The Power of the Mind

In my paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, Laura Armstrong can perform telekinesis. What exactly is telekinesis? It’s the action of mind on matter, in which objects are caused to move as a result of mental concentration upon them. Is it science or fraud? Akin to seeing spirits or not? And if one believes in ghosts, are they inclined to believe in other paranormal phenomenon too, like telekinesis?

Another term grew from telekinesis: psychokinesis. PK, as it’s known, encompasses a wider group of mental force phenomena that telekinesis now falls under. Did you know that PK Parties were a cultural fad in the 1980s? Groups of people were guided through rituals and chants to awaken metal-bending powers, or perhaps it was just another excuse for a party! Either way, you can read about it from PK party founder, Jack Houck. Real or fake? You decide.

The psychokinesis phenomenon dates back to early history though. In The Bible, for example, Jesus is described as creating water into wine, healing the sick, and multiplying food. Let’s not forget it’s also in pop fiction today, like Stephen King’s Carrie. Hollywood gives us Poltergeist.

Ouija boards were also a PK fad. I had a frightening experience with one when I was eleven years old. A friend and I channeled an “evil spirit” through the board who levitated the Ouija’s movable indicator. The spirit told us to find a boulder in the woods with an “X” on it. That would be where we would find hidden green treasure. We found the boulder but the only green treasure we found was the angry, green icy flow of the raging creek that nearly swept us away that February day. That was my last attempt to play with a Ouija board. It scared the Devil out of me, literally it seemed!

Most scientists believe that the existence of telekinesis has not been convincingly demonstrated. I’m not sure what I believe, but I do think there are amazing discoveries about how the brain works to still be found. I do know I will never touch a Ouija board again.

My experience and my fascination with mental powers fueled the writing of my character of Laura Armstrong who can move objects with her mind.

I believe we can do so much more with our brain powers.
What do you believe?

P.S. I’m also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card below!

by Donna Galanti


About A Human Element:
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

Praise for A Human Element:
A Human Element is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

Praise for A Hidden Element:
“Fascinating…a haunting story about just how far parents will go to protect, or destroy, their children in the name of love.”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times best-selling author

Purchase A Human Element here: On sale for just $0.99 10/27 – 11/2!

Purchase A Hidden Element here: On sale for FREE 10/27 – 10/31!

Donna Galanti Bio:
Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at and She also loves building writer community. See how at

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What I’ve gained and what I’ve lost by moving to a suburb. . and what we all stand to lose

    I’ve spent years avoiding the suburbs. To me they represented what’s wrong with humanity. urban sprawl, consumerism, tawdry artificiality, conformity. Why then do I find myself at this advanced age living on the outskirts of a major city, struggling to rationalize my choice.

Relax. An advantage of maturity lies in perspective. You come to see the relative unimportance of nearly everything, such as the length of your hair or hemline, the gain or loss of weight, the size of your bank balance. None of these labels for sociological topics, which frequently lead to heated debates and too often to useless legislation, are life and death.

As we mellowed though, we discovered we were tired of mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and cleaning a huge house. So we decided to downsize.

Soon we were forced to face one fact, in addition to the deteriorating condition of our bodies: inner cities lack reasonably priced housing with the full range of architectural options. We wanted a smaller place with no yard and a higher density population. Hence our move to a townhouse. But the styles we favored were unattainable in the city core. We expanded our search to the periphery.

The area we chose isn’t in truth a suburb because it’s located in the city proper. But it feels like a suburb because the housing and businesses all are relatively new, many of the trees are short enough to allow a view of the sky, and most residents must commute elsewhere to their place of work. Used to be suburbs left housewives isolated for all the waking hours, creating their own sub-culture. Our suburb relies heavily on nannies and preschools to handle childcare, creating a different category of people. But that’s a story separate from this one.

I moved willingly, perhaps even eagerly. But not without some qualms. Perhaps I was remembering the song from the 60s, by Malvina Reynolds. “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. . .And they’re all made out of ticky tacky, And they all look just the same.” Anathema to me in my counter-culture youth.

So I decided to create a pro and con list of traits for our new residence. We all work through a process similar to this whenever we make a change, weighing what we hope will be good versus the negatives.

• Good: Change stimulates you. You open yourself to different experiences and learn from them.
• Bad: Big-box stores abound. These are large retail establishments, part of a chain. I feel they tend to encourage a robotic approach to employment and thought, as well as lack variety in the goods they carry.
• Good: I no longer need to feel guilty for shopping at Wal-Mart since it’s close to me and the wisest environmental choice.
• Bad: Because housing has restrictions, we’re forbidden from leaving useables and recyclables in the alley, a practice that helped homeless and poor as well as residents in our old place.
• Good: I get to undertake a lifestyle exercised by the majority of Americans. As a writer I find every experience, every detail to be valuable in my craft.
• Bad: Nearly every restaurant and major store is part of a chain, franchises which I dislike on principle, that they are solely profit-driven and rob people of their individuality and humanity (yes, I’m biased).
• Good: our town house has ten times the number of light sockets of our historic residence. Life is easier, as is relaxation, work, cleaning, etc.
• Bad: Homogeny is the rule in types of businesses. Because this is an upper-middle class enclave, this means cheap restaurants don’t exist.
• Good: Our house is smaller and newer, making it easier and faster to clean.
• Bad: We’re too far out to get quickly to big institutions I love, like the art museum and central library. I know we’ll be using them less frequently.
• Good: Surprisingly, the air is cleaner and fresher than our central city location.
• Bad: Diversity in range of residents’ income is negligible, resulting in our isolation from low income and poor people, immigrants, and accurate proportions of ethnicities. It’s far easier to ignore points of view and social concerns if you don’t even see people who differ from you.
• Good: We have a much better view of sunrises and sunsets because buildings and trees are lower and don’t block the view.

