Tag Archive for: dreams

How My Muse Revealed Protagonist’s History with Flashbacks & Dreams

I knew I’d be out of pocket today so I invited fellow author Kassandra Lamb to guest blog. Kassandra has departed from her amateur sleuth series to write police procedure. Further, I don’t think I’ve ever met a more helpful muse!  Thanks for joining us, Kassandra~ Donnell 

I am a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants. No outline, just a basic story idea, and I sit down and see what pours out onto the page. When I started writing Book 1 of my newest series, I didn’t even know my protagonist’s back story.

I only knew two things. One, a successful Maryland homicide detective would be snatched out of her comfort zone and dumped into a new job as Chief of Police in a small Florida city. And two, her first big case would be a serial killer.

I actually knew very little about Judith Anderson (who was a secondary character from my Kate Huntington mystery series)—other than she was a workaholic, no-nonsense cop who had a lot of integrity.

So imagine my surprise when this happened as she and one of her detectives are making a death notification to a victim’s next of kin…

Detective Jacobs rang the sister’s doorbell, then rapped knuckles against the door.

I jerked.

            Two burly county cops on the porch, the afternoon sun beating down. “Is your mother home?” Me, a scrawny teenager, staring at them, my throat so tight I couldn’t talk.

I shook my head slightly, brutally shoving the memory away.

Jacobs’s back was rigid. Had he picked up that I’d had a brief flashback? More likely, he was bracing himself for the task at hand.

Wow, I was as shocked by this little flashback as my protagonist was!

But I was a psychotherapist for 20 years, specializing in trauma recovery, so I quickly realized that Judith had some demons in her psychological closet. And they were being stirred up by the insecurity of being in a new and challenging situation.

I was quite familiar with the way that flashbacks and dreams often reveal more about such demons. But what was this flashback about?

I only had a vague idea at that point. I knew in my gut that her mother was dead. But was she murdered?

The dream Judith had a few chapters later wasn’t much help…

            The dead woman on the floor got up, as she sometimes did. “Are you hungry? I’ll fix you a snack.” She walked toward the fridge, and I sat at the tiny kitchen table.

            My long legs barely fit under it. She called it our postage-stamp table.

            A buzzing sound. Was it the microwave?

Another buzz.

I opened one eye.

Then a quick flashback in Chapter 10 told me why Judith had little to no social life back in Maryland (in the Kate books)…

More warmth in my chest, offset by anxious butterflies in my stomach.

            Talk about mixed emotions.

Maybe Kate was a friend after all.

A mental flash of a dark-haired woman lying on a floor, seemingly asleep but not.

My chest constricted, the warmth gone. The anxiety prevailed. Letting people in was dangerous.

Then Judith has a lucid dream in Chapter 14 (lucid dream is psychobabble for one in which you know you’re dreaming), and I learned more about how the woman on the floor died…

It was one of those freaky dreams in which you know you’re dreaming.

            The woman lay crumpled on the floor.

            Here we go again, I thought in the dream.

            I walked slowly toward her, trying to convince myself that she was only asleep. But why would she be sleeping on the kitchen floor?

            I saw the pill bottle, empty on its side, and my heart raced.

            The woman raised her head and stared at me.

Okay, that was new. She’d gotten up before and acted normal, but this penetrating stare was a new development.

            Her mouth opened and a mechanical voice came out. “Why didn’t you stop me?”

            It wasn’t my fault,” I said, in a quavering teenager’s voice.

            “You could have saved them,” the mechanical voice said.

            A phone rang.

            My mother stood up and walked to the kitchen wall phone. She picked up the receiver and said, “Hello.” But the phone kept ringing.

I jerked awake. My cell phone was ringing.

When I was writing Book 1, I hadn’t really thought through whether or not Judith would have a love interest, but my muse was a step or two ahead of me (as she often is). Judith meets the sheriff of the adjoining county in Chapter 20…

A rotund man in a khaki uniform and matching Stetson stepped out of the driver’s side of the lead cruiser—a stereotypical rural sheriff with graying hair and a bushy mustache.

“This here’s county jurisdiction,” he said as he approached where I stood.

“I know that. That’s why I called your department.”

The man opened his mouth, but another voice interrupted. “I’ll take it from here, Deputy. Why don’t you join in the search?”

“Harumph.” The rotund man huffed away.

