years ago. After a lifetime of having absolutely nothing psychic in the way of personal experiences, I took a week-long retreat and found myself doing things that I would have labeled as absolutely impossible.  The problem is, if you explain those events to someone else, there is always skepticism—it could have been faked or hoaxed, etc. etc. But when it happens to you and you know there was no hoaxing involved…well, it’s really difficult to discount these events as being fakes.

Because of those experiences, described in my previous book SUDDENLY PSYCHIC:A Skeptic’s Journey, and the ones I’ve had over the years since then, I now believe strongly that psychic skills are natural human skills that everyone has to one degree or another, just as everyone has some degree of musical talent.  We’re not all concert pianists, but pretty much everyone can hum a tune or pick out “Chopsticks” on a piano. And with practice and training, we can all become reasonably good at whatever psychic skills we have the most natural talent for.

We don’t yet have a solid theory for how these skills work, but to throw out the evidence for lack of a theory is the very opposite of “scientific.”

I especially like the fact you side step sensationalism in favor of a logical, “normal” approach to a series of topics many view with a skeptic’s mind, such as psychokinesis, remote viewing, energy healing, precognition, telepathy, reincarnation and NDE / afterlife. Which of these do you find the most interesting, and why?

The ones I find most intriguing—and puzzling—are generally the ones involving time.  There is no question that psychic skills somehow operate outside time. For example, a remote viewer can as easily view the past or the future as the present. (Though getting numbers is really hard for some reason, so remote viewing winning lottery tickets is very challenging!) We don’t understand that. But I think the one thing that’s very clear is that we don’t really understand what time is. It’s also possible that time really is what the old joke said: It’s something we all made up and pretend to believe in so everything doesn’t happen at once. The more I explore these realms, the more I begin to believe that everything really does happen at once.

In your opinion, why do some people experience “gifts and abilities” that others do not?

Mostly, I believe, it’s because people are culturally trained to suppress our psychic skills. There’s a reason reincarnation is mostly reported in Eastern cultures—it’s a perfectly accepted part of their culture and religion. When I was writing the reincarnation chapter, however, I looked for stories that were not from that part of the world—and I found them. There’s a great story of a NY cop—a Catholic (and Catholics are not known for their belief in reincarnation as far as I’m aware)—who not only reincarnated in his own grandson, he predicted before his death that he would do so.

As I mentioned, I believe anyone can be psychic if they are willing to open their minds and try. I occasionally do workshops where one of the most popular things is a segment teaching people about spoon-bending. I don’t stand up there and bend a bunch of spoons (or forks; I like forks better for reasons I explain in the book). Instead I pass out good quality cutlery and talk the group through the process and have everyone bend their own darned forks!  Watching me do it would leave lots of questions about how I faked it. When you do it yourself, you know it wasn’t a fake.

And you know what? In my experience, in a big group (several hundred people) I get about 85-90% success rate when I ask folks to hold up their twisted forks. In a small group, where I can give a little extra guidance to anyone who needs a little boost, I get virtually 100% success. It’s very rare in that case for someone to fail.

Everyone can change the crystalline structure of stainless steel just by working with their minds. Everyone.  Isn’t that amazing?

What are your views on multiple levels of reality?

Good question. Short answer: they’re very real. Heck, I’m on alternate realities a lot of the time. I’ve gone to find those who are dead and don’t know it to help them move on to a higher place. I’ve communicated with the dead and with spirit beings who were never physically incarnated. I’ve visited realms that are so amazing there are no words to describe them.

And if I can do all this, you can too. If there’s one message I want people to take away from this, it’s that these abilities are available to everyone. You don’t have to be born “special” or suffer a near death experience, or spend time in a coma. You can learn to do these things. Heck, if my left-brained, highly logical, scientific self can learn to do this stuff, anyone can.  I’m really serious about that. All it takes is a mind open enough to let yourself try.

None of my personal experiences can (or should) convince anyone of anything. That’s why I went looking for more scientific proof. But again…if you’ve done it yourself, you know whether you faked it.  You know it’s true, whatever anyone else says. So I’d like people to go out and have their own experiences. Don’t rely on other people’s—go have your own.

You’ve taught over a thousand people to spoon-bend in workshops, including an on-air episode with George Noory, host of Coast to Coast AM. What is a basic exercise someone can do to harness their Chi energy?

With a nod to my good friend Robert Bruce (an Australian mystic), here’s a simple way to feel yourself raising your chi energy:

  • Start when you’re relaxed and there are no distractions (cell phone off, TV off, no radio, no one else around talking to you—though if several friends want to do this together that’s good). If you have pets, let them into the room as long as they’re reasonably well behaved. If you have young kids, either lock them out of the room, or do this when they’re asleep. (Pets enjoy the energy and will participate with you—probably ending up on your lap; young children often don’t have the attention span yet to keep quiet and calm, so it’s pets in/kids out.)
  • Sit in a comfortable chair, preferably with your feet propped up. Do not lie down. Ideally have arms on your chair that you can prop your elbow on. Or rest your arm on a pillow.
  • Make sure you’re wearing something comfortable—nothing tight or constricting. Frankly, a comfy pair of jammies is perfect, but at least loosen belts, take off shoes, etc.
  • Pick one hand and prop it comfortably with your palm up. (I’m going to say right hand, but it doesn’t matter which you use.) Your fingers should be relaxed and slightly curled. Don’t tense up. Just relax and focus on your hand.
  • With the fingertips of your other (left in this example) hand, lightly brush your right hand from base of palm to fingertip. Brush back and forth, forth and back. Focus on what that sensation feels like. Concentrate on remembering that sensation.
  • When you’ve done that for a few moments, take away your left hand and see if you can recreate in your mind the sensations of that brushing movement in your right hand.  Can you?  If not, brush again for a few moments.
  • Keep doing that until you can recreate the sensation just with your mind. What does it feel like? You should experience anything from itching, slight tingling, prickly sensation, even a slight burning sense.  People experience it differently so your sensations may vary a little. But your hand should feel energized in some way. It may not be 100% comfortable, but it shouldn’t actually hurt.
  • Once you can do this with one hand, switch sides and do the same with the other hand.
  • When you can do it with each hand, see if you can recreate it in both hands at the same time.

