A New Kind of Ghost Stories

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I have discovered the perfect excuse for a grown, mother of three to trapes around haunted locations and dust off her favorite Peter Venkman lines (if you don’t know who that is, we are no longer friends). 

The truth is, I’m kind of shy about stuff.  What?!  It’s true.  I wrote for almost 4 years before I even told anyone I was a writer.  I was even serving as the Assistant Regional Advisor for MN SCBWI and had poetry published in children’s magazines, but never told anyone who knew me outside of my writing group that I wrote anything at all.  I don’t know why.  I just kind of kept it to myself.  But then I got an agent (yippy) and she told me I needed to have a website or blog (it’s pretty hard to be incognito when you’re blogging about it). 

The idea to write about haunted locations actually occurred to me as I was reading a book my agent told me to read before we started sending my manuscript out to editors.  The book was GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL (Christina Katz), and it made me think about how to market myself as a writer specifically as it related to the manuscript we were trying to sell.  That’s a-whole-nother blog post unto itself.  But the shortened version is, the idea to ghost hunt popped into my head (actually on an airplane as I flew to LA, the yet-to-be-signed agent contract in my computer bag, as I read that book on my Nook).

One thing about me (that can be both a blessing and a curse) – once I get something in my mind, I HAVE to do it.  And I have to do it all out.  So I found an awesome Lead Investigator, Tristin Gravitt.  Tristin had led his own paranormal group and was leading paranormal investigations at the Mounds Theater.  I bought a ticket for one, talked my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop leader into going with me and had my first investigation with Tristin.  I won’t lie.  I was watching him that night – getting a feel for him to see if he might be the guy I was looking for who could maybe one day help me form my own group.  I liked everything about him…and the more I get to know him, the more I know, he’s the perfect fit for my team.  I’m not gonna get all philosophical on you, but people come into your life exactly when they’re supposed to…and that is all I will say about that (for now anyway).  🙂

So together, Tristin and I planned a group investigation at the Palmer House Hotel.  And I posted a Facebook message asking if anyone would like to come along.  We ended up taking 12 awesome people on that outing.  I would have liked to have had them ALL in my paranormal group (and I will for sure be taking all of them on more investigations in the future), but my mind began stewing on an idea – which is usually terrifying because my ideas are really weird.  But I’m learning that the scary ideas are usually the ones I NEED to follow through on because they’re exactly what I’m supposed to do.

The idea was this: I should totally form a paranormal group composed of authors and artist who are seeking creative inspiration by ghost hunting!  That was, after all, exactly what I was doing.  And a few of the people who came along to the Palmer House were my friends through SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).  And once we get good at this ghost hunting thing, we almost HAVE to make a documentary about our experiences!  So I told my author/artist friends exactly that.  And those crazy cats were all, “Heck yeah!  Let’s do it!” 

I was a little nervous to pitch the idea to Tristin.  He’s a REAL paranormal investigator.  His group’s purpose was to prove or disprove evidence of the supernatural.  Our end goal is a little different.  We want to walk away inspired to create something.  We want to sit in the pitch black and feel…well, a little scared.  We want to be touched by a spirit so we can go home and write a scene for a screenplay or chapter of a book or create a sketch of how totally freaked out we were by it!  Of course, we want to prove and disprove things in the process, but if all we walked away with is a little creative spark, we walk away happy.  After explaining to Tristin my plan, I was relieved to hear him say, he was in.

So, we have a leader with the technical knowledge about paranormal investigating.  We’ve got a surprising amount of equipment (without having to put much money into it at this point – although when my screenwriting partner and I were talking about selling our script I actually heard myself saying things like, “I can’t wait to get the extra money so I can buy a great thermal imaging camera and a good DVR set for my investigating team!”).  And we’ve got 4 authors/artist who have agreed to commit to completing a project related to our investigations. 

I won’t tell you all about our projects yet, but I will say that every time I’ve heard the group talk about their projects, I’ve actually gotten a little choked up.  The things that come out of this group are going to be completely awesome! 

My team consists of Tristin Gravitt (our investigative and technical lead), Scott Spinks (artist/illustrator/writer), Sean Spinks (artist/writer) – yes, Scott and Sean are brothers – Shawn McCann (artist/illustrator/writer) and me!  You can click here to go directly to our group’s blog “Our Team” page to see our brief and not yet completed bios.  Sorry, I just couldn’t wait to tell you about our group, so I’m announcing it before I have everything put together on our blog.

Oh, yeah!  I almost forgot to tell you our group name!!  We are…drumroll…Ghost Stories, Inc. or G.S.I. if we want to sound kinda tough.  Do you love it?!  Don’t tell me if you don’t cause I totally do, and I don’t need anyone peeing on my flaming hot happiness right now!  And if you click on Ghost Stories, Inc. you can go to our group blog and guess what else you can do…follow it!  Yeah, you should totally do that!  And we have a Facebook page!  So click here to be redirected to that so you can “like” us (because it will make us feel good – and it’s nice to like others – so do it)!!

There you have it.  This former PTO president, stay-at-home mommy, closet-author, who sometimes likes to pretend to illustrate has officially added PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR to her resume.  I cleared this addition with my children.  My 10-year-old son thinks it’s the coolest idea he’s ever heard.  My 7-year-old daughter is happy it  won’t interfere with her dance schedule and could help mommy write more books and movies giving said mommy more money to pay for more dance lessons (or gymnastics or acting or whatever my little spotlight-lover wants to pursue).  And my 3-year-old daughter is happy with whatever I do, as long as she can be dressed as a pumpkin and go by the name Roger while I’m doing it.  Shut up!  That’s normal!!  And I don’t care if it’s not.  She’s perfect – even if she’s weird!

So go check out Ghost Stories, Inc.  And while you’re doing that, I need to figure out how to make a documentary…

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