It’s been a minute since my last post, and I truely apologize for the lack of activity here! Sometimes life just happens, and all we can do is go along for the ride. It’s up to us if we’ll throw our arms up and enjoy the roller coaster ride, or if we’ll hide in the corner with a barf bag :p
Today was a “Weeee!” day 🙂
I’m on a roadtrip with Eve, (aka: my partner in crime), and today we got to visit the Duluth Murder House – GLENSHEEN MANSION.
I’m sad to report the lack of any paranormal activity on our visit, but I believe that the absence of any ghostly contact is directly connected to the continuous ‘crop dusting’ received from another member of the group – or… perhaps ghosts get gas and they were with us all along!
Here’s a little background information on Glensheen Mansion that was posted by Dread Central…
Duluth, MN – The newspaper headlines read like a tale from a dime-store detective novel. An heiress murdered, a fortune to blame, and all set in an enormous mansion overlooking a lake. And now, more than thirty years after the crime, the victims are still not at rest. During the night, lights flicker and shadows glide from room to room, as the dead continue to tell their tale, unfettered by the truth, that they died long ago.
The classic haunted house story has become something of a cliché in literature. But every now and then, there appears a story that, rather than being part of the stereotype, seems to be the reason for it. How many times have you read a story in which a house was haunted by a wealthy person, murdered for their riches, the victim of a tragic and violent death? In Duluth, Minnesota, the classic tale came to life, and the high-peaked mansion still stands testament to the events that occurred there. The lawn is immaculate, the silver polished, and the ghosts of the previous owner still roams the halls.
Built between the years 1905 and 1908, the enormous Jacobean structure called Glensheen was originally the family home of mining-millionaire Chester Congdon and his wife, Clara. They, along with at least two of their seven children, took up residence in the house and lived happily for eight years, until Chester’s death in 1916. While there is little mention of Clara, it is known that she lived until 1950, presumably in the house. On his death, however, Chester left his considerable fortune to his daughter Elisabeth.
Elisabeth saw no need to conform to the societal rules that said she had to be married, but she did want children. So, in 1932, she adopted a young girl, whom she renamed “Marjorie Mannering Congdon.” As she grew older, Marjorie exhibited strange behavior, leading to her being tested and diagnosed a sociopath. Marjorie’s habits of borrowing money was an embarrassment, as were her other, more overt behaviors. After her first husband left her with seven childred, she was placed in an institution, where she seemed to make progress. Shortly after her release, she remarried a man named Roger Caldwell, and for a time things seemed normal and happy.
She continued borrowing money from her mother, with which she lavished gifts upon her children, but still she wanted more. No matter how much money her mother gave her, Marjorie quickly burned through it and came back again.
On June 27, 1977, Elisabeth Congdon was found murdered, suffocated with a satin pillow, in her bed. Propped on a bench in the stairwell was her night nurse, Velma Pietila, who had been beaten to death with a candlestick. Aided with evidence in the form of a hastily-written will (dated just three days before her death), nd a ring belonging to Elisabeth that Marjorie was found wearing after her mother’s death, the police arrested the pair. Roger Caldwell was found guilty of the murder while Marjorie was acquitted. Caldwell’s conviction was overturned, but he later confessed to the murders, then killed himself.
For more than thirty years, people have seen apparitions of the two murdered women roaming the halls of the stately mansion. Employees of the house as well as visitors have reported seeing shadowy figures glide about in the halls and basement, as well as getting the feeling of being watched. Others report lights flickering or going on and off by themselves. Some reports even claim that the two women stand in the upstairs windows, looking through the trees and toward the great lake. There is also at least one report of a piece of candy being rolled back and forth over a dresser, though that one has not been confirmed.
One phenomenon that has been confirmed, however, is a strangely eerie feeling, or even feeling sadness or panic, when visiting the area where Elisabeth and Velma died.
In 1968, Elisabeth gave Glensheen Estate to the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who granted her a home there until her untimely death. Today it stands almost exactly as it did thirty years ago, but as a museum. Containing nearly all the original furniture from when it was first constructed, the house boasts both guided and unguided tours, as well as “slipper tours,” in which guests replace their shoes with slippers and are able to walk beyond the velvet ropes.
Marjorie, though acquitted of her mother’s murder, didn’t stay out of jail for long. She was charged with bigamy in 1981, and was suspected of killing her new husband’s wife. She was then was arrested in 1984 for arson, and suspected of murdering her third husband, although police also suspected his death to be the result of a double-suicide pact gone wrong. In 2007, she was arrested again and charged with theft, fraud, and computer tampering.
The house is open for visits year round, with many special events to be experienced. However, due to sensitivity issues stemming from relatives of victims living nearby, tour guides are instructed not to talk about the murders, and by proxy, the hauntings. And although sightings of the unfortunate women are reported year-round, it seems the best times to visit are during the month of June, specifically around the date of Elisabeth’s death, if one wishes to have a paranormal experience. For more information, visit Glensheen’s website at their website.
‘I made this place and filled it with all these monsters…’
Hoo-Doo County is a fictional high mountain county horror author Jonathan Moon uses often as a setting for his dark and beautiful stories. Containing both new stories and rewritten classics from Mr. Moon this is the first collection of shorts in the series. This set includes the stories The Full Moon Express, Roadside Crosses, Witch Hunt Sunrise, and Parched. Also, includes a small chapter about the stories from Mr. Moon himself.
I’ve gotten used to visiting fictional towns like Walker’s Woods, and Castle Rock, but I wasn’t prepared to enter Hoo-Doo County. In the synopsis, the author says “I made this place and filled it with all these monsters…”, and I knew it was a place I had to visit.
The four tales in this anthology are The Full Moon Express, Witch Hunt Sunrise, Roadside Crosses, and Parched. Werewolves, witches, ghosts, vampires all lurk in Hoo-Doo County – and they’re waiting for you to come and visit.
As soon as I finished, I immediately dove into Hoo-Doo County Horrors Volume 2, (review to come). I just found out that there is a Volume 3 ready and waiting for me, and I’ve been due for another vacation…
You ever have a moment where something was SO CREEPY that you threw up, or almost threw up?
About a year ago… I was checking out a series of pictures posted online, and when I found out where the pictures were taken, every hair on my body stood up, I got so weirded out! I never verified if it was true – don’t really care, either. It freaked me out, I moved on.
Then, I read this book.
That moment came flooding back – with a vengeance.
When will people learn?
A dream home in a perfect location, with a price tag that you can actually afford… Too good to be true! Turn around, you’re not welcome. Doesn’t anyone watch movies? Do the walls have to literally drip blood before people take a hint?
Not me, fuck that noise! I’m outta that bitch like it’s on fire. Meet ya at the county line!
Dean and Jess apparently don’t watch movies, either.
Not only is it a dream house, in a perfect location, with an affordable price tag – (that’s already three strikes!) – it also has a tragic history. ♪ ♫ ♩ Dun dun duuuuuun… ♪ ♫ ♩
This novella details the events of the seven days spent in this house in the country.
::whispers:: sssseven daysssss….
This book felt very similar to THE LOST SON.
Almost the same blueprint, just decorated differently. I’m not pointing out the specifics, and I’m really not saying anything bad, merely stating an observation.
I’m also not pointing out the specific moments that freaked me out. Except for one… omg – the twist in this story is messed up!! ::shudders:: The discovery made by Jess – I swear, I almost threw up!! Not because of gore or anything like that, just because of that ‘Aw, HELL no!’ moment of fright. (Refer back to my opening statement).
I think I regret filling out the LITERATURE-LY YOU questionnaire, because Matt has a direct link to the freak-out sensor in my brain. 😉
After you’ve read this, if you know what story I’m talking about with the pictures – I would love to hear your opinion!!
The Lost Son
When newly weds Jason and Emily moved into their first home together they thought they had the perfect start to their new life together; a quiet house in the middle of the country away from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life.
Unfortunately for them, things take a supernatural turn when they realise the house isn’t quite as empty as they first believed it to be.
The book starts with an idealistic summer backdrop; idealistic if you don’t pay attention to the food burning on the grill, or the huge puddle of blood drying on the pavement. I knew I was in for a ride when I had tears in my eyes at the end of the first chapter.
Fast forward in time a bit to meet Jason & Emily. Newlyweds who put off their honeymoon to purchase their dream home. They arrive, with their dog Roald, just before the moving truck. (Fun Fact: Notice the dogs name? – Leave me a comment if you get it.) We notice strange happenings before they’re even moved in. Once they are, Roald picks up on something – like all pets are known to do.
Jason begins to take notice when doors in the house start slamming closed, but he can’t find the source of a draft no matter how hard he looks.
To weird him out a little more, he gets a surprise visit from Aimee, a strange woman who claims to have once lived in his house. He thinks she looks looney, but, her husband, Ian, comes to collect her – promising it will never happen again. He tells Emily about it, and gets her properly bugged, too. (This bit plants a seed for our minds to silently cultivate while we continue reading.)
While laying in bed with Em that night, having a tiff about how unproductive his days are while she’s off at work, they hear a commotion coming from downstairs. He goes to investigate & finds one of the boxes he neglected to unpack had fallen over, spilling it’s contents onto the floor. He returns to bed, leaving the mess until morning, (and further irritating his wife). The next morning, when Em thanks him for picking up, and knowing he did no such thing, Jason starts to freak out. Could that woman have returned in the night? Is she here now? Roald, you didn’t do this, did ya? (To which he replies O.o – then licks his butt).
By the time Emily gets home from work, Jason has it all figured out. They are sharing their home with the ghost of an eight year old boy, Josh Tomsett, the son of the houses previous owners.
In my best Steffon character voice…
“This book has everything! Ouija boards, surprises, heartbreak, and twists… That thing from the movie Poltergiest where the living play games with the ghost in the kitchen!”
This is another of those stories that dragged my emotions through the ringer. I laughed out loud, cried, got angry, got scared… And, as it always happens to me, during one key moment towards the end… great big huge scary noise from the other room! (Upon investigation, it was the ‘shower caddy’, the thing holding all the shampoos and soaps, it fell right off the side of the shower at a perfect moment. It’s strange how things like that happen!
The only other thing I’ll say is this – we’re in Matt’s world, there are no happy endings.
* The Lost Son also includes a bonus story from the recently published collection SHORTS, titled AS I LAY STILL
I’m a closet geek. Well, as I like to say… geek by day, nerd by night!
In geek speak, an easter egg is a secret message, credit or screen hidden in an application, game, or DVD. Easter eggs typically include a bonus feature or item but can include the names of the developers responsible for the application, extra levels, or bonus content.
Even though the term brings to mind electronic bonus material, I use it for literary bonus material. Those hidden gems authors slip in once in awhile. Matt is famous for them. I try to point out a couple of my favourites from every story, without spoiling things. A couple Easter Eggs in THE LOST SON…
Remember me pointing out the name of the dog?
Roald. I won’t ruin what I said earlier, if you ‘get it’, leave a note in the comments. Need a hint? Read my interview LOW TEA WITH MATT SHAW.
JOSH TOMSETT, our lead ghost in this story, borrows his name from our friend Kim Tomsett, (aka wistfulskimmie)! I’m sure you’ve seen her reviews on Amazon, or chatted with her on Matt’s Facebook wall.
I think it is really cool that Matt interacts and includes his fans throughout his writing process.
At one point, Emily, (while trying to get in touch with Ian Tomsett), was put on the spot when asked for her name. In a pinch, she uses the name Nurse Ratched, (made me laff!!). In case you can’t place the name, Nurse Ratched is the antagonist in the 1962 Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and in the 1975 movie of the same title. The overbearing, cruel, perfectionist nurse rules the asylum in the story with an iron fist.
Any book nerd like me has called at least one nurse by this name in their lifetime!! Used creatively, you can turn it into an insult on almost anyone!
Happy reading, lovelies!
Peace, Love, & Necrophilia ❤
I received an early copy of GIVING UP THE GHOST from Dan in February. Right when I started it, my dad died. I read it on the plane, going to the funeral. I know this might sound strange to most of you, but, this story helped me get through the next few days! I took much comfort in it. Odd place to find peace, in a horror novel, but I did! The story is excellent! I cried, I laughed out loud, I got angry… I fell in love with these characters.
Gerry Sheffield is a real piece of work. Can’t keep a job, can’t stay any sort of sober, and he has always relied on his parents to bail him out of the trouble he can’t seem to keep himself out of. A grown man who won’t take responsibility.
After a particularly nasty bender, and a run-in with his landlord, Gerry is calling his parents, again – not asking for help as much as demanding their help. After all, they are his parents. It’s their job to look out for their son.
His parents, Margo & Bill, are at the end of their rope.
They’d always tried to help their son. The college tuition that was wasted, the car repairs, the down payment on his now ex-wife’s house, everything. They’re out of patience, and they’re almost out of means. After 27 years, they decide – no more. Clean up your self, clean up your act, put on your big-boy pants & cowboy the fuck up.
The following morning, Gerry gets two checks.
One is for his rent & a thousand bucks for the month.
The second… a great big really check from his dad.
This is it. No more. Sink or swim.
Gerry actually makes a whole-hearted attempt, one last shot to make something of his life, to make his father proud! But, within a day, any chance of walking the straight & narrow is blown. He’s actually made things far worse!
Self righteousness mixed with self pity doesn’t make a good combination. So, once again convincing himself that his problems are all because of someone else, Gerry’s anger helps propel him into calling his parents, to blame Bill & Margo for every single thing that has ever gone wrong in his entire miserable existence. It is bad. He finally says the things that make his parents turn their backs, close their hearts and lock him out. He’s gone too far this time. Realizing what he has done, Gerry’ s hurt eventually gives itself over to hate. And, Gerry lands himself in jail. Again.
Read GIVING UP THE GHOST to find out how far Bill & Margo willing to go to get Gerry to change his ways.
After death, is there anything they won’t do?
GIVING UP THE GHOST by Dan Dillard will be available June 1’st