Beyond The First 40 Years

About a month and a half before I began the final year of my 30's.

About a month and a half before I began the final year of my 30’s.

It was my 40th birthday this past Monday on July 21. It went by quietly. Not exactly my intention, but it is what it is. On YouTube I posted an hour long video reflection on the first 40 years of my life with a specific focus on the odd decisions I’ve made over that time. The way I’ve done things over the years has been rather unconventional, and while, admittedly, the video kind of drags on, there are plenty of life details about decisions I made that would make you shake your head. So now, I write.

If I were to live as long as most of my grandparents I am not quite half way through this thing called life. I’m trying to get to age 126 so I can see the year 2100, but living into my 90s isn’t unreasonable. Realistically, however, I have about 30 years I can really play around with, so that means I’m more than halfway through my window of opportunity in life to significantly explore this world. I’m going to try to make the best of that window.

About 20 years ago I used to say that I’m not going to die until I’ve accomplished all the things in life that I want to do. They now call that a “bucket list” and there are some that I’ve already been able to check off, even if they didn’t exactly happen the way I originally planned. But they happened. So that means I can accomplish what it is I want to accomplish. That also means, however, I’m going to have to change some things within my life.


For far too long I have remained hyper-focused on the wrong things and have neglected so many things that would make me happier. I’ve even neglected my writing, if you can believe that (for instance, it should never have taken me seven months to write the second Ghostorian Case file when it took me two weeks to write the first), but I’ve never quite operated the way I’ve wanted to. So many times I have felt like I’m ready to burst with all kinds of creative energy only to find myself suppressing all of it for one ridiculous reason or another.  So long ago I used to not do that.

When I was a kid I would just sit and block out the world around me, writing to my heart’s content. Most of my first little stories were done at the dining room table when I was seven years old in Westfield, Massachusetts. The penmanship was rough and I included some simple drawings, but they were fun. A few years later I moved up to my mother’s Smith-Corona typewriter and banged out a few little Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, even cutting the pages to match the size of the real books. In highschool, I used study hall not only for homework but to get lost in a poetic world of song lyrics, with music never composed dancing through my head. Small books were started in a series of one subject notebooks, including a series of journals. Chase Michael DeBarlo was born my senior year of high school, and I knocked out a bunch of mini-mysteries featuring him.

Signing at the Inspired Ghost Tracking meet and greet.

Finding some time for a book signing at an Inspired Ghost Tracking meet and greet in October 2011.

Throughout my adult life, my writing has been relegated to “whenever I can find the time.” Whenever I’m asked when it is I do find the time because of how much I have going on throughout my life, my answer is always, “I don’t sleep much.” And that is true. I don’t sleep a whole lot. It’s kind of a big time waster. I’ve always wondered what it would be like if I could just dedicate my working time during the day to my writing – how much I could get done! And the quality would be so much better by now. I also mean just writing. The marketing of it is a whole other job entirely, and it does wear on me that I feel like I’m spamming the world half the time when I’d prefer my “brand” would just build itself rather than having to do all that I do to build that brand.

I want to branch out and do more with the videos, too. I’ve found that I actually really enjoy video production, even if I fight with the software half the time. I often find myself thinking I should have been in drama club back when I was in school – if I understood what drama club was at the time. (Seriously, I didn’t know that drama club was actually acting and performing in plays, so I jumped on the only opportunities I could like for foreign language festivals or the church youth group occasional skits.) I think it’s come a long way since the first Ghosts and Legends episode, and I’ve been looking into other opportunities like maybe getting into some independent films. Who knows… the world is open.

Finally, there’s traveling. I come from a family of travelers and I have been to all but five of the United States (Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Hawaii). I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many wonderful locations around this country, but most of that was when I was much younger even with investigating the paranormal opening a few doors. As far as any world traveling, it just hasn’t happened. I’ve always wanted to see the old world and walk through the history of the ancients. I want to see it with my own eyes, not just in pictures. I want to experience it, and I have yet to do so. Now is the time to remedy that.

Author Interview: Rob Gutro

Author and medium Rob Gutro.

Author and medium Rob Gutro.

Continuing with my author interview series, here is psychic medium Rob Gutro. Rob is a scientist who happens to hear, feel, sense and communicate with Earth-bound ghosts and spirits who have passed on. Rob worked as a radio broadcast meteorologist at the Weather Channel and worked for various other science and related organizations and has almost 20 years of on-air radio broadcasting experience. He’s a member of Inspired Ghost Tracking and helps cross ghosts over. He works for 2 dog rescues and visiting historic houses and sites.

His books include Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead, Ghosts and Spirits – Insights From a Medium, and the recently released Pets and the Afterlife.

Q. In your own words, who is Rob Gutro?

I’m an average middle-aged guy who happens to be a scientist, dog dad, dog rescue volunteer, an investigator with Inspired Ghost Tracking and a developing medium. Since I was a child I could receive messages from ghosts or spirits (who have crossed over). I wrote Pets and the Afterlife, Ghosts and Spirits, and Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead to teach others how ghosts and spirits communicate and to give hope about the afterlife. I also provide some scientific explanations about how they do it. I’m not a medium who makes appointments – I’m not as well-developed in my abilities as learned mediums. I consider myself more of a “medium rare.”

