Book Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (well, actually, just the paperback cover because OMG)

To be clear, this post is not a review of My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.

It is a love letter wrapped in infatuation and sealed with the blood of a unicorn because THIS PAPERBACK COVER IS MY GD PATRONUS:

I can’t even.

If this cover was a man, my husband and I would need to have a very long talk.

This brilliant paperback release cover of My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix was designed by the talented Mr. Doogie Horner, with illustrations by the venerable Australian artist Hugh Fleming.

And oh. My. Demon. Aunt. did these gents nail it.

I cannot decide what I love about it most:

The neon!

The hair!

The balloons!

The tags!

The BFFs rollerskating in disco lights!

This jerk!

The distress!

This owl whose name is probably Gareth!

These stickers!

I don’t know. Whatever. All I know is that I’m in love. And, if anyone from Quirk is reading this: who ever had the idea to make it look like a VHS tape needs a raise.

No, I haven’t read it yet, but if this cover is any indication–oh my heart look at this cover.

Available July 11, 2017 from Quirk Books.

Just look at it. 

I SAID LOOK AT IT

 

My Best Friend's Excorcism Book Cover My Best Friend's Excorcism
Grady Hendrix
Supernatural Thriller
Quirk Books
July 11, 2017
Hardcover; e-Book; Paperback (available summer 2017)
336
http://www.quirkbooks.com/book/my-best-friends-exorcism-paperback#

A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller. (Original Source: http://www.quirkbooks.com/book/my-best-friends-exorcism-paperback#)

The Witch of Plum Hollow

As we come upon another session of Camp NaNoWriMo, I can’t help but look back on all the projects I’ve worked on during these spring & summer writing retreats.

My story ideas can come from anywhere. Strange snippets of conversation, weird news articles I read online, not to mention local places and faces that inspire.

So, during my first attempt at writing a novel-in-a-month, I searched around for images to inspire one of my favorite places to set a story: the Creepy Small Town.

Enter Ontario Abandoned Places, an online database of user-submitted photos of sometimes forgotten, often abandoned places here in Ontario, Canada.

THE WITCH OF PLUM HOLLOW

I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this entry for the little cabin said to belong to the so-called Witch Of Plum Hollow…but I was instantly intrigued by the story.

As the story goes, Elizabeth Barnes wasn’t a witch at all but a clairvoyant. She credited her “second sight” on the fact that she was born as the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter.

Photo from http://www.pinecone.on.ca/

Born in Ireland, she and her sweetheart moved to Canada, where they had a child. Tragically, he died, leaving Elizabeth to raise their son alone. A few years later, she married again, and had 9 children. Around 1843, the large family moved to a town near Athens, Ontario. The first reports of Elizabeth’s abilities surfaced after this relocation, with locals calling her “Mother Barnes”.

Apparently, Elizabeth turned to fortune telling over tea leaves to support her family. People far and wide came to her for her counsel. It was a local reporter who coined the title “Witch of Plum Hollow”.

Over time, she utilized her powers to locate buried treasures, identify crimes of passion, locate lost personal items, and even reveal future loves. It has even been said that one of Canada’s prime ministers, John A. Macdonald, the Attorney General of Upper Canada at the time, paid Mother Barnes a visit.

WHAT BECAME OF ELIZABETH?

Elizabeth continued to use her abilities in the tiny cabin south of Ottawa until she died at the age of 92. Originally buried in an unmarked grave, she later receive a proper headstone put there by locals who revered their mystical witch.

The original log cabin where so many came to seek Mother Barnes’ advice fell into disrepair. After some time, it was restored and it now on sale! Yes, for anyone looking to surround themselves in the mystique and mystery of the purported “witch” can purchase the old cabin for $250,000.

THE LEGACY

The old cabin sits on Mother Barnes Road, south of Ottawa near Smiths Falls. Whether you believe in her abilities or not is a matter of opinion. It’s obvious from various news articles that Elizabeth Barnes was well-loved and respected for her kindness and wisdom.

NOW ABOUT THAT BOOK…

So, wondering whatever came of this “quick” search of mine for inspiration? I was actually researching for the main character of the book. When I read about Mother Barnes, I was immediately inspired. Her story ended up becoming a great starting point to brainstorm the back story for a completely different character.

