Psychic Science

Nadia's_Psychic_Readings_01After I taught a stress management workshop as part of one of my college courses, a young man came up and asked me if I knew anything about being psychic. (He must have been psychic to think to ask me.) He had recently started having precognitive dreams and wanted to learn more. These are some resources I recommended to him. If you read my books, you may also be curious.

I list references in the back of The Calling, including some of the articles and web sites used in the course Bernadette and Charlie teach. In the scene where Mae and Hubert read the about PEAR lab studies, I tried to give readers a sense of the solid scientific support there is for remote viewing and also remote influencing of what should be random events. (PEAR stands for Princeton Engineering Anomalies research.) The articles from the PEAR lab, and the ones on affecting the output of random event generators (REG) are a little dry, as scholarly articles can be, but the site can give you a summary of the work done there.

For more accessible reading on the subject, I suggest Rupert Sheldrake’s book The Sense of Being Stared At. The title refers to one of the topics he has studied in depth. Yes, we do feel it when we are being stared at.

A fun yet solid book exploring energy healing and the power of the mind to influence events is Afterwards You’re a Genius by Chip Brown. (Published in 1998, it’s now out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon.)Brown enrolls in an energy healing course, and fills in the science around the story through research and interviews. The title is a quote from Dean Radin, a scientist who studies such things as the ability of human intentions to influence REG machines and robots. When you start studying wacky stuff, you’re a wacko, but afterwards, you’re a genius.

I found a trove of fascinating stories on the web site The Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences. Scientists may not like to admit that a mystical or psychic event happened to them. This site served as a safe community for those who had such a story to share. It is currently inactive—no new posts—but readable.

The journal Explore is wonderful. I recommend subscribing if you are seriously interested in healing studies. I encourage you to sample the brilliant editorials of its editor Larry Dossey.

When he was editor at Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal I cite often in The Calling, I used to look forward to his editorials as the highlight of the journal. He unites science, poetry, and wit with a unique voice. He can integrate the most unlikely images into a coherent, thought-provoking essay.

I also recommend Dossey’s book the Power of Premonition.

 

Image from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Bohemian Baltimore

Breaking the Genre Barrier

I’ve claimed genres because Amazon and Goodreads and other web sites require it, but I am a genre-blender. I once described my genre as “platypus.” The platypus looks like a mammal, a bird, and a reptile, blended into one animal. I write with elements of general fiction, mystery, romance, suspense and paranormal, but I don’t fit in any genre. I use the “paranormal” category, so readers who are interested in a mystical element to their mysteries can find me. I use the mystery category because my protagonist, a psychic, looks into the whereabouts of a missing people or animals, or why strange spiritual phenomena have occurred, or what secrets people are hiding. The mystery in my books is not always related to crime or death, though sometimes it is.  So far, none of the books are about murder. I simply wasn’t drawn to writing about murder.

Many years ago I read a mystery in which the central puzzle to be solved related to an art heist. It was non-violent. I loved it, and never forgot the concept of the murder-less mystery, even though I have long since forgotten the author and the title. Another murder-less example is the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Precious Ramotswe is a private detective investigating such things as workplace thefts, infidelities, missing heirs, etc. There are plenty of mysteries in real life that do not involve killing someone. People are very strange, and often dishonest. I knew a man who kept it secret from his “wife” that they were not legally married, so he could honestly tell his mistress that he wasn’t married, since she would have broken off with him if he was. (I will not tell you how he did it. I may yet use it in a book.)

When it comes to paranormal fiction, I don’t care for anything with vampires or werewolves or other such creatures. I like books where the mystical kind of mysterious steps into the ordinary. Linda Hogan’s Power and Mean Spirit are two of the best books I’ve ever read. She crosses the bridge into the spiritual realm through ordinary reality in a way that makes the extraordinary somehow more believable. Her books are general fiction, or literary fiction, although they have a strong supernatural element. I don’t claim to write like Hogan, but this is the kind of “paranormal” that appeals to me as reader. I’ve had a number of psychic experiences, and have researched various elements of the mystical experience, and alternative healing, and found that this is an area full of mystery in its other sense—the inexplicable.

