My Spirit Realm – My Rules

Please welcome Bonnie Sue Brandvik to my blog today!!! Be sure to read all the way through. She’s having an awesome contest. 🙂


First of all, I’d like to thank Denise for allowing me to participate in her annual Halloween Spooktacular event. For those of you don’t know me, I’m currently writing a series of novels set in the haunted Belleview Biltmore Hotel. Writing the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” novels has allowed me to combine my passion for local history with my belief that there are countless lessons to be learned from those who came before us; and that women are always stronger when they band together to help one another achieve their goals. Also, I hope to convince readers that the spirit realm really does exist.

ENCOUNTERS WITH THE SPIRIT REALM: I’ve always found it interesting that people use eerily similar terms to describe encounters with the spirit realm.

  • Initially, a spine-tingling sensation is felt. Goosebumps might rise up.
  • There is an instant awareness that something is present which doesn’t fit into normal frames of reference.
  • There is a rush of adrenaline as the fight or flight instinct is awakened.
  • The surrounding air changes abruptly, often becoming cold or wet or breezy.
  • The ghost sighting or paranormal encounter occurs in an instant and often ends just as quickly.
  • The memory of the encounter remains crystal clear, even long afterward.
  • Logic and rational thought cannot make the lingering, uneasy feelings go away

THE BELLEVIEW BILTMORE HOTEL: Before I tell you more about the spirit realm, let me introduce you to the setting for my novel series – the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, located in Belleair, FL, near Clearwater Beach. It was built in 1895 as a winter paradise for wealthy travelers, by Henry B. Plant and his second wife, Margaret Loughman Plant. Over time, additions to the hotel increased its size to a mammoth 820,000 sq. ft. – arguably the largest occupied wooden structure in the entire United States. Unfortunately, preservationists recently lost the battle to save this magnificent hotel, and so a developer is demolishing the majority of the structure to replace it with condo towers. A tiny portion of the hotel will be incorporated into a small inn on the property, but the vast majority of the majestic hotel, along with its history, will only live on in my “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” novels.

INSPIRATION: I was first inspired to write about the hotel several years ago, when a different developer wanted to demolish the historic structure. Up until then, I’d only been there for special events, like weddings, or to enjoy the incredible Sunday brunch. I decided to explore the hotel, to see if I could figure out what all the fuss was about.

As always, I was impressed by the hotel’s architectural details, including its 30-inch wide crown molding and intricately carved corbels. High, carved arches and chandeliers lined the Promenade corridor, which was built wide enough that two ladies wearing hoopskirts could pass one another comfortably. The walls were covered with enormous historic photographs, depicting the evolution of hotel, its amenities and pastime diversions, along with a few of its most famous guests. There were three incredible ballrooms, each elaborately furnished with unique decor. At both ends of the Promenade, amazing, boxed-spiral staircases wound their way out of sight, leading to guestrooms far above. Another wide staircase led to the downstairs pub. In contrast to these elegant staircases, several extremely narrow employee-access doors revealed worn, wooden steps and hidden passages, leading down to the dimly-lit basement work areas and access tunnels.

But this was the first time I ever noticed a sense of history seemed to permeate the walls. Not only did past generations make physical changes to this elegant hotel, but many left echoes of themselves here as well. I could actually feel some of them there with me. I thought, “If only these walls could talk, what stories they would tell!” And that’s when it hit me. I could tell their stories by combining the actual history of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel with fictional spirits from past, notable generations.

I also wanted to demonstrate that a lot of the lessons learned by past generations are still relevant today. To do this, I decided that each book in the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” series would contain two, separate stories that are able to tie the generations together. What I wound up with are stories that encompass multiple genres, including paranormal, historic, romance, woman’s literary fiction – and even some aspects of time-travel.

COMBINING HISTORY AND FANTASY: It’s a challenge to combine historic facts with fantasy and build a world full of characters that spans 120 years, while also describing the hotel in a way that readers will be able to visualize it and its guests and workers, regardless of the time frame. Before I started writing, I did an enormous amount of research. I took several guided tours of the Belleview Biltmore and asked dozens of questions. I also studied local historic archives, and read everything I could find about the Plant family and about the Hotel.

I learned that:

  • Before the advent of the passenger elevator, the higher the floor in a hotel, the less desirable it was, so the fifth floor was deemed suitable only for servants and nannies who were traveling with hotel guests.
  • Henry Plant built railroad tracks to the hotel to provide transportation in comfort and tunnels throughout the basement to accommodate the needs of workers without inconveniencing the hotel guests.
  • There were three electric lights and a fireplace in every room, most rooms had a semi-private bath, electricity was generated by a steam plant next to the hotel, an underground freshwater spring provided water, and a150-room dormitory housed workers.
  • The hotel served as the fire department, post office, telegraph office, and telephone switchboard, for the town of Belleair and for nearby Clearwater.

I also took myself on some, shall we say, ‘unsanctioned’ tours of the fifth floor, which was off-limits to the public, imagining what it would have been like to stay there as a worker. Then I spent time exploring every inch of the underground tunnels, which were also off-limits.

  • I examined the railroad tracks and pictured how many thousands of loads of luggage, supplies and even illegal liquor, workers had wheeled in and out on those tracks.
  • I examined the old stone ovens and thought about how dozens of baked goods were made every single day down there. How wonderful it must have smelled!
  • I sat by the giant ice keep in the basement, which was the size of an indoor swimming pool, and pictured men unloading huge blocks of ice from rail cars and then cutting it into manageable sizes that would fit into the ice boxes in the kitchens upstairs.
  • I stared at the old wooden stairs inside the hidden servant’s staircases and wondered how many feet had to climb them, before they began to actually wear grooves in the steps. How many sheets had been washed in the massive laundry and carried up and down these very stairs?
  • In the St Andrews Pub downstairs, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall, listening to the men discuss the issues of the day as they played cards, drank Caribbean rum, and smoked fine Cuban Cigars.
  • I climbed up into the attic and wondered how long it had been since someone had been up there, oiling the wheels of the freight lift, moving things in and out of storage, stuffing newspaper in between the heart pine beams to serve as insulation.

