writer life

Redheads Writing In Cafes It’s Been A While

(except when it’s my bedroom)

Raise your hand if you are over this pandemic! You know it’s gone on waaaaay too long when it’s starting to get to the introverts. Let me tell you, it’s gotten to me. I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a more personal blog (and I’m going to start doing them more regularly again), and that is mostly due to the fact that writing about b-movies has been the distraction I’ve needed. So… how are things? Frustrating to say the least. I miss so, so many things. One of the most missed, is being able to see my friends and family, especially the latter. Zoom is great and all, but it isn’t the same. It will be more than a year and a half before I will be able to safely see my parents. Why so long you ask? Let me tell you.

My parents live in a small town north of Toronto and are in the age group that puts them at the highest risk of catching Covid. Because I’m not a selfish, self-centred jerk who thinks that a) I will never get it, b) no one can tell me what to do, and c) it’s a hoax, I am choosing to not visit my parents and chance spreading Covid to them. It’s a four hour drive, which means needing to stop at least once, risking exposure. I want to keep my family safe. It’s also the other reason I haven’t spend any reasonable amount of time with friends. Yes, this whole situation frustrates me, especially when there are so many who refuse to follow recommendations. Oh, I get it, some are just over it all and have given up, but hold up, there are a large number of people who don’t think the rules apply and therefore they can do what ever the fuck they want! To them, I say grow the fuck up. If you are someone who is following recommendations and are making a concerted effort to help stop the spread, thank you.

What have I been up to? Currently, I am working on what I hope will be the final edits on my novel (as suggested to me by the publisher), I’ve also eeked out a first draft of a compilation of short stories (which I will go back to when the novel edits are done) AND, I’ve pulled The Last Single Girl back out to update and complete. I also decided end of last year, that is was time that I start selling my ready to wear, vintage reproduction knitwear/garments designs, which means I’ve been knitting and sewing a lot. I’ve been thinking about this idea for quite a while and working it all out. If you give @killerkitsch13 on Instagram a follow, you will see what I’m working on. I know that seems like a lot, but I need to keep my mind and hands occupied, otherwise I will fall into that deep cavern known as depression and anxiety. I know I’m not the only one.

Now that the vaccine is finally getting put into peoples arms, I am starting to feel like there is an actual light at the end of a very long tunnel. Every once in a while, I will run through my head a list of things I want to do as soon as it is safe and what we can do as soon as we are fully on the other side of this. Here are my lists. What is yours?

As soon as it is safe to be around other people, even though we still need to social distance:

Fabric shopping with Laurie! I need to touch the fabric! (it will still be a social distance excursion)
Nature walks with Cate!
A walk in High Park with Heather B AND Heather M.
In warmer weather… (this will help me get through the winter) Sit on a patio with friends.
Show movies in the backyard. (this helps with the deep sadness of not being able to do Killer B. Cinema)
Social distance crafternoon in the backyard!
Writing sessions on my own and with friends in the backyard.
Coffeeshop writing on a patio.
Sketching in High Park with Heather B.

As soon as we are on the other side of this:

See my parents.
HUG my friends.
Have a movie and dinner double date with Heather and Neil at the Revue and Skyline.
Go to the theatre with Cate.
Games night in person with Kevin and Lisa.
Have friends over for a BBQ!
Do a bat walk with friends.
COFFEE SHOP WRITING (inside a cafe)!!! Holy fuck do I miss this!
KILLER B CINEMA
Go see live events again (local bands, poetry, artisan shows, other b-movie night events)
HALLOWEEN!!!!!

In the grander scheme of things, these seem like little things, but they are things that I need to look forward to for my own mental health and I know there are many more things I want to do. By giving myself this list, I have something to look forward to and that is really important. I am fortunate that I’m not doing this alone. I have an amazing husband and even though we need to connect virtually right now, truly wonderful friends and family.

I truly look forward to a day when this is over and things go back to what ever our normal will be. What things are you doing to help yourself through this pandemic?

Spookytown! My Christmas Playlist

Welcome to Spookytown! A blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

I’m not usually a nostalgic Christmas person… or so I keep telling myself, though I love reading books about seasonal hauntings and watching horror themed Christmas movies. As I started to write this playlist I started to wonder if I actually am, but in a Lizziefied, vintage goth style way. It seems that 2020 has me rethinking about being a less of a Grinch when it comes to celebrating certain holidays. Especially, Christmas. Maybe my heart has grown a few sizes.

