Month: January 2022

Must-Do’s When Writing a Book

Writing my very first non-fiction book was one of the most exciting endeavors I have accomplished in my 39 years.  Ten years later, I am proud to say that I have published six non-fiction works with future ones in development. Each phase of the book writing process can seem daunting and tedious; however, once you develop a seamless system that works well, you will be on your way to smooth sailing. 

It’s important to stay true to who you are as a person and author and realize that you can create something entirely original for your audience.  After writing six manuscripts, I can now better recognize my own unique “voice.”  Once you recognize yours, you will find the entire research, development and writing process to be more fun and enjoyable.  Remember that you, the writer, are the best advocate for your book. 

Get Rid of Procrastination

Get Rid of Procrastination:  Clearly set attainable goals.  For example, you can notate on your calendar that you will write 500 words per day or write one chapter per week.  Create a healthy writing space with minimal interruption and while there, study your creative patterns.  Are you more creative in the morning or at night?  Do you write better with some calming music or in complete silence?  Discover what little idiosyncrasies work for you and implement them in your writing repertoire.

An Outline is Your Friend

This is a very important step.  While you don’t need a completed table of contents; having an organized outline is crucial as it will help keep your thoughts / sections of the book more organized.  It’s also beneficial for timeline purposes as well.  For example, you can designate to work on two or more sections of your outline each day.  An outline or table of contents will help you to remain authoritative and in command as well.

Understand the Book Proposal Process

The book proposal process is as equally important to the entire project.  It gives you a front row seat as to why your book stands out among the rest of the competition.  A properly constructed proposal can give you many more choices among publishers.  Research and understand all the components of each publisher’s book proposal process.  There are many sections that are universal across the board, such as 1) table of contents or outline, 2) target audience, 3) about the author, 4) a list of competing titles, 5) content overview, etc.  However, one publisher may require something in its proposal that another doesn’t require, so it’s up to you to understand the process for each publisher you submit to.  Perhaps, the most important step in writing a book proposal is to explain why your book is relevant in today’s competing marketplace.  Even if there are many titles similar to what you are developing, be creative in explaining why yours stands out.

Just Write

While it’s nice to have an outline or developed table of contents, please don’t feel restricted to write in the exact order of your outline or table of contents.  Write what comes up at that very moment as you can always go back later on and developmentally edit the content.  Some of my best writing occurs when I get that sudden “urge” to write.  Whether it is at 8:00 a.m. or midnight, if your creative juices are flowing, it’s best to open up your laptop and type away.  Don’t worry about flow or substantive editing as that can come later.   After you are finished, save your work and come back to it the next day.  You may be surprised at what else you think of to add or change.  Furthermore, make sure to save your written material in a variety of ways.

Be Critical

Place yourself in the shoes of your audience.  Ask yourself what you look for in successful non-fiction writers. Re-read your manuscript several times.  Have other trusted individuals read your book and take notice to their constructive feedback.  Read a lot of non-fiction books.  In doing so, you will discover and take note of the many reasons you prefer one book over the other.  Humans love to hear and share memorable stories, so be creative in how you relay your narrative.  Implement strategies in your writing that will appeal to the emotions of your readers.  They will continue to turn page after page if they discover that your unique author “voice” and style of writing appeals to their everyday life.

Love Your Editor

Always remember that your editor is there to help your book reach success.  Thus, don’t get all twisted and bent out of shape if he or she offers suggestions.  You may not agree with advised changes that need to be made, but at least listen to what your editor suggests because, like you, he or she is also an advocate for your book.  I see too many authors arguing with their editors over petty things – this tense energy will ultimately translate to the page, causing some readers to turn away.  Your editor is there to make your book shine.

Research Publishers

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Take the time to research various publishers.  At first glance, you may find a publisher that seems perfect for your book; however, after exhausting other outlets, you may discover that others may better suit your manuscript.  Talk to other colleagues and acquire their particular publisher recommendations and the specific reasons why they chose to sign with a particular company.  You can devise a pros and cons list for various publishers, which can make the selection process a little easier.  Once you have definitively decided to go with a particular choice, please make sure that you understand every component of your author contract.  I cannot express how vitally important this is.  Don’t ever be afraid to approach your publisher with questions about your contract. 

I accomplished one of my life’s goals by writing my non-fiction books.  If I can do it, you can, too.  If you have a particular idea for an intriguing book concept, then shoot for the stars.  Don’t let anyone interfere or try to stop you.  As always, my best wishes for you as an author.  I look forward to seeing your book(s) on the shelves one day.

How I Write: Tips for New Writers

Every writer has his or her own unique style.  There really isn’t any one magical way to approach the writing process.  It all depends on the individual and what he or she is actually writing – i.e., fiction, memoir, children’s books or nonfiction, etc.  Some people choose to write first thing in the morning; others, late at night.  Some prefer solitude and quiet when writing; others choose to have music or television on in the background.  Always select one or two places that will allow you to create your best work. 

I have often been told that my writing is very heartfelt and sincere.  Reflecting on that, I will say that I do “write from my heart.”  It’s hard to definitively explain what that means.  I guess I would define it as not writing through my ego.  Rather, I listen to my inner intuition and allow it to guide me through the process.  I focus on topics that I am extremely passionate about and those that I feel can make a positive difference in humanity. 

Tips for New Writers

For those new to the writing process, my predominant tip is to “just do it.”  In the beginning, don’t worry about the editing, organization or formatting process as that comes later.  Just let your “writing muse” flow and write down what comes forward.  Once you get started, you may find that all of a sudden, the words start to flood the page.  It’s a beautiful thing when this happens.

Don’t compare yourself to others.  Even if you develop a concept for a book that’s already been published, utilize your creative vision to make yours unique.  Writing a book is a big deal; it’s not as easy as it may sound as there are so many facets to the overall process.  You have to WANT it.  If writing isn’t your jam, you may find it hard to finish the product. 

Here are some writing tips that I utilize.  I hope they can be of benefit to you as well. 