I took thousands of photos and became familiar with every inch of the place. Many, many times, I got caught and kicked-out of the hotel’s ‘off-limits to the public’ areas, but I also became recognized as an expert on the history of the hotel.

FINALLY, I WAS READY TO BUILD MY SPIRIT REALM. Other than Henry, Margaret, and Morton Plant, all of the characters in my books are a product of my imagination. But before I could create my characters, I had to first build a fantasy world for them to inhabit. Personally, I find world-building fun and empowering. I mean, I get to make all the rules in the whole world! How cool is that?

But it can also be tricky. I can’t write that spirits do something one way in one book and then write that they do it completely differently in another book. I had to create a framework of believable and consistent rules that the spirit characters must follow in all four books. Otherwise readers would get ticked-off at me and I couldn’t blame them! Here are a few rules in the world I created for my “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” series:

  • The spirit realm exists in between the land of the living and the lighted path, which leads to the next step on the eternal journey of the soul.
  • Sometimes when people die, they don’t travel the lighted path right away, but instead choose to remain behind, where they sometimes interact with the living and affect outcomes.
  • In my world, ghosts and spirits are not the same thing. A spirit’s memories and personality are intact, while a ghost is just a fragment of a spirit that broke away and stayed behind when the rest of the spirit traveled into the light.
  • Spirits can travel anywhere they went while they were alive, as well as wherever their bodies are buried or ashes were scattered. They can also choose to remain with a personal belonging… but they can go nowhere else.
  • When a spirit forms a connection with a hotel guest, the spirit can enter the guest’s dreams to share memories and wisdom from past generations.
  • No one – human or spirit – knows what lies at the end of the lighted path because no one has ever returned.

There are many other rules, of course, a few of which are revealed in each subsequent novel. Also, because each book in the series introduces a new present-day hotel guest (who is dealing a unique set of personal issues) it stands to reason that each guest’s problems resonate with different spirits. This is how I’m able to introduce spirit characters from different decades in each novel.

THE REAL GHOSTS: When I first decided to write the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” novels, I didn’t do so because I thought the hotel was haunted. I just loved the place and wanted to tell some stories that would encompass its fascinating history while pointing out that we can still benefit from lessons learned by generations that have passed before.

My theory about historic, haunted hotels is that guests and workers leave echoes of themselves behind that become a part of the hotel. When these echoes can be heard (or seen, or felt, or photographed) by people who visit the hotel several decades, or even centuries, later, the hotel is said to be haunted. And whenever someone experiences this phenomenon, it’s called a paranormal encounter or a ghost sighting.

But once my website was up and running, I started hearing from people from around the world, who wanted to know if I was going to write about the ghost they had seen when they visited the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. After a while, I realized a few of these ghost sighting claims were quite similar to other reports I had received. When I started comparing them, I was amazed to discover that several people had unknowingly reported almost identical paranormal encounters. In other words, these strangers had experienced the same echoes of the past – or “paranormal encounters.” To date, my collection contains stories about twenty ghosts that have been reported to me multiple times by individuals who stayed at the Belleview Biltmore over the years. I decided to incorporate some of these stories into each of my novels, starting with Book 2.

THE SPIRITS OF THE BELLEVIEW BILTMORE SERIES: Each book begins when a troubled woman checks into the Belleview Biltmore and her problems resonate with spirits at the Hotel, forming a connection that links the two generations together. The half of the story which takes place in the present is told from the perspective of the troubled woman, while the historic part of the story is told via glimpses into the spirit’s memories.

The first two novels in this four-book series are currently available in print, e-book and audio download formats and can be purchased from most online retailers. Just search your favorite site for: BonSue Brandvik.

  • Book 1: “Pearls, Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore,” features spirits from the Victorian Era, when the Belleview Hotel opened for its first winter season in 1897.
  • Book 2: “Ripples, Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore,” introduces spirits from the Prohibition Era, when bootlegging was big business in Florida and the Belleview Biltmore was in the thick of it.
  • Book 3: “Redemption” – available in 2017, is about spirits from WWII, when more than 3,000 Army Air Corps soldiers used the hotel’s two golf courses for marching practice and watched the coastal waters not for pleasure, but for signs of lurking enemy submarines.
  • Book 4: “Nails,” will introduce some of the spirits who built the original Belleview Hotel and, in the present-day story, those overseeing its demolition.

ONE SPECIAL GHOST STORY: One of the twenty ghost stories that has been reported to me several times, takes place in the section of the hotel that originally served as the hotel lobby, and was later transformed into a cocktail lounge. Guests report that when they entered the Lobby Lounge through the doors that used to be the hotel’s main entrance, they felt a sudden chill and sensed that someone was standing on the right side of the entry, as if waiting to speak with them. They said they all stopped talking and turned in unison, expecting someone to be standing there, but found no one. Yet they all insist that someone had been there, attempting to get their attention.

When Henry and Margaret Plant first opened the hotel, Margaret would often stand to the right of the doors to greet people as they disembarked from the train and entered the grand hotel. Because Margaret is the only spirit that appears in all four of my novels, I like to think she still enjoys greeting people there. But what’s really crazy is that this tiny section – the old lobby – is also the only part of the hotel that the developer plans to save and incorporate into a small inn on the property. How about that? The exact part of the hotel that Margaret Plant is said to haunt will be saved. Although I don’t know what will become of the other ghosts, I’m quite happy Margaret can stay at the Belleview Biltmore for as long as she wants to!


