My Book Released! "Was That a Ghost?"

Here's my writing blog.

Yeah, I know, I just released Julie and I's "Abandoned Places: Abandoned Memories (Desert Edition)" book on Kindle and Nook not that long ago. Well, this one was on the back burner. Expect the release of my psychic book and our joint book about spirit vessels this year and hopefully two paranormal romances by me. I had a lot of writings and not a lot of patience for publishers, so the works were waiting for editing and publishing.

This book is especially close to my heart. If I had a legacy in the ghost hunting world, it would be the over 100 clients I've helped over the years and this book that puts my methods together and brings forward some techniques that no other hunter uses on clients.

What is the purpose of "Was That a Ghost?" It's a book written for all the people who contact me almost daily asking if something that happened to them was paranormal or not. This book has all the steps I take them through to discover the answer.

If you want to read Barry's review at Gnostalgia, please check it out. I wanted him to read it to get his opinion and he decided it warranted a review.

It is out for $2.99 on Kindle and Nook and don't forget it possible to get them for your IPAD, Droid, or even your computer. No need to have a reader. I also would really appreciate reviews on the book on Nook and Kindle. They're easy to do and really help people deciding on books to know that mine was enjoyed. As well, if you need content for you blog, I'm always available for an interview about my books, my road trip adventures, ghost hunting and more. Contact me:

To kick off the release of this book, I am sharing the table of contents and one chapter with you. Enjoy! Thank y'all for making me the investigator I am and helping me to hone the techniques revealed in this book:

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 What is “Paranormal?”
Chapter 2 Events in Context
Chapter 3 Belief Systems
Chapter 4 Personal Explanatory Style
Chapter 5 Sleep Issues and Natural Causes
Chapter 6 Types of Paranormal Activity
Chapter 7 Haunted Homes
Chapter 8 Haunted Items
Chapter 9 Sensitives
Chapter 10 That Was a Ghost!

Chapter 2

Events In Context

It was a sunny beautiful day. The wind blew the limbs on the tree beside her and Marilyn sighed and enjoyed her place in the patch of sunshine and the cooling air being fanned on her by the willowy limbs like some kind of well-trained servant pleasing his master.

It was about to storm. The sky was black and angry, taking on a greenish hue. Beside her, the tree's limbs thrashed and Marilyn startled, certain the tree was lashing at her and warning her of impending doom.


CONTEXT: You have to go to a business in the bad part of town.

OCCURRENCE: You step out of your car and hear someone scream and your first thought is…

a. You assume someone is getting robbed so you jump back into your car.
b. You look around, assuming someone needs your assistance.
c. You ignore it, assuming it’s the locals goofing off.

The fact is the context in which you enter a place is bound to affect you. Should you hear someone cry in church would you come to a different conclusion than if you heard someone cry at a concert?

Now, imagine yourself entering an old house that has a reputation: When you hear a floorboard groan or a pipe rattle, what comes to mind immediately?

When something unexplained happens, putting it into the context can quickly narrow your field of possibilities.

For instance, did this unexplained thing occur after someone moved into the house? When someone moved out? When someone within the house was having emotional issues? Were there angry family dynamics? Perhaps you began to renovate?

Changes in the Environment and Content of a Location

These can often trigger the unexplained. There are a lot of theories on why that is. Some believe the ghosts become angry about alterations in their beloved environment. I’d honestly consider the possibility that the very structure of the house can contribute to a haunting and alterations in its “feng shui” (movement of energy determined by placement of objects within) and the change in the emotional makeup of the people within the house could trigger events by mixing up the paranormal “flora.” As well, in the case of residual hauntings, a pattern of replaying history set in a specific space in a home could be disrupted. I write more about random bursts of activity in Chapter 7 “Haunted Homes.”

Sensory Deprivation
Some people hear sounds when home alone and think “burglar.” Our senses are heightened when in a quiet house or going to bed and faced with silence. Lying there trying to go to sleep, one hears the building creak and snap as it settles, he hears the heater moaning when it turns on and sometimes even creatures in the attic shuffling for warmth.