A slimmer, taller man, mid-forties—also in a khaki uniform—stepped forward, hand extended. “Sheriff Sam Pierson, ma’am. You must be Chief Anderson.” His voice was a pleasant baritone.

I shook the hand, trying to hide my surprise. I, of all people, should know better than to make assumptions based on stereotypes. “Good to meet you, Sheriff.”

“Call me Sam.” He gave my hand a slight squeeze and let it go.

I hesitated, then said, “Judith.”

He raised an eyebrow, and I figured it wouldn’t be long before he tried to call me Judy.

He looked around, slowly shaking his head. “A serial killer’s one hell of a welcome to Florida for you.”

Sam never, ever calls her Judy, and over the next 2 books, he slowly but surely worms his way at least partway past her defenses.

But then, in Book 4, Felony Murder (my most recent release), Judith keeps seeing Sam around town, talking to various women. He swears it’s a doppelganger, someone who looks like him. As this issue is coming to a head, Judith is distracted by a flashback during a phone conversation.

“Judith, are you there?” Sam asked.


Should I ask him if he was in town earlier?

            No, the answer came back. Too quickly.

Was that my old distrust bubbling up? Or something else?

My mind flashed to my father coming home from work, and me, as a teenager, hiding in my room and listening for the timbre of his voice. Was he jovial or pissed at the world? And if I couldn’t tell, should I go out there? What if I said something that would set him off?

Not that he’d ever gone after me.

“Judith?” Concern in Sam’s voice still, but more strident.

My insides tensed. A flash of my father’s arm high in the air, his hand fisted. My mother cowering…

I can’t deal with this right now.

“Sorry, I’m kinda distracted. I need to go.”

And toward the end of this latest book, a dream helps Judith sort out her feelings about her stepmother, her father’s second wife…

            The dead woman was lying on the kitchen floor, the pill bottle beside her. She slowly rose and turned toward me. “You really should be nicer to her.”

            “Sheez, Mom, not you too.” The voice was that of a peevish teen. “That’s what Dad’s always saying.”

            “She’s doing the best she can.”

            “But she’s the one who took Dad away from us.”

            “Not you, darling.” Tears pooled in my mother’s eyes. “Only me.”

An annoying buzzing sound interrupted my thoughts.

The buzz came again, followed by a ping. I opened one eye.

I’m starting to have some fun with these dreams and flashbacks my muse keeps producing, and I’m loving how they reveal Judith’s back story and psyche…little snippets erupting from the deeper layers of her consciousness.

Now that I think about it, it makes sense that my muse would be fond of such devices, since all three—flashbacks, dreams and muses—reside in the subconscious mind.

I wonder what will pop out in the next book…

About Felony Murder:

All is not as it seems in Starling, Florida

A phone call from a desperate teen, awaiting trial for felony murder, spurs Chief of Police Judith Anderson to re-open the case of a drug deal gone wrong. But her investigation finds more questions than answers. How did the white gang members involved end up with sweet plea deals, while the Latino kid with no record is charged with felony murder? Meanwhile, attempts on the mayor’s life and glimpses around town of her lover with various women divide Judith’s attention and trigger her old demons of distrust.


About the Author: Kassandra Lamb has never been able to decide which she loves more, psychology or writing. In her youth, she had to decide between writing and paying the bills. Partial to electricity and food, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The magic portal to this universe (i.e., her computer) is located in Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series (about a psychotherapist as amateur sleuth), the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries (about a service dog trainer and her mentor dog), and the police procedural series, The Co.P. on the Scene Mysteries, plus a guidebook for novice writers, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.


WEBSITE: https://kassandralamb.com

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/kassandralambauthor

INSTAGRAM:  https://www.instagram.com/kasslamb/

PINTEREST:  https://www.pinterest.com/kassandralamb/

BOOKBUB PROFILE:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kassandra-lamb

GOODREADS:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5624939.Kassandra_Lamb


