Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Deadline

A little ditty I wrote last year and thought I'd share again this year. Enjoy!

Twas the Night Before Deadline
Adaptation by Dana Davis (my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the night before deadline, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my mouse.
The sticky notes hung by the computer in rows,
In hopes that my muse soon would make a show.

My characters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of plotlines danced in my head.
And computer all booted, and hand on my mouse,
I’d just settled my brain for a long writer’s joust.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the glass.

The moon on the pool and the landscape lights
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects in sight.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature woman in flowing apparel.

The little odd woman, so lively and loose,
I knew in a moment it must be my muse.
More rapid than eagles her course she came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called out my game!

"Now Dashes! now, Spaces! now, Paragraphs and Verbs!
On, Comas! On, Clauses! on Headers and Blurbs!
To the top of the page! To the margin and title!
Now type away! Type away! Type away, writer!"

As dry leaves that before the wild monsoon fly,
When she meets with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So into the house the course she flew,
With a bag full of ideas, my lovely muse true.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my brain
The prancing and pawing of each little refrain.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Into the office my muse came with a bound.

She was dressed all in letters, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all garnished with phrases and words.
A bundle of ideas she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a fairy, as she opened her pack.

Her eyes-how they twinkled! her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the skin of her chin was as white as snow.

The stump of a pen she held tight in her teeth,
And the nouns they encircled her head like a wreath.
She had a round face and a little loose bun,
That bobbed when she laughed, like a hummingbird tongue!

She was chubby and plump with ideas for my shelf,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself!
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And filled all my sticky notes, then turned with a jerk.
And laying her finger aside of her nose,
And giving a nod, out the window she rose!

She danced and she laughed, and gave out a whistle,
And away she then flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she flew out of sight,
"Happy writing to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monti’s Ghost Hunt

As promised, a peek into my latest investigation. This time I went to Monti’s Restaurant in Tempe, AZ, one of the oldest establishments in the city, and a purportedly haunted establishment. This was separate from my private investigative team and not in any way affiliated with them. We had some famous guests with us, including Heathyr Hoffman from Ghost Hunters Academy and one of the original Amityville house residents. It was quite a night.

First off, the hosts told a little about themselves and their experiences in the get-acquainted hour, while the restaurant staff was clearing out customers and cleaning up. We were going to have the place to ourselves, at night, in the dark. I couldn’t wait. I brought handheld gear with me because I knew we would be moving around a lot. I had my digital camera, my digital recorder, a flashlight, an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector, a grid light, and the most important tool of all, myself.

There was one table with a small group of people who’d been drinking heavily before we ever got started. I didn’t want to be anywhere near them because I just knew they would be trouble. Or at the very least, loud and obnoxious, which is not conducive when investigating. That behavior would never be tolerated in my private investigative team but since I wasn’t with them tonight, I had no say in the matter. All I could do was stay far away from the drunks. They were loud so it was easy to avoid them.

After the introductions, I walked around the restaurant, getting to know the place a bit, and did a sweep. This means I used my EMF detector to see where the electric spikes were located. There were a couple of huge spikes in two areas of the restaurant, the hallway and the enclosed banquet room. Nothing paranormal. Just a lot of old wiring and pipes, but the amount of EMFs in those areas were enough to create a fear cage. People sensitive to electromagnetic fields can experience hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, nausea and lightheadedness, which can be mistaken for paranormal stuff. This is referred to as a fear cage. Lucky for me, I’m not very sensitive to it. Another theory is that spirits use electrical energy to manifest so sometimes ghosts will be attracted to those areas. I was open to experiences and at the same time skeptical that anything paranormal would actually happen. I’ve heard from other investigators that this is a healthy attitude to take.

As I was doing my sweep, I also took photos. The original part of the restaurant has uneven floors, another thing that can contribute to a feeling of paranormal activity, as well as a lot of mirrors. Reflections bounced around everywhere. I had to keep this in mind when looking at the photos later because mirrors can toss all kinds of light and shadows around and look like ghosts. A neat thing about the place were the original doorways that date back to the 1800s. They’re short. Even I can touch the tops of them. Creating short doors was a trick of the old western movies to make actors look bigger and I got a kick out of feeling tall. Of course, these doors weren’t created for a movie set. They were the real deal. The tin ceiling is beautiful, too, but yet another reflective surface I would need to keep in mind.

Once I finished my sweep, the real fun began. I joined Heathyr Hoffman’s group and she led us into a room with a beehive fireplace, where we sat down at a long table and set up our equipment. Two others had flashlights that twist on and off, so they set them up and we began to ask questions, hoping to get responses with the flashlights. Twist on for yes and off for no. Simple, right? I didn’t think anything would happen but we began to get responses almost right away. This excited our group and we became quite animated in-between our questions. Heathyr, who is also a sensitive, said she felt a presence in the room with us, which added to the excitement. We continued this until the activity waned.

After a while, we moved into the banquet room and started a session with those in the other groups. Again, we got responses with flashlights. Everyone seemed on their best behavior and the room was very quiet for such a large group. I don’t remember seeing the drunken people there so maybe that was the reason. Like in the other room, the activity began to fade after a while.

Next, we regrouped and switched leaders. We welcomed our new leader then headed into the Senator’s Room. Again, we set up the flashlights, and again we got direct responses to questions. Excitement swelled again and we began getting creative with our questions. Our leader seemed impressed with the results.

Once the responses stopped, we moved into yet another room, this one at the front of the restaurant. It was fairly quiet, but as we sat down, traffic picked up outside, including sirens. That’s when we realized it was 2:10 AM and the bars had just closed. We got no flashlight responses here and there was too much contamination from outside, so we headed back to the banquet room, this time with just our small group of about five people. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much this time around and we were all growing tired. At around 2:30 AM, we regrouped and called it a night.

I thanked the hosts and headed home, eager to go over my audio and photos to see if I got anything. That would have to wait, though. I needed to sleep. The next day, I went through my photos. The pictures showed nothing unusual. Oh, I got several dust “orbs” but those are just dust particles reflecting off my camera flash. That same day, I learned that one of our hosts had been in a serious car accident on his way home. He survived, thankfully, but not without serous injuries and a totaled car. Needless to say, that put quite a damper on my excitement. He’s recovering now, much to everyone’s relief.

A few days later, when I had time to listen to the audio recordings, I heard what I thought was an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon). This is some that’s not heard at the time of the investigation, but is picked up on the recorder. I sent a clip to my team director and she confirmed that it sounded like a legitimate EVP. She wasn’t present at this investigation, since it wasn’t with our team, but it’s always nice to get her input because she’s been doing this for many years. As you can imagine, I got excited. This was my second EVP, the first one being from the San Carlos (see previous blog post), and makes me want to get back over to Monti’s for another ghost hunt.

Despite the tragic accident that happened that night, I’m looking forward to future investigations. As a writer, these experiences enrich my imagination, and I have no doubt I’ll be using some of them in my future books. Dramatized, of course. After all, I am a fiction writer.

Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hotel San Carlos Ghost Tour with Photos

Hotel San Carlos Ghost Tour October 29, 2011

Front of the hotel on left.

Fire escape on right that once led to the roof.

The evil beer spirits in the basement.

First of all, let me stress that I was investigating on my own this time and not with my paranormal team. We do that sometimes, attend other tours and investigations in hopes of finding something. A friend met me at the Hotel San Carlos for one of their famous ghost tours on Halloween weekend one month ago. While this wasn’t a traditional investigation and we had a lot of contamination from other guests, we had a entertaining time and I learned some Phoenix history I hadn’t known about.

