Ericka Scott
Where-Oh-Where Has Ericka Been? Reprised
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

The life of a writer is never boring….especially when life gets in the way. On Valentine’s Day, I got the dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call about my father. He was losing his fight with Alzheimer’s Disease via pneumonia. I flew home to Illinois.

10 days later, I flew back to the California desert a lot sadder and a lot more appreciative of the support my family gives me to write.

In my inbox, I received edits for Wild Ghost Chase, so I’ll be working diligently on those, I’m also finishing up the edits on my Atlantean time travel, which is tentatively titled A Watery Grave. Then, I’ve submitted my pitch to HQ Nocturne (was Bites, is now Cravings). I wrote a huge chunk of the story longhand in a notebook on the plane ride home. It’ll need to be finished, typed, and polished before the TBA date (assuming I win an in-person pitch). If not, I have a few other markets in mind for the story! ;-)

So, for your entertainment on this lovely Tuesday morning –

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Story, compliments of YouTube.



Dealing with a Problem Ghost (from Hollow Hill)
Monday, February 14th, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

My upcoming release, Wild Ghost Chase, follows two teams of “Ghost Busters” into a haunted house. They have the equipment and expertise to deal with ghosts (supposedly, anyway). What do you do if your house is haunted? Here’s some ideas from Fiona Bloom at — The article is reprinted with permission —


What to do about your problem/household ghost First of all, be certain you actually have a ghost. There are several pages at our website–in the Ghost hunters guide section (many under False anomalies)–to explain what is–and is not–a ghost.

You may have a draft that’s slamming doors, a loose wire that’s making the lights flicker. There may be an underground stream that causes the house to moan and shift. A recent study in England discovered that some “paranormal” phenomena is actually the result of natural, very low-frequency sounds.

Also, please do not notice “orbs” in your home photos and then decide you must have a ghost. Indoor “orbs” are almost always from reflections and lens flares, unless the photo was taken by a professional.

In other words, don’t go looking for ghosts where there aren’t any.

If it’s a ghost, is it a problem?

If you do have a ghost, be certain that it’s a problem.

Even experienced ghost hunters are startled by ghosts now & then. We also jump when someone steps out of the shadows, when a car runs a red light, and any other time the unexpected happens. We’re merely startled. It’s not a problem.

Many people feel as if they have something odd and unseen in the house. They don’t mind sharing the space with the ghost(s). In fact, the majority of haunted houses are happily cohabited by the living and the spirits.

If the ghost is a problem

If your ghost is a problem, here’s what to do. You’ll probably want to print out this page, as it offers many solutions from our research as well as folklore. Start with one or two of these remedies. It should not be necessary to use them all.

* The simplest solution is also the most reliable: Speak to the ghost, out loud. Shout, if you feel you must. Explain to your ghost that you live there now and he/she is doing things that bother you. Explain exactly what those things are. Ask the ghost to stop immediately. If you want the ghost to leave altogether, you need to say that.This usually works. However, some ghosts won’t take you seriously, and you may need to remind it to leave you alone several times before it stays away.

* Holy Water is another tried-and-true remedy for ghosts.Respectfully and quietly enter your nearest Catholic Church, carrying a small jar or bottle from home. Somewhere in the public area, there will be a large container of Holy Water, usually stainless steel with a cross and a spigot on it.Fill your container with Holy Water. It’s nice to leave a small donation for this, too. (A dollar or two is customary.)

Upon returning home, pour a liberal amount of the water into a small bowl. Dip your fingers into the water, and stand in any doorway in the house.

Make a broad Sign of the Cross in the doorway, allowing the water to fly off your fingers as you gesture. (If you don’t know how to make a Sign of the Cross, ask any Catholic.)

It can be helpful to add an out-loud prayer, such as “I bless this house in the name of Jesus,” or, “I banish all evil spirits from this home, in the name of God,” or something like that.

(If you feel silly saying this, and can’t help laughing as you do it, don’t do it. This is not a light or casual ritual.)