Clicking Our Heels – Dreams

Clicking Our Heels – Dreams
Today, members of the gang admit whether they think things
through in your dreams or are you a concrete thinker?
Robin Hillyer-Miles – In my dreams I see vivid colors and
words and numbers. I trained myself to lucid dream at age eight. I can go into
a dream, tell myself I am dreaming, and direct the dream to create a better
story, change the entire dream to my liking, and write entire stories while
Julie MulhernA little bit of
both. Answers to plot problems frequently show up in my dreams.
Dru Ann
– I’m probably a little bit of both.
Juliana Aragon Fatula I dream while
sleeping, while awake, while eating, while driving…
I like to plan but I know life is unpredictable, so I like to be
Kathryn Lane – Ideas
for some of my short stories have come from dreams. One story, titled
the Murals
, came from a dream about a painter who created murals on all the
interior walls of his house. For my mystery novels, I tend to be a more
concrete thinker since I plan out twists and turns, and surprises.
Debra H.
– I work out problems in my stories or novels in my dreams, but I
rarely get a new story idea while sleeping though I regularly dream.
Shari Randall – That time upon waking,
halfway between sleep and full consciousness, is a great time for dreaming
a story.
Lynn McPherson
a concrete thinker.
Paula BensonI’m more of a concrete thinker. However, I don’t overlook
insight that comes in dreams.
Sparkle Abbey:
Mary Lee Ashford: I sure wish I could. That would be awesome! If
I’m having a story problem I often have to talk it out. So, I’ll call
Anita or one the other people in our critique group and talk through
the problem and potential solutions. But sorting it out in my dreams, not
so much. 
Anita Carter: If I’m thinking about my story before I fall asleep,
I’ll dream about it or I’m able to work through a problem, but that’s not
very often. I’m more of a take a shower, fold laundry, or take a walk kinda
girl when I need to ponder an idea or problem.
T.K. Thorne– My
dreams are often bizarre and rarely relate to what I am writing (that I can
tell) but the best ideas come, like sleep, when I am daydreaming and not trying
too hard.
Cathy Perkins: Some of my best story ideas come from daydreams. 

Clicking Our Heels – Dreams or Wishes for Others

Clicking Our
Heels – Stiletto Gang Members Dreams or Wishes for Others

At the end of
the year, people begin to think about New Year’s resolutions, but the Stiletto
Gang decided to think of a dream or wish each one would have for someone in the
future — and the Gang is letting you in on those dreams or wishes.

Julie MulhernI have two daughters and I wish happy, healthy
lives for both of them.

J.M. Phillippe – I feel like my day job as a therapist has
me dreaming and wishing for people’s futures all the time. I just want people
to be able to feel joy in their lives–whatever shape joy takes.

Linda RodriguezMy dream or wish for the future is for all of us. I
would wish that we would become a society that values people and uses things
rather than the society we have become that values things and uses people and a
country where the law binds all people of all classes and also protects all
people of all classes. I do believe if this dream came true we would have a
wonderful country to live in.

Bethany MainesTricky question! Is my interpretation of what’s good for someone
else’s future correct? I wish my daughter would win the lottery for over ten
million dollars.  Then I’ll move in with her when I’m old and do nothing
but float in the pool and drink mai tai’s and host book clubs. Too
self-serving?  OK, if I’m being altruistic and wishing for someone else to
truly get their dream I would wish that the Greta Thunberg is entirely successful
in her pursuit of environmental change.

Kay Kendall
– I fervently wish for Earth’s population that the ecological damage humans
have wrecked on the planet would be reversed.

Shari Randall – This is kind of out of left field, but I
wish and hope, in the future, that libraries will be funded and recognized for
the important work they do in building a literate world.

Dru Ann Love
– I wish my mom didn’t have cancer.

Mary Lee AshfordOh,
wow. So many wishes for so many people. I have six grandchildren and so they
immediately come to mind. For them, and really for all my friends and family, I
would wish health and happiness. In addition, I’ll share my own life goals
because these are things I’d wish for them:  #LiveBrave #LoveHard

Debra H. Goldstein – “World Peace” with
acknowledgements to the movies.

Cathy Perkins – Wow, where to start? So many personal wishes are crowding into my mind with friends facing tough financial or medical challenges, along with the selfish, I want my kids and their spouses to be happy. Like Debra, I’m tempted to go with the global “world peace.” (Lord knows we need it!) Anybody who has peeked at my Facebook posts knows I care passionately about the environment, so my wish is people wake up to the damage we’re doing to the planet.

An Unexpected Dream Come True–by T.K. Thorne


  Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

It’s not something I talk much about, but for many years I was in the closet as a writer. I collected so many rejections, I could have wallpapered my house with them, or at least, my bedroom. Everyone said short stories were the way to break in, but my stories kept getting turned down.  If I dared admit I was a writer to anyone, their next question dashed me down—”Oh, what have you published?” I could only imagine what it would be like to be a real author, signing books for my fans, having a best seller.  I felt like a failure, but I’m pretty stubborn, and I just kept writing and submitting. I wrote five novels before one was published.

