Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mall Ghosties

Eight weeks until The Stubbord Dead’s release day, and one day until the malls become places where angels might fear to tread.

What? Malls are already packed with Christmas shoppers? That may be true, but when December officially rolls around shoppers get that unmistakable ‘crazy’ gleam in their eye. (And that’s the crazy INSIDE THE MALL gleam. We won’t get into the crazy PARKING LOT gleam. *shiver*)

So in the spirit (you can groan. That was an intentional ghost pun) of festive shopping, I went looking for stories about haunted malls and shops. Now, we all know about haunted pubs, hotels, and hospitals. But stores? Yes, apparently even the disembodied enjoy hanging out between well-stocked aisles. Or the food court, as may be the case.

  • Chapelfield Shopping Centre in Norwich, England is rumoured to have frequent haunting activity. Some people have suggested it may be linked to the discovery of a 12th Century well with the remains of 10 people (including children) inside. There are at least two (disputed) CCTV videos of ghostly goings-on at this mall.
  • Jervis Shopping Centre in Dublin is another mall with CCTV videos of items moving without explanation. The centre was built on a former hospital site. Apparently most of the facade of the former hospital has been retained and incorporated into the mall.
  • The Toys’R’Us superstore in Sunnyvale California supposedly sits on land that was used in the 19th century as a ranch and apple orchard. Not so scary, right? Well, turns out a previous employee of the ranch named ‘Johnny’ likes to walk the aisles, occasionally moving items. Opening/morning staff have apparently reported multiple instances of finding stock scattered across the floor.

Have you had any unexplained occurrences while in your local mall? (And I’m not talking about how prices magically increase from the point you pick up that printer box, to the moment you arrive at the till. Yes, I’m looking at you, local Big Blue Electronics Box Store.) As always, I’d love to hear about your thoughts, adventures and experiences.

Have a great week, and remember to smile! (It hides the crazy gleam somewhat. ;) )

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Pop ghosties

Goodness! November is rattling on at a furious pace, isn’t it? And no doubt few people are more aware of this than those brave souls engaged in National Novel Writing Month.

Yeah, technically I’m one of those brave souls, but I’ve had two false starts and I refuse to say I’m actively in-it-to-win-it until I hit 5000 words.

In honour of NaNoWriMo, this week’s blog is going to list off just a few of the ghosts found in pop culture and literature:

  • King Hamlet –the lead character’s father from Shakespeare’s play, ‘Hamlet’, appears four times to reveal the manner of his death and to ask his son to avenge him.
  • The Headless Horseman – the most iconic character of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, by Washington Irving, has spawned movies, cartoons, and a host of other merchandise opportunities. There has been some suggestion, however, that the horseman is not even a ghost at all, but is simply the character Abraham Van Brunt.

Poster for the movie ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (found on IMdB)

  • Nearly Headless Nick (Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington) – the Griffindor house ghost in the Harry Potter novels. A charming character, who died in a botched beheading. Nick is played by John Cleese in the HP movies.
  • Loyd the bartender – aids in the mental collapse of Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’, by encouraging him to kill his family.
  • Slimer – the disgusting green mascot from the Ghostbusters franchise. He’s the only known friend of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
  • Casper (Casper McFadden) –created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, this friendly little ghost made his first appearance in 1939 in a children’s book, before being picked up by Famous Studios and Harvey Comics. Since then he’s been featured in comic strips, cartoons, movies, and on various merchandise. His back story, and the reason why he became friendly in the first place, have never been definitively explained.

Casper the friendly ghost (picture found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casper_the_Friendly_Ghost)

  • The Flying Dutchman – Like the Headless Horseman, this ghostly ship and all around herald of doom has been utilized in dozens of stories, movies and cartoons, most recently in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and in Spongebob Squarepants cartoons.

The Dutchman’s ghost ship, on Spongebob Squarepants (Picture found on spongebob.wikia.com)

  • Boo-Berry – the ghost in the General Mills monster-themed cereal mascot line-up. Buddies include Franken Berry, and Count Chocula.

Boo Berry blueberry flavored cereals (picture found at http://www.generalmills.com/Brands/Cereals/Monsters.aspx)

    • Sam from ‘Ghost’ – Sam. Molly. And a pottery wheel. Need I say more?
  • Mary Winchester – I could do a whole blog post on the ghosts featured (and most times, gangked) on the TV series, Supernatural. Instead, I’m going to give a nod to the Winchester boys’ mother. Even in death, Mama Winchester’s soul was fierce enough to send a poltergeist packing!

