Research for the Right

Authors want to make their stories, not only engaging but, authentic and true to the setting and characters. Experts say to write what you know―always good advice. Characters sometimes have other ideas. Sometimes they have a strong opinion about where their story should take place. And sometimes you, as the author, are less than familiar with the location. Research via the internet, articles, books, and Google earth can provide important details for personalization. A few key elements in just the right places can make all the difference.

Getting the chance to walk in your character’s shoes, well…there’s nothing that can deliver quite the personal touch from such an experience. That’s what these past two weeks held for me. I visited the Louisiana area, toured Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the outer Plantation areas while researching for my novel Nowhere Nara.

MyrtlesCoverThe paranormal nature of my project took me to some unique and diverse locations in hopes of better understanding my characters, especially Chloe, Nara’s little sister and a potential medium. Our first stop in the search for the supernatural and the feelings it invokes―the Myrtles Plantations, known for its many haunting activities.

Both excited and apprehensive, Tameri and I arrived at the Myrtles Plantation a few minutes after five o’clock. The staff, having departed swiftly at five, left our room key clipped to the office door. Different. Greeted by the other guests gathered on the back patio, our two night stay began. By the time we departed our feelings upon arrival would be both supported and pushing us along our way.

Wanting to grab some exterior pictures prior to the sun setting, we moved around the property with our cameras before dragging our luggage up to our room. Twice, at the front of the house, I had to stop when an intense energy moved through my body. Every nerve stood on end, wired and fully aware. Supernatural? You be the judge.

The feeling was so strong I paused around here and halfway between here and the front steps.

The main house is divided into two parts. Four rooms with a private entry from the back of the house are on one side of the porch. Two more rooms are accessible on the other end, one with direct access from the porch and the other accessible via the home’s main receiving hall and staircase. A number of outlying cabins surround the property, including the caretaker’s cottage.

Outlying Cabins.
The Caretaker’s Cottage. Thought to be haunted.

Because that there were only two rooms on our side of the house and the room beneath ours was undergoing renovations, Tameri and I had that entire wing of the house to ourselves. As the rules were dictated to us, we were not to allow anyone (no other guest, relative, etc.) inside our room or the foyer our key opened. Okay, I can respect that.

Our private foyer with the said “haunted” seventh step on the stairs, and mirror with trapped souls hanging on the wall. Didn’t see any. Just sayin’.
Myrtles piano said to sometimes play a tune on its own. Hmm…is that an orb or a sun spot?

Except…there was something about the atmosphere of the space, not only our room but, the entire upstairs landing. I did not want to be there alone. And I did not want to be there for long. Are you familiar? When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your spine tingles―not in a good way? Yeah, so we had a lot of private space—eerie, creepy, private space.

Sitting on the back porch with the other guests that first night, we had a clear view of the glass doors to foyer, a space to which only we held the key. The staff had all gone home. Several times we saw something…or someone…cross the foyer. Hmm. Were we letting our imagination get the best of us on our first night? Maybe it was time for bed.

A view of the back doors to our foyer from the patio at night.

As we readied for bed, a sound came from the corner of the room. My water bottle crunched, creating an eerie crackling sound. That’s normal, right? We ignored it, crawled into the same bed, both unwilling to take to the single bed in the unwelcoming small alcove.

Myrtles BR
Our bedroom. Spacious and…is that an orb in the top left corner?

It felt like forever, the minutes drawing into years while I lay in the bed waiting for sleep to take me. My mind was wild with anxiety, my gut tight with the feeling something wasn’t right and we weren’t alone. And then it happened. The hard press of something laying into me, pushing me deeper into the bed, making it harder to breathe.

It’s not a great feeling and I didn’t like it, but I didn’t panic—completely. I’ve experienced worse. Looking back, I want to say it was a test. A test of my character. I think whatever or whoever was in the room with us wanted to get a better feel for who we are, at the core. Satisfied with what they learned, they didn’t return a second night. That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Snapped these pictures of the cat in the shade before we left. Sun spot or orb? What’s your take?

One of the most amazing experiences to come out of our stay at the Myrtles Plantation―all the extraordinary people we met. So unexpected and SO worth it. Not pictured: we saw amateur ghost hunter, Rick Jones (AD Paranormal), in action, as well as enjoyed the pleasant company of Tim and Laura, a fun-seeking couple from Ohio, at the breakfast table.

On the second day a group from Mangham High School arrived. Bonus for the writer immersed in YA! Took us by surprise when they wanted to talk to us as much as they did. Maybe it was the lack of activities on the grounds, or the spook factor of being alone. I get that. These kids were great and we loved every minute we spent with them. Plus, I took a lot of notes. 😉

Mangham HighSchoolDon’t they look splendid? Their names in alphabetical order: Aaron, Adrianne, Anna Claire, Briar, Casey, Gavin, Johnny, Justin, Michelle, Misty, Miranda, Morgan, Rachel, Scott, Taylor, Tucker.

Was there more to our trip? You betcha! More spine tingling experiences. Oh yeah! Will you have to come back for the details? Most definitely!

Have you had a paranormal experience? Care to share? We’d love to hear all about it!


Thanks for stopping by! I truly appreciate your support.

Until next time, immortally yours.

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19 thoughts on “Research for the Right”

  1. Emma MeadeEmma Meade

    Loved reading this. Your comment, “I’ve experienced worse”, intrigued me!
    Fab pics.

  2. Tameri EthertonTameri Etherton

    Oh man, I’m still creeped out from that place! The kids were awesome. It was a nice break from being slightly terrified. 🙂

    So many orbs! I don’t recall much sunlight those few days, so I’m going with orbs. And I like your explanation of why they left us alone the second night.

  3. melinda vanlonemelinda vanlone

    Sunspots, definitely ;-). But still…awesome pictures and what a fun story to tell of your time there! Thanks for taking us on the journey! Can’t wait to see more!

  4. Jennette Marie PowellJennette Marie Powell

    I’m the most unintuitive person I know so no, never experienced anything like that. Looks like you had an awesome weekend, though!

  5. PatriciaPatricia

    Orbs – definitely orbs. You were not alone.

    Great pictures and amazing detailed reactment of the first leg of your journey. I can’t wait for the next installment.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted…Liberty and Justice For AllMy Profile

  6. Lynn KelleyLynn Kelley

    You and Tameri are way braver than I am, and I haven’t had a paranormal experience. My imagination gets the best of me as it is, so I hope I never had a paranormal experience. I say those are orbs. Great photos. Sounds like you two had a fascinating trip. I know you had lots of laughs in addition to all the scary/freaky stuff. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

  7. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    So super cool, Debra! I got some goosebumps reading about your encounter. Spooky!

  8. Susie LindauSusie Lindau

    Wow! What a creepy story. I had a similar experience at the Stanley Hotel. We are in New Orleans now!
    Do you have any recommendations?

  9. tedstrutztedstrutz

    What a fabulous experience… thanks for giving me a look. Love the look of your blog, Debra. Of course Thor was along for the ride.

  1. The Journey to Madewood Plantation | Debra Kristi

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