Altered Destiny

ImageDo you ever wonder about your choices?

Sometimes I think life is nothing more than a path filled with forked roads. You find yourself at a cross-road and have to make a decision. Do I go left or right? Just that one simple decision could alter your entire life.

I narrowly missed being involved in a horrific traffic accident once. It really made me stop and wonder about it. I’d misplaced my keys that morning and spent a few extra seconds looking for them. Had I walked out the door at my intended time, I probably would have been killed. Those three or four seconds were life altering.

It made me really consider the concept of destiny. Every second of the day leads to the next second. What we do in those seconds dictates what comes next. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s entirely accidental. It feels like there must be a mastermind behind some of the planning, or at least I hope there is.

For me, my life turned on a dime when I was seventeen years old.

I had no direction in my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated from high school. I didn’t have any passions or dreams. I just meandered from one thing to the next.

Then, one night everything changed.

I had a horrific fight with my mother, which led me to move out of her house and into my father’s house. This meant that I had to also change schools in my junior year of high school. The entire move to a new school was devastating and I didn’t know where to fit in. At my old school, I’d fallen in with a crowd who enjoyed partying, and I became a very devout rebel. When I walked into my new school, I saw in an instant that this just wouldn’t work any longer.

North Posey was literally in the middle of a corn field. The kids who went there were the kind of kids you see on sitcoms, American apple pie and sunshine. Future Farmers of America was a big club in the school, and nearly everybody in town went to the football games each Friday. A party girl from Mt. Vernon, who smoked and drank wasn’t going to last long there.

I tried to fit in. I really did. I hid my smoking and gave up the rebel attitude and tried to find my mid-western roots somewhere deep inside me, but I still just didn’t fit in. I’d changed schools in the middle of a school year, in the middle of my second-to-last year of high school, where friendships had long been established. I wouldn’t find my place friend-wise for nearly a year, but I found my lifelong dream in a classroom.

I didn’t know I was a writer until a teacher showed me that I was.

Mrs. Hunt was always smiling, but she could be tough when she needed to be. She assigned us small writing projects and then helped us improve our technique. I felt as though I’d finally found my calling. It felt like walking into a dream for me. I was mesmerized by the process of putting words on paper and creating something whole. As our projects got larger, I began to really stretch and grow. Mrs. Hunt didn’t let this escape unnoticed. She took my stories and read them to our class, as well as her other classes too. I couldn’t have been happier.

I took what she taught me and expanded on it. I majored in English in college for two years, and after dropping out to join the workforce, took creative writing classes on the side. I joined a writer’s group, wrote short stories, and just kept at it until I’d finally written something worth publishing. I wrote six books before one would be published. Lightning Strikes was actually my sixth book. The others were just practice books.

When I published Lightning Strikes, I wondered what had happened to Mrs. Hunt. I wondered if she knew of the impact she’d had on my life. I decided to find her. I reached out to a friend who still lived in the area and mailed him a copy of my book to give to her. A month later, I received a letter that made me cry.

She had fallen on hard times. Her husband was very ill, and she’d become bedridden. She said she once loved reading, but had given it up years ago. When she got the copy of my book and saw the dedication I wrote to her on the very first page, she cried. It meant the world to her to know that what she had done – the countless lessons she’d taught, had changed someone’s life. That letter was worth more to me than any amount of money in the bank.

If I hadn’t had that fight with my mother, prompting my move to a new school, would I have ended up as a writer? And what consequences did I set into motion when I found my old teacher and thanked her for inspiring me?

In the end, it all counts. Every bad decision, every stroke of luck, every lost key changes your destiny, at least a little. It’s one of the reasons why I always try to do the right thing. I’ve seen people with less integrity find greater success, and I’ve seen Karma look the other way, when she should have shot daggers instead. I’ve never had it easy. Nothing has ever fallen into my lap. I’ve had to fight hard for everything I have, but in the end I’m thankful it was difficult.

It all came together to make me the person I am today.

I’m not perfect, but I’m okay with that.

I’m me. I’m here, and I’m happy.

And I’m a writer.

Life is good.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

Image

 

Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

Image

 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

Advertisements

Paranormal Unity and a Dollar

Image

The first time I heard the term “Paranormal Unity” I had mixed feelings.

