January Hiatus

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While not too much of a shock, the blog is taking a hiatus until February. This will give me time to finish work and school projects, while also giving me the opportunity to plan future posts for this site.

The zine will also be released in February.

Sorry for the delay and thanks for being a friend!

 

My Spooky Christmas Reading List

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This December, I am embracing the holiday spirits. I have decided to (1) read a ghost story every day until Christmas and (2) learn more about the pagan origins of the holiday. Any excuse to buy more books right? The following are books I plan on reading this month. I have also included some online articles for those interested in additional and shorter readings on the season.

My Christmas Bookshelf

Below are books I am hoping to consume or have already this holiday season (except for The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Classic Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales to Read at Christmas which I’m still waiting to have delivered).

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I ordered two books from my favorite online used book seller La Creeperie: Christmas Ghosts and Mistletoe Mayhem. Both books are anthologies filled with short ghost stories. I mostly purchased these books because of the covers. I mean…

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I highly recommend La Creeperie for rare anthologies and some fun covers (along with any horror and occult books you desire). The store gets most of my paycheck. 🙂

My favorite anthologies from the batch are The Valancourt Books of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories. The stories chosen did not overlap with my many other ghost story anthologies, so I was extremely happy. Each story comes with a brief introduction about the author and where it was first published. Each volume also comes with an interesting historical overview of the Victorian tradition of ghost stories at Christmas.

I am also reading some Charles Dickens’ ghost stories for obvious reasons.

In an effort to learn more about the pagan origins of the season, I purchased two Llewellyn books. While I have not had the chance to to read The Old Magic of ChristmasI flew through Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore, which is part of their Sabbat Essentials series. Even if you are not a practicing pagan, the book reveals the reasons behind some common traditions and gives you ideas for some new ones.

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I unknowingly read a Christmas ghost story at the very end of November. Richard Matheson’s Hell House is a Christmas ghost story like Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The book follows two mediums, a parapsychologist and his wife on a investigation of the “Mount Everest of Haunted Houses” during the days leading up to Christmas. This novel is a mix between The Haunting of Hill House and Eyes Wide Shut.

My Christmas Internet Favorites

Christmas ghost stories: Dark Christmas by Jeanette Winterson, The Guardian

Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them, The Guardian

Folklore of Food: Traditional Christmas Food, Folklore Thursday 

The Monsters of Christmas, Atlas Obscura 

Happy Holidays! 

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I am sharing the stories I read each day leading up to Christmas on my Instagram stories if you are interested!

Sign Up for Zine of Ghosts

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In November December, I am releasing a digital zine for download (PDF and EPUB) along with an additional tiny zine you can print, fold, and put in your pocket. I will continue offering zines every two months! This is all FREE.

All you need to do is sign up to join my zine email list!

I’ll offer teasers on Instagram and Twitter.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Well, It’s October…

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It is finally October, the best month of the year and the beginning of Halloween (because it is a season, not just a day). I have already blew my paycheck on Halloween decor and pumpkin everything (cookies, tea, body cream, candles, figurines, etc). I am just so damn excited and wanted to share a quick glimpse into my daily spooky life outside the notebook.

I made a cemetery terrarium or a cemeterrariumI am always saying I wish our property had a small cemetery, so I decided to create one. I found some small figurines (a cat, gravestones, skulls, and bones) at Michael’s (a craft store) and plants from my local greenhouse and my yard. This is my first of many. I plan on putting some of the bones and skulls in the soil to create the look of buried bodies with the next one. You might also consider adding small LED fairy lights and/or glow-in-the-dark fillers/sand.

IMG-8297.JPGI have decided to read a spooky short story each day this October. The short story is my favorite genre and I have so many anthologies on occult fiction. I really have no plan; I am just picking up a book and reading what grabs my attention. I will post a final list early November, but will share what I’m reading daily in my Instagram stories.

Since most of my October involves surgery recovery and a couch, I’m really excited about Turner Classic Movies’ Halloween Marathon (here is the schedule). I will also be reading through past collections of Jezebel readers’ scary stories (all the links are on my Library page).