My dream Christmas is really an extension of Halloween. I would decorate my gothic Victorian home in black and red decorations, with added spookiness all around, an homage to The Addams Family. Every time I think of Christmas, the below image always comes to mind.


Growing up, I loved reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, followed up by watching the Alistar Sims version of the movie. I loved the ghosts and the creepiness that came with the entire story. For me that is what the ‘spirit’ of Christmas means. We all need to remember that everyone has their own way of celebrating.

Over the years I have made my own traditions and those include watching/listening to a variety of movies, TV shows, and music. They are mostly (yes there are a few exceptions) horror or ghost themed. Starting December 1st we will begin our month long viewing/listening of my playlist. If you’d like to join in, I have noted it below, however, to keep things from getting boring, I don’t have them in any kind of order. I like to watch as the mood hits me. I will also be posting on my Instagram (@lizzieviolet13) and who knows, I might discover something new this year!

Movies: The 1970s and 1980s were amazing decades for Christmas horror. Especially, 1984. These were the days were slasher movies had suspense leading up to the bloodfest, rather than the entire movie being about the gore. This is the reason I keep going back to them. When I can, I have posted a link to the entire more, otherwise, it will be a trailer.

Black Christmas (1974)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

Don’t Open Before Christmas (1984)

Gremlins (1984)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas Carol (1951)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Television and Cartoons:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Here are a few play lists of classic Christmas cartoons:

Music: If you need to get a music fix, that isn’t the annoying store muzaq, there are quite a few rockabilly and surf Christmas albums out there. Heck, I even love me some Dolly Parton Christmas music. {how can you not love this woman} I have included the album covers of a few of my favourites as well as links to places you can stream Rockabilly and Surf Christmas music.

What are some of your favourite Christmas traditions?

Rockabilly and Surf music streaming links:

https://rockabillynbluesradio.libsyn.com/all-christmas-music

https://www.deezer.com/en/album/237812

Spookytown! I Grew Up In A Haunted House

Welcome to Spookytown! A blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

Ghosts have always been part of my life and have definitely been present in much of my childhood. I was fortunate to grow up with many storytellers, whether they be tall-tales or stories of the beyond. One of my favourites was my Great-Grandpa Bill who was always willing and ready with a tale.

Great-Grandpa Bill came to live with us after a devastating fire burned the farm house he had built with his own hands, many, many years ago, to the ground. Not only did he inspire me to write my own ghost stories, he was my best friend. I was an odd, incredibly shy kid, who preferred the company of the old farmer with the green Volkswagon Beetle. His eventual passing would effect me on many levels, including strengthening my belief in spirts.

My transition into the house on top of the hill, started out rocky. Not only was I not aware that we were moving, imagine the shock of returning to the home I had grew up in, until that point, to discover it empty except for the broom, mop and pail leaning against the kitchen counter. I walked through the house yelling for my mother, with the sounds of my voice echoing off of the walls. Thankfully, our landlord, who lived in the basement and heard my desperate calls. When he found me standing in the middle of the living room, he asked me why I was there. I told him I’d come home from school. As he wiped my tears he explained that we had moved to another house. He drove me to my new home, while I still tried to process it all. Though I’m sure my mother had told me we were moving, and likely several times, being a kid and all, I somehow forgot.

When I finally crossed the threshold to the red brick Victorian, I immediately felt that there was something strange about that house. From that very first day, I always felt like something was watching me. Especially, when I was in the living room or the basement. Years later, I would discover that I wasn’t the only one who did.

The house on top of the hill had some history before we moved into it. One of the most fascinating stories, was the fact that famous bank robber Edward Alonso Boyd’s parents lived in our house for a few years after Glover Boyd retired. (my parents hoped some of the missing money would show up as they renovated the house — it never did) Being a Victorian built home and located in a small town, I’m certain some must have also passed away within it’s walls. It wouldn’t be until a few years later when I saw my first ghost.

As I mentioned earlier, when my Great-Grandpa Bill passed away, I was devastated. It took me a long time to process his loss. A few months after his passing my parents had finally found the strength to clean out his bedroom, as his death was equally as hard for my Mom. She was also very close to him. Once they had completed his room, they decided that they needed to move one of their children into that room. Being the eldest of four children and the fact that it was my Great-Grandpa Bill’s room, I insisted that I move into that room. I also really loved that it was on the main floor, off of the kitchen and away from everyone else. It didn’t hurt that it had its own washroom and walk in closet. Being in that room, also helped me process my Great-Grandfather’s passing.

