Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ Category


Lots of people think authors live a glamorous life; sitting in a beach chair, toes in the sand, large floppy hat, cool beverage with little umbrella in the glass with a laptop or tablet on their lap, just tap, tap, tapping away on the keys until – BAM – 90,000 words later, a best-selling masterpiece appears. The next day someone slaps a gorgeous glossy cover on it and plasters it all over the Barnes & Noble front window.


Then, after several hours of tap, tap, tapping, said author dons oversized dark glasses and some sparkly flip flop sandals, gets into their luxury sports car and dashes off to some posh restaurant for lunch with their editor, agent, and some movie producer from Hollywood to discuss the details of turning your latest masterpiece into a Hollywood blockbuster.


Spoiler alert – that NEVER happens. Oh sure, JK Rowling probably does that NOW, but not when she first started. Steven King is a household name and James Patterson’s name gets tossed around a lot on movie sets and such, but seriously, that didn’t happen overnight.

So, how did it happen? I’ll tell you – I have no idea. Believe me, I wish I did. I wish I knew what secret, besides hard work and perseverance would shoot me straight up that ladder to the beach chair in the sun because God knows I would love love to dig my toesies into some white sand right about now. Not to mention that little umbrella drink.

Here’s what I do know, those people spent many, many long days and sleepless nights fussing over the right words, the parts they deleted and maybe shouldn’t have, the opening scenes that should work but for some reason don’t, a reviewers harsh comment, hours of endless re-writing.


In other words, they worked hard and they didn’t quit. They didn’t let disappointment ruin their vision.

And, despite how it seems to authors most days, they didn’t reach a certain level of fame alone. What? You’re saying others helped along the way? Absolutely. A lot of people probably helped and didn’t even know they helped. Strangers can help strangers. Readers can help writers. Here’s how:


Buy books, read books, talk about awesome books.

A great way to take it up a notch, is to leave a review. It’s easy, it’s free, it doesn’t take that long, and it goes a long way in helping authors’ careers. Here’s a few places where you can leave a review: https://www.goodreads.com/https://www.amazon.com/; or http://allreaders.com/.

Go to book signings if you can and BUY THE BOOK, even if you gift it to someone else.

Spread the word on social media. A “like,” a “share,” a comment, helps boost that author’s visibility. It seems trivial, but like election time, every vote matters. (Please don’t make this political people. God knows we don’t want to go there again.)

book-with-bowGift a book. A great way to help authors is to buy books for someone else. Especially in this day and age of electronic gadgets, almost everyone has an e-reader of some fashion. If not, you can download a free app to most smart phones. Heck, you can read books on your home computer. What better gift for a person who has everything or no longer wishes to “collect things?” Again, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. Some e-books are less than a dollar. Gifting an e-book is super easy through Amazon or other on-line e-book retailers. All you need is the recipient’s e-mail address. What a lovely surprise for the recipient to open their e-mail and discover a gift! And it won’t clutter up a closet or shelf.


comment-boxHere’s how I’m going to help some authors this week: Every person who posts a comment on this blog between now and Friday, February 24th, will be gifted an e-book of my choice. Simply leave a comment and mention your favorite genre so I can choose an appropriate book for you from one of my favorite starving authors. Some of you I can wager a pretty good guess about genre, but others not so much. If I don’t already have your e-mail address, send me an e-mail at jansen.schmidt@yahoo.com so I can make sure your e-book arrives. (Caveat: I will only be gifting from Amazon so you’ll have to have a Kindle in order to participate. Sorry to those who prefer other e-reader methods.)

You in turn can help the author of the book I gifted to you by posting a review and I strongly encourage you to do so. I’m acting on good faith here that you will leave a review. If you do not wish to write a review and post it on any or all of the sites I listed above, please let me know if the comments. (Caveat: If you absolutely hate the book I gift you, please do NOT leave a bad review. An honest review yes, but not a scathing one.) Remember, the purpose of this week’s blog is to help each other out. I’m helping readers, you’re helping writers.


That’s it. Easy peasy. You can pass the word to your friends if they want a free book all they have to do is leave a comment and their e-mail address. I’ll do the rest.

So, thanks in advance to all who post a comment and enjoy your books!

How do you help starving authors? Do you routinely leave reviews? Do you attend book signings? Do you have an e-reader?