I have been buying so many Halloween items to decorate my writing space (for the entire year). Below are some pictures. Not pictured: my ridiculous drawer full of Halloween office supplies and stickers.

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Snow globe from TJ Maxx
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Ouija Board Tray from Target / Candle holder from TJ Maxx
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Ridiculous naked ghost only wearing boots from Target

What have you been doing to get in the Halloween spirit? 

31 Halloween Treats for All Those Other Days

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It has been a stressful year so far and now, more than ever, I’m counting down the days until Halloween. My current self-care method is creating short-lived Halloween celebrations in between my mundane work hours and depressing news. The following are some suggestions for what I call “Halloween self-care,” or ways to cheer yourself up with the magic of Halloween.

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Watch this History Channel special on Halloween from the 90s.

Have you picked out a costume? Are you making your own? Well, get to work.

Make Halloween-shaped cookies (or your favorite Halloween dessert).

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Have a Halloween movie marathon (while eating your favorite candy).

Look up all the haunted locations in your city/town and state. There might be some books on the subject at your local library. Visit if you want, but don’t trespass, break laws, or cause damage. 

Watch this 1980s animation of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre. Did anyone else watch this during music class when they were a kid?

Read your favorite scary story from childhood. Mine was The Yellow Ribbon.

Listen to Snap Judgement’s annual Halloween special, “Spooked.” This podcast shares true spooky stories every Halloween and it never fails to give me goosebumps. I recommend starting with “Spooked IV.”

Write a journal entry about your favorite Halloween memory from childhood.

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Wear last year’s Halloween costume while you do the dishes.

Every year, Jezebel asks their readers to share their true scary stories in the comments.  I have links to every year on my Resources page (I recommend starting with the early years), and I have also shared a lot of my favorites in my old Weekly Yuputka series.

Follow a Halloween-themed Instagram account (like this or this).

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Make your favorite fall beverage, put it in a travel mug, and visit your favorite local cemetery. You might do some research beforehand using the Find a Grave website or app. If you are into symbols, The Cemetery Club has a great guide on gravestone symbolism.

Make pumpkin bread pudding (add ice cream or homemade cinnamon whipped cream) and eat it while watching Practical Magic or Hocus Pocus. It’s like a hug.

Practice your Halloween make-up and send a selfie to all your friends without warning.

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Write a journal entry about your ideal Halloween day.

Ask your parents, grandparents, or older friends about their childhood Halloween memories. Record them if possible.

Share ghost stories with friends around a bonfire. Your own Midnight Society.

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Watch the Halloween episodes of your favorite TV shows.

Read some Ray Bradbury. Here’s 10 tales by Ray Bradbury to get you into the Halloween spirit.

Look up pictures of pets in Halloween costumes.

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Treat yourself to spooky scented candles. I recommend supporting Burke & Hare Co and Witch City Wicks.

Make Halloween cards for your distant friends and relatives (hold off on sending them until closer to the date). Maybe you can use these creepy vintage cards for inspiration (or…not).

Invite your friends over to watch The Craft and then play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.

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Start a commonplace book for Halloween topics. You might start with Halloween folklore and origins. The following links might be a good start.

Watch Caitlin Doughty’s Ask a Mortician Halloween special.

Read this list of 31 Ghosts.

Learn about Halloween folklore and superstitions from #FolkloreThursday.

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Make a spooky Halloween playlist for your commute. It could be literal. It could be classical. It could be Nick Cave. It could be witchy Stevie Nicks. You do you.

Look up some Halloween New Yorker cartoons.

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When Halloween does come around, buy all the stickers, pencils, and other office supplies and use them all year round. I usually hit up the dollar bins or the sales the day after Halloween.

Have something I can add to the list? Tell me in the comments! 

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A Book Giveaway for My Birthday

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My birthday is this Sunday (June 11th). Honestly, I am pretty stressed about other things and it’s summer (the worst season of all), so I’m very whatever about my birthday. I thought giving away one of my favorite books would cheer this birthday girl right up!

I am giving away a fresh copy of Colin Dickey’s Ghostland, which is the book I wish I wrote. According to Amazon:

An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country’s most infamously haunted places—and deep into the dark side of our history.