Here’s a list of spirits/ghost encounters people have reported to me. 1) Henry Plant opens a window on the 4th fl to look out at the water. 2)Margaret Plant wanders the old lobby, welcoming people 3) Morton Plant wanders around in the St Andrews Pub 4) Maisie Plant wanders everywhere, searching for her pearls 5) A young boy who drown haunts primarily the 1st fl 6) A soldier who fell down the elevator shaft haunts the nearby corridors on all floors 7) A Nanny who likes her privacy shoos people from the 5th fl 8) Children run laughing in the 1st fl hallway 9) A young girl watches people on the 4th fl 10) A Victorian couple dances in the Starlight Room 11) A kitchen supervisor still looks over the shoulder of kitchen workers & often lets them feel her disapproval 12) A prankster opens drawers and removes doorknobs on the 4th fl 13) A young starlet hangs around back stage in the Starlight Room 14) A suicidal bride haunts the 4th fl 15) An angry man haunts the basement 16) A large wolf/dog/Indian spirit haunts the basement 17) An evil man haunts the 5th fl 18) Children play hide & seek in the basement 19) woman in white stares out 4th fl window 20) white banshee scares sleeping couples and shrieks, flying out window or through wall.

CONTEST/RAFFLE: Two winners will each receive an autographed copy of the first book in the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” series. To enter:

  1. Leave a comment below on this guest blog post
  2. “Like” my Facebook page.
  3. Valid entries must be submitted by the last day of the Halloween Spooktacular (October 31, 2016)



Twitter: @BonSueB




Barnes & Noble






New Horror Story Cover Reveal — Hostility

I thought while the Halloween season is upon us I’d share a brand new cover I received for my November 11 release Hostility. I love this cover! Hostility is on preorder right now. You can find it at:


Here’s the blurb to get you started!

Myra Harrington is tired. And sick. And sick and tired. Once a therapist, now a life coach, Myra hasn’t accomplished the goals she set out for herself two years ago when she left the insanity of psychology for coaching. One day she rips off the bandage and lets her hostility roar. Isolated in her office by a severe storm, she discovers a new side of herself. What her anger creates will tear apart her world and she may never get it back again.


Eclipse: Paranormal, New Orleans & Halloween


Hey everyone! Welcome to the release day for Eclipse, my Halloween novella. I’m rebooting this novel with Gorilla’s With Scissors Press with a new cover! This story is paranormal erotic romance, so if you like some of your scary stories super sexy, this might be one for you! Here’s the blurb and an excerpt to wet your appetite.


New Orleans.


A blood red eclipse will cover this night…

Dawn went to the Den of Wolves, certain she could save her wayward sister from immortality. She knew only one man could help her—Niall Machaire. The man her sister had loved and left ten years ago.

Something isn’t quite right about Niall, but she isn’t certain what it is…

What is he?

Dawn feared the primal, unstoppable craving she experienced for the gorgeous man. When he saves her life, and she awakens naked in his bed, she discovers his help may cost an immortal price


Dawn Chartrier sat in her parked car and held her breath, certain she might walk into the Den of Wolves tonight and meet her death if things didn’t go as planned. Tonight she might discover the mystery of what happened beyond the darkness between death and rebirth.

She looked out at the New Orleans night, with its foggy nuance and mysterious layers that spoke of fatal consequences. She felt the chill down to her marrow. She’d seen costume-clad revelers around the streets, but once she’d arrived at the club, fundamental change brought a deathly hush over the street. Edginess prickled her skin, her stomach uneasy and her heart throbbing a little too fast. Dawn had never experienced a panic attack, but she fought with rising anxiety to keep her heart steady and trembling at bay. She’d always been the brave one in the family, willing to take chances to get things done. Now that she was here, reluctance dogged at her heels.

What insanity lurked around this single street and caused Halloween partygoers to avoid this area? Did the reputation of the club keep them away? Her heart pounded, and fear threatened to smash her resolve. She could start the car and escape.

But her family would never forgive her, even if she forgave herself.

Taking time off from her financial analyst job in Denver hadn’t gone over well with her ‘work-fourteen-hours-a-day’ boss. He’d grudgingly given her a week off when she explained her sister could be in grave danger. The boss from hell might use this trip as a reason to mark her down on her evaluation coming up next month. If so, she’d decided it might be time to start looking for another job, or another career all together.

“Shit.” Cursing came easy to her now—she’d never been a potty mouth, but circumstances and stress made her do things she didn’t think she would.

If she didn’t watch out, she’d follow her sister Maureen’s destructive path. She could still hear her Maureen’s prophetic words when she’d called. Immortality is a bitch.


You can get your copy at:





Soul Sisters? Kate Morgan & the Mystery Woman of Isdal

Please welcome Donna Malmborg to my blog today as she talks about a Victorian mystery at the famous Hotel Del Coronado.


Not all the information presented is completely verified and because of the time passed it probably never will. But here is what is known. On November 24th, a young woman with dark hair and eyes registered at a prestigious hotel under a false name. During the time she stayed at the hotel, several employees noted her somewhat guarded and erratic behavior. Not only did she seem ill at ease and unwell but her behavior and requests gave the hotel staff pause. And then, on Nov 29th , 5 days after she had registered, this woman was found dead under very strange circumstances. During the discrete but cursory investigation that followed there were several things determined: she had an alleged association with a man with a shadowy past, her identity was never conclusively determined because she was possibly a confidence woman or at least a woman with several identities to her name. However, what was the most confounding aspect was the means of her death. What was initially considered suicide actually was discovered to be murder!