Even though both books are still works-in-progress, I found some new story seeds to fold into the other story lines. And apparently, I’m not the only person inspired by the story of Elizabeth Barnes. You can find a reproduction of a book originally published in the 1920’s about Elizabeth online!

Another book, Mother Barnes, The Witch of Plum Hollow – A Collected History (2007), was released in 2007 by author Patti Miller when the refurbished old cabin was unveiled.

It’s interesting to see how local lore begins. It’s even cooler to see how the real person behind those tales can inspire fantastical tales, whether my own or others.

Photo by http://seminars.torontoghosts.org/

 

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It’s Father’s Day…AND I WANT MY CREEPSHOW!!

Creepshow is one of my all-time favorite ’80s horror flicks, for a number of reasons. The movie was a love letter to the old EC horror comics. It was the brainchild of Stephen King and George Romero. And as I wrote about last year, it features one of the greatest soundtracks of all time.  And the fact that Father’s Day is this weekend gives me another great reason to revisit this classic, because the opening tale in this anthology is a little gem named after the holiday itself.

Father’s Day features a family of rich, entitled douchebags who meet their demise at the rotting hands of the family patriarch, who was an even worse person then them when he was among the living. The story stars a young Ed Harris (for a little while, anyway), but the real star is Tom Savini’s creature design and effects.

The same year the movie came out, a comic adaptation was published, featuring interior art by the late Bernie Wrightson. You can see the comic version of “Father’s Day” in the video below, which also has the soundtrack from the movie version edited into it.

As expected, Wrightson’s artwork does a fantastic job of conveying the horror, but you should really watch the movie to get the full effect. So this Father’s Day, grab some cake and watch Creepshow with your pop. Compared to the dads in this movie, chances are yours will look like a superhero.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

I started a book, and I haven’t finished it yet, but I have to tell you about a girl named Sunshine.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a young adult horror book by Paige McKenzie, the first in a series.

You can find it on Amazon.

Blurb:

“Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat, move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. From the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. Something about their new house is just…creepy.

In the days that follow, Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. As the spirits haunting her house become more frightening–and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger–Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.”

I kept looking at the book at the bookstore. Soon the looking turned to picking it up and holding it. One day it came home with me. I am on page 166 of 294, and OMG. I love it. So, I wanted to spread the news.

The creepy began right away. Little things. Sounds. Footsteps. Giggling.

The world is always dark. Sunshine is always cold.

The weirdness builds and builds, little things like laughter and a cold breeze become an invading mist and . The checker board is set up on her bed, and after she makes the first move, something counters it.

SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH HER MOM!

Her overworked mom wants nothing to do with talk of ghosts, but her new friend from art class, Nolan (who is super cool, I so like him!), believes her.

But someone…or something is watching her.

YES!

So many chills! So many moments of OMG. The puzzle pieces are starting to click into place and I AM DYING! I need more reading time, that’s that.

I am posting my thoughts as I read on Instagram, feel free to follow along. kathleen.palm #TheHauntingofSunshineGirl

The book is based on a YouTube series, which I am planning on watching. BECAUSE. Go check out the seasons here.

After I finish this book, I will go find the rest of the series. Has anyone read these? Has anyone seen the web series?

 

 

Which Witch is Which?

Hello, lovelies!

 

I’m sitting here, sipping a little brew I whipped up in the cauldron (spearmint AND peppermint tea – I’m crazyAF), researching witches. I was originally going to take things back a few hundred years but I decided to keep this post a bit more current this time around.

 

Growing up in a predominately Christian home, I was raised thinking witches were Halloween costumes and the stars of my favourite spooky movies (Hellllllo, Grand High Witch!).

 

 

As I delved deeper into the bowels of the library, and then the glorious internet, I discovered that Witches were far more common that the stories had led me to believe. In fact, the VERY FIRST thing my girlfriend and I looked up on Netscape Navigator (God, I am old), was a list of spells, how to preform them, and what we’d need. (We ended up giving up due to horrifically slow dial-up and she pierced my ears with her Jazzy Jewelry set)

Now that I have the most speed a gal could hope for, I’m ready with some more modern witches (who probably won’t turn you into a mouse):

The Kitchen Witch: Usually healers, they work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the elements, and other mysterious beings like gnomes and faeries. Given my love for essential oils, I think this is the witch for me!

The Solitary Witch: Working alone and not bound to any coven, these witches often practice different systems of the craft, sometimes blending two or more.