Word of Day: Acroter

Fun fact about me: I have 3 e-readers but I prefer paper books.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2017. Photos courtesy Google Images.


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Photo courtesy Google Images.

When we first bought the Baer-Williams House, the previous owner told us some fantastic tales about “ghostly happenings,” that allegedly occurred in the home. Keep in mind, I’m a skeptic so I simply smiled and silently said, “Okay.”

The previous owner, bought the house in 2005, after his home in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He’d always loved old houses and always wanted to run a bed & breakfast. (more…)

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Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? I’m not into the creepy, demonic, blood and guts ghost stories where people get hurt, but I do enjoy a good chilling tale now and then.


Original photo by P. Rickrode 2015

The Baer House Inn is one of the houses on the Haunted Vicksburg Tour. The leader of these tours brings people inside and tells them a tale of intrigue that may or may not have happened here.

Now, I have never experienced any of the strange happenings that are talked about on the tour, however, something rather ghostly did happen here. Something unexplainable and very real.

Not too long after my husband and I bought the inn, we started remodeling and redecorating. One of our projects involved relocating some chandeliers. Five to be exact. We hired an electrician and early one morning, they went to work, taking down lights and rehanging them in their new spots. About an hour after they got started, my husband and I were in the hallway talking about something. We heard a crash that sounded like a thousand expensive crystals shattering into a bazillion pieces. Followed by dead silence.


We looked at each other with wide eyes, our mouths yawning into perfect O’s. I muttered a hushed curse. Obviously, the guys working upstairs had dropped one of our super expensive chandeliers. We whispered amongst ourselves about how to handle the situation. Should we confront them or let them come to us? We waited with bated breath for someone to slink downstairs and apologize profusely for damaging our property. Nobody came downstairs.

“They must be texting their boss,” I said. “Find out how to tell us that they’d broken one of our lights.”

man-hanging-lightWe waited. And waited some more. We decided to give them ten more minutes. After five, I couldn’t stand it any more. I crept upstairs, being extra careful not to step in any glass fragments I was sure littered the floor. Nothing. No mess. No sound. Two guys were up on a ladder in one of the rooms attaching a chandelier to the ceiling.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great. We’re almost done.”

Almost done? That’s it? They aren’t even going to mention the broken $10,000 light fixture?

I turned to face my husband and mouthed, “They’re lying.”

I proceeded to march my little self into every single room upstairs, checking for lights, damage, broken glass, a broom, trash bag, anything evidencing the crash we heard downstairs.

Nothing. NOTHING. Every light exactly where it was supposed to be. Say what?

I went back into the room with the men on the ladder.

“Hey,” says I. “Did you guys hear a crash a few minutes ago. Like something big, and crystal, and expensive, falling and breaking?”



“We didn’t hear anything.”

Now, my husband and I both heard the crash. We both knew immediately what it was. And yet . . . nothing broken. And that my friends, is the mysterious case of the shattered chandelier.



Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Ever experience something you couldn’t explain? What do you think we heard?

Word of the day: Gagaku

Fun fact about me: I don’t really believe in ghosts. And yet . . .

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, October 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images and P. Rickrode.

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Last week I gave you a smattering of the kinds of paranormal activity we currently experience here at The Baer House Inn. Never anything sinister or malevolent, just little noises to let us know that “we are not alone.”

This week, I’ll delve a little deeper into some lesser know types of ghosts or ways that ghosts manifest themselves.

First, let’s talk about the trickster, the kokopelli if you will.

Image courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy Google Images

According to http://listverse.com/2013/03/27/10-little-known-mysterious-ghost-types/ – “Unless one is German, then the “Kobold” is not exactly a household term when it comes to the paranormal. Like a poltergeist, the kobold is a mischievous little spirit, playing tricks on humans and doing things to unsettle whoever is occupying its space. Kobolds can be malevolent or benevolent, depending on circumstances.”

Well, I for one only want to experience the benevolent type.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Former innkeeper, Doug, had a first-hand experience with a Kobold while he was doing some remodeling work in the basement. You see, the basement (the inside one, we also have an outside one), used to be the Baer House kitchen. I know, I know – weird that a home built in the late 1860’s, early 1870’s had a kitchen inside the house. Unheard of at that time. You see, kitchens had a tendency to burn down and burn down fairly frequently. That’s because people still cooked over open fires or with open flames in cook stoves. Fire, my friends, can be very destructive if one is not careful.

