Monday, April 30, 2012

The Ghost and His Mullet

The Flora-bama sits on the boundary between Alabama and Florida near some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.   It is a unique cultural experience.  Stepping into the Flora-bama is stepping into the deep Southern culture that lives along the gulf submerged in bayous and sand.    It lingers in a place where rural Southern culture and massive tourism merge together.   It is a constant party that only stops for the occasional Hurricane.  It is also haunted.

The story of the ghost of the Flora-bama is a sad story.   Orville Stickenbacker was a shy boy that lived his entire life in Orange Beach and the surrounding area.  He had lost both his parents and didn't have very many friends.  Orville worked at a shop in Gulf Shores selling nick nacks to tourists.  He took his role in Gulf Coast culture seriously and tried to dress the part.  He wore brightly colored tropical shirts and had a pet hermit crab named Jezebel.

When Orville turned twenty-one he did what anyone would do and went to the bar.  Of course, Orville didn't drink, but he enjoyed the activities at the Flora-bama.   On Orville's first night at the Flora-bama, it was the night of Flora-bama's famous mullet toss.   On Orville's first night at the Flora-bama he fell in love with the mullet toss and he even won the toss.  It was the most fun he had ever had.

The next year was not kind to Orville.   Orville began to get sick.   He found a lump when he was taking a shower and began losing weight.   People noticed Orville's steady decline.  They begged him to go to the doctor, but for some reason, Orville refuse.   He grew sicker and sicker and Orville did nothing.  He wasted away without medical attention.  No one can say why he didn't go to the doctor.  Maybe he wanted to die, maybe he couldn't pay the hospital bills, but forever reason he just wouldn't get help.  

The next year Orville went to the mullet toss with his pet hermit crab, Jezebel in his pocket.   He participated in the mullet toss but did not win, so he asked if he could toss a fish.   He tossed the fish and with that action began the now famous fish toss at the Flora-bama.  When the night ended and all the fish and mullets had been throw, Orville walked out onto the beach.   He walked into the ocean and drown himself. 

People say that Orville still haunts the Flora-bama.  He sits on the back deck watching people throw mullets and fish.   He is often seen wandering the beach and walking towards the waves.

 *Story taken from "Alabama Ghosts" by Holly Smith

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Ghost of The Dorsey House

The Dorsey House is located just outside of Port Huron Michigan.   My family has been eating at the Dorsey House since it was a carriage house populated people traveling across Michigan by horseback.  The restaurant has a long history and that history is peppered with just enough sorrow to merit a ghost story.  You wouldn't know it now.  The restaurant is cozy and warm.  The food is good and the staff is friendly.  The restaurant feels new, because it has been rebuilt.   However, a ghost named Ira still hides in the shadows there, waiting to scare children in bathrooms and torment the staff late at night.

According to local legend, Ira was a violent sort of fellow who was prone to fighting.   During one of his scraps at the old Dorsey House, he was killed in the parking lot.   Since then, his spirit has lingered at the restaurant.  The old Dorsey House was pulled down in 1995 but that hasn't stopped Ira from haunting the new eatery and stories of his haunting persist to this day.  I asked our waitress about Ira and she indicated that doesn't particularly believe in ghosts.  Despite this, she says the restaurant is riddled with things she can't explain.  The water turns on and off by itself and lights flicker and go off.   Others have reported seeing strange lights and mists in the historic restaurant.   I saw nothing there but good food and happy faces, but my son says he saw a strange light in the bathroom.   Young eyes are prone to exaggeration, but my son's story reminds me of my favorite part of ghost stories.   They stimulate the imagination and spread on the wings of legend keeping them alive long after the living are dead.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Fling Blog Hop Winner Announced

The Winner of the Spring Fling Blog Hop Is BookAttict from .    Thanks to All Who Participated and Thank You for Stopping By!

Ms. Book Attict has won a free copy of my haunting paranormal romance Death's Dream Kingdom and a $15 amazon giftcard this week for the blog hop. 
Death's Dream Kingdom is the story of a woman who is ordinary in every way. She's an average mother and wife and is happy living every day mired in the ins and outs of the mundane, until she is murdered. After her death, Cera finds herself lost in a nether land somewhere between life and death where demons, ghosts, and old gods roam the streets preying on the living. In this strange world, Cera is told that she is everything but ordinary. In death, she alone can help heal the rift between worlds and help bridge the gap between life and death. Caught somewhere between her desire to live again and the desire to find heaven, Cera fights those that would pull her into the politics of the netherworld. But the will of the Fates is stronger than Cera's will and Cera quickly finds herself pulled into a quest that will drag her to hell and back and into the arms of an ancient demon lover. She will find that she is a child a Fate and that she alone can challenge Death himself for dominion over his kingdom.

