Winchester Mystery House: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #2

Back in 2002, I was traveling for work in Northern California and happened upon an attraction there that I had never heard of before: the Winchester Mystery House. As I followed the tour guide through the twisted turns, dead ends, and beautiful (albeit eccentric) decor, I was fascinated.

This was a house that wasn’t built for the living. It was built for the dead.

The History

There a several variations of how what inspired Sarah Winchester to begin construction on her sprawling mansion back in 1884. I say “begin” construction because that activity didn’t cease until 38 years later– when Sarah passed away. Being a Winchester meant that Sarah was heir to the rather large Winchester rifle fortune, which played a significant role in what happened next.

Sarah was from the East Coast, and history says that after her daughter and husband both passed away rather suddenly, she consulted a medium. That medium told her to pack up her belongings, move all the way across the country, and build a home there. As long as she never stopped building on the home, she would not be vulnerable to the ghosts of victims who died at the ends of Winchester rifles.

For the rest of her life, Sarah consulted the spirit realm on a regular basis to provide building plans for the mansion. Upon her death, construction immediately ceased, and the house was sold. It became a tourist attraction in the early 1920s, and has been ever since.

The House

Supposedly the maze-like interior of the house was meant to ensure that any ghosts would get lost or confused and be unable to find Sarah within its walls. Having visited the house myself and seeing just a small portion of its 160 rooms, I can say that that strategy could definitely prove to be effective. The hallways twist and turn at random, there are staircases that lead to nowhere, and you encouter various deadends all through the house. There are rooms with windows that don’t actually have exterior walls. And we can’t forget the famous “door to nowhere” pictured below.

The house originally had seven stories (currently only four), but suffered earthquake damage in the 1906 earthquake (which trapped the widow Winchester in the house for a short period of time). What I find unusual is that with all of the construction that continued to go on after the earthquake, Sarah didn’t touch portions of the house that sustained earthquake damage. I guess the ghosts were fine with that?

Not surprising, there are small decor details that held special significance to Sarah that can be found throughout the house, namely the number 13 and spider web motifs (an example pictured in the stain glass windows here).

One thing for certain though, Sarah Winchester spared no expense when it came to building her ghostly mansion. Stain glass, gold, silver, and Tiffany embellishments could be found throughout the home.

Is it Haunted?

Now this is an interesting question. I’m not really sure that this house built for ghosts is actually inhabited by any ghosts. It’s creepy and has an otherwordly history, but I’m not sure that that is enough to draw the attention of the paranormal.

I’m a big fan of the reality ghost-hunting show Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, and their investigation of the Winchester Mystery House was rather disappointing (and ended abruptly when the lead investigator had to close the investigation early due to a family emergency).

I’d say on this haunted house, the jury is still out.


Tomorrow we’ll be visiting Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!


Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

(photo credit Harshlight)

The Latta Plantation: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #1

I am kicking off my Halloween Virtual Haunted House Tour with a stop in Huntersville, NC at the Latta Plantation. I had the opportunity to visit the Latta Plantation earlier this week. The first thing I noticed was that it took a little while to get there. Even after turning off the main road and entering the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, it was still almost 2 miles to the actual Latta Plantation Historic site.

A narrow, tree-lined road winds through the preserve, and eventually deposits you into a small parking lot that looks out at the expansive green area that encompasses the Latta House and the surrounding outbuildings.

One thing I should mention: plantations aren’t always like what Hollywood would lead you to believe. (You’ve got an image from Gone with the Wind in your head, don’t you?) The homes aren’t large, ornate mansions. You have to remember that at the time that they were built, these were working farms in the middle of nowhere. The families may only have lived a portion of the year (if at all) on the grounds. The outside areas though are often expansive, green, and lovely.

As a special treat, here’s a video blog from my visit.

The History

The Latta Plantation was built in 1800, and the residence shown here is the original home built by James Latta. There are eleven buildings on the 52-acre historical site, that the guide says offers a glimpse into life in North Carolina from 1800-1865. The plantation produced cotton, corn, wheat, potatoes, and more.

James Latta was an Irish immigrant and successful traveling merchant who became a prominent figure in Mecklenburg County in the early 1800s. A sad part of the history was that unfortunately he and his wife, Jane, outlived all but one of their children.

