Category Archives: supernatural

Jill Richardson Shares Her Latest Hobbit Companion

Jill Richardson is the author of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World. I wanted toHobbit have her here on the Scribes today, because, for one, I am a Tolkein fan, and two, she brings prizes! But first, let’s find out why she wrote her latest book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World.

Welcome Jill!

Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? How does that matter to God? How do we learn from both of those things

Describe what the book is about, how it’s organized, and what a reader can expect.

It’s about twenty Tolkien characters, who they are, what makes them do what they do, good or bad, and how that relates to both God and the reader. As far as organization, each character is introduced, quoted, and discussed. Add a relevant Bible passage, discussion/journal questions, and action steps for each person to take going forward. Choose to memorize the short Scripture at the end. A reader can expect to be  both entertained and challenged. I try to have a lot of fun with it, but I don’t shy away from tough questions and applications. Teenagers are capable of asking tough questions. They are more than able to recognize things that need changing. I refuse to talk down to a teenager or make it easy for them. They are intelligent, fun, and up for a challenge, and that’s what I make the book as well.

Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn’t at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she’s a princess who isn’t afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

How could this book help youth leaders disciple kids?

The book takes twenty  character traits everyone can relate to. It pulls that trait out of a Tolkien character and then relates it to the Bible. Can a teen learn about dealing with pride, frustration, or fear from Thorin, Eowyn, or Aragorn? Can she learn to find hope in hopelessness from Arwen? Can he understand how to channel his crazy whims from Pippin? Absolutely—and I have a few national youth leaders, college professors, and authors backing me on that claim!

What’s here they won’t get in the book or the movie?

A relationship between the fandom and the Bible. What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

How do you see teens, parents, and churches using this book?

Of course, it’s a devotional, so I see teens using it for their daily (or sort of daily–I know what it’s like) reading and praying time. Parents and grandparents play a huge role in finding resources for their kids and giving them to them. Parents, youth leaders, grandparents, any caring adults in a kid’s life (and let’s face it, some have so few)–should be seeking out resources to help kids build character. That’s really the point. That it entertains as well—bonus! I can easily see youth leaders using it in a group setting, and I actually have lesson plans for that. Best of all—kids can give it to their friends. The ones who love these movies/books but may not necessarily think about God too much.

Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?

The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They’re a bit larger than we are.) They don’t start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That’s who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It’s very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don”t. But we’re pulled toward stories that speak to that.

Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?

Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

jill portrait webTell me something more about you.

I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I’ve spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I’ve done it on stage. But—I’m a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and love planning our next vacation as soon as we get home form the last one. In fact, my last book before this one was about taking your family on short term mission trips.

Oh, I will be looking for your book on taking your family on short term mission trips, for sure!

Readers, here’s a little more on Jill:

Jill’s love for hobbits and elves comes from her time as a literature  teacher and as a lifelong reader of great stories. She also loves an epic challenge and a chance for grace wherever they exist. Jill has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and is an ordained minister who has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor. She has published four books previously, as well as articles in national magazines such as FamilyFun, Discipleship Journal, and Today’s Christian Woman.

Jill enjoys speaking on a variety of topics and has been very active on the MOPS circuit, as well as in junior high and high school classes. She enjoys speaking for retreats for all ages.

With three daughters, three cats, and (thankfully!) only one husband, she keeps busy otherwise with community theater, gardening, reading, scrapbooking, and traveling. Jill loves oceans, cats, chocolate, teenagers, her family, the Cubs, and God, not necessarily in that order.

Jill Richardson contact info:

jillmarierichardson.com

https://www.facebook.com/jillwrites                                

http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/JillMarieRichar

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World–Amazon buy link. Only $3.00 for the kindle.

Hobbits, Elves, and Dragons More Real Than You Believe 

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, Author of The Philosophy of Tolkien has said this about Jill’s book:

“Jill Richardson has done a doubly difficult deed. She has written a book about the Bible and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and she has written a book that both adults and teenagers will enjoy. Her trick is that this is a book that successfully uses Tolkien to understand the Bible instead of a book that unsuccessfully uses the Bible to understand Tolkien.

For another thing, it’s a book for teenagers that most adults will also enjoy, understand, and profit from instead of a book for adults that most teenagers will enjoy, understand, and profit from (which is much more difficult). And it works. It’s both sprightly and profound, funny and serious, full of loving sarcasm and realistic moral truth.”

