Thursday, May 29, 2014

A ghostly Encounter

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Logan Inn, located in the quaint town of New Hope PA. If you haven't been, I strongly invite you to spend the day and shop at the vast array of colorful boutiques and magick shops or sample some of the areas most eclectic cuisines. But the best part of New Hope, in my humble opinion, is the people you encounter while walking down the street. There's nowhere else in the world where you can freely gawk at weekend bikers cruising down the strip in their flashy hogs, followed by an elderly drag queen parading by in her stilettos and a feather boa.

Now if you enjoy the arts, The Bucks County Playhouse can't be beaten. But if you're into the outdoors, simply walking or biking along the canal and admiring the lush scenery, works just as well. 

Beautiful Bucks County, and New Hope, in particular, have always been known for supernatural activity. Take a walking ghost tour and learn about New Hope's vast haunted history. One doesn't have to look any further than the Logan Inn to get a taste of spooky. The inn is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America. 

You would never know upon entering the beautiful building that lurks beneath the walls. The restaurant, which has a lovely heated terrace that can be used year-round, as well as an elegant dining room is both quaint and inviting. But the fascinating history is what intrigued me. The inn is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1722 and is reputed to have had guests ranging from Revolutionary war soldiers, to Hollywood entertainers some alive and some dead.

While I personally didn't encounter any ghosts, I did get a tour of the place. The inn was a pit stop during the Revolutionary War when the soldiers would march from Valley Forge to New Hope. A three-day journey during a harsh winter caused many deaths. As a result, bodies were stored in the kitchen basement because the ground was too frozen to bury them outside. All of the soldiers, except one, were cremated. 

According to the staff, and many eyewitnesses, the ghost of the lone soldier who escaped a fiery demise, can be found sitting at the lobby desk. While I wasn't invited to venture below the main floor, I was told that some of the staff cannot go down to the basement without feeling a heaviness in their chest and a sense of dread in their soul. 

Cries and moans are often heard echoing from the walls, making the Logan fodder for many discussions involving the supernatural, as well as a popular tourist attraction. 

I did learn that Logan has a resident ghost by the name of Emily Lutz. Emily lived and died at the Logan and her ghost is said to be seen in room Six. 

Accompanied by Jason the manager, I walked through the room hoping to catch a glimpse of something, a shadow perhaps, or even a burst of icy cold air ... but nothing. Many guests report smelling an overwhelming scent of lavender upon entering the room, but I personally couldn't report having this experience. Charles and Elizabeth Lutz, the original owners, were both fonds of lavender and even adorned their clothing with the fragrant flower.

Other spirits taking up residence there include; the ghost of a little girl who fell into the nearby canal and ended up dying on the tavern floor, and an older gentleman in a black top hat. 

I was interested to find that the inn is listed on the national registry for historic places and was visited by entertainment luminaries such as the Marx Brothers, Oscar Hammerstein, and Dorothy Parker to name a few. I encourage you to visit the Logan Inn and have a drink at the bar or stay in room six if you dare.

Have you ever visited a haunted place? I'd love to hear about your experience!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Witches, Mediums and Ghosts ...oh My

Long before I ever wrote my first fantasy novel, I had more than a passing interest in the paranormal. I grew up in a sleepy town in Connecticut where haunted houses and ghost sightings were commonplace. Ironically, our neighbor in the apartment building next door, loved to dabble with her ouija board and used to invite my friends and I over to demonstrate her prowess.

The board spelled out a gruesome tale of murder, greed, and deceit at the hands of a well respected surgeon. Allegedly, he was also a key player in the Great Brinks Job Robbery from 1950. His step daughter overheard a conversation implicating him in the robbery, so he murdered her to keep her quiet. My neighbor swore that a blonde, wispy presence came to her in the middle of the night, claiming that the stolen money was in fact hidden under the apartment building where we lived. This was a lot for my seven year old brain to take in, but instead of being scared, I was intrigued. From that point on, I became fascinated with ghosts.

This same neighbor used to dress up as a witch on Halloween and bake giant cakes shaped like black cats with whiskers made of licorice and Dots for eyes. Everything about her was fun and magical. Even if the ghostly girl and the Brinks Job tale were made up, her place was a great escape. I'll always be grateful for the time she spent with me and the way she sparked my imagination. 

I had another childhood friend whose grandmother lived on the other side of town. We used to ride our bikes to her quaint, haunted cottage and fill up on juice and chocolate-chip cookies while she regaled us with stories about the ghost that kept her company at night.

I couldn't seem to get away from ghost stories!

After we moved from Connecticut to Jersey, a group of my friends and I used to venture deep into the woods of Assunpink Lake for the occasional bonfire. It was literally out in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, the spooky stories ensued, along with the beer. 

