I Am an Android

robot valentineAnd I’m a tablet, and an iPad and all kinds of other robotic things.

Freaky stories available now as apps for your devices! Including awesome bonus things like interviews with me!

 

My publisher just released the following information:

 

Dare to explore the dark side with this superbly disquieting collection of tales featured in our Paranormal Parlor, Magical Creatures, and Antiquarian Curiosity Shoppe apps!  Now available in iTunes, Android, and soon for Kindle tablets.

 

Enjoy this compendium of hauntings, seances, psychic investigations, magic, trickery, and more…at a great price!

 

Download the free BiblioBoard app for access to our anthologies.

 

For iTunes click https://service.biblioboard.com/featuredContent/refer/SEO/APPID-00000000483/Tp

 

For Android click https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.biblioboard

The 99 Cent House and the Brain~A Happy Hour of Horrors

Oh you lovers of horror fiction, you members of the Dark and Stormy Night Brigade! You can now get Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s incredibly odd and deliciously occult story The House and the Brain, with an introduction by me,  for a mere ninety-nine cents for your Kindle! Also  available NOW as an e-book for any device of your choosing.

Famous for having written the opening line “It was a dark and stormy night” Lytton was a prolific novelist and occult scholar who was also responsible for the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword.”In The House and the Brain (1859), Lytton—who worked on such diverse projects as operas, poems, plays, historical fiction, science fiction, and romance—demonstrates his deep understanding of the occult as well as his love of suspense.

You can also check out occult superstar Lon Milo DuQuette’s digital book collection, The Magical Antiquarian Curiosity Shoppe, and his Edward Bulwer-Lytton favorite Zanoni. You can go now and get book three of Zanoni for free! And the rest are nearly free…Just click the link below.

So grab your little nookie book or iPadium or whatever it is you use to read non-paper things, click the links below, and mix yourself up Dark and Stormy cocktail so you can  settle in for a proper Happy Hour of Horrors.

Zanoni

(Amazon) (B&N)

The House and the Brain

(Amazon) (B&N)

Dark and Stormy (taken from Esquire. This recipe is the best!)

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 3 ounces ginger beer
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice

Glass Type: Collins glass

Instructions

Combine the rum,* the ginger beer,** and the lime juice, which is optional, in a tall glass full of ice cubes. Stir. The key here is nailing the precise ratio between the spice of the ginger beer and the richness of the rum. Depending on brands of each used, you may want to play around with the proportions.

* Bermuda’s own Gosling’s Black Seal is of course the preferred brand, but anything dark and funky will work.

** If you can find Barritt’s, it’s from Bermuda. If not, anything will work as long as it’s ginger beer and not ginger ale.

PS: Varla’s Happy Hour of Horrors –Watch for future drink and ebook combos every Friday!

May Day! May Day!

Happy May Day!

Often associated with the distress when a vessel or vehicle is in trouble, the call “mayday! mayday! mayday!” derives from the French word m’aider which means “come help me.” Lesser known is the call “pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan!” which means there is an urgent situation on board. Though one may think it is a derivation of the word panic it actually comes from the French word panne which refers to mechanical failure or breakdown of any kind.

But May Day is so much more than a distress call. May Day celebrations exist throughout the world, but are especially prominent in the U.K. and Western Europe. In England and Scotland the celebrations around or near May 1st relate directly to the pagan Beltane (in Ireland Bealtaine) and are associated with the Rites of Spring—specifically fertility. The celebration of new life and birth at the time of year when the land is waking up, flowers pushing through the sodden hills, still takes place today with the crowning of the May Queen and the erecting of the may pole. (You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what a giant pole in the middle of a lush field wrapped in beautiful ribbons represents.) Bonfires are lit, merry is made.

Prominent also in Germany, Walpurgisnacht (Witches Night!) celebrations are usually held on the Eve O’ May: bonfires and the wrapping of the Maibaum—the may pole—are included along with dancing, drinking and general MAYHEM! Finns make special donuts and lemonade to mark the occasion.

Many early immigrants from Germany and England as well as other parts of Europe such as France and the Netherlands continued their traditional celebrations in the settlements of Early America. Without the community and established towns of Old Europe their traditions were often more family based and including the weaving of May Baskets and the giving of flowers. If you read this collection of short stories by Charles Montgomery Skinner, which includes the title work The May-Pole of Merrymount, you will gain a bit more insight into how some of these wild nights of fun and mayhem were translated into Puritan settlements of America. A downer? Yeah, a little. But worthy of a May Day read. Plus there are freaky stories of witches and old creepy men in caves that you probably shouldn’t think about, but can’t help yourself.