NPR also named it one of its Great Reads of 2016! I named it one of my Top Ten, which is just as prestigious.

Giveaway Details

I am only accepting entries in the United States! I’m very sorry! 

All you need to do is:

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@notebookghosts)
  2. AND share this post on Twitter (make sure my Twitter handle is on there, so I can find ya). There’s a share button below!

The giveaway ends midnight (EST) on June 11th, and I’ll announce the winner June 12th.

Let’s get this party started!

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Chapelle Ardente: My Writing Space

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When we got our house a year ago, the first room I painted was my writing room. I chose black, of course (Behr’s Broadway). Nicknamed Chapelle Ardente, this room is where I escape to light candles and research the paranormal, filling the pages of my commonplace book. Or, I’ll sit in my chair on a weekend morning with coffee and a spooky short story (usually from this series or this collection or this collection). Or, I’ll hide in here when I need an introverted moment of decompression (which is daily).

I really enjoy seeing the spaces people create in and when Kira Butler shared her writing space, I was inspired to share my own. The following images are grainy pictures from my phone, but they nonetheless capture where I work on this blog (dissertation and more). It is still a work in progress, but I like a project. Enjoy!

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The main reason I made this room my own: it came with book shelves (although I need more).

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My favorite corner (the reading nook) is adorned with work from Memorial Stitches and Death Follows.

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A holy water station just in case the demons escape my books.

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I really love this print of a decapitated ghost.

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I found this branch of acorns last fall and hung them in my window. According to folklore, they protect the house from being struck by lightening.

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Diamond Joe (a.k.a. Keke, Kitty Kitty Boo Boo) sits on the reading chair more than me.

Boo! I’m still here.

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Notebook of Ghosts is my sanctuary and I’ve been anxiously waiting for the time to write a post. This week, I reach a milestone with my dissertation and I’ll be able to return happily to this space and research all things haunted.

Along with filling my blog with content, I’m working on creating zines and button packs to be sold through the site. The zines, inspired by my love of commonplace books, will be sold in limited quantities and will explore a ghostly theme. I’m still figuring out the logistics, but I hope to have the first issue out this summer!

Thanks for sticking around during my absence.

Hello.

New content coming soon. Just wanted to share some Indiana snow with you. 🖤

 

A Cemetery Stroll with the Wabash Paranormal Research Society

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I am skeptical of the existence of ghosts. Though, I believe in their existence enough so to pursue haunted places for the chance to see one. I believe in them enough so that I feel chills down my spine when I hear a ghost story. There is still so much left unknown, but who am I to tell others that their experiences are imaginary or a trick of the mind. I want to believe, but I want to remain objective. I move along a Mulder and Scully spectrum, where science and first-hand experience can be both strong and weak evidence. This has made my lifelong independent study of ghosts and hauntings much more challenging, exciting, scary, and fun.

Recently, I took one of my weekend cemetery strolls through Spring Vale Cemetery (a local favorite of mine). This stroll would be special, because I would be joined by James (founder/lead investigator) and Kevin (researcher/team lead/investigator) from the Wabash Paranormal Research SocietyThe Wabash Paranormal Research Society is located in Lafayette, IN with a branch location in Kansas. They offer their services free of charge to homes and businesses, taking away the financial burden from an already stressful situation for many people. While many of their clients are in the area, they haven’t turned away those outside of Indiana and Kansas. They sincerely want to help.

James said the team started in 2010 when he returned home from the Marine Corps, but he has been active in paranormal investigation since 2001. A visit to Lafayette’s old Pythian Home (an old nursing home) sparked his interest. After seeing things he couldn’t explain at the site, he became a paranormal investigator (and did it even during active duty).

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James and Kevin expressed a passion for solving paranormal mysteries. Along with offering free services, their team pays for their own (expensive) equipment and for trips to investigate haunted locations. Recently, I learned that locations with a haunted history will open their doors to paranormal investigators…at a cost. Nevertheless, such a business is important for keeping these historical places running. It’s hard to keep history alive in our economy and paranormal investigation helps keep historical structures standing, while sharing the stories of its deceased inhabitants.

