Thursday, February 24, 2011

Supernatural Friday-Zombies

Zombies. What are they? They used to be connected with voodoo. Now, thanks to "Night of the Living Dead" in the late Sixties, people think zombies are flesh eating undead monsters. Of course, George A. Romero admitted he never coined the term (someone else did), but thought of the undead cannibals in his film as ghouls.

What do you think they are? What are your favorites--the current flesh eaters, or those from the days of voodoo and black and white films?

Mysticon--February 25th, 26th and 27th in Ronoake, Virginia

I'll be an author guest at Mysticon tomorrow through Sunday. Come on by and check out the panels, the dealer's rooms, authors, artitst, media guests and paranormal guests, plus more.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winner of Silver Smoke

Winner of Silver Smoke is Roni Lynne. I gave your email to Monica to contact you. Congratulations!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Very different restrooms signs for men's and women's.

Interviewing Silver Smoke Author Monica Leonelle

Today, I am interviewng author Monica Leonelle about her YA book, Silver Smoke and about her. Leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of Silver Smoke!

A broken family, a deadly secret...
Siblings Pilot and Brie van Rossum are exiled to Honolulu after their mother's tragic death thrusts them into the paparazzi circus ring. It is there that Brie meets the Hallows, a superbeing race descended from archangels, who insist that everything Brie knows about her mother is a lie. Meanwhile, Pilot and his best friend Rykken research an ancient feud between two Hawaiian families and try to unlock the secrets of an emerald pendant with extraordinary powers

1.) -Please tell us about your new book.

Silver Smoke is about a hybrid race descendant of angels and humans called Hallows. The story follows Brie and Pilot van Rossum, who live in the limelight due to their father's music career. When their mother dies, they are uprooted from their home in New York City and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to escape the media frenzy. That's when Brie finds out that her mom was a Hallow and she is too. She has to manage a secret, a political battle, villains on all sides, and a love interest (or two) in addition to learning to control her newfound powers.

2.) What made you decide to write it, and why?

I don't know that I decided to write this book. At times, it feels like it decided to let me write it! But here's what the book means to me: when I was a teenager I know I struggled with authority in all aspects of my life--things I was told to do, things I was told to want, things I was told to believe. Part of growing up is taking whatever your parents and teachers taught you and forming your opinions about the world. The process of discovering yourself is already difficult, but it's aggravated by the people you love, especially if they think you are making a decision they wouldn't make (the "wrong" decision). This book series is a lot about that internal struggle that every teenager faces when they have too many people telling them what to believe.

3.) - What can we expect from you in the future? Will there be more of these same characters in another book?

Yes, Silver Smoke is the start of a series! There will be more books about Brie, Rykken, Pilot, and the rest of the crew. How many is dependent on how the first ones do.

4.) –What else would you like to write about one day?

As for other projects, I'm planning to write a second series (a trilogy, likely) with a cyberpunk aesthetic. It's something no one is really doing right now in YA.

5.) What motivated you to start writing?

I've always written about my life and the struggles I was going through. It got to the point where I couldn't be as honest as I wanted because I didn't want to hurt or upset those around me. I started writing fiction and putting bits of my experiences and ideas into characters. Every single one of my characters has parts of me and people I know mixed in.

6.) -What kind of research do you do?

I read a TON of angel mythology. Dante's Inferno, The Book of Enoch, Paradise Lost, and more. While the book is not particularly religious, I also had a solid religious background to begin with that I drew from.

As far a setting goes, I have been to Honolulu many times, so I knew the area well enough, but I spent several days walking around the streets of Manhattan because the characters will be there a bit more in the second book.

7.) -Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

It depends on whether I'm writing or editing. I tend to do huge chunks at a time. I'll spend 4 or 5 days straight writing the first draft of 8 chapters of a book. Editing also happens in even bigger chunks. I tend to get in the zone and I don't try to predict that, so daily set schedules don't work as well for me. I'm more likely to set aside whole days/weeks where all I do is write or edit.

8.) -Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere. An episode of The Office. A Taylor Swift song. A math class I took in college. A lot of things in my books are inspired by things that happened to me in real life. The made-up parts of my books (the Hallows and the Nephilim particularly) are inspired by actual mythology with all sorts of creatures--vampires, mermaids, selkies, and more.

9.) -Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?

Lots of authors have influenced my writing. CS Lewis, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and more. There are authors I wish would influence my writing more, like Maggie Stiefvater, Alice Munro, and Kristin Cashore. On a different level, I'm heavily influenced by amazing storytellers like James Cameron. I want to do more stories like the ones he does.

10.) -Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Not at all. I don't think real writers get into it for the profession, because really, you could find so many better ways to make money. I think real writers can't help but write, and then eventually through a combination of luck and hard work they figure out how to make money from it.

11.) -What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Creating characters that people care about as much as I do. People don't realize that authors constantly talk to their own characters. They are like imaginary friends. I always ask my editors, "Why do you think Brie did this?" and they say, "You created her!" But really, characters have their own minds and motivations that live entirely outside of the author.

12.) -Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

I'm married with a westie dog named Mia. My hobbies are writing and reading and watching episodes of Glee and other shows that I'm probably out of the target audience for. My undergrad is in computer science and my graduate degree is in business (proof that you don't need a degree in English or writing to be an author).

