Free Zines

I love making zines, both digital and print. I have decided to share some of my creations on this site (see link on main menu). I have posted my first digital zine and plan on posting printable zines as well (zines you can print and fold at home).

👻 Enjoy!

#25SpookyStories: A 2022 Christmas Reading Challenge

Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood. – Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)

Follow us on Instagram! @notebookofghosts & @thisissianellis

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. It’s true! The tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas time probably came before the holiday itself and definitely before the commercialized version of today.  The origins, as Kat Eschner writes, are “about darker, older, more fundamental things: winter, death, rebirth, and the rapt connection between a teller and his or her audience. But they’re packaged in the cozy trappings of the holiday.” The tradition never really made it over to America (Puritans ruin the party again), but ghost stories around Christmas were especially popular in 19th Century British books, periodicals, homes, and theatres. In 2017, Ghostland author Colin Dickey made a call to resurrect the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas, so I’m challenging y’all to read 25 ghost (or just scary) stories this Christmas season (or 12). Maybe you’ll read them in your comfy chair with hot chocolate or wassail. Maybe you’ll read the stories aloud around the fire with family and friends. Whatever you need to do to bring this tradition back to life and hopefully start a new spooky tradition in your home. (To learn more, please check out the articles below that ground this tradition in interesting historical research.)

If you participated in #31SpookyStories, it is basically the same thing. You’ll read 25 spooky short stories each day this December until Christmas. Or, you can choose to read 12 spooky short stories (for the 12 Days of Christmas).

Below I have provided some books and FREE sites where you can find some spooky Christmas stories (I’ll continue to update this list throughout December). Feel free to read whatever spooky stories you want, Christmas-themed and otherwise.

Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. You could read 25 (or 12) stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.

The goal of this? To have fun, resurrect an old tradition, and to introduce yourself to new writers. Below are some progress sheets, social media information, some sources on the history on the tradition, and possible stories to read.

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges. I recommend printing the sheets!

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more!

Some History About the Tradition

We’ll be using the hashtag #25SpookyStories!

Books You Might Purchase

16C43F1E-86A4-4D8C-9CDD-98FA6BE84160

FREE Reading List

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Happy Reading!

#31SpookyStories: October 2022 Reading Challenge

For the past few years many committed to reading 13 or 31 spooky short stories during the month of October. This challenge is not only doable, but it is accessible as I provide free resources. I find this tradition an excellent way to introduce yourself to new writers, folklore, genres, and more.

Artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to design spooky progress sheets. They are an easy and fun way to keep track of your stories, whether you are doing 13 or 31 stories this October.

There’s not wrong or right way to complete this challenge. When choosing the next story for this challenge, I usually grab one of my favorite short story anthologies and randomly pick a story. I usually read fiction pieces and I never go a challenge without reading M.R. James. Your reading style, interests, and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Heck, you could read 31 stories in one week. I find I read most my stories on the weekend.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.
  • You might not have time for 31 stories, so let’s swap the numbers around and make it 13.
  • You might choose to participate with your children (I sprinkled in some children’s books below).

Make this challenge your own. I look forward to seeing what you do with it and what stories you recommend! 👻

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for reading templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more! 

We’ll be using the hashtag #31SpookyStories!

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. Might I recommend these beautiful and spooky progress sheets by Sian Ellis? Print them out and fill them in! There are sheets for both 13 and 31 stories.

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

If you would like to share your reads on social media, here are some ways:

  • Post your daily reads (story, story writer, book title, and book editors) on Twitter or in your Instagram stories. Instagram users: I made you templates. Just check my highlights! You might also create your only highlight to archive your daily reads!
  • Share a picture of your book piles periodically.
  • Share your method for picking stories.
  • Write down and share your favorite stories.

Recommendations for Fiction

(That aren’t already in the Free Section)

Recommendations for Nonfiction

Free Stories

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Keep Notes in a Commonplace Book

Commonplace books are an excellent tool for writing down your favorite quotes and excerpts! To learn more about commonplace books, read this post (and this post). To learn more about keeping a Halloween commonplace book, read this post.


I look forward to reading along with you. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

Notebook of Ghosts Going Forward

Well, hello. I have been on a short break, because I had a lot of important things to focus on. This hiatus, like many of my hiatuses, gave me a chance to reflect on what Notebook of Ghosts means to me going forward. As of now, I’m enjoying three things the most: (1) archival research with old newspapers; (2) Indiana hauntings and folklore; and (3) commonplace books. Thus, this will be my focus going forward (until my next hiatus 😉).

I am also lowering the bar in terms of scheduling. The reason is twofold: I want to enjoy what I am doing and I want to work on it until I am finished. With that said, I have a very loose goal of posting on this blog monthly. I will post on my other blog, It Was Not a Ghost, monthly as well.

I will (try to) post #humdayhaunts on my Instagram weekly.

Anyway. I am not going anywhere, just pivoting.

A Very Quick History of Santa Claus, Indiana

OK, this is not about ghosts, but it is about the Christmas Spirit in Indiana.

Santa Claus, Indiana is a town located in the southwestern part of Indiana. Around 2,500 people live in the town (not including the elves, I’m sure) and it hosts Christmas-related attractions throughout the year. 

Starting as a modest farming settlement of German immigrants, the town was eventually established in 1854 with the (not so) original name of Sante Fe. A few years later, the town was large enough to warrant a post office and they submitted an application to the Post Office Department. They rejected it, because “Santa Fe” was already taken. In order to obtain a post office, the town held several meetings and settled on a new name: Santa Claus. The post office was established in 1856. 

That, of course, is one version of the story. According to legend, townsfolk were gathered around a fire in a log church on Christmas Eve. While the children played, the adults discussed the issue of choosing a new town name. All of a sudden, the church doors flew up and the sound of distant sleigh bells were heard by all. The excited children ran to the door and shouted “Santa Claus! Santa Claus!” It was a sign and the new name was chosen (santaclausind.org). 

The post office is by far the most popular location in town as it receives many letters for Santa Claus from children during Christmastime. About 200 volunteers answer about 20,000 letters a year (Indianapolis Star). This tradition began in 1914 when postmaster James Martin started responding to letters. In 1929, Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! took notice and featured the town in a cartoon strip. 

During my newspaper research, I found some discussion during January of 1930 regarding the post office. Due to an influx of letters to Santa Claus, Indiana, the Post Office Department thought it might be best to change the town name. I came across many articles and letters pleading for the name to stay the same. Luckily, Santa Claus, Indiana is still alive and well. 

Source: The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 23 Jan 1932, p. 8.

The attention from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! brought many to the town, but they were disappointed to see only a post office. Postmaster James Martin teamed up with Vincennes attorney Milton Harris to develop the concept for a theme park named “Santa Claus Town.” The first attraction in this town was Santa’s Candy Castle, which was dedicated on December 22, 1935. The building was a red brick castle sponsored by the creator of Babe Ruth and Butterfinger, The Curtiss Candy Company. Santa’s Workshop and Toy Village were later added with major sponsorships included. 

During World War II, the focus in manufacturing switched to the production of war goods. Santa Claus Town would lose sponsors and Harris died in 1950 before he was able to bring Santa Claus Town to its original jolly glory. Other owners attempted to bring back the Christmas spirit, but the park finally closed in the 1970s. Luckily, new owners purchased Santa’s Candy Castle and reopened it in 2006. It one again a successful venture and was even featured on the Travel Channel.

This history of Santa Claus Town was provided by the Santa’s Candy Castle website (which is cute by the way) and is very much true, but there is one other possible reason the park had issues.

Days after the dedication of Santa Claus Town, a 25-foot Saint Nick—purportedly made of granite—went up on an adjacent hill. Chicago businessman Carl Barrett had purchased land in the hopes of creating his own Santa Claus “Park”, and annulling Harris’ rights to the property he’d leased. A crack in the “granite” showed the statue to be concrete; and a struggle for market share in the town’s holiday business followed suit. (Indiana Public Media

So Harris and Barrett entered a legal battle, which made its way to the Indiana Supreme Court. The headline “Too Many Santa Clauses” appeared in publications such as Business Week and Newsweek. As you can imagine, this cost both men money and time. Both Santa parks eventually fell into decline. 

In 1946, a new park named Santa Claus Land opened and is still open today, but under the name Holiday World & Splashin Sarfari.  The park was originally Christmas themed but added other sections over time devoted to the other holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. 

Hope you enjoyed this short break from my usual spooky content. Merry Christmas! 👻🧑‍🎄

Sources 

Hays, Holly V. “From heartwarming to heartbreaking, these Christmas letters end up in Santa Claus, Indiana.” Indianapolis Star, 17 Dec 2019.  

“Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.” Wikipedia. 

“The History Of Santa’s Candy Castle.” Santa’s Candy Castle.  

“The Story of Santa Claus, Indiana.” Santa Claus, Indiana website. 

“Too Many Santas.” Moment of Indiana History from Indiana Public Media. “Santa Claus, Indiana.” Wikipedia.

#25SpookyStories: A 2021 Christmas Reading Challenge

Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood. – Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)

Follow us on Instagram! @notebookofghosts & @thisissianellis

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. It’s true! The tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas time probably came before the holiday itself and definitely before the commercialized version of today.  The origins, as Kat Eschner writes, are “about darker, older, more fundamental things: winter, death, rebirth, and the rapt connection between a teller and his or her audience. But they’re packaged in the cozy trappings of the holiday.” The tradition never really made it over to America (Puritans ruin the party again), but ghost stories around Christmas were especially popular in 19th Century British books, periodicals, homes, and theatres. In 2017, Ghostland author Colin Dickey made a call to resurrect the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas, so I’m challenging y’all to read 25 ghost (or just scary) stories this Christmas season (or 12). Maybe you’ll read them in your comfy chair with hot chocolate or wassail. Maybe you’ll read the stories aloud around the fire with family and friends. Whatever you need to do to bring this tradition back to life and hopefully start a new spooky tradition in your home. (To learn more, please check out the articles below that ground this tradition in interesting historical research.)

If you participated in #31SpookyStories, it is basically the same thing. You’ll read 25 spooky short stories each day this December until Christmas. Or, you can choose to read 12 spooky short stories (for the 12 Days of Christmas).

Below I have provided some books and FREE sites where you can find some spooky Christmas stories (I’ll continue to update this list throughout December). Feel free to read whatever spooky stories you want, Christmas-themed and otherwise.

Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. You could read 25 (or 12) stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.

The goal of this? To have fun, resurrect an old tradition, and to introduce yourself to new writers. Below are some progress sheets, social media information, some sources on the history on the tradition, and possible stories to read.

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges. I recommend printing the sheets!

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more!

We’ll be using the hashtag #25SpookyStories!

Some History About the Tradition

Books You Might Purchase

16C43F1E-86A4-4D8C-9CDD-98FA6BE84160

FREE Reading List

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Happy Reading!

#31SpookyStories: October 2021 Reading Challenge

For the past few years many committed to reading 13 or 31 spooky short stories during the month of October. This challenge is not only doable, but it is accessible as I provide free resources. I find this tradition an excellent way to introduce yourself to new writers, folklore, genres, and more.

What makes this year especially spooky is my new co-host: Sian Ellis! Sian was kind enough to design spooky progress sheets. They are an easy and fun way to keep track of your stories, whether you are doing 13 or 31 stories this October.

There’s not wrong or right way to complete this challenge. When choosing the next story for this challenge, I usually grab one of my favorite short story anthologies and randomly pick a story. I usually read nonfiction pieces and I never go a challenge without reading M.R. James. Your reading style, interests, and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Heck, you could read 31 stories in one week. I find I read most my stories on the weekend.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.
  • You might not have time for 31 stories, so let’s swap the numbers around and make it 13.
  • You might choose to participate with your children (I sprinkled in some children’s books below).

Make this challenge your own. I look forward to seeing what you do with it and what stories you recommend! 👻

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for reading templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more! 

