Best Ghost Hunting Cameras

by admin on January 31, 2010

best ghost hunting cameras

best ghost hunting cameras

A Field Trip May Be Just What A Novel Needs

As part of her research for novels, bestselling writer Jodi Picoult has milked a cow in Amish country and roughed it with native Alaskans. She shudders when she remembers heading out to an abandoned New England mental institution on a winter night with paranormal investigators. Her group trudged across a field where a building had burned down with patients inside.

“I was walking with a sensitive, someone who can 'feel' ghosts,” Picoult said.  “Suddenly, all the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Before I could even mention this to my walking buddy, he lifted a digital camera and held it up between us backward, over our shoulders. Although there was nothing visible to the naked eye, in the viewfinder of the camera was a white, misty, wraith-like image.”

Like many published novelists, Picoult, author of books such as Vanishing Acts, doesn’t spend all her time at her computer or her fiction wouldn’t be as richly textured as it is. Field trips like hers can expand a writer’s knowledge base and provide opportunities to gather color, atmosphere and on-scene information unavailable in a research book. Even more important, hands-on exposure will show editors you did your homework. Agents and editors trust authors who strive for accuracy and readers like authors who plunge them into a world ripe with authentic details.

“There’s nothing worse than reading a book and knowing some of it just rings false,” says novelist Erica Orloff.

Sure, the adage 'Write what you know' has some truth, yet if that's all we wrote, our fiction would be boring.  Next time you get stuck on a scene, put on your reporter’s hat and go out and find the story. Here are some tips on how to do it, and a look at how some successful novelists put the practice to work.

Arranging Field Trips

If you want to tour a site or interview an expert, search the Internet and telephone directories for leads.  Larger organizations might have a PR department that handles inquiries.  Cold calls are fine, but don’t subject someone to an on-the-spot interrogation; make an appointment so you both have time to prepare.  You could also outline your request in a letter or e-mail. Before the visit, read up on your subject and develop specific questions. Bring a notebook to the interview and ask whether you can call with follow-up questions. Afterwards, be sure to show your appreciation with a thank you note.

Bestselling suspense author Lisa Gardner met with the Rhode Island State Police for her novel The Survivor's Club and even staked out a Providence courthouse to determine the ideal angle for a sniper shot.  For The Killing Hour, she visited the FBI Academy to learn about the life of a new agent and she spent a week with the U.S. Geological Survey team, checking out remote places in Virginia for an “Eco-Killer” to abandon his victims. The Other Daughter led her on a hunt to Texas, where she researched execution protocol.

“I need to be able to picture something to write it,” she said. “Actually seeing Texas's retired electric chair, was so much more riveting than simply reading about it.  To walk through a maximum security prison, getting the sights, the sounds, and particularly the smell, made the whole atmosphere come alive in a way simply talking about it never would. Then I can take this experience in turn, and make it come alive for the reader.”

Stephen Coonts, bestselling action/adventure author, took a flight in the F-22 cockpit concept demonstrator at Lockheed Martin in Georgia for Fortunes of War. He talked his way into the V-22 Osprey simulator at NAS Patuxent River, the basis for scenes in his novella "Al-Jihad."  While research is vital, he advises not overloading the reader with information.

“The first requirement for any writer is a good story,” Coonts said.  “Once you see how the story is going to go, then do enough research to give the tale the flavor of authenticity.  Salt in a little jargon, but only a little.  Write around details you don't know.   The easiest and best way to do research is to find an expert and ask precisely the questions to which you need answers.  Shotgunning (or scattered) research is a waste of time.”

Making It Ring True

Orloff recommends deciding settings from the beginning so they will seem organic to the story. She scouted out Sanibel Island for Spanish Disco and realized the slow speed limits would irk her impatient heroine. Orloff wanted to depict a grungy bar in The Roofer, which is set in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. She visited a similar place and saw that nicotine build-up had left yellow-brown stains on the bar’s paneling.

“That is the kind of detail that sets good writing apart from simply writing 'dirty,'” she said.  “When I speak to school kids as an author, I tell them to banish 'cheesy' adjectives from their writing like: pretty, dirty, ugly. What is dirty to the average reader may not hold a candle to what the crime lord of Hell's Kitchen thinks of as dirty. I think something that sinks a book for some readers is someone who gets a locale wrong.”

Childrens book author Uma Krishnaswami literally wrote the book on field trips, Beyond the Field Trip, Teaching and Learning in Public Places, which describes the rewards of school excursions.  Krishnaswami returned to her India roots to research her middle grade novel Naming Maya.  She recalls stopping to take a picture outside a police station in Chennai, India as she and her mother were walking to a grocery store.

