Archive | October 2014

Yes, I Lived in a Haunted House

Mansion The Mannequins was modeled after

Mansion The Mannequins was modeled after

Growing up, I didn’t think it was unusual to move a lot. “My family moved us fifteen times before I was even fifteen years old,” was a funny little phrase I liked to say. Funny now, not so funny then. But one of those times we moved was actually because our house was haunted.

When I was in the seventh grade, we moved to Weston, Connecticut into a home we rented from the old-time movie actress, June Havoc. This house was incredibly eccentric. It was a huge split level ranch, with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two random rooms with drains in the middle of the floor, bedrooms with two doors. Another bedroom with a sink and tons of closets everywhere. There was a third floor that stretched the entire length of the house and held just a sink and a tub (which was where the actress supposedly bathed her seven+ dogs). The third floor also boasted a tiny little room that reminded me of a room in the novel, The Amityville Horror. It was hot and stifling in there and I once remember seeing a dead fly on the windowsill (to a 12 yr old, dead flies are SO GROSS). But this room was awesome because Ms. Havoc had left it filled with trunks and memorabilia from her old Vaudeville days. She had asked if she could keep her stuff in there and I would go up and just look around now and again. I wish I had been older to have appreciated that room more, but as I was twelve, all I really did was look inside and usually just run right back out because it freaked me out too much. There were other oddities around the house. Outside the living room was an unused, broken indoor greenhouse and an abandoned stable, which is I think is where she kept goats.

But the house wasn’t just eccentric and creepy for no reason. It also had a history. June’s husband died in there (apparently in my bedroom because that’s where he slept) and on these lovely five acres there is a worn, wooden chair that sits on the edge of a trail and looks over the river that ran through the backyard. It was supposedly where he used to sit and relax.

And to further add to the creepy factor, this house was haunted. We would hear people running across the hall upstairs, and if you went upstairs, the running would commence on the third floor. My mother was known to have called the police multiple times because she’d be in the bathroom upstairs and hear people entering the house. There was one night my sisters and I and my dad all woke up and met in the hallway – and none of us knew why. My father looked at us and said “Go back to bed, girls.” There were the times the cat would “skitz out” and hiss and dart from the room. The time our six-foot, five inch tall friend was once house-sitting and was found slinking around the house with a kitchen knife in his hand, in the middle of the day, because he heard someone running around and couldn’t find them. And then there was the living room and that whole side of the house outside. We hated that room. My parents seldom entertained in there. Right outside the living room there was a wonderfully beautiful empty plot of land with no trees – the only place on the property you’d think we’d play, build snowmen, whatever. But no. For some reason we avoided it like the plague. I would bet you someone is buried back there. We lived there for about eight months and then we were out of there.

The Mannequins FinalYou’d think this experience would scare me off of horror movies and books – but not a shot. The Shining is one of my favorite movies. I have written a bunch of short horror stories and a dream prompted my newest horror novel. In the dream, this man was resting his hand on the back of a very little boy. They stood on a hill and were looking down at a decaying mansion. When I woke up, I had the idea for my quirky horror novel THE MANNEQUINS. It’s about a film crew that breaks into an abandoned house and gets transported to a different reality run by a man they call, the Preacher. I just launched it and I’ll have it for 99 cents through Halloween if you’d like to pick up your copy. The links on Amazon are here:

US Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Dcoirc
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1DMxxk3
Canada Amazon: http://amzn.to/10sWenD

Have you ever lived in a haunted house or experienced anything “supernatural?” Love to hear! If you’d like to join my newsletter for the next update in the Kelsey Porter or Flying series, please contact me here.

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My Fascination with Sign Language

When I was a little kid, I was fascinated with sign language. I remember finding a pamphlet with all the letters in ASL (American Sign Language) on it and practicing until I learned the alphabet. I would have loved to have practiced with someone, but I never interacted with a deaf person before. Except for seeing it in the movie with Marlee Matlin aslin “Children of a Lesser God,” I had so little experience with the culture and it wasn’t until I was in college in a sign language class, that I actually met my first deaf person. He was my professor, Larry Forrestal, and he was just awesome.

