Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

For everyone who celebrates, have a safe and fun holiday. Chairman Maiow asks that you be extra nice to black cats today!




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hauntings in Gettysburg


More tales of hauntings in Gettysburg exist than can be told in one blog post. The site of the nation's bloodiest battle, this little town is supposedly one of the most haunted places in America. No wonder. According to some, thousands of bodies were never recovered.

This Haunted History episode claims many spirits intend harm to visitors, something I hadn't heard before (and am not convinced is true).



Not all the spirits in Gettysburg are from the Civil War, though. On our ghost walk last weekend, the guide told several such stories. Inside a bell tower on the campus of Gettysburg College, some have supposedly seen a young woman beckoning to them. The tour guide said after hearing the story that two young lovers had made a suicide pact, but only the girl leapt to her death, someone researched it and found two young women had committed suicide in Gettysburg in the late 1800s. No one's ever confirmed that either happened at that spot, but the men she appears to (yes, only men) might argue otherwise.

Unfortunately, my camera doesn't like to take night shots. The few times I tried to take pictures during the tour, it simply refused to focus (not the result of paranormal activity, just a stubborn camera).

I did get a few during the day though. I love the funky architecture there.

I'm pretty sure Zoltar is a rarity - surprisingly, this one's outside.


If you ever go, I highly recommend this little bistro.


You might want to get a vintage photo taken. Without the nameplate, I doubt I'd recognize some of these guys




On the ghost tour, we learned that a home close to campus is haunted by a former maid. Two college girls moved in one day, went out before unpacking and when they returned, their things had been arranged. When they complained to the landlady who lived downstairs, she said she'd never intrude unless it was an emergency. A few weeks later, the distinct sound of someone falling down the steps alarmed the landlady, but when she checked the hallway, her tenants, who'd heard the same noise, looked down the stairs at her. Not until the landlady renovated her back porch did they discover the name Joanna carved in a stone block. The tenants researched it and learned that Joanna Craig had been a maid in the house, but died - you guessed it - after a fall down the staircase.

The video above touches on the sad history of the Gettysburg Orphanage, opened after the Civil War to care for the many, many children who lost parents in the war. The woman who ran the orphanage at its opening loved the children, but the second woman to run the orphanage inspired only terror in the kids - she tortured them by locking them away, starving them, or having an older child beat them. One little boy who ran away found shelter with two girls in the third floor of a Gettysburg College dorm house. The house mother was strict, and suspected the girls of doing something, but she wasn't quite sure what. One winter's night, the girls hid the runaway on the ledge outside their bedroom window during the house mother's night rounds. Something about their behavior raised the suspicion of the house mother, who took the girls downstairs to question them - for two hours. When they returned to their room, they couldn't find the boy, nor any telltale signs in the snow that he'd fallen. Many years later, girls who occupied that room saw the blue face of a little boy in the window. One girl reported he'd scratched something across the pane. It didn't make sense until she realized the lettering was backward and spelled HELP ME. *shudders*

If you do take the time to watch the video, a few people talk about the Farnsworth House (about 32 minutes in). You might remember the photo below I'd taken of the top window in the inn. I still see the face of a man in a floppy hat. Ghost hunters have seen him up close when they go inside the room (which we weren't able to do - that must be the more expensive tour, lol). I was surprised to learn that a soldier's shot from this window might have been the one to kill Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed in this battle - which is amazing, considering a good part of the fighting went on in the middle of town.

I've looked over and over the photos I took on the battlegrounds, but I don't see anything resembling a spirit. If you do a search on YouTube, you'll find plenty of videos of ghost sightings that may or may not be real, but I guess it depends on your feelings toward ghosts in general. I've never seen one but I am sure they're there. Maybe someday they'll appear to me other than the one in the window, above.

At the time this plaque was erected at the National Cemetery, I'm sure they didn't have a clue just how long the bivouac would continue!


Have you ever captured a ghost on film? Or otherwise electronically? Or just seen one hanging around?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Boo!

Do you believe in ghosts? What about spirits who communicate through dreams? Pop over to my post at LASR's Halloween Blogfest and I might change your mind if you're a nonbeliever!

Plus LASR is giving away some sweet treats. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Taryn Kincaid stirs up Sleepy Hollow



Cate: Yay, Taryn Kincaid's here to my special Halloween celebration. Taryn, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Taryn: BOR-ING.



Cate: Aren't most writers? lol What do you love most about Halloween?

Taryn: I write erotic paranormal romances. So let’s just say…some of my favorite books come out just before Halloween!



Ooops. There goes one now



Cate: Whew, is it getting hot in here? :) Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?

Taryn: Well, okay. If you insist. Scary, isn’t it?





Cate: Love the hobo outfit! Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?

Taryn: Pretty much all my experiences are unusual. And inexplicable.



Cate: What frightens you the most?

Taryn: People with fewer working brain cells than soap sludge who are elected to the U.S.  Congress.



Cate: lol Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?

Taryn: Once, back in my newspaper days, I went to interview a professor at a local Catholic college. He claimed that he lived in a Haunted House (which, coincidentally, was not far from Sleepy Hollow). The entire house creaked, from the rickety stairs to the squishy lawn. He would enhance the effects for his students and other neighborhood kids for Halloween. Which, when you think about it, might be kind of weird for a priest.



Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?

Taryn: Tons, now that I have discovered Pinterest! You can check out my “Happy Halloween” page here: http://www.pinterest.com/tarynkincaid/happy-halloween/. There’s everything from the “Bloody Dexter Broken Glass Cupcake” to the “Dark and Stormy Death Punch” and “Halloween Eyeballs Jello Shots.”



Here are some little Halloween Oreo Pumpkin Cheesecakes to melt in your mouth:



Ingredients:

1 8-oz package of softened cream cheese

½ c. sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ c. pureed pumpkin

1 egg

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2 tbs all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

12 Halloween Oreos (the ones with the orange icing in the middle)

Chocolate chips, optional



Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
  3.  Place 1 oreo in the bottom of each.
  4.  Whip cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
  5. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and salt until smooth.
  6. Spoon mixture over oreos.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes have set.
  8. Remove from oven to cool.
  9. When cool, remove from muffin tin and discard paper wrappers.
  10. Microwave chocolate chips until melted.
  11. Drizzle chocolates in circles on top of each cake, then drag tip of toothpick or fork through the chocolate circles to create a spider web effect.
  12. Refrigerate and serve!

Cate: Sounds dangerously good. Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.

Taryn: Sleepy Hollow – it’s the anthology of all four of my erotic paranormal Sleepy Hollow series 1Night Stand stories for Decadent Publishing (Lightning, Thunder, Frost and Heat Wave), plus Blizzard, my erotic contemporary for Decadent’s The Edge line.



It’s available in paperback and digital. Here’s the back cover copy:


Welcome to steamy Sleepy Hollow, where lightning strikes, the temperatures are HOT, and the erotic sparks fly!
 
You wouldn't think three sultry succubi sisters, two sexy fire-demons, a reluctant witch and a couple of mega hunky mortals would need hook-ups courtesy of Madame Eve's ultra-exclusive 1Night Stand agency…but hey, the dating scene can be rough, even if you've got extraordinary paranormal powers and live in a mystical village populated by supernaturals… where things tend to go bump in the night.



Taryn Kincaid's erotic 1Night Stand stories, LIGHTNING, THUNDER, FROST and HEAT WAVE are a little snarky, a lot smokin' and will melt your heart! And then BLIZZARD will set you aflame!






Available from Decadent Publishing | Amazon Amazon  US | UK | DE | Canada | ARe |



Cate: Love. This. Series.
Woot! You lucky readers - Taryn has a giveaway!

Taryn: Will give away an ebook copy LIGHTNING, the first book in my Sleepy Hollow series to one random commenter. Tell me YOUR favorite Halloween recipe or a leave a link to it!

Cate: Thanks so much for the spooktacular fun, Taryn! Happy Halloween!



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PA Horror Stories: Midstate ghosts

 
The history of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School has long intrigued me. Shortly after moving to Carlisle, I caught a documentary about the school on PBS and it stuck with me. So much so that I had to write a novel about it, placing two fictional characters in these actual events.

This is a photo I took of the historical marker near the former school site located on the Carlisle Barracks.

If you're not familiar with it, it's one of several facilities across the country that sought to "civilize" Native Americans by forcing youngsters away from their families to live in these institutions. Very sad.

Even sadder to drive  past the headstones in the small graveyard in the Barracks. About 170 children and teens died while at the school. One, Lucy Pretty Eagle, is said to still walk the grounds. She died at the tender age of ten. You can read more detail about the school and Carlisle's general history here.

Here's a photo I took of the graveyard. People still visit to leave small offerings on the headstones of the children. Some students, like the world famous athlete Jim Thorpe, managed to get through school and live successful lives. Thorpe attended in the early 1900s. The stories that really struck me were of the first students at the school's opening in 1879, those who had no idea what to expect, who were punished for behaving as they were brought up to behave rather than an "American."

Another photo I took in a local museum. This group shot is nearly life-sized, so that when you view it, you feel like the children are staring back at you. And the haunted look in their faces stays with you.

Another article mentions ghosts I'd never heard about before - the captured Hessian soldiers who helped construct the stone building near the Carlisle Barracks to house gunpowder, and which also served as a prison (later for "unruly" students as well). According to the article, one man who visited late at night said that rather stepping into the room that's now a museum, he was transported back in time to 1777 to a very active Hessian Powder Magazine room occupied by Hessians! The article has a few other interesting ghosts if you'd like to check it out.

I'll have another Halloween guest on Friday, so be sure to stop by!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Barbara Elsborg scares up some fun and goodies!


Barbara Elsborg



Cate: Please welcome Barbara to my special Halloween celebration. Barbara, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Barbara: I’m insanely rich, beautiful, talented—oh no sorry, that was a dream. I’m a full time writer glued to my laptop to the despair of my husband. Difficult decision over what to save in case of fire, flood, tornado, avalanche… Better not confess to that one. I write contemporary and paranormal erotic romance and suspense stories with a mix of MF, MM and MMF and a touch of humor.



Cate: As you know, I’m a huge fan of your stories! What do you love most about Halloween?

Barbara: I love fun food! See pictures of my daughter’s creations! I’m always on the look out for different things to make. Or for her to make!



Cate: Those are so creepy-cool and fun! Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?

Barbara: When my kids were little, I did a Halloween party in the village hall and made up a play with puppets. I made all the puppets too – witches and wizards and ghosts and built a theatre out of the climbing frame. 25 kids age 7 to entertain and it was the best party I ever did!



Cate: Impressive! Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?

Barbara: Getting pregnant. I’ve no idea how it happened. Twice too! Amazing.



Cate: Ha! No comment. :) What frightens you the most?

Barbara: Those films when you know the monster-vampire-werewolf-shark is waiting to get the hero or heroine and I can’t watch.



Cate: I hear you! Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?

Barbara: Are you crazy! I’d totally freak out. I’ve done the Jack the Ripper tour and that was creepy enough. I can’t cope with the idea that I might see a ghost.




Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?

Barbara: Not a recipe as such but I saw a great thing on the internet the other day – put jelly – gello is it? – into straws with the bendy bits and when it sets, you warm them and squirt them out and they look like worms. Yum. Or not.




Cate: My grandboys would love that. Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.

Barbara: Perfect Trouble – is the story of a wolf in hiding and a fairy who’s always in trouble. It’s due for release on the 15th November but can be pre-ordered now at a discount.




Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?

Barbara: The Blurb!

Unwilling to forgo final respects even from a distance, Jinx sneaks to the funeral of a mother she hasn’t seen for fifteen years, and lands in the worst trouble of her life. The alpha of the Washburn Valley pack never stopped searching for her and now he has Jinx, he’s not going to let her go. She’s extraordinary breeding material—a super wolf in every way; fast, smart and an exceptional shifter—but she’d rather eat her own eyeballs than mate with him. She just needs to figure out a way to escape.

Jonah’s been in trouble all his life. The faery is currently under an indenture punishment for theft, but the idea of doing an extraction from the Washburn Valley pack fills him with dread. The wolves know his face, know he stole their gold and if they catch him, they’ll eat his guts, with or without ketchup. But saying no when he’s ordered north isn’t an option. His plan to get into the compound works, but that’s the only thing that does. He’s staked and wrapped in iron without even getting a glimpse of his target.

For a pair born to trouble, a shifter and a fairy could be perfect for each other, if only they survive long enough to do more than run.



Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?

Barbara: I liked the idea of using the names Jonah and Jinx in the same tale – thought about how much trouble the pair could get into and the story ran from there. I like writing paranormal stories and it seemed ages since I’d had my last one published. As Jonah works for a paranormal agency, I thought I could write a mini series if readers like this one. Let me know!



Cate: Can't wait to read it. Anything else you’d like to share?

Barbara:  My husband cuts my hair but I just trimmed it myself and I’ve made a mess of it. Oh – did you not mean that?



Cate: You always look great!
You lucky readers - Barb has a giveaway!

Barbara:  Because Perfect Trouble isn’t available yet, I can’t offer a copy of that but I’d like to offer one lucky commentator an ecopy of any one of my paranormal books. See my website for details  www.barbaraelsborg.com  



The Consolation Prize

Falling For You

Lightning in a Bottle

The Misfits

Fight to Remember

The Small Print

Just One Bite



Cate: Thanks for being my guest, Barbara! Hope you have a happy Halloween!



Monday, October 21, 2013

Danielle Monsch: 12 Days of Halloween


From about mid-October until Christmas was always a magical and much anticipated time when I was young. 

Probably not an uncommon statement from a kid. My mom should have been a party planner, because our house was always decked out for the season. We were the house that people do that double-take with, because looking only once wasn’t enough to take it all in.

Mom’s favorite holiday was Halloween. Since I’m a fantasy/paranormal writer, it’s safe to say that rubbed off on me, and with kids of my own, I enjoy Halloween in a completely new way, with my kids excitement about dressing up and their enjoyment in the *fun* scares.

While her favorite might have been Halloween, Mom excelled in overall holiday planning. My mom was a generous lady. She never liked cooking, but she loved to bake the holiday pies and cookies and other goodies that come with the season, and everyone who knew us came away during the holiday season with loads of culinary delights. If you ask me to name my favorite food ever, it would have to be Mom’s pumpkin pie.

It’s probably because this time was usually so joyous that one memory sits there, lumpy and misshapen and not a fit with the rest.

Don’t ask me how old I was, but I came down the stairs one night – going to get some water I think – and Mom was on the couch, staring at the Christmas tree. The packages weren’t under the tree yet, which was odd since Mom tended to put them under as soon as the tree went up (Mom is not a last minute shopper – in fact, I’m pretty sure her shopping is done in July.) Now I haven’t believed in Santa ever, so it was no question in my mind about who presents come from.

What set this memory in my mind so sharply was my mother’s face the few moments before she realized I was in the room. At the time I didn’t have the words or the emotional knowledge to name what emotions were in play. All I knew was it wasn’t good.

Several years later we were talking, and in the way of conversations everywhere, somehow that night came up, and I asked Mom what was going on.

She confided that when I saw her, the reality of our situation was none of us kids were going to get Christmas presents. It had been a bad year with lots of doctor bills and not as much work as they hoped to get. Maybe they would be able to get a practical clothing item, but certainly nothing beyond that. Then she told me that a couple days after I saw her that night, her uncle heard about our situation. Without her or my dad asking, he went out and got presents for us kids and told her that it was his early Christmas gift to her and he would not accept any money or repayment.

Mom told me she cried while she wrapped them. She told me it was the best gift she’d ever gotten.
While my childhood would never fit in a Dickinson narrative, there were a few years there where we did with minimal, so hearing after-the-fact that no presents was a possibility didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the lurch in my chest at the thought of it as a near reality. That didn’t make sense – after all, we were several years past by then, and I was a grown person who understood economic realities. 

That lurch, though, was real. And as time has marched on, I think I understand the reason for it, just like now that I’m a mother I understand the look on my mother’s face that night. The holidays were a safe and sacred time. The rest of the year – okay, it’s life, and life happened. But in my memory, the holidays were apart from that, not touched with the ickiness that could happen at other times.

If I didn’t get presents that year, I think that safety and warmth that the holidays (or the thought of) always caused would have disappeared. I wouldn’t have had that protective bubble anymore that helped get me through bad times, and the loss of that would have been a greater tragedy than not getting a doll under the tree.

So while Toys for Tots was not responsible for me getting presents that year, I recognize in a deep and personal way the very good work they are doing.

Toys for Tots is my favorite holiday charity. There are many excellent charities I celebrate and give to, but this time of year my thoughts and my wishes are for the kids who are not in the best circumstances and are in danger of not having a gift under their own tree. It’s not the material item that matters (though it’s always nice to get a great gift, right?) What I never want them to lose is that safe warmth that should categorize the holidays, a warmth that sometimes might be the only thing that gets them through the rest of the year.

Which leads me to the 12 Days of Halloween!

12 Days of Halloween is my (and many other excellent authors) way of having a great time and celebrating the beginning of this wondrous time of year – with giveaways and gifts and raising money for Toys for Tots!

What is involved?

First! My novel Stone Guardian (http://www.daniellemonsch.com/dani/books/stone-guardian/) is on a very special sale. From now until Halloween, it is half-off with part of the proceeds going to Toys for Tots! So you get a book for cheaper than usual, and a chunk of the money will be going to an amazing cause! Huzzah!

And on the other side, I’ll be sharing lots of giveaways! Ebooks (donated by many generous authors) gift cards, swag sets, a Coach (!) bag, and finally…

An iPad Mini!

Yes, you read that right – an iPad mini with a special Entwined Realms designed cover set is the grand prize.

So if you are interested, please keep up with me at twitter (www.twitter.com/Danielle_Monsch) facebook (www.facebook.com/DanielleMonschAuthor) or my blog (RomanticGeekGirl.com) with all the ways to win.

Let’s celebrate the beginning to this great time of year, have a great party, maybe win some stuff, and most important of all – support Toys for Tots and make sure they can help a lot of kids this year!