The Lattas were slave owners. A sign on the small slave cabin on the property provides a memorial to the Latta (and later owner William Sample’s) slaves.

Ghostly Footsteps

The reported paranormal activity on the Latta property seems to be contained within the walls of the Latta House. Volunteers and staff members report hearing noises while in the house alone, most often heavy footsteps.

Other reported incidents involve hearing children running and their laughter on the garrett above, which today is impossible due to obstacles that prevent people from crossing the garrett.

All in all though, people who hear these strange noises don’t feel anything threatening about them. They believe them to be either James Latta, checking on his home, or the Latta children who are still at play even in death.

Cege’s Thoughts

Personally, I think a place like the Latta Plantation would certainly be haunted. The land and house have seen a lot of history happen over the years. Add in the fact that there were slaves on the property at one time as well almost guarantees it. Calling slavery a cruel practice is an incredible understatement, and I think we can only imagine what difficult lives they were forced to endure.

Today, the Latta Plantation has a very peaceful feeling and you could spend an entire afternoon there exploring the outbuildings and drinking in the lovely scenery. I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!


Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!


The Official Virtual Haunted House Tour Schedule

Haunted houses are a fascination of mine. My very first story that I wrote when I was twelve was about a haunted house. My first published novel, Edge of Shadows, was about a haunted house. A good haunted house story sucks me in like no other.

It’s probably because haunted houses have some kind of dark history that surrounds them. Houses don’t just become haunted for no reason. Something happens within the walls or on the land that seeps into the house and taints it. Sometimes it’s the people who live there that draw the dark energy in. But whatever the cause, haunted houses give visitors chills, and sometimes send ugly reminders of tragic events long past.

As a way to celebrate Halloween, you and I are going to go on a virtual haunted house tour. That way, we’ll get to experience these places together,  and if you are a little bit nervous or squeamish, you’re only as close to the action as your computer screen.

Here’s the official tour schedule:

October 21st: Latta Plantation, Huntersville, NC

October 22nd: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

October 23rd: Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica

October 24th: Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, IA

October 25th: Palmer House, Sauk Centre, MN

October 26th: Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, MA

October 27th: Griggs Mansion, St. Paul, MN

October 28th: Houghton Mansion, North Adams, MA

October 29th: LeDuc Mansion, Hastings, MN

October 30th: Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, NC

October 31st: On location of the fictional Bradford Mansion from Edge of Shadows, Minneapolis, MN

So buckle in, grab a bucket of popcorn, and enjoy the tour!

(photo credit Sean MacEntee)

An Edge of Shadows Exclusive for #SampleSunday

Edge of Shadows is my first-born. It holds a special place in my heart because it is the story that has been with me the longest- the first iteration written in 2004. It went through the wringer for me. It was rewritten a million times, hacked apart and put together, and then last Fall it got a completely new ending (when I realized that Ellie’s story wasn’t over yet).

EoS started out as a haunted house story. It becomes a whole lot more as you read the series, but at it’s core, in this first book, the reader discovers the mysteries that lie beneath the lovely exterior of the Bradford mansion.

For my #SampleSunday feature, I’m giving you the exclusive first look at the mansion and  introducing you to Linda Jordan, who plays a key role later in the book. Enjoy!


The house had been empty for years. The “For Sale” sign creaked in the slight breeze coming off the lake. Joe Klein put his hand on the signpost to stop the movement, purposely keeping his back to the house. Between the creaky sign and the empty house behind him he was getting the creeps. He glanced at his watch for the tenth time since arriving at the house and getting out of his car. It was six p.m., less than a minute since the last time he looked. He felt foolish waiting on the lawn, but there was no way in hell he was going near the house alone.

There was a chill in the air. It was a cool spring evening, and Joe wondered if there would be a late season snowstorm. Minnesota weather was unpredictable, especially during the transition between seasons. He just wanted to get this showing over with. If Joe was honest with himself, he was the least successful agent in his office, which is how he drew the short stick to show the place when the call for a showing came that afternoon.

The Bradford mansion had been shown only a handful of times in the last ten years. It was bank-owned. The last owner had disappeared under “mysterious circumstances.” If the expected expense of renovating the place didn’t turn potential buyers away, the history of the place usually did. Joe glanced at the house behind him and then quickly looked back at the road. He felt like he was being watched, and goose bumps crawled up his arm.

