My Big Fat Haunted House

I’m writing this not only to remind myself that it’s true, but also for posterity’s sake…in the case it doesn’t stop. It started shortly after we moved in. I don’t want to say what “it” is, mostly because I honestly don’t know.

It began with a subtle scrape. Like the sound of a shovel being drug across concrete. It started at night – always after twelve, always before 3.

Scrape. Scraaaape. Scraaaaaaaaaaaaaape. 

At first I was the only one that heard it. I’d nudge Matt awake but by the time he had his wits about him, the noise stopped. I had visions of an albino, bald, cave-dwelling creature with translucent skin and rows of razor sharp teeth scuttling across the ceiling of my crawlspace. The former owner would’ve chained the beast, hence the odd dragging noise I kept hearing.

When Matt heard it for the first time, he ran outside, convinced someone was rearranging the furniture on our deck. The sound became a nightly occurrence, He usually slept through the noises. For me, the more I paid attention to it the louder it got.

And then it stopped.

We went out of town a few months later. My sister packed up her little family and stayed at our house, watching our pups for the weekend. When we came home, my sister and brother-in-law nervously laughed when we asked how things went. My sister batted at her husband and told him not to say anything.

Apparantly they heard a small, high voice whispering for my dog in the middle of the night.

Indi…Innnnndi….

They still talk about it.

My son says ‘Hi’ to everyone. Even if there are five people coming into a store at once, he says hi to them all (if they don’t say hi back, it makes me internally rage). Last month I woke up at 3 am to him chatting with his closet.

 

The next night, he was laughing at it. The third night, he told it to go away. He hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night since then.

My husband snores. On nights where the kids really tucker me out, I send him to the spare room so I can get some solid snoozes in between baby snacks. (I’m the snack, not the baby).  A couple of nights ago I awoke to an odd gurgling noise. I tried to go back to sleep, but it kept getting louder…closer, even. Until it was on my husband’s side of the bed. I turned on the light but nothing was there.

Like I said, I don’t know what it is.

I only know it is there.

Long Story Short

Three nights ago I was looking at my to-finish-reading pile and I had a revelation.

There’s a reason these awesome, best-selling, indie, award-winning books have been collecting dust for the past seven years.

I

don’t

want

to finish

reading

them.

And it hurts my heart. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing. These are amazing stories from debut and established authors, alike.

I even tried tricking my brain into thinking they were gifts (hence the wrapping paper) so I’d stop buying MOAR books that I won’t even get to for another year.

Instead, two nights ago I unwrapped them all. I reeeally like opening presents.

I’ll be the first to admit: when it comes to pleasure reading, I have an attention span the size and duration of an ellipses…

OMG. That’s it.

I have a short attention span. Is that why I’m always watching Goosebumps re-runs? Maybe…

Which means…

I like reading in short bursts!

Which means…

I like writing in short bursts!

Which means…

I should write short stories!

But where to start…

…Hmmm. Too bad I don’t just happen to have an entire repository of dozens and dozens of short story ideas ripe for the plucking.

Oh.

Wait.

My hard drive is the gorram Winchester Mystery House of abandoned plot bunnies.

Buried deep in the fires of Mt. MacBook Air are countless (unfinished) novels. Storyless chapters leading to no where. Frayed plot lines turning to dust in their virtual graves.

BEFORE: My Eternal Hard Drive of Abandoned Plot Bunnies.

And titles. Oh, the unstoried titles…

Two nights ago, I sifted through it all: My self-inflicted slush pile. Admittedly, I’m surprised. Some of these aren’t half bad.

A handful make me not want to set my self on fire, even.

What I’m noticing is that the older the story is, the more likely it is to start amazing (like, I-forgot-I-was-reading-amazing), then fizzle out somewhere between page seven and 13. But those first pages….ohhhhh Nelly. Not, too bad Davis.

Back when I began writing with the intent to publish, I had no idea plotting was an option.

Pantser ONLY.

Now I’m thinking, maybe there was method to that madness. I’ve been so preoccupied plotting my stories to death, no wonder I never finish a full-length novel.

And you know what? I’m leaning into it.

Last night, after I exhumed the chosen few spooky story ideas from my slush pile, I gave each one a nice new cubby:

AFTER: The chosen ones that will be reviewed for short story collection potential.

Granted I won’t end up using all of these. Most are half a sentence long, three are empty, and the rest are likely regurgitations of the others, but it’s a start.

