Ghosts and World Religions

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning educator, author and speaker, Dr. Randy Overbeck. Today, Dr. Overbeck shares an interesting perspective on ghosts and his new release, Scarlet at Crystal River.

Here’s Dr. Overbeck!

As I’ve shared my program about ghosts with groups around the country, I’ve encountered more than my share of skeptics. Every once in a while, a participant will be brave enough to challenge, “Ghosts? Really? You want us to believe there are that many people who actually believe in ghosts?”

Usually, I just smile…and then I share a little data.

Whether you think you are a believer of ghosts or not, if you are a member of faith community, you probably profess this belief, even if you weren’t aware. One vital part of the doctrine and mythology of every religion in the world is a belief in the spirit realm and, specifically, in ghosts. This belief shows up differently in different religions, sometimes with the understanding of spirits as benign, other times with the perception of ghosts as more malevolent. But where ever you live on the planet, if you go to temple, church, mosque, or mandir, a part of your creed includes a deep-seated belief in ghosts. A few examples may illustrate.

Most Christian sects retain a belief in spirits and ghosts, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief that ghosts are demons or evil spirits who try to deceive humans. (Come to think of it, that’s pretty close to what I was taught as a young Catholic in my Baltimore catechism. For Judaism, those who attend temple are taught about several ghosts including a dybbuk, a ghost of dead person who can possess a human being for malevolent reasons.

Islam takes a very different tact on ghosts, one that you might well recognize. Muslims believe in particular ghosts called Jinns, spirits who inhabit a parallel world and cause mischief for humans. Americans are very familiar with these ghosts, only we call them genies.

Buddhists’ understanding of ghosts falls at the other end of the spectrum. They believe in what they call “hungry ghosts,” suffering spirits who should be treated with pity and compassion, rather than feared. For Hindus, ghosts are usually associated with individuals who experienced unnatural deaths like accidents and murder.

Perhaps, of all cultures, Native Americans have the most profound belief systems of the spirit world. Each tribe has their own particular version of belief in ghosts from the famous Skinwalkers of the Navaho’s to the Ojibwe’s understanding of a Wendigo. But one of the most interesting spirit myths comes from the Passamquaddy tribe of Maine. They believe in a creature called Skudakamooch, who they described as ghost witch.

So, what’s the point?

If, in fact, belief in the existence of spirits is universal across cultures, across countries, across religions, then perhaps, we should not be so quick to dismiss it.

But personally, I’m pulling for the kinder version. Happy Halloween.

Blurb

All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.

When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.

Tagline

Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants’ children haunt them, pleading for help.

Review Blurbs

Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” –N. N. Light’s Book Heaven

“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView

Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan

Trailer

Purchase Links

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Bio

Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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Seven Facts About Ghosts…You Probably Didn’t Know!

I’m happy to welcome award-winning educator, author and speaker, Dr. Randy Overbeck. Today, Randy shares interesting facts about ghosts and his two releases, Blood on the Chesapeake and Crimson at Cape May.

When I did the prep work in advance of writing the first two novels in my new series, the Haunted Shore Mysteries, I conducted a considerable amount of research. For example, for Blood on the Chesapeake, not being a sailor, I had to learn the details about a sloop and specifics about sailing the Chesapeake Bay. And of course, I had do some scholarly research on the social issues focused on in the novels, lynching and racial injustice for Blood on the Chesapeake and human trafficking for Crimson at Cape May. But, as the novels in the series are ghost stories as well as mysteries, I also had to gather considerable knowledge about ghosts and the spiritual world. Since I want my writing to reflect, as close as possible in fiction, what we know for sure about ghosts, I did my best to study up on the subject. I read books, examined verified websites, checked out reported sightings and even met with ghost hunters. What I learned surprised me…in many ways and I thought they might surprise you as well.

Here are a few facts about ghosts what we believe and know. Insert pic of ghost

1) Approximately half the people in the U.S. acknowledge a personal belief in ghosts. Belief in ghosts and the spirit world is not merely the thing of childhood nightmares or foolish hobgoblins of minds. Two different studies conducted over the past several years have yielded almost identical results—48% of respondents replying yes to this question in the first (Harris Poll, 2003) and 51% in the second (Huffington Post, 2017).