My characters, not the genre, seem to be the element that draws readers in. I may have to make that my brand.

                             READ OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH AMBER FOXX

The Mae Martin Psychic Mysteries

Paranormal fiction for people who don’t like paranormal fiction.

And for those who do.

No murder, just mystery.

Love is a mystery. Every person is a mystery.

Somewhere in every life there is a secret.

“Are You Psychic?”

(This is revised and recycled from a previous post on my Facebook author page, for those who don’t read me on Facebook.)

Am I psychic? Yes, but I can’t do what Mae can do. I have history of precognitive dreams, some that predicted major events such a relative’s death or illness, or a major change in my workplace, and others that foresaw peculiar and unlikely but utterly trivial events. I have no idea why this happens, but it’s happened forty or fifty times. I stopped counting. I’ve only been able to harness this ability intentionally, to see something for a friend, once, and the dream took months to come true. I would not make a good psychic in a novel. I plan to have a character with a more focused and useful version of this talent in a later book. Ezra Yahnaki, the thirteen year old grandson of Mescalero Apache medicine woman Bessie Yahnaki, will be introduced in book five of the series.

The idea for Mae’s gift was planted a number of years ago when a neighbor invited me for dinner. She had a friend visiting from out of town. This visitor could hold something you owned, and pick information about you and your life. I didn’t know what to expect, but I asked her to find out what I most needed to know. She turned away from the dinner table, holding my eyeglasses, and was quiet for about five minutes. When she faced me again, she said she’d seen an elderly woman in a bed, and sensed that this woman was very sad. My mother was in a nursing home suffering from multi-infarct dementia. In this condition a person remembers the past well, and the personality is intact, but the events since the series of mini-strokes are lost. She had no short-term memory. It was distressing for her to be lost in the present and yet be intellectually sharp and know who she was in the past. My mother died shortly after this. I based Mae’s gift on this woman’s ability to see the present at a distance through touch, and added the ability to see the past.

Tribute to James D. Doss

My favorite author, James D. Doss, died last year. He influenced me as writer of what I call mystical mysteries, where the ordinary and the spiritual meet, though I don’t attempt to write like Doss. No one else could.

I’m about to read his final book, Old Gray Wolf. In the second-to-last one, Charlie was thinking—and not thinking—about marrying Patsy. Sarah was hoping he wouldn’t. Officer Alicia Martin was taking an interested look at Scott Parris, who didn’t seem to notice. With Daisy being the oldest living member of the Southern Ute tribe, will Sarah inherit the pitukupf and all the spirits in the canyon?  I’m curious how much of this Doss resolved in this last book. I wonder if there were more books in his mind when he left this world.

What I love about Doss’s books:

  1. Characters. Complex and eccentric, they surprise the reader. I love the ongoing characters and the unique, colorful people introduced in each of the seventeen books. My favorite one-book character is six-year-old Butter Flye in The Night Visitor. Doss wrote child characters with unsentimental realism and humor. Butter is tough and strange and yet likeable, and I have never laughed louder or longer reading any book, let alone a mystery, than I did when I read the encounter between Daisy and Butter in the back seat of a truck. Sarah as a child was mystical and serious, but just as real.
  2. Spirituality. The visionary experiences that Daisy and Sarah have are beautifully written. I feel as if I’ve taken the shaman’s journey with them. This spirit world is integrated seamlessly with an earthy reality and humor that says Doss understood this aspect of Indian culture. The sacred and the funny are not opposite or incompatible. He mixed Catholic mysticism into the books as well, with beauty and sensitivity, another Southwestern truth. Many people adhere to both Native religions and Catholicism at the same time. My favorite character for expressing that is Nahum Yacitii, the old shepherd who apparently ascended to heaven in a windstorm.
  3. Beautiful language. I read a Doss book and I am in the place. When he takes us for walk in the canyon with Daisy, I hear every step, smell the place, and feel the air. Even the description of the nervous, jerky second hand of a ticking clock could be marvel of observation. (I leave you to find this treasure, also in The Night Visitor.)
  4. Mastery of the Omniscient Narrator. Most writers can’t pull this off, but Doss could show us the thoughts of every character in a scene without causing the slightest confusion or disorientation in the reader, often to humorous effect. He could even use the point of view of an animal as the only witness to an event and make it work.
  5. The masculine company. Charlie often fails to understand the women around him, but he does it so sincerely I like him for it. The friendship and repartee between Charlie and Scott give me a sense of hanging out with the guys in a way a woman doesn’t often get a chance to in real life.
  6. The cowboy tall-tale quality of certain scenes, and the tall tales Charlie tells just for the fun of it.

