3 Years, 3 #HumpDayHaunts, & A Giveaway

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My cats (Wind and Kitty Kitty Boo Boo) and I are back to haunt your internet! I am excited to continuously and consistently post to the blog in 2019. I will keep bringing that paranormal history, along with some more posts on commonplace books.

This week officially marks my blog’s third birthday! I wanted to thank everyone for reading, commenting, and sharing. My thank-you gift is twofold. First, I am giving you all an extended Friday version of #humpdayhaunts. Second, I am doing a little giveaway. Learn more at the end of my post!

Special #HumpDayHaunts on a Friday

If you are new to the blog or new to my Instagram, I share a small bit of paranormal history on my Instagram page every Wednesday (well, sometimes I miss a Wednesday because of life) using the hashtag #humpdayhaunts. They are not as well-researched (or well-written, ha) as my blog posts, but they are haunted places or stories I just have to share. I thought I would post a version of it on the blog so to entice you over to Instagram!

Helltown, Ohio

Helltown in Ohio, formerly known as Boston, is permanently closed. Whatever was left of the abandoned town was torn down in 2016, leaving only forests and lore. The residents were forced out in the 1970s after Gerald Ford signed a bill that allowed land to be expropriated by the federal government for use as National Parks. The National Park Service planned on making Helltown part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This became complicated when they realized the area had a serious pollution problem. For example, the Krejci Dump that was obtained by the NPS turned out to be a $50 million-dollar clean-up project. Filled with leaking drums of industrial waste, the site caused visitors to get headaches and rashes.

The area was polluted with waste AND SATANISM, MUTANTS, and GHOSTS (insert eye roll). One abandoned property is a Presbyterian church allegedly built by Satanists (that was debunked) with upside down crosses. Legend says the whole town was filled with Satan worshipers (insert Satanic Panic eye roll). There is an abandoned haunted bus in the area too. Legend says a bus full of children were killed by a serial killer (I’m thinking no). If you visit the abandoned bus on just the right night, you might see the serial killer sitting in the back of the bus and smoking a cigarette. The main supernatural attraction, though, is a mutant python named “Peninsula Python.” which was created from pollution in the Krejci Dump.

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The Blue Hole of Indiana

The Blue Hole of Indiana is a three-acre lake in Vigo County, which is rumored to be a bottomless pit. Supposedly, the bottom of the lake has treasure buried by Wabash River pirates. Cabins around the lake were allegedly used as hideouts for the Chicago mob. The lake is also rumored to be a popular site for disposing bodies (bottomless). So, lots of shady business going on.

Along with illegal happenings, the lake is said to basically suck people and things in. Allegedly, a school bus full of children and later a train crossing the lake both fell in and were never found. In the 1950s, a group of teenage boys went swimming in the lake and disappeared.

And, guess what, this story has a mutant creature too! Rumors started to spread in the 1960s about a relative of the Loch Ness Monster inhabiting the lake. Some say it was just a giant catfish.

Long story short, some Vigo County deputies decided to check the lake out and did not find any treasure, school buses, or trains.

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The Witch’s Castle

There’s an old castle in Utica, Indiana on a property named Mistletoe Falls. Legend says a group of witches lived in the castle and were burned alive when the structure was set on fire by angry townspeople. The hollowed out building actually caught fire when a previous owner’s (Joseph Biagi) stepson set fire to the building. Whatever is left is a destination for teenage legend trippers. Visitors report seeing (and hearing) a young girl with black hair and a white dress.

The location is also associated with the horrific torture and murder of Shanda Sharer in 1992 (a warning: it is an awful story so proceed with caution). Four teenage girls lured Shanda (then 12) to the castle where they taunted her. Her eventual murder happened at another location.

*Also called Witches Castle

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The Giveaway

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When

Starts Today and Ends Next Tuesday (1/15) at 8 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner on Twitter and Instagram on my #humpdayhaunts post (Wednesday, 1/16).

What

A relaxing evening of reading and note-taking! A beautiful artisan ghost mug by Elyse Marie Creations for all your warm beverages, a gravestone-inspired notebook designed by Meagan Meli, a Werther and Gray candle inspired by The Ghost Club, a pen (not pictured) for note-taking, and the book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural by Peter Bebergal. And, honestly, I will be throwing some other little treats in that box. It is my blog birthday and I do what I want!

The Giveaway is Closed. Thank You! 

Halloween #HumpDayHaunts

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Starting November, I’ll be back to my regular blogging. Until then, please follow me on Instagram for some haunted history each day this week!

If you don’t follow me already, you might not know about #humpdayhaunts. Each Wednesday I share a bit of paranormal history. Since it is Halloween, I thought I’d do it all week long. Come join the fun (or horror)!

Spooky Road Trip: The Haunted America Conference

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This Saturday, I drove nine hours total (in some very foggy conditions) to hear some of my favorite paranormal scholars speak about ghosts and other supernatural beings. Since this was my very first conference in the area of the paranormal, I did not know what to expect. I have been to many academic conferences, which can sometimes be very intimidating and stuffy. What I found at the Haunted America Conference was a friendly and welcoming group of people, with interesting stories and insights. I left with my commonplace book full of new avenues of research, along with ideas for growing my own “ghost business.”

The conference was two days with a variety of speakers during the day and activities in the evening. I, needing to work on my dissertation, only attended Saturday’s day sessions (woke up at 3 a.m….I love ghosts!). The evening activities looked so interesting–ghost hunts, a dumb supper, technical workshops, walking tours–and I look forward to signing up next year. When not in sessions, I walked around the Vendors Room and conversed with folks promoting their podcasts, publications, ghost tourism businesses, and products (candles, pendulums, jewelry). There was also an extensive raffle that read like my Christmas List. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the Ouija cheese board and Walking Dead wine.

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A view of the Vendors Room.

Below are some of my conference highlights.

  • I  finally met Colin Dickey and Sarah Chavez! Colin, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, presented on American grave robbers. I especially enjoyed how the history of medical colleges were woven into the narrative. Sarah Chavez, my favorite death feminist, spoke about the relationship between food and death. Check out more of her work at Nourishing Death and Death and The Maiden. Side note: Sarah had very cool nails.
  • I met one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Jones of The Dead History. Once a paranormal investigator, Jennifer now runs a blog full of very extensive historical research on haunted locations and tombstones. I really appreciate the humanist approach she brings to her research.
  • I read so many Rosemary Ellen Guiley books when I was growing up. In her presentation “Strange Encounters and Strange Things,” Rosemary shared stories about werewolves, aliens, cursed objects, and other strange creatures.
  • I also grew up reading the website Prairie Ghosts, so I knew I had to attend a conference hosted by Troy Taylor and his Haunted America team. Troy has written 120 books on ghosts, hauntings, history, crime and the unexplained in America. So, he knows his stuff. He presented on the relationship between music, death, and the devil. He’s a very entertaining speaker; he reminded me of a very cool radio DJ. 
  • I met the very kind folks of the See You On The Other Side podcast. Their website describes their work as “a rock band’s journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.” Their podcast, as I understand, discusses a supernatural topic each episode and includes a song inspired by the subject matter. A creative idea, right? They entertained us during breaks the entire conference. I look forward to giving their podcast a listen!

Overall, it was definitely worth the nine-hour drive. I look forward to attending next year. Maybe I’ll see you there?

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.

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!

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.