2) One in five Americans believe they have had a personal encounter with a ghost. This incredible statistic was confirmed through two separate studies, (Baylor University, 2006 and AP Ipos, 2007). These encounters include hearing, seeing and even sensing a ghost.

3) Every religion in the world includes a belief in ghosts as part of their mythology. No matter what faith community you were raised in—Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions—you were taught that ghosts are a very real part of our existence on this earth.

4) Many famous scientists, performers, inventors, politicians and athletes have shared that they believe in ghosts, most often because they have had a personal encounter with the spirit world. Belief in ghosts is definitely not for the feeble minded. The list of names might surprise you. Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan, Paul McCartney and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., just to name a few.

5) Interest in ghosts and hauntings are so widespread that there are ghost hunting groups, organizations and even companies in every state and a great many cities and towns. A simple exploration of the web will yield a surprising number of “ghost hunting” groups in your area. And none are anything like the famous Ghostbusters.

6) Almost all experts who study this field believe ghosts are individuals who have died, but have some unfinished business that keeps them tethered to this world. This is ample evidence of this in the anecdotal records of documented ghost sightings all across the globe.

7) Often, though not always, a ghost encounter will result in a dramatic drop in a room’s temperature for the time the ghost is present. This experience has been documented repeatedly, using very precise scientific instruments, video and audio recording devices. In all the reports I’ve read, I’ve never seen a “physical” explanation for the very physical change in the atmosphere. And this phenomenon seems to be universal.

So, as I crafted my narratives, I worked to keep the fiction of the ghost story as close to the documented reality of the spiritual world as possible. I’m hoping the inclusion of this “paranormal” element in my storytelling makes the novels just a bit more interesting. I’d love to hear what you think.

Blurb – Blood on the Chesapeake

Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.

Reviews

“Overbeck is a master storyteller. The characters are very human and lovable…humor, romance and suspense all included.” ★★★★★ —Have You Heard My Book Review

“An absolutely chilling ghost story wrapped around an even scarier piece of history – or perhaps it’s the other way around.” ★★★★★ —Chanticleer Reviews

“A classic novel, obviously well-researched, thoughtful, compelling, and a rapid-fire story.”—Reader Views

“Well plotted and skillfully written, a novel that entertains readers and appeals strongly to their consciences and sense of humanity.”— ★★★★★ ReadersFavorite.com

“Overbeck’s pace is spot on and makes for a thoroughly engaging and quick read…a clear look at the way racism and bigotry continued to leak far beyond the bounds of the deep South even after desegregation began to make its way across the US.” ★★★★★ —Literary Titan

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Blurb – Crimson at Cape May

No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.

Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.

He can’t refuse.

Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims?

Reviews

“With both elements of mystery and suspense, readers across genres will find this second book about Darrell Henshaw intriguing…I highly recommend it.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan

“It’s a ghost/mystery story filled with suspense and action. The plot is so engrossing it had me hooked from the very first page.” ★★★★★—Nana’s Reviews, Greece

“An exciting paranormal mystery I couldn’t put down… A great read. Highly recommend!” ★★★★★—N.N. Light’s BookHeaven

“Rollicking good…Darrell is a wonderful protagonist, an ordinary man put into extraordinary situations and rising to the challenge..” ★★★★★ —Over My Dead Body magazine

“I loved everything about this book. As a ghost story combined with a mystery, a romance, a social injustice and stunning historical details, Crimson at Cape May has something for everyone.” ★★★★★—ReaderViews

“Masterly spooky adventure…an accomplished work of haunting mystery fiction that fans of the genre won’t want to miss out on. Highly Recommend.” ★★★★★—ReadersFavorite.com

Book Trailer

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookBub

Bio

Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker, capturing state and national accolades for his work. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, Blood on the Chesapeake (2019) and Crimson at Cape May (2020) have earned five star reviews and garnered top awards and recognition from sites such as Literary Titan, ReadersFavorite.com, ReaderViews.com and N. N. Lights Bookheaven. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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