Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finding Kindred Spirits

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to share a table at the Quad Cities 2014 Psychic and Paranormal Expo in Moline, Illinois. It was not the sort of event I would have definitely decided to attend, but I was invited to sell books (and read a few palms) by fellow supernatural writer -and paranormal investigator- Sylvia Shults. Sylvia was doing a presentation in conjunction with her amazing book, Fractured Spirits, a history, paranormal info included, of the Peoria State Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill that shuttered its doors in the 1970's and is haunted. Very haunted.

Since Sylvia also writes novels and short stories about the paranormal, and since I will happily do a short, five minute or so, palm reading for anyone who buys one of my books, sharing a table seemed both friendly and compatible. And what an event it turned out to be!

To our right sat a mother and daughter whose company hand-sews, knits, and crochets skirts, tops, and wraps in the most beautiful print fabrics and yarns imaginable. Directly across was a lady with two tables' worth of jewelry. Just past her were the people who do energy work on heads, as in scalps. And scattered throughout the vendor area, and it was enormous, were various tarot card readers, palm readers, psychics,  and mediums. Sylvia was one of a whole list of speakers who had been scheduled for the entire day. And the entire day ran from 10 AM to 6 PM.

I had figured if I sold at least one book I would be happy. Anyone else ever feel that way at an author fest? Or a literary festival? If I sell one book, I can walk away and feel okay. I was shocked when, shortly after Sylvia spoke, our table was mobbed. Oh, I wasn't surprised people wanted her books. She's a terrific and engaging presenter, and her topic drew a standing-room-only crowd. But when that enthusiasm spilled over to my side and people began purchasing my work I was thrilled and humbled. And I spent some quality time explaining various lines in peoples' hands and what they usually mean.

My husband, Jim, who is a good sport about my quirks and interests, helped out by watching the table for us if both of us ladies needed to be absent at the same time, picking up lunch, talking to people who were waiting in line, and just generally being another friendly face at our spot. He also disappeared for a while to have his aura photographed and interpreted, but hey, he earned it!

What was so much fun about this crowd was being able to say something like "The house I grew up in was haunted" and not having anyone bat an eyelid. Instead, they would just start exchanging stories with me. I haven't experienced so much ghost-story nonchalance since we were in Savannah last November where everyone discusses hauntings the same way they discuss the weather. No questioning, no skepticism, just a bland acceptance of a wider reality and hey, did you check out the people who were selling incense for only $1.50 a pack? They were great!

And it was sooo nourishing. Writing books is a lonely job, in the end. Sitting alone and working out stories on a keyboard, I am always up for anything that speaks to the ghost-inquisitor in me. I am not a ghost-hunter. Too chicken! But I will always be fascinated by a good ghost story and listening to other people tell them will always get my creativity going again.Not to mention validate my obsession.

Listening to all the talk, about ghosts, about spirit life, about what works to ban an entity from your home and what doesn't, was much like when I used to be actively involved in the Love is Murder mystery writers/readers conference. Then I could walk down a crowded hall listening to people describe various ways to kill someone and get away with it.

But that's whole 'nother story.

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