When I held that first book in my hands, I cried tears of joy.
My fourth book recently came out and it was still exciting to open that box and hold it in my hand.

Then a few days later, it made its debut at an elegant downtown Victorian mansion. I signed copies read fromg the book, and shared my big night with friends. A dream come true.

While I was signing books, something else was on my mind. Earlier that day, I had taught a creative writing class (as a volunteer) at Maranathan Academy, a non-profit school that takes “critically at-risk students from a variety of challenging circumstancess—bullying and abuse victims, juvenile offenders, poor academic performers, and the health challenged/chronically ill. Students enter Maranathan wounded and looking for a place to belong.” [website] 

I started the class three months prior, nervous, afraid I’d just taken on something else to fail at, and that I had nothing to offer these kids. I’d never taught poetry, never taught youth, let alone students with the kind of challenges these faced. That first day was hell, and I almost quit. But something made me go back. The students had no idea how to express themselves or even how to sit still. Every class was a struggle, but, gradually, the students started listening and participating.  

Something amazing had happened in class the day of my signing. The students had written poems that touched on their deepest pain, something I could not have imagined them doing when I started.  Nor, I believe, could they have imagined doing so, much less sharing it with the other students and faculty. Not only had they learned to write poetry, but they felt safe enough to open the door to their true selves.
It was wonderful to be at my long-planned book launch party, don’t get me wrong, but my mind kept drifting back to the classroom and those kids.  Then I looked up and saw three members of the school faculty in line with books and one of my students!  I jumped up and hugged her.  “You’re my inspiration,” she whispered in my ear.

That gave me more joy than signing my books or making a best seller list or winning writing awards. That was a dream come true that I hadn’t even known to dream.
Chinese proverb:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. 

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. 

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. 

 More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.

Dancing in My Dreams

Dancing in My Dreams by Debra H. Goldstein

When I was in college, I finally decided to make my father happy.  He believed the only safe careers for women were nursing and teaching.  Because he acknowledged I wasn’t suited to be a nurse, he pushed for teaching. I didn’t agree.  That is, until I discovered twelve hours plus student teaching would qualify me for a high school teaching certificate in the state of Michigan. A slam dunk – Daddy happy and I would have another minor.

I immediately signed up for all of my education courses to be taken the next term. My favorite one, which I still use in so many ways today, was Methods, but there was another course that by reverse osmosis left its mark on me.  I can’t recall the name of the course nor the subject matter, and I only remember the teacher as a screwball, but I remember most of our grade was based on a research paper.  Another slam dunk for me to get an “A” in the course because it would count fifty percent in the final calculation.

One student, a football player whose name was making headlines, objected to the fifty percent factor.  He wanted the paper to count at least seventy-five percent, if not more.  The teacher refused.  The football player sulked.

The day came to turn our papers in – one for the teacher and a copy for each member of the small

class.  Most of the papers were double spaced well-written examinations of some education related topic.  The football player’s paper, with two inch margins and triple spacing, was on visualization.  He wrote how, at practice or sitting in his dorm room, he visualized the quarterback throwing a long pass in his direction.  Slowly, in his mind, he raised his hands and the ball nestled in them. He mentally visualized the arm of the quarterback pulling back to throw, the trajectory of the ball, and it softly landing in his hands. His conclusion was that if he visualized every aspect enough, it would all come together in a real life moment.

We all mocked the paper and I have no idea what grade he received, but in the end, his paper is the one that stuck with me. For it is when we visualize something long enough, that eventually we find a way to make it happen.

I visualized linking words together to write a story and it happened.  I visualized my thoughts and words coming together into a book and dared to dream someone would publish that book – and it already has happened twice. Most recently, my visualization has been more physical. My waking moments concentrate on standing, walking, and fitting my reconstructed foot into a sneaker. Slowly, the details are happening in real time and I am expanding what I dare to imagine. I’m visualizing words flowing from my mind into a new book series and I’m dancing in my dreams.


by Bethany Maines

The other night I dreamed that fellow Stiletto Gang author
Linda Rodriguez rewrote the back-story on the main character of my Carrie MaeMystery series – Nikk Lanier. 
Nikki is a twenty-something red-headed linguistics major turned superspy
with an overbearing mother and a steady boyfriend who works for the CIA. 

