My New Anthology of Ghost Stories Available!

Last week, an anthology of ghost stories I edited hit the cyber-stands. Those Who Haunt Ghosts: A Century of Ghost Hunter Fiction, released by Coachwhip Publications, spotlights a distinctive branch of the literary ghost stories originally published between the 1820s and the 1920s. Many of the very best ghost stories ever written come from those decades, and this collection includes work by renowned authors such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Henry James, Charlotte Riddell, Ambrose Bierce, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Rudyard Kipling, Sax Rohmer, and H.P. Lovecraft.

I define ghost hunter fiction as works featuring characters who aren’t personally haunted, but who investigate a house, a room, or some other site reported to be visited by a ghost. Sometimes, a doubtful ghost hunter hopes to debunk those rumors. Other times, a hopeful hunter wants to confirm that the dead really do return in spirit form. No matter the motivation, ghost hunters never know what they’ll discover.

And some ghost hunters don’t survive their encounter with the netherworld!

Those Who Haunt Ghosts is available in paperback at Barnes & Noble, Amazon in the U.S., and Amazon in the U.K.

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Vera & Me: An Interview at GirlZombieAuthors

My favorite ghost hunter, Vera Van Slyke, and I did a fun interview at GirlsZombieAuthors, the blog of writer C.A. Verstraete. It’s one of several interviews with horror/paranormal authors, a series that’s well worth exploring!

Meanwhile, here’s a photoshopped, colorized, digitally manipulated re-imagining of the only photo I have of Vera Van Slyke and my great-grandaunt, Lida Prášilová. (I assumed my ancestor shared my blue eyes.)

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How the Chicago Cubs Plan to Ruin My Fantasy Movie about the Chicago Cubs

baseball-ball-isolated-on-whiteFor several years now, I’ve had an opening to a movie in my head. It’s all about the Chicago Cubs making it to the World Series and how that brings the entire world together. After all, the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, and who doesn’t love an underdog? (Of course, the Cleveland Indians are also underdogs. They haven’t won the Series since 1948. As one sports reporter writes: “Most of us have never lived on a planet where one of those teams is the champion of the baseball world.”

So here’s my mental movie that mostly likely will never be.

We see a lush, green, rolling landscape. There are sheep-dotted pastures marked by randomly meandering fences. We hear the lilting strains of a traditional Celtic air. Fading in on the bottom of the screen, we read:

CHICAGO

Cut to the interior of a pub, where a group of Irish sports fans are watching the final minutes of the play-off games. An American announcer asks, “Are the Cubbies finally going to make it into the World Series?”

A quick cut takes us to the noise and crowds of what becomes clearly a metropolis in India, Mumbai or Delhi perhaps. We now hear the beats of a veena and the strings of a tanpura. Again, fading in on the bottom of the screen, we read:

CHICAGO

Cut to the interior of a gathering place, where again a crowd has come together to watch the baseball game. The announcer continues the play-by-play, bringing the Cubs closer to their win. (One halfhearted fan mutters “That’s not cricket” before we hear the crack of the bat and this person suddenly becomes interested in the results.)

Cut to a rural landscape in, say, Botswana.

CHICAGO

Cut to Argentina.

CHICAGO

Scandinavia.

CHICAGO

Korea.

CHICAGO

Even an outpost in the Antarctic.

CHICAGO

The announcer’s voice runs over it all, culminating in the Cubs winning the playoffs and heading toward the World Series.

That’s as far as my imagination has gone with this movie. I don’t have focal characters or any kind of plot. And now I’m not inspired to continue even with the daydream. Such a film wouldn’t have nearly the same impact if, indeed, the Cubs win the World Series, so I figured I’d go ahead and put this out there. It’s a sweet opening, I think.

I have no idea how it ends.

A Bat Named Vera Is Flying Around Australia for Halloween!

About four months ago, I mentioned that I’ve sponsored a bat at the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre. I named it Vera in honor of my favorite ghost hunter, Vera Van Slyke, who is spotlighted in my Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries.

It turns out that Vera has been released! Yes, she — or possibly he — is out and about, flitting and swooping across the darkening skies of Australia. And I’ve been reassigned a new bat, one that’s already been named Hele. Let me introduce you…untitled-1

Any writer knows that I’m now obligated to invent a character that mirrors this description. Oh, I’ll probably make Hele a bit more human. But otherwise, I think her story is one worth exploring (if a tad Dickensian). Every writer should have a bat, and you can sponsor yours at the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre.

An Autographed Copy of My Collection of Ghost Mysteries Is a Fund-Raising Incentive for Occult Detective Quarterly

There’s a Kickstarter campaign for a new magazine titled Occult Detective Quarterly, and one of the incentives is a copy of my Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries — signed by me — along with a copy of the debut issue of the magazine.

There are several other incentives, too.

Visit the ODQ Kickstarter page to see your many choices and to help launch what promises to be a very entertaining magazine!

And I might be speaking prematurely, but I’m told that the first issue of ODQ includes a piece of non-fiction I wrote, titled “How to Be a Fictional Victorian Ghost Hunter (in Five Easy Lessons).”

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Dour Facebook Statuses on Pretty Pictures Make Weird Inspirational Memes

I honestly don’t know where the idea came from.

I think it was while being made queasy by some of the inspirational memes I’ve seen on Facebook. You know, the ones that say something “lovely” yet meaningless, such as Dip your Dreams in an Ocean of Stars, beside a gauzy picture of a kitten. Or a unicorn.

Regardless of my inspiration, I decided to cut-and-paste some of the more cheerless statuses I read on Facebook over some of the more gauzy-kitten-ish pictures I’ve taken myself.

Here are the results:

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Hey! While I’ve got ya on the phone, consider following me on Facebook! I try to make life a bit more livable and more silly there.

Can We Meet to Discuss Timmy’s Progress?

A while ago, I wrote a post (that I was hoping nobody bothered to read) about my writing plans for summer. Next week, I’m heading to the coast of Maine for some much needed escape from the Oklahoma heat — and right afterward, I have to return to teaching.

Here is my assessment of how I’ve done at meeting my summer writing goals. This promises to be dull stuff. I recommend you skip over this part and scroll down to my slideshow of pictures I’ve taken during previous vacations to the coast of Maine.

  • Goal 1: Get halfway through the 100 limericks for the Secret Project.
  • Results: I did it, I did it! In fact, as of yesterday, I have 53 of these little buggers.
  • Goal 2: Finish editing an anthology of mostly Victorian ghost stories. It’s a bit more specific than that, but it’s also a bit early to say too much.
  • Results: I did it, I did it! I’m hoping a colleague will proofread it before I send it to the publisher — yes, there’s a publisher already secured! — but I’m not sure that’ll happen. If not, I’ll send it in anyway and correct the galley proof.
  • Goal 3: Finish the stage play Depot People and try to get the Theater Department at the university where I teach to consider it for production.
  • Results: Complicated. I did have it finished — until I met with the head of the Theater Department. He made a very good case for adding an Act Two to it, though, to make it a single play that can fill the 1 1/2 to 2 hours that audiences plan on when going out to see a play. My original plan to couple Depot People with another one-act was deemed unwise by someone who knows of what he speaks. So I went to work on imagining an Act Two for my characters. I have the framework (when, where, and why most of the characters from Act One reunite), I have a thematic thread, and I have a solid draft of Act Two – Scene One. But I didn’t quite meet this goal.

Now, here’s the slideshow I promised. Feel free to use the comments section to express your burning envy of my previous trips to coastal Maine.

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