Movie Review: the Conjuring 2

22 Jun

It was a hot and stormy night. Actually it was hot and dry, having hit almost 100 degrees in our little mountain town in Colorado. Since we do not have air conditioning, my wife and I did something we rarely do: we went to the movies.

conjuring2There we watched the latest incarnation of the semi-fictional adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the original ghost hunters.
The Conjuring 2 follows up where the commercially successful original left off (The Conjuring). Since the sequel will probably be a summer box-office smash, the two will soon be a cinema franchise. Watch for the Conjuring 3 coming soon to a theater near you.

But back to our movie. A rollicking, scary, funhouse summer flick to be sure; the kind we boys used to take our high school girlfriends to for lots of clingy hugs.

SARCASM ALERT! When I get especially critical, I tend to drip sarcasm, so please forgive me if some splatters on this page. I just can’t help myself.

The plot is based on the “true” paranormal investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who back in the late 70’s allegedly looked into the haunting of a flat in London (the Enfield Haunting). It was occupied by a recently-single mom and her brood of kids, including one otherwise charming pre-teen girl who became the spokesperson for the unseen entity also sharing their quarters.

The girl is well-played by Madison Wolfe; the semi-hysterical mom also well done by Frances O’Connor. Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine. She could probably play an absolutely perfect angel if the right role came along, but I can’t vouch for Wilson’s inexplicable Elvis imitation somewhere around mid-film, even though I have to assume it was in-character for Ed Warren.

Anyway, to cut to the proverbial chase . . . the young girl character draws heavily on the female star of the 1973 release of The Exorcist, only unlike that girl, this time the possessed was up and out of bed while running around causing all kinds of mischief. Ed and Lorraine dutifully chase her (“it”) like some civilian geek squad on assignment from “the Church” that wouldn’t get itself officially involved. In the predictable end, the geek squad wins and the evil is vanquished.

Conjuring 2 is not a bad movie, but its also not a ghost movie. It is a demon movie (and not about a poltergeist, as the entity is commonly referred to). So don’t expect scary ghosts. It has instead more than the usual number of jumps and startles substituting for a dramatic build-up of genuine fear, and the setting of the house is artfully scary– what one would expect for a not-so-quiet demon who likes to party.

I concede that this movie was not made for aging paranormal investigators like ourselves; its aimed squarely at the 18 to 34 demographic. They will probably like it. But for us fully-formed (for better or worse) adults in the room, it is as they say “what it is.” What is instructive about it is the more valuable lesson for types like us. Its the distinction between “horror” and “supernatural” stories, with Conjuring 2 being an excellent example of the former.

What is true horror? Its like pornography: you know it when you see it. But instead of sexual arousal, horror causes sudden emotional stimulation characterized by fear, loathing, and an adrenalin rush that energizes a flight or fight response. Was the Exorcist horror or supernatural? When I first saw it in a theater, I witnessed grown men get up and run out of the place! But I read the novel before I ever saw the motion picture . . . I couldn’t sleep the first few nights– too scared. My opinion: definitely Horror/Supernatural for the movie; Supernatural/Psychological for the book.

To be real Horror with a capital H, a story has to exploit your primal fear at its most basic level. Not just ghost stories like the kind that scare you but don’t necessarily horrify you. Horror is visceral– biological/conscious jump-up and run away before you die fear. Supernatural is cerebral– the more subtle psychological/subconscious keep-you-up-at-night or have nightmares fear.

Beyond film genres and the depiction of the Warrens and their paranormal adventures, its also worth mentioning their real-life background. Why? Because they are yet having an influence on the minds of a far younger generation on a hot weekend in 2016.

Ed Warren (who died a few years ago) was a self-proclaimed demonologist. His wife Lorraine is a medium and joined her husband in the early 50’s as investigators of the paranormal. They were trailblazers, among if not the first to use tape recorders and other electronics of the day to scientifically measure such phenomena. Unfortunately, they had a built-in bias. They were devout Christians, and believed that all paranormal events were the result of diabolical forces.

I don’t have to criticize a major religion for its paranormal beliefs, as its a fact that in the Catholic Church for example, that belief is dogma. The priests in the Exorcist were of course Catholic, and admirably performed their duties in casting out the devil from its possession of a young girl (based on a true story). Where the Catholic Church goes awry in my opinion is its continuing insistence that ordinary ghosts are also the result of diabolical causes. They are not in most cases, which I can attest to from my own experience and most of those of my cohorts with only some rare exceptions.

I understand this misguided doctrine. I grew up Catholic, but left its confines many years ago due to other differences with its belief structure.  But let’s get back to the movies about the Warrens . . . both foster the belief that Satan is behind hauntings, and that is just not the case. That belief makes for more dramatic stories and can appeal to one’s inner religious child, but scaring grown adults into a given belief is exactly why I left that institution.

What we call “ghosts” today are the manifestations of dead people living their perfectly normal afterlives. They include those existing along either margin of the border to the Other Side as ghosts (earthbound spirits), or freed spirits who’ve successfully crossed over and are just visiting. Whoever else is lurking along the interdimensional boundary between life and death I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that they rarely include demons. Somewhere they may indeed exist to lead us into temptation and drag us screaming into hell, but they’re unlikely tenants of the average haunted house.

