Friday, October 09, 2015

Book Signings and One Talk on Ghosts This Weekend

I will be doing a book signing for my new ghost book release Paranormal Petersburg Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area tonight, plus selling and signing the book tomorrow, and giving a talk about the ghosts, monsters, and legends of Petersburg and the Tri-Cities , along with nearby Chester and Dinwiddie and Prince George  Counties, then afterwards do a book signing.

Friday, October 9th-5:30-8:30 p.m.-Sweet Dixie, 8 W. Bank Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23803. For directions and other information: 804-732-0707.

Saturday, October 10th-1:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.(or until the books sell out)--inside the gift shop at Boulevard Flowers Garden, 2100 Ruffin Road, South Chesterfield, Virginia 23834.   Directions:

Sunday, October 11th-3:00-5:00 p.m.-Talk on ghosts and book signing at The Art Gallery, 10 Bollingbrook Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23803.  Map to find The Art Gallery:,-77.4537216/10+Bollingbrook+St,+Petersburg,+VA+23803/@37.2967132,-77.4912624,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m10!4m9!1m1!4e1!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b1a66c547b366d:0x6594f088f82896c9!2m2!1d-77.40433!2d37.2326114!3e0 

Supernatural Friday: Defining a Haunting

Defining what is a haunting should be simple. Right. Like this traditional description from a dictionary: a haunted place is somewhere inhabited by apparitions or ghosts. These definitions reflect cultural traditions. We are all immersed in our culture and naturally pick up these ideas whether we are aware of it or not. And yet, experts in the paranormal field have so many explanations.

An important question; A lot of recent ghost research is based around comparing 'haunted' and 'non-haunted' locations When one looks for differences between the places, there is hope that vital clues will be found to the true nature of hauntings. For such research to be of value, it is vital that a way be found to define a haunting.

For most people, a sighting of a spirit is the normal reason for a haunting. And yet, there are more. Sounds, like footsteps, knocks and disembodied voices. Odors, whether terrible or sweet. Something familiar with a person in life, like cigar smoking, maybe smelled in his home after death. Odd sights not a full body apparition. Feelings: headaches, static build-up, touches, and cold spots.  Object movement: doors, taps and light switches, dishes thrown, objects lost and sometimes recovered, objects falling (eg. pictures, ornaments). Plus there are the reactions from pets of something not visible to our eyes.

Now when one investigates a haunting report and explains all its components using natural causes, would it cease to be a haunting? Most people would most likely agree. Note, however, that a haunting is usually composed of several components or different phenomena. Each component may turn out to have a different, unrelated mundane cause. You could, therefore, conclude that such a haunting, as a whole, was only a single concept in the mind of its witnesses.
What if you can explain most of the phenomena in a haunting but not all of them? Is it still a haunting? It could be that the only thing preventing you for explaining the entire haunting is a lack of crucial evidence. Nevertheless, it still contains some vital 'unexplained' components. So, another definition would be a collection of odd, apparently paranormal, events reported at a particular location, at least some of which have not, on proper investigation, been explained by natural causes. Not as cool as a place inhabited by a ghost, but still, an explanation.

But no matter what “Ghost Hunters” or the others say, no one really knows what a ghost is. Sometimes it is an intelligent haunt, where you received answers and learn it was someone who passed away, like I got over my ghost box, the first and last name of a man, Philip Barnes, who died in the 1622 Massacre at Falling Creek Ironworks.  Other times, it is like a recording, where something repeats itself at a certain time or certain day. Not a ‘real’ phantom.  Then there are ‘demons’, possible theories of time travel, etc… So many reasons, so many “who knows the truth?”  

No matter the possibility. We still enjoy reading about haunting. Taking ghost tours, or watching paranormal TV shows and movies. And at this time of the year, when Halloween is when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, it’s all about enjoying that chill up our spine.

                         Happy Haunting.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Signed Book Winner of Virtual Book Tour

I drew the virtual book tour winner of a signed copy of my new ghost book is...drum roll....CJ England! Congratulations, CJ! Spooky reading to you. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Just in Time for Joaquin, a Ghostly Legend of the Gray Man

I've written about this ghostly legend before--last year, in fact. But with the hurricane Joaquin maybe hits here on the East Coast in a couple of days or so, I thought this would be a great, timely ghost story for the first Supernatural Friday in October. The legend of the “Gray Man.”

Pawleys Island, the barrier island, the incorporated town and the unincorporated community, all of the same name, is about 26 miles south of Myrtle Beach, S.C. along US Highw 17. It is here that the Gray Man haunts. The name of the island came from George Pawley, an early owner.

The area is one of the oldest resort areas along the east coast. Inland rice planters were believed to have constructed "summer cottages" on the island which, because of its consistent sea breezes, was less infested with mosquitoes, in the 19th century. In 2000 U.S. Census, it stated that there were 138 souls on the island, but that number may be incorrect. Locals claim there is an additional soul who appears from time to time, a soul whose sole occupation seems to be to warn residents of approaching storms.

