Wednesday, August 31, 2011
In 1812, there were two young sailors named Charles Jose and George Leverett. The sailors were friends, but a woman came between them. The woman's name was Sarah Soule and both men fell madly in love with this beauty the first time they glimpsed her. Their friendship quickly turned to rivalry and hatred as the two men each wooed the lovely Sarah. As is always the case, only one man won the heart and hand of the beautiful Sarah and the other was sent off to brood and mourn. George was the luckier of the two. He married Sarah and his love for his wife was so great that he named his ship, Sarah, after his wife.
The ship was doomed from the beginning. One night, when the ship was out to sea, the crew of the Sarah noticed they were being followed by a dark ship. Leverett tried desperately to shake the dark ship that was chasing him, but the dark ship was faster. Charles Jose and his black ship quickly overtook the Sarah. They boarded the ship and killed every member of Leverett's crew. Charles thought death was too easy for George, however. Charles wanted George to suffer as he had suffered. He wanted him to die slowly and to feel true hopelessness. So Charles bound Charles to the mast of the ship and set the ship adrift deep at sea. He set him adrift so far out to sea that there was no chance of George every being found or rescued.
Leverett quickly lost hope. He couldn't escape his bonds and he had no idea where he had been left. He knew death would come for him. However, the death that came for him wasn't the death he expected. Slowly, the corpses of his murdered crew rose up from the floor. They rose up and took control of the ship and guided it to Harpswell, Maine. Those who saw the ship come to shore, describe a ship full of ghosts coming into shore in the fog. The ghosts said nothing. They set Leverett safely ashore and returned to the ship. A heavy fog drifted in as the ghosts boarded their ship and when the fog had lifted, the ship was gone. The Sarah and her crew were never seen again.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I have been reading a good bit lately and I've been lucky to have come across some truly haunting stories. Some of these books involve ghosts and hauntings, and one is just good fun, but they are all worth a read. Sometimes the best ghost stories can be found in fiction and these books are definitely examples of that. I love haunting and supernatural stories that take me to another place. They never get old. Whether I'm exploring regional folklore or reading a good novel, they make my day a little better. These are some of the books that have made my day a little better lately.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The devil built this house for his mistress, Madeline Freneau, whom he kept in lavish luxury. Sadly, Ms. Freneau was not a very smart young woman and her fate was sealed by her utter stupidity. The devil was a busy demon and Ms. Freneau found herself lonely and bored. She took another lover, Alcide Cancienne. Ms. Freneau wasn't smart enough to consider the diabolical nature of her first lover nor to even bother to trying to keep her affair that secret. Alcide dined openly with Ms. Frenau in the beautiful dining room and when a strange man in a cape asked him if he knew Ms Freneau, Alcide told the stranger he was Ms. Freneau's lover. That night at dinner, Alcide told his lovely mistress that the devil had told him he could have Ms. Freneau and 1000 dollars if they would take the name Mr. and Mrs. L. Ms. Freneau was delighted and told Alcide they should be together forever. Alcide laughed at the beautiful young woman and told her he was bored with her and wouldn't keep her even for 1000 dollars. Madeline was furious and lept across the table and killed Alcide. The devil came in laughing. He delighted in the horrific scene and promptly ate both Alcide and Madeline.
For many years after this, the house on St. Charles Avenue sat empty, but eventually a few intrepid families dared to occupy the mansion. The reports of the haunting there were terrifying. Apparently, the fateful dinner would replay over and over again in front of residents in phantom form and both Alcide and Madeline's ghosts haunted the house. Some say that the image of the devil himself was imbedded on the outside of the house and that blood would drip from his open mouth. The house on St. Charles Avenue was demolished years ago, but it is still unsettling to think that the devil lived in New Orleans.
I found this wonderful ghost story in Haunted America, a collection of American ghost stories. I have been unable to find any other sources for this story, but I'm still looking because this is a fabulous piece of folklore. I also have to wonder if the lovely hotel that now sits at this address wouldn't have a few lingering affects if this story were true.