I know some of you may already be making predictions about what should happen next. I may or may not disappoint you. It was a few years after my Great-Grandfather passed away before I saw my first actual ghost.

I was awoken in the middle of the night when I felt a person standing beside my bed. I was on my side, facing away from it. The presence was so strong that I rolled over to see who it was. Standing beside my bed was a very tall man, however, I could only see their plaid flannel, long-sleeved shirt. This didn’t frighten me. For what ever reason, I didn’t feel any threat from that person as I knew it was my Great-Grandpa Bill.

That morning when I made may way to the table for breakfast I saw that both my father and uncle where incredibly hungover (That evening my Uncle Danny stayed over. He and my Dad had been drinking and they didn’t want him driving home.) That happens when you drink into the early hours of a hot summer eve. Before I sat down I asked my Dad if he had come into my room the evening before to use my washroom. I wanted to eliminate this as a possibility. My mother piped up that it was unlikely that my father or my uncle could have, as they were both passed out all night long. This confirmed that I had seen a ghost. I told them about the man in the plaid shirt and they both laughed at me, saying I was seeing things. It was upsetting that no one believed me. I refused to talk about it after that.

Fast forward several years. By this point of the story, I have moved to Toronto.

One of my nephew’s also had an experience in the house I grew up in and once again, this happened during the summer. My nephew was a toddler at this point.

One afternoon my sister was visiting my parents with her young boys. Her youngest at the time, my nephew, was quietly playing in the basement. Suddenly, he started screaming and my Dad ran to the basement to see what was wrong. My nephew was in hysterics and kept yelling over and over that there was a man in the basement. Holding my nephew, my father checked the back door to the basement and it was locked. Occasionally, that door would be open, as it was also an exit to the back yard. After thoroughly checking the basement my father determined that no one was there. He carried my nephew upstairs and around the rooms trying to calm him down. As he walked around the living room, my nephew began screaming again as he pointed at a picture (see below) and kept repeating “That’s the man! That’s the man.” There was no way that my nephew would have seen that photo on his own, as it was really high up on the wall.

Many years after I was laughed at for saying I saw Great-Grandpa Bill, I was given an apology. To this day, no one in our family is laughed at when they tell a ghost story.

I also recalled my youngest brother talking about some strange occurrences in the house. He talked about seeing reflections in windows that were not him, and the door on our mother’s buffet cabinet slowly open on its own a few different times. I’m sure there were other incidents with my other siblings, but those will be for another time.

If anyone ever tells you a ghost story, please don’t laugh at them. I know that over time some stories can be embellished, but there is a reason that story began.

Spookytown! The Fox Sisters

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

As a child that grew up loving all things spooky and an adult who has always been fascinated by the paranormal, parapsychology, the occult and the spiritualism movement, so it’s no surprise that I was equally obsessed with the Fox sisters. There have been many documentaries, books, blogs and podcasts created about them, that their fame continues on, long after they left this plain.

If you are unfamiliar with the Fox sisters, they were three sisters from New York who were the catalyst in the creation of the Spiritualism Movement. The three sisters were Leah (1813-1890), Margaretta (1833-1893) and Catherine (1837-1892). The two younger sisters (Margaretta and Catherine), were the two who performed the many acts of wonder, also known as communicating with the dead.

The journey to fame began when the two younger sisters used “rappings” to convince their older sister Leah that they were communicating with spirits. First, the sisters successfully convinced their parents that their own house was haunted with the rapping noises and for their own safety they were sent to live with their sister Leah in Rochester. Leah saw this as their door into fame and fortune, managing the younger sisters careers, turning them into world famous mediums. It would be a Quaker couple that helped originally get their name out into the public.

Amy and Isaac Post, a radical Quaker couple and long-standing friends of the Fox family, invited the girls into their Rochester home. Immediately convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena, they helped to spread the word among their radical Quaker friends, who became the early core of Spiritualists. {source Wikipedia} From this moment on the Fox sisters were on their way!