Mary Winchester from Supernatural (image found at supernatural.wikia.com)

Are there any other ghosts in pop culture and literature that stand out for you? As always, feel free to drop me a line. Until then, have a great week!

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What haunts you, hinders you

A bit of an extended delay for the blog post this week, but in a way I’m glad for it. I decided to push this week’s original post forward and instead poke at the metaphorical ghosts for a bit. Specifically the Ghosts of Failures Past.

*Waits for stampede of people not interested in this topic to vamoose.*

Still here? Cool beans.

I’m not on contract with Carina Press for more than one book (this is normal for CP, for those who are curious), so whether I ever write a follow up to The Stubborn Dead or not is completely up to me. Of course I want to keep the Lost Souls series going. Heck, the first draft of Book 2 was technically finished around the time I was knee-deep with edits for Stubborn! Thing was, I knew there would be a few adjustments to Stubborn that would make an impact on Book 2, so I decided not to mess with it until I knew all of my edits were over. Once they were, I dived in.

And then I doggy paddled, floated a bit on my back, paddled some more. All in circles, mind you.

Actually, I’m not being dreadfully fair on my muse. I tore Book 2 to shreds around three times before I came up with a set of characters and a scenario that I felt would be believable despite the paranormal circumstances they were all in. Around this time I went to a Carina Press author lunch hosted by Angela James. Friendly (as in genuinely friendly, not mob-boss friendly) mention was made that I should get on that second book to help establish a regular publishing schedule. I said I’d have a polished version to my editor by the next week.

I didn’t. I spent the next two weeks nit-picking the manuscript until I felt exhausted, under-creative, and blegh. That was when my dad asked something along the lines of, if the story was good, and I had polished it the best I felt I could, wouldn’t it be better to send the damn thing in and let my editor decide if there was something there she’d like me to work on? You know – give her an opportunity to see if it was a story she was interested in acquiring, instead of me just editing myself into a state of panicky paralysis?

He was right. When I let go of the need for perfection I relaxed, eased through the last read throughs, and sent the manuscript off with not only a sigh of relief, but a deep sense of pride in my work. I realized I liked the story, and better yet, it had definitely improved over the time period I’d been Frankenstein-ing it. But (and this is a big one) I had been days away from burning out on it, possibly even scrapping it. Why?

Fear of failure.

Wha-? But I have a book coming out – how can I be afraid to fail when I know I have it in me to succeed?

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been out of work for a while now. I never expected to be heading into month nine of unemployment. Especially since I kept being told that I was young, conscientious, creative, hard working – you know, all the good stuff that people are looking for in an employee these days. My previous job was at a massive international company, for gosh sakes! Finding employment should be manageable! Funny how your confidence gets shot from a twelfth story window when interviews don’t pan out. You get to the point where you stop reminding yourself that there were a dozen other people who didn’t get the job, either. You start wondering what’s wrong with you. You go looking for reasons why you, and your work, suck. You start to wonder if those previous successes were maybe flukes. And if they were, well, there’s a chance the stuff you’re working on now might suck, right?

Wrong.

There’s a theory in metaphysical circles that ghosts need to draw energy into themselves to create affects in the physical world. The same applies to your ego, otherwise known as the part of your mind that feasts on your fears, keeping you crippled by applying a steady salve of doubt and pain to your internal wounds. And it will dig deep, deep into your past to find examples of how badly you sucked. (How deep? I started getting down on myself for crap I did when I was little!) It is a vicious, terrible cycle of negative introspection leading to a steady withdrawal from the things you find passion and joy in so that you can try and find something that will ‘fix’ what you assume are peoples’ opinions of yourself. Which, ironically, pushes people away, leading to further sadness and introspection.

Stop. Unless you are one of those individuals who sacrifice small children or animals for the hell of it, there is an excellent chance that you have something in you that is viable, worthwhile and relevant right now. Yes, you may have some incredibly suck-tastic moments in your pass that are haunting your every weary step as you try eke out a place for yourself in this world. I will absolutely stand with you and acknowledge that. But then I will tell you this – you’re not alone. We’ve all had those moments.

ALL. OF. US.

Did you get the ‘all’ bit? Yes, even every awesome person that you hold in high esteem has had times in their lives when they felt like a dastardly idiot/loser/failure of epic proportions (to a greater or lesser extent). They just chose to recognize their issues, and say, “Yup, that happened yesterday. But how can I move on today?”  And in doing so, they cut off the energy to their egos. Probably not completely, mind you. Dealing with the ego is part of being human. But they learnt to shine a light on its insidious nature, instead of letting it rule them. And it’s a funny thing about shining a light on something lurking in the dark – most, if not all of the time, it turns out to be far less substantial than you imagined.

And those negative opinions you’re pretty sure people have about you? Nine times out of ten they’re completely wrong, and the other one … well, let’s just say they’re probably not the type of person you want to hang out with/work for if they think you’re dreadful.

Wishing you all the love and support you need to turn around and put that ego in its place! And when in doubt, follow Pinkie Pie’s lead. ;)

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Living ghosts?

(I decided to give an extra day or two between postings, just so it didn’t feel like I was spamming. On with the blog of ghostly phenomina! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! ;) )

Every now and again a medium featured on a local TV show seems to slip up and mention he sees an apparition of someone the person being read insists is still very much alive. Has the medium lost his edge, or is he perhaps faking the whole thing?

Not necessarily.

Astral traveling or out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, doppelgangers, thought forms, crisis apparitions (and some would argue even zombies) can all fall under the category of “living ghosts”. With the exception of zombies, living ghosts are meant to be an un- or subconscious projection of a living person’s spirit/essence into another location. They mostly occur when the projector is asleep, daydreaming, or in a trans-like/meditative state.  Here are a few descriptions to help understand the differences between them (but do keep in mind these are very short paragraphs – there are multiple books, websites and societies dedicated to each phenomina!) :

  • Astral traveling/out-of-body experiences: These can be interchangeable terms, although astral traveling is generally considered a voluntary act, while an OBE is more spontaneous. In both cases the traveler in usually either asleep or in an altered state of consciousness and experiences a sensation of leaving the physical body behind. Some people report seeing a silver cord connecting the solar plexis areas of their physical and astral bodies. This cord is infinitely stretchy and remains in-tact so long as the physical body is alive. For some people the sensation of leaving the body and maybe floating above it is as far as the experience will go. However more adept practitioners (and those people who are open to the idea of having such experiences), may be able to travel great distances around the earth with nothing more than a thought. These astral bodies are sometimes picked up on by people who are sensitive to subtle energies (such as mediums) and can be mistaken for regular ghosts.
  • Near-death experiences: Very similar to astral travelling and OBEs, a near-death experience is a temporary ejection of the spirit at the time of death. A person in the grips of this phenomenon may later describe looking down on their body, watching as people try to resuscitate them. There is usually a sense of calm/detachment and sometimes curiosity over what is occurring below them. Details from this  point vary – the person realizes that they’re not quite done with their time on earth and willingly returns to their body; there is a white light that the person wants to approach, but they are told (either by a disembodied voice, or by a relative/friend who is deceased) that they have to return; there is a tunnel leading to the light which they begin to travel down, but are ultimately turned back; the person is surrounded by loved ones (sometimes angels or religious figures) who express immense joy at seeing them , but tell the person that it’s “not their time”.  It is generally accepted that, unlike astral traveling or OBEs, the spirit of a person having a near-death experience is restricted to the general vicinity of their body and the area leading up to the white light.
  • Doppelgangers: A living person’s spirit double that may, according to circumstances, be able to take a type of physical form. Doppelgangers fall into one of two categories – harmless, or a herald of death. The harmless versions are most times an unconscious projection of a person’s will, focus or desires. This entity is clearly visible to others (regardless of their level of psychic development), but the projector rarely sees it. Which is a good thing, as the theory goes that when a person lays eyes on their own doppelganger it becomes a herald of their impending death. (If you should ever take one of the official “Ghost Walks” in Victoria, British Columbia, be sure to ask the guide about the doppelganger sightings in Beacon Hill Park.)
  • Thought forms: Also known as ‘tulpas’ in the Tibetan esoteric tradition, or ‘golem’ in the Jewish magical tradition, these are man-made ghosts – entities given a form of life through the sustained focus of the human mind. These artificial entities are created through intense concentration and other rites. If not treated with due care and diligence they can develop a measure of sentience and become troublesome. They can be difficult to dissolve once they reach this stage.
  • Crisis apparitions: Many people can attest to having accurate feelings about their child or other loved one being in terrible trouble. Crisis apparitions are one step beyond this phenomenon, where the visage of the person/s in danger appears to friends, relatives or simply to people close enough to help. This seems to be an involuntary act of projection on the part of the victim, similar to a doppelganger effect.

Excellent examples of all of these can be found in ‘The Complete Book of Ghosts’ by Paul Roland.

So, have you experienced any of these phenomena? Or do you know a story of someone else who has? Don’t be shy – I’d love to hear about it! :D

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