Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Checklist

Believe it or not, one of my notebooks holds a list of things I consider to be “scary.” I have a list so that I can refer to it while I’m writing my books. Included in this list are things like: seeing the shadow of feet on the other side of a closed door, even if you know you’re the only one in the house; or the face, meaning someone looking at you, whether through a window where it’s impossible (like the second floor) or from the mirror; or someone reaching out through a device like a phone call or a voicemail message from someone dead; or waking up to a specter beside or at the foot of the bed.

Of course, there are a ton more possible scary things: the passenger in the backseat of your car that you just glimpse in the rearview mirror. The footsteps upstairs when you’re alone. The crash in the other room, whether or not you find something on the floor –disturbing- or finding nothing disturbed at all – equally disturbing- when you go to check.

And then there’s touching, and I’m not even talking about something inappropriate. The soft caress across your forehead, the gentle tug on your hair or your clothes. In at least one instance I used an actual slap to the face.

Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily easy to come up with this stuff. Watching paranormal reality shows helps a lot! But sometimes I’ll be looking for just that one kind of disturbing instance, just that one particular thing that will point to supernatural activity, and I struggle to come up with anything. Which is one reason to keep a list. The other is so that I can read it over from time to time and maybe it will help drop a box off a shelf in my head, trigger a story that would be fun to tell.

Sometimes I’ll luck out and the characters will come up with their own hauntings. When I first started writing Cassie, I had no idea she would be able to do what she can do with a picture. I didn’t realize that Michael’s ability would be triggered by Cassie’s presence. As I wrote more and began to realize what these two were actually about, it was amazing for me. I’m still learning about their abilities, just like they are. In my own way, I can’t wait to see what else they can show me, what more they can do. (I don’t think Michael’s too happy about this, but hey, Michael’s not always too happy anyway, so there it is. Sorry, buddy!)

I am currently writing book seven of the Bridgeton Park Cemetery Series and a quick peek at my notebook brought up “imaginary friend” (always a goodie), “the attached entity a person picked up in childhood that never went away”, “coffin plates”, and the word “closet.” Pretty random, but still enough to trigger certain ideas.

What about you? Is there a particular kind of haunt that would bother you the most?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Paranormal Quiz Time! - Answers

So here are the answers to the paranormal quiz. (Grizelda Mumenschotz, you got just about everything! I’m impressed!)

1. Denizens of Victorian England told ghost stories at Christmas time, having story-time both Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Can you picture them sitting in a darkened room, close to the fire, telling chilling tales in hushed voices? What a cool idea!

2. Sara Winchester kept construction going on The Winchester Mansion throughout her entire life in an effort to keep away the spirits of those killed by Winchester guns.

3. The Mel Meter 8704 was invented by electrical engineer Gary Galka, whose daughter Melissa (Mel) died at the age of 17 as the result of a car accident. After her funeral, everyone in the family became convinced that Mel was trying to contact them by switching lights on and off, moving things, and eventually producing EVP (ha! That answer comes later!) Mr. Galka constructed a device that would allow for easier communication with his daughter. The number of the model indicates the year of her birth (1987) and the year of her death (2004).

4. “Goat-sucker” is the ever-lovable chupacabra, “noisy ghost” is the translation from German for poltergeist, and “shtriga” is Romanian (also close to the Polish word for it) for vampire.

5. The married demonologist and medium are Ed and Lorraine Warren.

6. Their demonologist nephew who had his own show is John Zaffis, “The Haunted Collector.” By the way, both the Warrens and Mr. Zaffis have a museum of haunted objects. Annabelle lives at the Warrens’ museum. I don’t think I’d visit either place even if they were open to the public.

7. EVP is electronic voice phenomena (picked up on a tape recorder or other recording device).

8. EMF is electromagnetic field. (Changes in the field, as indicated by an EMF detector, can mean the presence of a spirit or entity.)