Well, Ms. Leona Baer insisted that her kitchen be built right inside her home. After her original kitchen house “mysteriously” burned down (that’s a whole different blog post), her construction workers began building the basement kitchen. At that time, people thought Leona was a little off her rocker. Why risk burning down your big beautiful mansion just to have the convenience of an indoor kitchen?

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Fast forward to 2005 when Doug bought the home and decided to turn that unused old kitchen space into a work-out room. During the initial remodel phase, quite frequently his tools went missing. On more than one occasion, he remembered putting a tool in a specific place only to have it disappear the next morning when he went to resume his work. Several days, or weeks, later, said tool would reappear in a very bizarre and out-of-the way place.

I’m thinking that’s a Kobold at work suggesting to Doug that perhaps a work-out room was not such a good idea. In fact, he never finished that room.

That basement was not completed until 2015, when we turned it into a downstairs family room (aka a place to store our stuff). We go down there just about every night to watch t.v. and I have a very small craft/sewing room down there. There’s also a very nice, very modern half bath.

Oh sure, the shenanigans continue, but mostly in the form of electronic equipment going wonky (ie, the television turning itself off or the dehumidifier suddenly stopping for no reason). Occasionally we’ll come home and the lights will be on. Nothing dangerous or scary, just the little trickster letting us know he’s/she’s around.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Now, it makes perfect sense that a Kobold would choose to inhabit this house. You see, this house was built by a very devout Jewish family, the patriarch of which immigrated from Germany. Remember the opening quote? Well, Lazarus Baer was a Jew from Germany, so . . . there you go.

Have you ever heard of Kobolds? I know a lot of you paranormal fans probably use that term every day as part of your regular vocabulary, but I had never heard of it. Until now. So tell me readers, would the presence of a friendly Kobold frighten you? Ever been on the receiving end of a paranormal trickster’s prank? I’d love to hear your experiences.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and for your continued support. I love to read your comments, so keep them coming.

Word of the Day: Quadriga

Fun fact about me: I’m an avid fan of Dancing With the Stars.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, December 2015. Photos and images courtesy Google Images.

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Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

So, I live in an old house. As old houses go, mine’s pretty cool. But, I’ve discovered that if you have an old house, especially in the south, you have to have a ghost. So, naturally, we have a ghost (or 2 or 3 if rumor is to be believed).

According to the “experts,” (http://paranormalistics.blogspot.com/p/types-of-ghosts-and-spirits.html) a ghost is nothing more than: “the energy of a person or animals soul that once lived.” Okay. It makes sense that we’d have a ghost then since people did live in this house.

According to the same site, “There are multiple reasons why ghosts make themselves known to us and how they interact with the living is usually determined by what personality characteristics they had when they where alive.” Cool.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

So, what does that say about our ghost(s)? Nobody has actually seen a ghost in his house, but many have captured shadowy figures in their photographs, or so they say. I’ve taken lots of pictures and I got zilch, nadda, zip. But, I’ve learned that there’s many different ways to be “haunted.” This was news to me. Apparently ghosts make their presence known in several ways.

http://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/types-of-ghosts.php explains it like this: “Many of us have weird sensations about seeing shadows or shapes out of the corner of our eye, only for it to disappear when we turn to look. And while you may be one of those people who are not afraid of such a paranormal experience, did you ever stop and wonder just what kind of ghostly apparition you encountered? Maybe, like most folks, you didn’t even consider that there could be different kinds of ghosts out there.” (Me, me – raising hand.) “But the fact is, experts in the field have put together a list and definitions of the types of supernatural phenomena that exist and it may come in handy, especially if you’re headed out on a Ghosts & Gravestones Tour.” (Or perhaps the Haunted Vicksburg Tour.)

1. The Interactive Personality – The most common of all ghosts spotted are usually those of a deceased person, someone you know, a family member or perhaps even a historical figure. These ghosts can be friendly or not . . . ” (I vote for friendly) “- but often show themselves to others in a variety of ways. They can become visible; they can speak or make noises, touch you or even emit an odor like perfume or cigar smoke, etc, to let you know they are there. Experts say that this type of ghost retains its former personality of when they were alive and can feel emotions. And often, they are visiting you to comfort you or let you know something important.”

