Varla’s Valentine

Dear Readers!

As a delightful Valentine to you, for a limited time you can get a FREE downloadable PDF of The Haunted Orchard, part of the Paranormal Parlor digital book collection curated by me. This horror-story-romp in the countryside  was a deviation from author Richard le Gallienne’s usual poetry and romantic stories, but it has plenty of romance. It just so happens that the object of his affections is no longer living.

Read it yourself here:

Red Wheel Weiser

With love,


Charles Dickens, Ghostbuster

Today is Charles Dickens’ birthday and it seems that the world has caught a new batch of  Dickensian Fever with the publication of Claire Tomalin’s  biography and a fantastic article in the latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine. I’m not going to attempt to give you the greater details of Dickens’ life or his life’s work but instead I’m going to talk to you about my personal favorite Dickens’ collection: The Haunted House.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Charles Dickens I know and love is Charles Dickens, Ghostbuster!!

The Haunted House was published in an 1894 collection of three short stories by Dickens, under the title Christmas Stories, which is where I stumbled upon it. But as I researched further, I found that it was first published in 1859 in All Year Round, a publication for which Dickens served as editor. This contained a unique collection of stories under the same title, with Dickens writing the introductory story and the closing story. The other stories were written by writers of the time who Dickens invited to contribute a tale of their own set in one of the many haunted rooms of The Haunted House.

In his story, Dickens sets the stage for the paranormal parlor games that the protagonist invites his friends to join in. The abandoned house with rooms featuring names such as The Picture Room and The Clock Room is inhabited by a skeptical man who invites each of his dearest friends and relatives to arrive on the magical Twelfth Night of Christmas. It was often believed that the Twelfth Night of Christmas had a supernatural power—not unlike our current belief in Halloween as being a good time to communicate with those that have shuffled off this mortal coil.

He writes:

The understanding was established, that anyone who heard unusual noises in the night,  and who wished to trace them, should knock at my door; lastly, that on Twelfth Night, the last night  of holy Christmas, all our individual experiences since that then present hour of our coming  together in the haunted house, should be brought to light for the good of all; and that we would  hold our peace on the subject till then, unless on some remarkable provocation to break silence.

Each invited author then takes up residence in one of the particular rooms and writes from the point-of-view fo the ghost.

Thus far we’ve published the first two and the third is coming soon. You can find them here as digital books. Check out the paranormal games of Dickens!

The Haunted House eBook



The Ghost in the Clock Room  eBook



Happy Birthday Charles!!

By the Ghost Light

It has been awhile since my last post, still recovering from Halloween mayhem I suppose. I have been enjoying the autumnal crispness settling into my bones, gladly awaiting the darkness of winter and the time of candlelight and ghosts. But what about the daylight hours?

I had an interesting radio interview the other morning during which the host, Cleveland Rippons, asked me if I had any recent paranormal encounters, and if they were a regular thing for me. In all honesty the most vivid ones I have had I had as a child, before logic or cynicism set in. Still, I have had a few in my adult years. My answer to him was just that–my adult apparition sitings paled in comparison to  those experienced by some of my more psychic and gifted friends, and were certainly not as clear as those I had as a child. Shortly after I hung up the phone with him, I heard a series of odd noises coming from my kitchen. Pings and taps. Distinct. Strange.

I felt a little ripple of a chill down my spine. Ghosts come in unlikely forms, not always under cover of night. Sometimes they come to remind you that you aren’t as far away from them as you’d think. At 10 in the morning, on a bright sunny day.

Here is a story submitted to me for my first book. The Book of the Bizarre by a friend of my editor’s who heard I was looking for paranormal stories and asked if she could share it. It reminded me of something that had happened to me as a young child, and remains one of my favorite ghost stories from the book. And it is a ghost story from the light of day.


Dana was the youngest of four kids, living in an old Victorian house in the Minnesota suburbs. Her grand-father, who lived in the same town was sick in the hospital, but Dana was too young to really know what was going on or that he was dying. One day while her mother was at the hospital, Dana came walking down the grand staircase in her house. To her surprise, she saw her grandfather walking up toward her, looking healthy and happy. “I wanted to say good-bye, Dana, and I love you very much,” he said  and continued up the stairs. Delighted, the child raced into the kitchen to tell her mother that Grandpa was all better and that he’d come over for a visit. But her mother had just returned home from the hospital with some bad news–her grandfather had passed away earlier that afternoon.

Straight Talk on WCEM