In the daytime, we never notice the sounds of our home. This is one of the reasons ghost hunters work at night. It’s not necessarily that ghosts might appear more in the nighttime, but that with everyone else silent and the place left to rest, any sounds can be discerned, any changes in the darkness can be noticed without the intrusion of lights and cars and other daytime interruptions. In other words, the senses are heightened greatly by the very lack of sound and light.

Looking At the Location's Bigger Picture
Sometimes, you need to look at the larger context of a location. One place I was at had a constant rumbling as if the ground were having minor earth tremors. The resonance through my body felt like a very low-frequency speaker one can feel vibrate in her chest. It was understandably very unsettling and I was really uncomfortable. Had I not known the whole story about the setting of this building, I would have been sure it was haunted. It felt just like a haunted location feels in the body. But, this place ended up being across the hillside from a large-scale excavation site.

Location can be critical. If you saw a strange light in the sky, where did it happen? Here in Arizona a great deal of people report UFOs repeatedly over the Estrella Mountains. In fact, the town of Gila Bend has a UFO CafĂ©. But, if you get a larger perspective of the area, you come to find out that this location is not only right beside Barry Goldwater Range where the military performs flight testing, but also not that far from Luke Air Force Base. You add into the mix that Arizona night sky is nearly always clear for viewing such military craft and you have a perfect mix for seeing “UFOs.”

A home I was at in the city had traffic and sidewalk noise that came up through vents and down through grates to the basement. Even cars driving below shined a reflection on light fixtures on the ceilings upstairs. So many variables in this overly stimulated location made it difficult to evaluate what was natural and what wasn't. So, be certain to take into account the neighborhood, activities ad intrusion of the outside world on the site.

Sleep Context
Were you dosing off or just waking up when this event occurred? (See Chapter 5) Sleep-time events can be explained by a number of very practical explanations. If things repeatedly happen in the bedroom only, it is time to consider sleep disturbances.

The Trinity of Relevance in the Paranormal World

If there are three things I can tell people to be keenly aware of when investigating anything unexplained from ghosts to sea monsters, Bigfoot to miraculous healings it is:

Belief Systems
Explanatory Style

These are so relevant that I gave them their own chapters because with these three elements, I am able to break down and help clients discern if they have experienced the paranormal or not.

A lot of modern-day ghost hunters are running around giving out questionnaires, testing the environment, interviewing people, but having a consistent set of criteria for the testing methods is what brings us into a field that is consistent and reliable. This is a methodology I have developed over the years and I find it to be critical to use this “trinity of relevance.”

When you consider these three elements; the context in which this thing occurred, your own personal belief system and how you explain these events in your mind's filter, then you will always be able to maintain objectivity to come to the final conclusion knowing that you did so logically and without motive other than to find the truth whatever it may be.

I recently posted on my Ghost Hunting Theories blog about the famous Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967 of a supposed Bigfoot. I have a personal belief system in Bigfoot's existence, but I can also take the context in which the film was made and my own explanatory style in mind to be objective about this film. In other words, I believe in Bigfoot, but whether or not I believe in the film will not change that belief nor do I wish to use the film as proof of its existence.

So, should you find that an event was not paranormal in nature, this will not probably change your belief system, that is separate from single incidents and not so easily disrupted.

Unsettling Environment
I knew a person who stayed at a friend's home. That friend had very odd family members. The unsettling feeling and the weird conversations and reactions from the people had this person on edge. He found himself uncomfortable, guarded and generally nervous the entire time.

He began to wonder if the place might be haunted because he felt like he was being watched all the time, couldn't fall asleep and had heightened sense of hearing as if expecting something to startle him.

It wasn't the house, honestly, it was the weird folks he was sharing it with. Sometimes, the milieu of a family can be as unsettling as living with ghosts. Never underestimate the emotional content of residents when it comes to the affect on the environment. As someone who reads objects and buildings, I can tell you they leave a kind of penetrating residue just like cigarette smoke, but of an emotional type.