 The Spring Fling Blog Hop
1. SER's Awesomness! 43. Michelle Clay (INT)
2. Selena Blake 44. Carly Fall - Where Fantasy Meets Romance (INT)
3. Josee Renard 45. Laura Kaye (INT)
4. Eliza Gayle 46. Bitten by Paranormal Romance (US)
5. theJeepDiva (US & Int) 47. Guilty Pleasures
6. Dani Harper, PNR author - Way Past Normal (INT) 48. Book Monster Reviews (INT)
7. Best Erotica Books (INT) 49. BookSpark (INT)
8. Romance Book Junkies (US) 50. MyBookAddiction
9. Alice Anderson 51. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
10. 52.
11. Not Your Momma's Book Blog (US) 53. Sara Daniel Romance Author
12. Reading Between the Wines (US/CA) 54. Dianne Duvall - Paranormal Romance Author (INT)
13. 55. H. D. Thomson (INT)
14. Cocktails and Books (INT) 56.
15. Serenity Woods 57. Xandra James (INT)
16. Gabrielle Bisset (INT) 58. Tami Brothers ~ Live, Love, Write! (INT)
17. Kassanna 59. Kharisma Rhayne
18. Jennifer Zane- Author (INT) 60. LilyElement
19. Casey Crow (INT) 61. Mimmi's Musings
20. Delighted Reader (US/CAN) 62. Jessica Scott
21. Ann Cory (US) ebook prize 63. The Romanceaholic (US/INT)
22. Book Savvy Babe 64. Cherie Marks
23. Sarah Gilman 65. Mercy Bordeaux (US)
24. Lissa Matthews 66. After Dark (INT)
25. Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy (INT) 67. One Writer - Two Names (INT)
26. Minding Spot (US) 68. Malia Mallory (INT)
27. Riverina Romantics (US & CAN) 69. Steph (Int)
28. Sandra Bunino 70. Shannan Albright
29. Tiffany Snow 71. H.B. Pattskyn (US/INT)
30. Amanda J. Greene (INT) 72.
31. Dark Haven Book Reviews (INT) 73. Froggarita's Bookcase
32. Romance Book Club Blog (US/CAN) 74. Terra Harmony
33. Blackraven's Erotic Cafe (INT) 75. Nina Whyle
34. Blackraven's Reviews (INT) 76. Kat Halstead (US)
35. AJ's Reading Nook (INT) 77. June Kramin
36. The Readers Roundtable Romance Reccers (INT) 78.
37. Dark Divas Reviews (INT) 79. Ghost Stories and Haunted Places
38. Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy 80. Telling Tales (US & CA)
39. Romance At Random US 81. Reading On The Wild Side (US)
40. Diane Thorne - Erotic Paranormal Romance Author 82. The eBook Reviewers (US)
41. Tina Folsom (INT) 83. Shawntelle Madison - Author (INT)
42. Natasha Blackthorne (INT) 84. Leila Brown

Monday, April 23, 2012

Can Ghosts be Captured?

Nganga was originally a word referring to a spiritual healer in the Bantu culture.  It continues to have that meaning in that culture.  However, as Nganga has taken on a different meaning in  Haitian, Cuban, and Brazilian Voodoo cultures.  It refers to an iron pot containing a large number of items such as bones, often a skull, chains, nails, bullets, and feathers bound together with chains and padlocks used to contain  spirits.   The spirits can be good or bad and the reason for their containment can vary.   The older the spirit the stronger the power of the nganga.

I learned about the Nganga on a show called Oddities on the Discovery Channel.   Such an object made me wonder if a spirit or ghost could be captured and contained in an object.   There are many circumstances in which objects are said to be haunted.  Robert the Doll and the Crying Boy Painting are classic examples of objects that are said to carry malevolent spirits with them.   However, it is an entirely different thing for something to be haunted and something to be created to contain a spirit.  Movies seem to love this idea.   Thirteen Ghosts shows a man capturing ghosts for his own malevolent purposes.  Ebay certainly loves this idea. Pendants and objects containing ghosts and spirits are prolific there and many of them sell for $666.00.  According to The Black Arts, by Richard Cavendish this is a believed possible by those who practice ritual magic.  Apparently many people believe this possible or at least want other people to believe it possible because these items seem to be quite prolific on the Internet.

However, despite my research I haven't found any stories by those who have bought or found Nganga or other man made spirit containing objects with interesting ghost stories.  You would think that if ghosts or spirits could be forcibly contained such stories would be more prolific than the number of people selling objects like this.  I really have no experience in these things so I can't conclusively comment one way or another, but I have to wonder if the Nganga on the discovery channel really did contain a ghost or spirit.   The stars of the show were certainly creeped out enough by the Nganga that they wouldn't keep it in their shop.   I'm not sure what I think, but I know the idea is very creepy and I certainly wouldn't want such an object anywhere near me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Son's Ghostly Encounter

I took these pictures of my sons using my iphone and these ghostly encounters are entirely fabricated by the new iphone app Ghost Exposure and the older one, Ghost Expose.  I compared these apps to see which I liked better, but which look more realistic?