Some more thoughts from others: 

Author Jill Richardson may well have been born in the Shire, so well does she know the inhabitants of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. But the truths in this book are anything but fantasy. They strike close to the heart where we all have the God-given desire for valorous deeds and new worlds to explore.

Wayne Thomas Batson
, Bestselling Author of The Door Within Trilogy,
The Dark Sea Annals, and GHOST

And now for the prizes!

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and enter the Rafflecopter (toward the bottom of the page). And be sure and pick up your Kindle version of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World at Amazon.

Book Launch

Whatcha Reading?

Hey, Scribesters! Suze here, coming to you from deep in the cave (the writer’s cave and its next-door neighbor, the editor’s cave).

Whatcha reading these days? Me, I’ve got a couple of books going.

Doctor_Sleep[1]Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. Ever wonder what happened to Danny Torrance, the little Red-rum kid from The Shining? Well, he’s ba-a-a-ack! (I know, I’m mixing movies here) And honestly things are not so great for him. This is classic Stephen King–beautiful writing about horrifying stuff. I don’t want to put this down. I wish I had a couple days of uninterrupted reading time, but, like a fine wine, I need to sip, not guzzle this book. So far, I adore it!

9780062192356_p0_v1_s260x420[1]I’m also reading a YA book, Slither, Book 11 in The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. This is scary stuff! Think Grimm’s fairy tales with every myth and monster you can think of (and some new ones too) putting our hero, Tom Ward, and the rest of the world into ever-increasing danger. While the prose reads like a middle grade book, in my opinion these stories are not for anyone younger than 6th grade. And the illustrations are gorgeous–done in the style of old woodcut drawings. There’s one more book in the series coming out next year, and while I can’t wait to see if Tom defeats The Fiend once and for all and if Alice can save herself, I’ll be sad to see this series end.

How about you? Are you on a horror kick like I am? What are you reading these days?  

Irrational Fears

Hi, Scribelings. Suze here, talking about irrational fears.

We’ve all got them. Things we’re afraid of even though the chances of them happening are remote, maybe even impossible. Today, I will share with you some of mine.

th[7]Vampires. Yes, I am afraid of vampires. I’m pretty sure I know where this fear originated. I saw the movie Dracula starring Frank Langella about eight times at our little village movie theater l when I was a teenager. I blew a lot of babysitting money to see the first hot movie vampire over and over. He was no old, creepy, cartoony Bela Lugosi or weird, scary Christopher Lee. Langella was dark and sexy and irresistible to my young self. My bedroom had a tall window, and my bed was right next to it. Seriously, Dracula could have flapped up to that window and come in any old time he pleased.

Unless it’s insanely hot, I still sleep with the covers pulled up around my neck.

th[4]Rats, Mice and Other Vermin. This also stems from a traumatic childhood movie experience. I saw the movie Willard on television (not sure why my mother allowed this!). I still shudder every time I think about it. Rats swarming everywhere, gnawing and chewing, their obscene naked tails undulating as they kill Willard at the end. Oops, that was a spoiler. Well, if you haven’t seen it, don’t make plans to watch it, or the sequel, Ben. Save yourself.

Now, as an adult, I don’t like vermin for other reasons, such as sanitation issues and, oh yes, that little thing called the Bubonic Plague. I have never allowed my son to keep a pet mouse or hamster. (Don’t feel too bad for him–he’s got a cat and fish and kept a hermit crab alive for 6 years) I don’t care how cute and furry and soft those pet vermin are. If they got loose in the house, I might have to move out. Although the cat is a pretty good mouser…

Feral Pigs. But Suze, you say. Those things only live down south in Texas and Arkansas, far away from your New England home. Well that’s true now, but according to a documentary I saw, they’re moving north. Pigs are such prolific breeders that it’s almost impossible to keep their population under control in the wild, and they’re expanding their territory. Have you seen the tusks on those vicious things? Their nasty brown hair? Their evil, beady eyes? Watch this but only if you dare. Remember Jody the Pig in Amityville Horror? I rest my case.

150px-Communion_book_cover[1]Alien Abduction. I’ll admit I’m not as afraid of this as I once was, now that I’m physically incapable of gestating an alien baby. And I no longer think that every weird mark on my body is the site of either an implanted tracking device or the extraction of a tissue sample. As a kid I read a lot of UFO material, including the famous Betty and Barney Hill case and the Whitley Streiber accounts, and I still can’t resist the documentaries. Add to that the fact that my junior high social studies teacher claimed that he had been buzzed by a UFO while driving along a lonely stretch of road in his Gremlin and, well, you’ve got a recipe for a lifelong phobia. I still get a little freaked out driving alone at night. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced an episode of missing time–I think.

