Ghosts…do you believe?

As many of you know, the setting for most of my best-selling series, THE GHOST CHRONICLES, was inspired by the Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is also one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl fell to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. My heroine in THE GHOST CHRONICLES, Sarah McConnell, was inspired by this legend. If you’d like to learn more about the legend of the haunting at the Angel of the Sea, you can read all about in this blog post: How She Died.

The Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast is as beautiful and romantic and haunting as I portray it in THE GHOST CHRONICLES series and I’ve truly fallen in love with the place and its rich history. As I write this, I’m working on the third and final book in the trilogy.

Since we’re heading into Fall and Halloween season, I thought I’d do a post about one interesting by-product that has come out of the publication of THE GHOST CHRONICLES books – everyone tells me their ghost stories! It doesn’t matter whether I’m signing at the Angel of the Sea or a Barnes and Noble store, everyone wants to tell me their ghost story. What’s been fascinating for me is finding out that people from all walks of life have a ghost story to tell. Even stranger still, is the fact that there are many, many similarities among the stories. When they’re telling me their stories, people have no way of knowing I’ve heard something similar before, but it’s something I’ve definitely been noticing. Basically, I hear the same stories repeatedly…and it’s made an impression on me.

Among the most common ghostly encounters people have told me over and over again are the following:

  • “I didn’t believe in ghosts at all until I had this experience, or saw XYZ with my own eyes.” (If I had a dollar for every person who has told me that, I could retire.)
  • “I awoke to something shaking my bed, as if someone were kicking the end of it.”
  • “I awoke to someone shaking or touching my feet, as if someone were trying to wake me up or get my attention.”
  • “I awoke to see someone standing at the foot of my bed.” (Many times they’ll mention the ghost looked more scared than they were, as if startled someone was in their Many people have mentioned that the ghost was in old-fashioned clothes.)
  • Many people have said they felt the presence of a loved one who had passed away. Unmistakable smells (like cigar or perfume) or noises only associated with that person, like tinkering with their tools or a favorite motorcycle in the garage, things like that.
  • Many people have had their name clearly called out to them when no one else was present. Sometimes they can identify the voice as someone deceased, other times they don’t recognize the voice at all.
  • Many people report to me that ghostly activity is not steady, but seems to ebb and flow, coming back and forth during different times of the year. Months will go by and nothing will happen, then all of a sudden they’ll be a few weeks with a lot of odd activity.
  • Many police officers (including a police chief of a major town in NJ) have told me that police officers don’t report many of the ghostly incidents they experience for fear of ridicule, but that they do happen and they only sometimes mention it to each other. Most commonly when they have a building under surveillance at night and catch a glimpse of something they weren’t expecting to see.
  • People responsible for building security who told me they chase ‘phantom’ sounds and indistinct shadow figures that appear on security cameras, only to discover that no one is in the building or on those floors or those locked offices, and there is no rational explanation.
  • Hospital and medical personnel who have told me flat out they believe in ghosts because of all the activity and unexplained things that happen in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The unmistakable sound of footsteps which defy explanation, many times in homes, sometimes in offices or businesses.
  • Indistinct shadow figures that are seen repeatedly in homes, but there’s no explanation.
  • A sudden, very loud knock or bang on a wall, as if someone were trying to get their attention, but no one is there, and again, there is no logical explanation for the noise.

For what it’s worth, only one person has ever told me they’ve gotten a bad feeling from ghostly activity. Most people tell me they get the feeling a presence is there and just trying to let them know.

So where do you stand on ghosts? Do you believe? I get asked this question more than any other. And after all the spooky stories I’ve heard and all the consistencies among the stories, I have to say…I keep a very open mind! Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on ghosts. One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of THE GHOST CHRONICLES 1 or 2, your choice!

Also, I wanted to let you know about my latest upcoming event. If you’re interested in getting signed copies of my award-winning books, I’ll be at Oktoberfest in Cape May, NJ on September 29th from 9 AM to 5 PM! Come celebrate the famous Bavarian tradition in Cape May with me! The festival will be located on Carpenter Lane between Decatur & Perry and continue down Jackson Street to Beach Ave., as it is transformed into a German promenade with authentic music and food. Visit the Beer Gardens and Food Courts, browse the artisans’ tables selling crafts, antiques and collectibles. (Rain date Sept. 30th) You can find out more information and respond to the event on Facebook here: Booksigning for THE GHOST CHRONICLES at Oktoberfest in Cape May

Hope to see you there!