13.) -Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Sure. If you really want it, you'll get it through hard work. There isn't a bucket of talent that is only reserved for a chosen few--anyone can improve their writing and storytelling skills. People who want it finish their books. They start new, better books using the knowledge they've gained from the first books. They hone their craft. They learn the publishing industry inside and out. They educate themselves with writing classes. They seek out the right people. It's never a matter of "if" for people who really want it; it's a matter of when. "When" can come faster with hard work.

14.) Tell us your website, MySpace, Blog, any urls so the readers can find out more about you.

Silver Smoke preview:

15.) Now for something fun:
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Exotic or mundane? Exotic
Favorite color? Pink
Favorite mythological being? Angels
Favorite paranormal creature? Mermaids
All time favorite book? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
All time favorite movie? Can't Hardly Wait
If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be? Somewhere where there is life on other planets
A secret desire?
That you'll read my book! (Though that might not be a secret…)

Author Bio:
Monica Leonelle is a 27-year old writer living in Chicago with her husband and her Westie dog. She is the author of Silver Smoke, the first book in the Seven Halos series. When she is not writing about Brie, Rykken, and Pilot, she is working on a young adult cyberpunk trilogy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review of Silver Smoke

Fifteen-year old Brie van Rossum wants to know what caused her mother’s death, but she’s trapped in Honolulu under the watchful eye of her rock star father, James, her overprotective older brother, Pilot, and the relentless paparazzi who would love to capture her breaking down on film. Plus there’s that complication with her brother’s best friend, Rykken.
And if things couldn’t get any stranger for her, the clue about her mother’s death finally comes in the form of four teenage girls--or at least, that’s what Brie thought when she first met them. Except they’re not normal teenagers, but Hallows--descendants of archangels and humans. Brie learns that she is a Hallow too, just like her late mother. Brie will learn she has enemies and begins to wonder if she really can trust her new found friends either. Plus there’s that complication with Rykken, as it develops into an attraction.

Silver Smoke is a Young Adult urban fantasy. It is a good story, actually starting to get better when Rykken discovers he too is a Hallow and has powers. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Supernatural Friday-Review of Dead of Winter

Review: Dead of Winter by Kealan Patrick Burke

Dead of Winter by Kealan Patrick Burke is a novella length book of five short stories set during the winter and all dark in tone. The tales contain a combination of eeriness, depression and horror. The title fits the theme of this book perfectly, for this book does contain the pure freezing cold of terror.

"Snowmen" is a story about a boy who feels that the snowmen in his yard are coming for him. It’s when he discovers what these snowmen really are, that the true horror begins for him.
"Doomsday Father Christmas” is about what Santa Claus really is. Instead of the cheery old elf as children we knew, we get a depressed Kris Kringle over the way the world has changed since the beginning for him and how in the end it spells doom for us."Black Static” tells a flash fiction of an apparent adult caregiver whose obviously has responsibility of father who has become a chore not of love and what this caregiver does to free himself or herself and even the father.
"They Know" reminded me a bit of Stephen King, in that it was more than a scary story, but about people in a small town, and how snow falling can affect them, especially for the main character, Jake Dodds. He will learn though that the snowstorm brings more than snow, but something else. Something terribly else.

"Visitation Rights" tells of a father with visitation rights who picks up his daughters after a year of not seeing them to spend the weekend with him. There’s a creepy twist at the end that may shock you.

Read this collection of short stories right now during winter time—I dare you. Just be sure the doors are all locked and the window shades pulled down. And if something scratches at the front door, it’s nothing but your imagination brought on by these tales. Or is it?

Buy it on Kindle at

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is supposed to be all about love and lovers, but I feel it can be for a parent's love for their child or children, kids' love for their parents, or even love of two good friends, and much more.
Most of all, if you're single and don't like yourself for any reason, it's a day to begin to love yourself. For if we don't love ourselves how can we love others? Everyone has something beautiful about themselves, inside or out, no matter what someone else tells you.
For the rest of us, spend Valentine's Day saying "Happy Valentine's Day" to those you run into and tell them how nice they look. Brin a little happiness into someone's life is the best Valentine's gift you can give.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Supernatural Friday

So you are fascinated by ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night? You always wanted to hunt ghosts, track Big Foot, or spy the Loch Ness monster. Maybe becoming a paranormal investigator is just the thing for you. I don't encourage amateurs without any training at all to conduct paranormal investigating though. You need some idea of what you are doing before you go off into that graveyard or haunted building. I do recommend you contact an established organization near you and join them on a hunt/investigation or get some on the job training, so to speak. If you do some investigating on your own, don’t do it alone for your own safety. One good reason you never do it alone is you may get hurt. Another is the slim chance the spirit may be a harmful one—like of demonic origin. In my opinion, whatever religion you are, utter a prayer of protection before you start any investigation.First of all, no one is born a "paranormal investigator”. All it takes to getinvolved in the field of ghost hunting is to:
1.) Have an interest in the afterlife.
2.) Believe in ghosts—without it, you're wasting your time. Though there are skeptics that are doing this too, to disprove the supernatural. And that is all right, too.
3.) Find a place you wish to investigate.
4.) Invest in some equipment. At a minimum, a respectable paranormal investigator needs a camera, a notebook, a tape recording device, and a flashlight. More experienced paranormal investigators invest in EMF detectors or meters which pick up disturbances in electric and magnetic fields. You can find many of the things needed at places online like the Ghost Hunter Store ( You can also find much of these things at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Radio Shack, etc…
5.) Spend time practicing HOW TO use your tools. Like any job, it is always best to know how to use them properly.
6.) Read everything you can on ghosts, poltergeists, UFO sightings, and any other kind of paranormal activity. Study the investigations of these phenomena to get a sense of how paranormal investigators approach their work. Learn the lingo and the different types of paranormal activity that may be encountered in an investigation. There are some good books on ghost research and investigation out there.
7.) Join a local paranormal investigation group. Check out online sites like at, MySpace, and even for information on groups in your area. If there are no groups in your area, consider attending a paranormal conference out of town or even starting your own group. I know of one being planned to be held in Virginia Beach area in 2011. You can find paranormal conferences by using
8.) Take a class. Many organizations now offer courses in paranormal investigation, like Flamel College (, the International Ghost Hunters Society (, and of course, organizations in your own locality.

GHOST HUNT - going to a place were there have been no sightings of ghosts and trying to catch some on film (video and photos), sounds, eyewitness, etc. . . (graveyards are the number one place to start, churches, schools and older buildings too).

GHOST INVESTIGATION - going to a known haunted place to record data (video, photos, audio, and temperatures), take notes, conduct interviews and get other evidence to prove/disprove the haunting and to assist the owners and the spirits in moving on and leaving the place if they want that. The assistance can be either you directly assisting the owner with the situation or putting them in contact with experienced groups or individuals that will try to resolve the situation. Your assistance can be something as simple as educating them on what is going on and their options.

There are generally 2 types of spirits you may encounter. One was a human at one time and it has remained on this level for some reason. The spirit may not know he/she is dead, and may be held here by unfinished business, guilt, and many other reasons. These spirits are like the person was when they were alive, so they can be good or bad, just like the living, but not normally dangerous. This human spirit is the type you will encounter 95% of the time. You could also witness a residual haunting which is just a playback of a past event. This is just like watching a video from the past playing over and over. The other types of spirit you may encounter were never human to begin with and are generally bad news. You must be aware of this type but not be obsessed with them. The chances that you will encounter them in a regular ghost hunt are slim. Just always be aware, protect yourself, and you should have no problem.

General Tips

Verify location, accessibility, safety, and related issues in daylight so you are familiar with the area. Look for dangerous places and obstacles that you will not be able to see in the dark, like parking, paths, and hazards.

Wear suitable clothing, including sturdy footwear. Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately before ghost hunting, but don’t ghost hunting hungry, either. Do not drink alcohol or use drugs before or during an investigation.

Never go alone. This is just common sense. If you get hurt, who will get help?

Look for no trespassing signs. Make sure you are not trespassing. If you are on private property you are risking getting a ticket or arrested in some areas. You should get permission from any owner or caretaker. Notify the local Police so that they will be aware of your presence to take pictures and such. Provide photo ID if the police ask. If you are asked to leave, do so immediately, even if the property is not posted, for you won’t win this argument and you make other investigators look bad if you make a scene.

Make sure you bring you ID (A driver’s license, etc.), so if you are questioned by the police you can prove who you are.

If you become unreasonably frightened, leave. Always follow your gut instinct if you are prompted to leave. But remember, you have more to fear from the living than from the dead. There is not that much demonic activity, no matter what the movies say. Most hauntings are of the normal variety. Haunted sites are often isolated. That makes these sites attractive to people engaged in illegal activities. Use caution and common sense.

The best times are from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. These are the psychic hours, but anytime can produce results. I have gotten pictures during the daytime and recordings the same time, too. I have seen a solid (spirit solid as a living person) in a famously haunted historic house in San Diego after lunch time, so ghosts are not tied to night hours. My opinion, nighttime is good? There are not living people out doing things, no vehicle sounds, etc.. This way, you hear something or get an EVP, you know there was no one outside the building you were investigating.
Find out all you can about the history of the locale you are investigating. Check out newspapers, town historians, the World Wide Web, and books can be helpful finding folklore or hard facts about the site. There are so many books and web pages that deal with this type of information. Even online sites of local television news can have information.

Equipment for Paranormal Investigations

35mm Camera—nothing fancy, with at least 400 speed film. 800 speed film is also good at night, but you'll have to test your cameras flash strength to see which speed works best for you. Even those single use 35mm cameras have gotten good results. If you are more experienced photographer you may want to try infrared film. When you develop them you don't need to go to a camera shop, a local drug store or department store is fine. Let them know you want all the pictures developed so that you get the pictures that they might think are bad ones. These "bad ones" are normally your best ectoplasm mist photos.

Digital Camera—regardless of what you've heard, digital cameras are great tools for ghost researchers. Once upon a time they had their limitations and problems, but no longer is the case. Not only do they allow you to see instantly if you have a positive photo, they can also take photos in limited infrared range of light.

Flashlight / plenty of spare batteries—a common sense item. Remember to bring plenty of spare batteries for everything. Due to spirit activity, batteries often run down very fast and you don't want to miss anything because of dead batteries. I recommend using a red lens flash light to help preserve your night vision. But it's always a good idea to have a red light flashlight and a white light one in case of emergencies.

First aid kit—It's very easy to trip in the dark and get cut. Even if investigating during the daylight, you can accidentally get hurt. This is one reason you should never do an investigation by yourself, but do it in twos at the very least.