(Read another opinion on the story’s credibility)


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

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Unreal Ghosts

1 Jun

Wi Haunted HseRecently, we were called to investigate a home where the owner claimed to have ghosts in her basement. Since the house was nearby, we came over to do a preliminary walkthrough prior to any investigation. There the owner told us how she felt very uncomfortable in the basement, even feeling like she couldn’t breathe. Her dog was also unwilling to go down there.

After walking through and visiting the basement, we too felt bad. But it wasn’t until she told us about her previous tenant who had a meth lab down there did we deduce the source of our mutual discomfort. Meth processing leaves a chemical residue that is a toxic contaminant, and under Colorado law must in fact be disclosed to any buyer or tenant. We advised her that she probably did not have ghosts– just meth.

Today I read in the Denver Post about a couple who was arrested for shooting at “ghosts” in their house. Turns out they were under the same influence whenever they reported the alleged intruders to the local authorities.

Goes to show you: if you’re a ghosthunter, beware of contaminants (meth, mold, asbestos, mice droppings, etc.). All hauntings are not real ghosts.

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

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Interview: Paul Hill & Author Ellis Nelson

1 May
Ellis Nelson

Ellis Nelson

Recently I interviewed Ellis Nelson. Her last two published works are Elephants Never Forgotten in 2015 and Into the Land of Snows back in 2012. Let’s see what she has to say about her work . . .

PH: Ellis, you write fiction for Young Adults; more specifically in the mystical, paranormal, or possibly “visionary” genres. Visionary is a relatively new category of writing that you self-identify with, but I believe most readers are not yet familiar with it. Do your last two books fit under that label, and if so, can you tell me your definition of visionary?

EN: Into the Land of Snows definitely fits in the visionary fiction (VF) category. My main character grows in his understanding of consciousness and reality. That is the central theme of the book. Ultimately, his preconceived ideas about reality crumble and his world vision opens to new possibility. I think the definition of visionary fiction is emerging but for me, any book that tackles going beyond the limitations of the third dimensional reality fits the bill. That said, I think pegging books solely to this or that category can get sticky. Many books are combinations of genres and I still agonize over how to present or label a book for editors and agents.

Elephants Never Forgotten lends itself easily to the world of science fiction because its main theme involves the manipulation of genes, a scientific endeavor. But even here, it could just as easily be tagged adventure. My main character travels to a Botswana of the future. I wouldn’t label this book as VF; however it does look at the animal/human bond and heart-centered connection. For me, this is a spiritual book on a certain level and does represent part of my own spiritual journey.

PH: I’m fascinated by the fact that you can write these kinds of stories for young adults. Is there any downside to those folks being exposed to such subjects at an early age? On the upside, what’s the benefit for them?

EN: From my point of view, the earlier the better. But then, I came into the world as an open, inquisitive kid, very intrigued by the spiritual, paranormal, and the desire to understand the nature of reality. The benefit is that we grow a society of bright, open-minded, heart-centered individuals. The ultimate revolution in consciousness! This is the reason I write for kids. They are the future. The downside is that we already have plenty of kids who feel like outsiders because they are different. We’ve seen bullying since time immemorial. We live in a society that is highly judgmental and materialistic. I do recognize that those who don’t fit in run risks.

PH: Good point about creative kids not getting respect from their less thoughtful peers. On your website, you say that you were interested in Buddhism, and that you were also interested in mystical things when you were that young. But as an adult you were in the a military. At first glance that would seem to be a little at odds with things mystical. How do you reconcile that?

EN: I think they are at odds. I grew up in a working class family and did well in school. An Air Force ROTC scholarship put me through college. Although I had a deep interest in history, psychology, and religious studies, the AF would not pay for those kinds of degrees. I have an undergraduate degree in math and an advanced degree in management. I served four years as an acquisitions officer and left the AF. The way I go about any task really goes back to those values and methods. My husband is a retired Lt. Col. and we’ve lived throughout the country. I still retain the core values and ideas of leadership. However, my spiritual life has taken me in new directions.

PH: Have you ever had your own paranormal or mystical experience?

EN: Yes, many. I’ll talk about a few. On my books blog, I mention that as a toddler I repeatedly told my mother about a man who visited me at night who wore a hat with a big feather. I don’t have any conscious memory of that. But I regard that as my first encounter with the paranormal. As a teen, I watched books fall from shelves and heard footsteps when no one was at home. As an adult, I saw a ghost at Bent’s Fort.

But some of my most amazing experiences have been with my own pets. These are the experiences that convince me we are connected in very incredible ways. I am very empathic, but it took me a while to admit this.

The first instance happened when I took one of my older cats in for a regular vet exam. Now, I had had a tooth hurt from time to time prior to this and I decided to wait and see if it got worse over time. At the vet, it turned out that my cat had dental issues and the vet wanted to schedule a cleaning letting me know that extractions might be necessary. I scheduled the procedure and over the next two weeks, my back molar was really starting to give me problems. Now it was actually throbbing and I thought, for sure, I’ve got to get to the dentist. Turns out, the cat had three teeth removed. “The worst one,” the vet said poking a finger toward an xray, “was this one.” It corresponded to my troublesome molar. My tooth never hurt after my cat had the tooth pulled. A curious coincidence?