At first read, especially for those who live in my former town of San Diego, you would assume that I was writing about Kate Morgan/Lottie Bernard. Referred to as the legendary “Beautiful Stranger”, Kate/Lottie was the focal point of a Victorian Era murder mystery at the resplendent Hotel Del Coronado, found just a few miles from San Diego. But I am not. These events mentioned above actually occurred in Isdal, Noway. In 1970.

This contemporary figure is referred to as the Mystery Woman of Isdal. A popular resort area in Norway, Isdal is referred to as “Death Valley” because of its reputation as a treacherous hiking destination. Next to the woman’s body, police found a burned-out passport, a dozen pink sleeping pills, a packed lunch, an empty quart bottle of liqueur, and two plastic bottles that smelled of gasoline.[2] Clearly a site where someone decided to end her life!

Separated by thousands of miles and about a hundred years, these two cases have remarkable parallels besides the dates of the arrival and “departure”: they were very similar in appearance, Kate/Lottie was short, somewhat plump as was the taste back then, dark hair and eyes with a full mouth. The Mystery Woman was also a dark eyed brunette, 154 cm and as noted by the hotel staff, “very attractive”.



Both autopsies initially and inexplicably claimed that their demises were suicide. The Mystery Woman had ingested 50 sleeping pills and suffered a blunt, traumatic blow to the neck. Frankly, suicides don’t normally involve hitting oneself in the neck with a fatal blow while half asleep.  Kate/Lottie was alleged to have shot herself.  However, upon further scrutiny, the bullet had been lodged in her head. A suicide by that method usually results with the bullet exiting the skull. Also, there was no powder burns on her face. Even more telling, the gun found by her head was a .44 but the bullet belonged to a .38.

Another interesting similarity was the effects found in their suitcase and purse. Instead of providing any definitive proof of their identity, the mystery just became deeper.  In Kate’s purse, they found a plain ring- a wedding ring?- a penknife, a bottle or brandy and a handkerchief that read, “Little Anderson”.  Also found in her purse was the key to her valise but neither in the coroner’s report not in any writings about this mystery is there a mention about the valise’s contents.

The contents of the Mystery Woman were even more confounding. Police discovered inside the suitcase clothing without any identifying labels, wigs, shards of glass with traces of fingerprints on them, glasses, a postcard from a notable Italian photographer and medications with most of the labels peeled away. A sketch of the woman was dispatched to Intepol. Shockingly, nine identities were eventually attributed to her sketch. Her aliases were from all over Europe: Swiss, German, Scandinavian and Belgian. But they all had one thing in common, none panned out as a real name.

Sadly, like Kate Morgan/Lottie Bernard, the Mystery Woman had multiple names but not a single person to bury her. Both bodies were unclaimed and buried by municipal officials.

Another interesting comparison was the odd behavior that was noted by the hotel staff. Kate/Lottie was remarkably wan and sickly and several of the staff noted that she had confided to them that she was dying of stomach cancer. During her stay she had requested pain medication, alcohol and malaria pills. Apparently, she was probably more concerned with personal safety than her ailment. According to Southern California writer J’aime Rubio, she had also purchased a box of shells at a gun store in downtown San Diego (along with the .44 that was found by her side on the 29th). Mysteriously, the box was not found during the investigation.

The Mystery Woman’s actions were not only odd but also indicated she too was concerned with her safety. She had repeatedly changed rooms after checking in and she was adamant in getting a room that had a balcony. But perhaps the most unusual behavior that she had demonstrated was viewed outside the hotel by a witness who was a local resident.

Unlike Kate/Lottie, the Mystery Woman was at her hotel for only one day. After leaving the hotel for the first and last time she was observed by a local man as she rapidly passed by him. According to the site, Mysterious Universe, he recounted how her face was completely distorted by fear. He noted that the woman was dressed elegantly, although not appropriately for being outdoors, let alone hiking in the hills. As they passed each other she formed her mouth as if to say something but appeared intimidated by two black-coated men who followed her.

As previously mentioned, one of the items found in the Mystery Woman’s suitcase was a postcard. Sent from an Italian photographer who was suspect in a rape case this clue is also similar element that bridges the 2 cases. Some theorized that the Beautiful Stranger was married to a man name Tom Morgan who was possibly a gambler. And though he wasn’t exactly like the gentleman that Kate/Lottie patiently waited for, the Italian photographer is  an excellent example of the women’s’ preference for shady company.

Lastly, the final coincidental element of the 2 cases is the most frustrating. Neither case was solved because of several factors that had been already mentioned. Of course, with multiple aliases, shady companions and the challenge of determining the true cause of death, it would be difficult to come to a conclusion under the best of circumstances-especially over a hundred years ago! Further complicating the issue was the unwillingness of the coroners to pursue an in depth inquiry.

For the Mystery Woman, the coroner was very cryptic.  According to the website, Mysterious Universe, the coroner declared, “Forget her, she was dispatched. The case will never be solved”. He followed the advice, waiting 32 years to tell the story publicly.[5]  The coroner for Kate/Lottie was equally obdurate. He dismissed any push to reopen the case even though the bullet obviously did not match the gun.

There were several differences in the cases. The Mystery Woman did not engage with anyone during her brief stay but Kate/Lottie had befriended one the maids during her visit. Kate/Lottie was younger, in her 20’s and possibly pregnant. The Mystery Woman was approximately from 30-40.  The Beautiful Stranger was supposedly a woman of modest station-some theorize a maid from Los Angeles- involved with someone of questionable character, a scoundrel. But the Mystery Woman was someone who was involved in the world of espionage. A woman enmeshed in a world so dangerous that it cost her life.