Do this in every doorway, interior and exterior. Also do this at every window; don’t forget the attic and the basement.

* Prayer and religion – Your ancestors, deities, and saints are in the spirit world, as your ghost is. It’s logical to ask the help of these friendly spirits.If you have a shrine–formal or informal (such as a display of photos)–to your ancestors, have a chat with your favorite deceased ancestor. Explain the situation to him/her, and ask for help.

If you’re very upset about your ghost, we recommend the Irish saint, St. Dymphna, who is the patron saint of mental health. She’s great for calming situations. We save St. Jude for extreme situations when all else has failed. He’s busy enough with others’ urgent requests.

Pagans may want to use a banishing ritual, unless the idea bothers you, of course.

* Garlic – Don’t laugh! Garlic is a tried-and-true repellant for unpleasant spirits of all kinds. Hang one clove (not an entire bulb) in each doorway and window where you need protection. A clove in your pocket is a good idea, too.If you believe in folk magick, you can create a small pouch with several protection herbs in it, including five-finger grass, cinnamon, and echinacea. However, don’t overdo this. The point is to repel ghosts, not drive everyone away from you! *grin*

Along the same lines, hematite is a folk remedy too. Wearing it, or even carrying a piece of this unusually heavy black stone, will–according to legend–absorb evil energy. This won’t get rid of the ghost, just the negative effects of it.

* The shoe remedy – This one sounds silly but gets great results among our readers: When you go to bed at night, set out the shoes you’ll wear in the morning. Place them at the foot of your bed, on the floor, with one shoe pointing one way, and the other shoe pointing the opposite way.According to folklore, the ghosts get so confused by this, they leave after a few nights.

Update: Fiona used this as a last resort when she needed to get some sleep at The Myrtles Plantation. It did silence the ghosts for awhile.

(If you like this one, scroll down to see the sand remedy.)
* Incense and space clearing – Some professionals use sage incense, sometimes called “smudge sticks” at the health food store. We favor Nag Champa, but a nice apple pie or vanilla scented incense may be more suitable.Light the incense and carry it around, making certain that you get the smoke everywhere, particularly inside closets, room corners (use a sturdy chair or ladder for uppermost corners), attics, basements, and so on.

Or, you can ring a bell in every corner, and in every room. Or clap your hands.

There are books specifically explaining a variety of space-clearing techniques.

However, the whole idea is to get the air moving in stale corners where ghosts may be hiding.

If you can’t do anything else, vacuum!

* Convex mirrors – You’ll need one inexpensive convex mirror (from the automotive department of any discount store) for each room that’s haunted. You’ll need extra mirrors if your windows in the haunted room face more than one direction. That is, if your windows face North and East, you’ll need two convex mirrors, regardless of the number of windows you have.You’ll need one more convex mirror if your computer is in a haunted room, and your back is to the door when you’re working. If your TV room is haunted and the ghost enters when your back is to the door (watching television), you’ll want a mirror in that room, too.

Convex mirrors are usually very small and plastic, with double-stick adhesive tape on the back. They’re sold for truckers to place on the outside mirror, to improve their field of vision when they’re backing up. At stores such as Wal-Mart, these mirrors cost less than $2 each.

When you get home with your mirrors, select one window in a haunted room. Place the mirror discreetly in a corner, preferably behind a curtain. The mirror should face towards the outside of the house. When a ghost approaches your window from the outside, he sees his own distorted reflection and goes away.

In haunted rooms where you sit with your back to the door, place the mirror so that you will see anyone (or anything) entering the room, without turning your head. (This is also a Feng Shui remedy.)

* Flat mirrors – Any cheap mirror, even a plastic one, will work for this. Buy one for each room that is haunted.Place the mirror at eye level, inside the room that is haunted, against the door. The shiny side of the mirror should face the door itself, not you.

Supposedly, the ghost looks through the door and sees his reflection in the mirror. This scares him away.

We know this one makes no sense… why would a ghost look through a door but not a mirror…? Nevertheless, readers report excellent results.