Confession time! What are your crazy fears? We’re all friends here.

Marie Higgins-Waitingforyou (2)

New releases and a time traveling guest.

I have a special treat for you all today. I’m doing double duty and bringing you a couple of wonderful new releases! First of all, the Scribes are thrilled to celebrate with our very own Sugar Jamison, and are proud to announce her debut novel, DANGEROUS CURVES AHEAD.

Here’s what it’s about!

dangerous curves aheadEllis Garrett is dumping her critical boyfriend, opening a plus-size clothing store, and starting a blog—all to spread the word that fashion shouldn’t require a size-two body, and happiness should allow for the occasional cupcake. Or two. But is indulging fantasies about her sister’s long-ago ex, the still-hunky Michael Edwards, biting off more than she can chew?

Mike must be losing his detective’s touch. He doesn’t recognize Ellis when he bumps into her at Size Me Up, and he certainly doesn’t remember his ex-girlfriend’s outspoken sister being so irresistible. Her curves are indeed dangerous—and so is her wit. Could it be that Ellis is his Perfect Fit? One thing’s for sure: Mike will make it his sworn duty to find out…

Congratulations, Sugar, on your debut release! If anyone wants to purchase a copy (and you ALL should because it’s heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny) you can find it here:

AMAZON, B&N, and Indiebound

 

From Romantic Comedy to a Time Travel Romance with mayhem and mystery, please welcome today’s guest, Marie Higgins, author of WAITING FOR YOU.

Marie Higgins Author picMarie Higgins is a best-selling, multi-published author of sweet romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who make your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Visit her website / blog to discover more about her – http://mariehiggins84302.blogspot.com

I asked Marie to share some of her deepest darkest secrets with us and answer her favorite Scribes interview questions.

  1. How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

For many years I struggled with this. I usually ran across the Doubt Monster while writing my first draft. I was told by other authors to keep writing just to get the story idea on paper, then take a little break and return to the story to make it better. That helped for a little while, but then the Doubt Monster returned with a vengeance. During this time, a good author friend of mine suggested I join the online reading place – Wattpad. This website has literally thousands of readers, and most of them are people who like to write stories. I was leery about giving my stories away for free, but I decided to give it a try. I couldn’t believe how many readers ‘followed’ me…and how many uplifting comments I received. If not for Wattpad, the Doubt Monster would have conquered my fears.

  1. I’ve had wonderful feedback from Wattpad readers as well, Marie. They are voracious, supportive, and loyal about authors they love to read. Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

I’ve written many genres already (mostly different historical eras), but I’ve tried my hand at paranormal (ghost stories, and werewolves), and Sci-Fi (time-travel). Once I’m finished with all the projects I have on my plate right now, I’d love to write a Young Adult Fantasy. I even have a crazy idea for a series, too! It’s like a Mad Hatter meets Harry Potter kind of story.

  1. That sounds awesome! What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Do you mean besides my career taking off?LOL  I took my chances and started writing clean romance (no sex or swearing), and even a few Christian/Inspirational romances (where the Christian element is strong in the plot). I have been greatly surprised of the success I’ve received from these books!

  1. You should definitely have a chat with our resident Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, fellow Scribe, Katy Lee. She has found a warm welcome from the inspirational reading community.     How do you come up with your shtick?

Funny you should ask… I write what I love to read. Some authors I love because they write such beautiful historical romances. Some authors write very humorous stories. And some are famous for their suspense. I wanted to combine all the things I love into my writing, and in doing so, I have created some great hooks, and twists / turns. My readers have called me “Queen of Tease” before…and I’ll happily wear that particular crown proudly!

  1. Not a bad crown to wear for a romance writer! Are you working on another project?

 When I finished writing WAITING FOR YOU, I realized how fun and challenging it was to write time-travels, so…the story I’m working on now that hopefully will be released next month (Sept. 2013), is also a time-travel. This one is titled LOVE LOST IN TIME. Sheri McGathy is my wonderful cover-artist and has made the best book covers for me! I’m so in love with the covers for both of my time-travels!