“A policeman,” she recalls, “came charging out to scold me and said didn't I know these were dangerous times and I couldn't go around taking pictures of a police station. . . .My mother said, 'He can tell you're from 'over there.'   Well, I was wearing a sari, but oh heck, Teva shoes, water bottle . . . what did I think, I could blend in just like that?  The whole thing was so perfect that the scene just fell into my book and locked up that place where nothing else would fit.”

Keeping A Series Fresh

Authors of series fiction face special challenges as they’re portraying recurring characters and settings. To prevent staleness, Twist Phelan has taken roping lessons, cycled from coast-to-coast and gone rock climbing for her Pinnacle Peak Mysteries. Mindy Starns Clark, author of the Christian-themed Million Dollar Mysteries, convinced a paranoid owner to let her into a secret mine.

Clark advises writers to develop brief plot outlines for upcoming series installments before they write the first book. This makes it easier to spot unwanted similarities and to create unique circumstances.

“It also helps to know where you're going in the future, because it allows you to plant seeds,” she said.  “I knew that my protagonist would be doing some scuba diving in a later book, so I had her mention that she was a certified diver in an earlier book.  Otherwise I don’t think it would’ve been as believable when it finally happened.”

Sharon Short, who centers a mystery series around Laundromat owner Josie Toadfern, wanted Josie’s autistic cousin Guy to make regular appearances.  She toured a residential home, interviewing the director and meeting an autistic man who proudly prepared tea for guests. Without that visit, Short doubts she could’ve made Guy a continuing character. She did her research long before she had a contract and says new writers shouldn’t feel embarrassed about a lack of publishing credentials.

“Most people love to talk about their areas of interest,” she said. “Just saying ‘I'm writing a book about XYZ and I'd love to visit your museum/store/residential home/whatever and ask a few questions’ is enough to unlock most doors. And if it doesn't work. . .find someone else to ask.”

Rhys Bowen, author of the Molly Murphy Mysteries and the Constable Evans Mysteries, has one series set in North Wales and the other in 1901 New York City. She is always criss-crossing the globe to make sure she gets things right. In Wales, it can be details as small as which beer is being drunk in a certain pub.  In New York, her explorations might focus on how long it takes to walk from one place to another and is the walk feasible in the narrow boots her character would be wearing.

“I don't feel you can write about a place without experiencing its soul,” Bowen said. “Choose a setting and characters because you feel passionately about them. . .If the series takes off, you'll have to live with these people for a long time.”

Creative Alternatives

It can be a tough decision to travel for research, especially if you’re unpublished with a family and job. Sometimes the telephone can be a cheap alternative. Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor book Getting Near to Baby, needed to learn about Louisiana Cajun Country for an earlier project. Her local library directed her to people she could call on the phone.  She got a feel for the language and learned about holidays such as when “Miz Lanforcaux threw her annual pig barbecue which no men, wimmins or chirrun would miss, even to do murder.” Whenever a question arose, she called one of her new friends.

“I got fascinating detail such as 'the day it rained snakes,' one of the hottest days on record, and yes, snakes just fell from the tree branches when they got too hot,” Couloumbis said.

Writers can be pro-active about gathering information by keeping a journal of experiences, even if the story is not yet in hand or mind. Preserve details so that if you ever need them, you’ll have a firsthand account.  After traveling, store brochures, real estate magazines and maps in a “you never know” file. When Sue Owens Wright, author of Howling Bloody Murder, was a guest speaker at the Illinois Basset Waddle, she realized she couldn’t let this opportunity slide.  More than 1,000 dogs were competing in contests such as Longest Wingspan, when they extended ears Dumbo-style.  The Waddle King and Queen loafed in royal raiment atop their float.

“Unbeknownst to the hounds and their owners, while observing this bizarre event for the first time, I was also taking notes,” said Wright.  “I left with plenty of background material.”

The unfortunate reality is that editors have many reasons to reject a manuscript.  Don’t let inaccuracy or a lack of imagery ruin your chances of publication.  Small details bring a book to life, and getting them right is the obligation of a good writer.

As part of her research for novels, bestselling writer Jodi Picoult has milked a cow in Amish country and roughed it with native Alaskans. She shudders when she remembers heading out to an abandoned New England mental institution on a winter night with paranormal investigators. Her group trudged across a field where a building had burned down with patients inside.