With a little practice (very little actually) you’ll find you don’t have to do the brushing at all. You can remember exactly what that sensation is, and you can recreate it at will just by thinking about it.

What this does is activate all the minor chakras in your hands and fingers, which is one part of your body that has an enormous number of these minor energy centers. Activating your chakras is the first step in learning to really manipulate chi and use it to do stuff like, well, spoon-bending!

Want more?  Do the equivalent of the same thing with your feet. Since it’s awkward to do the brushing thing half-bent over, get one of those cat toys with a feather on a stick and use that to brush the bottom of your feet (barefoot!) from toes to heels. If your feet are heavily callused, do the top of your foot instead. Again, focus on the sensation of what it feels like and recreate that sensation in your mind.  Your feet actually have even more minor chakras than your hands.

There are many references to the power of thought manifestation by great philosophers throughout history. In more recent years, it’s been called the power of positive thinking and law of attraction, popularized by the cult movie, The Secret. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Manifestation is an interesting subject. It’s certainly true that we do control our own reality to a certain degree, but the thing is, most of us try to manifest something like money. I believe that’s not necessarily going to happen. First, we have a life goal or a life experience that we’ve planned to go through in this lifetime. (Remember that there is good evidence that everyone has literally tens of thousands of lifetimes—this is not a one-shot experience—and that being in “Earth school” means embracing all aspects of Earth experience, good and bad, rich and poor, healthy and sick over those many lifetimes.)

If you try to manifest something that is contradictory to that life experience, your own higher self will stop it. For example, if you chose to have a life experience in this lifetime where you have a debilitating disease, it might not be possible to manifest a cure unless you’ve already learned the lesson intended from that disease.

It’s not that you’re not able to manifest something, so much as it is that you’re trying to manifest something that is not for your own higher good. That will generally fail.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some truly miraculous things happen that are not necessarily explicable by anything except manifestation. One of the tricks is not to focus on a specific “how”—that is, don’t say you want something to happen only one way. You don’t have enough perspective to necessarily know what is really best for you spiritually—and remember, at the spiritual level where manifestation happens, it’s not about “stuff” like money or a new car. It’s about making yourself a better spiritual being.

So if you want a job where you don’t hate your boss and earn more money, it’s important not to ask for a specific new job. Instead focus on making your work experience pleasant, productive, and sufficiently rewarding to give you an ample living.  That could happen a lot of ways, and the one that manifests is likely to be completely unexpected.

When I need mental stimulation or look for a way to relax, I pick up a good book like “Impossible Realities”. What do you do to de-stress and find your Zen moment? Or is your mind always “on”?

I love to read too; I always have. But really, meditation is my go-to device. I find it’s the best way to de-stress. It’s way better in altered states. Sometimes it’s deeply profound and moving. Sometimes it’s just plain funny.

Did I mention I have this spiritual guide who, for reasons best known to himself (itself?), occasionally pops into my meditations in costume? Such as the time I was in this deep, peaceful wonderful meditation and he suddenly appeared dressed as a giant chicken—think Big Bird as a chicken but with sort of glowing blobby feet because his spirit form has no legs!  Why a chicken, you ask?  I have no clue. But it killed that deep, wonderful meditation because I broke out laughing.

A friend of mine once asked me if I was bothered by the fact that my spiritual guides all seem to come from the Stand-Up-Comics-R-Us store.  Huh.

And now, just for fun . . . if you found a magic stone that could transport you to any time and place in history, where would you go and why?

I can only go into the past??  I’d want to go into the future, maybe by 1000 years. I’d like to see if humanity can dig ourselves out of the mess we’ve made of the planet, or if we’ve drowned in our own mistakes. That would be fascinating to know, don’t you think?

I think this century is a tipping point for our species. We’re either going to fail big time and disappear as a dominant species, or we’re going to overcome all our problems and surge forward in a big way. I wonder which way we’ll go?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maureen Caudill spent more than twenty years as a computer scientist, fifteen of those as a researcher in artificial intelligence and neural networks. She was a program manager and Artificial Intelligence researcher working on such advanced projects as DARPA (“High Performance Knowledge Base” program) and ARDA (“Advanced Question Answering for Intelligence” program).

Website: http://www.maureencaudill.com/index.htm

Blog: http://scienceofpsychicphenomena.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaureenCaudillAuthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/63686.Maureen_Caudill

Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena

By Maureen Caudill
Genre: Non-Fiction/New Age/Paranormal

Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-57174-663-4

Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 66,377

Cover Artist: Jim Warner

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Book Description:

Impossible Realities is the first book to examine the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. A former Defense Department expert on artificial intelligence, Maureen Caudhill provides evidence for a wide range of paranormal phenomena.

Impossible Realities presents a wealth of anecdotal and empirical evidence to prove the existence (and power) of:

  • psychokinesis (most famously spoon bending
  • remote viewing
  • energy healing
  • telepathy, animal telepathy
  • precognition
  • survival after death
  • reincarnation

Caudill presents the strongest case yet for bringing paranormal phenomena from the margins into the realm of the normal and credible. This is a book both for true believers and skeptics alike.

EXCERPT

The First Black Swan: Psychokinesis

I have a bowl in my house that is filled with the remains of various pieces of cutlery that are not exactly usable. These are forks and spoons and an occasional knife that used to be good-quality stainless steel cutlery, but which now are just . . . strange. Every so often I give a workshop for people who want to learn how to access their psychic selves. The format varies some, depending on the time available. Yet, no matter how long the workshop—a day, a weekend, or a week—the one skill people always want me to teach them is spoon-bending.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure why spoon-bending is so popular. It’s really a bit of a party trick rather than anything profound. But maybe it’s just that a warped fork is tangible evidence that they have done something unusual. When you go home with a fork that is bent and twisted into strange shapes, you have absolute proof that you did something extraordinary.

