Sunday, September 30, 2012

Decorating for Halloween

My Internet has been down for four days now and blogging has been impossible. However, I discovered this wonderful app on my phone that let me at least do this tiny post. We are beginning our Halloween decorating and here is a brief look at our work in progress.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Holly Park Blvd SW,Huntsville,United States

Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting in Trouble Looking for Ghosts

I spent this weekend at my sister's wedding.  She was married at The Cranbrook House and Gardens.   The house was beautiful, dark, and filled with wood paneling and old Gothic touches that made it feel more haunted than Hillhouse.  I could almost imagine it whispering to me.   I hadn't done any research into Cranbrook House and I had no idea if it was haunted, but I wanted to find out.

So I did what I always do.  I snuck around and asked random people uncomfortable questions.   This works very well in the South where people are friendly and love to talk.  It did not work out well for me in Michigan.  I snuck upstairs, where a lady found me and yelled at me very angrily. I asked her about ghosts and she said no ghosts and gave me the look I give my children when they ask me if they can have chocolate ice cream for breakfast.  I skulked downstairs, determined to unravel the secrets histories of the old house.   My sister told me there were rumors of a painter who died in the house.  I knew his ghost must be hiding somewhere.

I started taking pictures.  The same lady found me. She told me I couldn't take pictures that weren't of the wedding.  She yelled at me again and sent me on my way.  Now, she had her eye on me.  She knew I was trouble.  I snuck off again, but this time I did a better job and was able to snap a couple of pictures, but she found me again and yelled at me again.  At this point, I gave up.  It was my sister's wedding and I didn't want to ruin it with my strange ghost hunting behavior. So I never found any ghosts at Cranbrook House, but I was part of a beautiful wedding on a chilly autumn day and that is better than ghosts.

Monday, September 17, 2012

All things dark and wondeful: Movies that I love this fall!

Over the years, some of my favorite movies have been dark movies for children.  Long before I had children, movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride made me giddy with dark delight.  They featured ghosts, ghouls, and all things dark and wonderful.  That is why this year's movie selection has made me particularly ecstatic.  Here are the three films that have made going to the movies one of my favorite activities this Halloween season.

Paranorman...... I loved this movie.  It is the simple tale of a boy who sees dead people.  Although that plot may not be original, its presentation is utterly original.  The boy uses this gift to save some zombies and defeat a witch.  This movie is fabulous and funny.  I would watch it again and again.

Hotel Transylvania.... I haven't seen this one yet, but I can't wait until it is released.  This is the tender story of a vampire daughter and her overprotective father.  It looks silly, funny, and filled with all the haunting things that make fall fabulous.

Frankenweenie..... This one I think will be my favorite.  Of course, I can't be sure.  But this cute story of a little boy who brings his dog back from the dead sounds like just the right mix of touching and twisted to make my holiday season a more than joyful occasion.

Of course,  all this makes me particularly happy since my middle grade book, The Monster Hunter's Manual, is coming out soon and it seems to capture this growing market of my favorite things.  I hope this trend lasts, for more reasons than I can count.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Reader Story: Get Out of my Room

When I was twenty one years old, my new husband's family offered to sell us a house that had been in his family for generations at an incredibly cheap price. They had a difficult time keeping it rented and did not want to hassle with it anymore. We jumped at the opportunity and moved in almost immediately. It was only a matter of hours before strange things began to happen. It did not take me long to decide there was something or someone else other than us in that house.

Almost every night we would hear something coming up the staircase. The steps were old so you could hear every creak. Nick, my husband would jump up out of bed whenever he heard it to go make sure that someone hadn't broken in. It would always end the same, no one was there. The ghost appeared to get braver as time went on. We could hear the steps eventually come down the hall; they were getting a little closer to our bedroom door with each visit. Finally, the night came that we had both been dreading. Nick was sound asleep, exhausted from working hours of overtime. I heard the steps dare to pass the doorway of our bedroom and enter our room.

I felt slightly aware of something or someone approach the side of the bed I had my back turned to, but I was afraid to look. I just kept my face in Nick's chest and closed my eyes tightly. I felt as though there was someone right behind me, right behind my head just staring at me. I knew one thing for sure; I was not going to turn around to check. I just wanted to fall back to sleep as soon as possible.
 My hand searched under the covers for Nick's hand. I very softly and quietly moved my hand beneath his big palm. I did not want to disturb him; I just knew it would make me feel better if his hand was lying on top of mine.

My back felt ice cold; I tried to bring the covers up tighter around my neck and back. That\'s when I felt it. Something moved briefly on the bed behind me. I did not acknowledge it. I forced myself to stay still as if I were still asleep. I felt that if I suddenly reacted, I would see something horrible, so I did not turn around, I did not move.

 That seemed to upset whatever was behind me. I felt the bed move again, but just ever so slightly. I felt that whatever was behind me was so close to me it was almost touching my hair. I had the feeling on my scalp similar to when you have static electricity in your hair. I was sure it must almost be standing on end.
I rubbed Nick's palm with the back of my hand. I think I was actually trying to wake him, but trying to do it quietly, so whatever was behind me would not notice. It didn’t work. Nick just grunted a moment and then took another deep breath, he was still sound asleep.

I felt another movement on the bed directly behind me again. I actually could feel the blanket I had wrapped so tightly around me tug on me a bit as if someone had laid some weight on it behind me, I was sure that something was trying to get even closer to me. Suddenly I felt air blow on my cheek. It was just the same as if someone had breathed on me, except it was a lot colder, ice cold.
I tried rubbing Nick's hand again only I did it more aggressively this time. He moaned a little and turned to face me laying his arm across my side. That made me feel a little better, if there was someone or something directly behind me he would have struck them with his hand when he put his arm around me. I no sooner had the thought when Nick's arm went flying off of me and back towards him. It was as if someone had picked up his arm and flung it off of me. At that same exact moment, I felt a very strong tug on my hair, and heard a whisper in my ear.

