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Ghostwriting about ghosts Tags: paranormal ghostwriting southwest United States


I belong to the Society of Southwestern Authors, Valley of the Sun Chapter.  We meet monthly and today our guest speakers were Dan Baldwin, Rhonda Hull, and Dwight Hull.  They co-authored a book recently released entitled Speaking With the Spirits of the Old Southwest.

Dan is one of our members and a ghostwriter of some renown. He puts out a steady stream of fiction and non-fiction, both as a ghostwriter and as the sole author.

I found out today he is also a dowser.  I only knew this term when used for water witching, a skill my dad was good at, a skill needed for a rancher in the thirsty desert of Arizona.  Apparently it also describes someone who holds a string with a weight at the end, and when the spirits answer “Yes’ or “no”, it circles to the right or to the left.

The Dwights are paranormal researchers and come across as kind and humble.  Low-key and unassuming, they frequently mention that their goal in life is to help both the living and the dead, in whatever way they can. In fact, they do quite a bit of pro bono work, consulting on line and holding classes to help people find their own paranormal talents, to name two.  As for the dead, they pride themselves on helping people too frightened to cross over to wherever they go to do just that.

Rhonda is a “sensitive” whose talents include mediumship and clairvoyance.

 Dwight is an animal communicator.

These three traipsed through the desert and mountains of Arizona to abandoned mining towns and military forts.  There, they invited the spirits to converse with them and share their stories.  Certainly they’ve picked a popular subject.  Dan emailed a proposal to a publisher on a Thursday and got a call on Monday.  They bought the book that week.  Since it’s published the book has done well.  Thanks to a TV feature and a radio interview, it was a top-seller on for three weeks running.

I am familiar with some of the places they’ve gone to, including the famous Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone.  It was fun to read through the book today and visualize their experiences.  But more interesting than that was the simple layout Dan chose.  Each chapter begins with a few pages of the history of the spot or person they encountered, double that number of pages of the conversation’s transcript, a few pictures and a couple paragraphs of summary.

He is a straightforward, concise writer with no pretenses about writing for the upper echelon of readers. I admire that.  His books sell, and he makes a living from writing.

The book is available in soft cover, hard cover, and kindle.




Jo Brand

Jo Brand




Josephine Grace Brand was born in Hastings, East Sussex 61 years ago today. Her mother was a social worker, her father a structural engineer.  She was raised in a Kent village and left School with eight O-levels.

Growing up she spent much of her time with her two brothers, smoking, drinking and staying out all hours. Aged 15, she entered into a relationship with a heroin addict and eventually left home to live with him.

She worked in a pub and with adults with learning disabilities. Gaining a degree in social science and nursing in 1982, Jo went on to work as a psychiatric nurse for ten years.

An agent persuaded Jo Brand to begin career in stand-up comedy.  Aged 29 she took the stage in London clubs and received abuse and no applause for her very first act. Her deadpan delivered humour was drawn from the media, well-known celebrities and public figures. Ignoring the boos, catcalls and objects thrown at her, she persisted with her near-the-knuckle, often offensive and hard-style comedy to become a popular household name appearing frequently on television as a comedienne and in several TV shows and series. She has been involved in numerous fundraising events and supports a number of charities.

Shortly after beginning her career as a stand-up comic she married Bernie Bourke, a psychiatric nurse. They have two daughters.

Awards and honours

In  2007, Jo Brand was awarded an honorary doctorate for her work as a psychiatric nurse. The same year she received a Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Lifetime Achievement Award.

In  2014, she was awarded a second honorary doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University, for her work in raising awareness of mental health issues and challenging the stigma surrounding such illnesses.

British Comedy Award 1992: Top comedy club performer

British Comedy Award 1995: Best stand-up comic

British Comedy Award 2010: Best female TV comic

BAFTA 2011: Best Female Performance in a Comedy Role

British Comedy Award 2012: Best female TV comic

A fellow stand-up comic said of her "She is one of the loveliest people I've ever known. She's somehow reached the point where no matter how vicious she is in her act she still retains her generosity of spirit."

Joe Brand had also written 4 novels, 2 autobiographies, 2 non-fiction books  and a feature film in which she starred, an adaptation of her novel The More You Ignore Me. The film and the book share the same title.


Sorting Out Billy ISBN 0-7553-2336-X

Living in a London council estate, Billy is loud, badly behaved, has a vicious temper and beats his girlfriend. Three women get together and attempt to sort him out.

 It's Different for Girls ISBN 0-7553-2229-0

Set in Hastings, this is a novel about two teenage girls in the seventies sticking together against nutty parents and school bullies, enjoying all-night parties and discovering sex, drugs and punk music.

The More You Ignore Me ISBN 0-7553-2231-2

About a girl growing up with a mentally deranged mother and a hippy father convinced that she needs five personalities to cope.  The book was made into a film.


Look Back in Hunger ISBN 0-7553-5525-3

An autobiography about her early life and nursing years.

Can't Stand Up For Sitting Down ISBN 978-0-7553-5526-6

Autobiography about her rise to fame and fortune.

Non fiction

A Load of Old Balls ISBN 0-671-71385-X

Jo selects her top 50 men troughout history and savagely  portrays them with her unique hard-hitting style

A Load of Old Ball Crunchers ISBN 0-684-81695-4

Jo Brand’s portrayal of her selection of 50 famous women.

Her books are written in similar style to her stand-up humour and probably wouldn’t be an ideal gift for your Mary Whitehouse minded granny.  However, a fan of Jo Brand style comedy is likely to experience an enjoyable raunchy read.

Jo Brand Quotes

I never ever take into consideration the consequences of my actions until it's too late.

The way to a man's heart is through his hanky pocket with a breadknife.

In 2003, Brand was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.

For further information:



Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Category: Writing
Tags: writers abroad writing audio books audible








Then I’ll begin…

I’m not sure I should be admitting that I know the programme that started with these words. Do you? It’s Listen with Mother, a radio broadcast which ran in the UK for over thirty years. I remember my mum, with four children all under the age of five, sitting me down to listen to this programme whilst she juggled all the spinning plates she had to deal with. It was a mesmerising experience, I half-believed that the narrator was somehow in the box and would look around the back to see if I could let her out.

Since we’ve been travelling in the motorhome I’ve revisited this method through the Audible app from Amazon. It helped pass the time whilst motoring through wide empty spaces (yes, you guessed right, not in the UK!) and kept us alert enough to keep our eye on the road and our ear listening to the story. I chose thrillers as a genre because, for me, they lend themselves to the audible experience more easily than say a romance. They grip your attention enough to keep up with the story whilst still operating the vehicle in a safe manner. I must admit, the miles (or kilometres) just sped by and both Simon and I were gripped by the tension that each chapter brought. We stopped for comfort breaks, swallowed a quick coffee and were back in the van eager to listen on. The active equivalent of a page turner, I suppose.

When I started to write this blog, I imagined that young people today would not appreciate this form of storytelling, but I’ve since talked myself out of that point of view. Being so intricately attached to their smart phones and tablets, perhaps audio books are their preferred method and if it gets them accessing fiction then that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

It’s not a form I’d use on a regular basis outside of travelling, I don’t think. Luckily, I don’t have a long daily commute to work, I just roll out of bed along with my kindle. However, if I am doing something that’s going to take some time, like decorating, I always search for a drama on the radio to help pass the time with a chore I quite detest.

I know many writers are now choosing this method as an additional alternative for their readers but it’s not something I’ve investigated in any detail. That is perhaps a subject for another blog…


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