We recommend placing a photo, poster, or something artistic over the area where the mirror is. Otherwise, your friends will raise an eyebrow.

* Sand, rice, split peas, etc. Randomly toss rice, split peas, sand, salt (but not sugar as it leaves a sticky residue), coffee beans or grounds, or anything small and granular, on your kitchen floor when you go to bed at night (if that’s when the ghosts are most bothersome).According to folklore, the ghosts will pause to count the grains of whatever-it-is. They aren’t very good at counting, so they have to start over again, repeatedly, or they forget the numbers.

Clean up the mess in the morning, and do the same routine again at night.

After a few nights of this, the ghosts will leave.

One variation of this is to hang a vial or tube of sand in the window of any haunted room. You can use a cheap test tube from a chemistry kit (or a feeding vial for hamsters, for example), or any similar small container.

You can use a thin ribbon and a pushpin to hang it in the window.

Like the grains of rice on the kitchen floor, any entering ghost has to pause to count the sand granules. After a few nights, he’ll give up and haunt somewhere else.

These counting remedies come from a variety of cultures, including Irish and Native American, so this may be a reliable way to rid the house of ghosts.

* Paint your door red – This is an old Irish tradition: Paint your front door red. Spirits won’t enter a home with a red door.A related tradition is the Irish Sheela-na-gig (regarded by some as vulgar), and other religious and cultural icons placed at a front doorway, for protection.

On many pious Puritan homes of the Colonial era, you’ll see a geometric pattern of nails. Whether these church-goers were aware of it or not, the pattern in the door was a protection, according to ancient folklore. (And at a time when nails were difficult to find, it’s interesting that the design on the door was such a priority.)

“Hex” signs, also called distelfinks, are popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. You can make or buy these signs and use them outside your front door, too.

* String hazelnuts at your door – Hazelnuts have been used for protection since ancient times. In our house, we have a string of nine hazelnuts, tied with green ribbon (held in place with discreet dots of hot glue). When we just hung the hazelnuts, they looked… well, odd. *grin*So we bought a small grapevine wreath at the local crafts supply shop, decorated it with fake ivy, and wove the hazelnuts through the ivy. It looks great.

You’ll want one of these at every doorway into your house.

You may want to bless the wreath in a ritual suited to your own religious beliefs, or have your local priest bless it. There’s no reason to explain what this is for, except to say it’s a “good luck” token for your front and back door, or something like that.

(You’d be amazed at the things that priests are asked to bless. Your wreath won’t even raise an eyebrow. Really.)

Hazelnuts are generally available in the autumn, between the middle of October and December. Stock up on them, then, if you might want to make extra wreaths for the protection of family members and friends, to have one for your office, and so on.

They usually cost about $1.99/pound in the bulk section of the produce department. They’re large, smooth, brown, and sort of the shape of a large olive, with a white spot on them. Out of their shells, they’re called filberts, which may work if you can’t get the actual hazelnuts.

* Sea salt – We have our own “blessed salt” that we use in particularly dangerous hauntings. Ours is specially prepared, but if you have your local Catholic priest bless some sea salt, it will probably work well enough for most hauntings.According to legend, ghosts cannot cross a line of blessed salt, so you can use it to keep a ghost in a particular area, or create a boundary that he/she cannot cross to get to you.

If none of these remedies works and you still have a significant, perhaps life-threatening problem, ask a Catholic priest to find out who is authorized to do exorcisms. However, they will perform this rite only if the case is documented and extreme.

Avoid charlatans who carry a Bible or a dowsing wand, and claim to be “ghost busters” for a hefty donation. And watch out for the crazies in this field anyway.

One final note: If you have a ghost, consider documenting it. We have several pages about taking pictures that reveal ghosts.

Egypt Lost
Monday, January 31st, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

As some of you know, I was eagerly (that’s an understatement) looking forward to a trip to Egypt in the very near future (as in less than a month from now). Because of current events, our trip has been postponed indefinitely. Still, I find my mind wandering to “what might have beens” far too often these days. So, when I heard about the chance to help a Egyptian romance author promote her book, I was excited to be able to help. Olivia lives in Egypt and has been affected by the communication blackout.