A couple of years later, I had a Golden retriever who was going through chemotherapy. I’d drop him off in the morning for treatment and the office would call in the afternoon for me to come and pick him up. They’d fit the treatments in between appointments so I never knew how long he’d be there or when he’d get the meds. The second time I took him, I was at home and suddenly got very nauseated and so dizzy I had to go lie down. I’d never had that happen before and had no idea what was going on. I was really concerned that if things didn’t resolve quickly, there was no way I could drive to the vet’s and get the dog. It took about an hour or so for the situation to abate and I was able to drive to the vet’s later that afternoon. I dismissed the incident because I had no explanation for it.

The next week, the same thing happened and I noted the time. I’m a slow learner, but when I went to retrieve the dog, I had a question for the vet tech. “What time did Barkley start getting the drugs?” The time was exactly when I started to feel sick. I was experiencing the chemo right along with my dog. Later that night, I did a meditation and entered a space to talk with my guides. That was the end of my chemo. I did learn some important lessons about healing and the reality we live in.

PH: There really are no coincidences, are there? Let’s talk about the storylines of your latest books for a bit. Briefly, what are they about, and is one more mystical/paranormal or visionary than the other?

elephants never forgotten 2


EN: In Elephants Never Forgotten, we are taken into the future where microelephants are pets and wild elephants are extinct. Twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. But her elephants are different. She starts to wonder what her grandfather was up to. With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth. This is a futuristic, SF novel for the younger set.



In Into the Land of Snows, we follow sixteen year old Blake to Base Camp on
Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences. This is the visionary novel where Blake’s reality is shattered and he is opened to a whole new paradigm.



PH: Both stories sound compelling. But as you well know, one of the big issues in getting published these days is getting one’s work to conform to a known genre. Sometimes it’s like fitting the proverbial square peg. When you published these books, did your publishers insist on what genre and sub-genre they should be grouped into?

EN: No. In both cases the publishers asked me for tags. In my experience with children’s books, the main classification is first deciding if the work is for a middlegrade (MG) audience or a young adult (YA) one. After that, a book can be associated with further descriptions as adventure, fantasy, SF, magical realism, contemporary, etc.

PH: I haven’t read your books, but if you asked me which of your last two fit into what categories, I might say Elephants could be “visionary/science fiction,” almost like a Jurassic Park for the younger set? Do you agree?

EN: Yes, I see your point. For promotional purposes, I was using “Jurassic Park meets Micro”. I love Michael Crichton, by the way! The genre VF is very new and most publishers, agents, and editors don’t recognize it. So at this point trying to attract any of them using VF isn’t going to work. We’re still left with paranormal, New Age, spiritual, etc. I have a manuscript right now I’m circulating and it’s VF, but I’m calling it adventure. It reads like a thriller, but it has strong mystical elements.

PH: What about a genre/sub-genre for Snows?

EN: The genre for Snows is YA. It’s a teen book with potential cross-over. Its subgenre, in a perfect world, would be VF. However, the tags associated with the book are adventure and contemporary.

PH: I read your excerpt from Elephants, and I noted that you don’t “talk down” to your young adult readers. It seems it could be enjoyed by an adult just as well. Did you intentionally write it to cross-over into the adult fiction market, or did it just come out that way?

EN: It was not a conscious intention to write a cross-over. My books do involve copious research and, I think, a level of sophistication. All of my books have an underlying objective to teach something. Those are the kinds of books I devour so those are the kinds of books I write. The part of your question dealing with not talking down to young readers is also critical. I don’t believe that children come in as blank slates. I’m a parent too. Children come into this world as spiritual beings with personalities and experience. That has to be appreciated and honored.

PH: You mentioned you have a manuscript in circulation right now. Can you give us a hint about it?

EN: I’m shopping for an agent right now for a YA book titled, The Greening of the Laurel. In it, Ryan’s junior year is turned upside down by a series of bizarre visions and freaky encounters with fire. As his reality crumbles, he must confront his past life in Cathar France in order to regain a lost manuscript that is key to guiding scientists in unlocking the secrets of the universe. Only then will Ryan be free.

PH: Sounds fascinating. So where do you think this is all headed? By that I mean both adult and YA literature about the visionary, the mystical, the paranormal, ghosts, etc.? Is it just a fad, or do you think we’ll see these genres evolve and gain in popularity?

EN: Cultures have always told stories about these things. Although the term VF is new, the stories are not. They fill a need. The need is to go beyond everyday reality, to search for truth and meaning. These things are not going away. Today, we see the mystic and quantum scientist joining hands using different words, but pointing in the same direction. The old paradigm is dying. It’s scary for some. Some will hold on tooth and claw, but we’re going there anyway. The future will be different and so will our worldview. VF is a way to make sense of that new future. I’m optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction.

PH: Thanks for being in the hotseat with me today, Ellis! One last question: where might a reader buy your books? Are they in e-book form, or is hard copy available?