The Eclectic Witch: These Witches work outside the normal scope of Wicca/Witchcraft. They borrow knowledge and practices, creating their own beliefs and religious systems.

The Hedge Witch: These Witches are considered masters of herbal arts and earth-based spirituality. They’d be the witches commonly used for their midwife and healing skills.

I could probably go on for hours, but alas, the stupid yoga mat is calling. I do have one question before I get my Namaste on….Which Witch are you?

The Day I Saw Stephen King

I SAW STEPHEN-FREAKING-KING IN PERSON!

If you’ve ever read any of my posts, you’ll know how truly amazing this is for me. The man wrote the book that changed my life. Made me a reader. So, to actually see him with my own eyes…It was just so cool. I wish he would have spoken longer, but nevertheless, I’m glad that I was able to have the opportunity. To hear Stephen and his son talk about how the idea sprouted for their collaboration is inspirational. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see Stephen and Owen at a tour stop when they’re on the east coast promoting SLEEPING BEAUTIES.

Stare at TWIN PEAKS Long Enough, And You’ll See It

God, I love Twin Peaks. And I love David Lynch.

I recently posted on my own blog about what an inspiration Lynch is for me, particularly in how he stays true to his ideas. But for this post I want to focus on something else, because I know that Lynch’s work is not for everyone. Some people find the pacing of Twin Peaks agonizing, it’s humor cartoonish and it’s soap opera presentation off-putting. As a kid who grew up watching General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, I adore it.

But even if you don’t care for Lynch’s style, I still think there is a lot for you to dig into with Twin Peaks, especially if you’re a horror fan. So, instead of worry about the convoluted lore of the series, or trying to decipher the deeper meaning of each scene, think of each episode of Twin Peaks as an autostereogram. Remember those? They were the optical illusion images that contained a picture within a picture. Like this:

You remember those, right? In order to see the real picture underneath, you had to sort of let your eyes unfocus a bit, and sort of let the image come to you.

Okay, back to Twin Peaks, then. If you go into Twin Peaks (or any of Lynch’s work), it works best if you take the same approach as with those pictures. Just sort of take it all in, and let it present its elements to you. Because holy hell, there are some truly terrifying slices of horror throughout Twin Peaks, and the new series has already delivered a couple of gems. Let’s look at one:

That is four and a half minutes of nightmare fuel right there, isn’t it? I mean, holy crap. There’s so much to savor there.

The sound design alone is terrifying. Just close your eyes and listen to the low humming sound, the skipping noises, the fire, the eyeless woman’s clicking speech. We are given this soundscape, and then it is shattered by a terrible pounding, as whatever is outside tries to get in.

Now turn the sound off. Let’s just look at this beautiful scene. The purples and reds. The sparseness of it all. A eyeless woman in a small room sitting in front of a fire. The way she senses Cooper. How she communicates with him. And the terror she expresses when the thing outside starts hammering on the door. And then, the resolve she shows in trying to help him escape whatever is out there.

If you close your eyes and listen, it’s scary. If you watch it as a silent vignette, it’s scary. And if you immerse yourself in all of it, the scene is downright terrifying. You don’t need to know a damn thing about Twin Peaks to revel in that scene. And it leaves you with so many questions–What was she doing before Cooper got there? Just waiting for all eternity? Does the fire burn forever? Does she ever move? Is this a prison? Is she a messenger? What is that thing outside? What would it do if it found them? Could Cooper stay there? Would she want him to? Would he become eyeless too?

Just that scene alone could inspire me to write ten thousand words. And that clip is just four and a half minutes long.

See, much like the autostereogram, Lynch’s work is not about instant gratification. There’s a reason Lynch’s pace is frustrating to new viewers. He’s slowing you down as the viewer, making you unfocus just enough to start to see what it really has to offer.

Because if you look long enough, Twin Peaks has such sights to show you.

Let’s Watch a Horror Movie: Get Out

Okay, my creepy-loving friends, time to announce the chosen movie for my monthly live-tweet. For June, let’s watch a horror movie…GET OUT.

Movie poster for the 2017 film Get Out

The 2017 American horror film was written, co-produced and directed by Jordan Peele, his directorial debut.

I have not seen this. AAAAHHHH! I tried to go to the theater, but the schedule was mean and said no. So I have no witty insights to share here, only the blurb from the back of the DVD case.

“When Chris, a young African-American man, visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in the more sinister, real reason for the invitation. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.”