To Tempt a Sheikh by Olivia Gates

He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family’s rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom…and she had every reason not to trust him.

Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn’t resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart’s greatest mistake…but she feared it was already too late….

In stores February 1!

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books A Million and bookstores everywhere. Also available at eharlequin both in print and as an ebook.

To read a first chapter and visit Olivia’s webpage, click here.

The Unwritten Goal…
Friday, January 28th, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

…is an unaccomplished goal.

At Partners in Crime, my IRL critique group, we were talking about goals. With a start, I realized I haven’t done any for this year. Oh, I had half an idea of what I thought I wanted to accomplish, but honestly, I hadn’t written anything down.

Bad, bad Ericka.

Not long ago, a friend of mine sent me a quote from one of her friends that reminded her
Dreams are goals without plans.

Well, I don’t want to just dream a career in writing. I want to achieve it. So, here are my goals, in black and white.

January — Finish Atlantis time-travel novella — I am one measly scene away from the end and have until Monday to write it. Woot!

February — Edit Atlantis and begin submitting to publishers
Continue writing Storm at Sea (even if it’s just 100 words a day) concurrent with editing Atlantis
Scan 2-5 previously published short stories each week – as I’ve embarked on a project to convert all of my previously published short stories into digital format and compile them into a book to self-pub

March – Continue writing Storm at Sea (goal is 5,000 words/week), 20,000 words/month
Continue scanning 2-5 stories/wk
Do some plotting for future tales

April – Continue writing Storm at Sea (goal is 5K/week), 20K/month
Continue scanning 2-5 stories/wk
Begin cleaning up shorts and formatting for self-publishing

May – Continue writing Storm at Sea (goal is 5K/week), 20K/month
Continue scanning 2-5 stories/wk
Begin cleaning up shorts and formatting for self-publishing

June – Finish writing Storm at Sea (goal 5K/wk), 20K/month
Continue Scanning, cleaning up, formatting short stories
Attend RWA conference in NY — note to self, it’s not necessary to sing the NY song while standing in the middle of Times Square, although if I want to, I will. :-P

July – Begin editing Storm at Sea
Finish up short story scans, editing/cleanup/formatting

August – Begin shopping Storm at Sea to agents (have hopefully “successfully” pitched it at RWA)
Self-pub short story anthology
Begin writing new novella

September – Continue writing novella

October – Finish writing novella
Begin editing novella
Begin plotting new novella

November – Shop second novella to publishers
Begin writing third novella

December – Finish third novella
Edit third novella

This accounting…will hopefully keep me on track!

What about your goals?

Remember —

Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; cant’s into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it – ink it! – Author Unknown

What You Need to Know about Publishing in 2011
Monday, January 24th, 2011
Filed under A Writer's Life

Things, they are a changin’ (cue David Bowie’s song Changes).

It’s no secret that things in the publishing world as we know it is changing. E-book sales are on the rise, the smaller indie publishers who’ve been publishing e-books for a few years now already have a publishing/marketing strategy while the Big Six are scrambling to catch up. Brick and mortar bookstores are not only just endangered, but may be extinct within the next few years. As a new author (or even an established author looking for advice in this ever changing world we live in), where do you go to find out information? Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers (or even a small percentage of them). But I know where to look.

I turn to a couple of sources. Bob Mayer is a NY Times Best-Selling author. He is a West Point graduate, served in the Infantry and Special Forces (Green Beret) commanding an A-Team and as a Special Forces operations officer, and was an instructor at Fort Bragg. He teaches Novel Writing, Warrior Writer and does keynote speeches. He’s knowledgeable, vocal, and ever willing to share information and opinions on his blog, Write It Forward.

J.A. Konrath, another bestselling author, used to give away a free e-book, The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Although the book is no longer free, it’s sold at a very reasonable price, $2.99, and contains a plethora of valuable information about publishing today.

