Friday, April 17, 2009

Paranormal Investigating

Have you ever wanted to do a paranormal investigation, just like the guys on Ghost Hunters TV show? Well, I have done it with a local group, along with other paranormal investigator ones.

But I don't encourage amateurs without any training at all to conduct ghost hunts though. You need some idea of what you are doing before you go off into that graveyard or haunted building. I do recommend you contact an established organization near you and join them on a hunt/investigation or get some on the job training, so to speak. If you do some investigating on your own, don’t do it alone for your own safety. One good reason you never do it alone is you may get hurt. Another is the slim chance the spirit may be a harmful one. In my opinion, whatever religion you are, utter a prayer of protection before you start any investigation.

First of all, no one is born a "paranormal investigator”. All it takes to get
involved in the field of ghost hunting is to:

1.) Have an interest in the afterlife.

2.) Believe in ghosts—without it, you're wasting your time. Though there are skeptics that are doing this too, to disprove the supernatural. And that is all right, too.

3.) Find a place you wish to investigate.

4.) Invest in some equipment. At a minimum, a respectable paranormal investigator needs a camera, a notebook, a tape recording device, and a flashlight. More experienced paranormal investigators invest in EMF detectors or meters which pick up disturbances in electric and magnetic fields. You can find many of the things needed at places online like the Ghost Hunter Store (

You can also find much of these things at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Radio Shack, etc…

5.) Spend time practicing HOW TO use your tools. Like any job, it is always best to know how to use them properly.

6.) Read everything you can on ghosts, poltergeists, UFO sightings, and any other kind of paranormal activity. Study the investigations of these phenomena to get a sense of how paranormal investigators approach their work. Learn the lingo and the different types of paranormal activity that may be encountered in an investigation. There are some good books on ghost research and investigation out there.

7.) Join a local paranormal investigation group. Check out online sites like at, MySpace, and even for information on groups in your area. If there are no groups in your area, consider attending a paranormal conference out of town or even starting your own group. I know of one being planned to be held in Virginia Beach area in 2012. You can find paranormal conferences by using

8.) Take a class. Many organizations now offer courses in paranormal investigation, like Flamel College (, the International Ghost Hunters Society (


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

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

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

General Tips

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

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

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

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

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

If you become unreasonably frightened, leave. Always follow your gut instinct if you are prompted to leave. But remember, you have more to fear from the living than from the dead. Haunted sites are often isolated. That makes these sites attractive to people engaged in illegal activities. Use caution and common sense.

The best times are from 9pm to 6am. These are the psychic hours, but anytime can produce results. Photos have historically been better in the dark but don't let that discourage you from taking them during the day.

Find out all you can about the history of the locale you are investigating. Check out newspapers, town historians, the World Wide Web, and books can be helpful finding folklore or hard facts about the site. There are so many books and web pages that deal with this type of information. Even online sites of local television news can have information.

The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital audio recorders—this recorder is small and easy to carry. You can also use the voice activation feature so there is less audio to review. This can be useful for note taking as well. Most units record the time of the recording as well which is very useful. When using audio recorders be sure to state the location, time of investigation, and the investigators’ names. When recording names of each investigator it would be wise to have each individual present state their own names, which will make it easier for distinction amongst voices heard on the tape during review. Voice activation mode should be deactivated on tape recorders during use when electronic voice phenomena are trying to be achieved due to the fact that it usually cuts off beginnings of words, sentences, and phrases. This is not necessary with digital recorders and they actual seem to work better in voice activation mode.

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

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

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

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

Motion Detectors—these can be used to sense movements by often unseen forces or spirits. You can get battery operated ones for about 20 dollars and they are great for inside but there are investigators who say they have used them successfully outdoors as well, just watch the placement. You don't want a tree branch setting it off.

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

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

The Divining/Drowsing Rod—made of willow or hazel; these were called virgula divina. Willows, because they are thought to be most attracted to water. They require a moist environment to grow properly. Which divining rods were used to find water, thugh now used in ghost hunting too. The theory is that there is some element in the twig that acts in conjunction with the diviner to find the underground water. A forked (or "Y" shaped) branch of a tree or bush. The two ends on the forked side are to be held one in each hand with the third pointing straight ahead. Often the branches are grasped palms down. The pointing end turns up or down when water is found. This method is sometimes known as 'Willow Witching'.
Another type of dowsing or witching rode are ones using two brass "L" shaped wire rods (commonly made of brazing or welding rod, but glass or plastic have also been accepted) that are to be held one in each hand. When something is found, they cross over one another making an "X" over the found object. If the object is long and straight, such as a water pipe, the wires will point in opposite directions, showing the direction the object is pointing. Brass is commonly used.

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

So, now you have all the basics, equipment and more. Now get out there and investigate the unknown!

Sapphire Phelan

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Heart Will Find Yours

Book one of the Turuqoise Legacy, a time travel set in 1880 Waco, Texas, will be out in both print and ebook formats on May 1st, 2009 with The Wild Rose Press.

TEXANNA KEITH doesn’t believe an antique locket is the key to time travel, but plays along, and to her horror, is zapped back to 1880 Waco, Texas. Her mission is to prevent Royce Dyson’s death in a shootout. Wounded, she loses what she longs for most — a life with Royce.

Marshall ROYCE DYSON’S wife disappeared in 1876. Now she’s reappeared, claiming she’s a time traveler from the future. As he seeks the truth, he’s determined to keep Texanna with him, but it’s not destined to be.

Book two of the Turquoise Legacy, Flames on the Sky, a time travel set in Chaco Canyon of New Mexico, will be out October 23, 2009.

I hope you'll take a look at them both.

Thanks and Happy Reading.


Linda LaRoque ~Western Romance with a Twist in Time~ A Law of Her Own, Forever Faithful, Desires of the Heart, My Heart Will Find Yours, 5-9, Flames on the Sky10-9, Investment of the Heart 5-9, When the Ocotillo Bloom 7-9.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I had my first pitch with an editor this past weekend. I’ve done the query thing and that is nerve wracking enough. I stressed a minimal amount prior to the event…and a whole lot the day of. And then I did my pitch (nervous and I know I sputtered a bit) but the time (ten minutes) went very quickly and I got a request. So it was worth making the appointment. Here is some advice passed around as I prepared:

• Try to have your first pitch somewhere other than Nationals – a RWA chapter meeting or Regional Conference would work – this could lower your stress level and make you more comfortable pitching among the crowds and fast pace of the bigger conference.

• Think outside the box and pitch a company not on your submission list. There isn’t as much pressure on you, it’s good practice, and you never know what it might turn into.

• Talk for two minutes and let the editor/agent ask you questions for the remaining time. (I didn’t follow this exactly, but once the editor started talking with me, my stress level did go down.)

• Feel you write queries better than pitch – bring a copy of your query letter and read it. (One of my chapter mates did this. Smart lady. Also means you can quickly send your request in. I used note cards and then had to write up a query letter.)

Any more suggestions? Do you find your pitch goes fast once you start?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mirror, Mirror


It's one of the seven deadly sins, and theologians consider it the deadliest, as most sins flow from injured pride, frequently called crimes of passion.
An extreme love of self diminishes our love for others. Diminishing other people can make them appear as less than human, diminishing our compassion for them.

When we look in a mirror is what we see real?
In a way, the image looking back is reversed. Notice when you try to do something like brush your hair, its easier to feel what you're doing rather than use the reflected image as a guide. The concept of an alternate, or distorted reality has intrigued imaginations for centuries.

In literature the mirror is a symbol of an alternate world where reality is distorted or worse, the truth is revealed. Examples are "Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass" and The Grimm Brothers "Snow White."

When the wicked queen chanted : "Mirror, mirror on the wall," the mirror reflected her image, but when the answer wasn't what she wanted to hear she became enraged and planned Snow White's demise. Was the mirror image a distorted image?
The queen was beautiful, but her vanity made her ugly. It took the form of the witch and the witch was her true self.

Snow White never looks in anything reflective. She is buried in a glass coffin so the prince could see within the outer shell to the real person within the shell. Snow White's beauty isn't reflective, its real. She washed the dwarves dishes and cleaned the house (we will ignore the minor trespassing issue.)
The opposite of pride, Snow White was selfless. She served without being asked. In this story beauty and ugliness are reflected in deeds and appearances are decieving.

The idea of the magic mirror may have been inspired by the real life Countess Bathory. She was hailed as one of the most beautiful women in Eurpoe. Her vanity became an obsession and her cruelty was reknowned. It was her belief bathing in virgin blood would keep her young and beautiful. At least 80 (some say up to 600) women suffered for her distorted reality.

Dream interpreters will tell you when you dream of looking in a mirror you are in a stage of growth and self discovery. If your eyes are closed in the dream, you may not accept who you are. If you see another person's face or an animal instead of yourself, it means you worry you don't know yourself.
You may want to change yourself in some way to be sure the reflection is a real reflection of you.