“I was walking with a sensitive, someone who can 'feel' ghosts,” Picoult said.  “Suddenly, all the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Before I could even mention this to my walking buddy, he lifted a digital camera and held it up between us backward, over our shoulders. Although there was nothing visible to the naked eye, in the viewfinder of the camera was a white, misty, wraith-like image.”

Like many published novelists, Picoult, author of books such as Vanishing Acts, doesn’t spend all her time at her computer or her fiction wouldn’t be as richly textured as it is. Field trips like hers can expand a writer’s knowledge base and provide opportunities to gather color, atmosphere and on-scene information unavailable in a research book. Even more important, hands-on exposure will show editors you did your homework. Agents and editors trust authors who strive for accuracy and readers like authors who plunge them into a world ripe with authentic details.

“There’s nothing worse than reading a book and knowing some of it just rings false,” says novelist Erica Orloff.

Sure, the adage 'Write what you know' has some truth, yet if that's all we wrote, our fiction would be boring.  Next time you get stuck on a scene, put on your reporter’s hat and go out and find the story. Here are some tips on how to do it, and a look at how some successful novelists put the practice to work.

Arranging Field Trips

If you want to tour a site or interview an expert, search the Internet and telephone directories for leads.  Larger organizations might have a PR department that handles inquiries.  Cold calls are fine, but don’t subject someone to an on-the-spot interrogation; make an appointment so you both have time to prepare.  You could also outline your request in a letter or e-mail. Before the visit, read up on your subject and develop specific questions. Bring a notebook to the interview and ask whether you can call with follow-up questions. Afterwards, be sure to show your appreciation with a thank you note.

Bestselling suspense author Lisa Gardner met with the Rhode Island State Police for her novel The Survivor's Club and even staked out a Providence courthouse to determine the ideal angle for a sniper shot.  For The Killing Hour, she visited the FBI Academy to learn about the life of a new agent and she spent a week with the U.S. Geological Survey team, checking out remote places in Virginia for an “Eco-Killer” to abandon his victims. The Other Daughter led her on a hunt to Texas, where she researched execution protocol.

“I need to be able to picture something to write it,” she said. “Actually seeing Texas's retired electric chair, was so much more riveting than simply reading about it.  To walk through a maximum security prison, getting the sights, the sounds, and particularly the smell, made the whole atmosphere come alive in a way simply talking about it never would. Then I can take this experience in turn, and make it come alive for the reader.”

Stephen Coonts, bestselling action/adventure author, took a flight in the F-22 cockpit concept demonstrator at Lockheed Martin in Georgia for Fortunes of War. He talked his way into the V-22 Osprey simulator at NAS Patuxent River, the basis for scenes in his novella "Al-Jihad."  While research is vital, he advises not overloading the reader with information.

“The first requirement for any writer is a good story,” Coonts said.  “Once you see how the story is going to go, then do enough research to give the tale the flavor of authenticity.  Salt in a little jargon, but only a little.  Write around details you don't know.   The easiest and best way to do research is to find an expert and ask precisely the questions to which you need answers.  Shotgunning (or scattered) research is a waste of time.”

Making It Ring True

Orloff recommends deciding settings from the beginning so they will seem organic to the story. She scouted out Sanibel Island for Spanish Disco and realized the slow speed limits would irk her impatient heroine. Orloff wanted to depict a grungy bar in The Roofer, which is set in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. She visited a similar place and saw that nicotine build-up had left yellow-brown stains on the bar’s paneling.

“That is the kind of detail that sets good writing apart from simply writing 'dirty,'” she said.  “When I speak to school kids as an author, I tell them to banish 'cheesy' adjectives from their writing like: pretty, dirty, ugly. What is dirty to the average reader may not hold a candle to what the crime lord of Hell's Kitchen thinks of as dirty. I think something that sinks a book for some readers is someone who gets a locale wrong.”

Childrens book author Uma Krishnaswami literally wrote the book on field trips, Beyond the Field Trip, Teaching and Learning in Public Places, which describes the rewards of school excursions.  Krishnaswami returned to her India roots to research her middle grade novel Naming Maya.  She recalls stopping to take a picture outside a police station in Chennai, India as she and her mother were walking to a grocery store.

“A policeman,” she recalls, “came charging out to scold me and said didn't I know these were dangerous times and I couldn't go around taking pictures of a police station. . . .My mother said, 'He can tell you're from 'over there.'   Well, I was wearing a sari, but oh heck, Teva shoes, water bottle . . . what did I think, I could blend in just like that?  The whole thing was so perfect that the scene just fell into my book and locked up that place where nothing else would fit.”