"Get out of my room," the words struck me like a knife in my stomach.

It was a very raspy mean voice. I woke Nick instantly, but once again there was no one there. Many things happened in that house. We only lived there for thirty six days, thirty six days of pure mental hell.

That was when I started to believe in ghosts and spirit hauntings. It forever changed how I view things. I wrote a book about the whole experience, The Lennox Haunting... It is on Amazon, if you are interested in reading the first chapter. It is a true story, Jules

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Tortured Spirit of Mary Kelly

Jack the Ripper is probably the best known serial killer in history.  He is sometimes called the first serial killer.  Although this is not true, he certainly takes credit for being the first and the atrocities he committed shock us to this day.   One of his most gruesome murders, was the murder of Mary Kelly.  Mary Kelly was 25 years old when the ripper killed her and was well liked by all that knew her.  What he did to Ms. Kelly is so shocking it even bothers modern minds that have been desensitized by movies like Saw and Hostile and grown accustomed to the violence of serial killers. Photographs of Mary Kelly's body can be found easily via google, but I'm not one for shockingly violent photographs so I will use words. Warning:  The following description is disturbing. Here is the medical examiner's description of Mary Kelly's remains:

"The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders flat but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed. The head was turned on the left cheek. The left arm was close to the body with the forearm flexed at a right angle and lying across the abdomen.

The right arm was slightly abducted from the body and rested on the mattress. The elbow was bent, the forearm supine with the fingers clenched. The legs were wide apart, the left thigh at right angles to the trunk and the right forming an obtuse angle with the pubes.

The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.

The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table.

The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, and on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about two feet square. The wall by the right side of the bed and in a line with the neck was marked by blood which had struck it in a number of separate splashes.

The face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched and cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all the features.

The neck was cut through the skin and other tissues right down to the vertebrae, the fifth and sixth being deeply notched. The skin cuts in the front of the neck showed distinct ecchymosis. The air passage was cut at the lower part of the larynx through the cricoid cartilage.

Both breasts were more or less removed by circular incisions, the muscle down to the ribs being attached to the breasts. The intercostals between the fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs were cut through and the contents of the thorax visible through the openings.

The skin and tissues of the abdomen from the costal arch to the pubes were removed in three large flaps. The right thigh was denuded in front to the bone, the flap of skin, including the external organs of generation, and part of the right buttock. The left thigh was stripped of skin fascia, and muscles as far as the knee.

The left calf showed a long gash through skin and tissues to the deep muscles and reaching from the knee to five inches above the ankle. Both arms and forearms had extensive jagged wounds.

The right thumb showed a small superficial incision about one inch long, with extravasation of blood in the skin, and there were several abrasions on the back of the hand moreover showing the same condition.

On opening the thorax it was found that the right lung was minimally adherent by old firm adhesions. The lower part of the lung was broken and torn away. The left lung was intact. It was adherent at the apex and there were a few adhesions over the side. In the substances of the lung there were several nodules of consolidation.

The pericardium was open below and the heart absent. In the abdominal cavity there was some partly digested food of fish and potatoes, and similar food was found in the remains of the stomach attached to the intestines."

Dr. George Bagster Phillips was also present at the scene, and gave the following testimony at the inquest:

"The mutilated remains of a female were lying two-thirds over towards the edge of the bedstead nearest the door. She had only her chemise on, or some underlinen garment. I am sure that the body had been removed subsequent to the injury which caused her death from that side of the bedstead that was nearest the wooden partition, because of the large quantity of blood under the bedstead and the saturated condition of the sheet and the palliasse at the corner nearest the partition.

The blood was produced by the severance of the carotid artery, which was the cause of death. The injury was inflicted while the deceased was lying at the right side of the bedstead." .. Taken from

It isn't surprising that Mary Kelly's spirit is restless.  Her ghost is still said to haunt White Chapel to this day. Residents in the flat that occupied the space where Mary Kelly's small room used to stand say that the room is haunted.  They say their pets won't go near the space where her body was found.  Kelly's ghost has been seen throughout White Chapel and there are those that have even claimed to have captured her spirit in photographs and video, although these claims do seem somewhat dubious.  Whatever the case, Mary Kelly was one of the most tragic of the ripper's victims.

In honor of this tragic ghost, my husband and I have decided to base our Halloween costumes this year on the ripper and Mary Kelly.  He'll be Mary Kelly and I'll be the ripper, wait, switch that, I'll be the Mary Kelly and he'll be the ripper.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Halloween Wish List

I have to start planning for Halloween early.  October comes and goes so quickly for me that I could blink and miss it. Between book signings and the children's fall festivals and cub scout haunted camp outs, we have something to do every weekend.  So, now is my time to begin planning for my favorite time of the year and my wonderful friend, Amy, and I got together this Saturday to plan our annual Halloween party.  Planning with Amy is half the fun of the party and shopping is the another quarter of the fun.  We made our list and checked it twice and I made my wish list.  Here are the items that made my Halloween wish list this year.  I never get everything on my list, but here's hoping this year will be that magic Halloween that sees my list completed.

props found at Spirit Halloween,, and

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Top Picks for This Year's Halloween Costume!

September is here and I can almost hear Halloween knocking on the door. Spirit Halloween opened its doors.  Halloween decorations are everywhere and all the early birds are beginning their Halloween plans.  I am one of those Halloween early birds and I am already plotting and planning for my Halloween costume.  Here are a few of my top choices.  What do you think?

Costumes Shown can be found at the pyramid collection,, new egg costumes, and The Lost Boutique on Etsy.