Research Beyond the Veil and A Giveaway

Announcing the ARC Winners!

Congratulations Crafty Momma, Lecky and Kristie Dilcher! You are the winners of the ARC giveaway. Please get in touch with to let her know where to send your copy!

Jessie: At the seaside in Old Orchard, just back from a week away

One of the very best parts of my job as a writer is the research involved. Now that I am working on my new historical mystery series there is more research than ever. And since the series is both historical and paranormal the research can be a little unusual. A trip I took with a dear friend last week is a case in point.

Lily Dale, NY is the self-proclaimed “world’s largest center for the science, philosophy and religion of Spiritualism”. Located about an hour southwest of Buffalo, Lily Dale is like nowhere else I have ever been. The village is filled to bursting with mediums, Reiki practitioners, spirit painters and herbalists. When I booked a room at the Maplewood, a supposedly haunted, Victorian era hotel, I was hoping to have a taste of some of the same sorts of experiences the characters in my novel Whispers Beyond the Veil enjoy at the fictional Hotel Belden. Luckily for me, the Maplewood did not disappoint.


The Belden is imagined as a hotel that caters to paranormal practitioners and metaphysical enthusiasts of every ilk. I was delighted to see this sign hanging in the lobby:


I couldn’t help but feel my protagonist Ruby Proulx would feel quite at home in such a place. Her Spiritualist aunt Honoria certainly would! Although she would have no qualms about spontaneous séances and development circles cropping up in the hotel wherever the guests might wish. There were no telephones, televisions or alarm clocks in the rooms. Mine didn’t even have a bathroom. I couldn’t have asked for a more authentically immersive experience.

The town had plenty of activities for visitors to partake in, much like the hotel in my books. There were meditation sessions, healing services and development circles. There were special speakers, ghost walks, a library and a historical museum. There were even gift shops filled with divination cards, dowsing pendulums and healing crystals. For the contemplative visitor there was a labyrinth.

IMG_0206But the most popular were the platform-reading services held twice daily at a place called Inspiration Stump. People hoping to hear messages from loved ones gathered on benches in a cool and shady grove and awaited the notice of the mediums conducting the readings. I had the enjoyment of being chosen for a reading just after we arrived.

The medium who read for me told me a pair of elderly sisters on the other side wanted to say hello. She was quite certain one of the ladies was one of my grandmothers. From the medium’s description of the women I found myself thinking of Elva and Dovie Velmont. These two are amongst my favorite characters in the book and were in fact based on my great-grandmother Elva and her sister Minerva. Such fun!

Everywhere in Lily Dale there are tiny houses covered in ornate gingerbread trim and fronted by inviting porches. House after house along each of the quiet streets displayed signs announcing the name of a practicing medium who lived and worked thIMG_0191erein. Contact information was provided and waiting areas dotted the front yards. All up and down the streets you would see people sitting in outdoor waiting rooms until called in by the medium for their appointments.

Whether the spirits in Lily Dale are more real than in other places I am not certain I could
say. But I do know it was a perfect place to read, to write and to soak up the feeling of times gone by. In my book and my books that made it magical enough for me.



Readers, have you ever gone on an unusual vacation? Have you ever visited a medium? I am giving away three advanced reading copies of my new book, Whispers Beyond the Veil to commenters today!

82 Thoughts

  1. What a fabulous trip, Jessie! I’ve never consulted a medium, but my own research “vacation” compares: living the life of an 1870s farm wife in Livermore, Maine, right down to the chamber pot. I can’t wait to read the new book.

  2. Interesting post about your research at Lily Dale, Jessie. No, I have never consulted a medium yet. No weird vacations, but I am going to New Orleans in September for Bouchercon…so maybe I will have some unusual encounters and outings there (voodoo, cemeteries)!

  3. There is a gift in having no sense of direction. We never took our sons to DisneyWorld but they’ll never forget taking a wrong turn and winding up on a steep and horrifically bumpy road too narrow to turn around on that ended at the top of a mountain. A 12′ chain link and razor wire fence, a mysterious concrete building in the distance and a sign that threatened prosecution made for a better story than taking the right exit and getting wherever it was we were going. And then there’s Saltville. “The most historical town in the world” said the man in the museum from which we could not escape. Interesting and worth a visit, the southwest Virginia town was an inland sea millions of years ago. But we never would’ve found it if we had a sense of direction. Thanks for your interesting post! I look forward to reading the new book.

  4. Cool! I’ve got a Psychic Faire in my next Relatively Dead book (I attended one in my town), so I know about Lily Dale but I’m not using it at all. We should go on tour together!

    Years ago, when we’d first moved to town, I consulted a local medium out of curiosity. She told me I should open a flower shop. More recently I went to a presentation by a “name” psychic, and the audience was standing room only. But there were no startling revelations, and her patter sounded a lot like what I’ve read about 19th-century mediums.