Aww, I feel so comforted. Or maybe I’m just missing something. Something . . . important. Hmmmm.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

So, to recap, there are the filmy white apparitions seen by the naked eye. There are “vortex” ghosts who freeze people out of a sound sleep. There are the “smelly” ghosts, who like to scare people away by filling a space with fragrance of some kind. And then there’s our ghost – the kind that most often “materializes,” in an auditory form.

Here’s how http://www.ghoststudy.com/types.html explains our most common type of “haunting”: “CLAIRAUDIENCE: the ability of hearing the paranormal as opposed to seeing it.”

Ah. Now, I have heard things. Unexplainable things. And others have, too. So . . . perhaps we are “haunted?”

Again, quoting from the paranormalistics blog, “Ghosts were once human, just like you and I. It is believed that you keep your personality characteristics when you die. For example, if you where an evil person in life, you will be the same as a ghost. Mean spirited ghosts usually torment the living at haunted locations, feeding off the victims fear energy. The same goes for good people. If you were a loving person in life, you will be a loving ghost. Good spirited ghosts are usually very protective of families that live in haunted locations. Remember not all ghosts are bad.”

So, if I’ve done my deducting correctly, we have a friendly, even loving, and protective ghost. Probably a family member who once lived in the home. Here’s why I think it was a family member:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

http://www.angelsghosts.com/family_ghosts says this about family ghosts: “Family ghosts may best be defined as spirits of deceased humans, as well as animals,” (more on this below) “that remain around certain families for a particular function . . . who still care for the family in his or her own way, in a sense, acting as an angel or guardian over the family. And the ways they might find to interact with the living is fascinating . . . Family ghosts are commonly believed to also make themselves knows through use of strange sounds (the hoot of an owl, the sound of a dog, a bird against a window, etc.). Some ghosts of families are said to make everyone aware of them by the cracking of pottery or dishes!” (Or an expensive chandelier, like the sound I heard? Hmmmm.)

So, there you go. We have a friendly family music-loving ghost. Lots of guests report hearing music. Happy music like perhaps from a party. Perhaps a ball? Some have heard the jingling of a dog’s collar. Some hear dripping water (not that that’s particularly happy).

That’s right, it’s not just people sounds. Remember above I mentioned the jingling of a dog’s collar?

Here’s what I unearthed about animal spirits: According to http://listverse.com/2013/03/27/10-little-known-mysterious-ghost-types/, “Animal ghosts make their presence felt not just in manifestations, but also sound and smell. It is not unusual for a person experiencing a haunting which includes animal ghosts to hear the pitter patter of the invisible animal, or whimpering, panting and scratching on the walls and doors.” Add to that list, the shaking of the head so that a collar and metal tags jingle merrily. Could we also have an animal spirit hanging around?

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

So, why are we experiencing paranormal activity but the neighbors aren’t? Here’s what the paranormalistics think: “An area can become haunted for many reasons, not just untimely deaths or tragic accidents. Sometimes an area can become haunted because it was the favorite place of a person who has passed. People do not have to die at a location for it to become haunted and it can technically happen anywhere. The architecture of a structure, the minerals in the land, underground springs and other water sources can have a major factor as well. For example, you should never build structures on top of limestone or water tables, because limestone retains energy and water is a conductor of energy. This belief dates back over 5000 years in ancient China and other areas in the region.”

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Okay. There you go. We have at least 2 cisterns below the house previously used for water collection. Hmmmm. Are we a conducting ground for paranormal activity? Could be.

Stay tuned for Part Two next week. Maybe after hearing a little more about the history of the Baer House, we can discover the whos and the whys. Until then dear readers, have you ever experienced a “haunting?” Did you know there are different types of ghosts? Is your house built on a limestone foundation? Inquiring minds want to know.

Word of the Day: Panoply

Fun fact about me: I’m glad we’re out of pumpkin season.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, November 2015.

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Photo courtesy Baer House Inn

Photo courtesy Baer House Inn

Here it is – my new abode! Come on in, take a look around. While you explore, I’ll share some of the history of the home. Let’s start in the ballroom:

Baer House parlor

The Baer House was constructed in 1870 by Leona and Lazarus Baer from an existing site with a brick structure dating prior to 1850. Most of the original house was destroyed during the siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Leona Baer (formerly Bloom) began reconstruction with the goal of building a Victorian home guaranteed to impress with elaborate woodwork in the Eastlake architectural style, made popular by Charles L. Eastlake in the 1870’s and common among the elite in New York.