First, I thought  back to my Girl Scout days, when we’d sit around a camp fire singing Kumbaya, feeling a togetherness I haven’t felt since. We promised to always have one another’s backs and help each other succeed in the world. I saw us as this unstoppable force that could change the world. I imagined the paranormal world embracing this attitude; sharing information and helping us understand the unknown a little better.

Then, I just shook my head and thought, yeah right

This could never happen in the paranormal community, mostly because we aren’t a community at all. We are nothing but a bunch of islands scattered in a vast sea. Some of us play well with others, reaching out to various teams for support and to share ideas, but most of us don’t. There is more bickering between the teams than ever before.

I’m not sure I even got into the field for the right reasons. So many people claim they investigate because they want to help people or help ghosts find their way to where they’re supposed to be. I got into it because I was curious. It’s as simple as that. I had several experiences that I couldn’t explain and I wanted to know more. Once I dipped my foot into that ocean, I was hooked. I wanted to know more and more and more. If I helped people or ghosts along the way, that was even better.

Now I’m reconsidering this field. You can’t go on Facebook without seeing someone bashing someone else over how they investigate, or whether a house was even haunted. People open their homes or businesses up for investigations and other people get on social media or radio shows, telling the world they are frauds or thieves, or whatever strikes their fancy. I find myself defending people – defending my friends. And then I find myself under attack for standing up for my friends. Seriously?

I had a very bad experience two years ago that truly scared me. It made me question everything I’d ever heard about ghosts. It made me believe in demons and angels and spirit guides, things I would have rolled my eyes at a decade ago. It was a very humbling experience for me. It made me realize that everything isn’t always as it seems. And that bad things can and will happen, even when you’re as careful as you can be. It makes me understand why a homeowner could flee their house, but still love the house enough to not want to give it up.

In the aftermath of my own experience, I’m still strangely curious about the paranormal. I still go on the occasional investigation if it intrigues me. I try to keep myself protected and I only go to places where I think it’s safe. I don’t go to old prisons or old TB hospitals any longer. I don’t go to cemeteries, because who knows what you’re going to find there? I’ve gotten some flak over it. While most people understand, others will try to discredit my story, telling me that someone who went through what I endured would never willingly step foot in a haunted location again. I don’t know what to tell these people except that it did happen and I am still intrigued. I’m just more careful now.

When I do go on investigations, I try to help out as best as I can, knowing the most I can do is collect data. I’m not certain how much this helps anyone. Is knowing really better? Are psychic mediums the only ones who can help trapped entities? Is that even possible? I’ve been told there is no such thing as trapped ghosts. I’ve been told that ghosts are literally everywhere, but don’t usually bother people unless they are upset. I’ve been told things that directly conflict with other things I’ve been told. And every single person who told me these things held firm in their convictions that they were right and the naysayers were wrong. So, who’s right?

Honestly, nobody knows for sure. I’m sorry. I don’t care who you are and what you do; you can’t truly know these things until they happen to you. There might be a light we all go to. There might not be. There might be a demon in the basement. There might not be.  There might not even be such a thing as demons. Who knows? All we do know is that something happens to us when we die because we’ve collected enough evidence supporting this. The best thing to do would be to make it a group effort, pooling our resources.

And stop hurting each other.

Paranormal Unity and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. That’s about all. While I love the concept, it just will never work in this field. You just have to find people who you enjoy spending time with, and who won’t hate on you the moment you turn your back, and just do what you do. Or maybe we should just all leave well enough alone. We could all be doing more harm than good, despite our best intentions.

When it comes right down to it, the only ones we’re truly hurting with our negativity is ourselves and our field. The more we bicker, the more we discredit everything we’ve collectively done. We tear down each other’s evidence, we point fingers, we say snide things when we don’t agree with what we’ve heard. And through that, we make ourselves look foolish. We make people outside our field scratch their heads, wondering if we’re all just a little crazy.

I’m not going to say anything bad about anyone else. People come to the place they are because they’ve lived through things that shaped them that way. I’m not perfect either. I just try to stay away from the bullies and find the people like me, who just want to learn more. And I write books about it, because that’s what I do.

I will go on to protect my friends, because that’s also what I do. I’ll help people who need my help, if it’s something I’m capable of helping with. I’ll tread lightly, trying not to do more harm than good.

But just know, that inside when I hear you talking badly about one another, I will shake my head sadly.

We’re all people, having a human experience. We should help one another, at least a little.