Notice how none of that background
involves a whirlwind marriage and divorce from a blonde lawyer and the adoption
of an African orphan?  But by the
time my dream Linda was done that’s what Nikki had.  And in my dream, I kept thinking, “Maybe I could make the
divorce work, but what am I supposed to do with a baby?  I can’t just send it back!”  And then I woke up in a cold editorial
sweat trying to figure out I was going to jam all these changes into Nikki’s
next adventure that I’m 30,000 words into with no place to add in a spare baby.

What I love is that in my dream, never once did I question
why Linda was rewriting Nikki’s backstory, and it certainly never occurred to
me that I could just reject the edits. 
Nope, once Linda wrote it down, it was set in stone.  Never mind that Linda and I have never
actually met in person or done any writing together what-so-ever.  In my dream, the changes were done and
that was that.  The other odd thing
about my dream was the very real dual reality of Nikki’s reality.  Linda may have written it, but I
couldn’t send the baby back to the orphanage because Nikki would be upset, and
what would her friends think? 

But once I woke up, calmed down and then stopped laughing,
it occurred to me to wonder.  Do
other authors dream about other authors? 
Do they dream about their characters?  Is my brain off the deep end or just averagely crazy? We may
never know the answer to that one…

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Pharmaceutical Dreaming

A few weeks ago, I had a bout of bronchitis, which ended up
triggering my asthma. That meant coughing, lots of big, loud coughing spasms. I
mean, coughing that rattles the windows in my house and those of my neighbors.
(I have been known to break ribs from coughing before.) Antibiotics had the
bronchitis under control quickly, but the asthma—and the coughing—was another
matter. Consequently, I’m still inhaling and nebulizing as I try to shake the
last of it, and in order to sleep at night without hacking my lungs out, I’m taking
codeine cough medicine.
This means weird dreams. That phrase seems redundant. Dreams
are, by nature, non-rational, of course. But these drugged dreams are something
else. Much more vivid and bizarre. The dead walk and talk again in my dreams
right now. My children, the youngest of whom is about to turn thirty, are babes
in arms and toddlers again in these dreams, even as I’m still a child myself, a
sibling to my own kids. Every morning I wake in wonder at the strange, technicolor
movies I’ve just experienced.
Since I’m a writer, I write them down in my journal. Each
morning I sit with my cup of tea and record another outlandish dream—a house
suddenly filled with feral cats and I can’t figure out how they’re getting in
or how to keep them out, a strange conference at an unknown university where I’m
responsible for one of the programs when hundreds of ninjas attack, a ballroom
dancing scene where I’m Ginger Rogers in chiffon and stilettos and only my unknown
partner’s hand keeps me from floating off to join all the other people living
on big multicolored clouds.
Last night, I had a dream in which an editor from Random
House visited me in Kansas City to tell me that Random House had published a
book in my Skeet Bannion series written by someone else, the first of many, and
had sold it for a television series, leaving me protesting that they couldn’t
do that since Random House is not my publisher and crying to my agent and my
actual editor at my actual publisher, “What can we do? They’re stealing my
I’m a writer, so you’d think some of these dreams would
spark stories or books. I have had the germs of stories and books come to me in
my dreams before, but not in medicated dreams like these. I know from sad
experience that none of these will offer me anything more than a moment’s entertainment
and wonder. I suppose that, if I wrote literary short fiction in the surreal
school of writing, I might find them useful, but for someone who writes mystery
novels and thrillers that must make sense to the average reader, these dreams
are a waste of my unconscious’s creative skills.
What they do for me as a writer, however, is remind me that
I have at my disposal an incredibly creative partner in that very unconscious.
I simply have to find ways to guide its creativity and to ground it in the
details of reality. That inventive part of my mind works constantly coming up
with all kinds of stories, good, bad, bizarre, and humdrum. It’s up to me to
harness and channel all that imaginative energy. Still, it would be nice if it
could just toss up a nice, usable, Academy-Award-worthy story now and then.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nightly excursion
into the world of flying cars and dogs and Nazi storm troopers chasing me at a
writers conference and other exciting adventures.

Truth or Typos

by Bethany Maines

Last night, I had a dream about a “friend” I haven’t seen in
about five years.  My dream
revolved around the fact that my old friend had published a book and she was
showing it to me in (what some might consider) a really snotty way.  Never mind that in real life she never
had any interest in writing and that this scenario is entirely unlikely. It was
a dream, so we’re just going to go with it, ok?  Anyway, I opened the book and saw that the entire preface
was entirely covered in typos. I immediately wanted to hand her the business
cards of every editor I’ve ever met, but my family told me that the book was
published now and that there wasn’t much point and it would only offend her.
Basically, they told me to keep my mouth shut. This annoyed me so much that I
woke myself up.
There was quite a bit of tossing and turning as I tried to
get back to sleep.  Not only was I annoyed about the typos, but thinking of this “friend” annoys me. I
put “friend” in quotes, because I think, at this point, we can safely say that
this particular woman and I are no longer friends.
Like any adult, I have a few friends that got lost along the
way, but, in general, I haven’t gotten rid of many people. For one thing,
making friends is hard, and I’m lazy – I’d really prefer not to go through that
effort again. But also, the friends I do keep around are, what I suppose my
grandmother would call, “true blue.” These girls know where the bodies are
buried, where the bridal shower photos are hidden, and all the words to Summer
Nights from Grease. Also, for reasons too complex to go into, we can do an
amazing rendition of Love Shack from the B-52’s. You don’t just memorize Love
Shack on a whim, so losing a member of the band is difficult.  
Or at least it should have been. But the
last conversation my ex-friend and I had was when she called to announce that she was pregnant
and I said, “Great, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m getting married next
month.” Clearly, we’d drifted apart. Our steadily widening continental divide
was fairly predictable, not entirely her fault, and kind of my choice (I stopped calling her
and she never noticed), so why does it still bug me when she turns up in a
dream? Am I mad at her failure as a friend or mine?  Or am I just annoyed by the typos?
Bethany Maines is
the author of Bulletproof Mascara, Compact With the Devil and Supporting
the Girls
, as well as 
The Dragon Incident, the first short in her new series Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her at www.bethanymaines.com.  

Sweet Dreams (Ha!)

by Susan McBride

I had the weirdest dream the other night. Okay, I have weird dreams a lot of nights. This one was pretty typical. I was in my grandparents’ house, but neither was there (both are deceased). I could see this gang of bad guys approaching, and I knew they aimed to break in. So I called 9-1-1 only to be told by the dispatcher that they’d have a car there in two hours.

Two hours? Hello!

Then the bad guys were at the door, and they looked like they were armed with AK47s. I ended up dropping the phone and running to hide, along with a bunch of other people (I can’t remember who they were, but I knew some and didn’t know others).

The armed band of thugs (who were mostly women) got inside and started trying to round us up. I remember getting outside, where there’s a small lake behind the house, attempting to skirt the lake and nearby copse of trees to get to a neighbor’s house. Unfortunately, one of the AK47-toting chicks saw me and threatened to shoot.

So I went back to the house, but then I reminded myself I was dreaming and started to beat up on the armed gang. I do recall pummeling one of them while she/he (I can’t recall) grinned maniacally at me.

What the heck???

I often have dreams (er, nightmares?) where I’m aware that someone’s coming to get me or the group I’m with, but I can’t escape. Though, at some point, I realize it’s a dream and defend myself, often cartoonishly slugging the offender over and over.

Is this a lingering hazard of my previous gig writing murder mysteries? Or am I taking out my frustrations and subconscious aggressions against people who drive me batty?

Let me look it up in my dream symbols book (yes, of course, I have one…doesn’t everybody?). Okay, “Attack: Similar to Being Run Over, only more aggressive and accompanied by the fear of losing property.”

All right, I’ll flip to “Being Run Over” and see what that says. “This may point to a feeling of being overwhelmed.” Well, yeah, I have a book due in four and a half months, plus two more books due after that. So “overwhelmed” makes sense. Oh, wait, there’s more. “According to Freud, this image, particularly in men’s dreams, appears when one’s id can’t be actively lived out.”

Okey dokey, I wasn’t being run over so let’s nix that Freud analysis and move on to another bizarre recurring dream I have.

I’m in bed, and I think I’ve woken up. It’s dark, and I glance toward the doorway and see a shadow. I feel like someone’s in the house, and I want to scream, but I can’t make a sound.