EN: Elephants Never Forgotten is available as an e-book.  Into the Land of Snows  is available in both print and e-book forms (click on titles for links).

Thanks for hosting me, Paul!

I invite readers to visit me at (mystical/spiritual/paranormal site), or (kid friendly site).

PH: It was enlightening talking with you Ellis, and best of luck with your book sales and your latest work!


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Seeing Ghosts

26 Apr

There are two kinds of ghosts: real ones and the made-up kind. The latter are either the phony ones you see at Halloween, or the ones you see (or can’t see) on tv and at the movies– dramatic re-creations based on a screenwriter’s script or a popular novel.  But how accurate are their depictions of the unseen? People learn from television, for better or for worse.

"Red Reddington"

“Red Reddington”

Consider the most recent episode of Blacklist, an NBC television series about the FBI, spies, master criminals, and a main character by the name of Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by James Spader). Red is a rogue ex-spy who unofficially consults with the FBI about uber-bad guys on the loose. My wife and I don’t watch that much tv, but this is one series we have followed for its excellent writing, in this case by Daniel Knauf.

Last week’s episode (Cape May) threw dedicated fans into a tizzy, showing how a ghost as a character can be misunderstood. Apparently no one understood this one. I think I did. The episode presented a paranormal experience for the main character, something totally out of character for the series. But you can decide for yourself if any ghosts appeared. I suggest watching the episode for important subtleties and clues that appear as the story unfolds. If you can’t, stay with me anyway. This should be fun.

SPOILER ALERT!  Don’t read any further if you intend to see the show first. That will be far more interesting then a written description. But if you haven’t been watching it from week to week, you still should know some background: Red’s friend in the FBI (Liz) died in the previous show, someone he had been looking after since she was a little girl when he rescued her from dangerous circumstances. The identity of her presumed dead father is unknown, as is the status of her mother, an accused Russian spy.

That’s really all you need to know, but watch the whole thing if possible. Then come back here and we’ll talk . . .

 DISCLAIMER: to over-simplify, paranormal investigators look for clues and evidence of something unusual in an allegedly “haunted” location. Then they try to “debunk” whatever strange things are discovered in order to explain them by normal circumstances. If they can’t and the phenomenon remains unexplained, it may very well be paranormal. Investigating the paranormal requires the same sensibilities as any kind of investigator, but the process is still very much an art and not a science, despite fancy hardware and claims to the contrary. In spite of confidence in their findings, they can still be dead wrong.

The opening scenes of the Cape May episode show Red Reddington still traumatized by Liz’s death and recovering in an opium parlor run by an old Chinese woman. As he leaves, she reminds him to take his gun, but he gives it back to her.  1st clue: guns don’t work in past-life environments. He then hires a car to take him to Cape May, New Jersey– 200 miles away. We don’t know why, or if he knows why. 2nd clue: Red is mysteriously drawn to this location, which he did visit once a long time ago.

Once he arrives, he visits a diner for breakfast where he spies a woman sitting in a nearby booth. He watches her get up and leave, only to see a man enter who is apparently looking for her. 3rd clue: the man picks up a shiny new pay phone and inserts a quarter to call someone. Where’s his cell phone?  Why is a pay phone even there? They’ve virtually disappeared from public places.

I can go on and on with the various clues, but it would be more fun for the viewers to find them on their own. Suffice it to say that Red was experiencing a residual haunting in the diner, which continues right through his arrival at an abandoned shoreside inn. There he sees the same woman on the beach, whom he watches trying to kill herself by walking into the ocean. He saves her, transforming the residual haunting into an interactive one as he talks to the person he saves.

Residual hauntings are like playbacks of events that occurred in the past, where the witness cannot interact with whom or what he sees. The twist the writer inserted into the story at this point was his ability to start interacting with the woman. Red had stepped back into the past, enabling himself to be part of it as it replayed its sad story. Such interactive encounters are also called intelligent hauntings.

Mysterious Woman

Mysterious Woman

The storyline continues with many additional clues that support the theory of this residual haunting flipping back and forth into an interactive one. Red is caught up in the playback of the events that were responsible for all of his troubles, including the recent death of his beloved Liz. The challenging question one can raise here is, “if Red participated in the events of the past, did he also change the future by his actions there?” This is the classic time travel dilemma, but I’ll leave the implications of that to the writer who probably has his own ideas about it.

I could go on for pages pointing out all the clues within the narrative. But I’ll leap to my own conclusions instead. Scanning through the hundreds of comments on various Blacklist fan sites, it appears no one “got it.” Instead, viewers thought Red was having a dream, hallucinations, having a breakdown, or was simply remembering past events. No. Hallucinations are irrational perceptions produced by a short-circuiting brain as the result of drugs or psychosis. Memories recalled can be vivid, but do not play out in interactive detail. Dreams, whether induced by opiates or just deep sleep, are controlled by the sub-conscious, and are for the most part illogical. Red’s experience as a still rational person was vivid, logical, and interactive.


Red’s Discovery of the Mysterious Bracelet

The mysterious woman was depicted as a ghost who really did kill herself in the past. She drew Red back to Cape May to explain her actions when she was alive, and also to help Red deal with his own guilt, which was slowly killing him. Such is the nature of paranormal events . . . supernatural interventions with a purpose.


