I am both terrified and fascinated by crows, and even used a particular ‘murder of crows’ in my latest novel, “Ghosts of White Raven Estate”.
Yes! That’s what a flock of crows are called, you know . . . a “murder”. But why?
I recently looked up the etymology of “murder of crows” and learned the term is used primarily by writers and poets (not scientists and/or botanists).
According to zBeckabee who posts on FunTrivia, The term “murder” was used to describe a flock of crows as far back as the 15th century, as published by the Oxford English Dictionary. (Here’s a spine-chilling version from 1475: “A morther of crowys.”)
The OED suggests this is an allusion to “the crow’s traditional association with violent death” or “its harsh and raucous cry.” If you’ve ever heard dozens of agitated crows in full cry, it really does sound as if they’re yelling bloody murder.
This usage, which apparently died out after the 1400s, was revived in the 20th century. The first modern citation in the OED comes from 1939, but the usage was undoubtedly popularized by its appearance in An Exaltation of Larks (1968), a compendium of “nouns of multitude” by James Lipton.” ###
Of course Edgar Allen Poe (the poet in residence of my ancestral hometown (Baltimore) uses crows in metaphors, as tormentors, and certainly as messengers; Alfred Hitchcock (my Fave author) uses crows. And who doesn’t delight in the writing of Joyce Carol Oates and particularly her “Mudgirl Saved by the King of Crows“.
And, let’s not overlook crows at the box office. Oh! Yikes!! Crows don’t seem to fare well on the big screen if 2013 “Wrath of the Crows” directed by Ivan Zuccon is any indication http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070897/.
But enough about Ivan, more about . . . me!
Let’s take a read of how I used crows to torment-the-tormenter in my latest novel: From “Ghosts of White Raven Estate” this is our beloved anti-hero Father Vivenzio scrapping with the messengers of doom in my novel:
“His breathing quickened; he cautioned himself to not appear fearful. Don’t look over. Don’t look over. A lone howl, long and mournful, emanated from the shadows of the pine grove near the back of the graveyard. The exact source of the howling could not be determined.
The priest clutched at his robes and reached into his pocket for his handkerchief. He mopped his brow, patting the beads of sweat from his forehead. The New Orleans heat had been unbearable when he left the rectory that morning. But now, without the protection of his three-cornered hat, the crows might be attracted to the top of his shiny, baldhead, he imagined.
He scurried along Washington Avenue from St. Charles Avenue to Prytania Street. “How could any family live across the street from a cemetery? Even if it is their own cemetery?” Two hundred years of history. What secrets are enfolded in the history of the Calais family? He admonished himself for his uncharitable thoughts and shrunk down into his collar as a raven cackled in the distance. He did not feel inclined to run from the pack of dogs or cower from the crows and ravens cawing their contempt. This damned heat!
“What the . . .?” Father Vivenzio uttered stopping in his tracks. His eyes caught something strange attached to the cemetery’s wrought-iron fence. Something hanging on the gate up ahead? He stared at the object as he approached, trying to figure out what was hanging on the black iron bars. The object grew more distinct as he advanced. The realization of what it was struck him like a bolt of lightning.
” [Dear Reader: It’s a voodoo doll that has been left for the Good Father to find.]
What does happen to Father Vivenzio is revealed at the end – last chapter – no spoilers here.
But, aren’t you marvelously merry that you did the click! click! on “A Murder of Crows”?
Leave your “Hello” in the comments ~ I love having visitors!
As All Hallow’s Eve creeps closer, and the winds begin to howl, whistle, and moan we look at the traditions of Halloween with a shudder – but still fascinated, all the same.
My short, sinister story, “Dolls Watching” tells a tale of reunion – between college girlfriends, the present and the past — and destiny.
Antique dolls arranged on the guest bed of protagonist, Cassandra, bear witness to the horrors of daily life in a desert ranch house that had been deserted after the tragedy of death.
Clocks tick, tock – tick tock – away the time waiting for the one person who has lived close enough to the other side of the grave to still have the ability to see . . . into the past.
And isn’t that what we expect of those creepy dolls that claw at our attention this time of year? Don’t they speak to us from their cracked porcelain faces and stained couture that spell out the ravages of time?
Wiki explains that, “Dolls have traditionally been used in magic and religious rituals throughout the world, and traditional dolls made of materials like clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.” Indeed! Some sources even go on to explain that dolls were originally used as Spirit Containers for the deceased. You’re an Egyptian maiden who wants her mother around for all eternity? Have your artisans fashion a clay likeness, conjure her spirit – and Voila! (well, maybe “Voila!” is not the appropriate Egyptian exclamation – but you get my drift.)
Have YOU been stricken, smitten, or out-smarted by a creepy doll? Oh, do tell!! We’ve circled our chairs and are waiting for you to tell us ALL about it.
Gifted souls are reborn to Earth every day – as Star Children
These “gifted souls” – hyper-aware and independent to an adult level – were first noticed in mass in the 1970s and 1980s. It is theorized that their arrival to Earth were spawned by the Harmonic Convergence of 1978. Arriving in three waves the Star Children of the 1970s were followed by Crystal Children (first noted in 1990s) and Rainbow Children (who began arriving on Earth in 2000).
In 1982 leading researcher and parapsychologist, Nancy Ann Tappe, developed a classification for personalities based on auras and devised a label for the first wave of Star Children -- “Indigo Children” based on the predominant aura-hue of these little beings who possess incredible psychic abilities and past-life knowledge.
According to Doreen Virtue, PhD these Indigo Children are humans with, “a warrior personality. Someone who is “here” [on Earth] to lead.” Neale Donald Walsch describes Indigos as,
“Children with an extraordinary sense of self; and a dramatically expanded awareness of things around them.”
For the past forty-some years legions of extra-ordinary children have made their mark on society, globally, according to Rev. Sally Kirkland who says, “What’s happening now, is that there are masses of children being born who are, in fact, already spiritually enlightened.”
What are the traits of an Indigo Child?
Simply . . . they are gifted, hyper-intuitive and speak frequently – and in verifiable detail – about incidents that took place before their birth to the family units to which they were born. Like the child who informed her mother –at three years old – that she was in fact her own predeceased grandmother and described intricately the moment-by-moment events of her (own) death (i.e., being chilled (placed on ice to preserve the body for her own wake), cremated, and then waiting for her reincarnated mother to be born so that she could return to the family. All of this from a three year old!
A frequent topic associated with Indigo Children is reincarnation, documented here about a child in the UK : ((cut//paste:)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgOBfCrxS3U in the YouTube video titled, The Boy Who Lived Before”.
”My daughter tells me that she waited a long time for me to have her, so that she could come to Earth.” The mother described her daughter as “an old soul.”
One mother describes the phenomenon this way: My daughter says that “before she was born, she used to watch me from the heavens.” And, [after her birth] as soon as she could talk she began describing incidents that took place in our family before her birth.”
Quite often references to incidents in past lives are detailed and vivid (and not in context to the setting the child is in with the parent). A child may casually and spontaneously describe the attributes of Michelangelo while baking cookies, for instance.
There have been incidents of children begging their parents to drive past the child’s “old house” – the one from a past life (which they describe in minute detail). Some Indigo Children draw maps to get back to their “old house” in order to ultimately show their parents to a house that exactly matches (architecturally) a house in a terrain that has been pre-described. These are Indigo Children.
Often Star Children are lumped in with, and labeled as: disruptive, dyslexic, ADHD and autistic. In fact the converse is more accurate. These behaviors can be a part of a Star Child’s composite; but not every disruptive (etc.) child is a Star Child.
Not since the age of Nostics have “we” seen such a abundance of Star Children arriving back to Earth. Why are they here now, in this day and age? According to songwriter, rapper, Elijah “We are here to bring the new language [of light and sound].”
Alexa Falk, singer, advises Indigo Children, “Live your gift.”
Self-aware Indigo Natalee Falk explains Indigos as “someone who comes into the world with a “knowing” a gift .” Mine’s music.”
What to watch for if you suspect you may have an Indigo Child to guide to adulthood? Indigo Children are gifted. They are musically inclined and disciplined on an adult professional level. More difficult traits include that they often hear voices “around them” – from outside their head. They frequently have nervous tics, are fidgety.
But what caught my attention is that Indigo Children frequently describe communication with grandparents whom they have not had the benefit of meeting – or other proxy spirits who bring messages of reassurance from their grandparents.
Once more the link between the just-arrived soul –and the just-departed soul secures itself – like the clasp of a well-worn bracelet.
One morning recently, I was inspired to write a response to Douglas Coupland’s blog “The Writer’s Room” which was sent to me by my friend – and author – Gretchen Houser.
The Writer’s Room is that sanctuary space where an author’s imagination has no bounds. One can close out the world, and enter a safe haven where ideas fly and swirl like witches on brooms to be snatched down and admonished onto paper.
When I left the corporate jungle (four years ago) and began my career as an author, my writer’s room was downstairs in one corner of my husband’s music library with my desk tucked under the stairwell. The décor of the music library celebrates African cultures and is set off by baskets, various drums, and pipe whistles. A hunter’s shield from the Masai tribe is the centerpiece of the room. We bought the shield from a tribal member who was visiting the college my husband taught, part of a cultural exchange. The tribe member’s ancestors had used the shield for many years, on hunts and possibly even during skirmishes.
My African-inspired writer’s room ~ before The Spirits found me.
Each evening my husband and I would go to bed and after he fell asleep I would slide out from under the blankets and sneak downstairs to my version of The Writer’s Room where I would summon my Civil War ancestors as I penned “The Jenkins of Baltimore.” In the hours between midnight and 5:00 a.m. my ancestral aunts and uncles would tell me their stories. I would transcribe as they laughed, argued, and mourned their losses. I could even hear them, in my mind, discussing our publishing roots and how the Jenkins family survived Lincoln’s shut down of the Baltimore presses. I was entranced, following the Ghosts of Baltimore’s Past. And, I was comfortably at home with My Writer’s Room for quite a while.
After one vivid incident two years ago, and in spite of its rich African colors, and radiant-heat coziness, I decided that I had to move my writer’s room upstairs to the kitchen table. It was 3:00 a.m. and I was working furiously on one of my novels, lost to the world around me — in a “zone” as they say.
Suddenly, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, I heard birds fluttering just above my head! The experience was so real I ducked and cowered!
The birds were beating their wings furiously against the Masai tribal shield that was hanging in the music library. I could distinctly hear the birds thrashing, tangling themselves in their terror. Their claws scratched against the back of the shield frantically. I was frozen, my heart beat as wildly as the wings of the trapped birds who seemed to be caught between the back of the shield and the flat of the wall. My hair stood on end. I broke out in the prickle of a cold sweat. The room was chilled and I drew my shawl around me. There was nothing I could do to save the birds. The unworldly noise, contrasted to the quiet of the house, was eerie, unsettling. I was sure that my husband could hear the birds scuffle for survival, though I had left him sleeping soundly two floors up on the bedroom level.
The birds were caught in a universe parallel to my own — the Masai tribal shield was their portal. The disturbance went on for about three minutes. Then, one by one the birds quieted. My intuition told me they were suffocating, or beating themselves to death behind the shield.
It had been quite a while since The Other World had broken through into mine and for days my nerves were raw from the encounter. But as time continued on, my nerves settled down. However, I never again felt comfortable or creative around the African relics.
I used the phenomenon that I had experienced in my story, “Haunted House for Rent ~ Seattle” and took up residence at the kitchen table where I could observe the crows fly across our rooftop from the kitchen window. And it is from this space that the inspiration for my movie-tribute to Alfred Hitchcock “The Crows” struck.
Have you ever had an experience where one of your five senses “reacts” to something so unworldly that you remember the encounter for years after? Tell me about it ~ I’m here. . . waiting to hear from You.
~ ~ ~ ~
I blog on a regular schedule at 'www.emilyHillwriter.wordpress.com'
House of the White Raven – La Maison du Corbeau Blanc – is the setting for my newest novel ‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’.
Originally the New Orleans Garden District mansion where heroine Victoria Calais overcomes her rivals was christened, ‘the House of Calais’.
However, there is little intrigue or symbolism in naming the manor after the family; and I mourned this fact as my novel moved toward its publication date. Even in the hours just before I released ‘Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits’ I was still pondering an alternative name for the home that ancestral spirits would not leave.
In their reluctance for Victoria’s ancestors to depart her life it helps that the Calais Cemetery and Mausoleum is situated directly across the boulevard from the Calais manor! At exactly the right moment (as the author) I can conjure any number of Calais ancestors to skim over the graveyard’s lush lawns and back into La Maison du Corbeau Blanc – which they do each time that Father Vivenzio comes to call!
Throughout the original drafts of the manuscript I torment Victoria’s enemies with crows and ravens – hmm – for some reason my psyche thought this was just right; but how to ‘tie it all together’ for the reader?
The Calais family members – at this point in the telling -- are white Europeans. But I woke up one morning as the last draft of the novel was approved, deciding emphatically that the Calais home that has been inhabited by the family for nearly two hundred years should christened ‘The House of The White Raven’ – or in French, ‘La Maison du Corbeau Blanc’. My own ancestors are French Canadian and I loved the autobiographical tie-in with my beloved characters.
In the novel, antagonist Father Vivenzio notes (derisively) that the ‘House of the White Raven’ was financed from the coffers of Victoria Calais’ grandfather in the late 1600s. To leave the mystery open to interpretation he does not specify the exact source of the wealth and how it was derived.
Deciding that I liked the ring of ‘La Maison du Corbeau Blanc’ I set about researching the significance of the White Raven [Corbeau Blanc] and was even more convinced that my intuition had guided me to an appropriate name for the Calais family estate.
You see, Dear Reader, there are many myths about the raven – and happily many directions an author can go in while devising a prequel as to how the manor came to be named after the white raven.
Some of these myths are contained in Native culture, some in biblical scripture.
* The White Raven as Grandson – in the Tinglit tribe (Alaska) the White Raven is born, in human form, to the daughter of Old Man Grandfather. The relationship between Victoria and her ancestral father figures is made apparent as they come back from the grave to assist her in overcoming her adversaries. (But how would have a French-Canadian 1600s grandfather have come to an association with a Pacific Northwest tribe?)
* The Raven as Trickster and Transformer – If Victoria’s great-grandfather had transformed himself in some way – say from lowly ship crew to wealthy New Orleans liqueur proprietor – and because he is White - he could have used ‘The White Raven’ as a double-entendre.
Additionally, the raven has significance in Bible scripture:
* The Raven as the first animal to depart (and never return) to Noah’s Ark: Because scripture does not define a role for the raven, as it does for the dove; Victoria’s great-grandfather (who never returns to his ancestral European home) could logically choose this animal to symbolize his flight from . . . France . . . or Sicily, or?
Maybe he was Sicilian and had a French wife; or the reverse. Maybe he encountered – or married - a Native American woman for whom the mythological raven held countenance. Will the process of creative writing make him a shipmate, or a frontiersman?
So, over the next year, as I pen the prequel to ‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’, I will have to devise a journey by which the patriarch of a French Canadian family comes to name his 1660s estate ‘La Maison du Corbeau Blanc’.
I see Sambuca, Sicily; Nantes, France; and Montreal, Canada in my literary journey.
I hope that you will be along for the journey.
This is a very exciting week for me, and I have All of You to thank.
☆♥*¨*• So, Thank You so Much!
‘Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits’, my NewEST novel partied its way onto the eBook scene with Mardi Gras spirit!
I am so proud of the production team that helped me bring to my readers the first full-length novel that I’ve published in three years. (‘The Jenkins of Baltimore’ another family-saga— with Civil War overtones—was my 2010 novel.)
‘Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits’ is a NaNoWriMo 2012 winning submission to the eBook world, published by the A.V. Harrison Publishing team of Linda Hope Lee, editor; and Kathi Humphries Design and New Media as contributing designer.
This wild-ride of a New Orleans Garden District 1800s family broke into the Amazon Kindle TOP 4percent within 48 hours of publishing; ranking 45,300 with dozens of sales around the globe!
To continue the fun of introducing ‘Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits’ to avid readers, I have scheduled a Blog Hop for Tuesday, 29 October, with party stops as follows:
Tuesday, October 29:
Hop Stop No. 1 is hosted at ‘Into Another World’ Susan Noble
Hop Stop No. 2 is hosted at ‘The Dan O’Brien Project’ Dan O’Brien
Hop Stop No. 3 is hosted at ‘Hunter Shea Author of the Dark and the Paranormal’
Hop Stop No. 4 is hosted by me, on my --> WEBSTARTS page; so hop to 'emilyHillwriter/webstarts.com' for a ‘reveal’ chapter on the 29th of October!
I expect ‘Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits’ to be available in iBook compatible format on Smashwords shortly. Check back!
And, once again ☆♥*¨*• Thank you for your support and encouragement over this past year as my newest novel took shape.
I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing the story!
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Really? You want to know my opinion of the dumbest things people do when encountering an entity, whether it’s Ouija board’s dark powers, or an apparition wavering over a tombstone in your local cemetery?
Well, then . . . here goes. The Top Five things dumb people do when encountering entities from Beyond The Grave:
#5 Don’t say a blessing when closing off their contact with an entity;
Blessings are universal, regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs. It is a ‘Wishing You Well’ karma token that allows the entity you’ve encountered to go on its journey with a brush from your positive side. Do not overlook the courtesy of a blessing as you take leave from an apparition, or energy source, from the Spirit World.