I love my iphone.  It is my favorite gizmo.  I live with it attached to me.  I've used it to play scrabble, blog, check email, take family photos, and remind myself to pick my children up from school.  Over the years, I reviewed iphone apps here before, but I thought it might be fun to revisit  my favorite and compare it with a newer app that does the same thing. Ghost Capture and Ghost Expose are both very similar apps.   They both allow you take pictures and add ghosts, zombies, or goblins to your photographs.   I prefer ghost capture because it has a larger selection of ghosts to add to you photograph.  It also allows you to adjust the transparency of your ghost to make it more solid and more diaphanous with the touch of the button.  However,  it is harder to use and for instant photos with quick ghostly additions I would prefer Ghost Expose.  I also think Ghost Capture creates more realistic photos by providing more realistic ghost options.  For example, the pig demon ghost is just silly.    So what do ya'll think?  Which photos look better?

Both of these apps are available on itunes and both have free versions.  They are both tons of fun that will entertain your children for days and have fooled my coworkers and friends far more times than they should have.  One of my friends wouldn't believe the photo below was faked.  Both apps have their flaws, but both are a good time waiting to happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Vacation Pick of the Year: A Haunted Cruise

Haunt Jaunts, run by the fabulous Courtney Mroch, has been one of my favorite blogs since I started writing about ghosts.  Her blog and her writing has inspired me from the beginning.  Not only is she an amazing writer, but she is an interesting and charismatic person that I have been lucky enough to ghost hunt with, so when I found out that Courtney would be hosting a haunted cruise I was beyond thrilled.  If I can, I'll be taking this cruise into the paranormal.  This cruise through the Bermuda Triangle will feature haunted destinations and ghost hunting presentations.  It will be everything the paranormal enthusiast could ever possibly want.  Below you will find the information I gathered on the cruise from a press release:

Haunt Jaunts, Courtney's travel blog for restless spirits, is expanding its reach into the paranormal tourism industry. In addition to covering the best places to take a haunted vacation, it’s now offering a way to experience them, via a cruise into Bermuda Triangle territory during Halloween week 2012.

“We’re really excited about our first ever group event,” Courtney Mroch, Director of Paranormal Tourism for Haunt Jaunts, says. “I love cruising and have long been wanting to branch out into group events. When Tracey Steslow from A Suite Cruise of Cruise Planners contacted me about doing a paranormal theme cruise, I was immediately on board with the idea. Pun intended.”

Mroch and Steslow researched cruises and decided Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas sailing out of Miami on October 29, 2012 was the one for them.

“It was pretty much a no-brainer,” Mroch says. “We’d be on a ship at Halloween. We’d be in the Bermuda Triangle on Halloween. That’s exactly the sort of thing Haunt Jaunts is all about. On top of it all, Key West, one of the cities that’s touted among the most haunted in the nation, was one of the ports. Even the prices were fantastic. It was the perfect cruise for us to offer.”

And that’s how the Haunt Jaunts Halloween in the Bermuda Triangle Cruise with special guest investigators Ghost Eyes Paranormal was born.

“I am excited to be a part of this,” Steve Vaughn, founder of Ghost Eyes Paranormal, says. “How can you say no to being in the Bermuda Triangle for Halloween? It is a true honor to have been asked to speak at this event. I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing what I know throughout the cruise. Halloween cannot get here fast enough.”

Mroch will be conducting a “Bermuda Triangle: Legends and Lore” presentation while aboard ship. Vaughn will be conducting a discussion about all things paranormal investigation, including techniques and equipment.
And as far as the prices Mroch mentioned? They really are reasonable. They start from $400.53 per person double occupancy, or $801.06 per cabin, for an inside cabin. That includes room, all onboard meals, as well as all onboard entertainment, Haunt Jaunts events, gratuities, taxes, and even a $25 per stateroom ($12.50 per person) onboard credit to spend however the cruiser wishes. (Photos, drinks, merchandise, etc.)

