Ghostly tourism

Sharon Ashwood
August 18, 2008  •  No Comments

Oh, I love this site!

Plan your ghost vacation, hook up with paranormal conventions, get your ghost-busting gear. It’s all here!

I bet my ghost-busting heroine, Holly, would have had it in her favorites list. Heck, she’d probably be submitting content.

I’ve seen other ‘ghost holiday’ type of advertisements—such as the small local ghost tours or even the Dracula-centric treks around Transylvania. It’s interesting to me how the paranormal is becoming a mainstay of the tourism industry. Some would say it’s all an opportunity for con artists to part vacationers from their cash.  True, in some cases. However, I think the phenomenon as a whole is good because that means people are curious about what’s out there.  Curiosity is healthy. It means people are more than the mental equivalent of sponge puddings.

However, the moment the commercial world figures out just how much cash might be made, it could get interesting. What if Disney got involved? What about the descendents of the dead wanting a piece of the action?  Heck, what if the ghosts themselves started seeking agents? My people could be calling your people on a ouija board.


Sharon Ashwood
August 7, 2008  •  1 Comment

There’s no place like home. Dirty dishes. Piles o’ laundry. Naughty cats. Bills. Emails. Yup, I’m not on holidays anymore, but I’m glad to be sleeping in my own bed. After two days at home, I’m still tired—I have that close-the-eyes-and-tilt-sideways thing going on. Was going to the Romance Writers of America National Conference worth it?  Absolutely.

Good news: The romance book industry is healthy. Publishers are buying pretty much all genres.

Bad news: It’s not getting any easier for new authors to get a foothold. Competition is fierce. The market is crowded. It’s up to the author to do what they can for themselves, contact the right people, do extra publicity and so on. Not really anything I didn’t know, but it’s nice to realize my perceptions were on the mark.

Ugly news:  Sadly, no one has discovered the magic bullet that will a) create a bestselling formula or b) get your name in front of the requisite number of eager readers so that your book fulfills its potential.  Theories abound, however, many with price tags attached.

Overall:  The only thing people agreed on as a critical ingredient for success was persistence. The stubborn will survive.

Exciting stuff:  Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are booming and OMG are there some talented writers coming out in the next six months!  Definitely check out Jessica Andersen’s Final Prophecy series. I got a free copy of book one (Nightkeepers) and started reading it when I got home. I’m hooked.

A gruesome domestic moment

Sharon Ashwood
July 26, 2008  •  No Comments

It’s amazing what you discover when you type “blood” and “recipe” into Google. I did it with regard to the “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” theory, thinking my semi-annual diet thoughts.


I got all kinds of stuff I wasn’t expecting. and   Will actually provide recipes for fake blood if you’re filming your own horror flick.  Useful to know when those nice people with pamphlets ring the doorbell and you want to answer a la Carrie, perhaps with the optional butcher knife in hand. offers a variety of recipes for consumption, including mint blood and chocolate blood. Sounds even better than snacking on the gals at the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory. has a few recipes I recognize from historical cookery that contain actual blood, like blood pudding. After all, when you were butchering your own animals, you didn’t waste a single thing. That seems more respectful than the current factory processes. This site also has some mixed drink recipes (suitably red) that look worth exploring.


And, of course, there was what I was actually looking for:  FWIW, a lot of people scoff at the Blood Type diets, but I find following mine actually works pretty well.






Brave ghosts

Sharon Ashwood
July 21, 2008  •  No Comments

This is just too cool.

The Australian child protection organization Bravehearts is collecting local ghost stories as part of a fundraising effort. Kids and fireside tales belong together.  I can’t think of a better way of putting the resident spooks to work. It’s kind of neat to think that maybe there IS a way to help out from beyond the grave.

Got to and click on the June 23 press release for the official word.


Put this slime monster in your motor and burn it

Sharon Ashwood
July 17, 2008  •  No Comments,2933,367642,00.html

Last month, Fox news reported that the gurus in Silicon Valley are working on a number of projects around what they call renewable petroleum.  The basis of this new industry is using genetically-altered bacteria to consume agriculture waste and transform it into crude oil.  This seemed so much like a hoax, I hunted around for more sources and, sure enough, there are other reports about this sort of thing. It’s not a joke.

The good news is that this would turn a finite into a renewable resource, thus relieving considerable economic pressure.  The bad news is that this doesn’t motivate the Powers That Be to get busy with non-carbon-producing forms of energy. Still, you have to hand it to these folks for coming up with an innovative idea. Oil-producing bacteria wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind when pondering the energy crisis.

Of course, these are tech guys. They don’t live in the real world. Anyone familiar with school children knows that germs are not containable.  Ever.  

These bugs eat organic material. The world is one big organic cookie jar. Well-fed bacteria reproduce. I hope these tech guys are familiar with your basic horror film, because the results of this equation look very black and slimy.  I do not want to become part of an oil patch before my time.

Given the option, I would prefer a more showy apocalypse. Something drier, with gargoyles.

Attention: all demons wishing to undertake a possession

Sharon Ashwood
July 11, 2008  •  No Comments

This one is interesting.

In a 2002 trial in Texas, a woman sued her church for physical injuries and psychological damage sustained when she was subjected to an exorcism at the age of 17.

A week ago, the Texas Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, threw out the jury award.  The details of this decision are in the article.

If I understand this situation correctly, exorcists may rest assured that they can carry out their work unfettered by any consideration of human rights legislation, at least in Texas.

This is for all you werewolves out there

Sharon Ashwood
July 8, 2008  •  No Comments

An interesting article on the healing properties of moonlight:

The author describes a gizmo called the Interstellar Light Collector located in the Sonoran desert outside of Tucson. Essentially, it uses mirrors to concentrate and direct moonlight. The machine has been used to offer alternative medical therapies, among other things, with positive anecdotal results.

Yes, my instinctive distrust of snake-oil salespersons kicked in when I read this, but on the other hand, why couldn’t there be something to it?  After all, we know all about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how lack of full-spectrum light causes depression. Moonlight isn’t necessarily going to cure a patient—and yet it might do something.

So, in high enough concentrations, would moonlight act differently than sunlight, candlelight, or the average light bulb?  As I recall from grade five science class, moonlight is actually reflected sunlight and, poetry aside, would probably act just like its larger cousin. Except …

That would leave the whacky effects of the full moon solely caused by its gravitational pull.  Gravity may cause the tides, but can it wholly account for the increased traffic in emergency rooms, police stations, and psychiatric wards during a few nights of the month?  Who knows. I’ve never seen a satisfactory explanation for what is a very real phenomenon, but I’ve seen the spike in nuttiness first-hand. It’s there. It’s not urban legend.

And then there’s that whole moon/fertility thing. I have long believed there is a deep connection between PMS and the legends of the loup-garoux.

Anyway, that’s all very informative, but now for the really important question:  Does super-concentrated moonlight leave tanning lines?


Demons, Kitty and otherwise

Sharon Ashwood
July 3, 2008  •  1 Comment

The Demon Lord of Kitty Badness has discovered how to open cupboard doors. Which close with a bonk as soon as he lets them go. Repeatedly. At four a.m.  

So I stumble into the kitchen to wring his fuzzy neck and discover he’s bowling with muffins.  Glad to know my baking is so entertaining.

It was the perfect ending to day in which a) my iPod dumped all my music b) I spent six hours at the computer trying to convince a demon and a vampire to kiss (what, like they have a right to be fussy?) and c) the reference book I wanted turned out to be $358 used.

On the upside, it is only a 2.5 day work week. I could get used to that, if I could keep the whole paycheque ….

Now you can’t tear up your parking tickets

Sharon Ashwood
June 26, 2008  •  2 Comments

Apparently the Swedish have now developed a cellulose-fibre paper (dubbed “nanopaper”) that is nearly as strong as steel. It’s made from the usual wood pulp, but treated in such a way that the fine, long fibres retain their strength in processing.

Normal paper has a tensile strength less than 1 MPa. Mechanical testing shows this new stuff has a tensile strength of 214 megapascals, making it stronger than cast iron (130 MPa) and almost as strong as structural steel (250 MPa).

As a writer, I suppose I should think about my words being preserved forever on this amazing stuff.  However, my first thought on reading this was that we would see yet more stupid advertising for ultra-strong bathroom tissue. Cavorting fluffy kittens in Japanese Samurai Armor hacking at the rolls with their katanas. (soft AND strong!!)

What that says about me, I hesitate to ponder.

Is that a system error or are you just happy to see me?

Sharon Ashwood
June 19, 2008  •  No Comments

I’ve come across a new word:  transhumanism. Apparently there’s even a World Transhumanism Association. The goal is the ethical use of science and technology to increase human capabilities. An extreme example would be, say, the Bionic Woman.

Why is this on my mind?  There’s a book coming out in September by American author David M. Friedman called The Immortalists that delves into these Frankensteinian delights. He talks about the French surgeon, Alexis Carrel, who worked at the Rockefeller Institute in Manhattan and won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in transplantation techniques. Carrel worked with famed aviator and mechanical whiz, Charles Lindbergh, to develop a profusion pump to keep organs viable outside the human body. This was all good work and the foundation of further advances in cardiac medicine. Where it gets weird is when these folks started dreaming of an ideal future where those worthy of immortality (including them, of course) got mechanical body parts so that they could keep on ticking forever.

This isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Chuck and his airplanes, but consider the time period.  Eugenics was a hot topic in the early to mid-twentieth century, the same era that gave us the rise of the Nazis. Advances in technology, immortality, genetic selection, and the like made a new, improved human race look possible. Somebody was bound to take these concepts out of the realm of philosophy and try them out in the lab. Fortunately, some of the work, like Lindbergh’s, had medical value.

As far as the whole man/machine concept goes, I suppose we’ve got that already with pacemakers and the like. How far we’ll take it remains to be seen, but I’m not an advocate of living forever as a conglomeration of mechanical bits and pieces. The industry would want to computerize their fake limbs and organs, and then we’d get something like Vista. And, hey, I know how helpful help desks are. What would happen when my operating system argues with my anti-virus? I’d get a worm or spam or something and be worse off than I would with ordinary aches and pains. I could have a fatal error.

No thanks.  I’ll just get old, not obsolete.

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