Q. When in your life did you start recognizing the abilities that you possess?

When I saw my grandfather materialize in full color before me, 6 months after he died. I was 13 years old. Now that I think about it- he appeared in July, which was the month of his birthday. That makes perfect sense because spirits come back with messages especially around birthdays and anniversaries.

Q. What inspired you to start writing about your experiences as a medium?

I’ve had encounters with Earth bound ghosts and spirits on-and-off until 2005. That’s when my puppy Buzz was killed by a car when his leash opened. Buzz immediately crossed and provided signs that he was with me – ranging from moving things to musical and audible signs to actually seeing him. He inspired me to write my first book and give others hope that pets and people communicate from the other side. My dad passed while I was writing the book and he also provided many amazing signs that even helped me convince my own family dad’s spirit was present during his wake and funeral.

Q. You have a passion for caring for and rescuing dogs which has led to your latest book, ‘Pets and the Afterlife’. Tell us about that.

Pets and the Afterlife

Pets and the Afterlife

My first dog, Buzz taught me what unconditional love means. Sure, we learn it from our parents, but it’s different with a dog or cat. They love you 100% all the time and are never disappointed in you. My partner and I came together with one dog each and since we couldn’t have children we wanted to help return the love to needy dogs who didn’t have homes, so we began fostering dogs (adopted 2 of them), transporting dogs for several rescues and donating time and money to help dogs. Our dogs are our children as they are with many pet owners.

When Buzz passed I was devastated. He provided proof he was still around from the other side. When we lost our dog Sprite in the summer of 2013, he also provided signs that were verified by us, three mediums we we know who don’t even know each other, and friends in Maryland and New Mexico. It’s an awesome story in the Pets and the Afterlife book and serves to give proof and hope to people who lost pets.

Q. How did your personal experiences come to mold and shape your other books, ‘Ghosts and Spirits – Insights from a Medium’ and ‘Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead’?

As with the Pets book, I wrote all of my books for a couple of reasons: 1) to prove that people and animals who pass are still with us 2) to show people how to look for signs and understand them. 3) To give people hope and comfort knowing that spirits are still with them from time to time, helping and guiding them 4) To understand that physical death is just one part of our lives 5) to understand that our relatives and pets are waiting for us on the other side 6) I use science and science of behavior to provide proof of how ghosts and spirits are able to convey messages.

Q. What’s next on the horizon for Rob Gutro?

RobBowieLifeIt’s a busy year since releasing Pets and the Afterlife on March 27. I’ve connected with many fellow pet parents looking for signs and comfort (and some pets have already given me messages for their parents!). During the rest of the year I’ve got appearances and interviews every other weekend through October. I’ll be speaking at The Frederick Book Festival on June 28th, On August 1 at Inspired Ghost Tracking, Paracon in Pensacola, FL Aug 9-10, a rescue in NY in August followed by appearances at the New England Pet Expo in Boston in Sept., the Capital Pet Expo in Washington, DC in October and several others in between.

I’ve already written my fourth book for next year, but just have to edit it. It’s called Energy, Entities and England: Ghosts in the U.K. In addition, the response from the Pets book has been so great, I’m writing a second volume with stories from others. So, there’s a lot happening and the best part is helping comfort and educate people to know how to recognize signs from their loved ones, while sometimes passing messages on from the other side.

 

Happy 10th Anniversary, Deadly Heirs!

Ten years ago today was a major milestone in my writing career with the official release of my first mystery novel, Deadly Heirs. The fantastic crew that I worked with at the time at Howard County Library in Columbia, Maryland, arranged a nice little release party that morning, decorating the office as private investigator Chase Michael DeBarlo’s office, and a new phase of my life as a published author began. However, it was a long and colorful journey for DeBarlo to make it to those pages.

 

Chase Michael DeBarlo at Howard County Library in 2004.

Imagine, if you will, a seven-year-old boy sitting quietly in a large, cushioned golden rocking chair that dwarfed the child reading the tattered pages of the latest Encyclopedia Brown book that he checked out from his school’s library. After excitedly trying to solve the mysteries and figuring out how Encyclopedia had once again caught Bugs Meany in a lie he runs off to find some paper, a pen, and some crayons to create his own little mystery stories. That was the genesis of my writing career with early influences also including Cam Jansen, the Hardy Boys, and Hitchcock’s Three Detectives. I also wrote some short stories that year in second grade about the American Revolution that impressed the school and I was asked to read some of my work in class. Imagine reading the “Big Boat Mystery” to your classmates when the one you’ve deemed the culprit is one of the kids listening to you read the story (he’s still the culprit in Deadly Heirs, by the way, as a sort of homage to those early shorts)! Mary Beth Markam was my first autograph request.

The Mac clipart I used for DeBarlo back in 1991.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. I had continued writing a few mystery short stories over the years, a few ghost tales, but my two largest writing outlets at the time were my journal and song lyrics. Sitting in front of a Mac Classic in Computer Business Applications class with Mrs. Lola Franks we were given a basic word processing assignment: type up… something. One page. So, there you go… within a decrepit classroom on the second floor of the old Bowman Building that has since been torn down, Chase Michael DeBarlo was born.

His first case wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t really even a case. In “The Missing Donut Seed” Chase is caught in a flood while pursuing Knuckles Knucklehead and is desperately trying to find a way to get downtown in the deluge. Short and silly. That was the premise of the Chase Michael DeBarlo short stories that year and for the few shorts I wrote after I graduated. However, the (doughnut) seed of Deadly Heirs was first planted back then, too.

From “The Missing Donut Seed II”:

“It was 8:14 P.M. The night was cold. The night was wet.

I had had a rough day on the job – clues, suspects, paperwork – you know the deal. That’s when she walked in. Miss Stella Moonlight radiated in the doorway…”

Sound familiar? Yes, remnants of my early writing found its way into the finished novel. Also, Stella Moonlight became Stella Boardwick who, instead of radiating in DeBarlo’s doorway, ended up singing at the Flamingo Lounge (which made its first appearance in “A Deep Dark Secret II”, the seventh of these shorts).

A 3D computer model of DeBarlo's Office for the game that was never made.

Enter Tex Murphy. Tex is, in many ways, a similar type of gumshoe private investigator but far more down on his luck and lives in the post-nuclear holocaust future. I played the full-motion video game series in the mid-90s (Tex is finally making a comeback!), loved it, and was inspired to take DeBarlo in a similar direction. Some original artwork was created for a Chase Michael DeBarlo computer game, but it never really went anywhere. In the meantime, I started writing the accompanying novel for the game, and Deadly Heirs was begun.

I took pieces of what I had written in high school and created Chapter 1 in 1997. From there I fleshed out the plot line with an audio recorder that I kept in the car, and Deadly Heirs was being molded during my final few months in the Air Force as I drove to and from work. There’s even a sizable chunk that I recorded with my son, Collin, when he was only four years old. He wanted Chase to investigate a farm with all the animals being suspects!

Off and on over the next several years I wrote on the novel when I could find the time, which was usually during my lunch break at work. I could sometimes find some time at night, but I was usually too tired by then for that type of creativity. I had an hour commute after work, would make dinner when I came home, cleaned up and/or did stuff with the kids — a baseball coach at times — until they went to bed, more cleanup after that… Let’s put it this way: I was grocery shopping at midnight. But when I did get those moments to write I would inspire myself with all kinds of cool detective-like jazz, including some of the old music from Tex Murphy. I still have the playlist on my computer to this day.

Scores of people have asked me over the years where I find the time to do all that I do, and I usually respond with, “I don’t sleep much.” And to those that tell me I should get more sleep, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Not much has really changed there. I take on way too much and never have enough time for it all, but there is so much I want to do and accomplish in this life.

At some point along the way I deemed I was nearly complete and started querying agents to represent me. Yes, this breaks the rule that you’re not supposed to start querying for fiction until you have a completed manuscript, but waiting on a response back then took so long since nobody was taking email queries. And was it ever long! I worked queries and follow-ups and sample chapters and various forms of a synopses for a couple years. I was frustrated since everyone who read Deadly Heirs loved it, and I kept getting met with every form of excuse for a rejection that one could imagine. At some point I threw up my hands and elected on choosing a small publisher, figuring it would at least get my foot in the door of the publishing world.

And my beloved Deadly Heirs with Chase Michael DeBarlo and a full cast of colorful characters did just that. Since then I’ve published two ghost books and the sequel to Deadly Heirs, System of the Dead. I also have two more books on the way and I’m really just getting started with my Ghostorian Case Files series.

DeBarlo in The Matrix Online, leader of The Enigma Directive.

Chase has been seen about elsewhere, too, and I’m not talking about the infamous DeBarlo character from The Matrix Online. Chase was featured in a short story “Failed Rescue” that I gave to an anthology titled Studies in Scarlet and in freebie short story on my website named “All Hail Hack Tucker”. Both of these are set in DeBarlo’s world although not told from his point-of-view. I also included him in a number of mini-mysteries that I’ve provided with my newsletter, which had been monthly but is more like whenever I can get to it. These are in first-person like the books and are somewhat similar to my original shorts (but a little less silly). Chase is also going to be featured in a short story in my upcoming Campfire Tales: Midwest from Schiffer Publishing this fall. Even Deadly Heirs is in its Second Edition with extended scenes that weren’t included in the First Edition.

Clearly my super-ego, Chase Michael DeBarlo has been a part of me for most of my life. While he really didn’t get a name until I was 17, he has been there in spirit since I was 7. There was even a while there that my own son, Chase Michael, wanted to be a detective (then he wanted to be a ninja!). DeBarlo is my own and a part of me — a bit skeptical, a bit sarcastic, and sly enough to accomplish what he needs to and solve the case, satisfying some of his own curiosities in the meantime.

I can’t wait to see where we travel together in the future.

(Deadly Heirs is free this week on Kindle for an anniversary promotion while System of the Dead has been marked down to 99 cents.)

Author Interview: Robbie Thomas

Psychic profiler and author, Robbie Thomas.

I’m going to start running some periodic interviews of my fellow authors to introduce followers of my blog to some other great talent that is out there. There’s a lot of fantastic things going on out there aside from my own little writing world. First up is renowned psychic profile and paranormal author, Robbie Thomas. (Maybe I can get my buddy, Rob Gutro, to agree to do the next one).

Robbie Thomas is a Psychic Medium/Spiritual Councillor helping internationally, families and Police fight against crime, while bringing solace to those who need it. Over many years of assisting in numerous murder and missing persons cases, Robbie has been able to give great details to these devastating crimes and event, which have led to finding lost people, arrests being made in murder cases, and bringing closure to families who desperately need it.