9. Two haunted museums, both the site of murders committed by axe, are The Lizzie Borden House, also a B & B in Massachusetts, and The Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa. (Grizelda, were you watching Kindred Spirits?)

10. The community of psychics, mediums, and spiritualists in New York is Lily Dale.

11. The similar community in Florida is Cassadaga.

So how did you all do? Want to play again??? Let me know…

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Paranormal Bucket List. Again.

Saving Jake by [Julien, Ophelia]

My friend, Sylvia Shults, is both a writer and a real, live, ghost investigator. If you google her, you can find out all about her and her books. She’s even been on the show Ghost Hunters, so there you go.

Last November, while we were at the Psychic and Paranormal Expo over in Davenport, Iowa, I asked Sylvia if she had a bucket list of places she would like to investigate. And yes, she did. All of them were places I wouldn’t go within ten miles of, like the Villisca Ax Murder House. I don’t remember if she included the fun places like Waverley Sanitarium or the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I don’t think it would have surprised me if she had; this is a woman who had a great time overnighting at the Lizzie Borden Museum/Bed and Breakfast.

But it made me start to think about my own bucket list. In terms of life in general, I don’t have one. I know people would tell me that of course I do, there must be SOME things I’d love to do before I die. Actually, though, I don’t think there are. There are a lot of things I’d like to do or try, but if that never happens, that’s fine. I can’t think of any particular place I absolutely need to get to, or any particular activity I absolutely need to try. I’m actually pretty content with my life, and that is a big blessing, as far as I’m concerned.

On the other hand, though, when it comes to the paranormal, (and I think I’ve written about this whole bucket-list thing before), there are a couple things I wouldn’t mind checking out before I check out permanently, even though I won’t feel disappointed if I never get there. One of them is the opportunity to see ghost lights. The closest ones to me that I know about are the Paulding Lights up in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. I have a friend who has actually seen them and she got me interested in searching for them myself. Or I suppose if I ever wind up there, I’d be happy to check them out in Marfa, Texas, or Brown Mountain in North Carolina.

And then there’s my whole cryptid obsession. If I get to Maine, I want to see the International Cryptozoology Museum. That seems doable, too. A little dicier would be having an opportunity to see, in real life, a thunderbird. Those have fascinated me for forever. I wouldn’t mind getting a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. I’d absolutely love to see a leprechaun. And maybe Bigfoot would be okay –like, from a huge distance. Through binoculars.

There are things I’d rather not see. I don’t feel the need to run into a chupacabra or Mothman. I don’t need to see the New Jersey Devil, either. I’d rather not get caught in a “buzzard-puke” rain –that is, the kind of downpour that literally consists of flesh and blood. No one can explain these particular “rains,” but they’ve been documented and I just think. No thank you, very much.

I learned recently, thanks to one of my FB connections, that the city of Sault Ste. Marie has one of the largest paranormal conferences in the Midwest. I wonder if I could ever pair that with a search for the Paulding ghost lights.

And if I got to Sault Ste. Marie, I know that’s also the home of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which would be a must for me. Saving Jake, here we come! Besides, that museum has the bell that was raised from the Lake Superior-doomed ship, the Edmund Fitzgerald. I hear that when that bell was raised from the depths, it immediately began ringing, even though there was no wind blowing. They say the divers all got chills when they heard that long-silenced bell find its voice again.

I have been lucky, if that’s the right word for it, to have seen a ghost. Or two. I have also seen a UFO, although it was not up-close-and-personal. This was in the days before phone cameras, but even with one, I would not have been close enough to get a nice video of it. I just got to watch it as it zoomed across the night sky at a high rate of speed, abruptly changed directions –like literally stopping and then heading off another way- and then resumed its quick trek in the night. It did this several times, so I was able to watch it for a few minutes. It was fascinating. It was also a nice, deep, glowing red.

So ghosts and UFO’s. Two things I could check off of my list, if I had one. But I really don’t. Really. Well, maybe those ghost lights…