While balancing these intriguing elements, one particular question kept popping up. What if these 2 women were one in the same? Could it more than a coincidence that that these 2 woman had so much common? One lost soul doomed to repeat the same fate over and over again until the lesson is learned and a new life, a better path awaits. Many cultures believe in both reincarnation and ghosts. However, there is very little on the intersection of the 2 topics. Could Kate/Lottie have tried to move on and subsequently been reincarnated into the Mystery Woman?

Edgar Cayce speculates the longer a soul waits to reincarnate, the likelihood that in next life they can transcend the trauma and karma from the previous one.  Because life on earth is so very challenging, the Cayce readings state that the longer the time period that we spend out of the earth in the nonphysical dimensions between lifetimes, the greater our progress tends to be. Souls who rush back to reincarnate quickly are often making it more difficult on themselves.

Was there a life in between the two incarnations? And if so, was it a life similar to the others? It is also interesting to note that there are no hauntings associated with the Isdal Mystery Woman. And according to my research, documented cases of Kate/Lottie’s haunting started in the late 1970’s.

Did Kate/Lottie decided to go back to the hotel until she is ready to move on? Do intelligent ghosts have that kind of control and self-knowledge? I recently heard on NPR about a study conducted by Northwestern University that offers some insight about repeated unethical behavior. In short, people aren’t able to address past wrong doings so they forget about them. Consequently, they perform the same unethical actions over and over again. A psychological defensive mechanism, it has been coined as, “unethical amnesia”. To paraphrase Saint James, “The greatest sin is to forget.”  If we don’t address our past transgression, we repeat them over and over again. Consequently, we fail to achieve any kind or grace or redemption. What if that is the condition of some ghosts? To be in a state of purgatory until we address our short comings, acknowledge our wrong doings and transcend to a next level? But do we go to heaven or get a reboot by being reincarnated? If we need to slide back how far do we go? Do we choose which previous life to haunt or do we frequent the one where there was the greatest transgression?  And the most pressing question: can we choose such a luxurious setting as the Hotel Del Coronado?

As previously noted, Kate/Lottie did not haunt the hotel in the late 1970’s-soon after the demise of the Mystery Woman. At the moment, Kate/Lottie frequents Room 3327, where she spent her last night at the Hotel Del Coronado. She also has been made her presence known at several of the shops in the hotel’s retail center and the occasional hallway.  But if she disappears again what does that mean? Did does that mean she has acknowledged her transgressions and moved on-and up? That her time in her purgatory is over? Of perhaps it means that somewhere else there was born another pretty, dark haired and brown eyed girl with a propensity for disguises, making up names and secrecy? And if so what path will she choose this time?


Kitty Janusz: Why Do You Investigate Haunted Places?

A few months back I heard writer Kitty Janusz on a paranormal podcast and thought she’d be an excellent person to have on my blog. As a paranormal investigator I’m always interested in others who are in the field, and love hearing their experiences. Please welcome Kitty to my Halloween Spooktacular blog! Check out her latest book, When The Dead Speak: The Art & Science of Paranormal Investigation.


Ghosts and Spirits are experiencing a bit of a renaissance in recent years,  even  though it’s been  over a century since the Spiritualist Movement. The steamroller of reality TV brings  us all the glamour that infrared and heavy editing will allow in an hour format. Folks can begin to think a paranormal investigation is a fun adrenaline rush. But this newfound influx of researchers and popularity can make it difficult to find dedicated people willing to work for their credibility. So let’s  take a look at the serious and the curious and where everyone stands in all this. Some people just want to dip their toes in the paranormal water, so to speak. Beginners or flashlight toting amateurs are out for a personal experience. Their approach is similar to what author Jeff Belanger refers to as “Legend Tripping”.  In Belanger’s book, Legend Tripping, “Folklore is about story and oral tradition, paranormal investigation is about trying to apply science to something that can’t be measured by current means. Legend Tripping is about the experience and the adventure.”  These folks are looking for a personal experience. Any experiences they encounter are for them alone. Little documentation or research is done and most activity encountered becomes little more than great stories.  At this level it becomes difficult to expand knowledge to a larger skeptic audience, much less credibility with their peers. But it’s a fun way to spend a vacation!!


Are your motives to seek evidence?  To offer help and healing to those on both sides of the veil? To find answers to some really big questions about consciousness, the afterlife, and maybe Life’s origins?  This type of investigator may take a more technical approach when studying locations.  This is what we see mainly in our popular reality shows.  We research a location’s history. Why might it be haunted? Could the geographical location be causing electromagnetic anomalies instead of spirit activity?  Could the materials of which the location is constructed be holding  ambient energies? ( see my blog on Stone Tape Theory ) We do our best to illicit a technical and skeptical mindset while conducting experiments,  trying to control as many variables as possible. We base our findings  on the data provided by impartial equipment.  You have to remember paranormal investigating is primarily measuring energy and fluctuations in energies. These investigators do their best to measure something that by it’s spiritual nature cannot be measured by Empirical methods. In many circles, paranormal investigators are not considered true scientists, and therefore their findings are not always taken seriously or  found credible. Too bad… They fall into a category I like to call Field Investigators.  Not scientists,  in the true sense of the word, but doing a good job within their means and abilities. If they are conscientious,  I won’t be a snob and snub their efforts.  Doing a true scientific experiment involves building  a hypothesis, setting up an experiment with controlled variables, study findings, repeat experiment, and report results.  Not always possible when the paranormal is so spontaneous, or at least we don’t know everything involved to make hauntings occur.  So where does a dedicated, credible, knowledgable, amateur ghost hunter stand in all this quagmire and confusion??   No one should be ashamed of being a ” Field Investigator.” Evidence gathering and sharing that evidence will drive the paranormal field forward. Evidence gathered responsibly gets us closer to answering really big questions.