Spoon-bending is definitely a skill that has fallen on hard times. It had been extremely popular in the 1970s as celebrated psychic Uri Geller rose to fame as a spoon-bender extraordinaire, until in 1973, he was caught cheating on national television, on the Tonight Show. He was declared a fraud. He was pilloried by all and virtually drummed out of the United States.

Now to be fair, Geller did cheat. Everyone agrees on that, even him. What is often not heard is why he cheated. According to his side of the story, he was blindsided by that request, not expecting to be forced into demonstrating his skills in that particular venue. Furthermore (again from his perspective) he was exhausted, stressed, and simply not in the right frame of mind to be doing anything psychic, yet he felt hounded to perform on television. Still young and desperate not to look bad by refusing, he resorted to cheating.

Do I believe this story? Well . . . perhaps. Knowing what I know about doing any psychic function, Geller’s story is credible, at least in the basics. Psychic functions, like all other human talents, are not perfect all the time. No one—no one—can perform at their peak at any hour, day or night, or continuously, or on demand under stressful circumstances. That applies just as much to a top athlete, an exceptional musician, or a terrific student. Human beings simply aren’t perfect. And the public pressure to be perfect—particularly in any psychic field where people are simply waiting for you to fail—is overwhelming. A young man (he was only twenty-seven at the time of that infamous Tonight Show debacle) who had grown accustomed to acclaim might easily be tempted to mix stage magic with psychic skills. So . . . I think the verdict is “unproven” in this case, no matter whether you’re trying to prove Geller’s abilities or his lack of them.

It is also true that after that episode, a number of scientific studies conducted in Europe under extremely rigorous conditions validated his innate ability to manipulate matter with his mind. Here in the United States, however, his reputation seems forever tainted by that Unfortunate Incident.

A decade ago, however, I would have laughed to scorn anyone who defended the “fraud” Geller. Why my change of heart? Because I can spoon-bend. And I’ve taught close to a thousand other people to do it, too. I now understand that not only is spoon-bending possible, but also most anyone can learn to do it—and pretty easily, too. I’ve taught people to do it in small workshops, and in huge ones with hundreds of people. And in one memorable interview on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, he asked if I was willing to try to teach people to spoonbend over the radio. I said I’d never tried that before, but I’d give it a shot. As it turned out, it was hugely successful, with one listener even calling in to say he had no cutlery handy, so he’d bent a large screwdriver instead!

A few years ago I was attending a workshop given by my good friend Robert Bruce. He is a renowned Australian mystic, whose work in energy and out-of-body experiences is some of the most effective in the world—and he’s an incredibly charming and funny man in person. At any event, on the second or third day of this five-day program, I asked him if he ever used his energy exercises to teach people to spoon-bend. He told me he’d never done it himself, so he didn’t teach it. Was I willing to show the group how to do that?

That night I went to the local KMart and bought enough good-quality cutlery for the smallish group to learn spoonbending. When the time came the next day, I handed out forks (I strongly prefer to teach people using forks rather than spoons for reasons I’ll explain later), and proceeded to use Robert’s energy exercises to get people to bend their forks. As I have come to expect, everyone in the class succeeded brilliantly, and within fifteen or twenty minutes, we had a whole menagerie of twisted cutlery sculptures.

The next morning, one of the women in the workshop came in and said she had to tell us what happened the night before. It turns out that this lady was dining with friends at quite a nice local restaurant. During the dinner, the talk turned to politics, a subject she was passionate about. She got a little, um, enthusiastic while talking with one of her friends. She was making her point rather forcefully and wagging her fork at the person she was speaking to, as you might wag your finger at someone. And

. . . the fork drooped and melted in her hands.

She was so embarrassed!

She hurriedly pulled the fork out of sight onto her lap and, hiding her actions with the tablecloth, tried to put it back into its original form. She never did get it quite right, of course . . . the specific curves and angles of cutlery are difficult to replicate by hand, particularly under cover of a tablecloth when you’re upset!

So the lesson from this is: If you must spoon-bend when you’re dining out, spoon-bend responsibly.5

The bottom-line conclusion I have drawn about spoon-bending is that it is one of the absolute easiest psychic skills to learn, at least at the elementary level I teach it. (Far from television worthy,

I might add!) And why do I prefer to teach people to bend forks rather than spoons? Because forks are a little bit harder. With a spoon, about the only thing a beginner can do is to twist the spoon at the neck, where the bowl meets the handle.6 That’s far too easy to do, even in fairly sturdy cutlery. But if you’ve ever taken a good-quality stainless steel fork and tried to bend just one tine with your fingertips, you know that it’s all but impossible to do. I ask people to try to bend their forks with their fingers before we start the spoon-bending process, just to make sure they’re convinced they can’t do it. Only then do I start guiding them in how to spoon-bend.

The basic process is one of running energy through the fork to soften it. I teach people some simple exercises on manipulating chi energy; then I get them to run that energy through the fork for a few minutes, concentrating on setting their intentions that the fork soften and bend.7 As they do that for a while—as little as a minute or two, or as much as five or six minutes, depending on how good they are at running energy and holding their concentration on what they’re doing—the fork really does soften. At that point, they can bend, twist, warp, and distort it however they like—including twisting individual tines. When they have it twisted it into the configuration they like, they put the fork down and don’t touch it for three or four minutes. When they pick it up after that break, the fork has “set” in that new shape and is as hard and stiff as it was before. If they want to change the shape again, they have to start the process from scratch.

It’s true that my success rate is not quite 100 percent. I find  that two kinds of people have trouble learning to spoon-bend. One set is people who are themselves quite low in chi, or life energy. This is usually people who are elderly or who have a serious illness. They barely have enough chi to keep themselves going, let alone some left over for softening stainless steel.

The other type is someone who is convinced that it cannot work. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve taught a lot of skeptics to spoon-bend, to their astonishment. The very first time I tried to teach spoon-bending, the group included a PhD physicist and a PhD anthropologist, each of whom individually assured me that spoon-bending was a total fake, all because of the flap over Uri Geller’s Tonight Show debacle. Yet, they were willing to humor me and give it a try. They took less than five minutes to become amazing successes. The physicist in particular had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), so he had very poor strength in his hands, yet he succeeded at bending his fork.

