Happy Hour of Horrors: Corpse Reviver

The next time you’re trying to think of something clever and creative to order at the bar, put down the Merlot and order up one of these. The Corpse Reviver gets its name from the shock it will have on your system within a few minutes of downing it. (I recommend you down it).

Serve: Straight up, without ice

Use 3/4 an ounce (that’s like, a jigger or so, right?) of each of these: brandy, apple brandy, gin, sweet vermouth, Cointreau, lemon juice and Lillet

Add a dash of absinthe

Shake together in a mixer with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Check your surroundings.

Drink.

 

Here There Be Ghouls: A Teaser from Paranormal Parlor

Creatures of mist, half credited;

Our faint form flings

No shadow in moonlight on the bed

We visit; noiseless is our tread,

Who come from deserts of the dead,

Where no bird sings.

—Anon, 1887 (from Ghost Stories and Presentiments)

Here There Be Ghosts

I have never met a ghost story I didn’t like. Whether it ends in a ridiculous joke (the wrapping paper in the closet the source of the phantom “rap, rap, rapping”) or lingers long enough to make you jump at the shadows, I find the genre and all of its many incantations delightful. But nothing quite gets me going like the story right from the mouth of babes: when a first-hand experience is recounted to me (preferably in the dim light of the fire on a dark and stormy night). When I began writing this book I put out a call for stories among my people: the midnight podcaster, the horror novelist, the paranormal lovers and those whom the paranormal seem to love. While my original intention was to create one opening chapter chock full of as-told-to-me tales, as I gathered them they found their own way into the manuscript. In later chapters, you’ll find the case of the haunted tarot deck and the pot-smoking Ouija board user and even a haunting from the catacombs of Paris. In this chapter, many of the stories I wanted to tell from my own experiences include the child ghost that I lived with for a number of years. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with a kid apparition. In addition, you will find the unnamed Lovecraftian thing that moaned in the woods and other horrifying joys. Read on, my friends, read on.

—an excerpt from Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances and Tales of True Hauntings

Available June 1st on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & IndieBound and wherever books are sold.

image credit: Jordan Jansen via Unsplash

 

Happy New Year & An Annoucement

Happy 2018 you delightful devils! Let’s hope your celebrations (and libations) didn’t take you too far off the path. We all know how those Pookas can appear when you least expect them…

2017 was a big year for me personally: it saw the publication of my latest book, Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complet Guide to the Wild & Wicked Enchanted Realm in April. By the fall I had completed the manuscript for my next book, Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances, and True Tales of Hauntings (available for pre-order on Amazon, IndieBound or B&N). And in October, with the talents of Bo Luellen, we launched a new podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Season One–Strange America

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, Bo is no longer able to do the podcast. I am indebted to him for motivating me to think outside the book and he and I will remain forever friends. But this means that 2018 will have me reinventing the Podcast just a lil’ bit, and I will be learning some new skills (uh, mainly podcasting…know any good books on the subject?). For those of you who noticed nothings doin’ in the podcast realm, bless ye, for you are paying attention.

There are currently 3 episodes live and episodes 4 & 5 awaiting my nimble fingers but I’ve booked several guests that I can guarantee will delight you. So please bear with me as I try new things, take the reigns and make Tales of the Strange my own.

In the meantime, please enjoy the current episodes, tune in for upcoming interviews where I am the guest and take a peek at my books!

May 2018 bring you the vision of starlight, the creative genius of 10,000 novels and one more for the road.

 

 

Is That ME in Your Pocket? Or Are You Just…

NOW ON ITUNES, PEOPLES!!

I am terribly excited to discover that our BRAND NEW podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange is live and now available on iTunes. Oooooh! That means you can just log in and subscribe and every time a new episode drops, bam! I’ll be right there, waiting for you. In your pocket.

Oh, okay or in your purse. Just plug in, tune in. Now you can listen easily while scrubbing away those mystery stains (is that blood? honestly!) or walking your wolves around the lake.

And I’m not above begging, so please, please, if you like it, subscribe and give us a happy little rating. The first episode, Strange America: Alabama is up. Coming soon, Alaska’s most famous ghost hunter and UFO-ologist and Small Town Monsters filmmaker and mastermind, Seth Breedlove.

Download me, darling. You know you want to.

 

In Praise of Vampires: Living Vamps FAQ

In Praise of Vampires

Although some of my exes may disagree, I am not (at least not last I checked) a vampire. However, I do identify with much of what the current living vampire community represents. And am, of course, quite interested in vampire lore, mythology and culture, pop and otherwise. After all, I wrote a book called Banshees, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Creatures of the Night: Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts.  I am frequently asked about vampires: Are they real? Am I one? How does one become a vampire? Do vampires drink blood?

If you’ve heard me on Coast to Coast, you’ve heard me patiently answer: I know many living vampires, people who self-identify as vampires, and I have found them to be empathic, courteous, thoughtful and gentle people. One of my favorite pals is Father Sebastiaan. He is a Fangsmith, founder of Vampire World and founding father of vampire community. Along with the charming Victor Magnus, they put on vampire balls and events around the world. In response to the most common, frequently asked questions about vampires, Father Sebastiaan and Victor Magnus have put together an excellent Q & A on their website, Vampire World. They are far more qualified to talk about real, modern vampires than I am. Below, you’ll find the first of many questions. Click this link to learn more (reprinted with permission)

From VampireWorld.Com 

Are Vampires Real?

Yes, but not in the ways you may think.  Living “Real” Vampires are human beings with a higher energetic need for vital life-force (Chi, Prana, Mana, Ki) than the average human.  If this Need goes unfulfilled, the Vampire experiences lower states of spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing.  In order to sate this need, one must learn ethical techniques of gathering excess energy (called “feeding”).  Vampires are usually divided into psychic (energy) and sanguine (blood) categories, but this often leads to misconceptions. A better terminology separates them into awakened and unawakened.  All Vampires can practice just energy feeding. “Lifestylers” may practice a philosophy or employ the imagery, but are not all energetically Awakened. We also recognize Sympathetic Psychic Vampirism, a temporary Need resulting from a donor being depleted after being fed upon too much and for too long.

 

Read all of the FAQ and find the fascinating answers on VampireWorld!!

 

Fairy Tale Contest First-Place Winner: A Pooka

First place winner, Barry Huddleston.

I was a bit startled by the response when I first got it in my inbox as I was not expecting a poem as the fairy tale. But I couldn’t help but love this take on the fairy tale, and the inherent talent Mr. Huddleston obviously possesses. I also loved the idea that someone’s guilt, the fear, anticipation and possible sin of meeting her lover would cause hallucinations. Hey, we’ve all been there, ammiright?

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that,  the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle. Stunned, she turned and saw…

A paw, a white paw, it was a rabbit and nothing more
or so she told herself as she dashed to her bedroom door.
A glimpse of white or was it the evening mist?
Was it the fear of a rabbit or the fear of her tryst?

Again she drew up her courage and sought out her rendezvous
in the cool misty forest where the apple trees grew.
Was that her lover among the greenwoods or a Pooka in disguise?
She couldn’t tell and discretion belongs to the wise.

Once again she dashed for the safety of her room.
Was she afraid of a rabbit, the forest, or the gloom?
Pooka was that you, are you testing or tormenting me?
Did you place fear in my heart and cause me to flee?

A whisper replied in the still of the night,
“don’t seek out love until you feel it is right.”

copyright Barry Huddleston, 2017. Re-publication requires express permission of the author.

Fairy Tale Contest Second-Place Winner! Hungry Woods by Nicole Williams

Second Place: Nicole Williams

This beautiful story came in early on in the contest and stood out right away as one of my favorites, even after reading so many amazing entries. Although the first paragraph was part of the contest entry, I believe that Ms. Williams could easily out-write my intro any day. When I read these words, “With hellhounds and red caps beneath, they rode upon the night” I knew I had found a beautiful writer and a kindred spirit! Enjoy her gorgeous fairy tale, dear reader, with the light on. 

Hungry Woods 

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that, the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle.
Startled, she turned and saw that it was only dry bramble. She giggled and began tugging upon the clothing that was caught by the fingers of the underbrush. Stubbornly refusing to release despite her efforts, she reached to untangle her skirt and gouged her arm upon a thorn.  Beads of blood welled from her torn flesh and trickled down her hand to the ground below.
 