Hmm, let me look up “shadow” in my handy-dandy dream book. Oh, wow, this is long. Let me paraphrase: “The shadow is, first of all, that which is invisible…[and] is a sign that you’re in the process of becoming aware of your Self. So there is no reason to fear your shadow or try to avoid it.”

But is it my shadow? If I’m just waking up from sleeping in my dream and see the shadow in the doorway? I’m confused. Let’s read on:

“The shadow is usually connected to the past or the future: old injuries are casting their shadow onto today’s behavior and emotions”—now, wait, that sounds plausible, seeing as how I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and have had my emotions stomped on more than once—“Coming to terms with the shadow is necessary in order to understand life here and now. It brings intensity, wealth, and imagination to life.”

Did it say “wealth?” I think I can deal with that.

Anyone else have that dream where you’re back in school and have to take a test, but you haven’t studied for it yet? Sometimes I’ll dream that I’m the age I am now, yet I’m back in high school or college, taking classes, though I keep telling people I’ve already graduated, that I even went to grad school for a week (yes, I said a week–at SMU in Dallas—but that’s all I could last with my unbearable creative writing instructor).

Here we go: “School: Learning as in School Work and Tests.” All right, the “School Work” definition says: “See also Tests. Something you still have to do.” Man, I could’ve figured that out. So we’ll mosey over to “Test,” which says, “See Exam/Test.” Grrr, this is a stupid book! Finally, “Exam/Test (University): Difficulty at work. Passing a test points to ambition…One of the most common dreams is failing an exam. In the dream, one is not prepared for the exam. In a variation, one is on stage and doesn’t know the lines. Both situations refer to a fear of failing in public.”

I still have plenty of work to do and a definite fear of failing in public. Scary how on the mark those are. Who needs a therapist when you’ve got a dream symbols book to tell you about your insecurities, ambitions and phobias?

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a sec, I need to look up “Flying.” (Yes, I occasionally fly under my own power…in my dreams, that is.) Maybe that’s a sign I should be writing about angels, or at least fallen angels. I hear they’re the new vampires. Or is it that dragonflies are the new vampires? I’ll have to sleep on that one.

P.S. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone! May all your dreams be sweet (or at least sweeter than my crazy ones!).


How’s your dream world treating you?

I’ve read some writers say that a dream gave them an idea for a book. I could never put anything I dream into a book. Not only are my dreams vivid, in color, but they are also weird.

After I quit smoking, for years I dreamed I was still smoking.

I dream about the house I grew up in–though I’m an adult in the dreams and the house was demolished for a freeway.

The house we had in Oxnard is often the setting for my dreams. We remodeled that house several times, and I’ve dreamed about it in all the different stage s of remodeling. The neighborhood around the house doesn’t resemble the true neighborhood at all. The houses are huge, three and four stories and in stages of disrepair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any houses like that, yet I’ve dreamed about them many times. I’m usually trying to get somewhere.

One night recently I dreamed about a lady who goes to our church. She offered to take me home and we drove on a narrow mountain road (no, you don’t have to take a mountain road to get to my house) and all of a sudden she drove down another steep road that went right into a huge lake. She couldn’t stop and there we were. She couldn’t swim so it was up to me to save her. I woke up and have no idea how that ended. I’ve turned the woman down a couple of times when she’s offered to drive me home, just in case, but I finally rode with her and she managed to get me to my house without driving into the drink.

I’ve had a recurrent dream about driving high into the mountains and finding the road impassable because of snow and getting out and trying to hike to the place I needed to go. (I would never drive into the mountains on my own–and I’m not all that fond of snow so I’d never get out and hike in it.)

My most frequent dream is being in most any place: camping, a large hotel, someone’s house and trying to find a bathroom. If I do find one, there’s no door, or long lines waiting for only one bathroom, or a bathroom with no toilet. When I wake, of course I need to make a trek to my own bathroom.

I’ve dreamed that I could fly several times. All I had to do was stand in a corner, raise my hands over my head and off I went–and I could actually go right through the ceiling and up into the sky. (Sounds more like astral projection than flying.)

I dream a lot about writing conferences and not being able to find my way to where I’m supposed to be going. If I’m presenting in my dream, I can’t find my materials, or they are all jumbled up.

Though I can certainly figure what sparked a lot of these dreams, others are a puzzle. Many of them border on nightmares, but I kind of enjoy them.

So what kind of dreams do you have? Do you dream in color or black and white? Can you figure out what your dreams mean?