I also remember one workshop in which there was a participant who was a professional magician. At the break before we started the spoon-bending exercise, he came up to me and assured me that it was all a fake8 and that he knew at least a dozen different ways to fake spoon-bending. I listened to him as he listed them all; then I assured him he wouldn’t have to use any of those fakes in the workshop—he could do it for real. He was skeptical but had an open mind and was willing to give it a try. Twenty minutes later, he came up to me, showing a wildly twisted fork and jubilantly said, “I did it! I don’t have to fake it anymore! I can really do it!”

The type of skeptical person who fails is the one who is so convinced that it can’t be done that she refuses to actually try— or subconsciously refuses to allow herself to try. I ran into one of those in a workshop with a number of scientists. While claiming to have an open mind, when it came to the spoon-bending part, one in particular simply could not get her fork to bend. I tried everything I could think of to help her, short of bending it myself: running extra energy through it with her, helping her focus and concentrate, and so on. Nothing worked. I could see she appeared to be trying to bend it but . . . nothing. Finally, I actually touched her fork . . . and it was so soft it was practically like squishy butter! Clearly, she’d made it so soft and malleable that a small child should have been able to bend it—yet when I again encouraged her to try to bend it, she still claimed she couldn’t, that it was too stiff. It seemed to me that her fingers were working against each other, something like doing an isometric exercise, where a lot of effort is expended yet nothing actually moves. My guess is that she has never been able to bend a spoon and likely never will.

As with any psychic (or physical) skill, you can convince yourself you are incapable of doing it. Yet, the truth is, as best I can tell from my totally unscientific observations of hundreds and hundreds of people, most people, possibly almost all people, can do spoon-bending. It’s easy to learn, easy to do, and when you do it yourself—as opposed to watching someone do it on the stage— you know for a fact that it’s not a fake.

And that’s exactly why I teach this particular little party trick so often in workshops. When I teach people about chi energy, it all sounds airy-fairy and nonsensical to anyone with a scientific mindset—it certainly did to me when I first heard about it. Even when I show people that they can literally feel the energy moving around their bodies, they often have the same reaction I initially had, that it’s all imagination and none of it is anything more than self-delusion. Yet, when I teach people to take that same “imaginary” energy, run it through a fork for a few minutes, and then feel solid stainless steel soften enough to become soft and malleable in their hands, suddenly what was nonsensical and imaginary becomes very, very real.

So perhaps that’s the real reason for the popularity of spoonbending. If you learn to do even one thing that conventional science deems wildly impossible, you begin to believe that other things are possible, too.

Spoon-bending is of course only one of many manifestations of psychokinesis. People have been known to have a wide variety of psychokinetic skills, including

• lighting light bulbs in their hands,

• sprouting seeds by holding them in the palm of the hand,

• moving objects without touching them,

• changing how dice roll or roulette wheels spin to force a specific result,9 and

• influencing random events (such as with a random number generator) to force a specific trend in results over many, many trials.

Again, these are only examples of skills that have been studied. While my experience has been primarily spoon-bending, I did once try sprouting seeds in the palm of my hand. It was, well, not exactly either a success or a failure. Here’s what happened.

I was preparing for a new workshop I planned, and I wondered if I could manage to teach people how to sprout seeds in their palms—in spite of the fact I’d never done it myself, nor even seen anyone else attempt to do it. Someone had mentioned to me that it was possible to do it, so I figured I’d give it a try. If I could manage the trick, I’d think about adding it to the workshop.

I got some vegetable seeds from my local nursery and gave them a little soak in water for about an hour. This particular type of seed was supposed to have a seven- to ten-day sprouting time once planted. After that brief soak, I sat down in my favorite meditation chair, put about three seeds in the palm of my hand, and started doing the same energy process that I use for spoonbending. (I have no idea if this is how people who know how to sprout seeds do this—it’s simply the process that I tried.) I was very careful to hold my hand steady by propping it on a pillow so I wouldn’t accidentally tip it. I cupped my other hand over the one holding the seeds and started running energy between my palms. After a few moments, I felt something very odd—a flash of heat and light combined with a shock, a bit like an electric shock. Startled, I uncovered my palm holding the seeds to see if they had sprouted. They hadn’t.

Instead, they’d disappeared.

So much for my seed-sprouting abilities. I never did add seedsprouting to my workshops. Probably that’s just as well, don’t you think?

A couple of points about this aborted seed-sprouting effort are important. One thing is that when you’re working with these energies, you sometimes get results that are not what you intend. Was I trying to make the seeds disappear? Not at all. It never occurred to me to even try to do that. Nonetheless, that’s what I accomplished. Particularly in a case like this where I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, never even having seen someone else do it, it was likely a little foolhardy on my part to attempt seedsprouting. Maybe someday I’ll get someone to show me how to do it correctly.

Another key point to remember is that the energies you work with when doing psychic work are significant. These are not toys or games. I cannot emphasize that enough. Working with life energy and altered states of consciousness is serious business. These energies are powerful and they can do things to you and to other people that are not so pleasant. Fooling around with psychic skills is highly risky unless you learn how to do it under the guidance of a competent, caring, and highly ethical instructor. It is especially risky when you lack the discipline and maturity to use these skills wisely instead of arrogantly. While not quite as dangerous as handing a four-year-old a loaded pistol to play with, the impact of careless, irresponsible “play” in these arenas can have serious consequences.

On second thought, maybe playing around irresponsibly with psychic skills is more dangerous than handing a four-year old a loaded pistol.10

If psychokinesis is impossible, what are we to make of other reports by researchers in which some amazing effects are noted? For example, Dong Shen reports on a Chinese experiment in which solid matter (a piece of paper) apparently passed through other solid matter (a capped plastic canister)—and did so instantaneously— or at least so quickly that no one observing the scene saw it happen.

Shen described a program in which Chinese volunteers are trained to see a “third eye” screen behind their foreheads by entering a trained state of “second consciousness.” When in this state, they can visualize an object being other than where it is— and the object relocates to a new location. Here’s how it works.