And why reinvent the wheel?

For all I know I have a seven volume set of spooky anthologies buried in here. I’ll keep you posted.

But now, it’s reading time.

Right after eighteen quick episodes of Goosebumps.

R.L. Stine: The Man. The Myth. The reason I didn’t sleep from 1992-1996 (Courtesy of the interwebs).

Happy Birthday to The Davis Girl!

Happy happy happy happy deadly birthday to our favorite demonic member, The Davis Girl!

She’s brilliant, kind, thoughtful, and always terrifying with those black eyes…

You know I love to start out with drinks, so here is what I am contributing to the birthday party!

I found the recipe here. Here’s how to make a Black Diablo.

Black Diablo
Adapted by Emily Arden Wells of Gastronomista
1-1/2 oz Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
4 oz Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer (Chilled)
1/2 Activated Charcoal Capsule
Combine tequila and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice until cold.  In a highball glass, pour the crème de cassis on the bottom of the glass.  Using the back of a spoon, carefully pour the tequila and lime juice mixture as to not disrupt the layer of crème de cassis, followed by ice-cold Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer.  Open a charcoal capsule and pour half of the contents onto the surface of the drink.  Gently stir the charcoal into the top of the cocktail creating the black layered effect.  Garnish with a brandied cherry (or three) and finish with a festive straw.
I have a feeling that this will get the spirits flowing just right.
In addition, you know I’m from California and can’t do without my guacamole fix, so I brought a little of that too. Found here.
<3 Jolene

 

Okay, now that Jolene made sure everyone is half in the bag, we can get to the party games. An in honor of our favorite picture of you, I brought along a couple of games featuring creepy kids. The first is Limbo, a puzzle game about a boy who wakes up in a forest on the edge of Hell.

And the second one is Bioshock, an underwater nightmare featuring the Little Sisters, genetically altered children that hold the key to powering inhuman abilities.

Of course, as much fun as these games are to play at a party, they provide even more horror-filled fun if you play them alone, with all of the lights off.

Happy birthday!

Brian

Erica!!!! Happy birthday!

I invited some of your friends for a party.

For dancing!

And magic spells.

A party just isn’t complete without a little evil.

I have no idea what this kid is up to, but he said he knows you, so…

Maybe our friend Freddy will come too!

And there must be UNICORNS!

I figure anyone with black eyes will fit right in. Maybe this “he” they speak of will bring you a present.

And because certainly your friends will want to eat…

I’ll make cupcakes!

Just in case it all goes wrong, I’ll have the exorcist ready…

To the creepiest girl I know. A scary center hidden by a sweet, yet crazy, shell. Have a great day!

Love,

Kathy

 

Happy Birthday Erica!

 

Love,

 

 

Happy Birthday Kira Butler!

We’re gathering the spirits today, the ghosts and the ghouls, to celebrate the life of Kira Butler!

She’s an incredible author, amazing designer, and all around amazing person.

She has one of the darkest, most brilliant minds of our times—possibly of all time.

Seriously, have you check out her books? Just read the blurb for Wake the Dead or The Hollow Road! Or check out her free short stories (but be warned, because you will never want to read anything by anyone else, every again). Check out The Skeleton and the Corpse Candle, The Curiosities Collection, and more.

She’s also the genius behind our amazing logo for The Midnight Society.

She draws stuff like this in a bullet journal and I just swoon. #artistgoals

You can follow her in Instagram for more swoonworthy bullet journaling.

 

I want to kick off the party right with a silky cocktail that screamed Kira the moment I laid my eyes on it. And it hasn’t stopped screaming. Does anyone know how to quiet a cocktail?

It’s called Arsenic and Old Lace and I found it here.

Here’s how you make it:

Arsenic & Old Lace

Recipe by Maison Premiere 

1-3/4 London Dry Gin such as Plymouth
3/4 oz Vom Fass 72% Green Absinthe
1/2 oz Creme de Violette
1/4 oz  Dolin Dry Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

And now that you’re drunk, happy birthday Kira!

Love, Jolene

 

Happy birthday, to a fabulous woman, the bullet journal queen, and cemetery enthusiast!

I found a few places to have a party…

 

The guest list will be epic…

And there will be cake!

Blow out the candles and make a creepy wish…

And have a happy birthday on the dark and deadly side.