We’ll be using the hashtag #31SpookyStories!

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges.

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

If you would like to share your reads on social media, here are some ways:

  • Post your daily reads (story, story writer, book title, and book editors) on Twitter or in your Instagram stories. Instagram users: I made you templates. Just check my highlights! You might also create your only highlight to archive your daily reads!
  • Share a picture of your book piles periodically.
  • Share your method for picking stories.
  • Write down and share your favorite stories.

Recommendations for Fiction

(That aren’t already in the Free Section)

Recommendations for Nonfiction

Free Stories

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Keep Notes in a Commonplace Book

Commonplace books are an excellent tool for writing down your favorite quotes and excerpts! To learn more about commonplace books, read this post (and this post). To learn more about keeping a Halloween commonplace book, read this post.

I look forward to reading along with you. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

My Other Website: It Was Not a Ghost

Have y’all checked out my new website: It Was Not a Ghost? (Don’t worry, Notebook of Ghosts is not going anywhere.)

When looking for ghost stories in the newspaper archives, I would come across ghost stories that ended up being something else entirely. It was not a ghost! It was a robe, paint, moonshine, an odd reflection, a youthful prankster, the wind, and more!

I gathered these (sometimes humorous) stories about non-ghosts and created a new site in addition to this one. I will update the website every other Friday. I posted last Friday (three times actually) and will post next Friday. Head on over and see what you missed!

And, I’m on Twitter (again).

Thanks for the continued support! 👻🖤

Featured Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

Christmas #humpdayhaunts

December at Notebook of Ghosts is sure to be a spooky one! Along with my Patreon site, I have some blog posts planned for this blog. If you would like additional spooky content, I recommend following me on Instagram (notebookofghosts). Every Wednesday, I share haunted history in a series called #humpdayhaunts. This month will be everything CHRISTMAS.

I thought I might gather up past Christmas #humpdayhaunts for your “First Week of December” enjoyment.

Merry Christmas! 👻☃️🎅

Featured Photo by Stéphane Mingot on Unsplash

#25SpookyStories: A 2020 Christmas Reading Challenge

Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood. – Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)

The following post is a recycled and polished version of the challenge from last year. I have added some more books and free readings. I will continue to update the post with readings I come across.

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. It’s true! The tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas time probably came before the holiday itself and definitely before the commercialized version of today.  The origins, as Kat Eschner writes, are “about darker, older, more fundamental things: winter, death, rebirth, and the rapt connection between a teller and his or her audience. But they’re packaged in the cozy trappings of the holiday.” The tradition never really made it over to America (Puritans ruin the party again), but ghost stories around Christmas were especially popular in 19th Century British books, periodicals, homes, and theatres. In 2017, Ghostland author Colin Dickey made a call to resurrect the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas, so I’m challenging y’all to read 25 ghost (or just scary) stories this Christmas season (or 12). Maybe you’ll read them in your comfy chair with hot chocolate or wassail. Maybe you’ll read the stories aloud around the fire with family and friends (via Zoom of course). Whatever you need to do to bring this tradition back to life and hopefully start a new spooky tradition in your home. (To learn more, please check out the two articles below that ground this tradition in interesting historical research.)

If you participated in #31SpookyStories, it is basically the same thing. You’ll read 25 spooky short stories each day this December until Christmas. Or, if you are busy (or preoccupied/stressed because 2020), you can choose to read 12 stories instead.

Below I have provided some books and FREE sites where you can find some spooky Christmas stories (I’ll continue to update this list throughout December). Feel free to read whatever spooky stories you want, Christmas-themed and otherwise.

Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Hell, you could read 25 (or 12) stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.

The goal of this? To have fun, resurrect an old tradition, and to introduce yourself to new writers. Below are some ways to join the fun on social media, some sources on the history on the tradition, and possible stories to read.

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more!

We’ll be using the hashtag #25SpookyStories!

Some History About the Tradition

Books You Might Purchase

16C43F1E-86A4-4D8C-9CDD-98FA6BE84160

FREE Reading List

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Happy Reading!