    Sounds like you had a great “research” trip. Anybody want to try the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River?

  5. My daughter’s friend is a medium. I’ve received several messages. Also went to a John Edward gallery, in Asbury Park. Such a comfort to know our loved ones are still with us, beyond the veil.

  6. Two years after the death of my husband, at age 48, I was still trying to find my new place in the world. To that end I spent a week with a women’s group at a small beach house on the south coast of the island of Jamaica. Workshops, deep introspection and floating in a quiet lagoon early in the mornings helped with my healing. But the the “reading” I had done by a local spiritualist really turned me around. There was much she told me that was relevant, but then she told me I was on the cusp of a life change, that things were going to get better for me, and that I could successfully navigate my new life. Thanks to what she said, I went home much more confident in my ability to craft that new life for myself, and I made some important life decisions. Over the ensuing years I went back to school, earned a M.Ed, got a new job, wrote a book, and remarried at age 55. I’ll always remember that Jamaica experience for the confidence it gave me to remake my life.

  7. Thanks for an interesting post. I have been to card readers before but not a medium. Can’t wait to read your new series.

  8. I was so happy to see this post first thing this morning! What a fun experience you had! I’ve had several readings–none especially satisfying. But I’ve also seen “Monica the Medium” at a live show, and she was beyond wonderful. I’m so glad you’re willing to talk and write about this subject. I included a medium in my mystery Sky High, and I’m just starting to discuss my own intuitive abilities publicly. If I can find trusted (and affordable) mentors/partners (the hardest part so far) and develop my skills, I want to help others, particularly those who are suffering. I’d love to hear others’ recommendations! Best wishes with the series, Jessie, and congratulations on one of the prettiest book covers around!

  9. I have enough problems dealing with reality without venturing into the paranormal! However, I LOVE ARCs and will review it if I win.

  10. I have enough problems dealing with reality without venturing into the paranormal! However, I LOVE ARCs and will review it if I win.

  11. So now I am planning a trip to Lily Dale. As a historian I feel it is important I go. It sounds like so much fun. My favorite place to go is Eureka Springs,AK. It is anazing. I have never been to a medium and not sure if I really want to. But I would love to hear from my grandparents that died when I was going girl. I can’t wait to read this book.

  12. I have never visited a medium but I think it would be interesting.

  13. The only vacation I went on that was somewhat different was a time when I was a pre-teen and my mom and I went to PA. We went to Gettysburg and saw where the battle was fought. For me I found it a very sad place. All of those souls lost.
    I have lots of friends in Salem MA, so I know many Witches and even had my cards read once. It’s a wonderful community and I’m so glad I’m part of it. There are some fake mediums out there so people do need to do their research before spending their money.

    1. I think Gettysburg would be a very emotional place to visit. Sort of saturated with sorrow. I agree with you about the gamut of intentions when it comes to things in the paranormal realm. But that’s true of real estate and auto repair as well:)

  14. Thank you for this fabulous post. I find the historical spiritualist movement fascinating and can’t wait to read Whispers Beyond the Veil. I have been to a psychic a couple of times–is that the same as a medium? No big revelations, I’m sorry to say.

    1. Thanks, Barb! I can’t wait for it to be read! All mediums are supposed to be psychic but not all psychics are mediums.Mediums are defined as thse who channel spirit. They do not necessarily predict the future or create any sort of change in outcomes. They act as a conduit through which communication flows. Psychic is an umbrella term applied to persons with paranormal abilities of most any sort.

  15. I’ve had my cards read several times, and I used to read cards for other people, but haven’t in a long time. I’ve read about Lily Dale and it’s on my bucket list of places to visit. I’ve never visited a medium, but I’d love to some day. Your description of your visit makes me want to even more.

  16. Jessie, I can’t tell you how excited I am to read your new book! Lily Dale definitely sounds like a place I need to visit. I’ve never visited with a medium, but have had my cards read many times. My dad was born with a veil over his face and he had the unnerving ability to tell you things that he couldn’t possibly have known. Maybe he was a medium!!!

  17. Thanks for the wonderful and fun post.

    I haven’t been to a medium but I definitely use travel to research and generate ideas for my writing projects.

    I love the proposed title of the Museum of No Escape.

    One time my husband and I traveled to a strange town that would have fit right in with the movies Deliverance and Psycho. I won’t mention the town by name to protect the poor souls who live there. We dubbed the place the Town of No Escape after we had trouble finding a road out of there. Perhaps it could be the second book in the No Escape series.

  18. I’ve never consulted a medium, and my vacations are all pretty standard trips. This hotel looks like a lot of fun. Thank you for the chance to win.

  19. Sounds like a wonderful experience. I have not had an unusual vacation or been to a medium. Maybe I will research my area for a haunted destination. Thanks for the chance!