Scene from the 2017 movie Get Out with Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage and Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington

OMG

I have heard good things about this movie.

I will do my best to not watch it before the live tweet, to give you all the crazy first time reactions…BUT I CANNOT, I REPEAT, CANNOT GUARANTEE ANYTHING PEOPLE I HAVE BEEN DYING TO SEE THIS.

Anyway…

Join me on Friday, June 30th on Twitter #GetOut. Pop some corn. Stock up on candy bars. Curl up on the couch in the dark and press play at 9 EST!

Watching movies with friends is the best.

Book Review: Stacey Graham’s HAUNTED STUFF: DEMONIC DOLLS, SCREAMING SKULLS & OTHER CREEPY COLLECTIBLES

 

Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles Book Cover Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles
Stacey Graham
Nonfiction
Llewellyn Publications
2014
Paperback
240

"Finding a one-of-a-kind antique doll at a garage sale is a great feeling--until you bring that doll home and discover it's haunted. Objects with restless spirits attached to them can quietly invade a home through auctions, antique dealers, estate sales, garage sales, and inheritance. This spooky collection examines a wide variety of haunted items, from screaming skulls to demonic dolls, and how they affect the owner's life.

Haunted Stuff provides true accounts of possessed possessions, often found in the strangest places. Discover chilling stories of the island of haunted dolls, the tumbling coffin, Rudolph Valentino's cursed ring, and even the Queen Mary ocean liner--one of the largest haunted items of all. Experience these true accounts that will make you look closer at the antiques on your shelf . . . and wonder if that creepy doll just blinked." -- Amazon (courtesy of the author's website)

The Watcher House – Million Dollar House Comes With Free Stalker

It sounds like some  scary movie or some spooky urban legend (perfect for urban legend month this month), but sometimes real life is all the scarier.

The Watcher house is very real. And very scary.

Before we begin, I ask you to not disturb, visit, or bother this house or its owners in any way… let’s continue.

According to the news, the address is 657 Boulevard,Westfield, NJ 07090. You can view it on Zillow here or Realtor.com here. It’s described as a “stately colonial designed with all the character & charm of the early 1900’s.” It was built in 1905 and boasts six bedrooms, four bathrooms, and 1.3 million dollar sales price.

It also comes with a free watcher.

From the Gothamist

In 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased this house for nearly 1.4 million dollars. According to the full suit on gawker.com, three days after closing on June 5, 2014, the new owners received their first letter.

[note: there are some grammatical errors in the below citations but I have left them in tact for the purpose of accurate reporting]

It was anonymous, from someone claiming to be “The Watcher.” The Watcher claims to be a watcher of the home, in a long lineage of previous watchers. According to the letter, the home “has been the subject of my family for decades”, “I have be put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.” “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time.”

“Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them to me. I asked the (previous owners) to bring me young blood.” The watcher reminisces about the time when he “ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there.”

“And now I watch and wait for the day when they young blood will be mine again.”

Taken from a sidewalk in the Watcher’s neighborhood. From the Gothamist.

The second letter arrived on June 18, 2014.

“Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will. I am pleased to know your names and the names now of the young blood you have brought me.”

“Will the young bloods play in the basement. Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in. It will help me to know who is in which bedroom then I can plan better.”

“All the windows and door in (the house) allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house.”

“I am in charge of (the house).”

Below are screenshots from the actual suit (that you can view in full on Gawker.com).

 

 

The letters continued, each one growing more disturbing, according to the lawsuit that was filed in Superior Court by the owners. The lawsuit claims that the previous owners were aware of The Watcher, and knowingly sold the home without disclosing this, in order to rid themselves of it.

In fact, the letters were so distressing to the new owners, that they never even moved in to their new home.

The letters seem to follow a path of threatening, scary, and frankly bizarre sentiments, the most recent reported in 2017.

A Brief History of the Home

Below is a payment history of the home, straight from the Gawker, who has done a nice job covering this story.

“William H. Davies—later to become Westfield’s mayor—bought the place for a buck in 1913. The Watcher is named such for his/its penchant for “watching” the home and its inhabitants, and stated in one of the ominous missives that he’s been spying upon the house since 1920. Could the watcher be tied to Davies? Did the Watcher watch Davies? Who knows! Davies moved out in 1947, but not before it was struck by lightning in 1932, which caused some structural damage to the roof. He sold the house to his son and daughter-in-law for the same amount he bought it ($1).