The Fox sisters spent many years as well-known mediums, giving séances for hundreds of people. Fame and fortune always comes at a cost and eventually, the younger sisters had a falling out with Leah and decided to expose themselves as frauds. A few years later they recanted on their original confession only to attempt to return to their lives as mediums unsuccessfully. Sadly, all three sisters left this earth, within five years of the scandal, destitute with scandal being the only thing to their name.

Over the years, famous illusionists such as Harry Houdini made great effort to debunk spiritualism.

Even though they were eventually ousted as frauds, many still believe to this day, that the sisters in-fact did contact the dead. The Spiritualism movement had a resurgence in the early 1900s and is still discussed to this day.

Websites/Blogs:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-fox-sisters-and-the-rap-on-spiritualism-99663697/

Podcasts:
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-witching-hour-podcast/e/the-witching-hour-ep27-spiritualism-the-fox-sisters-48502088

https://www.strangecountrypodcast.com/episodes/tag/Fox+Sisters

Spookytown! Midnight Spook Shows

Since I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by Midnight Spook Shows. When I was a kid, I wanted to create my own, but the closest I ever got to it, was a poorly designed haunted house made out of cardboard boxes, that basically melted in the rain. I was so looking forward to scaring the neighbourhood kids. Was that why I was labelled a weirdo so early on in life? Not that it matters, as I wear that label proudly. Now back to Midnight Spook Shows.

What was a Midnight Spook Show aka Midnight Ghost Show? Elwin-Charles Peck (who performed as El-Wyn) created what was known as the first version of a Spook Show/Ghost Show. In this iteration (from the late 1920s and into the 1930s) it was mostly based around magic and spiritualism. During his performances he would try to contact the spirit world. Objects would appear and disappear. Strange noises would happen throughout the theatre and things would fly over the audience members heads. In many cases leading the audiences to scream in fright. This would all take place during what seemed to be a seance.

Eventually, spiritualism would fall out of popularity and the midnight spook shows also began to fade away… that was until horror movies became popular. During the 1930s to the 1950s movie theatre owners were trying to find ways to get audiences into the building, especially the younger generation, especially teenagers. Midnight Spook Shows seemed to be the answer. Similar to its predecessor, shows would have magic, special effects and creatures moving about the audience. In many cases, the troupe putting on the show would travel to several theatres. It was profitable for both the theatre owner and the the groups putting on the shows and would be a weekly highlight for the audience.

Here is a link to an amazing article that gets more in depth, especially about the origins, along with a few other articles you might find spooktacular. https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/midnight-spook-shows-a-brief-history/

http://www.halloweenclub.com/spookshow-history

Here is a great video that gives you a great explanation.

I have attended a few modern day attempts at a Midnight Spook Show, but they have never fit into my fantasy of what it should be. Then again, I romanticize about a time of silent cinema and Flappers on a regular basis, so it would be hard for modern day anything to live up to my expectations.

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

Spookytown! The Most Haunted House?

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

Everyone has a ghost story and everyone, even if you don’t want to admit it, knows at least one house that they think is haunted. Maybe you haven’t told anyone. Maybe you just pass that house every day and say it in your own head. Many won’t admit it, because they’ve been conditioned to believe that ghosts aren’t real, yet… that rundown house on the corner creeps you out, every, single, time, you pass it and you have questions.

I recently talked about houses in the hometown I grew up in, and in the future, I’m going to talk about the houses in the neighbourhood I live in. For now, I’m want to talk about the most haunted houses in Toronto and I have to tell you, trying to find information on them is impossible! When you Google “Most haunted house in Toronto”, you get the same list over and over again. McKenzie House, Spadina House, Colbourne Lodge, Christie House etc… etc… etc… which is all fine and good, but I want to know about an actual residence. I want to hear ghost stories from those who live in them. In the 1990’s, I had a lot of books about haunted Toronto and haunted Ontario. They had a wealth of information and you would think in the world of tomorrow… search engines would at least give something up for us, but no… I’ve gone back to books.

As I mentioned, even to this day, books can be your best resource and the Toronto Public Library, your best friend. One of my favourtie authors is still John Robert Columbo. If you want to learn more about haunted Toronto/Ontario/Canada, pick up or borrow one of his many books. Danielle Urquhart was also an incredible source, as well as her ghost walks I went on back in the 1990s. Another good source is Terry Boyle. Oh boy… now I’m getting nostalgic for a good old fashioned ghost walk. Richard Fiennes Clinton I’m looking at you! As soon as Covid is over, I will be back to participating in the many ghost walks Toronto has to offer!