Joe had grown up in the area, and he was intimately familiar with the stories that were whispered about the old Bradford mansion. He remembered riding past it on his bike with his buddies and being dared to go up and ring the doorbell. Joe had never been brave enough to do it. Even during the brief periods when the house had been occupied, it still had a high freaky factor. He was embarrassed that even now, in his mid-forties, the place still gave him the creeps.

He saw a car approach and breathed a sigh of relief as it slowed and turned into the circle driveway. The headlights illuminated the windows of the house as it pulled up the gentle slope of the driveway and stopped just shy of the path that led up to the front door. Over the roof of the car, he thought he saw a flicker of movement in the huge bay window that faced the front patio and his stomach did a flip-flop.

“You didn’t see anything. It’s all in your head,” he whispered to himself. He held back from making a sign of the cross. That would really give a bad first impression.

The car was a dark blue Jaguar with tinted windows. The driver’s window lowered two inches, and a slim hand emerged with the index finger straight up in the air. The fingernail was painted a deep red. Joe interpreted this as a sign that he was being told to wait and felt a tinge of annoyance. It was bad enough to be stuck with this assignment, but dealing with a rude client would make it even worse. He couldn’t see anything else in the darkened interior.

He shifted his feet slowly and rubbed the arms of his jacket, wishing he had thought to bring gloves. It seemed to be getting chillier by the minute. After what seemed like an eternity, the car door opened. A foot emerged, dressed in what he was sure was an expensive black leather heel. It was followed by a slim leg, and then the woman rose gracefully out of the car. Joe’s breath caught in his throat.

The lines on her face indicated she was older than Joe, but she was stunning. Blond hair was swept back into a tidy knot at the back of her neck, and she appeared dressed for a dinner party in a fitted black dress with a red wrap. She wore black driving gloves. Her lips matched her wrap, and as she approached him her hips swayed seductively. Even in heels she was still several inches shorter than Joe. Her skin was fair, and he could just detect a smattering of freckles across her nose. She put a cell phone into her clutch and looked up at Joe expectantly.

“Mr. Klein?” she said softly. Her tone was amused. “I’m Linda Jordan. I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

Joe blushed as he realized he was staring. He had been married for twenty years, and he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt such an immediate rush of heat seeing a desirable woman. He shook his head slightly to clear his thoughts.

“Yes, yes, ma’am. Joe Klein, from Polson Realty.” He held out his hand. She looked at it for a moment before carefully sliding her hand into his for a small pump, and then she drew her hand away.

“I’m sure you are eager to get out of the chill and see the property. It is a lovely home that needs just the right owner,” Joe said, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt. “Would you like to step inside, Mrs. Jordan?” he asked, gesturing toward the wide front patio.

“Of course,” she said, but she didn’t move. Slowly she turned in a circle, taking in the house and grounds, finally settling on the view of the lake stretching out before them across the road. “I’m not from around here. This is quite a lovely area, yes?”

“This is a great area with lots of local history and culture,” Joe said, switching into sales mode. “I actually grew up in the neighborhood myself and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Focusing on the job at hand helped keep his mind off the house and woman in front of him. He quickly reviewed some of the facts he had pulled from the file on the house that afternoon.

“The house was built in the early 19th century by an entrepreneur named Joseph Bradford. This area was the place for the well-to-do businessmen and industrialists who were looking for quiet living away from the city, but still close enough to the conveniences. There is a sense of exclusivity being so close to the water. Of course, the city grew up around the neighborhood, but it still maintains that solitary feel given all the properties that border the lake feel more like small estates.”

Mrs. Jordan nodded as she followed him up the concrete steps and onto the wide patio. It ran the entire length of the front of the house. She seemed entranced by the house, drinking in the architectural detail. She placed a hand on the stone railing and gently slid her fingertips up to the top. Joe thought he saw a small smile creep across her face, but when she looked at him again her face was still. He cleared his throat and continued.

“The Bradfords owned the home for only a couple of years when Joseph fell into some bad financial troubles. He was forced to sell the house to help pay off his debts. The house has passed through several owners since then. Given its rather impressive size, it drew interest from some local businesses. It was used for a time as both a home for orphaned children as well as an art school. The house has been vacant since the most recent owner relinquished it several years ago.” Joe didn’t add that other than the Bradfords, none of the subsequent occupancies lasted more than six months.