And while you’re there, don’t hesitate to visit the Angel of the Sea for a look around. Tell them Marlo sent you! It’s beautiful, both during the day, and lit up at night 🙂

A B.R.A.G. Medallion for THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2!

As of late I’ve been super busy writing, but I am pleased to announce that the second book in my GHOST CHRONICLES trilogy has been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion! Look for the third and final book in this trilogy to come out in February 2019. And be sure to check out my events tab to see all the places I will be this Fall. Also, if you have read THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2, please leave a short review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookbub or Goodreads – better yet, all of those places! I would be forever grateful. You, my loyal readers, are my best promoters!

Ciao for now!

XOXO

~Marlo

THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2 has been named a FINALIST!

Excited and honored to share that THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2 has been named a FINALIST in the 2018 National Indie Excellence Awards for Best Regional Fiction: Northeast! The book takes place in Cape May at the Angel of the Sea B&B, as well as, Wildwood, Atlantic City, Boston, and Saugus.

To see some of the places and landmarks that were featured in the book, see this post Scenes in THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2.

More good news to come!

XOXO

~Marlo

Death of a Bookstore

Below is a post I wrote years ago, before I was published, but I thought I’d repost it now that  Barnes & Noble is in trouble. See this NYT article: SAVE BARNES & NOBLE!

Now this old post seems both timely and heartbreaking to me, especially since I’ve forged such close relationships with many B&N managers and booksellers over the years since the first book in THE GHOST CHRONICLES series was first released.

 

THE REPOST:

Our local bookstore, the Borders I’ve always taken my children to for so long, is closing down. So the other day, I took my two boys one last time. I didn’t think the excursion would make me feel so nostalgic and melancholy at the same time, but it did.

I’d always loved taking my kids to the bookstore. I’ve been taking them since before they were old enough to read. When they were toddlers, we would go for the story time readings, or just spend time playing with the Thomas trains the store had on display in the children’s section. It was a way to get out of the house on a rainy day and a good excuse for me to go buy a new book.

There’s something about roaming through a bookstore on the hunt for something new and interesting. Not knowing exactly what might catch your eye. Being able to pick up a book, feel the weight of it in your hand, read the exciting back cover copy and discover a fresh, new story. I wanted my children to experience that at a young age and be captured by the same love of books that I had been when I was growing up. So as they got older, we would make a bookstore run at least once a month.

This time though, everything about our favorite store had changed. The shelves were partially bare and the remaining books in disarray. To me, it somehow seemed disrespectful to the books that were left, and as we walked around, a hollow feeling settled into the pit of my stomach. Maybe I was hungry at the time too, but I don’t think that was quite it.

My older son’s reaction to our visit surprised me the most. He looked almost as melancholy as I did. I hadn’t realized just how much he had enjoyed going to the bookstore until he said to me, “Do you remember all those hours we waited in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter five?”

“Of course I do,” I said with a tiny smile. “Remember the awful excuse for butterbeer that they served?” We both laughed.

So we wandered around one last time, picked over the messy bins and shelves like old bones, and chose a few books.

As we left my younger son asked me, “Mom, do you think eventually all the bookstores will close?”

“I hope not,” I said, “I sure hope not.”

So, has a favorite bookstore near you closed lately? Do you think one day all the bookstores might be gone and if so, would this bother you?

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE GHOST CHRONICLES

The best stories lie at the intersection of truth and imagination. The Ghost Chronicles series began this way, as well. I had my ‘eureka’ moment one day while sitting on the beach in the Outerbanks of North Carolina (for those of you who don’t know where that is, I urge you to find out and go visit). At the time, I was reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Chapter Eight, The Deathday Party, deals with ghosts and what it might be like to ‘live’ in the afterlife, so that provided the spark that ignited the fire to write The Ghost Chronicles. As a flood of ideas filled my head, I scribbled down a rough outline and the book quickly took shape.