Success will unite the paranormal field. When so much irrefutable  evidence becomes available and is shared in a central database, the sciences of Metaphysics and Quantum Physics will unite and embrace the paranormal. Whether believers or skeptics, we must move beyond our comfort zone to understand  how science is subject to social, religious, and cultural influences. We can broaden our understanding of how the Universe works and how we are all cosmically connected.  I think the author and poet Edgar Allan Poe  said it best :  “The boundaries which define Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who is to say where one ends,  and the other begins?


Discover Kitty’s blog by clicking here.

Chris Kullstroem & Haunting Workspaces


Author Chris Kullstroem is touring the U.S this October for her new book “Haunting Workspaces.”

Chris, a native New Englander who has researched haunt shows and other forms of dark theater around the world, is now turning her attention to haunted attractions and modern Halloween culture.

From October 1st through 31st, she’s traveling throughout the eastern United States to visit some of the best and biggest haunted attractions. The travels will take her to shows such as Netherworld in Georgia, Dent Schoolhouse in Ohio and Headless Horseman Hayrides in New York. But Chris is interested in more than how these monster shows create fabricated horror and death. Chris is also looking at what modern-day haunts reflect about the evolution our beloved Halloween traditions.

Many are familiar with the history of Halloween: centuries ago, the Celts of ancient Ireland believed that spirits could enter the world of the living in late October. Since that time, many factors have played roles in changing our beliefs, from the rise of Christianity to the skepticism of science. But shadows of the legends remain. We dress as the dead. We tell scary stories of creatures returning from the grave. And we gather around fires to feast and celebrate the coming months of darkness. 

In addition to exploring the shows, Chris is also speaking with the people who own, operate and act in haunted attractions about what it’s like to work in such a unique, monstrous industry. What, exactly, is involved in putting together on a modern-day horror show for the public? What have patrons come to expect out of a fun Halloween outing, and what – if anything – do the performances reflect about the Halloween its creators knew from childhood?

Are the shows really no more than shocks and terror? Or is there a deeper meaning behind their mystical veil?

To follow the travels for “Haunting Workspaces,” head to Chris’ website here.


Marie D. Jones: The Power of Spells and Curses

Welcome to my Halloween Spooktacular! I’m starting off the season with a blog from Marie D. Jones. Welcome Marie!

Some people will believe anything. Even when it comes to things like spells and curses. Whether superstitious or not, if someone tells us they put a curse on us, some small part of our minds will feel that twinge of fear, even as all rational thinking tells us it’s nothing to worry about. Really. But do curses and spells ever have so much power they can actually kill, heal, or change our destinies?

Fetishism, the belief that a physical object can have supernatural powers, is as old as humanity itself. The use of blood, animal fur, claws, beads, coins, rings, feathers, stones, gems and crystals, and specific plants and animals by native and primitive peoples is no different from our use today of crucifixes, Buddha statuettes, Holy Water, Star of David necklaces, Rosary Beads, voodoo dolls, the Italian Horn to ward off evil eye, worry beads, prayer stones, and even four-leafed clovers and lucky charms.

The belief that symbols hold as much power and influence as what they are supposed to symbolize still makes up a part of everyday religious life. When a Christian takes the body and blood of Christ at Communion, they may not realize it, but they are practicing a type of fetishism, giving the wafer and wine a level of power which they do not have as physical objects, but rather as symbols of something far greater.

Yet, some may argue that the objects DO have power on their own. Perhaps we are somehow sending the object energy, which is then reflected back to us (or even absorbed into the substrate material itself,) based upon our motivation or use of the object. If we believe strongly enough that a lucky charm will make us, well, lucky, perhaps we may be raising the resonant frequency of the object to match the resonant frequency of our intention. We may be “instilling” a particular energy into the object, which then raises or lowers the object’s actual resonant frequency depending upon whether it will be used to charm, or to harm.

Generally, we think of the occult arts when we think of talismans, intricately designed charms worn about the neck or kept in a pocket, however, one only has to walk into a church, temple, or synagogue to see modern day talismans. Although the Catholic Church and Christian churches in general shun talismans and amulets as “witchcraft,” their own use of beads and crosses and statues of saints show that the idea of putting power into a physical object is not always the domain of evil-doers. In the Jewish tradition, amulets are abundant, many carrying holy names or phrases taken from holy texts. The Jewish tallis is a fringed prayer shawl with knotted tassels used in a similar fashion as Catholic Rosary Beads. The word “tallis” even sounds similar to “talisman,” although most linguistic experts believe the word “talisman” is of Greek origin, from the word “telsma” for “to initiate into the mysteries” (the word “amulet” comes from the Latin word amuletum for “an object that protects a person from trouble.”)

In the Muslim culture, individuals also wear amulets that bear chosen inscriptions from the Quran. Known as “Ta’wiz,” these medals are used in different situations to symbolize different things, just as one might wear a medal of a four-leafed clover to attract good, or the Khamsa pendant of Fatima’s Hand that supposedly wards off the evil eye.

The most obvious use of fetishes, talismans and amulets comes to us from the West African traditions and folk beliefs. West African Vodun or Voudou is a religion practiced throughout coastal West Africa. It is an animistic tradition, with a cosmology filled with a hierarchy of various vodun, or spirits and divine elements governing humans and the earth. Deities are called orishas, suggesting a pantheistic worldview, but there is One God, as in monotheism, with the orishas as God’s helpers (similar to the idea of the Christian God and his angels). Cuban Santeria, also practiced in some Southern American cities with large Cuban populations, is similar to Vodun, but has adopted many Christian symbols and rituals to create a syncretized and very much misunderstood religious practice.