  • Keep a notebook or journal near you so you can mark down those amazing ideas that seemingly come out of nowhere. 
  • Engage in creative inspiration, whatever it may be. 
  • Planning is so imperative to the entire manuscript.  Establishing an outline or rough table of contents helps me with organizing the book. 
  • Make sure you do your research.  Cross-reference source material to make sure you have accurate facts and statistics. 
  • When creating an idea for a book, I ask myself, “How would I describe this proposed book to its core audience in one or two concise sentences?” Then, I build upon the main idea(s). 
  • Keep a dictionary, thesaurus and source referencing material handy.  Many publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style. 
  • Remember that procrastination is not your friend.  Make a writing schedule and stick to it. 
  • You don’t have to write the book sequentially.  I tend to write the body of my book first and save the introduction and epilogue for last, for example. 
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread – at least three times.  Have a trusted colleague, friend or relative read your manuscript as well. 
  • Invest in editing resources, such as Grammarly, MasterWriter or SmartEdit in addition to having a professional editor read / critique your work. 
  • Talk and engage with other writers.  Shared learning leads to brightened horizons. 
  • Don’t put too much emphasis on agents and publishers at the beginning.  Just write.
  • Listen to your editor.  He or she is there to help make your book better.  Be open to his or her critiques and constructive criticism. 
  • Take some intriguing writing courses.  There is always something else to learn. 
  • Be motivated. Be courageous.  Be YOU!

Writing is a life-long process.  You’d be surprised at the inspiration you receive each day the sun rises.  Make sure to take note of those sources of inspiration.  Create a vision board for your proposed projects.  Do not let the word “rejection” stop you from moving forward.  Always remember, “when one door closes, another one opens.”  Some of the most renowned authors have been told “no” several times. 

COVID-19’s Message to Humanity

The year 2020 started off with a proverbial bang, initializing a shockwave of disbelief and confusion once COVID-19 made its mark.  This latest pandemic, in all its shape and form, has coerced humanity to readjust to life in so many ways.   By nature, humans are social creatures and when deprived of this daily necessity, can experience a multitude of physical ailments and mental disorders.

Yes, we’ve seen staggering increases in depression, loneliness and emotional upset. As a direct result of COVID-19’s slap in our face, we’ve all – in our own, unique ways – have had to adopt to the virtual way of communicating with one another; it’s not as unforeseen as one may think, especially with the advent of technology; however, when you’re forced to contend with it as your primary means of connection, it can cause an ongoing wave of anxiety, confusion and disconnection.   Each person has been upended by this pervasive pandemic; some worse than others.   Tragic loss of life has occurred, jobs have been lost, financial issues have turned into crises, our primary way of associating has changed and the list goes on.   Without a shred of doubt, our natural order and daily rituals of survival have been overturned in so many drastic ways. 

With all of the challenges that have come about as a direct result of COVID-19, it almost begs us to examine the positives; the inherent message(s) we need to collectively heed from enduring this mass pandemic.  Let’s explore what this global virus is trying to teach us – albeit on a global scale, of course. 

I do want to emphasize that amidst what’s going on, the universe is begging us to take some time out, look inward and apply some self-reflection. Maybe, just maybe, this is the greater good’s way of reminding us to slow down, take deep breaths, get back in touch with our inner core and remember what’s most important.  This is a time, when social disconnect seems to be running the show; perhaps, it’s the ultimate crash course in the true meaning of human connection and togetherness.  Until now, we’ve taken it all for granted; then, in a blink of an eye, when it’s stripped before our eyes, we yearn to have it back again. Social distancing was in need of happening to remind us of the importance of relationships – relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers and the many transient individuals we come across in our daily lives.  Whether we are consciously aware or not, each individual contributes to the nexus of society and the world at large.

We all lead busy, hectic lives. As such, it’s easy to lose sight on some of the smaller, most beautiful aspects of what it is to be human. Of course, we have to remain common-sensed and rational without over-hyped panic; maybe this “virus” is symbolizing the need to spread a sense of homeostasis among humanity – a restoration of balance, humility, wellness and vitality.  It has taken COVID-19 to remind us to live in the now, act with kindness, rest and relax, take up a hobby or creative endeavor that we’ve convinced ourselves we don’t have time for, get in touch with the pureness of nature and its everlasting beauty, stop and pay attention to the things that seem so little in life but are truly momentous.  Perhaps, our society has had to crumble just a bit in order to mutually build back up.  The foundation has always been there but it has taken a global situation to remind us of its importance and strength.  

So, let’s not resist the message that COVID-19 is attempting to impart. Let’s face it, head-on as a society of togetherness.  In the midst of this, let’s always remember the legacies of our fellow brothers and sisters who’ve succumbed to the fight.  If not for ourselves, let’s continue our triumph over tragedy for them and the world at large. 

Let’s Breathe Together

Note:  This was written shortly after George Floyd’s passing. 

As I digest the events surrounding our country – our world – right now, I can’t help but pick up a few things; things that are rather obvious if we each stop, look inward and pay attention.

It isn’t coincidence that a relentless virus is penetrating our globe right now amidst the onslaught of protests over an innocent person’s horrific demise. Let’s stop and each examine the various parallels between the two. I don’t need to sit here and type them out; I think they are fairly visible to those who are willing to see.

Regardless of where we come from, we each breathe the same air; our bodies are made of the same organs and systems; we are exposed to the same viruses; we each experience the emotions that come with anger, grief and loss; we can each stand for what we believe in…the list goes on.

The unfathomable passing of George Floyd – our fellow American, our fellow brother, our fellow son, our fellow father, our fellow friend -has ripped off the scar to a wound that’s been ever-pervasive in our society since the dawning of man. That wound, now fresh and exposed once again, is bleeding with an inescapable urgency and thirst for the greater good among all. In order to penetrate the nucleus and enact the principles we’re begging for, each one of us has to find the answer within. Only from that point, can we extend it outward toward our communities, towns, cities, nations, universes and galaxies beyond. It. Starts. Within. Each. Of. Us.

What exactly is this? It’s the embedded love, innocence and pure goodness that we’re each born with. Many have grasped onto these attributes and have never let go. Sadly, for some, they lose sight of them as they become buried beneath the torments plaguing our world. However, if one searches hard enough, he or she will find the light emanating beneath the rubble. When this occurs, healing and change will take place. The light never turns its back on anyone. It’s a patient friend and ally – to us all. But we have to seek to find it.

“Isms” aren’t innate; they are taught. Until we recognize this, they will continue to be spread and engrained into the mind of society. Every single time the word “race” or “racism” is said, it’s powering the “ism” that continues to divide fellow man. Every single time we use the words, “white, black, purple or red” to describe someone, we are continuing to segregate instead of equalize.

George’s life matters – yes, I say that in present tense for a reason.

Sadly, history has taught us to divide and conquer. Until we all gather together to re-write the scripts of the past, we will sadly continue down the same path of ignorance. Over and over. But we must do this with positivity and responsibility; it must be done with dignity and grace, not with revolting disgust.

Let’s honor George’s life and legacy by finally quenching society’s thirst for equity, respect, empathy and understanding. In order to love and respect our fellow human beings, we must first learn to love and respect ourselves.

Let’s give needed oxygen to brotherhood. Let’s turn “I can’t breathe,” into “I can breathe. We can breathe, together.”

My Journey in Becoming a Paranormal Researcher

What Propelled Me to Investigate the Unknown

I have always had an innate fascination with the supernatural, especially the field of ghosts, spirits and hauntings.  I had some unique experiences growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It was the experience I had with my maternal grandmother’s spirit during undergraduate college that catapulted me into research and investigation of the unknown.  In my twenty years as a paranormal researcher, I have worked with some amazing individuals.  In 2009, I developed the San Diego Paranormal Research Society (SDPRS), which is one of San Diego’s well-respected groups. 

The San Diego Paranormal Research Society

I have always had a dream of founding and directing my own paranormal research team.  That aspiration came to fruition in 2009 when I developed the San Diego Paranormal Research Society (SDPRS).  The team primarily focuses on ghosts, spirits and hauntings but is well-versed in other areas of the supernatural.  You can find out more information by visiting the team’s website at http://www.sandiegoparanormalresearch.com

Investigative Methodologies

The SDPRS team blends various scientific and metaphysical methodologies.  These include paranormal vigils, spirit photography, Instrumental Trans Communication and electronic voice phenomena sessions, environmental monitoring, divining (dowsing) rod and pendulum uses and psychic mediumship. 

Blending Metaphysics with Science

Since no two intelligent energies are alike, it’s imperative to experiment with various methodologies. What works best for us is blending science with metaphysics as it offers a more well-rounded, holistic approach to paranormal research and investigation.  Some locations and ethereal entities will demand different methodologies.  What some experiments work for one locale won’t necessarily work for another.  In addition to client interviews and testimony, it’s important to study the site’s history, genealogy, geology, etc., as it will help you prepare the right experimentation. 

The Importance of Protocols

I am very systematic and methodical when conducting paranormal research work.  I have an overall process to how I approach a case study as well as certain protocol for various experimentation and methodologies.  This is needed to conduct a thorough, cohesive case study. 

Working With Clients

It’s vital that paranormal research teams build a solid, trusting relationship with their clients.  Part of a research team’s responsibility is to properly educate clients on its approach to research; paranormal theories and reasons for why a case study is recommended.  Our client interviews are quite extensive and we interview all eye witnesses separately to avoid bias.  We also offer various resources to our clients so they can better understand their specific situation. 

Top Cases

To date, I have investigated numerous private residences and businesses for paranormal activity.  Additionally, I have been blessed to conduct paranormal case studies at numerous haunted historical locations on the West Coast and in the Midwest.  Since 2005, I have been studying the RMS Queen Mary’s legendary history and paranormal phenomena.  Since 2011, the SDPRS team and I have been researching the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe, an iconic land rancho in Vista, California. 

Private Residence | Historical and Business Locations

The systematic, methodological way of approaching each case study will be similar for all three locations.  With private residence and/or business cases, you may run into a more concerned client(s); with private residences, you have to carefully balance the family dynamic and situation and conduct extensive interviews.  With historical cases, many of the museum curators and site owners know the history and paranormal phenomena that occurs; this is not typically the case with homes and businesses, so a lot of client education goes into these types of cases. 

Don’t Be Lazy

There are many facets to a paranormal case study.  Spending two hours at a location, taking a few pictures and recording some audio is not classified as a paranormal investigation.  There are hours, days and months spent on one supernatural case study.  This time includes supplemental research, client interview(s), preliminary work, actual case studies on the premises, data review and analysis, case study reports and meetings with fellow team members and clients.  It takes due diligence, passion and devotion on the part of each investigator and researcher to complete a research project. 

Core Values of an Excellent Paranormal Researcher

Our core values shape the culture of the SDPRS team and its individual researchers.  They guide us in our interaction with clients, the communities we serve and the paranormal community at large.

  • ACCOUNTABILITY: encouraging commitment and ensuring responsibility of actions
  • INTEGRITY: always being honest and conducting ourselves in an ethical fashion
  • TEAMWORK: working together as a team to accomplish our goals while respecting our individual differences
  • EXCELLENCE: striving to meet our standards, goals and expectations
  • ​RESPECT: treating ourselves, clients, locations and spiritual energies with the highest respect and reverence at all times

Our team principles include:

Listen to client concerns;

Approach each investigation with an open mind;

Treat every client / team member/ with respect and dignity;

Keep all client and investigation information confidential;

Conduct each investigation professionally, ethically and morally;

Treat all entities and spirits respectfully;

Help clients understand their individual situation;

Conduct research pertinent to investigation location;

Refer clients to specialized investigators when necessary;

Analyze all data collected thoroughly and in a timely manner;

Meet with clients to review collected data and possible paranormal evidence;

Recommend further case studies if warranted;

Spiritual Protection

It is vital that all individuals studying the paranormal engage in spiritual protection.  A person must be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy when investigating the unknown.  In addition to meditation practices, the SDPRS partakes in a group grounding session, which helps each member stay centered and on-track.  We also offer an opening statement to the energies where we state our intent for communicating with them.  

One grounding exercise that I have found helpful, goes as follows:

  • Take some deep breaths.Inhale for six seconds; exhale for six seconds. 
  • Imagine yourself sitting on a chair in an empty room. There is one window present.
  • As you envision your feet touching the ground, you will imagine pure energy coming up through your feet, move through each chakra; cleansing it in the process of unwanted energy.
  • Envision a white, pure energy filling through your entire body.Say, “the only energy that is allowed is energy that will serve my highest good.The rest is not welcome.”
  • You can picture the unwanted energy leaving your body and dissipating as it exits through the window 
  • Continue to take some deep breaths.Once you feel grounded, you can say out loud, “I am now grounded and ready to communicate with the spirit world.”

The Importance of the Golden Rule

You will get back what you put out.  It is imperative that all paranormal researchers treat themselves, their clients and the spiritual entities they come across with respect and reverence.  You will be more successful in your case studies and build a trusting relationship with the spirit world. 

For more information, please visit the SDPRS website at http://www.sandiegoparanormalresearch.com

Paranormal Research Trends and Implications

Just as with any other specialty, paranormal research is an ever-evolving field that goes through various changes and trends.  There are many aspects that affect the shifting developments in supernatural study, whether they include new theories, advanced equipment, fresh experimental methodologies, metaphysical approaches, etc.  As with any field, time yields these augmentations so as to prevent stagnation; in other words, it’s imperative that we maneuver through these inevitable trends so we can keep the door open to expanding our knowledge and understanding of what lies beyond the mortal realm.  This article will explore some of the commonly pervasive trends in today’s study of the supernatural and how they affect the field at large.

Technological Advances

Indeed, the field of paranormal study has progressed technologically since the days of the field’s founding fathers.  In the early days, those studying the supernatural relied on non-technological ways of approaching field methodology.  Today, many modern researchers still employ many of these ingenious ways of approaching paranormal investigation in addition to using various constructed devices specifically for supernatural research.  While this article doesn’t focus on this aspect entirely, it will mention that each family of electronics (photography, videography, audio, surveillance and environmental monitoring, etc.) has seen drastic industrial advances and improvements, which obviously provide benefits, and even some drawbacks, to supernatural researchers. Again, this concept should be solely addressed in another article altogether.
 
   One common trend lies in the ability of engineering / technological specialists to augment a device so it functions better for paranormal research standards.  For example, AM/FM radio scanners / ITC devices can be altered to allow for less static noise, ultimately allowing the researcher to better hear any anomalous voices or sounds emanating through the device.  Another illustration is evident in the Xbox Kinect system, which can be plugged into a laptop computer and highlight with lines and dots, the exact positioning of an alleged apparition.  Various environmental monitoring devices have “three-in-one” utilizations.  For example, some of the versions of the “Mel Meter” have EMF, shadow detection and KII functions built into one device.  Of course, this provides for convenience; however, there may be drawbacks to lumping all of these uses together in one device. Please keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “ghost detector.”  There isn’t one piece of equipment that has proven the existence of ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities. 
 
   The utilization of technology in paranormal research may seem fool-proof; thus, it’s always beneficial to realize that even the most advanced, up-to-date apparatus comes with imperfection and flaws.  This is why it’s mandatory that all researches completely understand a gadget’s design, function and reasons for use.  I continuously ask myself this question, “Do all of these various improvements in technology help or hinder us in terms of paranormal research?”  In discussing this aspect with trusted colleagues, I have found pros and cons to modern-day leaps in technology.  As you shop around for more modern types of equipment, please be aware that your chances of capturing an anomaly may be increased with more gadgetry.  However, too many pieces of technology may create a distracting environment for the energies. Another drawback affects the investigator directly as he or she will have to spend more time monitoring excessive technological pieces when he or she could be entirely focused on the environment.  In my opinion, you don’t have to own every single technological gadget utilized in paranormal research.  That would be ridiculous.  Carefully study and choose which devices you want to own so you can create an equipment arsenal that includes those designed for photography, videography, audio and environmental monitoring, etc.

Metaphysical Instruments

This leads me to the next popular trend occurring in today’s supernatural research field.  In addition to electronic gadgetry, the use of metaphysical instruments is becoming more mainstream for many researchers, including psychics and mediums.  Many intuitively inclined individuals use metaphysical tools in communicating with spiritual energy.  Those deeply based in scientific approaches may cringe at the thought of using items like gems and crystals; however, you have to realize that paranormal study is not an exact science.  Thus, all the more, should someone welcome a variety of approaches to the field’s ongoing study.
 
   Historically speaking, various gems and crystals are deemed to hold supernatural powers of their own.  Wearing them on your person may assist (almost like a liaison) in communing with spiritual energy and empowering your innate psychic powers.  Using them in conjunction with technology may assist the device in picking up spiritual energy. I believe that everyone has some intuitive ability; however, it’s similar to a sport in that the more you practice, the better you will get.  Various gemstones and crystals are utilized for promoting mental and psychic clarity (Amethyst), absorbing or deflecting negative energy (Amber, Black Tourmaline), removing stress and unwanted tension (Celestite), uniting the mind, body and soul (Celestite), etc. – all useful for anyone working in the paranormal research realm and beyond.
 
   In my opinion, blending intuition, technology and metaphysics allows for a more holistic approach to working with spiritual energy.  It is for this reason why the San Diego Paranormal Research Society often employs the use of divining rods, pendulums and certain crystals as they can serve as an adjunct to technology.  For example, let’s say we capture an EVP of “Yes” in response to the question, “Is anyone here with us?” in addition to our divining rods also crossing, which can indicate a “Yes” response.  That’s two pieces of corroborating evidence, ultimately authenticating the spirit reply all the more.  
 

Spirit Resolution versus “Paratainment”

 Thankfully, many paranormal investigators and psychics are taking up more of an interest in providing spirit resolution to many ethereal beings that may need assistance.  This is the focus of the San Diego Paranormal Research Society whose projects are twofold: conducting an investigation as well as offering some spirit counseling.  If our research is suggesting that life does exist after the physical body ceases to function, then all the more should we offer to help provide peace and harmony to those in the spirit realm.
 
   Investigating and acquiring potential evidence of the paranormal is important for the ongoing study of the supernatural.  However, I am always left with the question, “Okay, what now?”  It seems that the cosmic universe is onboard with assisting us in the appropriate communing with the ethereal world.  Perhaps, the pervasive intrigue into the supernatural realm exists as a way to recruit those who will genuinely assist those who are in need of help.  There seems to be a shift in our collective outlook regarding mainstream media and “para-tainment” as far as the paranormal is concerned.  More and more people are realizing that the various sensational TV shows do little to authentically advance the field of paranormal research.  While these shows serve mainly to entertain the masses, they don’t accurately portray real-life supernatural research and investigation.  Furthermore, the sensationalism surrounding these shows does little to promote spirit resolution as it more or less exploits the dead via egotistical objectives.
 
   It seems as though the once feverish intrigue into the ghost hunting phenomenon is finally on its way out as more and more individuals are on a quest to delve deeply into what matters: not only discovering what lies beyond the mortal curtain but devising ways to genuinely connect with spirits and other ethereal beings.  Those who fervently engage themselves in down-to-earth paranormal research, including proper protocol, standard operating procedures and empathy, are becoming more comfortable calling out those amateur groups of people who act in manners that disrespect the departed and the field at large. All in all, I do see more and more genuine, grounded paranormal research teams expanding their repertoire by helping the ethereal energies they investigate and commune with.  In my opinion, this is vital in the rapport building between the living and departed – the ultimate, natural way to improve not only the research arena but how the public at large perceives it.
 

Getting Rid of Ego

This brings me to my next point, which is to highlight how human ego and working with spiritual energy do not mix.  In a sense, they are like oil and water, having nothing in common.  Ghost hunting teams sprouted like grass after a long rain once the televised paranormal shows commenced their craze.  During this time, it was common to see teams sporting their t-shirts and other team promotional items, initializing a phase of competition between groups.  As the concept of ghost hunting wanes, we are seeing an influx of those who want to delve deeper beyond a superficial façade.  We are seeing certain groups of paranormal investigators coming together to not only assist each other but to improve paranormal research as a whole.  This is so vital and necessary for the eventual building of one, giant collective supernatural study unit – where all like-minded teams can unite for the purposes of not only advancing the field but helping those otherworldly beings in need of assistance.  I am hoping that one day, this will be accomplished in entirety; but for now, we need to all realize that “ego” needs to be removed from the equation when communicating, studying and working with the ethereal world.
 

Education is Needed

More and more paranormal research specialists are jumping onboard to educate the public and each other about various aspects related to the supernatural.  Again, technological strides and improvements in social media directly assist in these educational concepts reaching the masses.  Individuals are volunteering their time to lecture at libraries, local events and national conferences all designed to bring together those who possess a budding interest in the paranormal.  The same goes for researchers who educate those at colleges, universities or via local avenues.  The online presence is even expanding with new radio shows, informative documentaries and television designed to teach those about haunted locations and history, paranormal research experimentation, etc.  Many teams are starting to blog more about their conducted investigations and findings or even offer live-viewings of actual investigations.  More and more books discussing diverse aspects related to the supernatural are being published.  Indeed, education is at the forefront as it allows people to come together and expand their minds; in doing so, the field of paranormal study will also continue to develop.


 

Halloween and the Paranormal

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would ignite bonfires and adorn themselves in costumes to forbid ghostly energies.  In America, Halloween wasn’t always celebrated.  By the mid 19th century, yearly revelries around autumn were typical but not everyone observed Halloween.  The large amounts of Irish immigrants in the latter part of the 19th century popularized the holiday on a national scale.   As the years progressed, the yearly celebration  has evolved to include carving jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, scary mazes and carnival rides and gorging on enough sugar for an elephant.  These are fun times that both adults and kids of all ages look forward to.  Of course, this depends on cultural affiliation as some don’t celebrate the day.

There’s Just Something About Halloween

There’s just something about Halloween that brings a smile to my face.  It’s a time to celebrate mystery, magic and superstition.  Maybe it also has to do with my love for autumn and the soothing colors of orange, yellow and brown trees that come with the summertime going in slumber mode.  As October rears its head, I have always looked forward to the spooky decorations of pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, black cats and witches; decorating my house with purple and orange lights, fake headstones and fog machines.  Certainly, an honorable mention goes to the plethora of fun costumes to choose from; as Garfield would say, there’s the “…candy, candy, candy, candy, CANDY.”  Then, there’s the night sky coming earlier in the day, which gives the moon center stage at night.  All of these combine to produce Halloween’s enchanting setting. 

Yes, the whole ambience Halloween creates ignites an enjoyable fire in my belly.  Each year, I prep in anticipation for it only to be disappointed once it leaves.  With as fast as time goes by, it won’t be too much longer until the next Halloween adventure.  I remind myself that Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular contenders that follow pumpkin season; two of my favorite holidays.

Although I love Halloween and the unique setting it brings, there’s one aspect about it that I have to contend with each year:  it brings about peoples’ curiosity in what goes bump in the night or day.  However, this is not always a good thing.  Many individuals seem to correlate the fictional characters of Halloween with the real-life spirit realm.  In other words, the ghosts and spirits we come across in our daily lives have nothing in common with Halloween’s central cast members.  It’s like oil and water.  They really don’t mix nor should they. 

Halloween’s Influence on the Paranormal

The San Diego Paranormal Research Society receives a preponderance of e-mails from those requesting a paranormal case study this time of year.  This happens every single year.  There’s no coincidence to this.  Furthermore, we receive e-mails from people with unusual, bizarre paranormal encounters that aren’t typical during other months.  There’s also an influx of people expressing fear and anxiety related to their ghostly experiences during Halloween season.  As researchers of the unknown, we need to examine the origins of this phenomenon.  I offer a few theories that can potentially explain why this occurs. 

Pagan belief says that the veil between our world and the afterlife is thinner during Halloween season.  The full moon around October 31st also thins the shroud separating the two worlds.  Obviously, people are more sensitive to and susceptible of experiencing a paranormal event. 

Along with that, the subliminal messages via mainstream media this time of year also contribute to this.  People are tuning into horror-themed movies and television shows that portray the ghostly world as evil and something to be feared.  It’s at this point when individuals need to remind themselves that these entertainment pieces are illusory and fictitious. 

Certainly, Halloween coupled with the thinned veil partner up to influence the gullable and naïve.  Those who are already predisposed to certain negative beliefs in the supernatural and spirit world will be adversely affected around this time.  The same goes for those experiencing physical and/or mental disorders; around Halloween, these individuals could experience more delusions and  psychoses related to perceived anomalous encounters stemming from the various influences derived from Halloween.  I am not saying that certain occurrences aren’t truly anomalous in nature during the month of October.  I am making the point that power of suggestion and unconscious manipulation can confuse certain people, making them associate the events of October with that of real-life spirit phenomena.     I have always vocalized the importance of spirit realm advocacy and ongoing education about genuine paranormal research methods.  Engaging in this around October is no exception.  It’s sorely needed.

As a veteran paranormal researcher, I do feel that there’s a benefit to Halloween exposing the field of supernatural study.  Many researchers, including myself, give presentations and lectures about paranormal research this time of year.  Whether it’s education about the classifications of ghosts, hauntings and other energies or the foundations of paranormal study, people are given a fun platform to learn this time of the year.  As mentioned, that’s a huge benefit all around. 

Dreams and Goals: The Afterlife Chronicles Radio Show

I think every person understands the amazing feeling you get when dreams and goals are achieved.  For some, it may take years to finally achieve personal aspirations; for others, it can happen almost instantaneously.  I personally believe that our individual desires emanate from the nucleus of our soul.  The universe places wishes and wants on our path where they patiently await our arrival.  Beautiful things happen when we eventually meet up with them. 

I have been a paranormal investigator and researcher for twenty years.  Having an innate fascination with the unknown since childhood, it wasn’t until a profound experience with the spirit of my maternal grandmother that catapulted me out of the lab – so to speak – and into the trenches of active exploration of anomalous phenomena.  Over time, I have not only met some amazing, like-minded individuals, I have also discovered more about my own unique personal makeup, skills and interests.

Being a paranormal researcher has granted me opportunities I never thought I would accomplish.  When I was younger, I loved to read.  I still do as an adult.  Not in a million years did I ever think I would become a writer and publish books.  To date, I have authored various books, which were all joys to research and write.  As a child, I was always super nervous to step up in front of the class and give a presentation.  Yes, I had that proverbial stage fright complete with sweaty palms and a racing heart.  Yet, as I have grown into myself as an adult, I have learned to cherish public speaking.  It’s something I am quite confident in; I yearn and desire it just as a painter craves his or her next artistic creation. 

Over the years, I have been a guest on numerous supernatural-themed television, film, radio and print mediums.  Out of all the media outlets, there is just something uniquely special about radio and podcasts.  The stars aligned just right in 2009 when I met radio guru Todd Bates aboard the RMS Queen Mary for its then annual “Ghost Fest IV,” a yearly paranormal conference set aboard the glorious liner.  Prior to the convention, I knew of Todd Bates and his accomplishments in the field as an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) specialist.  He was even mentored by the late Sarah Estep, who was a forerunner in EVP research and founder of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena.  Like a little kid meeting her idol, I was electrified when I saw Todd in person and got to shake his hand.  As they say, the rest is history.  Since our very first meeting aboard the ocean’s most iconic ship, Todd and I have become dear friends.  

It was an honor when Todd asked me to be a guest on his veteran radio show, “Haunted Voices Radio,” one of the field’s longest running radio programs.  This started a chain of future guest appearances on the show, including annual “Queen Mary specials,” where he and I, along with other special guests, discussed various aspects of the legendary ship, including her rich historical tapestry and internationally known paranormal phenomena.  Although 2020 has brought its own inimitable set of challenges for all, it has granted me an opportunity to further flex my hankering for being on air in the radio field.  Back in May (2020), I became the executive producer of the exact show (Haunted Voices Radio) I revered back in 2009.  The show, as well as others, is broadcast via the WLTK-db or “The Let’s Talk” network.  This producer role has allowed me to join forces with other commendable investigators in the various branches of paranormal research. 

Over the years, I have contemplated having my own radio show.  For a long time, the desire for it was more or less the occasional fleeting thought of, “Maybe I should have my own show some day.”  Like bees attracted to honey, that notion never left.  I am a firm believer that the astral stars need to align just right for destiny to meet its fate.  It just so happened that Todd had some open radio show slots on the WLTK-db network.  So, I went for it and created my own program, which is an extension of my upcoming book, The Afterlife Chronicles: Exploring the Connection Between Life, Death and Beyond.  Aptly called “The Afterlife Chronicles and Beyond,” my show focuses on the undying connection between mortality and the spirit realm.  Various topics will be explored, including afterlife encounters, spirit guides, spirit communication, paranormal research methodology, metaphysics, psi experiences, near-death experiences (NDEs), grief and loss, and much more.

The show debuted on October 8, 2020 at 9pm EST with my mom, Norma Strickland, as my first guest.  She shared some of her unique encounters with the spirit domain as well as some of her experiences with the dying process as a registered nurse of 30 years.  Since then, I have interviewed Linda Myers, a paranormal researcher, reiki master and intuitive hailing from the Pacific Northwest as well as Tami Benjamin and Jason Cobb, accomplished paranormal investigators I teamed up with aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda, California.  I have a strong line-up of individuals for future shows. 

Todd once said, “I am warning you; radio is addicting.”  He’s absolutely right about that.  There is just something so filling about talking with folks on air.  It’s so engaging and a lot of fun.  I am indebted to Todd and his WLTK-db network for granting me this opportunity to flex my wings as a radio host.  I am enjoying every single bit of it!

Show Deets!

“The Afterlife Chronicles and Beyond” radio show airs LIVE on Thursday nights from 9pm EST to 10pm EST at http://www.wltkdb.com or http://www.theletstalk.com  “Haunted Voices Radio” airs LIVE on Tuesday nights from 9pm EST to 11pm EST on the above websites. Check out the other amazing shows on the network! Archives of all the shows can be heard on the major audio listening platforms. 

Here at the Afterlife Chronicles, we’re bridging the gap between mortality and the afterlife one experience at a time.

Personal Thoughts on the Paranormal

Let me provide an analogy to help you, the reader, understand where I am heading with this opinion piece relating to the field of paranormal exploration and research.  The beginnings of a tsunami consist of seawater.  As it moves onto land, it becomes mixed with all kinds of debris originally foreign to the ocean.  As the giant wave and subsequent larger ones, approach dry terrain, the saltwater becomes a muddy mix of trash, dismantled buildings and other materials; cars, gasoline, petroleum, waste; deceased animal and human life, etc.  In other words, ocean water is not meant for dry land and vice versa.  Once the water comes onshore, it creates a whole host of problems and challenges.

Now, is where I enter into my thoughts about the field of paranormal research and where it’s headed if we don’t stop and look at things from a larger perspective. When I say “paranormal research,” I am including all of the branches of anomalous phenomena that people investigate.  The current discipline of supernatural study can be just like the tsunami that’s made its way well onto dry land; at least in some regards.  In addition to the many positives, it’s often full of foreign, degrading material, rampant egos, exploitation and misidentification of spiritual energies, make-believe and much more that’s cheapening it in many ways. 

While reading this, some may feel that I am looking at the glass half full, ignoring the positives and benefits to studying the unknown.  Instead, I feel that I am looking at things from a bigger lens and a wider panoramic view.  The following are more or less observations I’ve made over the years, not necessarily criticisms.  In life, sometimes we have to look at certain situations, which are often pushed under the rug instead of 1) addressing apprehension over dealing with them head-on and 2) bringing these particular conditions to light as a way to foster wider perspectives.

It’s a privilege to study the unknown and supernatural realms.  It’s amazing to connect with those who’ve transitioned to the other side.  It’s equally enthralling to study and get a glimpse into other life forms and beings.  As such, those studying the otherworldly need to approach their work with sincerity, devotion and professionalism. Perhaps, if everyone involved, engaged in this mindset, the field of psychical research would be taken more seriously.  Those possessing an unwavering intrigue into the mysteries of the paranormal need to first ask themselves why they want to actively investigate and explore these outer realms.  Those who’s desires are dominated by frivolous reasons won’t necessarily last too long in the field nor will they be considered professional.  Even people who tirelessly engross themselves in paranormal investigation need an occasional reminder to take their explorations and studies in a more earnest manner.  Aside from surveying other preternatural creatures and interdimensional beings, the human spirit realm consists of once-living individuals and animals who’ve crossed the veil into the vast realm of the otherworldly.  It is with great opinion that we need to respect and honor those in the afterlife and beyond, just as we would treat the living.

I have been deeply involved in the field of psychical study for twenty years.  While that doesn’t make me an expert or any researcher an expert, it does provide me a front row seat in observing some of the discipline’s current trends.  There should be a cohesive, universal approach and philosophy when it comes to exploring the unknown.  Although researchers have their own unique approaches and styles, there should always be a strict adherence to protocol and standard operating procedures.  There should also be greater advocacy for the spiritual energies and beings we come across.  Instead, I am seeing some divisions that are catering to an almost polluted and scattered sense of what paranormal research has become.  I am also seeing the authentic paranormal world placed next to the paranormal world the living is creating.  The two are becoming quite incompatible and let me elaborate as to how.

Let’s examine the definition of the word, “paranormal.” Merriam-Webster, defines the word as, “strange events, abilities, etc., that cannot be explained by what is known about nature and the world.” The definition elaborates by saying, “…not scientifically explainable.”  Conscientious researchers don’t use the various impressions left over by entertainment and mass media to try and explain the supernatural.  One should never rely on the traits of fictional characters, such as Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers to examine and theoretically explain a ghostly being.  Instead, depend on what’s evident in the authentic world, not on what’s part of the world of make-believe and fantasy.

Original anomalous events exist on their own and should be left untainted and untampered with.  Of course, they can be explored, studied and analyzed by curious individuals but should be accomplished without instilling the unneeded subjectivity and bias that are completely foreign to the bona fide supernatural realm.  We are seeing the mortal world treating these raw events like a blank canvas –  adding various types of color and texture that ultimately transforms them into a polluted piece.  Once this happens, the once authentic world of the paranormal is now contaminated with what the human element places onto it – judgement of contrasting opinions, ego-based projections, inaccurate classifications and descriptions, superficial desires, among many others.

1.     There is entertainment’s idea of what the supernatural realm is based on, which is conveyed through Hollywood’s numerous movies and television shows on the subject. 

2.     There is the real-life view of what the supernatural domain consists of, which is often swayed by Hollywood’s creations and further influenced by differing ideals and viewpoints.  Both of these have created a false sense of what the paranormal truly is.

The field of paranormal research is a melting pot of individuals with various levels of experience (beginner versus seasoned), principles, goals and belief systems.  Diversity is often welcomed in other aspects of life.  In this case, in order to make the field become a more stable, wholesome environment, not all individuals investigating the supernatural belong in the same pot.  For example, those who are just out to thrill-seek and get spooked may not be on the same psychological level as those who passionately devote time to the scientific study of paranormal occurrences.  Those who visit a haunted location to mainly thrill-seek most likely, do not have the same incentives as those who truly investigate a location through onsite case studies, historical, geological, archaeological and/or genealogical inquires, witness interviews and tedious data review.  Sadly, some are in the field to only try and make a name for themselves and will go to any lengths to do so even if they exploit / disrespect the departed and other types of beings.   These groups will not mix with people who are inherently humble and approach their work with ethics, respect and the Golden Rule. 

A paranormal occurrence, by itself, is left untainted.  It is consistent of the entities and their environment. The structure and intent of each anomalous situation stands on its own with authenticity and purity.  It’s when the human element gets into the picture when things become distorted, twisted and manipulated – often with ambiguous outcomes that cater to the naïve and gullible.

Ghosts, spirits, interdimensional beings, alien species – any entity dominating the outer realms – is not meant for our amusement and entertainment. Studying these beings and creatures just like a biologist approaches the study of biology, or a physicist approaches the study of physics, is fine.  As long as the investigative study is done with legitimacy and respect.   These energies are not here to be misclassified, mocked at or oppressed as is often seen with media and entertainment venues.

As with many professions, one needs a license or permit to practice that occupation.  There are sets of bylaws and standard operating procedures that need to be adhered to.  One needs to be of sound mind and be considered competent enough to engage in the specifics of his or her type of vocation.  Violation of the governing rules typically leads to suspension or expulsion from the position.   This same principle should be applied to the study of the supernatural as a way to keep it controlled and realistic.

Mixing Halloween, Horror, Science Fiction with Real-Life Paranormal Phenomena

It’s quite memorable to reminisce on our childhood years around Halloween, October’s main claim to fame.  As kids, we would anxiously anticipate, as the days and nights grew closer to the 31st of the month.  We’d excitedly plan our chosen costumes, who we’d go trick-or-treating with and what piece(s) of candy to enjoy first.  As the numerous decorations of fake ghosts, goblins, pumpkins, witches, zombies and black cats made their arrival into our imaginations, we’d soon learn to associate Halloween with various fear-provoking adjectives – spooky, scary, ghoulish, macabre, horrific, etc. 

Not everyone has read about the true history of Halloween, but that doesn’t interfere with the realization that the events during the month of October have nothing to do with the real-life supernatural realm – other than the thinning veil between our world and the afterlife.  A fake, cartoon drawing of a ghost is not the same as an authentic earthbound entity or evolved spirit.  The two are irrelevant to one another; yet, people are continuing to fuse make-believe with reality.  With this, enters some serious consequences and outcomes for the paranormal research field and its future leaders.  Collectively, we need to teach ourselves and the field’s next generations that genuine anomalous occurrences are mostly unrelated to the highly imaginative and unrealistic plots of numerous fictional television and film ensembles.

In fact, let’s explore the words, “spooky, scary, ghoulish, macabre, horrific,” etc., in more detail.  In reality, it’s not the spiritual entity that’s considered to possess the meaning of these adjectives; it’s the living person’s projections onto and reactions to experiencing something paranormal that are considered, “spooky, scary,” etc.  The spirits of grandma and grandpa don’t have ghastly features as often depicted in horror movies.  No shining, red, demonic eyes, blood and/or pus streaking down their faces, rotten-looking flesh, etc.  Humans are inherently taught to fear the unknown; thus, when we encounter something otherworldly, it’s normal to assign a daunting connotation to what we’re experiencing during that particular event.  However, we need to remember that it’s the living realm conveying these inferences not the other way around. 

As researchers of the unknown, we need to always be cognizant of the ethereal beings we come across; as for the high majority, these are the spirits of those cherished and loved by people.  You never know if you may run into the apparition of someone’s beloved mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, co-worker, etc.  As such, it’s imperative to treat these earthbounds and/or spirits with dignity and respect.  But, if someone chooses to ascribe spooky nuances to such an encounter, it not only denigrates that once-living individual but the paranormal research field at large.

Motivations for Exploring the Paranormal

Inflated egos, personal entitlement and staunch competition are running rampant in the field of paranormal investigation and research.  It’s truly sad.  Studying the supernatural isn’t about fame, recognition or notoriety.  The quantity of social media followers a ghost hunter has or how many TV shows someone’s been on should not be placed as most important.  Just because someone has millions of “likes” on their Facebook page(s) or supporters on their YouTube page(s), doesn’t automatically place them in the category of most experienced and/or respected.  It’s often quite the contrary.  For example, one extremely famous YouTuber traveled to Japan to visit the Aokigahara forest, dubbed the region’s “suicide forest.”  Instead of respecting and honoring the young man who had recently took his own life earlier that day, this particular individual instead, chose to mock and disparage the deceased on video for views.  This immediately prompted outrage for this YouTuber who clearly lacked any veneration for the dead, especially someone who suffered with enough hopelessness to end his own life.

What’s imperative is the quality of devotion, time and work someone puts into his or her ongoing psychical enquiries – and what these contributions are doing to advance the discipline of supernatural study.  Arrogant attitudes often lend to unknowingly and sometimes knowingly exploitation of the deceased.  The afterlife and other realms are not here for humanity’s amusement and entertainment.  They are not placed in cages for us to merely gawk at and manipulate.  They are not here for us to control or possess.  Their preternatural existence is completely independent from those in the physical world.  All encounters between the two domains should occur without any misuse, deceit and/or false portrayals. 

Misidentifying Entities and Using Incorrect Terminology

We all know the saying, “Words have power…”  This is why we all have to choose our words wisely in an effort to avoid misunderstanding.  There is no exception with certain terminology relating to paranormal research.   I am seeing a lot of individuals misidentifying the ethereal realm and other beings by creating inaccurate descriptions and using incorrect terminology. In reality, is it entirely possible to classify and define something that can’t be proven?  Certain beliefs and/or a lack of informed knowledge is usually the cause for this.  Let me provide some examples:

Negative versus malevolent:  While the two distinctions share some commonalities, there is a difference between the two terms when describing the characteristics of an anomalous entity.  Malevolent denotes something purely evil and wicked with an intent to harm.  In adjective form, negative means something bleak, pessimistic, cynical, unfavorable, etc.   With this in mind, would you use the word “malevolent” or “negative” to describe a human earthbound energy that perhaps, lived a bad life and has the same unlikeable personality traits and behaviors in spirit that he or she had while alive?  To me, it makes more sense to use the latter term.  In my opinion, malevolent should be reserved for nonhuman entities that are considered malicious and vile.

Ghost versus spirit:  Yes, we all use both words interchangeably when describing the ghost or spirit of a once-living individual.  However, there are differences between the two.  A ghost is usually stuck or chooses to remain in the mortal realm due to various reasons.  With this, he or she either cannot or will not move on into the “light” and evolve into the spirit world, eventually moving up the reigns.  Spirits are the ethereal liveliness of those who’ve moved on peacefully but are willfully able to come back to the earthbound realm.  They also advance through the various levels in the afterlife. Thus, they are not stuck on this plane nor do they have unfinished business.

How many paranormal investigative websites have creepy, scary and menacing themes?  For the ones that do, what impression does it give off about the human spirit world and beyond?  What does this do to certain individuals who are experiencing something paranormal in their home or business?  For the ones who are generally unnerved, these sorts of websites may be a turnoff and/or increase their anxiety.  Yes, these sorts of designs cater to the thrill of encountering a ghost, spirit, Bigfoot, UFOs, etc., and may be a bit catchy, but don’t always accurately characterize them.  Does grandpa or grandma have green skin with black eyes and seeping pus?  No, they look just as they were when alive, albeit a bit younger and healthier, perhaps. 

Paranormal research is not something that I do merely for fun.  I am conscientiously devoted to the scientific study of supernatural phenomena and how metaphysics fits into the overall equation.  Not everyone is and that’s fine.  However, if you call yourself a “paranormal researcher,” then you better be doing more than prancing through a cemetery at night to have a thrill.  Researchers of the unknown devote a lot of time to their case studies and exploring the anomalous. 

Investigating the supernatural is both beautiful and mysterious.  It enables us to step outside the confines of mortality and connect with and learn from other beings and those dwelling in the afterlife.  It also gives us a front row seat in knowing that we will eventually learn the secrets of the universe once we transition to the spirit realm.  For these reasons and many others, the field of supernatural investigation and exploration should be treated with dignity and integrity.