If you’ll turn around, you can see the other end of this large room, which is where guests enjoy a hearty breakfast, complete with a variety of hot dishes, juice, fresh fruit, homemade breads, hot black coffee, and made-to-order specialty dishes.

Baer House dining room

Back to the home’s construction. Leona Baer, was quite the revolutionary woman, insisting on overseeing every aspect of the home’s design and monitoring it’s construction. She was very forward-thinking for her generation, insisting that the kitchen be inside the home (an unheard of idea at that time) and that there be privies on the first and second floors. That’s right, this home sports a two-story outhouse. Don’t believe me? You’ll have to make a reservation and check this out yourself. The structure is still standing and still attached to the house. Makes for interesting conversation among tour guests.

Let’s step into the hallway for this next portion.

Baer House hallway

The head-turner here is, obviously, the grand staircase, complete with solid walnut balustrade. Notice the floors? They were painstakingly constructed of black walnut and American chestnut, highly sought after for it’s durability and rot resistance. Yes, the chandelier is quite impressive as well, as are the crown moldings and ceiling medallions. However, what is spectacular about this floor is that it is irreplaceable since the entire American chestnut population in Mississippi was wiped out by the blight around the turn of the 20th century.

Up those stairs are 6 guest rooms, 4 with private baths, 2 with a shared bath. Most have either a King or Queen bed, 2 are mini suites. The upstairs, while still quite grand, does not boast the fancy trimmings of the downstairs. You see, Leona believed that the family, children in particular, should not socialize with guests until they reached a proper age, thus the need for upstairs privies. Until such time, children were to remain upstairs and out of sight. There are still 14-foot doors with glass transomes up there, but they are plain, not decorated with the fancy Eastlake trimmings. After all, family does not need to dwell among such lavishness; luxury is visible only to esteemed guests.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Perhaps next week, I’ll treat you to some photos of the guest rooms and share some more of the fascinating history, including mysterious activity that happens in certain areas of the home. For now, this was a smattering of the fanciness of my new digs. I might also tell you about some of the goings-ons (that sounds weird) here in Vicksburg. Yes, stuff happens even in the heat. I know, I was shocked, too.

How have you been managing the summer heat? Have you traveled anywhere fun this month? What cool old houses have you visited? Curious people want to know.


Word of the Day: Xerostomia

Fun fact about me: I’ve yet to find a dishwasher that removes egg from anything.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, August 2015. Photos courtesy TripAdvisor.com and Google Images.

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Welcome sign at the Victoria port. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Welcome sign at the Victoria port. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

The final port stop on our Alaskan cruise was Victoria, B.C., known for it’s amazing federal building, the Empress Hotel and thousands and thousdands of flowers and plants at Buchart Gardens.

Our exploration of Victoria began with a bus tour of the city on our way to Craigdarroch Castle, a masterpiece of Victorian architecture built in the 1800’s as home to coal baron Robert Dunsmuir.

Here is a photo of the front of the castle, but I believe it might actually have been the back of the castle. You’ll see why in the second photo.

Modern-day entrance to Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Modern-day entrance to Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

This photo looks more like the front of a home than the back to me.

Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Here we took a self-guided walking tour of the four-story mansion complete with: an abundance of intricate woodwork believed to be western and red cedar (can you see the faint orb hovering on the right side of the arch over the door?,

Porte-cochere entrance, original main entrance of Craigdarroch Castle, which was actually on the side of the house. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Porte-cochere entrance, original main entrance of Craigdarroch Castle, which was actually on the side of the house. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

this intercom system (speaking tubes as they called them),

The "speaking tube" intercom system in Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

The “speaking tube” intercom system in Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

massive stone fireplaces like this one in the main hall (notice the orb on the paneling near the mountain goat’s right horn,

The main hall fireplace inspribed with this phrase from Shakespear's Troilus and Cressida, "Welcome ever smiles and farewell goes out sighing." Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

The main hall fireplace inspribed with this phrase from Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, “Welcome ever smiles and farewell goes out sighing.” Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

amazing staircases with an oh-so-obvious orb sliding down the banister,

Me and my sweetie on the staircase from first floor to the second. Yes, that is an orb floating just above my hand. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, BC. September 2014.