Check out the book trailer for LOVE LOST IN TIME here – http://youtu.be/E1C_IKJqwC4

6.    Tell us about your new release, WAITING FOR YOU.

My latest release “Waiting For You” is a ghost story / time-travel / humorous romance. I’ve added lots of twists and turns, and it has a great mystery as well! Here’s the blurb:Marie Higgins-Waitingforyou (2)

When a beautiful woman claiming to be a ghost from 1912 appears in Nick Marshal’s new office and begs for help in solving her murder, he’s intrigued enough to consider her plea. A scandal that rocked Hollywood almost destroyed his law practice, so taking on a client who insists she’s dead seems a good way to refresh his career. The more history he uncovers, the deeper he falls for the ghost. Abigail Carlisle believes Nick is her heart’s true desire, but how can happily ever after happen when she’s already dead?

 Excerpt:

“What can I do for you, Miss Carlisle?”

The woman’s stiff, aloof behavior pricked Nick’s curiosity. In an attempt to draw her out, he flashed his most charming smile. She did not so much as bat an eyelash in return. It stung his ego just a bit, since women usually melted beneath that smile. Nonetheless, he wasn’t here to make her weak in the knees but to gain her trust and represent her.

She re-positioned herself on the chair, pulling her shoulders back primly as she faced him. “I have searched a long time to find you. You are the only person who can help me.”

What an odd thing to say. The urgency in her tone made him curious. It was in total contradiction to her outward, ice-queen appearance. “Really?” he asked. “Why do you think I’m the only person who can help?”

“I don’t think, Mr. Marshal. I know.”

Nick cocked a skeptical brow. “How do you know?”

A flash of hesitation, or perhaps embarrassment, skirted across her face. “My maternal grandmother,” Miss Carlisle paused to draw a short breath, “—told me that one day I would find the man who could help me.”

Nick should be amused at the absurdity of her story, but instead the little she’d said so far—and the desperate pleading in her voice—intrigued him. “And she actually said my name?”

“Well, not exactly,” Miss Carlisle replied, “but it was close enough. She gave the initials N.M., and she said you would be a solicitor.”

“Solicitor? When you use that word, you are referring to an attorney?”

She shrugged, her head bobbing to the right. “They mean the same thing, do they not?”

Disturbing tingles crawled up his back, the sort of sixth-sense sensation one experiences while walking through a cemetery in the pitch dark of night or after a scary movie. Nick shook off the feeling. Was her grandmother some kind of fortune-teller? “So how do you know N.M. is me?”

“She was a gypsy—a spiritual woman in her day.”

“All right, but how do you know I’m the man she had spoken about?”

Finally, a timid smile touched her mouth. “Because you are talking to me right now.”

He shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t quite understand, Miss Carlisle.”

She closed her eyes as though in pain. “I knew explaining my situation,” she spoke the words carefully, as though testing its meaning, “would be difficult, but I’m at quite a loss for how to clarify myself.”

“Please try, Miss Carlisle, because you have me confused. Why exactly do you need an attorn—er, a solicitor? And why do you believe I’m the man your grandmother spoke of?” More to the point, why are you dressed like someone from the Titanic? The last question would have to wait until he ascertained her reason for seeking him out.

Her breathing quickened as a touch of trepidation touched her stony expression. “Mr. Marshal, the reason I know you’re the man who can help is because you—you can…” She cleared her throat. “You can actually see me.”

Nick stifled a chuckle. “Of course I can see you. You’re sitting right in front of me.”

“True, but your lady friend could not.”

He silently cursed Vanessa again. “I don’t think my friend was paying much attention at that moment.”

“When she walked into the room first, she looked my way, but she didn’t see me.”

He flipped his hand. “I do apologize for that. Vanessa can be a little self-absorbed at times.”

“No, you don’t understand. The reason she couldn’t see me is because, well…” Her blue eyes locked on his with something akin to fear shadowing their depths. It brought about a surge of protectiveness Nick was not entirely used to experiencing, especially with a woman he just barely met.

“I’m a ghost,” she ended in a whisper.

BUY LINKhttp://amzn.com/B00EQQMACU

Coming in print soon!

Great excerpt, Marie! It sounds like another winner. Thanks for being our guest today and sharing the spotlight with Sugar. We love to bring as many great authors and fabulous books as we can to our reading audience. 

Marie has agreed to check in today if you Scribe’s fans have any questions about writing time travel romance or anything else you might be curious about. She is a wealth of information!