Notebook w/ pens and pencils—You need to write and log in everything that happens. If you don't, then you really don't have much research information. An example of this is one investigator gets an EMF reading that's high and doesn’t write it down. Another investigator takes a picture of the same area, but is not aware of the reading and gets an anomalous image. Without that EMF reading the picture may be good evidence, but with a report noting the reading, the picture greatly increases in evidence value. Many investigators use a pocket tape recorder instead and that’s fine; just make sure you have spare batteries and tapes.

Jackets or weather appropriate clothing—If you are cold, you are not at your best, and your observation skill could suffer.

Watch—to log in the times of the events, along with your arrival and departure.

Video camera (optional tripod)—Video cameras can be an important instrument for an investigation. Unlike still cameras, they provide us with constant visual and audio surveillance for review and observation. The video cameras many investigators use are equipped with infrared capability and so use that mode most often. With video any phenomena occurring can be documented in its entirety. This will show the length of time the phenomena occurs, what is happening, the conditions surrounding the phenomena, and possibly even the cause of the phenomena. The Sony line of camcorders has an infrared night shot feature that enables you to video tape in complete darkness and see beyond what the human eye can see. You can use these on tripods or walk around with them. You should also invest in an infrared light extender which will help your camera see in the darkest places and make the quality of the video better. An example:

Tape recorder w/ external microphone and high grade tapes—recorders or digital voice recorders are with out a doubt one of the most important pieces of equipment that you should have in you investigators toolbox. Audio recorders are used for many different purposes throughout an investigation. Recorders are used for interviews, spontaneous thoughts, your notes, and electronic voice phenomena (EVP). You have to use an external microphone when recording EVPs (ghost voices). If you rely on the internal microphone you will also be recording the internal gears and motors and this will make your tape worthless. Any sound you hear on the tape could not be used as evidence because of this, so use the external mic, they are pretty inexpensive. The type of tape investigators most often recommended are high bias tapes or metal tapes.

Digital audio recorders—this recorder is small and easy to carry and can be purchased at an electronics store like Radio Shack or even online at Amazon or other online retailers that sells electronics. You can also use the voice activation feature making less audio to review. This can be useful for note taking as well. Most units record the time of the recording as well which is very useful. When using audio recorders be sure to state the location, time of investigation, and the investigators’ names. When recording names of each investigator it would be wise to have each individual present state their own names, which will make it easier for distinction amongst voices heard on the tape during review. Voice activation mode should be deactivated on tape recorders during use when electronic voice phenomena are trying to be achieved due to the fact that it usually cuts off beginnings of words, sentences, and phrases. This is not necessary with digital recorders and they actual seem to work better in voice activation mode. Your digital recorder should have come with software and a USB cord to do this process quite easily. Once the recordings are on your computer, downloading a free or inexpensive audio editor should do the trick for analyzing and editing your files. Audacity is a good one:

EMF Detector—Electromagnetic Field Detector, also known as an EMF, is the modern day ghost researcher's tracking device, a very important piece of equipment. With this instrument it is possible to locate and track energy sources. It will detect fluctuations in electromagnetic fields and low strength moving EMF fields that have no source. It is a common theory that spirits disrupt this field in such a way that you can tell one is present by higher than normal readings with this meter. Before using the EMF as a ghost research tool on an investigation be sure to walk around the area and take initial readings around energy sources such as light poles or electrical outlets to be sure of the readings you receive while scanning the area during the investigation. Most units when purchased come with a manual describing most household and major appliances and their corresponding electromagnetic reading. When using the EMF as a tracking device look for fluctuations of 2.0 to 7.0, this usually indicates spirit presence. Anything higher or lower is normally has a natural source.

Cellular phone—if you have one it can come in handy in case of an emergency. But also remember, sometimes they won’t work in a haunted area. Step across the street and the phone is usually fine again.

A Compass—it's a useful instrument to an investigator due to its compact size and low cost price. When this is used on an investigation this can indicate spirit presence when the needle cannot come to a precise heading or spins/moves erratically. This works on the same principle as an EMF meter.

Candles & matches—batteries often run low during investigations so you may run out of them and still need a light source. Another good idea is a camping lantern that runs on lamp oil. Be careful using the candles around motion detectors, they will set them off.

Motion Detectors—these can be used to sense movements by often unseen forces or spirits. You can get battery operated ones for about twenty dollars and they are great for inside, but there are investigators who say they have used them successfully outdoors as well, just watch the placement. You don't want a tree branch setting it off.

Thermometer or Thermal Scanner—thermometers are instruments that are also very useful. There are two types used: regular digital thermometers and infrared non contact thermometers. When one is used on an investigation, it can make a system for detecting spirit presence. Rapid temperature drop of 10 degrees of more could indicate spirit presence. It is recommended to use the infrared non contact thermometers because they react in less than a second to a temperature drop and you can scan a large area quickly.

Thermal Imaging Cameras— Objects that emit heat are emitting energy. This energy can be classified as infrared energy. Thermal cameras can be used to capture this energy. Once captured, the computer and software parts of the cameras read the infrared signals coming in and translate them into an image that we can easily see. The best part about this technology is that there is no need for sunlight or artificial light to receive a quality image. In fact, Thermal Imaging cameras work just fine in the dark. Because these cameras use the heat emitted from an object to produce images, there is no need for external light.