Example of events in context – debunked
A woman was staying at her mother’s home, visiting back east from the west. They sat down for some hot cocoa on a rainy night and watched the old family movies and reminisced about her father who passed away when she was in college. They recalled it was a rainy night like that one when he passed on.

They laughed and became teary-eyed at the movies and then talked for a while about him and what he would think of where they were in their lives and how they were doing and how much pride he would have that his daughter had become a lawyer like he was.

Sleepy and exhausted, the woman climbed the stairs to her old childhood bedroom and curled up in the bed with the familiar smell of lavender pot pourri in the air and the ancient creak of the bed springs as she laid down to sleep.

During the night, the woman dreamed of her father. He was speaking to her, but his words were muffled. She tried desperately to hear him, to get closer, but she was frozen, paralyzed. His voice faded off more and more and then his face began to dissolve into the darkness.

The next day, the woman felt certain her father had tried to communicate with her. It seemed as if he had an important message.

When taken in context, she can ask herself if this has ever happened before. Her answer was no. Had she spent other visits in her childhood room? Yes, many many times over the past decade. So, he had never come to her before and never in that room. What was different this time compared to other visits? She had just spent an evening doing something with her mother she hadn’t done since her father’s death, discuss him, watch movies about him and then went to bed in her childhood room.

Now, in that room with the influences before bedtime, she had prepared herself to have a dream about her father. And, why not? They had talked that very evening about the things she wished she could have said to him before he’d gone. In the dream, she incorporated that lack of communication through her inability to hear his words.

He had never made a visitation there before in the past decade, the house was not known to be haunted ever and, although it might have seemed very real, she had just witnessed plenty of film and images of her father to have him fresh in her mind for the stress release that occurs in the dream state when you’re trying to make sense of your waking world.

My Own Example of Events in Context
One time, I was in a rush to take a shower. I scrubbed up my hair, looked down at my hands where clumps of hair were dangling from my fingers. I ran my hands worriedly through my hair to end up with more clumps. My mind raced immediately to the conclusion that I was ill, gravely so. I took note of my body, looking for more evidence of this hypothesis (you can always find evidence for any point of view you choose) and I realized I had been feeling kind of pooped out and tired all day. What if I had cancer or some kind of terrible disease?

I climbed from the shower, feeling appropriately worried, distracted and taking way too much note of my body’s signals. I reached for my comb and noticed on the counter an old fashioned elastic rubber band I had used earlier in the day in a quick attempt to put my hair up while painting. The rubber band was completely encased in my hairs from me ripping it out of my hair to take the shower in a rush.

I had to laugh.

I could have spent days moping around, making a doctor’s appointment, fretting, missing my work and activities as I tried to rest my weary body and all because I forgot the context in which my hair falling out occurred; following tearing a rubber band from my long curly locks.

Example of events in context - paranormal

The family moved into a home that was everything they dreamed of. They eagerly got their belongings out of the boxes and began to tackle removing the outdated wallpaper and letting some sunlight through the windows by removing the heavy drapes. The house was historic and the wooden floors resonated with the sounds of their footfalls as they filled the empty rooms with antiques and valuables, taking care to show off the beautiful details of the old building.

They found its location to be charming and picturesque, the neighbors were friendly and welcoming and the house even had a supposed turn-of-the-century ghost.

The new owners got to work at steaming the wallpaper off the walls. That night, they awakened freezing cold. The windows were all wide open in the entire upstairs.

“Perhaps you slept walked?” The wife offered to the husband.

“I've never done that before.” He grumbled.

They went to work on more renovations when all at once at the end of moving the furniture into the guest room, hordes of bats rushed into the room from an open window.

They barely got out in time to close the door and wait it out until the bats left. They laughed over the silliness of it all and the husband put screens and new latches on the windows over the coming week.

The daughter complained that her room was cold so they moved her into a new room. The radiators banged. And, at night as they tried to fall asleep, they distinctly all heard someone coughing in the hallway.