That was the imagination part, but let’s face it, we also distill our own personal experiences and our own truth into our novels. When I was seventeen I was in a car accident that was not my fault. An accident that almost took my life. The thought of ‘what if I had died’ has been one that has haunted me ever since. So immediately I knew I wanted The Ghost Chronicles to be not only a story of what it’s like to be stuck in the afterlife, but I also wanted it to be about a boy who dies tragically through no fault of his own. The kind of story ripped from the headlines about a promising young person who has their life taken away far too soon. Unfortunately we read these stories nearly every day in the newspaper or see them on TV. The kind of young person you hear has died and you find yourself thinking, What a shame. They had so much going for them, such a promising future. Why did that have to happen? For this reason, this book was the book of my heart. I wanted it to be as realistic a story as possible of what it might be like to die tragically and be trapped in the afterlife as a ghost. Let’s face it, we all have to die and none of us can say with certainty what happens when we do. It’s the biggest fear of the unknown there is! Oh, we may think we know, or may have certain beliefs about what might happen, but what if it doesn’t happen that way? What if you are suddenly and unfairly taken from this life and now you’re stuck and don’t know why? How angry would you be? What would you do? How much would you begin to question all you’ve ever believed in? It won’t be completely apparent until later in the series, but I wanted it to be a story of great hope for anyone who has tragically lost someone they love, especially someone young. I’m also hoping readers will take away the theme embodied in this quote from the book – “Cherish life, it’s absolutely precious.”

angelcompleteviewThe setting for most of the story was inspired by The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago and fell in love with. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl did fall to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. Sarah’s character in The Ghost Chronicles was inspired by this legend. You can learn more about The Angel of the Sea by visiting ANGEL OF THE SEA, CAPE MAY.

The Ghost Chronicles is a planned trilogy and the third book will be out in February of next year. If you’ve already read The Ghost Chronicles 1 & 2, I hope you’ll leave reviews everywhere. Doesn’t have to be a long review, just a line or two will do 🙂

All best,

~Marlo

P.S. Here are some of the previous reviews for the series:

“A haunting journey that will leave readers craving more.” – Natalie Zaman, co-author of the Sirenz series and Blonde Ops

“…Berliner’s touches give her novel innovation…” and“…dramatic and paranormal elements give this winsome tale flavor.” – Kirkus

“I loved The Ghost Chronicles. Simply loved it. Billed as a young adult novel with crossover appeal for the adult crowd, this book certainly got the attention of this adult…I highly recommend this book, and look forward to reading more from the extremely promising and talented new author, Marlo Berliner, as soon as I possibly can!” – Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“…a most beguiling, intriguing, mystery-filled adventure. With a literary nod to the movie Ghost…and a certain resonance with the Odd Thomas series by the master of the genre, Dean Koontz, the story does remind us frequently that it is intended for Young Adults. And yet, the excellent plotting, precise editing, and well-projected development of storyline all guarantee that the writing is also perfectly suitable for an Old Adult.” – Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“This is an original and thought-provoking story that will keep readers wondering and looking forward to the next book in the series. It’s highly recommended.” – Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“For teens and adults alike, The Ghost Chronicles is an unusually thoughtful and mature take on supernatural romance that deserves attention for its efforts to break away from convention, all for the better. For curious readers old and new to the genre, The Ghost Chronicles is sure to set your mind ablaze, and puts “life” back into the “afterlife.” “ – James Grimsby for Self-Publishing Review, 4.5-stars

“I loved this book right from the beginning… I loved following Michael on his journey and I could feel the emotions behind the entire story. The sadness that his mother felt; Michael’s frustration and anger. Empathy for Melissa. I am not one who typically reads books more than once, but this one will remain on my Kindle to read again in the future. That doesn’t happen often, but when I find a book like this, it’s a treasure to hang on to!” – Leila, Life as Leels, 5 stars

I was pulled right into this story… I will definitely be reading the second book! – Stephanie’s Book Reviews, 5 stars

“Everything in this book seems to be written with great thought and care. Nothing seemed to be rushed or ignored…Paranormal that makes sense? Too good. Learning how to be dead? Yes, please!” Enthralling Dimple

“This is definitely one to add to your (probably neverending) TBR. With exciting characters, a heartbreaking narrative, and a story that will leave you bursting with questions in anticipation for the next book, Marlo is one to watch.” – Between The Pages, 4 stars

“This was a well written, steadily moving, paranormal tale…The characters are well defined and very realistic. The scenes are easily visualized. – Rockin’ Book Reviews

“This series continues to be spell-binding!” – Natalie Zaman, Author of Magical Destinations of the Northeast

“With wonderfully competent writing and a powerfully concise style, Ms. Berliner easily holds her readers enthralled throughout this high-octane, thrilling ride.” – Joel R. Dennstedt, Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“There is so much for readers in this book and the author makes it feel so real that readers find themselves believing in the mysterious world she creates.” Divine Zape, Reader’s Favorite, 5-stars

“Paranormal YA fiction at its best!”Melinda Hills, Reader’s Favorite, 5-stars

“This episode of the Ghost Chronicles was action packed.” – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

“If you love all things supernatural, you’ll adore this addictive series. A must read and highly recommend!” – N.N. Light