First, there are very high-tech, rather expensive cameras that can do pretty much anything. These cameras, like the IR 996, can store digital images, allow audio recordings, and measure temperature with incredible accuracy. Another camera (called the Pan/Tilt 5000M) has a mounting feature, allowing for easy placement to observe the surrounding area. There is a camera equipped for military operation. This camera has an infrared scope that can be fitted to a gun. Other cameras are small and more portable. These cameras capture thermal images with amazing quality and can read temperature – all this in a smaller and more convenient size. There are also cameras made for those looking for a more affordable option like the Thermal Engine Camera. They even have made the T-7 Binocular, a binocular shaped piece that gives the same great thermal imaging performance.
Of course, there are lots more to choose from, but knowing these basic types should help you along.

Hand Held Radio or Walkie Talkie—is very useful in a large outdoor area and in a building with groups spread out in various rooms. They could be great in emergency situations or just to rotate groups. Be sure to be aware they could interfere with your EVP recording though.

The Divining/Drowsing Rod—made of willow or hazel; these were called virgula divina. Willows, because they are thought to be most attracted to water. They require a moist environment to grow properly. Which divining rods were used to find water, though it’s now used in ghost hunting, too. The theory is that there is some element in the twig that acts in conjunction with the diviner to find the underground water. A forked (or "Y" shaped) branch of a tree or bush. The two ends on the forked side are to be held one in each hand with the third pointing straight ahead. Often the branches are grasped palms down. The pointing end turns up or down when water is found. This method is sometimes known as 'Willow Witching'.

Another type of dowsing or witching rode are ones using two brass "L" shaped wire rods (commonly made of brazing or welding rod, but glass or plastic have also been accepted) that are to be held one in each hand. When something is found, they cross over one another making an "X" over the found object. If the object is long and straight, such as a water pipe, the wires will point in opposite directions, showing the direction the object is pointing. Brass is commonly used. My husband told me after I bought my rods at the gift shop of Ferry Plantation in Virginia Beach that he could have made these as they do in Utilities to search for sewer lines. But you can purchase them, too.

Alarms for Doors—One group of paranormal investigators I know uses these so when a door that is check over earlier and is closed or locked, they will know when it opens when no on is near it.

Ghost Box, or Frank’s Box—A ghost box is a device that it's completely homemade with AM-FM radios, digital voice recorders and speakers, and it's been used to communicate with the dead. The device was first use by Frank Sumption and now is use by many Paranormal Researchers when they are investigating a supposedly haunted location.

Most ghost boxes work by what is known as sweeping of the FM or AM band.As the channels are scrolled through upward or downward, a mix of white noise and audio fragments can be audibly heard. These audio fragments may bestbe described as bits and pieces of disc jockey voices, music, or whatever is being broadcasted across the band at the time the sweep is made. With the ghost box radio sweep method, spirit or ghost voices seem to be carried upon these audio fragments and white noise. It is believed that these audio fragments sometimes not only alter the tone and overall pitch of the spirit voice recorded, but also may affect the pace of the message making it line-up in sync with the speed of the frequencies changing. One theory by paranormal investigators is that ghosts and spirits actually manipulate the audio fragments into forming words to create a message for us to hear. Others believe that that the spirit voices recorded are affected by the frequency changes of the audio which is used as a carrier of the spirit voices.

However, there have been times when recorded spirit voices were not affected whatsoever by the audio fragments and white noise, as pitch and tone were left unaltered by the sweeping ghost box. These messages seemed very much "on top" of the audio frags and white noise, but not affected in tonality, though syncopated in rhythm, possibly caused by the frequency changes of the ghost box. These spirit voice recordings sounded much like
EVP--Electronic Voice Phenomena, appearing as the same voice in different recordings.

Ghost Box Recording and Editing It is said the best way to record the ghost box sessions is with the simple hand-held digital recorder which can be purchased at an electronics store. Place the recorder near the ghost box, but be sure the volume of the ghost box is not too loud or your recording will be ruined. Practice will show you what volume to set the ghost box at for the best recording results. The digital recorder should be able to record both the ghost box and your voice while asking questions. Shorter recordings work best, as they allow for easier editing and especially the dissemination of recording sessions into sections. Longer recordings make it much more difficult to "find" certain sections, while having several recordings of a couple minutes length each make it much easier to sort through, especially if good notes are taken. After recording your sessions with the ghost box, you will want to upload the audio to a computer.

Instructions on how to make a Radio Shack 12-820 Ghost BoxOne place I found that recommends the 12-820 ghost box hack. Below is supposed problems with other ghost box hacks:
12-470 - older radio that is becoming harder to find, but a good box if you can find it. The new 12-470 is unhackable.12-469 - newer radio that is easy to hack, but makes an obnoxious click. This radio is found on eBay for sale, but is not a great purchase.20-125 - This is a good box, but is more difficult to hack.

You purchase a Radio Shack 12-820 arm band radio and remove the four screws on the back. Lifting the back cover off carefully, you will see two bundles of wires. Both bundles should contain mainly gray wires, but with one red wire to the far right of each bundle. You are concerned with only the left bundle of wires. Be careful to snip the third gray wire from the left of the red wire of this first bundle (do this at your own risk). If you remove one more screw from the circuit board, you would be able to separate the circuit boards and see that this gray wire is the mute wire. It will cause your arm band radio to sweep without stopping when the up or down arrows are held down for about a second. The radio should still work and you can manually tune to any station; but now it should scan the FM or AM band without stopping.
The next thing you will need is a set of speakers that are amplified to use with your hacked radio. If the speakers take batteries, they are amplified. Simply plug the pair of amplified speakers into the earphone jack to be able to hear the radio without earphones. The ghost box should then be complete. For this model, add Velcro to attach the radio to the outside of the Radio Shack 40-1441 folding speakers. If you do the hack correctly, the ghost box shouldn’t cost you much, under $50 and will sweep both the AM or FM bands. This radio is nice, as it also has a bass boost.

Making Ghost Box from Another Radio Shack Radio, Model 12-187
You need the model 12-187 pocket radio from Radio Shack. Pull the 3 screws that hold the case together out (Two are hidden in the battery bay)Snap the case apart and pull the 3 screws that hold the circuit boards together.Pull the circuit boards apart.You will see a bunch of pins in the lower left that look something like this:
Take the "O" pin and bend it over so it doesn't plug back in. Put the thing back together. It shouldn’t take no more than five minutes to create the “ghost box.”
Website where one can hack the Radio Shack radio to make into a “Ghost Box.”
Also tutorials on YouTube: (Part 1) and (Part 2) and

Pendulums—Pendulums can be made of different materials, some people using a simple necklace with a crystal or charm at the end. Be sure the bob or bobber - or weight on the end - is not too light or too heavy. It should weigh less than half an ounce. The best shape for the weight - or point - is something that comes to a point. The best length for the pendulum is six inches. You can make your pendulum or buy one. Pendulums are a simple way to communicate with the other side. People have been caught in stores using them to select products such as: books, food, and clothing, just about anything.

The most common types of pendulums are:
-a crystal tied with wire then suspended on a chain or cord - a chain necklace with some kind of charm suspended at the bottom- a chain with metal pointer at the bottom - these are usual store bought- the human body

Pendulums movements:
- straight line - side to side or front and back - circles - clockwise or counterclockwise- elliptical motion- some pendulums bob up and down to indicate strong action, usually affirmative

Step by Step Procedures:
Here's a condensed version the most popular procedures for conducting outdoor ghost hunts:
1. Have everyone meet near the location and decide who will work each piece of equipment and divide into teams if necessary. Pick a person or leader that will talk to anyone who comes in contact with the group (i.e. Police, Reporters, etc.)

2. Enter the site and either privately or as a group, ask for a blessing or protection for the duration of the hunt. You can use this time to put yourself in a positive frame of mind. It does not have to be a religious thing so everyone can do this in some way. Or each person in their mind uttered whatever prayer from their own religion. I do encourage everyone to take the ten seconds this takes and just do this. What can it hurt? My philosophy is it's better to be safe than sorry. If I am wrong about these prayers at the beginning and end of the hunt and they are not necessary, then you wasted some seconds of your time. But if I am right about them, you have saved yourself from possible problems and grief. When you are done with the investigation, have everyone meet in one spot and ask the human spirits not to follow you home and to remain there. Tell the other non-human kinds that they must remain there in the name of God (or other good deities). Many experienced groups believe that there are evil spirits in many areas such as cemeteries and by saying a ten second prayer or making sure you are in a positive frame of mind; you can safely go about your business without worrying about them. An experienced demonologist will tell you that by doing this in the name of God or whatever good deity you worship, you will keep any non human spirits at bay since they have to leave you alone when told so in this manner. A good rule also is to never use sarcasm and jokes in haunted settings, especially toward the ghosts. Remember that you are visiting a location that a ghost considers “home.” Behave as politely as you would in someone else’s house. Most ghosts do not “possess” people without their consent. But if someone or something seems to be taking control, tell it to stop. This would be another reason for that prayer or something before doing the investigation.
3. Walk around the area to get a feel for the surroundings and to allow the spirits to get a feel for you. Do this for about twenty minutes. Log in your start time and weather conditions, along with any other relevant information. You should also set up any stationary equipment like cameras on tripods or motion detectors. Make sure to take note of any areas that may cause you to get false readings or false positive pictures.

4. Now go out there and get some pictures and recordings. Note anything unusual that may happen, especially meter and temperature readings, visual sightings, and strange sounds. Make a note of any feelings or emotions that you feel that may be odd or out of place, and write that down. You can compare notes after the hunt and look for similarities in readings and feelings in certain areas or at certain times.
5. Stake out a spot and walk around or try to give everyone the opportunity to try everything and be everywhere. Rotate a few times during the investigation.

6. If you are troubled by unwanted thoughts after leaving a haunted location, relax. Eat some comfort food. Watch a happy movie or TV show. Talk it out with a skeptical friend. Spend some time in a church. If the unwanted thoughts persist, see a professional for advice.

Every investigator or team should keep a log of events/times—everything needs to be logged, not matter how trivial. You sneeze, log it in, it may have sounded like something else to another member elsewhere in the building. When recording, if you sneeze or make a sound, acknowledge it was you on the recording.