A blessed journey to you, James D. Doss. The West is little less wild without you. I’m putting off opening that final book, knowing it’s the last, and yet I can’t wait. If your spirit is inclined to drop by and inspire a fellow New Mexican whose books also cross between the worlds, I would be honored, and no doubt highly entertained.

How I Write

I used to be an actor, dancer and choreographer, and loved improvisation. Writing is getting into character in all the roles and doing “improv”. I start with characters, and create situations that will challenge them. I’m what writers call a “pantser”, meaning I plot by the seat of my pants for the first draft. My favorite part of writing is the arrival of a new character. They seem to show up and reveal themselves in ways I don’t plan or expect, and this brings new complexity to the lives of my ongoing characters. I like mining my ongoing characters’ past lives, too.

I have critique partners who read my works in progress. There’s nothing like another writer’s input to make for better writing. Revising can take longer than creating. I rewrite a book at least five times, sometimes more.  The series may seem to come out fast as it gets published, but each book has actually been in progress for years. I have a stash of scenes and ideas extracted from books I didn’t use them in, and probably always will. I review my writing recycling bin periodically and clean it out. I find occasional gems as well as scenes that I need to reinstate that I thought I should cut—and a lot that makes me glad I cut and revise so much.

Settings in My Books

 

 

Although Mae doesn’t love Northeastern North Carolina, I do. I love the flat swampy land, the little towns, the farm fields, the colorful and caring people I met when I lived there. It was interesting to write about it from the point of view of someone who struggles with the place. Cauwetska and Tylerton are fictitious towns, but the landscape is real. It was a pleasure to revisit its sights and sounds as I wrote. The Ghent section of Norfolk, VA is another favorite place that gets to play a role in the first book.

The love of my life is the state of New Mexico. In the Calling, New Mexico hovers in the distance—Bernadette’s home state. It will get a starring role later.

 

New Mexico

As the T-shirt by Dukatt in T or C says, “Not Really New, Not Really Mexico.” For friends and readers who have never been there, here’s link to a video that will take you on a trip to the Land of Enchantment. Longest URL I’ve ever seen. Great song and video. This band (two young guys from ABQ) won a contest to promote the state.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUhXostcdC4&feature=youtu.be&utm_source=New+Mexico+Tourism+Master+Email+List&utm_campaign=08da92e4c5-%22It’s+a+Hit!%22+Richmond+Song&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4094954687-08da92e4c5-20542985

Putting the Mysterious in Mystery

I write paranormal mysteries grounded in the normal world. The questions are not so much ” who dunnit” as who are we, beneath our masks, manipulations, self-deceits, best intentions, and outright lies? People are a mystery. The nature of reality is mystery. Love is mystery, how it comes and how it changes, how it sometimes ends. I write the stories I would like to read: psycho-spiritual mysteries, driven by complex layers of character. Murder is not the only way to destroy a person. Crimes are not the only secrets.

One of my spiritual teachers, a Native medicine woman, once told me that the world is fifty percent physical and fifty percent spiritual. She said that many of our problems come from being out of balance with the spirit world. In my books, the spirit world is real. Spiritual energy and power are real. There are people who have it,  and people who fake it. There are those who use it well,  those who misuse it, and those who are afraid of it.

To explore this kind of mystery, I created a protagonist who is down to earth yet  gifted as an intuitive healer and psychic, with a talent for finding lost animals and missing persons.

I hope you’re curious to know more. Stay tuned.