The land where the San Carlos sits has quite a past. About 400 years ago, Hohokam Indians lived on the land and used the underground spring that still exists today, so you can imagine there might have been burials from that time period. In 1874, Phoenix’s first schoolhouse was built on the property and later expanded. Children’s deaths are associated with that schoolhouse, which is no longer there. Finally, in 1928, the San Carlos Hotel opened on the grounds. The owners tapped into the ancient spring, which still supplies water to the hotel today. While the tragic deaths at San Carlos make for interesting ghost stories and highlight the ghost tours, the hotel is well-known for its Hollywood ties. Stars such as Mae West, Clark Gable, and Marilyn Monroe stayed at the San Carlos during Hollywood’s heyday.

I’ll be mixing in some of the history, along with my experiences during the ghost tour. After our guide gave us the history of Leone, the woman you’ll read about next, I got what I believe is an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) but I’m having other ears take a listen. As soon as I get anything verified, I’ll post clips on my website and let my blog readers know when they’re up.

In May of 1928, a brokenhearted woman named Leone Jensen snuck through the penthouse and jumped to her death from the roof – 8 stories up – and died. Others say her cheating boyfriend may have pushed her. Authorities originally thought she was only 22 years old when she died, but recent research puts her at 32 years of age. Our guide told us that psychics have revealed Leone was pregnant at the time of her death. Her body was shipped back to LA for burial, so unless she’s ever exhumed, we’ll never know if the pregnancy is true or not. Leone was wearing a white dress when she died and supposedly haunts the halls of the San Carlos in the form of cold air, a white mist, or ribbon of light. I would have loved to see her, but I had no encounters with mist or light ribbons that night. And the only cold air I felt was when we were outside.

On October 29, 1934, exactly 77 years ago to the day that we were on our tour, a man with financial problems committed suicide by turning his hotel bathroom into a gas chamber. He died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Another December – unfortunately I didn’t catch the year and the audio has too much ambient noise for me to make it out but it sounds like 1933 – a 41 year old single woman hit on hard times and killed herself by taking cyanide capsules.

The most recent death happened in December 2004 when a man named Bruce climbed the fire escape from the pool area up to the roof and jumped to his death onto Monroe Street. This man had hit hard times, like others before him, was going through a divorce, and had lost his job. After that, the hotel hack-sawed the roof access from the pool area. The pool area was very noisy with traffic, bar patrons from next door, and hotel guests, so if I caught any EVPs here, I’ll never know it. After this man’s death, prankster things began happening in the manager’s apartment, joining what our guest said is also a dark entity in that area. The investigator in me was thrilled that we were headed to the manager’s apartment next.

The manager’s apartment was originally used as servants’ quarters and now houses workout equipment. Unfortunately for those of us with cameras, there are also several mirrors on the walls, which play havoc when trying to capture anything paranormal. I hung back, staying near the far wall and as distant from the other guests as I could get. I caught a whisper and what sounds like a breath on my audio recorder, but I’m having those verified by others to make sure they’re actual EVPs before I post them. Someone mentioned that a lot of people were getting touched in the closet area, but I didn’t experience anything physical at all, and I even asked for something. I thought about staying behind after the others left but the staff were very good about finding stragglers. Besides, I didn’t want to miss our next stop – the basement. I was excited that we would be going there, especially since the hotel had talked about making it off limits to the ghost tour.

Our guide warned us of the evil spirits in the basement. Evil beer spirits, that is, in the form of kegs. I watched the faces of the other guests and some seemed worried at her first statement, then relieved when she mentioned beer. Novices. I, on the other hand, was disappointed to hear the evil basement spirits came in a keg. On the way down, I noticed the floors were uneven in several areas, typical for a building this old, but that can also make people feel dizzy or off balance, normal sensations that can be mistaken for paranormal. The tight stairwell had high EMFs (electromagnetic fields) too, which is said to affect those sensitive to magnetic fields. It’s called a Fear Cage for that very reason. Some also believe EMFs attract entities because ghosts feed on the energy in order to manifest.

Finally, we made it into the basement, which put out high EMFs like crazy. This didn’t surprise me, given the amount of pipes and hanging wires above my head. My EMF detector went off so consistently down here that I turned off the sound. On my audio, I can even hear the buzzing of electricity sometimes, it’s that strong. Again, I hung back from the crowd. Unfortunately, people were so excited they kept talking, laughing, and making all sorts of shuffling noises, while the guide was talking, which seemed to echo around the basement. We also could hear chairs scraping on the floor from the bar and pipe noises and clangs. This was a ghost tour, not an official investigation, and most people were here for some spooky Halloween fun, so I just had to go with the flow.

Later, when I listened to the audio, I was right about there being too much noise and talking in this area to discern anything paranormal. I would love to go down there with one or two of my team members late at night when the bars are closed and see if we could get anything. I’ll have to look into that and see if it’s possible to get a team in there for a private investigation. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Thanks for popping by. I’ll get any EVPs posted once I get them verified.

Coming soon - The Monti’s investigation blog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ghost Hunting - Thrills for Some, Frights for Others

Halloween is fast approaching. Spook houses, ghost hunts, haunted corn mazes, and other paranormal activities abound here in the Valley of the Sun this time of year. I spent a good amount of time in my child/teen years creating haunted houses to scare others on Halloween, and I have many paranormal stories that were handed down in my family. Not only do I use my experiences in my books, but ghost hunting is a lot of fun this close to Halloween and I always love the thrill of the chase. But not everyone is excited with possible ghostly activity, especially in their own home, which is why some will call paranormal investigators like me in to help.

While the team I'm with looks forward to each hunt, we have to remember that some people are truly frightened by the activity they're experiencing. Some hope it's real, others don't. I suspect fear is also a reason why some homeowners cancel after requesting an investigation, answering a slew of questions, and finally being accepted, even if it means losing out on a chance to understand what's causing the activity that's scaring them. Sadly, the latest homeowners did just this and backed out of an investigation my paranormal group were supposed to do. It happens more than we like and is disappointing, especially when we've done all the preparations and get a call at the last minute, but we accept it and don't push them into doing something they're not comfortable with.

This makes 3 investigations in a row that were cancelled once I signed on. I'm beginning to wonder if someone in the afterlife is avoiding me. Do I have a reputation as a kick-butt investigator that can send the ghosts packing? While that sounds like a hoot, and maybe even a plot-line for a TV show, I hope not. Ghosts running from me would be bad news, since I'm trying to catch evidence of them. And it would greatly decrease fodder for my books.

This latest cancellation isn't the end-all of ghost hunts for this year, not by far. In fact, now that it's closer to Halloween, things are heating up around here. Local businesses often allow people in to investigate their properties. Sometimes it's just for fun, but sometimes the places have a lot of activity. You just never know what you might find, and I'm not one to skip opportunities.

I'm attending two ghost talks this week, and Halloween weekend I'm participating in a hunt at a local hotel that's purported to be haunted. Then in November I have a much bigger investigation with a member of the Ghost Hunters Academy team, one of the actual Amityville house survivors, and several others who are influential in the paranormal field. That will be a fantastic night. Of course, I'll blog all about these investigations once we're finished, and post photos and any EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) I'm lucky enough to pick up. I'm excited and really hope we get some good stuff.

If you've even been curious about what a ghost hunt is like, I urge you to check out postings in your local area. While most might be for fun and games, you can ask questions and gain experience taking photos and EMF readings. And who knows, you just might get a ghostly surprise when you go over those photos later.

Happy hunting and have a safe and frightfully fun Halloween!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gearing Up for a Paranormal Investigation

This weekend my ghost hunting team has a residential investigation. While residential details such as names and locations are kept confidential, I will be allowed to share general information, such as how many and what type, if any, of EVP (electronic voice phenomena), strange photos, sounds, and/or other phenomena we experience, as long as it doesn't compromise the identities and privacy of our clients. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some of the things we do to prepare.