Q. In your own words, who is Robbie Thomas?

I’m a loving husband and father of three beautiful girls. I like to think of myself as a kind and caring individual trying his best to lend a bit to this life while listening to what life has to offer from this world of ours. I would consider myself a visionary, friend, and helper, someone who would go that extra mile for someone in need. Sometimes, these qualities might seem good and sometimes a bad, it all depends on the moment, I guess. I’m not perfect, but would like to think I do my best in life.

Q. Tell us about your work with the police and how you and your abilities have been able to help solve crimes.

Over many years of assisting with cases that involve murder or missing persons, the ability itself, has been a key role in helping families and that of police. From either bringing forward a key new piece of evidence in assisting to move a case in the right direction to actually giving a murderers name or place where a body would be, I find spirit moves swiftly and in a precise manner when they want to get the message across. Communicating with the other side greatly depends on those from the other side and how the message is conveyed.

Q. When in your life did you start recognizing the abilities that you possess?

At a very early age things such as shadow people to speaking with guardian angels was something that was just part of life for me. However, it became much more prevalent in my early adolescence and trying to cope with how to control or accept the much more dramatic part of communication of contact was a task. Knowing my peer section would only push me away, I decided to venture this road keeping everything quiet. Later in life, I knew the path I was put on was one of helping others in a manner that was very decisive. I went through to become a police officer on two occasions. One, I was hired and then told the very same day that I was too young as I was only seventeen and passed all the testing. I remember shaking the hand of the police chief and him reading my scores welcoming myself and two others to the force.

Then there was a pause. He then turned to me smiling asking me to come back when I was twenty. Yes, my first hire and fire on the same day! My second police testing was just outside of Toronto, Ontario. I remember coming home sitting in my kitchen speaking with a family member when there was screaming coming from my back yard area. I jumped over the fence in the back only to see a woman screaming, “accident…accident!” I ran in the direction she pointed looking for an accident in the street and anticipating a bad happening. There was nothing! Suddenly, a man yells over to me, “In here!” I look at the gentleman standing at the balcony door to this townhome and him waving me over. I ran over and into a kitchen area, where a woman was running around a kitchen table screaming, a man standing over by a door and he had his hand on the doorknob. He called me over as I looked into his eyes that were wide open. He grabbed me, opened the door and shoved me into this little room. At this point I was looking at the floor looking for blood as just moments ago the lady was screaming, “accident!” The room was very tiny, nothing more than that of six feet by four feet.

A small bathroom and there was a man dead in there with his eyes wide open looking directly at me. All the training in CPR started to come forward as I began right away checking for vitals and was about to administer CPR when I heard, “Let me go!” I stopped for a moment shaking my head and then proceeded to check again for vitals and start CPR. “LET ME GO!” I heard it a second time, very loud this time. His spirit was very loud and clear and that was the point. I opened the door while still looking at him and backed my way out of the bathroom. At that moment, I knew there was something I was going to do, but becoming a police officer wasn’t it. I called someone at the precinct and was put in touch with a captain who immediately came to my home the day after with a film crew. They were making a film on how police, firefighters and EMT’s quit the profession because of duress. Funny thing is though, I wasn’t stressed and you should have seen their faces when I explained exactly what took place and the reasoning for me not wanting to become a police officer. This was the start of my career doing what I do and then it came full circle much more prevalent and me moving much more forward in assisting with cases just after the death of my mother in 1994.

Q. Where does your passion for writing stem from?

I love to write and that of many genres. I guess for me it’s about getting the truth out, either in factual writings in the paranormal, spiritual or that of the horror genre. If I have a story to tell from factual events, I like to at times twist it with a bit of the fictional fantasy type writing. I get lost in the story bringing it from a factual stand point.

Q. After publishing Time Shift: The Paradigm a number of the events you wrote about started coming true. Without giving away too much, tell us about a few of those events and how did that make you feel?

The book, itself, played out like a movie. I couldn’t type fast enough to get all the information across. It flowed very quickly and precisely to a point tunnel vision was my only sight as words in the proper manner were typed out before my eyes. The story cascades an apocalyptic storyline that takes one on a very fast paced thriller ride throughout our world and the events that unfold.

Surprisingly enough, the sense of rushing came over me as though what was being written had to be published as soon as possible for people to see and recognize its importance. The publication date alone had significance, for from the time it was released, many aspects about the entirety of this work started to come true. The cover alone has meaning as again the release date was just days before scientists found the complete Mayan Calendar and in its representation I created from sight what would prove to be the very first coming true of a prediction. The cover itself holds true as it shows our world we live in burning through the Mayan Calendar only to survive and move forward in life. For the longest time, we as a people looked at the Mayan Calendar as a dictation of what would become of our world as the end was near. Not so, for the story continues and the prophecy from the Mayans proved to be wrong and the cover proved to be right.

There are many other significant moments in time from the release date that express many happenings that have come true post publication. From names, places, events and timelines have all come to pass with great significance, which has indeed kept researchers and critics watching. Spirit wanted a message to be told and in doing so, many have read the book while looking twice at what is coming next.