Welcome YA Author M. Lathan

MEDIA KIT BookCoverMEDIA KIT AuthorPictureToday’s guest is YA Author, M. Lathan. M. lives in San Antonio with her husband and mini-schnauzer. She enjoys writing and has a B.S. in Psych and a Masters in Counseling. Her passion is a blend of her two interests – creating new worlds and stocking them with crazy people. She enjoys reading anything with interesting characters and writing in front of a window while asking rhetorical questions … like her idol Carrie Bradshaw.

Welcome to the Scribes, M. I’m so glad you could join us. Tell us about you and your book.

Thank you for having me, PJ. HIDDEN is book one in a YA fantasy/paranormal series. In the first installment, sixteen-year-old Leah Grant has given up on being normal. She’d settle for stopping the voices in her head, intrusive visions of the future, and better odds of making it to her seventeenth birthday.

That’s the thing about pretending to be human in a world where magic used to exist – at any moment, her cover could be blown and she’ll be burned to death like the rest of the witches.

Everything changes when she loses control of her powers and flees the orphanage she grew up in. She desperately wants to be invisible but finds her face plastered on every news channel as humans panic over the possible resurgence of her kind. And now the hunters won’t give up until they find her.
Making friends for the first time in her life and falling in love with one of them drives her to discover why she is unlike any being she’s ever met – human or otherwise. The dangerous powers inside of her that would repel Nathan, her new, handsome reason for living, are priceless to some. The locked up forever kind of priceless. And to others, they are too dangerous to allow her to live.

Let’s hope she can stay hidden.

EXCERPT:

A far second to oranges, the song I sang in the shower every night had a way of soothing me. More than anything, it made me tired enough to fall asleep. With Whitney gone, I didn’t have to whisper it.
The stars are out,
It’s time for bed.
Now close your eyes,
And rest your head.
May angels shield you with their wings,
As you dream your little angel dreams.
I didn’t recall composing that song, but apparently, I used to think I was good and perfect like the angels. I knew better now.
I stepped out of the shower and tugged a brush through my unruly brown tangles. I stared into the mirror over the sink as I started the song again. My skin screamed winter. I should be a warmer tan; I looked less creepy in the summer. Maybe that was why the girls had been digging into me so hard. I looked rather witchy. The unease that made them mock me was probably their souls warning them, urging them to notice I was different and dangerous.
At my worst, it feels like the fire that could easily shoot from my palm is raging inside of me. My heart picks up, more than when I’m scared. It pounds, I can’t hear. My blood dances, taunting me, begging me to hurt whoever’s hurt me. And I know that I can. I feel that I can.
But I don’t. I breathe and pray and let the magic cool.

Wow, cool excerpt, M. I can’t wait to dig into this series!

I asked M. a few silly–and not-so-silly questions. Here were her answers:

1. Do you ever read your stories out loud?
I didn’t know this was weird. It’s the only way I read when I’m at home. I hate reading in my head. There’s too much happening up there.

2. What are your future ambitions?
I want to be a wife and mother. I want to write every single day of the rest of my life. I don’t know what about, just that I will be doing that.

3. What have you got coming soon for us to look out for?
Hidden Book Two, Lost. There’s a new challenge for Christine that could end life on Earth she knows it. Wish her luck.

4. First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.
I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as I child. I couldn’t put it down. I read it in my closet and prayed for the back of it to open to Narnia.

5. If you were a shifter, what animal would you like to be?
A cat. I would still want to live in a house, and I think it would be my best bet. If I were a dog, I’d have to be too energetic. I’d be an aloof, cool, creepy house cat.

Yikes! I knew there was a reason I wasn’t a “cat person,” LOL. Thanks so much for entertaining us today.

Goddess Fish Promotions organized this Virtual Book Tour for HIDDEN by M. Lathan. If you’d like to check out her other appearances, you can find her tour schedule here. During this tour, the author will be giving away a $50 Amazon or BN gift card to one randomly chosen commenter. To enter, please use this Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4343/

VBT Hidden Banner copy

If you want to follow M. or buy her book (only .99 cents right now!), check out the information below. Please make her feel welcomed and leave a comment, ask a question or enter to win that whopper of a gift card!