Me and my sweetie on the staircase from the first floor to the second. Yes, that is an orb floating just above my hand. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, BC. September 2014.

mosaic tile floors,

Amazing tile work floor. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Amazing tile work floor. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

painted ceilings,

Lovely original painted ceiling in the first floor main hall. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Lovely original painted ceiling in the first floor main hall. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

exquisite stained glass (this picture does not do this lovely nook justice),

Beautiful stained glass windows. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Beautiful stained glass windows. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

lavish Victorian-era furnishings,

A guest room at Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

A guest room at Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

and — did I mention — orbs.

It should be noted that not once on our journey to, or throughout the tour, did anyone ever mention the presence of these floating balls. It was not until I returned home and downloaded my pictures on to my laptop that I noticed an extreme concentration of the milky spheres.

While there are some orbs in these pictures, to see more pictures of Craigdarroch Castle’s orbs, visit my FB page, photo album Craigdarroch Castle.

After touring the castle, we headed into town where we opted to spend the final leg of the journey walking along the water’s edge. We enjoyed a lovely lunch of fish and chips and an amazing glass of stout beer at an authentic Scottish pub,

Baird & Banker, a Scottish Pub in Victoria, BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Bard & Banker, a Scottish Pub in Victoria, BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

wandered through the Empress Hotel

Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode Setpember 2014.

Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.


A courtyard at the Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

A courtyard at the Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Empress Hotel, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

and strolled along the water’s edge, past the Parliament building

Federal Building, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Federal Building, Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

and several beautiful bed and breakfast inns,

Huntingdon Manon, Victoria, BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Huntingdon Manor, Victoria, BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

back to our ship, admiring wooden boats moored in the quiet wharf

Wooden boar. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

Wooden boat. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

and watching sea planes land and take off along the way.

The sea plane taxi. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

The sea plane taxi. Victoria BC. Photo by P. Rickrode September 2014.

All-in-all, a very relaxing and enjoyable day in Victoria.

So, what say you lovely readers: ever discover any orbs in your photos? Which picture do you think most looks like the front of Craigdarroch Castle? Ever been to Victoria BC? Ever traveled by float plane? Inquiring minds want to know so please take a moment to post a comment below. I love to know your thoughts.

Fun fact about me: I love egg salad sandwiches for breakfast.

Word of the day: Kunzite.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt November 2014. Original photos by P. Rickrode.


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In keeping with my recent posts about my trip to Texas, today I’m bringing you a spin on the Take It or Leave It game and I’m doing it Texas style. I’m calling this month’s installment “Did I or Didn’t I.”

The Alamo Shrine - San Antonio Texas Photo by P. Rickrode

The Alamo Shrine – San Antonio Texas
Photo by P. Rickrode

The rules are the same (Post your guesses in the comments section below. I will post my responses on Thursday the 14th. The person with the most correct guesses is my winner, but you must post another comment in the comments section, acknowledging that you are a winner, in order to claim your prize. It’s that simple. Unclaimed prizes will be forfeited after one week from posting the answers.)

So, here you go. For the following list of things, did I do it or not do it?

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

1. Wander the corridors of the historic and haunted Menger Hotel looking for ghosts?

2.  Buy something at a smoke shop?

3.  Take a picture inside the Alamo long barracks?

4.  Participate in the topless experience?

5.  Have lunch with a cute guy from the Ukraine (I know, weird)?

6.  Tour Ripley’s Believe It or Not?

7.  Come home with my first ever shiner?

8.  Bring home a piece of rock from inside the Alamo shrine?

9.  Feed the ducks on the Riverwalk?

10.  Cut in line to get on the boat tour?

So, obviously, I visited the Alamo. The picture at the top is one of the many I took (is that a clue?). And, based on last week’s post, I did enjoy some time on the Riverwalk. But, how wild and crazy and adventurous did I really get? And how rebellious was I? That’s up to you to decide. I can’t wait to see your guesses.

Overall I had a very nice visit and would go back for more thrills. How about you dear readers, have you ever been to San Antonio? What the most crazy, wild or adventurous thing you’ve ever done on vacation? Please share, I love to know I’m not alone in my escapades, legal or otherwise.