Q. What’s your take on the state of the paranormal on television and in the media?

The state of the paranormal has its moments, I would say. From the onset of so many wanting to discredit others while trying to save face of their own, to people making a mockery of what many really hold sacred. I have a saying, “Too many people trying to walk among the dead when, in fact, they don’t know how to walk among the living!” It’s direct and specific to what is going on within the paranormal community as a whole. The paranormal on television is so saturated with much of the same thing over and over that it becomes a repeat of pete. What use to be a real exciting venture in wanting to know more about the unknown, at times, has turned into a three ringed circus with everyone searching for five minutes of fame, regardless of how they sell their soul.

There are many pioneers from the culture of paranormal, who we all look up to, yet trying to set “new” trends to something most have no idea what they are dealing with, is making a spectacle at times of the field of work in which many hold dear. The media is a conglomerate of build you up only to tear you down syndrome. You’re in at one moment with the right clique of individuals, yet in the same breath you become the cat’s eye target if things don’t go a certain way. I remember back ten years ago and you could count on one hand the amount of so called internet paranormal radio shows/ networks that there were. Now, it too, is so saturated with this type of media. But don’t get me wrong, in the same sense, as it too, serves a good purpose and also that of a too saturated market indeed. It has become a competition/three ringed circus in its own light.

At times, it makes one wonder where all the integrity has gone, where is the focus on the priority of research, proper research in every aspect of paranormal gone. It has become a popularity contest at best, which has at many times given the paranormal community a black eye. I believe we all are here to learn, but learn together without all the nonsense that goes on within the community. I did my first one hour special on television back in 2004 and one individual from the community just happen to catch the show that day calling me up. We discussed the paranormal and how many researchers, real researchers there were back then, and it’s amazing to see from out of the woodwork how many claim to be in the field of work for many years before. This is where the integrity of this field fails, which at times, creates the premise of everything I’ve just discussed here today.

The paranormal is a great journey for most and held in great respect to the many who have ventured into its depths over the many years. This is where the fundamentals of true research/examination should be discovered by those trying to establish anew within this field. I truly have seen many come and go over the decades of working within this myself, which only proves the point that working together for a common goal to achieve the proper, is essential by every means. It’s desired and needed!

Q. What keeps you motivated to do all that you do?

People! I love people and the existence of human kind. I love the fact, I tie together God and the paranormal in every aspect of ability/research/spirituality. From working the front lines with families and police on murder/missing person’s cases, giving the hope and faith to move forward to find the answers to things we need to know to working on research with others in proper paranormal encounters, knowing we are all here, equal in this life and knowing we all have a purpose to exist to move forward to exist again. This is what makes me motivated in many ways.

Q. What’s next on the horizon for Robbie Thomas?

I love the fact of the continuation of living and making things happen in my own personal life. I love the fact of creating new and exciting works of art through the eyes of spirit that is placed in sequential moments on paper from pen. These are the messages from beyond, which gives great encouragement to me personally. Taking from this, working in creating television series to movie scripts from the books I’ve written while staying focused on the purpose of what everything is meant for. We’ve created a paranormal true crime series that is in development at the moment with much interest from many in the market. This will give the opportunity for many to have assistance in cases from murder to the missing, lending the outside the box theme looking for new evidence on such things.

Looking forward to life and what it brings in the future, for the future is what we give to the present and that is how you live life treating it with great respect. This is what I do everyday and will continue to do always.

More about Robbie can be found at… 

http://www.robbiethomas.net/

Behind the Video: Lynette’s Law Exposing Therapist Abuse

You know it’s a passion when you feel absolutely drained after you’ve completed it. This happens a lot with my writing, but this time around it happened in creating a video, the most recent Lynette’s Law video (below), specifically. I’ve been helping Heather Sinclair with her Lynette’s Law movement (http://www.lynetteslaw4maryland.com) since just after the time of its inception and this time she asked for a video underscoring how rampant sexual exploitation by mental health professionals and therapist abuse has been while using the powerful “Lux Aeterna” score by Clint Mansell. This also needed to be completed at least a few days prior to the HB 33 hearing on January 28.

I suppose you can call this a post-production developer’s diary. I wanted to make sure this video drove its message home. It wasn’t just going to be a few pictures and screenshots of articles. No… I wanted to bombard the viewer with as much as I could find. The problem was I kept finding… and finding… and finding. Articles about therapists exploiting their patients are not that hard to come by, actually, and while that’s scary enough what’s even scarier is that most of these cases don’t even end up in the news. Hell, 80% of victims don’t even report what happened to them. So with that perspective in mind I wanted the viewer saying, “Holy crap.”

Keeping with the tempo and the beat, article after article is offered up. There is some graphic imagery as well, and I highlight a couple recent cases in Maryland, disclosing segments of their public documents. The one about Andrew “Clint” Stees is particularly noteworthy since the case document actually does a very good job of stepping through how he groomed his victim… and started moving on to the next one when he was done with her.

All the while as I was piecing it together my heart was being torn. The searing orchestra coursed through my veins relentlessly hour after hour as I meticulously edited each clip. I’ve done heavy editing of my own paranormal show with splashes of special effects, but this was, by far, the most challenging video I’ve yet done. Timing was essential as I tried to emotionally capture the viewer while I was also battling my own emotions. And the content… was gut-wrenching. The video focuses on the headlines, but personal stories behind the headlines are absolutely tragic.

I can’t tell you how many lives and families were destroyed, the number of children that were sexually abused (about 1 in 20 of these cases are minors, but it seems like more). There were delusional statements from a female therapist who intentionally destroyed the marriage of a couple she was counseling so she could sexually exploit the husband and told him, “I made you a man,” and an 18 year old victim of her therapist rapist of three years who she had started seeing for depression and suicidal thoughts telling him, “You made it so much worse.” Others were repeat offenders or were trying to hide behind their religion. There’s far too much to go into… just look up the headlines from the video if you really want to know.

It took me a couple weeks to get it all together, but the next morning after completing the video I was emotionally wiped. It didn’t help that I’d had a strange dream during that night as well, but my heart was heavy. Mixed with a sense of accomplishment and pride was an emotional let down that lingered around me throughout the day. I was certainly glad that Heather was happy with the video and she kept watching it, and others chimed in with positive feedback. That helped me smile through the thick murk that was surrounding me. If this truly helps Heather and Lynette’s Law on Tuesday and throughout the rest of the legislative session, then that’s fantastic. One part of Lynette’s Law passed in Maryland last year, now the rest needs to pass this year. If this is what it feels like after just making a video, I can’t imagine the emotional trauma of those that have suffered through the real horror.

So voice your support with a letter to Lynette’s Law or at the hearings this session!

Introducing the Ghostorian Case Files!


The Inscription of Evil Times

Back in October I introduced a new series of books that I’ve started writing: The Ghostorian Case Files. This is a series that I’m really excited about and really enjoyed putting together the first one, The Inscription of Evil Times. This first case file from the vault of yours truly begins with the unearthing of a ancient stone tablet in the middle of America’s heartland — Iowa, of all places. What in the world is this thing that is thousands of years old doing there?

In a short period of time a number of mysteries are introduced either through the enigmatic doctor that has elicited my help, reports from paranormal investigators, or through my own research and investigation. It’s all laid out for the reader as if he or she is really opening up a folder from my filing cabinet and reading the case documents, which has made for quite an interesting and different format that I think gives the reader an engaging perspective.

There works are shorter than my longer ghost books or lengthy novels, but that means I’ll be able to offer loyal readers more throughout the year. My next Case File, Mysteries of the Church of Darkness, will be released soon!

The Inscription of Evil Times is currently available on Kindle and can be had for only 99 cents here: The Inscription of Evil Times (Mike’s Ricksecker’s Ghostorian Case Files)

In the future I may publish these as a printed edition, perhaps as some sort of box set, but for now they will remain on Kindle, which means I will have more out with the quicker turnover time.

Also, lately, I’ve reviewed a couple of Robbie Thomas’s books and here’s what I’ve had to say:

Parasylum: The open doors of the cursed Grandview Asylum await you in Robbie Thomas’ chiller, Parasylum. With an ending completely unexpected, screams and plot twists lurk around every corner in a paranormal investigation turned fight for survival. Parasylum is an entertaining chamber of horrors waiting to drag you to hell.

Time Shift, The Paradigm: Robbie Thomas drives a fast-paced plot in Time Shift: The Paradigm as the entire world is under siege by strange paranormal forces, leaving death and destruction in its wake. While scientists and leaders of nations struggle to discover what is behind the ancient foretelling of the phenomena, small town citizens struggle to cope with the havoc occurring around them, military occupation, and invisible beings that talk to their children. The world is in complete upheaval in this race against time and prophecies. More than just an apocalyptic tale, many events detailed in Time Shift have already come to pass!

Shadow People Highlights Video Blog Debut

If you’ve been a fan of my Ghosts and Legends video documentary series then you’re aware that I made an announcement on the last episode, “Concerning Videos”, that I will be producing a new video blog that will less formal in structure than the current Ghosts and Legends format and will air more frequently. To debut this new video blog my topic will cover shadow people.

Admittedly, I was inspired to talk about this from a recent viewing of the movie Shadow People, starring Dallas Roberts (Walking Dead). I’ve also had a very vivid experience with a shadow person in my youth and have see a few lurking about when I’ve been out investigating the paranormal. I don’t claim to be a shadow person “expert” but I do have a few opinions on the subject.

There are scores of theories about what shadow people are, where the came from, and how they function. When I’m asked about shadow people I will emphasize the word “theory” because anything we think we know about them is pretty much just that. Until someone can sit down and actually interview a shadow person we can only try to draw conclusions from reported experiences. While many aspects of these reportings are similar, there are quite a few differences as well.

For example, skeptics and many in the medical community immediately jump to sleep paralysis when told of a shadow person sighting because in many cases a temporary paralysis of the body is reported. The medical theory is that the body is trapped between sleeping and waking with the body consciously viewing its surroundings while viewing imagery from the dream while still pinned down by the muscle atonia that keeps people from physically acting out in their dreams. I understand that idea, but why then is the dream state imagery always that of a humanoid figure and not, say, a tree or an airplane or any number of other objects that one may dream about? Also, some people have reported being able to physically interact with shadow people. In my case, the shadow person pulled my arms across my body then ran down the hall which I had to turn my head to view. If this is supposed to be an episode of sleep paralysis then how did my arms and head move?

I’ve experienced real sleep paralysis before while sitting down. I was completely conscious and could hear everything going on around me, but I couldn’t move and my eyes had closed since I dozed off so I couldn’t see. It’s a scary feeling because inside my head I was trying to will myself to move and wake up and couldn’t. I had to slowly start by concentrating on wiggling my toes until little by little more of my body started to move and I could open my eyes.