Selling a spacious home to one’s son for $1 is one thing, but the pair eventually sold it to Dillard and Mary Bird in 1951 for…another dollar. In keeping with this decidedly bizarre tradition, the Birds turned it over for another $1 to the Bakeses in 1953. In 1955, they handed it off to the Shaffers, for…guess? Correct—$1. One dollar is roughly the equivalent of $8.79 today.

The home remained in the hands of the Shaffers until 1990, when it was bought by the Woods. The Woods were the owners who sold it to the Broaddus family for a cool $1.3 million, and are now facing a lawsuit for failing to disclose that the place is being surveilled by a psychopath/murder ghost.”

 

Welcome to the Neighborhood

This neighborhood in general, does have an interesting history.

This exact home was once struck by lightning, leading online conspiracy theorists to believe that the house must be inhabited by some dark or demonic force.

 

The Watcher house is also close proximity (within 2-3 miles depending on which route you take) to the Breeze Knolls murder house, where John List killed his entire family in November 1971 and ran, remaining in the wind for almost eighteen years.

Home of the John List family in Westfield, N.J., where five were murdered in 1971. (File photo by Tom Herde). 431 Hillside Ave, Westfield, NJ 07090. Please do not bother the residents.

The Watcher house is 1.4 miles from 522 Elm St., where Charles Addams grew up (creator of The Addams family). It’s rumored that the house at 511 Elm Street, where he walked past everyday on the way to Westfield High school, was inspiration for his spooky creation.

Addams family house at 522 Elm Street.

Many reporters have been in touch with previous residents and all of them say the same thing. That they love the house and had never experienced anything strange or suspect.

Most neighbors don’t seem to like to talk about it. Some anonymous letters have been sent to reporters claiming that it’s a local neighbor who is deranged, and people don’t like to talk about him for fear of retaliation.

But a majority of people seem to believe the same thing–that this whole thing is a hoax–an attempt to get out of the mortgage. There’s a theory here at the Gothamist.

 

 

What do you think? Is it real or is it a hoax? Is there a Watcher? Is the house alive? Would you move in despite the letters?

 

Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://historiesofthingstocome.blogspot.com/2015/10/halloween-countdown-2015-watcher.html

http://oldarchives.courthousenews.com/2015/06/16/creepy-letters-ruined-nj-dream-home-couple-says.htm

http://gawker.com/couple-flees-1-3-million-dream-home-after-threats-from-1713646299

http://oldarchives.courthousenews.com/2015/06/16/creepy-letters-ruined-nj-dream-home-couple-says.htm

http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/24/westfield-watcher-3-other-creepy-union-county-happenings/29219691/

http://laist.com/2015/06/29/the_watcher_movie.php?_ga=2.243908166.279318037.1495666995-902086616.1495666995

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/25_years_of_the_westfield_watcher.html

http://gothamist.com/2015/07/07/the_watcher_history.php

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/25_years_of_the_westfield_watcher.html

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/horror_movie_in_real_life_westfields_watcher_gener.html

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/lawsuit_bring_me_young_blood_stalker_told_westfiel.html

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/authorities_not_releasing_info_in_eerie_westfield.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387898/

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2017/03/watch_strikes_again_4th_letter_sent_feds_prosecuto.html

http://gothamist.com/2015/07/28/in_russia_house_watches_you.php

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/25_years_of_the_westfield_watcher.html

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/07/the_watcher_house_joins_list_of_stigmatized_proper.html

http://nypost.com/2016/11/07/residents-fight-to-save-creepy-watcher-house/

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/27/family-getting-creepy-letters-from-watcher-sues-town-to-demolish-house.html

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/31/watcher-sent-another-creepy-letter-to-nj-couple-lawyer-says.html

http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2015/06/lawsuit_bring_me_young_blood_stalker_told_westfiel.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/03/29/westfield-nj-watcher-house-on-market/82406248/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/25/who-am-i-i-am-the-watcher-anonymous-stalker-forces-fearful-family-from-million-dollar-home/?utm_term=.51911a641ec7

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/27/family-getting-creepy-letters-from-watcher-sues-town-to-demolish-house.html

https://deadlyaddressesnj.wordpress.com/

http://documents.gawker.com/the-watcher-lawsuit-1713657328?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_twitter&utm_source=gawker_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow