I love to travel. And the majority of the time, I travel alone. I am often asked questions about my adventures and I love to talk about the places I go and the things I see, but I also get a lot of questions about my thoughts on safety.
So while it's fresh on my mind- since I just finished up a trip from the West Coast- I thought I'd share a few of them here and then some tips I've learned along the way.
So, just to start- I never just wander. When I travel, I always have a destination in mind... and on the way there is pretty much the only time I am spontaneous. I do like to have at least 75% of my trip planned. I usually pull a camper, but this last trip, I lived out of my truck. (I can write an entire article on the pros and cons of just that! Lol!)
I love history, so most of my sidetrips are usually triggered from that but I am also a HUGE fan of natural beauty. I'm a sucker for a waterfall or a sunset and have been known to go out of my way for some beautiful scenery. And yes, I love being outdoors, so this kind of lifestyle fits me to a tee.
I absolutely love to travel and I am always looking for a new adventure or places I haven't been. I am working on the United States and have yet to visit other countries.
Okay, now to your safety.
I'm often asked if I'm I ever scared...
Yes. Yes I am. And there's a fine line between trusting your gut and realizing you may just be looking for things to make you afraid. Trust your gut. If you are ever in a situation and it just doesn't feel right, pay attention.
- Always let someone know where you are.
I am constantly checking in with someone in my circle when and where I stop for the night and when I leave again in the morning. Sometimes I'll let them know where I'm headed, or when I've crossed markers like state lines. Always let someone know where you are. My phone is always linked to someone else, so if anything happens, they can ping my phone... which makes sense that the next one is:
- Always have your cell phone on you. Carry it with you everywhere. Don't leave it in your car, keep it with you. You may need to make an emergency call. You may need someone to find you. You may need a flashlight. You may fall and hurt yourself... and if you ever feel uncomfortable or feel you might be in a dangerous situation- call someone and just talk with them. Even better, FaceTime them. They can see where you are and can see if anyone comes up to you and most times, it will deter anyone's interest in you.
- Always have self protection.
Now, before you dismiss this one with, well, I have a gun, hang on. If you are attacked, they are not going to wait until you fish down to the bottom of your purse or unlock the glove compartment to get your weapon before they proceed. You need some kind of weapon, whatever one you are comfortable with, on your person or in your hand whenever you stop somewhere or are alone. Always, Always, Always in rest areas. Make sure you have multiple options that are easily attainable no matter where you are. Meaning. have them in several places in your vehicle as well as on you.
A caveat to that... know how to use it. And be prepared to use it. If anyone gets close enough to me that I'm able to USE any of my weapons, I won't stop fighting until I am safe.
- Don't wear your hair in a ponytail. (Researching murders and serial killers, you learn weird things.). They look for this and will use your ponytail as a handle. Does this mean you can never wear one? No, just if you're by yourself and in a not-so-crowded space, maybe not then... or wear a low one or a close to the head braid.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look at everything. Notice where the cars are parked. Hallways. Alleys. People.
-Don't wear headphones or earbuds. When you are out there on your own, you need all of your senses. You certainly don't want to make it easy for someone to be able to sneak up on you.
- Be aware of your cell phone usage. This falls back to "Be aware of your surroundings." If you have your head down, lost in your phone, you're not paying attention to the people around you. Also, try to have your back to a wall or lean against your vehicle while using your phone, so you have one less angle you have to worry about. And on that note...
-Women are the worst about getting into their cars and checking their phones without shutting their doors or locking them. I am guilty of this too. After I fill up the tank at a gas station, I'm usually checking missed messages or my gps... and I leave myself wide open for attack. Get in your vehicle, shut the door, lock it and then check your stuff.
-Make eye contact. Attackers look for easy prey. Shy or timid prey. Don't be that. Stand up straight and hold your head up. If you look at every person in the eye as you pass one another, it's not only a sign of confidence, but you already have a solid look at the person's face. They are less likely to attack you if you can identify them.
- Always park under a light. Make sure you can see and be seen.
- Don't let your gas tank get so low that you are dependent on the "next" gas station. You don't know what that place will be! Pick ones that are well lit and "bonus" if they have security cameras. (and clean bathrooms!)
We have to acknowledge that whenever you choose to travel alone, you are accepting that there is some risk. Something bad could happen. You choose that traveling solo is worth the risk so, even though this section might be uncomfortable, it's quite necessary.
- Security cameras. Always look for and AT the security cameras. Know where they are and always let them see you. If anything should happen to you, this will give the police a time stamp and a visual of where you were. Always look directly into the camera.
- When you go into a gas station, always say something to the cashier. The more unique the better. Ask a question. Pay them a compliment. Say something funny. Drop your change. Be memorable. If something happens to you; when the officers ask, "do you remember seeing this person?" Hopefully they will say, "yeah, that's the lady that complimented me on my hair."
- Have an ICE contact clearly marked in your phone or wallet. (ICE= In Case of Emergency). Make it easy for authorities to be able to connect to your people... just in case.
- Always let those you love know you love them, because... you just don't know.
I don't say these things to be morbid, and even by doing every single thing does not mean it will be 100% effective. But it might help.
Life is too short to pass up opportunities that make you happy or to stay in one place because of fear. But you can also be smart about it.
These aren't in any order, I just added them as they came to me... and yes, I follow each one. I love my family and as much as I love going out to wander, I love coming back home to see their faces. So I try to be as safe as I possibly can.
I hope these help you too.
Follow your heart. Make some memories. Have adventures! Leave a legacy. You only get one time around so make the most of it!
Welcome to My Darkside
I have tried for decades to keep the two very distinct sides of my personality separate. I am very much a Christian and yet, there's a darkside to my creative vein.
I have always been drawn to the dark side of history. I'd dive into the outlaws and the gangsters, and then as I got older the serial killers. But the mainstream of my life was/is very clean and shiny... I am quite the rule-follower and do my best to see the best in others and lead with love.
I decided that I was so fascinated at how others function SO differently than myself. My study of the brain began here.
I eventually decided to allow the dark side some creative space knowing that God made me and knew ahead of time what He was getting himself into! Lol!
When it was suggested I create a podcast, I had to figure out what topic I could legit dive into regularly and never get bored of. History. That was easy. I love American history and am still a bit resentful of my teachers for not fanning this flame in my youth.
I knew I didn't want to do serial killers, I don't want to turn them into rockstars. They are still evil creatures and their acts are not something to celebrate, but with all the fascination of true crime and serial killers, I knew there were others (thousands upon thousands) that liked to dip their toe on the dark side. I gave myself permission to create the Bag of Bones Podcast. Revealing the dark side of American history.
Murderers, outlaws, tyranny, battles, hauntings (I do love a good ghost story!), folklore, racism, tragedy, and straight up stupidity. So things don't get too dark, I add in some quirky and strange stories that may have been swept under the rug that make us question how our species have survived some decisions. Lol.
I am having a blast. I spend a huge amount of time diving into my weekly episodes to bring you well researched and as factual information that is available to me. I read tons of articles, books, documents and court transcripts to give me every opportunity to bring you the facts from our yesterdays. I am in LOVE with my podcast. (Am I allowed to say that? Lol)
I believe I come at every single episode with a heart of integrity, not just to glorify the ugly and headline-grabbers. Many episodes are meant to shine a light on how we, as a country thought and believed, so as not to forget... and repeat. Other episodes are biographies that reveal so much more of the subject matter than just the "crime" or "tragedy". Some are very difficult for me. I am sometimes more sensitive than I should be if I'm going to share these stories. Other times, I let you see my opinion ... I tend to be quite sarcastic, I'm told...
But I love 99% of my podcast... not what happened, but the opportunity to share it with others in a way where (hopefully) it will NOT be boring and just regurgitating facts and dates. These moments in history involved real people, real emotions, real choices, real consequences... our history IS people.
All that to say, I was happy to discover that many of my Christian friends and followers enjoyed the Bag of Bones Podcast.
I was so worried about that because I am billed in every book store and webpage as a Christian Author... and I still am... but then, I just veered a little sideways. I thought I was going to have to build an entire new website to cater to this new whim of mine and honestly, that still would be the best option, but instead, I decided to embrace it. You never know who might come in for one thing and get intrigued by another.
Many have suggested that I use a pen name for my dark side activities, but then I decided that because I am very hands on... very much involved with my following, that might not be such a good idea. I love getting to know my fans and readers. Sidenote: I'm hoping to go another level of connection and sign myself up for more book tours and conventions in the future- SO, I might as well not use a pen name since it's going to be Elizabeth Bourgeret that shows up to all the things... I might as well have my name on all the things.
Yes, this does offer a bit of confusion when people are researching me...
So... after saying all that... it has been decided. If and when I write a book that slips into the Dark Side, I will use a pen name. It won't be a secret, I won't be trying to hide who I really am, but this way, I will have the opportunity to reach an entire new audience and those who have been introduced to me as a Christian author, and pick up the "wrong" book, won't be surprised.
I waffled back and forth with this decision and I've talked with other authors with multiple pen names, and they recommend this practice to help book stores and on-line formats better know where to catalogue my writings.
The answer, is ...yes, I have decided on a pen name. You will be introduced to her when I finally get time to tap into a new genre... it may take a minute.
I'm entering in to my third year of the podcast and am still learning, but I'm going to treat it more like a business this year than a hobby. So, if you are already a fan, keep an eye out for a brand new newsletter, merch and other ways to interact.
Also- because I can't help myself- I will be launching new novels that will fall under the Dark Side category. I've suppressed it as long as I could! Lol! The story ideas just wouldn't stop coming! I must write them down! So, with books AND a podcast AND merch, I will be a more welcome attendant to conventions and festivals.
You'll see the reflection in the website, there will be a Dark Side section that will outline all the Bag of Bones details and release information on the books that fit there.
Whooo!! That feels good to get it off my chest and actually make a decision! Not that I need permission or approval, but I never want to alienate someone who is new to my world and this decision has been rattling around my head for at least three years, so it's nice to be able to move forward.
That being said-
Watch for some changes on the website and for new merch and books coming your way on both the Christian side and the Dark side.
You can't truly appreciate the light without experiencing the dark.
(Pretty sure that's my new motto, because it is 100% accurate. I would have never been saved had I not first had to walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt.)
If you haven't tuned in to any of the Bag of Bones episodes, do me a favor and check them out. I promise you, there really is something there for everyone! I do my best to warn against the really bad stuff... so go ahead, cross over to the dark side... (ooo... that sounded really creepy... I love it!)
Bag of Bones Podcast can be found on any podcast platform. We really are everywhere! New episodes almost every week. (I had to build in breaks this year because it is really very work intensive and I get a little swallowed up, but I will average at the very least 3 per month.)
(I've put together a Topics page, so if you'd like to search a specific subject, you can see those here.)
Follow on Facebook or Instagram and you'll be tapping into my warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
And as always, keep checking back here, as to the new developments! I'm super excited to share these new stories and episodes with you, my friends.
Welcome to my Dark Side.
Bag of Bones on Apple ITunes
Bag of Bones on Spotify
Bag of Bones on IHeart Radio
Update! Check out the new blog Beyond the Bones! It's an extension to the Podcast but also allows a place for me to add other interesting historic stories you will love or may have never heard of but not quite long enough for an episode! Check it out here!