For those of you really into this, learn more . . .


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

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a Queen’s birthday– a Prince’s passing

22 Apr
the Queen

Queen Elizabeth

Yesterday, the world’s media was focused on two dissimilar events: the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth of Britain, and the unexpected passing of Prince, the performance artist and musician. My wife thought of the above headline ironically describing the two unrelated events happening on the same day.

Most of you know who “the Queen” is; some of you may not acquainted with Prince, a pop/rock artist who’s been on the music scene and in the public spotlight since the early 1980’s. Since his death, he is finally being acknowledged as one of the most innovative and creative influences in the world of popular music. This event reinforces the notion that artists get their best reviews after they’re dead.

Of course music is a very personal thing, and for what one jumps out of bed for in the morning, another sleeps till noon. But that’s art, whether its in the form of music, painting, writing, or any other creative endeavor. So why do I continue to deviate from my self appointed mission as a blogger of the paranormal with posts about writing and music? I guess because the latter are as important to me personally as investigating and writing about ghosts. More pragmatically, other than my real estate blog this is the only forum I have to rant in! So I’ll try and keep these things as connected as I can.

As anyone who’s been following me is probably sick of hearing by now, I wrote a book. Its a work of paranormal fiction, so there’s the connection to the literary world. But how do I justify music? Here’s how: my last post discussed visionary fiction, and how it has a hard time pinpointing a specific genre that publishers need when they select a hole for their literary pigeons. “Visionary” in writing and art in general is hard to define.


Prince (click for video)

But after listening to a news interview on CBSN last night, I had one of those little epiphanies. A reporter was talking to a music critic in front of the Apollo Theater in NYC about Prince’s contribution to contemporary pop music. She said Prince was a visionary, combining funk, jazz, rock n roll, gospel, and other music genres as easily as we chew gum. She concluded that visionaries defy genre (her words).

There’s my answer to the visionary aspect of the written word in fiction writing. The reason book publishers have such a hard time pigeonholing that genre is because with books (and music), visionary has no genres. It defies them.

I promise I’ll get back to ghosts soon.

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

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the Visionary Fiction Alliance

14 Apr

VFA-member bannerWhat is the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA)? I guess I should know as I just joined it! As the new kid on the block, so far I can tell you its an organization of authors, readers, editors, publishers, artists and others who specialize in a certain new genre of fiction.

Visionary fiction is the kind of story that shows how the protagonist changes for the better through expected plot development and conflict. That can be said about any good novel. The distinction is that in visionary stories the main character is not only transforming into someone better, but transforming in the context of a universal good. This happens through an extraordinary mental, spiritual, or paranormal ability or experience.

Visionary fiction is also referred to as transformational.  Think of classic stories like Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, or The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  All are great classics and best-sellers.

But don’t be intimidated. Nobodies like me are writing visionary fiction. My finally-finished novel Lanes End is hopefully part of that genre. I didn’t realize it until I recently stumbled across the VFA and thought “hey, my book fits their definition” (see why I think Lanes End does).

But enough shameless self-promotion! Check the VFA out for yourself (click on the logo). You’ll find a better definition of visionary fiction than mine, plus some very interesting posts, reviews, books, etc. You may even want to join . . .


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Publish or Perish? (Part 1)

5 Apr

In case you’re wondering why all this stuff about books, and what happened to the ghosts? . . . fair question. Since I just finished my first paranormal fiction novel, I’m a bit preoccupied with it. So unless you’re into reading such books and the perils of publishing one, feel free to skip this post. You won’t hurt my feelings!

Its for those of you who are book readers, if not authors yourselves. People into the paranormal like to read and write about the subject, and there’s the tie-in. Everybody has an experience or an opinion. I’m my case, I decided to couch my own theory of why and how ghosts exist into a story. Its always easier to inform with a story rather than a lecture; the hard part is writing the story.

Besides “self-publishing” and endlessly querying literary agents and publishers to take a look at my work, I also plan to create e-commerce webpages for authors, agents, publishers, and anybody else involved in the process of publishing. It would be a single platform for all of us types. But before I bore you with the details, a little background on why I’m doing this business model as I am . . .

If you’ve ever waded into these waters as a writer, you already know how daunting and frustrating the process of finding a publisher can be. I’ve found that there is in fact lots of antipathy from authors directed toward traditional publishers, and submissions to them are actually down.

That’s why self-publishing has become so popular, like posting your latest work for sale to Amazon. The good news is that anybody with a word processer can “publish” their book to sites like Amazon and its cousins. The bad news is that anybody can publish regardless of the quality. Amazon and other websites like them do not vet or edit one’s work in any way, and readers must take their chances, usually for a very low e-book price. They can only rely on word-of-mouth, shameless self-promotion on Twitter and Facebook, and online reviews from readers.

Can a writer do both, i.e. self-publish in those kind of venues and also seek a real publisher? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer has some qualifications to it. Those are beyond the scope of this post, and I’m already writing too much, which is my tendency. So to make this easier to swallow, I’m breaking the post up into two parts. This is the first, and thanks for getting this far. I’ll post Part 2 as soon as I write it . . .


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
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(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
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All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.




the Treasure in Mr. Libner’s Dark Basement

16 Mar

Who is Mr. Libner, and why should you care about his basement? Got you going, didn’t I? Actually, my mysterious character is the name of my old high school principal (rip), and I’ve never been in his basement. But what I’m trying to demonstrate here is the principal of “discoverability.” When you think about going down into his dark confines and finding a treasure, you’re probably curious . . . stimulated, even.

Its what gets us paranormal investigators juiced. Hunting for and maybe finding something from the Great Unknown. But this post isn’t about investigating; its about writing. Many of the followers of this blog are not only investigators, paranormal researchers, or interested readers; they write about this stuff in their own blogs or in their own books, fiction or non. I have just completed all 282 pages of my first novel Lanes End, and am firmly in the grips of hoping its “discovered” by the right people. Not just readers at this point, but also publishers and literary agents.

Unfortunately, what I’ve learned to date is not encouraging. Perhaps cynically, I believe that having a well-written and entertaining novel (as I hope mine is) is not enough. If potential agents and publishers don’t notice, it won’t be seen by readers unless the writer “self-publishes.” That’s the big thing in writing now, the results of which one can see on Amazon/Kindle, Smashwords, and a host of other websites offering authors’s otherwise unpublished ebooks for very low prices.

So not getting attention from publishers and agents who deal with hundreds of submissions emailed to their desks each day is only part of the problem. Now that the glory days of self-publishing have peaked and everyone has dozens of unread ebooks backlogged in their Kindles, the same problem of being noticed among the thousands of self-published books is now upon us.

Anybody can self-publish a book, and huge numbers of anybodys are doing just that.

Back to the principal of discoverability . . . If readers fail to discover a book, they will never have the opportunity to read it. But the ability to be discovered is hampered by the sheer numbers of everyone else seeking the same attention. We as authors need to be discovered by our readers before anything else happens. Someone, somehow has to create an atmosphere of mystery and curiosity in order to have readers want to search us out, just like in Mr. Libner’s basement. Amazon, Smashwords and their cousins don’t do that. They simply pile-on the latest offerings over yesterday’s offerings while thousands buried underneath remain unnoticed.

If you’re a writer (or a reader), do you agree? Are you satisfied with the attention your offerings are getting? Do you have any ideas? Maybe we can put our heads together and figure this out. How do a bunch of writers about spooky things get our work discovered?

Please comment. Mr. Libner has lots of hiding places.


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.




The Solstice and the Sun Dagger

21 Dec
Fajada_Butte - Trimalchio, CC

Fajada Butte

December 21, 2015 –the Winter Solstice, coinciding with the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year, but celebrated by ancient peoples as the beginning of the time where the days grow longer. More sunlight day by day until the warm seasons, when finally at the Summer Solstice, the day is the longest and the cycle begins again.

Of the Anasazi peoples of the precolumbian American Southwest, the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon in what is now northwestern New Mexico were among the most advanced. They studied the stars and complex astronomical relationships, knowing that the Winter Solstice marked an important turning point in their survival. Many centuries before digital clocks and calendars, they knew that the time to plant was not far away. It was a time of sacred celebration.

Sun Dagger -- Fajada Butte - Chaco Canyon

the Sun Dagger

On Fajada Butte, they constructed what is now called the Sun Dagger, a solar and lunar rock calendar that allowed the sun and moon to shine through carefully positioned stone slabs onto a wall. The filtered light was in the shape of a dagger, illuminating parts of a spiral carving in the wall corresponding to the precise dates and times of the Solstices and other seasonal events.

From Native American Antiquity . . .

” . . . then for the winter solstice, two large daggers embrace the sides of the larger spiral like bookends.  Even more remarkable, it was observed that the 19 segments of the larger spiral marked the 19 year movement of the moon from
minimum to maximum across the horizon.”
Fajada Butte -- sun dagger diagram

Sun Dagger at Winter Solstice- bottom image


Celebrate the Winter Solstice not just as the first day of Winter, but a day of resurrection and renewal.

Paul Hill writes of the ancient Chacoans in his new book of paranormal fiction,
Lanes End. Find out what role he has them play in a modern day drama of rebirth . . . (also watch the video trailer).


Copyright 2015, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

 All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Haunted Properties: Valuable Real Estate or Tough Sells?

27 Oct

It depends. Selling a haunted property can be easy or very difficult. First, the seller has to feel comfortable in disclosing to prospective buyers that they have residents who go bump in the night. Many are not, fearful of devaluing their property. That’s a legitimate concern. But certain kinds of real estate, like Bed & Breakfasts, often find that a ghost or two is actually good for business.

Second, a distinction has to be made between “stigmatized” and “haunted” buildings. Stigmatized buildings have a bad reputation that most people know about, and is usually the result of a murder or some other heinous crime committed there. But that does not mean the place is haunted, unless the victim is still hanging around as a ghostly tenant.

The following are not stigmatized properties, but are some of the allegedly haunted properties that are currently for sale in Colorado . . .


LoganCtyHospThe old Logan County Hospital–Sterling, Colorado. 

I currently have this piece of Sterling history listed for sale for only $80,000! For more information about the real estate, click here. To find out about its supernatural past, click here  (if you dare).

The Bross Hotel–Paonia, Colorado

Back when the Light in the Dark Paranormal team was just myself and my wife Adrian, we investigated this fine old B&B. Located in the Western Slope
 BrossHotelmountain town of Paonia, it is available for $689,000, including the building and the business. Mother Bross supposedly still tucks in her guests at night. Trouble is, she died quite some time ago.

Watch Part 1 of the video we produced on the investigation below.
For Part 2, click here.


The Tarabino Inn- Trinidad, Coloardo

tarabinoinnThis wonderful building is for sale for $675,000, and includes both the real estate and the bed & breakfast operation. Its a thriving business frequented by many out of state tourists and business travelers. It is also alleged to have a ghost or two. Click here for some scary background.

Contact Us above for more information if you are interested in buying. I am a real estate broker who specializes in haunted property!

A Story of a Stigmatized Home

Most everyone knows the story of OJ Simpson. Years ago in California, he was accused, arrested, and tried for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. Found not guilty, nicolecondohe was set free only to be found guilty for a different crime a few years later.

This case and the stigmatization of the home where the murder occurred illustrate some important points about such places. The condo was eventually sold far under market value, which is typically the case with stigmas resulting from homicides and other terrible crimes. But the more interesting question is this: is it haunted? I am unaware of any paranormal investigations having been done there. Haunted or not, one might think that any future buyer might want to know about the unsolved murder just in case Nicole’s ghost was still hanging around. What if that buyer was stuck in an elevator in Siberia for the last twenty years, and didn’t know O.J. Simpson from Santa Claus?

Under Colorado real estate law, a seller or his or her broker is not required to disclose a murder or suicide to a prospective buyer without the seller’s consent. If the seller does not provide it, then the buyer is left to find out on her own, even though the broker may know every detail. The broker is under a gag order!

But California is different. In that state, details that you do not need to disclose include whether a prior occupant had Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), or whether someone died on the property as long as the death occurred more than three years before the current potential buyer’s purchase offer. If however, a potential buyer asks you a question about any deaths on your property, you must still truthfully answer even if the answer involves an occurrence more than three years in the past. (See, California Civil Code Sect. 1710.2.)

If someone wanted to buy Nicole’s former condo today,  its “don’t ask/don’t tell”, since the murder of OJ’s ex-wife and her friend happened more than three years ago. But if a buyer asked if anyone died on the property, the broker would be compelled to say something like, “Oh, now that you mention it, yeah. Some guy named OJ allegedly killed his wife here a while back.” Honest disclosure. If the buyer happened to believe in earthbound spirits who still hang around trying to remedy an injustice, he may conclude that poor Nicole may want someone to know who really killed her, whether it was OJ or someone else. The buyer might be grateful for the disclosure of not only a homicide, but a potential haunting.

Over one third of Americans believe in ghosts and hauntings (source: Gallup polls). Whether you believe in these things or not, enough average citizens do, and courts across the country discuss the phenomena as if it was real.


The seller’s broker may not know, or be prohibited from telling you even if he did (as in Colorado). So ask the seller directly. You still may not get a truthful answer, but even if the seller revealed that someone did, the place may be just fine if it was a natural death. The home hospice movement facilitates the passing of people in their own homes, and this will be even more commonplace in the future. But if the answer is “yes,” your follow-up question should be a little more pointed. Ask if the death was from a murder or suicide. Depending on your state, the next answer (or lack of one) could determine your future peace-of-mind in that house.

BTW: in case you haven’t noticed, Halloween is right around the corner. Visit my annually recurring post on the subject, where you’ll learn more about how ghosts affect real estate sales long after the trick or treating is over.

How might a ghost help sell a haunted house?
Click Here to find out!

Paul Hill is the co-founder of Light in the Dark Paranormal,
and he has a brand new ebook: 
A Journey Into the Paranormal 

Its now available! Read excerpts from the book

Lanes End Cover

Copyright 2015, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

 All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.



Every love story is a ghost story*

22 Oct

I’ve been a follower of Laurie Anderson for a long time, and I just came across this trailer of her latest work, a film called Heart of a DogHaving seen the trailer, I know I now have to see the movie.

What does this film have to do with the paranormal? Everything.


*a David Foster Wallace quote in the film, and another short video

Living Paranormal Show, Sunday, October 18th

17 Oct

Autumn countryside

We are pleased to announce that we will be on the Living Paranormal show again this Sunday, October 18th, live from 7 to 9 pm MDT (9 to 11 pm EDT). We will share the stage with psychic medium Rev. Robyne Marie who will review some of our best photos from our past investigations, and “see” what she can see. We’ll fill-in the details only after she has told us what she believes are really there in the photos. We’ll also play some evp’s not previously released, including a couple of “fringe” sounds that we can only guess at!

As time allows, we’ll discuss the differences between psychics who communicate with deceased loved ones vs paranormal investigators, two groups who are sometimes at odds with each other in terms of beliefs and practices even though they are both valued parts of the paranormal community.

Tune-in for some fascinating evidence and lively discussion! If you can’t catch the show streaming live, check it out later; it will be in their archives. Part of every live show is an online chat room, where you can enter your questions and comments as the show goes on. Be there, we’d love to hear what you think…

Investigating Our Own Home, or “I never believed in orbs before, but…”

5 Aug

Lanes End information



Photo #4 – “Orb Chain” Anomaly

Light in the Dark Paranormal recently investigated the home of two of its members. While this is not recommended, the two resident ghost-hunters already knew of the existence of ghosts in their house, and felt it was about time to formally introduce themselves.

Photo #1- no orbs; flash off

Photo #1-small orb (not camera flash reflection); flashlight off

The above image was taken as a still photo during a sweep of the second floor loft while conducting a flashlight communication session (the flash can be seen on the island in the middle). The team had succeeded in getting whoever was there to turn the flashlight on and off in response to their questions (we have an unedited video of this session on YouTube).

At the same time, one team member was conducting an EVP session with her digital recorder, with the recording revealing an unexplained knocking sound. This sound + the flashlight activating itself + the above photo taken all at the same time demonstrate what we feel to be from a single paranormal event.  It was recorded by three different investigators using three types of recording media (video, audio recorder and a still camera) all starting and stopping on the same timeline.

Photo #2- no orbs; flash on

Photo #2- small orb; flash on

The large photo above reveals a an anomaly appearing in the right center of the image, and seems to be emanating from behind the stove in the kitchen area. You can click on this photo to obtain a separate larger image (we suggest blowing it up to maximum size to see the detail of the phenomenon). Upon closer examination, note what appears to be a series of interlocking orbs! They seem to be contained within a tube or conduit of some sort, whose source seems to be from just behind the oven door, and whose other end tapers off into a dissolve. If this were a hair or other piece of debris on the camera lens, it would be in front of and covering the background, not coming from it, and the end of it would be definite, not fading away.

Photo #3- orbs visible; flash off

Photo #3- orbs; flash off

This anomaly was not present in the photo taken seconds before it, nor in any taken seconds after (each photo is numbered in the order taken). Also note the presence of the more traditional “orbs” of the type observed by many investigators over the years. These began to appear in the prior and subsequent photos, but then they too disappeared.

One of the advantages of investigating your own home is that you get to go back and validate what you might have documented earlier. In this case, we took the same series of photos the next day at exactly the same time during similar outside weather. No phenomenon whatsoever was present (one of the disadvantages of investigating your own home is that you have to go to sleep there after your investigation, regardless of what you may have riled up).

Photo #5 - orbs; flash on

Photo #5 – orbs; flash off

We discussed our investigation the following Sunday with Rob Henry and Jason Olivo, hosts of Living Paranormal on the web. To listen to the entire show, which includes some amazing EVP’s recorded in previous investigations at other locations, click here to hear an archived version.

Photo #6 - orb; flash on

Photo #6 – small orb; flash on

Also tuned into the show that night was acclaimed psychic medium Reverend Robyne Marie. Using her technique of photo scrying, where Robyne claims that she can actually see live spirits present in a photo, she said the following about ours as she studied it during the show:


Photo #7-orbs gone; flash on

We have physical bodies walking through here . . . remote viewing.

I saw the main character and all the other bodies with them. This is their heaven. So many of them together . . . we have doppelgangers! They mimic you. 



Paul Hill is the co-founder of Light in the Dark Paranormal,
and he has a brand new ebook: 
A Journey Into the Paranormal 

Its now available! Read excerpts from the book

Lanes End Cover

Copyright 2015, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:
Visit our website:

 All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Home is where the heart…what was that!?

14 Jun


On Sunday evening, June 14th, Light in the Dark Paranormal will again be guests on Living Paranormal, from 7 to 9 pm, MDT (9 to 11 Eastern). Along with co-hosts Jason and Rob , we’ll be talking about the investigation of our own home, which isn’t always the recommended thing to do!

We’ll reveal some startling evidence that you can access from the show’s website.

Hope you can join us streaming live at . If you can’t, you can view an archived version of the show anytime from their website, .









Better Ghosts and Gardens

7 May
Living Paranormal Show-May 10th, 9 pm EDT

Living Paranormal Show-May 10th, 9 pm EDT

UPDATE: We already did the show live, and it was great! But you can still hear it as a past show by going to the Living Paranormal website, or get the podcast from I-Tunes…

On Sunday evening, May 10th, my wife and I are going to be on Living Paranormal! The title of this episode is Better Ghosts and Gardens, where we will discuss stigmatized and haunted real estate for sale with co-hosts Jason and Rob.

The time is 9 pm to 11 pm EDT, and the link to their live show is . Its a live streaming Internet broadcast–you can just listen or join in the discussion with questions and comments via their chat room. If you can’t make it for the live show, drop by their website anytime thereafter and look it up as a past show.

We’ll be talking about the Cripple Creek Piotrowski house of Ghost Adventures fame, the Jon Benet Ramsey home, and the haunted old Logan County Hospital. This will be a fun couple of hours! We hope you can make it.

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