Author Information:
Website: mlathan.com
Twitter: @hiddenseries
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/hiddenseries/
Buy link: Amazon

Unlocked secret: Spread the word–we’re having a party–Scribe’s style! Please join me next Tuesday, June 25th as I launch WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. There will be prizes–including a NOOK Simple Touch, signed copies of a few of my other books, and a swag bag for one lucky winner. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating! I look forward to seeing you there.

Ghosts of November–Interview with Paranormal Investigator Jim Chianese

Hey, Scribelings, Suze here. Guess what? We’ve got a special treat for you today! Paranormal investigator Jim Chianese is back, (click here to read his last interview with us). But wait, there’s more! Next Thursday, I’ll be asking some similar questions to ghost photographer and author Julie Griffin, so be sure to visit us again. Here’s what Jim has to say:

Hello Scribes!!!  Thank you again for having me.  I love the questions you guys have, it forces me to think.  Well, it has been a very busy year, Jeff and I have formed our own Ghost Hunting group, Connecticut Ghost Investigations (click here for more information) and have spent most of the time trying to get it up and running.  We still work with East Coast Angels on occasion.  If it is okay, I’m going to answer your questions with the story of a case we are currently working on and will probably be for a while longer.

Of course it’s okay! Since you last visited us, Jim, what has been your most memorable case? What can you tell us about it?

A mutual friend found out about Jeff and I investigating paranormal events and told us about the house he grew up in: a 200 year old colonial built by one of the founding families of our little town.  He lived there for about 20 years.  While he was growing up, items would be found in different locations than where his family had left them, and his sister saw a woman in the field by their house, but when she looked again the woman disappeared.  There were several instances where he felt someone touch him when there was no one in the room with him.  After hearing this, Jeff and I were eager to investigate.  Unfortunately, his family has since sold the house and property.  The house was torn down several years ago.  Our friend did tell us where the property was located and that it was currently a vacant lot.  We decided to test a theory.  Would the spirits still be on the property or were they tied to the house and now that the house is gone, would they be gone also? All three of us agreed on a date and time during the day to do the investigation.  We picked the daytime vice night for safety reasons.  We did not want to be walking around unfamiliar terrain.

Would you say it’s more, or less, difficult to investigate a building as opposed to an open site such as a cemetery? How do these investigations differ? Which do you prefer?

We arrived at the location of his old house and property with the CGI team.  The property itself had been kept up even without the house on it.  As he gave us a tour, Jeff and I took Electromagnetic Field (EMF) readings.  This was to give us a base line reading and also to see if there was anything close by that could produce an electromagnetic field.  There was a transformer across the road but its field diminished entirely after about a foot.   All the readings showed what you would normally find outside.  This is a similar technique we use when in a house.  In a house we take readings from all four corners and the center of each room to gain a base line of the entire house.  We sometimes find, specifically in older houses, that the wiring in the house will give off an exceptionally large EMF field.  This field has been known to make people sick who are sensitive to it.  However, that is not the case here.  We decided to sit in what was once the living room and conduct an Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) Session.  This is where we sit quietly and ask questions.  The theory is that the spirit will be able to imprint a voice response on the electronic media.  Ideally, we would receive an answer on our digital recorder(s).   We sat here for about 15-20 minutes.  Unfortunately, the wind started to blow.  When we reviewed our recorders later we could not hear anything over the noise of the wind.  One of the difficulties investigating an outdoor location vice a building.  At this point, our friend told us about the family cemetery located on the property.  This cemetery dates back to the late 1700s when the house and property were originally settled.  Not being able to resist, we headed to the cemetery.  As we were walking to the cemetery, Jeff felt a tingling sensation in his legs (as if asleep) after walking for some distance.  It was definitely noteworthy, simple because he only felt it in a specific area and not right when we stood up like you normally would have.

What equipment or tools do you consider essential for an investigation? Have there been any recent advances in technology that are yielding good results?

I’ve mentioned the EMF reader and digital voice recorders already.  There are many different kinds of EMF detectors, some light up, some have a digital display, some are analog, some digital.  They all operate under the same principle and provide similar results.  There are several models that have more than one function, usually combined with a flashlight or thermometer.  This helps to cut down the amount of equipment you have to carry.  After all, you only have two hands.  The digital voice recorders are the same ones you see at any electronic store.  We take the saved file and import it to our computer.  We then use an audio software program to listen to and clean up the file to see if we have an EVP or not.  We also use digital cameras.  I have one that has an infrared (IR) light built in to take pictures in the dark.  There are several modified cameras that can take a picture using the full spectrum of light.  The theory is that a spirit may not be able to be seen in regular light, but you might be able to pick it up in IR or full spectrum.  These are all great tools and gadgets to have on an investigation, but the best tool you can have is your own body and a notebook.