First of all, and I stress this because it's very important, our team never charges a fee for investigations. They are done on our own time and at our own expense. Many of us hold down full-time jobs, which is why we do our investigations mainly on weekends. While the majority of us are in this because we love it or because we've had past experiences we couldn't explain and we're trying to find evidence, we also enjoy helping people. Especially when someone doesn't feel safe in their own home. It's satisfying to leave a residence, knowing you've helped a family feel at ease in their surroundings.

So, after a potential client notifies us that he/she is having problems with unusual activity, whether it's a private home or public property, we generally follow the same rules. One of our team members contacts this potential client by phone and conducts an interview, asking a number of questions about the location, persons involved, and the activity. If after that, there seems to be legitimate activity and the client still wants an investigation, we send out information to the rest of the team. Usually, we meet the client in person several days or weeks for another interview before we conduct an investigation, but this isn't always the case.

With a public area renowned for activity, we sometimes initiate contact with the caretakers and ask permission to do a nighttime investigation on the property. Sometimes they agree and other times not. According to our team director, cemetery caretakers are notorious for turning down investigators due to fear of vandalism or other mishaps, so we assure them that we are an all-adult team with proper insurance coverage. This doesn't guarantee we will get in, but it does help. Hotels are sometimes a great place to start and are a lot of fun, especially when you're still training. If they advertise strange activity as part of their charm, they sometimes hold public tours and/or investigations and are more open to teams coming in.

Whatever the location, next comes the preparation. One of our team members is chosen to do an investigation of the property. For this upcoming residential investigation and a previous one, I was in charge of doing this. A property investigation includes using the internet, library, and news resources to look into property details - how old it is, who or what companies inhabited it over the years, any tragedies that occurred there, public reports of past activity, etc... I use the information from the homeowner and go from there. I have used all of these resources, as well as census records (if the property is old enough) to get information on a place. Census records are only available up to 1930 so those records wouldn't be relevant to any property built after that time period. The home we're investigating now is newer than that date, so I didn't bother with census records this time.

A few days before the investigation, we have to make sure our equipment is ready. Our director keeps the team's more expensive equipment like digital video and infrared cameras, but we each have smaller personal items we use. This includes handheld cameras, EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors, laser grid light pens, music, toys, and whatever else we might need or think will help us out. We test our equipment to make sure it's working, charge up all batteries, or purchase new ones if they're not re-chargeable, put everything into bags/carts for easy carrying. We also bring along water, munchies, toilet paper (for public areas with port-a-potties), and first aid items. You just never know what you'll need.

When going into an unfamiliar area at night, especially outside, it's a good idea to be cautious and have protection. Humans aren't the only animals who can cause trouble. Here in Arizona, we have coyotes, bobcats, wolves, rattlesnakes, and other dangerous wildlife. While an uncommon occurrence when you have a large group loaded up with cameras and other recording equipment, problems can occur and precautions are necessary. A current or former police officer on the team is a wonderful bonus. These people are well-trained and certified to carry a weapon and are trained for dangerous situations. If someone on the team carries a weapon, we must make sure the place we are going to investigate allows them on the premises. Some public places have their own security teams that parole at night, so it's a good idea to meet with them and let them know about the investigation.

Once we arrive at our destination, usually while the sun is still up, we do a sweep. This means we take cameras and EMF detectors and shoot two photos of each area we are planning to investigate. The two photos are done for comparison in case something appears in one but not the other. We also use EMF meters in the sweep to locate outlets, appliances, computers, etc...that put out electrical fields. This way we can discount those areas when we do the actual investigation. And we make notes of any anomalies, where we get electrical activity on the meters but can't locate a source of that activity. Someone on the team also makes notes and draws a rough sketch of each room we will be investigating and where the activity has been reported. This helps us decide where to focus our investigation and the best areas to put the equipment.

After that, we set up and begin the great quest for ghosts.

Stay tuned for the analysis and general results our next investigation night.

Happy reading and happy hunting!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Talk to the Dead – A General Session with Medium James Van Praagh

When you get up each morning between 5:30 and 6:00, it’s difficult to stay awake much past 10 p.m. but hubby and I did just that last night when we went to see famous medium James Van Praagh. The place was sold out. And I mean every single one of the eight-hundred-fifty or so seats was taken. Mr. Van Praagh mentioned that if we thought there were a lot of people in the audience, we should see how many were with him on stage.

He is a very entertaining person who seems to enjoy humor, and that came through in his appearance last night. The audience seemed very enthusiastic and most hung on his every word. Though there were a couple of men who seemed to be there only because their wives had threatened them with something, or perhaps a lack of something, if they didn’t come along. Of course, my hubby came because he loves to go and see mediums. No really. I’m serious. Fine, don’t believe me.

The first thing Mr. Van Praagh did after his introduction was to ask for general questions from the audience. He specified that at this point in the evening, he didn’t want any personal questions about loved ones, just general ones about his profession to get the audience in the right state of mind. The first woman who stood up was handed a microphone and started asking about her dead loved-one. Mr. Van Praagh reiterated that he was only taking general questions and regrettably moved on to the next person.

A couple of times during the evening he had to remind audience members to “listen to my words”, because no sooner would he ask for people to refrain from a certain question than someone would ask just that. He did this with humor, of course, but I couldn’t help wondering whether he got frustrated by people not listening to his repeated instructions. I know I would. Which is probably why I didn’t choose a life as a therapist. Saying, “Well, don’t do that anymore,” or “Just quit it,” probably wouldn’t win me a lot of patients.

The next thing on the schedule was a meditation for the audience, to clear out expectations and prepare for any spirits that were eager to make contact with those of us who had paid our hard-earned money to be there. But really, his sessions are very reasonably priced, and he even mentioned that he doesn’t like it when those claiming to be mediums charge outrageous sums for their work. He told us to be wary of high-priced mediums and psychics. I’m no stranger to meditation so this part of the evening was very easy for me. In fact, it was quite relaxing after a long work day. So much so, that hubby almost fell asleep. He loves mediums. Really.

Next, we got to the part everyone was actually there for – the readings. Since I went for book research, I wasn’t expecting Mr. Van Praagh to call on me. And he didn’t. Almost had you, didn’t I? With no expectations, this gave me the chance to observe others as messages were given to them. There seemed to be quite a number of desperate people wanting loved-ones to come to them. In fact, more than a few times, people would stand after Mr. Van Praagh mentioned the first couple of details, like a name, place, date or reason the person died. Then we would find out that those people standing didn’t have any deceased loved-ones that matched his details about the spirit who had come to him. I felt for them, but when you have about 850 people present and only an hour or two for readings, a lot will be left out.

The majority of the readings were fairly detailed, with Mr. Van Praagh asking for yes or no answers from the subject. He said that he just wanted them to verify what he was saying. When they couldn’t, he asked them to check with other family members. There were a couple of spirits who had died late in life, three suicide victims who had come together as a spiritual “support group” – Mr. Van Praagh’s words – and even a murder victim. Of course, the murder victim, sad though it was, interested the writer in me the most, so I was happy when he had a lot of details for the family about the unsolved murder. I hope what he told them can help the police in their search. But no matter who came through, he told us that they were all okay now.

Last night gave me more insight into how a medium works, which I will use in my paranormal books. Of course, I’ll Hollywood them up, as usual. After all, I write fantasy, and if I stuck to exactly how mediums claim things work for them, the books wouldn’t be as exciting for me or my readers.