The worst thing about our new situation, as well as suburbs in general: their existence is predicated on constant growth. Developers, politicians, economists, and the general public equate economic growth with quality of life. Untrue. In my city, as across the country, people scurry to start new businesses, expand housing, launch economic efforts. My hometown is now a clone of Southern California and the East Coast. Structures stretch from sidewalk to sidewalk, with almost no natural or green areas. Autos clog the streets and pollute the air, despite attempts to encourage mass transit.

How much is too much? Will we fail to be content until every square inch of inhabitable land is covered with works of man? Then what?

We must find another method for evaluating what we mean by “improvement,” “quality of life,” and “excellence.” I have no objection to seeking progress. But, please, don’t define that as constant growth.

We need to realize that social phenomena like my new place in the suburbs with green buildings or utopian farming communities on rooftops and in the middle of urban areas are stop-gap measures. All well and good for the meantime. But they’re comparable to recycling plastic shopping bags. Regardless of the pride we take in carefully toting these items to the market to use again, they’re less than the weight of an eyelash compared to the tons of waste storming down on us daily, the hordes of new humans pushed out of wombs annually, the even-more urgent cries of the poor and war-torn to have some safety and security.




Most families have holiday traditions, enjoyed to a greater or lesser degree depending on the people and paraphernalia involved. These can develop unintentionally. For example one friend’s father-in-law-in-law (meaning he’s her son’s connection, not her own) has established a practice of spending the entire day bad-mouthing and swearing over national Democratic politics. Hardly conducive to pleasant conversations, let alone good will. My father’s was to give my mother a pair of flannel pajamas. Hardly romantic.

Whatever yours includes–midnight church service, caroling, roast beef for dinner instead of turkey, opening one gift on Christmas Eve, decorating with ugly candles passed along from grandmother–the list goes on endlessly. You can get sabotaged by rituals if you allow them to become dictates. One friend was so turned off by her partner’s insistence on perfect decorations that she gave up all holiday signs after she lost him.

For years my family’s tradition was tootling on kazoos. I can’t say enough good things about kazoos. Anyone could play one almost immediately. Even my tone-deaf husband joined in with no embarrassment. Laughter abounded, overflowed, and made our stomachs ache.

Seems to me the birth of the practice was the radio or record player booming after the holiday dinner, and guests began humming and singing along. Lacking a piano, organ, or guitars, I longed for some method to increase our volume and coordinate the melody. I can’t recall why I had a stock of several dozens of kazoos many Decembers ago, but I pulled them out and distributed to anyone who’d take one. The music from electrical equipment quickly became overpowered by the strength of the live performers in my living room.

Easy to play were the oldies “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” However, we quickly mastered playing parts and playing in rounds. I don’t know how we had the breath to keep the concert going. We seemed to break down in hysterical laughter as much as we made music. Each person tried to toot louder or more dramatically than his neighbor.

“If you can hum, you can play” is the advice of kazoo aficionados to novices. The mistake of most newcomers is to blow like you would a trumpet, but the player’s voice needs to vibrate in order to make the membrane inside the kazoo, which amplifies the notes, quiver. This membrane can tear or stretch, but if you’re as dedicated as I am, you’ll learn you can replace it with tissue paper or even plastic wrap cut to the correct size. YouTube has videos that offer instruction if you’re a rule klutz.

The highlight of our holiday performances? Nothing can match the musical thrill of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah played in parts on a dozen kazoos. It beats a production from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir because you and your family and friends are playing it. Those who prefer can sing the tune in parts of harmony.

Kazoos appeared on the American scene in the mid- to late-1800s. However, they’re related to a number of membranophones, instruments that modify the player’s voice through vibrations. They have waxed and waned in popularity and still sell in the millions. I personally prefer the timbre of the traditional metal variety, but plastic versions appear in most toy stores.

Prepare yourself for the holidays. But if you miss your opportunity, don’t wait until next year. National Kazoo Day is January 28. The perfect time for you to become active in politics as well as music. You can join the continuing campaign to have the kazoo declared the USA’s national instrument, a well deserved honor because it’s certainly the most democratic


Breathe in, breathe out, move on. Moving right along.

