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Friday, October 30, 2015

A Halloween treat - download The Last Blog, a free short story, today!

If you’ve read my Sanheim Chronicles trilogy, you know how much I love Halloween. I love the costumes, the candy and the yard decorations. But most of all, I love the ghost stories. It’s the one time of year when seemingly everyone is ready to tell you about their personal experience with the supernatural.

More than 15 years ago, I went on assignment for the Loudoun Times-Mirror to report on a professional ghost hunter. He, in turn, led me to a woman whose house he claimed was so haunted he suspected there were multiple “entities” living in the house with her. When I interviewed her, you’d never know she believed in ghosts. But sitting in her parlor, she told me stories that chilled my blood. I was on the fence about the existence of ghosts, but she was so normal—and her stories were corroborated by so many other witnesses—that I wondered if they could be real.

“It takes a long time to finally admit it,” she told me. “You go through years where you tell yourself that you left the light on, or the kids did something. My youngest son continually talked about the lady at the end of his bed. Eventually, you just can’t fight it any longer.” (You can read both original articles here and here!)

Toward the end of our conversation, the owner of the house made me an offer, one that she had frequently extended to skeptics—I could stay alone overnight and find out for myself just how haunted the house was. I’m embarrassed to say I was too cowardly to take her up on it. But I’ve always wondered what might have happened if I had.

That interview was the impetus behind my short story, The Last Blog. It’s the account of Sean Gordon, a newspaper reporter who decides he will post a live-blog of his overnight stay in one of the most haunted houses in America. And while I don’t want to give anything away, his experience doesn’t go well.

If you’re interested in reading more, The Last Blog is free today through Sunday, Nov. 1. Just go to the Amazon link and download it. It’s my way of saying thank you for all the support over the years. In particular, I’d like to thank the readers who have reviewed my other works. I read every review (I know authors who claim they don’t, but I don’t believe them) and they mean the world to me. 

The Last Blog is the perfect story to get you in the mood for Halloween. And if you haven’t already, please check out Carnival of Stone, which has collected 15 great reviews so far: “Another highly enjoyable romp through mythology,” “Soren Chase does it again,” “Every time I read a Rob Blackwell book, I can never quite guess what’s going to happen next.”

And for an extra treat: The Forest of Forever is on sale for half price until Halloween! Act fast if you haven’t read it already.

I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Local Ghost Chaser Investigates Unearthly Experiences

More than 15 years ago, I wrote two articles for the special Halloween edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror. The first one centered around the haunting of the Lynch house, while the second focused on a professional ghost hunter. Both helped influence my work, including The Last Blog, a short story that is free until Nov. 1, 2015, and The Sanheim Chronicles, which includes a theory on ghosts very similar to what is espoused below. Following is the second article in the series in its original form:

Local Ghost Chaser Investigates Unearthly Experiences

Who ya gonna call?

Oct. 27, 1999

By Rob Blackwell
Times-Mirror Staff Writer

Joe Holbert still doesn't know if he believes in ghosts. After a decade of giving tours of the haunted houses in Leesburg and investigating the unearthly sights and sounds in the homes, he can't tell you for sure that dead people are the cause.
"I know something goes on in those houses," said Holbert. "I just don't know that it is ghosts."

Years ago, Holbert would have dismissed the possibility of ghosts outright, but after meeting with people who had encountered spirits, he wasn't so sure.

"I come from a scientific background, and I used to think ghost stuff was nonsense," said Holbert. "But once you talked to the people, you realized they were very believable. Then it was a great mystery. How can this be? How does it work?"
Holbert set out to study haunted houses as scientifically as possible. He uses various equipment, from electromagnetic sensors to video cameras to tape recorders to try and prove that ghosts exist. Rather than focus his efforts on something which is completely intangible however, he decided to concentrate on studying electromagnetic fields.

Holbert has found that by using an electromagnetic meter, he can measure unusual activity in a home. While living beings and electronic equipment can give off electromagnetic fields, Holbert uses other equipment to ensure that what he is detecting isn't just random electricity from a nearby power source. Currently, he and four people who work with him are developing a system where they can place meters in several rooms of a home and monitor them all at one time from a computer.
Holbert uses the tape recorder to record sounds in the area for 24 hours to determine if anything odd is happening in the room. He also sets up video cameras to try and catch anything on film.

I've seen a lot of things," said Holbert. "I have seen doors shut by themselves and pictures take themselves off the wall. I have seen furniture move when no one is around. I don't know if it is dead people doing it, but something is happening. I am working on the science of ghosts. The witnesses are too good and too many to just dismiss that something goes on."
But if you are looking for ghosts around town, Holbert suggests not heading out to the graveyard late at night.

"As you study this, you find that certain buildings are more likely to be haunted," he said. "Hotels, restaurants, dormitories and other places where a lot of people have been around are likely spots, but not graveyards. Part of the reason I say hotels are more haunted, is because a hotel has a 24 hour staff. If something happens, someone is around to see it," said Holbert.
Holbert investigates homes for free, and oftentimes finds that a "haunted" house is caused by nothing more than a house expanding or other normal explanations. But he always treats people's claims seriously, because he believes he could one day prove the existence of ghosts. His work has been featured by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the TV show Sightings and several local radio programs. He gives tours of Leesburg and his work every Friday and Saturday night except during the winter.