Word of the day: Yegg (this is a fun one)

Fun face about me: I like to do cross stitch crafts.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, August 2014. Original photo of the Alamo by P. Rickrode, Other photos, courtesy Google Images.

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Image courtesy Google

Image courtesy Google

It’s time once again for another round of What Haven’t I, the guessing game about who I am and what I have or haven’t done. I’ve devoted this edition to that ghoulish time of year, Halloween.

Here’s a reminder, the rules: Post your answers (guesses) in the comments section below, keeping in mind that three of the answers are things that I have actually done, one is something I have not done. That’s it. Post your answers and then check back on the 17th to see how well you did (guessed). The first person to post another comment on the 17th, regardless of how many they got right, AND the best guesser (person with the most correct answers) will both be awarded prizes.

You can’t win if you don’t play so put on those guessing caps and get to work.

1. What costume haven’t I donned for Halloween: a) Sexy scorceress; b) saloon girl; c) Snow White, or d) redneck tourist.

2.  What haven’t I served at a Halloween party:  a) pizza; b) beer; c) chips or d) Cracker Jack.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Photo courtesy of Google Images

3.  What activity haven’t I engaged in on Halloween night:  a) trick or treating; b) handing out candy; c) playing hide and seek in a cemetary, or d) driving trick or treaters from neighborhood to neighborhood.

4.  What haven’t I done at a Halloween party:  a) played the piano; b) sang a song; c) bobbed for apples; or d) tap danced.

5.  What haven’t I watched on Halloween night:  a) It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown; b) A Disney Halloween; c) Castle (Halloween edition) or; d) Halloween.

That’s it. Good luck and I’ll look forward to ya’ll stopping back on the 17th.

Word of the Day: Labeaction

Fun Fact about me:  I can’t “quirk a brow,” like every single person in every single romance novel can. Am I a freak?

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Today I’m honored to share with you all, a glimpse into the “other worldly.” Book cover Dead Letter DayOne lucky person who leaves a comment below will receive a copy of this awesome book! (Look right.)

My special guest today is Eileen Rendahl, author of Dead Letter Day, the most recent installment in her Messenger Series. In the Messenger series, heroine, Melina Markowitz, is a kick-butt kind of girl who serves as a go-between for paranormal/supernatural creatures and the human world. She is a regular human with, let’s say “heightened sensitivities,” who communicates with other-worldly beings but she has no real super powers of her own (other than those “heightened sensitivities”).

I’ve asked Eileen a few questions regarding her recent release. Here’s how our interview went:

Me: Melina practices martial arts. Do you personally practice some form of martial arts? If so, what form, and if not, how do you get your information on the subject?

Eileen: Years and years ago, I took about a year’s worth of martial arts. I remember almost nothing. My main source for the fight scenes was Stacy Desideri. Stacy was my sons’ 5th grade teacher and she happens to be a black belt. She spent hours with me helping to choreograph fight scenes and gave me a lot of information to help me write about them in the future. I also will watch fight scenes on DVD and slow them down as much as possible to see the movements. What I loved about Stacy’s input is that she would give me the “why” as well as the “how.” It certainly made it richer in my head and I hope it made it richer on the page.

Me: The Messenger series is set in the greater Sacramento area. Being familiar with that area myself, I’m wondering, what specific landmarks you had in mind when writing some of the scenes in the Messenger books?

Eileen: Well, Melina lives in Mansion Flats. Her parents live in the Pocket. The hospital she works in is located around where Mercy Hospital is located. I actually spent some time with a map of the delta trying to pick a specific island for the mermaid in Dead Letter Day to leave near. I usually try to pick a specific location for where she’s going and what she’s doing. That said, sometimes I do just make stuff up. The town near the wolf pack in Dead Letter Day is basically Mount Horeb, Wisconsin transported to the Sierras.

Me: I’d love to meet Melina, she sounds really cool. She has a very human roommate, a sexy human boyfriend, a werewolf guy pal, a vampire co-worker (at a hospital no less where there is an endless supply of fresh blood), and she has encounters with ninjas, kokopelli and other mystical creatures and gets entangled in voodoo and other dark forces. Tell me, what surprises can I expect to find in Dead Letter Day?

Eileen: I’m so glad you like her! I feel a little like she’s the little sister I never had.