What is most notable about these religions, which are far more organized than people might think, is that followers have a distinct relationship with nature, both the seen and unseen. Vodun practices often involve animal sacrifice and ancestral worship, even the “possession” of humans by deities during intense rituals. High on the list of beliefs is the power of fetishes and talismans to heal, or to harm. Mojo bags are magic charms wrapped in a cloth or animal skin bag, often red, tied with a drawstring. The bags can contain anything from magical rocks, animal feathers and claws, petitions to the deities and spirits, and even plant leaves. The Mojo inside the bag gives a person magical power.

Similar in intent, Gris-gris is an amulet to protect the wearer from evil, or attract luck and fortune. This small cloth bag is filled with herbs, stones, bones, hair and even grave dirt, emphasizing personal items of either the wearer, or the one intended to benefit from the contents. Gris-gris is often used for negative purposes as well, usually to conjure or cast a curse or hex on someone. Often it is left on the victim’s doorstep so that they see it and the reaction is often a slow death based upon the simple power of suggestion.

Thankfully, most Vodun followers use their religion for good, but there are sorcerers called Botono or Azetos who cast hexes and curses to bring harm to enemies (one might call that defensive black magick!). One of their favorite tools for bringing about such harm is the voodoo doll, a poppit constructed out of crude materials and colorful cloth to represent the spirit of a particular person. Voodoo dolls can be constructed with household items and are anywhere from elaborately decorated to crudely fashioned. Some call these dolls effigies, although most effigies are actually full-length figures of a person – alive or dead.

Worry Dolls, or Trouble Dolls, traditionally made in Guatemala, take a different perspective. Tiny dolls constructed of wood and cloth, these colorful dolls are often placed under pillows or “worried over” like rosary beads, and are usually used to help children heal from surgeries, as well as get over fears during the treatment of diseases. The doll is said to worry in the person’s place, allowing the person to rest, relax, and wake up with no worries.

Aboriginal Australians have a ritual of execution that utilizes a ceremonial bone called a Kundela or “death bone.” If the Kundela is pointed at a person, usually someone condemned or cast out by the tribe, that person will die. The “pointing of the bone” is always done by a powerful member of the tribe, and is accompanied by a chant that is said to curse the recipient. Famous oddity hunter John Godwin describes on his own experience witnessing a young Mailli tribesman who had been “pointed” waste a way and die in a hospital, despite excellent medical care. The doctors could find nothing physically wrong with the tribesman, yet Godwin stated, “He died before our eyes, in dreadful agony, apparently from the mere knowledge that he must die.”

Magical tools and ritual objects have been used in ancient witchcraft and modern Wicca for centuries…from wands and swords to cauldrons and athames charged with energy used to carry out spells (positive, that is!), these tools are said to hold power in them, but one must ask if the power comes from the belief itself that the tools are sacred and special.

Desire and intent may play a role in the manifestation of spells that are cast for good. Telling someone that you are putting a spell on them to find more love in their lives would no doubt feed into the subconscious, and change both the awareness and the perception of the person. Telling someone you are cursing them to death with a chicken bone because they stole your gold might also work towards its goal, if the person you are cursing is guilty and already struggling with their own inner demons about what they’ve done.

It is almost as if the mind becomes sympathetic to the spell or curse. The weaker or more unstable and afraid the mind, the more the spell or curse affects it. Sympathetic magic suggests that like attracts, and affects, like, and that everything is connected and linked on an invisible realm. Therefore, the act of sticking a pin in a doll is supposed to harm the person the doll represents, because what occurs in the symbolic sense has an outcome in the empirical world.

Sympathetic magic is based upon two laws: the law of similarity, and the law of contagion. The law of similarity suggests that an effect will closely resemble its own cause, while the law of contagion suggests that the connectedness of all things guarantees that once we come in contact with something or someone, we remain so. A voodoo practitioner may use these laws to produce a desired effect by speaking it or imitating it. The contagion aspect occurs when another person “buys into” the whole situation and ends up manifesting the desired effect, as if the practitioner and patient were one and the same, connected by some unseen web or strand, sympathetic to the same intention between them.

The Creighton University Medical Center’s website on complimentary and alternative medicine ( features an interesting article titled “The Science of Voodoo,” which discusses several scientific studies into the claims of voodoo as an effective healing modality. These studies were conducted to determine the validity of voodoo in a medical sense; whether voodoo relies on suggestibility alone for its placebo-like effects, or on the various herbs often used in rituals and their actual therapeutic and toxicological value. Studies included one for the Volume 42, Number 7 2002 issue of “Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain,” which concluded that the improvement of symptoms in voodoo patients is mainly from placebo effects. By concurrently stimulating and inhibiting the nervous system, there appears to be an improvement of pain. The study author, Seymour Solomon, gives the example of someone drinking an herbal treatment over the body of a dead rabbit as both stimulation and inhibition of the nervous system, which may lead to relief.

Voodoo and other alternative healing modalities may be more “nocebo” than placebo. In voodoo practices, often the patient is cursed with negative intentions, and the nocebo effect is the result of experiencing a harmful outcome because that is the outcome that the patient expects. It is not so much that spirits and demons are conferring the negative energy and sickness, as it is the mind of the believer. The expectation of illness or death appears to lead to illness and death in voodoo and other such belief systems.

This concept leads to another interesting aspect of curses and spells. The more powerful the one who is casting the curse or spell is perceived to be by the patient, the more powerful the patient will manifest the curse or spell. A village medicine man or voodoo priest will have more ability to mold the belief of the villagers than someone with less spiritual authority. Even in our culture, we tend to look up to and trust our doctors and surgeons, and if they pronounce us terminally ill, many of us may “believe” them far more than we would if the same diagnosis happened to come from a neighbor or stranger on a subway.