#4 Shout at the entity as though it cannot hear;
Oh Baby! Don’t ever shout at an entity! That shows such disrespect and you begat what you beget—if you know what I mean. Bad dreams? Creepy-crawlies when you’re alone in the house? It may be pay-back from not treating those on The Other Side with dignity. No Shouting!
#3 Challenge the entity to show itself;
This is universally the silliest thing to do. That entity that you are shouting at, to show itself, may indeed show itself in a big way! What in the world makes dumb people think that an entity, or force of energy, from the dark side will reciprocate on-scale with a challenge?
#2 Toke up! Or down a drink before an investigation;
If you’re thinking a ‘little enhancement’ will a) give you the hair on your chest that you need to venture into that dark forbidden place; or b) heighten your supernatural senses—then you’re in for a wild ride that you may not have bargained for.
Gonna’ try it anyway? Let us know how it all went down. BwahahaHA!
#1 Come to an investigation, or a portal site, with piss-off on your mind
Dumb People: This is where the ‘birds of a feather’ axiom comes in. You want a scary, evil entity to follow you back to your bedroom? Yes? Then go into the SpiritWorld with a bad-ass attitude. But you’ll be traveling alone—because I, for one, am NOT coming with you on that trip of no-return!
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The neighborhood I lived in as a child observed ‘All Souls Day’. This observance was held in the days following Halloween when ghosts and goblins roamed the neighborhood. ‘All Souls Day’ seemed to be ‘Halloween Lite’ – an event in which only Catholics took part. But I never understood why.
This week I dug into the difference between Halloween and All Souls Day in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of making a second round of collecting treats immediately following Halloween – which is what we did on All Souls Day in the 1950s.
I was curious about what people thought of ‘Souls’ (as in All Souls Day) and ‘Ghosts’ (as in Halloween). So I asked my Facebook friends their ‘take’ on each: My friend, Nicki Chen, who writes a blog relating to Chinese culture noted on Facebook that “most souls don’t hang around to haunt people”. I agree with Nicki. Although ghosts are tethered to Earth by intention, the circumstances of their death, or mournful inability to let go of the mortals they are attached to, souls seem to have the ability to transcend ‘on to’ their next calling, whether it be a blissful wait in Purgatory (for Catholics), or reincarnation (for Spiritualists and eastern religions).
Avid Reader, Carrie Ann Lehain opines, “. . . ghosts are connected to a specific time and have a specific identity. Souls are eternal, [e.g.] . . . life beyond time, beyond specific identity. Ghosts have souls, but not all souls are ghosts.” What differentiation could be more thoughtful?
In Catholic-dominated cultures* and communities, All Souls Day follows Halloween, and the two observances differ in significance.
Halloween is a celebration of mischief and mayhem, of hauntings and horror. Ghosts totally rule on 31 October – but so do beasts, and vampires; werewolves and hooligans! Souls are not invited to the party! When was the last time a child responded, ‘I want to dress up as a Soul!’ when asked ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?’ The two states of being – ghosts and souls – co-exist without being interchangeable.
In the Catholic Church ‘All Souls Day’ is lorded over by the ‘Office of The Dead’ (yes! There IS such a thing in the Catholic Church). It is a celebration that takes place on 02 November (unless 02 is a Sunday, or religious holiday). Frankly, I think that the website ‘New Advent’ uses the term celebration loosely in describing ‘All Souls Day’.
‘All Souls Day’ tasks families with praying for the souls of their dead, who according to Catholic doctrine are parked in Purgatory while the sins of the Departed are cleansed (Purgatory being a way-station on the route to heaven, if Beetle Juice and Catholicism is to be believed!)
And therein the distinction: While Souls are singing, ♪♬♫ My Bags Are Packed, I’m on My Way; Ghosts are waiting for portals to open with the definite objective of slipping ‘back’ to hang around as a residual, or a poltergeist, or an apparition. Ghosts are soul-less entities who are knocking at the windows and doors of the living with the theme song ‘I’ll be Seeing You’♪♬♫
So, it’s understandable that GHOSTS have as little interest in ‘All Souls Day’ (where ‘Goodie Two Shoes’ transcendence is being brokered) as SOULS have in ‘Halloween’ where bad boys and girls are planning the next eggs-over-the-neighbor’s fence prank.
All Souls Day? Ghosts not invited!
* As a side note there are innumerable variations on celebrating the dead around the world, with Ireland’s Samhain and India’s “Pitri Paksha” or “Pitar” or “Shraadh Paksha” which sets aside a fifteen-day festival for Ancestors and Dead member of the family.
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An NPR program discussing African-based religions and regaling the life of New Orleans 1800's Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, caught my attention a year ago.
The blend of Spiritualism, New Orleans, and Laveau (a complex and colorful historical figure) played on my fancy. I began paying attention to the posts of my occultist Facebook friends, such as Jose Prado, whose beliefs and spiritual outlook I respect. A gentle, and generous, person, Jose writes extensively and in measured tones about non-Christian religious beliefs and has – through his posts – provided me with insights on Occultism and Voodoo.
Through the coincidences of synchronicity I learned that one of my Edmonds, Washington author friends had actually taught topics concerning Marie Laveau, and we met to discuss sources of information for my study of New Orleans' Voodoo Era.
The stars began to align by November 2012. With the inklings of what has now become ‘Voodoo Vision’ I felt compelled to join the global fray of writers pounding out novels as the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2012 loomed. What better way to keep my interest in writing one novel, in one month, than New Orleans, History – and Voodoo!
Voodoo, from my outsider perspective seemed rich with possibilities. Add to the Voodoo backdrop of my novel the parallels of Catholic symbolism, and the scandalous folly of priests and I had the beginnings of a thesis on good and evil.
What challenges me as I add the final touches – and seek editorial comment on my upcoming novel, ‘Voodoo Vision’ is this: How much behind-the-scenes Voodoo ritual to include. Layer by layer I find that I am going back to strengthen and fine tune the conflicts between the slaves and free persons of color, some of whom (as characters in my novel) adhere strictly to the teachings of the Catholic Church and some of whom mix the two religions to their own spiritual and occultist advantage. Taking 'advantage' being one of the underlying elements of my novel - and how far one will go to get what one wants.
For instance, take the role of Father Vivenzio, the book’s villain: I wanted Voodoo ritual to serve as a catalyst for bringing together the Catholic Church of 1853 New Orleans with African-based religious practices that took place within the Catholic parishes during that time. I established Vivenzio’s avarice by composing a chapter around the priest’s rape of the leading black character’s daughter during a gathering in Congo Square. Not one to take lightly the scandal of the Catholic Church of late, I felt it appropriate to paint in real terms the human frailties of the Catholic Church, but in terms of yesteryear.
The next three months are going to be ‘full steam ahead’ for me as I edit, re-write the novel; and on design elements of the eBook tile with 'Kathi Humphries Design and New Media' to bring you the most colorful, exciting, haunting look at New Orleans in The Voodoo Era --- “Voodoo Vision”.
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I write Ghost Stories – eerie, poignant, and even macabre peeks into the world Beyond The Grave. These stories are my writing passion. Each paranormal author has his or her own explanation for being drawn toward The Edge, here is mine:
Frankly, and firstly, I simply miss those relatives who were once part of my life who are now dead. An almost overwhelming curiosity about my ancestors, and even a certain level of ‘daring’ also draw me to the supernatural. Add to these factors the fact that my senses seem to ‘pick up’ audible signals and visual cues associated with supernatural occurrences. Therefore, a sense of longing, curiosity, and a certain daring; and sensory perceptions are the elements that lead to my affinity for the paranormal.
I read a research paper by Nicole Leader (click on link above this blog) on the topic of why children see ghosts. Ms. Leader states that most children who see apparitions have had a near-death experience or very serious illness. That is certainly true in my case. I contracted polio as an infant and was given Last Rites in 1951 – all of my life I have lived very close to The Edge, quite possibly because of my brush with Death. My affinity for The Other Side is akin to walking along a riverbank. I’m moving on, The Afterlife is moving on, and we are very aware of each other without being able to ‘be’ the other.
Of course, part of the human experience is to long for our loved ones after they die, but an overwhelming, and unusual level, of curiosity, heightens my longing. I want to hear my ancestors stories first hand, learn of their day-to-day experiences. I realized this while I was writing my novel, “Jenkins”, about my father’s Baltimore ancestors. In the silent early morning hours, as I typed out the book, I could hear the conversations among the Jenkins family members in clear terms. The difference in their voices, some soft, others harsh – the textures of the sounds – became very real to me.
And what about ‘daring’? That adrenalin that surges when one is in the presence of an apparition, or poltergeist, or stumbles onto (or into) a residual haunting? It is said that an adrenalin rush actually becomes pleasurable when the fear of immediate danger passes. Does that make me an adrenalin junkie – or you an adrenalin junkie, if you are a ghost chaser? Very possibly, I suppose.
The final factor in my consideration of why I write ghost stories is that I – unlike most humans – do NOT discount my intuitions. Most adults discount those ‘don’t go down that alley’ feelings that serve as defense mechanisms. I act on my intuitions, blend them into my decision-making, and pay attention to physiological ‘signals’.
But why write about these supernatural experiences – these ghost stories? First: a full Seventy percent of the population experience supernatural phenomenon during their lives. However Western convention, public opinion, religion, and other factors make it easy to deny the glimpses that we – and others – have into the realm beyond.
Writing ghost stories is my way of affirming, giving voice, to my ghostly experiences. And, my writing is intended as an affirmation of YOUR ghostly experiences. Because I know that you have had them . . . haven't you?
GUEST BLOG: Click Live-Link Above to be Transported!
This week I have the Joy of featuring the Guest Blog of a very special friend of mine whose intellect and wit drew me to his writing.
Dan O'Brien, author of many fantasy titles, dystopian and futuristic has agreed to an interview - which I have posted on my PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE, A.V. Harrison Publishing because its WordPress platform provides unique URL links for forwarding and linking.
Please visit http://www.avHarrison-Pubishing.com for 'An Interview with Dan O'Brien, author of The Path of The Fallen' for this week's exciting blog from a talented, accomplished author - Dan O'Brien.
Posted to Facebook’s ‘Paranormal Helpers’ on 14 June, 2013
How do places become haunted?
An essay by Jamie Oliver Jones, by Invitation
We all know that haunted places exist. That chill along your spine, the feelings of dread, and sudden drop in temperature are all physical signs that you experience in a haunted locale. However, how do places become this way? Some very famously haunted places have well known ghostly residents who have extensive stories about why their spirits linger in a particular place—such as a person who was wrongfully tortured into death or deeply betrayed by a dear friend, or loved one, that resulted in death. Many places tend to naturally draw ghosts simply because of what they are and what naturally happens in those places, meaning that prisons, hotels, and of course cemeteries are favorite haunting areas for the departed who have not fully moved on. Yet, some of the most common places that are haunted may not have such a specific story or might be just a seemingly random house. Where do these spirits come from and most importantly how do they make certain places their base of operations for haunting the living?
Shades of Gray
Each individual person is unique in personality, experience, and countless other factors. Therefore, the imprint of a deceased human (their spirit or ghost) retains these specialized factors if they are unable to move on after death. These unique characteristics mean that each story attached to each ghost and thereby haunting locale is different. Many different factors exist to explain how a place becomes haunted because of the natural ability of humans to vary from each other on numerous levels. Do not expect each haunted location to be haunted for the same reasons since they are all haunted by different spirits and therefore different people with their own stories to tell the living.
Even though no background for a haunting will be exactly the same as another, some common themes do pop up in the majority of haunted places. The history of the building or area is always a primary factor. A very old place that has a long history of human use and habitation is more likely to be haunted than a newer one as the chances increase dramatically that bad things have happened there as the likelihood of at least one person experiencing something very negative at the locale is rather high. Bad events or situations always increase the probability of a place being haunted as well because spirits who have not been affected by ill fated happenings generally have no problem crossing over to the other side or moving on while those who are the center of such an occurrence feel bound to this world until they receive some form of justice, retribution, or simply someone knowing their personal stories of sorrow. Violent deaths, cruelty, and abuse are some of the most prominent events that bind a ghost to the earthly realm. Yet, other happenings like severe unhappiness, betrayal by someone dear to their hearts who they trusted implicitly, and even intense sickness can all act as a negative situation that makes a ghost feel they cannot move on even after the death of their mortal bodies. All of these attributes seep into the location whether in the walls of the building or the soil of the ground itself to leave a certain ghostly energy or impression. Battlegrounds in particular can be a place where actual blood seeping into the ground can create a spiritual residue where unsettled ghostly beings can manifest and linger on the land itself and even on buildings or houses that are later built on the historically blood stained ground. Overall, human pain and suffering are the major factors that tend to dictate whether a location will become haunted or not. It is not like many stories exist about ghosts who haunt sporting arenas or theme parks like Walt Disney World, and this rarity in spirit haunting examples links to the fact that those places tend to lack pain and in fact the locations are filled with happiness and high, excited emotions. Many spirits are considered to haunt places where their own personal pain was thought to be the greatest, but occasionally spirits will reside in places of general pain and suffering that was a part of their lives in some fashion. Ghosts basically tend to keep in places that they considered to be their own during their former lives and areas that was once very closely linked to themselves as a living human being.
Many ghost hunters believe that spirits haunt places that are filled with strong negative emotions in order to tell the story of that area to living humans—which is why these deceased entities tend to haunt places that are the source of their personal pain and sufferings since they want others to know of their own story in that location. These spirit professionals know very well that a ghost makes noises or movement to let their presence be known to the living beings or because they are particularly upset at the time, linking to the very human aspect of mood swings. Most ghosts really try to make themselves known in a form that resembles the figure that they held in life so that living people could see them as they once were and hopefully impress the vivid memories that are holding them to the physical plane. The combination of their former selves (both in semi appearance, actions, and mannerisms) will generally be a way for them to let others know who they were and lead those individuals into an investigation of the spirit’s personal past since their mere presence indicates that their previous life was not average, normal, or significantly filled with happiness. This desire to let the living know of their past hardships and uncommon problems or issues mean that the ghosts really will reveal themselves to all kinds of people from various age groups, walks of life, and most importantly whether these people who visit the haunted locale believe in the presence of spirits or not.
Avoidance of Homes
Some of the most vivid ghost haunting examples that the majority of people can easily recall upon demand take place in a haunted house. However, there are several reasons why these home based tales are the most intense even though statistical investigations show that houses are very low on the list of places which can be frequently haunted by spirits. Our homes are our hearts. They are the safe retreat of the living as their own personal refuge, meaning that having an angry or upset spiritual entity invading our private and fortified spaces obviously makes us very scared and intimidated. That fact of being extra scary in addition to the major shock of even hearing about someone having a haunted home is enough to make anyone remember incidences of house haunting.
Yet, pure numbers tell us that ghosts actually tend to avoid homes in preference of other locales. Ghosts need a great deal of energy in an area in order to materialize, and personal houses do not have enough to make manifestation easily possible for most spirits. Larger places that attract a greater number of people (hotels, cemeteries, museums, churches, ships, or even dance and music clubs) supply more emotional energy in the air for ghosts to use, which make them a better choice that the homes of living humans.
Editor's Note: When I was living in Budapest last summer I visited the Museum of Terror which had been the gestapo interrogation site for Hungarian victims of the Third Reich, and later Soviet occupied Budapest. A part of the tour features the cells that the about-to-be-tortured victims were held in. A group of four American college students were discussing political science issues in one of the holding cells when one of them screamed! Of course we were unsettled by her outcry, but her explanation was even more chilling!
'Someone just pressed up against me from behind and clutched my shoulder!' Her burst into tears convinced us, and her mates, of her sincerity.
She was leaning AGAINST a craggy wall of large jagged stones. No one, other than The Dead could have been behind her. Emily
In 1986 I bought a charming cottage in the Greenwood District of Seattle. I lived there for thirteen years, moving on in 1999 after my son graduated from college. On numerous occasions I have mentioned the eerie and unsettling occurrences that took place during the time my son and I lived there. Although from the street the house looked sweet, with its rose trellises and ¼ acre lush green lawn, something was afoot inside – a presence that moved through in the early morning hours.
I now live in a suburb of Seattle a number of miles away from Greenwood. As I write this blog entry I am sitting at a two-person round café table in my kitchen. It’s 3AM. If I were back in my cottage writing at this early-morning hour it would not be unusual for the old country-style cupboard doors, fashioned out of thin sheets of plywood, to slowly creak open as though the house were built on a slant. It would not be unusual for the glass-prism doorknobs to rattle and turn in their brass casings – always at 3AM. The house was haunted.
I learned (not at first, but over the years) that many of the houses in Greenwood are haunted. And that realization sparked a curiosity – why would so many houses on one block – and many houses beyond that block – in an otherwise pleasant family-oriented subdivision – be haunted? Well, in the case of Greenwood, Seattle, because the subdivision had been built adjacent to an expansive nineteenth century cemetery – Woodland Cemetery of Seattle. In short – my Snow White inspired cottage, with its rosebud ceramic cupboard-door pulls, and lace curtains, had been built on Haunted Land.