Linda Houle who is co-owner of L&L Dreamspell Publishing Company has a book out, The Naked Truth about Book Publishing, that I feel is a must read for anyone thinking about having a book published in the near future.

Randy Ingermanson “The Snowflake Guy” sends out a monthly newsletter that covers it all…how to write the book, sell the book to an agent or publisher, and marketing strategies that work. He’s also an author and shares information he has on the state of publishing. Whereever you are on the road to publication, he probably has something in his newsletter, on his Advanced Fiction Writing website, or on his blog.

Investing in a subscription to Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Marketplace, or joining a professional organization like Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sister’s In Crime, or International Thriller Writer’s, Inc. These organizations are dedicated to giving writers a step-up in their career and doing so by keeping their fingers of the pulse of publishing.

Still, if you don’t trust the word of those in the trenches, you can always go to the local fortune teller, consult tarot cards, or phone a “friend” at the psychic hot line of your choice.

Hopefully, you prefer to control your career and not leave it all to chance.

“Said” isn’t invisible in an audiobook
Friday, January 21st, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

Last year, I started walking again, for my health, my sanity, and mostly to escape the craziness that is sometimes my life.

I enjoy walking. What I don’t enjoy is the self-dialogue I conduct while I put one foot in front of the other. For whatever reason, getting out in the open air brought out a very nasty critic. I tried consciously changing my tone, the topics of conversation, even adopted some affirmations to repeat, mantra like, with each third step. Nothing worked. Plugging into my IPOD helped a little. However, not even music could drown out that hateful voice. Then, I discovered audiobooks. Wow. What a delight. Focused on the book, I hear nothing else (no dogs barking, cars honking, kids screaming) except the narrator’s voice. Hallelujah! The critical voice was gone. Needless to say, I enjoy walking so much now that I go nearly every day.

In fact, I enjoy walking to audio books so much that I subscribed to*. I’ve found that my listening reader is much more tolerant of new authors than my visual reader, so I’m often trying out new authors mixed in with some timeless favorites. Just this week, I picked up What’s a Ghoul to Do, by Victoria Laurie. Now, first off, I love the premise and so far I am enjoying the story line. There’s nothing I love more than ghosts and ghost stories. Still, to my dismay, several sentences into the book, I winced. The narrator continued and I winced again.

What was with all the “I said, she said” back and forth dialogue tags? Every other line in some places. Gah!

As I’m an author as well as a reader, I’ve heard it said, more often than I’d like, that using he said, she said, I said as a dialogue tag is invisible. Well, I’m here to tell you now that SAID ain’t invisible in an audio book. Oddly, this is the first audio book I’ve encountered with an overabundance of those “invisible” words. I’m hoping that this is simply a debut author mistake and not some overzealous editor who demanded they be added “because said is invisible” to readers.

I can see said; I especially can hear said. Can’t you?

*Just sayin’….I’m in no way affiliated with, they have no idea who I am, nor do they carry any of my books (that I know of, anyway)…so this promotional plug is just to let interested readers know where they can go to get audio books. Libraries, bookstores, and other online retailers also carry them. But, I got a free book when I joined audible and I’ve had nothing but a good experience with them. Your mileage may vary.

You Can’t Write Just 100…
Monday, January 17th, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

Since the beginning of the month, I have decided to write a minimum of 100 words every day…rain, shine, sickness, health, whether LIFE or laziness intrudes. What I’ve realized is that it’s nearly impossible to write just 100 words.

The first Saturday, a day I often don’t have time to write, I managed 149, on the bookend day of that weekend, I wrote 174.

I cranked out a fair amount of words over the week, the story is starting to really flow. Then…the weekend rolled around again and wow, was it a busy one. Haven’t a clue what all we did, but I didn’t sit down to write until after 10 at night on both evenings. On Saturday night, I started writing, looked up, and it was after midnight! Over 400 words had flowed from my fingertips. Last night, I was tired. I wrote a few lines, did a word count, 83. Grrrr. Too short. Just a few more words I told myself. Well, I got caught up in a dialogue between two of my characters. When they finally stopped discussing, I did a word count. 264! Wow.