"This is worthy of a life's work, in my opinion," said Holbert. "It is one of the great mysteries of life. What happens after you die? Mostly, I want people to keep their minds open. They should open their eyes and look around a little bit."

America's Most Haunted: Lynch House Filled With Unearthly Visitors

In October of 1999, I wrote two stories for the Halloween section of the Loudoun-Times Mirror. The first directly inspired my short story, The Last Blog, which is FREE today through Nov. 1, 2015. The second heavily influenced my treatment of ghosts in The Sanheim Chronicles.

The following is the first article as it appeared in 1999. Check it out below:

America's Most Haunted

 Lynch House Filled With Unearthly Visitors

By Rob Blackwell
Times-Mirror Staff Writer

Oct. 27, 1999

Story as it was laid out
For years, Martha Lynch denied there was anything strange going on in her house. She tried to explain the lights that would go on or off by themselves, found excuses for the odd noises at night when no one was around, and didn't worry about the pictures which seemed to take themselves off the wall. But after she saw the ghost, she didn't need any more convincing.

"It takes a long time to finally admit it," said Lynch, who bought the house in 1973. "You go through years where you tell yourself that you left the light on, or the kids did something. My youngest son continually talked about the lady at the end of his bed. Eventually, you just can't fight it any longer."

It was a late night several years ago when Lynch arrived home shortly before her husband, Tom. Her kids away, she wasn't expecting to see a woman standing at the top of the steps in the main foyer. For an instant, she believed it was an intruder, but when she called out, the woman walked away -- and disappeared.

"Eventually when people come in and ask why the lamp is swinging back and forth, the story of the haunted house leaks out," said Lynch. "Once you admit your house is haunted out loud, there is no backing away from it."

The Lynch home is now a regular stop on the Leesburg Hauntings tour, where strange things sometimes occur while a whole group of people are watching. Like the time tour guide Laura Dutton had to yell over the strange banging sound coming from the steps. Or the time a whole audience watched as a piece of lace floated down from the third story and landed on Dutton. Joe Holbert, a Leesburg resident who investigates hauntings in the area, singles the house out as extremely haunted.

"It is probably one of the most haunted houses in America," said Holbert. "You have multiple ghosts in different rooms with separate things going on."

But the ghost Lynch talks about most often is the one she believes is named Eliza Thompson. During Lynch's research into her home, she has found references to the house as early as 1811. In the 1860s, however, the house was the focus of a fiercely contested legal debate over ownership, with Thompson finally coming out on top.

"I think she loved the house so much and worked so hard to get it, she never wanted to leave," said Lynch.

Lynch and her family have all noted the times that the lamp in the hall would swing back and forth and suddenly stop, sometimes at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Or how the center cushion on the green couch in the living room will suddenly show the impression of someone sitting in it.

But Lynch has only heard the ghost speak a few times. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night feeling someone poking her arm and saying "Martha! Martha!" One night she woke up to hear the sound of a woman crying and saying "Please don't let her make me go away."

The next morning, Lynch called the Loudoun Museum and asked how the Leesburg Haunting tour had gone the night before. She discovered that a self-proclaimed psychic had come on the tour and declared that the house should be exorcised, and that the Lynchs should make the spirit move on.

On another occasion, Lynch yelled up the stairs to her son, Kelley, and reminded him to bring the Civil War diary he was reading to school. As soon as she said the words "Civil War," the light above her head came on. Again and again, with her son looking on, the light would turn on only when she said the words "Civil War."

"You do get scared sometimes," said Lynch. "When I hear footsteps and I know I am here by myself. When the light kept coming on, it really raised the hair on the back of my neck."

But for the most part, Lynch and the rest of her family aren't frightened by the ghost in their home. She even considers it a bit of a blessing.

"I feel very fortunate," said Lynch. "Before I moved in here, I never thought about ghosts at all. Now our entire family believes something goes on in this house. This is the kind of thing you need to experience before you can believe it. But she and I get along because I love this house too. When I die, the house is going to have one more ghost in it."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Featured Supernaturnal Suspense Deal on BookBub: "The Forest of Forever"

I'm thrilled to announce that The Forest of Forever, the first book in the Soren Chase urban fantasy series, is the featured supernatural suspense deal on BookBub today. It's also part of Amazon's month-long deals on great books. You can buy it half-price for just $1.99!

See what readers are saying: "The perfect blend of paranormal, mystery and suspense. The writing is great and it's action packed." "An Engrossing, Intelligent, Must-tell-all-my friends-about-this-one Novel." "All I can say is WOW!" 

To check out more great supernatural deals on Bookbub, click here.

For Amazon's monthly deals, click here.

And if you haven't already, be sure to pick up the latest Soren Chase adventure, Carnival of Stone. It just received a fantastic 5-star review from One Book Two:  "This is quite the page turner, so get your blankie, tea and a soft place to sit, because you are not gonna be moving."