In the 90’s I lived on a street here in Toronto called Huntley Street. On the corner of Huntley and Shelby is a row of beautiful, Victorian townhouses. There was always something about one of them that creeped me out and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I was deep into my haunted Toronto research and came across this entry at torontoghosts.org (thankful this website is still up). This one post sent me down a long and deep rabbit hole. There have been other stories of odd experiences in the house, including a few different fires that occurred over the years. Is this the most haunted house in Toronto. Absolutely not! I want to find that house! I want to learn about the history of that house and I want to write about that house.

I’m sure you are asking me, how am I going to do that? A combination of research and help from you! I want to hear your Toronto ghost stories. I want you to share this article. I want you to send other people with Toronto ghost stories my way. I want to write about the most haunted residence in Toronto. I do ask that you don’t send me stories about already well known places like The Keg, McKenzie House, Casa Loma etc. I want to only know about residences.

Spookytown! Haunted Ontario

As we creep up to the most spooktacular time of the year, we are all likely itching to get out to Fall events. In the before times, I would usually be seeing invites or posts about all of the spooky haunted houses and Halloween events that would be happening in October. One of my favourite things to do in October is go to as many of them as I can… this year… well. We all know what 2020 has brought us. I will be sticking close to home and keeping an eye out for Social Distancing events. Each year High Park puts on a wonderful Ghost Walk and tour of Colbourne Lodge. I’m hoping it still happens. We will also be doing a tour of the front lawn decorations and of course our annual walk over to Halloween House!

It makes my black heart sad that Halloween for the most part won’t be quite the same. There is a huge possibility that Trick or Treating might be cancelled as well. My favourite part of Halloween, as a kid was dressing up and going door to door in my neighbourhood. I feel for all of the kids who may miss out this year.

Once we are out of the pandemic, I want to take ghost walks a little further. I want to actually figure out my own ghost adventure in other parts of Ontario. It’s a great way to see my own province and even take it on the road to other provinces.

Though, they aren’t quite the same, I’m hoping a few virtual ghost tours also happen during the month of October. I’d be more than happy to go on a few of those. If you want to go on your own, I am going to write a bit below on places for you to read about. Mostly, there will be a bunch of links to follow or books I suggest, heck, I will even throw in a few podcasts and YouTube videos.

Ghost Towns and Lost Villages Ontario boasts that it has many ghost towns. There is even a website dedicated to them. Click here to see the list. I have also provided a few other websites below.

https://www.blogto.com/city/2016/04/5_ghost_towns_to_explore_near_toronto/

https://www.narcity.com/travel/ca/on/toronto/10-creepy-but-beautiful-ghost-towns-you-can-visit-in-ontario

This one is an extensive list. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghost_towns_in_Ontario

This link also includes great resources.
https://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/local-history-genealogy/2019/10/ghost-towns-of-ontario.html

https://www.ghosttowns.com/canada/ontario/ontario.html

https://www.ontarioabandonedplaces.com/

Podcasts

https://hauntedwalk.com/podcasts/

Videos

Websites To Explore

https://southeasternontario.ca/haunted-waterway-12-locations-ghost-hunting-paranormal-intrigue/

https://www.toronto.com/things-to-do/haunted-places-in-ontario/

https://www.narcity.com/travel/ca/on/toronto/these-are-the-most-haunted-spots-in-ontario-that-you-must-road-trip-to-this-fall

https://www.insauga.com/5-most-haunted-houses-in-mississauga

Books I Suggest

https://www.biblio.com/ghost-towns-of-ontario-by-brown-ron/work/153391

https://www.dundurn.com/books/Haunted-Hamilton

Ghost Walks of Southern Ontario These are only a few ghost walks. There are many, many more. Please post others in the comments section.

https://ghostwalks.com/

https://hauntedwalk.com/

https://muddyyorktours.com/

https://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2981098-walk-with-ghosts-in-bronte-park/

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g154999-d1119850-Reviews-Ghost_Walks-Niagara_on_the_Lake_Ontario.html

Spookytown! My Halloween Traditions

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

Ever since I was a kid, there were several things that would happen as part of the lead up to Halloween. Figure out our costumes, go with our Mom to buy the Halloween candy, figure out where Mom hid the Halloween candy (which we never found, she was really good at hiding it. I’m sure she still has to), help Mom bag the candy while trying to steal some of the candy and watch lots and lots of Halloween cartoons. Of course my Dad had a tradition of raiding our candy as soon as we went to bed after Trick or Treating. “Reeses Peanut Butter Cups… no kids, you didn’t have any of those in your Halloween candy…” Anyone else’s parents do that? I’m sure all families have one parent that does.

That feeling I had as a kid has never left me… ever. Each year I do a bunch of things starting October 1st. I already mentioned that I still watch cartoons (in this post), especially, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I also like to watch several movies leading up to the night, but for a really, really long time viewing Carrie the Halloween Eve tradition, along with The Exorcist, and Halloween.

A few other cartoons/animation I didn’t mention in my previous post are Mad Monster Party (I highly recommend this one), The Nightmare Before Halloween and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

I also love to read gothic horror throughout the month October, starting with my all time favourite Edgar Allan Poe. I still read The Raven, every single year!

I also still love to plan my costume and dress up, even if we aren’t going to a party. Heck, one of my all time favourite things to STILL do, is walk around my neighbourhood to see all of the decorations and check out what the kiddies are dressed up as. I’ve lived in apartments for such a long time, that I haven’t given out candy for decades. Maybe one day we will finally be able to afford our dream house, a spooky Victorian, then I can dress it up and give out bags of sugary loot! A ghoul can dream!

Another tradition growing up, was to carve a pumpkin! (then leave it out for the local critters to munch on afterwards) Another down fall from living in an apartment is I had no where to put our orange art piece. I’m considering carving a few this year and leaving them out front anyway. Considering the year we’ve been having, I need to ramp up a bit this year for my favourite day.

Another tradition, has been to take a stroll or two in a cemetery. I haven’t been able to do it for the last few years and I really miss it. Two years ago, we got married in October, so we were a bit busy, then last year we were in Japan for the month of October. I’m hoping this year we can squeeze a walk in. I’ve mentioned it in a few other posts, but our good friend runs the Toronto Cemetery Tours and she will be doing a few walks over the next month.

I’m looking forward to our Halloween traditions and to adding a few new ones. What are your Halloween traditions?

Spookytown! Freaks & Grimm {an excerpt or two}

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

For this week’s blog, I’m going to post a few excerpts for my finished novel Freaks & Grimm. This is the mini blurb for it. Carrie thought grade 9 was going to be different. That she would finally fit it. Then Grimm moved to town and her world completely changed. Both obsessed with the paranormal, they are about to go on a ghost hunting adventure they would never forget.

I had a lot of fun writing this novel and definitely was inspired by the many ghost stories told to me as a kid. Here are a few excerpts.

***

That morning Carrie didn’t join her family for breakfast. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes she just wanted to sleep in, other times, she just wanted to stay in her bed and read. At first her mother would try to force Carrie to come to the table for breakfast, eventually deciding it was easier to let her eat when she was ready. 

After eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch with soy milk, Carrie decided she wanted to go for a walk, one that would take her right past the MacTavish Bed & Breakfast, as a sort of scouting mission to see if she could catch a glimpse of the new kid. She walked to the end of the block and sat on her neighbours rail fence. She was partially hidden by a large maple tree, but the house was completely visible to her. The house was an old Victorian mansion that was once owned by a shipping magnate. The town she grew up in was a shipping port in the early 1900s for the grain companies. Over time the house went from being a single-family home to a rooming house, then on two separate occasions a bed and breakfast. Maybe the new family would be using it that way as well. After twenty minutes of staring at the house, listening to squirrels fight, and waiting to be kicked off the fence, Carrie was about to give up and walk downtown when she saw him. He was tall and lanky and dressed head to toe in black. He had a haircut, just like the lead singer of The Cure.  He looked like he had just walked out of a Sandman comic. She looked away. At first, she didn’t want to look directly at him. She was afraid if she did, he would turn out to be an apparition, just like one of the ghosts in her beloved ghost stories. 

***

The movers unloaded the truck quickly, placing boxes and furniture in their designated spots.  Once Grimm’s father confirmed that everything was there, the movers tidied up, rolled up their rubber mats, were paid and left. Grimm’s father looked around at the boxed up contents and shook his head.  

“Guess we have more stuff than I thought we did”. Said Stewart.  

“Maybe the boxes multiplied like Gremlins in the truck.” Said Grimm.