Love,

Kathy


Kira! Happy Birthday. I made you something but I don’t remember where I left him.

You can play with me while we’re waiting.

Love,

The Davis Girl

Happy birthday, Kira!

Seeing the drawing in your bullet journal (which are amazing), I was reminded of how much I loved the interior artwork for the original Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books I grew up reading. So, I brought along some of my favorite pieces to share with you on your birthday.

Clarion the Cleric by Larry Elmore (D&D Basic Rules)

“Speak With the Dead” Cleric Spell by Larry Elmore (D&D Basic Rules)

“A Paladin in Hell” by David Sutherland (AD&D Player’s Handbook)

Adventured in the Wilderness by Darlene (AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide)

These are just one of the many reasons I keep my old D&D books around for inspiration. Hope they inspire you as well.

Happy birthday!

Brian

Kira!

My fellow Canuck, fellow #bujo enthusiast, creepy-cool new friend who I already adore…we’re totally kindred spirits!

Every story of yours that I’ve read is enchanting. I would totally get yelled at by my mom for staying up late reading your delectably dark tales under the covers with a flashlight.

I’m hoping we get to hang out one day – I know it would be a blast!

Wishing you the happiest birthday, girlfriend!

<3 Mary

 

 

Happy Birthday Kira!

Love,

Save

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m sure you read the title of my post and questioned why I sound so excited…we’re usually a little more bloody around here. I’ll get to that in a second, but first let me explain. This year is different.

Kind of.

This year is all about starting over and making new memories. Today, my boyfriend and I are celebrating anti-Valentine’s Day style. Every day, at least in my humble opinion, should be Valentine’s Day. Celebrating your relationship with love and kindness should not just be a focus one day of the year. Spending time together is the whole point of the day though, right?

Right.

Instead of spending the money on flowers and chocolate, we are taking the time together. Making a nice dinner–together. Watching The Walking Dead–together (which is our regular weekly thang anyway). What could be better than food and horror? Of course there will be teens grabbing at all the yummy dinner, and we’ll be fighting to make sure we get our hands on food too, but that’s par for the course.

Really it’s just a regular Tuesday that I am lucky enough to spend with B. And he gets my whole “I love horror” thing.

So my fellow horror lovers, how are you spending the day? Are you watching My Bloody Valentine?

Stoked that TWD is back on and Rick is finally going to be a bad ass again?

Those of you getting engaged right now…here’s a great Pinterest Board with some ways to begin planning your event.

And as always…share your fun plans with us below.

The Killer in Me

I have always had a deep fascination with serial killers. So let me stop you right now and tell you that if you have any book recommendations for me based off this information, to go straight to the comments and tell me what to read. I devour anything involving them, mainly non-fiction, but that’s because there used to not be a ton of serial killer books in the young adult category. In fact, we’ve talked about serial killers on this blog too, one of my favorites being the post on the true story of HH Holmes and the Murder Castle (which is terrible and awful and fascinating).

I heard about A Killer In Me by Margot Harrison and I was elated because it sounded awesome and I really hoped that it would be as good as the hype around it.

In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s the blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

 

 

Well, I’ve started reading it so far and holy hell, I love it! It’s creepy and fascinating and it really makes you wonder what you would do in that situation. I don’t want to give out any spoilers but I will say this, I love it so far. It’s got atmosphere and a serial killer and what I consider to be an end-girl seeking him out and the pacing is great and the book-boyfriend is adorable.

 

I’ll let you know how I like it when I finish but I’m already 3/4 of the way through and I love it. Buy it on Amazon or add it to your Goodreads. And nope, I’m not getting paid to promote this or anything, I just think it’s rad. <3

 

What other serial killer books do you recommend, in any genre? Tell me in the comments below!

 

 

In love and death: Lizzie Siddal

This story happens by lamplight, under a copse of trees and at the top of a steep hill, predictably under the cover of night when only the most nefarious deeds are done. It’s October and the ground is frosted, but there are men at work with spades and shovels, digging into the soil with some ardour, awaiting that telltale sound of metal striking a coffin.

If you’ve ever dug up a grave yourself, I’m certain you’d know it: the timber of the strike changes as the wood buckles, and then splinters. It’s an extra bit of give beneath the tool — the result of the grave being undisturbed, underground, for several years. Seven, to be precise.

The men stop digging when it happens, and furtively under his breath, the one holding the lantern says, “Keep going. We need to open ‘er up.”*

Some say one of the men present to oversee the deed was Bram Stoker, the future author of the seminal vampire tale, Dracula, though in later years, it would be debunked that he was even in London at the time. It is often suggested that Dante Gabriel Rossetti was graveside as well, but neither was that the case though it was Rossetti who agreed to the exhumation of his dearly departed:

Elizabeth Siddal, photographer unknown

Today we are speaking in particular of the grave of Elizabeth Siddal — a poet, an artist, a model, and muse to her husband, with whom she shared a decade-long tumultuous love affair that eventually culminated in the loss of their child (stillborn), postpartum depression from which she found no recovery, and her eventual suicide by laudanum overdose on this day, February 11, 1862.

Perhaps you’ve seen her likeness in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood: Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, or John Everett Millais who painted her as Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1851-52.

John Everett Millais' Ophelia, 1851-52

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia, 1851-52

Today, we’re not talking about is the tragedy of Lizzie’s life, which is often overshadowed by illness and depression, her husband’s dalliances with other women, or her untimely ends at the age of thirty two — though it paints a somber picture of the woman who is sometimes overshadowed by the characters she was used to portray in art. What we are addressing today in remembrance is that love stories, sometimes the best of them, often end tragically and only to have immortality conferred to them by other means…

We are talking about a man obsessed, compelled to believe after experiencing a seven-year long artistic block, that Lizzie was his muse. At her burial, in a gesture of tenderness and contrition for his misdeeds, Rossetti had buried a book of his poems with his dead wife.

The time between her death and exhumation was fraught for Rossetti; you could call it a “dry spell,” or maybe even that he was experiencing a creative block. His habits and collection practices became increasingly more eccentric, but most importantly: he wasn’t producing any work.

Rossetti was offered the opportunity to retrieve the poems sometime in 1868 by his friend and agent Charles Augustus Howell, but declined.

A year passed before he made the request of Howell to retrieve the book of poems from his wife’s grave, when, upon deciding he needed a few more pieces to round out his next collection for publication, only those that were buried with Lizzie would suffice. He sent Howell, alongside two workmen, and a doctor to disinfect the manuscript as necessary, to dig up Lizzie’s coffin. Being a friend of the Home Secretary who allowed permission for the exhumation to take place, Rossetti instructed those parties present to keep it a secret.

Curious, however, is the frequent mention of Bram Stoker’s involvement though he was never actually accounted for. Part of the reason for this originated with the alleged state in which they found Lizzie’s body when they opened her coffin:

After seven years, her glorious red hair had continued to grow, filling the coffin, while the body of the long-lost muse had remained remarkably in-tact; as well-preserved and beautiful as she had been in life.

There are a few problems with this account, apart from the fact that it’s totally bogus: A forensic tidbit for you as we conclude this article — it’s often noted that while a corpse’s hair and fingernails appear to continue growing after death, it’s actually the recession of skin as fluids are leeched from the body into its nethermost parts that accounts for the appearance of further growth. To fill an entire coffin, though? Nah.

It also serves to note that Lizzie was never considered a stunner in her time — rather, she was often selected as a model to depict characters more realistically because she was “plain” — a stylistic decision of the Pre-Raphaelite painters to move away from the Neoclassical style of their contemporaries who frequently painted too-perfect, robust, fleshy creatures to symmetrical perfection.

What this does suggest is that perhaps Mr. Stoker heard of this supposed “secret” endeavour that occurred in the darkest part of night that October, and the story — as ghastly as it was — inspired him to write Lucy Westenra as she was: an immortal creature in her grave, disinterred and perfectly preserved as she was in life, now in death.

Of course, everyone heard about the shady affair eventually. This was Victorian London, where in the echelons of creative society, gossip is fodder for the trade of secrets over tea.

Grave of Lizzie Siddal, Highgate Cemetery West. Photo by Kira Butler, 2014.

Rossetti Grave, Highgate Cemetery West. Photo by Kira Butler, 2014.

They took the book of poetry back, sealed Lizzie up, and replaced the stone on the grave — but her memory endures, and perhaps, in that suspended immortality where we find her in pictures, and in artwork, there is something to be said about the once-beloved muse who is slighted, even in death:

The book of poems Dante Gabriel Rossetti received two-weeks later from the doctor after disinfecting it was sodden, partly decayed, the writing smeared, and eaten through by worms in places, rendering many of the pages illegible.

 

* Phrasing for dramatic effect. I’m not really sure if words were exchanged at all during the digging, but I imagine if there were, they were not pleasant.

References

“Worm-eaten manuscripts in Lizzie Siddal’s coffin.” Burying Books. N.p., 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

“Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?” LizzieSiddal.com. N.p., 07 Nov. 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

“Elizabeth Siddal.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

Pizza Baby!

Hello!

 

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted and oh, how I’ve missed you! This post is a bit of a cheat since I’m not really posting anything, just announcing! I’ll be back to the same old next, next Friday, but for today I have two little announcements.

First off, I birthed the newest member of the Midnight Society! This little turnip’s name is Esmond Matthew 😀

I’m 100% biased, but that is one cute tiny human.

Along with a real baby, there’s also a new book baby in my life! Our commander, Jolene, curated a selection of delightful pizza-inspired short stories and the anthology – A PIZZA MY HEART – released yesterday!

Brian, Jolene, and myself all have stories in this beauty. You can follow the book tour along and enter to win some sweet prizes.

 http://yaboundbooktours.blogspot.com/2016/12/blog-tour-sign-up-pizza-my-heart.html

That’s all for me! I’ll be back soon with something spooky.

<3

Jenna

Finding Frights in Foreign Places

Ah, February. Love & romance are in the air. But don’t fret, my horror loving friends. It isn’t all hearts and flowers this month.

We have nothing against getting all warm and fuzzy. But it wouldn’t be The Midnight Society way without a little blood, guts & gore to go along with it.

As it turns out, even on my vacation, I was able to find something frightfully delightful.

Yearly trips have become an awesome new tradition for myself and my fiance, Chris.

It’s always cool to go somewhere new, to discover those things that are different from the place you call home. It’s also a great opportunity to be inspired by new cultures, new locales and fill the creative well by looking for potential new story ideas.

On our latest trip to the Dominican Republic, we spent a relaxing week sitting on the beach, drinking piña coladas and enjoying the surf, but that doesn’t mean the horror writer in me was completely off the clock.

I did a little digging, and found some hair-raising local myths that aren’t all too unfamiliar. One, in particular, is the perfect introduction to this month o’ love. Because even beasties need a little lovin’!

The Ciguapa

The Ciguapa is the Dominican version of the succubus. Said to inhabit deep forests and mountainous regions, the Ciguapa is described as having long, silky black hair which she uses, like clothing, to cover her otherwise naked body.

“Baquiní y la Ciguapa del Camú (1949)” by Domincan artist Jamie Colson from http://dominicancult.blogspot.ca/

Not surprisingly, lonely men are squarely on The Ciguapa’s love radar. She uses her beauty and sensuality to lure them. Some have said her hypnotic stare is what transfixes her targets, but the end result is the same: her capturing & eating her targets or trapping them in the cave with her forever.

If that wasn’t enough to give you the creeps, the Ciguapa is said to have backward-facing feet, which serve to confuse anyone who might pursue her, as she leaves a false trail that leads followers astray.

So, if you happen to be lost in the forest at night, and hear a strange howling sound, it may just be some nocturnal bird, or it may be a harbinger of death for the unlucky soul who has caught the amourous attention of The Ciguapa.

Save

Resident Evil 7 Is A Horror Fan’s Delight

I’m only about three hours into Resident Evil 7, but I am in love with this game. While the series has been inconsistent at best over the past handful of years, this latest installment is the perfect blend of horror, humor and shocking moments that has me smiling from ear to ear every moment I spend with it.

Switching to first person was a great decision, as it pulls you deeper into the experience, and allows the creators to surprise you in ways that just aren’t possible in third person. This creates a level of constant tension that I haven’t experienced since the original game.

But that’s not even my favorite part.

What I adore most about RE7 so far, is just how much it wears its influences on its sleeve. In the first hour of the game alone I was squealing with joy at the abundance of nods to everything from Se7en to Evil Dead (in fact, I wrote a whole post about the Easter eggs over on Co-Op Critics).

Below, you can watch me play through the first 45 minutes or so of Resident Evil 7, and you’ll get a taste of its tone, atmosphere and nods to certain other properties (including P.T.). I’m a good deal further into the game now, and things have gotten progressively more disturbing, gory and fun.

I’ll be doing a full playthrough on the Co-Op Critics YouTube page if you want to follow along!