Today is the best holiday, Halloween (a snowy one here in Wisconsin) and I was trying to think of something appropriately eerie. This is “Tea’s Weird Week” after all. Then I thought about ghost tour season ending (but not really– I’m doing tours tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday and then a “Ghost of Christmas Past” tour in later November and December) and decided to reflect on being a tour guide for Milwaukee Ghost Walks. I’ve been running tours since June and here’s some of my favorite tour memories this year. Thanks to everyone who has joined me!
-The first stop on the tour includes a story of a ghostly antique telephone ringing. I’m explaining the bells, when a guy cruises by on his bike and rings his bike bell. Really well placed sound effect!
-Another well-timed effect– at a stop by the river, I talk about Lake Monster sightings from 1890. I was telling this story one night, there had been a lot of rain so the river was moving quickly. I’m telling this story and everyone is laughing and pointing at the river. I turn around and there’s a big, monster shaped log cruising down the river. “Looks like we found it!” I told the group.
-Speaking of, that story also mentions a local newspaper ad from a saloon that offers a reward for the capture of the Lake Monster so they can serve it as a lunch special. That led to the most interesting question I got this year from someone on the tour: “What does a Lake Monster taste like?” I told her I did not have the answer.
-It was really fun to take two of my tour groups to the Under One Moon Fest in Catalano Square in August, celebrating the Apollo 11 mission. A giant replica moon hung over the square and we stopped for a few minutes to take pictures and enjoy some great music from Nineteen Thirteen.
-I always love hearing the noise people make when I tell a gruesome bit of a story, ha ha.
-My friends show up once in a while to take the tour. Always glad to see you!
-I bring along a copy of my book Monster Hunters with me to help introduce who I am and at the end of the tour mention I got that copy for sale. I sell a copy here and there. It’s always nice to sign a book for someone and send it to someone’s home instead of sitting in a box in my basement.
-Oh yeah and a special shout out to the guy cruising around Water Street over and over on his motorcycle this July blasting smooth jazz. “Who does this guy think he is, Kenny G?” I asked the tour. Big laughs.
-Max Mitchelson of the Shepherd Express wrote a nice article about the Milwaukee Ghost Walks. They interviewed Allison Jornlin (who founded and wrote the tour) and threw in a quote from Yours Truly for good measure. You can read it here: “Remembering Milwaukee History Through the Paranormal.”
Happy Halloween everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with witches, goblins, ghosts, demons, Chupacabras, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, Count Dracula, Freddy Krueger, and a black cat riding a broomstick screeching “Happy Meow-loweeeeen!”
P.S. November is Conspiracy Month here at Tea’s Weird Week. You’ve been warned.
Hold out your hand and I’ll sprinkle some candy corn into it. This month sales of rubber spiders and bats and plastic fangs will reach an all time high for the year. Expect to see a lot of mutant works like SPOOPY and SPOOKTACULAR and GHOSTOBER. And for people in the paranormal biz, we are in the midst of what June is like for the wedding industry.
I first got a taste of the ghost biz while working on my book Monster Hunters. October is when the mainstream world wants to visit haunted houses, go on ghost tours, watch scary movies, drink pumpkin spice lattes, go on tag-along ghost investigations, and there is an industry there happy to oblige them.
You can make some money in the supernatural biz if you’ve got the chops. But you need a certain je ne GHOST quoi to succeed. Bad Halloween puns may or may not help.
Here’s 5 ways you can make money in the paranormal field.
(1.) Show off your expertise as a speaker. If you put in some work you can be expert on a story, incident, or entire field. This time of year libraries, conferences, and festivals often have guest speakers who do presentations on local lore, UFO sightings, ghost investigation techniques, etc. I have a few friends who have been successful doing this, but it takes a lot of work and you need to be a good public speaker (that’s an ability that can be learned. Being weird, though, isn’t.)
(2.) Run tours. This is something I do, and it’s fun. It can be repetitive doing the same tour over and over, but when you have a tour group that’s engaged in what you’re saying it’s a really good feeling to share the hidden history of your city.
(3.) Write books/ articles. There is some money to be made here (but don’t be unrealistic), but be sure you’re doing it cause you got a fire burning inside you to do it, not cause you’re looking for a quick paycheck. If you’re passionate about researching your subject it’ll show and word will spread and more people will buy your book. Some niche publications will pay to publish articles, but it’s going to take some work finding them. Regional publications are usually interested in spooky local lore this time of year.
(4.) Get on one of those goofy reality shows. I don’t know what a deal like this entails and what sort of money is in it. I’ve been contacted by quite a few reality show production companies over the years, mostly regarding Real-Life Superheroes and couple for paranormal themes. In almost all of these situations, the companies are just trying to get me to hand over my contacts list and research and to guide them through a topic they know nothing about FOR FREE. This totally wastes time I could be spending writing ghost puns, you damn GHOULS!
(5.) Sell paranormal related product, like gadgets: Psst. Hey you. Yeah, you. You look like you could use the new Ghost-O-Meter T-1000 (patent pending). Yeah you just press this button and point and zoop! zop! zeep! look at all them green lights, wouldya! There’s definitely a ghost standing next to these electrical lines! Yes, we do take cards!
#ClownWatch2019: October 8, 2019: RED ALERT: there’s been tons of buzz on creepy clowns over the last month to tie in with the It:Chapter 2 and Joker (see my own take HERE) but here at #ClownWatch2019 we report on actual clown sightings or projected clown encounters. High probability for this Halloween season as an authority no less than Good Housekeeping reports that the number one Googled costume is…Pennywise, the killer clown from It. Be safe out there!
Read where all this ghost biz got started for me in Monster Hunters.
If you go on the Milwaukee Ghost Walk Third Ward tour, you can see “My Haunted Baseball Card Collection” in person.
FANGS to FangirlNation for a review I could sink my teeth into:
“It’s hard for the reader not to find themselves launching headlong in the book and coming out with either new or stronger opinions on the other side.”
Have a GHOULISHY GOOD time following me on:
I’m looking forward to seeing The Holzer Files, which premiers tonight on Travel Channel. The show stars Alexandra Holzer, daughter of pioneering ghost researcher Hans Holzer. Alexandra and her team reopen her father’s case files in new investigations. I had a chance to interview Alexandra at the Chicago Ghost Con in 2014 and wrote an article on her for the March 2015 issue of Fortean Times. This article appeared in print only, so I’m glad to share it here online for the first time.
One thing that really pops out at me re-reading this now is that when I spoke to Alexandra, she was concerned her father’s legacy was being forgotten. I’m sure her new show will help prevent that. Congrats Alexandra and team!
THE GHOST HUNTER’S DAUGHTER (originally appeared in Fortean Times, March 2015)
By Tea Krulos
“How many of you know about Hans Holzer?” Alexandra Holzer asks. She’s crowded in an elevator with about fifteen people at the Chicago Ghost Conference, being held at Carl Schurz High School. The elevator is heading up to the fifth floor for a short investigation of the school’s music room, where there are claims of spirits lurking in the corner and tinkering around on the piano.
Her question is greeted with an awkward silence.
“Oh boy,” she says, disappointed, and looks at the elevator wall. Later I ask her if she thinks this was just a shy silence.
“Maybe.” She answers. “His recognition is mixed and that’s not good enough for me. It’s got to be higher.”
This lack of familiarity is disheartening because if there ever was a Mount Rushmore of “ghost hunters,” Alexandra’s father—Dr. Hans Holzer—would definitely have his hawk-like features chiseled among them.
Hans Holzer was born in 1920 in Vienna, Austria. He studied archaeology and history at the University of Vienna, but with World War II on the horizon, his family determined they would move to New York City in 1938. Thanks in part to an uncle who told him ghost stories, Holzer had an interest in the supernatural since he was a young boy, and went on to study all things related to the paranormal. He authored more than 140 books on ghosts, UFOs, the afterlife, ESP, witchcraft, and other related topics. He also taught parapsychology at the New York Institute of Technology.
“During the 70s and 80s, he was the ‘ghost man.’” Alexandra explains. She says her father’s collection of artifacts related to his studies and circle of friends involved in the paranormal field made the Holzer house “like growing up in a living museum.” Her mother was also unique. An artist and descendant of Catherine the Great, Countess Catherine Buxhoeveden married Holzer shortly before his first book, Ghost Hunter, was published in 1964. Countess Buxhoeveden joined him in his travels and used her artistic talent to do illustrations for his early books. They divorced when Alexandra was 13-years-old.
Alexandra became aware that her father’s interests might be termed “unusual” at a young age and it took a while before she grew to appreciate it.
“I was about eight years old when I figured out he wasn’t normal,” Alexandra smiles, “because when I started going to school my mother would wrap up my father’s books as gifts. Books on witches, warlocks, UFOs, Amityville Horror. The teachers would open up the gifts in the classroom and all the kid’s eyes grew, the teacher’s mouths dropped, and I sank down really low in my chair like I wanted to hide. I said ‘Oh my God, that’s him? No!’”
Rebel Without a Ghost
As she grew into a young woman, Alexandra went through a rebellious phase and tried to escape her father’s eerie legacy.
“I ran to art school to get away from my father because I thought he was weird. I wanted to get away from the paranormal and be with creative people. I really didn’t care, I was too young. When you’re at a certain age, you don’t get what your parent does, even if it’s as weird as that. He’d say ‘oh look I’m on TV!’ And I’d say, ‘yeah, that’s nice.’ I just didn’t get it.”
Alexandra might not have been getting it yet, but others were. Hans Holzer became renowned as the foremost authority on things related to ghosts. His expertise was used on shows like the classic In Search Of… and subsequent television shows and documentaries dedicated to the paranormal. Another contribution to pop culture Dr. Holzer helped inspire was the beloved horror-comedy Ghostbusters. Dan Aykroyd, who wrote and starred in the movie, has said he was a Hans Holzer fan and used reports of his investigations as the seed for the film idea.
“I became obsessed with Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever,” Aykroyd said. “That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born.”
Dr. Holzer’s most famous case that he worked on was the alleged haunting of the Lutz family on Long Island, New York, commonly known as the Amityville Horror.
The Lutz family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville thirteen months after the home was the scene of a gruesome murder of the former tenants, the DeFeo family. On November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo, Jr., the oldest child, systemically worked his way through the house in the middle of the night, shooting his mother and father and four siblings in their beds. After the Lutz family moved in, they claimed that they were terrorized by entities in December 1975- January 1976, and abandoned the house just 28 days after moving in. The incident spawned a bestselling book (The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson, 1977) followed by a long string of additional books on the case, Hollywood movies (11 to date, with a 12th slated for 2015), and documentaries.
Dr. Holzer traveled to the house in January 1977. He was joined in his investigation by medium Ethel Johnson Meyers. In addition to interviewing and research, Dr. Holzer often brought a medium with him on a case.
“A scientific investigation must have a well-trained transmedium for communication. It is the only way,” Dr. Holzer stated in an interview.
In the Amityville house, Meyers claimed that she had identified the house’s angry spirit: Shinnecock Indian Chief Rolling Thunder, which helped Holzer put together a theory that the house had been built on Indian sacred grounds, the cause of the malicious haunting.
The Amityville Historical Society has refuted claims that the house is built on Indian burial grounds. Other researchers who have investigated the Amityville case say that it is an opportunistic hoax contrived by the Lutz family and their lawyer, embellished and exaggerated to help make money off of selling a good ghost story.
Dr. Holzer wrote both non-fiction (Murder in Amityville,1979) and fiction (The Amityville Curse, 1981, and The Secret of Amityville, 1985) about the case.
Other popular non-fiction volumes Dr. Holzer has written on the topic of ghosts include Ghosts I’ve Met (1965) Hans Holzer’s Haunted Houses: A Pictorial Register of the World’s Most Interesting Ghost Houses (1971) and Great American Ghost Stories (1990).
“Probably my late 20s I started to mature a bit and when I started to see the people he’d have over, I’d think, ‘these are really interesting people, they’re very spiritual, some are a bit wacky, but there’s something to what he does.’ But I didn’t have a pinnacle moment of understanding who he was until my 30s, where I was like ‘ok, I get it.’ Then I had my own awakening and epiphany and it just kind of vibed at that point, so I’d say it took almost two decades to get to that point.”
Alexandra says that epiphany came when her aunt passed on.
“At her service, I felt her come over and hug me. My whole body went warm and I’m sitting there crying hysterically because I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it. I felt she was hugging me because she knew out of everybody except my mother I was destroyed (by her death). I knew it was her, I don’t know how to explain it, I just knew. That flipped me.”
Alexandra says the experience helped inspire her to follow both investigating and writing. She wrote a sci-fi/ fantasy novel, Lady Ambrosia: Secret Past Revealed (2007), and a memoir of her family, Growing Up Haunted: A Ghostly Memoir (2008).
Dr. Hans Holzer died on April 26, 2009. After his death, Alexandra stepped up actively investigating, using the family formula for ghost hunting, which she calls the “Holzer Method.” Alexandra runs her group Hunt With Holzer with fellow investigator David Lawson. “We create events with people and give that personal contact and have groups investigate using my father’s method. We learn about other people’s methods and keep it unified, help and learn and move on and document.”
Back at the Carl Schurz High School investigation, her group has moved from the 5th-floor music room to a smaller music room filled with rows of keyboards on the 4th floor. An electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) session is happening. Investigators are asking questions in the dark room, hoping to elicit a response. After a minute of silence, Alexandra addresses the group, telling them that she is still in communication with her father.
“My father comes through when we’re doing things,” she informs. “So if anyone wants to ask if Hans Holzer is here, it’s actually pretty normal. I mean it’s a little paradoxical, but feel free to ask him a question.”
Alexandra is seated near the teacher’s desk at the head of the classroom. On the desk in front of her is the REM-pod, a device that measures fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. Triggered lights and sounds on the device is said to be an indicator of a potential ghostly presence.
“Hans Holzer if you’re here, can you put that green light on?” A participant asks from the darkness.
Silence. The REM-pod light does not turn green.
“You should ask him, he’ll listen to you.” Another participant directs to Alexandra.
“He did not listen to me in life!” She laughs. “You think in the afterlife he’s going to listen to me? Really?” The group breaks into laughter in the darkness.
“Daddy you want to play with some lights?” Alexandra asks. The REM-pod remains idle.
“Do you feel he follows you around?” Another participant asks Alexandra.
“He does. He’s a pain.” A second of silence. “Did someone just hum?”
“I heard it!” A participant says. “I heard hmmm from over here.”
The group listens to an audio recorder and hear a ghostly sound they determine is an EVP they’ve captured of a girl saying “daddy.”
“It’s basically combining science with metaphysics,” Alexandra explains, describing the Holzer Method. “My father had his predecessors and everybody was very scientific, and then he had the mediums and intuitiveness. Although he was a skeptic, he believed if you combined the two, you’d have better results, so that’s when the method was born, it was his brainchild to say we’re going to do it this way and we’re going to do it that way and we’re going to get more data so that we can understand what happens when we die and not everything is science and not everything is spiritual, there’s a combination of the two.”
In addition to Hunt with Holzer, Alexandra visualizes a documentary or feature film based on her father’s life. She says it’s a longtime goal of hers, one she spoke to her father about, that she’d like to see visualized. She feels Holzer’s place in history has been forgotten and overshadowed and hopes such a project will help her father’s legacy live on.
Alexandra Holzer’s website is alexandraholzer.com
#ClownWatch2019: September 23, 2019, approximately 9:30 PM: My friends at the Singular Fortean Society reported on a clown encounter on a rural Arkansas road. A vehicle of teens on their way to Pottsville Lake found the clown digging at the side of the road with a shovel, yelled at it and backed away as the clown stormed toward them. Actual clown about town or staged video? Read more and see the clip here: https://www.singularfortean.com/news/2019/9/30/creepy-clown-caught-on-camera-by-arkansas-teens
Links and Shout Outs
-If you want to read more about the lives of ghost hunters and other paranormal investigators, check out my book Monster Hunters: https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php
-Great conversation on the Ghostly Talk podcast out of Michigan with hosts Scott L and author Amberrose Hammond. It was a nice way to start October and we talked about all of my published work so far. You can listen to the episode here: https://ghostlytalk.com/episode-91-tea-krulos
–Kelly Anderson Dance Theatre is performing “The END is HERE and that’s ok” in Milwaukee at Danceworks this Saturday and Sunday. It’s being described as “brilliantly funny and meaningful.” They’ll be giving away copies of my book Apocalypse Any Day Now at each performance! Here’s more info: http://www.kellyandersondancetheatre.com/tour-the-end-is-here-and-thats-ok.html
.-Thanks to Old Baraboo Inn for having me as part of the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt last week. I gave a presentation titled “Chasing the Ghost of Al Capone.” Always a fun time there!
Some of my birthdays have been memorable and others mundane. I had a birthday yesterday, and I spent it doing what I love doing best– sitting around in pajamas, drinking coffee, reviewing a manuscript I wrote. I have a book out next year from Feral House titled American Madness. It’s a non-fiction that tells the action-packed story of a conspiracy theorist I met and the prevalence of conspiracy culture in America. There’s still work to be done, but a lot of progress has happened on the book over the last few months.
Sitting at home reading over my work was great, but my really fun birthdays have been getting out in the field. Here’s two memorable examples:
2013: I spent my 36th birthday in Portland, Maine where I interviewed cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum. What a wonderful place to be! I wrote about the experience as the first chapter of my book Monster Hunters, titled “The Monster Hunter and His Museum.” Loren named the book as the top of the “Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015” list and told me that the chapter was “required reading” for new staff, volunteers, and docents.
2017: It was two days after my birthday, but I spent my 40th birthday preparing to voyage out to the desert to attend Wasteland Weekend, a post-apocalyptic festival. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had. I witnessed music, Thunderdome fights, a post-apocalyptic swimsuit contest, and much more, which I wrote out for a chapter of my book Apocalypse Any Day Now titled “Wastelanders.” I’ve really wanted to go back ever since, but this year my travel budget is tied up for a trip I’m doing to Dallas in November. Hopefully, in 2020 I can return to the Waste.
If you’d like to support me on my birthday and help me go on more wild and crazy adventures, the best thing you can do is buy or support my books:
And look for links in 2020 to my new books. Wisconsin Legends & Lore is going to be a cool little book out from History Press and American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theory Hijacked American Consciousness will be out August 2020 from Feral House.
You can also buy me a birthday coffee here: www.buymeacoffee.com/TeaKrulos
There’s weird talk from Tea here every Friday.
My friends just come up with totally dope stuff, I’m beyond lucky to know such creative people. Take for example the Moonlight Retreat, which “offers arts, play, learning, fun, wonder, and a deeper connection with nature and community for all folks within a summer camp environment.” It’s like summer camp for creative adults. How cool is that?
I’m glad to say I’ll be a guest at this year’s Moonlight Retreat, leading a workshop about Wisconsin ghostlore, not in a conference room, but around a campfire, which is of course one of the best possible places to tell ghost stories. For the rest of the camp I’ll be enjoying the many cool workshops, reviewing drafts of my manuscripts, and just hanging out– “chillaxing” as those kids today say. Looking forward to it!
If you’d like more info on the Moonlight Retreat, here’s the link: https://www.naomishersty.net/moonlight-retreat
For a long list of other ghost related stuff I’m doing, check out the links section at the end of this column. But first…
Who can forget the Great Clown Scare of 2016? Clowns appeared all over the country, threatening people and sometimes participating in random acts of clowness, oops, I mean violence. Over the past couple weeks there’s been two incidents of clowns meeting law enforcement, which means I am officially opening up the hashtag #ClownWatch2019.
07/20/2019: Report and video footage of a Joker style clown that led California Highway Patrol on a wild goose chase for an hour, sometimes taunting them through the sunroof while a passenger steered the car. The clown eventually ditched the car on Venice Beach, and frolicked in the sand with people before being arrested for reckless driving.
07/26/2019: Man dressed as a clown that started a “mass brawl” on a British cruise ship off the coast of Norway. “There was blood everywhere,” a witness reported. “Passengers used furniture and plates as weapons.”
Is nowhere on earth safe from a clown induced brawl? We’ll keep track in this column.
The Apocalypse Blog Book Club
While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I started a book club that reads dystopian fiction. A local group meets in Milwaukee and people from all over the world are part of the Facebook group. I’m keeping the club going and voting is now open for our end of summer selection. Join us, vote, and get a good end of the world book pick for your beach reading! Here’s the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/
More Links to Ghost Stuff
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2019— we just announced our speaker line-up. You can see that and get tickets here: https://milwaukeeparacon.com/2019/07/26/milwaukee-paranormal-conference-2019/
I lead the Milwaukee Ghost Walks Third Ward tour, which starting this week is every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30pm (except Aug.16-17 cause I’ll be at the Moonlight Retreat!) Tickets here: https://americanghostwalks.com/wisconsin/milwaukee-ghost-walks/
I’ll be at the Old Baraboo Inn Sept.28 for the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt to talk about the Legend of Al Capone (including his ghost). See last week’s column for more info. The event link is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/379959039385127/
My book Monster Hunters (which made the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2015 “100 Books for Your Summer Reading List”) has a lot of ghost material: CLICK HERE
Tea shares his weird week with you every Friday.
When I was a kid, my family knew I was into “weird stuff,” so my parents and grandparents sometimes saved newspaper articles they thought I might be interested in.
The ones I remember vividly were the Tallmann House poltergeist of Horicon, Wisconsin, that grabbed headlines in 1988 (and appeared on Unsolved Mysteries) and the Beast of Bray Road, which howled and broke loose in 1991. They were probably the first newspaper reports I read, and I thought about them a lot, drawing pictures of what the apparitions in Horicon might look like, and imagining werewolves lurking in the Wisconsin cornfields my family drove by.
Not shared with me, by the way, were reports on Jeffrey Dahmer and his arrest the same year, 1991. I would learn about that by eavesdropping on my grandma and mom talking about the case in hushed tones as they drank coffee at the kitchen table, while I hid around the corner.
Many years later, I was thrilled to meet Linda S. Godfrey, who was the reporter to break the story of the Beast of Bray Road and has since become a prolific author. Me and my friend, photographer Lacy Landre, drove out to meet her for lunch in Elkhorn and then me and Lacy cruised down Bray Road to see the stomping ground of the Beast. I wrote about Linda and the Beast in my book Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (2015, Chicago Review Press) in a chapter titled “The Accidental Werewolf Chronicler.”
An excerpt of that chapter was also part of a werewolf themed issue of Fortean Times magazine (July 2015).
Linda has gone on to write many books and I’m glad she’s also been a part of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference every year, and was presented with the first “Wisconsin Researcher of the Year” award at our year one event.
The Beast, meanwhile, has become a permanent part of Wisconsin lore, still very much talked about. For proof go no further than Seth Breedlove’s excellent The Bray Road Beast documentary, part of his highly recommended Small Town Monsters doc series.
I was happy to be asked to lead a discussion and Q and A with Linda for her new book I Know What I Saw: Modern Day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore (Penguin/Random House), a great new collection of weird monster sightings. It’s happening Wednesday, July 17, 7pm at Boswell Book Company.
Here’s a short article I wrote on the book for the Shepherd Express: https://shepherdexpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/books/linda-s-godfrey-looks-for-monsters-in-i-know-what-i-saw
And a link to the Boswell appearance event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/454343315368924/
It’s sure to be an interesting discussion!
I’m glad to say I’ll get a chance to revisit the Beast myself (along with the Tallmann House poltergeist and much more) in my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore, out early in 2020 (I have two books out next year!) from The History Press.
The Week in Links
I’m the tour guide for the Milwaukee Ghost Walks Third Ward Tour (almost) every Saturday evening. Friday tours will be added starting next month. You can get tickets here: https://americanghostwalks.com/wisconsin/milwaukee-ghost-walks/
I’m still working on developing Cream City Tours. We’re doing a Riverwest Pinball Wizards tour Sunday, July 28 at 5pm, Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/727504021015028/
Get a copy of my new book Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/ApocalypseAnyDayNow
Ok, 2015 is drawing to a close. What a year! This year I kept track of every published article (and a book) I wrote, as well as the total running published word count. The year ended a little slow. I spent some time working on my next book, other projects, and took some time off for the holidays. I did write a second article for Scandinavian Traveler and a couple for Milwaukee Record.
41. “Off the Cuff: Angel Alvarez,” Shepherd Express, November 25
42. “Meet Katrina Markoff- Chicago’s luxury chocolate maker,” Scandinavian Traveler, Dec. 10
43. “4 Milwaukeeans Who Recently Scored Bit Parts On Popular TV Shows,” Milwaukee Record, Dec.9
44. “Last Octopus standing: Milwaukee keeps car wash chain from extinction ,” Milwaukee Record, Dec. 18
Final total 2015 word count: 124, 865 words.
Notes on 2015:
The reason I kept track of my work this year was just out of curiosity. How many published pieces do I write in a year? I had no idea. My guess was an average of one a week. With 44 published pieces in 2015, that estimate was somewhat close. The word count was almost 125,000, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you write a single haiku or a 500,000 epic novel in a year, as long as you are putting your best work forward. I’m still learning what my best work is. It’s been interesting.
A lot of great highlights for me in 2015; My book Monster Hunters was published, I organized the first Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, I was a guest on Coast to Coast AM (along with a lot of other great radio and podcast programs), I made author appearances at paranormal cons, comic cons, libraries, and Ripon College, I sold my third book.
Writing is sometimes a struggle. You don’t know if anyone reads or cares about your writing. People sometimes say bad things about you and you wonder why you even bother. That makes recognition all the more rewarding.
Milwaukee Record included two articles I wrote for them (one on a music project called All Messed Up and another that was a photo essay collaboration with Wendy Schreier) in The 25 Best Milwaukee Record Stories of 2015.
In the post previous to this one, I also described what a great honor it was that my book Monster Hunters was selected by Loren Coleman of CryptoZoo News as the top pick in his Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015 list.
What’s up with 2016
I’ve got two major and two minor writing projects I’m working on in 2016. Outside of writing, I am also organizing a second Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Oct. 15-16, 2016, and hoping to help organize a Milwaukee Krampus Night on Dec. 5, 2016.
Major writing projects: I’m happy to say that my publisher, Chicago Review Press, has signed me up for a third non-fiction book. This has the working title The End and is about different predictions, preparations, and personalities relating to the end of the world as we know it. I also have a non-fiction book I am about 3/4ths done with that has a working title of Phantom Patriot, about an interesting person I met while working on my first book. My goal is to see some forward motion with it in 2016.
Minor projects: I want to self publish a mini-book/ e-book that is an expanded version of an article I wrote for the Riverwest Currents titled Riverwest Ghost Stories. It’ll premiere at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I’m also casually working on my first novel, based on experiences from my young adult life. It might graduate from minor to major project in the future, but for now I’m just having fun writing random parts of the story for a couple hours every Sunday. I’ll post more info on this project here on the blog after I hit the 15,000 word mark. For now I will just say that the working title for the book is Brady Street Diner.
I have a couple other things in the works, too, I’ve been working on a comic book/ graphic novel with David Beyer Jr. titled Ballyhoo. We’re trying to figure out where to go with it and hopefully it gets forward traction soon. I’m also collaborating on a story with Tim Demeter and I think you’ll be hearing more about that soon.
Happy New Year!
This is a wonderful Christmas present and a great honor personally and as a writer. Every year author, researcher, teacher, and museum director Loren Coleman selects his list of top books on the subject of cryptozoology, the science of examining unknown animals.
My book Monster Hunters took the top slot on “The Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015.”
There are many interesting titles and authors on the list. You can read it here: www.cryptozoonews.com/czbks-2015/
At the end of the post you can find out how to support the International Cryptozoology Museum, one of my favorite places on earth.
Many thanks to Loren and the ICM staff. I am humbled and flattered by this recognition.
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Illinois Paranormal Conference in Rockford, Illinois. It was about what I expected. Some of the talks were quite interesting. Some maybe went over my head. It was a relaxing environment for me. I gave a little talk about my book, Monster Hunters. I hung out, sold a few books, talked to people.
The headlining speaker was Rosemary Ellen Guiley. She’s written about 65 (!) books on paranormal topics over her career. If you’re really, really into the paranormal subjects, you know who she is. If you’re not, you don’t.
One interesting thing she talked on was a supernatural race known as the Djinn. The French translated this into a more well known word in the Western world: Genie. It turns out that in Middle Eastern cultures, they really do try to trap the genies, or Djinn (pronounced kind of like GIN) into jars, which is where we get our “Genie in a bottle” imagery. Guiley says Djinn really do exist and can be helpful, tricksters, or just straight up evil. They can sometimes grant wishes, but sometimes there is a catch involved.
* * *
I took a walk from Shorewood over to the east side today. It felt good, but by the time my walk expelled me onto Brady Street, I was hot, overheated. I walked into the Walgreen’s on Brady. I went into the bathroom in Walgreen’s and splashed cold water on my face. This hair, I thought, running my hand through it, too hot, too thick. I looked at my face in the mirror.
I’m old, I thought, looking at myself. I’m dying. I wish I didn’t have this thick hair.
Back in the store, I grabbed a bottle of juice from the cooler and began wandering to the checkout. Too hot, I thought.
Walking through the aisle, I caught the eye of a young woman, a short, barely 5-foot elf-like rocker girl. She stared at me, wide eyed. She was wearing a ripped up Led Zeppelin shirt, nose ring, lots of tattoos (Betty Boop and a sugar skull, and others, I didn’t want to gape at her), ripped jean shorts, red Chuck Taylors. She looked frantic. She stared at me, wide-eyed, then asked, “excuse me, but can I ask a big favor of you?”
Oh great, I thought. Brady Street, where I’ve been propositioned a hundred times by people with weird, needy requests. I was jaded and braced myself for a proposition of drugs, or more likely, a query for drug money disguised as something else.
“I just need ten dollars to get to a remote hospital where my grandma is dying, etc.”
“Sure, what’s up?” I asked her.
“My hair model flaked out on me, and I need to do a haircut for my apprenticeship! Would you like a free haircut?”
I stared at her.
“Uh…yes,” I said. She clapped her hands, they fluttered lightly.
“Oh thanks!” She said.
* * *
She puffed on a cigarette as we walked to the salon where she was an apprentice, a half block away. She got me into a salon chair and then asked me my name.
“Tea,” I said.
“Wait, what?” she asked, grabbing her spray bottle. “Taylor,” she said her name was. But because of her name and her short height, she had acquired the nickname of “Tiny T.” How odd is that? One of the Djinn trickery, I had learned at the paranormal conference, is that they appear to you as something familiar. So if you lived in Victorian England, for example, a Djinn will appear to you as a Victorian person. If you are a farmer, a Djinn might appear as a strange farmhand or maybe a horse. Some of them look like sexy belly-dancers, some look like hideous gargoyles. They play off your mind, your needs, familiarity.
If you spent your youth living on the east side of Milwaukee, maybe a Djinn would be an elf-like (“I used to have a pixie cut” Tiny T admitted on her own hairstyles as I sat in her chair) rocker with a nose ring and a ripped up Led Zep shirt.
Tiny T gave me a great haircut. Her instructor complimented her on the style and on her gumption to go out on Brady Street to wrangle a hair model. Tiny T had taken her assignment seriously and was passionate about being a good hair stylist. I shook her hand and walked down the street quite happy with the random turn of events and my new, free haircut. Was Tiny T a mystical Djinn? No, I would say not. The heat, the talk on the Djinn made me think a delirious thought. But it all felt a little magical, anyway.
Well, the big June thing was the official publication date of my second non-fiction book, Monster Hunters. Obviously, that bumped my word count up quite a book. The book is approximately 90,048 words (although that is the unedited final draft).
Other than that, a couple short articles for M and my “Monster of the Month” column. Promoting the book and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference took up a lot of time this month. Monster Hunters, by the way, is available in paperback and e-book form here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php
17. Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators, publication date: June 1, Chicago Review Press.
18. “On Tap: WMSE Spins Its Own Record,” M magazine, June 2015
19. “Bowling Documentary Scores a 300,” M magazine, June 2015
20. “Monster of the Month: the Beast of Bray Road,” Forces of Geek, June 9, 2015
Total 2015 word count: 107,215