"The Gray Man" is a good name for the apparition, as it appears to be the size of a man wearing drab, nondescript clothing. The apparition appears and vanishes within the blink of an eye. Sometimes the ghost speaks and sometimes it remains silent. The spirit has been seen along the beach at Pawleys Island off and on now for almost two centuries.

The first appearance goes back to a hurricane that hit the region in 1822, which caused over 300 deaths. Another sighting happened before a terrible storm called "The Sea Islands Hurricane." This storm made landfall near Savannah, Ga., on Aug. 27, 1893. With sustained winds of 120 mph, this hurricane killed 1,000 to 2,000 people and did, by 2010 U.S. dollars, $24.1 million in damages. Another hurricane from October of 1954, Hurricane Hazel, clobbered the Carolina coast, destroying some 15,000 homes and structures, killing 19 people, and doing $136 million in damage. Seventy-three miles up the coast at Holden Beach, N.C., all but 12 of 300 cottages were obliterated by winds estimated at between 125 and 150 mph. 

Now, there was a couple of newlyweds on Pawleys Island. They were supposedly warned by a "man in rumpled gray clothing." He awoke them when he knocked on their door early in the morning before the storm's arrival They prudently left the area as soon as they were able.

Other Pawleys Island residents reportedly observed a solitary "gray man" ambling along the beach, just before a storm hit.  When Hurricane Hugo roared through,  doing damage as far inland as the North Carolina piedmont in mid-September of 1989, it caused at least 76 deaths and did an estimated $10 billion in damages. Before this one appeared, tw Pawleys Island residents saw a man entirely dressed in gray on the beach. The lone pedestrian looked as if he was approaching the couple, but when they waved to him, he disipated. Evidently they were familiar with the legend of the Gray Man, for they packed up and vacated the island two days before Hugo arrived.

Another facet of this legend, is that residences of those whom the Gray Man warns are often not touched by these storms which level surrounding neighborhoods. As with all such tales there are several variations-there are at least three-as to the origin of the ghost.

The one most folks know goes like this:
It seems that there was this young engaged couple. The young man was separated from his beloved for several months, perhaps on a voyage across the Atlantic. When his ship finally put in at Georgetown, he rode a horse (some versions say he was accompanied by a friend or servant) back home to Pawleys Island.
In a hurry to see his young lady, the rider(s) decided to take a shortcut through the swamps. The betrothed young man and his horse became mired and were overcome by quicksand. His companion [if there was one] was unable to save him. 

Later, after his funeral, his lady love saw an apparition resembling the young man when she was walking along the beach. The apparition warned her to take her family and flee the island. She did so and upon returning after the storm, found her home almost the sole surviving structure.
There is also a tale concerning a ghostly couple that are said to occasionally visit the Pelican Inn on the island. Whether the male of the duo is also the Gray Man has not been established.

The legend of the Gray Man of Pawleys Island has been the subject of the TV program, "Unsolved Mysteries," and has been featured in many books about Carolina ghosts. 

I wondered if the “Gray Man” appeared before Sandy’s appearance. It would be understandable if the ghost had, as this hurricane not only came upon the east coast not only the end of October, but close to a time when spirits are said to roam the earth: Halloween.

Halloween Haunts 2015 October 1-31st-Blog Posts, Excerpts and Prizes.

The Horror Writers Association Halloween Haunts 2015 blog event begins today,  October 1st. This online-only event presents thirty-one days of Halloween posts, excerpts, and book giveaways from some of today's top horror writers. Celebrate Halloween with the horror writers and catch up on some good, scary reading. This event will take place from October 1 through October 31 on the HWA blog, Dark Whispers: Updates and announcements about the schedule will be posted regularly on this page throughout October. Please share this and help spread the word so everyone can enjoy a few good Halloween chills.

First one today is up to be read: Halloween Haunts: Bloody Mary  
TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: James Chambers is giving away one set of The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood in paperback.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Superstitions About Death: Second Blog Siop of Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area

When I was writing Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area, I learned some interesting superstations about death, thanks to taking a ghost tour at Sutherland Tavern in Dinwiddie, Virginia, and Michelle Olger. In past centuries, before a burial of someone who passed away, wakes were held. A wake is when the body was laid out for two to five days. One day was needed to put out the call about the death, another couple of days for people to gather there, and a couple of more days were needed for viewing the body. Parlors in the past were where people placed their dead when “laid out.” They were called death rooms.  Not in morgues, as at that time, such places were not there yet. When morgues came into being and dead placed there, that is when parlors became living rooms.

Today, people bring flowers to give the families of the deceased. This, too, had to do with the body in the parlor. It began to smell, so placing many flowers in the parlor helped tone down the stench. Also, all clocks in the house were stopped, and any mirrors covered. Clocks were stopped at the hour of the death of the person laid out. Superstition had them believing that if they were not stopped, the living would have bad luck. There were also superstitions regarding mirrors: covering them wherever the dead were laid out was to prevent disembodied spirits from seeing their own reflections and never finding rest. Other reasons stated that mirrors should be covered so the soul of the departed wouldn’t get caught behind the glass and be unable to pass to the other side. There is one final belief that if the living saw their own reflection in a mirror while a body lay in the parlor, they would die soon after. The pallbearers carried the body out the front door feet first, so not to beckon any souls back into the house.