So, if you are a writer, and you think you don’t have time, try writing just 100 words a day. I dare ya!

Psychics – The Research Debate
Friday, January 14th, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

My upcoming L&L Dreamspell 2011 release, Wild Ghost Chase, is based around two television ghost-hunting teams pitting their skills against one haunted house.

Both teams have a similar structure, a medium, a handler, and a camera man.

From Happily Ever Afterlife, Monica and Malcolm McFee are fraternal twins and as different as night and day. Malcolm is the medium, Monica is the skeptic. They are accompanied by their loyal cameraman, Ramon.

Enigma (Jason Mysterio) and Irene Hopkins star in Bump in the Night. I’ll be upfront and honest, there is more to this team than meets the eye. Although the show claims to be authentic, Monica thinks it’s a travesty, as evidenced by her thoughts on the show:

…all flash and poor camera angles. Every shadow on the wall was interpreted as a ghost and the screaming of the small investigative team, people who paid a few thousand dollars to appear on camera, drowned out any viable auditory evidence.

Then, there is Harrington House, set along the coast of California in the fictional, and very paranormally active, town of Crescent Cove. Amos Harrington, a ship’s captain, built the structure in the mid-1800s and lived there with his wife and two daughters. One of the girls had died young, the other married and inherited the house, which has been in the Harrington family ever since. Monica discovered no documentation of any ghostly phenomena over the years, well, not until last year when the current resident, a woman named Kylie Harrington, moved into the old mansion and decided to turn it into a bed and breakfast. The endeavor had been plagued by accidents and unexplained occurrences.

There is some debate in the psychic community about research into the place being investigated. Should psychics go in cold or should they do their homework ahead of time? I know that when I read a ghost story or hear a psychic’s impressions, the first thing I’m looking for is evidence to back up the claims and impressions. But what if I find out that the psychic knew all the information before he/she went in? Does that change my view of their credibility? It might if the only information gleaned from the psychic is information that can be easily obtained on the internet or through public records. When they present information that is later backed up by unknown-at-the-time sources, interviews, diaries, and the like…that’s like finding a gold nugget in the mud (and gives me the chills every time!)

So, what do you think? Should the teams of Wild Ghost Chase have gone into Harrington House cold or were they cheating a bit by having information about the previous tenants and any pre-existing haunted experiences?

Fiona Broome, at Hollow posted this article, Psychics, the Research Debate which further discusses the question. The article is posted, in its entirety, below. However, I strongly encourage you to browse the Hollow Hill site, as it’s chock full of interesting paranormal information.


Should psychics learn a site’s history ahead of time, or not? That seems to be an issue.

I think it’s important to know the history — and admit to it — but I may be different since I’ve been aware of my psychic abilities since earliest childhood.

Sure, it’s impressive when you think that a psychic couldn’t have known what he or she “senses”… but are you sure that the psychic wasn’t fed the information ahead of time?

(I’m talking about psychics in general. If it seems that I’m referring to someone in particular, I’m not, and I apologize if someone misinterprets my comments.)

Here’s how I see it, as a psychic.

Can’t you tell the difference?

Let’s talk about a similar topic. If I see a travel show on TV, and later visit that location, I may have a mild sensation of deja vu.

However, I never confuse my memories of the show with what I’m experiencing during my visit. For me, first-person experiences are totally different from what I’ve learned from prior sources.

During my visit, I’ll say things such as, “Oh, this isn’t anything like it looked on TV.” Or, “This is the exact same angle they showed in the photos, on TV.”

Likewise, I don’t mix up psychic messages and my historical studies.

If anything, I’ll say, “Oh, the history books missed something important.” Or, “This gives me wonderful insights into the history I’ve studied.”

If someone is a genuine and experienced psychic, I’m not sure why they’d confuse their sources.

When a psychic gets it “wrong”

This subject becomes important when a psychic seems to make a huge mistake.

For example, if the psychic declares that an incident took place at a certain inn… and it actually took place on the other side of town.