Suffering from an intense drought, the ground drank the life giving force as quickly as it landed.  Above her, the trees began to rage as if a storm has suddenly come, yet the sky was clear. She laughed anxiously at the turbulent canopy above and was surprised to hear an echo from behind her. She turned quickly to glimpse a menacing figure watching her from the shadows. Paralyzed with dread she could not move however her heart raced, beating like a trap bird within her chest.  The creature only stared, slowing inhaling through his gaping mouth as if tasting the air, or her fear.   Upon its head sat a jaunty cap, soaked in blood. A rivulet of the viscous fluid dribbled into its open mouth and the creature smacked its lips, its grotesque flesh trembling with delight.  Its voice was like rocks grinding upon themselves as it pointed to her and growled, “We…Hunger.”

Snatching her gown from the clutches of the greedy brambles, she ran faster than she had ever before, leaving the creature’s laughter to reverberate through frightening forest. As she approached the pond, she looked behind her to find the creature scuttling along beside a hoard of black hounds.   Their teeth gleamed in the moonlight as saliva rained into the dry grass beneath their immense claws.  She stumbled upon loose debris and caught her palm against a sharp stone as she fell. It bled into the earth. Holding her hand to her chest, she picked herself up, and ran towards her salvation while the beasts gnashing at her heels.  She would be safe within the illuminated protection of the castle, if she could make it there. 

With labored breath and tired limbs, she struggled around the curve of the dark pond.  As she passed, a ripple disturbed the surface and from its stagnate depths, a dark horse materialized. Upon its back a man of shadows rode. She struggled in vain, as he took her into his fatal embrace.  Unable to speak, she mewled in terror.

“What beautiful sounds you make.” He stroked her hair. “But regrettable, you are not for me to keep.”  

With hellhounds and red caps beneath, they rode upon the night mare to the heart of the land.   His breath was warm upon her face as he smirked. “The woods my dear, they must eat.”

Mistaken for the wind whistling through trees, the locals welcomed her shrieks.  They dance and sang throughout the dark, celebrating the end of the terrible drought.  And the laughing girl who wandered into the hungry woods, she laughed no more that night while the forest feed- feasted by ancient rite.   

—copyright 2017 by Nicole Williams. Re-publication requires express permission of the author.

Fairy Tale Contest Honorable Mention: Cameron’s The Cook & The Princess

I hadn’t intended to do any kind of third place. In fact, I’ll quote myself by saying, “there is no third-place!” However, I decided to post an honorable mention in the contest: probably the youngest writer to submit an entry (at least who admitted it) this 15-year-old author did a damn fine job. Short stories can be among the most challenging, for writers of any age, and I can tell you if my writing had been this refined at the age of 15…well let’s just say I probably would have been published earlier. It’s got a lovely twist at the end, too! Enjoy and please leave encouraging comments for Cameron! 

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that, the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle.

She shrieked as she whipped around and saw a man laying on his stomach, his lower half concealed by the forest just off the path. He was clutching her dress and looking up at her, his eyes pleading. Blood poured from his mouth and nose. He opened and closed his mouth, trying to speak, but no words were coming out. Finally, he succeeded. “Help me… it came from the pond…” His short manifesto finished, his head splatted into the mud. He was dead. Behind him, something began to break the delicate surface of the water. Out of fear, the princess stumbled back into a ditch filled with bushes, producing many loud cracks as the thing slowly emerged from the water. Once fully out, it stood about
four-feet tall at the shoulder, and 10-feet long from head to tail. The princess did not move, and tried to hold as still as possible. From her hiding spot, the creature appeared black, silhouetted against the light glinting off of the pond. It’s movements lizardlike, it jerked its head back and forth, scanning the trees for the source of the loud noise. The girl stayed still, hidden from its view. Satisfied that it was alone, the lizard ambled slowly toward the corpse of the man.

Highborn and blind to the difficult side of life, danger was near unknown to the princess. Whatever this new feeling was, she did not like it. As she crouched, hidden, she saw the thing place it’s jaws gently around the torso of the man, and began to carry him in the direction of the castle. As the thing slowly waddled into the dim light of the moon, she could make out tough green skin, and four clawed feet slowly pattering away. It looked like a gigantic lizard, cold, black eyes rotating in their sockets to scan the forest around. Glinting in the light, she saw the long teeth of the lizard, and a golden ring on the man’s finger, with a shining green stone in the center. The lizard continued on into the darkness toward the castle.