“I see,” Mrs. Jordan said. She was looking at the lake again.

“This would be a great patio for entertaining, almost like an Italian veranda, I think. I can easily picture a group of people here sipping wine and watching folks on the bike path or canoeing on the lake,” he said continuing on, hoping to draw attention away from any further commentary on the house’s history. Mrs. Jordan didn’t reply.

Joe studied the contours of her face for signs of her initial impressions as she looked out on the water. On the outside chance she would consider buying it, all of the less savory details would be disclosed later. One thing Joe knew from experience: if someone loved a house they were willing to overlook almost anything to have it. All that trouble happened so long ago that it shouldn’t matter now anyway. Of course, that didn’t ease Joe’s anxiety about being there one bit.

He wasn’t sure what to do next, but if she was interested in the view he thought it would be better with light. He slipped the key into the lock and pushed the tall glass doors open. They groaned in protest, and Joe wondered the last time someone had been in to clean up the place. As a matter of practice, the real estate office usually sent someone in to clean and dust once a month and before every showing since the house was unoccupied, but the call had come in so late in the day Joe was certain no one had a chance to get there before the appointment. He hoped that there weren’t rats or spider webs or anything else lurking in the corners.

He shivered as he stepped inside and flipped on the light switches next to the door. A chandelier above him flickered and then caught, lighting up the entryway; the lights on the porch went on as well. He was standing in a massive entry hall that led to a huge staircase. There were rooms on either side of the hall and a long hallway on both sides of the staircase that led into darkness. A plush rug covered the floor and was the only furnishing in the house that he could see aside from the window treatments.

Mrs. Jordan slowly walked into the house and stood next to him. He watched her face light up like a kid in front of a loaded-down Christmas tree. She took a deep breath and did another turn, gazing up at the opulent chandelier. He wasn’t the best sales guy out there, but he knew that expression. She was completely into the house.

Joe pulled out the file folder from under his arm and opened it. “There are four bedrooms on the second level, two on the third, and two small bedrooms in the back, so eight bedrooms total. There are nine bathrooms, two parlors, a library, a formal dining room, kitchen, and solarium leading out to the enclosed pathway to the garage. There’s also a small apartment above the garage. It’s a pretty big place,” Joe said. He looked up and saw that Mrs. Jordan was looking at him again and her blue eyes seemed to bore right into him.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. Joe was suddenly uncertain if she meant him or the house. The excitement in her voice made Joe’s heart start to pound. Her obvious delight was contagious, and he suddenly wondered if the commission on the sale of this house would be enough to pay his mortgage for a year. It could be his lucky day.

“Well, there is quite a bit of work to be done to bring it up to date,” he said quickly. He had to calm down and take it slow. He didn’t want to scare her away. The hope of a sale now balanced out the creepiness of being inside the house and Joe started to feel more confident.

Mrs. Jordan giggled like a schoolgirl and clasped her hands together. “Mr. Klein, I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for this house. I am thrilled.” She pulled off her gloves and slipped them into her clutch, and then wound her arm through his. “Let’s take a look at the rest of it, shall we?”

All thoughts of the house flew right out of Joe’s head as soon as she touched him. He found himself gazing down at her and nodding at everything she said with a huge grin on his face. She was beautiful and fascinating. He hadn’t felt so thoroughly charmed by a woman since he’d met his wife. He wasn’t sure he had even felt it then.

As they made their way around the first two floors, Mrs. Jordan kept up a constant dialogue about her charity work and her husband’s investment business that gave them their fabulous lifestyle. Her stories were witty, and Joe’s roars of laughter echoed off the walls of the huge empty rooms. Time seemed to stand still.

Joe thought that Mr. Jordan was a lucky man. Mrs. Jordan’s voice was mesmerizing, and he could smell her light perfume. He had to stop himself from leaning down and inhaling the scent of her hair. He felt lightheaded and drunk.

It was only after they reached the third floor, and she unwound her arm from his, that his mind started to clear. They were standing in front of two bay windows that took in an impressive view of the lake. Joe could see houses across the lake lighting up as dusk closed in. It was breathtaking. If he didn’t know the history of the Bradford mansion, at that moment he’d have mortgaged his soul to buy it. There was nowhere else he wanted to be except here in the twilight with this beautiful woman.