There are other interesting superstitions concerning death that I found and wrote about in the chapter for Sutherland Tavern:

It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around. If this is unavoidable, hold on to a button until the funeral cortege passes.
When a clap of thunder is heard following a burial, it is an indication that the soul of the departed has reached heaven.
Do not hold your breath while going by a graveyard, so you will not be buried.
If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers will bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds will grow.
The odor of roses when no one is around indicates that someone will die.
Seeing yourself in a dream means that your death will follow.
If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.
A picture falling off a wall means that there will be a death of someone you know.
A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells death.


What other traditions or superstitions do you know about death that I haven’t mentioned? Leave a comment about it, plus your name and email (so if you win, I can contact you after I draw the winner October 6th) to be entered to win a signed copy of my new book. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Stop of My Virtual Book Tour

I begin the virtual book tour of my new nonfiction ghost book release, Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area today by stopping at I Smell Sheep Reviews. Read about haunted or curse objects and leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of my book.

Tomorrow, the second stop will be here. And remember comment by October 6th, as the last stop on the tour will be Monday, October 5th.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Online Blog Tour September 27-October 5, 2015

Sunday begins the blog tour for my new release, Paranormal Petersburg, and the Tri-Cities Area. The book is nonfiction, with haunted buildings, battlefields, and more in Petersburg and nearby Tri-Cities  and Chester in Virginia.  Leave a comment on any of them (includes mine on Tuesday), with your name and email and one winner will be drawn after August 6, 2015 for a signed copy of the book I will contact the winner then to get the snail mail so can mail it off to that person. 

List of the blogs for the tour: 

Supernatural Friday: Jack-O-Lantern-Truth and Folklore

Next Friday, there will be no Supernatural Friday, as I will be on a book tour for my new release, Paranormal Petersburg and the Tri-Cities Area, and stop on my log on Tuesday, September 28th, so come back then and leave a comment with your and email to be entered to win a signed copy of my book.  Next Friday, I will be stopping on Lela Markham's Blog

We carve jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins around Halloween. People carve monstrous faces the pumpkins wear friendly faces, or famous characters from movies, TV and books--like the stormtrooper one my husband carved in one of the craft pumpkin we bought a few years ago. And yes, you don't have to use the gourds you find at the supermarket or grown at pumpkin farms, you can use craft pumpkins found at craft stores, too. You can also paint pumpkins even. This is safer for children to do, rather than using carving implements. They can use their own paints to paint cool faces or by using stencils, faces or scenes on the flesh of the pumpkin.

This tradition of making a jack-o-lantern goes back long ago in Ireland. They used turnips then. The Irish carved these vegetables and left them on doorsteps to ward off evil spirits. But it did not become part of Halloween until 1866. That was in America, and not in Ireland or Britain. There is no documented proof to substantiate that the jack-o-lanterns were ever part of Halloween before this date.
There is folklore behind the jack-o-lantern. In one version of the story, Stingy Jack was a miserly old man who runs into the Devil. He asks if the Devil would turn into a coin he could use to pay some Christian villagers he owed. These that would be a great joke.

But Jack pocketed him. He had a cross in the pocket, too. The Devil was stuck, and the only way he would be freed was if he promise not to take Jack's soul when he dies. The Devil agreed to the deal and set free.

Jack finally passes away. His spirit tries to enter into Heaven, but the gates remain shut to him. There is too great of a stain on his soul for Heaven to allow him inside. And thanks to his agreement with the Devil, he discovers that he is barred from Hell, too. The Devil tosses him a turnip and an ember made from Hellfire.

“Take that turnip, dig all its insides out, and place the ember inside it. Use it as a lantern to find your way across the mortal world to find a resting place. That is all I will do for you. Good riddance.”

So with only the lantern to light his way, Jack wanders the earth and searches for a resting place. He never finds it. Jack became known as Jack-o'-Lantern.
There are other versions of this Irish tale, even an African-American one. One of those tales uses the Grim Reaper in place of the Devil, The Grim Reaper takes Jack's head to Hell with him. Jack uses a pumpkin to replace his head.

When you carve that pumpkin, and set a lighted candle or battery operated candle inside it, stand on your porch and watch the costumed children wandering the street. Think of Stingy Jack, doomed to roam the earth forever.

Will you take pity on him if he comes to your door?

You Can Preorder Nightmares and Echos II: The Return on Kindle That Contains My Story for 99 Cents Right Now!

Not in the print at this time, but you can preorder Nightmares and Echos II: The Return on Kindle-at 99 cents. It will be delivered to your Kindle October 16, 2015. This has my story, "Silence." Wanting some spooky tales for Halloween reading, this has eighteen. Mine is a ghost story set on Halloween. 

In Volume Two of Nightmares and Echoes we give you eighteen new short stories of horror ranging from the gory to the unsettling. Like last year’s offering, this collection spans the gamut of terror contributed from a variety of Indie Writers for the sole purpose of giving something back. Fifty percent of the proceeds from this collection will be donated to CAMP HOPE and ST JUDE’S.

                                        “Some Things Are Not So Easy to Forget."