Monday, October 30, 2017

The Origins of #Halloween ~ Happy Halloween #Halloween2017 #Samhain #amblogging

The month of October conjures up images of turning leaves, hayrides, pumpkins, scarecrows, black cats, and of course Halloween decorations.  I love learning about the origin of the holidays we celebrate, so I did a bit of (admittedly rudimentary) research to discover some of the reasons we dress up and try to scare each other on October 31st.

Originally known as All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain.  This last day of autumn was considered the time of year when the barrier between the paranormal and physical worlds grew thin. 

The Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) also influenced Halloween.  It was said that the souls awaiting release on November 1st had one last night to extract revenge on their enemies before leaving the earth.  Cautious Christians would disguise themselves with masks to avoid recognition.

The custom of carving pumpkins originated from a Samhain practice of remembering souls with turnip lanterns.  Trick-or-treating can be traced back to “souling”, a medieval practice which involved the poor and hungry travelling door-to-door and offering to pray for the dead in return for food.

My favorite Halloween tradition is visiting haunted houses.  This year, I dragged my best friend to an incredible haunted house and haunted basement at Paxton Manor in Virginia, when we were there visiting earlier in the month.  We screamed the entire time, but we laughed just as much, and we made it out alive (see below).  I love being scared like that, when you know in the back of your mind that it really is just an attraction (or movie, tv show, or book).

Emerging from the Haunted Basement victorious!

The medium in GULL HARBOR, however, spends her summer in a truly haunted house.  Claire Linden arrives in Gull Harbor ready to take on an aggressive ghost—now that she’s embraced her psychic gift, she’s confident she’ll be able to rid her temporary home of the restless spirit that drove the owners to hire her.  However, she doesn’t expect to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without an explanation five years ago.  As Claire unravels the truth behind the haunting, Max must share his secret in order to stay close enough to help protect the woman he still loves from a danger that extends beyond the paranormal…

If you like that story, try SILVER LAKE as well...another suspenseful ghost story/mystery with plenty of romance.  Will Rain and Jason get another chance at first love before a desperate spirit tears them apart again...forever?

My latest ghost mystery also has plenty of steamy romance to counteract any chilling scenes, and HAUNTED SOULS was inspired by a trip to the Old Jail, a historic building on Cape Cod which is considered actively haunted.  And the title has a double meaning, as Brett and Emily each have their own torturous choices and memories to overcome if they have a chance for a future together.

A picture I took of the Old Jail...seriously, what's up in
the top right window?  And in this pic, there's a red flash
in the lower window that isn't in any of my other shots.

Happy Halloween and Happy Haunted Reading!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

History of Superstitions ~ #Paranormal Posts #Halloween

Some of my most popular posts have discussed the origins of certain superstitions--specifically, ones that are considered bad luck.  A superstition is a long-held belief or behavior with no rational basis.  As a fan of all things spooky, I like to research the history behind the more sinister superstitions we hold, especially around Halloween, the season that embraces the paranormal.  Of course, many of these superstitions date back to ancient times, so tracing the exact sources can be tricky...and it doing the research, it definitely appears that often times, several factors seem to have combined to create the belief or behavior.

I love (and rescue) black cats, so it's safe to say I don't believe I'm in trouble if they cross my path.  There are many reasons black cats came to be associated with magic, witchcraft, and the occult, and I have an entire post dedicated to more lengthy details, which I'll link below, but the idea that cats had magical powers dates back to ancient times; some cultures worshiped them, while others feared them.  Being nocturnal animals, they are out at night, gracefully slinking about in even total darkness.  And the color black in particular is associated with sinister forces.  Some believed witches could turn into cats to avoid capture, or that black cats served as their familiars.    

These are my 2 black kitties, Jinx and Max, getting into the Halloween spirit...
(cats are real, crows are just decoration!)

Another "unlucky" symbol I can't accept (because it's the date of my birth) is the number 13.  There are a whole host of reasons for the fear of this number, and I take a deeper look into Triskaidekaphobia in another post, which I'll also link below.  Many of the reasons stem from different religions: in Christianity, for example, Judas Iscariot (a figure also associated with the spilling of salt superstition discussed below) was the 13th--and last--person to sit down at the Last Supper.  According to Norse legends, the god Loki was the 13th guest to arrive at a banquet, and he then killed another god.  Historically, there were 13 steps to the gallows, covens were made up of 13 witches, and XIII is the card of death in a Tarot deck.       

Another well-known superstition involves the belief that walking under a ladder brings bad luck.  One theory is that this dates back to ancient Egypt, where triangles were considered sacred (think pyramids).  A ladder propped against a wall forms a triangle; walking through would desecrate the triangle.  The Christian religion, with its concept of the Holy Trinity, also contributed to the idea that violating a triangle would be unlucky.  Finally, some sources point to the use of ladders in the gallows.  To walk under the ladder was to be caught in the hangman's line of vision.

Do you cringe if you spill the salt?  At one time, salt was a very valuable commodity, so spilling salt could have indeed been truly unlucky.  If you consider our word "salary" comes from the Latin word "salarium", which means salt cellar, the value of salt throughout history becomes even more evident.

Another explanation involves the Last Supper, during which Judas Iscariot--the betrayer of Jesus--apparently spilled the salt.  In the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Judas is the second to the left of Jesus; his hand is clutched around a bag (of silver, most likely), and his arm has knocked over a cellar of salt.  You can better see the detail in this copy of the painting.  Judas is the only one with his elbow on the table; the spilled salt is near his wrist.

Da Vinci's Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli   Attribution: Alberto Fernandez Fernandez, Wikimedia Commons

The way to possibly ward off the bad luck associated with spilled salt is to scoop some up and throw it over your left shoulder, into the Devil's eyes.  This stems from a belief that the Devil stands behind a person's left shoulder.

Breaking a mirror is said to carry a whole seven years of bad luck.  I don't put a lot of stock into most superstitions, but I admit the thought of breaking a mirror makes me nervous.  Like salt, mirrors held a great deal of value at one time--they were both expensive and rare.  Breaking one was a loss, and the guilty party might well be considered rightfully unlucky.  Another explanation goes back to the idea that a person's soul is revealed in their reflection; breaking a mirror would then equate to breaking one's soul.

If you'd like to read further details on why people fear black cats, check out this post.  And for more on the reasons people fear the number 13, click here.  

An ex-boyfriend and
a dangerous ghost await
Claire in GULL HARBOR 
And if you're looking for a new read that will help get you ready for Halloween, try a steamy romance mixed with a haunting mystery!  I have three ghost story/romantic suspense novels that fit the bill...both Silver Lake and Gull Harbor have been #1 Kindle Bestsellers.  My latest release, Haunted Souls, was a Top 3 Read of 2016 at Read Freely and is on SALE for 99c for the ebook for a few more days!  While my novels are not horror, they are intended to give you a few chills up your spine, but the steamy scenes help balance that out!  But I have a less spooky option as well, a Young Adult Paranormal Romance which involves supernatural secrets and forbidden love, so for revenge, romance, and a rogue fallen angel, check out Divine Fall.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Abandoned Glenn Dale TB Hospital ~ #Haunting #MD

Wide open door + stair case = hard to resist
Glenn Dale TB Sanatorium
and Isolation Hospital
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my long weekend visit to Maryland and Virginia, the area in which I grew up.  It was a whirlwind trip, but one stop along the way deserves an entire post in honor of the Halloween season...our side trip to explore the abandoned--some say haunted--Glenn Dale Tuberculosis Sanatorium and Isolation Hospital, an enormous, 216-acre campus of 23 buildings located in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

My sister works in a medical office building literally right down the street, so when I met her at work to begin our drive to a family wedding in Virginia, we decided to spend a few moments on a quick side trip, checking out the hospital.  And it would have to be quick, because while driving through the campus is legal, entering the buildings is not.  It's dangerous...rotting floors, old equipment, broken stairs, listing doors, shattered glass, rusted metal, asbestos...and possibly ghosts.  Seriously, how could I resist?

This is one of the 23 buildings on the huge campus

Glenn Dale Hospital was built in 1934, in response to the TB epidemic ravaging the Washington, D.C., area.  Tuberculosis, also known as TB, the white plague, and consumption, is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the lungs.  It was one of the leading causes of death in the United States in the twentieth century (source: WebMD).  Containment of infected individuals, along with access to sunlight and fresh air, were considered the best treatment in the times before a vaccine was discovered.  Patients were quarantined not only to reduce the threat of spreading the disease, but also because there was a social stigma attached to sufferers as well.

A diagnosis of TB at that time was often a death sentence, so hundreds would have passed away at the hospital between the 1930s and the 1960s, when the epidemic slowed.  The hospital continued to take in patients with long-term illnesses until it was shuttered in 1981.  It's been abandoned ever since, and for those who believe in the paranormal, it's easy to imagine the lingering spirits of those who suffered and eventually died here. 

So, yeah, it was hard for me to resist sneaking in for a peek inside.  Unlike my visit to the abandoned prison in Barnstable Village, I was not privy to a private tour by experts on the property, so I can't really caption the photos with exact locations or details.  But the pictures speak for themselves in a lot of ways, so I hope you enjoy them!  And for other posts on spooky places I've visited, check out my post on the above-mentioned abandoned prison in Barnstable, our trip to the Paris Catacombs, and some history on the Oldest Jail in the country, the inspiration for the ghost mystery in Haunted Souls.  Happy Halloween!

There was an emphasis on outdoor areas in the hospital
design because it was believed TB patients benefited from
fresh air and sunlight.

The water stain on the wall really freaked me out
when I first saw this pic...looks like a hunched over person...
it was too dark inside to see it when I took the photo!

(If you'd like to use any of these photos, please message me!)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Find my #Books at #Mashpee Commons this Oct.! #Ghosts #Romance #CapeCod Cape Cod #Halloween

I'm thrilled that Cape Cod 5 in Mashpee Commons is displaying my books in their lobby the second time this year--especially since October is such a great month for ghost stories!

If you're in the area between now and October 28th, come and pick up a signed book! The address is 10 North Market Street, and the "Commons" is a destination in and of itself, filled with familiar shops, unique boutiques, and wonderful restaurants.  Then head to Cape Cod 5, where you can grab a Halloween read (for something set on Cape Cod, try #1 Amazon Bestseller GULL HARBOR or my new release HAUNTED SOULS, both steamy romances mixed with ghost mysteries), put up your feet, and get pulled into a page-turning story!

It's truly wonderful to live in a community that supports local authors, artists, and businesses, and I'm grateful to Cape Cod 5 for the visibility they're providing, for free, for my novels.  Just having my books, postcards, and business cards out in the lobby is a wonderful opportunity--it gets my name and titles out there for anyone who might be interested.  After all, you don't get many readers if no one knows you're out there.  

The Divine Fall cards have a treat attached -
little bags of Dove chocolate hearts and Hershey's Kisses...
because why not sweeten your day?

So huge thanks to my Mashpee community, and if you're not able to drop by but would like to check out one of my novels, they are all available both as ebooks and print books on retail sites such as Amazon.  And my latest release, HAUNTED SOULS, is even on sale for a few weeks, for only 99 cents on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes!  Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

#99c SALE! Romance + #Ghost Mystery for #Halloween! #haunting #books #Kindle #paranormal

October is one of my favorite months, and to add to the celebration of cozy fall nights and a day dedicated to the paranormal, my publisher has put my latest release on sale, which means the ebook format is available for less than a latte!  HAUNTED SOULS, a hot military romance mixed with a ghost mystery, is marked down from the usual price of $3.99 to only .99 cents!  An excellent deal for hours of entertainment, so grab your copy today and escape to Cape Cod for steamy romance plus spooky suspense.  A perfect read to get into the spirit of Halloween (see what I did there?)  Links below:

Haunted Souls was voted one of the Top 3 Books of 2016 at Read Freely!

"Haunting.  Forbidden.  Dangerously Sexy."
~ Nom de Plume review of Haunted Souls

See Nom de Plume's full review of Haunted Souls here!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Why We Fear the #13 ~ #Fridaythe13th #Friday13

How excited am I that a Friday the 13th is occurring in October, a month that already celebrates the paranormal?  After a long week, I'm gearing up for a Friday night scary movie watch-a-thon to commemorate the event, complete with popcorn and wine.

I embraced the number 13 long ago, since it is the date of my birth, and there have been many years (including this one, in January) that my birthday fell on a Friday the 13th!  I do sometimes wonder if being born on the 13th has anything to do with my love of all things spooky, though.  All my novels incorporate some type of supernatural suspense, whether it's a mystery surrounding a haunting (HAUNTED SOULSGULL HARBOR, and SILVER LAKE) or a quest for revenge undertaken by the world's last half-angel (DIVINE FALL).

Some of my most popular posts discuss the reasons behind our superstitions.  This one delves deeper into the number 13 - while I consider it a lucky number for myself, many people don't!

A fear of the number 13 is known as Triskaidekaphobia.  I actually once worked in a building that lacked a 13th floor.  To me, this made little sense...did the people on the 14th floor not realize they were actually on the 13th floor?  Still, the button in the elevator did not exist.  Why does the number 13 get such a bad rap, anyway?

Some reasons stem from various religions.  In Christianity, for example, 13 people sat down to The Last Supper: Jesus Christ and 12 disciples.  The last to sit down, the 13th, was Judas Iscariot, who would betray Jesus. 

da Vinci's The Last Supper - Judas (fourth head from left) in the only one with
an elbow on the table, his face is shadowed, and he is clutching a bag

According to Norse legends, the 13th (uninvited) guest to arrive at a banquet of the gods was Loki, who then killed another god and set in motion a series of tragedies.

Historically, condemned people climbed 13 steps to the gallows.

A coven was traditionally made up of 13 witches.

In the deck of tarot cards, XIII is the card of death - a pale horse and rider.

Apollo 13 was the only unsuccessful mission to the moon; the oxygen tank exploded, putting the lives of the astronauts at risk.

Finally, 12 is considered a perfect and magical number in many disciplines and traditions.  There are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 days of Christmas, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Christ, 12 principal Olympian gods of the pantheon...the list goes on and on.  It follows, then, in some people's minds, that to add a number to 12 would make it unlucky.

That Friday the 13th is particularly scary may be the result of Friday's connection with executions.  The Crucifixion took place on a Friday, which was the day of the week executions were generally carried out in Rome.  America also has a history of holding executions on Fridays; thus, a day that combines two "unlucky" features becomes even more ominous. 

Jinx and Max are my second pair
of rescued black cat brothers
I find the reasoning fascinating, but I still like the number 13, and Friday the 13th doesn't bother me a bit.  But I also have black cats, and we cross paths all day long.  But of course, I have my good luck rituals as well...I have to pick up every penny I see on the ground!

I may pick up a few extra on a Friday the 13th in October, just to be safe.  Have a happy Friday the 13th, and grab one of my steamy romance + ghost stories for a page-turning read that will both heat you up and send shivers down your spine!

Pick up a ghost story for Friday the 13th!

PS: HAUNTED SOULS is now on sale for only 99 cents for a limited time!  Grab a copy while it's less than a latte!

A damaged soldier, a secret baby, and a haunting mystery collide...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

#Book Signing + Bingo! #Falmouth #CapeCod Cape Cod Events

Silver Lake is a reunion romance...
but Brandy's ghost has a message
to share...a #1 Kindle Bestseller!
As a fan of all things spooky, October is one of my favorite months...and, as usual, I have a lot going on this month, both writing-related and personal!  This past weekend had me traveling to Maryland (again), this time for my 30th High School Reunion.  This is something I've planned every five years since graduation, not because I was an officer, but because someone needed to do it, and I think reconnecting with old friends is important.  There's a special bond between people who grew up together, in my opinion, and some of the people attending were in my kindergarten class.     

Those are a lot of milestones, from elementary school to turning 18 and leaving home!  In fact, I based a few scenes in Silver Lake on some things that my friends and I actually went through.  While the plot is fictional--Four former friends reunite in a haunted lake house in a final attempt to discover what happened to their friend Brandy, who disappeared their senior year...and two former sweethearts may get a second chance at first love, if they survive--some of the characters' experiences were based on real events.  

On Wednesday the 11th, I'll be in Falmouth, at a Bingo Night Fundraiser.  This is always a good time.  The suggested donation is $20 (proceeds this month go to Defeat ALS), and that gets you 20 games (wear pink or purple for a bonus card!).  Complimentary light appetizers and a cash bar too!

Where do I fit in to this event?  There are a whole bunch of local artists and vendors setting up for shopping before and in between the games, and we've all donated to the cause as well as offered prizes for raffles.  The complete list of vendors is listed at the end of this post, so if you're in the area, please consider stopping by! 

My books for sale at a local bank over the summer!
Excited to be asked back, especially in Oct. - great time for
ghost stories and paranormal romance!
My books will be displayed in Mashpee Commons, in the lobby of Cape Cod 5 Bank, starting October 16th.  I'm thrilled they've invited me back to offer signed books for sale.

Finally, on the 13th (FRIDAY the 13th!), my latest release, Haunted Souls, goes on sale for 99 cents on Kindle!  That's a 75% savings on hours of page-turning escape...and a steamy romance mixed with a ghost mystery provides a perfect combo to get into the Halloween spirit!

If you're in the area and interested in Bingo Night:
Wednesday, October 11th

5:30 to 9:30 at the Holiday Inn Cape Cod
291 Jones Road Falmouth

Shop with local artists and vendors:

PartyLite, LuLaRoe, Thirty One, The Pampered Chef, Younique, Paparazzi Jewelry, Ruby Ribbon, Reine's Creations, Nanny's Knits, Limelight by Alcone, Arbonne, Tupperware, Dragonfly Dreams, Jamberry, doTerra, Usborn Books, Athenas, Norwex, Avon, Washashore Whimsy, Warm Shade Widgets, Rodan + Fields, Touchstone Crystal, Designs by Priscilla, Cape Cod Octupus's Garden, Candles by Terraza, and me, Kathryn Knight books!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

True #Ghost Story ~ #paranormal #haunting #StephenKing #SalemsLot

It's my favorite time of year, and I'm dedicating my blog this month to Halloween-related posts!  I am fascinated by all things spooky, and stories about actual hauntings are particularly eerie.  While I write about ghosts, I’ve never actually seen one, much to my dismay.  But our good friends have had quite a history with a ghost they've dubbed "Granny Griffin".  Granny Griffin happens to reside on the very farm Stephen King depicts in his novel ‘Salem’s Lot, although he changed the name in the book to Griffen farm.  The farm is located in the Maine town of Durham, where King grew up.  His best friend, Randy, lived on the 200-acre dairy farm, which dates back to the 1860s.

This isn't the actual farm, 
but it gives off that spooky vibe

In the early 1970s, Carlene Griffin was unable to care for the farm and had to walk away from it.  Our friends' parents, Mr. and Mrs. W., bought it, with all its furniture, treasures, and apparent ghosts.  As a child, our friend found photos from the Civil War while exploring the attic!  The first news of the ghost came when Mrs. W. was approached by a medium in town, who insisted she had a message from the other side that needed to be delivered.  The medium wrote a note from Granny Griffin to her daughter Carlene, telling her not to worry about the fight they’d had before she died.  Mrs. W. was charged with delivering the note to Carlene, who was still living on the property in a renovated hen house.

My friend saw the ghost of Granny Griffin on several occasions, the first being one night when he was about 13.  A figure appeared in the doorway of his bedroom, wearing a long house coat.  He assumed it was his mother, but when he asked what she wanted, she did not answer.  As she turned away, her gray bun was clearly visible.  In the morning, Mrs. W. denied checking up on her son during the night—and he realized he had never, ever seen her wear her hair in a bun.

The father, Mr. W., remained skeptical.  Until the night he heard footsteps and rose to check the house.  He saw someone descending the stairs and followed the figure down the steps and into the kitchen, where she disappeared.  When he returned to the bedroom, Mrs. W awoke to ask what was wrong.  Mr. W. replied, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.  But let’s just say I believe you now.” 

This fascinates me as both a fan of all things spooky and an author of ghost stories mixed with romance (my two favorite genres, combined).  The ghost in SILVER LAKE has a message to share as well…and despite their painful past, Rain and Jason are forced to reunite to help the desperate spirit.  The ghost in GULL HARBOR is a bit angrier…but she has her reasons, and Claire is determined to figure them out—and Max is determined to keep Claire safe.  My latest release, HAUNTED SOULS, involves a mystery surrounding a child ghost who follows an unsuspecting mother and her toddler home from a haunted colonial jail.  October is a great month to celebrate the paranormal, so if you enjoy some spooky suspense that will send a shiver down your spine, along with some steamy romance to heat things back up, click on one of the above links!  

This is a photo I took of the Old Jail in Barnstable Village
on Cape Cod, which inspired the ghost story in
Haunted Souls.  It's the oldest wooden jail house in
the country, and reputedly haunted.
Anyone else see something in the upper window?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Signed #Book #Giveaway! #Ghosts #Romance #Goodreads #amreading

The Oldest Wooden Jail in the country -
circa 1690...inspiration for the ghost
mystery in HAUNTED SOULS.
What's in the upstairs window????
Happy October!  Today begins one of my favorite months, as I'm a fan of all things spooky, and October is the perfect month to celebrate the paranormal.  I'll be featuring posts about hauntings, paranormal activity, and other Halloween-related topics all month, so check back frequently!  

If you like stories that deliver a little chill up your spine--along with some steamy romance to heat things back up--you can enter to win a signed copy of Haunted Souls, my latest novel, over on Goodreads.  The giveaway ends on Oct. 9th, which gives me plenty of time to get your signed copy to you in time for Halloween.  This is a reunion romance mixed with a haunting mystery, set on Cape Cod, and I'm posting the blurb below.  And if you don't win, mark down Oct. 13th on your calendar, as my publisher will be putting the Kindle version on a temporary 99 cent sale!  Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

A damaged soldier, a secret baby, and a haunting mystery collide in Haunted Souls
~ A Top 3 Read of 2016 at Read ~

Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.

Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

Kindle sale begins Friday the 13th!  Yes, that's happening this October!