Mrs. Jordan sat down on the window seat and moved close to the glass. She traced her finger along an ornate design etched in the pane’s center. Then she slid closer still and looked out into the gathering darkness. The glass fogged up from her breath. She looked up at Joe with a sly smile on her face and patted the seat next to her. He sat down automatically.

“You’ve been too kind, Mr. Klein, coming out here on such short notice to show me this lovely house and listen to me prattle on and on.” Her voice was low. Now she slid her fingertip up his tie to the top of his collar.

He gulped as he felt the slightest prick of the point of her fingernail against his Adam’s apple. “It was my pleasure, Mrs. Jordan.” He felt lightheaded again, and he thought for sure his heart was going to burst right out of his chest.

“Please. Call me Linda,” she said as she inched closer to him.

Joe thought that it was possible she was going to kiss him. He was married, but he couldn’t even think of his wife’s name at that moment. He also knew he wouldn’t stop her. All he could think of was drowning himself in her blue eyes, and then her lips were crossing the small span between them.

Just as her lips brushed his, he heard a heavy, loud thump from somewhere at the back of the house. Joe jumped to his feet. Whatever spell had come over him was immediately broken, and reality came crashing back. He was inside the haunted Bradford mansion.

“What was that?” he said.

Mrs. Jordan remained seated. The expression on her face was unreadable. She sighed, and Joe thought he sensed frustration in it.

“I’m sure it was nothing. It’s an old house, right? Bumps and creaky boards are to be expected,” she said, sounding bored now.

Suddenly, Joe felt like he was suffocating. He grabbed at the collar of his shirt and peered at the back of the hall where he thought the noise had come from. The house was silent.

He didn’t know what to think. Nothing like this had ever happened to him. Being inside the house seemed like the only explanation for losing his sense of reality. The sooner he got this showing over the better so he switched back to salesman mode.

“I believe the Bradfords kept their master bedroom on this floor, and then the guest suite was across on the other side. These are the largest bedrooms and each has its own bathroom. It was quite luxurious back in the day as I’m sure you can imagine.” Joe had no desire to explore either room.

Relaying the information had given him the few moments he needed to collect himself, and he glanced at Mrs. Jordan. She just stared at him with those intense blue eyes, and he dragged his gaze back to the hallway and cleared his throat. He didn’t think he’d be able to resist her if she tried to kiss him again, and he had the crazy feeling that he would never be the same again if that happened.

“Another unique feature is right over there,” he continued, pointing at a small door off to the side at the end of the hallway. “That leads to a small circular staircase at the back of the house that goes down to the kitchen. It allowed for the servants to pass quickly between the service areas of the house and the bedrooms so that dirty dishes, linens, and things like that weren’t carried around out in the open.” This time he waited for a response.

There was a moment of silence, and then Mrs. Jordan nodded and the smile returned to her face. “Quite efficient.”

Joe’s heart skipped a beat. He didn’t know what was happening to him. He ran his hand across his forehead and realized he was sweating. His breath was coming in short gasps. He saw a look of concern on her face but recoiled when he saw her move to place her hand on his arm. He watched her face go still.

Before she could say anything, he covered, saying, “Well, that is the whole place. What do you think?” His voice sounded high and panicky to his ears.

Her eyes narrowed, and Joe felt a cold chill run down his spine. He didn’t know why, but this woman was dangerous; there was no doubt in his mind now about that. He needed to get away from her.

“Quite impressive,” Mrs. Jordan replied. She pulled the phone from her clutch. “I’d like to call my husband if you don’t mind, Mr. Klein. I’d also like to take a few pictures.”

Joe nodded and said a silent prayer of thanks.

“Of course, of course,” Joe replied. “I can meet you down by the front door if you’d like. Give you some time to take a second look.”

She nodded curtly and started pecking at the touch screen. Joe didn’t need the cue to tell him he had been dismissed and this time he didn’t mind the rude gesture. As he made his way down the stairs, he did mental calculations in his head of the commission to distract himself. Maybe he could take his wife to Hawaii for that second honeymoon she kept asking about, or maybe they could afford to buy their sixteen-year-old daughter a car.