All members and owners if possible, walk through the location. One member will map location, noting: air vents, heater, electrical appliances, fuse boxes, computer, etc. Mark down the temperatures in the rooms and any EMF reading you get during this walk through. Another member can take 5-10 test photos during the walk through. Do not discuss the details of the case during this walk through.
Any witnesses that have not been interviewed before should be interviewed by 1-2 investigators and taped/videoed, if it's ok with the witness. The other members should walk around the location and record any feelings or observations. Only the interviewers will know the location of events and sightings.
Make no conclusions. Share no conclusions or opinions with the witnesses or owners until all the reports, photos, and tapes are reviewed. You need to see the evidence and correlate it before you can give an educated opinion.
Generally, you cannot help a ghost. You can advise them to move on, but don't waste more than about ten minutes discussing this. If you aren't making any progress, it's best to leave that kind of work to a professional like a priest, minister, or a psychic.

If you’re in this to earn money, forget it. Most investigators don’t do it for money, but for fun and to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. And shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Monday, February 07, 2011

EPICon 2011 to be held in Williamsburg Virginia March 10-12th

Today is last day to register online for EPICon 2011, the e-publishing writer’s conference—this includes all the days, or by day--all with meals, as Colonial Williamsburg is doing the meals and needs to know how many. Register here, plus for more information:

But you can go for one day without meals for $25 or $45 for two-days of March 11th and 12th (workshops/classes days).
The conference will be held at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites 105 Visitor Center Drive Williamsburg, VA 23185 (757) 220-7960

For the classes schedule on March 11th and 12th, plus who the keynote and guest speakers are (and will be teaching, too), go to (classes)
and (keynote and guest speakers)

Friday, February 04, 2011


What is the supernatural? If we follow the dictionary: of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal. A being, place, object, occurrence, etc., considered as supernatural or of supernatural origin; that which is supernatural, or outside the natural order. The supernatural: A. supernatural beings, behavior, and occurrences collectively. B. supernatural forces and the supernatural plane of existence: a deep fear of the supernatural.

In other words, something outside the norm of day-to-day life—the extraordinary to the mundane. The supernatural pertains to entities, events, or powers that are regarded as beyond
nature, in that they lack a clear scientific explanation. Religious miracles are typical of such “supernatural” claims, as are spells and curses, divination, the belief that there is an afterlife for the dead, and innumerable others. Supernatural beliefs have existed in virtually all human cultures throughout recorded human history. Supernatural themes are often associated with paranormal and occult

Argument and controversy has surrounded the issue on both sides. It is said that there is no exact definition of what “natural” is, and what the limits of naturalism might be. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in
religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism. The term "supernatural" is often used interchangeably with paranormal or preternatural
— the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed the bounds of possibility.

Whatever the case might be, supernatural defines ghosts, vampires, werewolves and other shapeshifters of the world, witches, sorcerers, wizards, magic, ghouls, zombies, and yes, even going into the fairy realm, gods, and more. As people, we’re fascinated by it, what to know more about it, and read paranormal books in both fiction and nonfiction.

That is what this blog will be about every Friday—something new on the subject. This means articles by me, book reviews, interviews with authors who write it, either fiction or nonfiction, paranormal investigating, reviews of TV shows and movies, hopefully interviews with an actor or director or someone, and even interviews with paranormal investigators and more.

As Twilight Zone always started: “You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone!”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Interviewing Christee Atwood On Her New Book In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands

Book Blurb:
In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands:
Episodes of ImperfectioN, Insanity, & Occasional Enlightenment

These stories demonstrate valuable lessons such as:
• How to achieve overnight success in only 50 years,
• How to use your exercise bike as a coat rack,
• Why Oreos should be considered as one of the major food groups,
• How to have fun at work, and …
• How to enjoy the job search that follows having fun at work.

Because we’re complex people who have better things to think about than a number on a tape measure.
After all, chubby is temporary, but laughter echoes forever.

1.Please tell us about your latest book.

In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands: Episodes of ImperfectioN, Insanity, & Occasional Enlightenment is along the lines of the writings of Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, and Jerome K. Jerome. Actually, I’ve discovered that Jerome wrote about many of the same topics as I – just 100 years earlier. Can I sue him for reverse plagiarism?

2.Since it is self-published, tell us the process that made you decide to go this way and why?

Glad you asked! My first book was self-published. Then I had six books that were conventionally published. For this one, I wanted to take complete control again with all the lessons I’ve gotten from the past 10 years. It’s more work, but it’s a lot of fun.

In the course of all of this, I’ve discovered that the worst place to sell books is in a bookstore. I don’t want to be on the shelf next to people who have huge promotional budgets. I’d rather see my book on the counter of a gift shop, at the back of the room where I’m speaking, or – where it’s most useful - holding up a short table leg.

3.What can we expect from you in the future?

More Prozac consumption. More columns. More nonfiction. And some fiction too.

And hopefully there’ll be lots more opportunities for me to perform my material on stage. I really enjoy doing my Celebration of Elastic Waistbands stage plays and stand-up comedy. Writing is lonely. I need opportunities to harass people in person too!

4.What else would you like to write about one day?

I love writing humor action novels but haven’t had one published yet. That’s something I’d like to build upon. I have a series about an immortal named Dach who’s a cross between Hercules and Shemp and whose job is saving the world from other immortals who’ve run amok.

5.What motivated you to start writing?
I can’t remember not writing! My parents owned a small weekly newspaper when I was born and my crib was the bottom drawer of Mom’s desk. By the time I was six years old, they had given me my own cast iron Royal typewriter and I was typing terrible stories. My typing has improved. My writing – I’m not so sure. But I keep trying…

The other reason I write is that paper is cheaper than therapy.