From what I’ve read, this is also what happened with the TV show The Ghost Whisperer, which Mr. Van Praagh co-produced and advised. He didn’t talk about the show during last night’s appearance but I had read an interview with him about it. He would argue with the writers that ghosts didn’t do this or that, and they would counter with something to the effect that “this is Hollywood and we need more excitement in the show”. They would lose viewers if they didn’t create conflict and drama. This is true with just about any media. Humans sometimes hate to admit it, but news that nothing particularly interesting happened and everyone is happy or content doesn’t keep audiences entertained for long, if at all.

We were allowed to take photos during the session so I took a few. Of course, the paranormal investigator in me was hoping to capture some evidence. Like spirits hovering around Mr. Van Praagh. But other than a couple of blurred photos when the lights were low, I got nothing out of the ordinary. Though it would have been really cool if I had captured something. There was a book signing afterwards but hubby and I were tired and came straight home.

One medium down, several more to go. I like to get varied opinions about how mediums work. It also gives me some insight into the life of my great-great-aunt who worked as a medium in the early 1900s. Of course, it would have been awesome if she had come through to answer some of my questions in person—er, well, in spirit. I’ve got a few genealogy questions for other dead ancestors, as well. Hmm, maybe I need to set up a private session sometime.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monsoon, Dust Storms, and Lightning, Oh My!

The monsoon got a late start here in the desert but we certainly haven't been disappointed this year. One of our recent dust storms made news all over the country. I managed to snag a photo from our backyard just before it struck. We had relatives sent us texts and emails, worried we'd been buried alive or blown away by it.

No need to panic. While driving in a dust storm is dangerous and one should get off any road as quickly as possible, they don't usually do too much damage other than get dirt on everything. If it's outdoors, it will get covered in a layer of dirt. And don't even get me started on the pool. It's never fun cleaning filters after a dust storm. We were lucky we had both cars in the garage when this big one hit us. Two more rolled into the Valley of the Sun a few days apart but they missed our house, luckily.

Yesterday, we hit around 112 degrees with no rain in the forecast for days. Then evening came and a few clouds covered the sky here and there. The radar showed rain! It wasn't anywhere near us, so after dinner, hubby and I decided to take a swim. Our usual evening workout during the sweltering summer months. Well, I got in one lap when a bolt of lightning charged through the sky above us. I swam as fast as I could for the steps and we climbed out of the pool. Hubby was laughing at me as we went inside the house, but I have no desire to become a fried human.

Several minutes later, the thunder started. Quiet at first. The sky began to put on quite a lightning show and we checked the radar again. A big cell was moving in from the west. Not long after that, a huge boom of thunder rattled the air and the rain came down. Sometimes the temperature will drop into the 70s or low 80s during a monsoon and we can open doors and windows, but no such luck last night. Yes, our 112 degrees we had during the day was gone, but we didn't get below 90 during the monsoon. Nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing the wet stuff.

The rest of the week and this weekend we're in for more scorching temps. Again, there's no rain in the forecast. Yeah, I've heard that before.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Haven't Forgotten About You!

I know, I know, I haven't blogged in a while. I do have a good excuse but I'll take my lumps if that makes you feel better. =) I've been absolutely swamped with work.

I've got two paranormal investigations coming up in the next few months so we've been coordinating that. Believe me, I'll blog about anything from those investigations that is allowed. One is residential and those tend to stay confidential, but we can sometimes share a few details. The other one got moved from July to November and is in a public location, so I'll post all about it once it's over. I also have two books I'm writing now, plus, for some insane reason, I'm doing editing and reviewing projects for other authors.

Yeah, I'm crazy. I like to keep busy but the dust on my furniture is getting thicker so I'll have to take a break from it all to clean one of these days.

In the meantime, if you'd like to keep up with my daily updates and ramblings, please friend me at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/danadaviswriting

I must sign off for now but I'll try very hard to blog more often. (She says as three window tabs flash for her attention.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Celebration eBook Contest!

July 4th eBook contest giveaway - now through July 8th

Contest rules: Leave a comment after this blog post to enter the drawing and a chance to win a PDF copy of my newest eBook, Desert Magick: Day of the Dead (Bk 3). Or you can leave a comment on Facebook here http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=198658123518724

The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and must have a valid email address that accepts attachments in order to receive the prize.

Contest ends July 8, 2011 at noon PST and the winner will be notified within one week after that date. Only one entry per person. My relatives are not eligible – sorry about that.

For more info on the Desert Magick series, please visit http://www.danadaviswriting.com/Desert_Magick.htm

Happy 4th, stay safe, and good luck!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It’s baaaack! That scorching desert summer.

It’s baaaack! That scorching desert summer. This week we’re peaking at 113 degrees here in the Valley of the Sun. These are the miserable days just before the monsoon storms begin rolling in. We look forward to the monsoon rain, when we gather at the window and watch the lightning, rain and hail, as though it were a fabulous television show. Okay, so maybe the heat fries our brains a little bit.

You have hot summers, too, you say? Temperatures in the 90s, you say? Nineties shmineties. But the desert is a dry heat, you say? So’s my oven, is my snappy retort to that one. And we get plenty of humidity with the monsoon, which comes during our hottest months. Okay, okay, I’m not unsympathetic. Your heat is miserable for you. I get it. Really, I do. I’m not fond of too much humidity. Who is?
But you’re still curious, right, about how do we survive our desert summers? What do we do when stepping outside makes us feel like a pig on a spit, slowly roasting over an open fire? I mean, really, you can feel the sun burning your skin when it gets above 110 degrees. So, pull up a chair, folks, and I’ll spin a jaunty summer tale for you. Well, not really. This is just a blog, after all. But if you’re new here or live in another part of the country or world, you might learn something. Or not. Either way, here are things we do during a typical desert summer.

We break out the 50+ SPF sunblock and reapply it every two hours or so. This is most important. As are sunglasses. I currently have six pair of sunglasses, one each in my and hubby’s cars, one in my purse, one for outdoor walking and sports, and two in a drawer in case I break a pair. We put our hat collection by the front door, and move our coveted collection of shorts, tees, tank tops, and sandals to the front of the closet for easy access, since that’s all we’ll be wearing until October. Whoever made the idiotic don’t wear white after Labor Day rule didn’t live in a desert. That rule means nothing here. And we keep seat covers or towels in our cars, so we don’t get third degree burns the backs of our legs while wearing those coveted shorts in a car with leather or vinyl seats. Have you ever sat on vinyl in 120 degree heat while wearing shorts? I don’t recommend it.

Okay, you say, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. What do you do for entertainment when it’s so darn hot? Ah, here’s where we have to get creative. Kind of like spending winters in the northeast, I would imagine. I don’t really know, since I’ve never lived where it snowed regularly, if at all. We don’t have basements or attics as a rule, but we have something much better. Pools!

Desert rats spend a heck of a lot of time in the pool, also known as an Arizona shower. Here, you can find a pool just about anywhere. If you don’t have one in your backyard, chances are several of your neighbors do. So, making friends with your neighbors is a good idea. Pools are also popular at condo and apartment complexes here. If you still don’t have access, there’s always the public pool at the local recreation center or water park. We have several manmade lakes, too, which are great for beating the heat and feeling like we have some semblance of a normal summer life.

That’s great, you say? But what if you don’t feel like swimming? What? Not feel like swimming? Are you daft, you non-desert person, you? Okay, now that’s just a little sarcasm, so don’t start posting about how mean I am, please. Yes, gasp, there are times when we don’t feel like swimming. Or maybe it’s too early or late in the day and we don’t want to disturb the neighbors. Or the pool happens to be closed for cleaning or some such nonsense. What else can we do when we’d prefer to stay in the air-conditioning, rather than roast outside? Plenty.