He was standing at the front door a few moments later. Even with all the lights on in the house, there was a dreary feeling about the place. The magical mood he had felt ten minutes ago was totally gone.

He thought about stepping out onto the porch, but realized that would look strange. He hoped she turned off the lights as she made her way back to the entryway; that way he wouldn’t have to do it after she left. Joe had no desire to be in the house by himself with the night deepening outside.

Then he heard the thud again from the back of the house and his mouth went dry. He wanted to run out into the night, get in his car, and drive away as fast as he could, but instead he forced himself to step up a few steps on the staircase. It was open up to the third level, but he couldn’t see where he had left his client.

“Mrs. Jordan?” he called up into the empty air. “Everything okay up there?”

“Everything’s fine, Mr. Klein.”

Joe jumped and whirled around. Linda Jordan was standing behind him. She smiled apologetically at his startled expression.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Klein. I didn’t mean to startle you. I came down that back staircase you mentioned. I wanted to make sure that I saw the entire house,” she said as she slid her phone back into her clutch and put it under her arm.

Joe put his hand on his chest and willed himself to calm down and breathe normally. Then he blushed. She must think he was a foolish idiot the way he was jumping at the settling noises of an old house. That had to be what those noises were.

“I didn’t mean to jump. I thought I heard something again, but like you said, old houses…” he said lamely. “Did your husband have any questions?”

“I think we should go back to your office, Mr. Klein. I sent my husband some pictures and he is in perfect agreement with me. We are ready to make an offer.”

Joe was sure his jaw hit the floor. Was it really going to be that easy? The stupid grin returned to his face, but he couldn’t help it.

“Well, that is just great!” He automatically reached out to shake her hand. This time she took a step back and he jerked his hand back. There was something about touching her that made the thoughts in his head feel mushy.

“I know it is getting late, and I’m sure you want to get home to your family. I will follow you,” she said, sweeping out the front door.

Joe watched her leave, his jaw slack as he saw dollar signs dancing in the air in front of him. Then he realized that light duty was on him after all. He hummed to himself as he quickly went through the house turning off the lights. The big commission coming his way was enough to distract him, although he was almost running to complete the task as quickly as possible. He wasn’t sure if he should call his wife right away, or wait until the paperwork was officially signed.

Just as he reached the front hallway and had his finger on the light switch he heard something. Was that a moan?

“Hell, no,” he said out loud. He left the hallway light on as well as the porch lights. The cleaning crew could take care of it. He didn’t care. He quickly moved out the door, pulling it shut behind him and locking it. Mrs. Jordan was already down in her car with the engine running.

Joe hurried down the steps, and thought again that despite the noises and his strange reaction to the woman, this was the luckiest day of his life.


Linda Jordan watched with narrowed eyes as the real estate agent shuffled to his car as quickly as his feet would carry him. He waved at her with a smile as he got in. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the head rest for a moment as she waited for him to get settled.

It had been exhausting keeping up the charade with the man, and she had almost forgotten herself in her excitement at seeing the house through these eyes again. Plus he had been so close to her that it had been intoxicating. She was annoyed at the blatant interruption, but she knew it was only because she had overstepped her boundaries. She was out of practice, but she wouldn’t let it happen again. It was all about the end game, and things were just starting to heat up. She looked up at the house again and the smile returned to her face. Soon things would be exactly the way they should be again.

Want to read more? You can find Edge of Shadows at these fine retailers:


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Paranormal Headliner: Deborah Hughes (and a Special Treat!)

Today I am welcoming Deborah Hughes, author of Be Still, My Love. Deborah has had some real life paranormal experiences that definitely shaped her work. And she’s met Stephen King!!  (I swoon in envy.)  As a special treat, Deborah is offering up a Numerological Evaluation to one randomly chosen reader!  (Read on to hear more about how to score that…)

A Little About Deborah

Deborah Hughes moved into a haunted house at the age of seven.  She lived there for seven years and that experience spurred her to learn all she could about the bizarre world of the paranormal and the supernatural.  The more she read, the more she learned, the more she realized how little she knew. This realization has led to a lifelong search for knowledge, truth, and enlightenment.  The writer in her is constantly inspired.  From the age of eight, she scribbled down the stories that streamed like movies through her mind.   She enjoys the process of their evolution from thought to completed book and hopes others will enjoy those stories as much as she does.