Many buildings, even modern buildings that would seemingly have no ‘past’ – no reason for residual hauntings, no history of trauma or drama, even toy stores – are in fact, haunted. They are haunted by virtue of the LAND that they are situated on and what has transpired on that land.
Take the case of the Sunnyvale, California toy store, which is haunted by the specter of a field hand whose affections were not reciprocated by the daughter of his boss. Simulated in a dated YouTube video (which plays in the Side Bar to this blog) the field hand, Johnny Johnson, is shown lamenting over his unrequited love to Elizabeth Murphy on the eve of her marriage to Mr. Tafee. In his rage and frustration Johnny Johnson, who had been chopping wood when he received the news of Miss Murphy’s impending wedding, accidentally misses with his axe and severs his own artery.
He falls to the ground and dies on the very spot where, moments before, Elizabeth had spurned his love. Johnny Johnson cries out for Elizabeth as the last trace of Life leaves his body, and thus the land becomes haunted forever more.
Many years later the Murphy-family farmland was sold and a Toys R Us store was built where, in 1870, Johnny Johnson had been left calling out to be saved from death so that he could continue in his efforts to woo Elizabeth. A century later occurrences in the toy store such as the sound of a man crying out the name ‘Elizabeth’, the feeling of someone blowing on the back of the neck of young raven-haired women, cold spots, and eerie feelings of melancholy, have all been experienced at the Sunnyvale Toys R Us location. A toy store built on Haunted Land.
Native land is also very often Haunted Land. There are untold numbers of stories of homes and businesses being built on land once inhabited by Native peoples where one can hear drums beating from across The Great Divide, the haunting sounds of chanting from centuries past, babies crying, and the sounds of unseen children playing. Indian Springs, Oklahoma (near Crescent) is such a place. Twenty-first century communities built on Haunted Land.
Maybe YOU know of an instance in which a mid-century business, a modern home, a condo high rise, is haunted not because of what took place inside the current structure but haunted by what transpired on its Haunted Land.
TELL US about it! The readers of this blog would LOVE to hear of YOUR experiences - or what YOU have heard about 'Haunted Lands'.
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For we purveyors of the paranormal, horror tromps its way through our lives in all manner and methods of medicinal form. Have you ever noticed?
I – for one – get my dose of horror when all is quiet and the household is sleeping, by way of Horror vids on YouTube. Surfing movie trailers such as ‘Paranormal 4’, and the documentary videos of Ghost Chaser teams skulking through abandoned asylums is just the medicine I need to ensure that I scamper back to bed and end my vigils of roaming the dark shadows of night when the floor boards creak and the sounds of phantom birds, fluttering in the basement, caw to me. Or from ghost babies crying - after death.
YouTube as your dose of horror doesn't do it for you? Maybe you’re an avid reader. For you there is a wide selection of Horror, Terror, and Slasher books and eBooks available at Smash!, and Nook . . . and Amazon. While purusing for horror in the book-ish category there are ghost stories – from snippets to sagas; volumes on vampires, and a plethora of parables on paranormal parlance.
I have a guy-buddy . . . well . . . I wouldn’t call him a GUY-buddy, since he is a Clown – a Bleedin’ Clown from Britain, fact be told.
[ @bleedingfilms ] This bloke --- whom I’ve never met, but who fascinates me all the same, is the curator of the website www.BleedingFilms.com. He dispenses #horrorMedication to thousands of panting, addicted fans. Frankly, he is SO INTO maniacal horror that err…ahem… ( and I really DO like him) I’ve concluded he’s the type of Clown I want to keep at a distance.
Anyway it is this Clown-Bloke who introduced me to the concept of a daily dose of Horror – and that one should get a regular dose of #horrorMedication. So, having nearly exhausted YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook Ghost Chaser’s ‘Horror’ – I was on for prowling into The Unknown for fresh meat . . . I mean . . . fresh material (words scramble, sorry). As I wandered the landscape of the depraved, the dead, I came upon the vast dystopian landscape of Pinterest!
Pinterest Horror is a wild frontier where images flash in front of you depicting the macabre, the insane, and the deathly intrusions of gore, ghosts, and ghouls – on THIS side, and The Other Side of The Grave – in photographic panoramas of paranormal possibilities.
Oh! The Horror of Pinterest. I cannot speak more highly that one obtain a prescription of the drug “Horror”. I’m going to post some grisly graphics in the side bar to the left with live-links to their Pinterest locations. Oh! The Horrors . . . of Pinterest.
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Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks!
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one!
The annals of Massachusetts’ crime certainly contain their share of the ominous, the eerie, and the depraved; including one of America’s most notorious and haunting incidents, the murders of Abby and Andrew Borden, which took place on 04 August 1892.
Speculation over who committed these two grisly murders continues to this day with the count of Lizzie Borden YouTube videos slicing through 33,000. Goddesses only know how many 'views' that might amount to.
In my blog today I don’t plan to add to the speculation of who committed the murders; except to say that I do NOT believe that Lizzie Borden murdered her evil stepmother, Abby; or her treacherous and stingy father, Andrew. [hint: blue dress, no blood stains - according to Bridgette Sullivan's court testimony.]
I am much more keenly fascinated over what TYPE of hauntings take place at 451 Rock Street – where the murders occurred. One can find literally hundreds of claims that the hauntings at the Borden residence manifest from the interactive ghost of Lizzie Borden herself, who has the ability to proclaim her innocence to television’s parade of paranormal investigators.
Let’s see about that!
Last year the Borden murders came to my attention when I came across a YouTube video produced by ‘Spooky South Coast’ radio personality Tim Weisberg. In the YouTube production Weisberg purported being able to provoke Lizzie Borden into speaking to him (provoke being the operative word here). Although the video has been removed from YouTube, accountings of the assertions that Weisberg makes about his exchange with Miss Borden are still available on the net, [Jason Perry’s account notably]. In his video Weisberg recorded a belligerent rant at The Spirits – basically calling Miss Borden out, in a ‘Did you do it? Are you guilty of murder? Now is the time to proclaim your innocence,’ sort of way. The EVP recording definitely picked up a response. It was, ‘But I’m a good daughter,’ which Weisberg took as a direct response to his query into her innocence.
‘But I’m a good daughter.’ In the mind of Weisberg – and others – that was the proclamation of innocence that was somehow missing from Miss Borden during the fifteen-day trial, held in the Bedford, Massachusetts courthouse.
Something stuck in my mind about that EVP – specifically the words – the exact words.
But. I’m. A. Good. Daughter.
Would, in any logical fashion, that be the direct response to a question akin to ‘Did you kill your stepmother and father?’ I decided that it probably was not.
I had two curiosities after concluding that ‘But I’m a good daughter’ was not spoken in an interactive exchange:
1) what would compel a ghost to proclaim their ‘goodness’; and
2) how COULD one explain an EVP in which those particular words were stated?
Step back and give me an opportunity to highlight TWO of the six major categories of Hauntings [taken from my eBook, ‘Dictionary of Everyday Terms Relating to Spirits and Ghouls’ ].
Interactive Ghosts: Ghosts that act (and react) with seeming awareness of what is going on around them. E.g.: An interactive ghost might, among other things, scratch, bite, pull, or write notes to those on THIS side of The Grave.
Residual Hauntings: The energy vibration that continues following a traumatic event, such as after a grisly murder has occurred.
I don’t believe that ‘But I’m a good daughter’ is an intelligent response to the query, ‘Did you kill your stepmother and your father?’ And I discount claims of any paranormal investigator who claims to have spoken – or communed – with Lizzie Borden. [Her father, however, is a different matter – for a later blog.]
It is a documented fact that the Borden household was a seething cauldron of hatred, suspicion, ostracization, and miserliness to the point of cruelty. Andrew Borden was said to have cheated and betrayed (in business deals) his partners, his creditors, and most notably (the week of the murders) his handyman. The community newspapers regaled the community with tales of screaming matches, fights, and stony silences among Borden family members. There were charges of cash and jewelry coming up missing; supposedly an early-inheritance ‘grab’ by Lizzie as the valuables stolen were those of her stepmother – whom she referred to as Mrs. Borden. Have I left any depravity out? Oh, Yes! One! Steve Goldman, writing for historybuff.com noted ‘A recent article suggested that Lizzie was a victim of incest.’ Andrew is charged, post-mortem, with molesting Lizzie – or perhaps both Emma and Lizzie?
Was the brutal energy from the tension, emotional (and/or physical) violence in the Borden household stored? And if so, how? According to the website ‘The Shadowlands.net’, ‘Certain building materials (such as . . . iron nails used in many older buildings) have properties similar to that of [recording] tapes. When a traumatic event occurs [during] a time of heightened emotions, these materials record the event for future playback.’
Iron nails were used in the construction of homes, such as the Borden home, during the 1890s. Did the iron in the nails used to build the wood-frame home of the Borden family actually record the heightened emotional energy of Lizzie Borden screaming at her stepmother, or father, ‘But I’m a good daughter!’ as they lay charge after charge against her in abusive tirades that would not be tolerated today?
I think that the possibility of a residual haunting in which the emotional tragedy of a fractured family is stored as energy recordings is far more likely than the ghost of Lizzie Borden coming back to proclaim an innocence that was awarded by a jury over 120 years ago.
Verdict: Residual Haunting, not Interactive Haunting.
But, what do YOU think?
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Do you ever think about Time?
Like, why DOES time pass quickly when you’re having a total blast, and slowly when your car is about to crash into a telephone pole with the landscape slow-mo'ing across your windshield?
I’ve experienced both – and as delightful as having a total blast is, experiencing the time-phenom of an automobile crash when Time is broken down into visual frames is MUCH more interesting – especially since I survived the crash unscathed!
The dimension of Time is so malleable – and so multi-leveled! There’s the constant of mechanical time (the sweep of the hands of a clock across its face – tick, TOCK, tick, TOCK). One level of time occurs on an astrological plane – solar time – begging the question of whether, or not, humans reverse-age while traveling to distant galaxies. Then, there is emotional time –passing at a crawl when you are anxiously waiting for a loved one to return home; and quickly when you are on a carnival ride. And, there is biological time – some of us aging more quickly than those around us. Can you describe other time-experiences --- on THIS side of the grave?
Unlike the three spatial dimensions (length, height, and width) time contracts and stretches to the human experience. In the vast expanse of singular experiences we seem to have a solid understanding of the flexibility of time for The Living – but how does Time ‘work’ for those on The Other Side? DOES it also stretch and contract for entities on The Other Side of the grave?
What is An Eternity if one is a Spirit waiting to return to the Land of the Living? How boring could it be to be a wraith waiting for a victim to torment? [Which sets up a future blog on the emotional well-being of entities Beyond the Grave!]
As a subtext, the movie ‘Beetlejuice’ explored the concept of Time. Remember? In the waiting room scene The Dead were shrouded in cobwebs, all except BeetleJuice – who could cross back and forth through a portal and calibrate his experiences with those of The Living.
In his book, Einstein’s Dreams, Alan Lightman describes Time as the center of a universe – a universe in which travelers approaching The Center move ever slowly until they reach dead center (‘dead center’ being HIS term). It would seem that this is Death, on Lightman’s terms. The still, silent nothingness of Time frozen – with the only illumination being a faint red glow is what Lightman describes in his essay for Einstein’s Dream of 14 May 1905, “. . .only the most feeble red light, for light is diminished almost to nothingness at the center of time. . . Those not quite at dead center do indeed move, but at the pace of glaciers.” At. The. Pace. Of. Glaciers.
From my perspective, that is how Time moves on The Other Side. At. The. Pace. Of. Glaciers.
As the Red-eyed Beasts glare at us from The Realm Beyond; as Spirits swirl, and Zombies tromp; as Banshees bay are their moments on Our Side measured in a twinkling of an eye – or – at the pace of glaciers?
What is YOUR take of Time. . . on ‘The Other Side’?
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New Book-Delivery Coming Soon to U.S. addresses!
Yes! In the next few days a fresh order of ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’ will arrive on my doorstep so that I can fulfill requests for Autographed Copies of my latest paperback for $10.00!
❤ To order ❤ click on the ‘My Books ~ My Videos’ TAB in the MENU bar of this webpage. Then. . . See? Upper right – Autographed Copies - PayPal will take care of the details for You! ❤
Here are SOME of the story line-ups that have garnered a
★★★★★ 5-star rating on Goodreads.com:
★ Little Dead Girl
★When Banshees Howl
★The Soul of New Orleans
★The Red-Eyed Beast
★Beware the Ouija
★…And that’s all I know!
★The Glass Doorknob Prism
To round out The Ghost Chaser's Daughter story collection I’ve added to the line-up THESE stories – all written from my summer 2012 summer travel to Transylvania. . . some eerie, some folklore, ALL written with a Hitchcock edge…
★ Checkmate! How feverishly brutal can one marriage become? Charles and Clare, an elderly Seattle couple, provide us with the answer to this riddle in Checkmate! Charles, with his failing eyesight and frustrating deafness parses with Clare, his beauty-queen wife of past, as she plots her escape from the richly appointed manor which has become her prison. Checkmate! When is a marriage worth more than a thirty-six dollar check, but less than a successful chess move?
★ Lightning Strikes. Poor Dennis Sheridan, Florida-native. Considering what he has been through he does not need a suspicious officer of the law on his doorstep asking about his wife of twenty-four years; particularly as he brushes the dirt from her grave off of his hands.
★ Grove of Terror. Civil War Union Officer Speck is on a mission to save the slaves along the Carolina Ghost Coast - an admirable mission. That is, he's on an admirable mission until he learns that buried treasure lies within yards of where a battle is to take place the next morning between the Confederate line and General Gilmore's 62nd Ohio regiment.
★ To Kill Ivan Gorsky. Written as a salute to the Hungarian revolution attempt of October 1956.Who is Ivan Gorsky and why would even angels want him dead? Tour the Budapest Opera House and spend the night in the company of this Russian intelligence agent as he faces performance hall angels, and his own devils. You'll soon see why the mission was always, "To Kill Ivan Gorsky".
★ Chunya, And The Hungarian Witch. "Oh! She's so ugly!" And, at this exclamation from neighbors, the new mother beamed at her newborn daughter. Learn why - from the beginning of all folklore and legends - little girls from the village of ́Opusztaszer are so. . . "Chunya!" This folklore tale, delivered straight from Transylvania, features the vanity of a forest witch and the revenge of a Hungarian sorcerer.
What is it that separates The Living from The Dead? Very little, according to these haunting accounts taken from personal experience, newspaper stories, and the pages of history.
(Shipping to mainland U.S. only.)
'Sometimes you think you've lived before, all that you live today. Things do come back to you as though they knew the way. Oh, the tricks your mind can play.' - Lorenz Hart
I doubt if we give much thought to all the signs and signals, and repeating patterns of our lives – the Synchronicity. We are moving too fast in a too-fast world.
Jung explains (See his YouTube link in the sidebar :) ‘Synchronicity’ defined means, 'coincidence of outer and inner events that are not themselves causally connected.'
What IS Synchronicity?
Coincidences that seem to just keep lining up – more and more – to complete a full, and eerie story.
The feeling of Deja vu?
“Haven’t we met?”
“You look just like my friend from college! It’s uncanny!”
. . . or that eerie feeling that comes over you that makes you observe, “I’ve done this before. This very same thing, in this very same sequence! . . .even the air smells the same!”
I read Shirley MacLaine’s ‘Sage-ing While Age-ing’ while on a Trans-Atlantic cruise this month and read with keen interest her observations on Atlantis and, while reading, had my own moment of Synchronicity. In her book MacLaine discusses how the ancient genetic memory of birds cause them to set out for lands from their long-ago past. She notes in her book that birds die by the hundreds, if not thousands, when they set out for The Land of Atlantis that their genetic memory stores. The birds perish in flight because the landmass of Atlantis no longer exists – they never make it to their destination. I had just finished reading MacLaine’s observations, when my husband called to me from the lanai of our cabin, “Look at this bird flying beside the ship! Where could it have come from?” At that moment we were thousands of miles from land!
I was reading a passage in a book that described what my husband was experiencing – at the same instant!
The concept of Synchronicity stayed in my thoughts after our vacation ended; and even after we settled back into our routine. A couple days ago I went to the den to see what my husband was doing and was alarmed to see that he had the space heater cranked on 'High'. That would have been fine, really, but the grandchildren’s games - in Milton-Bradley boxes - were stacked right NEXT to the space heater! When I yanked the boxes away they were already much too hot. (Yelling ensued.)
The Edmonds, Washington ePaper carried the story of an Edmonds, Washington man, 67-years old, who nearly died after his condo caught fire. Likely cause? Combustibles next to his space heater.
The Synchronicity? We live in Edmonds. My husband is 67 years old. We live in a condo. Combustibles next to our space heater. Only – it wasn’t my husband who met with misfortune that day; it was another man – who traded Fate with my husband and now lies clinging to life.
Rick Borutta explains (http://rickborutta.com) in a post that “From a Jungian psycho-spiritual perspective, '. . .synchronic events occur when 'we are on the right path' to wholeness, or what Jung termed as the process of individuation. When we allow a dialog with our unconscious selves to occur without letting the conscious ego dominate, threaten or sublimate the inner energies, 'magic' seems to happen.'