The past month’s a blur for me. After more than 30 years in the same house, we decided to move. First the chaos of house-hunting swamped us. In the metro area where we live, house costs have run mad. Prices double, triple overnight. Even when you find an appealing residence that you can afford, competition from other searchers often eradicates the prey from the hunt before you even learn of its availability. Or you’re subject to bidding wars with other hopefuls.

We found a place we liked and were lucky enough that our timing and offer were accepted. I thought we’d gotten through the hard part. Naïve, naïve me. The biggest challenge lay ahead: sorting, packing, discarding, moving, discarding more, unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and, yep, discarding even more. The detritus from a lengthy residence accumulates without your consciousness. I thought I’d been rigorous in my regular purgings, shedding baby items, then kids’ and teens’ things, donating massive amounts to charity yard sales, ruthlessly setting out objects regularly for the library used book fests.

Little did I know my efforts were minuscule. I hadn’t made a dent in our belongings, a fact highlighted when we carried in boxes and found only one-quarter of the storage we needed. In my regular rants against consumerism and avarice, I never counted myself among the bad guys. I was complaining to a friend when I realized the problem wasn’t too little storage, it was too many possessions.

How am I to decide what to throw away? It’s true I’ve rarely bought, stolen, or been gifted items because I coveted them. As I look over my piles, seems to me each thing has a memory, a dear person behind it. The wooden pencil holder crafted by my son when he studied shop, the needlepoint doily handmade by a Bulgarian woman that reminds me of the millions of anonymous women with artistic talents, even the mass-produce glittery figurine given one Christmas by my late mother-in-law. How can I give any of these up? When I survey my effects, I’m cushioned by all the emotions that accompany them.

This move has enabled me to re-discover memories long-gone as I unwrap and touch my stuff. “Aah, here’s that photo of all the family’s babies from forty years ago!” “My gosh, I thought I’d lost velvet jewelry box from my mother!” If I abandon my belongings, I lose my connections.

Another plus. “Moving is good for you,” I tell myself as I burrow among the debris. Psychology informs us that change opens you up to new insights and emotions, people, experiences. I’ve noticed as I age, change is more difficult to deal with. I might as well embrace it and improve myself as I go along.

Some things mysteriously have disappeared, never to be recovered as far as I can tell. Those who believe in the paranormal might credit inexplicable forces. I blame the movers. The most critical right now consists of half my shoes in a black duffle bag. I have the right shoe from one set, the left shoe from another. Unfortunately they don’t match. Also gone, my summer sandals, my black snow clogs, and one and a half pairs of slippers. Who would steal those? And how could a bag that heavy simply vanish?

I own too much in some cases (shoes, books, art), too little in a few others (shoes, also a steadfast mixing bowl used with all recipes). I must make some decisions, but how? I’d like to ponder these imponderables, but I have a bigger problem now. It’s ten at night in the middle of chaos, and I can’t find my corkscrew.

Who Should Take a Seat at the Kids’ Table This Holiday Season?

With the holidays hard upon us, I have to ask an important question: do kids’ tables still exist during festive occasions? In my childhood, they did. Of course with eight or ten kids at the party, parents found it much easier to isolate all of us at one central location rather than sprinkle us among the adults where we’d outnumber and outmaneuver them.

I believe I continued the tradition with my own family. I’d blame the small size of our early apartments rather than any conscious decision. We had to break into mini-groups. However in gatherings with my husband’s extended—and extended, and extended—family, the issue rarely surfaces. Every party is a buffet, and people hunker down wherever they can find a square foot.

Fast forward to the third generation. My sister tried to have a kids’ table several times. This has fallen by the wayside, perhaps because we both have opinionated, stubborn children who refuse to take orders, such as “Sit at the kids’ table.”

The grownups’ table used to represent status, a step forward from childhood to adult. I looked forward to my own transition. I remember one of my last Christmas family dinners with my aunt and uncle. My aunt broached the subject of seating oh-so-delicately . I believe I was about 16 or 17. She phrased her request so deftly, I thought she was telling me I’d be at the adults’ table. I believe she mentioned my increasing age and ability to take responsibility. You guessed it! This translated into yet another year at the kids’ table, ostensibly as the leader. I was not fooled.

Now people give good reasons for phasing out the kids’ tables, other than wanting more control over their offspring. Parents cite family togetherness, setting a good example about manners and conversation, encouraging intergenerational cross-fertilization of ideas. Regardless, in my corner of the world, fewer folks set up these enclaves. The one exception seems to be wedding parties. Maybe the per-person cost for meals is so extravagant, even parents aren’t willing to see good food thrown out in heaps.

I’m not enamored of kids’ tables. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. I know sometimes children’s conversations and insights are hysterical and fascinating. In other instances, they are whiney, rude beyond words, and annoying. I have about a fifty-fifty chance of preferring any given adult table over kids’. I’m fortunate because I can exercise choice in the matter. Now that I’m legally of age (three times over) I could automatically be eligible for adults’. However, with my height, less than five-feet, I’m shorter than many preteens, so I still qualify to sit at any kids’ table in view.