That can look pretty bad.

If the psychic claims no prior knowledge of the area’s history, how can he or she answer questions of credibility?

If someone is a fraud — or faking it for an audience — there’s no place to hide.

On the other hand, if the psychic is up-front about his or her earlier studies (or coaching), the possible responses could be:

* “I may be sensing energy from someone who felt burdened by what happened somewhere else. He or she brought that energy back to this location.”
* “The energy from that event across town was so intense, it’s affected the entire area.”
* “The history books got it wrong, or they overlooked what also happened here. With my additional information, maybe we can clear this up.”
* Or — if the psychic is honest — “My accuracy isn’t 100%. This is one of those times when I misinterpreted the energy.”

However, those responses are most credible if the psychic has already established his or her integrity by honestly admitting prior study or coaching, if there was any.

When a psychic seems “too right”

Psychics have different talents. Some provide great readings. Others are excellent healers. Some — like me — seem to sense past events and their emotional content. The variations are endless.

Psychics also have different skill levels. Those with greater accuracy may have a stronger natural gift, or they may have more practice.

However, when a psychic medium gets it “too right” at a location, it’s fair to raise an eyebrow.

Critical thinking skills are important, even when — or especially when — the psychic is charming and likeable.

When we like someone, we want to believe that they’re honest. That bias may reduce our critical thinking skills.

Look at how the psychic conducts him or herself. Psychics talk differently than people who are faking it, or fooling themselves into thinking that they’re connecting with the other side.

We often look different from our usual appearance, as well. The trance state may be evident.

Of course, the waters become murky when the psychic speaks mostly from a genuine spiritual connection… but “supplements” that with information that he or she was given ahead of time.

That’s very clever, and it can be difficult to detect that mix. Even other psychics can be fooled. (It’s happened to me, to my chagrin.)

If the psychic rattles off items that could be memorized — exact dates, for example — there’s even more reason to question what’s going on.

A quick online search will reveal how readily the psychic — or his or her coach — could have found that information and memorized it ahead of time.

(Of course, doubt is removed if it later turns out that the date or other information is incorrect and it had been widely misreported.)

Why raise this issue now?

I don’t want to sound like a raving skeptic. As a psychic and paranormal investigator, I’m very conscious of our vulnerabilities. It’s hard enough to prove to our detractors that we’re detecting or contacting ghostly energy.

Unfortunately, with the popularity — and income potential — of ghost-related events, I’m seeing more (and better) frauds enter this field. That hurts all of us.

To put it bluntly, if you need a demonologist, who would you trust: Someone like John Zaffis, who’s been in this field for years and provided help free of charge?

Or, would you hire someone with a great team tee-shirt who’s been in the field for a couple of months (no matter what his or her claims) and is clearly focused on fame, fortune or both?

The telepathy question

Let’s be honest. Evidence supporting telepathy is far stronger than evidence for ghosts and hauntings.

Many psychics are telepathic. We can’t rely on that ability, but it needs to be acknowledged in discussions like this.

glass-ball1There is always the possibility that the psychic is actually reading the mind of someone in the group, such as an historian or someone who read about the site before the event.

If the psychic has a “silent coach” in the audience — someone who is very aware of his or her importance to the psychic — that coach may have studied the site’s history in detail.

The problem is, as psychics, the information either comes from an external source (a ghost, spirit, or through ESP) or an internal source (our own memories or studies).

It can be difficult to discern more than that: Outside or inside sources.

Can preparations help?

I believe that historical research can prevent that problem, though it doesn’t entirely eliminate it.

When I have a frame of reference, such as my own historical research, I know how and where that information is coming from. It’s a sharp contrast with information I receive from external sources such as residual energy impressions or a ghostly encounter.

If something is a “shade of gray” (no pun intended) — different in character than prior knowledge but also different from intense residual energy — I’ll suspect that I’m picking it up telepathically from someone in the audience.

It’s all about integrity and credibility

In lieu of clear, scientific evidence, our most important credential in this field is integrity.

