Haunted Stuff mini-poster giveaway!

I love seeing my books in the wild! If you come across Haunted Stuff at your favorite bookstore, please send me a snap via Twitter, on my Facebook wall, or by email to win one of five signed mini-posters of the cover!

Who's that rap rap rapping upon my door?

The house is finally quiet again. 

A year ago, something was stirred up and December had its share of anomalies. Knocking upon the walls, small white lights in the hallway, and a Santa figurine on my coffee table shook its bell for several long minutes though there was no breeze - no shaking of the table - and no one around but me to witness it. Then there was the man at the top of the hill. We live along a busy route that winds around the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We're quite close to a government secret bunker, I hear helicopters daily, and not far from there is the site of a horrific airplane crash which in 1971 resulted in the death of 92 people. 

Ghosts have been reported along this road for years. A woman, dressed in a business suit and pulling luggage behind her has been witnessed on the road, and the ubiquitous lady in gray wanders the road - though I've haven't seen either of them. My ghost was unexpected. Jarring. After years of seeing weird stuff I was...startled. And then a little bit frightened.

Waiting at the top of the lane for my daughters' school bus, I had my head down and was reading a book. Raising my head, I saw a young man in his early 20s standing about five yards in back of my car. Wearing tan pants, a striped shirt, and sporting a wild shock of curly black hair, he stood with his hands on his hips and stared. At me. Our eyes met in the rear view mirror. I immediately turned around but no one was there. I know what I saw. I don't think he was from the plane crash - there was no young man of his description in the logs. 

A few days later, I pulled out onto the main road from our lane. There's a curve going north and it's a bit hard to see when cars come around, so we're always careful to not pull out too soon. That day, I pulled out after checking for cars and saw a black Scion-type car whiz past me. I jerked my car hard to the left and nearly hit a row of mailboxes. No car. And no sound. The forest had gone silent around me. 

A week later, the Santa figurine started to ring his bell. A month after that, Llewellyn Publishing contacted me about writing a book on haunted objects. I figured I had this covered.

What's haunting Paxton Manor?

Case file: 9.13.13
Paxton Manor, Leesburg, Virginia

The ARC of Loudoun had done a fabulous job promoting Friday the 13th at Paxton so the Wee Ghosties team was met with 19 explorers for our night amongst the ghosts of the manor. After a brief history of the large house and its first family by the staff, I did a quick ghost hunting 101 session on what to look for and some simple tools to use while investigating, focusing on dowsing rods, voice recorders, and paying attention to their own senses as their most valuable resource.

Breaking into three groups: Team Fun (mine), Team Rebel (Larry's), and Team Domination (LaMishia), each team entered the house five minutes apart so as not to interrupt EVP sessions and to spread out: one team upstairs, and two below. It's a large house but filled with false walls and mazes for the upcoming Shocktober event so sound bounces along the hallways and we were careful not to spoil another team's session.

For Team Fun, we utilized the voice recorder, compass as an EMF detector, laser pointer, dowsing rods, flashlight tag, photos and some video during the night. To get them familiar with the tools and to trust their own judgment, we started in the bar room, which had yielded some EVP results in the past for other paranormal investigative teams. Our first try at EVP came with a drain of the team members' batteries in her recorder and a mumble, but it's as yet not deciphered.

Team Rebel/Fun verrrrra late at night

We crowded into the shower on the second floor at 9:13p. For the Shocktober festivities, there is a dummy hanging from the ceiling. One team member moved past her to stand behind her, creating a slight swing and twist. The dummy continued to swing for far longer than physics is comfortable with. We noticed it moving many minutes later after our EVP session though the session didn't give up the ghost.

After midnight, Team Fun and Team Rebel moved to investigate a cottage on the property that was reported to also have activity. The staff member working until late in the night painting the 3D-effects told us of her experiences with what she believes is a young girl and two older men. In the Fun House, Team Fun did not get a solid EVP but while alone in the maze, did experience the flashlight responding to questions with the brightness of the bulb varying with each question or going completely out -- only to come back on after a few more questions. Team Fun and Team LaMishia had more interactive experiences in the Fun House.

Second attempt for shower EVPs
1:06a: Back in the Manor, we resumed our investigation. Visiting the Doll Room, so named for the collection of life-sized marionettes and smaller dolls, we began another EVP and dowsing rods session. Upon playback, we believe we have a voice saying "no" after asking if there were more than one ghost in the house.

1:45a:  We returned to the shower because it creeped us out and we're gluttons for punishment in a cramped shower. Initiating the EVP session, I also had the flashlight on to hopefully resume responses via the light. The flashlight came on as soon as we entered the shower. After saying, "Tell us something we need to know," it went out. Asking, "Is this Rachel Paxton?" the flashlight came on brightly. We believe we heard a response to my question "Is there something you'd like me to tell Matt?" 

2:06a: The night came to an end as our guests returned home. Thank you to everyone that participated in the Friday the 13th fundraiser for Paxton Manor, and we’ll see you Friday the 13th in June 2014! 

I think its one good eye is tracking me across the room. It's cover release day for Haunted Stuff!

The new cover for Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls, and Other Creepy Collectibles has been released into the wild! A huge thank you to the team at Llewellyn for a spectacularly spooky (and moldy) cover image! Haunted Stuff will be released August 4th, 2014. 

I think it's staring at me. Is it staring at me? 

What happens when you throw a paranormal party and nobody shows?

Ghost hunting is all about the waiting. No matter how many books you read, shows you watch,
or excursions you go out on yourself, you'll find that 99% of the investigations turn up with little more to show than a sore bottom and earnest EVP questions into a wobbly recorder. However, that's part of the deal: you wait - they reveal when they're ready. Sometimes you're lucky, like when my partner in Wee Ghosties and I recorded a phantom child during a brief EVP session in an alley in Winchester, Virginia. We saw nothing that would have indicated paranormal activity while we were there, just a story about a possible ghost. Of course, the man whose house we were unwittingly standing in front of (it was a bakery at one time and we thought was abandoned) startled the beejeebus out of us when he said howdy. Forget the dead: the living have a much more wicked sense of humor.

But on most of our investigations, it's all show and no gho(st). Recently, we had a case where the businessowner reported footsteps, voices, and feelings of being watched. I usually just get that when I'm trying to sleep and my seven-year-old wants a glass of water. During our investigation, we experienced little of these things, and found mundane causes for what we believe were other concerns. Was it a bust? Heck no. Each opportunity to experience something paranormal gives our curiosity a chance to stretch its legs and rediscover why we're in this crazy business. That floating head may be just around the corner. 

As I type up the last of the notes and listen one more time to my and my teammates EVP recordings - just in case - we're giving the dead one more chance to reach out. If sitting on a hard floor for hours is the price to pay, it's worth it for something like this EVP we captured years ago at the West Virginia Penitentiary.

What evidence have you found of the paranormal?