At my house, we have a home gym set up in one room, because we don’t want to get up at 4 a.m. to hike or bike or play tennis, which are our preferred low-cost workouts. Indoor ping-pong and Wii gaming are also popular summer pastimes for us. You’d be surprised how much you can sweat when playing sports and dancing games. Even the bowling game gets us off our butts and moving around. And it’s extra fun when I beat hubby, because he was on a bowling team when he was younger. But what do you do when you don’t feel like a workout out, you say? Ooh, napping is good. Okay, seriously, movies and shopping are big, especially in the summer months.

Movies are the ultimate, low-cost, air-conditioned entertainment, where you don’t have to sweat to accomplish it. Aren’t most shopping malls the outdoor type, you say? Isn’t that hot, you say? Well, yes. We do have a couple of old indoor malls, and some people get up early to mall-walk before the shops open. But what kind of fun is that? If I’m going to a mall, I at least want to window shop and have lunch, or maybe a frozen yogurt. But what about those outdoor strip malls? Well, most have misters attached to the eaves to cool off passersby. And, yes, they really work. We even sit on the outdoor patios and eat when there are misters going. In fact, we had misters on our home patio for several years, but they broke and we haven’t replaced them, yet. We really need to get a new set.

Isn’t central air-conditioning expensive, you say? Yes, it can be if you keep your house too cold. We keep ours at 80 degrees in the summer. But we also have ceiling fans in every room. You’d be surprised how much warmth you can tolerate when the air is moving about and cooling your skin. I can’t imagine not having fans here. We used them regularly in California, when a hot day was about 85 degrees, because we didn’t have air conditioning. After twelve plus years in the desert, I can’t believe that we ever thought 85 was hot. We don’t even close the windows here until the temperature reaches above 90 degrees outside. I guess we’ve acclimated a bit.

So, there you have it. A jaunty summer tale. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you come for a visit here in the summer, be sure to stock up on sunblock and drink lots and lots of water. I don’t want one of you passing out because you decided to hike one of our mountains. Our mountains look small compared to other places, but they can be deadly, especially in the summer. And if you have to be rescued, it’ll be all over the news, and locals will shake their heads at the poor visitor who didn’t know better. You don’t want that, do you? Stay cool!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Freaked Psychic - pt8 of personal paranormal stories

The Freaked Psychic

By Dana Davis

While working in Hollywood in 1980s, a crew member and I were chatting. Somehow we got on the subject of the paranormal. She told me about her gift as a psychic and I told her about my great grandmother’s sister, who was a medium back in the early part of the twentieth century. I was curious about her and conversation when something like this:

“So, how does it work for you?” I asked.

“I get impressions when I hold a personal item. Would you like me to do a reading for you?

“Sure. I'd love it.” I fished my car keys out of my pocked and handed them to her.

She held them for a moment and closed her eyes. “I’m getting a name that begins with A.”

I stayed quiet but I was thinking, Yeah, right. Like that’s a stretch. But she wasn’t through with me, yet.

“I see the two of you in the same house or apartment. A close friend or sister maybe.” Then she proceeds to give me a description and says the actual name.

Now, I had never mentioned my friend and former roommate to anyone on set and this woman was spot-on with the description and the name. I thanked her, then told her about my friend, her name, her description, and that we were once roommates. She looked freaked and handed me back my keys as though they had suddenly caught fire.

“What’s wrong?” I thought I had done something to offend her.

“I’ve never been that accurate before. Not ever. It has something to do with you.”

She had my full attention. “Really? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

She acted odd around me, distant, the rest of our working time together and didn’t seem to want to talk to me about the paranormal again. I didn’t push. I never learned why she was so freaked out, especially since she claimed to be a psychic and had approached me about doing a reading. Just another occurrence to add to my list of paranormal oddities.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Most Common Questions I Receive about Writing

A lot of people are curious about writers, though we're not all that fascinating. Really, we're not. Imagine a camera set up in a home office. Now envision a person sitting at a computer typing, thinking, looking stuff up, typing, a trip to the bathroom, more typing, lunch break, more thinking and typing. Not exactly Oscar material. :) But I thought I'd share some of the questions I receive most often, along with my answers.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: Everywhere. I know that's a trite answer but it's true. I get ideas from dreams, writing exercises, music, art, nature, watching people and listening to conversations going on around me in public. Yep, that's right, I'm an eavesdropper. You never know what people are going to say in public and sometimes you can get a real gem for a story from overheard conversations. Gotta love people who talk on cell phones in public. I've heard some real doozies. And if I'm in a bad mood, woe to the person who cuts me off in traffic or gets in the express lane with a full cart. He/she might just find a place in one of my books. And it ain't gonna be pretty. :)

Q: Do you still take classes/workshops?

A: Yeah, yep and a big ole YES! Writing is a solitary career and as much as I enjoy being a hermit, I get out once in a while to meet with other writers and challenge myself. There's a great energy that fills a room full of creative people. In fact, several of my books got their seeds from class exercises. And there's nothing like fellow writers to offer support and guidance. Some are going through what I'm going through, others have been there and can offer valuable advice.

Q: Which authors do you enjoy reading?

A: Okay, you asked for it. Kelley Armstrong, Orson Scott Card, David Eddings, S. L. Farrell, Jasper Fforde, Maggie Furey, Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, Terry Goodkind, Tara K. Harper, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Haydon, Robert Jordan, Elizabeth Kerner, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Ursula LeGuin, Morgan Llewellyn, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman, Alastair Reynolds, Anne Rice, J. R. R. Tolkein, Robert Charles Wilson, and many others. I also read books on writing, publishing, science, Celtic cultures, American Indian cultures, and ancient civilizations, especially when I'm doing research for a book. I'm a family detective - meaning I do genealogy - so I also read books that pertain to that. My reading list gets longer every year.

Q: Do you write everyday?

A: I try very hard to keep to a regular work schedule. Life and classes can get in the way, of course, but I do keep to a schedule most weekdays. I don't usually write on weekends or holidays, except to jot down notes about a current project. Those days are for my husband and me to play, or for the occasional appearance or speaking engagement. I keep note pads around the house and in my purse and car so I can write down ideas as they come. Otherwise, I'd forget them by the time I planted my butt in my office chair.

Q: Do you keep a private journal?

A: I tried keeping a diary as a kid, since a lot of girls were into that, but I bored myself to death. When I started writing fiction to spice it up, I knew it was time to toss it. I currently have a writing blog and I keep a dream journal. I've kept track of my dreams since the early 1980s. My sleep world is one active place and I get story ideas from dreams.

Q: Were you always a writer or did you have other careers/jobs?

A: Well, I was always writing something, sometimes really bad somethings. But career-wise, I started out in the entertainment industry. I worked in that industry from childhood until about thirty. Which, for a lot of us, meant taking on additional jobs to help pay the bills. Jobs I've had over the years: actress, dancer, stand-in, photo double, theatre and dance director/instructor, Disneyland performer, dance studio assistant, library page, teachers' assistant, pre-school teacher, greeting card merchandiser, artificial flower warehouse arranger (gotta love that one), receptionist, file clerk, retail clerk/cashier, envelope stuffer, pizza delivery driver, and waitress. Whew! I'm tired just typing that!

Q: What do you do about writer's block?

A: Actually, I've never had writer's block and I don't believe in it. I believe I can get hung up on details or have so many ideas I'm not sure where to go next. But if I find myself taking too long with a particular aspect of a project, I simply shift my attention to another writing project for a while, take a walk, work out, or clean house. That always works for me.