“I think you’re right. Ok. I have no idea where anything is and don’t dare unpack the kitchen till your mother gets here. Let’s go find a place to eat and get some groceries.”

As they made their way to the car, Grimm caught a glimpse of someone across the street. He had to move away from the car to get a full view as a very large tree blocked out most of it. Perched on a rail fence that wrapped around the house across the street, sat a girl. She had dark, long hair, very pale skin and was all dressed in black. At first Grimm wasn’t sure she was even real. When she quickly got up and hurried away down the street, he knew she must be. He continued watching to see where she went, but was interrupted by his father.

“Are you getting in the car?”

“What? Ya Dad.”

“What were you looking at?” Inquired Stewart.

“A neighbour kid I think.”

“Did you wave hi?”

“No. They ran away.”

“Well maybe you will meet them on Monday when you go to school.”

Grimm hoped so as well. Suddenly, he was looking forward to his first day at his new high school.

***

The book was partially hidden under a pile of notebooks and loose papers. As Freaks grabbed hold of the book, the pile on top of it tumbled to the floor. She gasped, trying to grab the falling items, causing it to scatter all over the floor. She couldn’t believe how clumsy she had been. Freaks placed the book on the chair so it wouldn’t get lost amongst the mess. Bending down to pick up the pile that had fallen, Freaks noticed that a book, possibly a journal, was amongst the papers. The book itself looked old, worn. As if it had been read over and over again. She picked it up and quickly looked over her shoulder to make sure her father wasn’t nearby. She knew she shouldn’t have been snooping through Mr. Archer’s things but she had a lack of self control when curiosity took hold of her. She knew there had to be a reason why he’d been acting so strange the day that he had his panic attack.

“What’s taking you so long down there? You should have found that book by now.” Yelled down her father.

“I found it. I just need to tidy up a mess I accidently made. I knocked over some papers. I’ll be there in a minute.” Freaks responded.

“Take your time. I’m still having a heck of a time finding the clothes he has on this list. This guy seriously needs a housekeeper. This place is an absolute mess.”

“No kidding.” Said Freaks, as she looked around at the heaps of books and papers. Until now, she hadn’t noticed how messy the place really was. His office had stacks of newspapers on the floor and chairs. Along the floor and near the overstuffed bookshelves, there were stacks upon stacks of books in a variety of sizes and covers. Even the kitchen was a mess. Though there wasn’t any dirty dishes to be seen, the countertops were covered with a large number of canisters and more piles of books. On one section of the counter, there were dozens of boxes of tea. Every kind you could think of. Some boxes still had the cellophane on them. 

Freaks stood beside the desk holding the worn book in her hand. She didn’t know what to do. Should she just put it back on the desk where it originally was or should she open it up and look inside. Just like the garden she knew that this book likely held many secrets. Secrets she probably shouldn’t be allowing herself to know.  If she did, would she regret it?

“Hey Kiddo!  I think I found everything.” 

Freaks jumped. She had been so entranced by the book, she didn’t hear her father enter the room. 

“Geez Dad. You scared the cra….”

“What is that?”

“What?”

“That. The book you are holding.”

“Oh. Uh. I’m not sure. It fell on the floor.”

“Have you looked at it?”

“No.” 

“Looks like a diary.”

“Yes. Maybe.” 

“Were you going to look at it?”

“Maybe. Ya. I dunno.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Mr. Archer has been acting strange. I thought, maybe it would explain why.”

“Can I see it?”

Hesitating, Freaks handed her father the book. When he grabbed onto it, he stared at it momentarily, flipped it back and forth, inspecting the outside of it. Absentmindedly, Freaks continued to look around her, when she noticed a small box beside the desk. Wondering if they had also knocked it over, she grabbed the box, noticing that it was an old, yellow stained shoebox.

“It really does look like a diary doesn’t it. It looks old though. Don’t you think?” Said Robert.

“Ya. Maybe he’s had it for a while. Maybe we shouldn’t look at it.”

“Maybe.”

“Dad, what do you think this is?”

Robert looked up at Freaks and his eyes moved to the box. “Was the lid off?”

“Um. It kinda shifted when I picked it up.”

“Uh. Huh.” Retorted Robert. “Those look like letters.”

“Old letters.”

Freaks and her father stood in silence. Both wanting to open the book and the letters, neither taking the leap.  Taking a long breath and sighing Robert walked over to the desk with the intent on placing the book and the box back on the desk. 

