My latest book, tentatively titled THE SECRETS WE KEEP, deals with a girl who has an out-of-body-experience, or OBE. During this OBE Lyndsay, my main character, sees old Mr. Jenkins, her neighbor and head janitor at her high school, moving a dead body. The next morning she gets proof what she witnessed wasn’t a dream. And thus begins the mystery – did he or didn’t he commit murder? And if he did, can she prove it? So I thought it would be fun to do a post on what an out of body experience actually is.

An out-of-body-experience typically involves the sensation of floating outside of one’s body and, in most cases, being able to perceive this separation from the physical body. Stories of out-of-body-experiences, also called astral projections or bi-location, have been around for centuries. Events of bi-location involving several Saints and other religious figures have even been recognized by the Catholic Church. OBEs have been reported across all cultures, belief systems and social classes.

Scientists estimate one in ten people has an out-of-body-experience once, or more commonly, several times in his or her life. The perceived phenomenon can occur spontaneously as a result of physical or mental trauma, dehydration, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, or the use of dissociative drugs to induce an OBE. Some scientists believe an OBE may be a natural defense mechanism of our bodies, designed to deal with turmoil, the threat of physical harm, or even death. In addition, some researchers believe this defense mechanism may also be triggered accidentally for any of the reasons I just listed above. For example, a large percentage of reported OBE cases occur in situations where sleep was not particularly deep due to illness, over-tiredness, emotional stress, or noises in other rooms. Other cases seem to be experienced when the person has been near-death, such as during a drowning, heart attack, coma, major surgery, or some similar physical peril.

Whether it is our mind, our energy, or our ‘soul’ that detaches from our physical body has been the subject of serious debate. No matter what your belief on the matter though, the perceived phenomenon is quite fascinating and was even the subject of the recent book and movie, If I Stay.

So are they fact or fiction? Can they be proven scientifically? While the scientific jury is still out on a definitive answer, the research they’ve uncovered may astound you. I’ve included two recent articles below that you may find intriguing.



In addition, it is interesting to note that our own US government spent more than twenty million dollars between the 1970’s and 1995 to investigate the possibility of using OBEs for both domestic and military applications. The project, conducted by the CIA and US Defense Intelligence Agency, was called Stargate, a Remote Viewing Military Intelligence Program. The theory being that if we could induce an out-of-body-experience in a subject, we might be able to use them to remote view, events, sites, or information, from a great distance. In other words, use it as a spy technique.

Still think it’s a lot of baloney? Well, consider this. Synesthesia — the condition in which people hear colors or smell sounds — which was once thought of as “out there” has become widely accepted in the last few decades.

Who knows, what we think of as science fiction may one day be recognized as science fact. So, do you think you’ve ever had an out-of-body-experience? And if so, what did you see?

Brave, Sara Bareilles, and The Secrets We Keep

Early last year, I began work on a new young adult novel, a contemporary mystery/thriller, The Secrets We Keep. (The original working title of the project was Out of Body Experience.) As is always the case with a shiny, new project, a flood of ideas poured into my head and my fingers could barely type fast enough. Early on, I knew I wanted Lyndsay, the main character of this book, to be a kickass heroine who has to travel the treacherous path from fear to bravery. She would have to be brave enough not only to face a dangerous adversary in this thriller, but also brave enough to stop avoiding conflict and stand up for herself, brave enough to say what she wants to say and be heard, and brave enough to believe in herself and follow her dreams.

Around the same time I started writing the book, a new song came on the radio and on my radar – “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. I fell in love with it immediately – it was as if Sara Bareilles had written the perfect theme song for my main character. In many ways, the song and its message helped me to shape Lyndsay and her story.

You can listen to the song and see the lyrics here:

Brave by Sara Bareilles

The song embodies exactly what my character is facing – she’s an outcast, the backlash of somebody’s lack of love and she has to learn how to be brave, in more ways than one. “Brave” quickly became the theme song for my book and actually for me as a writer, as well. I would start each writing session by listening to the song and letting it inspire me. I can honestly say the song helped me write this book and carried me forward to finishing it.

Now, I have to admit, at first I didn’t know much about Sara Bareilles, the artist. Sure, I knew she had some hits on the radio, but I didn’t know much more than that. But since the song was proving to be such an inspiration for me, one day out of curiosity I decided to Google her. What I found was nothing short of amazing. Turns out, I’m not the only one inspired by this fine artist and her incredible song. Watch this video posted by the patients and staff members of the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital:

Brave at U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital

I also had no idea there was an “I Am Brave Enough Campaign” which you can read about here: http://sarabfans.com/brave/

I have to say now that not only have I fallen in love with the song, but I am now a huge fan of Sara, too. She’s a talented artist and a class act, as she shows in this video from Dec 15th when she brought a young cancer patient, Joshua Chambers, on stage to sing with her at the House of Blues in Orlando:

Dec 15th House of Blues

A few weeks ago and just a day before her birthday (December 7th), Sara Bareilles received the amazing news that she had been nominated for two Grammy Awards – Album of the Year for The Blessed Unrest and Best Pop Solo Performance. Incredibly well deserved and I hope she wins both!

So, show me how BIG your brave is – what have you been brave enough to overcome this past year? Or, fill in the blank, “I am brave enough to ____________” and share something you will be brave about this upcoming year. (You can even tweet it under the hashtag #IAmBraveEnough)

Or, just leave a comment to say hi 🙂