Q: Would you read my stuff and give me comments?

A: Well, unfortunately, I have to say no. Writing is a full-time job and I'm darned busy. I suggest looking into your local area for writing workshops and classes. Recreation departments, adult education, colleges, universities and libraries often have many great offerings for writers of all levels. Also, you can find workshops online, especially if you write genre material like I do. Look around - you don't have to spend a lot of money to find a good class.

Q: I have an idea for a book, would you write it for me?

A: See the answer to the previous question. You could also take classes to hone your writing skills or simply hire a ghost writer. There are many in the industry looking for work. Good luck with your endeavors.

Q: I read in your bio that you have Meniere's Disease. What is that?

A: Meniere's an inner ear disorder that causes bouts of vertigo, dizziness, vomiting, tinnitus, balance problems, and gradual hearing loss. Famous people with Meniere's include, astronaut Alan Shepard, actress Kristen Chenoweth, singers Peggy Lee and Ryan Adams, poet/writer Emily Dickinson, and some speculate Vincent VanGogh had it. Some people in the past were misdiagnosed with epilepsy but actually had inner ear problems.

I'm always open to answering questions, so if you have one of your own that isn't listed here, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you asap.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Know You're a Writer When...Hump Day Fun!

1. You always think of the perfect snarky thing to say - five minutes after the fact.

2. A woman cuts in line at the grocery store and instead of getting mad, you study her body language and clothes for that annoying character you’ve been trying to write.

3. You catch an argument at a local restaurant and wonder how you can work it into your next scene.

4. At a store, you discreetly follow the talking-loudly-on-her-cell-phone-lady, hoping to get something good to put in your novel.

5. Spam gives you story ideas.

6. You wish you could re-wind that fender bender to see the details of how it happened. You’ve got a similar scene to write in an upcoming book.

7. A guy flips you off on the freeway for no reason and you think, Yes! He’s the perfect one to kill/maim/torture in your next book, so you devise his shady life on the way to your destination.

8. You’re stuck at the airport because of weather, so you get yourself a snack and start people-watching.

9. Someone asks about your last date and you immediately think back to that yummy guy you just finished writing about before realizing he’s fiction.

10. You start quoting slang you invented for your new series before realizing the rest of the world isn’t in on it. Yet.

On a side note - my kindle books are now $2.99. Cheaper than a gallon of gas!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Note for readers

Just a note to let readers know that my monthly newsletter is now available at http://www.danadaviswriting.com/Monthly%20Newsletter.htm

Also, my eBooks are on sale for just $2.99 at Barnes & Noble's Fictionwise site http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/a47977/Dana-Davis/?

and Barnes & Noble's eReader site http://www.ereader.com/ebooks/a47977/Dana-Davis/?si=59

Happy reading and enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Invisibles - pt 7 of my personal paranormal stories

The Invisibles

By Dana Davis

Sometimes visions can happen when coming out of the sleep state. They are hypnagogic in nature, when we’re not quite fully awake but no longer asleep, an in-between period when the dream world overlaps with the waking part of our brains. We think we’re actually seeing, hearing, and experiencing these incidents, and since the body is still in sleep paralysis and we can’t move, they can be very frightening.

I’ve experienced hypnagogic episodes, where I’m completely paralyzed and helpless as a presence holds me down in my bed and scares the living bejeebees out of me. I have learned to recognize them. The following incidents didn’t feel the same way. I’m combining several different, yet very similar, episodes in this blog.

The first happened when I was living in Pasadena, California in a tiny apartment back in the 1980s. I was young and didn’t have a lot of money, so my bed was one of those fold-out futon chairs. It was made of thick foam and surprisingly comfortable. I awoke to the feeling that someone sat on the edge of my futon. I could actually feel the movement. I also felt a presence in the room, like someone was watching me. Something brushed my hair from my face. I had no sleep paralysis at all, and I opened my eyes to see an indentation, about the size of an adult’s buttocks, in the futon. I was amazed. As I watched, the dent slowly lifted until it was gone, and the feeling of being watched left as soon as the indentation disappeared. I didn’t feel threatened. Oddly enough, I felt somewhat comforted by it. It was morning and time for me to get up for work and my roommate was still sleeping.

The second incident happened about a year later, when I was spending the night on a friend’s couch. I awoke to soft footsteps coming down the stairs but I was very tired and didn’t open my eyes. I really wanted to sleep longer. I felt the edge of the couch press down as though someone sat on it. Again, I felt a presence in the room, like someone watching me, then a gentle touch brushed hairs from my face. I opened my eyes expecting to see my friend, but I saw no person, just an indention on the edge of the couch beside me. I watched as it lifted as though a person got up. The feeling of someone watching me disappeared and I looked at my watch. It was time for me to get up. My friend was still upstairs asleep.

The third time, was after I was married and I awoke in our apartment bedroom with the feeling someone was watching me. It was morning and light streamed in through the draperies. A woman, not completely solid, wearing a long skirt and a blouse from the late 1800’s stood in front of our window. She was putting on a bonnet. She turned to me and smiled then just disappeared. Again, I didn’t feel threatened.

Incident number four happened in my current home about four or five years ago as I was napping on the couch in the afternoon. Again, felt like I was being watched. This time the indentation and brushing of my hair was accompanied by what sounded like tinkling wind chimes. I felt the indention lift as I opened my eyes but I didn’t see anything. The sensation of being watched didn’t disappear immediately. Instead, I felt a presence for several seconds after I sat up. I asked my husband, who was in another room at the time, if he heard wind chimes. He told me he hadn’t. Curious, I walked outside to see if I could hear any chimes coming from one of our neighbors’ homes. Nope. Nothing.

The fifth and final incident, so far anyway, happened just last year. I awoke in the morning and sat up to get out of bed. To my surprise, I saw a girl about ten or eleven years old, crouched next to my nightstand. Like the last figure I had seen, she wasn’t completely solid. She turned to me and her eyes grew wide. She looked as surprised as I felt. Before I could say anything, she disappeared. I had already been training with my paranormal investigative team by this time, so I immediately ran to the other room for my camera, recorder, and EMF meter. But by the time I had them set up, it was too late. I got nothing on any of them.

I have no explanations for these incidents and no witnesses or evidence. I’m looking forward to another one happening because I hope to get some evidence. So much time happens between them that it’s not practical to set up equipment every night. But if I see a figure in my bedroom again, I plan to do just that and see if I catch anything. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Spooky Door - pt 6 of personal paranormal experiences

When it comes to my paranormal experiences, doors tend to play a role. Here’s another one involving - you guessed it - a door.

The Spooky Door

by Dana Davis

It was just before Halloween and my parents had taken my brother, sister and me to visit a family we'd been friends with for several years. They had just bought some land—I believe my dad said it was forty acres—in a rural area and moved an older home onto the property. Their oldest daughter was my age and their son somewhere between my younger brother and sister so we looked forward to this visit.

It had grown dark and Dad was outside with my friend's father, unbeknownst to us kids. We heard rapping at one of the windows and a spooky, ghostly sound. Woooooooo. You know, the eerie kind of sounds ghosts make. Like they have nothing better to do than stand outside windows and moan. You'd think that bright light they're supposed to go into would be a distraction. Anyway, since I was a wise old teenager of fifteen or so at the time, I caught on pretty quick that my dad was the culprit. But the younger kids began screaming and running through the house to find the moms.

Once the women realized what was going on, they promptly chastised the husbands for frightening the children. The men just laughed, of course. We were given snacks and told to stay in another room, with me and my friend in charge of the younger kids.

Whenever my parents had company or were with their adult friends, my mom had a saying that went something like this—“If somebody's not bleeding or passed out, don't bother me.”