Too many factors come into play in determining the power of spells and curses to be effective. The person at the receiving end seems to be the biggest factor of all. Do they believe? Do they accept their fate, good or bad? Are their minds strong enough to “unbelieve” negative input? Is the subconscious in charge, thus no matter what they think they believe is null and void?

Mind over matter, or mind over other minds, it may all be up to each of us as individuals how much control we give to outside thoughts, forces and beliefs that could hurt or harm us.



Like Marie’s Facebook author page:

And the first one to do so and leave Marie a private message saying if they owned, or still own, a “lucky charm” of some type will win a signed copy of their choice of one of the following books:

THIS BOOK IS FROM THE FUTURE: A Journey Through Portals, Relativity, Worm Holes and Other Adventures in Time Travel

VIRAL MYTHOLOGY: How The Truth of the Ancients Was Encoded and Passed Down Through Legend, Art and Architecture

THE TRINITY SECRET: The Power of Three and the Code of Creation

MIND WARS: The History of Mind Control, Social Programming and Surveillance

Marie D. Jones



Giant Update: Mega Book News!

Welcome to Autumn! In many places leaves are turning, falling and snow is coming down. Although it’s not Halloween yet, I’ve already got some great news about new spooky reads for you. Also, stay tuned for updates on the reboots of some of my older books. It’s a wild and crazy season for me, and I’d love to share it with you. As with many author’s lives, mine is filled this fall with so many things I have to remind myself to slow down. My newsletter is going out soon with some of this same information, but I thought I’d get it to you through a blog for now.



Gorillas With Scissors Press introduces a yearly horror anthology with 50% of the proceeds going toward a charity every year. This year the contributions go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I’m happy to say that I’m included in this year’s anthology with my spooky story Comeuppance. Not only will you be sampling some awesome horror, but you’ll be helping out a great cause. Preorders started September 1. October 1 is the release date. Paperbacks will also be available to order on October 1.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA


Just in time for some Halloween reading! Some of you may remember when my erotic paranormal romance Eclipse was featured in an anthology many years ago. Official release for Eclipse is October 7. In the meantime you can preorder it at:


Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

I’ve ventured into horror in a big way with my short novella Hostility. This one is wild and crazy, and I hope you’ll check it out. Official release for Hostility is October 11. In the meantime you can preorder it at:


Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA


Some of you might not know that I’m now a mentor at RT Academy, a new program started by RT Magazine to help aspiring and published authors with their manuscripts. You can find all the details on how to hire me as a mentor by clicking here.


As I reported earlier this year two of my novels (Blackout and Love From The Ashes) were optioned for film/TV by Marie D. Jones of Where’s Lucy? Productions. While I can’t give too many details, things are moving along nicely. Recently I interviewed Marie for RT Magazine’s Author Portal. Stop by and read her comments here on producing, writing fiction and non-fiction and screenwriting.

SuddenHeat (1)


This year I’ve spent a lot of time getting older books ready to reboot. I’m happy to say that Love Under Fire trilogy (military romance/suspense) should be out again in November with brand new delicious covers. As soon as I have links for you, I’ll post them on my website, on my blog and in a newsletter. I’m also having a Facebook party in November and as soon as I have a date and links for that I’ll also let you know.



One London Night (WW2 romance) and Before There Was You are out again for purchase with gorgeous new covers! I already have them out at a few outlets. Barnes and Noble is taking awhile. Because the links on my website aren’t current (but will be soon), here are the links I have so far:

One London Night




Before There Was You





During the month of October, I have several authors visiting my blog and there will be some prizes! Please help us celebrate this most spooky month of the year!



I have fantastic new covers for the first four stories in my military romance series Hot Zone. The last story is still with Samhain Publishing, but the first four in the series will be out in again with new covers. Details on release dates for those as soon as I have them.

Have I forgotten anything? WHEW. Because it’s so busy I may have a newsletter out to you in October and perhaps even November and December.

Until my next blog, have a great day!


Get Ready To Scream: Nightmares & Echoes III Charity Anthology

Halloween is my favorite holiday. From the time I was a little kid, I wanted to dress up as a witch every year. When I participate in Halloween/Samhain events, I still dress up as a witch. Last year I found this absolutely stunning black velvet witch hat.

This year I’ve got something new to celebrate. Preorder is up for the ebook version of Nightmares and Echoes III Charity Anthology featuring authors who want to give you a true chilling experience this season. October 1 is the official release date. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This short story anthology features my tale Comeuppance. The anthology signals my first official horror publication. Over the years I’ve loved reading horror. Dean Koontz and Stephen King are two favorite authors and Edgar Allan Poe still thrills me. As a kid I devoured scary movies and books like the were going outta style.

In the coming months, I’ll be writing more scary tales and hope to publish my four book zombie series Dead Days. Dead Days does have romance in it. Not between the zombies, though! I’ve launched into writing pure horror with great zeal. This was definitely the right time for me to include horror writing into my already eclectic writing career.

Details on how to preorder your copy of Nightmares and Echoes III Charity Anthology:

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Amazon AU:
Amazon CA:

Paperbacks will be available to order October 1.


Movies, TV & Bright Frontier Films News!

Hey there everyone. I’ve got a great poster for a pitch to share with you. Okay, two posters. In amazing news, it was officially announced recently that in connection with Where’s Lucy? Productions I’m now a part of Bright Frontier Films in their pitch efforts to make Blackout and Love From The Ashes into film/TV. These are two of the cool graphics that are a part of that effort. Thank you Bright Frontier Films! If you want to get a closer look at the two graphics below just click on them. Until next time!