6.What kind of research do you do?

I’ve heard of research. What is that? Seriously, I write a lot about my own back yard, so research is easy for those. I’ve also kept journals for the past twenty years and use those to draw upon my experiences.

With my serious nonfiction, I’m a research addict. Sometimes it’s hard to stop researching and start writing. The internet, books, and personal interviews are some of my favorite resources. I also teach lots of seminars, and those experiences give me some of the best insights into human behavior.

7.Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

Writing is my work as well as my passion, so it seems like I’m always writing.

I write my morning pages first thing every day and then just segue into writing for clients or projects. When I get bored with one project, I jump into one of the other ones that I currently have in progress.

I’d estimate that I spend anywhere from 4 to 16 hours each day at the computer. And sometimes I even turn it on.

8.Where do your ideas come from?

Everyday life inspires me. When I see something that makes me angry, I write so that I can laugh at it. When I have a nightmare, I have to rewrite it so it comes out the way I want it to. When I do something stupid, I write so that I can claim it was someone else’s fault.

9.Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?
Lots of people. Erma Bombeck and Sam Levenson helped me find my humor voice. Poe influenced my sense of the dramatic. Dorothy Parker made me realize sarcasm could be a lot of fun. And my cat sleeps on my lap so I can’t get up from the keyboard, so I guess he’s helped my discipline.

10.Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Absolutely. I thought Buddy and Sally on The Dick Van Dyke Show had the best job ever. They made jokes and put them on paper for a living. I wanted to do that!

Besides I heard that other people had to learn how to work cash registers and I was scared of those things.

11.What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

You know what I love about being a writer? It’s the realization that even though people pay actors, politicians, and public figures a lot more, all of those people would look pretty dumb without a writer putting words into their mouths.
We quote Bogie, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” But it was really the Epsteins and the rest of the Casablanca writers who said it. We have used catch phrases like “Show me the money”, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry”, and “Don’t call me Shirley.” But those actors didn’t come up with those lines either.

Writers have the most powerful profession and it’s the world’s greatest secret.

12.What makes you laugh out loud?

My husband. He’s absolutely scary. Check out his FB page – David Atwood – and you’ll see what has helped develop my humor.

He named his office plant Terry and they have discussions on FB. He created a video with his sock puppet, Guapo, that has actually gotten a fan club. And he is a voiceover artist, so I never know which character he’ll be each day.

Schizo, but funny, that’s my boy.

13.Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

I’m the youngest of six children of a Lebanese father and Irish mother. (Yeah, we looked like terrorist leprechauns.)

I attended Louisiana State University for ten years. I know it was only a bachelor’s degree, but I felt the need to support the school with my tuition for long enough to pay for at least one building.

I’m married to David Atwood, live in a wonderful old money pit from the 1930s, and work for two cats named Poe and Maddux after the writer and the pitcher.

And I’m a caregiver for my mother who has Alzheimer’s – so without a sense of humor I’d be pretty miserable right now. Instead, I’m just a person who gets to tell the same joke over and over and Mom likes it every time just as much.

14.Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Yes. Even though they keep talking about how hard it is to get published these days, it just depends upon your persistence and your willingness to look past the conventional methods of publication. Get published today. Really.

Write a letter to the editor. Create a blog and post regularly. Create your own column or newsletter. Publish an e-book. Create a podcast. Produce a YouTube. The format doesn’t matter. Just get rid of that “unpublished” label by taking control.

Then march on and use your publicity both to promote your creation and to get noticed by traditional publishers, if that’s your goal.

15. Tell us your website, MySpace, Blog, any urls so the readers can find out more about you.

16. Now for something fun:
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate!! Oh my gosh, have you tried the Double Fudge Cookie Dough Blizzard at Dairy Queen? I shouldn’t have said that. Now I’m going to hurry through the rest of these questions so I can head for the drive-thru window.
Wild or tame?

Tame. Which is funny, since most people think I’m a little wild. But I’ve adapted to being an extrovert. I think the real me is actually pretty quiet and not interested in skydiving, bungee jumping, manicures, or other such dangerous pastimes.
Favorite color?

Black. Yeah, that sounds depressing. But black is slimming and I need all the help I can get!!

All time favorite book?
Yikes… Honestly, there are too many to list. From Madeline L’Engle to Dave Barry and J.K. Rowling to Marcus Aurelius… it just depends on my mood and where I am in life.

If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be?
An empty beach. I especially love Biloxi. I used to go there for my birthday every year and stay at a little hotel directly on the beach … which has relocated to somewhere in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico since Katrina. But I still love that spot on the beach where the hotel used to be. My favorite evening is just to sit on the beach under a full moon and watch the flying fish. Gee, I’m a cheap date, aren’t I?
A secret desire?

I’m doing everything I want to do, so it’s hard to say. I guess I actually do secretly wish for financial success so that I can do all the things I’m doing right now, but do them for free. That would be my idea of perfection.

Thanks for letting me join your readers today. I love the chance to connect with writers and readers!

So now, any questions from our guests?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Interesting what they did to this car--even the headlights look like eyes!

I'm a Guest on a Paranormal Radio Ahow Tonight

I have a paranormal radio interview tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for maybe a half hour with Ghost Raps Radio. Call in number is 437-637-2201 and the website is