Isolation in a separate room away from the adults prompted a flurry of ghost stories and reminiscences of strange incidents from all of us, including bogus tales of a woman who’d died upstairs and walked around her nightgown. White, of course. In case you didn’t know, lady ghosts love to wear white. Okay, I have no idea if that’s true. But I do know that the upstairs had been added after the house was moved to this property so there couldn’t be a lady in white, but that didn’t deter us from telling the story. We got spooked at every sound then would laugh hysterically afterwards. Kind of like when we took my younger sister on her first snipe hunt. But that's another story.

Once it grew late, about midnight, we were told to get ready for bed. The other kids took off and my little sister and I were the only ones in the room. I was helping her pick up books or something. After a couple of minutes, I headed for the door. Someone had left it open about a hand's width and when I reached for the knob, the door closed.

I looked back at my sister and, with a racing heart, said, “Did you see that?”

She nodded, eyes wide.

I turned back, and reached for the knob again. This time, the door opened and the knob pushed right against my palm. No one was on the other side. Now, when things like this happened, I tend to grow curious and try to recreate it or explain it. That didn’t stop the goose pimples from crawling up my spine, though. I carefully let go of the knob and turned to my sister, who had backed herself against the far wall, eyes as wide as saucers and face as white as the paint behind her. She reminded me of a deer caught in headlights, which they had plenty of in this rural area.

I tried not to spook her but I was darn curious by this time. “I'm going to try again.”

She shook her head, no, and I thought she might start to cry. She did that a lot at that age.

“It's all right,” I said. I turned back and reached for the door and, low and behold, it closed again. At this point, my sister was ready to do that cartoon running in place where the feet are mere blurs and then take off like a pistol. So, I smiled and said, "Probably the wind." Though I didn't believe a word of that since no windows or doors were open to the outside. It was chilly outside. “I'll do it one more time.”

I didn't wait for a response from her and turned back to the door. When I reached out, it remained exactly where it was. No movement whatsoever. Absolutely nothing. I quickly opened it to check if someone was on the other side but everyone was at the other end of the house, getting ready for bed. With adrenaline pumping in my ears from both fright and the exhilarated thought that there just might be a ghost in the house, I motioned my sister out. She ran straight to my mother and proceeded to tell her everything.

Of course, the adults were skeptical, even when I corroborated my sister's story. Nothing unusual happened the remainder of our stay, and we left the following day for our own house in the burbs. We talked about that incident on the drive home, which freaked out my younger brother a bit. But then he was the one who stood on a chair if he saw a spider. I don’t think he still does that.

We lost contact with that family a few years later, but to this day, whenever I ask my sister if she remembers that spooky door, she tells me that she does. Then we share a knowing smile that it just might have been a ghost after all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Virtual book tour news

Please join me on another leg of my virtual book tour for the paranormal fantasy Desert Magick: Day of the Dead (Book 3)

Virtual book tour and interview with Dana Davis
Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 10:00am - 11:30pm

Virtual book tour and interview with Dana Davis
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 10:00am - 11:30pm

Friday, April 8, 2011

eBook contest winner!

Congratulations to Alicia, the winner of my birthday contest and a free PDF copy of Desert Magick: Superstitions. Thanks so much to everyone who entered. Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Free eBook contest!

It’s my birthday week and I’m giving away a free PDF copy of my bestselling paranormal fantasy Desert Magick: Superstitions. Simply leave a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page that you would like to be entered in the contest.

The winner will be chosen at random and must have a valid email address that accepts attachments in order to receive the prize. Only one entry per person. Family members are not eligible. Contest ends 4 pm PST Friday, April 8, 2011. Good luck!

If you prefer to leave a comment on my facebook page, please go to http://www.facebook.com/danadaviswriting

Monday, March 14, 2011

Phantom Door - pt 5 of personal paranormal experiences

Phantom Door


Dana Davis

I spent the majority of my childhood and young adult years in various aspects of show business and heard all kinds of stories about theatres being haunted. I sometimes think managers made up some of the stories because what’s a theatre without a ghost, right? This incident didn’t happen at one of the theatres where I worked. Instead it took place at a local community center where I spent a lot of time in rehearsals. I was about twenty-one years old.

I’m preparing for another rehearsal and have my arms full of costumes and props as I approach the door to the building. As I get closer, I begin to shift all the stuff in my arms so I can get a hand free to open the door. I’m having trouble because I’m carrying way too much. Just as I get about four feet from the door, it swings open. Not a little bit. It opens enough for me to get through with all the stuff I’m carrying and stops as though someone is holding it. Only there’s no one on the other side.

I chuckle nervously and step inside then turn and say, “Thank you.” I watch in amazement as the door closes itself and latches.

I stand there staring at the large, heavy metal door with the push bar. I’ve been coming to this place on a regular basis since I was fifteen years old, so I know for a fact it’s not easy to open. Even when other doors in the facility are opened and it’s windy out, there isn’t enough cross breeze to open it. It’s too heavy.

I stride down the hallway, glancing back to see if the door will open again but it doesn’t. When I get into the rehearsal studio, my choreographer and good friend is already here.

He looks at me and says, “You look spooked. What happened?”

I tell him everything and ask if it’s ever happened to him. No, it hasn’t. And he’s here even more than I am. As other performers arrive, we tell them the story and ask if any of them ever had a similar experience with any of the exterior doors. Nope. Not a one. They rib me about having my own personal ghost valet and we all get a good laugh.

I came and went through that door many times after that day with my arms full, but it never opened like that again. I have no explanation other than it was a very odd occurrence. I lost that choreographer and good friend a few years later to a deadly disease, but whenever I see a heavy metal door with a push bar, I think of him and that building and my personal ghost valet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ding-Dong-Ditch or Ding-Dong-Ghost? - pt4 true paranormal stories

Ding-Dong-Ditch or Ding-Dong-Ghost?

By Dana Davis

My parents were out, leaving me, my younger brother and sister and a younger cousin at home alone. It was the middle of the day and we were goofing around and chatting. We started talking about paranormal stories we’d heard from various family members. What happened next went something like this:

I’m telling them the stories I’ve heard about our great-great aunt being a medium and the odd happenings that were reported around her, when the doorbell rings. I go to the door but there’s no one there. I step onto the porch and out into the yard, thinking some kids were playing ding-dong-ditch, but I don’t see anyone.

“Who is it?” my sister asks.

“Probably just kids.” I shut the door.

We just get back into the family room, when the doorbell rings again. We race to the door, hoping to catch the miscreant this time. There isn’t anyone there. The four of us go outside to check but none of us finds anyone so I let everyone back inside.

Just after I close the door, the bell goes off again and I yank the door open. Again, no one. We’ve never had a problem with the doorbell in the past and I’m a bit flummoxed. The light is on. It looks like it always does. Nothing odd. It has to be kids. I often baby-sit for the couple across the street so I go into the kitchen and call over there. The husband answers and I tell him I think someone is playing ding-dong-ditch with us.

“Can you see our porch from there?”

“Yes,” he says.

“Do you see anyone?”

“No. I don’t see anybody.”

While I’m on the phone with him, the doorbell rings again. “Did you hear that?” I say. My siblings and cousin are too scared to go to the door. Phones in this time have cords so I’m stuck where I am.

“Yes. I heard it,” the neighbor says. “I’m looking right at your porch but there’s no one at the door.”

“Okay, thanks for checking,” I say into the phone. I hang up and the doorbell rings again.