Keeping A Series Fresh

Authors of series fiction face special challenges as they’re portraying recurring characters and settings. To prevent staleness, Twist Phelan has taken roping lessons, cycled from coast-to-coast and gone rock climbing for her Pinnacle Peak Mysteries. Mindy Starns Clark, author of the Christian-themed Million Dollar Mysteries, convinced a paranoid owner to let her into a secret mine.

Clark advises writers to develop brief plot outlines for upcoming series installments before they write the first book. This makes it easier to spot unwanted similarities and to create unique circumstances.

“It also helps to know where you're going in the future, because it allows you to plant seeds,” she said.  “I knew that my protagonist would be doing some scuba diving in a later book, so I had her mention that she was a certified diver in an earlier book.  Otherwise I don’t think it would’ve been as believable when it finally happened.”

Sharon Short, who centers a mystery series around Laundromat owner Josie Toadfern, wanted Josie’s autistic cousin Guy to make regular appearances.  She toured a residential home, interviewing the director and meeting an autistic man who proudly prepared tea for guests. Without that visit, Short doubts she could’ve made Guy a continuing character. She did her research long before she had a contract and says new writers shouldn’t feel embarrassed about a lack of publishing credentials.

“Most people love to talk about their areas of interest,” she said. “Just saying ‘I'm writing a book about XYZ and I'd love to visit your museum/store/residential home/whatever and ask a few questions’ is enough to unlock most doors. And if it doesn't work. . .find someone else to ask.”

Rhys Bowen, author of the Molly Murphy Mysteries and the Constable Evans Mysteries, has one series set in North Wales and the other in 1901 New York City. She is always criss-crossing the globe to make sure she gets things right. In Wales, it can be details as small as which beer is being drunk in a certain pub.  In New York, her explorations might focus on how long it takes to walk from one place to another and is the walk feasible in the narrow boots her character would be wearing.

“I don't feel you can write about a place without experiencing its soul,” Bowen said. “Choose a setting and characters because you feel passionately about them. . .If the series takes off, you'll have to live with these people for a long time.”

Creative Alternatives

It can be a tough decision to travel for research, especially if you’re unpublished with a family and job. Sometimes the telephone can be a cheap alternative. Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor book Getting Near to Baby, needed to learn about Louisiana Cajun Country for an earlier project. Her local library directed her to people she could call on the phone.  She got a feel for the language and learned about holidays such as when “Miz Lanforcaux threw her annual pig barbecue which no men, wimmins or chirrun would miss, even to do murder.” Whenever a question arose, she called one of her new friends.

“I got fascinating detail such as 'the day it rained snakes,' one of the hottest days on record, and yes, snakes just fell from the tree branches when they got too hot,” Couloumbis said.

Writers can be pro-active about gathering information by keeping a journal of experiences, even if the story is not yet in hand or mind. Preserve details so that if you ever need them, you’ll have a firsthand account.  After traveling, store brochures, real estate magazines and maps in a “you never know” file. When Sue Owens Wright, author of Howling Bloody Murder, was a guest speaker at the Illinois Basset Waddle, she realized she couldn’t let this opportunity slide.  More than 1,000 dogs were competing in contests such as Longest Wingspan, when they extended ears Dumbo-style.  The Waddle King and Queen loafed in royal raiment atop their float.

“Unbeknownst to the hounds and their owners, while observing this bizarre event for the first time, I was also taking notes,” said Wright.  “I left with plenty of background material.”

The unfortunate reality is that editors have many reasons to reject a manuscript.  Don’t let inaccuracy or a lack of imagery ruin your chances of publication.  Small details bring a book to life, and getting them right is the obligation of a good writer.

About the Author

Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim. (Mainly Murder Press) More information on her books can be found at http://www.stacyjuba.com.

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Teenage Ghost Hunter?

I am 17 and would like to know if there is a way to get a group of like-minded friends and go to some supposedly haunted places (such as friends, family members, public places) and do some ghost hunting. I already know the basics, and i've had some paranormal experiences before, and i have a camera, video recorder, and a tape recorder. Whats the best step to take to get recognized?

What exactly do you mean when you talk about being recognized?

Successful ghost hunting groups are good at marketing. They know how to get their name out there usually by the Internet.They also are willing to spend the money it takes to get in good search engines so their websites come up on searches.

I am not sure if they have an age limit but check out American Ghost society. If they do have an age limit you are 17 so you will not have long to wait.till you are 18.*

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