I have been amazed by stories of long-lost relatives finding each other after years of effort, because they EACH stumble onto the same clue, contact a MUTUAL friend, see the same ‘seeking you’ ad.
Many years ago there was a murder in my ex-husband’s family. When I went to have my hair done that month I began telling the circumstances of the murder to my hairdresser, a young woman who had been my stylist for four years. Other than our connection through Cut-and-Curl, it seemed like we had NOTHING in common. Almost immediately after I began telling her of the murder she stopped cutting my hair, she put down her scissors and comb. She was visibly upset. It turned out that after my divorce HER aunt married the same man I had just divorced! The murder victim was also a relative of my hairdresser! Because of the divorce I had NOT seen her at the funeral – because I did not attend the funeral. That day I learned the whereabouts of my son’s half-brother. They had been separated for seventeen years – a moment of Synchronicity brought them together and they are friends to this day.
As I was mulling over what to include in this blog I took a break to check-in on my friend, Johnny Houser, to see what new work he had posted while I was crossing the Atlantic. To my astonishment – his latest project deals with . . . Synchronicity!
No one tells a story in video format better than Johnny! [I'll post a Live-Link to 'The Spider Web' in the side bar ~*~ Look for it! ]
Or... Copy and Paste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;amp;v=jnCDptJbtxM
But beware! As the filmographer in the Jung YouTube production warns, ‘Too often they [events of synchronicity] pass unnoticed because the individual has not learned to watch for such coincidences.'
Synchronicity unlocks the past, and affirms the present. Is it happening around You? What synchronistic events have occurred in YOUR life?
“After a person dies, are they ‘gone’. . . I mean REALLY gone?”
This is an oft-asked question from those curious about The Other Side of the grave and grieving. My answer is, “Not always. Sometimes a person who has died is able to say, 'Hello', from Heaven.
While living in Budapest last summer I read the book, ‘Hello From Heaven’ by Phil and Judy Guggenheim. The book includes over 350 accounts from bereaved relatives and friends attesting to the Guggenheim’s that they had been contacted by a loved one after that loved one died.
It is interesting the ways in which these relatives and friends receive their 'Hello', from Heaven. For instance, the Guggenheim’s describe instances where butterflies flutter through churches during funeral services. The butterflies light on the casket of the deceased and then fly over and land on the hand of a mother, a father, a spouse.
These highly symbolic after-death-communications (or ADCs) may come as apparitions, they might be brought by birds, or they might have symbolic meaning such as coins that appear in unlikely locations, as in the case of the mother whose little boy died. The child was able to communicate his well being by placing dimes in unlikely locations for relatives to find. When ‘Hello From Heaven’ was published the family of that particular little boy had found over 600 dimes – on the sidewalk, in the seat cushions of restaurants. How many dimes have YOU found in your life? Once I found seven dollars rolled up (a five and two ones) but I’ve never found 600 dimes – even tallied with my whole family. It turned out that a dime was the little boy’s allowance when he died; thus the significance of the ‘find’ and the conviction that finding a dime was the little boy’s 'Hello' from Heaven.
An ADC is a little more involved than seeing an apparition of a relative who has passed on, which was my own first experience with the supernatural. When I saw the apparition of my deceased grandfather the summer after his death, there was no symbolic moment, no interplay or exchange, which makes ADCs poignant, as well as reassuring, to the living.
There have been a couple of after-death-communication experiences in my family. My sister-in-law, Jenny, experienced the most intriguing one. She had been caring for an elderly aunt whose children lived quite a distance away. Jenny was devoted to this aunt; they often went out to lunch, the woman was a trusted confidante, and as the aunt’s health failed, Jenny became her guardian and caretaker, nursing her through her decline.
Finally, the aunt had a health crisis that required she be hospitalized and Jenny called the adult children in, from out-of-state, to warn them of their mother’s imminent death. Jenny was exhausted from the stress and sadness that overcame her and was relived – on some levels – to turn the job of the hospital-death-watch over to the adult children once they arrived.
Jenny’s aunt slipped into a coma by the end of the week and Jenny went home to sleep and wait for the ‘final word’ while her cousin took over the vigil. At three in the morning Jenny’s phone rang. She grappled for the receiver in her sleep but the record-a-call clicked on. By the time Jenny got the receiver to her ear, a voice was speaking, “Jenny. I want to let you know that I’m fine.” It was her aunt! Jenny told me it felt as though she had been struck by lightning! She sat up in bed, suddenly quite awake. She looked at the clock, she clutched at the receiver.
Her first reaction was, “She’s better!” Although logic certainly would defy that the elderly woman, made frail by her ailments, would have the wherewithal to prop herself up, grab the phone and dial Jenny’s number.
The next day Jenny realized that something more in the supernatural range had taken place; although she didn’t process it as an ADC for many years. The reality was that her aunt passed away peacefully in the early morning hours as her son held her hand. She never did regain consciousness. And, she certainly did not make any death bed phone calls!
On a wave length of their own, Jenny and her aunt had ‘connected’ so that her aunt could reassure her.
You ask, “What about the recording from when the answering machine clicked on?” It registered that a call indeed came in at three in the morning – but the message on the machine was static and not discernible.
The one-time message was meant only for Jenny.
Have YOU had a 'Hello From Heaven' experience? Then, I would love to hear from You!
Yes, there IS a Ghost Matrix.
Let me begin by reminding you that there are six major categories of hauntings – from Residual hauntings where the ‘energy’ of a traumatic event is trapped in place – think of Lizzie Borden’s House** on this one – to Poltergeist activity; and Demon activity, Shadow People, Doppelganger’s, and Intelligent/Interactive hauntings (http://www.trueghosttales.com/types-hauntings.php)
The phenom that grabs my interest this morning is the hauntings that take place in what I am going to dub as The Ghost Matrix.
By my definition The Ghost Matrix can overlap into any of the six classic haunting scenarios.
My ruminations on The Ghost Matrix began when I read an on-line story about a woman who saw – over a series of incidents – the bottom half (button-top shoes and hoop skirt) of an 19th Century-dressed woman sitting on the edge of an iron-framed antique bed. The 'bottom half' of this vision seemed to float mid-air in the woman’s modern 20th Century home. The bed mattress and its coverlets and quilts were cut in half HORIZONTALLY (as was the female apparition's upper torso) by the modern woman’s ceiling.
Startled, but fascinated, by this floating vision the new home owner began to investigate the history of the property she had purchased (the actual land titles).
It turned out that her new 20th Century country rambler had replaced an old three-story 19th Century farmhouse, which had been razed.
Archived newspaper accounts described the murder of a 19th Century farmwoman and more recent newspaper accounts that the new homeowner located teased about the property being haunted by the spirit of the murdered farmwoman.
The apparition was caught in The Ghost Matrix – her surroundings at the time of HER life. At the time of her life her bedroom (on the 2nd floor) was where the high-ceiling dining room was in the modern woman's home!
There have been reporting’s of the heads of ghosts popping up out of floors where murders have taken place in basements and crawl spaces of re-built properties and other reported incidents when ‘our world’ overlaps in time and space with ‘the other world’.
The most obvious occurrence of The Ghost Matrix takes place when an apparition seems to walk through walls. The apparition is actually walking through a doorway – a doorway in THEIR world, in a dwelling or building from another time period.
If YOU have heard of The Ghost Matrix explained in other terms, or know of a Ghost Matrix manifestation, of course (!) I would love to hear from you. info(at)avHarrison-publishing.com
Thinking - outside the box -
** Visitors of the historic Lizzie Borden House are witness to dolls that move, cold spots, and even the voice of a female (Lizzie) saying things such as, "But, I'm a good daughter!" Are her protestations from her abusive, taunting parents caught in The Ghost Matrix?
I’ve just returned from six weeks of travel - travel that excluded connection to the world-wide web, I might add. But my travel did NOT exclude ‘the world beyond’ – the world of possibilities, probabilities and hotel poltergeists.
Starting out in mid-February I took a flight to Panama to meet up with Sissy for a two-week siblings cruise into the land of Caribbean voodoo and colorfully dressed women. We toured Cartagena, Columbia – and beyond – on a Spanish-language Royal Caribbean cruise. While in route I read all that I could about Marie Laveau, the Caribbean Voodoo Queen of the 1850s and my current literary muse for my next novel [release date October/November 2013]
Upon my return home from listening to the steel drums of the Caribbean I exchanged my Southern Hemisphere wardrobe of colorful silks and hibiscus-themed swimwear for formal wear, taffetas and frills. I was on my way to making my first Trans-Atlantic crossing – Thanks to my classical musician husband, The Maestro!
This Atlantic crossing, three-week-trip included cutting through 4,500 nautical miles of open sea from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon, Portugal. The crossing included gale force winds, rough seas – and much more. For nine days the Captain skirted one of this season’s biggest Atlantic storms, taking a Southern route thereby bypassing our first port of call – The Azores.
Nine days at sea can turn ordinary travelers into vivid storytellers and thus my first realization that cruise ships are haunted! One of the live-aboard entertainers on our cruise confided in me, upon learning of my avocation for the world beyond, that ghost-sightings on cruise ships were the norm, actually. Why? Because people die on cruise ships – routinely. Why, the very first morning we were at sea we were woken up at 8:30AM by a blaring voice-over on the shipboard intercom. It went like this:
“Bright Star! Bright Star! Bright Star! Room 7015, Room 7015!” Someone needed medical attention – Stat! Code Blue! They were dying! (Actually, I think the wonderful medical staff averted a tragedy on this one.)
I began to wonder though: What had transpired in Room 7015? Ghoulish gossip among guests about Room 7015 became the mainstay speculation for the remainder of the voyage. Our ‘Bright Star!’ moment also became the entre into numerous conversations about shipboard deaths and macabre musings. One frequent cruiser told of three deaths (three!) on a 70-day voyage that she had taken. The average age of the guests on her experience-of-a-lifetime cruise was 84 – and the cruising population does tend to be morbidly obese (another topic, for another day).
During my own maiden voyage across the Atlantic I heard tell of midnight wanderings of ghosts in ball gowns; and stacked plates that crashed to the galley floor under dead calm conditions; and the sounds of clinking champagne glasses at 3AM from the main dining rooms of certain cruise ships.
In subsequent blog entries I will expand on this theme, you can be assured! But to get us started I did some internet research on the haunting of cruise ships and came up with this little gem: The Sapphire Princess. [see side bar for live-link to the story of the Sapphire Princess]
Our final destination was Rome, where The Maestro and I honored our promise to The Trevi Fountain, returning to Rome after a nine-year absence. Our 1950s classic hotel was located on the Campo de Fiori Square of Rome facing a charming sideway of restaurants and high-end boutiques. It was anyone’s dream location – regardless of what side of the divide they were on. After checking in, the Maestro and I zipped open our luggage and pulled jammies out of our zip-mesh pouches. I stack my mesh pouches squarely in my suitcase with my cosmetics filling in the spaces – it’s all very tidy I can assure you. I went to bed with everything in its place – the mesh pouches zipped shut and everything in order though my suitcase lay open-faced on the luggage rack.
The next morning, as I slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the impeccable Italian marble floor I stopped short! One of my zip-mesh pouches was in the MIDDLE of the hotel room floor – smack in the middle! Had it hopped out of my suitcase on its own accord? What the. . .? We’re back to possibilities! Had we been visited by the Poltergeist of Campo de Fiori? I believe so!
Storytelling! I love a good story, one that weaves, and surprises, and makes either good economical use of the language, or waxes lyrical. Long sentences that meander, or short bursts and punches - I don't care! But tell me a story, or, even better let me tell you a story - and I am a very happy person.
It all started when I was in second grade - I wrote my first short story - complete with illustrations. It was entitled,
The Widow. Written at the prompting of my mother, The Widow included the elements of sadness, longing, hope, and finally - a Disneyland ending. ahhhh. My mother must have loved the ending because when she died in 2001 I found The Widow at the bottom of her keepsake drawer along with school papers, grade cards and love notes my siblings and I had given her as children.
What about YOU? What is YOUR Story? ... I mean something brings you to the site of a Ghost Hunter's Daughter! I invite you to stay in touch with me at info (at) avHarrison-Publishing.com.
[Work In Progress]
It's been several months since I've blogged about my upcoming Halloween 2013 release, Losing Sight: New Orleans in The Voodoo Era.
This will be my tenth title-release in three years (my first novel, JENKINS, released in eBook and paperback format in November 2010).
I realized over the past few months just how wildly frenetic I have been working - writing, running the publishing arm of my business, working with clients, monitoring the viability of an Amazon.com partnership and taking time for the joys of six grandchildren.
I now want to concentrate (only) on writing a captivating novel about one of the richest eras in New Orleans history - the Voodoo Era.
With a NaNoWriMo 2012 win serving as the 'wind at my back' and my social networking efforts pared down to manageable (you'll find me ONLY on Facebook, I've let go of one of my two Twitter accounts) I have confidence that my Halloween 2013 novel will be a breathtaking, sweeping saga that includes Carnival's swirling colors and Voodoo's deep, dark secrets. Add a pinch of sexuality and the Catholic Church and you're ready for a readable stroll through New Orleans more famous cemeteries via The Garden District.
If you want to reach me between now and my next blog post, my eMail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on my NaNoWriMo efforts? http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/emily-hill/novels/losing-sight-new-orleans-in-the-voodoo-era
For the past six months I have been researching Seattle’s Greenwood District properties that are known to be haunted. And, there are plenty of them. I have now been in direct contact with six of ten property owners whose stories I has documented. This is an account of research results that regard the property known as ‘Haunted House No. 5’.
The owner of Seattle’s ‘Haunted House No. 5’ stands on her front porch and smells the smoke that seems to hang in the air. Could it be the smell of smoke rising from the chimneys of neighboring houses? No. It’s mid-summer and Greenwood’s fireplaces have been swept clean from the previous winter.
The smell of smoke permeating the interior of ‘Haunted House No 5’ and its surrounding Greenwood neighborhood is a phenomenon that the homeowner has experienced on a number of occasions. She often asks herself “Where is the fire?” And, she reports, her across-the-street neighbor experiences the same 'I smell smoke' phenomenon.
She should be asking herself “When was the fire?” Based on facts that author Emily Hill uncovered this week about Seattle’s Greenwood district and its history of hauntings and ghost sightings the owner of ‘Haunted House No. 5’ is experiencing a residual haunting.
For those who experience a residual haunting, the sounds, smells, and visions felt of being in-the-moment of an originating event – most always a traumatic event – are as real as occurrences in their present day lives. Beatings, murders, and fires that result in death, often are replayed as residual hauntings.
A residual haunting – in the simplest terms – is the unsettling energy that hangs in the air at the location of a harrowing incident. It is very much like a recording that replays throughout history – in visual and audial terms to ‘Sensitives’, Mediums, and those attuned to The Other Side.
Let me relay to you my rendition of the history of Greenwood:
“Today Greenwood would like to be known as ‘The Antique District’ of North Seattle. However during the turn of the 20th Century Greenwood was the location of one of Seattle’s most notorious cemeteries, the Woodland Cemetery. This cemetery, established on land purchased by Seattle pioneer, Brewster Denny in 1893, encompassed a 160-acre tract of land lying on the west side of (now) Greenwood Avenue No. between North 85th Street and North 80th Street. The acreage (a township) ran at least as far west as NW 3rd Avenue. For approximately 17 years the Woodland Cemetery accepted bodies for burial. In 1907 the Association was disbanded the cemetery. The property was sold to developers. The resultant improvements to the township included Greenwood Elementary School and two housing divisions.”
This past week I set out for University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library. I believe that I have solved the mystery of the why the owner of Haunted House No. 5 smells smoke and experiences the feeling that there is a fire burning in the neighborhood:
The smoke that the homeowner can smell is from a fire that took place over 100 years ago, around 1905. It’s a residual haunting. The fire is described in the book, ‘Pig-tail Days in Old Seattle’ by Sophie Frye Bass and Florenz Clark. http://www.amazon.com/Pig-Tail-Days-Seattle-Sophie-Frye/dp/0832302066
&amp;quot;The name Greenwood brings to mind a gruesome tale (which authors Bass and Clark describe). Many years ago at the city limits was Woodland Cemetery... [where] A huge fire engulfed the area and the ‘heavens were aglow. . .&amp;quot;
In the Bass and Clark account this engulfing blaze brought unfortunate opportunity in the way of insurance fraud to two grave robbers using a cadaver from the Woodland Cemetery to make a death claim.
To me, it brought the confirmation of a huge Greenwood area inferno that ravaged the land north of Seattle’s downtown.
Here is more from Bass and Clark's manuscript, &amp;quot;Later the bodies of THOSE BURNED AT THE CEMETERY [emphasis mine] were removed and the land platted into city lots.&amp;quot; According to the Bass and Clark account the avenue was renamed Greenwood after the fire. Did the fire sweep OVER the cemetery at the westward corner of North 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue?
The North Seattle fire that ‘engulfed the area’ may be photo-documented in a second book about Seattle, ‘Seattle’s Greenwood-Phinney Neighborhood’ by Ted Pedersen. On page 15 of Pedersen’s book there is a photograph of the Woodland Grocery Flour and Feed store. In the foreground of the image are heavily charred big timber stumps. Evidence of the &amp;lt;1905 fire?