My siblings and cousin are cowering in the family room yelling for me to get rid of the ghost. I laugh and tell them it’s not a ghost. But at this point, I’m beginning to wonder. I ask my brother to get me a screwdriver. I go onto the porch to undo the doorbell and see it I can figure out what’s making it go off. Maybe a wire is shorted. It rings just as reach for it and I jump. My siblings and cousin got brave enough to follow me but now run screaming back into the house.

I call to them that I’m going to test it. I push it and it works just fine, no sticking, nothing out of the ordinary. With shaking hands, I manage to get the lighted button off so I can look inside. The wires all look connected. I don’t see anything wrong. I screw the cover back on and go inside, waiting for it to ring again. It stays quiet.

We never found out for sure what caused that doorbell to go off like it did. My family lived in that house for over fifteen years and that was the only time it happened.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jury Shmury

So, I have jury duty today. I’m still a bit dizzy today and had to get up at 5:30 this morning so I could brave Phoenix freeways to get here before 8:30. Then they opened the doors late and I really had to pee. So far, the upside to this place, as opposed to the downtown courthouse I had to got to last time, is that parking is nearby and I don’t have to walk six blocks in the summer heat.

Metal detectors. Fun. Just like the airport, only no great destination waiting at the end. And no drinks or food allowed inside the building so my snack and water bottle are in the car. I’m thirsty. Right now, I’m sitting in a small stuffy room with one table in the middle and chairs lining the walls. They do offer water and coffee here but we’re not allowed to take it out of the room. I’m sitting in a corner chair because they have no computer work spaces or wifi in this backward place, either. So, unfortunately, I can’t blog in real time. You’re reading this hours after the fact but I’m writing as much in real time as I can and not get arrested for contempt of court.

Okay, guy with a badge just entered. They need seven jurors. The rest of us will probably go home before noon. Please let that be me. Oh, joy. A video. Okay, he just turned down the lights. Not good for those of us with Meniere’s Disease. But at least he’s leaving so I can keep typing. Can you say death by boredom? I feel like I’m in government 101. Again. I wonder how much they paid these people in the video to say good things about jury duty. No one in this room looks excited to be here. Or maybe it’s just the lighting. Ooh, maybe I should apply as an actress for jury movies. Put all that Hollywood training to work again. Blah, blah, more video talk. I’ve heard all this before. And I could find this info on the net, if they just had wifi. That’s right, they don’t. Do I sound cranky? Well, I’m balancing my computer on my purse because there are no work stations. Hey, video’s over. Oops, guy with a badge coming back in the room. More later.

Okay, well, they got us lined up with numbers and marched us into a courtroom. It’s just before 10. This is a dui case. They don’t usually want people like me on dui cases, not when my teenage nephew was killed by an impaired driver. Questions about work, kids, spouse. The usual. Followed by a series of questions the judge asks and we simply raise our juror number if we qualify. Ooh, I raised my card at least four times. Next, we go back out into the waiting area for another round of sit and wait. Oh, goody. Crap, it’s only 10:30 and I’m hungry. I was queasy this morning so all I had for breakfast was toast. Where’s my snack? Oh, that’s right - I’m not allowed to have any food. Did I bring anything for this headache? Nope. Okay, now the bailiff is calling us in one at a time for more questions, so I don’t have to wait long before I’m back in the courtroom.

This time the judge wants explanations to the questions I raised my juror number for so I tell him what he wants to know. Hmm, the prosecutor and arresting officer look pleased with my answers. Can’t say the same for the defendant and his attorney, though. One final question from the defense. Ah, I’m fairly certain he won’t pick me now. More thank yous and please take a seat outside. Yeah, yeah, I got that part down.

Okay, now I’m back in a chair outside for more waiting. It’s after 11 and I’m really hungry now. I wonder if I have time to go to my car for a snack. Better not risk it. I’ve been trying to work on my editing on these breaks, except I keep reading the same paragraph over and over because of the disruptions. Just too many people talking and moving around. Bailiff calling out names. The guy next to me is coughing. Great, hope he’s not contagious. No time to dwell on that now - Being called in again.

Yea! I’ve been dismissed! It’s 11:30 and I’m starving! Can I go now? No. Have to wait for slip of paper. Of course, I’m one of the last people to get mine. Figures. But, hey, I’ve got a nice little box of snacks and a bottle of water in the car. I’m outa here!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phantoms and Doors - pt3 of true paranormal stories

Another true-life paranormal story

Phantoms and Doors

By Dana Davis

One night, when I’m about twelve or thirteen years old, I awaken to the feeling of being watched. My room feels eerie, different, like something has changed. I can’t explain it, other than feeling like somebody besides me is there. That’s when I look up to see a black mass of a shadow in my bedroom doorway. Though I can’t see any features, I have a distinct feeling it’s a male presence. It looks like it’s wearing a large hat. I don’t know why I think that because I really can’t see anything distinct, jut a shadow. But I definitely see a hat coming up from what I think is a head. My heart seems to stop in that moment. I can’t breathe.

I try to ignore the feelings and tell myself that I’m just seeing things, that there can’t be a person in my doorway, that it must be a shadow from some strange object in my room. But I still have the distinct feeling I’m being watched and I start to shiver with fright when the shadow remains.

In a panic, I pull the covers over my head and am so scared that I barely hear my own whispers of, “Go away, go away, go away.” Trembling, I peer out from beneath the covers but the black mass is still there.

I hold my breath. My heart starts pounding so hard I think it will pop right out of my chest. I hide under the covers again and utter for it to go away. When I finally get the nerve to look again, whatever it is has disappeared. The room no longer feels different. I no longer feel like I’m being watched. Everything is, well, normal. I want to go to the bathroom but am too scared to get of bed. So I huddle under my covers until I finally go back to sleep.

The next morning I try to figure out what could have made that shadow in my doorway. But everything in my bedroom is in its place, just as always. I’m very good about keeping things in their proper places so I can’t explain the mysterious shadow.

Not long after that incident, I awake one morning and shuffle into the kitchen. My mother is here making coffee or something. My dad and siblings are still in bed. The conversation goes something like this:

My mom turns to me and says in a low voice, “Did you hear the front door last night?”

“No, why?”

“Well, someone knocked in the middle of the night. Woke me up.”

“Really, who?”

“That’s what’s so strange. I went to the door and looked out the peep hole and saw a man in a suit and dress hat standing on the porch. When I opened the door, he was gone. There was no one. I looked for a car or something but it was quiet and I didn’t see anybody anywhere. He was just gone.”

Now if you’re wondering why my mother would open the door to a stranger in the middle of the night, you have to understand this was the 70s in a small town and we had a locked screen door between the inner door and the porch. Even though we kids were taught about stranger-danger, these were the days when people kept their doors unlocked and garage doors open all day so children could come and go as they pleased. The only times my parents locked up was when we all left the house to go someplace or before they went to bed at night.

I study my mother and she seems awed by what she experienced, and maybe even a little spooked. Men don’t wear dress hats anymore, which makes her story all the more fascinating to me. Gooseflesh makes me shiver as I ask, “Who do you think it was?”

“Well, I think it was my grandfather.” The man had died when my mother was around thirteen years old (my age at the time) and she’d been very close to him.

“Really? You think it was him?” I’m actually relieved by this news because it makes the shadow I saw seem less threatening and I move on to curious. “What did he want?”

“I don’t know. Maybe just stopped by to say hi.”

I nod. We don’t say much else about it and she smiles at me as we get breakfast ready.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t mention the shadow in my doorway to her until many years later. And I still find it strange that my mother would come out of the blue with her story about her dead grandfather who once wore a dress hat, especially after my own experience of the shadow man in the hat. Either way, I never saw that shadow again and, as far as I know, my mother never had another strange night visitor come knocking at the door.

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