One night, when particularly worn down and ready for a hot bath, the mother climbed the stairway, rounded the corner and saw the distinct outline of a man in a well-fitted suit with a rather long jacket and thick sideburns. He looked to be leaning against the wall but then he turned and suddenly disappeared into the wall.

At this point, the family decided to contact the previous owner. During the tours of the house before buying it, the friendly old lady had chatted on about a resident ghost. The husband and wife had tried not to chuckle at the notion. Now, they realized the woman might have been onto something.

The woman came to visit, having moved to her daughter's home a few miles away. She fondly walked the hallway and smiled as she noted the new renovations.

“You saw him here, hmm?” The woman tapped the wall.

The new owner nodded.

“I called him Samuel. He looked so dignified, I thought that was a good name for him. Did you see his pocket watch?” She asked.

The owner shook her head.

“Well, once you've seen him a few times, you begin to notice the details. He disappears into the wall here. You know why?”

The owner shook her head.

“This is where the stairwell was when the house was first built. When the new wing was added on, it was relocated to be more central where it is now.”

“Oh.” The owner was relieved to have a logical explanation and yet it was also illogical. She did not believe in ghosts. A few weeks later, however, when she saw “Samuel” again and then her daughter saw him the next day, the woman, her husband and child all decided to accept the weird truth. Their house came with extras; a ghost that wouldn't depart.

Things to ask yourself
Did you have any preconceived notions going to this location? Been told stories? Know of a reputation?

Were you in a particularly emotional, depressed, angry, or grieving state?

Did you just talk about scary things? Watch a horror movie? Read a frightening book?

Have you just made changes in your home, whether it’s someone moving in or out, someone having emotional/substance issues or renovations?

Is there anything in your life you are trying to ignore, issues like money, relationships, work and are focused on finding a reason for why you feel anxious, depressed or confused?

Did you recently lose a loved one and are faced with lots of questions about the after life and if there is a heaven? Is death on our mind a lot?

Does it only happen when everyone leaves and you're alone? When you lie in bed trying to sleep and everyone else is fast asleep? In other words, are you alone in the quiet with your own thoughts when this occurs?

Did others also witness it? Did someone's account influence your perception of the event? For example, if someone with you saw the entire thing but you only sensed it, are you using their eyewitness account to color you belief it was a ghostly encounter and that maybe you saw more than you did?

Did what you see line up with tales told of ghostly encounters in that place? Was this something others have witnessed at other times in the same area?

Tell a story
I suggest you take your event and answer these questions below:


Now, take out the questions and make it into a paragraph. Here is an example:

Two years ago after our honeymoon in my bride's home, I encountered a vision of her late husband as perhaps a last goodbye to his wife.”

This tells a story of your event and sometimes it even puts it into context for you. When this man answered those questions, it all made sense to him in a way he hadn't seen before. This technique doesn't always help as most often people get hung up on the why. Let's nudge it a bit further and examine the next important component of context, signs.

People ask me about signs a lot; those little nagging coincidences that make them feel that someone who passed on is trying to communicate. How do signs work? Is there such a thing as signs? How do I know if the signs are real or not?

Here's how I see signs, a lot like how I see bad things that happen in life. I do not by any stretch of the imagination envision a God in Heaven who decides to create bad things in people's lives to either punish them or rile them up or make them stronger.

Bad things happen in a world of free will, bad choices and mortality.

Good people don't take it personally and move on, perhaps stronger for something they learned in the lesson. The first time I backed out of a parking space and someone else backed right into me, I learned to be sure no one else was backing out when I left a spot. I do that every single time now, double and triple check. One bad lesson; much learned for life.

So, when you are driving home from a funeral and pull up behind a car with a customized vanity plate that reads “Darlin” and that was your nickname for your late wife, take that as a sign. Was Darlin' actually presenting you with the opportunity. No. I don't think the deceased have that kind of powers or else our late parents would have been certain we had the winning lottery ticket when our rent was due.

Signs have more to do with how tapped in you are to your life experience. If you can slow down enough to notice things, you pick up signs. It's exactly the same as when you learn a new word and swear everyone is using it all of a sudden. They used it before, you just never stopped to note that word all those times. Trackers would tell you that there are creatures in the woods, but until they stopped and looked for signs through broken branches and paw prints, they are never really so aware of what is out there in the periphery.

So, signs are a way to help us assimilate a new reality. We look for them. We make connections. We try to make sense out of what does not make sense. We spiritualize and universalize and get a new and broader perception of the world and its meaning. It's like looking for God and finding Him in everything around you. If you want to find God, He is there in that tree, that child, that rain cloud. If you want to find your loved ones, there is evidence. It comes in signs.

If you find your experience had a lot of signs, pursue it. This is a type of psychic avenue. I had something happen to me when my sister passed away. It was a sign that told me it was time to put her to rest, but I ignored it as long as I could until it was time to stop and notice it.

My Own Experience With Signs
My sister, Tina, died in 2005. When she passed on, she and I had just been talking about my ghost hunting and desire to reach our family members we’d lost. We had even discussed haunting our childhood home (she had no idea she would die suddenly in a month's time).

I was still grieving the loss greatly when I went back to work (I worked from home) and was sitting at my computer where I always had e-mailed Tina several times a day. Sometimes, the most mundane things like, “I’m making tacos tonight,” “Alex just got an A on his final in geometry,” “It’s finally raining!” I felt like a limb was missing. I wanted to write her every time something happened.

I’d open my Hotmail account and stare at the screen. I realized then that it said in the corner whose birthday was coming up. It listed “Tina January 1st" as the only birthday and it was not even the right birthday. Her name was there in big blue letters, taunting me. I thought about removing her address from my contacts, but that would make her completely gone for me.

In fact, I left her on there for years, learning to ignore the sign that showed her wrong birthday.

Then, one time while cleaning up files and deleting things I'd kept too long, I finally went in and removed her from the list of contacts.

I went on the next day and she was still listed as a birthday on the fictitious January first. In fact, her email was still there along with a pop up message box with “Send Tina a quick message.” I shook my head. I’m too logical to believe my sister was putting herself back into my contact list over and over again and begging for a message.

I removed her address again. Still, the next day she popped up. To test it, I removed someone else from my list. That person remained off the list. Tina, however, continued to pop up with the request to message her.

I couldn’t resist. I went into the box that said “send Tina a message” and wrote “Are you there?”

Are you getting shivers now? Well, the shivers aren’t necessary--yet.

I got a message back from her husband who couldn’t get rid of her email address and used it himself now. He hadn’t communicated since her death. She was the one who did all the letter writing and communications for the family and he wasn’t the writing type. He updated me on my nephews and then told me, “Did you write because it’s the anniversary of her death? We're all thinking of her too today.”

I was shocked. She had died so suddenly during the holiday time that I didn’t actually mark the date in my mind. I was so confused, I could barely think straight. I just knew it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas some time, unsure if it was November or December.

Sounds kind of coincidental, until you consider this: When I got his return message, I wrote him back and then proceeded to remove her again from the contact list. This time, she remained gone.

When you love someone, you really do become a part of them. You become spiritually intertwined. If you’ve lost someone important you probably remember driving around on the road and seeing people rushing to jobs and daily routines and feeling strangely removed and other-dimensional as if time stood still for you. That strange disconnect is important to taking on a big shock and a new reality, but another part of that could very well be that a fraction of your spirit intertwined with theirs in the spirit world. The more time away from the person, the more break between your spirits. It also explains why it's usually in the first days or week of a person's passing that you are "visited" by them when you still have powerful spiritual connections.

You might ask, "but why couldn't you erase your sister from your Hotmail unless she had a hand in it?" Truth be told, I went back and studied what I'd done in the process of removing her from the file and I hadn't verified taking her off. In my subconscious or perhaps my ties to her psychically, I had not confirmed removing her from the list...until I was ready to. The same said for contacting her husband on the anniversary of her death. It didn't escape my mind that it was that time of the year, but in search of signs that coincidence had more meaning and on a subconscious level, I might have emailed on that date, having no conscious recollection it was the anniversary.

Taking It All In
Ultimately, your expectations of a place as you enter it, the timing with which you enter it and the logistics of that location can all create misinterpretations.

Once you have more information about all the peripherals it can help. Remember to keep in mind:

Reputation of the site
Recent renovations
Emotional/financial/family difficulties
Changes in tenants—people coming or going
Environment—street lights, blasting, even power lines
Others reporting similar incidents
Relationship to sleep

It's entirely likely that after finishing this chapter, you are convinced that you had no expectations of the place or the timing and you were not colored by past stories. What you are left with then, is one less factor in the encounter that fits, so let's move on to the second in the “trinity of relevance” and see how your belief systems might affect the interpretation of the encounter.


  1. Hooray!

    (Shouldn't there be fireworks or a marching band or something? Cake?)

  2. AWESOME! That's two e-books so far Autumn. I sincerely hope you get published to a physical "book" one day. Again, great job on getting published!

  3. CONGRATS on Book #2. You're tearing it up! Way to go! (And with all the books your putting out you're bound to draw the attn of the publishers one day so keep at it. Your voice is being heard!)

  4. Eric;
    Just one giant sigh of relief.

    Thanks. I will get a physical book some time in the near future. I am not pleased with the publishing industry in general and it's been extremely frustrating for someone with drive and talent.

    Thanks. I am hoping it makes it easier to break into publishing. Being unsolicited is a miserable place to come from and I'm thrilled that nowadays good honest writers can tell them to suck it and self publish. Hopefully, it will change the industry and humble the publishing houses.

  5. So far I like what I have read! Next for us "Spirit Vessel". I am excited for that one. Doing the research has been a blast. Now for the onsite investigation...

  6. Sis;
    I seriously want to get us to Trans-Allegheny to do on-site for that book!

  7. Congrats! I know that self publishing can go very well these days. Eragon was a self published book to begin with and it did so well the publishers snatched it up. I hope you get lots of sales!

  8. Thanks Jessica. Luckily, I write paranormal romance which is probably the hottest thing to sell on ebooks nowadays. Of course, mine aren't like Twilight--they're actually well written. Hee hee

  9. YAY!!! So proud of you! Hey if you want to advertise your book on my site let me know.

  10. good read... wow book #2 i wish I had your dedication!

  11. G;
    I'm just a lonely single gal who works by day and writes by night. I've been actually working on these for years but my ex was not at all supportive of the writing thing and so I didn't take it seriously until I left him and realized I needed to take it more seriously. I help so many people that it seemed rather practical to just make them a book that takes them through the steps I take them through when I help them. Now, everyone can figure it out--was that a ghost?

  12. I didn't see any ghosts. Just a coincidence of events. Congratulations to you on # 2 book.

  13. Awesome read! Can't wait for the release of the paranormal romances!

  14. umaslittlesis12; (I need to give you an abbreviation like everyone else, hmm... uls12) Thanks. One of the paranormal romances is about young adults in a pagan community atop a mountain where the woods are magical. When they enter, they become their spirit animal. Elders warn them that spending too much time in there can make them turn and never come back to human form again. It's very seductive. Imagine a Twilight feel, The Village atmosphere and The Wicker Man tone.

    The other is a series about a paranormal team and in the first installment they look for proof of ghosts.

  15. After my experiences in my childhood home I have to agree that, contrary to the popular theory, it is often the alteration of an environment that puts an end to a haunting.

    When my mother had the first floor renovated from the very haunted old barroom to two bedrooms, all activity ceased. I know this is only my experience. But to me it makes more sense than the other way around. If ghosts are tied to a particular setting, then destroying that setting should result in the end of everything that was attached to it.

    Just my opinion based on experience.

  16. Decaying Angel;
    Very perceptive. There does appear to be a certain sort of building layout and content, geology and history that combine to make an ideal spirit vessel. When you change that, you change the haunting.


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