  20. My bestie and I have a trip planned for this next summer to an old haunted prison that has been converted into a “hotel” where your rooms are in the prison cells. Really excited to try this!

  21. I have not consulted a medium but when younger, my bestie and I used a Ouija board. My husband and I did attend a mystery dinner at an old inn where we were give a tour of the tunnels used by slaves as part of the Underground Tunnel. It was fascinating and was reported that some have heard noises and seen images at times.

  22. I love historical mysteries and your new book looks wonderful! I’m crossing my fingers I win! I’ve been to a shaman and a psychic before. I’m a big believer. And I love Monica the Medium and Tyler Henry, both on tv!

  23. I’ve never met a medium but my son had been to New Orleans and brought back a Voodoo doll .for my doll collection. . Several years later were I was working , we worked in a big open room setting at tables seating 8 and you could move from table to table so you got to know everyone. . One of the men just rubbed everyone wrong no matter where he sat and we would try to fill a table so he had to sit some place else.. We’d wish he’d take a sick day so one day I brought the Voodoo doll just to be funny and everyone was playing around with it and the using the pin like the directions said..The next day he didn’t show up for work but was back the next day with a badly sprained ankle Many said they’d stick the pin in the Voodoo doll’s leg and were shocked. When I came home after work I tossed it in the trash. I was just glad he didn’t break his leg.

  24. No I never went on a unusual trip. I never went to a medium either. But I would like to.
    Thank you for the chance. The cover looks beautiful

  25. Wow — how ever did you find Lily Dale? It does sound like a perfect place for research, and I loved your story and picture of the benches at the Inspiration Stump. I’ve really never been on an unusual vacation, but one very hot summer on the drive back to Dallas from South Padre Island, Texas, we decided we wanted to see the “Chicken Ranch” in La Grange, Texas which was immortalized in ZZ Top’s song La Grange. The locals definitely thought we were strange as we drove around asking for directions — a car full of teenage girls looking for, well, a whorehouse. We finally found it and it was very anti-climatical. It looked more like a chicken coop than a chicken “ranch.” Then the car’s air conditioning went out. Was that a sign of some sort?

  26. I have heard of Lily Dale and I loved your pictures from your visit!

    Sadly, I have never visited any woo-woo places but when apartment hunting in college, I wanted to take an apartment across from Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was one of the first such prisons in the US (circa 1829) and it even had indoor bathrooms before the White House did! But it is supposed to be haunted because all of the prisoners were kept in solitary confinement. According to stories, you came out of the prison one of three ways: completely reformed, insane, or in a box. For some reason, my roommate did want to leave across the street from this large, oppressive building…. 🙂

  27. I have been to Lily Dale, and I went to some Stump readings. I was not chosen for a reading, although I could have raised my hand on a couple of descriptions of Spirit present. I will say that there is some powerful, easily discernible energy (not negative, just noticeable) in the village, particularly as you walk through the forest to get to the stump clearing, and in the labyrinth, which was just plain creepy with all those little totems people have left over the years. I am fascinated with the story of the Fox sisters–if you grew up in New York State, spiritualism and the rise of many new religions (including Mormonism and what are now the Seventh Day Adventists) is a social studies unit in junior high (or was when I was in junior high, anyway). I have visited psychics, card readers, and palm readers, some better than others. I would like to visit a medium someday because I have a great-aunt I feel a strange connection to, even though she died 4 months to the day before I was born. I’m just not sure what I’m going to find when I do, so I’m looking for the right medium to make this happen, someone I can feel safe with. If you know of anyone, let me know!

    1. You certainly have a lot of experience in the world of woo! If I have a recommendation for a medium in future I will be sure to let you know!

  28. What a cool adventure! Had you heard of the town before or during the writing of your new book? You must have been so excited to find all the similarities between your writing and the real town! I lost my father to an airplane accident as a teenager so I’ve always wanted to see a medium but for some reason I still haven’t. Thanks for the opportunity to win an ARC of your new book. So cool! Fingers crossed and thanks for sharing your story.

    1. I first heard of Lily Dale while researching Whispers Beyond the Veil. I am at work on the second in the series right now and am finding my trip to be wonderfully inspiring! The similarities have been so gratifying !

  29. Wow I never would have thought a town like that existed! Sounds amazing. One of these days maybe my mother and I can make that visit as well. I have preordered the book and cant wait. This gives me even more insight and makes the setting real. I will have to remember this when I am reading the book. I hope you will be revisiting the cozy series again. Love your books

  30. Sounds like an interesting trip. I have not been on any strange vacations myself. Thank you for the chance to win.

  31. I’m so happy to hear about the success of your Lily Dale trip. What a great way to “walk in the shoes” of your characters. Looking forward to the release of Whispers. Can’t wait to read it! Enjoy you beach time!

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