Dead Letter Day has a lot of Norse mythology. I don’t want to give too much away, but that was definitely my main focus for this book. There is also a mermaid, some dryads and a few other beings thrown in here and there.

WDW 2011 076

The Tree Lady (Animal Kingdom Park – WDW)
Photo by P. Rickrode

Me: One of my favorite parts of Don’t Kill the Messenger, the first book in this series, is this combination of two partial paragraphs: “. . . (ninjas) who seemed to materialize out of nowhere and proceeded to kick the crap out of me. That may not seem like a great feat. I am merely one not terribly large girl. Five foot seven in my stocking feet and my weight is none of your damned business.” What is one of your particularly favorite parts of Dead Letter Day?

Eileen: There’s a dryad that figures in Dead Letter Day. I’m quite fond of Melina’s first meeting with her. They start out on a somewhat adversarial footing and become friends.

Me: The first two books in the series, Don’t Kill the Messenger and Dead on Delivery, both have similar covers, primarily reds, oranges and golds with an Asian flare and a warm glow. (Yeah, despite the use of Kill and Dead in the titles, I get a feeling of a warm glow from the covers and honestly, that scares me a little, too.) Dead Letter Day; however, is a beautiful shade of royal blue with black birds, dark trees and a cold sense of impending doom. Why the drastic change in color scheme and cover art?

Eileen: I have no idea what made the publisher change to the blue colors, but I do like it. I also really like the crow and the netting and the trees. I wish the woman on the front looked a bit more like the woman on the front of the first two books, but you can’t win them all.

Side note:

Me: Shows you how much I know about working with a publisher. Excuse me a moment – (Note to self, I may not have absolute control over my book covers unless I self-publish.)

Okay, back on track.

Me: Writing a series of books that involve the same location, characters, etc., is much more involved than writing a single title book. Are you a plotter or a pantser and how does writing a series effect that style.

Eileen: I’m a plotter, but only book by book. Plotting is very difficult for me and the idea of having to plot out multiple books all at once makes my head swim. I guess I’m forcing the series to be worked out the way I work out all my books rather than the other way around. It is fun, however, to know that the end of the book doesn’t have to be the end of the story. I like knowing I can come back to my girl and grow more with her.

Eileen headshotMe: In addition to this paranormal series, you also have several contemporary chick lit and single title romantic suspense books published under a different name (Eileen Carr). Which do you prefer writing?

Eileen: The chick lit books and the Messenger books are very similar in tone. They’re also all first person. The Messenger books have a lot more plotting to them, though. From the beginning, I’ve wanted them to be a little like those old hard-boiled detective novels. Instead of a dame walking into the office, it’s a dryad or a gnome or something else unexpected. Honestly, they’re fun to write. First person for me is like slipping on my stretchy pants. I’m comfy with it. 

The romantic suspense books are a lot harder for me. They’re in 3rd person which means I have a lot more voices to create and a lot more threads to keep track of. I kind of groove on the challenge, though. 

So I guess I don’t know what I like best! I think it’s good to have both comfort and challenge in my life. It makes me a better writer.

So there you have it. I hope you’ll all check out Eileen’s books. She has a sharp wit and great talent for weaving intricate and interesting tales. While I’m not a huge fan of paranormal fiction, I absolutely LOVE Eileen’s Messenger series. The writing is gritty, witty and . . . I can’t think of another rhyming word.

Eileen Rendahl was born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne. In addition to the Messenger series, Eileen Rendahl is the award-winning author of four Chick Lit novels. Her alter ego, Eileen Carr, released her first romantic suspense, Hold Back The Dark, in 2009. She has had many jobs and lived in many cities and feels unbelievably lucky to be where she is now and doing what she’s doing.

Send Eileen an e-mail any old time. She’d love to hear from you! Eileen@Eileen Rendahl.com. You can also connect with Eileen at EileenRendahl.com; on Twitter or Facebook. Her books can be found at Amazon.com or your local bookstore. If it’s not on the shelf, request that it be put there.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Eileen’s book. You’ll be glad you did.

I leave you with this thought-provoking question – what do you read when you read out of your comfort zone? Have you been pleasantly surprised when you ventured into that world? I’d love to hear about it.

Word of the day:  Tabula rasa

Fun fact about me: I know the 12 Days of Christmas (the song) in order. You know, lords leaping, pipers piping. I know the right order.

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