Charles Montgomery Skinner (1852-1907) was a native New Yorker with a literary palate as diverse as the community I grew up in. Perhaps best remembered for his work on Walt Whitman, “Whitman as Editor” which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1903, his works ranged from urbanization, gardening, the economy, communism, natural history, and folklore. This excerpt from his first collection of folk tales is from the greater work Myths and Legends of Our Own Land which was first published in 1897– a massive volume of stories from across the settled cities and wild plains of America. I have selected a few of my favorites for this collection, stories that I think represent the varied tastes of our author. The legend of a witch in the Catskills to the Maypole of Merrymount, we find a unique view on the lore that founded the United States. Skinner also wrote Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders and Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions and Protectorate (lands we had pillaged) both of which were published in 1899.

Eat Your Heart Out, Blavatsky

Nothing quite pleases a ghost hunter and paranormal prowler like the story of a Victorian medium who came to her powers after being diagnosed with a tumor, and who was vetted by the Society for Psychical Research as well as by Dr. Hodgson (who examined also Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical society and called them all charlatans!)The story of Leonora Piper is a truly remarkable one. She “hosted” more than one entity, including a French doctor– Dr. Phinuit– an actress named Mrs. Siddons, Johann Sebastian Bach, Henry Longfellow, Commodore Vanderbilt (the Italian multi-millionaire) and a young Italian girl named Loretta Ponchini, and by some accounts she also channeled Abraham Lincoln and George Washington!  Phinuit is said to be her primary “control” and appeared most regularly and readily, speaking in a unique French dialect.

Click HERE to read more about Leonora Piper in Mrs. Piper and the Society for Psychical  Research, from the Paranormal Parlor Weiser Books Collection.

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,

Varla

Another Feast for the Freaks

As we all roll out of bed on this post-Thanksgiving Monday morning, possibly still clutching our guts in regret of the pie-we-ate-that-lasted-too-long, we can have a nice snack from an entirely different table. Dive into the juicy tidbits on this wonderful site The Magical Buffet. Lots of fun things, but of course you know I am shamelessly linking directly to my interview with the founder Rebecca Elson.

http://themagicalbuffet.com/blog1/2011/11/27/10-questions-with-varla-ventura/

Varla

Paranormal Parlor

A Haunting in Paris:

Ralph Adams Cram was a master builder with a secret talent for occult horror writing. This wonderful short-story shows a side to this famous architect that proves his own dabblings as a writer are just as noteworthy as the Federal Building in Boston, one of Cram’s most famous building designs. Besides deco architecture Cram is best known for the Gothic revival movement, and is the architect behind dozens of beautiful cathedrals and buildings throughout New England. A true gothic at heart, his story of No. 252 Rue M. le Prince in Paris–where dark magic lurks and horrors await any who dare enter–shows just how dark this draftsman could be.

This, and four other exciting titles including Water Wizardry and The House and the Brain are part of a new venture of electronic books,the Paranormal Parlor collection,  brought to you by Weiser Books (one of the oldest publishers of occult books in the U.S.). And I am happy to be curating such a devilishly delightful new collection of stories and tales of the supernatural. There are many more to come, as I have only just scratched the surface of the cavernous world of collectable creepery!

Available now on Kindle, coming soon to a e-reader of your choice.

Magical Creatures

Today marks the launching of a new venture, so get out those lady luck candles and send your good vibes to Varla! Weiser Books has created a series of electronic books and yours truly is the official curator of the Magical Creatures and the Paranormal Parlor series. I’ve been combing dusty stacks and virtual archives to find lost and forgotten freakery for you lovers of the creepy, the curious, and the so old-its-new modern era of digital books. Each story or book features an intro by me. Not only are the stories interesting but the “back-stories” and author’s bios lend an element of appeal that can’t be planned! Think Lord Byron’s physician and a children’s author does horror, for starters…

Magical Creatures includes fairies, goblins, pookas, mermaids, mummies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, devils, elves, and more! Basically all of the creatures you might find if you were to open up the cobwebby closet of my mind. I am completely and utterly thrilled and honored to be working on such an exciting project. It truly is a Brave New World!!

These books are available today on Kindle and will be available this week on other digital readers. I’ll send links when those go live!