Ports of call part of the four-night roundtrip from Miami cruise include Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas (Royal Caribbean’s private island); and Key West, Florida. More information can be found on the Haunt Jaunts site,, on the Halloween Cruise 2012 page,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ghosts and Dying

In one of my previous posts,  Robin's Egg Bleu of suggested that I do a post on the deathbed visions of ghosts and spirits that the terminally ill often report seeing.   The American Medical Society believes these visions are hallucinations and this is the typical scientific take on such visions.   However, many respected doctors and professionals have found holes in the scientific approach to these phenomena.   According to Volt, in the book Fringeology,  Dr. Kubler-Ross who was most famous for changing the way people looked at Death and Dying with her book On Death and Dying, was one of the first people to address deathbed visions.   In her work with the dying, she found that it was common for the dying to have visions of a bright white light and visions of spirits, ghosts, and the other side.  She found these visions so common and inexplicable that she dedicated much of the end of her life to exploring them.  She couldn't embrace the common belief that they were hallucinations because the patients were often brain dead when they had the hallucinations.

Other physicians have found similar things.   My husband once had an encounter with a man on the brink of death who had terrible visions of hell.   I've known people on the brink who saw angels and ghosts.  At the end of life, visions of the other side are common and remarkably similar.   Visits from deceased loved ones are common.   There have been cases of those on the brink of death being visited by loved ones and friends they thought were alive, but found out later were dead.  According to Steve Wagner of, deathbed visions are very common.  He says, "Only about 10 percent of dying people are conscious shortly before their deaths. But of this 10 percent, it is estimated, between 50 and 60 percent of them experience these visions. The visions only seem to last about five minutes and are seen mostly by people who approach death gradually, such as those suffering from life-threatening injuries or terminal illnesses."

Regardless of people's beliefs prior to their deathbed vision, the visions are surprisingly similar.  It doesn't matter if you believe in ghosts, God, Allah, or nothing at all, on the path to death your visions will seem much like everyone else's.   All of this evidence suggests that at the moment of death, we are granted a brief glimpse of the other side.  Often, this vision can take the form of ghosts that come to guide you through the process of death.   The dying describe these ghosts as comforting.  They are there to help.  They are guides, friendly faces in a dark time.   Scientifically, these visions can never be confirmed as real, but as someone who believes in ghosts, it is hard for me to believe that the dying are seeing anything but the kind faces who have gone before them, guiding them home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Can Children See Ghosts?

 I have often heard it said that children are more in touch with the paranormal than adults.  Children are certainly more receptive to the idea of ghosts than adults and ghost stories can spread through a group of children like wildfire.   One could argue, that children are more open to the wanderings of imagination than adults and that they are prone to believe in many fictional things with a fiery passion.  They lack the skepticism that has grown in a more mature mind and they are prone to report encounters with the paranormal because of these factors.  Yet, my new baby has recently made me revisit the question of children and ghosts.

My little one spends a considerable amount of time staring at nothing and laughing and smiling.  He'll stare at a spot on the couch that is empty or a place behind my head where nothing is happening.   I have to ask myself, is it possible he sees things I don't see?  I found an interesting study on that evaluated the very questions I have had.  The study was done by Nicole Leader who presented several surveys to parents of children of various ages in order to determine if children were in fact more receptive to the paranormal world than adults and if so, at what ages does this ability peak and fade.    The results of the study found that most parents did believe their children were more receptive to the paranormal and that children's encounters with ghosts usually began between the ages of six months and 4 years. Children seem to be naturally born with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts, according to this research.   The study also found that over time children cease to communicate with the other side. A few children maintain their abilities into adulthood, but this is rare. The researcher believes that this may be caused not only by a lessening of ability to communicate with the other side but also by parents steady discouragement of such communication.    The research also found that children most commonly have contact with the ghosts of deceased loved ones.  If you would like to read the entire study you can at .

Another paper I read discussed a child psychologist who indicated that at least a third of his patients believe they see ghosts (Mark Hall via  This paper focused more on the terror created by children's connection to the other side and ways to banish such terror.   If what it suggests were true, perhaps the reason children have a more profound fear of the dark is because they are more able to sense the unseeable spirits that lurk in the shadows.  As adults, we have shed our connections with the other side and have lost our fear of things we can no longer sense.

   When I worked as a child therapist, I certainly found that children are sensitive to many things that adults have learned to tune out.  Children are deeply observant on a level adults are not.  They lack the inner dialogue that distract adults from being completely present in the now and that opens them up to observations adults, who are lost in their own thoughts, are not able to make.  For example,  if I saw eight children and their parents in one day, every child would notice and comment on my new tattoo while most adults would just focus on the business that had brought them into my office.   To me, this very trait in children would make them more open to encounters with the paranormal.

I'm not alone in this belief, any kind of review on the topic of children and ghosts seems to show a consensus that if ghosts are real, children see them more frequently and are more open to them than adults.  What does this mean?  It means that if your child is afraid of the dark or says there's a monster in the closet, maybe next time you shouldn't completely ignore them.  Maybe they are just seeing something you can't and hearing whispers you are unable to understand.