November, December, 2015 in Review
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!
The Strange Case of the Oak Leaf Man
You can imagine my excitement this last winter when the fearless editor of the Riverwest Currents, Alice, messaged me to say that I had received a mystery letter at the office talking about an urban legend of Riverwest. Wow!
I made my way over to the office ASAP and Alice handed me an envelope with no return address. Inside was typewritten letter that read:
Attn: Tea Krulos
Dear Sir or Madam:
Hello, have you seen the enclosed flyer has been posted all over the east side? The one enclosed was posted on a bulletin board on Prospect Ave. The story mentions Riverwest. I thought it might be of interest since it mentions “specters and ghouls” but I cannot find any information about it- nobody around seems to know anything about it.
Thank you very much.
No signature. Enclosed was the said flyer, a photocopy of an “article.” It was smudged with grime and pocked with staple holes. The article was titled “More ‘Oak Leaf Man’ Sightings Reported.” Handwritten at the bottom in black marker was an asterisk with the words “Neighborhood Alert.” The article included a black and white photo “taken by two anonymous cross country skiers” of what looked maybe like a pumpkin or basketball in a hoodie peeking through snowy tree branches.
Reading through it, I rolled my eyes and assumed it had been the shoddy work of a college paper, doing what skeptics would call “mystery mongering.” It seemed immediately obvious to me that the story here was not a supernatural one, but possibly young college kids new to an urban environment. Young Johnny or Susie moved to the dorms from Mequon or Appleton or Whitefish Bay and were terrified to see the apparition of…a homeless man wearing a hoodie, wandering the Oak Leaf Trail…ooo-weee-woo!
But when I read through it again, several things jumped out at me as being too fake for any publication (at least I would hope so!) and I believe this is a hoax.
There is no attribution as to where the article is from and nothing came up on Google. The hoaxer shot themselves in the foot by listing it as being on page A3 of a State & Local section of an unknown publication, with a date of September 29, 2014. “State & Local” means it would have to be a Wisconsin paper, however the style matches nothing I am familiar with. I consulted with two librarians at the Central Library periodical department and they agreed the style was unfamiliar.
Then there is the fact that the article isn’t credited with a byline, but is signed off at the end as “-t.k.” Um, are you trying to rip off the supernatural reporting style of one Tea Krulos? Your kung fu is weak!
I suppose there is a small possibility this is from some small town Wisconsin paper, but I don’t think so. I think it was created in Photoshop.
Another red flag here is the quotes from “some Riverside High School students,” “a group of college students at UW-Milwaukee’s Riverview Hall,” and “some long-term residents of Milwaukee’s upper east side and Riverwest neighborhoods.” See the problem? There are no actual names listed as sources anywhere in the article.
Through my connections to local paranormal investigators, I soon discovered the same article had also been mailed or e-mailed to Allison Jornlin, a local ghost story expert, as well as local groups Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee and Brew City Paranormal.
Why? I think someone was maybe bored and wanted to create their own urban legend, a myth for the ages, and possibly have fun freaking out some college kids.The “report” says this Oak Leaf Man, a “man with a lot of scars, wearing a long coat” had been spotted staring into a dorm window at Riverview Hall “during a party.” I think trying to spread this tale is a Halloweeny prank.
As for exploring the Oak Leaf Trail this Halloween season— I would be a little cautious walking down there, especially at night. Unfortunately, there have been incidents of crime on occasion, but it is a beautiful place to walk with a friend. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Oak Leaf Man swooping in to steal your soul, or whatever he’s supposed to do.
Happy Halloween, my friends!
My book Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators has been a popular topic this Halloween season. It made Cult of Weird’s 2015 Fall Reading List and was recently featured on Wisconsin Life. You can order a copy here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php