Where are you from? 

Deborah: I was born and raised in Bucksport, Maine.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  

Deborah: I have honestly wanted to be a writer since the age of eight when I wrote my first story.  I decided then and there that I wanted to grow up and write books.

What do you do to unwind and relax? 

Deborah: I read quite a bit but I also love movies.  If I need something that requires more action, I love traveling and sightseeing.

Deborah on Writing

Your bio mentions that you had some experiences as a child that influenced your decision to write. Can you share a bit more about that? 

Deborah: I moved into a haunted house when I was seven.  We lived there for seven years.  I lived in fear for all seven of them.  Although nothing bad every happened to us, the fact that unseen people…dead ones!…really freaked me out.  When I became more proficient at reading, I started checking out books from the library about ghosts and hauntings.  I wanted to understand the phenomena.  It was only natural to start writing stories that involved ghosts.  I love romances, too, so I like to combine both of those passions. One of my favorite people in the world, a beloved uncle, encouraged me to follow my dream of being an author.  I was 14 when he died.  I swore I’d dedicate my first book to him and I have.

How did you come up with the title for your book? 

Deborah: It came from the book, actually.  I was nearing the end and Tess’s husband, who is dead (she’s a medium), says to her, “Be still, my love” when she managed to live through a particularly dangerous situation and I loved it.  I thought how fitting since this is what the story is about…Tess needs to get past her husband’s death and he needs to move on in the after life.  Not to mention, the two restless spirits Tess was trying to help…well, she was trying to “still” their anguish as well.

Are your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your book things you’ve encountered in real life? 

Deborah: I have certainly based a lot of the situations that Tess encounters with my own experiences.  For instance, Tess holds a seance and I’ve done that.  The way she experiences the spirits or encounters her spirit guide…they are similar to my own.  As for the other characters, no, I didn’t base them on anyone I knew.  I think there is a lot of me in Tess but I can’t say that any of the other characters are similar to anyone I know.

What are your current projects? 

Deborah: I am nearly finished with the sequel to “Be Still, My Love“.  The town in which “Be Still” took place is a fabrication but the next story takes place in Bucksport, my hometown.  There’s a cool legend associated with the town’s founder Jonathan Buck.  Supposedly his grave monument is cursed by a witch.  The story is brought to Tess’s attention in “Be Still” and I thought, how cool would it be for Tess to go to Bucksport and try to figure out if that witch’s curse has any basis?  I’m really enjoying the story and learning a lot of Bucksport’s colorful, tragic history.  I also have another book which I’m preparing for publication called “No Matter What”.  It’s about a young girl who was burned for witch craft and is now reincarnated to save her spirit which now haunts the estate where she lived and died.  Some of the people who took part in her death are also reincarnated and they are all trying to work out issues associated with that past life event.  I’m very excited to share both stories with the public.

What is the hardest part of writing? 

Deborah: Finding the time to actually write!  Seriously, life has a way of getting in the way of my make believe stuff!  (smile) Writing the stories is really not a problem for me, I’ve been doing that since I was old enough to string words together.  For me, it’s marketing my book that I’m finding the most difficult.  It sucks up even more of my valuable time.  So, the hardest part is getting enough uninterrupted time to write.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out? 

Deborah: Don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.  Nowadays, anyone can write and publish.  How successful you are as a published author depends on how much time and effort you are willing to put into it.  Be prepared to put in a lot of both.  And believe in yourself.  If you don’t believe you have what it takes to be a writer who can produce stories others will want to read, then it’s probably not going to happen.  Take a look around you.  There are successful people whom you can’t believe are successful.  In your opinion, they might not have the level of talent needed to be successful…but in their opinion and belief…they do.  And they are.

Deborah’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre? 

Deborah: Well, nowadays it seems to mean anything involving vampires and werewolves and the like.  It’s a bit frustrating because when I do a search for ghost stories, it’s hard to find them!  Most authors categorize their ghost stories under the paranormal umbrella and there are so many vampire books that ghost books get buried.  I think we’re going to have to come up with another genre subdivision for ghost stories.  I categorized my book as “ghost” and “gothic” but people looking for those sorts of books normally do so by searching the paranormal so it’s going to be hard to find my books in a general search.   The Paranormal Genre is a pretty broad category.  The Supernatural Genre is pretty much the same though that seems to be more associated with horror.  By “horror” I mean, terror and possibly gore.  My books are spooky but there’s no genre specifically designed for spooky ghost stories.  It’s a bit of a paradox.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?

Deborah: I think it’s not going away.  The paranormal is a wide open realm of possibility.  There are no rules and the imagination is not limited by set parameters.  I think it’s great that writers have flocked into this genre with such enthusiasm and creativity.

Is there a specific paranormal sub-genre interests you the most? 

Deborah: Obviously my sub-genre is ghost stories!  But I enjoy all of it…the whole spectrum of the paranormal.  It’s all fascinating.

What scares you?  

Deborah: Evil.  I know there is negative entities in the world and I know that I’ve brushed up against it a time or two.  I know there was something not “nice” in that haunted house I lived in.  I prayed a lot while I lived there.  I believe my faith kept us safe.  I have a hard time watching true horror because it does scare me.  Dying horribly, painfully…it’s the worst thing ever.  I get spooked sometimes while writing my stories but I don’t get terrified.  I make sure that the entities in my stories cannot overpower the characters.  Because, it’s that sort of thing that would scare me.  A lot.

What is your favorite paranormal book?  

Deborah: The Reincarnation of Audrey Rose.  It inspired me to write “No Matter What”.  But I also love Jacqueline Frank’s Nightwalker series.  And really, I could go on here because I love so many.  The Shining by Stephen King is another favorite.  I met him right after reading The Shining; it left quite an impression on me.  I was 16 at the time and worked at a party he was hosting.  He took time out of his busy day to come talk to me and my friend…the kitchen help.  I thought, someday, I’m going to be like him.  (smile)

What is your favorite paranormal movie?  

Deborah: I loved The Sixth Sense!  What a great spooky movie that was!  I also like Poltergeist.  It got a little weird toward the end but I think it’s a great paranormal movie.  The Entity is another great movie.  Again, it’s hard to give a favorite because there are so many but those are at the top of my list.

Do you ever come up with anything so wild in your writing that you scared yourself? What was it?  

Deborah: Yes!  I scare myself all the time. I’ll be working on a spooky scene and then suddenly one of the kid’s toys will come on or I’ll hear a knock somewhere.  I truly think sometimes that writing spooky stories invites the spirits to come around.  When writing ghost stories, you get in that groove and begin to feel the spookiness of what you are writing.  It becomes almost real.  In “No Matter What” the little girl, Lynn, finds an old ragdoll and she and her mother bury it.  Later, when Lynn goes to her room…the doll is on the bed. I was not expecting that to happen. It gave me the creeps!  Lol.  Little things like that spook me enough that I sometimes have to stop and think about other stuff.  You get in that mood and suddenly your skin is broke out in goosebumps and the more you write, the more you begin to think someone is standing behind you.  Creepy.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels? 

Deborah: We need to be taken out of the norm…the ordinary…and experience something more, something out of this world.  The paranormal cannot be predicted and it certainly isn’t “normal”.  It’s paranormal and it’s exciting.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas? 

Deborah: Yes!  I think there’s some truth to art imitating life imitating art.  As I said, I’m working on a book now that is based on an actual legend.  While researching that, I found out some other mysteries and now I’m thinking I’d like to explore those as well.  There’s something exciting about taking something that happened but has unknown elements and creating something to explain the unknown elements.  It makes it seem more real somehow and thus, spookier!

Connect with Deborah




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A Little Something Special:

For one lucky reader, Deborah has offered to do a Numerological Evaluation of his/her birth name or birth date.

What’s a Numerological Evaluation You Ask?

Each letter has a numeric value and each numeric number resonates to a specific meaning.  Since every letter has a numeric value, everything that exists can be reduced to a single number value (0 through 9) using a specific formula.  Our names and birthdates are two things most associated with our lives and the numerological value placed on those two things are supposed to give us insight into our life purpose, talents, and characteristics.  It’s fascinating and can pretty accurate (and fun!).

What Do You Need to Do to Win?

Pop a comment on this post to say hello or ask Deborah a question. That’s it! One random winner will be selected on March 13th, 2012.

Thank you for visiting Deborah!!