Ghostly Guidance

This is a blog I wrote for a guest post at Roxanne’s Realm as a part of the Troubled Spirits Blog tour. You can read the original post here

casperBefore writing Troubled Spirits, I was a supernatural skeptic. Sure, I had watched Casper the Friendly Ghost as a kid and have seen all of the Ghostbuster movies, but I didn’t believe. Before I delved into a story involving the paranormal I did some research. Here’s what I uncovered:

ghostbusters

  • Although throughout Troubled Spirits I interchanged the words ghost and spirit, there is a difference. Ghosts are the souls of people who are trapped here. As a result, they are often, but not always, angry. Most of the supernatural beings in Troubled Spirits are ghosts.  Spirits are beings who have the ability to move in and out of the spiritual realms. Annie’s grandmother would be considered a spirit. So why did I, knowing the difference, flip back and forth between ghosts and spirits?  First to avoid word repetition. And second, the ‘Spirits’ in the title is a reference to both definitions of spirit—attitude and soul.
  • When ghosts interact with the living, there is a significant temperature drop. Usually at least ten degrees. This is because ghosts draw energy from their surroundings. They’ll also pull energy from batteries and other electronic devices. As an absolute last resort, they will siphon energy from the people around them, leaving that person exhausted. Annie experiences this phenomenon in Troubled Spirits.
  • An entity’s touch feels like a small electric charge on the skin or it may cause goose bumps. During one of my interviews, I spoke with a security guard who had encountered a very old spirit. After hours one night, he investigated a report of a child sighted in one of the buildings. He and his partner arrived to find a young girl sitting in a chair. She wouldn’t speak to either of them. The security guard, who also happened to be a paramedic, checked her pulse. It felt strong and regular. But when the two guards turned away for a moment, the girl disappeared. A search of the building came up empty. There were no reports of any missing children. Later he met with a medium and spoke with her about his experience. She informed him that the entity he encountered was able to use her energy to allow him to feel a pulse. I was thankful for this interview, because it allowed me to give the ghosts in Troubled Spirits a little extra freedom.
  • I’ll end with sharing one of my own supernatural experiences. In addition to being an author, I’m also an ER nurse. Much of my job involves saving lives, but some people slip from our grasp as healthcare workers. When this happens, we move the patient to a more private room to allow the family to spend time with their loved one and say their goodbyes. We always use the same room.

One night, we brought a spirit box into ‘the room’.

We huddled together in the darkness listening to the fuzzy static of my coworker’s modified AM/FM radio.  “Has anyone died here?” he called out. The entity responded with two words that I can’t repeat. Because they were unkind. This was the inspiration for Annie’s first encounter with ghost of the Caldwell School.

Like Annie Waters, I began my journey into the paranormal world as a disbeliever, but before long I realized—my only choice was to believe.

I have purchase links for Troubled Spirits on my website.

Finding Inspirtation

I originally wrote this blog as a guest post for Sapphyria’s Book Review. You can see the original post here.

Are you a runner? Illustrator? Gardener? Jewelry maker? Or are you a writer, like me? Whatever it is, finding something to inspire you is essential to success. Your inspiration can come from anywhere.  For the runner it may be passing the woman in the pink shirt. The illustrator may spot a tree, which looks like a fish. The gardener may find inspiration in jewelry and the jeweler in the garden

As a writer, my inspiration sometimes comes from the familiar. My first story was inspired by my childhood adventures.  But Troubled Spirits was inspired by something unfamiliar—ghost hunting.book cover

A group of my ER co-workers were planning an excursion into one of the older hospital buildings and they invited me to join them. My brain formulated the word no, but what I heard my mouth saying was yes. And in that moment, a seed was planted. The seed which would grow into Troubled Spirits.  What if a group of teenagers decided to try their hand at ghost hunting? But what if the ghost didn’t want to be hunted?

Although the hospital shot down any possibility of a ghostly excursion into any of their buildings, our little group huddled together in an empty ER room with a spirit box. Not only was that an experience I’ll never forget, it was the inspiration for the scene in the school cafeteria when Logan’s spirit box….

I decided to set Troubled Spirits in a haunted school instead of a hospital. And then another ‘what if?’ popped into my head. What if there was an actual haunted school in Maine?  I scoured the internet and discovered there was one Maine school rumored to be haunted:

“According to legend back in the 1950’s 5 young high school boys were murdered mysteriously at the school. No one knows who did it. Ever since late at night when you’re walking the track behind the school you’ll see glimpses of lights going on and off and hear strange noises if your near the school even feel like you’re being watched. There is also 2 graveyards near the school which also have many hauntings. Like the old man in the graveyard path whom is dark tall you speak to him and he just stares at you then vanishes into thin air.”
Source: http://www.theshadowlands.net

I went back to the internet in search of details, but all I found was this same paragraph on various websites. So I decided to take action. Along with a friend, I jumped into my car and made the two hour trip to investigate in person. We visited the “haunted” school. We visited the library. I searched through books about the town history. Finally, I spoke with the librarian. Yes, he’d heard of the rumors, but assured me they were just that—rumors. But I wasn’t done with my investigation. We visited every cemetery we could find, searching for the gravestones of teenaged boys who died in the 50’s. There were none. Not one!

Although I was disappointed that I hadn’t proven the rumor to be true, I’d gathered up bunches of inspiration along the way. I now had a model (adapted slightly) for not only the Caldwell School, but also the library.  Because the town which inspired Shady Cove is a coastal town, many of the older gravestones belonged to captains. And these gravestones were the inspiration for the short story found within the pages of Troubled Spirits titled The Captain.

What I learned while writing Troubled Spirits is that inspiration can come from any place. Sometimes it comes when you’re not looking and sometimes you need to go looking for it. So be ready. The inspiration for your success might be right in front of you, or waiting for you around the next corner.  I’d love to hear about what inspires you!