They use the equipment you’ve probably heard about on TV shows: EMF detectors, IR detector, recorders, cameras, etc. One notable tool is their trigger object, or an inanimate object meant to attract spirits’ attention. They use a train as their trigger object, which lights up and makes sounds whenever a ghost is near. “It’s one of those pieces of equipment,” James explained, “that when it goes off, everyone’s excited.” Kevin agreed: “On one hand, I could count the number of times it has gone off and I’ve been here for 5 years.”

Along with their paranormal research technology, they are equipped with a skeptical and open mind.  On their website they write, “WPRS feels that skepticism, common sense and an open mind is essential when researching and investigating the paranormal and that all reasonable explanations should be ruled out prior to declaring an experience to be paranormal in nature.” Part of ensuring that they don’t confuse environmental noises for supernatural noises is taking base readings prior to the investigation. As Kevin explained: 

When you first go into an investigation, you get your base readings. So you take your K2 Meter, you take your Mel Meter, and you measure what the house gives off. So if you go by an electrical socket it’s going to go up. Or if you go by a fan, it’s going to spike up. You’ll go into the kitchen and note the hum of the fridge. You get your baseline audio. You get your baseline reading of the house. So when you start getting evidence above that, you can chalk it up to possible paranormal activity. But you cannot completely prove it, because nothing can be completely proven in this field yet.

They also said their years of working as paranormal investigators allows them to recognize familiar domestic noises (such as creaky floors). To also make sure audio data is not misconstrued, they ask all investigators to speak at their regular volumes, since whispers might be mistaken for other sounds (I’d have a problem screaming).

I was surprised by the amount of work that goes into analyzing data. For example, they place multiple microphones around a haunted house, one in each necessary room. Each microphone will capture around 8 hours of data. Analyzing, say 5, microphones’ audio is going to take a long time. And, that’s only one of the tools collecting data.

Not only do overnight investigations leave a lot of analysis work, but it also takes a physical toll on the body. Both described the dreaded “paranormal hangover,” which is a special level of tiredness one gets when chasing things that go bump in the night. Then there’s the possible risk of malevolent spirits. At one investigation, for example, an investigator got scratched 27 times in a matter of 5 hours. Another notable example happened at Black Moon Manor, where James was physically assaulted.

All of the sudden we hear footsteps running down the hallway, scratches on the wall. All of a sudden I feel two hands press down on my chest. And all I know at this point, is that I’m off the ground. And I went right through a chair, a plastic chair.

While James and Kevin shared interesting stories, I wondered if there was ever a slow night. When you watch shows such as Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, it seems like evidence is just spilling out of the walls. James was able to clarify a few things for me:

 I use an analogy. It’s like going fishing. You cast your bobber out there and you can be out there for days until you get a bite. So. you don’t always find activity. There will be nights where there is completely nothing. There will be nights where there is the best evidence I’ve ever seen in my life. And on any show you watch, you see an hour of data, but they’ve been out there for 4 days. So they are showing you the evidence they caught over a span of maybe 4 days. And, that’s why it seems like they are catching a lot. Then you have some shows where the crew goes in before and sets up EMF pumps, so it’s pumping the air full of electromagnetic waves. So naturally you have a better chance of catching evidence.

Understandably, homeowners may be discouraged if an investigation produces little or no evidence. Kevin and James explain to their clients that their investigation was only one night, and they are willing to come back again.

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I don’t know what I was expecting when I entered Spring Vale that day. Maybe those ghost hunters that are adrenaline junkies? But, I was surprised to meet two paranormal investigators that genuinely care for improving the lives of scared and confused families. I’m glad our community has this resource.

While I may be skeptical of the existence of ghosts, James and Kevin pointed out a phenomenon I’ve noticed since starting the blog. Oftentimes, people are quick to dismiss ghosts, but once you start talking to them about the possibility, they eventually reveal interesting first-hand experiences and family stories. And, like James and Kevin, I want to hear those stories. Hopefully one day, I’ll see my first ghost. And if it messes with me, I’ll give Wabash Paranormal Research Society a call.


Make sure to checkout their website (be careful, it screams) and Facebook page.

Their website has some detailed case studies and evidence. Might I suggest starting here?: