Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012

As the sun sets tonight, 2012 will come to an end and a new year will begin.  2012 was a wonderful year.  The world ended a couple of times, although it looks the same to me.   The world began again and now we are ready to look back at this strange year.   Every new year, I like to look back on which posts were my most popular of the year.  The most popular posts I wrote and posted in 2012 were:

1.  Can Ghosts Be Captured?

2.  American Horror Story and The Ghosts of the Waverly Hills Sanitarium

3.  The Old Bryce Hospital for the Insane

Interestingly, two of my top posts this year were about hospitals.   It seems that haunted hospitals always capture the imagination.  I'm hoping that in 2013, I can spend more time exploring haunted hospitals and asylums.  I would also like to dedicate some time to haunted hotels.  As the sun sets on 2012, my favorite ghostly moments come from the stories others have told me.   I haven't as traveled as far and gone to as many ghostly places as I usually do.  I had a baby and moved to a new house.  I lost myself in life, but there are still a few haunted places that I discovered in 2012.  I loved exploring haunted Washington DC this year.  I also enjoyed finding haunted locations in the shadowy landscape of Michigan.  Still, I did have to push my deadline for Haunted South Alabama back this year and I became a little overwhelmed by my ghosts.  I'm hoping next year will be better for my ghost stories!  

Happy New Year to you all and may 2013 bring you many wonderful stories and happy times!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Most Haunted Asylums

 Mental Hospitals and Asylums seem to draw ghost stories the way a light on a dark night draws bugs.  Ghost stories cling to them like moss and collect over time until the dead patients wandering the halls  outnumber the living.   There is an irony to this.  These hospitals were built to be places of healing where the broken and lost could find sanctuary and solace, but these plans often go awry and accidents and apathy turn healing to hurt.  Tragedies linger in the shadows of these hospitals and collect like dust over time.  
I have worked at several asylums during my career as a psychologist and many times these places are not creepy.  They are places of healing and the staff fights the darkness with art therapy and recreational therapy and all the things mental health professionals do to make hospitals a place of healing.    However, sometimes the sad condition of the chronically mentally ill can’t be combated by these tools and bad things happen.  Things happen that are so bad, that evil seems to remain in the old hospitals.  It seeps into the foundations of the buildings and creeps up through the walls tainting everything inside.  Bad doctors and staff turn bad things into travesties and these hospitals become places of fear.  According to many, the ghosts cling to the emotions that are kept in the hospitals.   Across the nation, there are many hospitals that are considered to be haunted.   These hospitals have tragic histories and their stories can send chills down the spines of even the bravest souls.  Here are a few of my favorite haunted asylums:

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
This is considered by many to be the most haunted hospital in the United States.  This hospital was founded in Weston West Virginia in 1864 and was then called The Weston State Hospital.   The hospital had 250 beds and houses some of the sickest patients in the region.   Although the hospital was built to house only 250 patients, by 1950 overcrowding turned the hospital into something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the building housed as many as 2500 sick souls.  Even Charles Manson spent some time at this notorious hospital.   The hospital witnessed all the worst of the early treatments for mental illness and frontal lobotomies and water shock treatment were the mainstays of early treatment here.  However, the worst tragedies occurred when the patients hurt each other.  There were several patient to patient killings here and one nurse vanished only to have her body discovered under the stairs two years later.  Death became common place at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  In 1994, the hospital was considered unusable and it was close.   Those that have visited this hospital say that they hear phantom noises throughout the hospital.  They hear ghostly screams and wails.  Full body apparitions have been seen wandering the hallways and strange noises come from the darkness.

Bryce Hospital for the Insane
Alabama Hospital for the Insane was designed to be a refuge for the mentally ill. Its architecture was designed based on the ideas of Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride. It was meant to be moral architecture that would contribute to the healing process within the hospital The hospital opened in 1861 and for a while it held to the ideals of Dix and Kirkbride. The first superintendent, Peter Bryce, was an idealist and he had studied mental health in Europe. He believed that patients should be treated with respect kindness. He even abandoned the use of restraints. The hospital was later named for Bryce and it went on to be the model for progressive mental health care.

 Time quickly eroded Bryce' legacy, however. By 1967, there were more than 5200 patients residing in a facility that was never meant to hold that many. Observers described Bryce as a concentration camp and a model for human cruelty. In 1970, one patient named Wyatt started a class action law suit against the Alabama's other mental hospital, Searcy State Hospital. This lead to major change in the way the mentally ill were treated in Alabama. The number of beds was cut drastically and humane treatment of the mentally ill became an absolute necessity. The landmark Wyatt v. Strickney Case would change Bryce drastically. Old Bryce was the African American portion of Bryce Hospital and was notorious for being even crueler than its white counterpart. After Wyatt v. Strickey and desegregation, Old Bryce was shut down entirely and other buildings were used. The African American patients were integrated into the white population.

 Old Bryce still sits quietly deserted, however, as a reminder to the old days when patients were held like prisoners with no rights. It is covered in graffiti and has been vandalized many times. It’s even been set on fire. Trespassing is forbidden here, but the curious have reported seeing all manner of horrors coming out of the dark around Old Bryce. Lights flicker on an off in the building that has no electricity. Phones ring in rooms with no phones. Phantom lights drift from room to room. Furniture moves on its own and footsteps echo through the abandoned hallways. The living patients may be gone, but many believe Old Bryce is still filled with the ghosts of those who once suffered in its walls.

 Norwich State Hospital For The Mentally Insane

Norwich Hospital for The Mentally Insane was built in 1904 in Preston, Connecticut and is known for the dark ghosts that live inside of it.  The Norwich Hospital was designed to house the worst of the criminally insane patients in the state and, until 1971, it did just that.  It was home to murders, rapists, and other violent offenders.  The hospital is situated on 900 acres of woodland and is utterly isolated and crumbling.  This fa├žade has added to the horror stories that have built up around the violent people that lived within the hospital and has created a collection of ghost stories so large they could fill a book.  Suicides and murders fill the history of Norwich Hospital and those who have died there never seem to leave.  Witnesses describe hearing screams in the darkness Faces appear out of nowhere and strange mists and lights are seen in the halls.

 Searcy State Hospital

 Searcy State Hospital is located in  the most Southern part of rural Alabama.  Prior to being a state hospital the old hospital has a long and dark history that is very difficult to find, but easy to see upon casual observation. The hospital is encased in long, chipped, white walls that seem as old as anything in the United States. From outside these walls, you can see a battered watchtower that gives testament to the fact that the hospital is in the same location as a 300 year old fort. The fort bears witness to American history and was originally a Spanish fort. It switched hands during the Louisiana Purchase and became a US fort. After the US took possession of the fort it was converted to a military arsenal and became known as the Mount Vernon Arsenal. The Arsenal switched hands again several times and was taken by the Confederates during the civil war only to be passed back over the United States again in 1862. From 1887 to 1894, The Arsenal became a Barracks and was used as a prison for the captured Apache people. The most famous of the Apache people to be held in these barracks was Geronimo. The infamous Aaron Burr was also held at this secluded prison at some point.
In 1900 the Barracks were transformed once again and the prison became a mental hospital. Searcy hospital was built as the African American mental hospital in Alabama. Conditions in the hospital were beyond questionable and at one time there were over 2000 patients in the crowded hospital and all were seen by one psychiatrist. All patients were expected to work in the fields.

The hospital was desegregated in 1969, but its history is all around it. The hospital is still used today, and although the residents live in new buildings, many tell stories of ghosts and devils that linger in the white walls and abandoned buildings that surround the new facilities. These stories are usually ignored, because the patients are crazy, but I’m not the only sane person who saw a few ghosts while they were working there.

Searcy served as the inspiration for my new novel, Circe. Its tragic history and haunted atmosphere serve as a backdrop to the chilling tale of a young intern slow decent into madness. If you would like to read more about Searcy, you can find my book at:,








Monday, December 24, 2012

Dark and Wonderful Christmas Cards!

Edward Gorey is the master of all things dark and wonderful.   Gorey wrote and illustrated over 100 books and he became king of macabre.  His books were beautiful and sometimes oddly touching.  He is most known for  The Adams Family which has been remade again and again as a TV series and as several movies.   My favorite of his books was The Gashleycrumb Tinies.   For years,  I sent out Edward Gorey Christmas cards and as I mailed my cards yesterday I had to admit I miss my dark Christmas theme.  I did not use my Gorey cards this year because I ran out of time and didn't plan far enough in advance.  I know, big surprise.  But I thought in lieu of my cards,  I would do a post on some of the most marvelous and ghostly Christmas cards ever made.  Gorey did numerous Christmas cards and Christmas illustrations in his career.  These are only a few, but they are all marvelous.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Apocalypse From Lil Cthulhu

Since it will all be ending in a few hours, I thought I would post a video about the great lord Cthulhu. I believe if the end comes tonight, it will be at his hands. He will rise up from his watery slumber and devour all our souls. Mostly I believe this because H.P. Lovecraft is the master of horror and I hope I can someday be the horror writer he is. So happy apocalypse from Lil' Cthulhu.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Phantom of the Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum Theater in Memphis Tennessee's is a gilded theater of unforgettable beauty.  The Orpheum is considered by many to be the most beautiful theater in the South and although I haven't seen every theater in the South,  I know the Orpheum rivals theaters I have seen in bigger cities, like New York.  The Orpheum is unforgettable for me for many reasons.   It is a constant link in the timeline of my husband's and my love story.   We went to see our first concert here,  and although we were not even together,  we met each other in the aisles and said mean things to each other.  This was because we were sixteen and not very good friends at the time, but we would later learn that was the beginning of a long love.  Later, after the turbulence of adolescents had past, he would take me on an amazing date at the  Orpheum to see The Phantom of  the Opera.

The Orpheum is very well known for its ghosts, so even as I watched The Phantom of the Opera,  I knew it was ironic that we were seeing it in a theater known for its phantoms.  The Orpheum theater has had a turbulent past.  It was built in 1890 on the corner of Main and Beale Streets and was called the most beautiful theater outside of New York.  At the time, it housed mainly Vaudeville performances. Vaudeville at the Orpheum was successful for many years.  In 1923, however, the Orpheum burst into flames during a strip-tease by a woman named Blossom Seeley.  The Theater burned to the ground.

In 1928,  the theater was rebuilt.  The days of Vaudeville had past, but a new art came, defining a new era.   The Orpheum became a movie theater.  Time faded the Orpheum's beauty and by 1977 the city of Memphis began to make plans to demolish the once legendary theater.   However,  the city managed to raise $5 million to save the theater and it became one of the premier venues for off-Broadway theater and concerts in the Southeast. 

The Orpheum doesn't hide from her ghosts like many historical locations do.  It places its ghosts stories proudly on its playbills and on its webpage.  All you have to do is google the Orpheum to be flooded with a plethora of stories about the phantom tenants of this old theater.  The most famous ghost of the Orphem is Mary.  I always looked for her when I went there, but I was never successful in finding her.  Mary is  a little girl in a white dress and pigtails sitting in seat C-5, Box 5.  No one knows for sure how Mary came to haunt the Orpheum.  She has been seen by numerous employees and visitors to the Orpheum, but history doesn't give us a clear answer on who she is.  Many believe she was a little girl who was hit by a trolley car outside the theater, but there is no documentation to substantiate this claim.   Mary isn't alone.   Psychics visiting the Orpheum claim there are as many as eight other ghosts wandering this theater, but like Mary, the origins are unknown. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Houses, Book Tours, and Signings

I have been a little slow in keeping up with my ghosts lately.  I'm hoping to catch up soon with a new batch of  dark tales.   I have been slowed down by moving into a new house.  Our new home is beautiful and sits on a wildlife preserve.  We are enjoying it immensely.   To help me celebrate my move, I have started a book tour for my latest book, The Midnight Queen.  Please give it a look if you have the chance.  I'll also be signing copies of Haunted North Alabama at Costco in Huntsville, Alabama.   Come chat with me and watch my book tour while I get ready to start a new year of ghost stories and haunted places!

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR December 12th - January 4th

December 12 - Reading Addiction Blog Tours - Meet and Greet
December 13 - Waiting on Sunday to Drown - Review/Guest Post
December 14 - My Cozie Corner - Review
December 15 - Bunny's Reviews - Guest Post/PROMO
December 16 - A Dream Within a Dream - PROMO
December 18 - Pure Textuality - Guest Post/PROMO
December 19 - Mom With a Kindle - Interview/PROMO
December 20 - Jen McConnel - Guest Post/PROMO
December 21 - Marked By Books - Review/Interview
December 22 - Lovely Reads - Guest Post/PROMO
December 26 - The Avid Reader - PROMO
December 27 - Words I Write Crazy - Review/Guest Post
December 29 - Black Lillies are Dead - Guest Post/PROMO
December 30 - Book Lovin Mama's - PROMO
December 31 - Delerious About Books - Interview/PROMO
January 1 - The Cosy Dragon - Review
January 2 - Krystal's Enchanting Reads - PROMO
January 3 - Brooke Blogs - PROMO
January 4 - My Reading Addiction - Review
Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Krampus Day!

Last year, I was thrilled to discover Krampus Day.   I wasn't thrilled enough to celebrate this holiday, but I loved learning about it   Now, Krampus Dy seems to be a day I'll remember for a long time to come. In fact, I am reposting this blog from last year just to celebrate Krampus Day.  So if you think you've seen this blog post before, you have! In America, we embrace all cultures and pull their traditions into our own culture and make it our own. I believe we should do the same for Krampus Day. It is time to begin our Krampus Day Celebrations! According to Wikipedia, "Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching – by Krampus, especially of young girls"   This year, this time frame is oddly meaningful to me as I'm due December 1st and if I don't have a baby boy by the 5th, we'll be taking him by force.   As a mother of two other boys who like to chase each other with bells and other nonsense, this holiday also seems oddly appropriate this year.  All I have to do is add horns and my boys will be set for Krampus day.  This is very convenient because they already have horns from their various Halloween costumes from years passed.  So this year, I'm celebrating Krampus day.  Here's some more background information for all those that missed Krampus Day last year.

Krampus is part of Austrian and Hungarian folklore and is associated with Christmas. His name, taken from the Germanic Krampen means claw. Krampus looks like and acts like the devil. He is a demon that travels with Saint Nickolas on Christmas Eve and while Santa delivers candies and treats to the good little children, Krampus delivers corporal punishment and horror to the bad little children. He provides a little extra incentive for the children to be good. Apparently in Austria, not getting presents wasn't enough to motivate children. Satan himself had to beat the children with willow branches and carry them off to hell. I think it would take about this much incentive to get my boys to stop fighting on a nightly basis, so they might be on to something.

Krampus became so popular that his story and legends spread throughout Europe and became especially popular in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy. He became so popular that he earned his own holiday. Dec 5 is Krampus day. It is almost like a prolonged Devil's Night in Detroit, without the fire. On Krampus day and the days around it, young men take to the streets dressed in their most fearful Krampus costumes. They roam the streets scaring children with loud rusty bells and chains. They chase down young girls and hit them with birch branches. I feel like this would add some spice to our Christmas preparations. Who wouldn't want to be terrified by a large devil in these days leading up to Christmas? I have to say that it would make shopping a little bit less painful and it certainly sounds like more fun than black Friday! So get out your rusty chains and bells an find your ugliest mask and take to the streets. It is almost Krampus Day.