Friday, August 19, 2011
I began working on Haunted Chattanooga a little over a year ago. At the time, I didn't have a firm book contract and I wasn't sure what region I would write about, but I knew I wanted to write about Tennessee. I was lucky enough (I thought) to be brought to a wonderful haunted place in Tennessee and was thrilled to be able to include it my new book. At the time, I was also thrilled that Haunted North Alabama would be out soon. I talked at length about Haunted North Alabama and my books to come to all involved in traveling to this haunted location. I was a new writer and I had that glow that can only come from a writer who is soon to publish their first book. I interviewed the staff at our location and they were pleasant, friendly, and kind. I told them about my writing and how excited I was to be able to write about their location. This was still somewhat new for me and I was thrilled. I took pictures. The staff even posed for the pictures. I still have these photographs. Photos of happy staff that were happy to be interviewed and photographed inside their haunted location. When I look at these photos now, they seem wrong. They seem crooked.
Time passed. It takes a long time to write and publish a book and my publisher is actually very fast. I have an excellent publisher. A year later, my new book is coming out! Haunted Chattanooga will be released this week. I was thrilled again, until I got an angry email from the staff at my haunted location demanding money for the photographs they let me take last year. In fact, they are demanding far more money than I have made on the book. They are demanding more money than I will ever make from the book. They say they didn't ever give me permission to photograph their location and that no releases were signed. They are saying that unless we pay more money than any of us have, they will come after us about the photos they once so happily posed for, they didn't give us permission to take or use these photos. So,,,,, now it seems Haunted Chattanooga could be stopped by the happy staff that once welcomed me. Their smiling photographs are now a bitter reminder of the duplicitous nature of the living. I'm leaving names and locations out of this blog for obvious reasons. I don't want to make anyone mad, but on a day like today, writing seems like the best coping skill I have to deal with the stress associated with living people. I really wish I could just deal with the ghosts. The supernatural is never this hostile. In truth, I'm spoiled. I've been lucky enough to spend most of my adult life around pleasant happy people that are honest and forthright. I've been to hundreds of haunted locations and the staff and owners of these locations have always been welcoming. Some of the locations I've visited even have my books in their gift shops. One place asked me to do a book signing during one of their paranormal tours. I have only seen the good people associated with the paranormal world. Perhaps that is why these events are taking me so much by surprise and really making me question whether or not I want to write another Haunted book. The biggest irony is that the ghosts I sought at this location filled me with no dread or fear, but the living staff at this location have kept me up night after night. They are haunting me and I find myself wishing I had a nice ghost instead, or at least a drink. I wish pregnant women could drink.....
Thursday, August 18, 2011
When I was a kid, my mother never let me decorate for Halloween until it was 2 weeks before Halloween. She would see Halloween decorations out at the end of September and roll her eyes like the stores had lost their mind for putting Halloween decoration out for sale so early. Times have changed. Everywhere I go I see the signs of my favorite holiday. Old Time Pottery Barn has aisles of Halloween decorations and Cracker Barrel glows with a ghoulish light. Ghosts haunt the dollar store and all the small corners of stores are beginning to whisper of phantoms and hauntings. It is already beginning to look like Halloween. Here are a few samples of the Halloween toys I've seen out so far.
Monday, August 15, 2011
I have been to a lot of gatherings like this over the last week, but only during one of them did ghosts come out. The first story told around our glasses of white wine was a haunted house story. One of my lady friends talked about her father's house. She said it had been haunted for years and everyone seemed to accept this, but she described the strange nights of dread she had spent in this old farm house The house was built around 1920 and old ghosts sleep in the shadows there. She described one night in which her son and she were sleeping in the bed together. Her son was in front of her asleep and she went to sleep quickly. When she awoke, she felt someone moving behind her. In her dream state, she thought it was her son. She felt him against her back, but as she became fully awake she realized her son was in front of her. She sat up in bed in a panic and the light flicked on by itself. Although she felt no hostility from the spirit, she was still terrified and unnerved.
Another lady confessed that spirits often come to her. She has had many experiences throughout her life with the supernatural and she doesn't talk about them because she thinks most people will think she is crazy or strange. She prefers keeping them to herself. She told two stories. The first story was in a new house. She says that she was alone in the house when she heard a loud repetitive banging in the attic. The noise became louder and louder. It was late at night and she was alone, so she became afraid it might be a burglar. She called the police. They searched the attic and found nothing. The house was empty and there was no explanation for the noise. She told another story in which she awoke and saw a spirit standing at the foot of her bed. She asked the spirit, "What do you want?" and it answered her, "I mean you no harm."
The party ended and the stories were forgotten. We won't mention them again, but cocktail ghost stories are always my favorite, because they are the secret ones that will never be known publicly. They are the ones that people keep to themselves to avoid being called weird. I love ghost stories and cocktails.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Since Brian's encounter, countless other stories like this have peppered the Internet. One story I read on the Internet was told by a young man who skateboarding in the dark. He was approached by two young children who claimed they were lost and asked if he could take them to his house and let them use his phone. He offered his cell phone, but the children insisted they use his home phone. The young man noticed the children's eyes and asked them why they were wearing contacts. He then declined the children and went home on his own. He was scared of the children and wanted nothing more to do with them. When he looked out his window later that night, the two children were still watching him from the front yard. Another story was told by a woman who was awoken in the middle of the night by two children asking for help. They wanted to use the phone to call their parents. The woman was overwhelmed by fear and didn't let the children in, but they stayed at her door for hours begging and pleading.
These Black Eyed Kids or BEKs have stayed on the fringes of the paranormal and have remained so because no one really knows what to make of them. Some people believe BEKs are part of an elaborate Internet hoax and that those telling the stories speak out on the Internet as part of this hoax. There are others that believe the BEKs are the ghosts of lost children who wander the earth searching for safety. Others believe they are lost souls trying to gain entrance to our lives. Another theory states that the BEKS are demons trying to con their way into people's lives and yet another theory says they are vampires, who must get permission before entering to feed on their victims. A final group of people argue that BEKS are the product of some bizarre alien human mating. Whatever the truth is, the stories about these phantom, black eyed horrors are enough to send chills down your spine on the warmest nights.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Lady Jane Grey was a victim of her plotting uncle. He wanted to take the throne from Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII, before Mary succeeded the throne. Lady Jane was the granddaughter of Henry VII and was thus loosely connected to the succession. Lady Jane's uncle married her to Guildford Dudley and the two claimed the throne of England. The two young people were idealists and believed they were taking the throne to save England from the Catholic leanings of Mary Tudor. Jane Grey was only 16 when she took the throne. She was deeply in love with her husband and completely unaware of weakness of her claim. She was an intellectual who loved books and a romantic who believed that she and her husband could change England for the better. She ruled for nine days before Mary Tudor claimed the throne.
Jane was forced to watch her husband die before she was executed in the tower for treason. She prayed as she was taken to the slab. She was beheaded on Tower Hill on February 12, 1554. Since that time she has been seen wandering the tower on many occasions. Guildford Dudley has also been seen weeping in the tower. The best documented siting of Lady Jane occurred on February 12, 1957. A guard saw the phantom lady standing above him in the battlements. He called out to the other guard and he also saw the lonely lady walking above them in the cold night air.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
A few weeks ago, when my book came out in print, I had a little party. For this party, I said I would give away a free copy of my new book to one of my readers. I had a few entries and it is time to announce the winner. In order to select the winner, I used an ancient selection technique that most of us have been using as long as we can remember. I used the inny miny miney moe technique and selected Adsila as the winner of the free book! Adsila is well known for her beautiful blog Above the Norm (http://above-the-norm.blogspot.com/). I will be popping by her blog to let her know she won today.
Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to all of my readers and those who have helped me spread the word about my new novel. You are all wonderful and deserve many more prizes than I can afford to give you.
Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to all of my readers and those who have helped me spread the word about my new novel. You are all wonderful and deserve many more prizes than I can afford to give you.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
The symptoms became worse with time and eventually their bodies would begin to bloat. Shortly after the bloating, the boys would vomit a lovely mixture of foam, feathers, and seaweed. They vomited all manner of things they had never eaten and many of the objects they vomited weren't even available at the house they lived in. The boys were constantly covered in seaweed and feathers and vomit no matter how often they were cleaned. Their beds levitated and objects in the room around them were flung about inexplicably. The boys also gained psychic abilities and were able to predict the deaths of people in the village. The boys parents eventually sent the boys away for the exorcism ritual and spent the rest of their lives at the St. Charles Orphanage. During their stay at the orphanage they told the nuns that they were "The Lord of Darkness." It took four years to exorcise the boys, during which time they lived in constant torment
Even after the exorcism, there was no happy ending for the two cursed children. One boy died shortly after the exorcism at the age of 16 and the other boy died at 25. The case of the Bruner boys still baffles people to this day. Assuming that the priests and witnesses weren't lying, no natural explanation for what happened to the Bruners has been found. If their case wasn't an elaborate hoax perpetrated by an entire village, orphanage, and the clergy, it is one of the most conclusive cases of possession.