Everyone seemed to know the tale involving a beautiful, young woman who was killed on her way to her wedding. She'd been the passenger in a head-on collision that had severed her body in half on the road leading to the lake. Rumors abounded about a ghostly presence in a wedding dress who haunted the surrounding woods. Although I never did catch a glimpse of her, I was always drawn to the creepy allure of the place. The fact that there was a crematorium up the road, only added to the overall experience. Despite the spooky stories, I always got the sense that she was looking out for us kids to make sure we were okay so that we didn't meet the same fate.

Do all of us have spirit guides, angels on the other side who look out for us?I'd like to think so.

HAUNTED explores the every day life of a medium and how she communicates with the spirit world. Do you think this is a gift some are born with or can this ability develop over time? Maybe some people know how to use a different portion of their brain than the rest of us. Or perhaps this is a genetic predisposition handed down from one generation to the next.

As part of my research for the book, I did a bit of my own ghost hunting. I wen to visit the Logan Inn in New Hope, PA. I talked with the staff who have all seen and heard a presence that goes by the name of Emily. Apparently, she has a fondness for room number six, and many claim to have seen her shadow and smell her perfume on more than one occasion.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's Your Talent?

I always thought it would be cool to have a special talent or gift. Unlike my kids, who both play a variety of sports, and classical piano, I have very few talents to speak of, except perhaps one. I have a photographic memory for faces ... strange I know. 

For some unknown reason if I meet someone once, no matter how briefly or how much time has passed, I will remember them. My brain just automatically kicks into gear and I will stay up all night trying to recall how or where we met. My mother has this talent for remembering birthdays. She can still recall the birthdays of my friends from kindergarten.  

Before you accuse me of being a savant, I wish I could say that I've fortified this unique talent over the years to find wanted criminals or work with the FBI, but unfortunately none of the above has panned out. At this point, the best I can hope to do is create unique characters in my books that have some type of special gift or talent that can actually be used to help people in some way. 

In my novel, Witch Hunter, the heroine, Willow McCray is a psychic who is haunted by premonitions of the future and dreams of the past. She can also read minds like most people read the newspaper simply by touching a person's hand. In her case, this gift is both a blessing and a curse. She works with a secret agency and uses her gift to hunt down and stop a killer. 
I think most of us love to read books that feature characters with some type of unique gift or talent.
I recently read Blue Dahlia by the great Nora Roberts.
The main character, Stella, a nursery store manager is fastidious in her desire to organize things and follow the rules. This becomes an annoyance to the hero, a landscape architect who is a a bit of a slob and can't be bothered with boring details such as paperwork. For all their differences, these characters have something in common, an ability to create beauty out of flowers and plants.This gift draws them together on a spiritual and emotional level. 

As a writer, I love to immerse myself in the lives of the characters I create and imagine what they think, feel, and experience in their daily lives. How do they cope with their fears, and inner demons, while opening their hearts to love?   

In the Sylvia Day series Crossfire, 
(If you haven't read this series yet, you need to. I promise you won't be disappointed) the heroine, Eva Trammel falls head over heels in love with the deeply troubled hero, Gideon Cross. Her acceptance of his questionable past and controlling behavior never falters. She loves this man for who and what he is, risking everything to be with him. Her unfailing belief in their relationship is her unique gift and keeps us turning the pages and this is what makes us root for their HEA.  Their love is so pure, so passionate and romantic, it makes our hearts sing and our souls weep. Imagine what life would be like if we could all experience that kind of euphoria on a daily basis?

So how about you? What character traits do you admire in your heroes and heroines?Any traits you dislike? Are you especially drawn to characters that have special talents or unique gifts?

I have a character in Witch Hunter who's a medium. She communicates with spirits and delivers messages to their loved ones to help the grieving move on. She's modeled after Teresa Caputo of The Long Island Medium fame, minus the lacquered, bleach, blonde hair and french manicured talons. 

How about characters in film?

I love characters that have special powers like Peter
Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Not only can he leap tall buildings at a single bound, he can spin one hell of web both literally and figuratively, just ask his girlfriend Mary-Jane. His gift, in my opinion, is his bravery and his beautiful heart. He's always willing to risk his life to help a stranger. 

On the other end of the character spectrum is Woody Grant from the film Nebraska.
 He may not have supernatural powers or be able to scale the side of a building, but he has conviction and won't let anything get in the way of his goal. Despite his wife's verbal attacks, he never waivers from his desire to get to Nebraska so he can claim the winning ticket to a sweepstakes. Even when he's accused of being crazy, senile, and just plain stupid, he completes this life changing journey and eventually settles some old scores from his past along the way. I admire a character with such determination and chutzpah.

What gifts or talents do some of your favorite book or movie characters possess? I'd love to hear.