The princess waited for hours, just to be sure it was gone. She slowly emerged from her hiding spot and walked cautiously toward the castle. After a long, scary walk through the woods, she arrived at her bedroom window. She would never sneak out to walk through the night again. Her nan was always warning her against it. “There’s bad people out there.” she would say. “Bad things. Bandits who would kidnap and ransom you without a second glance. Inhuman things too. Unholy beasts sent by satan to terrorize good, god fearing children like you. Shapeshifters, evil, satanic beasts who can appear human, but can also transform into godless creatures from hell.” the princess had shrugged her warnings off. That stuff wasn’t real. That kind of thing just happened in stories.

Safe inside her bedroom, she dropped her filthy dress to the floor and crawled into bed. The next morning, her cook brought her breakfast in bed. She sat up and looked at the plate. “What is it?” the cook smiled and answered. “meat pie m’lady.” the princess smiled and scooped up a mouthful with her fork. Delicious. Even in the most difficult famines, her loyal cook was always able to get the most delicious meat. If he ever ran out, he would always have more the next morning. As she chatted with the cook, she decided to tell him about the dream she had that night. As she told her story, the cook’s smile bent downward into a frown. Finishing the tale, she asked him what was wrong. “M’lady. That was no dream. Look.” she followed his gaze and noticed her dress, caked with mud, lying on the ground in front of her window. She was scared, but decided that it didn’t matter much, she had escaped without harm and that was all that mattered. She told the cook as such. He smiled and agreed. He swore he would not tell anybody of what she had seen, because if he did, the princess would surely never be allowed into the woods again. As she neared the bottom of her meat pie, her fork clanged against something metal. She looked down slowly into the pie. Her fork had struck a golden ring. In her pie. She thought back to the lizard carrying the man away. Glinting in the light… a golden ring… with a green stone… “m’lady?” her cook asked. “Something troubling you?” the princess, her hand  shaking, turned the ring over with her fork. In the center, partially concealed by bits of flesh, was a shining green stone. What had happened the night before was no dream. And her cook… She looked up slowly at his face, glaring at her darkly. “Didn’t yer nan warn you of ones like us? Not to go meddling in places you don’t belong? You might get hurt.” The princess sprung out of bed and bolted for the door, but the shapeshifter got there first. He grinned, and the princess realized she had never before noticed before how sharp his teeth were. “You’ve seen something you shouldn’t. You know what happens to girls who go out into the woods at night? They have accidents.” his skin began to ripple, and he fell onto his hands and knees, scales sprouting all over his body…

The cook carried her body into the kings chamber and laid her down. Through his sobs, the king managed to ask what had happened. “I found her In the woods while I was going for a walk this morning. I’m terribly sorry for your loss sir, and the kingdom mourns with you. Would you perhaps like a little breakfast to help you feel better before the funeral? I’ve made a delicious meat pie.”

copyright 2017 frog farkle. No republication without express permission of the author.

Beat the Drum Slowly! Winners Have Been Chosen!

Ah, at long last. I know I told you I’d announce the winners by early June but guess what? There were A LOT of entries and I had to sift through (with great pleasure) many wonderful stories. I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed a contest more! So to every one of you who sent in an entry, I thank you. And I want you to know I agonized over the winner. I chose a winner, a second place and—because I wanted to—a runner up/honorable mention. Each of these will be published over the next three days for your reading enjoyment, beginning tomorrow (which might be today for you). If you are a prize winner, I have already contacted you and if you are wondering where your prize is…well, it’s on the way! Rahlly it is!

Saturday Night on Spirit Radio

john_beattie_eugene_rochas_seance

Join me this Saturday, April 22, with hosts Lynne M. Nickerson and Willy Hassel on their show Spirit Radio – the Paranormal Experience to discuss Fairies, Pookas and Changelings and all manner of things that creep about the fairy kingdom. You may recall I was on this show a few months back and we found we’d only scratched the surface of what fun and wild things we could share.

This Saturday night 9:00 – 10:00 PM E.T., (8 p.m. CST/6 p.m. PST and Sunday 2:00 – 3:00 AM G.M.T.)  on WSCA 106.1 FM Portsmouth, NH Listen live worldwide at www.wscafm.org

Click here to learn more: www.spiritradiotheparanormalexperience.org