A capped black plastic canister, such as that holding 35mm film, is used to hold a piece of paper. The paper, prepared in secret, has something written on it, unknown to everyone except the preparer. The preparer also folds it in a personally unique way and places it in the plastic canister where the cap seals the paper inside. An independent observer monitors the preparation of the paper and the canister but cannot see what is written on the paper.

In the experiment Shen witnessed, the main participant was a seventeen-year-old with only a middle-school education but who had received approximately six months of training in accessing this second consciousness state. Once the canister was ready, the participant sat in a chair one meter (a little over three feet) away from a table. The canister was placed on the table. The two researchers plus five observing guests sat also between one and three meters (between three and ten feet) away from the table. No words were spoken during the experiment.

For about forty minutes, the participant focused his attention on the plastic canister. Neither he nor anyone else moved from their chairs. No one was close enough to the container to reach it. Other than staring at the container and occasionally looking up at the ceiling, the participant did not move.

After forty minutes, the participant announced that the paper was no longer in the container. It instead had moved about six meters away (nearly twenty feet) to the far wall of the room. The participant also announced that what was written on it was “830,” in blue ink.

An observer checked that location and retrieved the paper. The person who prepared the paper verified his own handwriting, the content of the message, and that the paper was still folded in the idiosyncratic way he had folded it at the beginning of the experiment.

There it was, just as the participant had announced: 8-3-0, in blue ink.

There are many curious features about this experiment. First, the participant had no demonstrable psychic skills until undergoing the Chinese training program. Thus, whatever skills he possessed at the time of the experiment were learned skills. Second, although there were at least seven witnesses, all watching attentively, no one saw the paper move out of the cylinder and across the room. Furthermore, the paper, even folded as it was, was far too small and light to be able to be thrown for that distance (nearly twenty feet).

Shen describes the subject’s efforts:

During the experiment he concentrated on the black cartridge container and got it deep in his consciousness while entering into the SCS [second consciousness state]. Then an image of the container appeared on the third-eye screen located in front of his forehead. He saw the image of the paper in the same way. At the very beginning, the paper image was not stable and not clear. After he focused on the image for a while, it became stable and clear on the screen. The number on the paper could then be easily read, that is 830 written in blue, even though the paper was folded inside the capped container. When the image of the paper was clear on the screen, he started to use his mind to move the paper out of the container. At a certain point he “saw” in his mind that the container was empty and saw in the room that the paper was on the floor near the wall.12

It’s easy to dismiss reports like this. They’re clearly idiosyncratic to this subject. The researchers make no claims that everyone can achieve effects like this. And yet, cultural biases should not lead us to ignore reputable reports, even if they’re not conducted in western European or American institutions. The Shen report discusses the prime candidates for training in psychic skills as being children between the ages of eight and twelve (prepubescent) or young adults between fifteen and twenty-two years who have limited education—in other words, people who don’t know that they’re doing something that isn’t supposed to be possible.

Is it the case that we educate our children out of a whole range of abilities by informing them that they can’t do them? Does the Western mindset force psychic phenomena underground?

What Is a Meta-Analysis?

Often, a single study doesn’t generate convincing results, particularly

when the size of the study is small. Generally, the most trusted form of

evidence for or against an effect is not a single study but an analysis of

all studies that have been done on that effect. Doing a meta-analysis

is tricky, however, because studies are typically done by different

researchers, using different protocols, with different degrees of care

in study design.

The primary reasons researchers do meta-analyses are because

they are more general than any one specific study. In addition, metastudies

can determine if any type of publication bias is occurring.

They also tend to demonstrate if an effect is specific to one particular

researcher or one specific study protocol or if it extends to

multiple researchers and protocols. This process also increases the

total number of participants or trials—and in statistics, more data

means more significant data. If you flip a coin five times, it’s not all

that unusual to get five heads in a row—it happens about 3 percent

of the time. But if you flip a coin fifty times, the odds of getting

fifty consecutive heads (or fifty consecutive tails) are about 1 in 1

quadrillion (specifically, 1 chance out of 1,125,899,906,842,620). In

other words, if you flipped fifty coins every second, it would take you

well over thirty-five million years before you flipped fifty consecutive

heads or fifty consecutive tails.

There are many ways that meta-analyses can go wrong. First, the

analysis is only valid if it includes all studies published on a particular

subject (or at least all studies in which necessary analysis information

is included in the study report). How individual studies are encoded

and selected for inclusion in a meta-analysis is a subjective process. A

meta-analysis can be considered trustworthy only if it explicitly defines

the criteria for selection and the methodology of encoding the studies in

advance and explicates those criteria and methodologies in its report.

All this is well and good, but what is the scientific evidence that these are not just amusing and interesting anecdotes? Does science in any way support the reality of these experiences?

As it happens, it does.

CONTEST and Author Interview – Meet PM Richter

Next on my list of October’s Hallowed Authors – Pam Richter, author of four edgy thrillers, The Necromancer, Midnight Reflections, The Living Image, and Deadly Memories. To sweeten the blog pot, Pam is awarding a complete SET of all four books to TWO of my lucky readers. Wow, four books….free….and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post! I’ll draw names on Sunday. Don’t be selfish, share the info with your friends. If they win, maybe they’ll let you borrow one. 🙂

Read on to see what lurks in this talented writer’s mind!

The Necromancer is steeped in witchcraft and wickedly good suspense. How do you make your characters so multi-faceted and intriguing? Does your Psychology degree help with character development?

Actually, the characters seem to take on their own personality.  Sometimes one of them will just insist on doing what they want.  I let them!  This makes plotting more difficult, and I find it easier to list questions for myself so I don’t let any loose threads go.  Recently in my newest book, I had just finished the novel and I looked over my questions. One of my minor characters who was injured did not have any resolution.  Did he live or die?  I had to go back and it only took a few sentences to settle his fate.  You can bet the readers would have been asking questions if I didn’t fix this though.  I take plotting very seriously.  I want the whole arc in my book, beginning, middle and I pretty much insist on a happy ending.  Readers don’t want to be let down and depressed.  They learn to love our characters if we writers do our job. We are actually entertainers who take the reader out of their world for a little while into an alternate reality.  It should be fun and suspenseful.

Yes, a degree in psychology is very helpful in character development.  When I wrote about the psychological aftermath of rape on my main character, Michelle, in The Necromancer, the way the violation influenced her behavior because of sub-conscious fear was a real problem for her. The fear generalized to all men so she was uncomfortable in social situations.  She couldn’t stand the thought of a man touching her ever again.  When she finds out the real reason for her fear, and that her panic was justified, her whole outlook is changed.  The flight-or-flight burst of adrenalin which happened to her when alone with a man ended.  She could love and live a normal life again.

Some readers were distraught over the rape scene in the third chapter, but it was written in the third person, as a flashback, and the reader knows Michelle survives.  It was necessary for her character.  Personally, I think what I wrote about her subsequent reaction is the best I’ve ever seen in fiction, even if I did write it.  My degree in Psychology was important here to make it realistic.

I enjoy the paranormal and sci-fi elements in your books which takes them to another level.  What made you decide to write thrillers?

Oh gosh, I don’t think I decided to write thrillers.  I loved paranormal books by authors like King, Koontz, Konrath, and I wanted to write a big book in their tradition.  For The Necromancer I added witches, an animal familiar named Lucifer, (after the orange striped cat in Alice in Wonderland) a professor of the occult, and of course a woman in jeopardy, Michelle, and her best friend Heather.   The Necromancer is Omar, who stalks Michelle, and then there’s our hero, Rob Nakamura.  A classic clash between good and evil; it’s for mature audiences.

I’m an identical twin, so I wondered what would happen if a person found someone who looked exactly like them.  That started The Living Image.  It evolved into a thriller just because a lot of people wanted to possess the woman who had been changed by a scientist, and the two women have to evade them.

You live in southern California but hail from Sacramento. (Lived there myself for some years and loved it.) Do you incorporate settings from places you’ve lived and visited or do you research new locations based on the plot?

I lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for a few years, so I took that location for The Necromancer.  Still, I did a lot of research on Hawaii and some of the other islands so I could add fun tidbits about the traditional culture.  I love to learn things when I’m reading so I added these things for the reader.  In another book one of my characters was French, and I had a wedding in the novel on the French Riviera, so I had to do a lot of research on France.

The location of a book I’m doing now is on a cruise ship visiting Puerto Rico.  I have a character lost in the Rain Forest there.  I found out there are tree frogs that screech all night long.  She has a horrible night in that jungle.  It was fun doing the research because I saw a YouTube video and heard the actual noise.  Those frogs are loud!

Like many authors, you’ve had an interesting employment background. Do you use those experiences as inspiration for your stories? Where does your ideas come from?

In The Necromancer, Michelle is a property manager in Hawaii.  I did that same kind of work in Santa Monica.  I had a review on the book by a person who said one incident in the book couldn’t have happened.  But it did–in an office building I managed.  There was a burst pipe that flooded a whole floor of offices.  The water went down through the floor, through a smoke detector, and set off the building’s fire alarm.  I thought there was a flood and a fire in the building simultaneously.  Talk about being in a panic!  The whole building, all 22 floors, had to be evacuated.  I put this incident in The Necromancer.  I’ve never thought about doing a story about teaching ballroom dancing, one of my former jobs, but you’ve got me thinking….

Name three books/authors that you found memorable and tell us why.

It, by Stephen King.  One of my favorite books he’s written because his characters seem so real.  I like big books with big themes.  He has the children who eventually become adults and solve a haunting mystery that started in their town when they were young.

The Mill River Recluse, by Darcie Chan. This is simply great.

The Entire and the Rose, by Kate Kenyon.  This is a Science Fiction series of four novels.  It’s very complex, intriguing, mysterious and wonderful.  She makes the other worlds seem so real, and the reader is catapulted into different realms.

May I add another series?  Wool, by Hugh Howey.  This is Science Fiction, wonderfully done.

What is something that scares YOU most?

Bugs–insects.  I don’t mind them when I’m gardening.  But when they’re in my house, forget it.  I panic, wave my arms, act crazy.  I start off The Necromancer when Michelle sees a Big Bug on the wall.

One of my friends said, “I don’t know why I even started The Necromancer.  It has big bugs, a rape scene, and it’s scary–nothing I like.  But it’s my favorite book this year.”

If you had a magic rock that could take you back in time to any era, where you visit . . . and why?

First choice:  Atlantis.  The legendary island first mentioned by Plato.

If Atlantis doesn’t really exist in history, hum….  The big cities of long ago are enticing.  London, Paris, Rome.  The problem is they are beautiful to see, but while visiting I think of the lack of sanitary conditions, poverty, starvation.

About the Author

PM Richter is an author living in West Hollywood California. She has a degree in Psychology, from Northridge State University. She has worked as a property manager for Nansay, Corp. a multi-national corporation, been a dance teacher for Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire Dance Studios. She has five novels available on Amazon Kindle.

The Living Image

The Necromancer

Midnight Reflections

Trifecta

Deadly Memories

Website:  http://anauthorsplace.weebly.com/index.html

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pam.richter.391

Twitter: @pmraven

The Necromancer

P.M. Richter

Genre:  Paranormal

ISBN-13: 978-1478349501

ISBN-10: 1478349506

ASIN: B004AYDGVM

Number of pages:  346

Word Count:   121,705

Amazon Kindle       Amazon Print       Barnes and Noble

Book Description:

She picked the worst guy to have an affair with! –  Evil stalks in Hawaii

Michelle was brutally attacked in her locked hotel room in Las Vegas. The police didn’t believe her and thought she must have lured a man up to her hotel room for a little sexual adventure, which went dangerously out of control.

Michelle sustained visible scars from the terrifying and almost lethal attack, but pure fear motivated the move from her home in California to Hawaii. She’s scared her attacker will come back. She’s sure the next time he’ll kill her. Now she has a successful career and she figures abstinence is an acceptable, if lonely, way to live.

Michelle decides that an affair with a wickedly handsome man who moves into her building might cure her of the humiliating, embarrassing, and uncontrollable anxiety attacks which plague her whenever she finds herself alone with a man.

How could she know she made the worst possible choice?

Omar Satinov, the man Michelle has chosen, is a secret, whispered legend across several continents. His lure is a mystical religion based upon Witchcraft; his hook, the addictive herbal products he sells his followers. But does he really have supernatural powers, as many of his disciples believe?

EXCERPT:

It was just past twilight, almost time for the Crystal Prophesies.  Omar leaned his elbows on the penthouse balcony, enjoying the moment.  This was a magical time of day and he was a magician.  He preferred calling himself a Necromancer to the common titles: warlock, conjuror, magus, seer or wizard.  There were subtle variations, but he fancied ‘romancer’ in his title.  Necromancer.  It described him.  He romanced his way into hearts and minds.  With the help of a little magic.

As he gazed at the panorama spread out below, the Pacific slowly changed from light blue to a misty topaz.  Lush clouds floated on the horizon, and stars began to glow.  To his left was the tinsel-tourist Waikiki, and to his right the city of Honolulu was lighting up. Below him, in this very building, he could sense the presence of a remarkable woman.

He turned, gazing through plate glass windows into his new penthouse.  Ginger and Samson were inside.  Ginger noticed his look and, with a flourish, she uncovered an enormous crystal ball from its leather shroud.  She winked at him.  Ginger was a disciple, a beautiful tall woman, with long curly red hair.  She wore a flowing blue gown for the ceremony.

It was a tradition for the three of them to gaze into the crystal ball to divine their future when they expanded to a new location. They had arrived in Oahu a week ago.  Tonight was perfect, the time of the full moon.

Omar went inside and sat down in front of the crystal.  The sphere was almost two feet in diameter and sparkled on a base of black onyx.  The three were seated in the main living room, beneath a skylight.  White rafters crossed the cathedral ceiling.  The room was dark except for a cold silvery glow from the candles Ginger had placed around the room.

Omar passed his hands over the crystal ball several times for theatrical effect, principally for Samson, who was watching with curious eyes.  Omar’s acolyte, Samson was a gigantic man who would never age mentally.  He did remember this ritual.  His mouth was open in anticipation.

Omar frowned and leaned closer, gazing into the depths of the crystal.  Indeed, the omens were not auspicious.  Red forms floated amorphously inside, constantly changing shape.  This denoted the substance that controlled all magical rites.  Blood was a fluid like the tide; it flowed like the ocean, was coaxed by the moon to move subtly in bodies, causing emotional changes called lunacy. Sometimes it spilled.

The black he observed, swirling around the red forms like a night wind, could be taken as a symbol of his own influence.  It was the bright white light clashing there which forced Omar’s dark eyebrows to slide together.  White, an opposing force, seemed capable of exerting great influence in these Hawaiian islands.  Omar couldn’t tell if it indicated an old curse peculiar to these islands, with their ancient polytheist beliefs, or if it referred to a threatening individual.

The white was glowing, taking over.  There was busy movement inside the crystal.  It might have been a reflection from the stark white walls, but Omar was not taking chances.

“Who will sacrifice?” he asked, frowning at Ginger and Samson in turn.  He took a dagger from the leather sheath that Ginger had placed beside the crystal ball.

The colossal young man cowered away.

Omar shook his head.  Samson let out a tiny moan, but Omar swiftly reached across the crystal and pointed the tip of the dagger at Ginger.

“I need heart blood,” Omar said.

Ginger closed her eyes and nodded.  He made a small slashing cut above her left breast, above her heart.  The cut was superficial, but blood immediately started flowing.

Ginger leaned forward and red dripped on the round crystal ball, and slowly, like wine with good legs, inched down its sides.

Omar recited incantations and waved his long expressive hands.  Both Ginger and Samson saw silver sparks extend from his fingertips and enter into the crystal. Ginger thought the effect might have been starlight drifting down from the skylight above.  Samson was sure it was magic.

Omar peered into the depths of the crystal and was satisfied.  The white light was winking out.  The sacrifice had been potent.

His mind again sought the lovely feminine presence he had felt below him in this building.  When he found it he smiled.  His final aspiration would be fulfilled.  The Crystal Prophesy said so.

I’m Charmed . . . And You Will Be, Too!

First, let me say . . . O M G!!! You’re going to drool, jump up and down, scream “I WANT THAT” and then tell all your friends you’re going to win this incredible charm bracelet during the tour wide giveaway for The Moonstone and Miss Jones. And I don’t blame you because that’s exactly what I did when I saw it.

(Except I’m a tour host so I’m not entering. I’m just telling YOU how you can enter and win this gorgeous jewelry.) So here’s the scoop:

Win Phaeton’s most charming charm bracelet. And find clues to the Moonstone’s hiding place in this modern, edgy take on the traditional charm bracelet created by Ana Karolina, a 19-year-old Mexican born designer who made her debut at Nordstrom at the ripe old age of 17. This silver-plated chain bracelet makes skulls and bugs look oh-so cool! Plus five 2nd prizes – Copies of The Moonstone and Miss Jones. Click below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, without further ado, let me introduce the  fascinating and incredibly talented, Jillian Stone.

Jillian is an RWA Golden Heart winner for her historical romantic suspense, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (previously titled The Yard Man.) It netted her a contract with Pocket Books. That same year, she won the Erotica category in the 2010 Romance Through the Ages contest for The Seduction of Phaeton Black. Kensington Brava offered a 3-book contract.

This lady can write – and if you haven’t read any of her books – start now. If you have enjoyed one or more of Ms. Stone’s titles, then don’t miss her new release (and the second book in the Phaeton Black series), The Moonstone and Miss Jones.

Jillian, you’ve managed to write books in two genres, Historical and Paranormal Steampunk, and do both quite well. Which genre do you prefer, and why?

Thanks for having me on your blog site, Deb, and thanks so much for your kind mention about both series!

I have two favorite genres to write in, both of which crossover several romance subgenres. One is Historical Romantic Suspense and the other is Historical Paranormal. I love them both for different reasons, but I think it is safe to say that I enjoy having two plots to work with. I like to see the hero and heroine work together in ways that don’t involve obviously contrived obstacles. Also, I think that as much as I love romance, a hero and heroine who only have eyes for each other…need to get a life.

Romantic Times said The Seduction of Phaeton Black “almost defies categorization, combining elements of steampunk, erotica, paranormal romance, and mystery.” What do you think is the most appealing aspect of your Phaeton Black series for readers?

The Seduction of Phaeton Black has been growing a kind of cult following over these last six months. I consider the book to be historical paranormal with elements of steampunk and erotica.

Phaeton Black really drives the story in book one. He is one of those characters who is closer to an antihero. In fact, RT Book Reviews editors ran an article on Phaeton asking the question: Phaeton Black, Hero or Antihero?

I actually wrote Phaeton in the fine tradition of the Byronic hero, described by Lord Macaulay as “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.”

FYI: Wikipedia has a checklist of Byronic hero traits:

  • Arrogant
  • Cunning and able to adapt
  • Cynical
  • Disrespectful of rank and privilege
  • Emotionally conflicted, bipolar or moody
  • Having a troubled past or suffering from an unnamed crime
  • Intelligent and perceptive
  • Jaded, world-weary
  • Mysterious, magnetic and charismatic
  • Rebellious
  • Seductive and sexually attractive
  • Self-critical and introspective
  • Self-destructive
  • Socially and sexually dominant
  • Sophisticated and educated
  • Struggling with integrity
  • Treated as an exile, outcast or outlaw

By the way, Phaeton Black exhibits just about all of the above. 😉

You have an award winning background in creative advertising. How have you used that experience with the development and/or marketing of your own books?

I think it has helped in some ways. I am able to steer my brand as an author with perhaps a little less angst than say an author who is new to promotion. On the other hand, I am overly critical of cover design or any advertising by my publishers do.

I think with the advent of indie publishing, the market is saturated with books, many of them selling for $.99 through $3.99. Even FREE! I think it is particularly difficult for a debut author to get enough discoverability (trendy marketing term) unless their publishers are willing to compete on cover pricing or stick with them for at least three or four years to help them build a following of readers.

When you’re in the mood to curl up with a good book, what genre do you choose? Please share a few titles that you’ve enjoyed.

Since I am on deadline for book three in the Phaeton Black series, I am not reading right now, but I will list some of my favorite reads: Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice, Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase, The Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas, The Dark Prince, Christine Feehan.

The Phaeton Black series is set in the late 1800’s. If you could go back in time, what country and era would you visit, and why?

It would be so fascinating to explore London in the late 1880’s, all the strange places, and interesting characters I’ve discovered through research––actually get to experience them in person! But I’d want someone like Oscar Wilde to be my guide, so I could get a sense of every strata of society––from the beau monde to brothels!

I love that Phaeton Black is a paranormal investigator. How do you research for his line of work? Have you personally experienced paranormal activity?

The idea behind Phaeton’s gift is he is able to communicate with all manor or demons, trolls, vampires, succubae. But he deals with these otherworldly creatures using his charm and wits, and not with any special “slayer” skills, though he does partner with Doctor Exeter, and an odd being named Mr. Ping, who instructs him in the use of potent energy, or Ping’s term: “relic dust and champagne.”

I do some research into creatures and strange events. But I also like to handle traditional paranormal creatures in new and refreshing ways, so much of the paranormal aspects of the story come from inside my writer’s brain!

The third book in the series is tentatively scheduled for Summer, 2013. Can you tell us a little about The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter?

Doctor Exeter and his lovely, recently grown up charge, Mia, who are hero and heroine of the third novel. Exeter and Mia, along with a few of the Nightshades do battle with the mega powerful Prospero, a tech wizard who has abducted both Phaeton and America.

Exeter and Mia have their own set of issues to deal with, including their growing attraction to one another and the fact that Mia has unexpectedly becoming a shapeshifter.

What is the one thing about being an author you enjoy? And one thing you don’t?

I love the creative process––thinking up plots and characters, writing the stories, meeting with readers. I hate deadlines the most, because it never feels like I have enough time!

Some people relax with a walk in nature. Others prefer a trip to the spa. What do you do to de-stress and find your “Zen” moment?

I try to go to the gym and workout at least four days a week, this keeps the endorphins circulating and feeds oxygen to the brain. It is also my hour and a half of peace most days.

BOOK DETAILS:

The Moonstone and Miss Jones
Book Two in the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator Series

By Jillian Stone

Genre: Paranormal romance with steampunk and erotic elements

Publisher: Kensington Brava

Date of Publication: September 26, 2012

ISBN-10: 075826898X  

ISBN-13: 978-0758268983

Number of pages: 300

Amazon  Barnes & Noble   Indiebound  The Book Depository

Book Description:

The Moonstone and Miss Jones is the dark and sexy sequel to The Seduction of Phaeton Black. Phaeton returns to England in time to help Doctor Exeter and the mysterious deadly Nightshades rescue London once again––this time from Professor Lovecraft’s destructive tinkering. 

As the threads of existence begin to unravel, the eccentric scientist attempts to save his son’s deteriorating condition by replacing body parts with mechanical apparatus. Ah, but how to power them? The near mad professor believes he has found a way to unleash the arcane energy inside the Moonstone and he needs Phaeton Black to help him do it.

When Phaeton is shanghaied in Shanghai, America Jones assumes the worst––that he has abandoned her in the Orient. An angry Miss Jones returns to London, where their spirited partnership takes an unexpected turn––a new business venture MOONSTONE INVESTIGATIONS. No uncommon psychical disturbance refused.

Well, why not mix business with pleasure?

Author Bio:

In 2010, Jillian won the RWA Golden Heart for An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and went from no agent or publisher to signing with Richard Curtis and being offered a three book contract by Pocket Books. That summer, she also won the erotica category of the 2010 Romance Through the Ages contest f

or The Seduction of Phaeton Black and was offered a three book contract by Kensington Brava. Needless to say, she has been busy writing book

Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc) s this past year and a half! Jillian lives in Southern California and is currently working on the third book in the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series, The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter.

http://jillianstone.com

http://www.facebook.com/JillianStoneBooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4946569.Jillian_Stone

Twitter: @gJillianStone