Friday, August 5, 2011
For example, one night I was watching television and the garage door just started opening and closing over and over again. I couldn't get it to stop. I mashed the button and yelled at it but it kept going. I figured the damned thing was broken. It finally stopped and worked fine after that, but mechanical malfunctions happen, right? Another night all the electronic toys in the living room started going off at the same time. Remote control cars buzzed around the room and toy Buzz Lightyear's screamed out about infinity and beyond. A cow flashlight bellowed "moo" over and over again. I laughed. It was funny. I don't remember how I explained that one, but it made a lot of sense. Similar things happened often in that house, but it was a new house and I didn't think it was haunted. One night I did panic. The garage door opened and I couldn't get it to close. Every time I closed it, it just opened again. It really freaked me out, but what are you going to do? In the morning it was OK. We moved, I forgot about all these oddities and I had wonderful explanations for all of these types of events even if I can't remember them now.
However, as I went through some old photo albums, I found a series of wonderful photographs in that house with some lovely orbs. Orbs in no way prove the presence of the supernatural, but I find their presence interesting and they make me wonder if maybe all my explanations weren't wrong? Who knows? They are lovely orbs. I'm not going to put them all here because I was much better back then and I have them glued in scrapbooks I hate to destroy, but I placed one on the top of this page. All the photos look similar. Some of the orbs almost have little faces in them.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Volt then presents a number of interesting chapters which cover various aspects of the paranormal. The chapter called Death and Not Dying was the most interesting to me as it covered Elisabeth Kulber-Ross's interesting journey from being the authority on death and coping with death and grieving into a world of near death experiences and the paranormal. Her journey is riveting. Other chapters discuss UFOs, lucid dreams, ghosts, telepathy, and communicating with the dead. Volt's usual way of exploring these topics is to pick a respectable scientist who has studied or been involved in the study of said subject and explore their findings, life, and opinions.
Overall, I love this book. It is well written and covers a lot of ground that has never been covered. I couldn't put the book down. I like Volt's argument that the paranormal should be study objectively and I believe he does an excellent job supporting this. Volt is a good writer and his style made this book a quick and easy read. However, I am nit picky and Volt spent a good deal of time with psychologists and psychiatrists. It did bother the hell out of me that he couldn't seem to keep the two straight. Kubler-Ross is a psychiatrist. She went to medical school. Psychologists don't go to medical school. We aren't MDs. Throughout the book he called her a psychologist so often I didn't know in later chapters when he talked about psychologists if he was really talking about psychologists or psychiatrists. This is important because psychiatrists study the medication end of the field, while psychologists are more mired in research and talk therapy. He also presented new theoretical ideas that groups of psychiatrists or psychologists (I can't tell) dreamt up and presented them as actual diagnoses followed by statements that diagnoses aren't real. Just for the record, according to the international medical community diagnoses are real and help to treat people who are sick. For example, diagnosing someone with schizophrenia helps find the proper treatment for them. In order to be a real diagnosis to be considered real, it must come out of the DSM or ICD (the most current revision) and have a code and have been agreed on by an enormous panel of professionals. I can't just dream up farting monster syndrome write a paper about it and call it a diagnosis. It would take years of study and tons of support and research by more people than me to make my farting monster syndrome a working diagnosis that I could bill for. Volt was similarly weak in his explanation of the placebo effect, which he described as close to paranormal. I won't explain why, because that would probably annoy everyone but me, but there are oceans of data explaining why the placebo effect occurs and none of it is paranormal. Volt also ignored theories on poltergeists that attribute them to one person when he described his house as being haunted by a poltergeist. I could go on like this with other nit picky points of science and medicine and the paranormal for pages, but I'll stop here and say that had Volt been a little more careful in these types of details I would say his book is up there with Spook as one of my favorite paranormal books. Volt managed to collect some really fascinating paranormal stories and tie them together with a brilliant writing style. For me the devil may be in the details, but perhaps I am being too harsh. To the normal reader who isn't a psychologist these details would be lost. The flow of the narrative and the structure of the book would be more pronounced and Volt certainly tells many good stories of those fighting for a scientific regard for paranormal subjects in a world than generally gives them as much regard as unicorns and fairy god mothers.