And we should stop all the hating. It doesn’t help anyone.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: https://jonimayhan.com/

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380891194&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=the+soul+collecor

Image

Angels of Ember trilogy – in this post-apocalyptic thriller, follow sixteen year-old Ember Pain as she fights for survival in a world that has become dark and deadly, fighting against all odds to prove that good truly does conquer evil.

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Angels%20of%20Ember

 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

Defending a Mansion

Image

I am normally a very laid-back person. If something bothers me and I can’t fix it, I take a tip from my dog. I kick a little dirt on it, after marking it for later reference, and then move on.

Some things are harder than others to move on from, though. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who go out of their way to bring a little gloominess to everything they touch. When I encounter them, I try to remember that negative people are simply that: negative. They’ll find fault with anything and everything. I can usually just do the dog-thing and kick a little dirt on the situation and move on, but not when it comes to friends or family.

If you know me, you’ll probably remember that I am very passionate about the Haunted Victorian Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts. I visit any chance I get. I am peculiarly drawn there. I just can’t seem to stay away.

A lot of my fixation involves the house itself. Built in 1875, the Second Empire Victorian style mansion is beautiful in detail and rich in history. The nine-foot tall mahogany doors lead to a luxurious interior that was state-of-the-art for the late 1800’s. The house boasts two cisterns that once collected rainwater from the slate roof, providing the occupants with running water. The hand-carved moldings and cornices speak volumes of a time when houses were built slowly and lovingly. A sophisticated call-system was wired through the house, allowing people on one floor to communicate with those on other floors. Famous people frequented the mansion back in its heyday. Minnesota Fats played pool there. The likes of Bette Davis, PT Barnum, and Norman Rockwell were frequent visitors. President Calvin Coolidge even spent time there. Walking through the doors is like traveling back in time.

The house is owned by two of the nicest people I’ve ever known. Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero are very warm and welcoming. From the first time I met them, and they greeted me at the door with hugs, I knew they were special people. Over the years, they’ve collected a group of friends, who fondly refer to themselves as the Victorian Mansion Groupies. We help out with investigations and fund-raisers, and anything else that needs time and attention. Heading up this group is Marion Luomo, the Victorian Mansion Caretaker. She tirelessly tends to the house while the owners are away, checking to insure the house is in good order, and often opening up the house for investigations and tours. She is often joined by Tina Aube, who is just as addicted to the Victorian Mansion as I am. Our friend, Sandy MacLeod joins us on occasion, as does NE POST founder, Christopher Cox, and co-founder, Christina Treger Achilles, who are pooling resources for repairs to the house.  Together, we all have a mission: to save the Victorian.

The Victorian has fallen on tough times. 138 years of freezing and thawing, pigeons, hurricanes, and blizzards, has taken its toll on the house. The gables are pulling away from the building, and the slate roof has been leaking for many years, threatening the entire structure. Chris Cox brought in a contractor for an evaluation, and the news wasn’t good. If the house isn’t repaired, it might not last another year or two.

Anyone who owns an old Victorian knows they can be money pits. When Edwin and Lillian first moved in, they spent money hand-over-fist, fixing the plumbing, trying to get the fireplaces to work safely, updating the electrical, and a host of other repairs. Any money they received from tours and investigations went almost directly to the repairmen. When the house became too paranormally active to live in, they were forced to move closer to Boston, where they share a small space at Lillian’s sister’s house.

At this point, they could have sold the house. They could have put it on the market and taken a financial hit for all the money they’d already invested into it. But, like many of us, the house had a hold on them. They loved it and wanted, if nothing else, to save it from total ruin. They just couldn’t walk away and leave it up to fate.

Nearly every penny they receive from investigations and tours goes right back into the house. Besides the expensive repairs, they have to pay the mortgage, the electric bill, town taxes, and insurance. They do this for a house they can’t even live in, while maintaining a separate residence nearly fifty miles away. When the house appears on a paranormal show, it brings more interest. More people want to tour it or investigate it, bringing more money for the repairs that are desperately needed.

And some people have criticized them for it.

They say they’re exploiting the spirits, while raking in tons of money and enjoying their fame and fortune. Those people have never seen Edwin and Lillian drive up to the event in their old Honda, or understand that they now live in a room that is smaller than any one room in the mansion they own, but can’t live in. They’ve never seen them break down in tears when talking about the events that led them to flee from their own house. They’ve never seen the love in their eyes as they talk about their beloved Victorian.