When we arrived at the family cemetery, we were all taken in by the tombstones.  We were reading the names and dates and trying to figure out who was who.  Just like most people do when you go to a really old cemetery.  The cemetery is about the size of a 3 car garage.  I was drawn to a particular corner of the cemetery.  When I got there, I immediately felt slightly nauseous.  Sort of like the day after a good night out on the town.  I left the area and found Jeff.  I waited a few moments until I wasn’t feeling nauseous anymore then told him to go to the same corner I was in.  He took the EMF detector over with him and it didn’t register anything at all.  I asked him how he felt and he responded fine.  He then asked if I was sick.  I answered yes and at this point in time our friend comes over and says you too.  He then states he started to get a headache when we entered the cemetery and he never gets headaches, but when he got to the corner of the cemetery we were in he started to feel nauseous also.  Another one of our investigators came over and stated she felt a slight pressure around her arms and an overwhelming sense of sadness, at this time she began to cry.  I told her to step out of the cemetery to see if the feeling passed.  She walked out and in a few short minutes she felt better.  Jeff and I began an EVP session in this corner.  Upon reviewing the files we did get a direct answer to one of our questions.  When asked the question “was this your property at one time” we received the answer “Yes” on two different digital recorders. 

Can the weather or astronomical events (such as phases of the moon, planetary alignments, periods of increased solar flares) affect your investigations? Do you find more activity at certain times than others?

As you can see the weather can affect an investigation (i.e. the wind during an outdoor investigation).  Even during an investigation inside the wind can play a factor.  If it is a windy day and a window is slightly open or the insulation is bad; you could feel a slight chill or something could be moved by a slight breeze.  That slight breeze could be misinterpreted to be spirit activity.  As for astronomical events, there are several theories that say the phases of the moon affect certain human behaviors.  Could these phases affect the spirit world or do they affect us in such a way that we perceive something as paranormal that really isn’t?  We use equipment that measures the electromagnetic field in the local area, if there is electromagnetic wave coming from space and bombarding the earth on the particular night of the investigation it can do one of two things.  First, it can give us a false positive reading.  Secondly, it could give the spirit an extra dose of energy so it can communicate with us.  It is hard for me to say that there is or isn’t more activity during these times.  At a recent investigation on a crystal clear night, we had a lot of activity, but we also had a lot of activity during a rainy night.  Unfortunately, there really isn’t any cold hard scientific facts that can prove or disprove paranormal activity.  There are however, theories that are being tested everytime a ghost hunting group investigates.  Some day there may be enough empirical evidence to prove these theories. 

Have you investigated outside of New England? Do you think this area has more paranormal activity than other places in the country? If so, any reasons for that?

Most of my investigations have been in the Connecticut/Rhode Island area with one in Maine.  I do not think New England has more activity than anywhere else.  There are paranormal groups investigating all over the world.  I think there is more of a focus on the New England area here in the United States because it comprises the original states.  In other words, lots of old buildings are still around.  That is not to say that spirits are only in old buildings.  They just have more of an allure for us than new buildings.  Think about that old house in the neighborhood that everyone thinks is haunted.

Do you do any research into places before you investigate them? Or do you like to go in with an open mind, and do the research afterward?

We will interview the owners and have them tour us around the building or house and explain their paranormal experiences.  This allows us to get a feel of the people involved and the place itself.  We will ask question about the history of the place (i.e. when was it built, history of owners, did anyone die there, etc.)  We approach all investigations with an open mind. You need to because not every place is haunted that people think is haunted.  Sometimes there is a very mundane reason for what is happening there.  Once we investigate a location and go through the evidence collected we sometimes have more questions than when we started.  That is where the research aspect comes in.  For instance, an EVP that said “where is Joe?”.  Was there someone named Joe that lived there? 

In the last year, have your views on the paranormal changed at all? If so, how?

My views haven’t changed at all in the past year.  I do believe there is a spirit world that does on occasion interact with us.  I do sincerely want to help people understand what they are experiencing whether it is paranormal or not.  I do not believe every place is haunted that someone says is haunted.  And most of all, when you have ruled out all of the impossible, then what ever remains, however improbable must be the truth.  Yeah, big Sherlock Holmes fan.