Without that, it’s just a show… it’s entertainment.

There’s nothing wrong with putting on a good show. I enjoy melodramatic “ghost tours” as much as anyone else, but they’re so over-the-top, I never confuse them with an actual ghost encounter.

Credibility comes into question when a psychic knows a site’s history but pretends that he or she doesn’t.

All it takes is one glaring mistake and the psychic’s reputation is in tatters, and that damage ripples into the community.

In most (but not all) cases, I do know the site’s history ahead of time. When I don’t, I tell people.

That’s not just a point of credibility. It also explains why my impressions may not be as clear or as rapid when I don’t know the history. I may need time to scan my impressions, to fit them into the context of a time period or event.

I’m a better psychic when I already know the time period to focus on, or the history of the location.

(It’s like someone saying, “Oh, look at that car!” It’s always easier and faster to spot the car if you know its color, vintage, or at least what makes it interesting. In a similar manner, I can more readily connect with ghostly energy when I know the time period or history that it resonates with.)

While I appreciate that some psychics feel that not knowing history gives them more credibility, I respectfully suggest:

* If you don’t have the expertise to tell the difference between your own memories and external messages, perhaps you need more practice.
* If people feel that you should “prove” your abilities by not knowing the history ahead of time, you may need to work on your image as a competent professional.

Not knowing a site’s history can be a liability.

I want to make use of every tool within my reach, to provide in-depth information at every haunted site.

Besides impressing the audience and “proving” myself as a psychic… is there some reason why I shouldn’t learn a site’s history before an investigation?

Article copyright (c) 2010 by Fiona Broome for
Hollow Hill articles by Fiona Broome are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

‘Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas anthology voted Best Book!
Monday, January 10th, 2011
Filed under Uncategorized

Having never won one of these awards, I got out and pimped the book over the weekend (along with the 13 other writers) and the book won! Woot.

Here’s the lovely video that Goddess Fish Promotions and The Long and Short of It/Whipped Cream Reviews produced for our promotional purposes.

As far as writing goes, I had no problem making my 100 words on the days I typically don’t write (Weekends, Holidays, Sick Days)…on Saturday, I managed 149 words and on Sunday, despite the chaos of after dinner activities, I chugged out 179 and wished I could grab a little quiet to write more.

On Fridays, I’m going to be posting stuff about ghosts/ghost hunting/and other scary surprises to gear up promotional activities surrounding my upcoming release, Wild Ghost Chase, being published this spring by L&L Dreamspell. So stay tuned.

Happy Monday!


The 100-Word Club
Friday, January 7th, 2011
Filed under A Writer's Life

I write because that is who I am….

I’m an author, because I’m published (woot)…

As an author who cares about her readers, I’m always trying to improve my craft… quality counts in this business. But quantity also counts, and I feel like I’ve failed a bit in that department. Looking over my productivity for 2010, I averaged 9000 words a month. Not bad unless you compare it to years past where I was chugging out as many as 25000 words a month. And in less time to write (ouch).

I’d like to blame a lot of things…my family who demands that I feed and nurture them, my friends who, for whatever reason, still like to see me in person on occasion, and that evil demon social networking. The truth is even uglier. Me. I’m the one to blame for not writing more. Time and time again, I would sit down at the computer and not write. I tweeted, I posted on my wall, I blogged (which does count, but only a little)… however, the words that needed to go into my work in progress were often put off until the next day, or the next, or the next. In fact, looking at my “timecards” as you might call them, whole weeks went by without me writing anything at all.

Guess this is why I had only one release last year.

The good news? It’s never too late to turn things around.

My resolution…if I turn on the computer, I must write 100 words into my WIP. If I Facebook or tweet, I owe 100 words to my WIP. If I have a houseful of company, sick kids, and/or a dead computer, I can write 100 words (longhand) for my WIP.

So there you have it. I’m on day 4 (because I procrastinated making a resolution until the 3rd of January. So, sue me). It’s looking good so far! Now, I just have to keep up the progress for 357 more days!