If you are interested in Greenwood’s Ghost stories, or know of Seattle’s haunted history; particularly the Greenwood fire that ‘engulfed the area’, please contact me!
I can be reached at info@avHarrison-Publishing.com.
A rapping, rapping, rapping at the door. And, at the most inconvenient time – 3:00AM. A shadowy figure from another era that lurks outside a Greenwood cottage is what led the Seattle home owners on a quiet NW 82nd Street to contact the author of ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’.
A Spirit Dog accompanies the dark figure that began visiting the elderly resident of Haunted House No. 8 three years ago. Days after, the woman learned that this ‘visit’ occurred at the moment a cousin with whom she had shared a close, loving relationship passed to. . . The Other Side.
The woman relays the experience in an email received by the author this week, 'The first experience occurred approximately two years ago with loud banging knocking at [the] outside door around 3 am. The knocking was at the French doors of her cottage. These knocks woke [her] out of a sound sleep and she focused on the loudness of the sounds with nothing outside the door upon looking. She was certain that the knocking was on the French door glass and was concerned with the knocking breaking the glass. The knocks were multiple. [We] later heard that a cousin had past away . . .and . . . attributed this knocking to her death.'
A more recent occurrence at Haunted House No. 8 is explained thusly: 'The second occurrence [happened] again in the late night/early morning. [She] woke in a twilight state but was able to see the outside through the French doors with the drapes partially askew. Again, there were loud multiple knocks at the French doors. Facing the French doors, [she] saw a dog standing outside of the doors, looking in. The dog was leashed and the leash was held by a tall, dark male figure standing to the side of the French doors and was obscured by the side of the building. He appeared to be wearing dark robes and was the height of the French doors. [! – editor’s exclamation] He was holding the leash attached to a dog [the species of] which [she] has never seen before.'
Emily Hill, known locally as ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’, began tracking haunted locations after beginning publication of her ghost stories series. Coming to the realization that the Greenwood cottage she lived in for 13 years (1986 – 1999) was surrounded by other houses where hauntings had been reported, she began her search for an explanation of the supernatural occurrences. Research led her to accounts of other Greenwood-area hauntings and prompted a series of press releases that led three Greenwood residents to her.
This week Hill learned of ghost sightings at Greenwood Elementary School, located at 3rd Avenue NW and NW 80th Street (Haunted Location No. 7), and was contacted by the owner of Haunted House No. 8.
The prolific author has scheduled a meeting with the owner of Haunted House No. 5. The owner of Haunted House No. 5 has lived in her 1923-era Greenwood cottage for 15 years. She reports knocking on the walls of her home and other paranormal activity – objects that move, or are displaced.
In 1907 this North Seattle neighborhood was a densely wooded bog, inhabited by vagrants and such living in shanties and cooking out in the open. At that time the area was named ‘Woodland’ attributing to its dense (and dark) Pacific Northwest surroundings. As Seattle expanded, at the turn of the century, the area north of 80th Street was annexed to the City of Seattle. This annexation included the 160-acre tract where Woodland Cemetery was located.
The owner of 'Haunted House No. 5' believes that the source of her torment is the spirits of bodies that had been buried adjacent to Woodland Cemetery.
“I am very anxious to meet with the owner of 'Haunted House No. 5' later today, and to ultimately meet the owner of Haunted House No. 8,” exclaims Ms. Hill. “The current occupants of the eight properties I have located share the common thread of history, and a proclivity of being able to connect with those who want to return from The Other Side.”
I write about her own experiences, and publish the stories that I hear about ghost sightings and paranormal happenings. All of my books are available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.
You may eMail me at
This week I am going to meet the owner of Haunted House No. 5.
For the past year I have been tracking homes in my former neighborhood, Greenwood, that are said to be haunted. The owner of Haunted House No. 5 contacted me this past week, and I cannot wait to meet her and hear her story.
Although I don’t plan to reveal her identity or address, I will say that she and I have very similar life-profiles and that her house is located several blocks west of the Greenwood cottage that I lived in from 1986-1999. Thirteen years. It will be interesting to hear her story and how she is coping in a house that is “very active” since paranormal investigators visited the house last week. For the sake of this story – this series – I will refer to her as CS. No address, no age, no personal notes other than her story about the house and what I have learned from third parties that brought the house she owns to my attention.
I first learned about Haunted House No. 5 from the Director of the Crown Hill Cemetery thirteen months ago (December 2012). It had taken many years for the theory that the happenings at my house, located at 708 No. 82nd St., Seattle, WA [now razed in favor of an expansive family home], had to do with burial grounds. The theory simply came to me like a moment of enlightenment. I had been musing over the fact that four houses on the block had reports of hauntings and exorcisms. I began my research into what had ‘been’ on the land prior to construction of my 1907 cottage. The lid blew off my findings when I came across a clip about the Woodland Cemetery which was closed in. . .1907. The Woodland Cemetery lay in a 160-acre swatch of land outside the Seattle city limits in a township that was configured to the east, toward the lowlands of Green Lake. The gates to Woodland Cemetery were situated at 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue (then named ‘Woodland Avenue’. The 160-acres were just outside the Seattle City limits in a densely wooded, marshy area. Woodland Avenue was a wide, packed dirt road that led out of town. . .to the cemetery.
I learned, thirteen months ago, that because developers had their eye on the land north of the Seattle City limits, the cemetery grounds were annexed and platted into two housing developments. Obviously in order to make room for hundreds of wood frame cottages that would accommodate Seattle’s growing population, the bodies interred at Woodland Cemetery would have to be moved. The Secretary of State gave the Woodland Cemetery Association 30-days to move the bodies to Crown Hill Cemetery. The caskets were dug up, and loaded onto a horse-drawn wagon, which lumbered the mile and a half distance to the Crown Hill Cemetery. Some records say seventeen graves were dug up, some accounts list many more. And therein lies the puzzle of Woodland Cemetery. Was thirty days enough time to ensure that all the bodies were located, and re-interred before developers came in with thousands of yards of dirt necessary to re-level the marshy land of Woodland Cemetery?
The Director of the Crown Hill Cemetery told me, during my meeting with him, that 'another woman from the same neighborhood' had contact him. Her mission was to find out who had been buried under her house during the Woodland Cemetery era...'Were there plot maps of the burials?' she asked him. He promised to set out information for their next visit, but she never returned and he had lost track of her name over time.
CS located me while beginning anew her own research into the Greenwood neighborhood. She contacted me through my news release service. We will see what tales unfold about Haunted House No. 5 – next week as I meet CS for the first time.
Thus far I have located eight houses in the Woodland Cemetery area that host hauntings. These hauntings include kitchen cabinets creaking open and then slowly closing, as though unseen hands are pulling out dishes and preparing meals; sink faucets that turn on, splashing water into empty sinks while residents cower across the expanse of the kitchens; door knobs that turn in the dead of the night, and incidents so horror-filled that the owners will not speak of them. Stay tuned.
If you would like to contact me, I can be reached at info@avHarrison-Publishing[dot]com.
I have two wildly compelling projects in front of me and must decide which one to begin the year with:
Several months ago I was contacted by a research historian, Douglas Parsons, who had discovered Civil War correspondence written by the woman that my debut novel, Jenkins was based on. [The Jenkins of Baltimore, adapted and based on a true story].
In Parson Family correspondence between my Eliza Jenkins, the wife of Col. C.T. Jenkins, and Mrs. Parsons of Bayport, Florida, the two women discuss the travel they find necessary to convince their Confederate husbands (in person) to sign the hated Oath of Allegiance so that both men can be released from prison, and return home to their families.
Imagine my sheer joy at the discovery of these letters! Written 150 years ago they tell the story of hardship, stubbornness, and longing. They also outline the post-prison-release plans and itinerary of a man who had not been back to his home - Baltimore, MD - since leaving as a young man thirty years earlier.
When I originally published Jenkins, I crafted an ending that I felt was plausible, but that lacked substantiation. The REAL story, as revealed by historical documents, tells of a bull-headed man, angry about the outcome of the war and an equally stubborn woman - twenty years his junior - who has no intention of raising their children by herself. So, off to Fort Warren prison she goes - dependent upon the wealth of her Vermont family - and the influence of her husband's Baltimore family - to see her through.
Equally compelling as a project is the needed reWrite of my NaNoWriMo novel to ready it for Halloween 2013 publishing. Losing Sight: New Orleans in The Voodoo Era holds wild, exciting promise and the opportunity for research, which I love doing.
Flip a coin? Which storyline will call me back to my writer's desk in 2013? The Civil War or Voodoo in New Orleans?
Stay tuned, and please come back to visit me and check on my progress.
Losing Sight: When Voodoo Ruled New Orleans
What does it take to be a winner in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) contest? It takes different elements across many different facets of an author’s life. Don’t let any author tell you that being a NaNoWriMo Participant is easy – it’s not!
These are the elements that put me in the Winner’s Circle this Year: Lots of Comfort Food; A pre-planned Plot line; Physical Endurance; and an ability to Limit the Drama (which I failed at!)
Comfort food for a one-hundred-seven pound Drama Diva? To get me through NaNoWriMo it took two cases of beer (and I don’t ordinarily drink – but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do!); ice cream, whipped cream over heated grapes and walnuts (yummy!) and that’s just getting started!
I was sailing Day 1 through Day 13! After that, every gremlin, every friggin’ little monster, and every mandatory social obligation seemed to stand between me and the ‘Finish Line of NaNoWriMo 2012’.
Talk about comfort food - first (and for all USA authors) – there’s Thanksgiving and visiting relatives. What does a writer have to do to ‘Write Forward’ so that the two – or four - days of Thanksgiving can be spent with relatives and friends, without sacrificing NaNo? It’s ghastly to have to think about upping one’s daily output ratio to 2,000 words a day, mixed with grocery store lines, decisions at the deli counter. But, that is what it takes in increased word count in the days before Thanksgiving to make up for the moments you’re bonding with your relatives instead of your NaNo characters.
The Maestro (I’m married to a classical musician – professor) and I relied on a Thanksgiving Graze, for our twelve Thanksgiving guests. A ‘graze’ is basically an announcement at the door when guests arrive that goes something like this, “The beer and wine is in the refrigerator, the glasses are in the cupboard to the right!” Well, we were maybe a little more formal than that but none of the roast turkey, with all the trimmings, for us.
For Drama I had a few little tumbles and stumbles to distract me from my 50,000 word novel. Drama Number One – The Maestro needed eye surgery and a tiny bit of Nurse Ratched was called for on my part. But he is pretty self-sufficient, so it was back to the typewriter for me after the first day of invalid-ness.
Then, for Drama Number Two, a Gorilla pounced on my poor little caged life. Yes, if you are writing 50,000 words in one month, your life is caged, corralled, hemmed in – pick your synonym. If you are my friend, if you follow my work, you KNOW how much my Amazon success has meant to me, right? Well by October, and through November, kdp Amazon was faced with a series of computer meltdowns and “glitches” [Bezos’ explanation] that resulted in lost book sales for thousands of authors, and vanishing buy-now buttons from Amazon’s book-product pages. This catastrophe resulted in my slide from a Top 10% Amazon author to a Top 60% Amazon author (err.. ha. ha.)
Believe me, not many Top 60% authors are selling books these days. So in the middle of my NaNoWriMo novel (at word 27,357 to be exact) I decided to pay Jeff Bezos back for the suffering and insecurity I was going through and switched from my NaNo efforts to organizing a website for disenfrancized kdp Authors. ‘err, Jeff Bezos, the Gorilla, didn’t seem to care that I was thumping his chest! Go Figure! So, after my rage tantrum of ten days it was back to full-bore NaNoWriMo.
I was beginning to fall behind on Day 18 when I got a gold nugget of advice from my WriMo Coach, Kim Votry. “It only takes two hours a day!” She observes drily . . and she’s The Coach! So, I put it all in perspective, cranked my time commitment to my NaNo novel to THREE hours a day and was back on track by Day 23.
But, I wasn’t exercising, my back hurt from sitting still and typing for three hours a day – in addition to doing the computer work necessary to keep up with my book marketing. Well, my book sales were not registering anyway, so I had the light bulb moment, “Why market when you really don’t know where the sales are going anyway?” I made the cut-bait decision to turn all of my attention exclusively to a NaNoWriMo win - to the exclusion of my (a) fight with Amazon over lost sales records and (b) my impotent marketing efforts. My life became bearable on Day 24.
By Day 26 I had capped my desire for Pilsner and Hefeweizen, switched to lemonade for symbolic reasons, and picked up a new exercise routine that took only five minutes, four times a day. I closed out my kdp Amazon Comments (Complaint) Board dialogue thread and put my Kindlegate.webstarts site on auto-pilot.
By Day 28 I had a collection of words – 50,547 to be exact – that told the story of a New Orleans Ingenue tormented by a Voodoo Queen, a demented Catholic priest, and an ancestral poltergeist.
And it all seems to work – in the most exciting, colorful way – New Orleans style!
Release date? September 2013.
Oh, how I love to play with words.
Get it?? ;D Take a Peek at Losing Sight??
Here for your enjoyment, you Wonderful Friend You!... is an excerpt sampling of my WIP - unplugged, unedited!
I think you'll get an idea of how excited I am regarding my UPCOMING NOVEL!!
Losing Sight, Chapter Excerpts
Chapter One closing lines:
Madeleine’s deep sigh fills the lonely space of her bedroom and bitter tears sting her eyes.
“Evangeline is gone, and I am nearly blind. What is to become of us, Bon-Bon?”
The intuitive feline places her paw in Madeleine’s outstretched palm.
The young ingenue swipes at her tears despondently, “I’ll be blind by the dead of next winter, at the latest.”
A shadow passes under her bedroom door .
“Grandmere?” She calls out for solace. Grandmere, are you there?
Chapter Two closing lines:
Father Vivenzio scuttles down the circular drive, and along the sidewalk, past Lafayette Cemetery as the two women watch his departure. Trepidation prevents the padre from looking across the lawn toward the Calais Mausoleum, with its imposing silhouette. But it does not prevent him from hearing crows mocking him from the cemetery.
“Caw!” “Caw!” They chatter among themselves, plotting his torment. Suddenly the rangiest crow swiftly flies toward the squat rector who waves his hands wildly to deflect the brazen black bird.
“Caw! “Caw!” The crows laugh as he runs to the corner of Washington Avenue, the skirt of his robes tangling in the wind.
Chapter Three closing lines:
“I’ll give it some thought, Father. But losing Madeleine prematurely could hardly been seen as a comfort to me,” whispers Mme. Calais as she leads him to the door.
Chapter Four closing lines:
“My goodness, Miss! You certainly have left a mess of clothing for me to pick up! Couldn’t you rightly decide on which tea dress to wear?”
Madeleine, as shocked as her maid, is dismayed as she realizes that her mourning gowns have been flung from her wardrobe, land are lying disheveled on the bedroom floor.
She looks over her shoulder, trying to locate her faithful cat, “Bon-Bon?” Could it be?
Chapter Five closing lines:
“What the. . .? Father Vivenzio notices something strange ahead on the neat wrought iron fence. Something hanging. He stares at it quizzically, wondering what it could be. Instantly the realization strikes him like a bolt of lightning, generating terror, as he approaches the gates of the Calais Cemetery and Mausoleum. He nearly stops walking... (if he could walk backwards he would. If he could move backward into time, he surely would have done that as well.
He swears aloud, “God damn it! God damn it to the gates of Hell!” A hand-stitched doll, strung up with black ribbon, hangs on the fleur-de-lis at the cemetery entrance, with rough black-cross stitches for eyes, a small white button nose, tiny red crosses stitched for a mouth. The doll is adorned with tiny seed beading and rough-cut booties. It was a doll that could fit in the palm on one’s hand, to be slipped into someone's pocket during an embrace. A voodoo doll.
Chapter Six Closing lines ~ Voodoo at St. John's Bayou ~ Earlier
The mangroves cast shadows over the clusters of brutalized humanity – freed each week for a half-day of Sabbath – a voodoo Sabbath. Once darkness falls only their bursts of laughter identify one from another. Red flashes and licks of flame from the bonfire light their faces - revealing their behavior of wild abandon.
On the edge of the St. John bayou the drumbeats continue, the rhythm a hypnotic, sensual drone, enhancing their sacred space. Snakes and field mice scratch their way through the undergrowth, the fearless and the fearful, chasing and being chased.
Chapter Seven Closing lines - Voodoo at St. John's Bayou ~ Later
He looks skyward, just as his activity with the young woman comes to an end. As he returns to his surroundings his eyes widen, coming into sharp focus on the woman who stands before him, clothed in lavishly-colorded ceremonial dress. She stares down at him in bemusement. With his last thrust completed the priest pushes the young woman forward, causing her to land face first in the sand, her knees and elbows giving away to the unexpected and unceremonious uncoupling.
Yes, for one month I will be introducing myself as a 'WriMo' - I have joined the National Novel Writing Month movement.
For the month of November my fingers will FLY across the keyboard, I will pace, I will drink coffee, tea, and cocoa.
My hang-out will become the 'Red Petal' cupcake shoppe on Main Street! It will be fun, frustrating, and frantic!
The goal? Write a 50,000 word novel in ONE month!
As my project I have crafted the following synopsis to work on for the next 30 days. I hope that you will help me with plot twist suggestions, ideas on how to hide the poltergeist, reveal the dark forces one chapter at a time, and give a certain colorful tinge to voodoo in 1850s New Orleans.
Losing Sight - Synopsis
This novella is about a young Catholic ingénue, Madeleine Calais, who lives in 1850s New Orleans. As she slowly goes blind Madeleine is tormented by a poltergeist who terrorizes the young woman and Victoria Calais, Madeleine's elderly grandmother.
To contain the poltergeist activity which is affecting the household, Madeleine is sent away to a New Orleans convent - the result of an agreement between her ailing grandmother and the parish priest, Father LeRoux. Through Father LeRoux, Madeleine is befriended by Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans who has close ties to the Catholic Church.
Madeleine becomes Laveau’s influential assistant – and confidante. And it is Marie Laveau who helps Madeleine discover the personae behind the poltergeist, while the reader, on the other hand, is (hopefully) kept guessing.
THE Ghost Chaser's Daughter, a $5.99 value, *FREE*
First of all, I'd like to Thank You if You have come on over to visit Me at my Haunted House. It's a very brave thing that You have done. While you're here - Test the Tabs - Look around!
Secondly, I would like to Thank You for your interest in my posts, and in my writing.
TO KICK OFF the Halloween Season - I am offering ... THIS Friday ONLY ... Free copies of 'The Ghost Chaser's Daughter' in eBook format from the Amazon.com site.
ALL of the short stories I have written in the vein of Folklore, Tales, Autobiography, and Horror are NOW (and for 24-hours) available as a TREAT to YOU for being my friend!
While You're here on My Doorstep You Say, Trick or Treat ... and I pop a book in your candy basket! Fun, isn't it?
So! At 12:01AM on Friday Morning and throughout Friday, YOU should grab a copy and Go To That Halloween Party You have on Your calendar with every variation of Ghost Story possible! , Tell your friends to grab a copy, too!
Oh...and could I ask a favor?? If You 'Like' THIS offer, could you click the little Amazon 'Like' thumb while you're on the page of The Ghost Chaser's Daughter?
~ Emily Hill, The Ghost Chaser's Daughter ~
While writing my ghost stories series (which is now available on Amazon, of course) I never had an opportunity to take a class, or attend a presentation, on ‘Paranormal Occurrences’. I write all of my ghost stories from pure first-hand experiences detailed in newspaper archives and my own encounters with entities that are making an attempt to cross back over into The Land of The Living.
Yesterday, while attending my hometown writer’s conference, 'Write On The Sound', I had my first chance to take a course on Paranormal Writing. I seized the opportunity and came face to face with an experienced ghost hunter! His name is Neil McNeill of ‘Paranormal Research And Education’ http://www.neilmcneill.com.
In his 90-minute class I learned historical facts about ghosts in literature, why we are drawn to the ghost stories experience, and (among many other topics) the difference between Poltergeists, Hauntings, and Apparitions. Because my stories center on these three paranormal dynamics I was particularly interested in what Neil had to say.
From my notes:
Poltergeist is German for ‘noisy spirits’. Poltergeist activity centers around an ‘agent’ (one individual who is invariably present when the Poltergeist activity occurs. In ‘Ghost Stories And the Unexplained: Book One’ I describe an evening with a Poltergeist that my mother experiences. Although it gained me a one-star review from ‘Aurora’ for depicting (exclusively) a dysfunctional family, indeed the environment that I grew up in was dysfunctional, violence-laced and, as such, created the perfect habitude for Poltergeist activity. Poltergeist activity will ‘move around’ from location to location, unlike Hauntings.
Hauntings ‘stick’ to one location. Most notably described as ‘residual hauntings’ a horrific event will trigger hauntings. Such events include the hauntings at the Gettysburg battlefield, the hauntings that take place at the Lizzie Borden house, and many more locations where taunting, abuse, and even murder occur. ‘Turkey Creek’ is a story I wrote that depicts a haunting that took place on my great-grandmother’s farm in Peebles, Ohio. Although the young Civil War ingénue who haunted the upper banks of Turkey Creek never interacted directly with me, or my ancestors, her actions (of jumping from the high bank into the swirling Moccasin-snake inhabited waters of Turkey Creek) was the catalyst for tragedies that occurred on the Jones homestead.
Apparitions represent energy that survives the body. It is Apparitions that I believe Einstein postulated that the Universe holds a fixed level of energy. By fixed level I mean that when one entity looses energy another entity, or entities, gain(s) that energy; this includes the energy that leaves one’s body upon death. Apparitions are most fascinating because of their history of interaction with humans. According to McNeill there are ‘crisis apparitions’ and interactive apparitions. An example of a ‘crisis apparition’ is a vision one might have at a loved one’s moment of death. You receive a call, a knock at the door – and the person contacting you, you learn, had died at the moment you received their ‘company’. The one Apparition experience that is included in ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’ is Little Dead Girl. This story is about an Apparition that made twilight visits to the playroom of one of my neighbor’s children in the Greenwood District of Seattle.
Of course, if you follow my blog and news releases, you know that Greenwood’s history begins with its being platted on the abandoned Woodland Cemetery in 1907. That year, 1907, was the year that my Greenwood cottage was built. And we all know what happened at my Greenwood cottage between the years 1986 and 1999, right?
I began 'collecting' Seattle's haunted houses last year and have now - with this story - located the Seventh house with its first-hand story. I hope you like it. This is a True Story.
SEVENTH HOUSE And . . . A Ghost!
Seattle, Wallingford District
I was at the retirement party of a friend last week, seated next to a Seattle couple who had an interesting story.
This story was told by the wife, Meg, as her husband, Lars, layered the tale with personal observations of his experience with . . . a ghost!
Lars had owned a home in Seattle's Wallingford District in the 1990's. A turn-of-the 20th Century house, it had stood for over one hundred years and had the rich history that one would expect from one of The Emerald City's oldest neighborhoods.
Lars had not been married to Meg during the 1990s. A widower, he was raising his 17 year old daughter on his own when all this happened. He had found the old Craftsman-style house in Wallingford a few months after his wife had passed away, and that is when our story begins.
One morning, Just after Lars and his daughter moved in to their Seattle home, he was downstairs in the country kitchen. Lars was startled by the sound of footsteps upstairs. Footsteps that were much heavier than that of his daughter, a ballerina and art student. His first thought was, "Intruders!" even though logic would have told him that the classic layout of a Craftsman had the living quarters downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs. With the front door bolted, there was no way for an intruder to have gained entrance to their house without having gone past Lars, in the kitchen.
Lars dashed upstairs! The only thing on his mind was saving his daughter from peril! Upon reaching the top landing he realized there was only peaceful calm upstairs, his daughter was sleeping soundly, and undisturbed in her pink canopy-bed.
Over the next few days hearing footsteps upstairs - even though no one was in the bedrooms, or upstairs bath, became routine So routine that Lars went out and bought a gun in case someone. . . somehow. . . WAS getting into the house. He warned his daughter to be very vigilant about locking the doors and windows every evening.
At the point that Lars was at his wits end, running up and down the stairs - 'chasing sounds' - he saw him! The intruder! Storming up the stairs to his daughter's room after hearing noises Lars was caught short by the terrifying sight of a man sitting on the edge of the bed, staring into space!
What was weird was that Lars could see THROUGH the man. It didn't take more than a moment for Lars to realize that his new home was inhabited by a ghost. It was the former owner, Mr. Anderson, who was in no hurry to vacate - to The Other Side. Mr. Anderson was 86-years old and had died in the Wallingford house, after raising his family there. Mr. Anderson became such a feature in the house that Lars and his daughter shared their space with him openly, discussing him and what they had learned of his history freely in the presence of the apparition. They accepted him, in a sense.
Slowly, over the next month, Mr. Anderson appeared less frequently, until one day Lars and his daughter realized that they had not seen him for maybe a week or more. Confident that he was leaving his Wallingford home to dedicated residents - Mr. Anderson was able to leave his house to Lars and his daughter and join his own family Beyond The Grave.
I am so tickled to be able to announce the release of The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter, just in time for Halloween! The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter is written for fans of folklore and the supernatural.
I’ve drawn on the writing of Patricia Highsmith, and Alfred Hitchcock for inspiration for my supernatural series. The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter is a dual-release, actually: It is the first paperback I’ve published in over a year. But it is the title I’ve also used to represent the (eBook) writing that I did while living in Budapest, Hungary this summer. (Yes! I lived in Budapest!)
For inclusion in the eBook edition of The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter, I have selected five short stories. I hope that these descriptions whet your appetite for Halloween treats and lots of Supernatural and Ghost Story reading!
Checkmate! How feverishly brutal can one marriage become? Charles and Clare, an elderly Seattle couple, provide us with the answer to this riddle in Checkmate! Charles, with his failing eyesight and frustrating deafness parses with Clare, his beauty-queen wife of past, as she plots her escape from the richly appointed manor which has become her prison. Checkmate! When is a marriage worth more than a thirty-six dollar check, but less than a successful chess move?
Lightning Strikes. Poor Dennis Sheridan, Florida-native. Considering what he has been through he does not need a suspicious officer of the law on his doorstep asking about his wife of twenty-eight years; particularly as he brushes the dirt from her grave off of his hands.
To Kill Ivan Gorsky. Written as a salute to the Hungarian revolution attempt of October 1956. Who is Ivan Gorsky and why would even angels want him dead? Tour the Budapest Opera House and spend the night in the company of this Russian intelligence agent as he faces performance hall angels, and his own devils. You’ll soon see why the mission was always, To Kill Ivan Gorsky.
Chunya And The Hungarian. Witch. “Oh! She’s so ugly!” And, at this exclamation from neighbors, the new mother beamed at her newborn daughter. Learn why – from the beginning of all folklore and legends – little girls from the Hungarian village of ́Opusztaszer are so. . . “Chunya!”
I love hearing from my friends and readers, so if you would like to contact me - just drop me an eMail!
My address is email@example.com. Want to share blogs? Have a ghost story to share with my readers? Let me hear from you!
The 'Ghost of the Canals'
In Prague a bronze phantom sits at the end of a dock under Karlov Most [Charles Bridge].
"Who is this lifeless form?" you ask.
He is the 'Ghost of the Canals'. . .the welcomed guest of all property owners along the Moldau River who wish to be protected from floods. You see. offering protection to property owners - in exchange for a good time on THIS side of The Portal - is this ghost’s stock and trade.
But... Young women. . .Beware of this dapper gentleman! You will know him by his greenish cast, and his red slippers! Surely he might flirt with you in the coffee shops or cafes of Prague. But, it is the 'Ghost of the Canals' who comes back to life!
Legend has it that. . . should you fall victim of this ghost’s charms. . . he will spend the day with you, only to toss you into the canals as the clock strikes midnight!
Why would he carry out such a dastardly deed? Because as your soul leaves your body, he grabs it for his own in order to walk the streets of Prague. . . for yet another day!
The Ghost of the Abandoned Soldier
Long, long ago in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire there lived a soldier loyal to Queen Maria Theresa. And, just as the Queen had this soldier’s allegiance, the soldier believed he had the devotion of one particular village maiden.
But alas, the maiden’s loyalty was in question.
Here is the story of the 'Ghost of the Abandoned Soldier'.
It seems this particular soldier was sent off to protect the territory of the Habsburg Queen. He left on his stead with assurances of fidelity from his Prague lass. It was the intention of our young soldier to come back a hero, claim the woman as his bride, and raise a family that would be envied by all. But, like so many soldiers, he was away simply too long and another handsome man – a court ambassador – caught the eye of Prague’s unfortunate young lady. It was THIS member of the Queen’s court who partook the joys of the nuptial bed with the lass.
Upon returning home, our soldier became enraged as he realized his dreams of 'happily ever after' had been dashed! His betrothed’s disloyalty – and the advances of her suitor – had to be punished. And so the soldier killed them both, using a sword bearing the Queen’s seal.
It was a horrid scene, blood and gore and the like. Witches were called upon to sit in judgment of the soldier. True, he had killed two people very much in love, and true as well, he himself was a victim. What to do to even the scales?
The witches decided to turn the soldier into a ghost, sentenced to wander the streets of Prague in loneliness for an eternity. So, most assuredly, he spends his days now, gazing enviously at the young lovers of Prague.
But, the witches also must have felt a certain bit of justice in the soldier’s deed. Maybe that is why they allow him to come back to life once each century – and for one midnight hour. It is at this moment, every one hundred years that he may kiss the lips of one young visitor to Prague. Will it be this night that he comes to life?
And, if so will it be you, or maybe your sister, or daughter, who kisses the Queen’s soldier. . . this century?
Twenty-Seven Heads, Twenty-Seven Ghosts
Twenty-seven ghosts haunt the Church of St. Nicholas in the aging City of Prague. The year was 1618 and the Thirty Year War between the Catholics and Protestants was just beginning. The Protestants were plotting to usurp the stranglehold of power that the Catholics held over the land of the Habsburg Empire.
Twenty-Seven brave and daring conspirators were bent on leading an insurrection against the papacy, and the mighty Habsburgs. It was a foolhardy decision, as we shall see.
Somewhere among this lot was a loyalist to the Queen who revealed the plot to the throne. And – to make this story quite short – all twenty-seven were rounded up by the Queen’s men and summarily beheaded for their overly ambitious move against the monarch.
Their headless ghosts, angry, crazed and frenetic, can now be seen swirling in all directions through the Church of St. Nicholas each night after midnight by visitors to the historic baroque cathedral.
TO DEMONSTRATE MY DEDICATION to bringing my readers true accounts of authentic ghost sightings, I'm heading out!
Yes! 'Bye, Bye Miss American Pie'...
On 09 July 2012 I am leaving for Budapest to find out if what they say about the folklore, and stories of haunted bridges and byways of Budapest is true.
I will stay in Europe's leading Host of Haunts for two months...but I will include on my itinerary: Vienna, Transylvania, Szeged and follow the trail of World War II peasant girls who, in memoir, speak of Devils, Beasts, and Poltergeists of the Carpathian Basin.
I know that each of You wish me well...I'll be back in time for the Halloween book season with a NEW (soft cover) book that Kathi Humphries is designing for me, and entitled:
'Ghost Chaser's Daughter'.
Kiss, Kiss. Watch for Travel Posts.
Nearly 100 people in the United States die each year from lightning strikes. This is a story of one such instance.
“Get off the God-damned phone, for Christ’s sake!”
Dennis Sheridan’s piss-off heightened when his wife, Kathy, murmured, “I’m talking to my sister,” wiping tears from her face as she tipped back and forth in her rocking chair.
Lowering his voice he continued to hiss, “What the hell do you need to report everything to Becky, that bitch?”
Kathy shrugged and a sob caught in her throat.
A flash of lightning lit up the sky and Dennis glanced toward the living room window. The tropical storm that had been pelting their Lake Okeechobee cabin all day sent a palm frond flying toward the cabin. It stuck the front window, startling Dennis.
“So much for my f**cking vacation.”
He continued his tirade in a vicious whisper. His wife put her hand over one ear and continued to listen to her sister with the phone pressed against the other.
Wound up, Dennis continued, “First you forget my tackle box and then this storm traps us! This is going to be the longest vacation of my life!”
Kathy listened to her sister, nodding as though Becky could see her reaction to the marital advice being doled out. She dabbed her eyes with the cuff of her sweater before substituting it for Kleenex to wipe her nose.
“I’ve got a right to a nice vacation and a couple days fishing, don’t I? Ask your sister that question, Kathy.”
His wife responded by placing her hand over the receiver, protecting Becky from her brother-in-law’s tirade.
Glowering at the unfairness of being cast as a brute in the sister’s conversation, Dennis sliced his forefinger across his throat indicating to Kathy it was time to cut her conversation short.
Kathy sniffled her good-byes and looked up at her husband balefully, her index finger holding down the receiver button. &amp;amp;quot;You're so mean to me.&amp;amp;quot;
“Ah, don’t say that Kathy. I’m sorry, babe. Can you stop crying long enough for me to tell you that I really love you? We can forget the fishing tackle stuff..&amp;amp;quot;
Kathy looked down at the receiver she was holding and then up at her husband.
“Let me make peace with you, Kathy. We’ll have a nice vacation, just the two of us, just like we planned. What do you say?”
Suddenly the air in the cabin filled with static electricity. An instant later a lightning bolt entered the cabin. It shot across the living room, connecting an electrical outlet to the telephone receiver that Kathy was holding. The jolt sparked and a 10,000-amp zephyr danced up Kathy’s arm.
Dennis’ shrieks filled the cabin, and echoed through the pines and palmettos surrounding their cabin. Horror and disbelief exploded his senses. His eyes bulged and he gulped for air. Dennis performed a little dance, hopping from one foot to the other, an action that would have elicited guffaws under different circumstances. In terror, he stumbled backward and grabbed the breakfast bar for support. Kathy, his wife of twenty-eight years, was dead, electrocuted where she sat.
Dennis took six tiny steps toward his wife. The old wooden rocker tipped back and forth, reacting to the impact of what had just happened. A shadow from the rocker swayed back in forth on the wall behind the rocker, taunting him. Dennis’s panic-stricken shrieks died down and a tomb-like silence settled over the living room.
Dennis lifted the heavy 1970s Southern Bell telephone from his wife’s lap and cautiously placed the heavy black receiver to his ear. The phone line was as dead as Kathy, who sat stiffly staring straight ahead.
Dennis Sheridan, class of 1942, Central High, was once again on his knees in front of Kathy Fabrizio – not with the intention of asking her to marry him (as had been the case back then) but to look into Kathy’s face one last time.
All the memories came rushing back as he sat at the feet of the woman he struggled with, and loved, for nearly three decades.
Twenty-eight years, 1944. The air corp. “God, Kathy, that damned Italian blood of yours. You were so beautiful.” Dennis wiped the back of his sleeve across his face. His tears stained his shirt. Now the only link he would have to Kathy would be her sister who was against their marriage from the very beginning.
“Becky. Why couldn’t she have accepted me? I did alright by Kathy. A nice house here in Florida, a cabin on the lake.”
He looked around their living room, his eyes roaming over the knick-knacks and crocheted doilies that protected the arm rests of the sofa and chairs.
“I’ll have to sell this place. Why would I want to come back to the spot where my wife was killed by a damned Act of God? It just isn’t right!”
Then Dennis came to a sudden realization. Rigor mortis would set in over night. Then things would get complicated. The funeral, the casket - none of it would go well if Kathy was left in a sitting position. “She’ll have to be buried, laid to rest. I can’t leave her like this,” Dennis concluded as he paced the living room.
Looking out the window and across Lake Okeechobee Dennis realized that not only was the electricity out at his remote cabin was but all of the cabins in the development on the opposite shore were dark. The storm must have blown out the electricity in the whole area. Dennis assessed the situation: electricity out, phone line out.
It would take him an hour to row across to his closest neighbor – if he had a rowboat – which he didn’t - in order to notify someone of what had happened. Dennis thought about the mail boat that dropped him and Kathy off for their two-week vacation. It wouldn’t be back for another six days.
“Jesus, Kathy,” he said, as though admonishing his wife for what had just happened to her, as though it were her fault.
Dennis glanced around the cabin and thought about what he should do. He needed to devise a plan that would prevent his having to spend the night in an isolated cabin, cut off from neighbors - in the dark - with a dead woman. He strode across the living room, and into the kitchenette, avoiding Kathy’s blank stare. He didn’t really think her eyes were following his movements, but he wasn’t inclined to double-check.
Dennis scurried to find matches opening drawers, slamming cabinet doors, “..need to light this God-damned place!” he shouted. The hurricane lamp sputtered and a comforting flame illuminated the room.
“Kathy would like this, it’s so romantic and cozy,” he said. He then remembered and looked over at his wife guiltily. He hadn’t meant to spend the day arguing with her. So what if she had forgotten to pack his fishing pole and tackle box. Was that such a bad thing?
Well, a nice evening is certainly out the window now, he reasoned.
Aha! The shower curtain. He would take down the shower curtain and wrap her body in it. She would be fine until help came. Dennis now regretted agreeing to Kathy’s choice of the tropical fish motif, the bright colors and ridiculous theme was so unseemly as a shroud. Other than that, he reassured himself, everything would be fine. The shower curtain would keep her body dry and protected. And Dennis set the details of his plan in motion.
An hour later he looked at his handiwork. In the looming twilight Kathy looked beautiful, at peace, all laid out on the picnic table on the front porch of the cabin. The next morning he would decide what to do. If only he had a boat, he could row across to the MacRae’s, summon the coroner, and take care of the details respectfully. Respectfully, that word caught in his subconscious and held on.
“Okay, we had our differences, but I loved you, Babe. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything just right, with respect,” he said, again speaking out loud. He wiped the tears from his eyes as he projected a lonely, companionless future for himself. His thoughts spread out far beyond the next six days.
“Six days” and “respectfully” were the two concepts that bumped up against each other in the middle of the night. Dennis couldn’t rightfully sip coffee with Kathy’s body lying out on the porch, wrapped in the shower curtain.
I should just go ahead and bury her – a private ceremony. I could make it nice. Just until help comes, and proper arrangements can be made.
The nicest spot on their ten-acre property was a knoll overlooking the lake - a clearing with a sweeping view of the water. She’d like that.
Dennis picked up the phone thinking that maybe, before he went to the effort of digging up his property, he could summon help. Line dead. No calls coming in. No calls going out.
“Well, better get started. I’ll make it nice, memorable, a ceremony. Something I can describe to Becky, that troublemaker,” he said aloud before going off to the shed, to get the shovel.
“Robert!” Jackie called to her husband from their home, located across the lake. “Come look at this,” she said, handing the binoculars to her husband.
“Hmm. I can’t quite tell. . .”
“It’s Dennis Sheridan, with a shovel. Look closely,” Jackie said.
Robert put the field glasses back up to his face. “Yep, he’s digging a hole,” he observed to his wife’s satisfaction. “Are you finished with the paper, Jackie?”
Jackie took the binoculars back from Robert. “No, not yet. I’ll be there in a minute.”
The next time Robert was interrupted was to answer Jackie’s question, “Where’s the homeowner’s list? I want to call Kathy Sheridan.”
“Gosh, Honey, I don’t know. In the basket over by the phone?”
And with that, the rotary dial began its whir and click-series as seven digits registered.
“Nothing. No one’s answering at the Sheridan’s,” Jackie reported, picking up the binoculars again.
“Phone lines might be down on that side of the lake.”
Dennis thought over the task of telling their friends that Kathy was gone. ‘Gone’ seemed more acceptable than ‘Dead’. He wasn’t ready to think of his best friend as ‘Dead’. We couldn’t back down the driveway without a fight, but Kathy I loved you more than any other woman I ever met.
“Until the mail boat arrives, or the phone line is repaired, I’ll sit with you everyday, Kathy. I’ll bring my coffee out here. Your angel-spirit and I will look out over the lake.”
“Oh!” Jackie cried out, startling Robert, who rose from his chair.
“Darling?” Robert jumped up to catch his wife as she crumpled to the floor.
Jackie held the binoculars up for her husband to retrieve.
“What the hell?” was all Robert uttered as he watched Dennis Sheridan lay a shower-curtain clad Kathy Sheridan into the hole that had been dug.
Dennis gathered up the shovel and pick axe and trudged through the palmettos and pines, returning to his cabin. He looked sadly back at Kathy’s gravesite, and at the beam of sunshine that suddenly appeared, warming the freshly turned earth. “I’ll be back tomorrow, Baby,” he promised.
Dennis immediately saw the motorcycle parked at the front door of his cabin when he walked out of the stand of pines. It was splattered with mud.
Dennis dropped the shovel and, brushing the dirt off his hands, and ran toward the uniformed trooper.
“How did you get here? Through the thickets?”
“We received a call from your sister-in-law, Becky. It seems she believes she has reason to have certain concerns. And your neighbors, the MacRae’s called the dispatcher a few minutes ago. May we ask some questions of you and your wife?”
“My wife?” was all that Dennis Sheridan could muster as he looked down at the fresh dirt under his fingernails.
This week I learned of The Versatile Blogger Award, established by author Carley Eason Evans, author of Metal Man Walking. One more way for the writer’s community to Pay-It-Forward, The Versatile Blogger Award allows for a mutual admiration nod among writers and authors. The rules, the nominators, and the nominees are featured at the blog of the SkinnyLamb at http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/ .
Thanking the Nominator:
I was given this award by K.G. Arndell, author, who freely admits to fumes, coffee, and adrenaline as his fuels of choice for getting the word to the page. K.G. writes dark fantasy, such as ‘The Odyssey of Flight 191’ and his awarded blog is staged at http://kgarndell.com/?p=664.
K.G.Arndell is a TweetMate of mine and chirps his musings of darkness @kgArndell.
Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself
Dear K.G. ~ This is My Story, and I’m stickin’ to it! ~
1 I truly am the daughter of a Ghost Chaser. I’m not sure what prompted my mother to chase the occult as she did, but the stories I write which refer to her are first-person true stories.
2 My mother was an artist’s model who met my somewhat blue-blood Baltimore born father when he was a School of Art student at Rutger’s.
3 World War II changed the course of my parent’s lives, sending dad off to the Army Air Force. When he came back an officer he married his gypsy-model. He should have run in the opposite direction. A worse pairing could not have been devised!
4 I was born in Ohio – which I realize now is a hotbed of occult; UFO, and ghost sighting activity!
5 Living in New Orleans for a portion of my growing-up years gave me access to French Quarter fortunetellers, Black Magic, and voodoo dolls – an inspiring base of experience for my ghost stories.
6 At the point in my life I needed to be earning a living, my father’s family-influence in publishing overshadowed my mother’s proclivities and I landed a job as a copywriter for a Fortune 500 company in the Pacific Northwest. A.V. Harrison Publishing, which was established in Baltimore in 1875, ultimately became my masthead.
7 I wrote my novel, ‘Jenkins: Confederate Blockade Runner’ as an ode to my father’s straight-laced Baltimore family, it has earned very little in royalties. I wrote my Ghost Stories trilogy as an even-the-scales nod to my mother’s wild, alcoholic family. By contrast it has earned thousands of dollars in just the past six months. Go Figure!
Now, I have the Honor to Award 15 bloggers whose work I have admired, have depended upon for content, and whose friendship I cherish – up close and from afar. Listed in alphabetical order, I honor:
Alan Rinzler http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/
Alice Orr http://networkedblogs.com/xD5oE
Arleigh Johnson http://historical-fiction.com/?p=4710
Dan O’Brien http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/
David Becker http://www.dvdinfatuation.com/
David Kazzie http://wahoocorner.blogspot.com/
Dawn Torrens http://dawnsdaily.com/
Emily Guido http://emilyguido.com/
Gina Hott http://www.hottbooks.com/books/
Jason Matthews http://ebooksuccess4free.wordpress.com/
Jason Offutt http://mysteriousuniverse.org/
Jayne Fordham http://australianbookshelf.wordpress.com/
Lori Randall Stradtman http://www.social-media-design.com/
Mike Wells http://www.thegreenwater.com/
Nancy Naigle http://www.nancynaigle.com/
Zackary Richards http://zackaryrichards.blogspot.com/
So! There are my fifteen nominated blogs – check them out and you will understand why I gravitate to them every chance I get!
Once again, the most sincere ‘Thank You’s’ to K.G. Arndell for pulling me in to The Winner’s Circle!
**for a live-link format of this text go to my blog
The Souls of New Orleans
My boyfriend, Hugh, and I flew from Seattle to New Orleans June 2004, the year before Hurricane Katrina hit. After touring the jazz clubs our plan was to set out for a cuisine excursion and music tour that would include Etouffè, crawfish, plantains and the music and stomping great dance steps of the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival.
I was giddy with excitement and anticipation as the wheels of the jet touched down at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner – just a few miles west of New Orleans.
At last II was back in New Orleans – The Big Easy. It was Hugh’s first time visiting The South and my first time back after leaving many years before. The plan was to treat ourselves to a French Quarter hotel and then I would proceed to show Hugh the beauty and the history of a city that, to this day, tugs at my heart. As we prepared for landing I thought of my parents, now deceased, and wondered why, as a family, we had never returned to the region that had meant so much to us years earlier.
Well, enough of The Past. New Orleans! We were here to party! Heading east on Interstate 10, we sped past the Louis Armstrong Park, and the haunted St. Louis Cemetery. We looked out over mile after mile, of crypts of various sizes as the taxi driver cautioned us on the dangers of wandering into the cemetery alone (particularly after dark). His dire warning was an effective way to shoo us away from voodoo priests and other nefarious possibilities that he said existed in the cemetery. In the broad daylight, the square miles of crypts displayed an architectural range from Southern Elegance to Old World Charm. The Ninth Ward sat fretting – to the east – despair and disaster looming.
We had reservations at one of the most historic hotels in the French Quarter. There would be plenty of food and festivities in the Quarter to keep us engaged during our stay.
Check in was a breeze. My goodness, I love the charm and welcome of The South! A bellman whisked us to our room and I collapsed on the bed taking in the decor. Yellow! Morning glory, Southern, glorious. . .yellow. It’s such a happy color. Plus, the room featured wainscoting and white porcelain water pitchers, and fluffy tea towels. What a charming sanctuary it would be, I thought. I was so happy to not be in a big box, corporate-America, hotel chain.
Hugh seemed pleased with my hotel selection and let me know with a simple, “It’s nice. Good choice!”
“Shall we look around the hotel and stroll the French Quarter?” I invited, and with that, we were off to explore to our hearts’ content.
We stepped out onto Chartres Street and into the heavy humidity and din of street noise: street vendors, taxis, trolley traffic, and elegant carriages pulled by horses bridled in silver harnesses.
Sweet sugar fragrance, the hint of pralines, powdered sugar cookies and other confections hung in the air. It was a summer carnival of sounds and smells. We were approaching the sidewalk-stage of three rail-thin teenage boys who tap-danced a steady rhythm on the concrete – kind of scatting – using smashed pop cans as aluminum cleats that surrounded the arch of their shoes.
“Hey, Mister! Got something for me, Mister?”
Hugh held out a dollar bill, wrapped cigarette style. It was palmed to the ‘manager’ of the group, and we continued on our way toward boisterous Bourbon Street where more noise and the promise of magic awaited us.
Hours later we returned to our hotel. The night air had cooled a little; the streets glistened from the neon lights of jazz club marquees reflecting onto the rain soaked cobblestones. As we walked through the hotel lobby we were greeted by two front desk clerks whose lively conversation we interrupted.
They called across the lobby to us, “Good night, y’all. Have a nice evening,” before returning to their gossip.
“Did you see that man?” Hugh asked as we rounded the corner out of earshot.
“For God’s sake! The one wearing a fedora, who was standing in the shadows behind the check-in desk. You’d think they wouldn’t allow him to stand there glaring at passing guests.”
“Hmm, I didn’t notice.” And with that, we let it go. Thoughts of brunch at Café du Monde filled my thoughts as our footsteps echoed against the harlequin inspired black and white tiled floor. I was only thinking about how happy I was to be back in New Orleans as we left the well-lit lobby and entered the soft lighting of the Spanish-inspired courtyard. It was like stepping back in time.
The courtyard featured ornate wrought iron tables on which sat lit candles, that cast shadows on the lush tropical vegetation. The shadows danced in the light breeze, playing hide and seek among the botanicals. Up the steps was our second floor room, which looked down over the quaint patio.
“Did you hear that?” I asked Hugh, startled.
He looked at me inquisitively.
“Horses whinnying – and men crying out! Screams! I think I heard screams!” It was only, maybe, a two-second window of sound – but it was clear as a bell – and then everything was suddenly quiet. I shook my head to clear my imagination. Surely it was my imagination.
The bottom of Hugh’s shoe scraped against the wrought iron steps as he started up the staircase leading to our room. The sound sent shivers up my spine. As I got to the top of the landing I reflexively reached up and scrubbed my face with both hands. It felt as though I had walked through cobwebs. I shuddered at the unusual chill.
Something caught my eye! I looked down from our balcony just in time to see a man looking up at us. I caught a glint in his eyes as he looked away. He scurried down the long hallway leading away from the front lobby. Was he wearing spurs? I’m not sure, but he was most certainly wearing a fedora just as Hugh had described – and a gray felt cape.
That is what really caught my attention – the cape. I mean, it’s hot and muggy in New Orleans, particularly in the summer. The heat can be suffocating – even at eleven at night.
“I just saw him! The man in the fedora – with a gray cape! He must be elderly.”
“Yes, before my dad died he always wrapped in a shawl. We couldn’t keep him warm enough. That man must be elderly. Why else would anyone wear a cape in this heat?” Don’t we tend to put present circumstances into past experiences to explain the oddities of life?
“Well, that aside, you’d think that security wouldn’t want him lurking around this late at night,” Hugh observed.
I shrugged. “Things are pretty live-and-let-live in New Orleans. But, Hugh, I got the weirdest sense when he caught my eye – like he was sad, or in mourning.”
In an attempt to regain our privacy, I asked, “You like it though, right? The hotel?” I longed for an indication from Hugh that he was completely taken by the hotel’s old world charm. From the balcony outside our room we looked down over the pool and the sparkling water that reflected the full moon in its ripples.
“Yes, sweetheart. It’s perfect for our Tour of the South,” he agreed.
We called it a day and slipped into our room just as the breeze picked up and swept through the courtyard. Shadows seemed to follow us into our room. In the distance I heard a cat snarl at some unseen force. Then trash cans crashed against each other in the alley. We both jumped, jarred out of our romantic mood, and then laughed at ourselves.
* * *
He was in the bathroom brushing his teeth when the door knob to the room rattled in its casing. It was as though someone were trying the lock. Blood rushed to my head and I felt as though I had tunnel vision. My heart beat fiercely. The fun memories of the day were whisked away in an instant.
“Hugh!” I cried out a second time.
Hugh was already out of the bathroom before I called his name the second time. I jabbed a finger toward the door. He was striding in that direction.
I was horrified when he grabbed the doorknob and threw the door open. No hesitation whatsoever. For God’s sake, who knew what was waiting outside on the balcony? Nothing. It was quiet as a tomb except for the sound of crickets.
I slumped onto the bed. The iron frame creaked. Hugh crooked his head at me, inquisitive.
“It was the door handle. The door handle turned. I’m sure,” I rambled on trying to convince both of us that I had actually heard something. The room had been so quiet and the sound so distinct.
“Babe, let’s go to bed. It’s almost midnight. You can sleep on the side of the bed away from the door,” he joked.
I scowled at him as I struggled to drag the overstuffed chair across the room.
“You must realize how unnecessary that is,” was all Hugh said as he slipped into bed.
Not caring what Hugh thought at the moment, I placed the chair in front of the louvered French doors leading to the balcony. Its straight back and forty pounds would prevent any prowler from sneaking into our room.
“There!” I announced, “security system in place!”
I hate king-sized beds. One might as well be sleeping alone. Unless I clung to Hugh all night long I’d invariably be sleeping by myself on one side of the expanse, with he on the other. And indeed, in the sticky humidity of New Orleans we naturally rolled away from each other’s body heat and drifted off to sleep.
I never sleep with the air conditioner on – whether its Nashville or New Orleans. The artificial over-chill is such an affront to my memories of The South of the 1970s. I reasoned that eventually the night air would cool off and the sweet fragrance of jasmine would float in on an early morning breeze. And, with the rattle and clank of an air conditioner turning on and off I might miss the comforting backdrop of cicadas chirping. And I didn’t want to miss that sound.
In the middle of the night I had the feeling that Hugh was up, wandering around the room, pacing in the pitch dark. It must be the heat, I concluded. I reached out and ran my hand over the sheets, smoothing them for when Hugh came back to bed. My fingertips bumped into his rib cage! He was under the covers – not pacing the room! So, if he was in bed, at arms’ length, who was slowly pacing the room in the shadows at the foot of our bed?
Considering the door was effectively barricaded, there was only one possibility. Our room was haunted. Was the specter even aware of us? Or was It on a parallel plane, a captive of another realm? Sheer terror took over my senses. My heart was racing; tears blurred my vision. I could not have screamed if I wanted, my throat had constricted so.
Nudging across the bed toward Hugh I settled my sudden case of chills by pressing my spine to his – my eyes never leaving the specter. Yes, I could make out the outline of the apparition. It wore a fedora, and a long cape. The old man had gotten into our room! Familiar with ghosts, but not comfortable with their presence, I could only wait for the shadows of night to slowly slip away. How long before morning? I thought I would be able to stay awake to make sure It didn’t harm us, but I finally fell back asleep as It entranced me with its slow patrol.
It was an hour or so later – maybe 3AM, who knows – when I heard
the latch to the armoire rattle. I sat straight up! I shouldn’t have, actually, but I did. I should have hidden under the covers, in the pitch dark. It would have been smarter to curl up in the silence – not making a sound. But, all of my senses were on full alert. I peered, now accustomed to the darkness, toward the armoire. I tried to pick up a second sound, something that would confirm that what I had heard was not a dream – that I was suddenly awake because of something. Bad idea. Did I really want a second noise to come from inside our hotel room in the dead of night? My ears were now ringing in the stillness. I slunk down and quietly inched my body back toward the security of Hugh’s. He stirred.
“What are you doing?”
I had woken him.
“Something is moving around the room.”
“Are you kidding? There’s a chair with the weight of a compact car blocking the door. This is a nice hotel. You picked it. Can you please go back to sleep?”
Translation: Would you quit bothering me while I go back to sleep. Hugh wrapped his arms around me and somehow I did manage to drift back to sleep, feeling all the while that something inside the hotel room was watching me.
My dreams were filled with a wild cacophony of horses whinnying and men crying out – a dream filled with specters and bedlam. Of buildings bursting into flames, and explosions near, and in the distance. In the dream I was running from house to house pounding on the doors screaming, “Help! Someone help us!” It was one of those Hitchcock dreams from which there is no escape.
It was the welcoming bright sunshine of a Southern morning that swept away the rattles and rustles of our first night in New Orleans. Or was it? It wasn’t quite that simple, actually.
We missed the hotel Continental breakfast. No matter. Black coffee and fragrant, flaky yeast-rich pastry puffs, dusted with powdered sugar awaited us just two blocks away at Café du Monde.
A celebratory crowd greeted us as we strolled into the legendary venue. We scanned the scene and realized that we’d be lucky to be seated – at all. The hostess led us to a table at the rear of the restaurant, wedged into the back corner and away from the windows. The couple at the table adjoining ours nodded a greeting. We were virtually table mates.
I sensed some discord between the couple. Hugh gave them their privacy by hiding behind his menu. I pawed through my purse feigning lost glasses and eavesdropped as best I could.
“Damn it! I’m quite sure,” she hissed. “We should tell the manager.”
“What, and appear batty?”
“You always discount me,” she pouted. “I saw it! I was awake! It was in the room!”
“You were sleeping, dreaming. For the love of all that is holy, would you drop the subject? We’re not changing hotels!”
“Let’s just look. . . for an alternative,” she implored.
The response was a menu pulled up in front of the husband’s face. He mimicked Hugh to a T.
With the noses of both men stuck in their respective menus, the woman and I turned to each other.
“Ghosts,” she stated flatly. She might as well have said ‘bed bugs’.
“Oh dear, I had the same feeling last night! Which hotel are you in?”
She told me.
“That’s where we’re staying!”
“This is too much of a coincidence! How funny! Our hotel is famous for things that go bump in the night, we’ve just learned.”
I raised my eyebrows.
She continued, “I insisted to my husband that we check out this morning, not have breakfast there, after I checked the reviews on our iPad this morning. I was sitting in the lobby this morning before breakfast and talking to one of the guests just to get out of our room. She told me to look up the un-sponsored history of the hotel. I hadn’t done that before. We took for granted it was a nice hotel – and it is – actually. It’s just that it’s. . . haunted.”
I laughed nervously. The pieces were fitting together nicely.
“Which room are you in?” I asked.
“Three thirteen,” she said.
“We’re in room two twelve,” I countered.
After we ordered, and were waiting for our breakfast of coffee and beignets – the wife and I continued our conversation.
“I am sure someone was in our room last night. I could just feel it,” she reasserted.
“We had the same experience!” I laughed “I kept Hugh awake with my fidgeting.”
She looked fascinated, “So, you haven’t heard the stories?”
I hadn’t. “No, but do tell.”
So she began, “During the Civil War a field hospital sat where our hotel is now located. The land that the hotel rests on has quite a history. The hotel is comprised of several old buildings - Building Five is the creepiest to stay in,” she assured me.
“The War of Northern Aggression,” I stated.
“Excuse me?” She seemed genuinely confused.
“The Civil War, it’s actually referred to as the War of Northern Aggression by quite a number of Southerners,” I tutored.
She continued, “Hmm. . .well, anyway, I woke up last night after being asleep for only an hour or so. I had the most vivid dream that I was sleeping on a blood-soaked pillowcase. I was so sure that when I woke up from the dream I brushed my hand over the pillow. In the dark it felt sticky!”
“Mark,” she nodded toward her husband who was now buried in the sports pages of The Times Picayune, “woke up when I cried out.”
Her husband glared at her as if to say, too much information!
“Please, Evelyn. Drop it and let’s just have a nice day,” Mark implored.
“Oh no, you must tell me what happened?” I prompted, too invested by now to drop the telling.
“Mark turned on the lamp. The pillow case was fine but we heard running on the balcony outside our door, just as we turned the lamp on.”
“Yes, and someone cried out, ‘Bring him here! The surgeon is in here!”
Finally Mark spoke, “That was the weird part. The voices were quite distinct.”
Finally Hugh put down his menu and piped in. “You both heard something?”
“Yes!” Mark and Evelyn answered, in unison.
“I jumped from the bed to see who was outside running along the balcony,” Mark admitted.
“He yanked open the door!” Evelyn turned an admonishment to her husband. “What were you thinking?”
“Oh my! Hugh did the exact same thing,” I said. “But, did you see anything?”
“I can’t be sure. It happened so fast. I thought I saw a man dressed in a gray cape with braiding on the shoulders. But it might have been a dream.”
“It wasn’t a dream,” Hugh and I blurted out at the same instant.
Hugh and I exchanged glances. Were we finally in agreement? I raced on, “We all saw the same man. Out of season, considering the heat. He was slinking around the lobby when we returned from dinner and night clubbing last night.”
Hugh laughed, “Way out of season.”
Of course, I realized what he was driving at.
“The first time we noticed him, he was standing behind the check-in desk, leaning against the wall. It seemed as though he was listening to the check-in clerks. The girls seemed totally unaware that he was listening in on their conversation,” Hugh continued.
“Actually, I’m convinced that he wasn’t listening to their conversation,” I declared.
Hugh raised his eyebrows, inquisitively.
“If anything, he was waiting for the injured to arrive, so that he could guide them to the Surgeon’s Quarters. He's trapped in time. For him eternity is 1862.&amp;amp;quot;
Kitchen cabinet doors that slowly swing open and shut on their own volition, door knobs that turn in the middle of the night, phantom birds that flutter around the living room – I experienced all of these supernatural occurrences when I lived in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood between 1986 and 1999.
My thirteen years of experiences led me to write a series of ghost story eBooks, and started me on a quest to locate other Greenwood residents who have had similar ‘ghostly’ experiences in their Greenwood-area homes.
I've now located six haunted houses in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood since first publishing my Ghost Stories. I am launching an active search to locate other residents of Greenwood who have experienced supernatural activity in their home, including ghost sightings, and occurences such as those detailed in this account.
Here's how I became aware of the sixth haunted house: This past month I received an email from a young man who lives in a rental house four blocks from the haunted cottage that I purchased in 1986. The very day that this young man, and his fiancé, moved into their Greenwood rental, odd and unsettling occurrences began.
My correspondent contacted me after he began researching the Seattle neighborhood that he calls home. Like this young man, I also had suspicions about the area around North 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue after a conversation with a taxi driver led me to accounts of Greenwood circa 1907 and the spooky history of the Woodland Cemetery Association.
When I lived in my 1907 cottage, very strange things occurred in my own house, and that of my next door neighbor.
These strange occurrences are detailed in my eBooks, the latest titled, Ghost Stories And the Unexplained: Book Two.
After I sold my property on North 82nd Street, I learned that a former radio talk show host had lived on my street, but at a different point in time. He admits having an exorcism performed to rid his rental of ‘things’ that to this day he will not discuss.
When I lived in Greenwood, my next door neighbor, a single mother raising a four-year old daughter described to me an imaginary playmate that her daughter said would come to her nursery at twilight. The daughter’s description was that of a little girl dressed in a white pinafore, Mary Jane shoes, and white stockings.
It was not long after the ‘playmate’ episodes began that the mother experienced a ghost sighting. As she stared into the hallway mirror, brushing her hair, an apparition matching the description of the daughter’s playmate brushed past the mother and floated down the stairs into the living room where the daughter’s portrait hung. The mother and daughter moved out of the house within days and the house remained empty while their lease ran out.
This brought to three the number of houses within walking distance that I knew were haunted. Next came my son’s admission that the neighborhood kids shied away from one of the houses on the north side of the street – also constructed in 1907. This dwelling was dubbed ‘House Number Four’.
After my first ghost story collection published, a friend told me of an acquaintance whose wife had gone mad while living in the Greenwood area. The friend conjectured that the stay-at-home mom may have been driven insane by visits from ‘the other side’ while alone in the house all day. This brought the number of haunted properties, that I had tracked down, to five.
House Number Six came to light this week in an email that I am including in my blog. Edited for brevity and to redact names and addresses the email reads:
“I found your email address while researching Greenwood.
Visit http://www.prlog.org/11766213-wild-coincidence-brings-author-to-discover-fifth-haunted-property-in-seattles-greenwood-district.html for details. [copy, paste into search]
My fiancé and I have been renting a house in Greenwood for the past year. We moved into the house almost exactly a year ago this month. We were looking forward to living [in this house] and excited to be in the neighborhood, but we definitely experienced odd things immediately [after moving in], I more so than my fiancé.
[My fiancé] asked our property manager if any of the past tenants reported [our house] being haunted…” (The property manager indicated that he had no knowledge of reports of the home in question being haunted, the email explains.)
“Once of the first things we [witnessed] together was the kitchen sink turn on full force, in the middle of the afternoon. We had to turn it off.
I cannot say I've been terrorized but I've certainly been spooked, especially in the past month. My fiancé was away travelling on business for two weeks and so I was left with our dog and cat. The animals, I should add, seem to be aware of oddities but never seem to be alarmed. This helps me keep cool, I must admit.
Anyway, while my fiancé was away I can say I was annoyed by the [following] &quot;phenomena&quot;:
-knocking on walls in middle of night. To the point I could not get more than a few hours of sleep;
-foot steps above, clearly not dog or cat footsteps, when I'm in basement doing laundry;
-cold breezes and drafts when I'm in the living room watching TV or reading, (apparently from nowhere, as no windows or doors are open);
- my Xbox360 game console turned off in the middle of gameplay. (I'm convinced it was the violent content of the game [that caused the interruption of the game].
During these weeks I questioned my sanity. . .my imagination. . .when it came down to it, I could not dismiss much of it easily.
One friend who is very interested in paranormal things, who also lives in the area, posed an interesting question one evening as I was retelling stories of sleepless nights and frustrations. She asked if any of this seemed to coincide with the road construction on 85th, near [the restaurant] Pagliacci Pizza, which is very close to our house. A light bulb went on. With all the heavy machinery, rumbling and grinding, it made complete sense all this [construction] would disturb whatever. . .whoever . . .
The frequency of activity seemed to increase until one evening. [Around] 6:00PM, I snapped and yelled that I was “not impressed - that ‘You’ needed to stop harassing me.” I continued to say I was “sorry that ‘You’ are restless”, and that I wanted him/her to find peace, asking how I could help.
I immediately put out a glass of wine as an offering, a glass of scotch and some fresh water. [The activity] stopped after that. Not one strange thing, noise or otherwise occurred. I'm not a religious person per se, but I am spiritual. So, at my sister and another friend's recommendation, I stated to our ghost: that &quot;God&quot; whatever that is to ‘You’, is not pleased with this behavior, it is not right, nor funny, to frighten.
Over the last week I did see a bedroom light turn on and off. . . And last night I was kept up. . . with tapping on the heat ducts and walls. The same random, non-rhythmic, but clearly deliberate tapping. This convinced me to [do a Google search] of Greenwood [and its history].”
The Greenwood resident then located my eMail address and contacted me with this account. He continues, “I've never denied the existence of the paranormal but I haven't had too much history with it. The events experienced over the last year have convinced me that there is an all-too-real paranormal world, or dimension, out there.” Signed Nate
I invite other residents of haunted houses, who have had similar supernatural experiences such as these to contact me.
Ghost Stories! Every family has them, not every family reveals them.
I’ve spent the past two years trying to determine what writing style and what genre feels best to me for the long run – because writing is a ‘long run’ endeavor. My debut novel was an act of compulsion. I couldn’t stop writing and found myself writing, at one in the morning, revealing the lives of my well-behaved ancestors – the ones who do NOT come back and haunt.
“Now”, my inner voice told me “it is time to write about the ancestors who DO come back…from the grave. And so I began recalling the experiences that my mother and I have had with ghosts and the supernatural over our respective lives. I didn’t realize until I looked over my list that I have experienced, or heard about, well over a dozen experiences with the supernatural. From the time I was seven years old and experienced my grandfather – the one I knew – crossing back over - through to a recent levitation phenomena; my life has been dotted with sudden, unexpected paranormal experiences. Why? I know some of the answers to ‘Why’, but not all of them.
The biggest reason why I think I experience paranormal phenomena is that I listen to my intuition. Keenly aware of what is going on around me – heightened awareness – I sense ‘things’ and don’t discount them. The sound of a jug falling and hitting the floor, a cupboard door slamming, all the things that happen when I am the sole occupant of the house. My experiences have led me to believe that I live on my own plane, and another realm – powerful and mysterious – lives on another overlapping plane. There are a lot of people who believe in ‘The Other Side’, ‘The Unexplained’, ‘The World Beyond’ I am learning since publishing the first book of my ghost stories series.
In the two weeks since ‘Ghost Stories And The Unexplained’ (based on true events in my life) published, some of these people have contacted me. It’s like being in a ‘whisper club’. Not everyone tolerates ghost stories and the retelling of one’s paranormal experiences. But enough of us do to make it interesting, and affirming to ‘the others’.
I’m thrilled with the reception that ‘Ghost Stories And The Unexplained’ has received – worldwide. This is my fifth book (not counting adaptations to Jenkins) and the first one that has sold significantly in the UK and Germany. Ghost stories are, I am learning, universal. So this is what I am writing about now – this is what readers want to hear about – the snarling dogs, the dragging chains, the apparitions that materialize and then disappear as mysteriously as they arrived.
And, as people come forward to tell me about their experiences, I will collect those stories and write about them. So…how about You?
Have You seen a ghost? Or Two? Tell me about it! I’m dying to know.
Contact me at ‘info (at) AVHarrison-Publishing.com’. I am waiting to have a spirited good discussion with you!
Yes! She IS amazing...and ... she's my new inspiration.