Other than being generally heroic by serving our country as a naval officer, and making a mean bottle of wine (I’ve been the lucky recipient of a couple of bottles!), what are your other hobbies and interests?

Well, I don’t know about being heroic, but I do make a great bottle of wine.  I have several hobbies which I love to participate in.  My favorite is SCUBA Diving.    I have been a certified SCUBA Diver for about 20 years now and I’m currently working toward my PADI Divemaster certification.   I am also currently studying Seizan Ryu Kempo Jujitsu with both of my sons.  It helps keep me in shape and it is a great bonding activity with my boys.  Except when they put me in an arm bar, then it’s not so fun.  I have been known to enjoy the occasional geocache.   I learned about geocaching during my last deployment.  It is a great activity to get you out on those really nice days.  I look at it as hiking with a purpose.  I also belong to a couple of Masonic organizations which keep me pretty busy at various times of the year doing fund raising events for all of our charities.  I guess it is my own way of paying back to the community.

That’s about it for me.  I hope everyone enjoys my ramblings.  Please feel free to check out Connecticut Ghost Investigations on our web page www.connecticutghostinvestigations.com or stop by and LIKE our Facebook page.  Just click here, or search for Connecticut Ghost Investigations or use the link on our web page.

Thanks, Jim! OK, readers, have any questions about the paranormal or investigations?

Who Influenced You?

Thea Devine posting today.  So tell me if this isn’t a bookaholic’s dream.  You’re buying a house and strewn all over the living room floor are books, a hundred or more of them.  You’re buying the house from the estate of a recently deceased widow, and you know it had been broken into, but the important things were not taken: the fireplace surrounds, the sliding doors, the books.

Among them was a uniformly bound set of novels by Augusta Evans Wilson –

– who, I came to find out, was a best selling author of her time with her novel, St. ElmoSt. Elmo has to have been the original bad boy hero who had to redeem himself to win his orphaned heroine love.  The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies just after the Civil War and allegedly was so popular that people named children, homes, streets and towns after it. and it was also said that Rhett Butler was supposedly modeled on the character.

There were a half dozen of Wilson’s novels, of which I’ve read 3 — St. Elmo, At the Mercy of Tiberius , and Inez, a Tale of the Alamo.

Which led me to think about the other best selling romance authors of their day, some of whom are long-time favorites of mine:  Faith Baldwin — who wrote career girl (usually nurses or secretaries) romance;  Kathleen Norris (rags to riches, usually set in the Mission section of San Francisco, vividly portrayed);  Emilie Loring (hometown girls in New England, richly evoked in a very distinctive voice).

I know there are some I’m forgetting, but I’m so glad I read those long ago authors long before  the idea of becoming an author myself was ever remotely possible.

Because of them, I found what I liked to read, and what I wanted to write.  From Wilson, and latterly, Catherine Clinton’s The Plantation Mistress,I discovered the pre-civil war south through the women’s eyes, so I’ve been collecting women’s civil war diaries for some time now, just out of my fascination with the time period.

Because of them, I came to love stories of heroines returning to their small town roots.  If they’re going down south, I’m there.  If there’s a plantation, I’m up all night reading it.  I love married-to-the-wrong-guy-but-maybe-not stories;  stories especially of wounded heroes and heroines overcoming their pasts and finding each other;  heroines caught in circumstances manipulated by someone else for nefarious purposes;  ghost stories; stories with conspiracies simmering under the surface that are just hinted at as the solution to the overt problems of the heroine (read gothics).

I just love old books. Love reading the “commercial fiction” from before the turn of the century, even having to plow through the dense Victorian prose and quotations from obscure poets and philosophers.  Love finding old books, as I’ve posted elsewhere.  Love it all, as witness my bookshelves and desk room floor.

But who’s on my current TBR pile then, you might ask.  Well, Gone Girl, Tatiana de Rosnay, Kate Morton, Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks, Karen Rose,  A Victorian Household, Carla Neggers, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, and  Macaria (another of Wilson’s novels written during the Civil War), among a dozen other books.   What about you?

So who were your influences, who’s on your To Be Read pile?  Do you like old books?  Have you read Norris, Baldwin or Loring?   Do you have other favorites, old or new?

Thea Devine is working on a new erotic contemporary romance and will be putting five backlist titles on-line soon.