Professor Forrestal was deaf and didn’t speak. The entire class was conducted in sign language and whatever he felt like writing on the black board. I remember only hearing him speak once. It was later in the year and he called out someone’s name when they were walking away from him and he couldn’t get their attention. Dumbfounded, we all stared at him and signed, “You Can Speak?” He shook his head no, but gave a sly grin. I bet he could speak, but he chose not too.

Another funny story: One day, we met in the evening for a study group and we were walking with our professor through the Student Union to our meeting area. There was a huge party going on and the music was so loud, “I couldn’t hear myself think.” I saw Professor Forrestal “dancing and moving” along to the music and I signed to him “How are you dancing? You hear it?” He rolled his eyes, grabbed my hand and another girl’s hand and pushed us both to the floor. Here were the three of us, our professor and two of his students, sitting on the floor in the middle of this very active building and he’d pressed our hands to the floor so we could feel the pulsations from the bass from the music “loud and clear.” He also pointed to his chest and told us to just “feel it” and of course we could. We sat there for a while, just “listening” with him along to the music. It was a very big wake up call for me.

flying montageSign Language and the deaf culture has fascinated me ever since and when I was writing a YA series, I decided to make my main character deaf. FLYING TO THE LIGHT is about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. FLYING TO THE FIRE continues the tale seven years later and my main character’s life is suddenly turned upside down yet again. What I think has really appealed to people is that my character’s family primarily uses sign language to communicate with him and at no time is his deafness a disability. It is simply a part of who he is.

I just love that my interest as a little girl morphed into something so amazing and brought me to this spot. Have you had experiences with the culture? I’d love to hear. Please drop me a note on my website and join my e-newsletter. Just click for newsletter updates here and then click “Contact Me.”

What’s the Fascination with Twins?

holding handsI admit it. I am fascinated with twins. Fraternal, identical, boy/girl – it doesn’t matter. When I was a little girl, I used to draw crayon filled drawings of what my family would be like when I got older, and they were filled with twins, triplets, and octuplets. I’d have a family of forty kids and two very happy looking parents smack dab in the middle, with their brood surrounding them. Now, thirty years later, I actually have a set of twins and I’ll tell you what? Two is just fine, thank you very much! LOL.

But twins still fascinate me, as they do society as a whole. Is there a special bond? Do they get along? What is it like to have one? My twins are as different as possible. One is sporty, the other is into computer coding, one will eat sushi and one won’t let anything but pizza and nuggets pass his lips. One’s a boy, one’s a girl.

But what about other twins? The famous ones we hear about? Tiki and Ronde Barber were football players (and one was a Giant – yeah!!!) and were so competitive. They are both now authors themselves who write books about being football players. Then there’s Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen who were child actors and who have now built a fashion empire together. And my idols, Abigail and Brittany Hensel. Want to talk about cooperation? They are conjoined twins who share one body and when I think about how much those girls have had to work together and cooperate in order to do practically anything, I realize that all of us can look to them on how to act on a daily basis. Check here for Abby & Brittany’s show on TLC to learn more about them.

But what if all twins didn’t get along? What if they hated each other with a passion? I wanted to explore that in my dark fantasy novels, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET. Both books include twins and both books take that complicated relationship and flip them on their heads.

I have a third book in the series and guess what? Twins are in this too. Here’s the beginning of a flash fiction tale that will give you a little “taste” for this particular novel. It’s going to have a high fantasy feel and will eventually be a pre-cursor to both novels: (Here’s only half of it – the rest is just a click away!)

ARPAGIUS’S WORLD

The sphere was so small in the palm of my hand. All that vast blue with hints of greens and browns and soft white swirls covering it.

I felt a gentle hand upon my shoulder. “You must take care of it, son, for it’s fragile.

I glanced up at my father. “Is this one alive?”

He nodded. “Yes, very much so. Not like the ones you played with as a young child, Arpagius.”

I remembered those worlds. Those lovely marbles of brown and black; some as light as a dove’s feather, some as heavy as a block of granite; but all ice-cold.

I stared back at my world. It was nearly hot in my hand and I watched as new fluffy white masses formed across the greatest stretch of blue. I gently blew on them. The clouds scattered where my breath hit them. I glanced back at my father.

“Arpagius, how you treat this world will determine your place with our kind. Will you be a leader, a god to these small beings? Or, will you fall, to remain a servant of the land, never to achieve your full status? Only you can decide this. It’s an important decision for one of only nine years old, but it must be done and this is the only way for us to know your true character. I trust you’ll make the right choice and not fall by the way of your brother.” My father turned, and with a spread of his wings, flew out the window. I watched him soar over the turrets of the castle and move northward, until he was but a black speck in the sky.

I turned back to my world as black clouds formed across the oceans. “I will do my best, Father,” I whispered.

Want receive the rest of the story? Just shoot me a note here and say “I want the end of the short story!” http://www.elysesalpeter.com and choose CONTACT ME. Or click here: http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact-me.html

Just ask and you shall receive. (even if you’re already on my contact list)

Want to read THE WORLD OF KAROV? Click here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tpVy9h
Want to read THE RUBY AMULET? Click here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vHLgVJ

The fact is, I find twins are occupying so much of my thoughts that I have been putting them in nearly all my series in one capacity of the other. I didn’t realize that until very recently when I decided to publish a horror tale for Halloween – and yep, there are twins in that, too. So, Happy Twinning!

Halloween Food Ideas – the Party that isn’t Happening

Guacamole vomiting pumpkin

Guacamole vomiting pumpkin

One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. I’ve been waiting for my kids to get old enough to finally throw a real party. You know, the spooky kind where I transform the entire downstairs of the house into a dark nightmare with great themed music and put out crazy food. Playing a scary movie like The Purge or The Exorcist in the background. Where they can dress up and be creative. I’ve been collecting Pinterest ideas all year long and now I’m ready.

But, you know who isn’t ready? MY KIDS! My pre-teens have decided that it’s “not cool” and they don’t want me to throw a party. I’m stunned. Disappointed. Bummed. Crushed. You name it. One of the greatest joys of parenthood is the opportunity to act like a kid again. Trust me, when they wanted to play with Barbies, I was all in! When they wanted a tea party, I sat on that little chair and sipped water out of plastic cups and pretended to eat fake cake. When they wanted to play legos for hours, the real geek in me showed up and I eagerly sat on the floor with them.

beef jerky scabs

beef jerky scabs

But now this? No Halloween party? Sadly, this year, I guess not. But, for those of you who are interested, here is the link to the Pinterest Halloween Food ideas if you’re in need of your own great, disgusting and/or fun ideas. The meatloaf baby, the vomiting pumpkin, Jell-O worms made with straws and the bowl of beef jerky scabs are some of my favorites. Oooh, don’t forget using Nori sushi strips for Zombie skin, too! http://www.pinterest.com/elysesalpeter/halloween-themed-food-ideas/

So, to curb my disappointment, I’ve decided instead to decorate the entire front of my house. We do this every year and the kids “don’t seem to mind.” But, since they’re not letting me have a party, I think I’m going to take it to the next level and add some really cool sound and mist machines and really go all out. Ha! And they think they can stop me!

For those of you who love Halloween, keep your eyes out for my new horror tale, THE MANNEQUINS, which will be out this month. It’s about a film crew that gets stuck in an abandoned house and become prisoners in an alternate reality run by a madman I call the Preacher. The Mannequins Final This is a pretty cool cover and I think my cover artist did a really great job!

So, what are YOU doing for Halloween this year? I’d love to hear and live vicariously through you. My hope is that next year the kids think it will be “cooler” and then I can really party. Until then, eat lots of chocolate, scare a few kids (though not the cute little three year old princesses) and have a safe holiday!