As Edwin recently said, “Who would do that? Who would buy a house they couldn’t live in?”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. Some say the house is filled with ghosts, while others proclaim it to be ghost-free. If you lived it from the inside-out, you would probably have a different take on the matter. Imagine being pinned to your bed with invisible hands, waking up to find a woman standing by your bedside crying. What would you do if your doors slammed on their own accord, while you listened to footsteps walk around your bed while you tried to sleep? What if you were overtaken by something you couldn’t explain, waking up days later with little knowledge of what transpired? Would you really want to stay there?  I’ve spent the night there twice, and I can tell you that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. While I love the house dearly, I’d never want to live there. If I had the opportunity to seek help, or at least have some of my questions answered, I too would turn to people who could possibly offer assistance. The problem is: who do you believe?

Not all the people invited to the mansion are there to investigate. Some have been called in to help. Multiple people have blessed and cleansed the house. Others have offered answers to some of the questions plaguing the owners. In the paranormal field though, answers are never cut and dried. Since there aren’t any rule books on the subject, all of the information being provided to the owners has been varied, and not always helpful. Some have caused more harm than good. Others have tried to fix this, only to make it worse. For the moment, the house is much calmer than it’s been in years, but that isn’t guaranteed to last. As we all know, change often happens quickly and without warning.

So, please…be more considerate. Remember that this is a house that needs help. Sponsoring paranormal events brings money which is needed to fix the house. If the house isn’t repaired, it has only a few years left before it will fall into a swift decline. It is a piece of Gardner history, a treasure that is precariously hanging by its last hope. If having it featured on paranormal television shows helps this house stick around another hundred years, what harm is it doing to you?

If you have ideas that could help Edwin and Lillian, by all means, please share them. We all love that house and want nothing more than to see it transformed back to its former beauty.

Now, I’m going to kick some dirt over this and move on. I have another book to write.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

Angels of Ember trilogy

 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joni%20mayhan

For more information about the SK Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion, please see their website: hauntedvictorianmansion.com or find them on Facebook.

http://hauntedvictorianmansion.com/index.html

Most things happen for a reason…

I’m a firm believer that most things happen for a reason. It’s just a matter of interpretation.

I came to this belief when I was in my mid-twenties. Having worked in the pet industry for several years, I decided that I wanted to open my own pet store.

The thought was alluring. I’d be my own boss. I could select the products I wanted to sell and spend the day happily immersed with helping people with their pets. I found a location that would suit me well. It was a small space in the middle of a huge shopping plaza. As I sat there in the parking lot, watching people go in and out of the various stores, I was delighted.  This could really work for me.

I found suppliers who would sell me the products I wanted. I devised an ordering system, planned out the store aisle by aisle, and began working on my business plan. The only thing left to do was find funding.

As things turned out, finding investors was nearly impossible. No one wanted to loan a twenty-five year old woman the amount of money it would take to get started. After several months of searching, I finally was forced to give up. It was the worst moment of my life. All my hopes and dreams vanished in an instant. I turned away from my dream with tears in my eyes and went to work for someone else.  Then six months later, I saw the reason for the failed attempt.

The anchor store for the plaza went out of business.  One by one, all the cute little stores flanking it closed their doors as well. A year later, the plaza was nothing more than a ghost town. Had I opened a store, I would have been among them, losing everything I had and everything I worked for.

It took several years before I realized that opening my store really wasn’t my destiny. Something inside me struggled to get out. I began staring at blank pages in my typewriter, watching as they filled up word by word with stories. It didn’t take long before the words became a book, then two books, then three. I was an author!

Getting my books out to the masses was another obstacle. After being turned down by countless literary agencies, I realized that it wasn’t my time. I needed to live more, experience more, before I could truly be the writer I wanted to be. I finally decided to self-publish and the results have been incredible. I’m not a best-selling author with my books in major chains, but people are actually reading – and loving – my work. Had I reached my first dream, none of this would have happened.

Now, when something bad happens to me, I shake it off because I know that something better (or different) needs to happen to me instead.  If nothing else, it makes life easier, makes the bad things feel like opportunities to find good things. I just try to listen to what the universe is telling me.

It’s all in the way you look at it.

It’s just a matter of interpretation.

Joni Mayhan

Author of The Angels of Ember Trilogy- available on Amazon.com for Kindle or in paperback

  • Lightning Strikes
  • Ember Rain
  • Angel Storm