Commonly reported type figures include a hooded figure, an old hag, a man wearing a hat similar to a fedora, and a humanoid figure both with and without red eyes. Other varieties include ceiling crawlers and animal-type shadows about the size of a cat.

When the video blog is released I’ll append it to this blog entry.

DeBarlo Returns in System of the Dead

System of the Dead, the long-awaited sequel to Deadly Heirs, was finally released on August 21 on Kindle and Nook. A printed option is still in the works, but I am quite excited that this book is finally available for my fans. I’ve been talking about it off and on for years, after all. Here’s the blurb:

“One moment Matthew Rivers is designing a revolutionary computer operating system, the next he is discovered strung from a tree in his front yard. Authorities believe it was a guilt-ridden suicide due to an exposed affair, however, Rivers’s wife refuses to accept that theory and hires private investigator Chase Michael DeBarlo to seek the truth. Chase discovers a web of secrets behind the operating system Rivers had been designing, while others working on the project begin to turn up missing or dead in seemingly unrelated matters. In a turn of events that mixes social networking with code breaking, an unlikely coffee shop girl from Ohio helps tie it all together for Chase.”

The last time we saw DeBarlo before this he’d been hired by the great-niece of a wealthy billionaire to track down her late uncle’s missing last will and testament. He ended up taking on three cases at once, which launched him into a bit of a time management crisis, but at least he got to snoop around a billionaire’s mansion and estate. This time around our detective may not be sitting in the lap of luxury, but the stakes are higher. Everyone wants a piece of the operating system Matthew Rivers had been developing, a revolutionary software that has potential to change the way the world computes.

The host of colorful side characters return with a couple new additions as well. Chase still busts the chops police detective Len Stevens about doughnuts, the reclusive Rock Rickman finally gets out a bit, Dennis Frohman is usual compulsive self, and Monique Coubure is still hanging around Tanner’s. Tate Stevens, Len’s musician nephew has been added to the mix as has tough-nosed journalist Helen Schulze. There’s also a Genelle Starr sighting in her black patent leather Christian Louboutin’s.

Those that have read the short story “All Hail Hack Tucker” will recognize a back alley scene from System of the Dead. Hack, for those new to the world of Chase Michael DeBarlo, is a street informant that Chase retains in downtown Fallsbury. He has a small gang of thugs and in System of the Dead Chase runs into them as he’s searching an abandoned shop. Hack feeds Chase a story, but “All Hail Hack Tucker” answers what the street informant and his thugs had really been up to that night. I’ll be uploading this as a freebie to the website soon, but it’s an interesting side story, almost like a deleted scene from the novel.

A few random tid bits from around the novel… while the operating system that Matthew Rivers was developing is fictional, there really has been a Linux-based operating system known as LuMiX (also mentioned in the novel). I developed this for the Howard County Library System (Maryland) in conjunction with Luis Salazar nearly 10 years ago. While Fallsbury in a fictional town in Massachusetts, Chase does visit the very real town of Wooster, Ohio, where I graduated high school. In Deadly Heirs, Chase visited Westfield, Massachusetts, where I spent elementary school and part of middle school. Where might he visit in the third novel? The meatrake dance story told while Chase is in Wooster is a true one from when I worked at Taco Bell in high school. The baseball banter may seem outdated, but that’s because I started writing System of the Dead during the offseason between the 2003 and 2004 seasons. So Chase weighs in on the Red Sox and the Curt Schilling trade prior to the bloody sock and winning the 2004 World Series.

To wrap this up, some have been asking me about a printed version of the book that they’d like to have autographed. I’m looking into options to taking System of the Dead to print, but in the meantime it will remain in ebook format for the Kindle and Nook.

Therapist Abuse Awareness: The Cause I Fight For

Therapist Abuse Awareness Ribbon

I should be using this space today to talk about the recent announcement of the release of System of the Dead, my second Chase Michael DeBarlo mystery novel. It’s coming out August 21, and you can read the first excerpt here.

However, there are moments in our lives that supersede our own personal goals and must be brought to the forefront. Until recently, I’ve largely taken a back seat to various causes, electing to contribute where I could to a few charities and helping out the community every once in a great while. I was told that was ok because I was such a busy person. Allow me to plagiarize Young Guns II for a second and say, “Not no more, Billy.”

Back in June, I wrote my first non-paranormal Examiner article in years, surprising many with an informative piece on therapist abuse called “Lynette’s Law: A crusade against therapist abuse.” I’ve now followed that up by revealing some atrocious loopholes in the system with “How sexually abusive therapists avoid jail time.” Yes, I’ve become an advocate for therapist abuse awareness, but that’s just simply stating a fact. This is a blog, and I can be a bit more personal here… so let me shed some real light on this whole thing for you.

When you love someone and have a strong connection with that person you not only share in the laughter, but you also experience some of the pain. While I could never fully comprehend the absolute horror of therapist abuse, I’m witnessing the aftermath of a shattered life because of it… and it sickens me, it angers me, it makes me want to hunt down the person that did this and beat him beyond human recognition. It wouldn’t change what happened, but it’s how I feel.