“Where exactly did you find it?”

“It was under the pile of papers.”

“Which pile? The whole desk if a pile of papers.” 

“The pile on the left side.”

As Robert was shifting the papers, to stick the book underneath the pile, the book slipped from his hand and when it landed on the desk, it opened to the front page of the book. On the top right corner of the book was a name. Hester McGregor.

Almost in unison, Freaks and her Dad sang out, “Who’s Hester McGregor?”

Freaks looked down at the letters. “These are from a Joy Matherly.”

“McGregor? The McGregor’s owned the house on the corner. The one Grimm lives in.”

“Joy Matherly?”

Picking the book back up, Robert motioned to Freaks saying, “I’m not sure. Pull up a chair. We have some reading to do.”

***

Anne was four when she realized what she was seeing was otherworldly. None of it scared her. In fact they were playmates to her. Most of her days were filled with long, lonely hours. She had to be within sight of her mother, yet out of the way. Her mother ignored her constant chattering with persons who were not there. Well, not to her mother’s eyes. Anne had the constant companionship of three individuals. An older woman. Likely the first patriarch of the house, who passed away during a flu epidemic, an elderly gentleman, who was once the grounds keeper and a young boy. Anne never did figure out who he was. The young boy was only there for a short time, then stopped visiting Anne. At the time, she felt sad, as if she had been abandoned. Later in life she came to discover that sometimes spirits stick around, waiting for someone they loved or were attached to, to pass on. She figured he was waiting for his mother. The elderly man and woman stuck around, until Mr. McGregor died. They too, then disappeared. Something felt different that time. There was no peace to replace them. After that point, Anne felt uneasy in the house. The empty spaces felt as if they had been replaced with something malevolent. Something very wrong. 

Mr. McGregor, an awful, angry old man lived in a house filled with staff and no family. Mrs. McGregor had by then been forgotten in a home, no one even sure if she had passed on or still lingered amongst the beige walls of the institution. Her name was almost never mentioned. Especially after Hester vanished. 

Mr. McGregor’s business lost, he stewed in the darkness of his final days. No family, no friends and many enemies. Especially those who he’d not given a second thought when the doors to his shipping yard slammed shut on them. Left high and dry, they spit out his name in rage. They no longer cared to search for an innocent young girl who offended no one. They no longer cared about his implications of the young handsome man, who’d long vacated the town. No one believed Mr. McGregor and like those before him, he faded away. His negative anger however, stuck around. 

Anne could feel Hester everywhere she went, but only outside of the house. The sensation is the strongest, in a curving path, between the backyards of the carefully manicured Victorian homes. Anne was pulled to follow, but her worry of upsetting her mother stronger. She was still a child and her mother’s concern. A mother who returned to the madman’s employment when all others had completely abandoned him, she felt she had to keep an eye on her child at all times.

Spookytown! It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

As I mentioned in my last Spookytown post, I like to get warmed up for Halloween by watching classic spooky cartoons. My ALL TIME favourite and a tradition I follow every single year is to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Every single year, since I was a child, no matter how many times I’ve watched it, I still keep hoping…. oh… no… in case you haven’t watched it, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Why haven’t you watched this yet? I grew up with three, THREE television channels and I even managed to watch it every single year. Go watch it!

Who is The Great Pumpkin for those who still haven’t watched it? Linus explains it best!

A ways back we got a projector (thank you Heather Babcock) and we have been planning on projecting the movie from our front window on Halloween night (same with A Charlie Brown Christmas). We just bought ourselves a proper screen, so…. if all goes as planned (I’m talking to you weather), we may attempt to do it out in the front yard! We were inspired by others in our neighbourhood who project Halloween cartoons from their own front windows. We may also throw in a few of our other favourite Halloween cartoons.

If Linus and The Great Pumpkin had their way they would make sure Halloween happens, but sometimes it’s even out of their control.

Because of the plague, I’m pretty sure trick or treating won’t be happening this year, but we all need a bit of joy. Halloween is such a special time for so many people, children and adults alike. Even if you can’t give out candy this year, plan on decorating like you never have before, do fun events for your own kids so they don’t feel like they are missing out. Don’t let 2020 be a rock in your candy bag! Maybe this will be the year that Linus gets his wish!

{The below clip is a spoiler, if you haven’t watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and why haven’t you, don’t watch below.}