There was a song I wrote as a teen about a different, but related, subject – child sexual abuse – that has relevant lyrics to this situation as well. Please bear with the raw creative writing skills of a 15 year old (although I’m still impressed I wrote the line “Locking goldie and bearing three is not a bedtime story”), it’s the emotion behind the lines I’m trying to convey. Here’s the chorus of “Revenge Room”:

I’m going to take you in the night,
Chain you to dynamite,
Caught in the web of your doom,
Welcome to Revenge Room,
Suffering worse than a widow’s mate,
Innocence is much too late,
Painful end coming soon,
Welcome to Revenge Room.

I suppose my viewpoint on it all is rather simplistic compared to the myriad of emotions I’ve seen from a victim. Like I said before, there’s no way I could possibly comprehend the complete personal violation and obliteration of the delicate fabric of trust. So I sit and stew and write. What else can I do?

Over the past few months I have been witness to an effort to make people aware of therapist abuse and institute change, starting with the simple implementation of background checks for therapists in the state of Maryland. The offender in this particular case was a convicted felon in another state, something that would have prevented him from obtaining a license to begin with should Maryland have required background checks. It would have prevented abhorrent crime from occurring. A petition was created to institute change… and I’ve watched it essentially spin its wheels. The last I looked today it was sitting at 169. The petition has been active for months and that’s all it’s gained? Seriously? If I posted a petition right now about saving fluffy puppies from harm I’d surpass that mark in the first hour! We’re talking about helping real human lives from potential sexual predators, harm, and abuse!

Let me dish some perspective… and I have no problem stating that I ripped most of this straight from the Lynette’s Law website:

Therapist abuse is using the imbalance of power in the therapeutic relationship to…

Control, manipulate and exploit clients.
Encouraging their clients to do things that are not within the clients best interests
Encouraging the clients dependency
Use the client’s vulnerability to the therapist’s advantage
Abandon clients
Engage in an unethical dual relationship with client

Statistics about therapy patient abuse only tell part of the story since most cases go unreported, but here are some numbers:
Approximately 4.4% of therapists report having engaged in sex with at least one client.
The offenders are about four times more likely to be male than female.
The vast majority of sexually exploited clients are women (88-92%).
One out of 20 victims is a minor.

The aftermath is incalculable. 11% of victims of therapist patient abuse end up in the hospital, 14% attempt suicide, and 1% actually commit suicide.

So… no offense to fluffy puppies, but can we get this petition signed already? It’s a no-brainer.

This is a cause worth fighting for and I, along with everything else I have going on, will be working tirelessly to help out. This is far more important than ghosts and mystery stories. We’re talking about something that drives people to kill themselves after this crime has already been committed upon them. Psychological manipulation and controlling patients in order to exploit them sexually and/or otherwise must end. Now.

Referring back to highschool again, my old German teacher once wrote in one of my yearbooks, “Michael – Ein Mann. Ein Kämpfer für die er liebt.” You can look that one up, but let’s just say it’s related to cracking open a barrel of whoop-ass. Some of that whoop-ass will be dished out through the pen, including helping the founder of the Lynette’s Law movement with her autobiography and a psychological thriller titled The Therapist (yes, that is an official announcement, although the Lynette’s Law site had the news first). In fact, all of this is inspiring me to write better. The rest will be dished out… well, however it needs to be dished.

But let’s freaking start with that petition!

Where Next for ‘Ghosts and Legends’?

I’ve just released the latest Ghosts and Legends of Oklahoma video, “101 Ranch Wild West Spirits,” and it’s bittersweet. This will be my last Oklahoma video for the foreseeable future since I’ve moved back to Maryland, so I need to consider where I’m going to take the Ghosts and Legends series. It currently has a popular run going on Ghosttales Television Network (GTN) on Tuesday nights, and it’s up for two Paranormal Emmie Awards for Best New Show and Best Episode (“Beginnings”). I don’t want to alter the format too much given its success, but this does give me a moment to step back and examine what I could improve.

Episode 5 saw the introduction of some new special effects, so I’ll probably continue down that path. I also started using some original music by Ron Stevens, a fantastic musician I’ve known for years and whose talents I hope to continue utilizing. I’m also going to enjoy working with the new members of Society of the Haunted here in Maryland and investigating with a fantastic team. It excites me thinking about all the historic locations that are at our fingertips on the east coast and how we may be able to cover them. The upcoming episodes of Ghosts and Legends should be fantastic!

I’m also excited about the conferences and events I’ll be able to get to now that I’m back east. Last weekend, accompanied by Society of the Haunted sensitive Heather Sinclair who talked to people about Lynette’s Law and therapist abuse awareness (sign the petition here!), I spoke at the Past Television Network (PTVN) ParaCon at the old Emmitt House in Wavery, Ohio, and had a fantastic time meeting with old friends and making new ones, including Rick Hayes, Andrea Perron, Bruce Tango, John Tenney, Christopher Moon, and Brandon Kreitzer (that was my obligatory name-dropping sentence, but they’re really all fantastic people). My Sunday presentation covered the relationship between history and the paranormal, but we had an encounter right in the middle of it all. While I was telling the story of the back door repeatedly blowing open during the filming of “Monster in the Closet” for The Haunted, the large wooden door to the conference room suddenly slammed shut on its own. There was no wind and nobody was near the door, so the skeptics in the crowd started asking me how I pulled off the trick. It was no trick, folks!

There’s a bit of a breather here at the end of the summer to get organized for the fall. October always becomes a busy month and I’m already getting some events lined up for it, so stay tuned!